College Study Strategies: Organize a Study Group

Dr. Richard Light, a Harvard researcher and Professor of Teaching and Learning at Harvard Graduate School of Education, was sent out on a mission to find the single best predictor of college success.

After ten years of research and surveying 1,600 Harvard students, he found a key element to university achievement: the ability of a student to either join or create a study group.

We encourage you to incorporate this successful study strategy into your routine: Find or create a study group for your classes.

College students in a study group

Study Groups

America's Most Expensive College Dorms

For the 2014-2015 school year, the average cost of room and board is priced at $9,804 for public colleges and $11,188 for private colleges. To no surprise, colleges in California, New York, and the Boston area charge a bit more and top the list of most expensive dorms.

The highest-priced dorms can be found in New York, where students get to enjoy the conveniences of living in Manhattan and fabulous skyline views from high-rise dorms.

Going to school in New York can be quite an experience for a first-year college student, but one that comes with a hefty price tag. Looking at tuition and fees alone, NYU ranks 57th in highest cost. However, when room and board is factored into college cost rankings, NYU becomes the 3rd most expensive college in the nation with an estimated room and board expense of $16,782.

If you’re going to rack up college debt, it may as well come with a million-dollar view. Here’s a look from a dorm room in Founders Hall, a traditional first-year residence hall at NYU.

View from Founders Hall at NYU

Most Expensive College Dorms for 2014-2015

America's 100 Most Expensive Colleges

No two things are more stressful to a prospective college student than the question of getting accepted and determining if they can actually afford attending the school of their dreams. The cost of college is no joke, and is something we have tried to put a spotlight on since we started ranking expensive colleges back in 2007, as it is a troublesome debt many students will carry for years to come.

The list of the 100 most expensive colleges by total cost (tuition + room & board + required fees) are all private and range from $56,000 all the way up to $65,000 per year. This is a significant jump in price from the average private university cost of $42,419 and (obviously) the average cost of attending a public in-state college at $18,943.

With most of these schools surpassing the $60K per year mark, incoming students can expect to see a price tag of over a quarter-million dollars for their 4-year degree when expected yearly increases in tuition are taken into account. When you consider only about a third of students complete their degree within four years, you can see how students can really rack up student loan debt.

While the majority of these colleges offer great financial aid packages to those with need, it’s important to note there are still students who are paying these exuberant prices. At Duke University (#44 on this list), for example, about 50% of its students are paying the fully listed price of $60,533.

If you needed your holiday dinner table discussion topic, here it is: The 100 Most Expensive Colleges for 2014-2015.

Where does your college rank? Share it on facebook and Twitter.

Top 100 Most Expensive Colleges by Total Cost

College Total Cost
1. Sarah Lawrence College 65,480
2. Harvey Mudd College 64,427
3. New York University 63,472
4. Columbia University 63,440
5. University of Chicago 62,458
6. Claremont McKenna College 62,215
7. Fordham University - Lincoln Center 62,192
8. Bard College 62,012
9. Dartmouth College 61,947
10. Scripps College 61,940
11. Oberlin College 61,788
12. Trinity College (CT) 61,756
13. Pitzer College 61,750
14. Bard College at Simon's Rock 61,735
15. Northwestern University 61,640
16. University of Southern California 61,614
17. Haverford College 61,564
18. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 61,529
19. Fordham University - Rose Hill 61,472
20. Drexel University 61,383
21. Johns Hopkins University 61,306
22. Tufts University 61,277
23. Amherst College 61,206
24. Wesleyan University 61,198
25. Carnegie Mellon University 61,186
26. Vassar College 61,140
27. Penn 61,132
28. Williams College 61,070
29. Occidental College 60,972
30. Cornell University 60,964
31. Connecticut College 60,895
32. Tulane University 60,861
33. Eugene Lang College (The New School) 60,852
34. Franklin & Marshall College 60,799
35. Georgetown University 60,768
36. Brandeis University 60,750
37. Bates College 60,720
38. Hampshire College 60,715
39. Barnard College 60,700
40. Boston University 60,694
41. University of Rochester 60,668
42. Boston College 60,622
43. Southern Methodist University 60,586
44. Duke University 60,533
45. Pomona College 60,532
46. The George Washington University 60,460
47. Washington University in St. Louis 60,355
48. Bennington College 60,310
49. Union College (NY) 60,240
50. Stevens Institute of Technology 60,168
51. Colgate University 60,145
52. Bucknell University 60,140
53. Carleton College 60,102
54. Pepperdine University 60,082
55. Hobart and William Smith College 60,034
56. St. Lawrence University 59,972
57. Hamilton College 59,970
58. Reed College 59,960
59. Skidmore College 59,942
60. Bryn Mawr College 59,890
61. Yale University 59,800
62. Smith College 59,674
63. Dickinson College 59,664
64. Babson College 59,614
65. Swarthmore College 59,610
66. Bowdoin College 59,568
67. Colby College 59,500
68. University of Notre Dame 59,461
69. Brown University 59,428
70. Olin College 59,225
71. Middlebury College 59,160
72. Lafayette College 59,155
73. Wellesley College 59,038
74. St. John's College (MD) 58,896
75. Kenyon College 58,890
76. Wake Forest University 58,838
77. Gettysburg College 58,820
78. Harvard 58,607
79. Wheaton College (MA) 58,511
80. Stanford University 58,388
81. Villanova University 58,244
82. MIT 58,240
83. Vanderbilt University 58,220
84. St. John's College (NM) 58,208
85. Davidson 58,146
86. Chapman University 58,048
87. College of the Holy Cross 58,042
88. Emory University 57,768
89. Macalester College 57,691
90. Ursinus College 57,580
91. Northeastern University 57,490
92. University of Richmond 57,470
93. Providence College 57,383
94. Drew University 57,366
95. Worcester Polytechnic Institute 57,304
96. Colorado College 57,162
97. University of Miami 57,034
98. Fairfield University 56,960
99. Loyola University Maryland 56,880
100. Denison University 56,850

Data compiled by CampusGrotto.com

Notes:

Total Cost = Tuition + Room and Board + Required Fees

The fees included in the total cost only include fees that are required for all undergraduates. These fees typically include items like the Student Activity Fee, a Facilities Fee, and a Technology fee. You won't see any fees by major, orientation fees for incoming students, or medical insurance fees included in these costs. Many other fees can be optional and can vary per student and per major. A Student Health Insurance Fee, for example, is obviously not going to be required for a student already on their parents’ insurance plan. Some colleges have their yearly budget for students listed slightly higher than what you see here. This is because some colleges also add in the estimated costs for books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation costs.

Tuition numbers were taken directly from each college's website in fall of 2014.

This list only takes into account colleges that offer bachelor's (BA) degrees at traditional 4-year undergraduate colleges, so you will not see any junior colleges or music conservatories on this list, or schools like Landmark College (costs over $60K) who offer students an Associate of Arts (AA) degree.

The price tags shown for these schools do not mean that they are financially out of reach. Many schools provide financial aid packages that meet 100% of a student's financial need (Cost of Attendance - Estimated Family Contribution). Some colleges even eliminate tuition altogether for lower income students.

To get a better understanding of what you will actually be paying, be sure to use net price calculators that each school provides on their website. These typically take about 10-15 minutes to complete, but can provide a more realistic figure of what you can expect to pay. (For a complete list of colleges and links to their net price calculators visit NetPriceCalculator.com.)

College Search for Beginners

The college search process is long and grueling and often leads to some stressful decision making. Deciding on what college to attend can become an overwhelming experience, and for good reason. After all, there are hundreds of them across the country, all great schools for different reasons. Your first step is to take a deep breath and relax. You want to be completely in control and focused as you go on to make this decision.

Here we’ll point you to some useful resources and cover some important topics to get you started in the college search process. In the end, it is you that makes the decision of where to attend college. Parents, teachers, counselors, college search books and websites can only guide you so far. Only you know what you truly want in a college.

College Search 101

Cool Dorm Room Ideas

When you first enter an empty dorm you may notice the room looks quite minimal and you can’t fathom how you and another roommate are going to live in this space for an entire year. Tiny dorm rooms with cinder block walls, florescent lighting, and little to no carpet come off a little institutional looking and are very uninspiring.

While many colleges around the nation have made a push to design more luxurious dorms over the past few years, it's your job to transform your dorm room into a more livable space. This is your home away from home while you’re going to school, so you’ll want to add as much comfort and personality to the room as possible. Given the small size of the room, designing a dorm becomes a test in utilizing space in the best possible manner.

Use these dorm room ideas to spur your creativity as you design your space.

Dorm Room Ideas

Back to School: Best Backpacks for College

Choosing a backpack for college is an important decision when it comes to organization and mobility. You want a bag with multiple pockets to carry all your accessories, make them easily accessible, and protect all your gear. A bag that’s stylish and unique with enough room to hold textbooks, notebooks, chargers and a laptop, while still being comfortable to wear under a heavy load.

A new school year means new designs for students to choose from to fulfill all their carrying needs. With the above guidelines taken into consideration, here are our top recommended backpacks and messenger bags for college students.

1. OGIO Commuter Backpack

OGIO Commuter OGIO Commuter

Lots of pockets and interior space make this bag ideal for students who carry many items to class. Pockets placed strategically throughout the backpack keep things neat and organized. Three padded sleeves hold a laptop, tablet, and smaller electronic devices evenly across the length of the pack giving the bag a thin profile. This design makes it useful for storing under your seat and is convenient when navigating through crowded areas and riding public transportation. For a backpack that can carry a hefty amount of college gear in a well-organized and protected manner, the OGIO Commuter is well priced at $100.

Best Backpacks for College

College Packing List

With college starting soon, use this packing checklist as reference when determining what to bring.

Notes about what to bring to college:

  1. Coordinate with your roommate on who is bringing what so you don't end up with two of the same thing. There is only so much room in a dorm.
  2. Check with your college and see what items are allowed. Some dorms prohibit certain small appliances.

Quick tips for purchasing items for college:

  1. Check campus classifieds and Craigslist. Buying used is obviously going to be cheaper.
  2. Shop thrift stores and places like Target for more affordable items.
  3. Order from Amazon.com and get it shipped for free with Amazon Prime (free for students for the first 6 months).

College Packing Checklist

America's Best Study Spaces

Whether it’s beautiful architecture or an amazing view, just sitting in an inspiring place can instantly give one a greater sense of wisdom and well-being. Wide-open, beautifully-designed study spaces allow students to spread out, focus, and achieve serenity during times of stressful study. These are the places students come to do battle. From writing term papers to studying for finals, these locations provide the perfect environment to tackle any coursework.

Here we’ll showcase some of the greatest college study spaces around the country.

Harper Reading Room at University of Chicago

The vaulted Main Reading Room in the Arley D. Cathy Learning Center of Harper Library is one of the world's most beautiful reading rooms and a UChicago favorite. Open to students 24 hours a day, it is the perfect space for quiet individual study.

Harper Library

Beautiful Study Spaces

Audio Textbooks

Limited Time Offer: Download a free audiobook.

Time is a valuable commodity. This is especially true in college when you have to master the art of multitasking. It is important to take advantage of productivity tools that will help you succeed. One way to free up more of your time and increase your productivity is to make use of audio textbooks.

Audio books give you many options when it comes to being productive. Textbooks can be listened to on your commute, in the gym, while walking to class, or while relaxing on the quad. With MP3 being the format of choice for audio books, they can be listened to on any of your electronic devices.

Here we’ll go over a few ways you can get your textbook in audio format for easy listening on the go.

Audio Textbooks