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So far Michelle Balaun has created 149 blog entries.

Hotels…A Nice Place to Stay


When planning a trip to visit our kids at college one of the first things to get out of the way is making those hotel reservations. If it is a popular weekend, Homecoming, Parent’s weekend, or graduation, booking far in advance is pretty important. However, don’t be surprised if the prices are higher on those weekends. Be sure to ask for the price at your college. There are also other things to take into consideration when booking.

Safest Places to Visit Your Student This Semester


In all likelihood, the spring semester will look similar to the fall semester. Some may accuse me of being a negative Nellie; I prefer to just think of it as being prepared. Are you going to go a whole semester without seeing your student or are you going to strap on your face covering and go? Chances are you are going to visit your student, but truly there is no judgment if you choose not to. I, myself, am still struggling with the decision. If you do go, we got ahead of you and found some of the best and safest places to visit while you’re there. Of course, they are mostly outdoors, but we think that is a bonus. 

Ways to Combat College Loneliness


It’s not new information that college students are entering college with the highest rates of mental health issues in history. Issues related to anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse are plaguing our students at alarming rates. To add insult to injury, these same students are now having to navigate all of this while isolated and physically alone, due to precautions related to COVID-19. 

What is  – FAFSA?


For high school seniors who will not know what school they are attending, you can submit a FAFSA application for schools you are planning on attending and then update your application down the road. If your financial situation has changed since filing a tax return, do not hold off and starting the application process. You can discuss the change in finances with the financial affairs office once you know your student's school.

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Best Coffee Shops at College


There is nothing like a good coffee shop. I’m not talking about the one pictured in countless Seinfeld episodes. I much prefer the one frequented on Friends. In real life, though coffee places have come to be so much more than a place to grab a cup of coffee. Need a place to study alone or with a small group; there are plenty of places around that will make you feel like you are hanging in your living room – without the distraction of your actual living room. Get cozy on the couches, or find one with a big farm table for your study group to gather around.

Top Ways for Students to Connect


The consistent message from students, parents, and many of us during this pandemic is we miss human contact. We are a social society as supported by the number of restaurants, bars, sporting arenas, shopping centers, movie theatres, and other large venues where the masses gather. So, when the pandemic started and we were on lockdown, that human contact came to an abrupt halt. 

Deals and Coupons for Savvy Students and Parents


HaveUHeard provides the inside scoop from current students and parents; a been there, done that approach from trusted sources… A place to get information right at your fingertips instead of having to go searching on many other websites. We do an extensive amount of research in answering every question. But, we go the extra mile, bringing our own personal experience and provide practical real-life advice.

Registering to Vote while at College


Students in a new city adapting to a busy college schedule, the voting process can seem daunting. As an 18-year-old freshman, most don’t even know where or how to register or where to go to vote! With an election year coming up, taking the time to go to the polls and vote is more important than ever. So, how can you do it? Each college has places to go for all things voting-related. They offer a variety of information from registering to vote to where to vote on election day, including information for students who are residents of Florida, as well as those from out of state.

Flu Season Ahead 


Nothing makes succeeding at school even harder than when our student gets sick. Forget coronavirus which we know is a possibility. Before this pandemic, the biggest concern was the Flu Season. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, vaccination rates on US college campuses fall well short of the target recommendation. Many colleges offer the flu shot for free with the Florida universities waging a Flu Shot competition last year in the first 4 U’s Fight the Flu- btw UCF won. 

Chegg -A Smarter Way to Student®


From textbooks to tutoring, from writing papers to crushing exams, Chegg is A Smarter Way to Student®. This web-based education tech company provides digital and physical textbook rentals, online tutoring, and other student services. As a subscriber, you get access to step-by-step guides, 24/7 homework help, and more. With classes starting out predominantly virtual, it becomes even more important to make sure you have all the tools you need in place to succeed.

Is Grad School the Best Option?


In a recent news story, it was reported that graduate school enrollment may increase in the coming months and years. Not surprised, because it seems like a positive thing for new graduates to do with their idle time if they can’t find a job. We still began to wonder if it is the best option. The truth is, we are all about furthering one’s education. The question; however, still remains as to whether the benefits of additional schooling will outweigh the prospective job opportunities during a) an economic turndown b) the hovering unprecedented times and c) the student’s chosen field. It’s not like grad school is suddenly going to be free; therefore, possibly, requiring student loans.

Graduating in 2020?


Graduating during a pandemic is not at all how I imagined starting my life as an adult. When I was a student at the University of Central Florida, I spent years fantasizing about how my life would be after graduation. I would travel for a few months before jumpstarting my dream career, making a lot of friends along the way. Instead of what I was daydreaming, I got the exact opposite. I couldn’t even finish my senior year of college in person. As soon as I left campus to go home for Spring Break, I never went back. I never got the chance to say celebrate downtown one last time, take my senior pictures, or say goodbye to my very best friends.

Birthdays, Pick Me Up, Exams… Sweet!


Sweet, we love getting a treat! Is your student heading off to school for the Fall semester, or are you celebrating a special occasion, or do they need a pick me up from time to time as they transition to virtual learning? What’s better than a sweet treat that you can have delivered directly to them to curb that sugar craving and leave them with a smile on their face?

Writing a College App Essay or Personal Statement


Imagine if colleges could personally interview all their applicants before deciding who will receive an acceptance or a rejection. It will surely give them a better picture of each student; a glimpse at what their grades, test scores, and formal resumes do not show. That is the purpose of the college essay or the personal statement. This is the place to showcase not only your writing skills but to expose a bit of who you are because you are surely far more than numbers. This is one of those rare times in life where you can essentially brag a bit.

Places of Worship


When students leave for college, many of us wonder how, and if, our students will keep up the tradition of worship. Being able to continue to worship, pray, and adhere to their religious beliefs can be extremely important for several reasons. Having a place to worship on or near campus allows them to meet other students and have a spiritual mentor to turn to should they need guidance. Whether it is their first year away or even their last year, there are many religious challenges students face in college from observing the holidays and traditions that they typically celebrated with their families to finding the time outside of academics to incorporate religion into even losing their faith.

Nature vs Nurture – Great Natural Attractions


In the four years, your student will be at college, you will undoubtedly visit a few times. Often visits center around Parents Weekend or a football game, but HaveUHeard that there is far more to do at each college that may be just as much fun? And a great deal of it can be found outdoors. So the next time you visit, or perhaps your student just needs a little time off-campus, you might want to check out some of the parks, neighboring towns, or sports that aren’t college teams.

A Virtual Career Fair Is Well Worth Your Time


We have all had to get used to a lot of fundamental changes in the past few months in our work, school, and home lives. As we head into the fall semester with so many unknowns, one thing we do know is that the job and internship search for our students is going to be markedly different – indefinitely. And I believe that many of these changes are here to stay well after COVID-19 is in our rearview mirrors.

How to Interview Successfully


Few things are more exciting than being granted an interview with a company you are seeking a job with, but few things are also more nerve-wracking than that actual process. What follows is some overall advice to pass along to your children regarding successful interviewing strategies. Think about how you connect the skill you are illustrating to experience with specific examples. 

How To Ask For A Reference Letter


We are all guilty of procrastination from time to time, but what students often forget is how very busy professors, research advisors, and employers actually are in terms of their ability to provide a quick turnaround reference for a last-minute opportunity. I think students also fail to realize how incredibly long it can take to write a valuable reference that might make the difference between getting a job, scholarship, or graduate school position and not getting one. On average, I’d say these can take me anywhere from 1-3 hours. That is a big ask for already-stretched-thin people with multiple time commitments in any given day. 

How To Negotiate Your Salary


How exactly do you learn to negotiate? Negotiating anything does not come naturally to most of us, least of all recent graduates from college who are ecstatic just to have a job offer in hand. What follows is some overall advice to pass along to your children regarding how best to negotiate salary offers they receive from employers: First, make a budget for your overall expenses. Then, ask yourself, “What are my value-statements to pose to an employer?

Branding – Why It’s Like A Tattoo For College Students


Tattoo’s you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. They are a symbol, a representation of a generation, of experience, personal expression. College students usually have a few, right? I’m a branding mentor and I think the best way to explain branding to college students is to explain why it’s like a tattoo. Here we go, as a kid, this generation has grown up with the internet, social media, and all the positives and negatives that brings. They aren’t bothered by it and certainly are not afraid of it. They have been working at getting into college, studying and worrying about where this earth is going.

Dress For Success


As they get closer to graduation, one of the greatest changes our students are about to experience is abandoning their shorts, t-shirts and yoga pants, as they begin to dress for success in their new roles, or as my older daughter stated, for adulting. Dressing for success can be daunting in different ways, but the one that stands out most may very well be its cost.

Sorority Girl


Congratulations! Your daughter has found a place to call home even with recruitment being done virtually. And, while their social activities may be limited, being in a sorority opens the door to so many wonderful experiences. I made some of my greatest friends when I was in a sorority at UF. They continue to be a part of my life through all of my ups and downs, good times, and bad. To this day, some of them are among my closest friends. With Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with so many more. We have a tradition of meeting up in Gainesville for football games and sorority reunions and even gather locally to keep the fun and friendship alive.

Is There a Class on Money Budgeting?


The money call came in the fourth week of school when my freshman year roommate got a call from her dad saying that she spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars ever since school started. Trust me that was not a fun conversation to listen to especially since our beds were five feet apart and I literally had no option but too awkwardly listen to the conversation. Let’s just say, she learned how to budget really fast, maybe because her dad threatened to cut off her allowance but I guess we will never know for sure. 

Girls Who Code


I was a Marketing and Communications major at the University of Florida and let me be the first to tell you, there are other classes I would recommend tying into your major. One of these classes would definitely be basic coding. Remember the days when you would use
to customize your Myspace page? If only we kept up with that as it is very useful for your career. Adding a coding certification to your resume will likely grab the attention of employers who may have skipped over your resume without it. Enter Girls Who Code - an organization at universities who teach you how to code, but more in a club setting rather than a classroom.

Cooking At School


With your student heading up to college, you may be asking questions about how they are going to access meals while social distancing, or what appliances they should have so they can cook in the dorm halls. We’ve been trying out some recipes throughout quarantine (because what else is there to do), and have some quick, easy, and delicious meals that don’t need a full kitchen. 



Protecting the Environment One Case at a Time. If you're the kind of person that constantly drops your phone, it's probably time you buy a phone case. One that's actually scratch-proof and water-resistant, and, even better, one that is environmentally conscious. Casetify Phone and Tech Cases have exactly what you are looking for. 

Student Loan Hero by Lending Tree


Comparing your student loan options is the best way to save money on the cost of borrowing. Student Loan Hero by Lending Tree reviews the top private student loan lenders to help you make an informed decision. Student loans are crippling to students and to the economy. It comes as no surprise that federal student loan debt tripled to $1.5 million in 2020 from just over $516 billion in 2007. Nearly 1 in 6 adults in the United States have outstanding student loan debt, and it's 1 in 3 among those between the ages of 18 and 29.

Tuition Insurance 


I never heard of tuition insurance before the Coronavirus. Frankly, I never heard of a lot of things that are happening now. Yet, with many students postponing their freshman year until they can enjoy it the usual way, in classrooms, going to parties, football games, meeting new friends, and having roommates with names other than Mom or Dad, some may think that purchasing tuition insurance will give them the protection they need should this pandemic continue for longer than I care to mention. The question is, will tuition insurance do what we would think or hope?

College Colors Day


Every year, College Colors Day is celebrated on the Friday before Labor Day. HaveUHeard how College Colors Day was established? In 2004, it was founded by the College Licensing Company (CLC) as a way to get fans to rep the apparel of their favorite college or university for the day. Yes, the licensing company, which reps over 200 colleges, created this Day of Spirit because most likely they are the licensing company behind many of the branded items you purchase.

Being Thrifty is Really Nifty!


Many college students, as well as parents, are always looking for ways to save money. From shopping for a trendy or professional outfit for a career fair, school function or just to go out to decorating an apartment, thrifting is a hot trend. It is a great way to be economical and stay within a budget. Fortunately, there are many options available for students. Those that have discovered thrifting have found that there are some great bargains and hidden treasures on gently used clothing, furniture, collectibles, and household goods.

Cultural Resources for Hispanic-Latino Students


Campus diversity amongst students has grown considerably over the years and colleges vie to maintain an inclusive atmosphere; allowing all students to gain exposure, perceptions, global awareness, and a willingness to collaborate peacefully and freely. Whether serving as a forum for communication, helping students build strong social networks, or simply in pursuit of a welcoming space amongst other Hispanic or Latino students; your school undoubtedly has a place where you will find your connections.

Sorority Recruitment – COVID Edition


As college students, it’s hard to think about our future when we don’t even know the plan for the next day. Being in a sorority is such a huge part of many students' social life. Typically fall sorority life is full of date functions, semi-formals, homecoming events, and philanthropic events almost every weekend. Now that COVID is in the picture many new members are wondering what they will even get out of rushing, considering everything seems to be changing daily. I am here to explain to you how fall is planning on looking like so you can keep telling your parents that it’s worth it, because I promise, it is!

To Work or Not to Work…


Did you know that about 40% of undergraduate college students work at least 30 hours a week? Some students look at college as their job and are fortunate to not need the additional income while studying, but others work to supplement the allowance their parents generously send or to put themselves through college and pay bills. Students often work on campus while others will find jobs locally. They can check with professors or departments for jobs. This can be a great way to ease into a field of study that may lead to an internship or even a long-term position.

Home Workouts with My Daughters


Are you doing any home workouts during this at-home time? I’ve been home with my young adult daughters since mid-March after having been an empty nester for the past few years. They’re really into working out but without their gym, we’ve learned to make the best at home. Between them training me on workouts and following some workouts on Instagram, I’ve been able to lose some of the unwanted weight that crept up.

Advice We’d Give our Parent-of-a-college-student Self


Sometimes, just having a little advice can be very reassuring. We’ve trained for this moment for about eighteen years and somehow when it gets here, we often feel blindsided. Perhaps, if someone would have told me, well, this… You probably won’t talk every day. Generally, we have found you’re more apt to hear from daughters a bit more than sons. The best time to talk is often on their walk to or from classes. If that call is important to you, you may want to consider how their class schedule works on your own. However; do not sit by the phone.

Advice They’d Give Their Freshman Self


You only get to be a freshman in college once, so before you go, our interns want to share some advice. While none of them know what it is like to start college during a pandemic and that will create a unique set of circumstances, you will still have some great experiences. The beginning of your first year in college is overwhelming, stressful, but most importantly exciting. Looking back, you want to have the best memories and have made the year something you will keep with you for the rest of your life.

Dealing with Uncertainty


A lot is out of our control and many facets of our lives are being impacted including school, work, finances, socializing, and travel. Waiting in limbo can create a lot of stress, anxiety, fear, and depression, and that may leave some in unchartered territories on how to cope. Be gentle with yourself, but also acknowledge that you are already navigating this; you are building resiliency and you did not even realize it!

Mental Health Issues in College Students


College students are gearing up for yet another school year but now with a whole lot more uncertainty than students past. Terms with the words “crisis” and “epidemic” are being used by top experts to describe the mental health challenges American college students are facing. A 2018 and 2019 student survey conducted by the American College Health Association (ACHA) indicated that approximately 60% of students felt “overwhelming” anxiety, and 40% felt severe depressive symptoms that interfered with daily functioning.

Cares Act Information


Under the CARES ACT enacted on March 27th, 2020,  higher education institutions received funds to support students and higher education institutions with expenses and financial aid needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your student needs additional financial assistance after exhausting all other options, they should apply online at their school’s online resources. Students with existing FAFSA applications are being given priority.

If The Shoe Fits…


I know the football season is a bit up in the air right now - I don't know about you, but my team is still planning to play so far! If they don't play, I still want to show my team spirit. Regardless, the shoe launch is definitely an opportunity, as its a top seller each year! Here are the details so you don't miss out!

Student Discounts – Money Saving Resources


Student discounts… they are everywhere but many students forget to ask. I recall many times when we were in a store and I nudged my daughters to ask if they offered a student discount. After the obligatory eye roll, they asked and learned yes they do; unfortunately, it required them to have their student ID with them so they did not get the discount.

FERPA Explained


What is FERPA? One thing we parents don’t like losing is control, and when our kids go to college, we lose a LOT of it. Once they leave the nest, we don’t often know where they are or who they are with, if they are going to class, if they are up all night, if they are eating or exercising. But what we do know is that we can’t see their grades unless they fill out FERPA-compliant paperwork allowing us to do so, and even then, most universities have separate teaching platforms for classes versus student records so you aren’t really seeing much beyond their overall transcript.

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