So as most of you may know, I'll be an incoming freshman to Colorado State University - Pueblo this fall and I'm super excited! It's a new journey of my life that I can't wait to go forward with. What I wasn't too fond of however are the overpriced textbooks at the campus bookstore, the endless dorm shopping/packing, and the food (I'm already picturing a hot slice of what was frozen pizza), and that's just to name a few. Now even though I haven't moved in or finished my shopping quite just yet, I figured I'll share some tips with you all that I've learned or even thought up of myself along the way.
1. Textbooks - Use your campus bookstore as your LAST option. Seriously! Expect to faint when you figure out that your Psychology book may cost around $200. This is not a time for splurging just yet! From experience of ordering all my textbooks just recently I have definitely learned to shop around. First I made a list of all my required textbooks at my campus bookstore (the total was over $1200 if I was to purchase them all there!). Then by using their ISBN numbers I scouted out other online retailers like Amazon, Chegg, and Barnes & Noble for the exact copies (make sure the ISBN, edition, author/publisher, etc matches). Buying your textbooks used (read the seller's description carefully) is also another great option. Most of your textbooks you'll be lucky if you'll use them more than twice and some classes are only a semester long . You can save up to 90% by buying used or renting! By doing that I narrowed down my total under $350 for my entire semester of books. Sadly about $120 of my total alone was for one book (yes just one!) at my campus bookstore that was published by one of my professors so I couldn't find it elsewhere. Everything else that I purchased was either used, rented, and some even new for such a low cost! The best part yet, you might even want to consider selling your books back to the retailers once you're finished using them.
2. Shopping - Now I know that shopping can be uber exciting. However your wallet may cry a little during the process, especially if you're going to be moving into a dorm, sorority, fraternity, or apartment. There are so many necessities that you have to purchase. You probably won't be able to keep track of them all. Luckily most schools may have a generic list for you that you can go off of but I wouldn't just narrow it down to just that alone. Go off of your school list for the things you absolutely NEED and shop around to find deals on them. It may be best to wait closer to your deadline because that's usually when back to school specials come around. It's still not a crime to do some shopping a tad earlier but I would recommend to not buy anything at retail price just yet. Also you may want to even purchase most of your needs at inexpensive places such as DormCo, Target, or Walmart. Places like those are usually always having specials and if you're lucky you may even find a coupon or two to save you extra money. Also do not shop excessively! I will be moving into a dorm in less than two weeks and they surely aren't luxurious. Purchasing too many things will just cram up the little space you barely have. Essentials come first! If you're super needy, storage bins/crates will probably be your lifesaver for those extra things you have to have.
3. Food - Yes I do understand that the food is probably much better than the kind you had in High School but it's surely still not a five start restaurant or your favorite home cooked meals on campus. If you're going to be living on campus I can guarantee you will get tired of the cafe food and fast! Now I know I haven't experienced this yet but having friends who have already completed their first year are great for getting the deets on college life. Being a vegetarian is probably going to hit me harder in college since my options will be very limited. However I do have a few ideas that I'd love to share with you all that I think will work out perfect. This year my college has decided to upgrade all of the dorm rooms with microfridges (microwave + refrigerator/freezer in one!) so of course I'll surely be taking advantage of that. I do have to start off with by saying one thing: DO NOT indulge in ramen noodles everyday. Freshman 15 will hit you hard! However if you have the advantage of having a mini refrigerator and microwave already in your room or if you purchased your own, save aside some money and have a mini grocery shopping for yourself. Purchase things that are easy to recreate in your dorm such as necessities for sandwiches, salads, a couple of healthy microwavable meals (my favorites are from Amy's but too many can still be unhealthy), canned goods, boxed snacks, fruits, vegetables, juice, and water (very important!). By doing this you won't have to rely on that slice of pizza you've probably eaten everyday for a week at your cafe. It's nice to switch things up a bit and can save you money on a meal plan!
Now I'll surely be sharing more of my experiences along the way so stay tuned!