How to Find Your Dream Major

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graduation-advice-post-graduation

If you’re reaching the end of the year with continued anxiety over your chosen major, it might be time to reconsider. Changing your major can seem overwhelming, but you shouldn’t feel undue pressure over it. The truth is that you’re not out of time to change your mind, even if this is your last semester! You don’t want to live the rest of your life wondering, “What if….?”

However, there is a point to be made that everyone experiences some major doubt over the course of their college career. There might be a few rare people who never waiver, but for everyone else, picking a major isn’t an easy decision. If you’re really considering switching, ask yourself these questions before you do anything drastic (or neglect to do anything at all).

What Makes You Happy?

This might seem like the most obvious question out there, but there’s a reason it’s first. Don’t just consider what things you like — which TV shows, theme park rides, sports, bands, whatever. Those are great but think big picture.

Are you fulfilled by pushing yourself to complete the next puzzle? Consider careers in medicine, government, or even air traffic control.

Maybe you want to see new people and visit exciting places. The United States has 270 embassies that need Foreign Service staff. You could be a pilot or teach English abroad.

There are many things that might make you happy, but ultimately you can narrow it down to the next question.

How Can You Best Achieve That Happiness?

This is where reality kicks in. Maybe you like the idea of solving puzzles for a job, but you can’t imagine going to school for seven years to become a doctor. Maybe you do want to travel, but you can’t learn languages to save your life.

That’s okay; it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what makes you happy just because you lack a skill in one area. Instead, focus more on how you can work in a field that interests you. Take personality tests, visit your school’s career counselor, and research thoroughly. There are definitely dozens of jobs in the field that you’ve never heard of.

And if you really can’t find an existing way to do what you want to do, be an entrepreneur! They represent 10 percent of the workforce, and you’ll be in good company. Getting to set your own hours and be your own boss are pretty powerful perks. Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur, but if you’re driven enough to get to this point, chances are that you do.

What Will Get Me There?

The last piece of the puzzle is to consider what path you have to take to get your happiness. Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward. Wanna be an engineer? Get an engineering degree. Wanna be a lawyer? Go pre-law, and get your J.D. afterward. In some cases, you might not love your new major, but remember that it’s getting you to a larger goal.

Sometimes, though, it’s less laid out for you. Most jobs have several related degrees. A lot will just care that you have the relevant experience or even just a minor in the field. Some jobs won’t care at all what your degree is in, just that you have one.

You can take some time to ask yourself all these questions, but don’t let them sit on the backburner for too long. Eventually, you’ll have to make a decision. When you do, look up what classes you need to take and get a plan in place. Years down the road, you’ll be glad that you took the time now.

How to Add Splashes of Color to Your Bedding

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dorm room styles with splashes of color

You don’t have to be an HGTV design star to transform your dorm room or bedroom. In fact, all it takes is a little creativity and a good eye for color — especially for accent colors. Accent colors are the shades that pop out against neutrals. They brighten the room and help tell a story. To help you get started with building an accent palette, we’ve compiled our favorite accent color combinations we know you’ll love.

OCM Pink and Black bedding set

Hot Pink and Black

Almost every girl we know has rocked this combination at least once in their life. It’s fun, it’s flirty, and it’s oh-so-easy to do. The trick to upgrading this look from your high school bedroom to adulthood is not going with any crazy pattern combinations. Toss out the zebra print and say goodbye to damask. Solid black with flashes of hot pink is the way to go.

Fire Engine Red and Cream

There’s something about red that reminds us of our favorite beach towel. It’s bright and bold, and it has that little bit of fun that makes it a great bet for your linens. We especially love it in stripes and chevrons. By not going with white as the base, it’s a tad more muted and perfect for a sunny day or a warm night.

OCM Blue and White bedding sets

Vintage Blue and White

Do you remember your grandmother’s teacups? More than likely, they use a shade of blue we could only call “vintage.” It’s a pale sky blue that makes us instantly relaxed. When used in throw pillows or a fluffy blanket, it’s practically inviting the best sleep ever.

Grassy Green and Beige

Get your nature on with grassy green that sings. Green’s not a color that you see around much, especially in the bedroom. But we promise this color is a hit. Go more emerald in accent pillows for a luxe look. Use it in pillowcases or flat sheets and feel like you’re sleeping in a fresh field.

Rose Gold and Pink

We can’t have a post on accent colors without mentioning at least one metallic. Rose gold is the hot color of the year. And outside of your iPhone, it can certainly work in your diva-style bedroom. Go glittery with sequins like in an oversized pillow or add it to a bedside lamp. You’ll feel instantly more luxurious for it.

Burnt Orange and Purple

We’ve never been to India, but this color scheme puts us there. The pop of orange on purple is unexpected, and it takes careful attention to the right shades to work. You’ll want orange in smaller items like vases or desk accessories. Add orange silk sheets or a deeper orange toss blanket. Against the purple, it will surely make a statement.

OCM White and Yellow bedding sets

Sunny Yellow and White

Who doesn’t want to wake up with a smile on their face? A bright yellow room does just that! We love it when white is the only other color present. Think minimal. Then, add yellow in the big pieces — like a funky chair, a set of picture frames, or a lighting feature. This is a look you’ll love.

So there you have it! A list of a few of our favorite looks this year. Do you have another combo that you are looking to pull off or a favorite one from our list? Let us know!

Warm Hues and Evoking Emotions with Your Bed Linens

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Beautiful tonal bed sheets with laptop and coffee

Spring is in the air, the weather is warming up, and we’re beginning to dream of summer styles. When it comes to lightening up our room, the decor we focus on most starts right at the bed. Bed linens can be dramatic and bold or peaceful and serene. This spring and summer, we’re focusing in on the warm hues that are popping up everywhere we go. Here’s your guide on how to incorporate the top four colors of the season in your bedding style.

Sand Tan

Tan is probably not the color you think of when we say “warm hues.” But it’s a neutral you must know if you’re going to incorporate the rest of the colors in your bedding. Because so many of this year’s color schemes are beach based or Southern-inspired, tan fits in perfectly as a base. To find the right color, look for a tan that is more yellow than brown.

Canvas colored pillowcases with a faux textured detail will be all over stores this summer. They fit in with just about any other color or look you’ll go for, so be sure to grab one or two for your bed. You can also use canvas linens to create a romantic, Mediterranean canopy. Add string lights to the look, and you’ll feel as if you’re sleeping under the stars.

apartment decor with tan accents

Peachy Pinks

Peach is not everyone’s favorite shade on the color wheel, but the popularity of vintage has brought your Grandma’s lipstick color back to the front. Peach is an orange-leaning pink that resembles, well, the inside of the fruit. It’s a happy, go-lucky color that is an instant pick-up to look at without being too juvenile.

Fitting in peach can be tricky. Too much of it and your room can feel claustrophobic. Too little of it and it fades into the background. We recommend using peach in a medium-sized bed item that may not get much day-to-day use. For example, find a fuzzy peach toned throw blanket for the bottom of your bed or hang a peach-colored bedside organizer. You can even hide it in your flat sheets for an instant burst of happiness when you pull back your covers.

Hot Pinks

Forget “Millennial Pink.” This summer is all about the bright, in-your-face pinks that make you feel as if you’re about to burst out of your dorm and onto the best beach party ever. Hot pink is your go-to look if you’re vibrant and joyful or if you want bedding that is the focal point of your whole room.

To make it work, hot pink needs to be leveled out with a cold or neutral hue. More frequently, we see it paired with gold and bronze. And the color cannot be missed when it’s featured in polka dots on a white backdrop. Whether you paint your bed in a hot pink comforter or go demure with throw pillows or quilts, you won’t be regretting this color choice.

Pink bed sheets in a dorm room

Sunny Yellows

If you’re going for a beach party vibe but not feeling pink, there’s an alternative as cheery but slightly less daring: striking yellow! We’re not talking the water downed lemonade version. When we’re picking yellows this year, it’s the kind that reminds you of your brand new highlighter or a beach towel from your childhood. It should be the kind that jumps right off of your bed.

Like the peach, too much vivid yellow can go south fast. Instead, mix match it on a dark tone. Black works well, but you run the risk of the bumblebee pattern if you don’t throw in some white as well. Yellow also pairs well with an equally popping green in items like accent pillows or thin quilts. It may look cartoonish, but that’s what you want when you pick warm, bedroom hues that are made to lighten up everything they touch!

Moving Out or Living at Home After Graduation

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Happiness on the day of graduation

Don’t freak out, but graduation is only a month away for most of us. There’s so much to think about from making sure we’re still on track academically to starting to send out our first real resumes. But where we need to put our focus is on one major decision: where we’re going to live post graduation. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of moving out or moving home, as well as key points you should consider so that you can make your choice without all the drama or stress.

Moving Home: Cons

Not many of us are excited to go home after graduating college. For most, it feels like a downgrade, and for others, there are worries about losing independence or dealing with nosy or demanding parents. Moving home may also limit your career choices if you’re going to a small town or where your new job isn’t realistic.

Moving Home: Pros

Moving home has its upsides, especially when it comes to finances. Student loans can hit hard, and having a year or two to have little (or no) living expenses can mean making a significant dent in your debts. Living at home also gives you time to rethink your next moves. This is especially beneficial for those who may need to go back to school for their next degree before starting work.

Lounging on the living room couch

How to Make Moving Home Work

The biggest concern is your new parent-landlords, and that means communication is key. Before agreeing to move back, make sure you understand what they expect from you regarding rent, bills, groceries, rules, etc. Rules, especially, are important to go through in case there are some ultimatums you can’t get behind. Guests and curfews, for example, can be a sore spot. But if you talk your concerns through and maybe even get the deal in writing before moving back to your old bedroom, living at home could work for you.

Moving Out: Cons

Moving out is the ultimate dream, but that dream can come with a cost. For those living on their own for the first time, be sure you understand that rent isn’t the only thing you’re going to pay each month. There’s utilities, insurance, parking, and home expenses. Even monthly toilet paper can add up over time, and be responsible for chores like lawn care or shovel your driveway can be a major burden when you’re balancing a new job and social life.

First apartment home with decorations

Moving Out: Pros

Moving out on your own means freedom. Your space signals that you’re a full-fledged adult ready to make your moves. You’ll get to dictate your space and your rules for maybe the first time. But what makes moving out ideal for college students is that it opens up a ton of doors regarding location. When you’re free to choose where you want to live, you can explore and grow in new towns or cities.

How to Make It Work

The first thing you need to do is sit down and make a budget. Ask for your parents’ help in estimating expenses in your ideal location and then see if it will work with your projected starting salary. If your pay won’t cover it all or if it’s tight when you add in any estimated student loan payments, you may be able to make still it happen if you sacrifice on space (such as downgrading to a studio or living outside a city) or taking on a paying roommate. With a little careful creativity and frugality, moving out on your post-graduation can be a possibility.

Universally Stylish Linens

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When you’re in college, life can go by in a blur. With all the hustle you’re going to put in, the last thing that you want to do is worry about if your sheets match or if your bedspread is coordinated with your comforter. Instead of fretting over what’s in style or panicking that your room will never look cool enough, go neutral with color these bedding color schemes perfect for those who want basic — not boring.

Modern Minimalism

For all of us non-decor savvy folks, we’re in luck. This season, minimalism is totally in. The whole “less is more” means no dramatic colors, no clutter, no weird pattern coordinates. Instead, minimalism favors white. If you do add color, go with a throw pillow or blanket in gray or tan. It may sound boring, but it’s a look that looks and feels crisp and modern.

Stylish bedroom with blue hues

Earthy-Neutrals

One step up from minimalism is earth-centered color schemes. Think of the ground, sand, and sea when selecting linens. Every color is muted, but because nothing pops out, it’s easy to coordinate and interchange. Some key colors are sandy tans, rusty browns, hunter or grassy greens, and pale blue.

Vintage Calm

Take a deep breath and relax with a color combo that emphasizes relaxation and simplicity. French blues (a blue that’s a few shades deeper than a traditional sky blue) on white is classic and classy. If you want to modernize it, pick out jersey-type linen in blue and pair it with a softer white blanket or pillow. The mix of textures adds a bonus look to the scheme.

OCM bedding with touches of jewel tones

Touches of Jewel Tones

Some like it hot — hot pink that is! For those who want to keep it interesting and lively, selecting a more modern, simplistic color combo is just not going to get the job done. But instead of going elaborate and making a mess out of your coordinating linens, grab a neutral shade of either black or white. On top of that, add small items to your favorite jewel tone. For instance, we’re digging pastel pink of white or turquoise on black. Have fun and play around!

Royally Goth

Speaking of black, it never goes out of fashion. You can mix black with almost any color, but where it rocks is when it’s matched carefully with its polar opposite — white. Black with white accents (such as black comforters with white lining or black pillowcases with white piping) gives a bed a regal look. It’s a rockstar look at its finest, and you can always layer on a pattern like damask or chevrons to spice it up.

Ocean Inspired

A beach themed bed can be tricky to pull off. It’s a color combo that can go wrong real fast. The trick is to, again, go neutral as your base. White or tan is key for fitted sheets or pillowcases. On top of that, go ahead and layer on the blues. Don’t worry if they’re not exact matches. In fact, go with blues that are far away from one another on the scheme. A light seafoam bed skirt looks great when paired up with a royal blue quilt. Throw in gold or silver touches, and you’ve got a bed to drift away on.

 

Do you like to keep your bed linens a bit more muted? Or do you go all out with splashes of color? These are some of our favorite universally stylish bedding themes. Let us know your favorite looks!

College Fashion Essentials

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Photo by Matthew Kane on Unsplash

When you’re a college student, you have to be smart and economical. That means that all unnecessary purchases are a no-go. You may think that one can’t possibly pull of stylishness on a budget and a limited number of pieces. However, there is a way to work around this if you learn which key pieces to invest in (and by this we don’t mean spend a chunk of your money). To that end, we have created the ultimate list of fashion essentials that will get you through the year on a budget, without sacrificing your style.

When fun meets appropriateness

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

We used to think of plaid blazers as something professors wear, but oh, how times have changed. Everyone, from celebs to fashion bloggers to mere mortals is jumping on one of the most stylish (not to mention practical) trends of the season – the plaid trend. The best reason to add a plaid blazer to your wardrobe is definitely its power of transformation. With it, you can create great date-looks, mix with sportswear for more casual, athleisure vibes, and it can make you look sharp and polished in classes even on those days when you feel completely run over.

The ones that work for you

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

The life of a college student is a hectic one, to say the least. This is exactly why you don’t need clothes that make you work hard to pull them off. You want something that works for you, not against you. So, the most sensible way to be in style while being comfortable is to choose jeans as your go-to when it comes to bottoms. Take the time to try on different styles and find four pairs of jeans that fit well and feel good. Aside from being the sensible choice, these are easy to mix and match and create outfits for almost every occasion.

Party time

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

College parties are usually chill and low-key, so there’s no need to dress to impress. Still, you should always have one go-to garment and something along the lines of colorful designer kaftans may just fit the bill. They are, as the name says, playful. The colors are vibrant, but they’re not to ‘dressy’ so you’ll never look overdone or like you’re trying too hard. Throw a cute pair of Birkenstock shoes and a denim jacket into the mix and you’ve got yourself the ultimate frill-free party combo.

Simplicity above all else

Photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash

When life gets busy, so does your bag, so you better invest in a great, (and also a big one), that can handle everything you throw at (or in) it. A leather tote is the absolute best way to go. This bag can carry more items than you can imagine while never giving away the fact that it’s about to burst. You can put your laptop in it, along with your beauty essentials, notes, coffee, your pet, extra sheets – you name it, it can handle it. Black is the obvious choice because you will have chic moments, and this bag is ready to play that part as well.

Keep it warm

Photo by Natthakit Khamso on Unsplash

If you have someone to keep you warm indoors, good for you. Now, no matter how much in love you are, your bae won’t keep you warm once you step outside. That’s why you need to pull out the big guns – a great coat and a blanket scarf. Stylish scarves are quite affordable, so feel free to get several, as they will serve as a great accessory. This way, the coat can be nice and classic, and come from the neutral color family, and you can then use the scarves to diversify your outfits.

Made for walking

Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash

Yes, glitter boots are very nice and trendy, but can you wear them to your 9 am class? We didn’t think so. However, just because you can’t really rock the trendiest boot of the season during a college winter, doesn’t mean the alternative is any less on point. Of course, the alternative is a pair of ankle boots, and if you don’t want to look ‘too neutral’, you can always spice things up with the color of the season – red. Red boots will surely elevate any look, and the style allows you to pull them off in a way that is noticeable but not too ‘out there’.

When it comes to smart fashion choices, finding the balance between trendy and timeless is key.

April Fools Jokes to Play on Your Friends

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Clown preparing for a performance

Hey pranksters — the best day of the year is here! April Fools is the celebration of all things pranks and jokes, and we can’t be more pumped for it. This year, we’re going all out by targeting our friends and roommates. Here’s our list of the best jokes for college students. Have fun watching their faces…

The Sweet Switcheroo

This year, April Fools timed up with Easter giving you plenty of opportunities for some great mischief. “Gift” your friends chocolate eggs with grapes inside instead. Fill Oreo cookies with mayo instead of frosting. Frost a balloon and have your friend “cut into it.”

The Beauty Blunder

Like the Switcheroo, there’s a lot of pranks out there about soap and shampoo. Our favorite is painting a bar of soap with clear nail polish and listen as your frustrated friend can’t lather up. But outside of shower items, you can add flour to a hairdryer or offer to share a new facemask you swear by that’s really kid’s slime.

The Fake Out

What’s every college student’s worst nightmare? A failed paper. Set up an email account with an address similar to a professor’s. Send a stern email to your friend about how disappointed you are and how they need to redo the paper all over again. Send back the assignment with a big note that says, “APRIL FOOLS.”

The Fake Out 2

What’s the next best fake? A good parking ticket. Every driver dreads getting hit with a huge fine for something silly like “parking like a jerk” or “parking on the seventh Tuesday of the 13th month.” Do a google search for fake tickets to print out and enjoy as they rant and rave about unfair parking rules!

The Traps

College students are excellent at trapping their roommates and friends inside their dorm. I’ve seen students saran wrap doorways for unexpecting friends running late for a study group. There’s also the popular post-it everywhere method. But our hands-down favorite is placing cups full of small amounts of water all over the floor from their bed to the doorway. It’s worth it to see them try to get out without spilling.

The Freeze (Or Jell-O) Out

It’s relatively easy to inconvenience someone! We love freezing their keys in a bowl of water or wrapping their school supplies in saran wrap and then placing in Jell-O mix. Leave your roommate with a dull knife or a chisel. You don’t want to be too mean…

 The Scare Prank

Sometimes the best pranks are the ones that get your heart racing. There are few easy ones you can do that won’t induce heart attacks but will get a scream out of your unsuspecting friend. Try tapping a celebrity’s scary face to their ceiling when they wake up or to their window when they pull up their blind. Add a fog horn to their chair. Tape balloons to the side of the door where the hinges are. And if you really want to get them good, send them a bill for their student loans!

That’s a list of some of our favorite April Fools jokes. Let us know your favorites and if you were successful!

Make Your Own Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day

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Forget March Madness. There’s only one season that matters this time of year — Shamrock Shake season! That’s right. March is here, and McDonald’s finally has the uber delicious Shamrock Shake back on its menu. Since it’s only around for a limited time, there are not many chances of scoring our favorite green, minty dessert drink. Luckily for us, we’ve found a few DIY versions that hold up to the original. Here’s how you can make your own Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick’s Day (and beyond).

What You’ll Need

For any kind of shake, you’ll probably want a drink mixer, blender, or hand mixer (if you’re okay making a mess with it). But blenders and mixers can be hard to come by if you’re in a dorm room. Most residence hall rules forbid them. If that’s the case for you, we recommend grabbing a mason jar and canceling your arm workouts for the week.

As for ingredients, your base is simple: 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream (full fat and with sugar is best), 1 cup of whole fat milk, ½  teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 3 tbsp chocolate syrup. To get the green look, you’ll want green food coloring or green sugar sprinkles. If you’re all about the toppings, the classic recipe also has a generous amount of whipped cream and a cherry. You can find all these ingredients at the grocery store.

How to Make

To get the best consistency, let the ice cream sit out for five to ten minutes to soften. You can microwave to speed it up but only do it for a few seconds at a time.

Then, place the ice cream in the blender with the milk, vanilla, and optional food coloring. Blend for ten-second intervals until smooth and drinkable. You don’t want to see chunks of ice cream leftover. If you’re blender-less, place everything in a mason jar with a tight lid and get shaking. It will take a while, so be prepared to feel sore in the morning (it will be worth it).

Add the chocolate to your glass by swirling it around inside before pouring your shake. Top with the whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherry for presentation. We recommend a giant straw to go with it.

Ideas for a Healthier Version

It’s not impossible to make a low-fat version of the shake. After all, eating healthy shouldn’t be eating boring! And besides, who wants to skip out on a Shamrock Shake?

It’s all about finding the right alternative ingredients that still give you the same great taste and flavor. We recommend replacing your ice cream with a low carb version like Halo Top or Arctic Zero which boost low fat, low calorie, and high protein offerings. Mix it with skim or 0% milk for even fewer calories.

Go ahead and skip the toppings, including the chocolate, while you’re at it. But if you still want to make it decadent, let yourself splurge on melted dark chocolate which is rich in nutrients and great for a treat.

After all, everyone should be able to indulge in a Shamrock Shake for St. Paddy’s Day!

Building Your Resume

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Resume under the magnifying glass

Maybe you’ve got big plans to do a summer internship, or perhaps you’re hoping to bring in a paycheck over the summer. Either way, you’re going to need a new resume. We’re here to help! Here’s how you can build your first resume from top to bottom!

Resumes 101

Before you get started, you should know that your resume should be a full page long. No big gaps. If you’ve got lots of relevant work experience, you may use a second full page, but never go over that page limit.

Your resume should also be basic. Think normal fonts and black. While it may be tempting to make it unique, most businesses now use a tool that scans your resume for your qualifications. Text boxes, images, graphs, etc. will make it impossible for your resume to be read by most programs.

Before you send it out, make an appointment with your college’s career or writing center for editing help.

The Intro

In your header, you’ll want your name in big, bold letters. Underneath, place your contact information. This is key to getting your name out there.

education is one of the most important parts of a resume

The Education

You’re in school, and you’ll want to show off those credentials. Always list your college, degree, dates of attendance, anticipated graduation date. You may also want to include any accomplishments, awards, professional organizations, leadership roles, etc. Use bullets to separate lines.

USA College                                                                                                           09/2014-05/2018

Anticipated Bachelors of Arts in Art History

  • Director of campus radio station
  • Member of Kappa Kappa

The Experience

If you’ve had or have a job, this should be easy. You’ll list out your 4 to 5 most recent jobs from most recent to oldest. It should also list the name of the job, the position title, the dates you worked, and experience.

When talking about your experience, you’ll want a list of action words in past tense to describe what you did. Be specific as possible, and use numbers when you can. Stick to 3-5 bullets per job.

123 Shop                                                                                                                 10/2015-present

Cashier and Showroom Attendant

  • Attended cash register at busy, upscale clothing store.
  • Organized and maintained shop’s racks and shelves and helped create seasonal front-of-store displays.
  • Trained in customer service protocols and appointed store closer and opener.

The Alternatives

If you have never had a real job, don’t fret! You can list experiences like internships, volunteering, campus leadership roles, and summer jobs (like babysitting or mowing grass). The trick is making it as relevant as possible. Pick experiences that make you sound like a leader or someone with a unique background. List it out just as you would a job.

graduation diploma and cords

The Extras

After your experience, you might also want to make a section for any awards, honors, volunteer roles, special training, or skills. This is a great time to look over the job posting and customize it to what they want. For example, if they want a bilingual speaker, use a “Skill” section to say that you speak Spanish fluently or that you volunteered to translate at your church.

The section is optional, but it makes a great filler if you need to get to the end of the page. It also shows off who you are, and what you can bring to the table.

Tips to Stay Healthy This Semester

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Getting back into the groove of school can be challenging after winter break. You just spent a few weeks kicking back, enjoying the holidays, hanging out with friends without a care in the world. You’ve conquered finals! Nothing to worry about until new classes start! You earned a bit of relaxation.

Except now that break is over, you’re back in the real world: back to hectic schedules, walking across campus, and constantly braving the cold. The average undergrad student spends about 3 hours getting ready and walking to and from class. There’s hardly any time to focus on school work, let alone think about staying healthy — and I’m not talking about hitting the rec center.

We all get sick this time of year, but there’s a reason that college campuses get hit particularly hard. Freshmen, in particular, are vulnerable. It wouldn’t have been that bad to get sick over break — but now, just when you’re starting to get back into the swing of things? A bad cold can make it difficult to study, and bad flu can set you back a few weeks. How can you stay healthy this semester?

What Everyone Knows But Doesn’t Do

Stop it before it even starts … Diseases spread more during winter months because everyone holes up indoors. That means that all those communal surfaces have more germs than you’d think. The average desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. In order to prevent getting sick, follow some common sense advice!

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, regularly. If you live somewhere with cold, dry air, make sure to moisturize afterward.
  • Carry hand sanitizer for sticky situations. Many schools will give small containers out for free, so be on the lookout at career fairs and the like!
  • Don’t share straws, silverware, or pencils that have clearly been chewed on.
  • Don’t touch your mouth or face after spending time in class, the library, or any high-traffic area.
  • Get a flu shot. Most colleges offer these for free! Since this year’s flu season is going to be particularly bad, make sure you get yours.

Yeah, you might know all this already. This is just a friendly reminder to actually follow the advice this year.

Advanced Advice

Alright, those are the basics, but what else can you do to prevent from getting sick? Well, there are a couple of habits that make college students particularly vulnerable.

Are you getting enough sleep? And, no, in class doesn’t count. You probably need around 8 hours a night. That might sound like a dream, but without proper sleep your immune system is vulnerable. If you just can’t make it to 8 hours during the night, though, don’t be ashamed to take a nap. Better you lose a few hours of studying than a few days of class.

Naps can also lower your stress level, which is hugely helpful towards maintaining a healthy immune system. Make sure you are taking time to relax. Too many college students are too busy multitasking and resume-building that they work themselves to bed.

Be aware of your surroundings. This is one of the hardest things to monitor but by far the most helpful. Many college dorms are cramped spaces filled with as many people as possible. This is the perfect environment for bacteria and viruses to spread. If your roommate says they are not feeling well, stock up on antibacterial wipes and vitamin C!

Know When to Get Help

Too many college kids are so worried about saving money that they spread disease and get worse when they should’ve gone to the doctor. Your college probably has a clinic on campus, and they will work with you to cut down on the cost! There’s no reason you should continue to languish in misery when there are medications and treatments to help you get back on your feet.

If you’ve been sick for more than a couple days, consider that you might have something more serious. That sore throat might be strep — the differences between the flu and pneumonia aren’t as obvious as you’d think — and having a fever for multiple days is a definitely a cause for concern. If you’re worried that this could be something more, go to the doctor and encourage friends to do the same.

Staying healthy in college is more challenging than most people think. Between classes, work, and juggling a social life, you’re stressed enough as it is. This is just one more thing to think about. However, if you’re health lags behind, you can’t really juggle anything else. Staying in tip-top shape needs to be a priority this winter. So bundle up and use your head!