Freshman Year is a Time to Reinvent Yourself

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College Freshman

Freshman year of college is like being given a blank slate or a free pass. No one knows who you are or about how you embarrassed yourself that one time in second grade. You’re given a second chance, of sorts, to be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Sound great? It is! Here’s how you can reinvent yourself during your freshman year of college.

Start Journaling or Visioning

Part of being confident is having a sense of self. That’s not easy to restart once you’re eighteen or older. But one way you can prepare is by journaling or visioning who your perfect person is. Maybe she’s smart and sweet, or perhaps he’s funny and outgoing. Whatever it is, start jotting it down.

Not a writer? No problem. Vision boards are the perfect way to see it all on paper without having to put it into words. Grab some magazines or a printer and cut out words, phrases, quotes, images, graphics, etc. that inspire you or remind you of where you want to be. Lay it out in a way that resembles a roadmap for your next year.

Stay Realistic

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will be your new self. You’ll fall back into bad habits, especially if it’s a trait that’s been ingrained in your mind. Very few people decide to be athletic and then go running every morning. You’re not a light switch.

Instead, make incremental changes. And then, reward yourself for when you do well. For example, if you’re trying to be more personable or social, treat yourself to something nice when you make an effort to meet new people or go to an event. Those little rewards pay off.

Change the Outside With the Inside

No, we’re not talking about your looks. We’re talking about the clothes you wear, the look of your bedroom, or the way you rock your makeup. All these little outward things do have an effect on the inside.

When you wear a pair of killer heels, how do you feel? What about when you stay at a luxury hotel room? In both cases, your inside probably feels similar to a rock star. That’s because the setting matters. Surround yourself with things that make you feel like a new person, and you’ll become that new self.

Embrace Your Best Self

Reinventing your total self is probably not going to happen. And plus, you don’t want to lose what truly makes you happy. So decide what you can and can’t get rid of. Instead, find a way to work it into your new personality.

You love playing video games but want to make friends outside that space? Great! Don’t throw out your system yet. Use that love of video games to start a club or make events for other gamers. Teach your new roommates how to play or volunteer with kids and teens.

Remain Positive

We have already mentioned that it takes time to create a new persona. The wait can be the hardest part of your transformation. But, no matter what, you need to keep a positive, forward-thinking attitude.

It won’t be easy, and your change may not be as simple as you think, but if you remain in the right headspace, you can reinvent yourself in time for your freshman year.

How to Last-Minute Prep for the End of the Year

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Woman posing after graduation

The end of the year is coming around, along with all the unavoidable stress. Even if you can put aside finals (which is a big if), the whole situation is already stressful. You’re probably moving out of your dorm or apartment for the summer, and even if you’re not, your friends probably are. How can you best handle all the non-school related stress that comes along with the end of the school year, so that you’re free to stress over finals?

Plan Out Your Living Situation

Hopefully where you’re going to be living is already figured out (if not, get on that ASAP), but you still need to make a plan for the specifics. There are some great sample moving plans online, but you might need to make your own if your situation is unique.

If you’re moving out of the dorms, where are you going to store all your things? Most college towns have storage facilities available, and the university itself probably has some sort of free storage space available. Ask your RA about it! Be aware, though, that space is likely limited, so compact your personal items as much as possible.

If you’re moving out of an apartment, then it gets a lot easier and more complicated at the same time. On one hand, you’ve got some free storage if you’re renting the apartment all through the summer. On the other hand, a lot of college kids only rent their apartments through the school year in order to save some extra money. So then you’ll have a lot of extra stuff that needs to be put somewhere safer than the side of the road.

Decide if it’s even possible to take your stuff back home with you. If not, you’ll have to fork over some cash for a storage unit or ask if you can fill your friends’ garages over the summer.

A lot of students spend the summer at their parents’. If you will be, establish some ground rules with them before you even cross the threshold. Summer can be a strange time because you might not have a lot of responsibilities to keep your busy. Discuss with your parents exactly what they expect from you beforehand before you get pumped for three months of vacation.

Plan Out Your Connections

During the school year, it’s easy to maintain a connection with your friends or significant other, since you all see each other nearly every day. You probably even live with some of them. However, once summer rolls around, it can introduce a different dynamic into your relationships.

Despite all the ways to keep connected long distance these days, young people are more worried about losing relationships than other generations. We have more nightmares about our significant other leaving us and it’s harder than ever to maintain meaningful friendships with the proliferation of social media.

Make sure to put a plan in place with the people you really care about staying close with. We all know life happens, but there’s nothing wrong with promising to exchange emails weekly or Skype usernames. This not only puts the framework in place for your friendship to flourish, but it lets the other person know that you’re interested in maintaining your relationship. If you can, plan a trip together!

These steps can help you stay connected over the summer. You don’t want to come back to school and not know where to pick it up again.

You’re supposed to be focusing on finals, but that can prove impossible when you’re worried about preparing for the end of the semester. Check off these big worries so that you can move on to acing your exams and nailing your presentations. Once your living situation is squared away and your relationships secure, you’ll be ready to knock both of them out of the park.

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.

Planning for The Fall Semester – How to Set Yourself Up for Success

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College Campus on a Sunny Fall Day

You probably think we’re crazy for thinking of the Fall semester this early in the year but being prepared for the next term is never a bad thing. In fact, we think getting yourself set up now is the best way to success. Want to know how we’re getting it done? Here are our top 7 to-do items for planning for the fall semester.

See an Advisor Before Registering

The biggest mistake most college students make is not checking in with an advisor before selecting courses. Why is this so costly? Well, your advisor is the one who can make sure you’re on track to graduate, review your course history, and advise you on which classes meet your goals. Without them, you could make some costly and timely mistakes that will derail your Fall semester.

Register On Schedule

In college, you won’t be reminded to do something a hundred times. It’s up to you stay on schedule and remember important deadlines. The one you def don’t want to forget is when registration is open to you. For larger schools, missing your priority registration period could mean losing out on a seat in a class. For smaller schools, you might get bumped into an undesirable course or with a professor you dislike.

Check Out the Syllabus

Many universities now post their classes syllabi online for prospective students and those looking to register. Having a syllabus in hand can help you better anticipate what’s in store. For example, if a class you want to enroll in has a massive group project due at the end of the term, you may not want to sign up for a club that is going to require a lot of commitment.

College Textbooks

Buy the Books in Advance

Buying early saves you cash on textbooks, especially when you purchase in the late spring or early summer. But you’ll also get to read through the material at your own pace, and that can help you process the information better than late night cram sessions the day before class.

Test Try the Course

If you’re terrified of your Calc class or aren’t sure if you’ll dig Art History, why not try it out now? Colleges often have free access to online courses through services like Udemy or Coursera. With no commitment necessary, you can sign in to browse the modules or watch a lecture. You’ll feel more confident in the courses you’re signing up for, and you may just get ahead on the learning objectives.

Review Your Mistakes

Every school year requires a day of reflection where you think back on everything that went right and went wrong. Make a column for each and jot down everything you can imagine. Grab your grades and review. Do you see patterns? Were you stressed out in the winter near the holidays? Did you skip a ton of classes after your breakup? By laying it out there, you can pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses are and then improve on it next Fall.

Organized School Supplies

Get Organized Early

When we’re school shopping, we often forget the little (but super important) details like extra flash cards or post-it notes. Make a pretend shopping list now of the things you use the most. Then, start stockpiling. You can get great deals on 2018-2019 planners, for example. And school supplies are always cheapest the further out from the Fall you buy them!

With plenty of time left to get organized, review over your mistakes, and preview your courses, you can guarantee a win come your Fall semester!

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!

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.

Stop Being a Summer Zombie!

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We look forward to summer vacation all year, but about halfway through it can get stagnant. Yeah, you’re probably busy meeting all your goals, working a job, and padding that resume. Friends and family fit somewhere in there. But there are plenty of people who spend their summer vacation doing nothing, relishing the time when their biggest concern is determining what to watch on Netflix that day. Whichever camp you fall into, busy bee or couch potato, the fact remains that you’re probably not being as mentally stimulated as you are in the school year.

But during the summer? The brain drain is real. Zoning out every once in awhile is okay, but doing so for such an extended period of time makes you run the risk of becoming a zombie. Furthermore, engaging your mind frequently benefits your future career, as well as your grades, come fall.

So, how do you get the cogs in motion again without writing a term paper on your vacation? Well …

Keep Up on the News

Look, I know it’s complicated. Not only is it difficult to piece together everything happening around the world, but who’re you supposed to trust? That’s ultimately up to you, as everyone will have different political leanings, but try to assess every story’s validity. Read multiple different sources for every story, and you’ll eventually get a feel for which sources are reflecting a viewpoint and which ones are truly reporting the news.

Current events are a great way to keep your gears moving, and you’ll definitely impress your political science professors come fall.

Don’t Neglect Math!

Math is one of, if not the, most hated subjects out there, but it’s generally required at most universities for a good number of majors. If you’ve finished your mathematics requirements, maybe you can ignore this one, but math can be very useful for everyone, no matter your career field.

Understanding statistics helps you understand how the world actually works; knowing how to convert units helps with baking or building; realizing the true effect of percentages can help you understand how student loan interest affects your life after college. Math doesn’t come easy to everyone, but thinking about how math actually affects your life might help you care a little more. Consider any math problem, no matter how simple, like a puzzle to spur your brain on.  If it’s something very important, like your monthly budget or your savings, there’s no shame in using a calculator, but try to do it in your head first.

Have Good Discussions

Just because you don’t have to write a paper on the latest book you read doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t analyze it. Sometimes having a soundboard can reveal illogical assumptions you made — or even lead you to question your original position. Even if books aren’t your thing, you can have valuable discussions about anything: current events, a TV show, trends you notice in your own friend group, football, whatever. Just try to go a little bit below the surface, and it might spur interest in something you never thought about before.

Furthermore, keeping up-to-date on a variety of issues will help you have better conversations. If you’re well-informed on most topics, most people will probably want to talk to you. And who doesn’t want to be known as the smart one?

Organize!

Having a clean space is not just to put your mom at ease. It has actual physical and mental benefits too. It’ll improve your productivity, letting you focus easier instead of slumping back into bed. Being messy might not seem like a big deal to you, but when you consider that this will help you live an all-around healthier life, it’s really a no-brainer.

So whether you need to find space for your clothes or just keep them off the floor, clean your room! Just because you’re a college student doesn’t mean you have to fulfill all the stereotypes.

Keeping mentally sharp is a task that you’ll have for the rest of your life. Eventually, you’ll finish school, and you’ll have to do it completely on your own. Right now, you can rely on classes to expose you to new ideas, but don’t slack off during summer vacation just because you can! As your classmates shake off summer stupidity after returning to class, you’ll wow your professors and feel better than ever.

Five Successful Habits from Incredible Student Leaders

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I have been lucky to work with some incredible students. These students have earned 3.8+ GPAs, been high performers in Student Leadership positions, worked part-time, and made incredible memories. They lived the dream, right? I’ve put together five trends I have seen from the incredible, and if you start applying these you will see incredible results too.

The number one thing incredible students have in common is urgency. Every successful student and successful person for that matter has urgency. They feel like they don’t have time to waste and they never stop growing or learning. It is ok you have to take a class with content you don’t care about, the incredible students understand that they will have to do things they aren’t passionate about in their future job too. Now matters. So if you are in a class where you don’t see a purpose, find a purpose. Why spend any of your time frustrated, bored, or coasting? Be fueled by the desire to achieve.

The second trend of incredible students is that they have an elevated circle of influence. Your friends, the people you spend the most time around, help you determine what is acceptable. That means how much time you study, what grades you pursue, and how hard you work. If you want to increase any of those levels, start elevating your circle of influence. The incredible students I worked with were selective with those they spent time around. Even within their Student Leadership teams, the incredible students still surrounded themselves with others that supported and pushed their levels of effort.

Being an incredible student is no cakewalk. These students were always the busiest that I knew. To operate at that level they had to manage their time and relationships well. Incredible students break down their classes and their time. They know what is coming, what has to be done, and who they need to involve to help them get there. Incredible students build and maintain relationships with their teachers, even the ones in classes that don’t cover their favorite subjects. If you want to be incredible, learn to communicate and organize your time. You only get today once, are you gonna waste it?

To be incredible, you have to know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? The incredible students identify these and then focus only on maximizing their strengths. Use your strengths to boost your performance and figure out how to excel. If you aren’t very organized but communicate really well, then always communicate with your teachers, classmates, and bosses. Increase your level of communication and your relationships will help you stay on top of your responsibilities.

Incredible students live above the opinions of others. These high performing leaders aren’t bothered when people call them nerds, or boring, or a loner. You will never please everyone, so why waste any time worrying about the expectations of others. Live in your own reality, and remember, just because someone says something or you have a negative thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it.

You’ll notice that none of those trends have anything to do with natural talent. Maximizing your strengths doesn’t mean developing new ones, it is identifying what you have instead of worrying about what you don’t. Effort, focus, priorities, and work. That is what will get you there. Which of these trends do you need to work on? How will you adapt these to your situation? Figure it out, start doing, and start being incredible.