Archive | November, 2016

Graduate School Application Checklist

30 Nov

Lee Gordon
Director, Office of Graduate Admissions, Purdue University Graduate School

Special Considerations for Application Deadlines

  • Application deadlines vary! You may need to adjust this timeline to meet the deadlines of the programs you apply to, so be sure to note each program’s application deadline. This timeline is based on a January 1 deadline.
  • If you find more than one deadline for your program of interest, use the earliest deadline to set your timeline; this is most often the one you must meet to be considered for fellowships and other financial assistance.
  • Access more resources at https://www.purdue.edu/gradschool/prospective/preparing/

Summer Before Senior Yeargrad school application checklist.png

  • Identify your goals and consider whether or not graduate school is right for you.
  • Write a draft of your personal statement.
  • Research program options and requirements by browsing through graduate program guides (online and hard copy), university websites, and other resources.
  • Research fellowships and other types of financial assistance. Consider government agencies, philanthropic organizations, the schools you apply to, and professional organizations or honor societies as potential sources of funding.
  • Register for required standardized tests.

August-September

  • Meet with faculty members in your department to discuss your personal statement, possible programs to consider, and potential fellowships and other funding sources.
  • Determine the schools to which you will apply.
  • Get organized. Create a file for each school you will apply to and keep all related application information in the appropriate file.
  • Prepare for standardized tests.
  • If your area of interest is STEM, register and attend the Big Ten+ Graduate School Exposition. Hosted annually on the campus of Purdue University, the Grad Expo features educational workshops, an elite graduate school fair, networking receptions, and more!

September-October

  • Take standardized tests and request that your scores be sent to the appropriate schools.
  • Complete your personal statement and have it reviewed at the CCO.
  • Requests letters of recommendation from faculty; provide a copy of your personal statement and résumé/ curriculum vitae to each professor. Give your recommenders the appropriate information to submit their letters. Many recommendation letters can be submitted online and your recommenders will receive an email with instructions when you list them on your online application. If your school requires hard copy letters, give your recommenders the appropriate address.
  • Order transcripts from all post-secondary institutions and request official copies be sent directly to the schools to which you are applying.

November

  • Complete application forms. (Do a draft first!)
  • Mail application materials (if not Web-based) one month in advance of the application deadline. Pay close attention to the instructions; all documents may not go to the same address.
  • Remind your recommenders of when they must submit your letters of recommendation (i.e., the application deadline of each program – consider telling them a deadline one to two weeks earlier than the actual deadline in case something falls through at the last minute).
  • Make copies of all application pieces for your records

December

  • Check with schools to verify that your letters of recommendation, test scores, transcripts, and other required documents have arrived to complete your application by the deadline.
  • Remember that many offices will be busy at the end of the semester and over winter break, so do not wait until the last minute.

February-March

  • Schedule campus visits to locations in which you are interested. Some programs may have planned visitations for admitted students; inquire about this.
  • Prepare questions for each school to gain more information about academic programs, student life, and professional development opportunities.
  • Conduct informational interviews with students in the programs to which you have applied to gather their perspective.

April

  • Mail acceptance forms and, if required, deposits.
  • Notify schools that you will not be attending after making your decision.
  • Send thank you letters to the writers of your letters of recommendation. Be sure to let them know where you’re going to school!

Want to join Purdue’s prospective student mailing list to receive additional tips, deadline reminders, and funding information?
Visit www.purdue.edu/grad and click on Request Info.

Black Friday Shopping (without hating yourself)

22 Nov

Black Friday.jpg

Black Friday is one of the strangest times of the year. Steep discounts on electronics and other items have people lining up and camping out for these “doorbuster” deals for hours before opening. So, how do you take fullest advantage of the Black Friday savings without regretting the missed hours of sleep? Depending on what you’re looking for, you may be able to save money without all the hassle.

If after scouring the various Black Friday ads, you have found a doorbuster deal that you can’t miss out on you’ll want to be prepared. Find out what time the stores you’re interested in open and plan to be in line well before that depending on the location. At places like Target or Wal-Mart expect people to be setting up shop well ahead of time. Some stores are also open on Thanksgiving for those of you who are willing to forsake their second helping of turkey. In the event you’re going to be part of a (hopefully civilized) mob storming a store, knowing where your desired item is beforehand will probably be the difference in getting it or not.

Remember to keep your receipts from your Black Friday deals that you buy for yourself and to get gift receipts if you’re getting a gift for someone else. It’s an easy details that you can lose in the chaos, but extremely important in the event you need to return it.

The doorbuster deals and people lining up for hours may get all of the attention but there are much easier ways to get those great deals without wasting your Thanksgiving evening or sleep. Aside from a few deals, almost everything will be available online for the same prices. A nice kicker? Many places offer free shipping with their deals as well. You can do this all from the comfort of your own home without waiting in the cold for hours. Additionally, you can wait a few days to check out the Cyber Monday deals as well as comparing with other stores online to see who has the best offers! Overall, you are likely going to get just as great of a deal by shopping online and comparing prices as you are with joining the crazies.

An often overlooked, yet easy, method to get great discounts is by giving into the store’s attempts to connect with you. Follow them on social media, download their apps, register an account on their website, etc. These are all great ways to get exclusive coupons that can add up quickly helping you save big without wading through the crowds.

The experience of joining the pack for the crazy openings may appeal to some, but to many others it is a hassle not even worth contemplating. If you’ve tried it and never want to see that craziness again, or just don’t even want to see it, don’t feel like you can’t get great deals too. Just like any time you are shopping for big-ticket items you just need to compare prices, amass coupons and other discounts and you can come out hundreds of dollars ahead. The work you put in to shop intelligently is well worth the minimal effort it takes.

Off-Campus Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Happy Medium

21 Nov

Leah Steppe- Public Relations and Advertising, Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

For Rent Sign

Deciding where to live while you’re in college is a big decision for most. It’s your home away from home. There are hundreds of different living options while you are in college house, apartment, duplex, or dorm. One way to narrow down your search is to answer one simple question… Do you want to live on or off campus?.

To help ease the decision let’s discuss pros and cons to living off campus.

Distance

Pro: Many housing options (house, apartment, duplex) are considered off campus but are actually within walking distance to campus.  Living within walking distance can be great for students who want to live close (especially students who don’t have a car) but do not want to live in the dorms.

Con: Living off campus can mean living OFF campus, be careful what you look for. Although, many residency options are close to campus, there are just as many that are not within walking distance and require additional transportation… Most places around Purdue University are less than 10 miles or closer to campus so the drive really isn’t bad. Check out our article “Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?” to see if you can afford the cost of transportation or for ideas on other means of transportation, some apartment complexes even have their own shuttle service.

Cost

The cost of living off campus can be significantly cheaper than living on campus, but it’s all about how and where you live.

Pro: Living off campus can be cheaper if you live in the right place. Typically, living further off campus can save you money on rent but your transportation costs may increase.

Photo By DrJunge

Typically, the nicer the apartment (i.e more amenities) the more expensive it is so you have to be careful. Living in a smaller place with more roommates can also save money by spreading the costs of living with more people (not just rent, but utilities, transportation, and food too). You also have the ability to buy and make your own food which means you can save a lot of money if you shop wisely. If it is your first time on your own or you just want to learn how to cook for less check out “Suiting Up Your Kitchen” or “When Raman Just Isn’t Enough, Why you Should Cook!”to learn quick tips on setting up your kitchen and cooking more than out of a box.

Con: Living closer to campus can be more expensive because you have the luxury of living close to classes, food, and entertainment. Living in a nicer, larger apartment with many amenities can be more expensive as well. The cost is greater because the demand for those apartments will be higher and real estate is all about location location location.

Space

Zami student housingPro: Moving out of the dorms means having a lot more space. When you live in an apartment or a house you usually have your own bedroom which means no more sharing a bedroom. You also could have your own bathroom or one you share with 1 or 2 other people, which is better than a whole floor of people. Almost all apartments or houses are going to offer more space than a dorm, just be sure to do your research.

Con: You may end up paying more for that space though if you choose to live in an apartment complex with lots of amenities. The fewer roommates you have, the more space you have, but you typically end up paying more for a 2-bedroom apartment versus a 4-bedroom apartment. Also, it costs money to heat and cool all that extra space too, something you didn’t have to account for when living in the dorms and the heating bill can really add up in the chilly Indiana winters.

Lease

Signing a lease means you are locked into living in that space for as long as the lease says, unless you sublease your place. Most leases around Purdue University are for a full year which means you are responsible for paying rent even when school is not in session.

FDR signing paperPro: This can be a good thing for those students taking summer courses, working on or around campus for the summer, or if you just want to get away from home for a while.

Con: It can be a hassle though as a lot of students will go home during the summer which means paying rent for a place you are not even living at.

Deciding where to live while you are away at college is a big decision. Make sure you do some research before choosing a place because once you sign that lease it is difficult to get out. Here are some resources to check out for help in finding the right place for you:

  • Boiler Apartments
  • Purdue Housing Fair: Takes places once a semester on campus. Several apartment complexes hand out information about their apartments and free stuff! Dates will be announced at beginning of each semesters.
  • Purdue Off Campus Housing

The right place is out there for everyone whether it’s on campus, off campus, right next to campus, or somewhere in between. Just be sure to find the right fit for you and remember there are pros and cons to living on and off campus. When you find the right place it will not be a dorm, apartment, house, or duplex it will be your home.

Entering Loan Repayment? Tips for Recent Grads

16 Nov

repay-banner

Whether you’re a recent graduate whose loans are just entering repayment or you have been making payments for several years, there is a very real chance that educational loan payments may be causing you a financial hardship. For recent graduates, there is a lot of info covered in federal exit counseling and it would be easy to have missed some of it.

Loan Servicer Navient has put together a list of their Top 10 Things to do Before You Make Your 1st Loan Payment. The key to successfully repaying your loans with any Loan Servicer is understanding your responsibilities as a borrower and the wide range of tools available to help you throughout repayment. Your Loan Servicer doesn’t want you to default and you definitely don’t want to default on your loans either!

While there isn’t much that can be done about the amount you owe since you’ve already borrowed it, you can still choose from several different options for repayment.  The Institute for College Access and Success created a Top 10 Tips for recent graduates, a handy reference for borrowers.

Unless you chose otherwise, you’re probably enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan which spreads your payments evenly over 10 years. This is both the default plan as well as the most aggressive repayment option available. However, there are several other options a borrower can choose which can limit the repayment per month to 10% of  discretionary income and reduce payments to as little as zero dollars per month (depending on income). For more information, check out Acacia Squire’s piece in NPR about her experiences and what options may be available to you.

 

 

Throwing a Fun Friendsgiving

15 Nov

 

thanksgiving friendsgiving leader22.jpg

Thanksgiving may be one of the few times of the year that you and your friends are going to be somewhat near each other. This makes it an opportune time to get a ‘Friendsgiving’ together and enjoy each other’s company for possibly the only time during the year. If your friends don’t already have this tradition, you’ll probably have to host the first one to get the ball rolling. But don’t fear, done correctly Friendsgiving can be a fun and low-stress opportunity to get together with your best friends.

The best way to optimize the fun-factor while keeping your actual work level low? Make it a pot-luck where everyone has to bring something. Whether it’s a side of green beans, a box of wine, or someone wants to volunteer to make the main course, everything is welcome! Be sure to coordinate who brings what though, so that four people don’t all bring those canned cranberries. This could be done with a Facebook event, or just keeping a spreadsheet of what people tell you. Typically there is far more than enough food to go around, so if one person shows up empty handed for some reason try not to lay into them too much.

If it’s your first rodeo (or even if it’s not), avoiding turkey is probably a good plan. Most people are getting their annual fill on the day of Thanksgiving and don’t desire any more. Plus, the amount of people who aren’t that crazy for turkey is pretty high considering we have a day that’s reserved for feasting on it.Friendsgiving1.jpg

Something you do not want to forget is dishes and glasses. If you don’t have enough plates for people to eat off of, you’re going to have issues. An easy workaround? Paper plates! You don’t have to buy extra plates just for this one event and, more importantly, there are less dishes for you to do. Just be sure that you have enough drinking glasses for people as they might use more than one if they switch up their drinks.

Speaking of drinks, make sure you have plenty of ice! What’s in your two ice trays isn’t going to cut it. Whether people are drinking water, lemonade, or even a mixed drink, having ice is important. So go to the gas station, spend $5.00 for a couple bags of ice and call this one good. Have someone coming who is a terrible cook? Let them be in charge of bringing the ice.

Another important, and possibly awkward part, is figuring out who your invite list will include. Depending on the size of Friendsgiving you are having, there might just be your core group of friends or it might get larger. Either way, be sure to include people’s significant others. If you don’t, you’re putting them in a spot where they have to ask you if they can come or your friend will just skip so they aren’t ditching their boy/girlfriend. If your invite list is getting larger, just make sure there aren’t any obvious interpersonal conflicts you’re creating or that there is anyone you are totally missing from the invite list. You can’t have everyone over, but there might be some people upset they didn’t get the chance to join.

Another important group to keep happy is other people’s parents. How might you fail to do this? Not letting your friends know of Friendsgiving ahead of time. If you spring this idea up last minute and a friend comes over when one of their parents had planned for super special bonding time, it doesn’t matter if there was a lack of communication. Parental wrath will ensue in some fashion. So avoid this, and other potential conflicts, by planning it out ahead of time.

The most important thing? Have fun! Friendsgiving is supposed to be a time to see your pals and catch up while reminiscing on that embarrassing thing that happened 3 years ago. The more stress you can avoid while putting this all together, the better. As host your job is to provide a location and some planning but don’t feel like everything is on your shoulders. Just remember that you don’t need to be replicating a massive family-style event to have a successful time with your best friends.

Preparing for Your First Indiana Winter (Pt. 2)

10 Nov

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Counselor & Native Minnesotan

While autumn may be far and away my favorite season, it also marks the approach of easily my least favorite time of the year: winter. If you’re from one of the many places in the world that Hoosiers dream about for 5 months of the year, your first Indiana winter can be a rough ride if you’re not prepared. However, with a little bit of preparation and proper clothing you won’t just survive, but thrive!preparing-for-indiana-winter-portrait

First things first, how you dress is going to determine how you feel for much of the day. So be sure that you have all the proper gear you need for any weather. Some days it will be in the 40’s, some days you might be hovering around 0 (Fahrenheit of course)! The key here is checking the weather in the morning, and there are several phone apps you can use for this. Don’t just look outside and see it’s sunny and assume you’re fine; some of the coldest days come when the sun is out since there are no clouds to help insulate.

A weather change you might not have ever thought of is the change in moisture in the air. Winter is extremely dry. Chapped lips, dry skin and nosebleeds can all be caused from the cold, dry air. Stock up on lotion and lip balm, because at some point you will need some. Just like the lack of sunlight (less than 9 ½ hours per day at times), you can’t change much about the humidity except how you deal with it.

Something you might have already put thought into is driving. After a month you might come to the reasonable conclusion that cars were not invented for winter driving. However, making sure that you have tires with reasonable tread will go a long way toward your ability to drive safely in the snow. Tires make even more of a difference than four wheel drive in snow and ice. A few things you might not have realized are important for driving safety in the winter are your wiper fluid and windshield wipers. Getting dirty snow tossed up on your windshield from the road can make visibility terrible without good wipers and fluid.

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In regards to warming your car up, it is actually a common myth  that you should do it for the benefit of your car. Unless you’re driving a vehicle with a carburetor, you don’t need to worry about it. The only reason why I let my car warm up is to give the heat time to get warm. The longer you let your car idle, the more gas you waste, not to mention opportunities for it to be stolen since the keys are in the ignition. Also remember to have a window scraper! If your windshield is iced over and you don’t have one, it’s not going to be fun to get it off.

Even though the weather can be a hassle, don’t use it as an excuse to skip class. You pay for your courses whether you are there or not, so not going wastes some of that money. Snow days are rare and few between, however instructors cancelling courses isn’t that uncommon. So if you expect that might happen, keep your eyes on your email as that’s the most likely way they’ll let you know (unless they are a monster who just puts a note on the door so you don’t find out until you arrive). You can burrito yourself in a blanket and watch Netflix later.

For a little bonus, here are some other blogs that help cover information about surviving in the winter if you’re new to it:

http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2011/11/01/how-a-southerner-should-prepare-for-winter-in-new-york/

http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/how-to-survive-your-first-winter-a-college-students-guide

http://lifeinleggings.com/winter/qa-tips-on-surviving-your-first-winter-season/

http://lifeinleggings.com/moving/what-ive-learned-living-up-north/

https://www.michigandaily.com/opinion/01jesse-klein-michigan-winters-suck20

Getting to Chicago for Thanksgiving

2 Nov

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Whether you are heading up to Chicago to see family there for the Thanksgiving holiday, planning on going to the airport to fly elsewhere, or just feel like hitting the Windy City instead of seeing family, Chicago is a common destination! However, getting there can be a challenge. Whether you’re visiting short-term or using it as a way to get further from Purdue for a little while, you probably want to do it the cheapest way possible.

Note: For the airport travelers, the Indianapolis airport is closer to Purdue but flight prices may differ greatly between the airports!

I’ve gone ahead and listed a few of your options for transportation on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday returning. Some of the numbers I’ve listed below are for a specific weekend, which I’ve noted, so you’ll want to double-check your travel dates to verify the prices.

Amtrak 

Amtrak Station

11/23: Departs from Lafayette at 3:45 p.m., arrives in Chicago at 5:45 p.m.($36)

11/27: Departs from Chicago at 5:45 PM, arrives in Lafayette at 9:57PM ($36)

Total Cost: $72 and up

Total Time: 6 hours, 41 minutes

Don’t forget about how you’ll be getting around once you get there. Whether it’s arranging a pick up from someone there, using local transit, or walking you’ll need to be prepared! If you plan to use the bus or subway (which you’ll need if the airport is your destination), you will definitely be spending extra on that and should budget accordingly. The Chicago Union station is right by downtown so you can reasonably walk to destinations if that’s the goal.

Driving

2 hours from West Lafayette to Chicago (122.5 miles)

2 hours from Chicago to West Lafayette (122.5 miles)

Gas: National average at $2.20/gallon

Total Cost: $27.50 and up plus parking

Total Time: 4 hours

If you’re averaging 20 miles/gallon, it will take about $27.50 in gas to get you to and from Chicago. However, this does not include paying for parking or any driving you may do around the city. Parking runs anywhere from $3-$15/ hour depending on the time and place you go. There are some parking lots in the heart of the city that offer flat rates for the entire day on the weekends, but you really have to search for these good deals and (as an effect of this) could use up even more gas and money. There are several apps that you can download on your phone which can help you compare parking prices. Sometimes the difference in a block is as much as $20!

The upside of this option is that you can split it with friends. Not only do they provide some company and navigation on the drive in, but they can also split the gas costs (and parking if you’re hanging out together).

If you’re catching a plane ride out of Chicago, remember that parking can cost you big! Daily parking is $35/ day if you don’t use one of the economy lots which are between $10-17/ day.

MegaBus

 MegaBus

11/23: Departs from Indianapolis at 5:00 p.m., arrives in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. ($49)

11/27: Depart from Chicago at 12:30 p.m., arrives in Indianapolis at 5:15 p.m. ($49)

Total Cost: $98 and up

While MegaBus might be known for their fares as low as $1.00, that’s not the case for the Thanksgiving weekend where prices are significantly higher than usual. On top of this, the route to Chicago leaves from Indianapolis. If you drive the hour down you’ll need to pay for parking and gas. You might be able to snag a ride with a friend who is going down to visit family, but ideally you’ll throw a few dollars their way to help with gas since they are likely going out of their way. Much like the Amtrak option, though, don’t forget to take into account your transportation costs once you get there. If you’re driving yourself, going straight to Chicago might be the better bet for Thanksgiving weekend.

Lafayette Limo

Lafayette Limo

Leave Purdue Memorial Union Follett’s Purdue West Arrive at O’Hare Airport Leave Chicago Arrive Lafayette
4:30 AM 4:40 AM 6:40 AM CST 8:00 AM CST  12:00 PM
10:30 AM 10:40 AM 12:40 PM CST 2:00 PM CST  6:00 PM
3:30 PM 3:40 PM 5:40 PM CST 7:00 PM CST  11 PM

Lafayette Limo cost $60 for a one-way ticket to O’Hare Airport and $110 for a round trip back to Lafayette.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when travelling with Lafayette Limo. Once you are in Chicago you will need to consider other transportation options from the airport to the city, if you are planning on staying in Chicago. Lafayette Limo has strict pick-up and drop off times. This could keep your Chicago visit to a tight schedule. Lafayette Limo is mainly used as a transportation method for Purdue University students traveling to home during peak times (before and after each semester) which creates limited space during peak times. On top of battling students trying to return home, the Limo may be full of luggage. A packed ride to and from Chicago has the potential to put a damper on one’s trip. Though, during these peak times you can rent Lafayette Limo and have a safe ride for your group. You can find more details about renting Lafayette Limo through their website online. If you’re planning on going to the O’Hare airport, the shuttle service might save you if you would have to pay for parking otherwise.

Of the four options above, which do you think you would be most likely to use? Is your choice completely based on the prices? Or do you have another method of travel you like to use for traveling to Chicago? Let us know if you do!

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