Planning Ahead: A Guide to Handmade Gift-Giving in College

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Hello all! As Christmas break comes to a close, preparations for moving back in and starting classes might be the only thing most of us feel is worth thinking about. However, I’ve found that keeping busy with a side project can help balance out these stresses that often come with the end of a long break.

Over the past two years, I’ve developed a sort of tradition of spending my Christmas breaks creating secret handmade gift projects for my boyfriend. With the spring semester starting up in the middle of January, Valentine’s Day tends to creep up just a few quick weeks later- just as the semester is starting to pick up in workload, for that matter. By working on something over Christmas break, not only am I giving myself a fun project to take up all my newly freed time, but I’m also able to allow plenty of time to create a really great handmade gift that also brings a big surprise factor. Being at home also provides a lot more resources for the handmade route than there would be if you were attempting the same task in the confines of your dorm room.

With this particular occasion being more about the person you’re spending it with than how much you’re spending on their gift, I’ve found that handmade is a really thoughtful, personal gift option for Valentine’s Day. So with this in mind, here are a few gift-giving tips for planning ahead and going homemade over the break!

 

1.) What resources will be most easily accessible to you at home?

To me, one of the most fun parts of homemade gift-giving is seeing what you can create from resources you already have available at your fingertips. And on a college student’s budget, this is often the most practical part of it as well! Of course, if you think of the perfect project and still need to run out for a few supplies, that’s fine too!

2.) What gift will be the most thoughtful and practical?

Creating homemade versions of something your significant other has wanted or needed for a while can be even better than buying it. Not only have you been listening to them and thinking about what they would like, but you’ve also taken the time and effort to make it yourself. Now that’s true love!

3.) What will be most easily and discretely transported back to school?

What’s something that you’ll be able to fit in your bag to move back in? If you’re like me and you carpool to and from school with your significant other, what’s something that you’ll be able to pack away and keep secret? And perhaps the most important question, what’s something that you’ll be able to hide in your dorm room or apartment where your significant other wouldn’t come across it?

 

All rules and regulations aside, the most important part of homemade gift-giving is having fun and keeping your gift-recipient in mind. Enjoy the project, and above all, enjoy the unique experience of giving a handmade gift!

 

What are your standby do’s and don’ts of gift-giving in college?

 

Reflecting on Senior Year: Planning for the Next Steps

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Reflecting on Senior Year- Planning for the Next StepsIf you’re anything like me, you’re about to start your last semester of college — and you’re totally freaking out about it. I know my last semester will likely be the most exciting one yet. I’ll be finishing up my year as the Online Media and Communications Coordinator for the St. Michael’s College Founders Society — a role that I’ve truly enjoyed taking on so far — and I’ll be writing a book for my senior research project as a Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts major. By the end of the semester, I’ll have graduated from my dream college a smarter, wiser, stronger person and I couldn’t be more thankful.

And as excited as I am to be embarking out into the “real world” soon thereafter, a lot of stress and pressure tend to accompany the idea of taking the “next step”. As I start preparing for this myself, here are a few of the tips and tricks I’ve found helpful and hope you will as well…

 

1.) Update and/or beef up your resume and LinkedIn profile.

As crazy as it sounds, you’ll be applying for real world jobs soon. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and effectively representing your accomplishments and professional identity.

2.) Keep an open mind.

If you’re one of those college students who doesn’t have an exact idea of what they might want to pursue post-grad, you are certainly not alone. I’m right there with ya. As you’re searching around for job opportunities, keep an open mind about where you’re looking and for what. Chances are you won’t find your perfect, lifelong career straight out of the gate. It may turn out that the career you’d always thought you wanted isn’t all it was cracked up to be, and another one is everything you’d ever hoped for. Leave your options open.

3.) Make an appointment with your college’s Career Services center. 

Get professional advice on every step of the process- resumes, job applications, interviews, what to look for, what to avoid, etc. This person won’t have any personal relation to you, so he or she won’t have any preconceived bias or preference on where you end up and what you end up doing.

4.) Confide in your friends.

Talking with friends of your’s who are also graduating can be helpful as well. They’re going through the same stresses, experiencing the same anxiety and confusion, and have the same questions that you do. Take comfort in knowing this is a step we all take. Four years in college doesn’t guarantee it will be easy, but it will guarantee that you are prepared to go through everything it takes to find your first post-grad job.

Best of luck!

 

What are your post-grad hopes and dreams? How will you get yourself there?

Last Minute Christmas Gifts on a Budget

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Between wrapping up finals and the usual scramble to pack and get home for the holidays, it can be tough to make Christmas shopping a priority. And now that you’re home (if you’re like most college students around this time of year), you’ve probably discovered a bit of a bank account shortage as well.

Now you’re stuck trying to find the perfect gifts — on time and on budget. But no worries, because I’m here to help! Take a look at these cheap, quick, yet thoughtful gift ideas below:

1.) Baked Treats

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Some homemade Christmas cookies wrapped up in a cute bag or jar make a great last minute Christmas gift. You’ll only spend a couple of hours in the kitchen for little to no cost, and homemade is always impressive and well-received!

2.) Cookie/Cake Mixes

Add the dry ingredients for your favorite Christmas cookie or cake to a jar and attach a card listing wet ingredients to add and other instructions for an even quicker version of the aforementioned idea!

3.) Holiday Movie Night Kit

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Make a quick trip to the store for some microwave popcorn, Christmas candies and a favorite holiday classic on DVD! Your lucky gift recipient will have all the components for a perfect holiday movie night on hand.

 

Happy gifting to all, and to all a very merry Christmas!

 

 

Managing Stress in College

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It’s getting to be a busy time of the semester. Classes are racing towards the finish line, work is piling up, and due dates are overlapping. And if you’re anything like me, you probably feel like you haven’t stopped working, yet you still have a heap of things to get done.

While it might be easy to panic, stress, and feel guilty whenever you aren’t working, it’s through these times that it’s most important to unwind and take time for yourself. Here’s how…

1.) Take a break with another activity.

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Whether you’re deciding what to make for dinner or reading a book for pleasure, taking a break and refocusing your mind on something else for a little while will allow you to return to your work refueled.

2.) Listen to music.

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Give your brain a rest and activate the creative area of your mind. (Separately from working, preferably. While music can be a great destresser, it can be a distraction while you’re working.)

3.) Get outside.

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Whether you’re taking a ten-minute walk or spending a Saturday on a more vigorous hike, stepping away from the books and the screens will clear your mind and send you back to your work more motivated.

4.) Treat yourself.

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You’re doing your best, and that’s all that matters. Go easy on yourself, remember to forgive your mistakes as long as you learn from them, and take a moment to indulge in something- it can be as small as a Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks (which I highly recommend, by the way)!

 

How do you manage stress in college?

 

Coming Prepared For Your College’s Networking Events

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With Thanksgiving break having just come and gone along with several familial interactions, it’s getting to be that time — the time for seniors to start freaking out about entering “the real world” in just a few months’ time. There’s a chance your college is hosting some sort of career fair, career symposium, or another networking event. If you’re anything like me, you know you should probably be going to said events, but you just can’t seem to get past one itty bitty detail…how, exactly, does one network? 

It’s not your fault- you’ve been in class for the past three and a half years. Aside from a few discussions here and there about resumes and work-appropriate attire, chances are you haven’t had many networking etiquette chats.

Fortunately, there’s nothing to fear. Because turns out, networking really isn’t that much more than talking, eating, and maybe the occasional business card exchange. However, it’s the way you go about all of the above that could make or break a potential future LinkedIn connection.

1.) Know your own talking points.

How will you introduce yourself? What values and characteristics will be most effectively packaged up into an opening greeting that accurately conveys you as a professional?

2.) Know what to bring.

Something to write with, something to write on, copies of your resume, and a small stack of business cards if you have them. That’s pretty much it.

3.) Know what you’ll ask.

Not only will it be crucial to ask questions that you have about your own goals and aspirations, but it will also be key to ask others about themselves in your interactions throughout the event.

4.) Know that everyone is in the same boat.

While it may be easy to stand in the corner with your plate of hors d’oeuvres, networking will only be as beneficial as you make it. So go ahead, shake a few hands and make a little small talk. Worst case scenario, you’ll end the night having met some new people. Best case scenario, you make connections that could help you down the road in ways that you couldn’t possibly conceive right now.

Have fun and be yourself! Happy networking!

3 Reasons to Follow Your Dream School’s Social Media

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Prospective students near and far — as one of the students helping to run my college’s social media, this is my open letter to you about the crucial importance and significance of following your dream school’s social media accounts!

In an age when social media are taking over not only our leisure time and businesses, but also the way colleges market themselves, social media has proved itself an invaluable tool for prospective students. Here’s why.

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1.) There’s only so much the website can tell you.

The official school website will be a great tool in informing you about the hard facts- classes, majors, extra-curricular activities and programs, sports, etc. However, the school’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, blogs etc. will provide an inside look into student life on campus that no other platform can.

2.) Tours and Open Houses only last so long.

Tours and Open Houses are invaluable experiences that I highly recommend every prospective student take part in at least once or twice. You get to experience campus and make connections with other prospective and current students, which is amazing. However, this interaction only lasts so long and eventually comes to an end. Social media, on the other hand, will provide you with anywhere from weekly to daily accounts of student life- from social to academic to extra-curricular to athletic aspects.

3.) Contact with current students is direct and immediate from off-campus.

While many campus tour guides may hand out contact information or business cards, as may a professor you spoke with at an academic fair, social media provides another tool for quick, easy, direct interaction with current students from off-campus.

 

Happy networking!

How do you find ways to interact with your dream school?

5 Ways to Kill the Instagram Game This Fall

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Instagram in Fall

With the change of seasons, social media introduces an opportunity for new themes, aesthetics, and inspirations — especially on Instagram! Whether you’re going on a hayride, visiting a haunted house, or just lounging on campus with a mug of hot cider in hand, autumn offers ample opportunities for great photos. Make sure you’re keeping up this fall season with these key tips.

1.) Cool down your filters!

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All those bright, colorful filters were great for summer. Now it’s time to change things up for fall with some cooler-toned, more mellow filters.

2.) Utilize cute fall-wear!

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If you just happen to be wearing your boyfriend-fit flannel and perfectly worn boots, it might not be a bad day to snap a cute fall themed pic.

3.) Photograph your favorite fall treats!

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Breaking out your baking skills with some apple pies, pumpkin spice cookies or any other fall-esque goodies? Add a fall flair- like this crust adventure I went on over the summer, or maybe a decorative mini pumpkin off to the side- and snap that fall-icious pic!

4.) Play with foliage!

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Here, I am quite literally playing with foliage. It’s the most beautiful time of the year, and the most easily photographed for a perfect Insta!

5.) Document your favorite fall activities!

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Going apple picking? Planning a stroll through the pumpkin patch or local corn maze? Bring your camera and get ‘gramming!

What have been some of your favorite ways to get creative on Instagram this fall?

 

5 Transitions into Fall Fun

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Fall Activites

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (Christmas aside)!! The leaves are starting to change, the air has a slight crispness to it, and the faint aromas of apples and cinnamon seem to hang in the air. That’s right…Fall is here! And there are so many different ways to celebrate.

1.) Go apple picking!

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Grab a few girlfriends and go apple picking!

2.) Bundle up!

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Seriously, it can go from nice 75° one day to a breezy 60° the next.

3.) Visit a local farmer’s market!

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This is the best way to support local organic farmers, and makes for a fun outing with your friends or family!

4.) Make some seasonal goodies!

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Make all the pies and fall-themed goodies imaginable. Yum.

5.) Stay in with a fall movie!

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If it’s too chilly to head outside, why not bundle up on a couch and watch a fall classic?

 

What is your favorite time of year?

What are some ways that you are looking forward to celebrating fall?

 

Must-Haves For Your College Kitchen

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Whether you moved into your own off-campus apartment earlier in your college career or are just finally starting to reap the benefits as a senior, one of the most exciting (and sometimes most challenging!) parts of living on your own in college is having a kitchen!

As a senior at St. Michael’s College, I finally have a kitchen in my on-campus “townhouse”. I’ve enjoyed bidding an official adieu to dining hall food and cooking for myself, however, this privilege comes with some responsibilities.

Chances are, you’ll be dealing with a small space, limited storage, other roommates to share this with, and a responsibility to keep things clean around your already hectic schedules.

That said, here are some absolute must-haves for keeping things easy and breezy in your college kitchen!

1.) Cookware Items

You won’t have the space and convenience of your parents’ kitchen, so you’ll need to do some thinking and prioritize what you think you’ll use the most. These are my musts:

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– Baking sheet

– Cutting board

– Frying pan

– Wooden spoon

– Strainer

– Large multipurpose pot

2.) Cleaning Items

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It’s imperative to keep your college kitchen clean, especially given the small space you’re likely sharing with others. You’ll get by with Clorox wipes, paper towels, a vacuum, awareness of the mess you’re making and promptness in cleaning up after yourself.

3.) Patience & Communication 

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Be aware of the time and space you’re taking up in the kitchen, be considerate of other people’s time and space, and communicate your wants and needs to the best of your ability. You’ll be able to enjoy and even learn from the experience!

What is your favorite part of having a kitchen in college?

 

Reflections on Starting Senior Year: Why YOU Should Write a Blog in College

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Student Blogging

I have been a Social Ambassador for St. Michael’s College since my freshman year. Coming into college having seen student blogs in my own research as a prospective student, I knew from the start that I wanted to blog for St. Mike’s. It seemed like such a fun way to show off my school, how I spent my time there, and share my advice on different topics with prospective students or my fellow current students. I could provide them with all the stories, photos, inside views, tips and tricks that I would have loved to read about as a prospective student.

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While writing my blog “Stories of St. Mike’s” has helped in marketing the school and its lifestyle to prospective students and families (at least I hope it has!), it has also given a lot back to me. So today, I’d like to share all the ways that I think any college student would benefit from writing a blog!

1.) Reflect on your experiences.

As you make your way through social, academic and extra-curricular experiences in college, a blog provides a platform to reflect on these experiences. In presenting your accomplishments to an audience, you define what those accomplishments have meant to you, where they’ve taken you, and how you hope they will affect your future. You’re given an opportunity to think about things that you may not have otherwise taken the time to sit back and think about.

2.) Think back to the good old days.

When you’re writing a blog for your college, you’re constantly putting yourself in the shoes of prospective students. What do they need to know? What do they want to know? What are some tips and advice that they might find helpful and useful? In these considerations, you transport yourself back to a time that you had all these unanswered questions, and you’re able to reflect (yes, more reflecting!) on how far you’ve come.

3.) Create a digital archive of your college experience.

It’s a wonderful feeling that once I graduate in the spring, I’ll have my blog to look back on. I’ll see weekly accounts of what I did, who I did it with, and my overall life experience at St. Michael’s College. How can you beat that?

How will you make the most of your college experience? We hope it’s from blogging!

 

At OCM, we’re always accepting applications from those interested in joining our team of student bloggers. If you’re interested in contributing, head over to our Student Trendsetter to get started!