5 Tips for Starting a Business While in College

You’re in the middle of writing a 10-page essay on feminism in the digital age when it happens. An amazing idea hits you as you sit in your dorm and you know. Following in the footsteps of Gates and Zuckerberg, you’re ready to start your own business.

But where do you begin?

Here are 5 fantastic tips to help you launch your business and maintain your GPA.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Launching a business takes time, effort, time, money, time, plus more time. Client calls have to be scheduled around Econ 201, orders fulfilled the same week your essay for Russian Lit due, and work doesn’t stop for finals week. Many of us already need more hours in a day and as a college student (especially if you’re full-time) your time is at a premium. How does this fit into your life? How much funding will you need for a launch? What products or services are you offering? Do you need to a license? Does your business need to be registered with the state? You can answer all these questions by writing a business plan. This document helps you turn your idea into actionable steps. It also comes in handy when you’re securing funding, but more on that later.

Value Your Time, Build a Website

We already know your time is precious and one great place to conserve time is in building your website. Do you need a website for your business? Yes, you absolutely do. 81% of customers look online before buying products or services and you don’t want to miss out on those potential leads. It’s simple to get started but the design will take the most time. If you know CSS and HTML, this part is no problem. But don’t worry, there are options for those who can’t cascade style sheets. Web builders like Weebly, WordPress, Wix, and SquareSpace all offer templates you can customize without any coding.

Can’t build your own website? Find someone else to do it for you. The internet is full of designers ready to build your site at every budget level and you can approach them directly. If that option is outside of your budget, websites like Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, and Upwork have a database of freelancers offering a their services for a range of pricing.

Looking for a free option? Find someone willing to do a skill swap. Offer a designer your product or one of your services for free in exchange for designing your website. Not only will you get a new website, you’ve also made a connection and found a future evangelist for your business.

The point is, value your time. You don’t want to spend hours, days, or months coding your own website. And you definitely don’t want to spend that much time learning how to do it yourself before you even get started building one. While it would be a nice skill to have, unless you’re already studying this in school, you should stick to what is going to get you the result you need as quickly as possible.

Find Your Free Resources

As a student entrepreneur, take advantage of all of the free resources at your fingertips. Set up an official business email address using your own domain. There are free options available which means you have more money to spend on other essential items for your business.

Check in with your school’s business center or entrepreneurship support services. Some colleges offer access to space, development resources, pitch days and training, and mentorship opportunities.

Are there any classes that could directly support your business? Think outside of the norm and focus specifically on skills for your business. Maybe textile classes, computer science, or design are just what you need to launch yourself. What does your library or college offer to support small businesses?

Finally, the Small Business Association website is full of advice, resources, and the latest federal business regulations.

Get Out and Mingle

Starting a business can feel like a solitary venture but don’t let yourself stay holed up in your dorm room hacking away at a business plan. Some of the best business breakthroughs are born from conversations with other people. So go forth and network.

Find events at your school for entrepreneurs. Are any organizations based around starting businesses? Join or just attend their events. Organize your own event by partnering with an established organization. Find out what’s happening in your community. Are there any local or national organizations having events nearby? Is there an upcoming conference you can attend in person or online? Look to social media. Join Facebook entrepreneurship groups. Follow like-minded people on Twitter and Instagram. Find companies you admire and follow them on LinkedIn. Look for a small business or entrepreneur Meetup to attend. The internet is full of people ready to share advice and even pool resources.

Find a Mentor

One important part of starting a new business is finding a mentor, someone you can look to for advice or call on in a pinch. This should be someone you trust and admire and with whom you can have candid conversations. These folks are all around you in college, all you need to do is reach out to them. Talk to teachers, guest speakers, and alumni. If you’re in a fraternity or sorority, reach out to your fellow members. Connect with people on Twitter, LinkedIn, or new apps like Shapr. Be professional, be confident, be yourself, and make the ask. You never know who will say yes.

The Bottom Line

Starting a business always takes effort, moreso when you have to go to classes every day. With the right preparation and support, a successful launch and acing your finals are absolutely possible. Set your goals, know your needs, and find your resources. You’ve got this. Good luck.

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Who Invented Homework?

Homework is the bane of all students’ existence, and something they’ve tried to get out of more than once. Almost no one likes doing it, so who invented homework in the first place, and why?

It’s almost universally acknowledged that Roberto Nevilis was the first to issue homework to his students. He was teaching in Venice around 1095. However, he may not have been the actual first teacher to use it.

As long as there’s been education, there’s probably been homework. Experts agree that teachers in Ancient Rome almost certainly handed out homework to their students. There’s even evidence that it was given out in Ancient Rome. Quintilian, the teacher of Pliny the Younger, mentions homework in his works on education. There’s even been stone tablets uncovered that show assignments from teachers.

Today’s students will be surprised that homework used to be frowned upon, especially in the United States. This was because before the Second World War, children were needed to help out with chores around the home. Being given homework meant they weren’t available to complete essential tasks for their parents. It was so frowned upon, in fact, that a law passed in California in 1901 banned all homework for kindergartners all the way up to eighth graders.

The reason this changed was because of the Cold War in the 1950’s. There was a need for more highly educated students, especially those in the sciences. Homework was again assigned to help bring them up to speed on the essential subjects. Of course, the 1950’s saw a lot of societal upheaval after the World Wars. Children were no longer expected to work, and the family unit again became close knit as the fathers came back home. Ever since then, homework has been a staple of the education system.

So, did Nevilis know what he was doing when he started the tradition of homework, all those years ago? He probably didn’t expect today’s students to be carrying such a heavy workload home with them. Today’s children are doing two hours of homework a week, compared to the 44 minutes they would do in 1981.

Do children need to be doing homework at all? Opinion is divided, depending on which country you live in. People who want to abolish homework point to Finland, where homework never happens. They have a high school graduation rate of 93%, as opposed to 73% in the US. Two out of three students go on to college, too.

Whether homework is helpful or not, for now at least it’s here to stay. It’s a concept that has survived centuries in the educational world, and is known to help learning in some cases. It’s no consolation to students though, who need to finish their math problems before they can go play.

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How Necessary is a College Education?

Today, more and more students are feeling the pressure to do well in school so they can continue their education in college. They’re constantly told that their future is dependent on doing well, as with a college degree they can get a good job and do well in later life. However, is this true for today’s students? This essay looks to find out whether they’d be better off going straight into work instead.

No one can deny that going to college is a valuable experience. Putting academic studies aside, it teaches students a huge amount about living alone for the first time, in a safe setting. For example, a student needs to learn how to stay within a budget, live with people other than their family, and manage their time effectively. There’s no better time to learn this than while in college, while mistakes can be made safely.

There’s also no argument that some careers need people to attend college first. Doctors and teachers, for example, need to attend college to gain the knowledge they’ll need to carry out their every day roles. College also offers the chance to go out and practice working in those roles. That means students have relevant experience to put on their resumes when they come to apply for jobs.

However, it’s not hard to see why some prospective students are turning away from the college experience. The biggest and most worrying problem is that of cost. College is prohibitively expensive for a lot of otherwise promising students. The cost of the education itself is steep enough, but there are other costs too. The costs of accommodation, food and other necessities for living mean that it just isn’t possible to attend college. Some students can take on jobs as they study to pay their way through, but it’s not possible for everyone.

It’s also becoming the case that college degrees are becoming less valuable out in the real world. Thanks to years of schools encouraging students to go on to college, there’s a glut of working people now who all have degrees. A hirer that’s looking through applications won’t be able to pick out a candidate based on their degree alone anymore. It’s more likely that they’re looking for life experiences, or concrete examples that the applicant has the skills they’re looking for.

It seems that college is still a valuable experience for anyone who attends, but for different reasons in today’s age. The experience of living away from home is crucial for many students. However, it may be more beneficial to go out into the working world rather than getting a degree, as they may be able to progress faster in their chosen field.

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Packing For University – 5 Things You Don’t Need To Bring

Going to university for the first time is a pretty exciting prospect. After 18 years of living with your parents and going to school every day, you finally get your first true taste of total independence – living on your own with the freedom to do whatever you want.

The practical side of preparing for university isn’t quite as much fun. Packing in particular can be a bit of a nightmare – what on earth do you need to bring to survive an entire year on your own?!

There are of course many “what to take to university” checklists out there, and while these are extremely helpful, they often don’t solve the whole problem. As every student has a vastly different experience, the items that are essential for some, may well be luxuries or unimportant to others.

For that reason it can often be much more useful to know what you absolutely DON’T need to pack…

1. Every Item In Your Wardrobe

For most new students, clothing forms the bulk of their luggage, as you’ll need enough pieces to get through every season and for the multitude of events and nights out.

It is therefore tempting to just dump your entire wardrobe into your suitcase and hope for the best, but this should be avoided if possible.

Not only is wardrobe space fairly limited in university halls, but you probably won’t end up wearing even half the items you bring. Most students will tell you that the majority of time is spent in comfortable clothes and loungewear. So as long as you have plenty of these garments along with a few more formal pieces and ‘going out clothes’, you’ll make it through.

2. Too Many Toiletries

A great rule when packing for university is to leave behind any item which you can easily and inexpensively replace when you get there. Toiletries are a good example of this.

Huge bottles of shampoo, shower gel and beauty products can take up quite a bit of weight, which can be especially crucial if you’re traveling to university by plane, where weight allowances are pretty strict.

3. Books

Although you might have hopes of being the most prepared and conscientious student, but try not to bring your entire collection of books, folders and old school notes with you.

University is somewhat of a fresh slate, meaning that your old school books won’t be of much use or relevance. And if it turns out that there is an old school textbook that you do absolutely need, you can use a student shipping service or a low cost courier to send it to you from home.

In addition, try not to purchase and pack your entire university recommended reading list ahead of your studies. Buying and packing all of these books before you leave is not only expensive, but also impractical. Books will weigh your luggage down and despite being recommended by your lecturers, most students often do not need to purchase every single title – some can be borrowed from the library or swapped between classmates.

4. Luxury Kitchen Appliances

In university halls and student accommodation, kitchen items such as kettles, microwaves and toasters will be provided for you.

Additional ‘luxury’ appliances such as rice cookers, panini makers and blenders etc should be left behind. Although it would be nice to have all the comforts of your kitchen at home, your kitchen at university will be shared and therefore the risk of damage or even theft is increased.

When it comes to kitchenware, simply bring the basics such as cutlery, bowls, plates and saucepans. If there’s anything else you need, you can usually purchase these things easily from a nearby department store or supermarket.

5. A Printer

Having your own printer seems convenient, in theory, but unless your course requires a significant amount of printing, it will be unnecessary unnecessary. Not only are printers difficult to transport, but the printers in your university and library will be just as handy.

Plus, when others hear that you have your own printer, you’ll soon be inundated with requests from friends to just print ‘one little page’ for them. These requests soon add up and the cost of replacing ink cartridges can be more expensive that the cost of university printing credits.

Written by Lana Richardson, blog editor for UniBaggage.com – The No.1 Student Shipping Company.

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Should State Colleges Be Free To Attend?

Everyone who’s ever attended college, or about to attend college, will agree that taking part in higher education is expensive. Most are able to fund their studies with loans, grants, and their own hard earned money, but not everyone can. Is it time that colleges were made free to all who want to attend?

Many student debt activists would argue that free education is beneficial to all. Keeping the price so high, they say, is keeping all but the elite few out of the college system. When only a few people can get such a quality of education, how does this level the playing field for the rest of the would be students out there?

There are certainly students out there who deserve a helping hand to get into college. Students who maintain top grades, but come from low income families, are one such example. They have the skill and know how to get themselves into college, but the high price is the one barrier that’s keeping them out. How is it fair to keep someone like that out, when they show such potential?

Free education would help those who are down on their luck, too. People who are homeless, single parents, or otherwise struggling to get ahead.

As great as these ideas are though, there are some drawbacks. Colleges are not cheap to run, and there is the question of how they would be funded if not through the students themselves. After all, the staff, as much they may like to, cannot work for free.

The best way to pay for a free college education would be through increased taxes. To fund every student’s studies, taxes would have to take quite a steep increase. Not everyone will agree with these increases, and it will be especially galling for those who have no interest in funding their own, or their children’s, further education.

Free college education will change the way students see higher education. As it stands now, it’s a goal that you work towards, because you know it’s worth it to develop the skills you need. With a free college education, it would certainly invite more applicants than ever before. Not all of those applicants will be as dedicated, and some may use the opportunity to put off thinking about their future, rather than to study.

It may be better to find a middle ground. The amount students currently pay is too high, so there needs to be a way to bring it down. A split should be made between the student and the state, meaning both have an equal stake and responsibility. This way, everyone who wants to has the chance at an education.

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Is Homework Harmful or Helpful?

The issue of homework has always been one that’s been hotly contested between students and teachers. With homework levels increasing year after year, and the stress levels of students increasing, it’s been suggested that doing away with homework entirely would help students learn better when they’re in school. So, can homework help learning, or is it just busywork?

There are certainly a wide array of benefits to assigning students homework. In a busy classroom, a student may not have the time or the resources to be able to properly understand the concepts they are being taught. When they’re assigned homework that reinforces the ideas from the classroom, the student can work at it at their own pace, and begin to understand the theories they’re being taught.

As well as academic knowledge, homework also helps develop essential skills for later life. Having to do homework means that a student must develop time management, independent working, and research skills. Self reliance can’t easily be taught in a school setting, so homework is the best way of letting students develop it for themselves.
However, there are serious downsides to assigning homework. Students with supportive parents will be able to complete their assignments with ease, as they’ll have a suitable environment at home in which to study in, and can call on parents for assistance if and when needed. Not all students are lucky enough to have this arrangement, though, so homework creates a divide between those who do have support and those who don’t. This divide will affect the education of the students who don’t, through no fault of their own.

As well as this, homework can have quite a serious impact on a student’s social and family life. Just as an adult needs a good work/life balance to remain at their best in their job, a student needs time to relax, spend time with their family, and play. If they don’t get this, their performance at school can suffer dramatically. Burnout is a very real danger when it comes to homework.

Homework itself doesn’t appear to be the enemy, but the amount and the intensity of it is. Even teachers with the best intentions at heart can assign too much, causing problems for their students. It seems that the solution is not to abolish homework altogether, but to put limits on how and when it is assigned.

So, is homework harmful or helpful? It can be both, depending on the student’s circumstances, and how much homework is assigned to them. It can help them develop skills that would be difficult to nurture in the school setting, and it can give them the time and space to understand concepts that may have passed them by otherwise. On the other hand, it can have a serious effect on a student’s work/life balance, and can create a divide between the students who get support, and those who don’t. When assigned sparingly and with good reason, a good balance can be maintained and facilitate a student’s learning.

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