7 Tips for Dorm Rooms on a Budget
Living away from home can be expensive. With the state of the economy anymore, it isn’t shocking that college students and their parents are looking for more economically friendly ways to set up a dorm room. Here are 7 tips on how to decorate a great dorm room on a budget:
1. Create your own throw blankets. Throw blankets are great in college. They can be used for multiple things besides being just a blanket. And variety is the spice of life, right? So to get the biggest bang for your buck, go to a fabric store and buy a few yards of fleece. A few yards of fleece will costs only a few dollars where throw blankets bought form a store can be pricey. All you need to do is blanket stitch the ends if you are worried about fraying and you have a blanket. Otherwise, most fleece is ready to go when just cut off the bolt.
2. Garage sales. I know a lot of people who are scared of garage sales and owning things that were once someone else’s. But you can save quite a bit of money at a garage sale. Not only that, but you can always change the things that you get to suit you. Did you find a chest of drawers that might be a little outdated? Buy some paints and go to town. Or buy some ModgePodge and decorate the chest with photos or magazine cut outs. No one said you had to keep things as they are.
3. Talk to your roommate. Most roommates split the purchasing of dorm room essentials. This is a huge money saver but also, it prevents you from total responsibility. Talk to your roommate, create a list, and work things out. This will also prevent the possibility of bringing duplicate items and having no where to store them.
4. Local craft stores. Local craft stores are full of items that can be used for multiple purposes and are relatively low in cost. Not only that, but you can style and decorate the items to fit your personality rather than buy something that is only mediocre.
5. Stitch together old t-shirts you love to make a cool blanket or a rug. All of us have those shirts we love but that are starting to show their age. Rather than ditch them, just stitch them together and create something new. This will allow you to take your beloved shirts along to college but also show your uniqueness.
6. Corkboard goes a long way. You can use corkboards not just to show off your pictures, but also to hang jewelry on. Earrings can just be pressed into the board and for other jewelry, just use pushpins as hangers. With corkboard you are only limited by your imagination.
7. Get creative with curtains. If you really want curtains for your room, don’t forget about old fabric or sheets lying around your house. Just give new life to them by either creating a tube for a hanger or just hang cut eyeholes into the top so you can hang the curtain with 3M hangers. Also, you can just go buy a few yards of fabric from the store and hem the edges using sewing tape and an iron so you don’t have to sew.
How to Create a Support Network
I struggled a lot during college. I didn’t really fit in, I had trouble finding good friends that I could trust, and I could barely handle staying on campus throughout the week. During that time, I really needed a good support network but the problem was, I didn’t know how to create one. So I went through things alone and it didn’t end well. I ended up transferring colleges in order to find a better beginning.
As the years have gone on, I have had to learn how to create a support network so I could get through the rest of college, survive bad jobs, and live through law school. In order to help you avoid the same things I went through, here’s how to create a support network:
1. Roommates. If you are living at college, your roommates need to become your biggest allies. You need to work with them to figure out study times, leisure time, sleep schedules, etc. They are your first line of defense against the rest of college too. So if you are struggling, be sure to talk with them.
2. Family. Your family loves you no matter what happens. They have been in your life forever and they know you the best of anyone you’ve met. So talk with them. If you are struggling, they know how to handle your emotions and how best that they can help you. See if they can help reduce some of your responsibilities if you are really struggling or see if they can help you get the class help you need. But be sure to always keep them in the loop.
3. Professors. I know a lot of students are terrified to talk to their professors. But professors are incredibly supportive of students. You are the reason they have jobs. But not only that, they really don’t ever want to see people fail or not get through college. So go to their office hours and talk with them. See what they can help you with. Sometimes, they help you with more than just subject matter.
4. Classmates. I don’t always recommend reaching out to classmates if you are in a competitive school or class situation. But classmates can sometimes help you deal with subject matter. Not only that, but they are separate from your home life with family or roommates so they can make amazing soundboards.
5. Tutors. Some campuses have tutors available in centers or through professors. Other times, you may need to hire a tutor. But a tutor does so much more than just teach you subject matter. They are your biggest cheerleader, a sounding board, a friend, a life coach, etc. They are whatever you want them to be. So use them if you can.
And remember that a support group can always evolve. The people you have in your group one year might change to the next. So don’t get upset if you need to change things around. That’s life.
10 Things You Should Do Before College
Students are getting ready to graduate high school and beginning to look forward to going to college in the fall. But many students aren’t sure how they should get ready. Here are 10 things you should do before college:
1. Make a list of all the things you will need to take to college with you. Start planning early to make sure that you don’t forget anything and to give yourself plenty of time to find the items you need. This will reduce stress and build excitement.
2. Join social networking groups for your school. One of the things that students fear is finding friends. With all the technological advances you can connect with people who will be in your class. This will help ease the transition into school.
3. Go to the doctor’s. Many schools require immunizations and physicals to be completed. Talk to your doctor to see what must be done and to make sure you are healthy.
4. Clean up your room. Your parents will love yourself for this but it will also help you stay organized for when you go away to college.
5. Register for your classes. Most students have their first semester classes scheduled by the register but it’s always safe to check on this. That way if you have to register, you will get in early and get your book lists as soon as possible.
6. Get your textbooks and start reading. It’s never too early to start familiarizing yourself with the materials you will be learning in class and it will make you the gunner (the smartest person in the class). Plus, if you have trouble with any of the materials, you will have plenty of time to talk with your professor.
7. Get a computer and play with it before you go to school. You don’t want to get to school and spend time that you need to be studying trying to figure out how to work your computer. Instead, take about two weeks to get all the programs you need uploaded and ensure you understand how to use the computer.
8. Confirm your schedule. That means make sure you know when move in is, when orientation starts, and when classes begin. The last thing you want to do is get your dates wrong.
9. Spend time with your family talking about college. Your family is full of great advice and you will always be able to depend on them. Make sure they understand your goals and listen to their concerns as well as advice. This way you keep an open dialogue and an open door.
10. Enjoy yourself. Instead of spending the entire summer stressing out, go out and have fun. You just completed high school and now you need to celebrate. Go on a road trip, hang out with friends, and just have fun.
Dealing With A Weighty Issue
It was my senior year of college when I went to the doctors and learned that I had gained 10 pounds since my last weigh in. It was devastating. I felt like I had let myself go and I sat in the office and cried.
Now in life, I realize that putting on weight during college is not that big of a deal. Most students put on weight during college. It’s a combination of things that cause weight gain and not all of them can be controlled. But I remember how big of a deal that it was to me in that moment. So, to help you, here are some things that can contribute to weight gain in college and how to avoid their traps:
1. Dining plans. During college, I lived at school so I had to be on a dining plan. It’s cost efficient and convenient but it can also be a factor in weight gain. You are given only limited options for food and, most of the time, you are offered carbs because they are cheap. Not only that, but there’s always dessert. Unless you are very conscious of your eating, you could easily fall into food traps and gain weight. So when you go to the cafeteria, make responsible choices and try to avoid the dessert area. Vegetables and fruits are your friend. Balance your meals and you’ll be able to control your weight.
2. Eating at odd hours. College students don’t keep normal hours. And eating late at night when you are going to be sedentary for hours after could result in food being converted into fat. So try to get yourself on a normal eating schedule and try not to eat late at night.
3. Alcohol has calories. Although some people I knew in college had what I called liquid diets, not all of us are immune to calories that come from alcohol. And many alcohols have high calories and carbohydrates. So be reasonable if you drink and remember that each drink comes at a cost – a calorie cost.
4. Stress eating is common. Many students find themselves turning to food when they feel stressed during finals or projects. Sometimes, it can even be absent minded eating where you don’t realize you ate a whole bag of chips. So, if you are stressed, find a different way of coping. Go for a run, talk to a loved one, or visit a friend. Food doesn’t have to be your first option.
5. Vending machines are not your friend. I know they are easy. That’s why they are in dorms. Because it’s easy money that companies can make. But everything in the machine is processed and full of preservatives for storage purposes. So instead of depending on vending machines, stock your dorm room up with healthy options. This will help you avoid the temptation of vending machines.
6. Giving up sports. So many of us played sports before college. Therefore, your body is used to being much more active. If you stop being active but continue to eat like you did when you played sports, you will inevitably gain weight. So stay active. Run, go to the gym, lift weights, or do whatever you enjoy so you can keep your weight under control.
15 Things Every College Student Should Have
Every August you see hundreds of college bound students wandering the aisles of stores trying to figure out exactly what they need to make it through their freshman year. Some stores provide lists but sometimes you really wonder, do I actually need that? So to make life easier, here’s 15 essential items that every college student should have:
1. Two power bars. Most dorms are limited in their outlets so you need to adapt. Power bars will offer additional outlets. Why two? Well, most students have one power bar dedicated to their computer and other technology. You will probably need two just so you can make sure your refrigerator has power and any lighting you bring. This will also prevent surges.
2. Extension cords. I would bring at least three. This is because there could be limited outlets and you want to be able to connect things to your power bar. It also allows for more room layouts if you can run extension cords.
3. Air freshener. I’m sorry, but dorms have their own unique smell. So to make sure that you don’t add to the weird dorm smells, bring an air freshener.
4. A kitchen size trash can. Those little bity trashcans are cute but not at all functional. So bring a kitchen sized trashcan.
5. Two types of lamps. Bring a torch lamp and a desk lamp. A torch lamp will light the whole room but a desk light will light just your study area so your roommate can rest.
6. A computer. I know this is common sense but I have seen so many students come to college without a computer hoping that they can depend on the schools computers. For fear that the school computers could be broken or busy or corrupt, just bring your own.
7. Clorox wipes. Clorox wipes can be used to clean so many things. So always keep a container around.
8. Laundry basket. The great thing about a laundry basket is that it can be used for both a hamper and a basket. So only bring the basket and save on space.
9. Multiple bath towels. It’s so funny when someone shows up with one towel but it has been known to happen. Bring several so you can rotate through the towels and if one gets dirty you don’t have to worry about running out to do laundry right away.
10. Flip flops. Flip flops make great shower shoes and to prevent the spread of any foot issues wear those in the shower. Also, you can wear flip flops just to run around the dorms.
11. A fridge. I know this can be expensive but it can be helpful for you to have a place to store drinks for when the cafeteria is closed and for breakfast or lunch foods.
12. A microwave.
13. Soaps. This includes laundry soap and bath soap.
14. Shower caddy. You need somewhere to store your bath stuff.
15. A vacuum. You do everything in your room and so you want to make sure you can clean up your space.
6 Dorm Room Mistakes
Maybe this is your first time living away from home or sharing a room with another person. If so, be sure to avoid these six common mistakes so you can make life easier for you and your roommate.
1. Bringing everything but the kitchen sink. One of the most common mistakes college students make is that they bring way too much stuff to college. They don’t always remember that there isn’t a ton of storage in college. Often, you only get a small closet and a chest of drawers. So try to live minimally or figure out creative storage solutions like ottomans that can hold things. This will make life easier for you and your roommate.
2. Odors galore. Many dorm rooms have windows that can open slightly, but if you have a microwave in your room then you might have food smells. Be sure to have air fresheners in your room to eliminate any strange odors. Also, try not to have too many different perfumes or items with smells. Further, be sure your roommate doesn’t have any allergies that you could trigger with smells.
3. Never talking to your roommate before moving in. It’s imperative that you talk to your roommate before you move in. This way you can figure out who is bringing what. Otherwise, you could end up with three refrigerators and two microwaves. That sounds awesome but trying to store all that is going to be a huge challenge. So be sure to work things out with your roommate ahead of time.
4. Bring a tiny garbage can. College students tend to create a lot of trash, whether it be paper trash or other things. So having a teeny tiny trash can could result in some serious overloading of your can and more frequent trips to the trash area. Instead, bring a normal size kitchen trash can. This will help you control the waste around your room and reduce the amount of trips you take. Also, garbage bags are designed for these type of cans, not the little desk cans.
5. Never washing your clothes. I had friends in college that I’m fairly sure never did laundry. You could smell the room from down the hall. As a result, no one wanted to visit. If you did visit, there was no where to sit because dirty clothes littered the chairs, floor, and beds. So wash your clothes. This will keep your room smelling great, ensure that people want to be around you, and make your room more welcoming.
6. No lights. Not all dorm rooms have lights. Therefore, if you don’t bring any, you could be hanging out in the dark. So bring different types of lights. Also, be conscious of the lights you bring. If your roommate wants to sleep and you need to work, you don’t want to have a bright torch lamp. Instead, bring a torch lamp and a desk lamp.
7 Ways to Survive a College Party
So you’re going to a party and maybe you’re concerned. Maybe it’s your first party or you just aren’t feeling this one. What do you do? Well, here are seven ways to survive a college party:
1. There are several non-alcoholic options for a lot of different types of alcohol. Whether it’s because you are afraid to drink or because you are not in the mood, there are ways to go to a party and not be mocked for being sober. Ginger ale can take the place of champagne, bubbles and all. Root beer is a good substitute for beer. Water can replace vodka or gin. Put them in your cup or glass and no one will be the wiser.
2. Never leave your drink unattended or take drinks unless you saw them being open or poured. It was my junior year of college when I learned my lesson about taking a drink that I didn’t see the bartender pour. One beer and I was completely ill. It had been spiked. So pay attention to your drinks, where they came from, and who handled them. If you don’t feel comfortable, then don’t take it.
3. Don’t wear expensive clothes. You are guaranteed at any party to have at least one sloppy drunk. If you are like me and embody Murphy’s Law, that slob is going to slash his or her drink all over you. So leave the expensive clothes at home. Wear them another day.
4. Have an escape plan. I don’t mean find an escape route in case the cops come. I don’t encourage you to run or drink underage. But rather, if you aren’t comfortable being at the party long or aren’t sure whether you want to be there, figure out ahead of time a reason to leave. Exams are good excuses during the week and family coming into town is a good weekend excuse. But in the end, you’re an adult. Don’t be afraid to just leave. It’s your life.
5. Don’t be a wallflower. The one way you are guaranteed to have a terrible time is to be anti-social. So rather than stick to the wall like it’s the most interesting thing in the universe, go socialize. Talk about yourself and what you like. Odds are, others are just as unsure on socializing as you are.
6. Be prepared for the weirdo. Like there being the sloppy drunk, there is almost always going to be a weirdo. Keep an open mind. Maybe they are being strange because they are uncomfortable. So give them a chance. If you still aren’t comfortable, then politely excuse yourself or introduce them to someone else so that you can make a quick escape.
7. Don’t feel obligated to go or do anything you aren’t comfortable doing. Like I said, you are an adult. You are not obligated to party. You’re also not obligated to go against your better judgment. So stand firm. You’ll likely gain respect for it.
Regardless, if you do party, be responsible and always have a sober friend to make sure you get home safely.
10 Ways to Deal with College Stress
Stress is a huge problem for college students. It can lead to insomnia, illness, and countless other issues. That’s why it is so important to learn early on how to cope with stress. Here’s 10 easy ways to deal with stress:
1. Exercise. Exercise has been proven countless times to reduce stress in people. It increases endorphins and allows you to work out any anxiety. Exercise also has been proven to help people work through issues because it clears the mind. So if you are stressed, strap on some running shoes and hit the pavement.
2. Sleep. Sleep, although not easy to get in college, is necessary for you to cope in college. So lie down and let yourself relax. Your subconscious will continue to work on issues even though you are asleep.
3. Organize. One of the major causes of students stress is that they are overwhelmed by the amount of things that they have to do in college. So grab a pen and paper. Then write a to-do list. This will help you stay organized, prioritize things in order of importance, and work through any concerns that you may have.
4. Clean. A cluttered environment encourages stress. So take some time out of your schedule and clean up your area. This will not only distract you from your concerns but also help you reclaim your space in a positive way.
5. Eat well. Don’t gorge on terrible food. Instead, eat healthy. By eating well you will help give your body the nutrients it needs to handle the stress but also to think clearly, analyze situations, and handle anything that comes at you.
6. Maybe you need a break. Breaks can come in the form of some private time alone or in an escape from college life in general. Maybe you need to go home for a bit. This could help you relax.
7. Go out and blow off some steam. It’s OK to go out and have fun. Just be smart about it. Drugs and alcohol are not the way to deal with stress. Instead, go play mini golf, hang out with friends, or go see a movie. Let go of the stress and enjoy life.
8. Remember that things could always be worse. It’s not always the best way to think about things but it does put things into perspective. See the good things in your life and realize that someone out there has bigger issues than you do.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If things are really bad, it may be time to reach out. Ask for help from a parent, professor, or counselor. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, either. It takes a really strong individual to seek assistance.
10. Tomorrow is a new day. Regardless of what your troubles are, remember that tomorrow is a new day. It is a chance to try again and get things back on track. So stay positive, my friend.
The most stressful part of college definitely has to be figuring out what you are going to do after college ends. And the first thing you need to do after college ends is to get a job which means having a decent resume. Not sure how to compose a job-winning resume? Here are ten tips:
1. Don’t have an objective. Objectives went out with mullets and mutton chops. Leave it off the resume. All it tells an employer is exactly what they already know: you want a job. So save the space for something else.
2. Limit your resume to one page. Don’t hand over a nine-page resume because the odds are that you haven’t had nine pages worth of work experience. By keeping your resume to one page you make the employers life easier and stress what skills you really can bring to the employer’s business.
3. Keep it to three-bullet points worth of information under every job heading. This will make it seem like you put forth a great deal of effort in every job and show that you learned new skill sets in each position.
4. When graduating college, put your education at the bottom of your resume. It seems shocking and most people don’t realize that education goes at the bottom but it does. This is because your work experience should be more valuable to an employer than just your education. Education only goes at the top of the resume when you are in school.
5. Include any activities or honors you have received in school. This shows that you have leadership skills as well as superior intelligence.
6. Make sure your contact information is appropriate. Your information has to be correct but also it needs to be business appropriate.. Use something more mature such as your name. Also, make sure your voicemail message is something you want employers to hear, not some juvenile message.
7. Include all work experience that is relevant to job you want. Every resume you send should be altered for the job posting so that it can match the job description as much as possible.
8. If you don’t have work experience, you can include volunteer experience. Employers understand that students are not always able to work during school. But show employers that you did more than just go to class. Include any volunteer work that you did.
9. Spell check multiple times. Do not send a resume with any errors. Errors are an automatic red flag to employers and they will likely throw your resume away if they see them.
10. Have someone else review your resume. Before you send out a resume, have someone, preferably in your school’s career service office, look it over. This will help ensure that you have no errors and give you a fresh prospective on the resume.
Good luck, student!
Choosing a Roommate
It was the end of my freshman year of college and the campus was abuzz with students desperate to find a roommate for the next year. People paired off like couples at Valentine’s Day. And then there was me. I sat in the cafeteria looking around, hoping that someone would ask me to be her roommate so I wouldn’t have to put myself out there.
But unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like that. Instead, you need to take control over your rooming situation. Otherwise, you could end up having to deal with your housing department putting you into a housing lottery and you could be assigned a roommate that not only you may not live well with, but also you might not even like as an individual. If you ever find yourself desperate to find a roommate, here are some tips:
1. Consider the roommate you have. If you have had a good rooming situation, why change things? Talk to your current roommate about rooming together next year. This will prevent those few weeks of uncomfortable living while you try to get used to the habits of someone new. Most roommates are happy to remain together.
2. If you are in a sorority or fraternity, consider living with your sisters or brothers. Inevitably when you are in a Greek organization you are going to spend a great deal of time with the others that wear your letters. So many rooming with one or two of your sisters or brothers will help you deepen your relationships. It might work even better if your Greek has a house because they you have a potential dorm already.
3. Ask a friend. If your roommate has decided to move on, don’t be afraid to talk with your other friends about living together. I know it can be difficult to go form just friends to co-habitants but it can be a great thing. A live-in friend can be incredibly comforting on bad days. Even if your friends already have arrangements, they might be able to hook you up with someone. Your friends know you as a person and would give you a better insight into someone you could tolerate or even enjoy being around.
4. Consider living alone. Rooms on campus for single individuals can be expensive. However, it can be incredibly liberating. You will be able to come and go as you please. You don’t have to worry about any conflicts or adapting to another’s habits. And the best part? You have your own personal hide-away when you need that ever-illusive privacy.
If none of this works and you do get into a random lottery, do not despair. Most schools will allow you to change rooms in the first few weeks of a new semester. So always keep in contact with your housing department.
Get Ready For Some Bad Interviews
By the time you are in your last year of school, you will likely begin applying for full time positions places. With applications typically come interviews. And everyone you ever meet will tell you that you will have one or two terrible interviews during the process.
So how do you deal with a terrible interview?
1. Always keep your cool. No matter what happens, remain calm. This may sometimes feel like an impossible task but some employers are utilizing personality interviews these days to see how well you do under stress. Therefore, remain calm at all times.
2. Be prepared for anything. By anything, I mean ANYTHING. Practice interviewing with friends or loved ones and have them ask you random questions and see how well you respond. Conduct mock interviews in incredibly strange and uncomfortable places. This way, you’re ready to face anything that comes your way.
3. Do not stare at the clock. I know how tempting it can be to stare at the clock and pray for the time to come when you can leave. But if the employer is testing you, then you just failed.
4. Do not get defensive. You will possibly be questioned about things that you are not comfortable discussing. Instead of becoming defensive, take a deep breath and address the question in a mature, reasonable fashion.
5. Do not get trapped into talking badly about other employers or anyone else. Talking badly about others only makes you look bad. Instead, always reserve your judgments.
6. Dig your heel into the floor. I was always told you don’t want to show that you are upset or frustrated during an interview. This includes in body language. But one thing you can do that goes unnoticed is to dig your heel into the floor without raising the front of your foot. This will help you deal with the tension while keeping the rest of your body at ease.
7. Remember, you don’t have to take the job. If an interview was awful and you were incredibly uncomfortable, you are under no obligation to accept the job. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. If the interview was bad, what are the odds the job will be better? Just politely decline and recommend anyone you believe would be a good fit. If they offer the job right then, ask for time to think about it if you are uncomfortable declining the job in person.
Practice Makes Permanent
Throughout my whole life, I was taught that practice made perfect. So a few weeks ago, I was talking with my friend and made the comment “Practice makes perfect.” With a straight face, he said no, it doesn’t. So I asked him to explain.
“Practice doesn’t make things perfect. Nothing is perfect. Practice makes things permanent.”
As a tutor, this statement hit home for me. I had been teaching my students to practice but never fully explaining the true reason for practicing. You need to practice to make things permanent.
During your studies and preparation for exams, you’ll often find yourself striving for perfection. But perfection is an unattainable goal. Nothing in this world is perfect. But instead, you need to change your mindset. Tell yourself that by practicing questions you are making things permanent.
Practicing multiple choice questions or writing is something that must be done over time. No one goes into exams fully able to understand how to address them. But if you practice, then you will find your grades will go up. The more you practice, the more you will find the tricks and themes that you see on exams. This will help you best be able to address the exam.
Once you figure out the tricks and themes, then it is time to implement those lessons by doing… you guessed it; more exams.
Each time you practice an exam using what you learned during your trial runs, you will be creating an exam auto-pilot. This auto-pilot means that you have made your approach and lessons permanent in your head.
Then exams will no long cause you fear. You won’t panic during a test or draw a blank. Instead, through practicing you permanently removed all mental stresses, besides thinking, that you could have had. And that is the key to being successful in college.
Getting Sick in College
Getting sick in college is no joke. It was my freshman year of college when I first got sick. I went home for Easter weekend and, instead of spending time with my family like I had planned, I spent the weekend coughing and sleeping every moment I could. It turned out that I had mono and had had it for quite a long time. Because I didn’t take care of myself, I ended up dealing with bronchitis on top of it, resulting in a lot of missed classes and infecting most of the girls I lived with.
If you get sick, there are certain things you should do:
1. Go to the doctor’s. If you can’t get to your regular doctor, most schools have a health care center you can visit. Don’t wait because the longer you wait the worse it could get and you could be contagious. Besides, you are paying tuition for the health center. Put those tuition dollars to work.
2. Actually take any medicine the doctor gives you. So many students refuse to actually fill the prescriptions they receive because of financial reasons. But you were prescribed the medication because you need it. Take to the pharmacist or the health care center to see how they can help you with the cost.
3. Warn your roommate. Most people never mention this. But you should always let your roommate or housemates know you do feel good. This way they can take precautions against getting sick. Unfortunately, one of my housemates never said she was sick and that’s who gave me mono which then rotated through the house.
4. Notify your professors if you are missing class because you are sick. It’s not always necessary but it could help you if you go over your absences. Plus, it’s the considerate thing to do. Professors can also then notify you of any assignments or readings you need to do or of changes to the syllabus. Just because you are sick, doesn’t mean that you should fail a class.
5. Rest, eat, and drink. No, not alcohol. Drink plenty of fluids like orange juice or Gatorade to replenish the electrolytes you are losing. Eat foods that will help you recover. And sleep. Don’t try and push things just because you feel like you shouldn’t be sick during school.
6. Once you are feeling better, make a to-do list to catch up on all the things you missed. I recommend prioritizing class work and exams over socializing and parties.
7. If necessary, contact the school administrators. Maybe you’ve been out for a long period of time and missed a great number of classes. This could result in problems for your grades. Rather than wait for grades to come out, be pro-active and see what the school can do to help you. All schools have dealt with this issue before so they offer the best guidance in situations were there have been long-term absences.
College Interview Tips
I was amazed when I got the call from Princeton University to set up a college interview. I never even expected to be considered when I submitted my application. In fact, I expected an immediate rejection. Why did I apply? Well, they had waived my application fee so I figured it was worth a chance. But there I was on the phone actually organizing to meet with an admissions representative about me maybe going to Princeton. And I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect. My family members had never had an admissions interview so they were no help. Instead, I turned to my guidance counselor who gave me these tips to handling a college interview:
1. Know the school. Just like in a job interview, you want to walk into a college interview already knowing what there is to know about the school. Admissions representatives want people who are interested in their institutions so if you go in and are asked what attracted to the school but have no answer other than “Well, you have me an application fee waiver”, you’ve already damaged your chances of getting in. So make sure to do your research on the school and what it has to offer.
2. Be prepared to answer questions. This is your chance to tell the interviewer what isn’t on the application. So brush up on the resume you sent them, re-read the essay you submitted, and think about what you want them to know about yourself. I recommend researching admissions interview questions and considering various answers.
3. Have a mock admissions interview. Talk to your guidance counselor, teacher, or friend who would be willing to conduct a mock interview with you. Mock interviews are great ways to refine answers, to eliminate panic, and to work on any nervous habits you may have. Once you have the mock interview, ask for feedback and be open to it. Don’t become defensive. This is to help you get better.
4. Get to the interview early. You shouldn’t be late to any interview whether for a college interview or a job interview. It makes a bad impression. Leave early for your interview so if you get lost or there is traffic, you still can be on time. Arrive early so you can gather your thoughts or maybe take a last minute trip to the bathroom. But just don’t be late.
5. Don’t worry about how long it lasts. I’ve had interviews that lasted twenty minutes and I got the position. I’ve had interviews for two hours and never heard from the people again. Time doesn’t matter. What matters is being invested in that moment of time and doing the best you can do.
6. Just be you. Perhaps you got an interview with an Ivy League school and you’re far from they stereotyped Ivy League student. Don’t worry about it. The admissions department scheduled an interview with you because there is something about you they like. So don’t pretend to be something you aren’t. The interviewer will be able to tell and it could work against you. Just take a deep breath and be yourself. Besides, do you want to go to a school that doesn’t like you as a person? I doubt it. So be true to yourself.
7. Send a thank-you. Either handwritten or e-mailed thank you notes are acceptable. But be sure to send on. It puts you in the forefront of the admissions counselor’s mind and could be that extra point you needed for admission.
These tips will surely help you to do the best you can during the interview. Good luck!
Running Through College
I used to be the person who thought that the only time I should ever run was if a bear was chasing me or if the zombie apocalypse began. Clearly, I’ve changed my way of thinking after running three half marathons but it didn’t happen over night. But running is a great way to prevent that freshman 15.
To get started, you need a good pair of running shoes. Yes, I know you probably have sneakers but there is a big difference between sneakers and running shoes. Typically, you should go to a running store and be fitted for shoes. If you aren’t fitted, you risk injury, blisters, hot spots, and other issues. And everyone is different. So go to a store and have someone help you find the right shoes.
Next, get some moisture wicking socks. You can find these in Target or Wal-Mart. Moisture wicking socks pull the sweat away from your feet and prevent blisters. If you intend to run for long periods of time, the last thing you want is to be running with a blister. So these are a great investment.
Third, find a race. I know, seems silly since you haven’t started running yet. But by signing up for a race, you are giving yourself a goal. Not only that, but by spending money you feel more obligated to actually run. When you’re in college money is typically tight, but there are websites like Active.com that you can visit and find a race in your price range as well as find a variety of different races ranging from straight running to color runs where you get to pelt people with colored cornstarch.
Fourth, you probably should start running soon. If you are novice, there are tons of beginners running app’s for phones or plans available online. The Couch to 5K app for IPhones and Droids is wildly popular and can help you prepare for a race, gradually build distance, and help with your pace while also lessening your chance of injury. Select the distance you want to go and hit the pavement, trail, or whatever else you run on. Also, don’t feel like you have to run immediately. Gradually build up your speed, even if it is from a slow walk. Over time you will get faster.
Fifth, track your progress. Running isn’t something you start off great at. You get better the more you run. So track your progress to help you see how much better you’re getting or to find areas of improvement.
And lastly, enjoy the run. I know it sucks at first but running is a chance to show yourself that you are capable of doing amazing things if you just let yourself. Find a friend or run alone and just enjoy the moment. Be free and let yourself do something maybe you never thought you could do.
See you on the roads!
The Power of Professors
During my first two years of college, I was terrified of professors. They were so much smarter. They were so intimidating. So, as a result, I avoided them like the plague. It took me far too long to realize that I had made a mistake.
Professors are not the horrible ogres that many people make them out to be. In fact, just in case you weren’t sure, they are people. More specifically, they are people who care. Most professors went into academia because they wanted to help others. And they can help you in some amazing ways:
1. They are tutors. If you are struggling with a class, your first visit should be to your professor. Professors don’t want you to fail. They want you to understand the material. So if you visit them, they may be able to present the materials you need to know for the exam in a different way that you can understand. Outside tutors can sometimes be a risk because they don’t know what you are being tested on. Your professor is the best tutor there is.
2. They hold the key to higher degrees. Professors are always the people you want recommendations from. But if your professor doesn’t know who you are, you risk not getting the best recommendation possible when you try to get into a master’s program, law school, or somewhere else. Now, I’m not telling you to go plant your lips firmly on their rump. But give your professor a reason to remember you. Make sure your professors know you as more than just a name on a roster.
3. They can help you get jobs. Professors typically have worked in the fields in which they teach. If they haven’t, professors are like all others in an industry: they network. Therefore, they likely have contacts that would help you break into an industry. They also might have job search or career advice. Some help students by having mock interviews. So if you are getting ready to graduate and need a job or you want an internship, be sure to reach out.
4. They can be the one you really need. It was my second year of law school and everything was going wrong. I had lost almost all my friends. My organization was in shambles. I couldn’t sleep. So I had filled out a withdraw form. I was going to drop out after my Remedies class. I sat in my usual seat with my former friends sitting around me, staring, laughing at my luck. The professor called my name and I looked up, fighting back tears. She told me to stay after class. As per her wishes, I remained. She waited until everyone left the room. “I don’t know what’s going on and, honestly, I don’t care. But what I know is that you haven’t been yourself,” she said. I was taken aback because I hardly talked to this professor. She actually really scared me so I avoided her. She put her hand on my arm and continued. “You’re a good student, a good person. So whatever it is, you need to let it go and go back to the person I know.” She smiled at me and waved me out of the room. As I walked down the hall, I realized that was the first professor I ever had that told me that I was a good student. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I went into the bathroom and ripped up the withdraw form. Thanks to that professor, I finished law school with excellent grades and passed the bar exam the first time. That professor was there when I needed her, even when she didn’t know why I did. And she isn’t the only story of a professor who reached out to a student in need. Just be open to professors if they come to you. Sometimes, they know you better than you know yourself.
So before you label your professor an ogre or a witch, take a step back and realize your professor is a person, a person who cares for you. You might be surprised at what they can help you with.
Being a Student is a Job
During college I was always trying to do more. Perhaps it is because I’m an overachiever or maybe it’s because I’m terrified of failure. I worked three jobs, participated in numerous organizations, insisted on socializing with friends, and had a full course load. Every time I took on a new task my mother always said the same thing: My most important job was to be a student.
It’s a strange concept but it is the best mindset to have when working towards your degree.
When you work at a job, you always want to complete your tasks, meet deadlines, manage your responsibilities, and so forth. Although the job may differ, the underlying principle is the same: do the work to get where you want to be in life. But, over time, we have been conditioned to associate work with getting paid or having an employer. So we don’t traditionally classify being a student as a job.
As a result of media images and hearsay tales of college, we often see students procrastinating. We see people miss deadlines or not go to class. Exams are something to be concerned with only the day before exams. It’s all about parties and friends. But then students wonder why their grades are so low. They think that college should be as easy as it is in the movies. But the movies, although amusing and entertaining, are often wrong.
Instead, students must learn that in college, just like in a job, you must do the work to get where you want to be in life.
To get the best grades possible, go to class, do the work by the assigned dates, and manage your priorities just like you would at any other job. You get out of it what you put into it. Treat it like a 9-5 job.
This idea of treating school like a 9-5 job applies the most during study periods. By treating exam preparation like a normal job you get the work done but also prevent burn out. You must keep a normal schedule and all yourself the chance to relax and recover. By relaxing and recovering you will be able to let your brain to settle to a normal state allowing memorization and critical thinking to come more easily.
Sometimes to do your job properly, to be the best student you can, you will have to make some tough decisions. There were times during school when I had to leave real jobs in order to do better in class. There were other times when I had to stop participating in organizations in order to get my work done. Part of doing your job is going to have to involve really looking at what you can handle and maintaining that balance.
Jobs are not always easy. Neither is college. But college will prepare you for what is on the other side. Treat college like a job and you will be the best employee later on down the line.
How to Prepare for Exams
I hate exams. Even as a tutor, I find myself hating them. Exams are often not a good judge of someone’s knowledge or learning. Rather, it’s an excuse to torture students. Regardless, it is something that everyone in college finds themselves dealing with. And as I teach my students, there are certain things you must do to get the best grades possible:
1. It is never too early to start preparing. Once you have reviewed material in class, that material becomes fair game on a test. Be sure to go over that material often in order to commit it to memory. This will reduce the need for studying at the last second and not having everything committed to memory.
2. Organization is everything. Like I said, once material is given, it is fair game on an exam. You want to keep track of all your notes and materials so use either a binder, file folders, or some tool to keep those materials organized and available for studying. Do not risk losing that paper that has the one equation that shows up on the test. Eliminate the risks. Organize early and often.
3. Know your learning style. There are hundreds of tests for this available online. Just Google “learning style exam” and take one. This is an invaluable tool because it will help you figure out how you absorb material best. Structure your study habits around your learning style so you can retain and learn information easier.
4. Never be afraid to ask questions. If something confuses you, rather than skip it or try to come up with your own answer that may be wrong, reach out. Talk to professors, tutors, or whoever is best able to answer your questions throughout your studying so that you aren’t rushing around at the last second trying to figure out the basics.
5. Actually buy the book. I get that books in college are expensive; I worked in the school bookstore. But I am amazed at how many people refuse to buy the course book and then wonder why they failed the exam. The book is required for a reason, which makes it testable. No one cares how expensive it was, they only care that you know the material. Buy the book and read it.
6. Take practice exams. I never really did this but I learned to regret it later on. If you can get your hands on practice exams, get them. Practice exams help you not only understand how material is tested but also helps you deal with any testing phobias you may have.
7. Deal with your testing phobias. I used to panic before every exam. I would lock up or start crying. Like my mother always said, you can’t read probably through tears. My grades proved that. But during the bar exam, I had to learn to control my panic. Do research and find breathing techniques, mantras, whatever you have to do to get over your fears. Once you can control the fear, you control your grade.
8. Just do the best you can. No one can ever ask more of you than that.
If you do these things, you will likely find your grades go up and exams become easier. Good luck and happy studying!
So Your Major Sucks
It was my junior year of college. I was sitting in the R.A. office hanging out until my next set of rounds when a friend stopped by. She came up to the desk, looking forlorn.
“My major sucks.”
This really came as no surprise to me. She was an education major and she had been drowning under her work for months. It didn’t make her happy and she constantly questioned herself why she even chose to study education.
So I told her this: “Then do something about it.”
I know it sounds like simple advice, but sometimes it is very difficult for some people to come to realize that the major he or she chose just isn’t for them. Sometimes, choosing to change majors means having to remain in school for more time, which also means spending more money that you may not have. It also means learning a whole new area of study after spending countless hours trying to learn this area. But what at the core is one question and it is an important question to ask yourself: will changing majors help you? You need to figure out if it will not only make you happier, but will it put you down the career path you want to be on, will it give you an edge when job search, does it seem more interesting to you, and so on.
If the answer is yes, then switch majors. You are not obligated (unless by scholarship) to remain in the first major you choose. This is your college experience, your money. That means you call the shots.
If you are concerned about whether changing majors will affect the time frame for graduation, you have two options. First, visit your academic support office or the registrar to find our your projected graduation date based on the courses you would have to accomplish. These offices have dealt with probably thousands of students. They are designed to help you switch majors and get you out into the real world. Second, examine the requirements of other majors available and see if there is any overlap between the courses you have already taken and the other majors. This could reduce the chance that you would have to start from scratch.
But most importantly, you need to come to terms with the fact that not everything is going to work out during college. And that is OK. Your path in life doesn’t have to perfect. You just have to make it your own.
Balancing Work and College
Many students find themselves having to work during college. Some work for housing stipends, others work for a paycheck. But for many, it is a necessary evil. Personally, I worked all throughout college. At one point in school, I held three jobs.
Working and taking classes can be difficult. It can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. In order to successfully work and go to school, there are certain things you must do:
1. Prioritize. This is a difficult lesson for many people. But in order to keep your grades up and keep your job, you have to constantly prioritize your responsibilities. First and foremost, your job is to be a student. That means that you always have to keep your grades up, especially if you have an academic scholarship. Therefore, homework, assignments, and finals come before work. If you find yourself unable to keep up with your classwork and exams because of your job, perhaps this isn’t the job for you right this moment. Always keep your priorities in order.
2. Take responsibility. It seems like a simple task but in reality this step can be very difficult. Let’s say that you had a project due but your boss puts you on the schedule for mandatory overtime. You have a choice: work and sacrifice your grade, or don’t go to work and finish the project. Neither choice is the better choice because something will end up suffering. Whichever you choose, own it. It was your decision. And take responsibility for your actions. This is a valuable life lesson and also a sign of maturity. It will also alleviate any feelings of guilt, worry, or doubt.
3. Know what you are capable of. Like I said, I worked three jobs during college. The only reason I was able to do that was because two of the three jobs were not demanding and understood that school came first. The last job was a job through the school, so my boss more than understood what I needed. Therefore, I was capable of doing all three jobs and taking a full course load. But for many, three jobs might be way too many. You have to be realistic in what you are personally able to handle. Take a long look at your classes, the job, the tasks you are supposed to do, and your own physical and mental well being when going to school. Many students do not have the luxury of being unemployed during college. But if work and school get to be too difficult to balance, consider taking a lighter course load. If you can afford to not work as much, consider a job that you can work less hours. By knowing what you are able to handle, you will better be able to balance work and college.
If you make sure to prioritize, take responsibility, and know what you are capable of, you will find that precious balance of work and college. And be sure to repeat those steps often because the balance can change at any time. So long as you remain vigilant and aware, than you will succeed.