The Nine Things Every College Student Should Have On Their Desk

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Female student taking notes from a book at library.

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

     1. Stapler and Staples

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

     2. Printer, Paper, and Ink

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

     3. Pen and Pencils

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

4. Paperclips

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

Planner with post it notes and highlighters

5. Sticky Notes or Journals

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

6. Stamps and Stationery

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

7. Organizer

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

desk lamp illuminating

8. Desk Lamp

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

9. Power Cord

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

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

Move-In Checklist for Girls

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College Checklist for Girls

 

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

Bedding

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

Bath

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

Home Essentials

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

Out of Sight

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

Dorm Cooking

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

Desk Supplies

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

Technology

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

Decorating

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

Extra Essentials

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

Parents Corner- How Often You Should Check-In

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College Student stressed over textbook

Sending your child off to college can be an emotional time for everyone involved. As a parent, it can be especially hard to get into a routine of not having the student around. Setting boundaries and establishing rituals is important in maintaining healthy relationships with college-aged kids. Here’s how you can determine how often you should check in based on your student’s personality or situation.

The Homesickness Factor

One of the most normal phases of freshman year is going through some periods of homesickness. Even the toughest, adventurous, or independent students may go through this when first moving into dorms. Being in a stressful environment or having a lack of familial support only exaggerates it.

If your child is showing signs of homesickness, it may be tempting to increase your contact or encourage them to come home. However, it can harm the student if you tell them that you miss them, increase your phone calls, or pressure them to visit in order to feel better. Instead, ease back, encourage them to get out, and praise them when they find something new to love about living on their own. Set up weekly calls instead of nightly, and help them book one trip home soon so they have something to look forward to.

The Close-to-Homebody

When we think of living on campus, we think of living more than a few hours away from home. Today, however, many students choose to live in dorms not far from where they grew up which can make it hard to determine how often parents should initiate calls or visits.

For homebodies who frequently visit, making calls short and to-the-point will help establish boundaries. You want the student to be independent (and do their own laundry), so over communicating can make them feel like they’ve never left. And it can encourage them to treat dorm life like they are commuting instead of living on their own.

The Long-Distance Students

One of the trickier parent-student situations is when a child decides to live on campus hours away from parents. In this case, it can be terrifying to ease back and let a student be on their own without checking in often.

In this case, it’s important to be honest and have a conversation early on what your student wants and what you expect in terms of them reaching out to you. Depending on your situation (such as if you’re paying their tuition or not), you may be able to call the shots. But as parents of adults, it’s important to remember that your student may not be on board with daily phone calls and video chats. Instead, ask them what they feel is appropriate and find common ground. Same goes for visits.

The Solo Student 

A student who goes dark can be scary for parents. When you don’t know what they are doing or how they are feeling, it can be difficult to adjust to the new norm. But in many cases, a student wanting space is demonstrating to themselves and you that they are setting boundaries.

Using the same advice for long distance students, open the conversation. Ask them how much is too much when it comes to calls or texts. Ask if they prefer one way of getting a hold of them over the other. Suggest a code word for emergencies or a set day to have a check-in chat. They’ll love that you are respecting their wishes and you’ll feel better having a set routine to follow.

Our Favorite Halloween 2017 Makeup Looks

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Clown with red nose

Your costume is only one part of your Halloween look. Where you should really spend your time is with your makeup. Using what’s already in your makeup bag, you can transform your costume using these awesome tutorials! Which one do you plan on trying this Halloween season?

     1. Basic Pennywise

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9sNJhVyYaA

Everyone’s favorite horror clown is going to be the Halloween costume of the year. Getting the makeup right is essential. This vlogger shows how to get the job done and scare all your friends in the process.

     2. Disney Villians

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJfi2AN_rmY

Being evil never looked so good. With looks from Ursula to the Queen of Hearts, you can get in the spirit by recreating your favorite bad girl looks from childhood movies.

     3. Dark Disney Princess

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K1gLHmC7Bw

If you’re going to go Princess-y, you might as well go dark too. These reimagined princess looks will have you gasping at the site.

     4. Makeup on the Go

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a24nYM3tT8

Minutes to go and no costume? These easy makeup looks are so simple that just about anyone with a makeup brush and a small palette can do in ten minutes or less.

     5. Gothic Twist

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SjGZzyN81M

Witches, pirates, fairies, and other Halloween staples don’t have to be so innocent looking. With a little gothic makeup, you can paint a more sinister picture while still looking fantastic. You might even take some of this makeup advice to your regular look.

     6. Shining Skulls

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVgQV6v_QKY

One of the more classic makeup looks is to get down to the bone. Using shadowing techniques and vibrant colors, this neon skull is a great conversation look. Pair with an all black outfit or glow-in-the-dark costume.

     7. Dollar Bill Lace Skull

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shzxWIoQ7d0

It’s not hard to find skull makeup tutorials to fit your style. But we especially dig this one for the low cost makeup and the attention to details. It’s perfectly pretty and fits just about any outfit.

8. Basic Zombie

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7xQEG1JMKI

Zombie princess. Zombie president. Zombie football player. Zombie… you name it! Zombie-fy your costume with makeup looks that is as easy as it gets.

     9. Emoji Pro

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21otnaBvQ44

You don’t need makeup to look like the “whatever” emoji, but for the smiley faces, you could use some help from a big bottle of yellow and a tiny bit of creativity. This is a great costume idea, but make sure the person wearing the poop emoji knows what he or she is getting into.

10. Retro Girl

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dau67xQ7oA

Vintage is in and so are 1920’s-1960’s characters. Get your pin-up, flapper, and hippy vibe using makeup tutorials that match the era of your costume.

     11. Superheroes

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYiF_0VFVD4

Some of our favorite movie characters are the best ones to recreate in costume. This tutorial breaks down the Gotham ladies — Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman. You can even find pop art and cartoon versions of these looks if you want to get even more artsy with your makeup!

That wraps up our list of favorite Halloween makeup looks. Hopefully, you are inspired to take your costume to the next level. Let us know which look you decide to go with!

Campus Style on a College Budget

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High-end fashion shopping spree

Staying up on fashion trends is one of our top hobbies. But paying for clothes off the runway, at boutiques, or through our favorite designers has us entirely at a loss. How can you be as fabulous as can be when you can’t afford to wear what’s in? We break down 10 ways we’re keeping our style within your budget — spending little (sometimes not even a penny) on the latest trends.

  1. Throw a Closet Party

We grow out of our clothes faster than we like to think. That’s why throwing a closet party with your most fashionable (and closest-in-size) friends is a fast way to find new clothing staples. The rules are simple: bring clothes to exchange and only take the number you brought yourself. Whatever is left over can be donated to a local charity.

     2. Rent Directly

There are a ton of businesses who make bank allowing you to rent high-end designer pieces. The prices can range from $20 to $100, but you’ll get a thousand-dollar (or more) look without anyone knowing it isn’t yours. For those very special occasions, this is one of our go-to options.

hangers found in closets or thrift stores

     3. Go Thrifting

Thrift stores are everywhere — and with good reason. Many of them specialize in designer pieces, specific sizes, and high-quality goods at unbeatable prices. Make an afternoon out of it, and visit a couple to score some great deals! Find one that fits your style, and most importantly your budget.

     4. Re-sell and Profit

Did you know you can sell your old clothes and then use the profits to buy new pieces? Sites like eBay and Polyvore are crazy-addictive, and they make a great side hustle for frugal college fashionistas with a good eye for what’s on trend.

     5. Borrow from a Fashionable Friend

Find your new BFF: Best Fashionable Friend. Your wardrobe will love the updating, even if temporarily, and you can bond over pieces you see in magazines or on your favorite celebrities. It’s a win-win!

clothes organized in a dresser drawer

    6. Build a Capsule with What You Have

Minimalists will tell you that capsule wardrobes are a must. Build a wardrobe with staple pieces that are simple and high quality. Once you check off the pieces you need, then you can use Pinterest and minimalist sites to make hundreds of outfit possibilities!

     7. Check Resale Groups

Facebook and Craigslist are awesome places to find a deal on new clothing. Just be safe about what you buy. Always use cash. Pick up in a public spot, even bring a friend. And do your research on if the piece is real or fake before you purchase.

     8. Become a Clothing Couponer

While extreme couponing for clothes isn’t as easy as it is for groceries, you can get good discounts on clothing when you know where to look. Ebates, for one, gives you cash back for online purchases. Loyalty programs can alert you to exclusive discounts. And don’t forget your college ID! Stores like J. Crew offer a percentage off when you show it at the checkout.

     9. Hit Up Salvation Army and Goodwill

The time it takes to double check for stains and tears is worth it when you can find pieces like gently worn Lululemon for 75 percent off or Kate Spade dress for under $20! Go on discount tag days for even bigger savings.

    10. Make Your Own

Who says you must wear only designers? Recreate your favorite looks by following patterns and buying a used sewing machine. A class, experienced friend, or YouTube tutorial can show you the basics. In no time, you’ll be designing your own wardrobe!

While in college, staying on top of the latest fashion trends is one of the most important things. Spending within your budget can pose some unique challenges. Let this list serve as a starting point for more creative ways to look fashionable and save money!

10 Halloween Costumes You Can Make In Your Dorm Room

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Making your own costume is a must when you’re on budget. But when you’re a college student living in a tiny dorm room with limited crafting resources, making your own Halloween costume can be tricky. We picked out our top ten creative ideas for college-approved costumes to help you pick out your winning look.

     1.Crazy Cat Lady

Bedhead, mixed matched clothes, stuffed cats pinned to your clothes or carried in a purse. That’s all you need to pull off this nightmare costume!

     2. Candy Crush

There are so many food-related DIY ideas out there. Our favorites are a gumball machine (red skirt or pants and taped fuzzy, colored balls to a white t-shirt), pineapple (yellow dress with green, leafy headdress), and can of soda (dress or single colored outfit with your flavor printed across your chest and a tin colored paper plate hat as the cap). So easy and sweet!

     3. Stickfigure

White shirt and pants and black electrical tape lining the body make an instant stick figure. Add string, battery powered lights and you’re the glow-in-the-dark version! Another twist is to be the women’s or men’s bathroom man or woman using cardboard cutouts.

     4. LEGO Piece

A large Amazon box and glued on containers painted in one color makes the perfect lego you can wear around all night. The trick is finding a box big enough!

     5. Fortune Teller

If you’re into the boho look, you can basically take anything in your wardrobe (crazy colored skirt or pants, bright colored top, knit sweater, and oversized headband) and go with it. Bring a crystal ball (glowing bouncy ball works) to tell fortunes all night.

     6. Game Piece

If you have a suit, you can be the Monopoly man with his monocle and fake money. You can DIY a Guess Who piece with a cardboard frame and some inspiration from the real characters. Add Operations cute body parts to nude colored clothing (and don’t forget the red undies). Or, consider buying the Twister mat and DIY-ing a simple dress for the night.

     7. Work of Art

If you’re great with makeup and a fan of fine art, combine your skills and recreate your favorite painting. Some popular choices include the Girl with the Pearl Earring, a Lichtenstein character, or even a Greek statue.

     8. Emoji Characters

A yellow outfit and some cut out facial expressions makes a quick and easy emoji. You can also be the more expressive emojis out there like the boy running or the girl crossing her arms.

     9. Brand Labels

Starbucks lovers can become a cup of whatever they order with a white or brown outfit and the Starbucks logo wrapped around their waist (giant green straw optional). Flannel loving guys with a beard (or a fake one if you have the patience to draw or glue one on) make great Brawny paper towel men. If you’ve got a yellow raincoat and an umbrella, you can become the Morton Salt girl in seconds! Get creative with your pantry items.

     10. Protesting Halloween

Maybe you’re not in the spirit or Halloween isn’t your thing. That’s okay too. Instead of playing along, make the message loud and clear by dressing in another holiday’s outfit instead. Wear an ugly Christmas sweater or a Santa costume. Bring out the Easter bunny baskets and ears. Go all Uncle Sam. It’ll have everyone talking!

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.

Use Your Summer Job to Catapult Your Summer

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“Summertime, go get a job!”

Have you heard that one yet? I remember hearing that from many people when I was in High School. Oddly, it mostly came from people that I rarely saw, didn’t really know what I was doing with my life, and just liked to offer unsolicited advice. I am all about maximizing the time you have during the summer because most don’t. If you do have a job or will find one for the summer, approach it with the right mindset because that is how you will get the most impact.

Your summer job is really for your development. Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be careers. That isn’t what they are meant to be. You’ll find yourself moving out of those types of jobs by maximizing the time you have when you start. Understand that. Your summer job is a foundation step for your career.

Over the summer, you can develop specific skills that will help catapult your career. Accountability, organization, communication, and work, to name a few.

Accountability

Be the best at whatever your responsibilities are. They may seem small or time spent wasted to you, but you are literally getting paid to fulfill these responsibilities, so they mean something to the business you work for. If you are a cashier, never leave a till unbalanced. If you stock shelves, establish an incredible organization system. Take pride in what you do and max it out. Yes, people will tell you to “calm down, slow down, or stop taking it so seriously” but in reality, you aren’t truly focusing only on today, you are trying to build a mentality that will propel your tomorrow. This will help you establish a habit of accountability. That way, when you start classes again in the Fall, or move on to the next job, you are ready to maximize every class and every responsibility you have even when you know it is only short term.

Organization

Starting a new job means you’ll be adjusting your daily schedule around this new role. Start planning your time so that you are never late. Fit in a solid morning routine, get what you need to get done outside of your job, but do not be late. Once you are at work, organize your flow in the way you get things done. Find the best way to work. Try new things, try new ways, improve the process. This is another habit that will give you success in school and later jobs. You’ll know how to change up the way you study or take notes, you’ll know how to take on new projects in later jobs. You’ll be able to get more done.

Communication

No matter the job, you’ll work with people. Maybe it is only the same three that you see and talk to every shift, maybe you consistently meet different people every day. Life is all people. Start practicing the skill of developing relationships with people. Great communication will present you with more opportunities than you ever thought possible. Focus on seeking to understand, help them get what they want, and let them know you appreciate them. This will help you as you later work with classmates and professors, and future people you will interact with in future jobs.

Work

More than anything, you’ve got to get it done! Make sure you are the employee that gets their stuff done. Even though you know this summer job is not forever, don’t waste your time. You’ll waste your time if you drag your feet. You’ll get more out of it when you build your ability to get things done. This mentality and habit will propel you through the rest of school and you will be ready to make some big things happen when you are ready to jump into your career.

Your summer job is more than just having something to do now right? Right. Go get it done. Build yourself into a better human. Start now, and go get it.

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.

Make this the Best Summer Ever

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There is no off-season for champions. Those that max out their success simply move from performance to preparation. Think athletes, musicians, but also you. Students who look at the summer as their off-season miss out on a valuable time to develop themselves. Without the time constraints of going to class and studying, you now have an incredible opportunity to truly invest in yourself.

If you aren’t investing in yourself, you aren’t growing. So you can spend the four-month break between semesters on cruise control, or aggressively make moves. I was a College Athlete and much of my success came from the development I gained in the summer. Hitting the weights and working on technique lead to leaps and bounds of improvement that set me apart from others. When I connected those principles of growth to my professional and leadership development, I saw immediate results. You can spend intentional time investing in yourself during the summer to make you a stronger leader and work on developing specific habits and skills that will help you catapult your career.

I know that students aren’t often taught to work on leadership development while a student. All your focus should only be on your classes alone, right? I am a huge advocate for education and have high goals for myself as well, but your time as a student can go extremely underutilized if you don’t work on your own development in addition to gaining your education. Call it the “other” education, the social and leadership skills you need to know to understand how to use the education you gain in the classroom in the real world. If you do both, you’ll see double the results! A diploma and the leadership capabilities to make an immediate impact in your career.

There are a few ways you can catapult your development during the summer. Start with these:

Recognize Your Values and Goals

If you find yourself with a bit more time on your hands during the summer (and even if you don’t) then you should spend some time identifying what is most important to you. Find your number one priorities. Identify your passions and what you truly want to accomplish in life. You know the questions, students get asked them all the time. What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your major? What are you going to do with that? I remember feeling the social pressure to give a specific job title as an answer to all of these questions, and turns out I didn’t pursue any of them. The first job I had in my career was not even one that I knew existed while in High School. Don’t feel tied down to a job title unless you know that is exactly what you want to do. Instead, make a list of what you want your life to look like 10 years from now. Where do you live? What do you do? Who are you with? Be sure to think big, and review the list often so you can be committed. Those who are interested in a successful life might think about it, but don’t take any action. Those who are committed take action.

Involve the Right People and Resources

I call the people you spend the most time around your Circle of Influence. This Circle is the most influential aspect of your life. The people you spend the most time around will either build you up or break you down. Your friends help you deem what the minimum standard is for everything, how much you study, the food you eat, your habits, and more, it is all impacted by the people you are around. Reflect on the people you spend the most time around and make the decisions that will bring you closer to accomplishing your 10 year plan. If you need to find that social support through social media, so be it. I have networked with many people to help boost up my Circle so that I have higher standards. This Nix Your Limits Leadership Academy was created for this exact reason, you can find out more information here about that opportunity.

It is also important to surround yourself with the resources you need to succeed. That comes in different forms. You can foll0w successful people on social media, but be sure to watch how they do things. Watching how they work and lead is often where the most impactful lessons can be learned. You can also find blogs and podcasts that will provide valuable training and tools. There is plenty out there, you just have to look for it. Start implementing what you learn into your summer job and watch for results.

Strategize to Develop Skills and Habits

Most leadership skills and habits are universally beneficial to everyone. It doesn’t matter what career field you end up in, things like communicating effectively, personal organization, conflict mediation, and personal accountability will always serve you well. Think about people you admire because of what they have accomplished. This doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. Now look at what makes these people successful. What habits do they have? How do they communicate? Use their success as a roadmap of how you can see positive results. Start developing these skills because the earlier you do, the sooner you’ll see results.

Whatever you do end up spending your time doing this summer, be the best that you can. Have the best customer service of any cashier. Be the most organized shift lead of the company. Communicate better than anyone with your boss. Today matters, and if you look for opportunities to grow, and follow through with the action, you’ll find yourself developing the skills that most are waiting until they graduate to start working on.

Execute

If you don’t execute, you don’t get results. It is great to feel motivated, read blog posts, watch YouTube videos, and look up quotes, but unless you do anything about it, you will keep seeing the same old results. Stop wasting your time and take action! Stop only asking yourself what you learned and start asking yourself what you are going to do. Those who take action get what they want. Will you?

You have incredible potential within you. There is no shortage of success. You can set goals, you can audit your circle of influence, you can make lists of habits you need to develop, but until you do something about it, you will never see the results you want. Take action this summer, even though most won’t. Those who do will start living the life of their dreams while everyone else is still out there dreaming.