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FoolProof Tips for the College-Bound

By Will from Holland

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Get off on the right foot when you hit campus this fall! Just follow our FoolProof tips to protect your pride and your pocketbook:

  • Do you know anyone who already attends the school? Hook up with them, and if possible have them tour you on campus before school starts in the fall. Focus on learning your way around both the school itself and the areas around campus. Ask about any common pitfalls or campus scams that have caught other freshman off guard.

  • If you haven't attended a regular college orientation, schedule one now! Many schools don't require this any longer, but you'll be glad you attended.

  • Still short on money? Check into last-minute financial aid and scholarships. At times last-hour and oddball scholarships come up. Did you know there's a tattoo parlor that actually gives an $1100 scholarship? (You don't even need a tattoo to apply!)

    • Fill out this questionnaire at the "College Board" website to get a quick look at many money options you've probably never considered.
    • Call the college financial aid office. Many schools have a list of minor non-academic scholarships available just in their city. Many times, those scholarships don't receive much publicity, so few students apply. And these scholarships can reward you for good deeds, rather than good grades. For instance, how about a $1000 scholarship for all the volunteer work you did last year? Ask your aid office if they have a list of grants not yet awarded—or grants that still have open application dates.
    • Carefully surf some of the college "help" websites. A good site to locate last minute money is But a fair warning: they share some of your personal data with partners.
    • Apply for part-time jobs now, not when you're there. If possible, visit potential work spots when you tour the campus (and look sharp when you go to that interview).
  • Do you plan to move into an apartment with friends or other students you don't know? An excellent money-saving thought…but think ahead:

    • Slow down! Read the apartment rental agreement. Are you signing the lease agreement? You'll be responsible for the total rent if a roomie moves out! Do you have a pet? Does the place allow them?
    • Do you need to furnish your pad? Visit used furniture shops. Usually you'll find them close to campus. Check them out a month or so before you arrive…furniture disappears quickly.

Where will you bank? If you belong to the credit union, you'll be able to use your debit card for free at many ATMs around your new campus. Locate them before you head off to school.

Lastly, get ready for lots of smooth pitches to get you to open a "local" bank account. Forget it! A good credit union is your best banking friend in college. And if you're reading this, you probably already belong to one.

Did you find some of these tips useful? Why not check out our other no-holds-barred goodies about college? Just click on the "college" tab right here on CUHQ!

Alright, that's it for now. Enjoy college!

Cheers, Will.