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.


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!


What To Do When It Is Time to ‘Meet The Parents’

“I think it is time to meet my parents…” You probably haven’t felt that nervous, pit-of-your-stomach, pressured feeling since your partner agreed to start the relationship.  The inevitable, with any long term relationship at least, has happened.  Meeting Mom and Dad is in your near future.  Here’s how to deal:

Let’s work from the outside in.  This may be a little shallow, but first impressions are important and it is vital that you make a positive one if you want any chance of continuing the relationship or taking it to that next step.

A couple of senior guys I ran into at California State University of Monterey Bay agree it would be a good idea to wash your car as it may be the first thing they see upon arrival.  The type of car does not matter, and if it does, are these really people you want to surround yourself with?  Showing that you have good habits and value your things is important.  If you don’t value your possessions and can’t take care of your car, how will his/her parents think you will treat their son/daughter?

It is probably a good idea to dress nice to meet the girl’s/guy’s parents.  “A collared shirt doesn’t hurt,” another Senior student from Cal State Monterey says.  “No sunglasses, no hat.  And don’t put your sunglasses on the top of your head like this guy,” one of them say as he points to his friend.  The friend adds, “dress clean.  No ripped jeans, no ripped up shoes.”

Greg Kelley, 20, a resident of Toms River, NJ suggests, “I would wear something like Khaki pants with a nice button down and crew cut sweater, casual.”

James Pinelli, a sophomore at Purdue University agrees you should “make sure you look good.”  To him, that means nice jeans and a polo.

Andrew English, a junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey says to “look good, but not too good” as you don’t want to come off as a suck up.

There are definitely behavior guidelines to follow when meeting a partner’s parents.  The absolute first interaction you will have with the parents is the greeting aka the handshake. “The handshake is the most important [part],” says Devin Johnson, a junior at Cal State Monterey.  “Look the father dead in the eye and give him a firm handshake.  Politely shake the mom’s hand. You have to show you care.”

English has some specific advice in dealing with the father’s handshake: “Let the father know he’s boss but that you’re not weak so give him a firm [handshake] but let him have the better firmer shake.”

Cat Skelton, a freshman at University of Minnesota gives a woman’s perspective on a guy dealing with a mom: “you should turn her hand and place your left hand on top of hers.”

Next comes the conversation.  A Grad student from Brown University advises to prepare and “do your homework ahead of time.  Find out the dad’s sports interests as well as an area of interest of the mom.  Conversation is key.”

Tony Zakarian, 25, a resident of Ridgefield, NJ agrees to prepare by buying the mom flowers.

Before the conversation actually begins, Santiago Quintero, a junior at Cal State Monterey comments: “My advice would be to speak up and maintain conversation with an animated voice.  Parents will not be impressed with a shy, monotone voice boyfriend.”

Don’t forget your manners.  Tyler Machado and Markus McMahon both juniors at Cal State Monterey agree to pose good demeanor and please and thank you’s go a long way.  Yes mam and yes sir should also be a part of your vocabulary.  Not cussing is a good idea.  Also spark an intellectual conversation, “show him you have a brain,” says one senior from Cal State Monterey.

Everyone I have talked to, guys and girls alike, agree that it is important to be polite and nice but do not overdo it and try too hard.  This is a fine line to balance.

Zak Coffey, another senior at Cal State Monterey advises, “I think people will probably say something along the lines of “be yourself,” but I think that it’s perfectly fine to be better than yourself for a little while.”

Understanding where you fit in and where your place is a good idea to have when meeting The Parents.

Coffey says, “I would probably say it is important to figure out the girlfriend’s families dynamics.  Then figure out where you fit in.  So sometimes it’s acting really familiar, and sometimes it’s all about acting really well composed.”  Thus, analyzing the situation and adjusting from there is a good skill to have in your pocket.

Understanding family dynamics is something Casey Berg, a junior at Rutgers University agrees is a major aspect: “make sure they know that you want to get to know the whole family.  Cook a family meal for everyone, show that you can provide for a family in more ways than just money.”

Once acquainted with the family, going above and beyond and acting as if an extended family member is perfectly normal. “Being sincere, always being stuff for the family when I visit, obeying their rules, helping the family with chores or lawn work,” says Brian DLG Salas, a junior at University of Guam.

Jake Panchito Rosas, a freshman at Bergen County College says, “be respectful and honest.  [You] can never go wrong with that.”


I’m reading Basic Marketing

What To Do On Your Free Weekend Home

It isn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas break where you have to load up at least a quarter of your college life to bring home with you. You (hopefully) don’t have to endure all your relatives awkwardly asking you to justify your major. No, this is a much needed break, a mini-vacation from your roommate who’s starting to get on your nerves, the increasing demands of your professors, and the unsatisfying campus food. You’re home for the weekend with your family and your puppy you missed cuddling with. So, what should you do?

Plain, Old-Fashioned Chit Chat
Even if you’re one of those children who dutifully calls their parents every week and skype your sister every so often, nothing beats having a big catch up conversation with the Fam. You can vent to them about all the things you bottle up at school: how your roommate refuses to change the toilet paper even if it means having to bring leaves into the bathroom, how your ex is giving you the stink eye in class, the unfair grading of your teacher. Your family won’t judge you, but will actually give sympathy. And it never hurts to get the dish on the hot neighbor you expect to run into during the summer. Family gossip is the best kind of gossip, and it will melt your stress away in a snap.

Fix Your Food Cravings
Have a favorite restaurant or three at home? It is mandatory you go to at least one of them during your mini-break. Maybe a younger friend from high school wants to catch up and can go with you. You could make it part of a sibling day. However you go about it, just make it happen. Don’t deny your tummy that unbeatable lasagna from your local Italian restaurant. It’s a vacation! There’s time to work out later.

TV and Movie Round-Up
While at college, it can be hard to balance class, your favorite TV shows, hanging out with friends, doing homework, getting to the movie theater before it’s no longer playing, and ahhh! There’s always so much to do in so little time. During this weekend of playing catch up and relaxing, watch some of your shows you missed or go see a movie with your favorite actor you’ll never have time to see in the busy weeks of school ahead. It’s simple, relaxing and allows you to simultaneously snuggle with your beloved pet and splurge on popcorn while you laugh, cry, or simply feel at peace to be rotting your brain again.

Soak in the Homeliness
Have some adventures in your hometown. Even if you live in the boring suburbs—I am right there with ya—there’s always something happening. A new exhibition at the art museum, some kind of local charity event (which are always a lot more fun than they sound), a hike at the park, anything. Boring towns are only boring when you don’t look hard enough for something going on. Boredom isn’t an option during this small problem-free weekend. Dig through the local paper, have your family plan some activities ahead of time, and then immerse yourself in your hometown.

Nothing says home sweet home like family, town activities and mama approved meals.


I’m reading Psychology: An Exploration

What to Bring for a Perfect Football Tailgate

Tailgating is a great way to bring people together: eating, drinking, playing games, and cheering for the home team. Or if you’re anything like me, it’s about the experience and the fun. There’s something awesome about 30,000 people all having a great time on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s entertaining to watch and even more entertaining to be a part of. Whether you go to Alabama, Ohio State, or Florida Atlantic, tailgating is an American Pastime that most will fondly remember well past their rowdy college years. Here is what you should bring to have a perfect football tailgate.

An R.V.

An R.V. can solve many of the problems that go hand in hand with tailgating; like waiting 30 minutes to use a port-o-potty that probably requires a penicillin shot after use. It can also provide a vital safe haven for those suffering from “tailgating fatigue.” An R.V. will also allow you to watch the other football games while you wait for your team to kickoff.

A Grill

You just can’t tailgate without food. Most people stick to cooking the usual burgers and hot dogs, but this doesn’t mean you should settle for that! Slow cook some ribs for 3 to 4 hours (try Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce) and enjoy them after a day of corn hole or flip cup. You’ll thank me later.

A Football

Tossing around a football on game day is a common thing to do, even if your athletically challenged like myself. This is a great way to meet girls (try the “go long” scheme) and a great way to bond with your family or buddies.

Corn Hole Sets

This game is becoming increasingly popular for football fans because it’s fun, competitive, and doesn’t require much movement. It also allows you to play an entire game without setting down your drink.

Face Paint

Tailgating has become a competition lately, with every fan trying to prove their self as the ultimate football fan or ultimate tailgater. You must paint your face to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. Besides, it’s harder to tell that you’ve been drinking all day when your face is painted red.

Your Family

Ok maybe grandma shouldn’t be around watching you party from noon to 8 PM. But when you have the opportunity to bring your family, do it. It will be a fun day that none of you will soon forget. Your parents may even surprise you with how fun they will can be once they get some school spirit in them! Bonus: They will probably help you pay for food and drinks. 🙂

Your Rowdy Friends

You know that guy that gets on your nerves because he uses his outside voice at all times? Bring him along with your tailgate crew. It’s easier to wander into new parties throughout the parking lot when you have a group of obnoxious fans. Don’t let a group of 70-year-old tailgaters party harder than you.

Feeling Homesick in College?

Homesick GirlComing into a new place to live for the next four years can be a little overwhelming, especially if you haven’t lived away from home for an extended period of time before. There is a lot of excitement heading your way, with new experiences that will never happen anywhere else but in college. Once the hustle and bustle of everyday college life kicks into gear, there can be a lot of additional stress and anxiety. Tests, papers, quizzes, and readings are just a few college priorities you have to juggle, along with breaking out of your shell to find out who you really are. There comes a point in time where you may not be comfortable with this kind of lifestyle and “just want to go home”. Believe me, whether or not anyone wants to admit it, they’ve been there. It’s hard adjusting to such a new experience where you can’t immediately have a shoulder to lean on. Luckily, I’ve got some suggestions for those who feel like there is no hope.

Talk With Family Members or Loved Ones. Whether it’s once a day, once a week, or once a month, keeping in touch with those close to you back home can make a significant difference. They are the ones who you can talk to about anything, and if you’re having any problems, they will be there to listen.

Bring Lots of Pictures. Just having pictures of old pastimes, friends, and family can be great therapy in times where you feel lonely. It may not directly give you a good feeling, but subconsciously it will remind you that you’re not in this by yourself. If you can’t get your hands on any (come on now, there’s bound to be a few on facebook), you can always ask to get them mailed to you.

Stay Balanced. You are in college to study and prepare for a career that can support you financially for the rest of your life. But consider this, YOU’RE IN COLLEGE!! Don’t be sitting in the library 24/7 making sure you’ve read every book before the first reading has even been assigned. Go out with friends and attend activities that interest you. These four years are supposed to be some of the best times that you can have. Having a balance between school and personal life is critical to staying positive and enjoying your time away from home.

Stay Busy. Use your downtime to enjoy personal hobbies you have or experiment with new activities. There is always something you can be doing in college, whether it is going on a relaxing walk around campus or playing ping pong with some new friends you just met in your dorm. Just let the college lifestyle sink in because let’s face it, it is not comfortable living on your own at first.

Get Involved. Join a club or activity that you enjoy and meet people with similar interests. This can help you enjoy your time while you’re away from home. There will be great long-lasting relationships you can make and you’ll be able to find friends you will never forget. Don’t forget your name tag!



I’m reading Psychology