Packing For College: What Should Stay and What Should Go?

college blogAre you heading off to dorm life soon or know someone who is? Well, it’s good to make a plan before the packing begins. Don’t waste precious space on stuff that isn’t needed. We’ve put together a helpful post on what to bring – and what to leave at home.

Do not bring: A television.

Chances are, your school will provide internet TV access, so you can stream your favorite shows. On the same note, don’t pack more than a few books to read or DVDs to watch in your spare time. Your schedule will be fuller than you can imagine and space is tight.

Do bring: Noise-canceling headphones.

As considerate as your roommates may be, they’ll sometimes feel like chatting when you most need to concentrate. Noise-canceling headphones will help you create that quiet space you need.

Do not bring: A ton of food and stockpiles of toiletries.

Unless you’re heading into the wilderness, you can fill up on what you need as the year goes on. It also makes sense to wait until you adjust to dorm life and can realistically determine what you will need.

Do bring: Several weeks’ worth of easy-to-prep food and basic toiletries.

We’re looking at you, ramen noodles. During those first few crazy weeks, you won’t want to bother with complicated food prep or shopping trips to town. Same goes with toiletries – bring enough to last a few weeks.

Do not bring: A mini-fridge.

Your dorm may have one in the common room.

 Do bring: Energy superheroes.

Think portable power banks, power bars and a nifty gadget called BedPower.

Dorm rooms, especially in older colleges, can be skimpy on outlets. Make sure your technology always has enough juice by outfitting an outlet with a power bar.

Similarly, you never know where you might be when your laptop is suddenly low on battery. A portable power bank can really come in handy.

For a power bar that also saves space the BedPower attaches right to your bed! This can be helpful for freeing up desk space and for providing you with that nighttime charge so your phone is powered up to wake you in time for class.

Do not bring: A lot of wall decorations and furniture.

Contrary to what college commercials will have you think, you cannot decorate your room to your heart’s desire. You’ve got your roommates to consider, as well as what are usually tight quarters. Your dorm room probably won’t be able to fit a futon, chair, end table, ottoman and bean bag. You also won’t have the wall space for 500 photos of your besties.

Do bring: A few photos and things from home, as well as space-saving furniture and necessities.

When homesickness strikes, it’s helpful to have something from home to help ease the ache. Photos are also great – as long as you don’t overdo it.

With regard to furniture, shop smart. An ottoman that doubles as a storage container will help you maximize the space you have. Bed risers that double the available under-bed storage are a smart choice. Huggable hangers will let you fit more clothing into your dorm closet.

Do not bring: Textbooks.

Before you buy any textbooks, find out about your library privileges. Chances are, you can borrow the books you need instead of purchasing them. Renting textbooks has also become a popular option.

Do bring: School supplies!

It may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked with everything else you need to pack. Some super helpful supplies that you may forget to bring include: adhesive page markers, highlighters, citation style manuals and student planners.

Remember: If you have to ask yourself whether you really need to pack something, then you should probably leave it at home.


What do you think is the number one essential when packing for college? Share with us in the comments!


Money Saving Textbook Tips

TextbooksAs if college isn’t already expensive enough, you can’t forget to add in the cost of textbooks. The price tags on those books can be astonishing, and they are only getting more expensive. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that college textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation. Reselling your books may recoup some of your investment, but not all of it. Luckily, we have compiled a list of ways for you to reduce the cost of this part of your education.

  • Compare textbook prices online. There are many textbook price comparison sites that allow you to compare prices at multiple bookstores with a single search. This can save you both time and money. Try these comparison sites: Big Words, Campus Books, and Textbook Spyder.
  • Buy used books. Used books are almost always cheaper than new ones, and if you can, find a used version online in good condition. You may also be able to get used books at your campus bookstore, especially if you shop early or pre-order. Compare prices to find the best deal. TIP: Check for highlighting, or ask the seller if the book is sold online. A book that has been heavily highlighted can be very difficult to read, as it distracts you from finding the important points for yourself. Try these sites for used books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Half.
  • Inquire about earlier editions. If the current edition’s used price is still too high, look for an earlier edition. Before buying be aware that page numbers, chapter order, and homework problems will most likely be a little different. Most of the time, however, there are only minor differences between the two. If in doubt, ask the professor or TA about using an earlier edition before you buy, so don’t end up paying for a book twice.
  • Consider renting. Some sites will rent you textbooks for a fraction of the cost of purchasing them. Shipping is often free to receive and return them depending on the service you use. Try these rental sites: BookRenter, Chegg, and Textbook Rentals.
  • Share books. Particularly for your core courses, try to take the same classes as your roommates or friends and share a book. You’ll learn more if you study together anyway.
  • Try e-books. A recent study by NACS OnCampus Research revealed that 75 percent of students still prefer print textbooks, even though e-books on Kindle, iPad and other platforms are constantly growing in popularity. While print is nice, e-books are just so much cheaper and will help you stick to the budget.
  • Resell your books. If you don’t foresee that you’ll need a book after the semester ends, try to resell it as soon as possible. Find out what your campus bookstore and local booksellers will pay, and consider putting up flyers around campus and/or selling it online. If your book is in high demand, you may be able to sell a book online within a day and at a much higher price than you’ll get at the bookstore.

We hope this list helps you save money this school year! Be on the lookout later this month for our post about study tips to help you kick off the school year right!

Preparing for College

This is the time of year that many high school seniors and their families are facing the daunting task of preparing for their first truly adult experience of “going off to college”!  Whether it’s across town or across country, many of the basic requirements are the same.  As parents, we have spent many years preparing our kids – making sure they are responsible, independent and resourceful.  Insight Credit Union’s goal is to make the initial experience, the Orientation and Registrations, go as smoothly as possible.  So let’s talk about some ways to help your student succeed.

Three primary areas that each student will face are financial responsibilities, time management and personal safety.

Financial Responsibilities
Ideally by this time, your youngster has their own savings and checking account.  If not – get one! A checking account, with a parent or guardian as joint owner, allows a degree of financial independence and responsibility.  Have a frank and clear discussion before they leave for school of what the finances are, how to budget and access their funds.  A discussion now may avoid problems in the future.

What to Set Up?

  1. A Personal Checking Account – Direct Deposit or transfer for fund access.
  2. Debit Card – Make sure you research ATM’s and fees so there are no surprises.
  3. Credit Card – Establish the card in your child’s name to begin establishing credit. (You may have to sign on the card as well.) Request a low credit limit but one which allows for emergencies.
  4. Online Banking – Set up Online Banking for access to account information. Know the passwords in the event of an emergency

Time Management
Being totally responsible for where and how you spend your time can be an amazing feeling for a young adult, but also one that requires practice and judgment. Make sure your child understands the many new demands that this freedom will bring. You are no longer able to make sure they are up in time for class or allow time for study, it is all on them. Show them how to take care of themselves personally – to make time for class, study, friends and laundry can be overwhelming. Make them aware of the dangers of trying to do too much, or too little! But if you start the lessons now, they will be ready!

Personal Safety
This is a big concern for many parents as they send the son or daughter off to school. Reminders about what they should already know is a great place to start – Don’t Drink and Drive, Don’t Go Out Alone at Night, Lock Your Doors – car and dorm room, Choose Your Friends Wisely.  Make sure you and they understand the campus security provisions, such as Call Kiosks or security escorts after dark. Encourage your child to take the security issue seriously, and visit the college website for tips.

Required Documentation:
What personal documents you will need for Orientation or Registration?

  • Government Issued ID (Driver’s License)
  • Social Security Card
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Immunization Record
  • Back Up Copies of Transcripts, Test Scores, Scholarships or Financial Aid Awards

You may also want to visit the website of the school or university your child will be attending. Depending on the school, different documents may be required and often times a list of what you may need is posted. The website is also a great resource for any unanswered questions.  Good Luck!