About Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer has been a member since April 8th 2011, and has created 1073 posts from scratch.

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Preparing for the High Cost of College


high cost of college

It’s no secret that college is expensive, and most parents will spend their working lives post-children saving for it. Unfortunately, there are no fixed costs when it comes to college, and fees and other expenses can rise and fall in line with the economy. Knowing what to expect when it comes to college expenses will help you and your child be prepared for the high cost of college, as well as be able to budget.

The rising cost of college

The cost of college has risen in recent years, and the same applies to universities all over the world. If you Google ‘the cost of college,’ you could be in for a bit of a shock. According to Forbes, going to an elite college could cost as much as $334,000 ($68,000 a year) by 2018, with four years at a public college costing up to $28,000 a year and private colleges $59,000 a year. While college has always been expensive, you might not have been expecting costs to be this high.


Some college fees will include the cost of housing and meals that make it easier for you to work out how much you’ll be paying for the basics. On average, you could expect to pay between $8,000 and $11,000 a year for this – depending on whether you go to a public or private college. If you choose a meal plan, this means you won’t have to worry about how your child will eat for the next four years when you say goodbye and can feel happy knowing that this has already been covered.

Housing costs, of course, can vary, and if your child is paying these costs themselves, they may not necessarily want to live on campus. Off-campus housing can often be cheaper, as there is a wider choice of properties available that they could share with friends and fellow students during their time.


Books are another cost that can be unexpected when your kid goes to college. Book costs will vary depending on what they choose to study, but the average is around $1,200 and up to $200 a book. This is of course if you buy all of the books brand new, which is unnecessary in most cases.Many textbooks can be accessed online, and most college libraries will carry the books you need if you can get your hands on them.


Computers and other equipment are other costs you’ll want to factor in when working out the total cost of college. While it’s likely your child already has a laptop, it may be due for an upgrade by the time they leave for college. A laptop should last the four years of college, although it might be wise to invest in some insurance as well in case of theft or accidental damage. Another idea is to lease a laptop as a way to save money and to get an upgrade after two years without spending much more than it would have cost to buy the computer outright.

Entertainment and other expenses

Entertainment is another cost that will need to be factored in and might be where you draw the line at what you’re willing to pay for as parents. There are many hidden costs of going to college, including laundry and nights out. For these expenses, your child may need to consider a part-time job, or you could set them a monthly budget for these costs. This is the part that will teach them the most about managing their own money, and if they want to enjoy a more active college lifestyle than you are willing to provide – they will need to think about how they’re going to cover those costs.

Financing college

There are many ways you can finance college. While many colleges will offer a scholarship with their acceptance, you need to be prepared for the possibility that they may not. You can find ways to fund college without a scholarship and might want to consider grants, loans and payment plans to cover it.

For many parents, funding college will come out of your income. This will mean certain sacrifices while your child is at college such as vacations, a new car or home improvements. If things get tight, you might need to seek options for a larger payday from time to time. It might be a tough four years, but it will be worth it when your child earns their college degree.

Going to college is a huge achievement for your child, and for you as parents. The cost can be worrying, but there are other parents in your situation who have survived and made it through. Once you’ve worked out how to pay for college, you can look forward to this special time in your child’s life knowing that you’ve been able to help them on their way.

Back to School? Here’s What To Do!


back to school

The summer vacation is almost over and back to school your kids must go! But what do they need ahead of a new semester? And how can you help prepare them for a new school year? We’ve pulled together some handy tips to ensure students can make the most of what’s to come.

Follow these useful tips – and work with your son or daughter to ensure their upcoming school year is the best yet – and in no time at all you’ll witness them receive their hard-earned diploma.

Make a Date with the School Counselor

If your child hasn’t met their school counselor yet, maybe it’s about time they did. Face-to-face conversation is the way to go, as the counselor really will make your son or daughter make sense of the school year and their choices for the future.

Apply for SAT/ACT

Even if your child’s already taken a standardized test like this, there’s no harm in taking it again. Many students opt to improve their scores a second time around, bettering themselves ahead of their next academic or career step.

If your son or daughter is yet to take the tests, there’s plenty of time to register. It isn’t a requirement to submit SAT or ACT scores by any means, but it may improve your child’s chances of a better career later down the line.

Put Some Prep Time in Now

If your child is worried about their performance in a particular school subject, it can make sense to put some preparation time now – while they’re not up against it during the semester. The vacation is a perfect opportunity to dust off those books and get ahead for the new school year.

Discuss Finances

School can come with costs; from books and stationery to bus and food money – but if you have the conversation with your child now, they’ll be more than prepared when the new semester comes around. Will they need to take a job during the vacation, for example, to earn some extra funds? If so, encourage them to look for the right job, which will ensure they can get out of the house to meet new people, and save some much-needed school money.


As well as getting ahead by putting in some time to study, students can improve their knowledge by reading. Find relevant books, or even novels, and help your child create a reading list that will benefit them when they go back to school. If they’ve shown an interest in a specific subject or discipline, do some research together to find books featuring great success stories from those who’ve followed a similar path. That way, they’ll have a role model in mind when completing their studies, giving them even more reason to put the time and effort in.

Have Fun, Too!

While the summer vacation should be spent planning the new school semester, it isn’t all work and no play. A vacation is just that, after all – and your son or daughter should also find plenty of time to relax and have fun. That way, they’re more than ready to tackle whatever the new school year has to throw at them.

Consider Extra-Curricular Activities

As well as the books we mentioned earlier, there’ll be a whole host of fun and beneficial extra-curricular activities available for sign-up during the summer vacation. Are there any seminars on, for example? Or maybe there’s a useful team-building summer camp, or motivational day to consider? Anything your child can do now to get ahead will stand them in good stead later.

Did you enjoy this blog post? What are your top tips to prepare your child for their upcoming school year? We’d love to know.

Keep Your College Valuables Safe With This Genius Parent Invention

I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this great invention from the parent of a college student. Sometimes necessity becomes the mother of invention. And that’s just what happened with this student and her father.

If you are sending your child to college this fall or in the near future, this investment can save you money and heartache over the next four years by keeping your student’s college valuables safe. Read their story and get yourself a BunkTrunk today!


When our daughter went off to college in the fall of 2015, we were excited for her and she was ready to begin the next chapter in her life. While there are many things that are “known” with respect to the college experience, there are also many “unknowns.”

It turns out, that one of the “unknowns” was the genesis of an idea that led to the start of a small business. It turned out that our daughter had a roommate that grew up not having a need to lock, or even close doors. So when she moved into my daughters dorm room there was some immediate tension.  My daughter was worried about losing her laptop or some of her expensive textbooks, because so many times she would come back to an opened or unlocked dorm room.

After trying to remedy the situation with her roommate and several calls home to express her frustration, I decided she needed a secure storage solution. Since we’re dealing with an 18 year old who’s just moved away for the first time I realized any viable solution would have the following requirements:

  • It had to be easy to use or it wouldn’t be use
  • It had to be big enough for her laptop and some of her expensive textbooks
  • It would be a bonus if she could put her purse, medication, and jewelry in it
  • It could not take any desk space or floor space, because she had none to spare
  • It could not be ugly because, lets face it, that just would not fly for a girls’ dorm room
  • It could not require screws or bolts or other types of fasteners, because the college would not allow anything but command strips for hanging, mounting, or attaching anything to college property / furniture

So, after scratching my head for a while, I realized the best option for locating a storage device was the space above her bed (she was on the top bunk) and the BunkTrunk was born.

After a few revisions, driven by our experience with early prototypes, we finalized a design (see picture below) that met all the requirements and provided additional value.

With her laptop and phone locked up while charging inside, she was feeling much better about her dorm situation. She also had room to lockup her expensive textbooks, purse, medication, jewelry and more. But, with the door to her BunkTrunk opened, it also made a great work surface.  So when she needed to study late into the night, and didn’t want to bother her roommate by studying at her desk with the light on, she could now study on her bed.

Because she was on the top bunk, she didn’t have a nightstand next to her bed and the BunkTrunk makes a pretty good nightstand.

So we went from:

  • Fall 2015 – “Dad, I have a problem” & first prototype created
  • Winter 2015 – Provisional patent filed, design finalized and website goes live
  • Spring 2016 – a new small business is started
  • Summer 2016 – Patent filed and BunkTrunks shipped to over 20 colleges

We are now in our second year and expect to ship between 200 and 300 BunkTrunks.

August 2016 marked another milestone for us, as we filed our patent with the U.S. Patent Office.

And there you have it! Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and in our case, led to a new small business too! Who knew…

If your college student is experiencing similar frustrations, have them check out the BunkTrunk.

6 Ways to Prepare Your Child for College



Going to college is a huge milestone. It is a proud moment but it can be emotional and overwhelming at the same time. Therefore, you must prepare your child before they step inside those college gates.

Here are 6 ways you can prepare your child early for college.

Understand their Passions and Interests

Learning new things is more fun when kids are interested in them. Find out what your child is interested in and where their passions lie, even if they don’t necessarily fall within the realm of academics. It can be sports, drama, writing, etc.

For example, if the child is interested in sports, they can learn about the origin of a certain sport, evolution of the sport through history, etc. This will keep your child engaged and make learning more fun. Once they are clear what their passions and interests are, they can have a better understanding of which courses to pursue in college. Even if your child opts for online education, there are numerous opportunities to pursue the courses that interest them.

Prepare for College – Academically

Start preparing for college academics from junior high and high school itself. Some of the many ways your child can prepare for college include taking college-level courses and standardized tests as early as possible. This will help them enter college with more confidence.

Prepare for College – Financially

A college education is expensive, which is why you must be financially prepared for it when the time comes. The costs include tuition, course expenses, accommodation fees, personal expenses, etc. Start saving early and invest in saving accounts that offer tax benefits. It is also important that you keep an eye on the different scholarships that your child can apply for.

You can also consider online college education as an alternative instead of traditional college for your children. It is a popular, convenient and more affordable option as compared to traditional college.

Help Them Understand the Importance of College

The attitude of children towards higher education depends on the attitude of the parents. If you emphasize the importance of higher education, your child will take it seriously and focus on it through school and college. Start communicating the importance of higher education while they are still in school.

Teach Good Financial Habits

It is important to ensure that your child’s grades stay up and that they are focused on their academics, but it is equally important that they learn about work ethic and finance management early on. Encourage them to have a part-time job, about 10 hours a week, as it can help them increase productivity, learn time management, leadership and organizational skills. Teach them to be responsible about spending or saving their earnings. This will help them when they are in college.

Set a budget in high school and get them a checking account. Teach them to make smart financial decisions and ensure they know about credit card and debt early. If they plan to have a credit card, teach them to pay off the card each month and to only use it in emergency situations.

Expose them to Online College Courses

It would be a good idea to enroll your child in online courses while they are still in high school. This helps in saving money as the courses are inexpensive as compared to the college fee and your children can transition easily into college. Ensure that the colleges your child is considering applying to accept the coursework and find out what the basis of acceptance are (e.g., a minimum grade).

College is a great experience, so make sure your child is prepared for it, and is confident about treading that path.


About Author: Making education simple and easy to comprehend is Dana Jandhyala’s forte. She’s had a long career as an educator where she has taught in several different schools and institutes in multiple countries. Today, she helps students with personalized online tutorials by SchoolPage that help make concepts easy to understand, making learning fast and fun. She writes to help student s study better, and to coach parents so they can facilitate the success of their children. 

SAT Study Tips for College-Bound Students


sat study tips

Last year, nearly 1.7 million students took the SAT. A jump from 2015’s 1.6 million! While statistics for this year’s SAT haven’t been released yet, one can only assume that this number has increased. For the majority of juniors, and seniors, in high school, scoring well on the SAT is a ticket into the college of their choice. But the only way to do so is by being prepared. Because, as with many things in life, preparation is key!

Are your kids feeling overwhelmed, and unsure on where to start? Here are a few  SAT study tips to help you do well on your test.

No Cramming!

Last minute studying is simply inefficient. Attempting to absorb, or process a large volume of information in a short period of time (usually the night before a test) will do more harm, than good. Tell your kids to not  overload their brains with information, because they’ll need it refreshed by morning, before their test.

The 12-24 hours before test day should be spent calming nerves, organizing test supplies, packTing a snack/lunch, and getting much needed rest. So when their alarms go off, they’re not panicking, or rushing to get their things – let alone their thoughts – together.

Practice As If It’s Test Day!

There are plenty of websites that offer SAT practice tests that your kids can either take online, or print out, and fill in. When taking these tests, have them practice under “test-day conditions.” Time them, as well. The new SAT is 3 hours and 50 minutes long, meaning you should allot the same amount of time to them as they practice.

Additionally, you should also restrict them from any mobile phone use, music, socializing, and any other distractions. The same way athletes practice as if it’s game day, they should have this mentality as well.

When one prepares themselves under test-day conditions, they won’t feel so overwhelmed on the big day.

Work On Vocabulary

While memorizing definitions isn’t as exciting, as it is beneficial, it’ll certainly help when tackling the passage-based reading questions in the test. It’s also important to note that there’s more to boosting one’s vocabulary skills than just memorizing the definitions. Make sure your kids understand the definition as well. Especially within the context of a sentence or paragraph.

Granted that you’ve decided to help them study weeks in advance, start posting a “SAT word of the day” post-it on the fridge, or bathroom mirror to make it more fun for them. Then encourage them to try and use the word in conversations throughout the day.

Clearly, these are just a few helpful tips to consider. There are companies, such as TestPrepPlace, who provide more information about the test, and study tips, to make your future college student’s experience, and the process, a little less intimidating.