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Dental Dangers

Okay, gross question incoming. I have a roommate whom I like a lot, and who is otherwise a very normal guy (I promise). We’ve both been enjoying the freedom of our freshman year, and we’ve both been doing things that I’m sure wouldn’t be allowed under our parents’ roofs. But he’s chosen to rebel in one way that’s, uh, kind of disgusting.

We were both getting ready for bed at the same time the other day and I noticed he didn’t brush his teeth. Okay, kind of weird, but I let it go (it was a late night). But the next morning I saw him take a quick swig-and-spit of mouthwash and start to head out, so I asked him if he’d brushed his teeth. Turns out, he almost never does–once a week, he says, if that. I was appalled, but he claims his mouthwash routine works just as well. I know that’s not true, but I was wondering just how much worse my roommate’s routine is than, you know, the normal one.

Yikes! Your roommate is making a serious mistake, dental professionals told us. His mouth may feel fresh and clean after a quick rinse with mouthwash, but he’s going to have very serious dental issues down the line if he doesn’t shape up.

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The Meaning of Materials

My dad is a contractor back in our hometown, and he’s been having trouble lately with his expenses. One issue that my dad has is that he keeps using materials that, in my opinion, are just too pricey. The guys using the cheaper materials can undercut his prices, and customers don’t know the difference (until it’s too late). My dad is losing business to cheapskate contractors just because they have lower prices, a few billboards, and pop-up on Google.

Of course, my dad won’t budge on his materials, and he considers this a moral issue. How much difference do materials really make? What can my dad do if he refuses to cut costs?

Do materials really matter? Well, experts say, that depends on the material in question, what it’s being used for, and how well it’s being used.

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Making Metal

Does the United States make much metal? I mean the actual metal, and I guess also the products.

I know, I know, it’s a weird question for a college kid to be asking. But, I got dinner with my roommate and his dad the other day and his dad is very upset about the state of American industry. Specifically, he talks about old steel towns and manufacturing and how we don’t make anything anymore. I know we import a lot of stuff to this country, but, can we really be importing all of our steel? I mean, it’s really heavy, right? We must be making some of it here, right?

Steel is indeed heavy, but we could certainly ship in plenty of it if we wanted to. The cost of shipping things can seem surprisingly low to outsiders: thanks to revolutions like the shipping container, which standardized cargo shipping in a very cost-effective way, shipping is very cheap: you could ship a standard 40-foot container for $701 in 2016, and that was the ‘spot rate’ (that is, the price on the spot–without the sort of long-term contract that might make the deal even cheaper). Shipping companies are actually having a tough time at the moment, because there are so many of them and rates are so low.

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Heavy Habits

Ever since I’ve been a college student, I’ve been gaining weight. It happens slowly sometimes and more quickly other times, but it seems like it’s always happening. I don’t know if it’s the beer or the food in the dining hall, but something about my college lifestyle is really messing with my health! I’m too busy during the week to work out or run, and on the weekends, to be honest, I’m usually at parties or watching Netflix. I know I need to change, but I don’t know where to start. Any tips?

You’re not the only college student to fall victim to the dreaded ‘freshman fifteen.’ A full 70% of college students gain weight during their university years. It starts during freshman year, when students gain an average of 5% of their body weight, which works out to an average gain of about 10 pounds. For some, the trend never reverses: 36.5% of American adults are obese.

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Bonding with the Bros

I’m a guy, but I’m not a “guy’s guy.” I’m more interested in novels than in action movies, I like the theater better than I like sports, and I drink more red wine than beer. That’s never really been a problem for me, because I just steer clear of the “bros” and make friends that share my interests. But I’ve started dating a girl pretty seriously, and that means I need to get along with her family–and her family is full of bros!

These are some serious bros, too. They love fantasy football, but don’t play other types of games–they have no interest in board games or card games, and they only play sports video games. One of her cousins told me he’s “not into art”–as if there weren’t a ton of different types of art to try. They love working on cars and driving cars and talking about cars. Short of becoming a huge fan of cars and sports, what can I do to make my relationship with these guys as good as possible?

Not everyone can share the same interests, but it’s important to try to get along with the family members of the ones we love. It’s good that you recognize this and are willing to make an effort. Of course, you like what you like, and it’s no fun to feel attacked for your unique interests.

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International Itinerant

I want to intern this summer. Is an internship abroad a better option?

Studying abroad is becoming more popular among U.S. graduates, with one in ten now taking this option. There is no doubt that going abroad in today’s multinational and multicultural world is a good thing for students. The majority who venture overseas do so for short periods, such as one semester, and most of them go for studies only, not internships.

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Working for Uncle Sam

Now that I have a part-time job, how do I keep more of my salary? Is there any tax relief for students?

As soon as you start earning, you will need to learn about the IRS, or the Internal Revenue Service. People who work few hours a week at a deli as well as CEOs of major corporations cannot escape the taxman. It takes an expert to understand tax complexities thoroughly, and some of the regulations can be confusing. There are ways to lower your taxes, though, and as a student, this information is of paramount importance.

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Southern Secrets

My group of friends here at school is great, and one of the cool things about us is that we’re all from different places. So I had the idea that we could start getting together over breaks in each person’s home region–a weekend in New York City with one friend, a trip out West for a week with another, and so on. Brilliant idea, right? My friends thought so, too, and they rewarded me by deciding I was going to bat leadoff on this one. I’m from the Southeast (Northern Georgia) and I really was not thinking of my own hometown when I came up with this idea. To be honest, I really have no idea where to take them. Any tips from your experts on vacationing in the scenic American South?

You’re pretty tough on your home region, and your concerns don’t seem totally justified. In fact, the American Southeast is stacked with top tourism destinations! According to one study, your home state of Georgia is is actually among the top ten most popular states for travel. And bordering your state is #1 (Florida), #7 (South Carolina) and #11 (Tennessee).

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Cooking Conundrum

I finally moved into an off-campus apartment this semester with a newly re-done kitchen. I’m most excited about avoiding the Dining Hall food, but I’m not the greatest cook just yet. How can I take my cooking skills to the next level?

First of all, congratulations on choosing a great hobby! While 98% of Americans say they prefer to cook their meals at home, many of us don’t find the time to make this a reality. We should: in addition to being fun and rewarding, learning how to cook can be great for your health. Studies tell us that people who cook for themselves are much healthier – which is no surprise, because we also know that eating a lot of take-out and restaurant food is quite bad for you. In fact, just living near a fast food restaurant means that, statistically speaking, you are 5.2% more likely to be obese!

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Family Finance

My parents are headed for divorce. Will I have to drop out because they signed for my student loans?

The anxiety of divorce on top of college stress can be a lot to manage. Now you have to consider how your student debt will be affected by their decision. Your financial aid eligibility will indeed change if your parents’ marital status does, so here is what you need to know.