Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Big, New Option for Textbooks

College costs a boatload of money, as we all know. And after you've shelled out untold thousands of dollars for tuition and board, the high cost of textbooks adds salt to the cost-of-college wound.

Here's some interesting news. Amazon has entered the textbook market through rentals. The rental, prices will vary depending on the book, is for 130 days. It's accompanied by a free 6-month trial of the student version of Amazon Prime. You may want to tell your college students to take a look. The books are new or gently used. Light underlining/highlighting is ok -- but if the marking goes overboard, the book must be purchased. Books may also be purchased outright, too.

Other similar sites include chegg.com and bookrenter.com. It might be worth sampling costs of specific books at all sites (and for a laugh, at the campus bookstore)to determine which offers the best prices.

Happy studying -- especially if you can save some money.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When Packing for College, Include New Friend Bait

It's a bittersweet time for families of college-bound kids. Their teens are about to start their own lives, away from the day-to-day rules and structure they've known for 18 years or so. It's exciting, it's an adventure, it's scary. It makes most parents sad to think about it.

For the teens, though, the biggest fear, probably, is not difficult courses or managing to do the laundry and keep track of expenses. The most frightening part of going off to school may just be the challenge of making new friends as close friends are left behind.

Here are some practical ideas on how to make your teen's dorm room a friend magnet -- or at least a room that attracts people who just might turn into friends. And it's stuff that can still be easily packed into the car for the big trip to school.

One of the suggestions - bring old movies along. Our daughter is a film aficionado. I suspect she will bring a boxful of her favorite movies -- old comedies (Some Like It Hot is an all-time favorite), Bogart classics, some musicals would be part of her collection. How wonderful to invite friends for a night at the movies. And it's even a way to identify friends with similar tastes in film fare.

I can smell the microwave popcorn already!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Typos Make Me Laugh, Till They're In a College App

We've all made typos in our lives, but some are more public than others. Take this headline I just saw: "25 Education Bogs Perfect for Parents (And Anyone Else)

First, I sort of agree that education in the U.S. is at times one messy sinkhole but somehow I don't think that's what the writer meant. Next, did the blogger go back and re-read the piece before publishing? Was the typo validated by spell check, since bog is a word? Or was it just a careless mistake?

Before spell check, we just had to proof our own work. There were no helpful tools. Or are they helpful? Maybe they are dangerous if we rely on them blindly and don't take responsibility ourselves. Here's a funny piece on the problems with Autocorrect -- some of the "corrections" can be pretty embarrassing.

This is a long way of saying that as your seniors begin working on their applications for college, remind them to proof carefully, because autocorrect may have a warped sense of humor. After all, was it really the teen's intent to give heartfelt reasons for wanting to attend Duck University?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You Tube Helps Admissions Process? Who Knew?

Not only do teens need to understand what a college is about -- academics, culture, diversity, feel of campus -- before it makes the list, they also need to know enough about the college to sound smart when asked, "So why do you want to attend our school" on the inevitable short answer question on the college's own application that generally supplements the Common App. You Tube, it turns out, is a good source for some decent information. More than 400 colleges now have tours, lectures and other information available on You Tube. So take a look. It's sure to be more lively than a catalog or a directory of colleges. Also, an update in another area. Remember how the College Board said it would institute new security measures? The new regimen has begun with the October SAT. Students must submit a photo of themselves online along with registration information and payment. Then the College Board emails the ticket, with photo, which must be presented on test day.