Category Archives: College

Tom Cruise Shows Up at Law School

Socialite Life mentions that Tom Cruise (who is currently filming in Boston) showed up at an entertainment law class at Harvard.

I don’t believe anyone famous showed up while I was in school (of course, we’d have to take into account that there were many days when I wasn’t actually in class, so I may have missed something….).

Here’s info to pass on to your kids – written by our college blogger, Lauren –

Wallet Stolen at College – First Things to Do

Surviving the First Month of College

Top 10 Roommate Tips

Actually, I’m not sure that Tom Cruise went to college – this guest appearance at Harvard may have been it.

– Susan

How to Smartly Study Abroad

by Lauren, our college blogger

I have previously written a blog entry for WHN about the benefits of studying abroad and what to start thinking about before starting your adventure abroad. Now that the application and admission process is complete, here are some basic travel tips on how students can make their time abroad as memorable and stress-free as possible!

Research, Research, Research!

  • Study up on fashion trends of your destination. As a study abroad student, the last thing you want to do is stick out like an American tourist. Pay attention to what people wear and try to fit in as much as possible. This will be a key step if you are looking to be completely immersed into a culture.
  • Mind your Ps&Qs.Learn the social customs and proper etiquette to show your respect for the culture, as well as avoiding offending anyone unintentionally
  • Know the current events of both your own country as well as your new home. People are going to be interested in where your come from and what you think about their country. Knowing the political structure is very important, as many people will ask your opinion as an American.

Pack Lightly

The biggest bummer imaginable is lugging around large amounts of luggage, especially internationally. Even through studying abroad usually means having to pack for a semester or two, try to pack as little as possible.

  • Only bring necessities you cannot live without or get out of America.Everything else can be purchased in your study abroad location. The majority of airlines only allow two large pieces of luggage, which could still be a lot to travel with.
  • My friends that have gone or are currently abroad have suggested taking a big travel backpack that you can find in sporting good stores. They are easy to carry and you can fit a lot into them. Leave room in the bags for all those fabulous souvenirs you pick up!

Keep Safe

Just because you are having amazing adventures abroad does not mean safety takes a back seat. Use the same common sense that you would use in America

  • Avoid going out at night alone for the obvious reasons.Going out with a group of friends is much more fun anyways!
  • Always have a mode of communication so incase anything does go wrong, you will not be stranded without help.
  • Befriend locals but be careful! All the same rules apply. They could be great people at first but can easily turn into an unwanted personality.

Cell Phones are a MUST

One of the most important requirements of the majority study abroad programs is to have a cell phone within the first week upon arrival. A cell phone is crucial for emergencies, as well as keeping an active social life! Instead of buying an international cell phone plan in the United States, go for the pay-as-you-go phone in the country of choice. These are much cheaper and do not tie you into binding contracts.

As College Students We Have Nothing Anyways, So What Happens When You Get The Little Bit You Have Stolen?

by Lauren, our college blogger

This past semester I was pick-pocketed on Chicago’s ‘El’ after a night out! Not exactly a great way to end a fun night out with friends. The train was packed and everyone was squished closely together…making it very easy for someone to reach into my bag and take my wallet. Needless to say I learned the hard way by loosing my room key, my school ID, my public transportation pass, my cash cards, and gift cards. Here is some advice on what I learned on what I will be doing to prevent this happening again in the future.

School ID

  • As a college student, this is pretty much your life on a plastic card. Entrance into buildings, mailroom access, your campus cash, and more are all programmed into this card. The first thing I did when I got back to my dorm after noticing my school ID was missing was go to my RA’s room and let them know my wallet had been stolen. This was the smartest move I could have done because the RAs were able to give me a temporary access pass until I was able to go buy another school ID during the week.

Campus Safety

  • PUT THIS NUMBER IN YOUR PHONE!I found myself without it, and when my RAs were not answering their doors at 3:00 AM I desperately needed this number to get back into my room. I had to call my mother so she could look up the number. They were able to help me right away and were super helpful when I filled out a crime report the next day. Something a lot worse could have happened and I would have been in a lot of trouble without this number.

Credit Cards

  • This is an obvious one, but if there is any sort of credit or debit card make sure it cancel it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The first thing I did after getting into my room was call the banks and go online to their websites to make sure my cards were canceled. The next day I went to my bank and made sure everything was canceled and told them the situation. They gave me a temporary ATM card to use while they mailed me my new card.

Watch Yourself

  • I was in a very crowded train when this happened and it was standing room only when my wallet was taken out of my purse. I always thought nothing like this would happen to me if I was with my purse at all times. Be aware of the people around you. I moved when I noticed a sketchy person close to me, but I think it may have been too late….Keep personal items in your view, even though my purse was on my arm I still was not paying attention. If I had my purse in front of me in my line of vision none of this would have happened.

Travel Lightly

  • Finally, make sure when you are go out you only take with you what you really need. I didn’t need to be carrying both of my debit cards, my gift cards, or even my work ID. My room key was also attached to my wallet and I would have been much better off if I put it on a separate key chain with my other keys. If you are going out ONLY bring what you know you will need, because it is so much better to have only a few things taken than your whole life inside a wallet

Did I Make the Right Choice?

by Lauren, our college blogger

After freshmen year, the expectation is for people to be completely settled in at their school with the best group of friends ever and to know exactly what degree they will graduate with. For many college students, this is not the case.

As I have found out, asking the question “Did I make the right choice” lasts a lot longer than the first semester. After talking to some friends, some who are transferring and some who could not be happier with their choice of school, I came up with some things college students wish they would have known about or were surprised to find out about the school they picked.

Oh Gee! I Need a Degree…

Once freshmen year is over, so is coasting through the semesters on general classes. College sophomores all over the country realize this and from the conversations I’ve had, freak out about picking classes for a degree. Some even have to transfer after realizing the schools they attend do not have the major they are looking for. When starting the college search, it is really helpful to have some idea of what you want your major to be. Even if you have no idea, look at a few majors and what their requirements are so you have some idea what track of classes to take. I went into my freshmen year with a general idea of what I wanted to do, and thankfully had looked at the options before hand so I knew switching majors would not be a problem. Some schools make the process of choosing a major very difficult so be prepared and try to figure out your major early on.

Dorm Life

One thing that can make or break the first year of college is your living experience. Research on dorm life is a MUST. I found my best friends living right next door to me, but I did not know anyone else on my floor. I would not change schools but I would change the dorm I lived in my first year. Dorm life is where your social scene is, and it is important to look at the different options. Would you want to live in the dorm with 19 floors where everything is communal or the dorm where you have your own bathroom in your room and never see anyone? Dorm policies also can impact a social life. For example, at a large state school like University of Wisconsin-Madison’s freshmen dorms do not have strict policies. People can walk in and out without checking in guests. Due to the location and religious affiliation mine, there are strict policies regarding how many visitors are allowed at a time, how late they can stay, and only two overnight guests per month. I love the people I have met but trying to sneak someone of the opposite gender up to watch a movie past 10 PM was kind of a drag.

Take Advantage of Location

I chose a school in a massive city for the opportunities to get off campus. I knew right away that there would be school sponsored events and community service opportunities left and right. A friend who goes to Grinnell University in Iowa was pleasantly surprised to find her school does the same things, if not more. She was happy to know they have an amazing tutoring program where she goes into the small town of Grinnell to tutor. If branching off outside of campus is something you are interested in, don’t be afraid of schools in smaller towns, you may be surprised to find out how many off-campus opportunities there are!

Professor and Student Relationships

College is a completely different academic experience than high school. Teacher-student relationships function on a different level. I was very surprised to find out how much some college professors put into their lessons and how the class size can drastically change a learning environment. I was expecting large classes where I was anonymous and the professor did not know my name, but thankfully it was the exact opposite. My professors all really strive for the success of their students and take time to form as much of a relationship with them as possible. I am very lucky I found a school that fits the way I learn. Ask yourself what kind of learning environment is best for you. When looking for schools look at the teacher to student ratio and ask about what the class environment is like.

College Money Tips

By Lauren W, our college blogger

After completing my sophomore year in college, I am starting to become more aware of how much living away from home can cost. Gone are the days when laundry and groceries are done for me by dear old Mom. Any little bit of spare change is practically gold! I am still far from being completely independent, especially financially, but I have figured out some tips that help handling money less scary.

  1. Take Advantage of the School Meal Plan:
    • Many colleges offer a built in meal plan freshmen year. As a sophomore meal plans differ from freshmen and are a great way to curb the desire to dine out and spend money on food. The declining balance is the way to go. As a sophomore at my university we are still required to have a campus meal plan, except this year instead of a set amount of meals we have a declining balance. Many schools offer this option and the money is applicable to anywhere on campus
    • I have become especially fond of our campus grocery store. Instead of spending extra money at the real grocery store, I am able to pick up essentials at the campus grocery store with money that was already paid to the school. I know that the declining balance has already been paid for and the money will go to waste if not used, so my friends and I make every effort we can to use that money before spending our own.
  2. If You Have a Job…
    • Save every other check you get from the job and put it into savings. This way, the money you earn is not as easily available to spend. This makes it easier to keep track of how much to spend and helps you try to stay within the amount of the spending pay-check until the next one comes.
  3. Travel Cheap
    • With discounted bus trips that a company like MegaBus has to offer, a round trip ticket can be as little as three dollars roundtrip if booked early enough. If that is not a sure fire way to save money, than I don’t know what is! Keep your eyes open for good deals.STA Travel is a great student travel company that has tons of discounted prices on airfare, hotels, and other modes of transportation.
  4. Books
    • Text books can be the biggest budget breaker of the semester. Buy your books as soon as possible, before the used books run out. Used books can be much cheaper than the original price.
    • Look at your syllabus and only buy the books you know you have to buy for sure. There is nothing worse than seeing an unopened expensive psychology book on the desk. You can always go back to the bookstore and purchase the book later.
    • If you have a friend in the class, or who has previously taken the class, share the book.
    • Sell back your books at the end of the semester either at the bookstore or online. Usually you will get some money back, which is better than nothing! Online tends to have better deals, but can be more of a hassle.
  5. Say NO to Credit Cards
    • Use a debit card instead. This is an easy way to access your money without having massive fines waiting for you, and you can still practice managing money by using a card.
  6. Social Time
    • Looks for student discounts! Many restaurants and theaters will have discounts for college students who show their student ID. Many times they are hidden and you have to ask about them. Once you find them though, they are a great way to have a great time while saving money!
    • Spending money on partying can put a large dent in the wallet. Instead of always going to bars or paying cover charges for parties. Cut back a bit and move the fun to home with a small group of friends.This way there are no fees and a good time can still be had.
    • Take advantage of your location. Many cities have free events available throughout the week. Search them out and try an event or activity that is exciting and different!
    • Colleges and Universities understand their students don’t have a lot of money and offer lots of free or very cheap events on campus. These are a great way to get involved with your school and meet new people.

Beauty on a Budget and Training for a Great New Career: Think Beauty Schools!

WHN heard from a reader who is investigating options for a career change. In the process, she discovered a great way to work beauty services back into the family budget. A beauty school visit proved to be a great investment of her time. Here is her story.

Hello WHN.

Since the economy caused my former employer to lay off almost 20% of its staff at the corporate headquarters, I have been among the growing ranks of the unemployed. While the competition for a shrinking number of openings is increasing, I started researching ways to train for a new career.

Although I have a bachelor’s degree, the cost of returning to college to finish my master’s degree eliminated that option. My husband and I have two sons well on their way to needing our help with college tuition. Anticipating those expenses led me to look for a career with a lot of growth possibilities that doesn’t require such large investments of time and money.

A career in beauty fits all of my criteria, including the desire to do something creative in an environment where every day brings new challenges. I visited a school as a client to see what the students had to say about their education and what a typical day looks like.

I was totally impressed and excited. Not only did I get a fantastic manicure at a great price, the students said they loved their training and the time was flying. No wonder. It was obvious they were having fun every day doing a wide variety of services on their way to becoming licensed.

As a client, I was treated with complete professionalism for a price that I could afford. Finally, I don’t have to put off having my hair and nails done! Manicures at the school I chose, Regency Beauty Institute, start at $11 (plus tip, of course). In addition, I received an OPI nail color of my choice. That alone has a retail value of $8.50. A supervisor checked with the student before the service and was always nearby. After the manicure, she was back to make sure I was 100% satisfied. That was easy. It couldn’t have been better. The hand and arm massage was so relaxing that I felt almost guilty to be paying so little and getting so much!

Regency has the best loyalty/referral program I have ever joined. No paperwork and lots of benefits make this the perfect perk for everyone. I’ve already posted my recommendation on Facebook and now my friends are spreading the word, too. I’m going back next week for a pedicure (starts at $15 and includes the complimentary OPI) and another manicure. (The client next to me was having a pedicure and it looked like a slice of heaven.) I had given up facials, but they are back on my to-do list.

There are beauty schools in virtually every city. I highly recommend that you check one out. I’ve found that the time it takes to complete the requirements varies by state and the services/prices vary by school. A website with answers to all of my questions is hosted by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. You’ll find schools in your area and links to all of the AACS member websites in minutes. (Click on Careers in Beauty.)

I think we all feel more confident facing the economy with a contemporary hairstyle and color. Remember to tell the men in your life, too!

Thanks for sharing my story. An encouraged WHN reader.

  • WHN TIP: AACS Executive Director Jim Cox says, “Regency, Empire Beauty SchoolsMarinello Schools of Beauty and International Academy of Hair Design each have multiple locations across several states. The hours required for licensing range from 1,000 in New York and Massachusetts, for example, to over 2,000 in Oregon, Utah and Iowa. The requirements for every state are listed on our site in the Student Resources section.” Mr. Cox also commented on the wide range of tuition across the country. “The cost you can expect could be anywhere from about $8,000 to $18,000 depending on programs offered, location, etc.” As our reader mentioned, the services offered and price lists also vary. Check the school’s website or call the location near you for specifics.

For more information or to share your experiences, please email me: Leann (at)

To Help Build Business, More Companies are Offering Freebies.

This advice came to WHN from a reader who watched the TODAY Show on April 28th. If you have never considered searching for free items offered by retailers via the Internet, this might be a great time to check out TODAY’s recommended websites.

Dear WhatHappensNow,

After being laid off, I admit my family became more creative about our monthly budget. Clipping store coupons, enjoying the free samples at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club and buying non-perishables in bulk gave us some fast and easy ways to save.

I hadn’t considered using the Internet to look for more ways to conserve until today. When you take a few minutes to search, the free items offered on various sites are pretty enticing.

The TODAY segment provided some precautions that I would like to share. First, create a separate email account (one that is free) devoted to communicating with freebie sites. That way, if you begin to receive a lot of spam, you can simply close the account. When filling out a form to receive free items, do not include a phone or credit card number. In fact, the only personal information you share will be a valid mailing address. If an item is offered for nothing, but there are shipping/handling charges, don’t fall for an offer that requires an unreasonable fee. This is a red flag for a scam, according to TODAY’s expert.

I visited Hey, It’s Free, recommended on TODAY, and found a treasure chest of freebies. My favorite part of this website is the list of Cool Sites on the homepage. These links give you countless additional options. Although I haven’t tried ordering free samples yet, I plan to check it out.

Two other sites featured on TODAY are Spoofee and My Savings. If you can’t find something that your family can use on one of these sites, I would be surprised. Just remember that it may take awhile for your free items to arrive. But, you can’t beat the price.

Signed, a WHN fan.

Thanks for the smart savings advice! If you would like to share your experiences about getting goods for free, please email me: Leann (at)

Talk to Your Kids about ‘Sexting’, a Dangerous Trend.

One concerned mother wrote to us about ‘sexting’ a dangerous trend among teens and pre-teens. If you have kids, she recommends that this is a trend you need to understand and discuss with your children.

Hello WhatHappensNow –

My husband and I have two boys, 16 and 18. When I heard about ‘sexting’, I was shocked. The trend and the consequences have been affecting teens and pre-teens across the country. An alarming percentage of their parents have no idea until it is too late.

Of course, when I found out about it on an episode of Dr. Phil, I immediately talked to my boys. I was sure my oldest would be aware of it, especially given that he is Mr. High-Tech. Instead, he told me he hadn’t even heard of the term. My youngest said virtually the same thing.

We live in a suburb of a fairly large metropolitan area, so I expected one or both of them to have heard about it. It was a relief to be able to forward website links to my kids and talk to them about real-life stories of teens’ experiences before they received anything from their peers.

The term sexting generally refers to young people, primarily girls, using their cell phone cameras to photograph themselves nude, semi-nude and/or in provocative poses. Often prompted by their boyfriends, they send the image to a young man’s cell phone. Whether to brag about their conquests, to get revenge after a break-up or for other reasons, some of the boys forward the image to others, often male friends. Upon receipt, those kids sometimes forward the photo on to others and/or post it on the Internet.

Our local newspaper recently devoted one-third page to the topic. The schools in our district are beginning to offer education about the trend in order to make kids aware of the consequences. Last year, children in one of our middle schools, grades six through eight, were involved. The girl who had sent the photo to one person discovered that it had spread through the school like wildfire. By the time she brought the issue to guidance counselors, the damage to her reputation and self-esteem had already been done.

The trend is also gaining increased attention among national news organizations. The Wall Street Journal is one of the mainstream media outlets that has been publishing articles about the trend and its consequences. (Visit the Wall Street Journal for an interesting story.)

A recent article explored the wide array of possible consequences. Since these photos fall into the category of child pornography, the laws governing possession of those materials technically apply whether the individual who has or transmits the images is a minor or an adult. The article cited prosecutors who favor applying child pornography laws in adult-child situations only since the laws were created to protect children from adults, not from other children. Teens face the possibility of being listed on sex-offender registries for years if convicted of child pornography for sexting. Other prosecutors say that, if charges are filed, they should be limited to kids who distribute the photos.

Kids and their parents need to remember that these images can be around forever, especially if they show up on the Internet. Whether the child involved is 11 or 17, that image can end up affecting college applications, job searches and so much more, including a criminal record. There have been multiple suicides and suicide attempts resulting from this trend, mostly among girls. Once their photo is distributed and/or posted, the children may be teased and tormented by other kids, adding to the humiliation they already feel. The children are also burdened by the feeling that they have embarrassed their families.

There is an abundance of information on the Internet. I forward new articles to my sons and talk to them about the topic periodically, just as a reminder. Clicking ‘send’ takes a second, but in some cases, the ramifications can last a lifetime.

Follow these links to find out more:

Washington Post Parenting Column

LA Times blog on school dealing with sexting

CBS News – Sexting Common Among Teens (this is from Jan. 15, 2009)

And here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s view on decriminalizing sexting pro vs con

Thanks, WHN reader!

If you have questions and/or comments, email me: Leann (at)

Sooner Keep the Money ….

Oklahoma Sooners basketball star Courtney Paris said that if her team lost in the NCAA playoffs, she’d pay her $64,000 scholarship back to the school.

Good to her word, she’s going to pay it back (though she needs a job first…). However, ESPN is reporting that the school’s athletic director, Joe Castiglione isn’t going to hold her to it. Though there was the caveat that if she wanted to donate money of her own free will someday, that would be fine.

Know someone heading to college? We collected advice from college freshman and their parents on how to survive the first month away from home.

Best of the Day: Spring Break – Where’s My Hotel?

Spring break is here.  (We’re not sure because we haven’t seen the MTV schedule for their spring break telethon.)(Do they even do that anymore or is it all simply tweeted?)

Here are some spring break safety tips we got from from marketing directors who work at hotels in Florida.

Yes, they’ve seen a lot – so trust us when we say that if it’s good advice for partying college-age vacationers, it’s also sound advice for adult travelers who may also tip a few back on vacation…

1. Double Triple Dare You

Triple-check your reservations before heading out the door (airplane, hotel, rental car, any other tours or trips). Nothing’s worse than getting to a crowded spring break town and finding that not only is your hotel reservation lost, but everything else is fully booked.

Leave copies of your trip itinerary and important contact numbers with family or friends at home so that they know how to contact you in case of an emergency.

2. Health Check

Make sure to bring along your meds and health insurance card – just in case.

3. Financial Security

Bring along backup traveler’s checks or credit cards, in case your purse or wallet gets lost or stolen. Keep these backup items in a separate and secure location.

4. Keep It Safe

Leave all your valuables and jewelry at home or at school (are you really going to use your iPod/laptop/video game system while you’re sightseeing and soaking up the sun?).

5. Reduce Theft and Risk

Reduce your risk of theft: Never leave your luggage or personal belongings unattended in a public area.

6. Driving?

Allow yourself plenty of time to get there. Read our Car Travel section for more quick safety tips.

7. Flying?

Remember, there are new carry-on restrictions for air travel. Not sure what to pack in your carry-on? Read What’s Allowed In Your Carry-On Luggage.

Headed overseas? Make sure to check out the U.S. State Department’s Consular Information Sheets for country overviews, as well as travel warnings, regarding locations and issues of concern for Americans traveling abroad.

Print out the U.S. embassy city contact information for the countries you’ll be in – keep this list with you at all times. Why? In case you lose your passport or there’s an emergency, you may need to find the embassy. Leave a copy of the embassy list with a friend for backup.

8. Leave the Rings at Home

My husband and I have ‘travel wedding rings’ we take with us so we don’t lose the ‘real ones’ – which we’ve come close to doing in the ocean a few times!

9. Safety In Numbers

Travel with others and stick together: program each other’s numbers into your cell phones. Going out on an errand or walk? Make sure to mention where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

10. Program Your Cell Phone

Program your hotel’s phone number, address and your room number – in case your memory escapes you.

Before you head out the door to hit the town, program the phone numbers for local taxis and transport services into your phone – this is if you need a lift home at the end of the night.

Have fun!