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4 Tips to Starting a Business in College
December 18, 2014
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What do Google, Pizza Hut, FedEx, and Facebook have in common? They were all launched by college students! That’s right! If they could do it, so can you. Here are 4 key tips to bringing your business idea to fruition while in college.

Create a Business Plan. Seems self-explanatory, but many entrepreneurial spirits forget this key tip! Without a clear roadmap, where exactly are you heading? Once you get the idea for your business, begin writing down the details. The more you flush out your ideas, the clearer your vision will become. Once you clearly define your business idea, work to determine your short- and long-term goals, marketing strategies, financial necessities and target audience.
 
Know Your Target Audience. Who is your target audience? Where are they located? What is their age range and gender? Income level? Relationship status? Identify your market. If you’re looking to sell bubble-gum scented lip gloss incased in a Cinderella shaped bottle, it’s safe to say your target audience is young girls between the ages of 9 and 12 years old, not single men between the ages of 25 and 30. Determining your market means being able to effectively market your business. 

Utilize Your Network. Starting a business while in college gives you instant access to the knowledge base of the entire university – use it! Build connections with faculty members who can offer you great advice and perspective when it comes to your business. Alexis Ohanian, creator of Reddit.com, decided to team up with a fellow student to launch what has become one of the leading social news websites at the moment. If there’s someone in your network who shares the same vision as you, it’s okay to consider building the empire together.
 
Time Management is Key. The thing that will sustain you over time is this – your time management skills. Do you know how many people have said they had the idea for Starbucks way before it was created? What separates those people from Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegl is this – they had the idea, but Starbucks’ founders brought the idea to life! It’s going to take hard-work, commitment and time management to make your business idea a success. Remain steadfast and focused on your mission and you will become the next business mogul.

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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Time Management Tips for College Students
December 11, 2014
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One of the biggest challenges all college students face is time management. Between the classes, sports practices, study groups, honor society formals, and extracurricular activities, how exactly do we manage additional school work? Check out these 4 time management tips to get and keep you on track.

Use a Daily Checklist. Whether you make it a day in advance or that very morning, keeping a clearly defined schedule will keep you on track. If you don’t determine what your goals are, how will you know when you’ve achieved them? Start each day by reviewing the tasks on your list. This will help you understand how much you can get done.

Slow Down on Social Media Consumption. It’s time that we put up the “Do not disturb” sign. 2 minutes on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr turns into 2 hours so quickly, right? When you are completing an assignment or studying for an exam, dedicate your time to solely focus on the tasks at hand. This may be hard at first, but it gets easier over time. When we use our phones while we’re doing homework, a 30 minute assignment ends up taking 2 hours. Why? Because it’s difficult to get back on task each time we get distracted. Work hard and play hard. Dedicate a solid 30 minutes to your homework assignment, so that you can enjoy the rest of the time doing other stuff – like surfing the web.

Make Room for a Break – and Rest. Too often, the value of rest is underestimated. But sooner or later, our mind and body reminds us that we are not superhuman. When we make room for a break, we make room for our success.  That’s because balance is essential. We can’t perform at our best without breaks in between our tightly bound schedule. As energy levels decrease, so does our attention span, memory retention and ability to make good judgment. P.S.: Studies show that the GPAs of students who are regularly sleep deprived are significantly lower than those who get enough sleep – so get some rest!

Allow for Flexibility. Samantha plans to complete her homework assignment at 7:00 pm. However, she gets home at 6:30 pm completely exhausted from soccer practice. As she starts her homework, she realizes 20 minutes later that she’s having a hard time concentrating. What should Samantha do? Samantha should give herself permission to rest before jumping in on the homework.

It’s important to be flexible when the unexpected happens. Whether it’s exhaustion from a long day or an unexpected visit to the hospital, practice flexibility, and frankly, understanding.  Logically, if you can’t focus on your homework after 20 minutes, you should step away from the task and rejuvenate yourself, whether it’s getting something to eat or taking a quick nap. (20 minutes can work wonders!) Sometimes we have to deviate from the plan to execute the plan.

In this case, I would recommend Samantha head off to sleep early so she can get up an hour early to complete her homework assignment fully refreshed and ready to focus.

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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Seeking Scholarship Opportunities?
December 4, 2014
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86810455NEFCU, Long Island’s leading credit union, is proud to offer its Making a Difference College and Community College Scholarships! Up to five $1,500 and five $1,000 grants will be awarded respectively to students enrolled at an accredited college/university or community college who are either members, or have a parent or guardian who is a member of NEFCU.

It’s easy to apply! Students should review the eligibility requirements and complete the online application at www.myNEFCU.org/scholarships by Thursday, Januray 15, 2015. To learn about NEFCU’s scholarship programs call 1-888-773-1457 or visit www.myNEFCU.org.

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4 Habits of Self-Made Millionaires
November 20, 2014
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Do you want to achieve financial freedom? Do you want to become a millionaire in this lifetime? If your answer is “Yes!” to the questions above, these habits will you get you on your way to financial security.

1. Establish and Work Towards Your Plan Patiently: Self-made millionaires don’t become wealthy by accident or overnight. It takes a well-researched and well-thought out plan to get them on their way. Setting the intention is important. If you’re serious about heading into millionaire-hood at some point in your life, you have to set a clear intention and shift your lifestyle choices to mirror your goal. Consistent investment effort turns into millionaire success. 

2. Be Proactive: You don’t need an Ivy League education to become a millionaire. What you need is a strong commitment to learning. Whether you’re starting a business or working hard at a job, make the commitment to learn everything you need to know. Self-made millionaires are actively involved in creating their own wealth. This includes: learning the ins and outs of finance, paying attention to what’s happening in their industry and making wise decisions with their money.
 
3. Save and Invest: Self-made millionaires are focused on saving and investing their money, instead of making and spending their money. As a result, they are constantly seeking ways to generate more income. For starters, you should already be saving at least 10% of your pay checks. Create a budget and stick to it. Consider ways to make more money. This may be creating a stellar app, building a powerful website that draws in investors or starting your own business selling unique apparel. Whatever the focus is, self-made millionaires are flexible enough to take measured risks. Without risks your money never has the opportunity to grow.

4. Live Below Your Means: After some extensive research, I’ve learned that the wealthiest people are also the most frugal people. Just pick up the book The Millionaire Next Door. The number one car brand among millionaires is not BMW or Porsche or even Mercedes – it’s Toyota! Just ask Mark Zuckerberg who drives a $30,000 Volkswagen. Self-made millionaires understand that if you’re too busy spending money on objects you don’t specifically need, you’ll never have money to effectively save or invest in something better. Consequently, a healthy relationship with money matters. Self-made millionaires pack their lunches, drive reliable, low maintenance cars and spend below-to-within their means.  

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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4 Apps You Should Have on Your iPhone
November 6, 2014
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Nowadays you can do just about anything on your phone – including save money! Check out these 4 incredible financial resources and start managing your money today!

1. Mint —User-friendly and efficient, this application brings all of your financial information to your desktop and mobile device. If you have difficulty figuring out where all your money’s going, Mint will be a lifesaver. Securely connecting to your checking, savings and credit card accounts, Mint automatically organizes your various purchases into categories to display exactly where you spend your money. It also offers a budgeting program that allows you to create budgets and savings goals to keep you on track for financial success. Whether you’re establishing your food expenses for the month or planning for a successful retirement, Mint is a one-stop shop for personal finance management and it’s FREE.

2. Bill Tracker – With this useful tool, you will never pay a bill late again! Bill Tracker is a simple, straight-forward app for keeping track of bills. It records due dates, amounts owed and confirmation numbers for payment. With the click of a button, you can set reminder alerts for upcoming and overdue payments. From student loans to cellphone bells, you can keep track of all of your payments for a low-cost price of $1.99.

3. Gas Cubby – Are you tired of spending tons of money on gas? Then Gas Cubby is for you! With this app you can save money and keep your car up to speed. Using your phone’s GPS to chart car mileage, the app tells you how much gas you’re using.  Also, it tracks gas prices at various locations to find you the best local deals. Use this FREE app to get reminders about when to change your car’s oil and other maintenance needs.

4. Retail Me Not – Whether you’re at the store or shopping online, Retail Me Not shares up-to-date coupons and promo codes for thousands of your favorite stores. At Target? Simply search Target on the search box and receive the latest Target coupons applicable towards your purchase.  Whether you’re looking for a deal on apparel, electronics, phone bills or flight tickets, Retail Me Not has a deal for that. Not to mention, the application posts the latest and greatest deals on its home page to keep you in the loop about the best deals of the moment. Go download this FREE app and never miss out on a deal!

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3 Tips on Writing a Stellar Scholarship Essay
October 23, 2014
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Whether it’s fall, winter, spring or summer, it’s scholarship season for college students. Read the following tips for pointers on writing a stellar scholarship essay!

1. Answer the Question – You can follow the next 2 tips, but without this one, you will be missing a significant piece – the essay question. Read the instructions and make sure you understand what the question is asking you before you start writing. Once you clearly understand what you’re being asked, create an outline to help organize your thoughts. Ask yourself, “What do I want to say?” and “What story do I want to tell?” Focus on developing a strong introduction, supporting evidence and an appropriate conclusion. Whether the essay calls for structure or creativity, make sure you have a beginning, middle and end that flows. 

2. Add Your Personal Touch – Don’t be afraid to include a dash of personality to your piece! Remember, scholarship applications ask for GPAs, extracurricular and community service activities – all things you and other applicants may have in common. What will make you stand out is your essay.  Be descriptive, but make sure you share information that bolsters and not inhibits your essay.  

3. Proofread – We all know the importance of putting our best foot forward, that’s why grammatical and spelling errors are frowned upon. Scholarship judges see your essays as a reflection of you. As writers, sometimes we overlook silly grammatical mistakes, but it makes us appear negligent in the eyes of the judges. To ensure your essay is in tip-top shape, have at least one person proofread it for clarity and grammatical soundness. The goal is to have your essay stand out for its excellence and not its errors.

At NEFCU, we offer excellent scholarship opportunities for all college students!  To learn more about NEFCU’s scholarship grants, visit www.myNEFCU.org/scholarships

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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10 College Tips for Incoming Freshman
October 9, 2014
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1. Pay very close attention to the dates on your syllabus! Often, professors don’t remind you when things are due and it is your responsibility to keep up with deadlines.

2. Take great use of all of your resources. Utilize the library, tutoring services, writing center, career services and freshman center.

3. Study a little each day. Don’t wait until a couple of days before a quiz or test to study – cramming doesn’t work with college courses.

4. Keep a planner with you at all times. It is the best way to stay organized and develop a daily schedule.

5. Check your college email often – colleges communicate important information, as well as amazing opportunities through email.

6. Avoid missing class. Much of the material covered in class will be on your exams.

7. Make sure you keep up with the textbook reading and take active notes.

8. When you’re in the classroom, solely focus on learning. Leave texting and surfing the internet for after class.

9. If you are confused, don’t be afraid to ask your professor for help. Chances are you’re not the only one in class in need of additional help.

10. Get a full night of rest –you’ll thank yourself. It’s actually been proven that lack of sleep impairs your ability to learn, remember and process new information! As a result, students who are sleep-deprived have noticeably lower GPAs than students who get a full night of sleep. Start getting into the rhythm of sleeping earlier. 

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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4 Back-to-School Tips for College Students
September 25, 2014
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1. Avoid Paying Full Price for Textbooks
Buying textbooks is easily the most dreaded task of the semester. Why? Because without a strategic game plan, you can spend upwards of $1,000 on textbooks. Yikes.

Here’s the trick – the moment you identify what books you need is the very moment you should start searching for them from your peers. Several students are holding on to old books they’ll happily get rid of for a great price. Look for students who took the class already. Post on your social media sites, as well as Facebook pages for your college stating what book you’re seeking. 

If you still can’t find the book, try searching your college library, a local library and online sites like Amazon or Postyourbook.com. In the hunt for books, feel free to purchase an older edition of the required textbook.

Whatever you do, make sure the college bookstore is your last resort.

2. Set a GPA goal for the semester
If you don’t set a goal for your life, how can you know you’re making great strides towards it each day? Establish a GPA goal that you’re willing to commit to – and mindfully perform tasks that support your goal each week.

3. Adjust your sleep schedule
Did you know lack of sleep impairs your ability to learn, remember and process new information? As a result, students who are sleep-deprived have noticeably lower GPAs than students who get a full night of sleep. Start getting into the rhythm of sleeping earlier. 

4. Get Involved:
Last, but certainly not least – get involved! Whether you’re a college freshmen or college junior, involvement in community service or extracurricular activities is an important component of your college career – it’s also something that will be vital throughout your life.

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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I’m Planning to Retire in my 30′s – Here’s How
September 18, 2014
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Ever wondered how it might be possible to retire sooner rather than later? Then read this interesting blog from the Huffington Post which provides some great down-to-earth suggestions.

Personally, I loved 178098337[1]the ideas mentioned for fast-tracking to financial indepence and ideas on ‘Super Savings’.

What are your tips or suggestions for making your finances work to your advantage?

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The Freshman Manual: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed and Thrive
September 11, 2014
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482109205[2]Every college freshman walks in with hopes of not only succeeding but excelling. The following tips will equip you with the insights you need to make excelling your reality!

Know your resources: College campuses offer an abundance of tools that make success a possibility and reality for all students, especially freshmen. What separates possibility from reality is action! As a freshman it pays to be inquisitive. Questions like, “Where is the library?” “Do I get a guidance counselor?” and “What is the school’s grading system?” are all worth investigating. Think about it, how can you get an A if you don’t know what grades you need to achieve that goal?

If you have a question, don’t let it go unanswered. There’s no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your success! It is your curiosity that’ll lead you down the road to achievement. By the end of your first month in college you should be familiar with the library, career center, names, office hours and syllabi of all teachers, as well as the freshmen center (if your school offers one).

Unbeknownst to many, college campuses offer special opportunities solely for freshmen students. This could be study abroad opportunities, honors programs or scholarships. Search the college’s website to see what offers are available. Ask teachers or counselors for their guidance as well. While one person may not have the answer, another person may be able to provide you with valuable information you can use – so be persistent!

Know what’s happening: The first month of college is truly dedicated to the freshmen class. If you see flyers for career fairs, resume building workshops, exercising classes or any academic or social opportunities, get involved. The great thing about college is you’re not obligated to stick to one group. Feel free to test out as many organizations and events that interest you. An extra bonus – you’re bound to meet a lot of awesome people along the way.

Know your spending habits: Though college is a new environment, don’t lose track of your purpose—to receive an education. Unlike high school, college is not free. Whether you’re spending your own money or using your parents, you want to get a bang for your buck!

All freshmen students make the same mistake—paying full price for textbooks. If you can avoid this frightening habit, please do! This is where knowing your resources comes in handy. Check if the school or local library offers the book you need. Pay attention to any book sale flyers. Use websites like Amazon or Postyourbook.com, to get the best prices. Most importantly, if your teacher asks for a certain book edition, ask them if you can get an older edition. They’re usually much cheaper.

Know your worth: The transition from high school to college is a daunting and invigorating task. It’s natural for feelings of anxiety, excitement or even fear to arise. However, the most important thing to know is that you’re worth it. Applaud yourself for making it this far. You’re a high school graduate! You’ve completed a special chapter in your journey. Whether you completed every goal you had for yourself in high school or not, acceptance is key. Move into this next chapter with the wisdom of the past and the readiness for the future. You are intelligent. You are capable. You are worth it. Success begins in your thoughts before they manifest in your world. Now is your time to shine!

Created by:  Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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