Combating the Rising Expense of College Text Books with a No Cost, Efficient Search Engine

gremlin_small-0c196408ac221e18280e5eec9adb6144College is really expensive, and the prices keep going up. As if the pain isn’t bad enough, textbook prices are out of control.  In a USA Today article, textbooks prices have risen over 82% since 2002, and the trend is not slowing down. What are students and parents to do? There are several options available; renting, buying used, and if available students can buy eBook’s. The real issue here is how do students know they are getting the best deal? This is where Gremlinbooks.com comes to save the day. Gremlin searches sources on the web, and provides a clean and easy to read summary for each book searched. The service is free and only takes a few seconds to compare several options.

How We Can Help

We have done all the difficult and time-consuming work for each and every user that visits our site. All the user has to do is enter a book title, author’s name, keyword, or the book’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and the search results are displayed in seconds. New verses Used, Rent verses Buy, it is all there for the user to see. We have seen users save over $130 on a single book based on the campus bookstore prices. While it may not be a massive windfall, saving $100-300 on books per semester should make students and parents very happy, but the good news doesn’t stop there. Once the student is finished with the book that he/she has purchased, we can help them sell it back to make back some of what they spent. We strive to make our site as easy and clean as possible. We do not have any advertising links on our site, and it has a very “vanilla” look and feel. We are spending our money and effort on providing the best, most comprehensive search results possible, not on building a flashy website.

What We Believe

College is becoming more and more a necessity to compete nationally and globally. The National Center for Education Statistics states that there are 21.8 million collegiate students and that number is expected to grow to 24 million by 2021. As the numbers rise, so will the tuition. We want to help wherever we can. As a proud holder of an MBA, I have seen first hand how frustrating it can be to buy a Cost Management book for $197 and a few months later have the campus bookstore offer me $3 to sell it back. Several years later, I still own that book. Our goal is to empower students by providing the data and letting them make the best choice for their needs. We want the student to think beyond the campus bookstore, and to see what we can provide, for free!!

Our Story

Gremlinbooks.com is a simple story. My wife was attending nursing school to obtain her second degree. One semester her textbooks cost over $1,000, if we went the campus bookstore route. Fed up, I turned to the web to see what I could find. Several hours later, low and behold, a $400 savings. Although we had saved a decent sum of money, the time it took was unacceptable. It seemed this was a wide spread struggle and a great opportunity to help students save on their textbooks. So 4 years later, the site is up and running, saving students money on textbooks. We are expanding our source list every semester and want to stay true to our slogan “Textbooks are expensive, we can help”.

Links:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/20/students-say-no-to-costly-textbooks/2664741/

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

This post was provided by Rob Parrish and Craig Nowotny, co-founders of Gremlin Books, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on January 11th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Gremlin Books

Campus Quad: Transforming How University Students and Administrators Connect and Communicate on Campus

If you ask college students from across the U.S. how they got involved in their campus community, a common theme emerges – it was chaotic and difficult.  Many will cite resources such as list-serves, campus posters, word-of-mouth and Facebook and they will also describe them all as noisy, impersonal and ineffective.

We created Campus Quad with one core mission – to deliver a transformative mobile communication network designed exclusively for colleges to help students engage in campus life and navigate a more meaningful path to graduation.

Today, on nearly all of our college campuses, there is a major communication gap between students and the administration.  Students arrive at school fully immersed in an app-driven mobile world of texting, photo sharing and location-based services.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re shocked and disappointed to discover their college is still using paper posters, 30-year old list-serves and external social media channels flooded with mass amounts of information that hold no relevancy to their campus life.  Universities also tend to rely heavily on email as the major avenue of campus-to-student communication.  This, too, is a dead-end as students simply don’t use email so valuable campus information languishes untouched.  This gap will continue to widen as the generation raised on mobile hits colleges this year and next.

From a business perspective, the college mobile engagement market is ripe for innovation, particularly within the mobile enterprise sector.  Sure, universities can use popular social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, however, these platforms are not private and perhaps even more important, the rich and meaningful engagement data remains locked in the proprietary “black box” owned by those corporations.

This is where Campus Quad solves a real and universal pain point.  It connects students and administration in real-time with a mobile communication network that resonates with the “always connected” lifestyle that students have become accustomed to and are highly proficient with using.  In essence, we help universities speak the social mobile language of the generation they serve and give them a critical lens – both macro and micro — into their student body.  Campus Quad is the first mobile communication network that collects ancillary engagement data then returns that information in useful analytic dashboards that enable universities to assess and measure students’ engagement and experience.  It has become invaluable in helping universities improve and enhance student resources and services.

Students get started on Campus Quad simply by creating an individual profile on their smartphone and joining their university’s exclusive Campus Quad community.  This allows them to instantly see and tap into what’s happening around them by selecting student leaders, clubs, campus services and campus organizations they would like to “follow.”  An “Explore” feed also displays all campus event flyers and photo streams by time and location so students can easily discover new avenues of interest, too. The benefit to the students is immediate as they have the pulse of the university community in the palm of their hand.

Staff, administrators and faculty are equally excited about Campus Quad.  Even the most established campuses share one common challenge — the struggle to connect and communicate with students about campus resources, events and important academic deadlines. Campus Quad provides one unified communication platform to reach students instantly and directly on their mobile phone.  From content creation and mobile delivery, to broadcasting to campus websites and external social media channels, Campus Quad allows administrators to access student engagement data via a web-based dashboard and summarize essential information at-a-glance.

Campus Quad welcomes the listeners of College Smart Radio to visit us at http://campusquad.co.  Whether you are a student or campus administrator, Campus Quad can increase student engagement on your campus.

This post was provided by Frances Cairns, the Founder and CEO of Campus Quad, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on January 4th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Campus Quad

Loan Forgiveness and Income Based Repayment Programs – How Do They Work?

8231671430_e83d55aa51_bFederal Student Loan Options
Currently the federal student loan debt has surpassed the $1.2 trillion dollar mark, and the average student loan borrower is graduating with over $26,000 in student loan debt.  This debt is now accounting for an average monthly payment of $320/month, which is higher than ever.  At the same time, defaulted student loans are also at an all time high of 11%, up from 5.4% in 2001.

Recently a study found that 33 million Americans qualify for student loan forgiveness but are not aware of the various programs that exist and are available to them. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Income Based Repayment program are the most popular and beneficial programs.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness
This program began in 2007 and was used as a way to benefit those who choose to work in the public sector.  The U.S Government wanted to award those who take up public sector jobs, and created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness(PSLF) program. The program allows anyone working for a local, state or federal organization to qualify for forgiveness on their loan after 120 qualifying payments.  The balance at the end of those 120 months would be completely absolved by the U.S Government.

o Must work in one of the following:

  • Public sector
  • Non profit 501(c)(3)
  • Private non-profit working in certain fields

o Must have DIRECT loans

  • Loans can be consolidated into the Direct Loan program to then qualify for PSLF

o Must be in an Income Based or Income Contingent repayment plan

o Must be a full time employee (30+ hours weekly)

Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Similar to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program was created in an attempt to drive college students into the education profession.  A Teacher may now qualify for principle reduction on their loan between $5,000 and $17,500 dollars.

  • Must have Direct or FFEL loans
  • Must not be in default
  • Must not have had student loans prior to Oct 1st, 1998
  • Must have taught for 5 consecutive full time years at a title 1 school.

Income Based Repayment
The Income Based Repayment (IBR) program probably benefits the greatest number of federal student loan borrowers.  In this repayment, the lender will calculate your federal student loan payment based on your income and family size.  Your loan balance and interest rates are not used to calculate your repayment.  In the IBR you may qualify for a monthly payment of $0.00 which counts as an actual payment on your student loans.  Every year the lender would request updated income documents and recalculate the payment based on your current income levels.  If your income does not rise, your payment will not rise.  At the end of 25 years, any balance remaining on the loan would be erased in the Direct Consolidation program.

  • Any interest that is not paid in the IBR is not capitalized for the first three years
  • Payments as low as zero
  • Payments that take into account your family size and cost of living expenses.

If you think any of the above programs can help you, give your lender a call to request information and get into the programs you qualify for and deserve!

Bio:

Spiros Mitsis graduated with a Bachelors in Finance & Economics from the University of Connecticut.  He is one of the founders of Student Debt Relief whos primary objective is to educate and assist student loan borrowers on the many federal programs available to them, including loan forgiveness.

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This post was provided by Spiros Mitsis of Student Debt Relief, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on December 28th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Chris Potter

Why SAT and ACT Prep Matter, But Don’t Have to Break the Bank

ExamWhile finding an excellent SAT or ACT tutor can give your children a significant advantage when they take their test, finding quality SAT tutors can be difficult at times. Obviously, a good SAT or ACT tutor can have a profound influence on a successfully improved score, but many great resources are available to families that can either complement the efforts of a tutor or substitute for them.

Returning to those promised resources, here’s a list of 6 free things you can do to help your student improve her SAT and ACT scores:

1.  Watch Jeopardy one night a week as a family. Why? It will expose your child to words she might not know, teach her the type of thinking that goes into crafting standardized test questions, and provide a relaxed and entertaining setting in which she can learn.

2.  Listen to A Way with Words. This curious, once-a-week radio show provides an extensive exploration of various words and phrases. Since the ACT and SAT pull their writing selections from a variety of sources, exposure to the diverse phrases featured on A Way with Words will help your student to navigate those sources.

3. Read one essay or article a week (yes, as a family), and have your child try to pick out the main theme from the work. Beyond that, discuss the essay—how does the author present her argument? You can get selections of essays from your local library or bookstore, or simply peruse the New York Times to find a weekly essay.

4. Try using ProfessorWord as a way to highlight ACT and SAT vocabulary that appears in that reading

5. The SAT Question of the Day and ACT Question of the Day are free!

6. Utilize the best free ACT and SAT resources on the web. If you need assistance with SAT math, give PWN the SAT a whirl. The site is a bit goofy, but most students like it—and the site’s author also has a Q&A section where he responds to SAT questions for free. If you’re worried about ACT and SAT reading or English, The Critical Reader provides great online resources and tips. If you need further practice materials, Knerr Learning Center lists even more.

Wondering what else can be done to improve your child’s score? Well, the books published by PWN the SAT and The Critical Reader offer excellent supplementary resources. However, they don’t cover things like ACT math or science. So your best overall resources are The Official SAT Study Guide and The Real ACT Prep Guide. Even handier than books, though, are mobile apps. Why? Teenagers always have their smart phones on them, so they can train no matter where they are. Virtual SAT Writing Tutor, QuotEd Reading Comprehension, QuotEd ACT Science, and SAT Up are among the most effective. As a side note on other prep materials (online courses, books, or apps), just because people like how easy they are to use doesn’t mean they are actually helping students improve their scores. You want your child prepared for the test, not bursting with unfounded overconfidence! Please keep that in mind when you see glowing evaluations of prep materials.

And, for those of you wondering how SAT studying might work if you were the sole driver of your child’s training, Debbie Stier’s delightful book called The Perfect Score Project is a great introduction to both the SAT and parenting while your student prepares for her test.

Bio:

Kreigh Knerr is a former classroom teacher who specializes in preparation for tests like the ACT and SAT. Kreigh has successfully worked with students from over thirty countries (and almost every state in the US) and consults nationwide on test preparation and test anxiety. In 2012, he invented QuotEd, a mobile app used by thousands of schools and individuals throughout the world.

This post was provided by Kreigh Knerr, the founder of QuotEd, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on December 21st, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Alberto G.

Avoiding “The Twilight Zone from College to Career”

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 11.13.54 PMEvery fall, three million U.S. high school grads begin their journey into “The Twilight Zone from College to Career”, where 80% of students are unsure about their major, 50% will change majors, and 63% will take 5+ years to graduate. After their college graduation, 50% will accept jobs that do not require their degree, nearly 50% will boomerang back home to ‘recover’, and 70% will average $35,000 in college-related debt.

Despite those challenges, 98% of these new college students lack a documented career plan. Wrongly assuming that a college education is the silver bullet for career success, the primary focus is on funding college and getting in “the right school”. However, both students and parents are distracted from the real goal of a college education: to launch a better career.

Unknown to most parents and students is this fact: for every two college graduates, there’s only one true college-degree level job available in today’s market. Students who want to compete for those few precious jobs will need relevant work experience.  Choosing a career path as early as possible can create opportunities for summer jobs and a stronger professional network, while validating students’ career choices and improving their academic performance.

How do we focus students on the world of work? Stephen Covey said it best: “begin with the end in mind”. Parents should increase the focus on what it takes to get their student out of college. Students should view college as one important step on their journey to a better career, not a destination point to earn a college degree.  The university career center should be the first stop on the college tour, and universities should require freshmen to submit a career plan.

If there’s a smart place to cut college expenses, using free career quizzes is not the answer. Free career tests lack reliability, validity, and precision, and poor advice can be costly advice.  When it comes to college, parents are really angel investors in a very personal start-up venture, yet they spend more money on prom, graduation rings, and luggage than they do on professional-quality career advice. Remember that true financial success is measured by what happens after graduation.

uJourney Career uses the best professional career tools on the market and our system is affordable, because smart career planning is important for students. We help students to create a meaningful career plan uniquely for them, based on their personality type, values, giftedness, work interests, and more.  We help parents by minimizing the time and money spent by students in “The Twilight Zone from College to Career”.  We help universities more accurately match students to majors, gaining more motivated students, more graduates, and wealthier alumni.  Encourage your student to discover a personal, positive vision of their future today!

This post was provided by Jeff Cameron, President of uJourneywho was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on December 14th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: uJourney

Is It Really Impossible to Get into College These Days?

9436795862_7ef8af87dc_bThere’s no question the students who get the attention of admission officers and do best in the college application process have figured out who they are and what they want.

Be yourself. High school—and the college application process—are about students finding out who they are and what they love — not simply trying to create the image that they’ve heard is going to impress a college.

You may remember a WSJ op-ed last spring written by a young woman — Suzy Lee Weiss — titled To (All) The Colleges That Rejected Me — in which she talked about how colleges “lie to prospective students” by telling them to “be themselves,” when what colleges really want in an applicant is stuffed resumes, an ethnic minority, and “fake charities.”

Aside from illustrating the dangers of the use of satire in the hands of teenagers, the op-ed vividly illustrated the fact that this young woman simply does not understand the true nature of the admission process.

When colleges say, “Be yourself,” they don’t mean, “be a slacker” and they don’t mean “be politically correct.” And it’s certainly not a promise to admit you no matter what. They are simply asking applicants: “tell us the truth about yourself.”  Because, like most of us, colleges value honesty. But also because an admission office needs to know who you really are when it puts together a class that will meet the college’s needs.

Students who ignore their true interests in favor of what they think a college wants are making a mistake — because what a college really wants is to know who they truly are. You do not have to fake it to make it.

One of the reasons applying to college can feel scarier than it has to is that students — and parents, too — believe they can only prepare successful applications if colleges tell them exactly what they are looking for.

So when colleges do not give explicit instructions, students and parents often feel that it must be proof that the process is completely random or rigged in some way.

The truth is that it is not in the colleges’ best interest to tell you what they are looking for. What happens in a college admission office is about putting together a class that meets the college’s needs. It is driven by institutional priorities — a phrase that most deans of admission and college counselors wish that parents understood — and what that means is, admissions are driven by every college’s own self-interest.

Colleges have their own agendas. They are businesses. They have payrolls to meet, facilities to maintain, programs to mount, trustees to satisfy, faculty and staff to keep motivated and happy, and laws to observe. Admission officers have to listen to all of a college’s voices.

So what does that mean?
You have all heard a version of this — that a college wants women engineers or a shortstop. But it’s much more complicated than that. At the highest level: Colleges each have a mission and they meet that mission in different ways. At public universities, of course, the priority is often a mandate from the legislature to educate the best students in the state as defined by GPA or class rank. Private colleges will seek applicants who reflect the characteristics that fulfill their mission statement—which might be leadership, intellectual ability, or dedication to public service.

Then it gets more complicated.
One admission dean said to me, the faculty owns admissions. And it’s not just that the engineering school wants more women, it’s that the math department wants to see conceptual creativity in their incoming students, the political science department wants students who will give professors a run for their money in a classroom discussion, and the biology department wants at least some students who are genuinely interested in biology rather than studying it as a stepping-stone to medical school.

Then the people in student life get a say — they want leaders who will run the student organizations, actors to walk the stage, and students to fill the stands at a football game.

The administration chimes in — they want geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity.

And then there is another layer. Some colleges have cultures and personalities that can become an important part of their admission criteria—perhaps they are seeking quirky intellectualism like Harvey Mudd College in California, international applicants like George Washington University or students who want study abroad or cultural immersion experiences like Goucher College in Baltimore.

So what are colleges looking for? All of the above.
Charged with answering all those voices, with building a class that meets all those priorities, admission departments need to know what the applicants are really like in order to meet that charge.

So even more than impressive test scores and fantastic essays, colleges are looking for authenticity.

This is why it is crucial that students set time aside to think deeply about this next phase of their life: what they want out of college, what they absolutely need to have in a school, what they can and can’t live without for four years. If students are so overloaded with activities and academics that they do not take the time for self-reflection, they are making a mistake. They need to ask themselves the tough questions that help them emerge with a strong understanding of who they are. Because colleges really mean it when they tell students to “Be yourself.”

That’s good news. It’s not about being the perfect candidate. The perfect candidate may be someone who is imperfect but authentic.

This post was provided by Christine VanDeVelde, co-author of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptancewho was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on December 7th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Jose Mendivil

Non-Profit versus for-Profit Colleges: Which School Is the Best Choice for Your Educational Goals and Your Bank Account?

311178_10151094541082693_499512159_nSofia University President Dr. Neal King will discuss the highs and lows surrounding non-profit education. Sofia University is a proud non-profit, western accredited university located in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Dr. King will chat with Beatrice Schultz about the importance of keeping the student’s whole person education at the forefront of the curriculum.

There are many negative stereotypes associated with non-profit schools. They are typically seen as generous and caring organizations; however, they are also seen as incompetent and not financially sound. During this show Dr. Neal King will use Sofia University as an example of how a non-profit school runs successfully, highlighting the exceptional world renowned faculty and small but mighty corporate structure.

Dr. King is a psychologist by training who completed his graduate study at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining the Sofia community, he served as president of Antioch University in Los Angeles. With extensive experience as a psychologist in private practice in Northern California, Dr. King has served in a variety of faculty and administrative positions in non-profit, public and private, for-profit and state settings.

Throughout his career, Neal has championed a vision that emphasizes collaboration, transparency, academic quality, shared governance, and open communication with the campus community.

Dr. King currently serves as president of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), and was a member of IAUP’s delegation to the launch of the United Nations Academic Impact Initiative in NYC and to the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE 2010 & 2011) in Doha, Qatar. He was appointed as a commissioner on the IAUP/United Nations joint Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace. Members consist of representatives from colleges and universities from around the globe.

Dr. King is also a founding member and steering committee member of LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education, and he serves on the executive board of California Campus Compact.

Dr Neal King, President of Sofia University, was a guest on “College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on November 30th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Sofia University

Save Money by Studying Abroad

Study Abroad in Europe

Study Abroad in Europe

Imagine this: a university degree program where you can study whatever you want, alongside diverse and dynamic students and professors, complete with a study abroad element, the opportunity to travel, competitiveness on the global marketplace, as well as a foreign language element that all but guarantees fluency upon graduation.

Now imagine that this degree program was tuition-free. No need to apply for grants and scholarships, just free of charge right out-of-the-box. It may sound impossible, but I am here to tell you it is not. I graduated from one of these programs. What is the name of this program and why have I not heard of it before, you may ask? Because it is an unconventional educational choice for Americans: it is called College Abroad.

The United States has been and continues to be the most popular destination for international students, and until now there was little incentive for Americans to fully enroll in a foreign university. But times change.

According to the World Economic Forum, the US currently ranks 13th in the world on economic and educational competitiveness. 123 of the top 200 universities as ranked by the Times Higher Education are located outside the United States. Between 2000 and 2011, tuition at American public universities rose by 42 percent (U.S. Department of Education). A report compiled by the Institute for International Education indicates that there is a strong desire by universities throughout the world to increase their enrollment of Americans for full-time study. American students, who made up only 1.4% of the internationally mobile students in 2010, are not gaining the intercultural communication skills, the global perspective, the resourcefulness and independence, and perhaps most importantly, the additional language skills that students from many other countries are honing.

And meanwhile, universities outside the United States tend to charge tuition fees at a fraction of even in-state tuition at American public schools. For example, Quacquarelli Symonds, another global ranking system, ranks the University of Wisconsin-Madison number 37 in the world, while Seoul National University in South Korea was 35 in 2013.  Tuition in Seoul is roughly $4,600 per year while in Madison you’ll pay $26,600 ($10,000 for Wisconsin residents). SNU also offers almost all of its undergraduate courses in English.

Similarly, the Free University of Berlin, where I’m currently enrolled as a PhD student and where English language programs abound, is, unsurprisingly, free and ranked 109th by QS. Compare this to Penn State, ranked 107th, where a doctorate comparable to mine in international relations would run me somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,000. Not only are tuition fees generally lower outside the US, but in many countries BA programs are three years long while MA programs are one. This means one less year of already-low tuition.

Before I joined FUB, I completed my Masters at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany for zero tuition. While my degree programs were in English, living in Germany allowed me to become fluent in German. I also received funding to study and live in Israel and Hungary, where I learned some Hungarian and I saw first-hand the epicenter of interest in international politics as I regularly traveled between East and West Jerusalem. I have studied with students from places like Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, Argentina, and China. Class discussions with such a diverse group were an education in and of itself.

Furthermore, living in Europe allowed me to travel extensively throughout the continent, as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Had I attended an MA program in the US, I probably would have paid between $25,000 and $35,000.  And while I loved my time at Knox College in Illinois, I genuinely wish I had considered the college abroad option for my undergraduate so as to avoid student loan debt entirely.

Of course, there are costs associated with college abroad.  The cost of living must be taken into account but the student lifestyle can be dirt-cheap.  Besides that, international flights might be the next biggest cost, but I’ve been able to find flights between the US and Europe for as little as $400.  And then there are the emotional costs in terms of homesickness and culture shock.

While these are difficult costs to bear, they are also profound learning experiences and instill a strong sense of maturity and self-awareness.  So if you can see yourself spending your semesters in Barcelona, Sao Paulo, or Osaka and never filling out a FAFSA, pack up your bags and pick my complete guide on becoming an international student, College Abroad, available now at Amazon.

The amazon link to the book is http://amzn.to/13wqFoR, and my personal blog about going to school abroad ismorelikeamoat.wordpress.com.

Holly Oberle, the author of “College Abroad”, was a guest on “College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on November 23rd, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Leaf Languages

Yiftee: A New Age of Gift-Giving

Hands holding a white gift box with red ribbon
As tuition inflates over the years, college students frequently flee to other states in order to avoid insanely high tuition and fees.  While your child studies elsewhere, you are left to deal with online shopping for their birthday, holiday and ‘just because’ gifts.

Then you have to deal with the inevitable drawbacks:

  • High shipping costs
  • Prolonged time from warehouse to their front door (sometimes weeks!)
  • Damaged goods
  • Deceiving or vague description of the product
  • Numerous shipping errors which may prevent the package from even arriving

For a process that’s supposedly efficient, many consumers get a bum deal.

What if you could avoid the hassle and order gifts directly from your smartphone to be picked up by your hardworking student?

Yiftee enables you to do just that.

Via iPhone or Andriod, all you need to do is download the free Yiftee app (or pull up the Yiftee website), select an item from 2 million merchants, designate the receiver and send the gift.

Think of it as the ultimate gift card service.  Whether you send your child $10 toward a fresh lunch at their favorite restaurant or enough to cover a moist red velvet cake to celebrate the end of finals, you’ll never have to worry about stale food crammed in shipping boxes.

Simona Hodek Martin directs Yiftee’s Campus Care Package Program.  Originating from Prague, Czech Republic, Simona migrated to the U.S. and eventually earned a B.S. in Engineering from Santa Clara University.  After 13 years in High Tech some of which was spent overseas, she returned to the U.S., ready to delve into non-profit organizations for another nine years.  She joined Yiftee in 2013.

As the glue that binds the program, Simona also oversees the student campus ambassadors. These students represent Yiftee and recruit new merchants near the colleges.  They work part time and with flexible hours that they tailor to their busy schedules.

Through the Campus Care Package program you simply select your student’s college then select one of the many local businesses nearby.  Yiftee prides itself on providing these additional benefits:

  • Instant, convenient purchase and delivery.
  • Refundable within 90 days and tracking of delivery and redemption.
  • Easy selection of giftee (recipient) via Facebook, text or email contacts.
  • Eco-friendly: no wrapping, packaging printing or even jet fuel.
  • Supports local businesses.
  • Brings smiles with every gift given and received.

How many online gifting companies can promise all that?

Students have enough school-related stress weighing them down:  term papers, squeezed deadlines, lack of sleep… They’ll be forever grateful for any temporary escape.  This may arise in merely a cup of blended coffee to jump start their day.  However small, they’ll appreciate the thought.

Parents are missing their child, wishing they can do something for them to make life more easy and let them know they are thinking about them.  Yiftee gives parents the opportunity to connect, lift their child’s spirits and remind them that every new day presents a thousand opportunities to succeed.  An e-gift may is a way to do just that.

Simona Hodek Martin, head of Yiftee’s marketing and PR, was a guest on “College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on November 16th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Collegefeed Helping to Solve the Millennial Employment Crisis

Collegefeed is a social network designed solely to help college students and new grads get hired.

Collegefeed is a social network designed solely to help college students and new grads get hired.

If you ask new grads Josh Mitchell from UC Santa Cruz or Matt Tu from Santa Clara University, they’ll both say the same thing – getting noticed by your dream company is almost impossible. But that’s exactly what has happened to both students just months after graduation, thanks to a new social platform called Collegefeed.

We created Collegefeed with one mission – to reinvent the job search process for college students and new grads. In a few short months, tens of thousands of students from 1200+ universities have joined. Career Centers at almost every top school like Stanford and MIT are adopting the platform. Huge employers like YouTube, eBay, Cisco and many more are paying to connect with students. Why?

There is an employment crisis for new college grads. Almost nothing has changed for how new grads start their careers over the past 20 years, despite huge changes with things like social media, the web, mobile, and other new technologies. However college tuition is rising dramatically every year, nearly 50 percent can’t get hired using their degrees and most new grads are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

From a business opportunity perspective, the early career marketplace is one of the least served areas – and one that is desperately in need of innovation. Sure LinkedIn is great once you already have some work experience, but new graduates don’t know how to start, who to follow or what to post. Facebook is great for sharing pics at the pub on Friday night, not becoming a professional. And grads send out hundreds of resumes on sites like Monster.com and never hear back.

That’s where Collegefeed comes in. Collegefeed has put a magnifying glass to the problem and developed a solution that is uniquely designed to solve the challenges of only first-time job-seekers.

Users take a few minutes to create a profile and then we work behind the scenes to offer students one-on-one support and actually help them every step of the way to start their careers. New grads and students don’t have a ton of work experience, but they’ve taken courses, done internships, projects, etc. that would be valuable if only they could communicate it effectively to employers. We connect them with jobs, discover cool new companies, start talking directly to employers, build a network of peers in their field and even win awards to pay back student loans.

And employers are just as excited about Collegefeed. Even the most established enterprises and the smallest startups have one thing in common – they all struggle to attractively brand themselves and capture the attention of the newest crop of college students and grads that are preparing to enter the workforce. Only a handful of companies have the resources to visit college career centers and campuses – and even they can only visit perhaps a few dozen of the more than two thousand U.S. universities each year.

Plus most companies employ a one-size-fits-all approach to recruiting, yet what is appealing to a professional two decades into their career is different than for a 21 year-old. New grads are curious about the corporate culture, what kind of people they can relate to in the company, the perks they will enjoy, and what kind of career path a company offers, whereas a mid-management applicant expects you to match their 401K and offer a great health plan. The reality is that if a company doesn’t tailor its brand presence in recruiting, they don’t appear relevant to the next generation of talent.

For employers, Collegefeed helps them find the perfect candidates from the newest crop of grads. We are essentially a “virtual career fair” where startups and huge companies can reach new talent. We also enable them to present an engaging brand image to those millennial job-seekers, to help them attract candidates from every school, every major and even every country. And once they sign-up, all of this info is sent to them automatically, so that they don’t have to invest more resources and time in recruiting.

We welcome listeners of College Smart Radio to check us out at www.collegefeed.com. Whether you are looking for work or looking for young talent, Collegefeed can help make the perfect match.

This post was provided by Sanjeev Agrawal, the founder and CEO of Collegefeedwho was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on November 2nd, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Collegefeed