Advice

The Beauty of the To-Do List

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“She NEEDS to sort out her priorities.” – Ron Weasley (about Hermione Granger) in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (film)

to-do list Making a to-do list helps you sort out your priorities and make sure everything gets done on time. The best way to make a to-do list useful is to follow these few tips:

  • Write your to-do list BEFORE you start working. Adding on items after finishing each assignment won’t make you feel accomplished, but it will make you feel overwhelmed.
  • Give each item a priority number or status. Saying “Item no. 1” reminds you that this item should be done first before you do anything else. Less important items that can be done later in the week should be lower on the list.
  • Allot time limits if necessary. If you know that you will spend 4 hours working on 2 problems in one class, it might be better to say decide to spend 45 minutes per problem before asking the professor or TA for help.
  • Color Code your list. Give each subject a different color so that if you find you are overwhelmingly working on History tonight you might be able to take a break with that one Stat homework in between.
  • Make sure to include when an item is due. Some higher priority items might be due later than lower priority ones, but might get lost in the mix.

Having a to-do list will keep you organized and on-top of all your work, so don’t forget to do your to-do list!!

Making Smart Money Decisions

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It’s a well known fact that college students aren’t usually the most financially stable people around. Tuition is expensive and time is short for working full time. Put those two together and you’ve got a recipe for a ramen noodle budget. There are some things you can do to make sure you’re making the best financial decisions for yourself no matter how strapped for cash you may be.

1. Document expenses
Keep track of everything you spend money on, no matter how small the cost may seem. For example, if you spend $3 on coffee every week day, that adds up to $780 per year. Make sure you account for even the smallest expenses or you could come up short in your budget. Which brings me to my next point:

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2. Make a budget
And stick to it. That second part is the hardest but also the most important. Making a plan for your spending and accounting for every dollar is the best way to stay on top of your financing.

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3. Use loans and credit sparingly
Borrow the very minimum amount that you’ll need for school even though you may be offered a higher amount. Talk to your financial aid advisor when you receive your award letter to ask for a smaller amount. Only borrow what you need. Similarly, only use credit cards when you are sure you can pay off the balance at the end of the month. No one wants to graduate with a load of debt.

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!

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!

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 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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.

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 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!

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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!

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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!

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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

 

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5 Ways to Show Love to the Earth This Summer

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As any responsible consumer will tell you, it is important for everyone to lend a hand in conserving the environment and protecting our planet. Many people think that it takes too much effort to live an environmentally friendly life, but it’s actually much easier than you think. Unless you’re planning on moving to the moon anytime soon, try out these “green” products for summer.

1. The Honest Company Sunscreen SPF 30

6-25 The-Honest-CompanySunscreen is a summer must-have, but there are many that are found in aerosol cans and chemical laden creams. This sunscreen has a toxicity rating of 1; the lowest possible score which means it contains no chemicals that will harm the environment

2. Bambeco Bamboo Beach Towel

6-25 stripe-bambootowel_300Cozy up in this soft beach towel made from all natural bamboo fibers. Completely eco-friendly.

3. Camelbak Water Bottles

6-25 32CamelBakPodium2-s3-medium_newInstead of worrying about recycling all of those packs of water bottles, just  don’t use them in the first place. Try a refillable water bottle made from BPA free plastic. A popular choice is a Camelbak bottle. They’re easy to use and eco-friendly!

4. Bikes

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If you’re traveling a short distance, break out your bicycle or walk. You’ll enjoy the nice weather and save on gas emissions

5. Clothes-lines

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Save energy by giving your clothes dryer a break and hanging your clothes out on a line to dry. Take advantage of the warm breeze to dry your clothes naturally and save big bucks on your electric bill!

How do you stay eco-friendly during the summer? Let us know in the comments below!

-XOXO-

Careers in Demand Upon Graduation

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Once upon a time….simply obtaining a bachelor’s degree was enough to be sure that you could enter the job market in your respective field and make a solid income. In today’s economy however, there are many factors that contribute to your chances of landing a job after graduation. One of the biggest factors to consider is the field in which you are entering. While it is wise to choose a major that sparks your interests, it is also practical to pursue a degree that will lead to opportunities to have a career that is in high demand. To get started, here are some of the top careers that are in demand for recent college graduates.Career_Blog

  1. Public Relations Specialist: If you have a knack for communicating and love to shine a positive light on every situation, PR may be the field for you. A great thing about this field is the very high expected growth rate, which is 23% by 2020.
  1. Elementary School Teacher: Teachers have an advantage of stability that many occupations lack which makes up for the average salary of $40,434; the lowest on this list. However, the projected growth rate is relatively high at 18% by 2020.
  1. Accountant: If you’re a lover of numbers and good at math, you’ll be glad to hear that accountants’ average salary has increased by $10,000 in the last three years. Combine this with a projected 16% job growth rate and it’s clear to see why this field is a good choice for recent college grads.
  1. Market Research Analyst: If you happen to be a number lover who also has strong communication skills, marketing could be your calling. With a projected growth rate of a whopping 41%, marketing is easily one of the best choices for recent college graduates. The average salary is $67,380.
  1. Software Developer: Do you have strong programming and coding skills? If so, you’ll be happy to know that software developer rings in at number one on our list of best careers for recent grads. With a projected growth rate of 32% by 2020 and an average annual salary of $102,550, pursuing a career as a software developer is a smart move.