College Life

Go Greek or Go Home

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greek

The attire called for business professional so imagine my surprise when I walked up in a smart navy dress and black blazer only to find a sea of girls in homecoming style dresses bearing it all. Along with the cleavage show came a strong downpour of rain which would ironically foreshadow what came next. The girls made a canopy of coach umbrellas to safeguard their hair and waited for their Rho Gammas to break the news.

When it was my turn, my Rho Gamma congratulated me on being invited back to the final party of the sorority I was most suited for. I took my card and strode away confidently. As some girls squealed in delight, others silently shed tears as their group leader did their best to comfort them. That’s the thing about sororities: they’re elite societies of women who pick and choose new members based on their own subjective judge of the hopeful applicant’s character and appearance.

Try as they might, not everyone gets in. It doesn’t matter if you have the highest GPA, a history of mission trips and service organizations under your belt or the most money in your back account. Recruitment is like speed dating; both parties have to like each other enough to form a long lasting relationship. You dress up, put on a string of pearls, spritz some Chanel #5 and give it your all. They want to know where you’re from, what your hobbies are, the plans you have for the future as they mentally rate your qualifications.

Let me give you the low down on the different categories of chapter houses. On one side are the traditional, not a hair out of place girls who push indecency under the rug. Let’s call them the Charlotte Yorks of the world. Across the street, you’ve got the polar opposite. These girls lounge around in their PJ’s eating ice cream and don’t mind getting a little dirt under their finger nails. These are the girls whose parents named them Alexandra and Kathryn only so they would shorten it to Alex or Kat. Next door to them are the ultra-feminist girls who believe in leadership and academic excellence or the Hilary Clintons. Catty-cornered to them live the southern belle sisters who know how to kick up their heels and have a good time.  These are the Daisy Mae Dixons. Whichever sisterhood they joined, they did so to befriend girls with a similar mind set as their own.

The intention is not to make people feel subservient, but this is the nature of sorority life. You either sell your soul for a monogrammed tote bag or you end up watching from the sidelines. Many sisters will tell you that they are not the “typical sorority girl”, that they are different and that they do not fall into the stereotypical Elle Woods category, but if the lavaliere fits honey – wear it with pride.  No I’m totally joking.

This article is not meant to disparage sorority members in any way. In fact, there were many young women who I met throughout recruitment that I have the utmost respect for. My Rho Gamma in particular was a gem. When I decided to decline going any further in the recruitment process, my first thought was – I hope I don’t let her down because she is someone that I have grown to look up to over the past few days. Many of the girls I met were extraordinarily passionate about their philanthropies and encouraging me to find a service project I was equally enthused with. I truly think the world of them for that. Others offered me advice on teachers and classes as well as surprised the hell out of me with the difficult majors they chose for themselves. They took the time to spend a couple of hours being my mentor and temporary “Big Sis”. I would really like to continue to build a friendship with these girls despite my non-Greek status. I am happy to say that I have no regrets about rushing and that it truly was a positive experience.

So as the baby Hilarys, Charlottes, Sporty Spices, and Daisies run out to greet their jubilant new sisters in their crisply pressed white dresses, I hope they remember that a few letters of the alphabet do not define them, that they are no better than their peers and that true sisters are selfless.

5 Free Apps to Have on Your Phone

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1. Calm by Calm.com

This app is great to help you de-stress!  Through guided meditation and loads of calming music, this app helps you relieve stress, fall asleep, and relax.  This is a great way to deal with the stress you’ll be under at school.  Whether you’re anxious about a test, midterms, finals week, or overwhelmed by all of your responsibilities, this app can really help you feel calm, focused, and ready to take on the world!

calm

2. Venmo

 Do you ever find it hard to split the bill when you go out to eat with friends or when you buy groceries with your roommates?  Venmo lets you link up your bank account to the app so you can send money directly to someone else without having to worry about taking out cash or splitting up an odd number.  Don’t worry, it’s completely safe and no one can gain access to your account, but you.  You can even set a passcode for the app itself so only you can get onto it!

venmo

3. Your Bank’s Mobile App (This could be PNC, Bank of America, Chase, etc.)

 This will make your life so much easier!  Many of these apps allow you to deposit checks from wherever you are by taking photos of the front and back of the check.  You can also set up transfers, track your activity, and check your balance.  These apps are so convenient and make it so easy to manage your budget.  It really comes in handy when you’re out and about and need to check your balance!

pnc

4. Airline Apps (United, JetBlue, Southwest, etc.)

 If you fly home for breaks or are going on a big spring break trip, these apps are great!  You can book a flight, check the status of a flight, check-in, and get your boarding pass right on your phone with them.  You never have to worry about forgetting or losing your boarding pass because it’s right on your phone!  You just scan the bar code on your mobile boarding pass at security and at the gate and you’re good to go.  These apps also send you notifications of any delays or gate changes.  You can even change your seats and make upgrades through the app.  And if you make an account, you can get rewards for your miles!

airline

5. Google Maps

 If you don’t already have Google Maps on your phone, you should download it ASAP!  It has turn-by-turn GPS directions, gives you the option to choose between public transportation, driving, walking, and biking directions, check traffic, and drop pins to help you find your way back if you’re walking, hiking, or lost!  This app is a lifesaver!

googlemaps

Avoid Your Comfort Zone!

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College is a time for exploration and enlightenment. High school was fun, but
there will be many more opportunities to explore things that you may not have ever
considered before.
Avoid Your Comfort Zone Image 1
Take an interesting elective class: Use electives as a way to explore subjects that you
may not have been exposed to within your major. Try a science class if you’re a
humanities major. If your major is in the liberal arts, try out a math class. Who
knows? You might even find a field you like even better than your current major!

Avoid Your Comfort Zone Image 2

Explore a new extra curricular activity: If you are normally drawn to the arts, try a
new sport! Intramurals are a great way to try out a sport without the stress or
commitment of playing on a college team. Similarly, if you’re usually athletic, try out
something artsy! If you’re not quite ready to hit the stage, many school productions
always need help backstage with painting sets, props, etc.

Getting out of your comfort zone will allow you to make new friends, meet different
kinds of people with different viewpoints, find new things to do, and go places
you’ve never been!

How do you stay out of your comfort zone? Let us know in the comments below!

What a Rush!

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As the days of summer continue to melt away, another fall semester is on the horizon. In a few short weeks college campuses around the country, which have been ghost towns for the past two and a half months, will be bustling with life. And for many freshmen males, this will be the beginning of their fraternal journey to enduring brotherhood and networking as rush usually takes place within the first month of the semester. As you set forth on your excursion, here are a few things to keep in mind:

fraternity 1

Do your research: During rush, fraternity guys turn into car salesmen.One phrase you’ll hear numerous times is, “We’re the absolute best on campus at….” And you can fill that blank with pretty much anything; academics, intramurals, crocheting. If you do your homework however, you can better prepare yourself for the week. General information including philanthropies and history can usually be found on national fraternity websites. Upperclassmen that have been around campus for a year or so can also be a respectable resource as they know the reputations of the various groups and can probably tell you a story or two. Also, the parties and social events that are thrown prior to rush are a great way to observe the group in its natural habitat. I remember being so disappointed in a house I once was excited about when I attended their rush party and the guys in the chapter were not friendly and just downright creepy when it came to interacting with the female party guests. Although I still didn’t know which house I would join, I knew it wouldn’t be that one.

joey with frat bros

Would I REALLY hang out with these guys?: Your fraternity brothers are the guys you’re going to spend the most time with during your tenure as an undergrad. You’ll do all types of things together from falling out of your boat at canoe regatta to camping trips you’ll find yourself horribly unprepared for. Some of these guys may even wind up standing next to you in your wedding one day. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure you are surrounding yourself with guys you actually enjoy being around. Mute the prestige of the fraternity, the awesome parties, the suburb networking and your father and older brothers urging you to “continue the family tradition” and ask yourself one simple question: “If we weren’t in the same fraternity, would I REALLY hang out with these guys?”  Like putting together a puzzle, rush is all about finding the perfect fit.

Fraternity Rush

There is no shame in waiting: Although fall rush is typically the main event, there is also a spring recruitment period as well. And while some people are ready to dive into Greek life immediately, some need a little more time to get acclimated to college life. There is no shame in getting your feet on the ground and waiting until the spring (or even a later year) to join. You may actually be doing a fraternity a favor by waiting as spring rush numbers tend to be low anyway.

rush is over

If it’s not for you, it’s not for you: Websites like TFM usually find humor in shaming non-Greeks. Although I could write a nine part column on all of the benefits of going Greek. The truth is, it’s not for everyone. There are students that never set foot in a fraternity house and they do just as well academically and socially as the chapter president. One of my best friends aren’t Greek and we’ve enjoyed 5 years of marriage just fine.

7 Things To Do When You’re Broke

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Let’s face it, many college students are usually a little short on cash. Not because they don’t work or have money, but because they use their money on important items, like textbooks and food, which could be a bit pricey. Luckily, there are plenty of fun things to do with friends or alone that will cost next to nothing.

Piggie bank

1. Go for a Hike or Walk

Put on those walking shoes and put in those ear buds because this fresh air will make you feel amazing.

2. Have a Picnic

In the mood to dine out but don’t have the money? Having a picnic changings your regular routine, making it feel fresh and exciting, similar to dining out.

3. Meet at the Nearest Coffee Shop

Bring friends and a few dollars for coffee or tea.

4. Read a Book

Visit your school or public library and immerse yourself in a good mystery novel.

5. Rent a movie

Renting a movie only costs a few dollars and if you’re with friends, they can help front the cost. Better yet, if you frequently want to watch movies and TV shows, Netflix is even better than renting.

6. Play a Board Game

If you or a friend has board games, now would be a great time to play them. Not only is it free but you can spend time with another person or with many.

7.  Make Something

DIY projects sometimes require items you no longer use either around your house or in your dorm. Search the internet or your own imagination and create items into something useful again.

If all else fails, catch up on some school work or if your professors have given you an itinerary for the full semester, start completing work for the following week.

Savoring Summer

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Summer

Now that I’ll be a senior in college this year, I look back and realize exactly how precious this time of the year really was. Instead of really taking the time to enjoy my summers, I complained about how hot it was and shut myself in the house indefinitely. Now, I’m here trying to make up for all those squandered days and nights by doing this list of things I’ve found to be effective when trying to savor summer.

Grab a bunch of friends and do something out of your comfort zone.

                     Do something different! If everyone in the group is out of their comfort zone, you’ll all have to rely on each other to make the experience what it is. I’m currently planning a picnic, and looking up cabin rentals and laser tag specials as possible activities for my friends and I!

Grab lunch from different places around town.

Try not to eat at fast food places. You’ll never know what your local town offers if you don’t step out and try. My best friend and I are currently doing this and have been opened to a world of healthy, cheap foodie gems.

GO OUT.

A lot of us can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of “summer jobs”, but when you look back on your summers when you’re older, you’ll be wishing you did a little more of this and a little more of that on the dance floor when you had the chance.

Pool, pool, pool.

It’s hot. Why not? Grab a bunch of friends, tap into your younger days with pool noodles and goggles, and head down Splishy Splashy Way.

Gym.

  I know, I know. You’re like whaaat? While this may seem like an unconventional summer idea, this the only time you’re away from the stress of school that’s usually the cause of added weight gain. Why not try to get your body right before the school year? From personal experience, working out this summer has helped me gain a new sense of confidence… AND I can walk longer distances without sweating out of my shirt which is a total plus.

Stack that paper.

  Now’s the time to really get those hours in (or build up your resume), so you can ball out during the school year without worry!

Listen: I could give you all the ideas in the world, but it’s up to YOU to make your summer! For some of us (like myself) this is the last summer until true adulthood. This may even be your last summer away from your high school friends. It’s time to own the summer before school, or responsibility, snatches it away!

3 Tips for Balancing the Upcoming Fall Semester

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It’s about that time again where the new school year looms dauntingly overhead.  Nearing the end of swimsuits and late night rendezvous in replace of studying and hitting the alarm 3 times before rolling out of bed. Yes, it’s the fall semester and while you’re frantically rushing to class, were helping you retain some of that cool ocean chill all year round. Get your head in the game because it’s going to be a long semester.

1. Get Plenty of Rest

This could be tricky but it’s doable. You’re loaded with midterms or finals and you must study to pass but you’re working or crunched for time. The only likely scenario is to study late into the night, every night with little sleep. If you’re experience is similar, don’t fret. The perfect solution is to start early. In order to get plenty of rest, start studying weeks in advance. The rule of thumb is to study the amount of hours you have a class per week. For instance, if you have a class that meets three hours per week, the allotted amount of time you should spend studying that subject each week is 3 hours.

2. Pick healthy foods

At every college campus, there is an ample amount of convenient food, but choosing the right convenient food matters. Ditch the candy, ready-made pizzas and chips for something more sustaining.  Assorted nuts are packed with healthy fats, minerals and protein to keep you full during those long lectures. It can also help keep you alert if you find yourself drifting. Fruits are also an easy on the go snack filled with brain boosting nutrients that can help curb that sweet tooth we just can’t seem to get rid of. Try eating a banana for the amino acid tryptophan; it has been linkedto aid memory (great for studying).

3.  Hit Your Campus Gym

Hitting the gym is a no brainer for optimum health, but did you know it can actually help achieve higher grades? One study found that students who frequented the gym had higher GPAs than those who did not. Those who work out regularly have better memory, better test scores and tend be better at managing their time. So don’t sweat the upcoming semester; just sweat at the gym!

How to Beat Homesickness Freshmen Year of College

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Homesickness is very common among college freshmen.  For many first year college students it is the first time living away from their families, so missing home is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of!  Here are a few helpful tips for when you find yourself feeling a homesick!

1. Before you move in, make sure to pack something personal that makes you feel more connected to home.  An old stuffed animal, blanket, or an old t-shirt/sweatshirt are all good options.  Having something in your room that makes you feel at home is really comforting.

teddy bear

 2. Find one day a week that works for you and your family for Skype.  Talking on the phone is great, but actually getting to see each other while you’re talking makes a big difference! You can do the same thing with your friends!

skype logo

3. Pack your favorite books and DVDs.  When you start to get a little homesick, getting lost in your favorite book or movie can be really comforting.  Watching your favorite TV show on Netflix is also really helpful.  Weirdly enough, watching or reading something that makes you nostalgic can actually make you feel better when you start to miss home!

hp books

4. Comfort food can also do wonders for homesickness.  When you’re missing home, treat yourself to some ice cream, cookies, mac and cheese, or whatever you love!  Eating something that makes you happy can help you get through it!

 mac and cheese

ice cream

5. Get a small plastic storage box and create a First Aid Kit with all the essentials as well as stocking up on any medication that you typically take when you get sick; things like cold medicine, stuff for nausea, and pain relievers/fever reducers like Tylenol.  When you start to feel a little under the weather, it can make you feel really homesick, so it’s good to be prepared.  The first time you get sick away from home is always the hardest; you’ll really want someone to take care of you, so already having what you need will make things easier!

 

Medicine

 

small storage bin

5 Dorm Decorating Ideas for the Student on a Budget

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College students often don’t have a significant amount of money to spend, which is why the term “broke college student” is so well known.  But, just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your dorm room feel a little bit more like home.  Here are some ideas to help you do that without breaking the bank!

1. Print pictures from Google images, Tumblr, etc. and create wall collages/designs.  Most universities give you a per-semester print quota that most people don’t use up completely.  Take advantage of this opportunity to make your dorm room more festive or homey.  Black and white pictures are classic and go with everything, so you don’t even need to print in color (usually your print quota doesn’t include color printing and if it does, each pages will be worth more for your quota).  Just print out your pictures and get creative

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  (This is the wall collage I made for my room last year!)

 2. Go to the drug store to print personal pictures; it’s usually pretty cheap there!  You can go the collage route and tape them to your wall with clear tape (or sticky tack if you’re worried about the paint on the walls) or go to the dollar store for some cheap frames; you don’t need anything fancy for your dorm room… but remember, frames take up space and your room will likely not be that big.  You can even try getting one giant frame, making a collage to put in it, and use command strips to hang it on your wall!

7-14 photo prints3. If you have a roommate, take a trip to the nearest craft supply place, like Michaels, and make a Saturday or Sunday out of creating your own posters, banners, and other decorations; you’ll be likely to find a lot of cute, cheap decorations that you can make together!  It’s a great way to bond with your roommate and make your room a home away from home.  Find a common ground, whether it is a color scheme, a pattern, or a theme you both like, and run with it!

7-14 DIY flag

(My roommate and I both love Harry Potter so we went with a Gryffindor Scarlet and Gold theme for our room Freshmen year and the above picture is a banner that we made!)

4. Get dry erase boards or small chalkboards and hang them on your door and your walls.  It’s a fun way to get your friends involved with your decorations, so just leave markers or chalk out in your room somewhere so they can write you little messages or drawings!  It’s a nice way to keep changing up your décor a little bit.

7-14 dorm dry erase5. Buy a Plastic Storage Drawer/Cart to maximize your space.  You can even spray paint the cart to go with your color scheme and get stencils to spray paint a pattern or design to really make it pop!  You can buy one of these carts at Walmart, Target, or even order it online and find a great price.  Get really creative!

7-14 painted storage drawer

How To Prepare for Fall Semester in College

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With summer in full swing, it’s difficult to think about returning to school and spending hours in lecture halls. However, there are a few things we can do to take advantage of the summer months in order to stay ahead of the game and be prepared for the upcoming fall semester.

1. Apply for Scholarships

6-13 cap-diploma-moneyMost college students are far too busy worrying about their vacation plans to bother with scholarship applications. This lower competition makes it a bit easier to win scholarships that are offered during the summer months.

2. Find a Job

6-13 bigstock-Waitress-Serving-Food-To-Senio-47117440Use your spare time in the summer to save money from working. Extra earnings can be used for books or to pay on interest on your student loans. Every little bit counts!


3. Intern

6-13 photodune-202599-smart-business-man-with-a-laptop-and-colleagues-at-the-back-mThere are many internship programs offered during the summer. It’s easier to focus on your internship when you don’t also have to commit time to your regular classes.  One simple way to get started is by visiting sites like this one.

4. Register for Classes

6-12 stack of books2The last thing you want to deal with is trying to register for a class for the fall semester only to find it has already been filled. Especially since sometimes certain classes are only offered one semester a year. Avoid all of the inconvenience by registering as early as possible.

How do you stay ahead of the game for upcoming semesters? Let us know in the comments below!