My Purpose

As a recent college graduate preparing to be a teacher and a recent bride, I'm learning how to live in a limited budget. In the process, I've had to find money saving tips & ways to re-use common items, create cheap lesson plans, cook inexpensive meals, design DIY wedding projects, and more. With the economic situation that many of us are in, I think we can all use any ideas that people care to share, and that's exactly what I want to do-- share my own ideas and those that I've found in my searches. I hope you find this blog useful and share it with others.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Advice for College

"Things to know" for college

*Elementary Education major*

This website will help you create your schedule. Create an account and then you can look up almost any professor and find what others thought of the teacher style and how the class went for them. Ratings will be given in multiple categories and will be a big help in selecting teachers you’ve never heard of, especially for core classes.

Weight gain

The freshman fifteen is a known concept for college, but it’s not just for drinkers. The lifestyle, sleep schedule, and food intake changes will lead to a weight gain. You’ll probably want to go out to eat often and the pounds will start to add on. Take advantage of the FREE gym, pool, track, courts, and so on.


Ask around for people who might have taken the class before you with that same professor (the same class will have different books depending on who taught it) to find out if you need the book or not. If you do, ask to buy theirs or maybe just borrow it. If you have to buy your own, check out before paying the bookstore price. To buy offline, you’ll need the ISBN number from the book. You can go to the online bookstore or the campus store to find the ISBN in the front of the book. Also, your text books are rarely needed in class. It’s not necessary to take all your books the first day. Your teacher will probably let you know if and when you should bring the book, otherwise it can be left at home.

Good shoes, umbrella, backpack

The three things to spend money on for college are good walking shoes, a good and big umbrella, and a strong backpack.


Many restaurants and stores in college towns offer discounts if you show your student ID. They’re not much, but they do add up!

School supplies

Many ED classes will expect you to create posters, signs, games and so on. To make these projects cheaper, invest in the back-to-school sales in the fall. Buy crayons, markers, glue, pencils, and so on when you find them cheap and keep them all together. Also, some Dollar Tree stores have “Teacher’s Corner” where you can find a lot of cute and useful resources for your EDUC classes and presentations.


Almost every ED class will require a binder at the end of the semester. Most will want a 1” binder with the plastic insert on the front. If you find them on sale, buy as many as you can. You may find yourself using binders for other classes just because they help you stay organized. (Some classes require the plastic sheets and others don’t, but if you find them on sale too, you might buy a couple of packs of those, as well)

Take Praxis early

This test is similar to an I-STEP or SAT test. It costs about $150 and must be taken on your own time at a testing facility in town. This test is usually a pre-req for ED classes over a certain level, such as EDUC 350. If not passed, classes over that level can’t be taken and this can become a major set back for many students. Take it early in your college career!

Use professors’ office hours

Professors offer the office hours for help. If you’re struggling in a class and a teacher sees that you’re trying and making an effort to get help, they may “help you out.”

Where to sit

Sitting in the back of the class often allows you to get distracted and not get as much out of the class as possible. These classes cost a lot of money and re-taking a class can cause a lot of problems in your schedule. Sitting near the front will make a good impression on your teachers and increase what you learn in the class.

Meet as many people as you can—teachers and students

Make a strong network. Get phone numbers and email addresses and add people to Facebook or Myspace. This will come in handy when you need help with an assignment, forget how the teacher said to start that paper, or want to study with someone.

Don’t spend all your graduation money

Most likely, you’ll receive a lot of cash for graduation--- save some of it. Buy what you need for college—maybe a computer, printer or other necessities, but put some back in a “rainy day fund.” If you buy a computer, I suggest buying a laptop. That way, you can take it on campus and to other apartments for group projects or study nights. But-- don’t take it to class, its just a distraction.

Learn how to study and take notes

Every person learns differently and you have to find what helps you study. This will be most helpful for your core classes. Learn to write fast and to take notes on almost everything that is said.


Professors expect a lot of papers, articles, and lesson plans printed, turned in, or passed out to the class. This can get expensive! Buy a lot of printer paper and find free printers in the classrooms, or use the printer in a building like the Residence Life. Also, always carry a small stack of printer paper with you. You or a friend might need to print something you forgot about quickly before class starts.

Library Cards

Get a library card to the library in town. In many towns, if you can prove you have a residence there then you can get a card for FREE! Libraries have a large selection of CDs, DVDs and software--check here first for something before you buy or rent. Also, for some classes you’ll need children’s books and libraries will be great resources.

Cramming classes into a few days

It may seem like a good idea to make your classes all Tues/Thurs or Mon/Wed with a couple of night classes, but it’s really not. It creates a lot of stress and a lack of time to complete homework, or to go out with friends and get away from the stress. Unless you're commuting or have to create a school schedule around a work schedule, then spead your classes out a little bit more.

Attend the optional review sessions

Some professors will offer an optional review session before a midterm or final—attend it! Even if you think you’re already prepared, go to the review because sometimes the professor will go through the test, nearly word for word.

On-Campus beds

The mattresses in many dorms and apartments are plastic covered, so investing in an egg-crate or memory foam pad may be beneficial.

Learn to cook

You’ll get tired of cheap oven pizza or macaroni and cheese, and going out to eat will get old (and expensive), so learn how to cook a few cheap and easy dinners. Start collecting recipes, especially old family favorites- you’ll miss them L

Spend money on comfortable dress clothes and shoes

ED classes require observations in elementary schools in town or teaching lessons in the campus classroom. This requires dress clothes, so start creating a “teacher wardrobe.”

*File cabinet, binder, box, etc*

Start creating a resource collection for teaching. Keep anything you think you might use in a classroom. Invest in a filing cabinet, binder, box, crate---something that will keep lesson plans, books, articles, websites, etc. that you might be able to use or fall back on while creating lesson plans later in college, as well for your first year of teaching. Spend your down time looking up ideas for lessons you might want to teach, books you might be able to use, classroom management skills, or decoration ideas for your classroom.

Free Events

During “Welcome Week” there will be free activities on campus--- check them out! There’s probably free food, free games, and often-- free prizes! You’ll get to meet people and enjoy all the free stuff!

Last and most important tip for college: There will always be another party.

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