Summer Before College Series 20: D.I.Y. #4

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Happy Thursday!

It is almost the weekend-you are almost there! It is also the twentieth episode of the “Summer Before College Series”. There is no better way to celebrate than with a fourth D.I.Y. project! This D.I.Y. project will give you step-by-step instructions on how to make what I call the “homesickness” pillow. This pillow will feature pieces of your relationships with your family and friends who cannot be at college with you, so it will be a great cure for homesickness!

What you will need:

  1. White Pillow-You can choose whatever size you want. If you plan to put a lot of items on your pillow, then choose a larger size. Both Target and Wal-Mart have a great selection of plain white pillows.
  2. Fabric Pens- Buy as many colors as you can so that you have a very colorful pillow!
  3. Fabric Glue- Your local craft store should have a great selection of different fabric glue products.
  4. “Pieces” of Your Friends and Family- This could be anything that your friends and family like. For example, my best friends and I love to tie-dye, so we created a t-shirt just for this project. You could also use items such as souvenirs, bracelets, nail polish, sports paraphernalia, etc. Just choose items that are special to your relationships!

Let’s get started!

  1. Lay out your materials. As I have stated in previous D.I.Y. posts, setting out all of your materials beforehand will help you to make sure that you have everything. It also makes everything more accessible.
  2. Draw on your pillow. You could draw absolutely anything on your pillow, so be creative! I decided to have my closest friends and family sign the pillow so that they helped to make my pillow more special. I also put some inside jokes on the pillow as well.
  3. Glue the pieces on the pillow. Glue the pieces wherever they seem to fit. Do not be afraid to have things dangle from the pillow. This will add a new dimension! Also, do not forget to take advantage of the corners!

And, that’s all folks! It is as easy as that! In little to no time at all, you have a unique pillow that will keep you from feeling lonely or homesick at school. This D.I.Y. project also makes a great gift idea! You could make one for your friend and then send it to him/her so that he/she can receive a little bit of you when he/she may need it at school!

Similar to the previous D.I.Y. projects, if you give this pillow a try, make sure to tweet us a picture of it!

Summer Before College Series 19: Differences

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Good morning, bloggers!

I am sure that you have heard many rumors about college and how it is different from high school. I am here to tell you the true differences! High school was a time of transition in your life. You were maturing from that awkward, shy teenager into an intellectual young adult. These years were important in helping you to become who you are today.

College, although much different than high school, is also a transition period. You are transforming into an independent and successful, fully-grown adult. These years are just as important as high school because this is your last “training session” before going off in the real world by yourself.

These two stages of schooling are actually very different. You need to have more distinct expectations for college than you did for high school. Like I said above, although they are both transition periods, their final result is vastly different.

Below, I will list several key differences between high school and college.

  1. More Responsibility. This is probably the most well-known difference. In your college years, you will no longer live with your family. You will learn to live on your own and all of the responsibilities that go along with it: cleaning, cooking, paying bills, etc. Additionally, you will have the responsibility of getting to your classes on time. It is normal for these responsibilities to come slowly since you have been under the care of your parents/guardians for so long. Do not worry, however! They will eventually come to you!
  2. Harder Classes. Your classes will be much harder in college than they were in high school. This must be expected. You will have to study much harder for exams, and you may even have to make weekly appointments with your professors so that you are sure to understand the material.
  3. It Pays To Be A “Teacher’s Pet”. In high school it may not have been “cool” to be considered a “teacher’s pet”, but in college it is very useful. Professors want to see that you are trying to learn in their class. This shows them that you are determined to be successful. Whenever you get the chance to ask or answer a question in class, do it. It will show the professor that you truly care about what he/she is teaching, and it may even lead him/her to write you a letter of recommendation some day!

These are the three key differences between high school and college. Both schooling stages transform you into a new person, but they do it in different ways. Now that you know these three differences, I hope that you will be better prepared for what lies ahead.

Keep in mind that there are more than three differences between the two, but they all can fit into these three categories.

What difference are you most excited for?

Summer Before College Series 18: The Essential Electronics

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Hello again!

Now that you are really into your shopping groove, it is time to start thinking about which electronics you are going to bring with you in the fall. Electronics are a key part of everyday, modern life. Humans simply cannot get enough of the newest forms of technology. Nowadays, you can most likely find a device that will make any job easier. That is why it is crucial to remember to bring the electronics that help you to function.

Below, I have come up with a list of six electronics that I never leave for college without. From my experience, these are the essential electronics:

  1. Laptop. Computers are the most essential electronic. They are the only resource available for students to do all of the following: type notes, write papers, research, and communicate to their professors. In my opinion, they are a true necessity for college. If you cannot afford one, have no fear! Your school will have at least one computer lab where you will have unlimited access to a computer. See, even your school knows how important laptops are for education, and they are happy to provide them in the labs for any student who needs them!
  2. Phone. I highly doubt that any of you will forget this electronic device, seeing that humans seem to be obsessed with it-myself included. Nevertheless, make sure to remember your cell phone! Although laptops help you to communicate via email, cell phones help you to communicate via phone calls. This device will help you to stay connected with your friends and family.
  3. Television and DVD/VHS player. Even though you will be extremely busy with your school work, I would recommend bringing these electronics. It is absolutely fantastic when you have a break from homework or reading for a night, and relaxation is the best way to spend that time. My favorite way to relax is to watch a good movie or television show. If you feel the same way, then do not forget to pack these electronics!
  4. Kindle or Nook. As I said above, when you are granted free time, there is nothing that you will want to do more than relax. If you are not a movie person like me, then bringing your favorite electronic book device would also do the job!
  5. IPod. Sometimes people, like me, need noise to focus on a task such as studying. If you do not like listening to Pandora, iTunes, or YouTube on your laptop, then make sure to bring your iPod when you leave for college! Music will not only help some of you to concentrate, but also to relax and relieve stress!
  6. Coffee maker/hot water heater/Keurig. There are some people that absolutely need their morning cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc. By bringing your own electronic to make it, you will save lots of money, especially if you use it almost every day.

So there it is. The six electronics you should not leave at home. Most of these electronics are items personal to you, but for items #3 and #6, contact your roommate and come up with a plan to share the devices. For example, you could bring the television and your roommate could bring the DVD and/or VHS player. That way, you would not have to pack nearly as many items for college!

Have any electronics that you cannot live without? Tell us about it!

Summer Before College Series 17: D.I.Y. #3

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Happy Friday!

T.G.I.F.! Why not celebrate with another D.I.Y.? For this episode, I would like to teach you the secrets for making a great picture collage for your dorm. Picture collages are a fantastic way to spice up your room! They display your likes, interests, family, and friends. They truly show who you are!

The key to a great picture collage is to capture you. It is best to sit down and make a list of items that do this. The list should be fairly long so that you have enough to cover your board.

Below, I have written out the steps necessary to make the perfect collage. Within each step, I have also revealed secrets to make the project easier and more beautiful.

1. Find and purchase your board. I like to use a bulletin board for this project. Go to your local craft store, Wal-Mart, or Target to get the board. Get a size that you think will be big enough to fit all of your interests and photos. Here is the first secret: I like to get the type of bulletin boards that are connected to white boards. I can use the bulletin board side for the collage and the white board side to write important memos and reminders to myself. Once you have purchased the board, you are ready to start gathering the materials for the project.

2. Gather your items for the board. Like I stated above, you want to make sure to display all of your interests in your room. Choose pictures of the people that you care about most: family, friends, or significant others. Additionally, make sure that you choose items that support your interests: hobbies, favorite movies, favorite shows, favorite colors, favorite animals, favorite actors/actresses, etc. Here is the second secret: cut these items out of magazines and the computer. This will add depth and dimension to your collage.

Secondly, you will need to gather the tacks. Make sure to grab a pack that will have enough tacks to cover your board. I generally grab a pack of 100 tacks. This is plenty!

Finally, you will need items to decorate the frame of the board. Since I am a girl, I like to use gems. I usually go to the craft store for these, and I generally choose whatever brand is on sale. You could also use stickers or 3-D scrapbook art as well. Now you are ready to begin!

3. It is time to assemble! Start by placing your pictures and cut-outs on the board. Secret number three: alternate your pictures with your interests so that you make a cool pattern on your board. Then after you have placed these items on the board, carefully secure them with the tacks. Use enough tacks to make sure that each edge is secured to the board. Finally, decorate the frame of your board. Use crazy glue to help the decorations stay in place all year!

Whenever you get to school, you can either hang your board up on your wall, or you can set it up on your desk and lean it against your wall (the latter placement is ideal for those of you who cannot hang items on your wall next year).

Congratulations! You have created a beautiful masterpiece! I will be back with a new D.I.Y. blog soon! In that meantime, have a great weekend!

Tweet us a picture of your end result!

Summer Before College Series 16: Planners

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Good Morning!

Today, for the sixteenth episode, I would like to discuss one of the best ways to stay organized in your life, not only in college but at home as well. Your college life will be very busy. You will constantly have to study, go to class, and, in some cases, work. It is very hard to keep track of everything that you have to do. That is why I recommend buying a planner. I have used a planner ever since I was forced to in first grade, and, might I say, thank goodness I was. Planners have taught me many things including:

  1. Time Management. With a planner, I have been able to manage my time. Most planners break down the year by month, week, day, and time. This makes it easy to write down every appointment, class, meeting, event, etc. You could also write in study times to ensure you make time to study. Breaking everything down will help you to keep on track.
  2. Organization. Like I said above, most planners are broken into sections. You can write everything down into individual sections, organizing your life. And let me tell you, nothing is better than being organized in college. If you can keep your life organized, it will be easier to keep your studies that way as well.
  3. Responsibility. Just as it is your responsibility to book your own appointments and meetings, it is your responsibility to write them down so that you remember to go. You need to write down everything in your life, especially in college, because you are responsible for yourself. You will no longer have your parents/guardians to take you to your events/appointments.
  4. Commitment. Planners truly teach you the importance of commitment. Since you write everything down, you commit yourself to do something or go to something. It is very important to keep to your commitments, and planners will help you to do that.
  5. Balance My Life. This trait goes hand-in-hand with number one. With a planner, I have been able to make sure that I keep the different aspects of my life balanced. For instance, it has allowed me to equal out my studies, family time, social time, work time, and “me” time. It is very important to keep everything balanced so that you have a healthy, happy life!

Planners are the key to success. Not only do they teach you the traits above, but they also help you to maintain a happy lifestyle!

What is your favorite planner to use? Tweet it at us!

Summer Before College Series 15: Work Study Facts

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Hello again!

Were you planning on working at school in the fall? Were you awarded work study? I am here to give you the five must-know work study facts. For those of you who do not already know, work study is granted by FAFSA and “provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses” (http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/work-study). I have been awarded work study each year and have worked the same on-campus job throughout my career. If you were not awarded work study, do not fret! You can still work to earn some extra cash to help you pay for college! In fact, most work study jobs are just regular on/off-campus jobs.

Below are the five must-know work study facts. They were all based on my personal experiences!

  1. Federal work study is awarded after completing the FAFSA application. If you and your family meet the financial criteria, then you will be granted federal work study. The dollar amount you are awarded will vary on different factors, such as your income, your parent’s income, when you apply, etc.
  2. Like I said above, work study jobs are usually just on/off-campus jobs. Therefore, you could work for any department of your school or any local business that participates in the federal work study program. I work with an on-campus organization where I give tours of the university to prospective students. I work with other work study students as well as regular students, which is very typical of many jobs you will find. If your school’s tour organization involves students, I would definitely recommend asking for a job application. It is a great way to get involved on campus and to gain some extra cash and resume experience.
  3. In your FAFSA reward letter, you are given a dollar amount for the federal work study you are awarded. For example, your letter may say $1,000.00 or $2,000.00. This dollar amount is the most that you can earn in your job for the year. Your boss and your financial aid office will make sure that you do not go over. If you have questions on how to exceed the amount you are awarded (make more money), talk to your financial aid office. They will let you know what you can do to earn some extra money in a way that will not violate your federal work study.
  4. Finding a job at school can be difficult, but if you use the right resources, then you will make it easier for yourself. Two good resources for you are your financial aid office and any career fairs that your school offers at the beginning of the year. The financial aid office will lead you to the correct locations that offer work study, and your school’s career fair will show you how many different jobs you can choose from. Most businesses/departments that go to the fair will advertise for work study so that you know which table to go to.
  5. Once you find a work study job, you are able to keep the same job throughout your entire college career, so it is not necessary to do the job search each year. With that being said, you can also have a different work study job each year. It is really up to you and what you like.

The work study process may seem scary and extremely difficult, but in reality, if you use the right resources, it will be a piece of cake!

Remember: if you were not awarded work study, you can still get a job to help you to pay for college! Also, if you have ANY questions on the work study process whatsoever, ask you financial aid office!

When I was researching for this blog, I used the website: http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/work-study. If you want to learn a little bit more about the process, check it out!

Summer Before College Series 14: The “Bare Necessities”

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Good Morning, Bloggers!

Today I want to talk about the necessities of college. You will probably bring many items with you on your journey to school, but it is important to bring the items that are absolutely necessary to survive. These include items from fashion to toiletries. Just think, what would you do without the items that you use every day?

Keep in mind: the items below are based on my experiences from attending college in Pittsburgh, a place that gets extremely cold and rainy. These essentials are true to almost every location, however, so pay attention!

  1. Everyday Toiletries. Again, think about all of the things that you use every day: toothbrush, brush, makeup, razor, etc. Could you survive at school without them? Probably not. Make sure to pack your everyday items when going to college in the fall.
  2. Rain Boots. No matter where you live, it will occasionally rain. If you are lucky enough to go to school in Pittsburgh, it will rain every day. Nevertheless, nothing is worse than wet feet while walking to class, especially in periods of heavy rain. No matter where you go, I would advise you to invest in a pair of rain boots. You will save your feet!
  3. Umbrella. You will need an umbrella for the reasons listed above in number two, but also to protect your body from getting soaked. Besides wet feet, it is absolutely the worst to have to sit in class, dripping wet. It is also important to keep your bag dry, especially when carrying your computer. Which brings me to…
  4. Computer Charger. You absolutely do not want to forget your computer charger! Your computer does not function like your phone; it is not easy to find a replaceable charger. So, do not forget this at all costs!
  5. Snow Boots. This really only applies to those of you who are going to school in locations that develop colder climates in the winter. Snow boots are great at keeping you from slipping and sliding while walking around campus.
  6. Insurance or Other Important Health Cards. These are absolutely crucial! In case of an emergency or even an illness, you will need to present these cards to medical officials. Not having them would cause immense problems. Make sure that you stick these in your wallet before you go!
  7. Medicine. You take your daily pills for a reason: they are necessary. Therefore, do not forget your medicine at home-specifically your prescriptions. It is easy to go to a store to get your over-the-counter, everyday medicine, but it is harder to get refills of your prescriptions if you leave them at home.

So, those are seven necessities to NOT leave at home. Although you may not think about the things that you use every day, they are important and help to make your daily routine.

Have any other necessities that you cannot live without? Tell us!

Summer Before College Series 13: DIY #2

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Happy Wednesday!

I am back with another edition of my DIY mini-series! This episode will give step-by-step instructions on how to make a personalized and decorative picture frame. Decorations are a key way to personalize your room and to make it more comfortable. That being said, they can get expensive, so whenever you have the opportunity to create them yourself, do it. It will save you tons of money!

The picture frame that I will describe below is extremely easy and will take no more than ten to twenty minutes. Additionally, it can be done in many ways. Just keep your interests and creativity in mind when creating it.

Step 1: Find a picture that you want to have in your dorm room at school. The picture can be of family, friends, or a significant other. Remember that this DIY craft is easy-to-do, so it is possible to do this with all of your loved ones.

Step 2: Go to your local craft store. I tend to use Michaels because they have a wide variety of supplies and always have everything that I need. If you do not have a craft store, Wal-Mart or Target will work just as well.

Step 3: Pick out the frame. Find the craft store’s wooden frame sets and pick out the one that fits your picture’s size. The set usually comes with the frame itself, a back to help it stand up, and instructions on how to set it up. These are crafting frames, not typical wooden picture frames.

Step 4: Pick out your paint. Go to the puffy paint section. Puffy paint gives a 3-D look and will help whatever words or symbols you create to stand out. You can also paint the entire frame. If you plan to do so, grab regular paint to do the job. Make sure you pick out the colors that you love!

Step 5: Pick out your accessories. These can be things such as stickers and 3-D scrapbook stick-ons. Pick accessories that describe your relationship with the person/people in the photo with you. For example, my best friends and I love Disney, so their frame is decked out in Disney accessories.

Step 6: Go home and create your frame! I like to use the puffy paint to write my relationship (with the person/people in the picture) on top of the frame. For example, with the picture of my friends, I wrote “friends” at the top of the frame. I also like to draw little symbols, such as hearts and swirls. Then, I like to stick on the accessories and secure them with glue.

Now you have a personalized frame to help you remember your loved ones at school! This easy and fun craft is also a great gift idea, especially for poor college students!

I hope you enjoyed the second DIY episode! I will be back with more soon!

If you give this craft a try, tweet it at us! We would love to see it!

Summer Before College Series 12: Summer Job Search

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Hello again!

Do you plan to work this summer? Have you found that perfect job already? If not, listen up! Summer jobs are extremely important! They help you to earn some extra college spending money and/or some experience to put on your resume. The extra spending money comes in handy when you do your own school/grocery shopping at school. Additionally, building your resume will help you to land your dream job in the future.

Now that you know why it is important to have a summer job, you may wonder how to start the process of finding one. Below, I have listed several tips to help get you started!

  1. Pick a job that benefits you. It is crucial to pick a job that will benefit you in the future. Now that you have completed high school, you really need to start thinking about building you resume. Don’t know what you want to do in life? Pick a job that will allow you to gain writing, speaking, and teamwork experience. No matter your future career, you will always need these skills! Know what you want to do in life? Then pick a job/internship that closely relates to that. You can then show your future employer that you have worked this type of job before and are perfect for their company.
  2. Pick a job that interests you. If at all possible, choose a job that you would want to go to every day. Nothing is worse than having to go to a job that you dread all summer. By choosing a job that interests you, you will have a fun summer and possibly discover the perfect major for you (if you have not done so already)!
  3. Do not pick a job just because your friends are doing it. This is a crucial rule! Sure, it would be fantastic to work with your friends over the summer, especially if you are not going to the same college. But, this should not be the only reason that you choose a job. You really need to consider the two tips above. Jobs should benefit you and interest you, not provide a channel for you to hang out with your friends.

As your job searching continues, remember to keep these three tips in mind. Find the job best for you and your future, not the best job for everyone else. Good luck on the search!

Found the perfect summer job? Tell us about it!

Summer Before College Series 11: Goodbyes Are Easy!

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Mornin’, Bloggers!

Now that you have completed graduation or will experience it soon, your emotions are probably pretty high. You have left the school that you have attended for the last four years, and you soon will leave your family and friends. This is a new chapter in your life’s story. Although this stage in your life is new, it does not mean that you need to start over. Yes, you will make new friends, but you still can keep your old ones. These friends have helped to shape you into who you are today, so it is crucial to hang on to them.

From experience, saying goodbye to family and friends, even if it is just for the school year, can be extremely tough. I cried for an entire day when I had to say goodbye to my friends. My goal is to make saying goodbye easier for you. The summer before college goes faster than you would ever believe, so it is important to begin to think about goodbyes now.

Some tips to help make saying goodbye easier include:

  1. Hanging out with your friends and family as often as you can. Spending time with those closest to you will help you create many memories to take with you. Also, this will trick your mind into thinking that the “goodbye” will not be the last time that you will see your friends/family for the summer. My friends and I spent nearly every day together before college, and when we went to say goodbye, none of us truly believed that we were leaving and found it extremely easy.
  2. Taking lots of pictures! If you take lots of pictures of family and friends, then you can take them to school with you and look at them whenever you feel homesick! You will always have a piece of them with you!
  3. Planning a Skype/telephone schedule. Develop a communication schedule for your family and friends. That way, it will not be as hard to say goodbye, knowing that you will hear or see them again soon!
  4. Planning a visiting schedule with your friends and family. Similar to the last tip, knowing that you will see your loved ones soon, will make saying your goodbyes easier!
  5. Pulling a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Like the book/movie suggests, find something that connects you to your friends/family and share it with them. For example, a few girls from my high school sent one journal around to each member of their group, just as the girls in the movie sent the pants. The girls would record their experiences in the journal and then send it to another member. This helped them to stay connected in a fun way. Additionally, this helped the girls keep their relationship alive, as well as gave them something to look forward to. You could do something similar to this! Just find that one thing that connects you!

Again, saying goodbyes can be tough, but if you plan ahead, it can be a piece of cake!