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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Dear Athena is Her Campus Oswego’s Advice Column.

Dear Athena,

“My boyfriend wants me to move in with him over the Winter break, but my parents want me to go back home. I’m not sure what to do. I love my parents but I feel like I need my independence. On the other hand, I’m not sure I can officially afford to move out yet.”

— Should I Stay or Should I Go

Dear Should I Stay or Should I Go,

I can see why you’re struggling with this one, as I am struggling to answer! While not the same, I am in a similar situation. Throughout my college experience, I have had to make the decision between moving out and living on campus, which I really don’t have the money for, or saving money and living with my parents but losing a lot of the freedom that comes with moving out. I chose to be able to save money so that once I left school, I would be able to afford to move out on a slightly lower budget than some of my peers who have much more massive student debt from living on campus. In the end, it was a personal decision. There are times when I really do wish I would have lived on campus, and other times where I look at my bank account and the friends & memories I’ve made and am grateful. 

I’m wondering if there is a compromise to be had — would it be possible for you to not necessarily move in with your boyfriend, but stay with him for a significant portion of the break? If you could do this, it would avoid the financial burden of moving out and potentially upsetting your parents while still making your boyfriend happy and moving closer to adult independence. I know this may not be exactly what your boyfriend wants, but I think explaining your financial and family concerns to him may get him to understand that moving in together is not feasible for you right now. As well, I believe it is also a reasonable compromise to explain to your parents too. 

Dear Athena, 

“Any suggestions on where to shop for the holidays on a college student budget? I’ve met so many amazing people on campus and want to get them gifts.”

— Santa On a Budget

Dear Santa On a Budget,

That is so thoughtful and kind! I’m assuming you already know you can hop over to Walmart or the Dollar Tree for the cheapest stuff, but otherwise, I do have some suggestions for around Oswego for those looking to gift on a budget (though I will say Oswego can be limited):

  • TJMaxx — all my Maxxinistas out there will know that this place is the GOAT. You can get high quality (sometimes even designer) items for half the cost. A lot of these items also are things desirable to college-aged people, but are versatile with gifts for Mom or that professor you vent to.
  • Stone’s Candies or Man in the Moon Candies — These places both hand make their candies and chocolates from scratch, and their prices are fairly reasonable. Stone’s typically has more chocolates while Man in the Moon carries more candy. These make for really memorable and incredible gifts to get someone who loves sweets.
  • River’s End Bookstore — River’s End is an Oswego staple of small business. If you have a reader in your life, you can find some new and interesting books that seem perfect for them for very decent prices.
  • The Organic Earthling — If there is someone in your life who enjoys all-natural herbs and remedies, or just loves taking care of their skin, hair, and body, The Organic Earthling is for them. They carry a lot of supplements and other wellness based products, and the prices for smaller quantities to gift someone allow them to test it before fully committing. 
  • Big Lots — Big Lots is cheap and also carries a lot of easy, staple gifts such as candles, pillows/blankets, sheets, and other essentials that a lot of college students like.
  • Ollie’s Bargain Outlet — Ollie’s is very similar to Big Lots, though it typically also has a lot of weird, random, and unique items that you’ll see and think, “Oh, I know who’d love that as a gift!” 
  • Thrifty Shopper — Do you have a friend who likes vintage items? Then you can definitely find something for them here while also helping to save the planet.

I hope this list is helpful! And of course, there are tons of online budget options as well you can explore if you don’t exactly want to hop from store to store in Oswego searching for the perfect gift. Good luck!


And with that, I would like to take this moment to say thank you to everyone who submitted questions this semester. If you’re unaware, I am graduating this December, which means I will no longer be a student and will be moving on from Her Campus Oswego into the big, bright world of adulthood! Unfortunately, that also means that Dear Athena has to come to an end. I have so enjoyed answering your questions and learned a lot about myself throughout. I hope my answers were helpful and perhaps in another medium we can connect again. You can find me on twitter, instagram, facebook, tumblr, and Medium.

If you are at all interested in starting your own version of Dear Athena for HCOZ, please reach out to me at [email protected] where I can talk through the requirements of the column with you, and if so, refer you to the Editor-in-Chiefs for next semester. 

Thank you again! Please have a safe and happy holiday season, and whether you’re coming back in the Spring, graduating, or taking a little break from higher education, I wish you all the best.


Shannon (Athena)

Shannon Sutorius was an award winning 23-year-old English major, over 40-time-published author, editor, and former Teaching Assistant who graduated from SUNY Oswego in December of 2021. Shannon was one of the Campus Correspondents for Her Campus Oswego, previously Senior Editor, and wrote the Advice Column, "Dear Athena." Shannon worked with and had been published in Great Lake Review, Medium, and Subnivean. Shannon's awards included the Edward Austin Sheldon Award, Pride Alliance's Defender of LGBT+ Rights in Journalism Award, and the Dr. Richard Wheeler Memorial Scholarship. As well, Shannon was an active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
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