Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Choose the Right College…The Pressure Is On!!!!

After the Declaration of Independence, all-you-can-eat 2:00 AM Chinese food, and the end of the Twilight craze (we’re still waiting), there is nothing more important than deciding which college or university to attend. Wait. Except making sure your parents send you a Box-O-Box when you get there. Obviously.

We are sooo tired of the lists of best schools where “you want to hug a tree for 4 years,” “you never go on a date,” and “you will live in the library – don’t even bother paying for a dorm room.” So we’ve assembled the Box-O-Box branded, straightforward, and most importantly, realistic, college decision-making process. Drum roll, please:

1. How addicted are you to your parents? If you cannot imagine a weekend without hanging with your folks or eating meals cooked for you on a nightly basis, please do the rest of us independent (and cool) people a favor and go to your state college or university. That is down the road from your house. And good luck to you.

2. The super-mathematical but useful algorithm: dorm-to-classroom distance. Monumental (ok, kinda large, but walkable) dorm-to-classroom distances mean that you must leave your warm bed and fuzzy feet pajamas behind in the morning. If you are so lazy and in love with your teddy bear that you do not think you will make the trek to class, please look into a small college that resembles a summer camp. If for whatever reason you engage in such embarrassing behavior and attend a large school, odds are you won’t attend class and your friends will get sick of filling you in on lectures and writing your papers. Unless you pay them.

3. Do you like to paint your face and lose your voice at sports games? Or pound the pavement and take public transportation? A suburban or rural school is for you if: you want to live in an enclosed campus with thousands of your closest friends, attend many sports games and spirited social events, and don’t want to think about an off-campus existence. If the thoughts of never seeing a highway or people who aren’t college students make your head spin, please check out those hipster urban schools, and buy a pair of skinny jeans, gals AND guys. Not to mention you can then go mingle with the 30+ crowd much more easily.

4. Perform a Freudian analysis of the freshman orientation itinerary. Your parents are probably shelling out big bucks for you to hang out on campus before classes start so that you can get all buddy-buddy and drunky-drunky with your new friends. What does the orientation week hold for you? Base camping or kayaking during a smelly week of “team building?” Leadership programs with the next generation of promising (achemm…nerds) young scholars? Expensive lattes and walking tours of “up and coming” neighborhoods? Please look into this, youngins’. Crackberries and iPhones don’t work in the wilderness.

5. Sex & Cultural Makeup. Who goes here? What's the cultural makeup here? What am I prepared to open myself to? How many guys? How many girls? Which ones do I like and do I know yet? With the lattermost question aside (because we hope you'll figure that one out on your own with quality experience and not too much sideline coaching), this is something to consider quite heavily. After all, the “happy ever after” stories of our parents' generation often seem to point toward the college years. And statisticians will tell you – numbers DON'T lie. So think long and hard about your dating and social prowess; your cultural comfort zones and how you see yourself when placed outside those zones. Consider the environment you've known, and whether that is the same one that's right for you to thrive in going forward. Think about birds and bees, meeting new friends or partners, gaining meaningful insight to the world you'll soon be immersed in. And remember, if it doesn't workout the first time – DON'T WORRY - you can always go through the pain of transferring.

Friday, July 10, 2009

10 Sent-From-Home Items that Cause College Kids to Scream: "I checked my mailbox for THIS??!!!"

(Mom and Dad, please don't send me any of this stuff. I'm begging you.)

1) Pre-addressed, stamped envelopes and stationary so we can be "pen pals" with our parents! Yea, how about a message in a bottle, or attach a note to a balloon while we are at it! Learn to use the computer, try some texting (but not to me), and don't say to me, "Can you just send me a letter, this whole www @ whatever stuff is too confusing."

2) Home videos from childhood birthday parties, first grade 'graduation,' middle school dances -- you get the idea. And yes, these videos were originally recorded on VHS tapes. BUT have no fear, parents will convert them to DVD so we can watch them with our new college friends! Just what I always wanted, my college friends meeting my family for the first time and seeing me take a bath when I was two years old.

3) Condoms. Really?!?! Why don't we just talk about your hazy crazy college days!? You know what, on second thought, how about we pass right by that conversation too. Done.

4) Phone cards so we can call you more. We'll use the minutes to call friends at other schools. And if you increase our monthly text messaging limit, we still won't text you. I want that as much as I want the junk mail that's accumulated at home from people that don't need to know my new address.

5) THOSE VOICE MESSAGES THAT WE WILL DELETE AS SOON AS WE HEAR THAT NAGGING TONE...we aren't eating healthily, we don't care about cleaning up our dorms (the messier the better) and we aren't getting enough sleep!

6) The college version of a toddler themed room - pink for girls a la Disney Princesses, blue for boys like the days of Power Rangers. I know Aunt Pearl really wants to get me a fluffy pink pillow because it is "all the rage" and "just to die for," overheard at her hopping senior bingo, but please...Just give us a gift certificate and we'll go to Bed Bath & Beyond.

7) Any sort of gear or gadget. Yes, we know all about those MP3 things, already have the newest and best version, and you probably couldn't turn it on anyway.

8) Tasers or pepper spray. Are you testing me for your next "surprise 8:00 AM visit?" I promise I'll be careful...jeez mom!

9) And in the food category, we're very picky. Visit for ideas. Nothing healthy please (unless it's from Box-O-Box).

10) Presents for our roommates. What about MEEEEE? (Use whiny voice). Take our advice from the last tip, and please send a Box-O-Box, promise we'll share!!! (Revert to angelic tone).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ahhhhcchhoo! Oh, post-college health insurance...

Let's talk a bit about something that impacts many a Box-O-Box care package recipient: the post-college health insurance scramble.

An anxiety-inducing fact: health insurance from a parent's employer typically ends with college graduation. One of our Box-O-Box interns exclaims, "WHAT?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I THOUGHT THAT I WOULD COAST MY ENTIRE LIFE RIDING THE COAT-TAILS OF MY PARENTS' INSURANCE AND LIVE AT HOME UNTIL I AM 30!" Echhemm...NO.

Michael, Box-O-Box’s Boxmaster and CEO, knows from personal experience that
post-graduate insurance can provide for trying times. Michael was on his mother’s insurance and then COBRA but was dropped prematurely. Why? Although New Jersey state law, like many other states, allows post-college students like Michael to continue with COBRA if within the ages of 25-30, his mother’s retirement prompted an immediate cancellation of his policy. Let's just say that the NJ Board of Education will not be receiving any free Box-O-Boxes***** anytime soon!

So if you're not sure if you want to leave your health insurance fate up to state laws, be sure to check out these resources:

COBRA. Once your insurance expires under your parent’s plan, you can temporarily extend your current coverage through Cobra but bear in mind that there may be a bit of “red tape.”

Awesome Online Resources:

* provides affordable health insurance quotes and allows you to compare individual health insurance plans side by side.

* is provided by the National Health Law Program and includes a search engine to learn more about specific plans as well as a helpful list of health insurance terms.

* allows you to search for insurance plans by zip code and has a useful FAQ section.

Ah, finding health insurance is a rite of passage. And while it may be overwhelming, you’ll be happy when you have the sniffles (and hopefully a Feel-Better Box!) and can go to a doctor.

*****Footnote time: They may not be free, (sorry!) but regardless of whetheryou or someone you know has health insurance coverage, there are a variety of Box-O-Boxes that can help you stay healthy or help if sickness has already gotten to you. With that said, as much as we'd like to tell you that it could, you should never replace a visit to a good doctor with the excessive consumption of Box-O-Boxes. However, indulging in the contents of Box-O-Boxes certainly wouldn't hurt, and we've got them ready for you any day of the week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Roommate Rumblings? Solved!

Getting along with your roommate is always a top concern for first year students. After all, college is one of the few (if only) times that you will live in a very small space with someone you don't know too well. And if a conflict does arise, here's how we suggest handling it:

1. Sit down with your roommate to discuss the issue and listen to what he/she has to say. Try to work together to find a solution. It is best to attempt to "nip it in the bud" before complaining to other students -- and don't broadcast it on Facebook!

2. If the conflict doesn't get resolved in this first discussion, take a time out. Go for a walk or vent to a family member. Then, try again to sit down with your roommate.

3. If you can't resolve the conflict together, schedule a time to talk with your Resident Assistant (RA). RAs are trained to help students resolve roommate conflicts and they are very supportive.

We've all been there. Justin remembers resolving a conflict when he was a freshman and on the crew time. His roommate would continuously return to the dorm loudly between 2am and 4am, and Justine had to wake up at 5am every day for practice. So, Justin attempted to discuss this issue with his roommate, but the conflict was not easily resolved. Especially since his roommate said: "Crew isn't a real sport anyway!"

To clear the air, Justin decided to offer the "Great Crew Team Challenge." If the roommate thought the crew team was such a joke -- try it for two weeks and if he could last, Justin would move out. The challenge worked: his roommate became a dedicated member of the team.

While you and your roommate may not have a "Great Crew Team Challenge" of your own, figuring out how to live together, and perhaps be friends, is a very important part of your first year experience. Know of any other roommate conflict solutions that have worked for you or your friends? Comment below!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Filling out those financial aid forms...

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can be daunting for both college-bound teenagers and their parents, but it is necessary in order to apply for federal and state financial aid. So we asked our Box-O-Box college friends how to conquer the process, and they gave us these tips:

1. It may seem obvious, but use a black pen and write clearly - many applications are delayed due to illegible data!

2. Students should fill out the online version of the form, as it is processed more quickly, and you will receive your Student Aid Report (which outlines your family's expected contribution) faster than if you submit the paper form.

3. A lesser known fact: your parents can submit the FAFSA before actually filing their income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service - their income tax return simply needs to be completed.

Good luck with FAFSA!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Top Ten Items To Bring to know you want to start packing!

We’ve been hearing in our focus groups that excited college freshmen-to-be are starting to think about what to pack for their dorm room. Here is a TOP TEN COUNTDOWN of the essential items for a freshman dorm room:

10) A reliable alarm clock. It may seem trivial, but many freshmen are stuck with at least one morning class a few days a week – (sorry about that). Having an alarm clock you can count on will not only ensure that you wake up for this class, but that you will wake up on time!

9) A power strip/extension cord. There’s no debate that your room will have electrical outlets – but who knows where they may be in relation to you and your roommate(s) beds, desks, and dressers. A power strip or extension cord helps make the search for electrical power quick and painless.

8) Posters and photographs for the walls. Your dorm will be your home for nearly a year, so make it feel like home!

7) Kitchen supplies. Even though most freshmen eat in dining halls, there is always that late night snack you and your friends will eat in the dorm. Bring some cups, a few plates and bowls, and a set of silverware. Plastic kitchenware is great because no dishwasher is needed to clean it! Oh ya, bring dish soap too.

6) Shelving with removable parts. This shelving is ideal for storage in small and cozy freshman dorm rooms. Whether you put it next to your desk, beside your bed, or in your closet, these stackable compartments are helpful to organize all of those things you might usually lose.

5) Shower shoes! A pair of flip flops for the dorm showers is a must. Community bathrooms aren't that bad, but your feet will thank you!

4) Laundry supplies. A Box-O-Box focus group participant summarized the agony of doing laundry at college: “I wouldn’t have survived the first week without detergent, a drying rack, a laundry basket, an iron and ironing board, and a Tide-to-Go Stain Stick,” the sophomore recalls. So, talk with your roommate about who is going to bring the iron and who is going to take laundry lessons from their parents, and viola! Clean clothes.

3) The technological devices none of us can live without. Make sure to bring a laptop, TV, DVD player, Xbox, Wii, iPod…all needed for college survival!

2) A fan. Regardless of where you attend college, your dorm will be warmer at the end of summer and in early fall than during other times of the year – especially if you live in high rise dormitories. Bring a fan to cool and circulate the air. We suggest bringing a fan even if your dorm has air conditioning, which is often controlled by the building and not turned on all of the time, or may not be as “functioning” as you may like.

1) Bed elevators. Why the most frequently recommended item? Mike from Box-O-Box remembers: “There just isn’t enough storage space in the dorm room, and the beds are too low to fit things under. I couldn’t have fit half of my items in my room without making extra storage space under my bed.”

Other common suggestions that we heard from students: you should consider bringing a tool box, a first aid kit, a hanging shoe rack for your closet, extra tea/coffee, a full length mirror, and some kind of lamp for extra lighting.

Additions? Subtractions? Advice from upperclassmen and post-graduates? Feel free to comment, of course!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hey college students! Welcome to our blog!

Happy Friday everyone!

We're BOX-O-BOX: the world's greatest care package company (if we do say so ourselves).

Welcome to our blog!

Michael & Justin