Advice for Incoming Wentworth Freshman

As an incoming freshman, I wish I’d known what really to expect. Being the oldest sibling, I was needless to say, a little bit scared of failure. With freshman year being a chance to redefine yourself, to challenge assumption, and lay the foundation for the rest of your life, it easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure. You may feel pressure from your parents, the pressure to be a good example for your sibling(s), or even the pressure to not be the kid your friends talk about as “the one who dropped out of college”. However, what I often find is that the most pressure to succeed actually comes from yourself. While college courses may be stressful, college is a time to get involved and make new friends. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to spread light as to what college is like and what you should expect during your Freshman year.

To begin with, being a junior here at Wentworth, I have learned a lot since the start of my freshman year, whether it be on how to adjust to live on my own, making new friends, and even on how to do well in my courses. This all starts during freshman orientation, which takes place in June. During freshman orientation, you get the first sense of what it is like to be a college student. Being away from your parents for the most part a day and a half, you get the experience of eating at the cafeteria, living in a dorm room, as well as interacting with other incoming freshman. Being only a few days, it may seem like not much can be gained from it. However, I found it to be a good way of understanding what you really need to bring to college when you come up in late August, as well as who you can hang out with. For instance, after checking in to my freshman orientation, the first thing that I did was drop off my stuff in my room. After making my bed, I immediately began to take note of what is in my room. Like most freshman, you often have to share a dorm room with another student. Having lived in a single room back home, this instantly requires quite an adjustment. While you may have grown quite attached to your belongings back home, it is not realistic to expect that you will be able to bring all of your stuff with you to school.

However, as we wrapped up our freshman orientation and the summer progressed, I didn’t start to focus back on school until August rolled around. At which point, I realized that I needed to make my housing selection. Initially confused as to what courses I needed to take, I found a course tracking sheet for my major on the school website, which instructed me as to what courses I should take during each semester. Being a junior now, I have seen realized that it is important to check your emails constantly and be alert for any emails identifying when registration opens. As you progress through your major, the number of course sections will be limited. Therefore, if you don’t make your selections immediately right when registration begins, you may not get the courses that you wanted. As a result, you could end up with a night class on a Friday. In addition, the same applied to housing registration. With the times for housing selection being randomly assigned, it is important that you and your friends selection your room/suite whenever the earlier one in the group’s registration time opens. As you will find in the summer of your junior and senior years, if you don’t register early, you may not be able to get the building that you wanted.

Additionaly, once you are registered for a room, it is important that you coordinate with your roommate(s) in regards to what each of you is bringing. With limited space, you may not have the room to have 2 televisions and 2 mini-refrigerators in each room. With purchasing all of the supplies being quite expensive, splitting up who brings what both reduces the amount of money that you need to spend as well as prevents clutter. For a list of supplies that are recommended to bring on campus for your freshman year, it is best to reference the link below which contains a checklist of what you can and can’t have on campus.

https://wit.edu/reslife/prospective-students/what-to-bring

While this knowledge may help you in knowing what you should do/have upon arriving on campus, the most important knowledge that I gained was how to manage your time. Pursing a mechanical engineering major with a minor in aerospace engineering, I have found the coursework over the years to be quite heavy. While you may initially look at your course schedule and think that you have so much free time, you will find this time quickly filled up through completing your homework, studying, or even getting involved in clubs. Personally, for me, I initially though that I was going to have all of this free time to explore Boston as well as attend many sporting events. However, as a junior, I often find my time being spent in the library or in my room during school work. This is not to say that you won’t have time to hang out with friends or catch a game here and there, it just means that you need to plan out how you will manage your time.

While everybody works differently, I have found it best to plan out how many hours each homework assignment will take as well as how many hours I want to study for each exam coming into the week. On average, I find that I spend anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours working on each homework assignment as well as spending approximately 2 days studying before each exam. While this may seem like a long time, I have found this to be the best approach for me to retain all of the material. While I am doing quite well now, I found at times that I was struggling during my first semester of freshman year. I found myself becoming too distracted with other events as well as was not spending as much time on my course work. In result, I missed the dean’s list. However, since then I have changed my approach toward my classes.

To begin with, I recommend that you start by taking thorough notes during class. Make sure that you write neatly so that you will be able to reference your notes later on. When it comes time for an exam, I often go through my notes as well as read the corresponding chapters in the textbooks in order to recall what we went over in class. From here, I have found the best approach to then rework on the problems that we did in class as well as for homework. The exams for each class will most likely be filled with problems similar to these. After going through each problem once, I then check my answers, noting which problems that I got wrong. At which point, I go back to that section in my notes and make sure that I understand the concepts. In the end, I will work through each problem roughly 3 to 4 times to ensure that I fully understand each concept/method. Overall – this approach has seen allowed me to make dean’s list every semester since. If you do not understand it, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it be your professor or even a friend. Most likely, they will be glad to help.

Aside from doing school work, is it important however that you still have some fun. This includes getting involved as well as hanging out with friends. At times, it is important that you get out of your comfort zone and try new things. After all, you may find you actually like it as well as make new friends along the way. In the end, while this knowledge may or may not help you, to be a successful freshman – have an open mind, and be willing to learn as you go.

Until next time,

Adam

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Homelessness and Food Insecurity

 

It’s hard to imagine how one can start off by living in a stable home, but quickly find themselves homeless. In fact, many people who are homeless today never thought this could happen to them. With the increased expenses due to inflation, many families are now sinking into serious financial crisis as rents and the cost of living continue to rise. In result, all it takes is the loss of a job, a bereavement, or a traumatic event such as an injury or illness to cause individuals to fall behind in their rent or mortgage. Being that we are all susceptible to such events to affect our lives, it is important to understand when you are at risk of homelessness as well as what resources are available to help you prevent becoming homeless.

To start off, it is important to first understand what being homeless actually means. At first thought, many picture an individual sleeping on a park bench or against the side of a building. While this is homelessness, being homeless can being in many different forms. According to Section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, homeless youths are defined as individuals who lack fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. In result, a homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets, stay in a shelter, or it could be someone who sleeps on the couch of a friend or family member. Many students who fall into this last category don’t consider themselves homeless, but they can be recognized as homeless youth and receive some of the benefits that come with this determination.

Becoming homeless has a lot of factors to it other than money. Most notably, it often includes a form of conflict between individuals. For students, this may include having a disagreement with family. In which case, they may kick you out of the house, forcing you to scramble to find a place to stay. While you may go live with a close friend/extended family member, you would legally be defined as homeless. While some may know where to seek help, it is important to note that you are not alone. According to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are 564,708 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the U.S. Of those, 36,907(6.38%) are children, 47,725 (8.33%) are veterans, and 269,991 (47.6%) are disabled and unable to work.

While you may acknowledge the staggering number of individuals homeless in the U.S., it may not take away from the fact that you may still feel embarrassed about being homeless. While it may be easy to say that it is only temporary and not seek help, homelessness can have a staggering effect on an individual’s body if proper help is not sought. If your body does not consume any food and water over an extensive period, your body will begin to shut down. Therefore, while you may have thought being homeless was temporary and didn’t want to seek help, the effects that you can suffer in result can be permanent.

For individuals and families who do not meet the definition of “homeless” under any of the categories established in the Homeless Definition final rule, the McKinney-Vento Act was amended to allow homeless prevention assistance to be provided to persons who are “at risk of homelessness.” In the event that you become homeless, it is important that you take advantage of the provided resources. Here in Massachusetts, there multiple shelters available including the Friends of Boston’s Homeless and Pine Street Inn, which are open free of charge to the homeless. In addition, to prevent food insecurities, there are numerous food pantries in Boston available to the public including the Sojourner House. The Student Service Center even has their own on campus Leopard Pantry available free of charge to any student who is struggling to buy food. If you have questions email leopardparntry@wit.edu.

Budgeting

Budgeting can help you take control of your money. A budget is simply a plan of how you’re going to spend your money and how much you want to save. Budgeting can help you to stay out of debt and achieve your financial goals.

Build Your Budget
The first step to creating a budget is to identify the 3 main components.

  • Your income
  • Your expenses
  • Your spending

First, record the expenses that you have to pay every month. This will include things like your rent, utility bills, and student loan payments. These will be your “fixed” expenses. It’s important to start with these numbers because you must have enough set aside to pay for these each month.

Next, figure out how much you spend on “flexible expenses” these are things like groceries and transportation. You might not be able to come up with an exact number, but you can get an estimate by looking at what you spent in the past few months.

*Utilize online banking to track exactly what you’re spending each month.

Finally, think about how much you normally spend on “discretionary expenses”, these are things like clothing and eating out. It’s important to allow for these things in your spending plan so you won’t have to feel guilty about going out for a friend’s birthday or buying something new.

Now that you know your expenses, you need to determine your monthly income. If you have a fixed monthly income, you can simply plug in the numbers. If your income varies from month to month, do your best to estimate your average monthly income.

There are lots of budget calculators available online like these:
https://www.saltmoney.org/Assets/PDFs/salt-budget-worksheet.pdf
https://www.quicken.com/budget-calculator
https://www.mint.com/

Set a Goal
Once you’ve created your budget and subtracted your monthly income from your expenses, see how much money you have left over. If you have no money left over, you will need to reevaluate your budget. Find places where you can cut spending so you can stay out of debt. Put any extra money towards paying off debt or savings. It’s important to have money in savings in case of emergencies. Set a savings goal for yourself and use your spending plan to help you achieve it!

Student Loan Repayment

Have you borrowed student loans? Do you have any idea how and when you need to start paying them back?

Most students borrow a combination of private and federal loans while attending college. After you’ve graduated you have a grace period of 6 to 8 months before you have to start repaying those loans. It is important that you know all of your options for repayment and have done the research to learn which option is best for you.

Federal Loans

Federal loans are the Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans that you received with your financial aid package. To see how much you have borrowed and to get information about your servicer, the first place to go is nslds.ed.gov. Federal loans offer many different repayment plans for students. Choosing the payment plan that is right for you is critical in maintaining healthy finances after you graduate. You can contact your loan servicer for free to discuss your options for repayment. Here’s how to find out who your loan servicer is.

Repayment Plans include:
The Standard Repayment Plan
The Graduated Repayment Plan
Extended Repayment Plan
Income-Driven Repayment

Not sure how much you’ll have to pay after you graduate or which repayment option is right for you? Use the Federal Student Aid Repayment Estimator here: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/repaymentEstimator.action

Loan Consolidation

You do have the option to consolidate your federal loans, but you must consider your individual circumstances before making this decision. Consolidating can simplify payment if you have federal loans with several different loan servicers. It may also lower your monthly payment by giving you a longer period of time to pay your loans. This can be both a benefit and a disadvantage because you will likely pay more interest over the lifetime of the loan.
Is Loan Consolidation Right for You?

Deferment or Forbearance

In some cases, you may be able to receive deferment or forbearance that allows you to temporarily stop making payments or reduce the amount of your federal loan payments. You will have to request deferment or forbearance through your loan servicer and provide documentation that you meet the requirements.
What is Deferment and Forbearance?

Private Loans

For private loan repayment, you usually pay the loan company directly. In general, private lenders have less flexible repayment options than the federal loans, but it can be helpful to contact the lender directly to discuss all options for repayment and consolidation.

 

Compound Interest

Most students who borrow loans understand that there is interest associated with that loan, but what exactly is that interest and how does it function?  Interest is the cost of borrowing money. Interest can increase the amount you earn on an investment or the amount you owe on a loan. There are different types of interest and it’s important to understand how interest can help and hurt your finances. 

In both loan repayment and investing, knowing what kind of interest you have is critical for saving you money and allowing you to grow your money more quickly

Here are some key terms to know:

Simple Interest: The interest that accumulates only on the principal balance of your loan.

Principal Balance: The total amount you currently owe, minus any interest that’s yet to accrue. Every time you make a payment, a portion of that money goes toward the interest that is accruing on your loan and any fees you may have been charged, and the rest is used to pay down your principal balance.

Compound Interest: Compound interest is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit or loan.

Compound interest can be thought of as making interest on your interest and can grow your money faster than simple interest which is calculated only on the principal amount. On the other side, if your loan payments have compound interest your interest will continue growing at a faster rate than simple interest because you are being charged interest on the interest that has already accrued on the loan.

Compound Interest Formula

Compound interest is calculated by multiplying the principal amount by one plus the annual interest rate raised to the number of compound periods minus one. The total initial amount of the loan is then subtracted from the resulting value.

The formula for calculating compound interest is:

Compound Interest = Total amount of Principal and Interest in future (or Future Value) less Principal amount at present (or Present Value)

= [P (1 + i)n] – P

= P [(1 + i)n – 1]

(Where P = Principal, i = nominal annual interest rate in percentage terms, and n = number of compounding periods.)

How to Tell if a Loan Uses Simple or Compound Interest
The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) requires that lenders disclose loan terms to potential borrowers, including the total dollar amount of interest to be repaid over the life of the loan and whether interest accrues simply or is compounded.  One way is to look at your repayment schedule. With simple interest, each year’s interest payment, and the total amount you owe, would be the same. If the interest is compounded, each year’s interest payment would be larger. To learn more about your own finance and how interest will impact you, here is a Compound Interest Calculator.

Hope that helps you understand your loans and how the interest will impact your repayment!

Until next time!

Katie

Campus Logic

Every college student can attest to the fact that there is no shortage of paper forms that must be completed and submitted. Fortunately, with the passage of time, many forms can frequently be located online.  This allows students to simply fill in the necessary information and hit submit. Advancement towards paperless systems appears to be the trend in most areas of our society.

Not only are we living in an increasingly paperless world, but most of us now use our mobile devices to complete tasks that would have been unheard of years ago. From reserving seats to a movie, to ordering take out, to securing transportation, most people are relying on their mobile devices to make their lives more efficient.

Here in the Wentworth Financial Aid Office, we are always considering ways to better streamline the financial aid process, simplifying access for students.  We are excited to announce the rollout of Campus Logic! This is a new, intuitive, tailored process designed to make navigating the financial aid process easier. Best of all…it’s mobile!

Starting in February for the 2018-2019 academic year, students will be able to:

  • Complete financial aid forms on a phone, tablet, or computer
  • Securely upload documents from any device
  • E-sign documents – students and parents
  • Manage financial aid tasks online
  • Receive automated reminders about outstanding tasks and next steps

 

We heard your feedback loud and clear.   You want to be able to complete financial aid processes on your own time, on the device of your preference. Providing the best student experience is important to us so we bring you Campus Logic.

Until next time!

Rae

Identity Fraud

Hello! My name is Ashley Tampellini and I’m a freshman here at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Being a college student, I want to make sure that I’m not a victim of identity fraud. If this were to happen, my credit could be detrimentally affected… and effect my ability to take out loans to pay for tuition. Protecting personal numbers is extremely important, as is monitoring your personal information so fraudsters can’t get ahold of it.

With tax return season comes identity theft, especially when those tax payers are college students. According to a 2014 study, 22% of students were notified that they were victims of identity theft. It’s important to know the warning signs of being a possible victim of identity fraud and to take precautions before the thieves have a chance to strike.

Protect yourself:

  • Keep personal numbers to yourself. Never carry your Social Security card with you. In addition, be cautious when giving out personal information. Just because a website asks for it, does not mean you should give it to them. In addition, keep documents in a secure location within the home so others may not access them.
  • Take caution when mailing important documents. Do not send college students important documents via mail. Often, mail gets lost or is sent to an unsecure location. This gives identity thieves an easy pathway to your personal information.
  • Don’t put too much information on social media. Oversharing on social media can give fraudsters valuable information to help them bypass security questions. Passwords often include family pets or birthdays, which are easy to find on various social media accounts.
  • Use secure networks. When paying bills online or accessing personal documents, only use private WiFi connections to ensure your information will stay secure.

Warning signs:

  • More than one tax return was filed. If someone from the IRS or a personal tax professional contacts you and says that more than one tax return has been filed using your SSN, this could indicate that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud.
  • Wages from employers for whom you did not work. If IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer whom you didn’t work for, this could indicate identity fraud.

Be cautious and ensure you won’t be the next victim of identity fraud. With these simple steps, you could save your SSN from being used by fraudsters. For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft , https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tips-for-taxpayers-victims-about-identity-theft-and-tax-returns , https://www.consumerreports.org/identity-theft/college-students-face-risk-of-identity-theft/ .

Until next time!