There’s a chill in the air, and Target’s dorm aisle has been cleared out of beanbag chairs and Audrey Hepburn posters.
It’s time to head to campus.
Whether you’re heading to college for the first time or coming back for your senior year, the rituals remain the same: buy your books, hang out with roommates, and miss home just a little bit (whether you tell anyone or not).
Chicago startups know this transition well, and have come up with services and solutions to make college easier than ever. Here’s a look at how five local companies can help streamline your first week back on campus.
Monday: Get your textbooks for cheap through Packback
Textbooks are a necessary evil in college, often adding a couple hundred extra dollars to the cost of taking classes. Chicago’s Packback doesn’t want that to be the case. Their platform allows students to rent e-textbooks by the day for $5 or less, and rent e-textbooks by the semester to cut down on the backpack load. They also post their prices next to their competitors to make sure you know you’re getting the best deal.
Tuesday: Create roommate respect with Roompact
You’ve got your textbooks and made it through a day of class, only to come home to find your roommate hasn’t done the dishes…again. Enter Roompact. This startup working out of Catapult Chicago creates an online roommate agreement that follows up with text surveys each week asking residents if the agreement is being met. If a conflict seems to be bubbling, the platform notifies residence hall staff, so they can keep an eye on how residents are getting along and step in if something needs to be resolved.
Wednesday: Help out a prospective student (and make a little cash) with UProspie
It’s only halfway through the week and already the whole back-to-school process has taken a chunk out of your finances. But with a full schedule, it can be tough to hold down a regular job. UProspie can help: this startup will pay you to host campus visits on demand. The UChicago student startup (which is launching this fall across the country including Northwestern, UChicago, and UIUC) facilitates personalized meetups between prospective students and current students. Prospective students pay around $30 for a one-on-one visit, which can range from a meal in a dining hall to a tour of campus. You get paid a portion of that price, plus the gratification that you helped a prospective student figure out the college game.
Thursday: Don’t sweat the tailgate preparations thanks to Tailgater Concierge.
Tailgating is awesome, except for the whole lugging bags of ice, setting up a grill, hoping your tent doesn’t blow away, and cleaning it all up before the game. If you have some extra cash (or split the cost with some pals) you can get all the prep taken care of with Tailgater Concierge. This Chicago startup (launched by a former McDonalds exec) has customizable packages that include chairs, tables, ice, grills, and other tailgate essentials, set up for you. Part of the proceeds also go back to universities, and help fund a scholarship at the schools.
Friday: Beat the homesick blues with a homecooked meal from mom and dad through Home Food Today.
College is great and all, but sometimes all you need after a long week is a little taste of home. You can literally get that comfort food via Home Food Today, a food delivery startup that transports a dish from home to campus. Here’s how it works: a parent can drop of a meal to select pick up locations in the Chicagoland area, and the team will bring it down to UIUC’s campus the same day. Students pick it up and enjoy a home cooked meal, even if mom and dad are several hours away. The startup is only operating for UIUC students right now, so other Chicago students will have to make do with GrubHub.