Being a Tall Poppy


The Australians have a wonderful term for someone who stands out: “they are a tall poppy”. That phrase brings a vivid visual to mind of an expansive field of bright red and orange poppies swaying in the gentle breeze under the summer sun. And from any vantage point, you can see one or two flowers that have grown well above the rest. The tall poppies. You notice them.

Sometimes it’s an honor to be a tall poppy: you have risen above the crowd. Other times, well, not so much: you attract too much attention and get cut down.

So, for college interviews, is it an advantage or disadvantage to be a tall poppy? That highly depends on you and on the college.

During most college interviews , you want to stand out in a good way: be sharp, be professional, be personable. But don’t stand out because you smell bad, give flip answers, or are disrespectful. Those latter characteristics won’t win you any points. But don’t be afraid to have flair. Dress up a simple skirt and blouse with some funky jewelry or bright scarf that you might have a story about. Did you make them? Acquire them during a trip? Guys can do the same with a colorful shirt or tie. (5) And stand out with amazing answers; don’t try to say what you thing the interviewer wants to hear. Be truthful and speak from the heart. Don’t be afraid to be different.

Because here’s the thing: you need to be who you are during an interview. You shouldn’t pretend to be something you aren’t because if you get accepted under false pretenses, chances are you aren’t going to fit in once you start being true to yourself. If you thrive in an unstructured environment, make sure you check out “unusual” colleges that will fit your profile and needs. If having purple hair and lots of tats makes you happy, find a college that embraces that profile and thrive there. If you love structure and attention to detail, there are colleges that will appeal to you that are focused that way. College is your opportunity to grow, develop, and discover who you will be. Make the most of it and be a tall poppy, in a good way.

Bio: Gail Billingsley is COO of Smart College Visit, a college search and campus visit travel planning site, as well as a freelance marketing and business strategy consultant.


5 Cheap Eats Near University of Pittsburgh


U Pitt Basics

An awesome university set in a fantastically dynamic city the University of Pittsburgh is nestled in Oakland, one of the classic neighborhoods typical to the city of Pittsburgh. The university has a student body of around 25,000 students with 10,000 staff and faculty to support them. Pittsburgh is widely renowned in the world of medicine and the largest hospital in the region, UPMC, is near the university so there are tons of people looking for good food at reasonable prices.

Great Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh is well known for its diverse neighborhoods all around, they make up the basis of a forward moving town with numerous universities and corporations. These neighborhoods are all pretty close together in a town full of bluffs, tunnels and bridges so it’s pretty easy to locate and get to a number of great places to eat. These dining establishments can range from cheap to really expensive, with a wide range of menus so even the pickiest eater can find something to fill them up!

Check These Eateries

Okay, so we have established there are tons of places to grab a bite, including your typical nationwide chains, some of which are better than others. However, these dining places are exclusive to Pittsburgh, holes in the walls and more typical restaurants, all doing a decent job of putting food in front of you at a reasonable cost:


  • Lulus Noodles: this is one of the best known and happening eating locations in the Oakland neighborhood. Good selection, cheap prices make everyone happy.
  • Pamela’s:  go early because they are only open for breakfast and lunch but boy do they excel at those!
  • Union Grill: outstanding location to give you the food you love in huge portions so take your best appetite.
  • Original Hot Dog Shop: you know what they are serving here, great dogs and heaping mounds of fantastic fries!
  • Primanti Brothers: those of you who watch Food Network may be familiar with this place, pretty famous for a special sandwich only they serve.


Alright, there you go, no excuse not to eat well during your time in Pittsburgh! Of course there are many other restaurants to try but if you are a student or traveling on a budget these five are a great place to start!

Nine Questions to Ask your Friends Home from College


No one will be more honest with you than your friends. So, if you’re heading off to college this fall, or preparing to apply to university take advantage of your friends’ knowledge. Track down anyone you know from high school or sports programs that’s in college already and get the inside scoop this summer. You’ll be surprised at how much information your friends have to offer, and they’ll love talking to you about their experiences.

1)What should I expect in the dorms?

Will the dorms be like the movies? Is independence as cool as it seems? Your friends will be able to tell you plenty of stories about their roommates and experiences living in a residence hall.

2)Is college really harder than high school?

We’ve all heard scary stories about college grades and professors, but are they really worse than your Spanish teacher who assigns two essays a week and refuses to let you speak in English, even when you have no idea what’s going on? Your friend will be able to give you a better picture of what college is like, especially if they went to the same high school.

3)What’s the best way to meet people?

Someone who shares your interests (and knows you) might have some great insights on the best way for you to meet people on campus, which will help you settle into your university easier.

4)What’s the food like?

Just remember that not all cafeteria food is made alike, and your university might have way better food than your friend’s school

5)Should I do anything to prepare for college now?

Aside from purchasing all your dorm room essentials, my answer to this question would be a definite no, but your friend might have a different opinion.

6)Do you like college

Make sure you get an explanation for her answer. Also, remember that opinions are shaped by your perception of your experiences. If you head to college with a positive attitude you’ll probably love it more than you will if you expect to be miserable.

7)What advice do you have for me

This is the best question, because it opens the floor for your friend to tell you anything about college. There are probably things that your friend wishes she had known before her freshmen year, and this is a great opportunity for her to share them with you.

8)What activities would you recommend

Did your friend have the time of her life in honors society? Did she find an internship through her membership with the Women in Science and Engineering? (WISE) Ask your friend about opportunities available to you in school and remember the ones that interest you.

9)Do you have any tips for how to live with a roommate?

Your experience will be different from your friends, but it never hurts to get some advice from someone who has lived through the journey you will soon embark on. So get their advice on how to meet your roommate for the first time, and how to deal with the inevitable arguments and issues.

Choosing a Living & Learning Community


Living and Learning Communities give students the best opportunity to make friends and find a home at their new university. If you’re nervous about fitting in or adjusting to the college lifestyle a living community might be perfect to help you make the transition. And if you just want a close group of friends to do stuff with, it’s still perfect for you.

Floor Specific Communities:

In floor specific living communities you’re housed with a group of students who share the same major or interests as you. Every school has their own variety of living communities, and they often change from year to year. Some of the common communities include Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Students in Arts and Sciences. Aside from major specific communities there are also communities that focus on interests such as writing or exploring your new city.

Honors Dorms:

If you’ve been accepted into the honors program, the honors dorms are the best way to spend your freshmen year. Honors students often have access to a variety of programs and benefits that other undergrads don’t have the opportunity to participate in. Living with other students that share those opportunities makes it easier to take advantage of them. Plus honors students are often spoiled with the best dorms on campus. Don’t miss out on it!

Freshman Dorm:

Every college has at least one freshmen dorm. Overloaded with young freshmen, eager to make the most out of their college experience these dorms often become the party dorms. If you’re looking for the traditional college experience, you know, the one Mom and Dad always brag about and you’ve seen in every movie, than the freshmen dorm is the way to go. You will meet a lot of students in these dorms and you will have a lot of opportunities to get involved on campus.

Foreign/Transfer Students:

To help make the transition as smooth as possible, many universities have living communities for both foreign and transfer students. These dorms often have programs set up to help you get to know other students and to explore your new city. So if you’re nervous about the change or you just want some help adjusting this may be perfect for you.

Five Things I wish I’d Known before Freshmen Year


I wish I’d known a lot of things before I set foot on campus. Like the fact that Main building actually has three separate sections (good luck finding that information anywhere) and replacing my student ID would cost me $20. Information like that would have saved me a lot of stress and cash.

However, since I can’t give you all the ins and outs about your university, (find a current student for those tips) here are five more general things I wish I had been made aware of in advance.

1 – Not all of my clothes would fit in my closet

I’d been told that dorm rooms are small, I’d even heard a few humorous tales, but I’d never been in one. Just how small my dorm room was didn’t click until I started unpacking all my clothes and found that 40% of my essentials didn’t fit. My wardrobe was tiny and there was not enough extra space under my bed. It took me hours to sort through all my clothes and send my mom home with the unfortunate (and sincerely missed) cast offs.

2-  Just because I could balance 6 classes in high school doesn’t mean I could do it in college

Classes met almost every day in my high school and we had weeks to get the work done for major projects. College was a different world. My first college course my professor told us that we had to write an essay every single week, starting week one and it spiraled downward from there. Eventually I built up the ability to handle a large course load but I couldn’t make the adjustment quickly enough for my first semester.

3 – First year grades matter the most

It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re in college, especially in your freshmen year, but one bad grade stays with you forever. Don’t mess up in freshmen English and basic math courses because you didn’t put the effort in, those blemishes will mar your GPA forever.

4-Independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to BE

Living on your own means dealing with a lot of responsibility. Sure you get to decorate your own dorm room, but you also have to feed yourself, clean your own dorm, do your own laundry, and manage your own finances. There’s no curfew, but there’s also no one to give you a ride home from the library after a long day of studying. Sometimes I’d really get homesick.

5- The Honors Dorms aren’t just smart kids

The honors students know how to have fun. They’re not a bunch of geeks and nerds that have been cordoned off to the smart dorms. They’re a group of students that know when to have a good time and when to prioritize their homework. The stereotypes developed in high school don’t really follow in college.

Image: Cachinko

Get Excited for College


Congratulations! You’ve made your decision

You finally dropped your first deposit in the mail, and now you have the entire summer to get ready for the fall.

That means you’ve got just a few more weeks of high school to survive, a graduation ceremony, and then 3 months to soak up as much sunshine and fun as you can.

Enjoy the Little Things

As your senior year comes to an end, take some time to immerse yourself in the things you truly enjoy. Don’t waste time worrying about how things will change, just appreciate the things that you do have in your life, such as free time at the pool and hours to spend hanging with your best friends. Change is scary, but heading off to college is one change that you should be truly excited about.

Take a Family Vacation

Spend some time with your family this summer; go away on a few weekend getaways or take a week-long trip somewhere exotic (Mom and Dad might need a little convincing). Your siblings will be the best friends that you ever have, and you should take advantage of the time you have together. Plus a trip will give you plenty of fond memories for your first few weeks in the residence halls.

Get Excited about your Future

In just a few months you’re going to take your first step towards real independence. You’re going to be a college student. Soon you’ll be living in the dorms, studying for your dream career, and experiencing things you’ve never even imagined. You should be excited about what’s coming, and eager to head off to your college campus. You’re taking the first step towards your future.

Plan Ahead

It’s never too early to start getting ready for your move to campus. Start talking to your roommate about color schemes and room designs as soon as you get his or her contact information. And start shopping for all of your dorm essentials, like extra-long twin sheets, right away. The more involved you get in planning your life on campus the more excited and ready you will be.