The Best App for Finding Deals on Campus

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It’s really been a crazy week getting back into the swing of things! Classes at the University of Illinois have officially started. I forgot just how exhausting it is when you spend all day on campus going from class to class.

Now that I’m not living in the dorms or participating in a meal plan, I’m on my own in terms of feeding myself. Sometimes my busy schedule doesn’t allow me to come back to my apartment in between classes to grab a meal. Even though I can easily pack a lunch, sometimes I just want to pick something up on campus.

I also try to meet up with different friends during my longer breaks and sometimes we may want to grab coffee or a snack. Unfortunately, being on a college budget restricts the amount of times I can eat out. As someone who enjoys finding good deals, I found the perfect solution for saving money on eating out! I wanted to share this awesome app with all of you that has tons of great deals for the various places on campus.

Hooked is a food app that streams a live feed of exclusive deals at restaurants on campus. It doesn’t have every campus, so be sure to check if yours is one of them.

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Once you download the app and enter your school, simply scroll through the feed to find the different deals. If you find a deal that you want to use, just select and show it when you go to pay. It works just the same as a regular coupon because you pay the business directly (not via the Hooked app).

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I was just scrolling through my feed now and how can you pass up buy one get on 50% off on froyo and free small fries from Mcdonald’s?

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It’s a great app and now I can get deals whenever I eat out so I can save a bit of cash. Be sure to check it out and see if Hooked is on your campus!

Cheers.

Pros and Cons of Living On Campus vs. Commuting from Home

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Living at home is great. You have home cooked meals, adequate supply of laundry detergent, rent-free room and board, and parents to clean your room when you lose your carpet under socks and homework. You may not be able to stay up as late as you want, but for the most part, pay no bills and get to come home to a place where people love and support you every night.

As the economy worsens, many students opt out of living on-campus and instead choose to commute from home to save money and lighten the loan-loads. A study by the U.S. Department of Educated stated that in 2008, students that chose to live at home and commute to school made up 31.5% of all U.S. undergraduates. Why? To save money.

If you’re a soon to be college Freshmen and can’t decide if you want to commute to school or live on campus, here’s a few pros or cons to help you decide. Remember that some schools even require first-year students to live on campus, so check with your top university choices to make sure that living off-campus is an option for you. Secondly, check with your parents!

1) Pro: Cost – This is usually the biggest contributing factor when students are assessing their decision to live on-campus or commute from home. It’s no surprise that the economy has gone downhill over the past year and a half, leaving students with college debt and loans to pay that stick with them much through their adult life. The solution for students who still wanted to attend their choice of University? Save money by commuting from home. Living-on campus can rack up to almost $9000 per year, per student for room and board and other contributing factors. That, in addition to tuition fees, books, etc can add up to quite a hefty sum of cash that most people are finding is harder to part with in today’s economy. Sure – you pay more money commuting back in forth with today’s gas prices but if you carpool with friends or take public transportation, the monetary value is still far less.

2) Con: Miss the ‘college experience’ – Everyone knows that going off to college is a rewarding experience for both students AND parents. Students learn what it’s like to live on their own for their first time, wherein they learn how to be responsible, budget appropriately, and work off of their own schedules. It’s by living on-campus that they get to meet thousands of other students from all over the world and partake in activities, student organizations, and events that go on at the University. Students who commute from home have a harder time meeting new friends, and miss out on the roommate bonding experience that teaches them a lot about working and living with someone new. Even if a roommate selection didn’t work out as well as student’s always hope they will, the experience still teaches students about conflict management, mediation and learning to deal with people that they wouldn’t normally socialize with. The best part about these situations is that two roommates that are complete strangers in the beginning can end up leaving their residence hall experience with a lifelong friend.

3) Pro: Food is always accessible: I don’t care who you are, everyone loves food. Living on campus provides you with mostly three options: Cafeteria food (when it’s open), recipes you can whip up in your residence hall microwave/common kitchen, or c – the closest and cheapest fast food restaurant. Although all of these options could yield delicious and tasty treats, there’s nothing better than mom’s cooking (unless your mom isn’t the best of cooks, then maybe nothing beats Dad or Grandma’s home cooking)! You don’t ever have to worry about cooking it, and the best part, you know there’s always left overs in the fridge for you when you want them. You aren’t spending money on groceries or fast-food, so your ability to save money is also enhanced.

On the other hand, mom’s cooking IS great, but imagine how much more you’d appreciate it if you didn’t have access to it as often. Coming home from college for breaks is all about indulging in all of the things you missed while you were away: hugging your pets, eating mom’s cooking, and getting that 9 month supply of laundry you’ve been hiding around your room finally washed AND dried.

4) Con: Postpone individual growth and independence: When you live at home and choose to not live on-campus, you miss out on a lot of other things besides meeting new people and missing out on events. You also kind of stunt your sense of growth and self enlightenment. When you go off to college, you go through that uncomfortable experience of trying to find your own place in the world. You move in with someone you’ve never met before, who you may or may not mesh well with right off the bat – or ever. If you’re used to having your own private room at home, you now have to get accustomed to sharing your immediate space with someone else. You also share bathrooms. With your roommate, or the whole residence hall floor. It may be uncomfortable at first, but all of these things really help you expand your mindset and grow as a person. You learn to become comfortable in your own skin and learn the building blocks you’ll need for when you get your first job, or move out on your own.

This also includes finding your first college-job and learning to save and budget your money effectively. You learn the value of a dollar, and really start saving money for things you need like toilet paper, cleaning wipes, toothpaste, and more.

There’s tons of reasons to add to both the Pro and Con’s list that you just read through. At the end of the day, your decision should be based off of what your financial needs are, and what is best for your individual case. Living on campus can provide a great and rewarding experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. On the flip-side, commuting at home could give you a little more time that you may need to leave the nest. If this is your decision, take it as an opportunity to save up money and budget appropriately. Have any other reasons to add to the Pro or Con’s list? Comment them here!
For those of you who lived on campus – did you love the experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world, or did you wish you had the opportunity to stay at home a little longer and save up money? Share!

5 Reasons Your RA is Awesome

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Going off to college and living in a residence hall is a new and exciting experience. You’re moving out of your house and into a new territory rich with new friends to meet, activities, no set bedtime, and no parents. This creates a new-found sense of independence and in some cases, rebelliousness. Some students find it hard to leave the rules and regulations from their parents at home to move into a residence hall monitored by RHA staff.

I’ve even heard some students referring to their RA as “the enemy”. Even if the RA and student get along well and have common ground, some students feel like the RA staff can’t be placed in the friend zone because they set guidelines in the residence hall and sometimes, have to write students up for misbehaving. If you see your RA as ‘the enemy’ or are even wary about befriending them, you should really consider what you’re missing out on. Becoming friends with your RA can be a rich and rewarding experience; they’re there for you when you need them the most. Want to know reasons why your RA is awesome? Here’s 5 to start you off:

1) Your RA is there to help you – So maybe they don’t want to see the bottles of no-no’s in your dorm room that you already know you’re not supposed to have. Their job is to monitor the residence hall and make sure nothing is being brought in and used while under their watchful eye. I’m not saying don’t have fun while you’re living on-campus, but don’t blatantly try to do things you aren’t supposed to and have things your RA wouldn’t want to see right in plain view. They’re doing their job and in most cases, they don’t WANT to write you up – make it easy on both of you and be responsible and when you know they’re coming to do room sweeps, tidy up your space.

2) Your RA is NOT your enemy! – It would be beneficial for you to create a standing relationship with them because they will be your go-to source for anything you need while living on-campus. Having problems with your roommate you just can’t seem to come to terms with after numerous tactics of mediation and talks? Having problems that you’re going through and just really need some extra guidance? Tired of someone squeezing shampoo all over the shower floor causing a slippery/dangerous mess? These are concerns you can discuss with your RA, who is always more than willing to help resolve whatever issue you may be facing.

3) Your RA is a student too. . .just like you – Why people draw their RAs as fire breathing dorm room dragons that lurk in dark residence hall caves is beyond me. So maybe every RA you ever have won’t be your #1 choice of a best friend. Who cares, they aren’t there to be your very best friend. They’re there to protect you, to make sure things are running smoothly, and to make sure your (and other student’s) time living in the residence hall is as comfortable as possible. Maybe you don’t have every little thing in common, but that’s rare to find in ANY friend. College is all about people coming from different walks of life. Embrace it, don’t discredit them just because they may be a little different than you are (or you different from them) and because they hold an authoritative role. Be humble, be friendly. These people are students too. They have classes, meetings, activities, homework, exams AND they have to be on standby 100% of the time to help other students like you with any problems they may have in the hall. I’m talking about two roommates fighting over who lost the remote to much more serious matters. Not to mention, they basically have to schedule out their days for the whole hall to know so student’s can know when the best time to reach them is.

4) Let’sbehonest– They’ve got connections! – One of the biggest perks about being an RA member is that you get the opportunity to network with a larger population of students and other residence hall staff. You may feel like you’re meeting tons of students on campus just in the hall, during class, or walking around campus, but when you add that to all of the meetings and events the RA members go to, you’ve got quite a large sum. These connections may be a great idea for you to utilize. Maybe you’re starting to think about off-campus housing opportunities and need someone with extensive knowledge on the locations near campus to talk to. Or, maybe you want to dive into the professional world and start networking with certain professors or school staff. Maybe you need a great tutoring resource and just don’t know enough people around the campus that can really mold to your learning style. As your RA is so active on-campus and meets so many students and professional individuals, they’re a great resource for connections in these areas, and more.

5) They handle the things you don’t necessarily want to – College is more than just learning to be professional and attending classes. There’s things that happen on the college campus that occur more behind the scenes, and more frequently. Occasionally, students have a hard time adapting to their new lifestyles away from home, where things are more accessible to them. There are occasionally the cases of students who get depressed and go through a hard time, some who end up with alcohol abuse or substance problems, and the like. Being a great roommate and being there for your roommate in these situations is helpful and wonderful, but it can become too much for you to bear if you feel like the weight of their lives is on your shoulders. In these cases, pulling an RA aside and very gently voicing your concerns about the well being of your roommate could be helpful. But remember, this is a very sensitive subject and should be handled in the utmost respect. The great things about RAs is that they go through extensive training and tutoring for crisis and problems such as this to be able to help students out most effectively.

They also are trained to handle situations that bother you (and most likely others in the hall) that are also things you don’t want to be the one to say something about. Maybe the girl down the hall is constantly sneaking people she’s not supposed to in after hours, breaking the rules and being destructive. If you’d rather remain in the shadows and not deal with the drama, you can tell your RA in confidence and they will handle the situation accordingly. Always keep in mind that living in a residence hall isn’t always going to be the most leisurely experience and there will be times your RA will be there for you.

These are just a few reasons why your residence hall staff could be some of the best people you’ll meet throughout your college experience. If you’re one of the students who viewed your RA as “the enemy” hopefully this blog will help you view them in a new light. Have any other reasons why RAs are awesome? Share with us in the comments below! Or, tweet us one reason at @OCMonCampus!

Choosing a Living & Learning Community

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Living and Learning Communities give students the best opportunity to make friends and find a home at their new university. If you’re nervous about fitting in or adjusting to the college lifestyle a living community might be perfect to help you make the transition. And if you just want a close group of friends to do stuff with, it’s still perfect for you.

Floor Specific Communities:

In floor specific living communities you’re housed with a group of students who share the same major or interests as you. Every school has their own variety of living communities, and they often change from year to year. Some of the common communities include Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Students in Arts and Sciences. Aside from major specific communities there are also communities that focus on interests such as writing or exploring your new city.

Honors Dorms:

If you’ve been accepted into the honors program, the honors dorms are the best way to spend your freshmen year. Honors students often have access to a variety of programs and benefits that other undergrads don’t have the opportunity to participate in. Living with other students that share those opportunities makes it easier to take advantage of them. Plus honors students are often spoiled with the best dorms on campus. Don’t miss out on it!

Freshman Dorm:

Every college has at least one freshmen dorm. Overloaded with young freshmen, eager to make the most out of their college experience these dorms often become the party dorms. If you’re looking for the traditional college experience, you know, the one Mom and Dad always brag about and you’ve seen in every movie, than the freshmen dorm is the way to go. You will meet a lot of students in these dorms and you will have a lot of opportunities to get involved on campus.

Foreign/Transfer Students:

To help make the transition as smooth as possible, many universities have living communities for both foreign and transfer students. These dorms often have programs set up to help you get to know other students and to explore your new city. So if you’re nervous about the change or you just want some help adjusting this may be perfect for you.