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My Hectic April (So Far)


This past week has been absolutely crazy. Besides class, homework and work (on campus and Old Navy, thank you very much), I’ve had readings to attend, conferences at which to present, presentations to give, emails to graduate schools to send—it’s been a very “collegy” week for sure.

3 Things I wish I would've done to prepare for college


1. Buy a smaller laptop

Birthday Month! (The Glory of Free Things)

So, we all know a lot of college students are pressed for cash. We also know that all college students presumably are in possession of a birthday. Mine just so happens to fall in March--on March 17th, to be exact. That's right, St. Patrick's Day. If only I looked better in green.

Regardless, I like to celebrate my birthday as "birthday month." And one of the best things about birthday month is all the free stuff you can get if, like me, you sign up for just about every single rewards program under the sun (as long as it's free).

Anyway, here's my haul:

Free cupcake from local cupcakery back home, courtesy my rewards card
Free pancakes from IHOP, courtesy the IHOP rewards program
$2 on my Ounce Back card (which, sadly, I have lost) from Orange Leaf
Free sample makeup kit from Sephora
Free sample makeup kit from Ulta
Free "birthday pastry" from Panera
Free dessert (with purcahse of entree) from Chili's
A series of "happy birthday, here's 20% off" emails from everywhere, ever

Yeah, it's good to have birthday month, especially when all of your college friends are just about as broke as you are. I highly recommend taking advantage of rewards programs like these while in school, because free pastries and cupcakes make it a lot easier to do things like come back to school on your birthday, for instance, or take exams.

Writers Hanging Out: My Trip to AWP

ER Staff Selfie

Since sophomore year, when I first learned that the AWP (association of writers and writing programs) conference was a thing that existed, I have wanted to go. "You mean every year a bunch of writers go to one place and, like, hang out? Sign me up!"

What IS "The College Experience" Anyway?


     You know, after almost four years of college, you’d think that I’d know what The College Experience is…but I really don’t. If you believe pop culture myths, it involves a lot of parties and drinking, an improbably-interesting love life, a bedtime around 3 AM, and maybe, occasionally, attending a class or two.

Confession: I didn't want to go to UE


I may be considered a better PR representative if I told you that the first time I stepped on campus I knew UE was the place for me.  That as I looked around I knew I'd spend the next few years here, and that day the grass seemed greener, the sky bluer, and the squirrels fatter.  

4 Reasons Why College Isn’t That Much Different from the Olympics


Finally, the Olympics are here!  I enjoy these few weeks every other year and always look forward to seeing athletes from around the world compete.  I’m sure the majority of people have at least once remotely thought about/dreamed/wished they were an Olympic athlete.  As I sat on the couch at my apartment at UE in between class and a meeting, pondering about how tired I was, how I had to do laundry later, and my busy day the next day, I realized—being a college student isn’t toooo far from being an Olympic athlete.  And here’s why:

College Is Terrifying (And Why That's a Good Thing)


There’s that stereotypical moment of watching your parents drive away after they drop you off at college, when you realize that you’re all alone in the world and will never, ever see them again, and the bottom drops out of your stomach and you kind of want to curl up in a ball and cry.

More Than Ramen: How To Survive Groceries on A College Budget


It's a pretty common joke, and something we all like to talk about; college students don't have a lot of spare money to buy organic free range chicken and red bell peppers (those are the expensive ones, I would know).

But all joking aside, it really is hard to maintain a diverse diet on a budget that allows for maybe $40 a week on groceries or so. And while some of us have meal plans and get a copious amount of food for that, not everyone has or chooses that option.

So what do we do to survive eating on a college budget without consuming strictly ramen and peanut butter and jelly?

My roommate and I both have become experts at this, and here are some of my tips from our many conversations about this topic.

1) Have A Smartphone? USE IT

There are a TON of coupon and cash back apps available on both iPhone and Android, so if you happen to have a smartphone, you've got a resource for saving money and getting money back for your groceries. That's right, groceries. A few examples are Ibotta and Checkout51, which give you cash back incentives for certain products, Target's Cartwheel, which gives you an extra percentage off on certain products, and Shopkick, which gives you "kicks" for walking in to certain stores, which can be reeemed for gift cards.

2) Make A List

A lot of people tell me they just go to the grocery with a vague idea what they need and grab stuff off the shelves. It makes me feel panicky, because it leaves entirely too much room for impulse buys. Instead, plan out what you're going to need for the week. I usually plan some meals, snacks, and desserts, and get all the ingredients I need for those. That way, I only buy what's on the list, and have already planned out how much I can spend. That's not to say I don't occasionally grab an extra package of cookies or chocolate, of course--you only live one, after all.

3) Sales Sales Sales

Sales and specials are your friends. Sign up for your grocery's weekly ad email and stock up on things while they're on sale (Gina and I, for instance, watch Target's Diet Pepsi prices like hawks). Additional tip: combine store sales with coupons or cash back offers.

4) Take Your Time

Comparing prices and quality of products in the store takes a little extra time, but sometimes it's worth it. The store brands are often--but NOT ALWAYS--cheaper, and often they're just as good as the products you lean towards out of familiarity. Plus, sometimes a certain brand is on sale at the store and has a coupon, like mentioned above, so you can get extra savings that way as well.

5) But Go Easy On Yourself

Do you really, really love artisan bread? Or cupcakes from an actual bakery? Leave a little wiggle room to spend an extra buck or two on something you really like, even if it's not the chepeast option. Treating yourself will make your budget seem less depressing and awful, and thereby make it easier to stick to it.

I'm thankful for my student loan debt


I'm thankful for my student loan debt.  Now I'm not saying that if I won the lottery it would be a bitter breakup with the loan officers, or if for some reason college costs (gasp) decreased I'd be upset.  But for now as I pay for college with a combination of scholarships, loans, and money earned working jobs both over the summer and during the school year, yes, I am thankful for my student loan debt.  

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