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 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 at now.

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

10 Banned College Traditions worth Reviving

Traditions are how college memories will be formed. Take them away, student satisfaction goes down and you have thousands of unhappy students paying $50K a year to go to school.

Limiting the amount of fun college students are allowed to have is kind of like prohibition; it doesn’t work. To keep their sanity, students need time to blow off steam with something away from the monotony of studying.

Traditions provide a sense of community on a campus with thousands of students. Without this feeling of belongingness, students begin to feel lost in the crowd and can end up transferring or even dropping out. These traditions mean a lot to students and alumni and to ban them outright leaves an empty void in the school spirit of every student.

As a follow-up to our recent ranking of college traditions, we’d like to showcase some of these historic traditions that would have been included in the list, had they not been banned by college administrators. Here are 10 traditions worth reviving.

Phi Psi 500 at Penn State

Penn State’s Phi Psi 500 began in the late 1960s and was a spring tradition that lasted for 25 years. The 1.1 mile foot race through the streets of downtown State College required 6 pit stops at designated bars along the course where runners had to chug either a beer or soda. It was a heavily anticipated spring event by both students and alumni, drawing about 1500 runners every year.

While the runners who took the race serious ran in the morning, the highlight of the event was the “Anything Goes” division where large groups of students would dress in costume, turning the race into a festive parade. At its peak, sidewalks were four to five people deep as 20,000-30,000 spectators turned out for the charity event.

The university later cracked down on the yearly tradition, removing beer from the festivities. The final Phi Psi 500 was seen in 1992. Here’s a video from the 1982 race, where more than 1,400 runners participated.

Banned College Traditions

The 100 Greatest College Traditions

College Traditions

One of the greatest aspects of the college experience is being a part of a great college tradition. Traditions can provide a great sense of community, school spirit and overall well-being at a college with many students.

Here we present our ranking of the 100 Greatest College Traditions based on the history, amount of student participation, and overall uniqueness of the tradition. Many of these are long-standing traditions that students and alumni hold dearly. You won’t see any college sports traditions here. We’re saving those for our upcoming ranking of the 100 Greatest College Sports Traditions. Make sure you are signed up to receive our latest articles by email so you know when this ranking becomes available.

As administrations around the country attempt to clamp down on some of these sacred traditions, it's up to students to keep these traditions alive. These traditions are yours; it’s important to keep them going strong so they can be passed down to future generations.

1. Little 500 at Indiana University

Little 500

The Little 500 is the largest collegiate bike race in the United States. Modeled after the Indianapolis 500, riders compete in four-person teams racing relay-style for 200 laps around a quarter-mile track at Bill Armstrong Stadium. First held in 1951, the event fills the stadium every year, drawing more than 25,000 spectators. Known as "The World's Greatest College Weekend," the town is full of events and non-stop partying the week leading up to the race that one could almost call it the greatest college week in America. The event is highlighted in the movie, “Breaking Away.”

College Traditions

Creating a Weekly Study Schedule – A Step-by-Step Guide

College is all about mastering the art of multitasking. The best way to tackle this is to draw up a weekly plan of attack. To do this you need to create some sort of schedule to follow and have a study plan.

Setting up a Weekly Study Schedule

The key is to get it down in writing so you get yourself on a game plan for the week ahead.

Weekly Study Schedule Worksheet

Do this by dividing an entire week into hour-long segments and then filling in each hour with a specific activity. Breaking up parts of the day into a schedule and assigning certain work to certain times reduces the chance of procrastination and keeps you on auto-pilot for the week.

You can create your study plan using the weekly schedule worksheet we created for you.

Creating your Weekly Schedule

  1. The first step is to block off the times you will be in class. Go through each day and mark in all your classes in their respective time slots.

  2. The next step is to add in all other academic and social commitments for the week. This includes labs, office hours, discussions, study groups, and so on.

  3. Mark in the times that you will be eating meals, working, exercising, in meetings or appointments, and any social functions you have planned.

  4. Now that you have a better idea of the open times in your schedule, you can start scheduling in your study time. Decide how much study time you will set aside for each class. (A good rule of thumb is to allow for 2-3 hours for every hour spent in class.) Designate specific hours in the week for study time, reading, writing, and review. On your weekly schedule, mark what tasks you will complete during these study time slots and the order in which you will complete them.

    Utilize hour breaks in between classes: Squeeze in study hours in short periods of free time found throughout the day, as opposed to waiting to do everything at the end of the night. Evenings are often an ineffective time to study.

    When creating your study plan, think about the times when you are most productive. If you find it easier to study in the morning or have a hard time concentrating at night, schedule as much of your study time for the mornings as possible.

    Studying is more effective when done in shorter regular sessions rather than long sessions, so don't schedule too long of a study period for a single subject. Give yourself short breaks.

  5. Leave some time blocks open for personal use or free time. This is where you can spend time socializing or connecting with family and friends.

Bonus Tip: Schedule time for review after your classes. Go over your class notes. Research has shown that reviewing new material within 24 hours of hearing it increases your retention of that material by about 60%. Schedule this review time immediately after your classes whenever possible. Use this time to edit and summarize your notes.

Create a Study Schedule