College Life

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

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!

Count Your Blessings During the Holidays

We’re finally there! The notorious American holiday stemming from the event when the Native Americans and pilgrims ceased fighting and met peacefully on the grounds of something everyone can relate to: overeating. Centuries later, we’re still celebrating with our loved ones. Thanksgiving is especially cherished by most college students as a time to finally relax, come home and see everyone that we’ve missed. Unfortunately, the holidays can come with an array of stressful situations. Annoying relatives? Assignments? Studying? We all have them. As college students, however, despite any qualms we might have, we should be thankful for our many blessings in disguise during the holidays.

“Those” Relatives

blessings relatives

Annoying relatives? Yes, we all have them! Your uncle who drinks too much and makes everyone kind of uncomfortable? That one cousin who doesn’t stop bragging about their grades? Your aunt that scoffs at your nose ring? Oh, and every relative that asks you why you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet? Alright, perhaps you’re already annoyed just reading this and I apologize. But just as disdainful you might be of some of your relatives, at least find happiness in the fact that you have relatives at all. A lot of people don’t have any family to spend time with during the holidays. Some of them are intolerable, but most of them also love you. Take a few breaths every third Thursday in November to count your relatives as blessings. 

Tough Professors

blessings professors

The semester is almost over and we’ve already picked out those professors that we swear are out to fail us. But even if they seem like the most evil people on earth, they are only trying to prepare us for the real world. On Thanksgiving, be thankful for these people. Understand how much hard work they put into the class; the grading, the teaching and even the learning. Also, be especially thankful for the fact that you have the privilege of being in classes at all. Think of all of those around the world who would happily enroll in a class with your most loathed professor.

Assignments/Projects

blessings assignments/projects

Similar to point number 2, we should all be grateful for our schoolwork. It exists to strengthen our knowledge and to help us succeed. Yes, it’s tedious, but it’s not pointless. And again, it is a privilege to even be able to do assignments and projects. During Thanksgiving Break, as you’re forcing yourself to open up your computers and work on assignments, realize how lucky you are. I know it’s hard. I’m working on several as I type this.

Gaining Weight

blessings gaining weight

With the holidays comes the inevitability of putting on some extra weight. This feeling after stuffing our faces with pie and stuffing is surely unwanted by most. But as we struggle to fit in our jeans in the subsequent days, be thankful that we have enough food to even gain weight. There are millions around the world who struggle with poverty and hunger. Whether we like it or not, holiday weight gain is a luxury. Remember this as you put in some extra hours at the gym after the holidays!

Remember during this holiday season that you have a lot of blessings to be thankful for as a college student. You may not have all of the privileges listed above but even having a couple means you’re truly blessed. Have a comment to add about what you’re thankful for? Drop it below!

Dear College Students, It’s Okay to Seek Help

college students seek help

Dear fellow college students,

Now is about the time when you’re all settled in your college courses. You are studying for exams and you’ve spent numerous hours completing assignments and doing homework. Ironically, as the days gradually grow shorter, our own days feel much longer. The stress of college, from our current social lives, to our grades, and to our looming futures, sometimes feels unbearable. Managing ourselves to be productive and successful individuals can strain us mentally and physically. As the semester goes forward, often times stress piles up and we feel exhausted and drained. Come finals, many people, myself included, have suffered immensely.  This takes an extensive toll on anyone’s well-being. I’m here to tell you that you are never alone!

We’re primed and taught to persevere through tough times as students. All-nighters fueled by coffee and Redbull are considered the “norm”. We’re taught to put school before everything else, our own selves included. However, with this mindset of allowing ourselves to suffer for school’s sake, our mental health is at risk.

According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 3 college students have suffered from depression and about 50% of college students rated their mental health as “poor”. These alarming statistics paint a terrifying portrait of the struggles that college students suffer every semester. College is supposed to be a positive experience to grow as intellectuals and as people, so why are we allowing ourselves to suffer?

Experiencing mental health deficits from overworking myself in school is something I have experienced and it has taught me one very important lesson: never think that you’re alone.

Many schools offer at least some form of counseling for their students at no extra cost. Although seeking help from a professional seems daunting, it can be really helpful. A trained counselor is likely well rehearsed in how to combat mental health issues brought on by school related stress. Therefore, through seeking help, a counselor can not only provide insight, but they can also validate your struggles.

Counseling isn’t the only way to seek help. Talking to a friend or a family member is really helpful as well. Having our feelings heard and having a support system reminds us that we’re not alone. Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about what we’re going through for many different reasons, like feeling like our struggles are trivial. Luckily, that’s what friends and family are for.

College is difficult, but it doesn’t have to take a toll on your well-being. On top of seeking help, make sure to take time to take care of yourself. Take breaks when you’re feeling overwhelmed, eat well and exercise regularly. Call your family and hang out with friends when you’re feeling sad. Whatever makes you happy- take time to do it. Yes, school is important, but your health and well being always should be top priority.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I can say that if you’re willing to seek help, it’s available in some form. Never brush your feelings off as insignificant and always, always keep hopeful!

Do you deal with these feelings brought on by the stress of school? How do you cope or seek help? Drop us a comment below. 

How to Create a Relaxing College Room

Moving off campus often means getting a large and more private college room. You have the opportunity to really make it your own with unique decorations. Living in a room that is truly your own is not only can improve your mood, but also your health. Follow these few tips to achieve that perfect relaxing environment for your new college room!

1. Add Flowers

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According to a number of studies flowers can improve your health. Brighten up your room with flowers to boost your mood. Remembering to water them can be a hassle, but taking care of something alive can so you may want to opt for a plant like bamboo which requires minimal care.

2. Color Scheme

College Room - Accents

Things that match are more appealing to the eye. Tie your room together using your favorite color scheme! Of course it won’t match perfectly but at least the room will look well put together. Accent colors are great if you want some pops of color but don’t want to overdo it.

3. Don’t Eat in Bed

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I know it may be tempting to munch on a snack while you ‘Netflix and chill’ but you shouldn’t. Your bed is for sleeping purposes only! Snacking in bed as well as doing your homework in bed is not healthy. Try to only relax in your bedroom and leave the food and homework for somewhere more appropriate, like the kitchen.

4. Add Lights

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Making sure you have sufficient lighting in your college room for all occasions is key. Nothing is worse than not being able to see something. That being said, lights can often be too bright and could be distracting. I suggest getting a lamp for your desk for homework, a light up mirror for your personal hygiene/makeup, a string lights for mood lighting and then one ceiling light.

5. Organize Everything

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School is stressful enough and coming home to a mess only adds fuel to the fire! Although it’s hard to keep up with staying organized and cleaning can take a while, it’s important to keep your college room clean. Take at least 15 minutes a week to clean your room. Feeling productive and seeing the finished product makes it all worth while!

I hope that these suggestions for creating a relaxing college room help you get started on yours! It’s important to have a place you love to come home to during this busy time in your life. Have some more inspiration for your fellow classmates? Drop us a comment below!