Making Connections before Starting College

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As a new high school graduate, you feel like you can touch the sky and pull it down all by yourself. In part, that feeling is well placed because you can do more now than ever before with your newly earned high school diploma. However, when you start college in the fall, you’ll quickly see that you’re not invincible and you will need to seek help to stay on top of your game. Making connections before starting college is very important, just as important as buying your books and registering for classes.

Memorize faces, learn names later

When you arrive for orientation, new student training or whatever session new students attend before starting class on your campus, work on memorizing the faces of the student (and older) leaders that you meet. These student leaders are there because they want to help you succeed, so if you see them during your first semester, they won’t mind answering more questions or helping you find a class. Names aren’t as important, because there’s no way you’ll remember it and most people will have nametags on, and faces are much easier. You may think that you’ll never see these people again, but trust me, you will! When I first started at Indiana State University last year, I recognized so many people that I had already met. Even in a crowd, our brains pick out the people we already know.

Ask questions

You’ll hear this many times from leaders on your campus. Ask questions if you have any during new student welcome activities, while registering for classes or just when hanging out. It’s a lot easier to ask then rather than when you’re back home, loading up the car and unsure if something was done or not. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache at move in time if you are prepared and have all your questions answered already!

Be prepared for move in

Speaking of move in, keep in mind that there will be lots of freshman moving in during the same short time period as you. Have anything packed in an organized fashion, listen to the student leaders directing you around campus and keep a positive attitude. Talk to your roommate before getting to campus and make sure you aren’t bring double of everything you will need. It can get to be overwhelming, but it’s also an enjoyable time. Make the most of it!

You have already done a lot to just get accepted and enrolled at your university. Don’t let it all go to waste because you weren’t prepared for what was ahead. Keep those faces you memorized at the very beginning in your brain and seek them out if you ever need help with something. You’re going to have plenty of resources on campus, don’t be afraid to use them! Everyone needs help at some point.

Advice From a Graduate

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Hello everyone! Sorry for my abscence on posts, but I’ve been busy….ready for it….GRADUATING!

I graduated a year early, and I can tell you it went by extremely fast. Even though I plan on going to graduate school in the fall of 2014 for a master’s in higher education, I believe you can’t remake your undergraduate experience. Since I’m now an alumna of my school (whoa), I figure I should impart some advice to those of you who are coming to college for the first time in the fall.

First, don’t panic. So many people are caught up in a ton of questions, such as “What will my major be? Should I play a sport? Do an honors track? Will my roommate like me?” Just take a deep breath and enjoy the process. It’s a wonderful time in your life! Remember how nervous you were about high school? And it turned out fine? See, that’s how college is too.

Don’t feel like you have to plan out everything for the next four years. When I was an orientation leader, so many freshmen were asking me about jobs they can get with their degree and whether or not they should apply to graduate school. My advice? Take it slow! Your undergraduate career is when you find out who you are and sometimes, you change from the person you were when you entered college and the person you graduate as. For example, it took me until one month before my graduation to know that I wanted to go into higher education. Give yourself some time and just do what you love for your major; the rest of your life will fall into place.

Enjoy it! College is an amazing time of your life. You learn about yourself, your dreams and you can literally be anything you want to be. Explore new hobbies and hang out with as any different people as possible. Becoming well-rounded can help you figure out your own identity and where you see yourself fitting in with the world.

Look for more advice from an ol’ graduate! I’ll keep you all very informed this summer.

Five Things To Do When You Get Back Home

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Ahh – the semester has finally come to an end. No more Ramen Noodle recipes or finals to study for. You now have direct access to a fully functional washer and dryer, and- home cooked meals.

Upon moving out of your dorm room and back in with mom and dad for the summer, your mind may be swarming with all of the things you want/need to do over the summer. With all of this new found freedom, where do you start? Here’s a few pointers to get the ball rolling.

1) Do your laundry – I don’t care what you say – there ARE clothes you brought home from college that smell like a 2 week old gym sock. Even if you think they’re “not that dirty” wash your favorite jeans anyways. You don’t want to take the musky smell of your college dorm back into your house. It will sit and give your room a funky odor, as well. Try to wash all of your clothes as soon as you get home so that you don’t leave a pile of dirty mess around your room. Also, washing your clothes right away will give you more of a selection to wear when you go out with your friends you haven’t seen in a long time.

2) Spend time with your parents and family – You may be so excited to run off right away and go see your friends from home, but first try to spend some quality time with dear old mom and dad. They’ve missed you like you wouldn’t believe and most likely want to spend time catching up and hanging out. Go to dinner, watch a movie, cook with your mom and spend time with dad. You’ll really value the time you spend with them because once you go back to school you’ll have to wait for breaks and visits. Also take this time off to go visit family; aunts, cousins, sisters, nephews, etc. You’ll feel so refreshed and happy after seeing everyone you love!

3) Sleep –I hardly need to recommend this one, but it’s a must. You may have gotten used to those hectic schedules at school; 3 hours of sleep, power naps, long nights of studying, etc but those schedules aren’t healthy for your body. You’ve worked hard all semester long to get good grades. Now, it’s time for sleep. Take a few nights of staying home and catching up reading or just resting. Your body will love the rejuvenation and you’ll feel energized and rested.

4) Get a job – Depending on your financial situation or what you’d prefer to do, getting a job or volunteering somewhere could be a great and productive way to spend your summer. Not only will it keep you up and out of the house, but it will give you something to feel good about. Of course, the extra income from a job wouldn’t hurt, either! This way you can have a little extra spending cash without having to ask your parents to fund your upcoming mall or movie trip. Plus, getting a job or volunteering at an organization will look great on your resume!

5) Refresh and restock – Being away at college all semester long means there’s things that have been lost, ripped, stolen, stained, and etc. Take advantage of being at home to save up and stock up on the things you need the most. Need more sweatshirts at school to fight that dorm room draft? Ripped your favorite pair of go-to jeans? Need a new haircut or set of school supplies? Now is the time to organize what you need and get them prepared for when you head back to school. While you’re doing this, make sure you go through all of your belongings at home to filter out anything you don’t wear or use anymore. These can be donated to people who would really enjoy them, while opening up some fresh closet space for you. If you sell your things at a yard sale, you could even make a little profit!

All of these tips – in addition to keeping a clean room and obeying mom and dad’s curfew to avoid trouble, are a great place to start once you move back home. Keeping a productive list of tasks and ideas will keep you out of that ‘home-from-school’ lull and will keep you energized and focused. What other tips do you have? We’d love to hear them!

Going Home Again

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There comes a certain point in every student’s time at school where we think, “I never want to leave this place”. We get so wrapped up in class, friends, parties, and clubs that we forget that in a few short months, summer will arrive. Summer in high school was the best thing that happened all year: summer in college, not so much. As a freshman, I have gotten very used to being on my own. I never have to tell my parents where I’m going for the night or have a certain time that I need to be home by, but that’s all about to change. When I was home for winter break, I got a little taste what this summer is going to be like and to be honest, I am a little nervous as to how I’m going to handle my parents being in my every day life again. Not only that but, will spending all my time with my high school friends feel different? How am I going to stay in touch with my college friends? These are all questions that I have been obsessing over the past few weeks; however, I realized that there are ways to make the transition home easier.

How to deal with your parents:

Your parents love you; so know that they will only continually bother you with questions out of genuine care. It’s inevitable that they will want to know where you are going when you leave the house, so let them know. As annoying as it may be, they have the right to know where you are as long as you are living under their roof and ultimately, it’s not like they’re not going to let you go, they know that you’re technically an adult now. As long as you don’t take advantage of their trust, they will always give it to you.

How to reconnect with your high school friends:

Although you have been texting, calling, and Skyping your closest friends all year, it may be a little weird hanging out with them again when you’ve spent the entire year apart. When I’m talking to a friend from home, I sometimes find it strange when she starts talking about her friends at school and I’m sure she feels the same way when I start talking about my friends at school as well. It’s odd to think that you only used to be friends with each other; however, since you were such good friends before, you will have no problem falling back into your same patterns. Make sure you listen and make an effort to try to understand their lives at school and they will do the same for you.

How to stay in touch with your college friends:

To go from living with these people and seeing them every day to not seeing them at all is a big adjustment. It will be hard to not meet them for dinner every night or talk to them about the boy they tried to set you up with but this all leads to more reasons to road trip! Your college friends live all over and what better way to see them than to take off for the weekend and see where they’re from. Buy a plane or train ticket, save up gas money and go. Looking forward to a planned weekend together will make your summer fly by and before you know it, you’ll be living with them on campus again!

Although right now it may seem like this summer is going to drag on, it won’t. I am starting to realize that the time away from Denison will be good. I can spend time with my family, catch up with my old friends, travel to new places to see new friends and in the end; I know I will be coming back to Granville in the fall.

 

Wait, We Only Have a Month Left?

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It’s already April! When did that happen? I could have sworn that Christmas was just last week. Where did the time go?

Maybe it’s just because I’m a senior, but this month always feels like it flies by. It’s the last month to make things count. Plus, for most of us, it’s the month where professors love to hand out group projects and papers like they’re candy.

So, how do you make this month count without becoming too overwhelmed? I have a few tricks that I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t panic. When you look at all your papers/projects/homework/tests/quizzes, it can seem super overwhelming and may make you want to hide under the covers away from your planner. However, just take a few deep breaths and work on one project at a time. If that doesn’t work for you or if you’re seriously swamped with work, divide out time each day for each item. For example: 2-3 = history paper, 3-4 = study for chemistry, etc. That way, you chip away at everything a little bit at a time, leaving you less burnt-out and happier with your progress.
  2. This is when planners are your friends. Put down every due date that’s coming up on one big calendar. This way, you can have a visual of what needs to be done first and what can wait a few more days. Sometimes, that little two-page paper can get lost when you’re too busy thinking about your massive group ethics project.
  3. Take time to have fun. Whether this is just a short one-hour break or a weekend trip, make sure you still take time to enjoy college. This goes out to a lot of my senior buddies too; for most of us, this is our last month of college, so make sure you’re still having fun and soaking it all in before you go into the big, scary “real world”.

So everyone, go out and enjoy your last month of college, whether it’s the last month of your freshman year or if this is the end of the college road for you. Look for more exciting posts to come!

The Easy Way To An A

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As the final examination period approaches, stress levels on campus are starting to rise-especially for freshmen who have yet to experience it. I, a self-proclaimed “Nervous Nancy”, was extremely jittery for my first set of college finals. I had no idea what to expect or any idea on how to really prepare myself for the unknown. Sure, I had my fair share of finals in high school, but I knew that they would be nothing to the degree of a college final. I decided to try every study/preparation tip in the book: highlighting, organizing, study guides, etc. After many trials, I have found six tips that work for me and will hopefully help you!

1. The first study tip is to turn off all of your electronic devices or anything that you may find to be distracting. I know that it may seem extremely difficult, seeing as college students find it hard to live without these devices, but turning them off can actually help you to get higher grades on your tests. If you find it difficult to stay off of the internet on your computer, unplug your Ethernet chord or disconnect your Wi-Fi connection. This will allow you to focus on your work and not on the internet.
2. The second study tip is to devote at least an hour a day to each class starting two weeks before finals. Allowing yourself to slowly learn your notes will not only help you to stay on track with your studying, but also help you to memorize your notes so that you are extremely prepared for any test.
3. The third study tip is to study while sitting up. Avoid lying in bed at all costs! It is easy to get too comfortable and doze off!
4. The next study tip is to make flash cards. Flash cards not only help you to study for material that you may be struggling with, but they are also good for quick reviews right before the exam. Make sure to bring the flash cards everywhere you go; you never know when you are able to do a fast review. The quick reviews add up, and in no time you will really know the material.
5. The next tip is to organize your notes for all of you different classes. Make sure you have everything you need and then begin sorting them by chronological order. This will help you to determine which terms go with which topics. To save time before finals, try to keep up with this throughout the semester so that you can begin studying right away!
6. The final tip that I have is to highlight or sticky note your notes. This will help you to pick out important topics which usually appear in final examination questions. I personally like the highlighting method. I choose pink for people, yellow for terms, and blue for locations. The different colors help me to keep my terms and topics in separate larger topics that make it easier to study.

These tips, though a bit time consuming, help me to have a structured studying schedule. Because they have been so successful for me, I encourage you to try them if you are looking to find a study plan that will help you to become extremely prepared for any examination!

No Shame: Confessions of a Transfer Student

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So, you’ve made your college decision, you’re living on campus, and everything is going great. Right?

If you answered yes to the question above, congratulations! You have successfully picked the college you’ll spend the next four years at and that is a beautiful thing.

However, if you are like me, and you answered “no”, “not sure”, or “uhhh I have regrets!” to the question, keep reading.

You see previously I had talked about everything that led me to making my college decision. For those of you who missed it, I had a very short list of requirements that my ‘dream school’ must meet.

1) Small campus- I had decided long ago that large campuses just weren’t for me

2) Highly accredited- This was a no brainer, I wanted a degree from a university that would speak for itself.

3) In State- For me, this was especially important, I did not want to get hit with all of those out of state fees!

4) Far away from home- Although this is more of a personal reason, like most newly college bound kids, I wanted my independence and I wanted it now.

With those in mind, I made my choice and all the necessary preparations for my journey. I found a roommate, new friends, and had welcome week to make me feel at home. However, after the fireworks of flare had faded and the campus was back to the normal routine, it didn’t quite feel the same. My previous visits had all been during these so called “fluff and buff” weekends. In other words, I’d always managed to come exactly when they wanted me to and had only ever experienced the non-stop fun provided to make prospective students want to come. As I settled in to my campus routine, found a job, and made myself more at home, I became increasingly more aware that this was not at all the school for me. Yet, like most freshmen in my position, I denied myself the chance to even look anywhere else. I forced myself to try and enjoy it hoping it would get better but knowing all along that I had no desire and no drive at this school.

First semester came and went and these feelings didn’t change. Yet, I still didn’t tell anyone. I was ashamed. I had made my choice so early I thought admitting I had made the wrong choice would make me look lame weak. As the second semester neared its end and summer break began, I finally found the courage to tell my parents I didn’t want to go back.

And you know what?

They were totally supportive. Yep, that’s right, parents can actually be supportive. See, here’s the thing about parents and their parental brains, they know things. Parents have this extra sense when it comes to their kids and for the most part, it’s normally right on target. Mine, for instance, knew before I even left for school that I wouldn’t be happy, but they let me make my own decisions and find my own way.

So, all you prospective transfer students out there, take my advice:

1)Explore your options: talk to friends, family, and your advisor. Figure out a plan and be willing to allow things to change.

2)Make a change before you let things get out of control: there is nothing worse than doing less than your potential in school only to realize it’s because you weren’t happy.

And most importantly,

3) Allow yourself to realize it’s OK to change your mind, to switch schools, and to find something that really works for you. Being at a school you’re unhappy with is worse than making the call to change your surroundings.

Now, four semesters in to my college career, I have finally settled at a school that truly fits me. I actually ended up at a satellite campus of a bigger university, Indiana University-Kokomo, to be exact. More importantly, I’ve finally learned that I had nothing to be ashamed of . Picking the right school is a ridiculously tough decision and sometimes, the only way to know is to go and test the waters.

 

It’s Spring Break!

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It’s that wonderful time of year when, in the middle of projects and midterms, a whole week of free time suddenly opens up. The birds sing, the flowers bloom and, in some states, the snow melts.

So, you have a whole week of freedom! Your friends want to go roadtrip, your parents want you to fly home, your aunt in Germany wants you to stop by. All of this makes you realize….

You’re on a budget.

Don’t fret! Since this is my third college spring break, I’ve come up with a few things to help you have an awesome spring break without taking a punch to your wallet.

  1. One-day road trips. I know, you’re probably trying to figure out how to get from Texas to New York in one day now. By one-day road trips, I mean road trip within your state. Just Google “Fun things to do in (insert state here)” and bam! Tons of concerts, museums, sights and places pop up! These little mini road trips will keep you from worrying about spending half your savings on gas, food and hotel stays. Plus, you get to discover more about the state that your attending college in.
  2. Budget wisely. If you think $200 will get you through a week-long stay at Cancun, you need this tip. Some people get hyped up about the trip to their destination….but forget to plan on the costs coming back to campus. Friendly apps like Mint will help those of you with smartphones budget out your entire week by subject (food, hotels, entertainment, etc) and will warn you if you go out of your preset amount. Don’t have a smartphone? Just go to mint.com and work on it from any computer.
  3. Pick one thing. Planning on flying to New York to see a concert and then jetting off to California to go the beach before flying back to your hometown to see your parents and then flying back to school…that’s a lot. Pick one destination spot and focus on activities in that area. Don’t drive halfway across a state for one concert and halfway back to get to your hotel; that wastes money. Check out what’s going on in the city you’re heading too. Chances are, there’s a lot of fun events in that one area.

I hope this helps! Happy Spring Break everyone!

Freshmen Orientation Programs: Sign Up Now

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This summer, sometime between all your fun trips to the beach and free time hanging with your friends, make some time to attend a freshman orientation program at your future university.

Why? It’s a great opportunity to get to know some of the students you’ll soon be sharing classrooms and living space with. Plus you’ll get to explore your campus and learn some tips on surviving your freshmen year and succeeding at your college.

1) Sign up Early

Freshmen orientations often have limited spaces available, especially if your school has several orientations over the summer. So, if you’re interested in attending a specific program sign up for it right away, and make sure you schedule it into your calendar.

2) Triple Check the Orientation Topics

Some schools have special themed orientations for different majors, residence halls, and scholarship students. Make sure you don’t accidentally sign up for the wrong program; you’ll have a lot less fun if you wind up attending the transfer student orientation with a bunch of sophomores and juniors.

3) Don’t Bring your Family (Unless it’s a Family-themed Weekend)

Don’t bring Mom, Dad, and your boyfriend to your freshman orientation. This weekend is supposed to be about you and your future classmates. Spend your time talking to other people and getting to know the other students. Don’t just hang with your family.

4) Check out Early Orientation Events

The big, highly anticipated admitted student’s weekend usually doesn’t take place until the beginning of August. So, many schools have programs that begin early in the summer for students who are just interested in getting to know one another. It might be a dinner event or a camping trip, but the early orientations are usually a lot of fun.

5) Take Advantage of your time On-Campus

If you still need to register for classes, set up a meeting with your adviser to plan out your schedule during orientation, go get your photo taken for you student ID, and do anything else you need to do to prepare for the fall semester. You’re on campus, so why waste your time; get ready now.