College Life

Read blogs in our college life category for advice on everyday situations and topics that affect college students.

Keeping Up With Life Outside of College

For some students, moving several hours away from home to attend college is necessary to pursue a quality education. Going to a new place and meeting new people is wonderful, but what about all the family and friends you left behind? Their life still continues while you’re away. At some point during your college career, you will be faced with the choice of either going to class or going to some kind of special event such as a wedding or baby shower. Here are some tips for how to balance your life at school with your life away from school.

Weekend Gatherings

Plan Gatherings on Weekends

If possible, try to schedule (or ask others to schedule) special events or gatherings on weekends. Heading home on a day when you don’t have class is much easier than during the week. This is also when most people have time off work, so it should fit better with non-student family and friends as well.

Setting Expectations

Set Realistic Expectations

You are not going to make it to every single one of your cousin’s basketball games. Don’t promise family and friends you will show up to all their events when it is not possible. Be realistic when deciding what events you are going to try to make it home for. Also, make sure your relatives understand you are busy. They may not like the fact you are missing family events, but ultimately they should understand your education is important and must take priority at times.

Calendar

Plan in Advance

If you know about an event at the beginning of the semester, go ahead and start planning for it. Professors are more understanding and flexible when they receive notice far in advance. If you wait until a week before a big test to tell your professor about your sister’s upcoming weeding, it is unlikely he will grant your leave of absence. Communicating your schedule to others in a timely manner helps everyone plan for the future.

Recognizing Importance

Recognize Whats Important

A close friend of mine recently found herself in a tough situation. A funeral service for her family member was scheduled on the same day as a final presentation worth 20% of her final grade. The funeral was in a different state and the presentation could not be rescheduled. It was not possible for her to attend both events. What should you do if you find yourself in this situation?

You need to recognize what is important. My friend made the extremely tough decision to give her presentation rather than go to the funeral. Were some family members and friends upset about her decision? Yes. Was missing the funeral emotionally difficult for her? Yes. However, you have to make these difficult sacrifices. You must decide what is more important to you and your overall life. Missing a special occasion is hard, but it is a necessary part of earning an education.

Balancing school and home life can be difficult when you are in college, but with a little planning you can graduate and still be a part of the family! Have any other tips for balancing life in college? Leave them in the comment section below!

 

LinkedIn Tips for College Students

LinkedIn tips for college students

As a college student, it’s never too early to construct a resume. Starting early gives student the chance to constantly make sure everything is grammatically correct and up to date. However, in the digital world employers and programs look at much more than resumes to review potential candidates. One of the largest growing networks today is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social media service for professionals and is one of the key tools for career networking and employment. As of 2016, LinkedIn holds over 467 million users, 40 million of which are college students or recent college grads. If you’ve decided to create a LinkedIn, it’s important to understand how utilizing the platform affects your success rate. Here are a few LinkedIn Tips for college students.

Profile Photographs

One of the most essential aspects of a good LinkedIn profile is the photo. Like other social media sites, i.e. Facebook, having an appropriate photo helps the viewer connect with you and legitimizes your account. Because of the various spammers and scammers lurking on the internet, it’s likely that other users, recruiters, and companies may feel weary about “connecting” with a user who doesn’t have a photograph. The key to a good LinkedIn photo is a clear headshot only featuring you. It doesn’t need to be a professionally taken photo, but looking clean and wearing a nice top is a must. Also, make sure to smile! Employers are looking for enthusiastic people.

List Your Skills

LinkedIn allows its members to easily list their skills in their profile. Additionally, LinkedIn allows you to put your skills in a specific order and lists the top three “featured skills” on your profile. The remaining skills are visible by clicking the “view more” button. Therefore, it is extremely important to think through which three skills best represent you. By entering your skills,  you allow employers to get a good understanding of what you’re capable of doing. LinkedIn also allows its users to obtain “endorsements” on their listed skills. Past employers and other members can verify you’re proficient in your these skills based on who and how many people endorse you. But of course, be careful who you ask!

 Expand Your Network

With LinkedIn’s huge member database, learning how to grow a strong and cohesive network of connections is one of the most important LinkedIn factors for college students. Like other social media networks, LinkedIn allows you to “connect” with people. These people could be classmates, coworkers, friends, whoever! In addition, college students have the special benefit of connecting with alumni. If you’re applying for a position, check LinkedIn to see if anyone who graduated from your school works there. Use this angle to connect and ask for advice and recommendations- not jobs. Like any other social engagement, make sure you’re not obtrusive.

Post Articles

Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn users have the opportunity to share articles or write their own and post them on their profile. Sharing and writing articles is another one of the best practices on LinkedIn for college students. Articles can be blog posts, recent news in your field, and generally interesting things. Not only does this provide employers and recruiters with more information about you, but it also helps give them a sense of who you are. However, be very, very careful to only post relevant and appropriate content to avoid offending and upsetting anyone. A general rule of thumb is to avoid politics and overly opinionated pieces.  

LinkedIn is one of many social media platforms that currently has millions of active users. With so many social platforms bidding for your time, it may seem unnecessary to join. However, LinkedIn isn’t about sharing your favorite family photos or mistakes you made last weekend.  It’s focused on the professional job market and connecting with current or potential employers to build a strong professional network. Use these LinkedIn tips to create a high performing account for success during and after college!

Is College the Right Time for a Pet?

Pets are one of the greatest joys in life. There is nothing better then curling up in the evening with your best friend on your lap. For some college students, getting a pet is at the top of their to-do list. However, getting a pet is an important decision and should be carefully considered. Once you own a pet, you are responsible for taking care of another life. College might not be the best time for such a large responsibility. If you are thinking about getting a pet, here are four important things to consider:

Puppies

Housing

You will probably change housing several times during your college years. This creates a risk that some of your living arrangements may not be suitable for pets. Dorms and other campus sponsored housing such as fraternity and sorority houses typically only allow service animals. Most apartments that allow pets require additional fees to cover cleaning costs when you move out. Further, even if the place you live allows pets, your roommates may not be as open to the idea. If you think that you will be living in a place that will not work with pets at some point in your college career, then you should hold off before getting your new furry friend.

Baby Bill the cat

Money

Pets are expensive. There’s really no way around that fact. Living on a college student budget with a pet can be extremely difficult. You need to make sure you have the financial means to care for a pet before you bring one home. The AKC estimates the average cost of owing a dog the first year is $3,085. That’s a steep price to pay on a tight income. Some common pet expenses are:

  • Food and water
  • Treats
  • Cages
  • Beds
  • Toys
  • Vaccinations
  • Spaying/Neutering
  • Flea and tick medication
  • Collars and leashes

This is by no means a complete list of necessary animal supplies, but you will need to provide all of these essentials for your pet. In addition, remember to budget additional funds for unplanned emergencies. It’s not hard to rack up a vet bill totaling several hundreds of dollars, or worse, even thousands.

Cute Doggo

Time

College is extremely time consuming. Attending classes full-time, participating in clubs, and working can leave you with little time to take care of your pet. Before you get a pet, you need to ensure you have the time to set aside for playing with, walking, and caring for your new family member. Animals need plenty of love and attention to be happy. When they are receiving enough exercise or attention, they’ll often channel their displeasure through negative actions. This could mean coming home to chewed up household items or other displays of anxious behavior.

After-College Plans

Moving across the country or taking a gap-year in Europe sounds like a wonderful plan, but it’s difficult to take any animal on such journeys. If your after-college plans include traveling or other large lifestyle changes, you may want to wait until you are settled before buying a pet. Once you’ve established a clear plan and are confident you’ll follow it, properly caring for an animal becomes a more realistic possibility.

Pet

Final Thoughts

When you adopt an animal, you are committing to care for it as a family member for the rest of its life. If you have any concern over your ability to keep and care for an animal, potentially over the course of 10+ years, then you should wait before getting a pet. I know many people who have successfully kept pets as college students, but I also know those who had to give-up their loved one. Make sure you’re fully prepared for such a commitment before you head to the shelter.

Have any tips for caring for an animal in college? Leave them in the comment section below!

Surviving Severe Weather in College

Springtime is once again upon us. Although the warm weather is a welcome change, for many Midwestern states spring also means the return of severe weather. If you live in the Midwest, you were likely taught from a young age where to go in your house should a storm occur. But what about when you’re away at school? Here are a few tips for surviving sever weather at college.

Lightning

Dorms

Most college dorms are well equipped for severe weather. Dorm rooms typically have an alarm system installed with distinctive sounds for both fire and weather related emergencies. Also, much like hotels, you can usually find a map of the building with instructions about where to go if a tornado occurs. If not, ask your resident assistant or building manager where the safe space in the building is and the safest route to get there. A few things to keep in mind when living in dorms:

  • You will occasionally have drills to practice evacuations. Even if you know it is a drill, you need to take the time to follow instructions and practice. Yes, it can be inconvenient when you are studying, but it is necessary to prepare.
  • Always take your room key with you when the alarm goes off. Resident assistants may check rooms to make sure everyone evacuated. If you don’t have your keys, you may find yourself stuck outside if they lock the door behind them.
  • Make sure you know where your roommates are during emergencies. If they are not in the building, text or call them to make sure they know to take cover from the severe weather.

Off-Campus Housing

Preparing for severe weather when living off campus is a little bit harder. It is your own responsibility to monitor the weather and know when it is time to head to the safe space. A great way to keep tabs on the weather is by purchasing a weather radio.NOAA Weather Radio

An NOAA weather radio links to the national weather monitoring systems and sets off an alarm if there is severe weather in your current location. The device plugs into a wall outlet, but in an emergency can run off battery power so that you can take it with you to your safe space. Weather radios are small, useful devices and are available at most all major retailers for about $25-$30. This item is a must if you live in severe weather prone areas.

A few other things to keep in mind when living off campus:

  • Ask your building manager or landlord where the safe space for your apartment is at. If there is not a designated space, follow these guidelines for taking shelter.
  • If you have to leave your apartment to get to your safe space, be sure to lock the door behind you. Take your key and wallet with you in case you need them.
  • Your neighbors may not be as prepared as you during a severe weather emergency. If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors to make sure they are aware of the severe weather threat and help them get to the safe space as well.

During Class

Severe weather can hit during any time of the day. You may occasionally find yourself in class when an emergency occurs. Like dorms, college academic buildings are usually very well equipped with alarms and labeled safe spaces. Your professor should know exactly where to go during an emergency so listen carefully for instructions and follow them promptly.

NOTE: Do not leave the group unless your instructor gives you permission. Most colleges require instructors to take attendance as a way to keep track of students during emergencies. If you are present for attendance and then split from the group during an emergency, your professor will be unable to locate you and could cause an unnecessary manhunt.

On the long list of things to prepare for in college, severe weather is one of the most important. However, it is also one of the most overlooked. With a little preparation you can be ready for any emergency. For more information about severe weather preparedness check out The National Weather Service’s website.

Unconventional Places to Spend Spring Break

The oh-so-anticipated spring break is just a ways away. It’s time to start thinking of ways to spend the week long hiatus from classes. With popular culture and travel agencies promoting college ‘spring break’ as a week of wild partying on tropical beaches, which by all means does seem fun, it’s easy to forget about other options. The Earth provides us with thousands of miles of adventure, beauty, and landscape to explore. Use this spring break to discover nature and the beautiful scenery available to us. Here are four suggestions of where to look:

spring break

1) Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah

Lake Powell is located right on the border of Utah and Arizona, settled right on the Colorado River. This scenic area is colored by blue lakes broken and broken up by high rocky canyons. It is also only a short distance from Antelope Canyon and Glen Canyon Recreational Area. However, around spring break time the weather is still fairly cool, averaging around 61 degrees. This means swimming may not be an option. Luckily, the chilly temps make it the area’s offseason, meaning the prices for travel drop. This makes it perfect for college students on a tight budget. Additionally, the city of Flagstaff is a two hour drive away and passes Grand Canyon National Park. Make sure that road trip playlist is on point!

spring break

2) Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park is a desert landscape teeming with wildlife of all sorts, surrounded by mountains that seemed to have popped up from the dusty ground by magic. The park is the ultimate dream destination for many travelers. The area houses multiple campgrounds and affordable vacation rentals. If you’re a Jack Kerouac junkie, the Jack Kerouac Cabin is located along the northern end of the park. Joshua Tree is also less than three hours away from both San Diego and Los Angeles, California… in case you’re also in need of some beach time.

spring break

3) Canmore, Alberta, Canada

There are the Rockies, and then there are the Canadian Rockies. Located in the Canadian province of Alberta, Canmore is the destination for nature lovers. Nestled right beside Banff National Park, the area houses opportunities to hike, ski, and simply explore. For those still holding onto the the cold elements that make winter activities possible, this is the place for you. In between March and April, during most spring breaks, Canmore’s weather is still brisk. Unfortunately, this does make camping more difficult. Instead, check out the prices of lodges and ski resorts as they often fall that late in the season. Hot tub after the slopes, anyone?

spring break

4) New Orleans, Louisiana

A city of culture and liveliness, New Orleans is the perfect spring break destination for those wishing to both enrich themselves and have some fun. While it isn’t the most unconventional place to spend spring break, it’s still worth every consideration. This melting pot of a city is home to around the clock entertainment, flavorful dishes, and amazing architecture. With a variety of festivals popping up constantly, popping up constantly, New Orleans always has something to fun to do. Check out the famous Bourbon Street for some of the best jazz music the United States has to offer, or dare to walk through the infamously haunted French Quarter.

Spring break doesn’t have to be a party in Cancun. While that might seem fun, consider using this free week to travel to some unforgettable places. By the way, feel free to invite me!

Five Ways to Make this Valentine’s Day “Memorable”

If you’re a young college student in a relationship, you’re probably feeling quite anxious about the impending doom or success of the upcoming day of love. Valentine’s day is a day dedicated to you and your lover. It’s also a day that if messed up, can take a toll on your relationship. Since everyone knows that college is basically a matchmaking service for us to find our future wives and husbands, Valentine’s day should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, many of us are plain broke. As a senior, I’ve witnessed all the tricks to a successful February 14th at a reduced cost. Here are some light-hearted ideas!

Valentine’s day

1) Go on a riveting adventure!

Does dinner and a movie seem cliche? That’s because it is! This Valentine’s Day, opt for something more adventurous! An inexpensive idea might be to go hiking in areas that are notorious for bears and mountain lions. This ideas might seem dangerous and impractical, but that’s because it is! The plus side to the danger is the fear and anxiety. Studies show these emotions are thought to increase levels of attraction! Therefore, it’s only logical that the more scary the activity, the closer you two will feel.

Valentine’s day

2) Make them a DIY gift

Nothing is more romantic than a gift made by the hands of your true love! Of course, anyone could make a boring card or a scrapbook. My suggestion: because you love them, dig a little deeper this Valentine’s Day! Try making a photo-book of the two of you! However, to make it special find photos of your significant other and their family. Then cut out and paste your face into them! It’s a perfect subtle way to tell them that you want to be a part of their family. It works every time, trust me!

Valentine’s day

3) Let them know that you take this relationship seriously

Valentine’s Day is a day for romance. Also, it’s the perfect day to let your s/o know that you take your relationship seriously. Perhaps even to serious. The best way to portray this is to let them know that you want them forever. My suggestion is to get a gigantic tattoo of their name right above your heart. They’ll be speechless, I promise! Because like tattoos, young love lasts forever.

Valentine’s day

4) Buy your S/O a cute pet!

Anybody and everybody loves cute pets! Unfortunately, most college apartments and dorms don’t allow dogs and cats. Luckily, they do allow even cuter animals. This Valentine’s day, buy your boo a worm or a cricket! These creatures are not only small and easy to maintain, but they’re also inexpensive. Most pet stores sell them near the snakes section at an alarmingly cheap price. This plan is nearly foolproof for winning over the heart of your Valentine!

Valentine’s day

5) Make your love a special dinner

Who doesn’t love food? Food made by your true love is high ranking in terms of special. Unfortunately, either many of us don’t have a stove or have no clue how to cook. Luckily enough, regardless of your situation there is one recipe that we can all master: hard boiled eggs! If you have skills in the kitchen, great! You’re very special! If not, go to the nearest gas station as many sell hard boiled eggs at a low price. If you’re lucky, they’ll provide you with free delicacies such a ketchup, mustard, and salt! Your bae is going to #swoon.

Hopefully your Valentine’s day will be a smashing success! At the very least, I hope you’ve enjoyed a good laugh and feel less stressed as you think about ways to impress your young love.

Learning to Understand

Knowledge is a trait that we aim to possess. This is exemplified merely by the fact that we’re students. We’re constantly taking in new information and either storing it in our memory to spit out later on exams or losing it in the process of daily living. However, though we might feel that knowledge is optimal, we often forget about the tool that allows us to access and utilize knowledge. The ability to understand, not just know, is incredibly powerful for living a worthwhile life. This year, I dare you to learn how to understand.

1) Understand Others

Understand Others

Part of human nature is having opinions. However, especially after the election, people tend to judge others who don’t share the same opinion. Although it’s hard sometimes, it’s so important to try to understand others as long as they’re not being hateful. That may be the exception. By understanding others, we become familiar with humanity. People have so much to offer. We fail ourselves when we limit our friendships and circles to only similar people. Through every interaction with another person, we become more wholesome.

2) Understand the World

Understand the World

Although travelling is ideal, the fact that some of us are busy and broke makes it hard to visit other lands. However, we have access to the internet, books, magazines etc. that are stacked with information. If you can’t hop on a flight to southeast Asia, search for a magazine that details the on-goings of Thailand. Home is great, but gaining an understanding of both culture and geography can bring out the best in us. This year, aim to learn more about the world around you.

3) Understand Art

Understand Art

Art is the least limited thing in the world.  You can find art in anything. Yet, strangely enough, it’s so easy to look past. How often do we walk through a city and marvel at the architecture, or appreciate music that we don’t normally listen to? It’s quite easy to forget about the certain types of art that we don’t actively seek out, but it’s also problematic. By ignoring the art around us, or even not paying much attention to it, we lose touch with the hard work and passion that the creators put into it. Understanding how to appreciate art in all forms makes everything brighter.

4) Understand Yourself

Understand Yourself

The fact that we spend every living moment with ourselves seems like enough evidence to back that we probably have a good understanding of ourselves, right? Well, probably not. The ability to understand oneself strengthens with time and more importantly, with experience. If we limit ourselves to routine, then we limit learning about ourselves. Trying new things, going new places, and meeting new people opens up doors to self-understanding that we wouldn’t have found by staying within our comfort zone. Our personalities aren’t stagnant- by experiencing the world we experience ourselves.

This year, I hope that you can challenge yourself to understand. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below. 

Spring Semester Preparation Guide

Winter break is almost at a conclusion which means its time to start getting ready for spring semester classes. There is a lot to get done before school starts again, but you don’t need to get overwhelmed. Here is a preparation guide to use as you prepare to go back to school.

School Preparation

Preparation Guide | School Preparation

  • Enroll for classes
  • Check financial aid status to make sure scholarships and loans are accounted for
  • Order textbooks – check out Knetbooks for great deals on textbook rentals
  • Print the syllabus for each class if available online
  • File away notes and assignments from last semesters classes
  • Clean trash out of backpack
  • Purchase new notebooks and pencils if necessary
  • Print a class schedule with room assignments to have for reference during the first week
  • Walk to class locations the day before classes start if you are unfamiliar with the campus or buildings
  • Purchase agenda and fill in with necessary information such as university breaks and final exam dates

Living Arrangements (If Different from Fall)

Preparation Guide | Living Arrangements

  • Get key to apartment or dorm room
  • Pay any move in fees (first months rent, security deposit, etc.)
  • Unpack and decorate room
  • Purchase food and other essentials
  • Confirm meal plan if necessary
  • Get parking pass if necessary

Other Considerations

Preparation Guide | Other Considerations

  • Change the oil in you vehicle
  • Dentist, doctors, and other necessary checkups that can be hard to schedule around classes
  • Purchase plane ticket if you fly to college
  • Talk to boss about getting a work schedule that fits with your class schedule

There are a lot of things to consider and prepare for when going back to school. Hopefully this spring semester preparation guide will help you get prepared for an amazing semester. Do you know of any other tasks that need to be completed before school starts? Leave them in the comment section below!

How to Optimize Your Career This Winter Break

There’s no better way to end the worst week of the year, finals week, than with a long break filled with no schoolwork. Unless your school offers a winter session and you’re taking courses, winter break is like no other. The combination of Christmas cookies, chilly winter days spent under the covers and a lack of homework provides the ultimate time to rejuvenate before busting your behind during spring semester. So yes, take advantage of being able to lay around and watch Netflix inconsequentially. However, these few weeks of nothingness can be your secret to success if you use them right. With the extra free time, work on things that you normally wouldn’t have time to during the semester. Here’s a few suggestions of what you could work on over break:

Learn New Programs

winter break - learn programs

It’s officially the age of technology. With that comes an array of programs and applications that allow us to leverage our creative and intellectual ideas to new levels. Unfortunately, you can’t learn most of these programs overnight but winter break provides the free time to do so. Also, having a well working knowledge of certain programs can boost your resume. Learning programs like Photoshop and InDesign, for example, would be very helpful if you want to pursue a career in publishing or design. Moreso, the ability to maneuver these programs gives you more latitude to pursue more things in life. Luckily, since the programs are often pricey, most programs offer trial periods on their sites. 

Work on Your Resume

winter break - resume

Resumes are one of those things that always have room for improvement. In school, it’s easy to neglect your resume given how busy we always are. Winter break provides the necessary time sit down and cut and paste away at one of the most important tools for developing your career. Feeling lost? Email your adviser or, if your school provides one, a career counselor for any advice or tips. It’s their job to help students with these sorts of problems.

Find an Internship

winter break - find internships

It’s rather hard to create a resume if you don’t have much to put on it. Internships are a good place to start. Use winter break as a time to sort through internships that might suit you. Regardless of your career interest, there is likely an internship that would show you the ropes. An internship is not only a resume booster, but a tool that allows you to explore an option before diving right in. Some popular internship finding sites include Indeed, LinkedIn, and Internships.com. Additionally, some schools offer help with finding and landing an internship. Just email your adviser.

Start a Blog

winter break - start blog

Blogs are underestimated. If used properly, a blog can provide the foreground for self expression. Regardless of your passions or interests, blogging allows you to display your skills on an accessible platform. It can also give companies and employers an idea of who you are well before any interviews. Additionally, starting a personal blog is also a fun and informal way to boost your creative abilities. Whether you’re into plant biology, space exploration poetry, or contemporary art- your blog is waiting to be created and many would love to read it.

I hope these ideas to get ahead in your future career over winter break help you out! What internships are you interested in? What kind of blog would you love to start? Leave us a comment below!

Surviving the Snow: How to Overcome Winter Weather

As a college student, one of the things I dread most each year is winter. Walking across campus in below freezing temperatures trying to avoid ice patches is not enjoyable. With finals right around the corner it is more important than ever to get to class, but the cold and snow can make walking to class a nightmare. Perseverance is key. Here are some tips for staying warm and overcoming winter weather.

1. Stay Bundled Up

winter weather - bundle up

The easiest way to beat the cold is to stay bundled up. Coats, hats, scarves, and gloves are your best friends this time of year. Yes it can be a bit of a hassle to carry all of this around once you are indoors, but it will always be worth it when a surprise snowfall hits during your class. Dollar stores have a huge selection of gloves, hats, and scarves that don’t cost much money so if you do accidentally lose something during the day you don’t have to worry.

2. Wear Waterproof Shoes

winter weather - waterproof shoes

Keeping your feet warm is essential. Its hard to walk to class when you can’t feel your toes. Wearing waterproof shoes will keep the cold water from melted snow from reaching your feet. Rain boots are always great to have when dealing with winter weather.

3. Carry a Spare Pair of Socks

winter weather - spare pair socks

We all know the quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Even if you are wearing waterproof shoes water will still occasionally find a way in. Maybe a car went by too fast or you stepped in a puddle that was deeper than it looked. Either way, your feet are wet and cold. Having a spare pair of dry socks in your bag to change into will help you keep your feet from freezing!

4. Bring a Warm Drink

winter weather - warm drink

Nothing beats winter weather like a mug of hot chocolate. Get a travel mug and fill it with your favorite warm drink. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are all perfect for this time of year. Not only do you get the benefit of a warm drink to perk you up, but the heat from the mug can help keep your hands warm as well!

Surviving the cold can be a challenge, but with a little preparation you will be able to stay warm all winter long. If you have any more winter weather tips leave them in the comment section below!