Tag Archives: smartcut

CollegeQandA asks: What are the hidden costs of college?

It’s not just tuition and room and board

Routlette WheelThe idea that college is expensive is in our common culture, and it’s true.  The sticker price (sticker price = the tuition cost and sometimes the room and board costs) of colleges is regularly quoted to give you an idea of the base cost of attending college.  Note that depending on your situation, sticker price is not what you should expect to pay when considering discounts and scholarships.  However, sticker price is a nice ballpark starting point to calculate costs.

The reality is that there are other costs – hidden or not – that are not quoted in the sticker price.  I knew of these additional costs, but an excellent NPR article got me thinking about this more.  There are hidden costs, and these costs can be significant if you don’t watch it.

Hidden costs

What are the hidden costs of college?  The article lists a few of these hidden costs, and I’ve added some of mine in the following list:

  • Textbooks – sometimes required for classes
  • Travel – how are you going to get to and from college
  • Healthcare – you need to be protected if you get sick
  • A new laptop – is it really needed?
  • Your phone – the plan and the phone are pricey
  • Calculator – you can’t use your phone on an exam
  • Clothes – you need to wear something
  • Coffee – fancy caffeine drinks aren’t cheap
  • Alcohol – if you’re of drinking age it can be expensive
  • Class supplies – depending on what you are doing you need supplies
  • Fees – any club or organization you are a member of might have membership fees

Shared knowledge

This is an ongoing list/idea that I think we should build and improve on to help others.  In a previous article, I talked about the moving list hack that I created to help you automate packing. I’ve added a second page to that document trying to list and estimate additional college costs that you might need to consider.  Please consider commenting or writing me with other costs so we can collectively help ourselves and improve on this shared knowledge.

Credits: photo title: So Close; by Bruce Martin


CollegeQandA asks: What should I pack for College – 2015 list?

Start with a smartcut

As I learned from the book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, don’t do something more than once if possible.  Well, packing is one of those things you can do multiple times a year depending on your various trips.  Engineering Solution – a spreadsheet with little boxes that allows you to print out a packing list instantly and not forget what you need to bring and improve your packing over time.

picture of my latest packing list
My smartcut packing list ready for my next trip

Here is CollegeQandA’s 2015 college packing list – what should I pack for college.  You are welcome to customize this list for your own needs, but this will get you started on making your printable check list.  Then, when you realize you forgot something, then just add it to your list so that you have it next year.

Can we improve on this list?

One thing to remember is that I do not pack to go to a dorm or an apartment for 8 to 9 months.  So, I’m interested to see what suggestions you have to add to the list.  I will add these to the shared document so we can improve the list over time and help future generations pack for college.

How should I pack?

Because you are, likely, to be moving in and moving out quite often, your best bet is to find some packable box format that becomes furniture or is usable in other ways.  In our day, this was optimized by the milk crate.  These could carry items in and out, but were strong enough to raise your bed, make into bookshelves, or create other forms of furniture.

The best reason to use milk crates is that they are unit size boxes that can be carried by a handle, stored somewhat optimally, and they’re built to hold heavy things.