Dorm Essentials Giveaway

BLOG2 – Heading off to college is a big deal, and you need to be prepared. We have some items in mind that you might not have even thought about yet.

As you move into your dorm this fall (or next!) consider taking these items along with you. (Read all the way to the bottom to see how you can win these items!)


The Logitech Z533 Multimedia Speaker System and Bluetooth Audio Adapter, so you can tune into your favorite playlist, whether for studying, chilling out or hanging with friends in your dorm.  

You’ll need to make a designated space for these speakers, but the cords are long enough to move things around. The sound quality is great and makes anything you are watching better. Your dorm will be the place to be for movie night!

If you like video games, getting the extra cord for hooking that up will be worth it!

bedside storage caddy so your essentials are always in reach. This is a must! You might not have a nightstand or you’ll be on the top bunk. We seriously recommend this caddy be at the top of all dorm lists. 

A foldable hamper perfect for carrying everything you need to and from the laundry room. You won’t want to do your laundry, but this hamper makes it easier to carry everything back and forth. And who doesn’t like making things easier?!

An over-the-door hook to hang your accessories and towels. No one wants a wet towel laying around on the floor!

USB Bed Lift to keep you connected. This is such a great idea! Having extra outlets that aren’t against a wall or behind something else will be a huge bonus. We recommend looking into these for your dorm. Plus the extra height under the bed is always smart for storage concerns.  

Enter the contest below for a chance to win all of the items above!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary to enter the giveaway. Only actions taken in the Rafflecopter application will be considered for the contest. One winner will be chosen and announced the week of 9/12/2016. The winner has until 10/12/2016 to claim their prize.

3 keys to career success

Millennials, the up-and-coming generation that will soon be going into the workforce, now comprises the largest living generation with over 75 million people. But with limited job prospects, staggering college loans and tougher career paths, finding the trail to success has been tougher than in the past.

So, how does the future generation stand out when it comes to being successful in your career? Nicole Smartt knows first-hand how to make it in your career as she started at the bottom and worked her way to the top, becoming the Co-owner and Vice President of Star Staffing.

Her takeaway advice? “Younger workers [should strive to be] exemplary leaders, take on extra tasks and ask ‘what more can [I] do?’” 

Here are three additional tips she offers to anyone entering the workforce

  1. Be a winner at working hard.
    Never truly clock out. Constantly learn, grow and improve.
  2. It’s all about connections.
    Become an owner of your career through connections. Find the right people/mentors who match your goals, attitude and energy level.
  3. Be a lifetime learner.
    Learning doesn’t end when you graduate — stay ahead of the curve with online courses or just read about your field as often as possible. Things are changing all the time — don’t fall behind!

About Nicole Smartt
Nicole Smartt, author of “From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead At Work” ( is co-owner and vice president of Star Staffing in Petaluma, Calif. She also is co-founder of the Petaluma Young Professionals Network and was the youngest recipient of the “Forty Under 40” award given by the North Bay Business Journal.

Saving money on back to school gear

The end of summer is fast approaching — which means back to school is right around the corner. With the list of essentials growing longer and longer every year, it can sometimes be difficult to get everything your student needs without breaking the bank.

Try these tips from members of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission to help you get your student everything he or she needs without going over budget. 

Start with a budget
It may sound simple, but many people do not budget for transportation costs, after-school expenses, extra snacks and many other items. Set up a designated amount to add to your savings account each month for these extra costs so that you can dip into that fund whenever you need it.

Separate “must haves” from things that can be bought off-brand or eliminated altogether. Also, make sure to set limits on your spending in general — if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Or, if you do buy it, make sure the store has a good return policy so that you don’t have too much buyer’s remorse.

Find ways to be thrifty
You never have to pay full price if you know where and when to look. For clothing, try going shopping during inventory-clearing sales in April or September/October. Or, find the clearance section at the back of the stores or even buy used at thrift stores or online consignment.

For supplies, see how much you can reuse from last year and, if you have to buy new, shop at dollar stores or in the bargain bin. Additionally, follow retailers on social media as they sometimes post coupons or discounts exclusively to their followers.

Teaching students to be thrifty
Saving money shouldn’t stop once you no longer have to foot the bill. Teaching your student important money-saving tips before he or she leaves the nest is essential! Start with talk about credit cards. While they can be an excellent way to build credit and teach money responsibility, they should not be treated as free cash. Tell your student to use a credit card sparingly and to always completely pay off the bill every month.

Also, helping your student become self-sufficient is a great way to learn not only monetary but essential life skills. For example, teach your student how to cook so he or she can save money by not going out to eat and also be self-sufficient when it comes to finding something to eat.

Back to school time doesn’t have to be a total drain on your wallet. Try these tips to get started on your journey to thriftiness!

Welcome to Next Step College Prep!

Welcome to the blog at Next Step College Prep! We’re excited you’ve decided to stop by and we’d like to welcome you to our resource for college and career planning.

Here at Next Step, we know that not all students are tailored for the same post-high school life and we make sure our program offers life-enhancing advice no matter if a student is seeking out a four-year school, two-year school, trade school, career or anything else in between.

Learn more about how you can get this all-inclusive program in your school or organization by visiting our website,, or by emailing David Mammano, the CEO and Founder at

Got just one student who needs some guidance? Request a college planner using the form on our website.

We’re so excited that you’ve found us and we look forward to helping your student or students find their next step in life!

Stay here to read more helpful tips and tricks about how to find a college, find a major and pay for it all!