How to Prepare for Your First Week of Classes

It’s finally here – your first week of classes! Maybe you’re starting university for the first time this semester, or maybe you’re returning for another year. Either way, we’ve compiled some tips to help you prepare for class so you can start the year off successfully.

Read the syllabus ahead of time

You know that thing your professor posts on Blackboard or emails to you a week before class with all of your required books, class schedule, assignments, and due dates? That’s your syllabus – and yes, you should be reading it before the first day of class. We know you’re probably saying “But isn’t my professor going to go over it in class?” Some of them will; some of them won’t. Regardless of whether the professor discusses what’s on the syllabus, you can have a sense of what’s ahead for the semester by reading it thoroughly. Make a note of any questions you have about due dates, assignments, required reading, and anything else the professor included on the syllabus so you can ask about them on the first day of class.

Map out where your classes are on campus

Whether you’re a new or returning student, it’s important to know exactly where your classes are on campus. It’s helpful to know just how much time it will take you from your dorm to get to class – or even to and from other classes or activities you have throughout the day. This ensures that you’re not rushing around campus your first week back trying to get to class on time because you are unsure where a class is. If you need help locating where your classes are, consider checking the class roster (if available to you) and buddy up with a classmate to walk to class. Determining where your class buildings and rooms are ahead of time will remove some of the stress during your first week.

Charge your laptop or organize your class supplies

Before classes start, make sure you know exactly how you’re going to take notes and organize all of your materials. Some students choose to do this digitally, with physical notebooks and folders, or both. The benefit of getting your supplies in order means that you can show up to class knowing where to start taking notes and storing your information. Additionally, it means that you’re not devising an organization method a few weeks into the semester, ensuring that you don’t lose any notes from the first days or weeks of classes.

Get a good night’s sleep

It might be tempting to go out or stay up late the night before your first classes because you don’t have any homework yet, but just remember, these first weeks can help set the tone for the whole year. Getting a good night’s sleep before your first week ensures that you can be alert and make a good impression on your professors – and your classmates. You’ll be able to better plan for the weeks ahead, and better process the seemingly overwhelming amount of new information you’ll be taking in.

Will Your Phone Work in the US?

Have you ever lost your phone? How long did you have to go without it for? A few hours can be stress-inducing; a few days and you’re approaching full-on panic. Our phones help us feel connected. They provide us with some trusty apps and resources like maps, on-demand rides and food, and a way to get in touch with friends, family members, or basically, everyone we need to get our stuff done. It’s only when we’re suddenly without our phones – and mobile service – that we suddenly realize just how much we rely on them, and how important they are.

That’s why it’s mobile phone service of the first things you need to get set up as a student, especially if you’re arriving to the US for the first time. It’s not enough that you have a phone – you need to know if your phone will work in the US. To make sure that you’re never without the ability to use your phone and ensure a seamless transition, there are a couple things that are essential to your phone working in the US: compatibility and coverage.


When we refer to “compatibility,” we’re referring to whether or not your phone or device will work with the service you’re choosing. You might have heard the acronyms “CDMA” or “GSM.” These terms just refer to “multiple access technologies. They’re ways for people to cram multiple phone calls or internet connections into on radio channel.”

What does this mean for you? Carriers who use GSM technology put customer information on SIM cards, versus carriers who use CDMA who use “network-based white lists to verify subscribers,” and who require you to switch phones with their permission. As technology improves though, more carriers are moving away from GSM and CDMA, but that doesn’t mean you can completely disregard it.

Because some CDMA phones don’t have SIM card slots, you wouldn’t be able to transfer it to another network. Some devices on CDMA do have a SIM slot, you might need to contact your carrier to “unlock” your device to use on another network. GSM phones are easier to transfer to other networks and will have the SIM card slot. As you’re deciding what mobile phone service you want to use, you’ll want to see if your phone is compatible as a CDMA or GSM device to make your transition easier – and also ensure you can make the most out of that service.


Coverage refers to the signal strength of your mobile phone carrier, and where that signal extends to. Many carriers will provide a “coverage map” so that you can see how far their signal and network extends, allowing you to determine if you’d have good “service.” Good service really just means that you’ll be able to make calls and send texts easily, with little disruption or distortion during the call, and with speed when making a text.

There are a few factors that can influence how well you’re covered by your carrier, including “proximity to a cell site, physical obstacles and signal interference…or natural disturbances,” like severe weather or the landscape in the area. Sometimes, even being in a crowded or busy place can cause delays or disruptions to your service. There are some areas across the country where little or no signal can be found, commonly referred to as “dead zones,” which make it impossible to make a phone call or send a text.

Understanding the strength and expanse of the network you’re on is important when choosing a mobile phone service provider. Most carriers include coverage maps on their websites, and though these aren’t always entirely accurate (and can’t account for exact conditions or circumstances), they provide a good baseline indicator of whether you’ll be able to use your phone.

Finding a mobile phone provider that is compatible with your phone and offers good coverage in the area you’ll be living in will ensure that you can enjoy all of the features of your phone and mobile phone service.

5 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Back-to-School

It might be hard to believe this, but we’re already halfway through summer. We know, we know – you don’t want to think about moving back into your dorm and doing homework again while you’re enjoying the summer sunshine and a break from exams and essays. But while there’s still a lot of time left before you head back to school, you can make the transition back-to-school a little bit easier by doing these five things to prepare now.

Download your syllabi ahead of time

Some professors will make the syllabus for their class available ahead of the start of the semester on the class website or academic platform (like Blackboard). This is a great opportunity to do a little more research into the course you’re taking, because, let’s be honest, you might know little more than course title and a vague description. Check out what books are required for the course, and if possible, you could even skim your textbooks or do one of the initial readings for class. It might give you a sense of how time-consuming the reading might be so you can determine how to plan for other commitments, such as other class assignments, participating in clubs or on-campus organizations, an internship, and even just having a social life.

Get planning and map out your due dates

If you’re able to review your syllabi ahead of time, you will also want to consider getting a planner (sometimes called an agenda or calendar) and adding the dates of future assignments, tests, and other due dates during your semester. Whether you choose to use a digital calendar or put pen to paper, you’ll be able to prepare for how busy (or maybe un-busy) your semester will be. Having due dates in your planner will let you see if you have any overlapping due dates and, for example, come up with a game plan for how to complete an essay assignment for the same day you have a big exam.

Organize your essentials

We all have a tendency to procrastinate sometimes, but you don’t want to leave packing for the day before you leave home and head to school. Start by making a list. What do you need for the upcoming semester that you can’t buy once you’re already at school, or that would be too expensive or logistically difficult to purchase upon arriving at school? For example, you’ll want to bring the clothes you need for the semester (or maybe even the whole year) but you can purchase snacks and beverages upon arriving at school. As you create your list, you’ll be able to start packing up your things so that you have plenty of time to get the things you need ahead of time or notice if you’ve forgotten something.

Get your US phone number

If you’re traveling to university in the US for the first time, you should definitely get your US phone number before you leave your home country. By signing up for Mint Mobile through campusSIMS, you can pick out your phone plan and get that US phone number ahead of time. You’ll be able to give your phone number to your parents so that they have a way of easily contacting you once you get to the US. Also, with campusSIMS and Mint Mobile, you don’t need to activate your plan until you get to the US – so you aren’t paying for mobile phone service until you’re ready to use it. You’ll be able to activate when land and get off of the plane, but before then, you have peace of mind knowing that you’re already all set up with phone service.

Do some research on your new neighborhood

Whether you’re returning to school for another semester or you’re moving to the US for the first time, it’s definitely worth doing research on the city or new neighborhood where you’re living. This, of course, is important from a safety perspective – you should familiarize yourself with your surroundings so you feel comfortable navigating outside of campus if/when you need to. You can use Google Maps (or other maps services) to bookmark important places like local hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, and post offices or shipping companies (like FedEx, UPS, DHL). Additionally, you can figure out the places for more fun activities like local restaurants, bars, museums, parks, and more.

10 Ideas for Spending Your Summer in the US

After months of late nights studying, and seemingly endless exams and essays, your school year has finally drawn to a close. You’ve returned your books, packed up your dorm room, and passed in your final papers – so what’s next? With an entire summer ahead of you, there are countless opportunities for making the most of your break. Because of this, we’re sharing a list of the 10 best ways to spend your summer so that you return to school in the fall ready to tackle another year.

Work at a summer job or internship

The summer is a great time to add to your resume by working a job or an internship. Between the end of the year, and when you start school back up in the fall, you’ll have almost four full months to immerse yourself in a new work environment, learn new skills, and maybe even save some money. An internship is also a great way to determine whether you’re truly interested in particular career path post-college, and allows you to grow your business network that can lead to future jobs or opportunities.


Another great way to add to your resume — with the added bonus of doing good and contributing to your community — is by volunteering. Consider the causes that are important and meaningful to you, and then look into local organizations or non-profits that could use volunteers. This allows you to spend some of your free time during the summer in a way that can make a difference in your community.

Go to the beach or a lake

Summer weather just might be the best weather – and that’s why you should definitely plan at least one trip to the beach or to a lake over the summer. If you’re located on one of the coasts, you can head to either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean and indulge in some fun in the sun. For those who are landlocked, consider one of the country’s Great Lakes, or even the many other lakes that offer plenty of fun water activities and ways to keep cool.

Visit a park

If lounging beachside or lakefront isn’t your thing and you want something more active, you should consider going to a national park. There are ample opportunities for picturesque hikes and camping spots, and you’ll be able to take in some of the natural beauty of the outdoors. With more than 50 national parks to choose from, you’ll certainly be able to satisfy your love of nature. Just remember that some of the parks do have some admission fees, so pack your wallet with your gear.

Attend local or community events

Cities and towns across the country take advantage of the great weather – and the increased enthusiasm for activities – by hosting community events for the public. These events range from things like carnivals for the 4th of July to outdoor movie screenings and concerts to farmer’s markets (where growers sell food and crafts). Depending on where you live, many of these events are free, which is ideal if you’re trying to have fun on a budget. You can look up local events through apps like Eventbrite or even Facebook, or consider going to the website of the town or city that you live in and looking into events.

Attend a sporting event

Even if you aren’t the biggest sports fan, going to a sporting event in the summer can be a lot of fun. There’s an incredible energy from the crowd that’s fueled by everyone supporting the home team, cheering on victories, and commiserating when the outcome is less than desirable. Whether you choose to attend the event with or without friends, you’ll certainly make more, as everyone shares team spirit.

Attend a music festival or concert

Have you ever gone to a music concert outside in the summer? Between the summer breeze and the sound of your favorite songs bringing you together with hundreds or thousands of other fans, it can be an incredible experience. See what your favorite bands or musicians are up to — or better yet, consider going to a music festival where you can see multiple artists over the course of one, two, or even three days for a truly fun sampling. There are some big festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, or Burning Man, but if you want to keep it local, your very own city likely has some musical events happening throughout the summer also.

Try a new hobby or learn a new skill

Was there ever something you wanted to learn or try, but you just didn’t have the time to do so during the school year? With ample time during the summer, maybe it’s time to try out that new hobby or skill you’ve always been interested in learning. You’ll have plenty of time to hone your craft or progress with your new skill, and in some cases, maybe you’ll be able to add it to your resume.

Take a class

Okay, you might see this suggestion and think “I just finished taking classes!” But taking class in the summer is a great way to maintain the momentum from the school year, and also free up space in your schedule during the fall or spring for things like an internship or other classes that might be more difficult to get into. If there was a class you didn’t do as well in during the school year, you could also consider taking it again during the summer to earn a better grade, especially if you’re able to give it greater focus.

Get ahead on your syllabi

Some professors like to post their syllabi a few weeks ahead of the beginning of the fall semester – and this can be a great time to get to work early. You could start some of the class reading or do a little more research into the subject matter so you feel totally prepared for the first day of class.

How to Build a Good Relationship with Your College Roommate

You meet a lot of people when you start at university, but there is one (or sometimes two or three) in particular that can end up having the biggest impact on your life: your roommate. You share your room, your space, and essentially, your life with this person. They inhabit the space beside you for almost an entire year, and are subject to dealing with any aftermath caused by your mood, your classes, your relationships, and your life. Sometimes, you’re lucky to have a roommate with which things just work. More often though, you have to work at your relationship with your roommate in order to have a peaceful living environment. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make living with your roommate a fun experience.

Get to know them

This one should be obvious, but you should take the time to get to know your roommate. Bonding with your roommate is important for a few reasons. First of all, getting to know your roommate helps you establish some things in common and perhaps could even provide the foundation for a friendship.

Secondly, getting to know your roommate helps you understand what matters to them – and this translates into what type of roommate they will be. If your roommate really values getting good grades and being successful in school, you might learn that they plan on spending a lot of time in the library or that they have early classes, which means they want a quiet room and they’ll go to bed early. If your roommate is involved in a lot of clubs and has an active social life, that might mean they will want to have friends over in the room or that they might be up late getting back from their activities. This allows you to understand their motivations and why they might behave the way they do. Finally, getting to know them also just allows you to feel comfortable living with them, especially given that your room should be a space where you can decompress and do what you want, without judgment.

Set ground rules

Once you’ve gotten to know your roommate, you should feel comfortable enough to discuss some guidelines and ground rules for your room. What this means is that you’ll establish some boundaries regarding what is allowed or not allowed in your room.

For example, one area to discuss might be room cleanliness and how you want to share responsibility for keeping the space neat and clean, if that’s something that’s important to you. Maybe you decide to clean the room every week or every other week, but you both should acknowledge and agree to the terms. Another area to discuss might be how many nights per week you could have visitors – or overnight visitors. If you’re uncomfortable having guests sleep over in the room, then that should be established at the beginning of the semester.

Setting these terms now ensures fewer conflicts and prevents future ones – and unpleasant conversations or confrontation – throughout the year as they come up because you can return to your original conversation. It also helps to write your roommate guidelines out, so that you can refer back to them if one of you violates them.

Address problems as they come up

When you or a roommate does break one of the rules you established earlier in the semester, address it immediately. Don’t let problems pile up without addressing them. For example, let’s say your roommate had a guest over without asking permission, violating one of your previously agreed-upon rules. Don’t wait a few days to bring it up to your roommate. At that point, it becomes less relevant and causes you to dwell on the problem, potentially making you more upset. By bringing it up quickly, you allow your roommate the opportunity to explain and apologize, and coming to a resolution.

At the same time, you should also consider whether something is worth bringing up. If your roommate breaks one of your mutually agreed-upon rules, that’s worth bringing up. However, if your roommate does something that annoys you or is unpleasant – or if he or she breaks a rule but you know there were extenuating circumstances – consider whether it’s worth addressing through a confrontation. Remember that they are a person too, and they deserve compassion and understanding just the same. Ultimately, it’s always important to communicate with your roommate, and make sure that you both understand the other’s motivations and reasons.

Make friends with other students

This might seem like a strange thing to add to this list, but expanding your circle of friends beyond your roommate will actually help your relationship with your roommate. Why is that? Well, you already live with your roommate, so they are subject to dealing with the ups and downs of your life as you do, even if you aren’t always sharing it with them. You need time with other friends to give your roommate some space. When you spend too much time with someone, you can be more likely to get into arguments or pick up on annoying habits.

By spending time with other friends, you and your roommate both get some time apart and can recharge before sharing your space again. This doesn’t mean that you and your roommate can’t spend a lot of time together – inside and outside of the room – but it just allows you both to develop fulfilling and meaningful relationships with other people who can add to your ability to be a better friend and roommate to each other.

9 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Storage Unit

After an entire school year worth of classes, club meetings, sporting events, and parties, it’s likely that you’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff. You might have started the year with a clean dorm room or apartment with aspirations of minimalism, but inevitably, you’ve somehow acquired more items than you had originally moved in with. Now that it’s time to head home for the semester, you have to figure out what to do with all of your belongings. Of course, you can donate some of the items, or trash those beyond repair; but for the things you want to keep, but can’t take home with you – where do you put those?

One great option for storing your belongings for the summer is storage units. The premise is pretty simple: a storage unit is space you rent for storing your items. It’s a great option for students who have items they want to keep over the summer, but don’t have the space for or can’t transport home with you. While the concept is easy to understand, not all storage units and facilities are the same, so we’ve devised a helpful list of things nine things you need to consider when choosing a storage unit:


Size matters — when it comes to your storage unit. While you definitely need to think about the square footage of the space, don’t forget to consider ceiling height as well. Make a list of the items you want to store in your storage unit to help determine what size you’ll need. Depending on some of the items you plan to store, you’ll need to make sure they fit both in terms of width and height. The size of your unit will also factor into how much the storage unit costs.

Length of time

Most storage unit rental facilities rent month-to-month, so you’ll want to think about how much time you’ll need your unit for. Though many facilities accept short-term rentals, some do require a minimum rental period, so as your choosing a facility, keep this into consideration.

Self-service vs. full-service

The difference between self-service and full-service storage units really relates to how much access you have to your items. A self-service storage facility provides allows you to access your unit whenever you want, and you’ll likely have your own key and lock. A full-service facility controls access, so you have to provide notice when you want to access your belongings. Additionally, some full-service options will pick up and deliver your items, which could be ideal if you do not have a vehicle. Self-service offers more flexibility, but if you’re going to be away for months at a time without a need to access your items, full-service provides more security.


The location of your storage unit matters for a few reasons: accessibility and cost. If you need to access your items frequently, then choosing a storage unit nearby will make things easier; however, if you are storing your items for the summer, then location matters less and cost might matter more. Sometimes, storage unit facilities are less expensive outside of urban areas – where the demand might be greater – so you can find a better deal.


Obviously, cost can be a factor when deciding on a storage solution. There are a few factors to consider that will ultimately add to the cost: minimum length of time requirements, type of contract, and additional fees. Some storage facilities will require a minimum storage period, which will affect cost. Also, month-to-month storage options can be more affordable as well. Don’t forget to consider additional fees though — make sure you understand what happens if you make a late payment or miss a payment so that you don’t incur extra expenses or risk losing your storage unit (and your items in it).


Depending on what sort of items you’re storing, you can select a storage facility that controls the temperature of its units. If you have any items that require a climate-controlled environment, this could make the unit more expensive, but it will ensure that all of your items will remain in good condition, especially if you’re leaving them for multiple months.

Safety and surveillance

It’s definitely important to look into how secure the facility and its storage units are. As you’re researching facilities, ask about whether there is video monitoring or in-person surveillance for the units, as this will help to keep your items safe. Additionally, if you go to the facility ahead of time, make note of whether it is well-lit, which will ensure your own safety when you go to access your items.

Accessibility and convenience

We previously mentioned the importance of being able to access your items when you need them, and part of that has to do with when the storage facility itself is open. Before choosing a storage unit, check the facility’s hours. Some are open 24-hours a day, especially if they’re self-service, but if you choose a full-service option, you might be limited in when you can access your stuff. This might not be as important when you don’t need your stuff or are away for the summer, but when you’re back and ready to move into your apartment or dorm, it’ll be good to know when you can get your belongings again.

Online reviews

You probably wouldn’t buy something on Amazon without first checking the reviews, right? You definitely want to do the same and check the reviews for a storage facility. Keep in mind that sometimes people who post reviews are sometimes tend towards the extreme — many reviewers are either really happy or unhappy with their experience. However, look for any emerging patterns from these reviews. If you see customers frequently mention the same issues, it could be an indication that you’ll experience the same thing and that you should consider another facility.