The idea I am presenting today is certainly not new; plenty of restaurants use various nuts in place of croutons in salads. This should appeal to college students, too, because the nuts you might use for muffins or even trail mixes can also serve as a crunchy substitute in any salad. For someone who doesn't necessarily eat salads that often, this can be particularly helpful. You no longer have a random bag of croutons sitting around going stale, but instead have a useful container of nuts for snacks and use in other cooking or baking projects.
I nearly always have walnuts - they are less expensive than some of the other possibilities. These tasty nuts go well with everything including banana muffins, chocolate-chip pancakes, baked sweet potatoes, and, yes, salads. Toss your salad with your choice dressing and sprinkle with walnuts. I typically go with a light, citrusy dressing when I use walnuts, but feel free to experiment.
The great thing about using nuts instead of croutons is that they provide quite a bit of protein for those salads that you may not add other forms of protein to, helping to make the meal more balanced. Of course, you should be aware that nuts also have significant fat content. It is important to eat them, like anything else, in moderation. That being said, toss a few on your salad and wow your taste buds!