How to Prepare for Freshman Orientation in College

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As you ramp up to start the next four years of your life, becoming acquainted with your new environment is important! Freshman orientation is a time for you to become familiar with the sights and sounds of your new home. You can look forward to tons of helpful information, tips, and tricks from faulty and older students, while meeting new friends! Be prepared for all that comes your way with these tips.

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1.   Read Up on the Schedule

Freshman orientation is usually required of incoming students, even those who transfer. Failure to show up or missing an important component could land you in trouble and even prevent you from attending classes. Program the orientation schedule, including any relevant and required event, in your personal calendar and set up reminders or alarms.

On the day of, arrive early to scope out the event and read any materials they may give you. If you have a to-do list (such as getting a student ID picture taken or signing up for a particular course), being first in line will knock out these tasks and will keep you from having to wait.

2.   Sign Up for the Extras

Orientation at most universities is not just about seeing where your classes are and how to get to the bookstore. Instead, events are set up for you to meet other incoming students, learn about the town, and even take supplemental courses that could benefit you down the road.

If you are offered these experiences, take them! They could help you socialize with likeminded friends or get you in good with staff and faculty.

3.   Get to Know Your Professors and Fellow Students

Professors and staff are more than educators and office workers. They can become mentors and advisors, and they may even be able to help you find a great scholarship or offer a job reference. You can learn more about these important individuals by reading their biographies online or looking up their published or publicized works and writings. There are also websites that have college students rate their instructor. While not totally reliable, it may be useful in weeding out personalities.

If you find a professor whose work interests you or who you feel would make a great mentor, use freshman orientation to set up a time to meet. During your get together, introduce yourself, ask questions about the program or their classes, and request further meetings during the school year if you feel the relationship is a good fit. Having an advocate even before school has begun will boost your confidence and ease your transition into classes.

4.   Write Out Questions

Just as you should ask questions to any professor you meet with, you should also come to freshman orientation prepared with a list of things you want answered. Some common questions include:

  • Where can I buy or rent my textbooks (and where can I get them cheaper)?
  • How do I sign up for XXX club/group?
  • What is and is not allowed in my dorm room?
  • When do breaks start and end?

Whatever your question, do not feel intimidated. Whatever you ask is probably on the minds of your fellow students.

5.   Pack a Notetaker

You’ll need a way to write down the answers to your list of questions. Be sure to pack a notebook and pen or a computer/tablet. A folder could also come in handy in case you are given loads of handouts. That way, you will have it all in one place without having to sort through the junk or losing a sheet over the summer break.

Walking through the doors of your freshman orientation can be intimidating. But if you are prepared for the days ahead, you can come out knowing that you are armed with the right knowledge to get you through your first year as a college student.

Have you been to your orientation yet? If so, do you have any tips for newcomers? Let us know!

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Save vs. Splurge: Which Dorm Items Should You Buy?

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Knowing what and what not to pack for your first year in the dorms can be challenging. With limited space in your car and your dorm room, it’s time to cut out the unnecessary stuff and splurge on the essentials. Here are items you can buy on the cheap (or leave behind altogether)—and items you should be willing to spend a few extra dollars on:

Splurge:

1.   Linens and Pillows

There is nothing worse than sleeping on old or low quality linens and pillows. Find a set of dorm bedding that make you feel like a queen or king, splurge on a pillow that will help you fall asleep faster, or select that comforter that will last you all four years. Your body and mind will thank you.

2.   Area Rug

For many college students, an area rug is more than just a sweet décor choice. It’s also a perfect way to keep out chilly drafts, a gathering place to study with friends, and a space divider between roommates. Spend a bit more on one that can withstand stains and heavy foot traffic if you plan to use yours for multiple years.

3.   Wall Art

Your dorm room won’t look like much of a home when you first walk in. White or beige walls, brown furniture, tile floors—your room will need your personal touch if you want it to feel like a space you would actually enjoy living in. Wall art, either DIY or bought, is a great bet. A favorite wall canvas or a motivational poster will certainly help you transition from home to dorm. Consider spending a few extra dollars to have your posters framed in order to maintain their quality throughout the year.

4.   Mattress Protectors

While colleges do their best to provide you with clean and gently-used mattresses, you can still splurge on an additional layer of protection. After all, you never know where that mattress has been in the past. A mattress topper that is waterproof and bedbug proof is an essential item to have. Buy one with memory foam or made out of feather down to help you fall asleep faster and fight against lumpy, uneven springs.

Save:

1.   Television

In years past, the major trend was to go in on a new television with your future roommate. However, new streaming technology has almost obliterated that need. Most college students now watch their favorite shows and movies online on a tablet or PC. Furthermore, many dorms have also outfitted their common spaces with big-screen TVs for students still wanting to watch the big game or host a movie night with their friends.

2.   Printer

While a personal laptop is one of the most essential items you will need to bring with you, the printer can stay at home. Use the convenient and affordable library printer instead. It will save you money on ink and can withstand all of those hundred-page research articles you will inevitably need to print out. However, if you still think a printer is a must-have, consider splitting the cost with a roommate or floormate.

3.   Alarm Clock, Camera, etc.

As a general rule of thumb, if your phone can do it, leave it at home. Bringing all of this extra stuff along with you will just be another item to pack, store, and worry about. Instead, invest in a smartphone that can do it all. As a side note, consider bringing an extra phone charger with you to college, so you can leave one in the dorm room and carry one with you in your backpack.

As you are packing for college, think about the essentials that are important to you. While you may not have much space to store your favorite shoe collection or to display your big screen TV, you should consider splurging on items that will make your space feel more like home.

Do you plan on saving vs. splurging for any of these products? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Sorority Recruitment Tips

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Preparing for sorority recruitment can be a stressful and nerve-racking process, but actual recruitment doesn’t have to be! Recruitment can be a fun and exciting time if you don’t let your negative emotions take over. Here are a few sorority recruitment tips to help get you through your experience and make the most of rush…

Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in It’s noticeable when a girl is fidgeting with the hem of her dress or wobbling in her heels. If you feel good, it will show! Don’t feel pressured to wear something that you normally wouldn’t just to impress.

Realize you’re not the only one who is nervous Some girls that you meet will radiate confidence, but most girls are nervous on the inside, because it is just as important to them that you like their house as it is to you that they want you in it.

Take detailed notes Your leaders will likely advise you of this before you start, but boy did I ignore their advice. Depending on the number of houses at your school, it can be hard to remember every conversation you have at every house. Writing down funbrunette, silly will not help you remember your conversation three days later as much as you thought it would. In order to make your final decision easier, take this tip seriously! Details, details, details.

Be cheery and excited even if that’s not how you feel There’s no doubt about it. The days are long, and by the last house you visit, you are going to be tired of talking. Unfortunately, sometimes your favorites are last, and that means that you still want to show your game face.

Be unique and take initiative Girls ask potential new members the same questions, so make yourself stand out! Don’t be afraid to give a detailed answer or share a story. Talk for a few minutes and be yourself. She’ll be happy not to have to force the conversation with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either! It is a welcomed break.

Stay optimistic Houses that you like may drop you. It happens ALL THE TIME – more often than you would even think. But on that note…

Your first instincts may be wrong The house that you think you are in love with, may not be what you’re making it out to be in your mind. If you give other houses a chance, you may come to realize that your first instincts were wrong. The sorority you thought you loved and that dropped you wasn’t actually the best fit for you.

At the end of the day, just breathe and be yourself. This process can lead to great things and a whole lot of memories. You want it to be an amazing experience! Have more questions about sorority recruitment/ college life? Tweet me @aliinbloom, and I’ll answer them next time!

Tips, Tricks, & Advice: Surviving the First Few Days of Freshman Year

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It goes without saying that your first few days of college are going to be some of the most nerve-wracking, overwhelming, and unbelievably exciting days of your life. It’s a whole new environment, a whole new group of people, and a whole new chapter of your life that you’re about to embark upon. That definitely comes with a lot of pressure! At least that was my experience as a naïve, innocent, (don’t forget 20 pounds lighter) 18-year-old girl.

I vividly remember driving through St. Michael’s College (Colchester, VT) on move-in day back in the fall of 2013. (Yes, it’s been two years already. Yikes.) We parked the car, hauled way too many bins up four flights of stairs, and spent the next couple of hours pushing, pulling, bed-making and bulletin-board-hanging. And before I knew it, I was off on my own…college had officially begun!

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My dad and me in my freshman year dorm room, all moved in!

There’s a solid chance that even amidst all the flyers, pamphlets, and letters that you’ll get in the mail the summer before your freshman year, you won’t find the truly candid, honest, important advice that I wish I’d been given prior to those first few days back in 2013.

So without further ado, here are a few key bits of advice that I believe to be essential for those first few pages of your college-life-chapter!

1.) The Unwritten Rule of Roommates

Me and my freshman year roommate, Megan, in our dorm at St. Michael’s! Megan ended up transferring to a different school before our sophomore year, but her new school is close by, and we still keep in touch regularly!

Me and my freshman year roommate, Megan, in our dorm at St. Michael’s! Megan ended up transferring to a different school before our sophomore year, but her new school is close by, and we still keep in touch regularly!

It’s move-in day. You don’t know anyone yet; you don’t know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and most importantly, whom you’ll be going with. Inevitably, there’s already an implied relationship between you and your roommate. It’s more than likely that they’ll be your go-to buddy over the next couple of days when it comes to making a trip to the dining hall, heading across campus for an orientation event, or breaking into a game of Frisbee that’s been started out on the lawn (for the sake of mingling, of course).

That being said, it’s important to branch out beyond your roommate as school progresses, regardless of whether or not they become a close friend (which, by the way, they don’t have to). Of course, that’s not to say you can’t still be close with your roommate, but don’t let them be the only one you’re close to! There’s a whole school of potential friends out there, and it wouldn’t be fair to them or to you to let them pass you by!

2.) Mingle & Participate!

Back at my St. Michael’s orientation weekend, I was shocked that anybody would want to skip out on orientation events. But, of course, there’s always that person that’s too cool for it all. That being said, I can’t stress it enough…don’t be that person!!

There’s nothing more important through those first few days than mingling and participating. So get into it, join in, and have fun! You won’t regret it; plus, you never know…a good friend, a best friend, or even a significant other could be waiting out there to meet you for the first time!

Orientation events are a great way to get out, meet people, and bond with them. And if those bonds become stronger through furthered relationships, what’s the harm in that?!

3.) Get Out and About!

Once you’ve hung around on campus for a couple of days and gotten to know how all of that goes, it’s time to start branching out!

Maybe your school is located in a great college town. (Burlington, Vermont anyone?) Maybe there’s a cool nature trail near campus. Maybe (and by maybe, I mean always) there are undiscovered gems close by waiting to be blessed by your discovery! Whether or not your campus has plenty of great spots to hang out, it’s always a good idea to break out of there and explore. After all, you’ll be living there for the next four years, so that first week of school is as good a time as any to start navigating your new second home!

Additionally, getting a group of people together to go off campus is a great way to move from acquaintances to friends, especially in those first few days when whoever you happen to be sitting next to at an orientation event is an automatic buddy.

Happy explorin’!

The Lake Champlain waterfront in downtown Burlington is a favorite spot of mine. This was one of the first places my boyfriend Jared and I hung out when we started dating early in our freshman year!

The Lake Champlain waterfront in downtown Burlington is a favorite spot of mine. This was one of the first places my boyfriend Jared and I hung out when we started dating early in our freshman year!

 

I hope any and all of you soon-to-be freshmen found my advice helpful, and even more importantly, I hope you can put it to good use once you get to school in the fall! If nothing else, you should be so excited to be embarking on this new journey. I know I was!

I hope you all enjoyed my first post, and be sure to keep up with my oncoming posts every other Tuesday!

Additionally, feel free to follow me on Instagram @claire_cavanaugh, on Twitter @CavanaughClaire, and on my school blog that I write for St. Michael’s College: claireinvermont.blogspot.com

Until next time! 🙂

Your First Year of College Essentials – The Checklist

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Moving into the dorms can be simultaneously exciting and mystifying. Once high school graduation happens, you don’t have many days to prepare for your big transition from home to your own space. You may be wondering what exactly you will need for school, with this checklist, we break down the bare-bones essentials for your first year.

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Class Gear and Technology

While you may feel like you’re a pro at using technology in school, college can present a totally unique challenge. While getting to and from class in high school involves lockers, bells chiming, and teachers to guide you, college will require you to be independent. To make sure you’re prepared for the first lecture, here is the school gear you will need:

School/Desk Supplies

  • Durable, waterproof, and comfortable backpack or larger purse
  • Ample writing utensils, highlighters
  • Notebooks with tear off paper, index cards, and labels/sticky notes
  • Folders for each class
  • Calendar organizer with space to write assignment due dates
  • Paper clips, stapler, rubber bands, and scissors

Technology

  • Desktop, laptop, notebook, or tablet
  • Headphones (noise canceling is an added bonus!)
  • Power chargers, surge protectors, and general batteries
  • Voice recording device for note taking
  • Extra phone charger (you’ll thank us)

Dorm Necessities

Your dorm room will be the place that you not only sleep, but also you will also work, study, eat, and socialize. Think of it as a mini-home all confined to a tiny space. To utilize the limited area, you will need to plan and choose your dorm necessities wisely. Here is how to break it all down:

Linens*

*We recommend bringing at least two sets of all linens in case of spills, laundry days, or just a need for a fresh change over.

  • Extra-long (XL) sized bedding (mattress pad and protector, fitted and flat sheets, and a comforter or quilt)
  • Pillows and pillowcases
  • Bath towels and hand towels
  • Bath mats for shared bathrooms
  • Extra blankets or throw pillows

Storage and Organization

  • Laundry basket or hamper, hangers, clothing trunks
  • Under the bed storage organizer, closet organizer, and/or over the door organizer
  • Desk organizers
  • Trash can

Decor

  • Desk or bedside lamp(s)
  • Dry erase board or cork board
  • Picture frames
  • Poster or art work with sticky hooks or tape to hang wall decor
  • Dorm area rug and/or welcome mat

Dining Goods

  • Pot and pan
  • Bowl, plate, mug (for two)
  • Silverware (for two)
  • Water bottle and/or travel mug
  • Cooking spoon and spatula

Cleaning Items

  • Dish scrubs, towels, and sponges
  • All purpose cleaner, dish soap, and wipes
  • Laundry detergent, stain fighting pen, and dryer sheets
  • Floor cleaner such as a mop and/or small vacuum
  • Trash bags
  • Tissues and paper towels
  • Toilet paper and specific bathroom cleaners if using a shared bathroom

Personal Care Items

Emergencies can strike at any time. From simple cuts and bruises to fashion disasters, being away from the luxury of home can be daunting. Instead, always be prepared with the following items that will ensure you’re safe, pampered, and happy in your new dorm room:

  • First aid kit (bandages, gauze, rubbing alcohol, tweezers, etc.)
  • Aspirin or other pain reliever
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Over-the-counter stomach relievers and cough drops
  • Prescription medication + refills
  • Mini sewing kits
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Umbrella

Daily Toiletries

  • Shower supplies (shampoo, conditioner, soap, moisturizer, razor, shaving cream)
  • Waterproof shower caddy and shower shoes
  • Toothbrush (2), toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash
  • Comb or brush, hair dryer, and hair care products and supplies
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, and mini scissors
  • Makeup and makeup supplies
  • Perfumes, colognes, and deodorants

Knowing the essential items to put on your checklist for college can put you on the right track for move-in day. If possible, check in with friends or roommates before purchasing bigger items that can be shared, like printers. Plus, always review your dorm’s rules on what is and isn’t allowed. Get ready to shop!

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