College Life

Dear Pledge – Candidate – New Guy

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I hope this letter finds you well. At this point, your rush week should be a distant memory. Hopefully you signed a bid at your dream house and are starting to get settled in. By the way, did you have a good time at Pref Night? How nifty was it to have a party thrown in your honor even if one of the older brothers had to find a date for you at the last second. Don’t worry though; by spring formal you should be more acquainted with the fairer sex on campus and thus, capable of securing your own date.

At any rate, as you read this letter through blurry eyes, I just wanted to talk to you for a spell about the upcoming weeks. You see young sire, you are entering into the exciting time called the pledge period. Now I understand if that term sounds foreign to you as I am aware that many forward thinking fraternities now refer to this period as “candidacy”. However, make no mistake; despite the terminology, its all the same concept. Your goal is to prove to the elder members that you are worthy to become a full brother and carry on the tradition of the chapter through initiation.

So  lets get the ugliness out of the way early. You have probably heard a good deal about the dreaded “H word”. There is a reason that many houses have gotten away from using the term “pledge”all together; because it is usually associated with the practice of hazing. And while hazing today is far less severe than it was in say your father’s day, there are still a few knucklehead chapters who insist on sustaining these barbaric rituals. You may be asking yourself, “Why do guys subject themselves to this type of embarrassment and ridicule?”In many cases, people let their desire to initiate blind them from commonsense. Don’t let this be you my friend! If asked to do anything you’re not comfortable with or that may cause you harm, walk! No organization is worth losing a limb or worse, your life. Well, maybe the Illuminati, but the hooded figure in the corner just said that the Illuminati doesn’t even exist, so…..

How about we switch gears and talk about what you SHOULD be doing during this period. For me, my pledge period was similar to the College 101 class the university forced me to take. It was a crash introduction course to the chapter and the fraternity as a whole. It is your pledge/candidate/new member educator’s job to teach you the crucial points of the fraternity. These lessons include, but are not limited, to the fraternity motto, history, key members, Greek alphabet, songs, chants and symbols. Your learning initiatives also need to extend to learning about your future brothers as well. Take the time to learn their names, majors, dreams, aspirations and favorite fraternity moments as you’re bound to hear a bounty of epic tellings. Here’s a tip; just as you do in your normal courses, be sure to take notes as there will be quizzes and probably a final right before initiation.

I think I’ll end this particular letter here as I don’t want to ruin this fun time for you. I’ll leave you with the words that were told to be by my pledge master, Mad Dog, all those years ago:

“The main thing to remember here, is that its all about fun. You could be the best pledge in the world by knowing your history, knowing all the brothers and winning the pledge class president position. You could date a girl in each sorority. Hell, you can even literally bleed the colors of the fraternity. But  if you didn’t have fun…was any of it worth it?”

Sincerely,

YOUR esteemed alumnus, JW.

 P.S. Don’t get caught not wearing your pledge pin!

Pumpkin Spice Everything

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‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice! Whether you find it in your latte, candles, or cupcakes, you’ll find something dunked, sprinkled, or drizzled with pumpkin spice. Here are a few ways to pumpkin spice up your life the DIY way!

 1. Pumpkin Spice Whip Dip

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This yummy fall favorite only requires 4 ingredients! The recipe is super simple and easy so get mixing and prepare to be the life of your next tailgate party!

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Never spend five dollars on a latte again with this super tasty DIY pumpkin spice latte! Get all the yummy taste with fewer calories.

3. Pumpkin Spice Honey Cookies

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Try these super soft and fluffy pumpkin spice honey cookies that will leave you yearning for haunted hayrides, sweaters, and crunching leaves

4. Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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Start your day off right with pumpkin spice pancakes! This healthy recipe is sure to be a yummy treat for a cool, crisp autumn morning.

How do you get your pumpkin spice fix? Let us know in the comments below!

Cheap Eats

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When faced with the financial burden of college tuition and fees, one must stretch their budget elsewhere. There no getting around paying your college fees or textbooks, but you can stretch a dollar (or dollars) in other ways.

1. Chose meals that have a long shelf life.

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If you dorm, this may be especially useful. You may not always have the time to prepare a meal with fresh ingredients and they may spoil before you find that time. In this case, you risk losing your hard earned money. Meals that have a long shelf life are usually canned good, such as soups, certain fruits, vegetables and beans or prepackaged foods such as pasta, instant oatmeal and rice. Also, they are relatively inexpensive, costing no more than a few dollars for each item

2. Pasta, Pasta, and More Pasta

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Not only can you buy a package of pasta for no more than two dollars but you can make a meal out of it to last two or three days. It also falls under the list of non-perishable foods so there’s no worry of spoil before it’s cooked. Pasta can also give you that much needed energy as its high in carbohydrates. Ramen noodles has become a staple in many dorm rooms due to its versility and cheap price tag. A package can cost no more than 50 cents.

3. Quick Pick Me Ups

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Mothers always tell us to eat our fruits and vegetables and we should always follow their advice for they know best. Certain fruits and vegetables are expensive, especially if you may be searching for organic types. Bananas and apples, the loose variety not the bundles, are relatively cheap, readily available and easily consumed on the go. Just make sure it’s washed before consuming. Celery and carrot sticks in a to-go package is usually no more than 3 dollars.

4. Cheap Foods with a Short Shelf Life

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Keep in mind that the body needs a whole array of nutrients in order to sustain itself. With that being said, some foods may need to be consumed that do not have a long shelf life but will be relatively cheap nonetheless. Eggs for protein and versatility in salads or sandwiches, and fresh leafy greens for antioxidant and immune support such as Spinach, can be found for a few dollars per bundle.

Tips to Keep Organized at School

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1. Get a wall calendar.

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You can find a wall calendar with anything you can think of!  Get one to go with your décor, of your favorite animal, or of your favorite TV show… the possibilities are endless!  Once you put up your wall calendar, mark down all the important things: exams, breaks, paper and assignment due dates, advising appointments, career fairs, etc.  This will help you keep track of everything you have going on each month in an orderly and easy way!

2. Pick up some baskets/desk organizers.

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You can use baskets anywhere: on top of your dresser, on shelves, on your nightstand, under your bed, etc.  Use them to organize your school supplies, electronics, chargers, toiletries, hairbrushes and accessories, jewelry, and anything else you’re not sure where to store!  Desk organizers are great for storing pens, pencils, markers, scissors, and other desk essentials!

3. Get a whiteboard and put your upcoming assignments/to do list on it.

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This is a great way to keep track of your weekly assignments, chores, and errands.  Hang it somewhere in your room that you will see it all the time! You can color code by categories for added organization.  And check off things as you get them done, it’s really satisfying to see your list get smaller and smaller!

4. Set alarms/calendar alerts on your phone for important events and appointments.

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If a new event or appointment comes up, put it into your phone’s calendar and set an alert/alarm for it to make sure you don’t forget.  The little reminder can really come in handy and save the day when you’re out and about!  This is a great tool if you make an appointment when you’re not home and can’t immediately write in on your wall calendar or white board.

5. Get a lanyard and/or key chain for your student ID, keys, and other essential cards.

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Keeping your ID and keys in the same place will make things so much easier for you day to day.  You can keep them in your bag or around your neck when you leave so you don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing these very important items.  Eventually you’ll get in the habit of grabbing for your lanyard/keychain and it will become second nature; goodbye to the days of getting locked out of your room or apartment!

Domination of the Nomination

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We have seen the word “nominate” a lot recently on social media. Between dumping ice on our heads to harmlessly posting three things you are positive about today, Facebook and other social media sites have become tools to do good.

            I don’t know about anyone else, but I was personally terrified of getting the notification that would inform me that I had been nominated to pour freezing water on myself. I don’t know if I should say this online (for fear someone out there might actually nominate me) but thankfully, I was never nominated. But, should I be thankful I wasn’t nominated?

            We have all been warned about the dangers that social media holds. People use social media to bully others in ways that didn’t exist, let alone happen, in our parents’ generation. “Be careful what you say online.” “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see.”  “Treat others online the way you want to be treated online.” Social media seems like a scary place with all these warnings.

            But recently, these social media initiatives have taken advantage of the global platform of sites like Facebook and Twitter to try and make the world a better place. We are now doing things like raising awareness for diseases that require research, and greatly improving the proceeds that go to this research. We are creating initiatives that require people to be thankful for what they have and put them in a better mood for the day. We are nominating people to go out and do some random act of kindness they wouldn’t otherwise do. And then, we publicize this to the world, showing the good we, as a global community, can do.

            So, as thankful as I am to not have been doused in ice water, I am excited that our global platforms, that can sometimes cause a lot of harm, can also do a lot of good.

Social Media Done Right

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When you’re feeling #bored, many of us gravitate towards social networks to fill time. With the aid of numerous iDevices, your social networks are never far away. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are fun and easy ways to stay updated on what’s going on with your family and friends (especially once everyone has returned to their respective campuses!), share important events, and even advertise. However, with great technology comes great responsibility and it’s easy to step over the line when it comes to social media. When in doubt, follow a few ground rules to make sure you’re not over-sharing.

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1. Never share personal information

This one is a bit of a no brainer, but it needs to be said. Every now and then an overzealous recent grad will receive their first real paycheck and post a picture of it to their Facebook page. Hashtag face-slap. Anything that has your account number and routing number (aka checks) on it can be used to hack into your bank account. Other tidbits of information that should never be shared are pictures of your driver’s license, credit cards, home address, phone number; anything that can be used against you.

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2. The internet is forever

Once you post something, just remember that you can never “un-post” it. Sure, you can delete a tweet or an image on Instagram or even that Facebook status where you described your boss solely with expletives. But in this age of information, it’s all too easy to screenshot or save any post. So even if you think it’s deleted from cyberspace, anyone could still have proof it existed.

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3. Grandma-proof your posts

As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t be comfortable with your grandmother seeing what you are posting, you might want to think twice before hitting that “post” button. This certainly narrows the field of acceptable posts quite a bit, but just remember that future employers, your professors, college admissions offices, and quite possibly your grandmother will see what you say on social media. Don’t give Nana a heart attack. Don’t be that grandchild.

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4. If you can’t say anything nice…

Just don’t say anything at all. What are we: five year olds or college students? Judging by some of the things we say on social media, it’s hard to tell. We are all old enough to be able to mediate ourselves and learn to respect the opinions and viewpoints of others of others, and with the exception of hate speech, there is nothing wrong with voicing our opinions as well.

 What do you think? Are we sharing too much on our social networking sites? Share you thoughts in the comments below!

5 Healthy Studying Tips

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Studying is probably one of the least exciting tasks in college. But it doesn’t have to be as bad as it seems when you apply these 5 healthy studying tips. These habits can not only help produce higher grades, but can have you understanding the information better. This is a viable trait for applying this knowledge to real world situations.

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1. Take Notes of All Important Aspects in Each Class

The basis of healthy studying starts with what you do in the classroom. In-depth notes will cover all materials that were discussed in class. This will help produce a more well-rounded understanding of the topic at hand. This could get intense so be wary of writer’s cramp.

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2. Make Your Voice Heard in the Classroom

Involving yourself in the material, whether that be open discussion or simply asking questions, gets you to fully engage with the subject at hand. This clears up any confusion you may have before you start studying and provides you with more comprehensive knowledge of the topic.

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3. Use the Textbook

Professors usually do not follow the book word for word. They combine different elements of similar topics that your textbook may highlight. In most cases, the textbook is used a guide or companion to the lesson. But don’t ignore the textbook. It is recommended you purchase it for a reason. Many key concepts from class will be mentioned in the text, even if the examples given are different.

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4. Stay Organized

Nothing is worse for an upcoming exam than notebooks full of different information from a whole array of subjects. You have enough stress; managing your notes and information at the last minute shouldn’t be one of them. Use a notebook, laptop or tablet and section off subjects. If you use a binder or folders, make sure to keep papers together by subject and date only.

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5. Do Not Procrastinate

The worst thing is to study for an exam the day before. Not only will you be scrambling to memorize concepts and formulas, but you may not be able to retain it all. The best possible way to memorize notes and other work would be to study a few hours each week until the exam arrives. Less stress, more sleep, and peace of mind on test day will be one of the benefits of this method.

5 Shows to Watch This Fall

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Now that September is upon us, lots of shows will be returning with new seasons. New episodes of your favorite shows are a great treat to look forward to throughout a stressful semester!  Don’t know where to start?  Here’s a short list of some great shows coming back for all new seasons to help you get started!

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1. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation will be returning for its 7th and final season.  The Emmy and Golden Globe nominated NBC comedy stars Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Rhetta, Nick Offerman, Jim O’Heir, Rashida Jones, and Rob Lowe.  The show centers on the Parks and Recreation department of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana and is in documentary style.  Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who also created the US version of The Office, created the show.

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2. Modern Family

Modern Family returns for its 6th season on September 24th at 9pm on ABC.  The acclaimed comedy series has won several Emmys and Golden Globes for its first five seasons and is consistently well received by critics and audiences alike.  The show stars Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriquez, and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons.

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3. American Horror Story: Freak Show

The 4th season of the FX hit returns October 8th at 10pm with a whole new set of characters.  Each season of the show has its own story, completely separate from each other, so each season functions as a miniseries.  Much of the cast, however, typically stays the same.  This season stars Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Chiklis, Wes Bentley, Finn Wittrock, John Carroll Lynch, and Patti LaBelle.

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4. The Vampire Diaries

This CW show is back for its 6th season on October 2nd.  The finale of season 5 was very emotional and fans of the show are eager to see what comes next.  The show stars Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Kat Graham, Candice Accola, Steven R. McQueen, Matt Davis, Michael Trevino, and Zach Roerig.  What happened to Damon and Bonnie at end of season 5?  Tune in to find out!

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5.  The Big Bang Theory

This CBS show is the #1 comedy on television and it returns for its 8th season on September 22nd.  Led by Jim Parsons, who has won 4 Emmy awards and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper, the show is well received by fans and TV critics alike.  The show also stars Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, and Mayim Bialik.

 What shows will you be watching this Fall?  Let us know in the comments!

Late Nights, Early Mornings, Less Sleep

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Between early morning paper writing and late night study sessions, a good night’s sleep often comes as an afterthought to many college students. Before you grab that energy drink or espresso to pull another all-nighter, take the consequences into consideration.

 1. Cognitive and Memory Problems

Don’t let all your studying go to waste by missing out on sleep! Lack of sleep has been linked to memory problems and difficulty with problem solving. These issues can be permanent and brain deterioration can occur if sleep deprivation is long term.

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image source: wisegeek.com

2. Pre-Mature Aging

Those dark under-eye circles you get after pulling an all-nighter are doing more damage than you may think. Human growth hormone, which is responsible for strengthening skin, bones, and muscles, is produced during slow-wave sleep. If you never reach this form of deep sleep, your body has less of a chance to produce this hormone.  Lack of sleep also causes your body to increase production of cortisol: a hormone that breaks down collagen. This causes skin to lose its elasticity.

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image source: healthcaretips.co

2. Weight Gain

Your hormones also get thrown off kilter when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Production of the hunger hormone ghrelin is increased when you get less than six hours of sleep causing you to have a larger appetite than normal.

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image source: healthbeautyou.com

 3. Heart Problems

Lack of sleep has also been linked to several other heart problems such as irregular heartbeat, heart disease, and high blood pressure as well as diabetes and stroke.

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While the occasional late night is sometimes unavoidable, proper time management could help you add on a few more precious minutes (or hours) of sleep. How do you make sure you get a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources:

 Feature, Camille. “10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss>.

 Klein, Sarah. “Sleep Deprivation Effects: 8 Scary Side Effects Of Too Little Shut-Eye.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/scary-sleep-deprivation-effects_n_2807026.html>.

College is WAY Different

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College and high school are almost two different worlds. High school provides you with the tools for acting and behaving appropriately and college is where you put all that you have learned to the test.  One thing that is certain is that mostly all decisions made will be made by you alone. This is part of life as a young adult. But don’t be fearful; family and counselors will be present if extra help is needed.

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You should expect to do more things on your own. Navigating the school, picking classes or even making sure you wake up in time for that early 8 am class will fall on you. Make the most of it because this is the time you prove to yourself and to others that you can handle all the responsibility bestowed upon you.

You will no longer be told what is expected of you. You should already know. As far as assignments go, some professors will only tell you once and it is up to you to write it down and prepare. If you miss an assignment, a high school teacher will most likely let you make it up without penalty (unless you are notorious for always missing assignments). In college, professors treat assignments much differently. You are expected to do the work and understand the material, but the professor may not always check if the work had been completed. Do not think you’re off the hook skipping assignments. The material will most likely be used for a future exam.

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If you miss a day in high school, you can retrieve all the work you missed from your teacher. Professors in college will not tell you what you missed; all the work you missed will have to come from classmates.

If you chose to dorm, you will have to compromise with all the schedules and habits of your roommates. Sharing such small quarters with someone you barely know can come as a challenge. Some roommates may be the exact opposite of what you are used to dealing with back at high school. Make sure you handle conflict with ease and always talk things out.