Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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    Smart Money Management: Common Sense Gains Extra Cents

    Cassandra Lawton

    Money is an important part of our life. However, for many college students, it always seems like you don’t quite have enough. One way to ensure you have money when you need it is to use smart money management! Something simple like using common sense, could spare you a few extra cents, and I will share with you my three favorite tips on just how to do that!

    Do not connect debit cards with your savings account

    I have a debit card through my credit union and when I first received this card I noticed I was spending a lot of money with it and the money came right out of my main savings account! I found out that I spent a lot less when I disconnected the accounts and had a separate account for just my debit card. This way I put a set amount in each month and only allowed myself to spend that much – no more.  

    Protect your accounts from overdrafts

    When I first started using my account I noticed I would overdraft a lot and would have to pay a $15-20 fee every time. This amount started to add up. When I went to my credit union and brought this issue up I learned that I can protect the accounts from overdrafts. Given, this is a bit embarrassing when I’m stuck at a store and can’t pay the bill but it has saved me a lot of money. Additionally, I have learned to carry $20-50 extra in cash for emergencies.   


    This may seem odd at first but in states that accept refunds for cans, such as Michigan which is 10 cents per bottle or can, this money can add up. If your state does not take money for bottle returns, they probably take money for aluminum and this can still give you some extra cash. I pick cans and bottles up from the ground when I go for walks. Through these actions alone I earn about $50-100 each month! The best part is I do not often buy pop or soda. Therefore, I am making money, helping the environment and cleaning up my community – all at the same time!

    There are many ways to save money, and these are three of my favorite. I have found that by unlinking my cards, preventing overdraft, and recycling bottles and cans – I find myself less strapped for cash!

    Do you have any tips for smart money management? Share them with the Pearson Students Community when you retweet this blog!


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    Early College Programs: A Head Start to Your Future

    Cassandra Lawton

    Community college was important in my family. My grandmother went to Muskegon Community College (MCC) for nursing while taking care of two young kids as a single parent. She attained her Associate’s degree and unfortunately had to stop there. She always tells me she wishes she went further. My sister also attended MCC and she is now at Central Michigan University (CMU) studying English. I always assumed I was going to go to MCC as well, but I ended up going a lot sooner than I thought.

    An amazing program called the Early College Program came to my high school allowing students to enroll in college courses beginning in 11th grade. Participants could earn an Associate’s degree one year after graduating high school and it would be completely paid for. After much thought, I joined the program and in 11th grade I began taking six college credits. I went on to graduate with a high school diploma and received my Associate’s degree one year later. I am now at Michigan State University (MSU) where I am majoring in Human Development and Family studies. I plan to become a Marriage and Family therapist.

    I have many fond memories of my community college years. After my first semester at MCC I was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) where I later became an officer in charge of fundraising. I raised almost $3,000 during my term, and learned many valuable lessons.

    In my second year at MCC I took an American Government course. Although the subject was one of my least favorites, my professor made the course fun and enjoyable, even when we deciphered the Pledge of Allegiance! He cared very deeply about his students and even now three years later, goes out of his way to write letters of recommendation for me.  

    My favorite place to study on campus was on the second floor by the education office. There is a desk and window where I could see the pond, a raised garden patio, and the river. It is a beautiful place to sit and look at the outside, and a very peaceful place to study.

    I took advantage of many of the wonderful resources at MCC, including advisers (who I saw countless times), a writing center, and a help desk for technical issues. There are also physical resources such as study rooms, the testing center, and even music rooms that were free of charge for students. I was always able to find help when I needed it. The resource I used the most on campus is the writing center. They were open five days a week, and had multiple people to read and offer help with any type of assignment. I was even able to bring a couple of novel chapters in and they edited them for free.

    Looking back on everything, joining the Early College Program and going to MCC was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. I saved a ton of money, gained so many priceless experiences, and met some amazing people that even now help me through my higher education.journey. A huge thank you to Muskegon Community College and the Early College program for allowing me to be a part of their amazing family.


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    Why I Love My Human Development and Family Studies Major

    Cassandra Lawton

    I am majoring in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at Michigan State University (MSU). This program is amazing because it incorporates many hands-on requirements in the curriculum. In my intro to HDFS class, I was required to do a service learning placement for 40 hours last semester. These service learning placements range from helping food banks, refugees, farmer’s markets, or volunteering at afterschool programs. These placements are nice because they are required, if they weren’t I probably wouldn’t have made volunteering a priority.

    My placement was at a low-income housing apartment complex where I worked at the Learning Center. I taught the importance of college to the kids in the apartments and tutored in my spare time. This placement taught me so many things, among those, that I want to help people of all ages.

    HDFS curriculum also requires us to take an internship. I am planning to do two internships before graduating. My internship this semester is currently at St. Vincent Catholic Charities adoption home with the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. In this program, I have my own caseload of kids in residential homes that I get to know and find homes for. My internship has taught me the importance and significance of having a home to come back to, it also taught me about the adoption system processes. I wouldn’t have taken it on if my program didn’t encourage and give me the skills to do it. My second internship will be at the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic on campus.

    Finally, HDFS courses are extremely interesting and help me learn a lot about each course’s material. Each course builds upon the previous course and I feel like I’m getting more concrete foundation with each course I take. I can honestly say I feel “ready for the real world” into my field because of my experiences.

    The HDFS major at MSU is an amazing program that allows students to gain real life skills and knowledge that can be used for real careers. Even if someone isn’t going into a human service field people can still use the skills in other professions.

    Overall, HDFS is an amazing major because it is versatile in all career paths and allows for hands on work as well as courses that reinforce concepts.


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    Life Lessons: Relentless Actions and Random Acts of Kindness

    Cassandra Lawton

    Every month I try to make it a goal to perform a random act of kindness. Sometimes, seemingly small actions can make a big impact on another person’s life. This month my sister and I were at sibling’s weekend at my college. I go to Michigan State University and all of the events were in a building called the MSU Union. We had a good night: we made slime, watched a comedian, and got photo booth pictures. The last event was to get balloon animals. We talked about what animals we wanted and decided as we got in line. The person making the balloon animals came over and gave a lady behind us a sign saying she was the last one in line. He was running out of supplies and it was the end of the event, so everyone after the lady with the sign wouldn’t be able to get balloon animals. He gave everyone in line a card saying it was good for one animal, this way he could keep track of who was in line.

    While standing in line waiting for the man to make balloon animals, a woman came up with her two kids. The lady at the end of the line explained that she was the last one and he wasn’t going to make anymore. The woman who had come up to the line started to walk away with her kids, but my sister and I decided together to give the kids our two cards, so they could have the balloon animals instead of us.

    The woman and kids were happy and thankful, they got in line soon after we left.

    My sister and I always try to do things like this. Instead of getting balloon animals, we decided to paint picture frames. My sister was still just as happy as she would have been if we got balloon animals.

    Every time my sister and I perform an act of kindness, it’s an inspirational and educational experience. Considering this one specific example with the balloon animals, we realized those kids deserve the balloon animals just as much as we did, but they were probably even more thrilled to get them. I think that it is important for my sister and me to learn: how to give up something to make someone else better off. I encourage everyone to do one relentless action each month. My sister and I are thankful that we can make a positive impact in other people’s lives, just simply by being kind.


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    My Mother, a Mentor

    Cassandra Lawton

    I think that everyone has someone they can call a role model in their life. Whether it is someone you know personally or a famous person you look up to, I feel that everyone can feel inspired by at least one other person in the world.

    One of my many role models is my mother. She has always inspired me through her actions and her lessons she has taught me. My mother had me when she was eighteen and she wasn’t ready for a child at all. She quickly turned her life around and worked hard to graduate adult education and receive a high school diploma before I was born. When I was born, she saved all her money for a trailer that I called home for a couple years. My grandmother allowed my mother to buy some land from her and we transported a home onto the land, this home still continues to be my home. My mother has provided a stable life for me even though she was never able to fully experience everything she could have.

    After we obtained stability and my mother was hired into a more constant job, she decided to have my little sister. During the last couple months of her pregnancy, both of my cousins had family situations happen. My oldest cousins mother had died many years ago, but now her grandmother was going to give up her rights and put her into foster care. My mother didn’t hesitate to become my eldest cousin’s guardian and then not much longer my other cousins mother died of cancer leaving four siblings out of a home.

    My mother became the guardian of one of the siblings from the family and the rest went to live with my grandmother. Within one year my mother went from having one child to four children. Our household’s money was tight for a while, and my mother tried her best to give us an amazing childhood experience. My father built the second half of our house all by himself to give us each our own bedroom. My mother also gave us an allowance for cleaning the house that we had the option of putting together in order to go out to dinner, bowing, or the movies. Finally, she always tries to help us learn from our experiences.

    Currently, my oldest sister and I am the first ones ever to go to college in our family. Our mother has been there for both of us every step of the way, even though she never was able to go to college herself. My mother and I are very close and I consider her one of my best friends. I hope to help her and repay all the kindness she gave me and my siblings, but for now I still look up to her as my mother and my biggest role model.

    Who is your biggest role model? What impact did they have on your life?