The Best Financial Decision You Can Make in College

Don’t get a credit card. That’s it! No beating around the bush, no long introduction, no attempts to be vague or cute to make you hunt for the answer. Just the straight truth: Don’t get a credit card in college. Ever. Simple as that. Why shouldn’t you? Well, the short answer is you’re not ready for it. The long answer is a longer version of the short one.

Let’s start with the basics: Unless you’ve been phenomenally successful as a teenager in terms of finance or business — and we’re talking Chas Tenenbaum successful here — you don’t know much of anything about handling money. You’ve probably had a checking account where you saved some cash earned at summer jobs, and you might have even made car payments. But nothing can prepare you for the real-world weight and responsibility of dealing with lending agencies and credit bureaus. These people do not mess around. Working with revolving credit requires careful maintenance and an unwavering ability to pay down debts on time, and that’s something that many college students just don’t have experience doing.

Most students also think that a credit card offer means they’re in good financial shape, when nothing could be further from the truth. Credit card companies see students as easy marks, kids away from home for the first time who are looking for some extra spending money and don’t care if it comes in plastic. It’s better to have good credit than no credit at all, but going on spending sprees you can’t pay for is the best way to rack up bad credit, and then you’re in a hole. You’ll be starting your adult life with debt that you don’t need, especially since you’re probably already taking out loans to get your degree.

Most importantly: you don’t need a credit card. You really don’t. Credit cards are designed to allow wage-earning people to rent cars, book hotels, and make minor purchases that are instantly paid off so that they can improve their credit score, appear responsible in the eyes of lenders, and score solid interest rates on home loans. That’s pretty much it. A college student with a card is the most tempted to live outside his or her means because the credit comes fast and easy and doesn’t feel like it has any real-world consequences. But if you stop for a minute, you’ll realize that you don’t need one. Financial aid and part-time work can get you money, and some students are also able to lean on their parents during their undergrad years. That might not seem fun, but it’s a whole lot better than borrowing money you’re expected to pay back at insanely high rates.

Spend your college years discovering who you are and enjoying your life. It’s only just beginning. Don’t start off on the wrong foot by getting into debt. Be smart. Stay away from credit cards.

Why You Should Study Abroad

Studying abroad, despite the jokes made at its expense, is a fantastic way to spend a semester and practically a collegiate rite of passage. There’s also a lot more to it than you might think. Time in a foreign country isn’t just about taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but about learning things you can only discover when you’re away from home.

First and foremost, you see the world from outside the bubble of American dominance. For many people, life in the United States is almost comically easier than it is elsewhere, thanks to an abundance of resources and a track record as a global superpower. By spending time in a foreign country — whether in a European nation that once enjoyed the same role we do now, or in a developing nation that’s been struggling for centuries — you gain an invaluable perspective on local and global events as seen through the eyes of citizens with totally different worldviews than your own. This is really an unparalleled thing, and something all college students should strive to experience.

You’ll also learn how to shake up your personal and professional routine as you engage in new experiences that require you to constantly adjust to life in a new place. Studying abroad immerses you in culture and makes continuing your old schedule — class, break, class, dinner, bed — wonderfully impossible. Courses cover different topics, are taught by different instructors, and teach you different things than the ones back home. It’s also a great way to practice some independence without getting too far from the next. Professors and administrators are still present, but you’re far more "out in the world" than you would be back on campus, which lets you begin to take control of your life like an adult.

That control and initiative also look good to future employers. Hiring managers like knowing that employees, especially recent college grads, are capable of making their own decisions and acting independently to achieve their goals, and those are all skills you can pick up studying abroad as you learn to navigate the world around you as an individual and not merely a student. So you wind up enhancing the overall value of your degree by going abroad, since it becomes that much more attractive to employers.

Plus let’s not forget the sheer experience of it all. This isn’t a family trip to Orlando; this is four months in London, or Madrid, or Prague. This is a chance to see art and architecture and culture like you’ve never seen before and might never see again. The opportunity to travel and see the rest of the world is an amazing one that a lot of people don’t get, and if you’ve got the ways and means, it would be crazy to pass it up. See what’s out there.

Participating in Online Discussion Boards

Many students who are considering enrolling in an online degree program worry that they will miss out on the rich social interaction of a traditional college setting. While nothing replaces face-to-face interaction, many online courses make up for the lack of peer-to-peer interaction by promoting conversation on online discussion boards. For some online courses, participation in online discussion boards is optional, depending on how often a student wishes to connect with his or her fellow classmates. But online professors and instructors are increasingly using discussion boards as their primary tool for gauging class participation. Students may even get a lower grade in the class by not commenting on discussion threads.

Whatever your professor’s approach to online discussion boards, these tools can certainly be a means of engaging yourself more thoroughly in your course. From the start, a professor might welcome his or her students to the class by asking each student to post a paragraph about himself or herself on an introductory thread. Here you can get to know the classmates that you may never meet in real life and gather their contact information.

Many online instructors continue in this vein by posting new threads in a question-and-answer style. For instance, a literature professor may post a thread asking his students how an author’s use of metaphor contributed to the overall tone of a passage of text. Different students in the class will then give examples of the metaphors used. An art history instructor may ask his online students what elements best signify Baroque art. Each student can respond with examples used in their textbooks and provided in their professor’s lecture. When a professor sees his students’ responses, he knows that the students participating in the thread are paying attention, grasping the material and fully engaged in the course.

Remember, though, that there are right and wrong ways to reply to discussion board threads. Students easily revert to Internet slang and "text-speak" when they are writing in any sort of online format. However, discussion boards are not like casual e-mail messages and texts that you would send to a friend. Students should remember that discussion boards are conducted in an academic setting and that they should spell out full words rather than abbreviating them and take the questions asked seriously.

50 Best Blogs for Medieval History Geeks

History fascinates most people, each with their interest piqued by different eras — though all of them eventually impacted today’s world in ways both earth-shattering and subtle. The Middle Ages, which stretched roughly from the 5th Century to the 15th Century C.E., continues to draw passionate devotees hoping to study its tenets either formally or informally. Considering that its art, literature, architecture and (to some extent) ideologies still exist today, these "geeks" certainly have many primary sources to explore! The following blogs offer them an amazing array of perspectives on a number of different medieval topics, suitable for readers of differing levels. By no means comprehensive, many recently-updated resources unfortunately ended up littering the metaphorical cutting room floor because of space constraints. Be sure to check out the others on the subject as well for a broader look at this major point in human history.

Archaeology

  1. Beyond Stone & Bone: Archaeology magazine’s weekly blog does not exclusively devote itself to digging up medieval artifacts, but it still offers the occasional treat and insight all the same.

  2. Aardvarchaeology: Dr. Martin Rundkvist shares his thoughts and findings on a wide variety of archaeological topics, including the medieval period, its influencing predecessors and what came after.

  3. Cronaca: Inspired by medieval historical discourse, this blog discusses archaeology in general — but still posts plenty about the era.

  4. Archaeology in Europe: Professional and amateur medievalists with a particular interest in Europe would do well to keep this blog bookmarked.

  5. Mirabilis: This general blog heavily emphasizes history and archaeology, with plenty of excellent tidbits to satisfy medieval fans.

  6. Archaeology News: Archaeology News serves as an aggregator pulling relevant blog entries and news stories into one useful source. Not everything is medieval here, of course, but it still seeps onto the list.

  7. Medieval Material Culture Blog: One of the best medieval-centric archaeology revolves largely around museums and how they handle certain artifacts.

  8. Archaeological Digs: Paul McLerran helpfully posts news and information on upcoming archaeological expeditions from around the world — definitely of interest to medievalists wanting to follow the latest potential developments.

  9. a stitch in time: Passionate archaeologist Katrin Kania loves using her knowledge to craft accurate period garments using the very same techniques as medieval craftspeople.

  10. Antiquarian’s Attic: Drool over some of the amazing archaeological finds — many of them medieval or close to it — featured at this seriously cool blog.

Art and Architecture

  1. English Medieval Carpentry & Digital Archaeology: Get a detailed look at architecture and carpentry from medieval England, with plenty of photos and 3D models to illustrate major points.

  2. Medieval Hungary: Zsombor Jekely keeps a wonderfully informative blog on the medieval Hungary’s rich artistic traditions, though he does occasionally speak of other nations as well.

  3. Vitrearum’s Church Art: Check out this comprehensive resource on both medieval church art as well as the subsequent stylistic revivals.

  4. Le manuscript medieval ~ The Medieval Manuscript: Those who do not speak French should run this blog through Google Translate for information on the medieval period’s most recognized artistic medium.

  5. ARTstor Blog: In spite of devoting most of its resources to general art history, collecting and preservation topics, ARTstor spends plenty of time discussing the Middle Ages.

  6. The Textile Blog: John Hopper at The Textile Blog writes frequently on medieval tapestries and other fibrous works as well as more contemporary creators who find them inspiring.

  7. Smarthistory: The blog may not update often, but popping by the main website reveals excellent readings, podcasts and online galleries broken up into eras, styles, artists and themes. Medievalists should have no problems finding something relevant to their interests.

  8. Art History: With sections dedicated to Byzantine and Middle Age art and architecture, Art History certainly offers a nice little resource for anyone desiring more information on the subjects.

  9. Medieval Castle Blog: Learn all about the most defining facet of medieval architecture with this incredibly detailed resource — complete with some excellent photos!

  10. The Medieval Garden Enclosed: Cloisters Museum & Gardens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art shows off its landscaping design work using medieval plants and processes, shedding light on both herbalism and botany.

Literature and Language

  1. Medieval Bookworm: Blogger Meghan particularly loves medieval historical fiction, but also reads and reviews nonfiction and classics as well.

  2. Unlocked Wordhoard: A professor of medieval literature discusses his discipline in heavy detail at this Beowulf-inspired resource.

  3. Languagehat.com: Follow the evolution of languages worldwide, including those experiencing turning points and/or impacting the Middle Ages.

  4. Wormtalk and Slugspeak: Turn towards this absolutely fantastic resource for a comprehensive overview of Old and Middle English as both a language and a literary period.

  5. The Norse Mythology Blog: Old Viking tales and religious beliefs still influence today’s culture both in and beyond Scandinavia, as these interviews and musings reflect.

  6. Celtic Myth Podshow: This podcast, blog and forum revolves around Celtic stories and how they impacted peoples before, during and after the Middle Ages.

  7. Just Thomism: Learn all about the teachings and writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential "Western" thinkers from the medieval period.

  8. Dianne’s Medieval Writing: Anyone interested in medieval scripting would do well to absorb Dianne Tillotson’s inquiries into the hybridization of visual art and literature.

  9. Geoffery Chaucer Hath a Blog: It may not update terribly often when compared to the others listed here, but this hilarious parody blog deserves a read all the same.

  10. gladly wolde he: Dr. Derrick Pitard offers up some fascinating ruminations on medieval and early modern writings as well as the history of the English language. Be sure to check out the not-so-daily-but-always-awesome "Poem[s] of the Day," too.

Medievalism

  1. A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe: Travel to the early medieval period and get an in-depth glimpse at the lives, philosophies and politics that shaped Europe.

  2. Scela: Medievalist Lisa L. Spangenberg keeps readers abreast of fascinating stories and issues regarding Celtic culture, religion, philosophy, art, literature, politics, economics and much more.

  3. Medieval News: This blog cobbles together a lovely variety of stories of particular interest to medievalists, often discussing current events, new discoveries and various issues and controversies.

  4. The Heroic Age: Visit the truly valuable Heroic Age for announcements regarding conferences and publications in addition to news and book reviews centered around medievalism.

  5. The Medieval Academy of America: Its update schedule may fluctuate, but "North America’s first organization of medievalists" still warrants attention — especially on their main website.

  6. Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic: University of Cambridge takes readers on a voyage to medieval Scandinavia, Britain and Ireland and explains all the nuances of the peoples, places and concepts that shaped the period.

  7. Got Medieval: At the intersection of pop culture and medievalism sits Carl S. Pyrdum III, who waxes historical on the media’s myriad inaccuracies as well as more esoteric corners of his discipline.

  8. In the Middle: One of the most popular blogs on medieval studies covers a wonderfully wide range of subjects — readers can easily spend hours epically archive binging.

  9. Senchus: Anyone interested in Scotland during the Middle Ages and Early Modern eras will find this a most valuable resource indeed.

  10. Blogenspiel: Since 2002, Blogenspiel has delivered some of the most respected, in-depth content on the internet. Definitely a must-bookmark for medievalists of all proficiencies!

  11. Byzantine Blog: Learn all about the amazing history of the powerful and influential Byzantine empire, from its politics to its artistic traditions and everything in between.

  12. Guy Halsall’s "Transformations of the Year 600" Blog: The eponymous academic discusses the myriad factors that placed the year 600 on the cusp of antiquity’s end and medieval’s infancy. He doesn’t update much, but his content is still worth researching.

  13. Medievalists.net: Suitable for historians both amateur and professional, Medievalists.net sports some excellent interviews, book reviews, news and insight on the subject at hand.

  14. Medieval History Geek: He may not be a professional, but Curt Emanuel’s passionate medievalism and engaging writings sits right up there with the best academic bloggers.

  15. Melissa’s Medieval History Blog: About.com’s guide to the Middle Ages takes a broad approach that newcomers will certainly appreciate, yet it will not isolate more seasoned medievalists.

  16. Heavenfield: Heavenfield exists as an incredible place to soak up research on early medieval Britain, especially concerning royalty and church history.

  17. haligweorc: Because Catholicism played an integral role – both positive and negative – in the Middle Ages, anyone interested in better understanding the era would do well to explore this resource on the faith’s history.

  18. Norse and Viking Ramblings: Pay Professor "Viqueen" a visit for the truth about the Norse and Viking peoples what scurried about Scandinavia in the Middle Ages. They certainly did much more than rape, pillage and plunder!

  19. Cliopatria: George Mason University’s communal History News Network may not exclusively emphasize the Middle Ages, but many medievalists still turn to it for excellent information all the same.

  20. Hwaet?: These medieval bloggers prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that LiveJournal communities are good for something other than Harry Potter slash fiction!

411 on College Textbooks

There’s no doubt that textbooks are expensive and a huge rip off. You buy them at an astronomical price and sell them back for a measly $10. Despite this frustrating fact, textbooks are one college expense you just can’t avoid. However, there are several ways to get your money’s worth without settling for a disappointing sell back. Here’s the 411 on college textbooks:

Textbooks are like cars — their value goes down as soon as you walk out of the bookstore. Without a doubt, the best way to save money on textbooks is to buy used. Used textbooks are usually in good condition and can be as much as half the price of new books. Since most people want to buy their textbooks used, it’s crucial that you get your books early or reserve them ahead of time. While used books are the best bet for saving money at the beginning of the semester, you won’t get as much money back as you would for a new book if you sell it back to a bookstore.

Since textbooks don’t reclaim their value at the end of the semester, you may want to consider some alternative options before selling it back to a bookstore. It may be advantageous for some students, like engineering or science majors to hold on to their textbooks for exam preparation and future reference. If you have no use for your books anymore and want to get them off your hands, you can try selling them to other students for a fair price. Online marketplaces, such as eBay and Craigslist and even textbook sites have space to sell textbooks and school materials for a set price or a bidder’s best offer. If you time the sale just right, you could end up selling all of your books for a reasonable price and help out a fellow student in need. However, if you don’t mind the money loss and want to get rid of these bulky books, then your local bookstore will be happy to take them back.

The Best Universities for the Working Adult

Picture yourself on your sofa in pajamas discovering new worlds across the globe, giving you a more cultured personality. Or maybe you spend your lunch break learning about the business of marketing and communications. An online education is your best option for going back to school while maintaining your position in the working world. The convenience is unmatched, the cost cannot be beat and the quality is the same as any brick-and-mortar college. Don’t allow yourself to be limited to a local institution that may not fit your criteria, when you may be able to find your perfect fit online.

Trying to balance work with getting an education can be a tough task. Online universities make this a lot easier by offering more flexibility. If you are someone with the motivation and drive to obtain a higher education, do not let limited free time slow you down. Going to school online constructs an easier way for you to study and work at the same time by allowing you to advance at your own pace. You can also study only when you feel that you can really focus. There are no specific class times you have to force into your schedule, letting you pick a time that is best for you. When you study online, class does not start until you are ready. This priceless flexibility prevents stress and any added pressure.

An online education allows you to enjoy the comforts of your own home as you grow and develop new skills. By not having to leave the house, those lengthy commutes to a classroom or study hall are avoided. You will not have to experience any of the frustrations that come from hunting down a parking spot. Another benefit of learning in your own living room is that it eliminates the chances of other classmates distracting you. Even relationships with friends in class can add unwarranted interactions that take away from your studies.

In the case you need any professional assistance on a specific subject, online schools can offer you the help you need immediately. By way of e-mail, instant messenger, and message boards, students and instructors can collaborate on topics you are studying. These methods of communication give students the opportunity to correspond with others and learn at their own pace without having to organize any precise meeting times with professors.

As an added bonus, online schools are affordable, so there are no worries about breaking your bank with textbook purchases, dorm living costs, and other fees, which can add up over time to thousands of dollars. Learning online also makes everything paperless, saving you money on reading material fees as well as printing fees. You will not have to add any unexpected purchases to your budget either, like an advanced calculator for your mathematics class or an atlas for studies of geography, because everything you need will be at your fingertips online.

Overall, online education is not only affordable, but it is also an enjoyable experience. The valuable knowledge you can obtain could lead you to a better life and exciting new career opportunities. Take advantage of this great opportunity, and start your learning today.

Reasons Not to Rush

College: it’s probably the last time in your life you can embrace extreme behavior and get away with it. Employers tend to frown on water-balloon fights and unexplained absences, but in college, you can call the ball. Yet amid the all-nighters, road trips, and protests of debatable inpact, there’s a college trend you might want to consider skipping: rushing and pledging a fraternity or sorority.

Greek letter organizations are one of the most popular and easily recognized aspects of college life, but that’s not necessarily a reason to join one. For starters, being in a fraternity or sorority can have an adverse effect on the degree to which you socialize with those outside your normal routine. This doesn’t hit everyone the same, but it’s easy to see that acceptance into a frat house typically means spending the maximum amount of free time with the other guys in the house, and the same goes for women in sororities. Plus there’s the fact that you all live together anyway. If you want to get in touch with a more diverse array of students, you might want to consider not rushing.

They’re also, frankly, pretty time-consuming. College is an extremely busy time for most students, as they learn how to juggle half a dozen courses, assignments, tests, projects, and a social life. Fraternities and sororities, especially during the pledging process, can become absolute timesucks for students who aren’t prepared to give up some of their other pursuits to gain membership. Many members expect you to rebuild your life around the organization, and if that’s something you’re not yet willing to do, don’t rush.

There’s also the financial aspect: Greek organizations cost money, period. You’ll pay annual dues, often broken up by semester, as well as fees for clothing, parties, and other group-related items. This isn’t an evil in itself, but many students don’t begin to learn the finer points of personal budgeting until they go to college, and there are many more things to consider when it comes to spending your money than just how much you can give up for dues. Rent, food, the hopefully thriving social life: these things cost, too, and are just as important. Don’t go making financial commitments you’re not ready to fulfill.

The thing to keep in mind is that rushing can be great, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd.

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