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Barnes & Noble College Asks Lena

To most people, Lena Dunham is known as a star on the hit show, Girls. To Lena, however, she has always identified herself as a writer. In this BNC Edition of #AskLena, find out her thoughts about writing a book, drawing inspiration, and going through the revision process. Full posts →
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“Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks”: Banana Boats

One thing I missed the most during freshman year was my mom’s homemade cooking and yummy snacks.  I remember finding myself dreading another meal at the dining hall or having the same boring granola bar. All I wanted was a tasty new recipe to try that would switch up my repetitive meal routine, despite the limited resources I had (from living in a college dorm with a meal plan).

Ultimate Dining Hall HacksIf only I had the Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks by Priya KrishnaFilled with tons of quick and easy recipes, this book offers college students a way to break free from everyday dining hall foods and snacks by turning them into delicious cooking creations.  As an added bonus, many of these recipes are so simple that you can make them right from your dorm room!

One recipe that jumped out at me immediately was for the scrumptious and clever snack, banana boats!  Besides the fact that you can customize these to fit your tastes, this is the perfect simple and fast snack to make any time of the day.


Here’s what you’ll need:

- Banana
- Toppings of your choice (Great options include coconut shavings, chocolate chips, granola, nuts, or M&Ms.)
- Microwave

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Use a knife to make a slit in the banana peel by cutting it down the length of one side.  Use your fingers to slightly pull open the top of the banana.  Do not remove the peel.
  2. Fill the banana with your toppings.
  3. Microwave the banana for 30 seconds at a time about three times, or until the peel is dark and the toppings are slightly melted.
  4. To eat, use a spoon to scoop the filling out of the peel.

For more amazing recipes be sure to pick up your own copy of Ultimate Dining Halls Hacks by Priya Krishna. You’ll find everything from mango parfaits, to pizza bagels, to mac and cheese. Basically, she’s covered how to take breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack needs to the next level!  Trust me, for those days when all you want is your mom’s homemade cooking, you will be so happy you have a recipe book like this during your college career.

Written by Kat P. of Elon University

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World Cup Finals Preview

After one of the most memorable World Cups in recent memory, it is finally down to the final two teams.  Each match seemed to be more exciting than the next with upsets and drama at every stage of the tournament.  In the end, it’s all going to come down to one game on Sunday though.  On Sunday July 13th at 3pm, Argentina will take on Germany for the most coveted trophy in all of soccer.  Germany is heading into the final game after playing one of the best games in German soccer history.  They dismantled the home team favorite Brazil 7-1 (yes, seven to one) and seem to be reaching their peak at the right time.  After a shaky performance in the group stages and some unconvincing wins in the elimination stages, this German team is finally implementing the efficient style of play that the world knew they were capable of.  Their semi-final win against Brazil will be talked about for years to come and Germany hopes to carry the momentum from that win into the finals (hopefully, without letting it inflate their egos too much).

It’s very important that the German team goes in with level heads. After all, they will be going up against what might be the best player in the world right now, Lionel Messi.  Messi is hoping to put himself in the “best-soccer-player-of-all-time” conversation and adding a World Cup Championship might give him the boost he needs – especially since he’s already the dominating playmaker and scorer on the team. Argentina is coming off of a very (re: very) different semi-final game than Germany.  Their game against The Netherlands ended in a penalty kick shoot out after both teams failed to score a goal during both regular time and overtime.  The lack of goals was the result of a deliberate strategy by The Netherlands.  They sacrificed much of their offense by having one man stay near Messi at all times, with others quickly swarming whenever he got the ball.  Because they had to pay so much attention to the Argentine, it was harder for them to push men forward and develop any sort of serious offensive threat.  The game plan worked at first – Messi never had enough room to have a shot on goal.  However, Argentina won the shootout, ultimately punching their ticket to the finals.

It will be interesting to see what strategy Germany uses in the next game.  The Netherlands proved that paying extra attention to Messi can stop him from taking over the game, but at the sacrifice of applying serious offensive pressure. Because Brazil’s Neymar was injured for the semi-final game, we did not get to see how Germany would have handled a single player who poses such an offensive threat. However, Argentia will have to make sure the defense is on point in order to avoid any potentially dangerous turnovers. During the Germany vs. Brazil game, the defense lacked organization and the Germans used the confusion to create space and complete plenty of passes.  Germany did an excellent job of converting a Brazilian mistake into a goal in the semi-finals and will look to do the same against Argentina.

This final has the potential to be an extremely exciting game.  The well-oiled machine that is team Germany will look to take down a man widely considered the best soccer player on the planet. Will Messi take over and really cement himself as one of the all-time greats, like fellow Argentine Maradona or Brazilian soccer legend Pele?  Will Germany sacrifice some offensive firepower to contain him or will trying to contain him be their entire strategy?  Will this “golden generation” of German players leave their mark on German soccer history by finishing up with a World Cup victory?  All these questions will be answered in what’s shaping up to be an extremely competitive World Cup final.

Written by Guest Blogger, Jared B. of Vanderbilt University

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Staying Inspired During College

With readings, exams, and extra curricular activities on your plate, it is very common to feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the work that we have to do.  Especially during freshman year, when students are still adjusting, it is difficult to stay calm in moments of distress.  Don’t worry though; I have some great tips for you to keep you inspired and feeling strong when things get hard at school.

Number one; create an inspiration board and paste it on your dorm room wall, ceiling, computer background, or anywhere else you feel that you will see it most.  On your board, make sure to include a variety of pictures and phrases that emit positivity and your vision of happiness and success.  For example, put some pictures of you and your friends smiling and laughing together, a picture of a career you may want to have one day, your favorite animal, etc.  This may seem like a silly idea, but seeing these images around you on a daily basis will serve as inspiration for you to work harder in everything that you do and remember what it is that you are working for.  Also, during those times of crisis, such as finals week, you will be able to stay strong, knowing that all of the things you love and want to have are on their way if you keep working hard.

Number two; make it a part of your college life to – every so often – go to a new place or interact with new people.  It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and feel uninspired, which can make our crises seem even worse.  It is important that, as college students, we try new things…clubs, food, talking to new people even when we feel very shy, etc.  These new opportunities will keep us inspired and in a better mood so that when crises strike, we will know how to handle them head on!

Number three; what better way to calm a crisis than to avoid one in the first place? A great way to prevent crises from happening is to keep yourself in enough of routine.  Your day does not need to be 100% scheduled, but it is important to keep yourself somewhat structured and organized so that you can get a good amount of work done each day without saving it all for the last minute, which could cause a lot of potential stress.

School can definitely be a bit stressful sometimes, but it is important to remember to remain calm and inspired through these difficult moments.  Live your college life with inspiration, structure, and goals, and you will be sure to have less stress and crises in your life.  Good luck!

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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Beach Bag Essentials

Summer has arrived and it’s time to hit the beach! Now that you’ll be having some fun in the sun it’s important to be prepped and prepared with the perfect beach bag full of your summertime essentials. Here are some of the things that I like to keep stowed away for my beach days:

This straw tote from Target is super chic and since it’s black it matches with everything! The towel is a fun pop of color and very fitting for the beach with it’s fish scale pattern.

As I’m sure you all know by now, sun protection is super important! I opted for this Hawaiian Tropic spray on sunscreen in SPF 50 (gotta protect my Irish skin). It’s super sheer and it smells like coconut, yummy! The EOS lip balm also has SPF 15 to protect your lips AND it smells just like lemons. To protect your eyes, always keep a pair of sunglasses handy. These reflective pair from Nasty Gal are stylish and functional.

Since you’ll be in the sun all day, hydration is super important – so grab a reusable water bottle and fill it to the brim with ice water. Also, it’s good to keep a snack handy. I am in love with the pomegranate blueberry pistachio KIND bars.

In the beauty department, water proof mascara is everything! Lights, Camera, Splashes by Tarte is amazing. It stays put through sweat and salt water. Don’t forget to throw in some hair elastics. I know I always find myself tying my hair up when I’m out in the sun. Try to find a pair that won’t cause breakage to your strands.

Last but abso-LUTELY not least, a beach day wouldn’t be complete without a good book. I highly recommend The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (I’ve already read it four times). And after all, the book is always better than the movie!

What do you keep in your beach bag?

Shop the look: Fishscale Towel from Target ($14.99), Nasty Gal Sunglasses ($18), Target Merona Straw Tote ($27.99), Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Clear Spray SPF 50 ($7.99), EOS Lemon Drop Lip Balm with SPF 15 ($3.29), Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio KIND Bar ($1.39/bar), J. Crew Water Bottle in Soft Mint ($19.50), Scunci No Damage Hair Elastics ($2.99), Tarte Lights, Camara, Splashes Waterproof Mascara ($20), The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ($9.99)

Written by Guest Blogger, Chloe L. of Penn State

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Party in the USA! 4th of July BBQ Ideas

America’s favorite holiday is right around the corner, so it’s time to start preparing for this years 4th of July summer BBQ! Here is a list of different recipes to cover all your drinks, dinner, and desserts options, which will please everyone!


Patriotic Punch – A mixture of cranberry juice, your favorite blue-colored sports drink, sparkling water (or a diet clear soda), and ice will leave you with a refreshing 4th of July drink that everyone can enjoy.


Patriotic Pasta Salad – Who says your dinner can’t also be America’s colors!  This pasta salad filled with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and normal and blue dyed pasta will definitely set you apart from other BBQs.


Fourth of July Cake – You know you have seen or had a piece of one of these cakes before.  Now it’s your time to finally make one for yourself! This cake will be a huge crowd pleaser.  Trust me, everyone will want to be Instagramming your cake! Click here for the recipe.

Red, White, & Blue Krispies – Who doesn’t like rice krisipie treats?! They are so easy to make.  Simply combine rice krisipie cereal, marshmallows, and a little butter in a pan over medium heat.  Then scoop the mixture into a container and to cool.  Once they have cooled, cut them into pieces and add some red and blue food coloring to turn your boring rice krispies into a tasty, patriotic treat!

For more mouthwatering recipes or ways to step up your 4th of July BBQ game be sure to check out Pinterest for more great ideas!

Written by Kat P. of Elon University

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Eat $mart in College

The first year of college for most freshmen can usually be considered somewhat of an adjustment period, regardless of the person’s educational background or experience. One of the biggest adjustments most students experience in college is usually that of financial freedom – the ability to spend money out of one’s own bank account. I remember when I was a freshmen (at Emerson College), I made the mistake of shopping for food, drinks, and other grocery items from outside stores instead of using the meal swipes and “BoardBucks” (or your school’s equivalent) I was already provided on my ID card through Room & Board. Because I didn’t utilize a large portion of the swipes and points my parents had already paid for my first semester, I ended up spending a lot more money on things I could have easily bought from my school’s cafeterias and attached convenience stores.

My tip for any incoming freshmen is to first look over exactly what has already been paid for. Then, budget out meals and snack items from the dining hall or the school stores rather than waste all of your money on outside store items. The reason for doing this is not just to be cheap, but to also save money for more exciting off-campus activities. For example, if your friends are going out for dinner one night, by remembering this tip and keeping track of your food spending, you will have more “real cash” in your pocket to spend on “real food” off campus without feeling guilty that you spent it already, not knowing the amount of money on your card that you can use with your school’s catering provider. Dining hall food is really not that bad (I SWEAR!) and you’ll save tons of money while all of your friends dine elsewhere. Check out your school’s convenience stores (if they have them) – sometimes they allow you to use your swipes or points on the items they carry. Also, check your campus bookstore! Many of them have convenience sections that offer discounts and deals from time to time.

The college years go by quickly! It’s important to enjoy every opportunity, while making smart decisions with your money. Spend it wisely when it comes to meals, using money already spent on Room & Board to your advantage. You’ll have extra money in your pocket without compromising your dining experiences.

Written by Dan H., of Emerson College

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Summer Activity to Try: Gardening

Whether you’re stressed out from your job or internship or bored sitting at home, take advantage of your summer break from school by adopting a great new hobby: gardening.  If you live in the suburbs and have a lawn, it won’t be too hard to ripen that green thumb.  If you’re from the city, look into urban agriculture nearby or maybe even visit a farm.

Gardening is perfect for those of you who are working long hours- especially indoors- because it will get you outside and allow you to breathe some fresh air (and catch up on some vitamin D!).  Also, it is highly relaxing, so prepare for all that stress from work to just melt away…

If you’re mostly spending your summer break at home, then what better way to get outdoors and experience something new? And who knows…if you end up really enjoying it, maybe your new hobby will come back with you to school in the fall! Maybe you’ll even get your friends into gardening too!

Visit your local plant exchange and ask the employees about which plants would grow best in your area.  Personally, I really enjoy growing herbs because they smell good and you can eat a lot of them.  Nothing like some fresh basil from the garden! Gardening is the perfect way to feel like you’re doing something productive and beneficial to yourself during your summer break!  Happy Planting!

Find more inspiration on our Environmentally Friendly Pinterest board!

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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Healthy On-The-Go Snacks!

Being a college student myself, I know we are constantly on the go – running from class, to the gym, to the library.  These hectic schedules typically cause us to grab the most convenient snack option. Unfortunately, often times these fast snacks are not giving us the extra boost of energy that we need to get us through the day.  So, instead of walking out the door and reaching for that bag of greasy potato chips or chocolate chip cookies, try these healthier on the go snack options that taste just as good!

1. Fruit – Apples, bananas, pears, etc. are great fruits that you can eat on the go! If you prefer to have these fruits in slices, just take a few minutes to cut them up and put them in a plastic bag.  Many grocery stores also sell prepackaged sliced fruit that you can keep right in your fridge.  These fruits will keep you full throughout the day, unlike “fruity snacks,” which have limited nutritional value.

2. Trail Mix – You can find tons of pre-made bags of trail mix at any grocery store.  Try to find mixes that contain mainly nuts with the least amount of salt. Feel free to also make your own trail mix by combining your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate chips!  For more ideas of what to add to your homemade trail mix, check out these recipes here.

3. Bars – I’m not taking about candy bars! There are many nutritious bars containing natural and healthy ingredients that you can easily grab and eat on the go.  KIND bars, Luna bars, and LARA bars are all great options and come in a variety of delicious flavors (plus, you can find most of these at your campus bookstore!).  One of my favorites is KIND’s peanut butter dark chocolate bar.  It tastes just as good, or even better, as a Snickers bar!

Any suggestions? Tweet us @BNcollege, hashtag #healthyBNC!

Written by Guest Blogger, Kat P. of Elon University

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Top 5 Movie Night Necessities

If you’re looking for a cheap, but entertaining way to spend some time with friends, a movie night is perfect for you. With just a few inexpensive items, you’ll be on your way to the ultimate movie night.

Keep reading to see what we came up with…

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The IT List: Coral

Now that summer has finally arrived it’s time to kick those neutrals to the curb and play it up with the hue that’s been making a big splash. Coral is everywhere right now, from subtle pops of color in accessories to full-blown attention grabbing lipsticks….and let me tell you, I am obsessed. This color can be a little tricky to navigate, but once you find the right shade you can rock this trend all summer long.

Let’s start with some subtle pops of color…Get the look: Essie Nail Polish, J. Crew Sneaker Laces, Forever 21 Cool Girl Geo Baseball Cap, J. Crew Reusable Water Bottle

…and then move on to bolder statements.

Get the look: NARS Lipstick, SheInside Pink Boyfriend Blazer, Neon Coral Crossback Cami Dress from GlamorousKeds Champion Ikat in Coral

Are you loving this coral trend for the summer? Let us know!

Written by Guest Blogger, Chloe L. of Penn State University

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