4 Things to Consider when Picking your First Apartment

One of the most exciting things about college is finding that first apartment. The parents are gone and what better way to celebrate your independence than living with your closest friends? It becomes your home away from home, sanctuary, and your space to relax when college gets too crazy. However, it can easily become your hell if not careful. One bad apartment experience can end up affecting your academics, personal health, and relationships. Before you sign that lease, take a look at this list of things to consider that will help prevent potential problems from arising.

1. Friends don’t always make the best roommates

Everyone has heard those awful roommate stories – slobs, brings random people home, etc. Eliminate the risk of becoming part of the bad roommates club by choosing a roommate based on common values. A few topics you should discuss include apartment cleanliness, alcohol consumption, and their social life (will there be people over every night). You should also consider talking to their current roommate. Being friends is different from living with someone, so it will give you a different perspective. Then, prepare a list of pros/cons or at least a mental list that make you aware of potential issues that could happen when you live with this person.

2. Location

I made the mistake of living farther from campus, and it sucked. I had to rely on the bus to get to class, and I felt very disconnected from the rest of my friends. So, when apartment hunting keep in mind the distance from town and college life.

3. Have you met my neighbor?

Although it is difficult to figure out until you move-in, take preliminary measures to ensure your apartment is in a safe area. Read reviews from websites such as apartmentratings.com to figure out if the area has a high level of crime, sexual predators, and if the complex is geared towards college students. I find that apartment complexes filled with students help with the transition as well as eases the parents mind. Parents are much more accepting to cosign for an apartment where you will be living with fellow peers than with 50 year olds.

4. Take Precaution of Building Construction Issues

Although I researched apartment complexes near campus and read reviews, I didn’t take into consideration the construction of the building itself. When I read reviews of pest infestations or thin walls, I thought that won’t happen to me. As you can probably guess, it did. Within a week of move-in, we had cockroaches popping up and I could hear everything my neighbors were saying. The sad part was that they weren’t even yelling. So, when going through the process, take everything into consideration – the good and the bad.

Overall, try not to get overwhelmed and write pros/cons for every apartment you see. Keep yourself organized to avoid these common mistakes, and take your time with the process. This could be the apartment for the rest of your college years, so what’s the hurry?

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When to start thinking about Retirement?

Today, people are starting to retire earlier and earlier. When is it a good time to start thinking about retirement? How much super do you need to retire?

Money

You will need enough money to allow you to live comfortably for the rest of your days. How do you calculate this? Well it will depend on a few factors.

How comfortable do you want to be? Do you want to stay at home with your wife watching Netflix and gardening or would you rather go travelling multiple times each year? Do you want to own a vacation home? Do you want to have expensive hobbies? You will need to take all that into consideration in order to figure out how much money you will need every month.

How long do you expect to live? Medicine is improving every day. Just because the average life expectancy is 78.64 years for the average American (80.93 for Canadians, 80.75 for the Brits, and 81.85 for our Australian friends), does not mean that you can plan on dying at that specific age. Life expectancy is heavily influenced by young people who have met unfortunate ends due to disease, accidents, and violence. Count on living a few decades beyond the average life expectancy, maybe more!

Can you count on any social benefits? Many countries have social retirement programs. These often won’t let you live a life of luxury, but they could help pay some of your bills. It is important to take this extra money into account, but it is also important to not plan you life around them as your country’s political client may affect things.

What about your retirement accounts and investments? The most important of all. If you manage your finances well, you will be able to live the life you want to well into old age. Be sure to set-up retirement accounts right away and take advantage of any tax benefits or investment-matching your company may offer. Investing a little now can make a big difference down the line.

Career, Hobbies, and Friends

One question you really need to ask yourself is, When do you think you will be ready to retire and not work any more? For some, the answer is immediately. Others will never be able to give up their job. Neither option is bad. You just need to choose which is right for you.

Picking up a couple of hobbies is really a necessity. You will not want to be retired and have nothing to do. Be sure to think a little about what you want to do based on the age you plan on retiring at. Maybe golf will be your thing, maybe it will be skydiving.

You may have a different group of friends when you retire. Thinking about your current friends and what kinds of friends you want to have is really important. If you retire at 30, many of your friends will still have full-time jobs and it will be difficult to see them often. It is good to keep this in mind even if you have enough money to retire early.

No matter when you choose to retire, it is always best to plan ahead. Planning ahead will lead to you having a more comfortable life and being able to do more, and at worst, it will give you more options. So start thinking about it!

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Jobs – Is it the Right Fit for You?

Image by dickuhne

Image by dickuhne

Do you wake up every morning and get ready for work wondering how you got here? You want to be doing something else, something you’ve always dreamed about. There’s a feeling that something doesn’t fit right – the ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling.

If you have a job that means you spend at least 70% of your conscious waking hours doing it, thinking about it or preparing for it. That’s a lot of time! And if it’s not giving you any satisfaction at all then it’s time for a self-analysis. Some lucky few breeze through life knowing they’re in the right place. The rest of us lesser mortals have to search – find out where we fit.

Ghost of Career Present

The trick is in trying to figure out exactly what doesn’t fit. You don’t change a whole outfit just because the socks have thick inseams. Find out what part of your present situation is unsatisfactory.

  1. Are you happy with your financial situation? This does not just mean how much you’re getting paid but also your future security. There’s always a small part of you wondering how you’ll survive in your old age!

  2. Are you unhappy because you have been stuck with the same job in the same company for a long time?

  3. Are your educational qualifications (or lack of) a hindrance in moving ahead?

  4. Is it you or is it the people around you? More specifically, are you down because of lack of support?

  5. What is your skill set? Is there something you can add to make things better in your current job?

Answer these questions Click to continue reading…

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4 Tips for Writing a Quality Thesis

Turning out a major paper is, for most college students, a daunting task well before word one is written. It’s lurking out there at the end of the semester; eventually it’s going to be a title over a lot of white space on your computer screen. What follows here is some suggestions that a) may help you “right-size” the assignment; and b) select a topic that works for you and for the class.

1. Develop your Topic

The classic format for a thesis is beginning with a question or a proposition, and then writing a document that either answers the question or fleshes out the proposition. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable writing about an issue that has developed as a result of your academic work, rather than something that you’ve pulled out of the air because it meets the assignment requirements and no one else is doing it. In other words, massage the class material and extract a question you’d like to see answered or posit a theory that your studies have created in your mind.

It’s just a lot easier writing about something you are interested in rather than a contrived topic where you feel like you need an instruction manual. If you get half way through your research and decide that your thesis proposal is wrong, don’t abandon the concept – change the theory you’ve put forward. You don’t need to be defeated by your own research; you simply need to create a thesis body and a thesis proposal that match.

2. Build your Thesis with a Structure that Works

This one is obvious, maybe too obvious to be worthy of discussion. Personally I am unaccustomed to working with an outline, never have been good at following one. But working with a series of section titles is a little different; it allows you to insert facts or observations into relevant sections as they come up, rather than structuring your document around an outline that may prove to be inaccurate or inadequate once you’re into the research.

For me big presentations like a thesis has always been a process of bringing order out chaos, rather than beginning with an orderly frame and filling out the pieces. Just as a thesis topic might morph somewhat during the research and writing process, so too will the sections that you’re using to construct the document. If those sections are subject to a little shifting, that’s okay too.

3. Consider the Source…

The internet makes research a lot easier than working your way through the library stacks, but online research can be limiting. You’re at the mercy of the search engines for one thing, and information that you’re seeking may not be on a website that’s designed to be on the front page of Google or Yahoo or any of the others. Mixing time in the library and time online during the research process will give you a more solid base of material and a much better list of citations.

The internet is great for contemporary information on a topic; the library for material that was not only developed on your topic but published. That’s credibility you won’t get from many web sources. What you will get online is contemporary thought and opinion on your subject which will give your thesis some immediacy.

4. Some Suggestions for Editing

Even if you’re a “first and final” type of writer, for major papers editing is a necessary evil. One of the keys to this process is leaving the time to do it thoughtfully; that’s not easy for those of us who are used pushing deadlines. But editing will make your work better. Sometimes your first draft doesn’t get from A to Z as you expected it to working from your thesis proposition. The editing process can make your work more accurate, but more importantly it can bring the content of your paper into line with the subdivisions you’ve created.

If the result of that process is a conclusion that varies from your original, you can rewrite both the “A” and the “Z” to match up with all of the information in between. Remember, you’re working towards producing a piece that is coherent as a whole, not a piece that relentlessly pursues a posited set of assumptions that have proven to be off track.

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EQ (Emotional Quotient): Why It’s Crucial for Your Applications

Image by Daniel

Image by Daniel

If you’re a college student focused on your studies and GPA, you probably don’t think much of your EQ, but this is in fact something you should think about even before you graduate. EQ or emotional quotient measures emotional intelligence—something some may dismiss as unimportant, holding to the outdated concept that IQ rules all.

We know now how untrue that is, though. EQ is currently held to be one of the strongest predictors of success for people because it indicates their levels of self-awareness, emotional management, self-motivation, empathy, and social ability. The import of EQ is particularly clear in the business field now, where many hiring managers are even screening applicants with EQ as one of the primary criteria.

The importance of EQ is easy to see if you think back to all the times you’ve seen IQ-smart people do seemingly awkward or stupid things. Many real-life problems can’t be solved with theoretical or even scientific learning alone. Whether it’s the classmate you’re paired up with for a project or the team you have to work with once you start an internship, there are social considerations in your performance that require EQ.

A low EQ can make you less effective at dealing with others and many professional fields are unforgiving to the less-than-socially-adept. It’s also bad for self-esteem, as low EQ tends to correlate to higher potential for depression and lack of confidence. And of course, a low EQ can make it more difficult for you to deal with life since it makes you bad at managing emotions like stress.

Fortunately, EQ is far more flexible than IQ: it can be improved greatly with the right guidance. The more time one has to work on it, of course, the better. This is why you should work on improving your EQ now instead of later. That way, you’ll be better prepared for life after graduation when your college life is over.

There are many ways to improve EQ, and most important of them is improving self-awareness. This is the foundation of all other aspects of EQ. The more aware you are of your own emotions, the better you will be at managing them as well as at recognizing like emotions in others. It also gives you an idea of what the appropriate response would be to their emotions based on your own experiences. A job interview is just basically a potential employer testing your reactions and responses to social situations at work, after all.

But can’t results be faked? Yes and no. You can appear to have a higher EQ than you really have, at least for a time. For example, some candidates can pretend to be more comfortable with social situations during job interviews than they really are. This is dependent on the job interviewer being “duped by the act”. However, this can be harder (but not impossible, in most cases) to pull off if the EQ test is more scientific.

Interestingly, pretending to have a higher EQ can help you develop your actual EQ, though. For example, producing “more socially appropriate” responses to employers’ queries can help you hone your skills at identifying what is “more socially appropriate” in the first place. This is crucial for workplace EQ.

A good if informal way of honing and testing your EQ for this as well as other indicators of emotional intelligence is to simulate job interviews with your friends. They can give you feedback on your responses afterwards. Your friends can even make suggestions on responses they feel you could have improved.

You can also improve EQ through simulation of workplace structures by joining clubs and other groups that require regular teamwork. It’s why employers look at the extracurricular activities on your resume, after all: it’s good preparation for the social aspect of the office. The more you work with others, the better you get at it, not just through self-aware improvement but also by taking the advice and critiques of others.

If you want a more standard (numeric) measure of your EQ while you’re working on it, though, there are countless free tests online that can help you in that regard. The University of Washington has one here, for example, and Berkeley has one here. You can measure your EQ with tools like these to get a sense of whether or not your efforts to enhance emotional intelligence are working and to find out where you may need additional effort. Many employers use them or similar derivatives, so it can be good practice early on for application tests—it’s not that different from getting a copy of last year’s Accounting Final Exam as prep for this year’s, after all.

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