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Hot Picks for Students this Holiday Season

Your student’s first semester at St. Bonaventure is ending, SBU Freshmen Shawn Sood, Devin Patel and Arjin Sharma enjoying dinner at Applebee'sand you’re excited to have her home for Christmas break. But now that she's been away at college for four months, you may be drawing a blank as to what to buy her for the holidays. We have suggestions for a variety of gifts most freshmen will love.

As every parent knows, most students can never have enough clothes. Now that it’s basketball season, those clothes should include some St. Bonaventure gear. A good place to look is right on campus at the St. Bonaventure University Bookstore.

The bookstore features several different styles of clothing, including many hooded sweatshirts that are new this year. It also sells SBU stockings and Santa hats, both of which come in red or brown, and Christmas ornaments, which come in gold or silver.

One of the t-shirt styles available at Studio 4 EastStudio 4 East, located in Allegany, carries many unique Bonaventure items, including a variety of T-shirts. In Olean, the Sports Locker carries Bonaventure gear, plus NFL and NHL items. Hats, scarves and gloves will also be welcome. Your student may already have discovered the chill of an approaching Bonaventure winter. If you're an alumnus, you probably remember how long a five-minute walk to class can seem if you're not bundled up.

If your student lives on campus, he can probably use a little something to spice up his residence hall room. Residence hall decorations are always a good idea. Also welcome would be some of the practical things college freshmen need, such as cleaning supplies (a Swiffer, Clorox wipes and vacuums), laundry detergent and fabric softener, new shampoo and shower supplies, and even snacks like water, juice and popcorn. Your student will thank you again second semester when he doesn't have to spend money on those items.

If your student lives at home and commutes, a little something extra for the car might be appreciated. Gift certificates for oil changes or even gas would be welcomed, or maybe even a new ice scraper and some lock de-icer for those frosty mornings.

Any student, tech savvy or not, would happily accept any of several electronic items as gifts. On the higher-priced end are such items as a computer upgrade. Your student may have a desktop machine, but be wishing for a laptop at school. (Many refurbished laptops can be purchased at lower prices online). Other items that might be welcome include a flat screen monitor, more memory for the computer, a new TV, a DVD player or even a new cell phone.

Some not-so-pricey electronics ideas include a wireless mouse, an alarm clock or DVDs. A flash memory drive would provide a way for your student to save a backup copy of papers and notes, preventing that sinking feeling that arrives when she realizes she just hit delete and killed her only copy of a paper. Adding to her supply of printer ink will win you parent gifting honors when she runs out late at night with a paper due the next day.

Another different, but very practical, gift idea is a bike. Many freshmen don’t have cars, and a bike is a great way to get exercise riding to class or on the Allegheny River Trail.

Money is always a welcome gift for college students. If you'd prefer not to give your student cash, consider adding Bona Bucks onto their Bona ID card, which allows food purchases at the Hickey, the Reilly Center and the Clubhouse.

Gift certificates are also a great idea. Not sure which stores to choose? Listen carefully – you're likely to hear the stories of where your student goes to pick up supplies or relax on a weekend.

Gift certificates to chain stores like K-Mart, JC Penney or Domino’s Pizza, can be purchased online or at your local store and spent here during the spring semester. Other local merchants – more than 200 restaurants, grocery stores, salons and retail/specialty shops - participate in the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce (GOACC) Gift Certificate Program and accept gift certificates purchased through the GOACC. To find out more about these versatile gift certificates, call the GOACC at 716-372-4433 or visit their Web site.

Jen Carpenter
Class of ‘07

Financial Struggles?

It’s one of the most repeated phrases throughout a student’s entire college career: “Mom, Dad, can I have some money?” Most students have been there. Sometimes, they didn’t want to pay for an item out of their own pockets. Other students couldn’t pay for that item because they didn’t have the money – their budgeting skills had failed them.

For first year students, planning ahead financially can be a struggle.

Unexpected costs arise – everything from meals with friends, off-campus movies, club T-shirt sales, transportation, wardrobe updates, grocery shopping and weekend fun. Credit card marketers offer gifts and a chance to have a symbol of adulthood, a student’s own credit card.

Soon, the account balances drop. Many students react to that slump as they always did before, asking parents and guardians for more funding.

That was the first step for junior Clare Riley, a sociology major. Riley arrived on campus with a sum that was supposed to last her a full year. By mid-November, however, she had spent it all.

“I was not used to saving my money. I had always relied on my parents for cash,” Riley said.

At Thanksgiving break, Riley’s dad sat down with her to discuss her financial situation. He presented her with bank statements showing all of her overdraft charges. Riley sat face to face with her carelessness. After hearing the word “disappointed” a number of times and understanding how irresponsibly she had handled her money, Riley promised to never do it again.

Riley’s dad helped her get out of the financial hole but demanded a bank statement at the end of every month. He also set a savings requirement – if Riley doesn’t have a set amount in her savings at the end of each summer, she will not be allowed to return to St. Bonaventure.

Like Riley, many first-year students may be unprepared and lack the knowledge to spend and control their funds appropriately, said Dr. Carl Case, a Bonaventure management science professor.

After living with parents and guardians who, most likely, provided direct supervision and advice with spending, students struggle with the adjustment in taking their own responsibility, Case said.

He suggested parents set allowance limits and require students to earn the money through a school job to pay off debts that occur during the year.

He also urged parents to educate their students on credit card basics and to attempt to limit students’ access to credit cards.

According to a 2002 study by Nellie Mae, a national student loan financing organization, one in five students were carrying between $3,000 and $7,000 of credit card debt. Researches have attributed this to credit card marketers’ bombardment of students, on or off campus, with a variety of incentives designed to convince the student to sign up for their cards.

Parents should discuss with their students the potential dangers of credit cards, including how bad credit ratings created in college can cause future problems for purchasing homes and cars and even finding jobs.

Parents can also encourage their students to steer clear of marketers’ high-pressure sales tactics, ask them to pay close attention to low introductory rates that increase later, check the interest rates for any cards they might get and pay their full credit card balance each month. If the interest rates on school loans are a concern, the student can speak with a financial aid officer about possible lower rates.

To help students budget their funds, parents might encourage them to make a weekly list of everything they spend so they can track their dollars. Instead of wondering where the money went, they could identify where it went – and whether it went to things they feel are worth their cost.

Case said he continues to encourage students to follow a simple rule: Do Not Spend It If You Do Not Have It!

Riley, who heard similar advice, has found saving and more careful spending have kept her out of financial problems ever since her freshman year.

Kelly Jackson
Class of '08

Freshman Jennifer Pleakis tests out work equipment as part of her job in the Richter Center.  Photo by Scott Eddy, '08.On-Campus Employment

St. Bonaventure students find it easy to balance school, work and play with the many different federal work-study jobs available on campus. Federal work-study awards are granted at the beginning of each academic year, and students are often notified of their job opportunities soon after arriving on campus.

Federal work-study (FWS) is a federally-funded financial aid employment program for students who demonstrate financial need.  If your student is eligible, he or she is awarded a specific dollar amount that can be earned during the academic year.

“My academic adviser set me up on an interview with the supervisor,” Emily Ciraolo said. “And I was in! I work in the J/MC office.”

Ciraolo is one of many students balancing multiple activities. She says the people she works for are willing to fit her work hours smoothly into her busy schedule. Jordan Steves, another employee of the J/MC office, also finds the work-study program to be accommodating.

“My job has helped my work ethic during the day and fits perfectly within my class and social schedule,” Steves said.

Steves said most of his tasks involve “interacting with my supervisors and keeping up with the work they give me.” He works six or more hours per week and likes having the money to spend at Wal-Mart or to go out to dinner.

“I also do assignments the faculty gives me,” Steves said. “It’s mostly busy work, but it’s an important job because it helps my supervisors get more important things done.”

Both Ciraolo and Steves are journalism/mass communication majors, but not all students have jobs related to their majors. Michelle Scannell’s field hockey captain helped to set her up with a work study job at the Richter Center, the university’s main recreation facility. She doesn’t find her job to be strenuous or overwhelmingly time-consuming.

I am either working at the front desk being a supervisor and making sure people are allowed to be at the gym or I am cleaning machines as people finish using them,” Scannell said. “I work early in the morning so I have all afternoon to get my school work done.”

Scannell works about eight hours a week and puts most of her money into a savings account.

On-campus employment is also available for students who don’t qualify for the federal work-study program. In Bona lingo, those positions are called Bona Work. Some of those jobs are in food service or funded by the Journey Project but Bona Work jobs can be found throughout the campus.

Chelsea Eggleston also works at the Richter Center, but not in a federal work-study job. Her job description is similar to Scannell’s. She doesn't think the six to eight hours a week she works interfere with her job as a student.

“I’m lucky,” Eggleston said. “I can do school work at my job if it’s necessary.”

Emily Dillon also doesn't qualify for federal work-study. She was told by a friend that the Reilly Center Café was hiring, so she decided to put in an application. She is now employed by the café, working about 8.5 hours a week on such duties as the cash register, making sandwiches and wraps or stacking incoming goods. She enjoys working a light schedule each week and is careful about using the money from her job.

“I use half of my pay for groceries and pleasure (i.e. movies, dinner, etc.) and save the other half to pay off school loans,” Dillon said.

Laura L’Esperance, another student not eligible for federal work study, is currently employed at University Ministries through the Journey Project. Some of her tasks include working in the chapel music room and setting up for Mass. She works about 10 hours a week.

If students are willing to seek out jobs, many are available on campus. Although it is often easier to find a job for a student who is eligible for federal work-study, networking can aid all students in their search for on-campus employment.

Katelyn Dieffenderfer
Class of ‘09

Upcoming events include:
Friday, 11/17 - Recycling Club Meeting
Friday, 11/17 - Open House at the Damietta Center in celebration of International Education Week
Saturday, 11/18 - Band Standard of Living in the Skellar
Monday, 11/20 - Ski & Snowboard Club Meeting
Wednesday-Sunday 11/22-26 -
Thanksgiving Break
Wednesday, 11/29 - SBU Concert - Jazz Band
Wednesday, 11/29
- Men's Basketball vs. Niagara University
Thursday, 11/30 - ENG 101A Plenary Session: Strategies for Taking Exams or "Finals week is coming. Let the panic begin: How to take exams."
Saturday, 12/2 - Mt. Irenaeus - Mountain on the Road in Boston
Sunday, 12/3 - SBU Concert - Concert Band and Choir
Wednesday, 12/13 - Kenny Rogers Concert

SBU freshmen after a night of trick-or-treating.

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