Thinking of a Gap Year? Here’s What You Need to Know

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The Royals do it. Malia Obama did it. Why not you? Gap years, or a delay in starting college, is becoming more and more trendy. But what is a gap year, and should you take one? We break it down to help you make this difficult decision.

What is a Gap Year?

Gap years are defined as a literal gap between high school and college. For most US high schoolers, summer break is all you get between graduation and college orientation. But across the pond, where gap years are common, it’s usually a 1-2 year period “off.”

What you do with your gap year is up to you. Some people decide to work full-time while others relax. Traditionally, gap years are spent volunteering and traveling. Whatever you decide, your time off should be beneficial to you and your reason why.

Reasons to NOT Take a Gap Year

Sounds great, right? A full year break from school may seem like a dream scenario, but there are some pretty big cons you need to consider. Here’s why you shouldn’t go for a gap year:

You’re Interested in a Competitive Program

Harvard doesn’t wait for just anyone. Even though Malia Obama was able to defer her entrance into the top college in the United States doesn’t mean you’ll get the same kind of offer. Deferring your start in an ivy league school or a competitive college program could mean losing your spot altogether. Is the risk worth it? That’s up to you and your future school.

Money’s Tight

Unless you plan on working during your gap, you better have the money to cash flow it. Whether you are planning on traveling or volunteering, all of that will cost you probably the equivalent of a year of your college tuition.

Your Family Isn’t On Board

While not completely necessary, not having the support of your family could ruin your time off — especially if you plan on crashing with them. Selling more traditional parents on gap year could be trickier than you think.

Reasons TO Take a Gap Year

On the other hand, all the risks you take may be worth it. Maybe these reasons can make your decision easier.

High School Was Stressful

If you were a ball of stress and anxiety in high school, a gap year might get you back on the right foot. A year off to explore your interests, find yourself, and could help you better prepare mentally and emotionally for college.

Money’s Tight

While we talked about money being a potential issue, if you plan on working during your year off, a gap could be in your favor. A year’s worth of work could get you the work experience you need and help you save for future tuition costs.

You’ve Got a Heart for Service

If you want to make a difference in the world, you don’t need to wait until college ends. There are many programs out there that will take those 18 and over and help them find their place in the world. You may build homes, serve in disaster areas, teach English abroad, etc. Whatever you decide, you’ll make the most of your time away from school.

Taking a gap year can greatly benefit those that use it to their advantage. It is important to discuss your options with your parents or guardians before making such a decision. But, if you feel it is right for you, dive in head first and enjoy everything that a gap year has to offer!

How to Find Your Dream Major

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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.

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!

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!

How to Actually Fundraise in College

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You’re hopefully back in the swing of classes, although summer vacation could not come soon enough. But it’s far from time to check out. If you’re intent on building your resume, you’re working hard at your classes as well as some extracurricular activities. But one of the hardest parts of staying active in clubs and groups throughout college is the constant pressure to fundraise.

College students aren’t exactly known for their expendable income, since paying for school itself is often a struggle. So you and your group members might not have enough to donate yourselves. Instead, you’ll have to get other people to part with their money, so you can keep playing lacrosse, raising awareness about local policy, educating disadvantaged kids, or whatever else you think will help you later on. Question is, how can you best fundraise in a college town?

Know Your Target

Ask yourself: who is most likely to support your cause?

Students might have little cash to spare, but they also probably have more school spirit than anyone else nearby. If you want to target students, you’ll have to give them some sort of tangible return for their support. Some kids might be willing to part with a couple extra bucks for nothing but a fuzzy feeling, but most college kids will respond best to food. Popcorn, pizza, or anything that you can make it bulk cheap is a good way to go here.

However, if you’re looking to solicit community involvement as well, then you might need to up the stakes. Adults in the community might feel a certain sense of pride about the school, but they’re less impressed by dollar pizza slices than your average sophomore. Consider their political leanings; if you’ve got a lot of concerned environmentalists in your town, try a green fundraiser. If there is a strong arts presence, consider classing up your fundraising.

Quantity or Quality?

When considering your fundraising scheme, consider if you’re aiming for quantity or quality. Are you trying to get a lot of little donations or several larger ones? The latter will require more effort on your part, but the payout for your organization could be great.

Here are a few “quantity” based ideas:

  • Have a bake sale. Consider some easy recipes like pancakes, cookies, or hot cocoa!
  • Create a GoFundMe account. This is a great way to get people from even outside your community to donate, like faraway relatives, but don’t rely too heavily on this one option.
  • Ask your school if you can sell concessions at upcoming games.

And a few “quality” ideas as well:

  • Ask a local business for support. Even if you can’t secure a one-time donation, you might be able to convince them to donate a percentage of their sales as long as it’s a worthy cause. Lots of business do just that to help fundraise for pets, world hunger, and literacy programs. Your club can do that too!
  • Hold a dance! Social events are always appreciated on campuses. You can go for casual or formal, but college kids rarely get the chance to dress up, so you might have an easier time with formal.
  • Offer your services to the community. As a group, all go rake someone’s leaves, mow their lawns, fix their plumbing, whatever it may be. With so many of you, the job can get done in a few hours max.

These ideas will vary depending on your fundraising goals and how many people you have involved, but they’re a good place to start.

Consider Teaming Up

On college campuses, there are a lot of involved young people. Many are trying to make a significant change in their community, and there is no reason you both can’t help each other out.

If you’re part of a gender-divided sports team, consider asking the other side if they want to team up. If you’re an environmental group, there’s probably another one on campus that could use some money as well. Greek houses are always trying to fundraise, so make sure to pick their brains! They’ve got to be experts by now. Sometimes, two minds are better than one.

Of course, the returns on this strategy diminish the bigger the other group is. If they help out a lot, the other group might want more of the money than you’re prepared to give up. But you shouldn’t dismiss this option right away; give it some serious thought.

Fundraising is always a surprise, especially in a place as unpredictable as a college campus. You never know who is going to feel school-spirited or giving that day. The best you can do is approach this problem as a unit and commit to putting your all in it. Because if you’re not going to fight for your club, who is?

The Nine Things Every College Student Should Have On Their Desk

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Female student taking notes from a book at library.

All you need is a computer, right? Wrong! Unlike high school or living with your parents, office supplies do not magically appear. Living on your own means stocking up on essential desk items. To make your shopping list easier, we’ve come up with nine things every college student should have on their desk in order to get through the rest of the semester.

     1. Stapler and Staples

Here’s a lesson all freshman learn real fast — your teacher will not have a stapler on them, and they will expect you to turn in stapled copies of your twenty-page paper! Come prepared by having a stapler and extra staples at your deskside whenever you need it.

     2. Printer, Paper, and Ink

Sure, you could print at the library, but that’s going to cost you, and there’s no guarantee the library will be open when you need it. A small-sized printer can run you around $30 on sale and ink can be cheap if you subscribe to regular refills.

     3. Pen and Pencils

We love the convenience of a computer, but you have to have a pen on you at all times. There’s no telling when you’ll want to make a quick note or write a letter yourself. And pencils are essential for majors that require a lot of drafting or revisiting of work — such as musicians, artists, engineers, mathematicians, architects, etc.

4. Paperclips

Like staples, you need to keep your paper in order or they’ll become a mess on your desk. And who wants that? With paperclips or larger file clips, attach and go. No fuss, reusable, and cheap to buy — you have no excuses not to have a small supply.

Planner with post it notes and highlighters

5. Sticky Notes or Journals

Sticky notes are great for telling your roommate to pick up more milk or that they need to clean their side of the room. But when you really want to get something out, a journal is a must-have. Check out these school-themed journals if you really want to impress.

6. Stamps and Stationery

Sending a letter may seem so old fashioned, but thank yous written by hand are impressive and classy. Grab a stack of cards, like these vintage university ones, for when the occasion arises. And don’t forget Forever stamps from the post office.

7. Organizer

You’ve got the little things down, but what about where to put it all? An organizer for the tiny desk objects that get all over the place can be a lifesaver — especially when you’ve got five minutes till class starts and you can’t find your favorite pen.

desk lamp illuminating

8. Desk Lamp

Your desk may come with a lamp attachment already, but those industrial bulbs can lead to migraines or poor study habits. Find one that matches your style and has the right kind of light for your work. This dimmable, portable one is the perfect size and look for most college students’ needs.

9. Power Cord

While technically for under the desk, a safe power cord that can support your laptop, printer, chargers, and a lamp cannot be forgotten. Get one that has a surge protector in case of electricity going out.

If you have these nine items, and a few more that we may have missed, you’ll be ready to tackle those study sessions and ace all your exams!

Move-In Checklist for Girls

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College Checklist for Girls

 

College may seem far off in the distance, but the reality is there’s only one year left. That means it’s time to start talking dorm rooms. And of course, figuring out your style and making sure you have the essentials ready to go is an absolute must. This OCM shopping list is the only one you’ll need. Here’s a breakdown of everything that’s on the move-in checklist for girls.

Bedding

Truth be told, dorm beds are kind of miserable no matter where you go to school. It’s almost universal that you’ll need a few things to make your sleeping space comfy. The first is the right kind of bedding. Extra-long sheets, comforter/quilt, and pillows are the basics. But also consider investing in a great mattress pad if you’re worried about a bad back or a thin mattress.

Bath

Communal bathrooms can be intimidating, but they’re a breeze once you’ve got the right gear. Of course, you’ll want your beauty products and favorite shampoos and soaps. We say splurge and get the best to make your shower experience more luxurious. What you really need is a pair or two of flip flops, a shower caddy to carry it all in, and a set of durable towels.

Home Essentials

Colleges do not give their students cleaning services for their rooms — you’re in charge of that. This means you need to stock up on cleaning supplies and gear. Broom or a sweeper are great to have handy, as well as paper towels and some basic sanitizing wipes.

Out of Sight

Small spaces means getting creative with your storage. Under the bed boxes are crucial, as are closet organizers that hang on the door. Trunks are great for being decor, seating, and storage, but you can also consider ottomans with storage built in as an option.

Dorm Cooking

Believe it or not, but you can cook when you’re living in the dorms. Most come with a small, communal kitchenette, and you’ll want a fridge and/or microwave for yourself. That means you’ll also need a few basics — pot, pan, mixing and measuring bowls, containers, mugs, plates, silverware, etc.

Desk Supplies

Keep yourself organized with everything you need — staplers, paperclips, pens, and pencils, together in a sturdy box or desk organizer. You may also want to invest in the must-haves of studying, like highlighters, notecards, notebooks, and other portable items you can take to and from class and study sessions.

Technology

A laptop or at least a tablet with a portable keyboard should be at the top of your list; it’s an essential in the digital age. But don’t miss out on other essentials like a personal printer, a surge protector, extra batteries, and a carrying case. A TV in your dorm is also a great addition that will let you have movie nights or just “veg,” and a pair of noise-canceling headphones will keep you sane if you get a roommate who snores.

Decorating

Now this category is where you can have some fun! Mix in some touches from home (like a favorite throw pillow or a picture of your BFFs) and add in some new, adult items like a potted plant or a gorgeous vintage mirror. The trick is to come up with a theme or particular style and work with it until it feels like home.  

Extra Essentials

Some things don’t fit into categories but are totally necessary. We’re thinking of first aid kits, umbrellas, lockboxes, and other frequently used items. Think about what you use around your house and add it to this category. You may be surprised what you need — and what you can leave behind.

8 Tips For Winning 2018 College Admission Essays

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One of the scariest parts of applying for college is, hands down, the essay section. While you can show off your talents and skills in your actual application, showing who you are as a person in essay form can be much more challenging. If you’re stuck trying to come up with the perfect answer or don’t know what you should or shouldn’t include, here are eight essential tips for writing the perfect college admissions essay.

writing-college-admissions-essay

#1 Proofread

Let’s get this one out of the way right now. The biggest mistake any applicant can make is not proofreading an essay before submitting it. Even if you think you’re the most amazing writer out there and have aced all your high school papers, you need to review what you wrote. The best way to avoid clumsy mistakes is to have someone you trust look it over with a red pen until it’s perfect.

 

#2 Follow All Instructions on Length

Another rookie mistake applicants make is writing too much or too little. And when your essay is in the sea of thousands of others, having the wrong word count stands out in all the wrong ways. Writing too little says you don’t have anything to say. Writing too much  can make you sound pompous.

 

#3 Be Descriptive

Most likely, your writing prompt will be about you. Unlike research papers, you should be as personal and descriptive as you can. Talk about the colors of the ocean the first time you saw it or describe your mom’s face the time you made her proud of you. Don’t be afraid of adjectives.

 

#4 Don’t Over-Write

You want to sound smart, right? Of course! However, you want to avoid saying something in twenty words when it could be said in four. Those big vocab words are great to use as well, but be sure you’re using them correctly and that they fit with the flow and language of the rest of the essay.

 

#5 Avoid Cliched Storytelling

Writing prompts like Describe your biggest challenge can seem easy. But these types of assignments can be deceptive because they lead a lot of uncreative students to write about the same thing! Instead of writing about that project you were stuck on, pick a story that shows off your personality and how that time made you the person you are today. Talk about the topic with your parents or friends till you come up with something that is both unique and that you can write passionately about.

 

#6 Be Funny and Warm

Unless your topic is serious, you can show off your humorous side in an admissions essay. The trick is to balance it right. This is where a friendly editor can give you a second opinion to make sure your jokes or stories are in good taste and fit in with the rest of the piece.

 

#7 Don’t Recycle

It can be really tempting to reuse the essay you wrote for the last college if the prompt is similar, but this would only hurt you. Make sure you personalize your essay for the college, and re-read the prompt’s details over and over again in case you miss a detail you didn’t notice before.

 

#8 Clearly Start and End Your Essay

Ensuring your readers see an introduction, body, and conclusion is one of the most basic rules of writing. In the intro, state the prompt over again in your own words like you would a thesis statement, and then rework it in the conclusion. The body should have paragraphs with at least three sentences in each, and be sure to not only use simple sentences. To make it easier on yourself, trying outlining in order to organize your thoughts concisely.

Starting College Late After Gap Year

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Gap years, a period off between high school and freshman year of college, are becoming more popular in the United States. Even the former President’s daughter, Malia Obama, is currently taking one before starting Harvard next year! This gap can be used to relax and recharge, travel, save up money for tuition, etc. But what happens when your gap year is up and you’re ready to re-start at your college of choice? This advice on how to start college late after gap year will help you feel like you haven’t missed a beat.

 

Ease Into College

It can be tempting for gap year students to try to jump right into college at full-force. Some make the mistake of taking on too much because they feel they need to play “catch-up” with the rest of their age group.

Don’t buy into this! Stop comparing yourself to those who took the normal track. Instead, remember that you’re a freshman too, and no one would advise a freshman to take more credit hours that they need or to enroll in the most advanced class possible. Ease into college with a schedule that matches your academic needs at the time — not what your friends who didn’t take a gap year may be doing.

 

Go to Orientation and Freshman Events

Being a year or two behind may make you the oldest in the class, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Your first-year experience is important, and so is going to all those fun orientation events your college has set up for you. They are valuable for many reasons, but, first and foremost, they are an opportunity to make some friends with peers that will be in the same level classes with you.

Orientation is also great at helping you get around. You’ll learn where the restaurants are, who your academic advisor is, where the best shops are off-campus, etc. Never underestimate the value of orientation, even if it all seems a bit cheesy to you. Attend and learn!

 

Use Your Gap Year to Your Advantage

All colleges and universities are different in how you must declare your major. Many have no problem with you going in as “undecided” for a year or two. Others will need you to declare right away. If that’s the case, then your gap year can help you decide at least where you may want to head.

Think of your break in the real world. Did you really enjoy working in the restaurant business while you saved up tuition? Were there activities that you enjoyed doing every week (or the complete opposite)? Did you pick up any new languages while you traveled or networked with some interesting people during your post-high school internship? Sit down and spend a couple hours (or several days) going through what you loved and didn’t love about your year off. It can really make the difference in showing you where your heart is.

 

Get Support Early On

A year off is unlikely to ruin you academically. If you were a good student before your gap year, you’ll probably remain so when start up school again. You may be rusty on those studying or test taking skills, but a few weeks into classes and you’ll be back to your old self.

However, if you took off time to recharge after a difficult senior year, then it’s important you set up support systems early. Check out your college’s tutoring center. Often, these are free services that help provide you with professional, experienced math teachers, writing experts, and student aids. Teaching Assistants (TA’s) can also be valuable for classes you feel you may struggle in. The important thing is to ask!

Getting the right support, setting yourself up for success, and easing back into college life after gap year can make all the difference!

How to Make the Perfect Fall Semester Class Schedule

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class-schedule-fall-college

Spring is done, and fall is right around the corner. That means it’s time to start thinking about next year’s classes and schedules. With a little bit of prep work and planning, you can easily build a schedule that works for you. These are the steps you need to follow if you want to make the perfect fall class schedule and rock your fall registration.

 

Step One: Check Your Registration Status

All schools do registration differently. Some prioritize seniors, while others do a random pick. You may be required to register in person if you’re a freshman or will be totally on your own if you’re an upperclassman. Most, however, separate students into some kind of group which designates the orders in which you will register.

In many cases, you may qualify for what is frequently called “priority registration.” This designation is to give students who need a leg up on other students a chance to register in the first few rounds. If you think you may qualify, check with your advisor as soon as possible.

 

Step Two: Learn the Rules on Add/Drops

Many schools provide you with the ability to register for a larger amount of classes than you actually need. This allows you to use the time before the drop period ends to see what courses work best for you. In other words, you’ve got a few days to a week to explore what’s out there!

Still, make sure you understand the rules about how to register for classes you may want to drop later. And, be sure to put a reminder in your calendar to drop the classes you decide against before the drop deadline!

 

Step Three: Knock Out Your Requirements First, Electives Last

Most advisors will recommend that you spend your first few semesters in college knocking out your pre-reqs first, especially if you’re not 100% sure about your major. These classes often fill up quickly, so be sure you have learned the schedules of those classes and monitor them if you’re registering near the end so you can snatch up the last seats quickly.

Electives, while important, should be the last thing on your mind. They should fill up the gaps in your schedule and be your most flexible in terms of timing in case you need to swap them out for a more important class.

 

Step Four: Find a Balance

It’s crucial that you know what your classes are like before you enroll. Use sites like ratemyprofessors.com to feel out if you’re in for a ton of work or if the class is one you can float by. You can also request a syllabus from last year’s class if the professor’s been around for a while.

Try to find a good mix of challenging and fun. If the class is too easy or dry, you’ll be bored and disinterested. If it’s overly difficult, you’ll likely drop out or burn out by midterms. Understand your comfort level, and don’t push too hard unless absolutely necessary.

 

Step Five: Double and Triple Check Your Schedule Plans

One of the easiest mistakes to make when it comes to registration is not understanding your required classes! Everyone from seniors to freshman do this, so you really do need to loop in your advisor in if you have any questions or concerns. Have them look over your plan A and plan B schedule and keep an ongoing list of your required courses on hand so that you can review with them if there are questions.

While you may have their help, it is on you to get your registration right. By coming prepared, having a plan, and doing your research, you can make a fall class schedule that’s perfect for you.