How to Have a Productive and Fun Summer

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It’s finally summer. And since you know that you only have so many summer vacations left, you’re prioritizing relaxing and reconnecting with friends and family! It’s time to fit in everything that you couldn’t during the school year when you were too busy to even sleep. Now, everything is a little slower paced.

Except, soon enough it’ll be August, and none of your goals will be accomplished. This isn’t to say that you don’t have anything to fill your time now. You probably have a summer job or internship and are visiting old friends. But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of achieving some long-procrastinated goals. The truth is that you can have both, with some careful planning. Summer is the perfect time to have your cake and eat it too. You can read those books you were supposed to in high school (and now realize weren’t just a waste of time), travel somewhere new (so you’ll have something interesting to say to your new roommate), or lose that freshman fifteen (or sophomore 20, we don’t judge).

Write Down Your Goals!

It might seem useless, but writing down your goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them. Writing them down not only shows more commitment than simply envisioning it, but it also ensures that your goals will be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). While it’s easy to think things like, “I should read more this summer,” or “I should work out more during the summer, since I don’t have to get up early,” it’s a lot harder to come up with actionable goals. When you’re writing goals down, you’re forced to confront the fact that your goals aren’t very SMART. Instead, you’re more likely to write down something like, “I will read three novels this summer” or “I will work out five days a week for an hour.”

Perhaps most importantly, this will let you know see whether or not you’re overburdening yourself. If you have a goal list 10 pages long for the summer, this might not be a summer vacation, and that’s a priority too!

Plan Trips Ahead of Time

You’ve only got a couple more weeks until the end of summer, but you’re scheduled to work some extra shifts. That’s okay you’ll make some moolah right before the start of the semester — no problem, right? Until your friends call you about an impromptu camping trip, and you’re stuck between scrambling to get your shifts covered or missing out on one last hoorah with your friends.

It’s a crappy situation and one that too many ill-prepared college kids find themselves in. It’s even worse if you’re only in town for the summer because then the pressure is really on to both make money and spend as much time with friends as possible. It’s much easier if you plan out your trips in advance. Obviously, this can’t be a reality in all circumstances, but you should do with as many summer trips as possible.

Also, planning ahead for trips will let you account for your goals! Everyone accounts for work schedule changes, but keep in mind whatever schedule you have built around your goals as well. Of course, it’s not impossible to stay fit while traveling, and learning a language while traveling can be ideal! However, there might be some goals that you have that are more difficult to do, like making money to pay for tuition. Plans you have for those sort of goals might need to be accelerated when you consider travel plans.

Pad Your Resume

If you don’t have a job or internship, there are other valuable ways to gain experience. You can volunteer for various organizations, write for online magazines, or do online classes. The experience you’re looking for will depend on your niche, but this summer doesn’t have to be completely useless. You can use it to get ahead.

With this step in particular, though, make sure that this is an experience you will enjoy. Summer should be at least somewhat relaxing, and no one wants to start fall semester already burnt out. It’s important to pad your resume with experience, but it’s also important to take a moment to enjoy yourself.

Summer shouldn’t be a productivity wasteland, but deciding how productive you want to be is up to you. Some people see this as a great time to get ahead. Others just need to take a month and reset. However, don’t fall into the trap of getting absolutely nothing done. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing nothing, but accomplishments and experiences will make your summer, not Netflix binging. Focus on the end goals, and you’ll have your best summer yet.

Summer Before College Bucket List

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Well, you’ve graduated high school, and now you’re ready to take on your next phase in life. But before you do, hold up a second! You have all summer to relax and check off these twenty of essential to-dos on your summer-before-college bucket list.

20 Things to Do the Summer Before Freshman Year

  1. Start a Blog

Whether you write one for yourself like a journal or make it public for the world, you’ll want to document your journey starting now with the pre-college jitters and all your plans.

 

  1. Reconnect With Nature

Go dance in the rain, hike in the mountains, or camp on the side of some dirt road. Whatever gets you outside is perfect!

 

  1. Plan a Friend Road Trip

Grab your most adventurous friend, a car that can go the distance, and an awesome playlist, and hit the road for a day or two (or more). It doesn’t even matter where you go.

 

  1. Take a “Fun” Class

We recommend trying a cooking class, picking up pottery lessons, or learning a new language. When it’s just for fun, there’s no pressure!

 

  1. Have Some “Me Time”

Living in a residence hall means you won’t have much time to yourself. That’s why we highly recommend that you go someplace you love and spend a day with just you.

 

  1. Spend Time With Mom and Dad

Mom and dad got you this far. They deserve some love too. Go on vacation with them, suggest bringing back family game night, or listen to their advice on college living.

 

  1. Read a Guilty Pleasure Book

Pretty soon, you’re not going to have many opportunities to read just for fun. If you’re a book nerd, now is the time to get out those bookmarks and library cards and start checking out all the books you’d swore you would someday read.

 

  1. Soak Up Some Sun

Vitamin D is essential, especially if you’re going to be living in a drafty, dark dorm room. Bathe in it now with some regular, safe tanning or make a few trips to the beach with sunscreen in hand.

 

  1. Revamp the Wardrobe

Budget for a day of shopping to get all the latest styles. And don’t forget your college fan gear! You’ll want to get into the school spirit early.

 

  1. Get Your Workout On

While the mornings are cool and the days are warm, take up an activity you can bring with you to college like yoga, dance, or weight lifting.

 

  1. DIY Some Dorm Decor

Spray paint an old lamp, create some personalized picture frames, or make wall hangings that are totally you! Use Pinterest as your guide.

 

  1. Take a Staycation

This is especially important if you’re going away for college. Have you ever wanted to try that hot restaurant everyone raves about? Now may be your last chance to enjoy your hometown.

 

  1. Throw a Fancy Dress Party

A fancy dress party is one where your guests come in costume. We especially love the idea of a party that encourages recycling your prom dress!

 

  1. Do Some Random Acts of Kindness

Volunteering towards a good cause should be on every bucket list. You’ll build that good karma and boost your resume.

 

  1. Pick Up a Relaxing Hobby

Meditate, knit, bake, play guitar, dance. You’ll take these hobbies with you to college where you’ll need a de-stresser.

  1. Do Summer Your Way

Don’t forget about your favorite little things like eating ice cream, playing in the backyard with your dog, or taking walks around your neighborhood. They all matter for the perfect summer!

 

  1. Score Tickets to that Festival

Now’s the time to splurge on that hot music festival. Plus, going with your high school BFF’s can make memories to last your lifetime.

 

  1. Start a Healthy Eating Routine

The Freshman 15 is totally real, so make sure you’ve got healthy meal planning down now. Learn how to do easy cooks or find a few go-to recipes you can recreate in your dorm.

 

  1. Plan Out Your Dorm Room

Shopping for college takes time, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, check out dorm room starter packs that have everything already to go for your first day in the dorms.

 

  1. Do One Epic Thing

We made this list with us in mind, but you’ll want to plan at least one thing (maybe a trip, activity, etc.) that you can remember forever. Do something big and bold to declare that this coming year is your year!

 

Whatever you do this summer, make sure you have no regrets. By making out your own, personalized bucket list, you can be sure you have the best time off ever.

6 Fun & Unique College Tailgating Ideas You’ll Want to Try

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College football season is here, and we are PUMPED! Sure, the game is exciting and we obviously want a big ol’ win for our favorite university, but we’re more thrilled for tailgating season! With tired old ideas, it’s time to spice up tailgating by thinking outside the box. These fun and unique college tailgating ideas are ones you’ll want to try at your next home game.

 

1. Upscale Concrete Picnic

Let’s be honest. Most tailgating parties are just picnics in parking lots. Why not do a literal play on this by breaking out the baskets, blankets, and pillows for a high class affair. Think classy food offerings such as a cheese plate with dried and fresh fruits along with sparkling ciders and juices and soups in old school thermoses. This is perfect for a more feminine twist on the whole parking lot BBQ.

 

2. The Color Game

Get your friends involved by challenging them to bring an item of food or drink that’s in the color of their favorite team. This is definitely difficult for base colors like white and black, but it’s an awesome challenge for DIY or talented cooking friends who are great at experimenting on recipes. Plus, the photos of the spread look amazing!

 

3. Preparing Wisely

One of our favorite socially sourced ideas to make your tailgating spot on is to come prepared with the right equipment packed in the most genius carrier — the tool box. We love the idea of grabbing a vintage tool box, painting it in team colors, and then adding your BBQ and cleaning equipment so that it stays organized. Other genius packing ideas include replacing ice with frozen water bottles in coolers, using large storage tubs to store dirty dishes (or washing them there in the tub itself), and utilizing hanging shoe storage to keep utensils from flying away on windy days.

 

4. Add a Bit of Comfort

If we’ve got any complaints about tailgating — it’s about how uncomfortable it is to either stand for hours or sit in plastic sports chairs. You can DIY chairs by sewing pillows and pillow cases together to fit in the back of a truck or van or covering cardboard, foam, and fabric to fit on top of a cooler to make an extra seat or two. Not a crafter? You can purchase chairs that latch on to backs of trucks and SUVs that may be an awesome investment for regular tailgaters.

 

5. Decorate the Ride

If you attend a large university, finding your car in a sea of others can be a huge problem. One of the easiest solutions is to hang balloons, but even that can be hard to spot. Instead, go all out and pick a theme for each home game and tell your friends they’re looking out for the tiki decorated truck or the van with the giant jungle attached. They’ll love the effort you put into it, and you’ll love having the vehicle that’s the center of attention.

 

6. Kick Off With Games

Tailgating needs more than just chatting about quarterback and recruits. Instead, plan your day to include some extra fun. Of course, there is cornhole and ladder toss, but there are other options such as giant Jenga, DIY mini golf, and ring tosses. You can even expand to other tailgating parties to add scavenger hunts and trivia.

A Freshman’s Guide to Their First Party

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First college party

University of Alabama frat party, UCLA night out in Berkley, Penn State party — or like me — your very first time at the famous Toads in New Haven Connecticut… every college student has something to do on a Thursday through Saturday night. Keep reading for some helpful tips from my first night out that every freshman should definitely listen to.

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1. Clothing:

  • Wear clothes you will be comfy in. My mistake was wearing shoes that were not so comfy! You will be dancing and moving around for hours. Do not wear nice shirts because people will be pushing you throughout the entire night and you don’t want to get it ruined! Also, if you are going to a smaller venue, be careful because it can get very hot in there so it’s smart to have a hair tie on you at all times.

2. Handbag:

  • If you’re like me and don’t want to carry your phone around or stuff your lip gloss in your pocket, I definitely recommend bringing a small bag. I would recommend a cross-body or a small wristlet. I would not bring a big tote bag or a nice Michael Kors handbag to wherever you end up going. If you lose it or something gets spilled on you, you will not be a happy girl leaving the night. Plus, you’re already in tight quarters — don’t be the person taking up extra space on the dancefloor with a big bulky tote bag!

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3. Go with people you know, leave with people you know:

  • No matter how you get there — Ubering, shuttling, taking public transit — I have learned it’s always smart to go and leave with the same people you know. Big city or small town…no matter what, it can be dangerous to leave by yourself. Always have at least one friend with you. Many campuses also offer free door to door shuttles or other safe transportation options at night, which is much safer than walking alone in the nighttime or finding your way to the subway.

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4. …And if you have to break Rule #3, at least be smart about it:

  • If you choose to leave with other people — whether they are an acquaintance from around campus or someone you hit it off with that night — ALWAYS tell your friends where you’re going and who you are going with. Although it might seem awkward, an extra safe measure would be to ask to see their student ID card just to confirm!

5. Bring cash… but not too much:

  • You don’t want to be that girl who brings $80 a night out with her and spends it all. If that happens, you will be broke by the end of your first semester. You should have limits on how much money you are bringing with you that night. It is too dangerous to bring so much cash, so know how much you’re bringing before you go out to hold yourself accountable.

Image via Giphy

6. DON’T give out your number like it is a glass of milk:

  • Be careful who you give your number to. Parties are a great way to meet people (platonically and romantically!), especially in your freshman year. But that doesn’t mean you have to go handing out your number to just anyone and everyone. If someone is giving off bad vibes, don’t feel bad saying no. Another trick is to ask for people to give you their number instead, so the ball is in your court.

7. Enjoy yourself:

  • Be social, make friends, have a good time and enjoy every minute! Stay off your phone and try to have a fabulous time with your new friends you’re making this fall.

9 Great Movie Night Suggestions for a Girls’ Night In

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Hanging out with your friends doesn’t have to mean spending money on a fancy restaurant or heading out to a crowded nightclub or bar. Instead, spend a night enjoying each other’s company with a special girls’ night in.

Of course, no girls’ night in is complete without a great movie or two. Snuggle up with your favorite college blanket and make sure you have room to share with friends.  Use this list of nine classics to find your party’s perfect movie.

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1.   For Friendship: Bridesmaids

Friendship binds and ties some of the strangest connections for life. In the movie Bridesmaids, the characters go through adversity, but end up being closer in the end. Everyone can identify with one of the characters – from the whacky to the serious. This movie is extremely funny too!

2.   For Romance with a Twist: 10 Things I Hate About You

Based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, the main character of Kat is anything but a damsel in distress. She’s feisty, fearless, and in no way trying to snag herself a date to the prom. But when her sister’s boyfriend pays another man to woe Kat into submission, this hilarious romance becomes topsy-turvy.  

3.   For a Sing-Along: Moulin Rouge

“Love is a many splendored thing! Love lifts us up where we belong! All you need is love!” Turn on the subtitles and prepare to group sing your way through one of the most beloved musicals of this century. Mixing snippets of popular music to tell the story of a burlesque actress in decadent, vintage Paris, this movie both tugs at heartstrings and makes them sing.

4.   For Nostalgia: Now and Then

Very few of us actually want to relive the awkwardness of middle school, but with this throwback to the 1970s, you and your friends will learn that some experiences between girlfriends are universal. Plus, this movie features a catchy soundtrack, lots of celebrity cameos (before they got big), and a happy ending for all.

5.   For the Animated: Anything Disney

It’s hard to pick just one Disney animated flick to watch for a girls’ night in. With so many beautiful love stories, fun songs, and gorgeous illustrations, you can pick from Cinderella to Frozen! Or, if you’re up for a challenge, get into the vault and watch some of the less-heralded Disney classics like Oliver & Company, Robin Hood, or The Great Mouse Detective.

6.   For Holiday Inspiration: Love Actually

Christmas may be months away, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about the truly awesome holiday inspired movies. Love Actually is guaranteed to be perfect for a girls’ night in. With romance and comedy and a cast of interesting and deep characters, there is so much to love about this sweet movie.

7.   For Girl Power: Pitch Perfect

College girls doing it for themselves against the boys in an ultimate showdown of… a cappella music? While the type of music may not be your thing, this popular take will win you over with hilarious girl power, kick butt action and catchy arrangements of your favorite modern songs. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson star, guaranteeing it to be comedy gold.

8.   For Epic Viewings: Harry Potter Series

To watch all eight Harry Potter movies, you would need to devote 19 hours to your DVD player. Not such a good idea for a girls’ night in — but it is great for a rainy weekend when there is nothing else to do. It’s an epic challenge well worth the geek-out for mega-fans of this popular series. Plus, you can plan a Harry Potter themed party complete with mischief and mayhem.

9.   For Inspiration: Legally Blonde

College getting tough? Finals dawning on you? Take a lesson from Elle Woods and go after your dreams with headstrong determination and an optimistic attitude. Pink may not be your thing, but everyone can identify with the girl being told she isn’t smart enough or ambitious enough to go after what she truly wants.

Break out the popcorn! Fire up the DVD player! Your girls’ night in is about to turn itself around. With a great movie and a great group of girls, you’re set to have the time of your life. Whether you nerd out on geek favorites or reminisce about growing up with your gal pals, picking from this list of nine great girl-friendly movies is sure to rock your night.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: NACURH 2014

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Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season (if you started singing that song you get my reference), but I love this time of year as well!  It all started in 1987 when I attended my first NACURH conference at Central Michigan University.   It was a blast!  At that time, believe it or not, I was a junior in college and active in my hall government.  I was recruited by the MACURH Director to serve as the regional secretary.  This was long before computers – we addressed paper newsletters by hand and phone calls were the norm vs. texting or e-mail.

I remember running down a hill at NACURH’89 with all of my regional besties lined up to do our roll call dance to Grease Lightning.  I also remember hours of van rides and airport delays anticipating the fun that we were going to have at the conferences.   Fast forward to 2014 and I’m working at OCM preparing for NACURH 2014.  I still anticipate the fun travels that will ensue and now being a NACURH veteran, I look forward to seeing many people that I have met during my time with OCM.

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Now before you think I’m ancient, I share my NACURH history with many friends who have chosen to serve students as a profession, so I’m not the only one with memories of past NACURHs. And, I want to you to know that the adage of “the more things change the more they stay the same” holds true.  There are some cool traditions in NACURH that still exist (some with a twist).  There is still the fun (and drama) that comes with traveling with your schoolmates, co-workers, and friends.  There are the happy travelers who revel in the fact that they are getting to go on a trip. Then, there is the “are we there yet?” traveler who wonders what the heck they signed up for when saying yes to a 14 hour bus ride followed by 3 days of non-stop cheering and extrovert overload.  NACURH continues to provide the excitement of meeting new people, presenting a program, wearing matching outfits 3 days in a row, cheering until you lose your voice, bidding and winning awards, opening ceremonies, roll call, board meetings and the closing banquet.   There have been some tweaks to all of these things – the cheers are more inclusive, the outfits are probably a little cooler, the presentations are much more high tech, and attendees have most likely already met via social media prior to the conference starting.  What hasn’t changed? That feeling you get arriving at the conference knowing that something great is going to happen! 30 years later, I still have that feeling.

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NACURH 2014 is going to be a great experience for everyone involved.  Forming friendships during regional travels and expanding that circle to the national level is one of the highlights.  There’s nothing better than that surge of school pride you have when seeing your logo or mascot on a screen. Not to mention that moment where you hear your school name being announced along with one of your friends who won an award. These unique and special moments continue to be the wonderful moments that NACURH brings year after year.   NACURH provides a time for celebration to honor a successful year while also creating a venue for new leadership opportunities. Students and advisers from across the country get the opportunity to collaborate ways they can continue meeting the needs of the next group of students coming to campus in the short following months.  To me, this is about as close to the holidays as you can get!

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!