Archive | May 2013

On Learning Things You Can’t Find in Books

Coming from an intense, private college-prep high school, I was ready for the heavy load, the writing and the boring lectures. There are a few things that no amount of studying could have prepared me for.

When packing for college, there are a few approaches you can take. You can shove everything you need haphazardly into your car or meticulously pack and label. Then, as you pack to go home from college, you don’t realize how much stuff you have acquired in the last school year: the things your parents bought you when they visited, your cool aunt has sent you things, the stuffed koala your first college boyfriend won for you, and now there is no room in your car on the way home. I would suggest donating items you can live without to a local thrift store.

When shopping for school supplies, never buy anything at the overpriced University bookstore. If your University does not have textbook rental, Barnes & Noble has a rental program that costs about $30 per book with free shipping on orders over $25.

If you can’t find a job, email your favorite professors and ask if they need help in their office. Still no job? Try posting flyers at the local library for services you can provide such as mowing grass, moving help, elementary tutoring, typing, editing, babysitting, dog walking or anything else you can think of.

When doing laundry, you can use Shout Color Catchers to prevent your clothes from fading or bleeding when you forget to or neglect to sort them. If you have multiple loads, remember you can usually shove two loads of wet laundry into one dryer.

Pizza, chicken nuggets, potato soup and biscuits and gravy happen to be the only decent food that’s constantly available at my school. Pace yourself and try to find healthier options. When I had a meal plan, I spent most of it on coffee and cookies in the library and went grocery shopping for real food. Also, go ahead and buy a reusable water bottle and never pay for water again!

When all else fails, make friends with older college students and ask them for advice!

On Deciding Your Major

If you are lucky enough to know what you want you want to major in, we applaud you. The rest of us are not quite as fortunate. However, here is an important bit of information you should know that no one ever bothered to tell you when discussing your college career: It’s okay not to know what you want to do for the rest of your life.

In fact, it may surprise you to find out how good of company you are in by not knowing. According to the Northwest Education Loan Association (NELA), two-thirds of college freshman begin college without a chosen major. Even then, around sixty percent of students change their major at least once. Ohio University claims that on average students change their major three times.

Take a deep breath. Choosing a major is not an easy feat. So here are a few pointers that might help you along the way to deciding which major is right for you:

Explore your options. Most colleges offer a career exploration class that focuses on helping you decide what major you would excel in. It’s great for freshman, but upperclassmen are not out-of-place in these courses.

Workshop it Out. Universities and colleges also hold workshops for career placement. These are generally free for current students and can be a great way of getting a feel for what path you should take.

Take a Test. There are loads of websites and quizzes geared towards helping you decide what career paths you may enjoy. These are great because they use personality questions to determine like-minded career choices and are free. Here are a few to sample: CareeerPath and CareerTest.

Audit a Class (or Two). Auditing a few classes that deal with your major. Auditing is when you sit in for a class with professor approval without getting credit for the class. It gives you a taste of what you will be doing in the future. It’s also a great way to network and meet folks who will be going into similar fields before you graduate.

Work for It. Internships you will be working hands on with real companies doing real work. While a lot of internships require a student to be at a junior or senior level, you can find plenty of companies that will accept younger students. Not all internships are paid, but the experience and padding of your future resume will be well worth putting in some unpaid time.

Do what you love. The money will follow. This advice might be the hardest of all to swallow, but it is important. No one wants to work forty or more hours a week doing something they hate, so don’t compromise now. Invest your education into something that interests or inspires you even if you don’t think you can get that weekend vacation house in the Hamptons from it. It will pay off in the long run.

On Staying Physically Fit

Getting to the gym can be a strenuous task.  Just thinking about being winded and our bodies aching afterward can turn a lot of us off. In this post I intend to explain some ways that may get rid of that haunting feeling whenever someone says the word “gym.” There are tons of benefits to staying in shape: you don’t have to do it alone, there are easy ways to stay motivated, and you don’t have to be there for five hours at a time. Stay on task and you will be in and out faster than you can say Oxford English Dictionary!

Part of the college experience is seeing what life is like without anyone reminding you or telling you to do anything. We don’t have to get up and exercise, but there are plenty of reasons to get up and go. Working out is a great stress reliever. In college, we deal with constant due dates, annoying room mates, evil teachers and a million other things that stress us out. Holding on to the built up stress from all these things is unhealthy. Getting in a good workout can help release some of that anxiety. Working out will also help focus your mind on the designated tasks at hand. Which will help eliminate things like wandering unproductive thoughts and sleep reading. Sleep reading is when you are reading something, but you are thinking about something else therefore you are not retaining the information. That is the worst way to study. Go to the gym and come home with your energy focused on what’s important. Stay with your workout, you’ll start to look better and feel better about yourself.

Good friends can make you feel better in almost any situation, so why not go the the gym with them? Going to the gym with a friend gives you a good sense of urgency. Nobody wants to disappoint a good friend. You will make sure you’re at the gym, ready to workout and you may push yourself a little harder just because you know your friend is watching. Now, this doesn’t have to be a competition, but having a friend or a gym buddy is good motivation to stick with your regiment.

Staying motivated is a common issue especially when your workload begins to pile up. Your work is the most important thing, that’s why you’re in school, so it’s easy to skip workouts when a semester begins to pick up momentum. That’s not a problem, the problem comes when you are using your workload as an excuse. You don’t have to be in the gym for hours at a time. You can get in a great workout within 30-45 minutes. There are plenty of regiments online to use and I’m sure if you ask someone at your school gym they can recommend something for you to do.

Lastly, go to the gym with the betterment of your health in mind. Don’t get discouraged by other people! That means don’t worry about the behemoth that can curl the service desk, don’t worry about the slender goddess that has been running on the treadmill at top speed for an hour and a half, and don’t worry about the guy walking around with a shirt that exposes his nipples just because he can. You can’t let things like this bother you because that is who these people are. Get in, do your workout and get out. Just like you don’t want anyone to judge you, don’t judge anybody else. Tolerance is a two-way street and it is only fair if there are no exceptions to the rules. College is not the easiest time to stay in shape, but there is no excuse for not trying to stay in shape at the very least. Put aside time to go to the gym and you will love yourself at the end of the semester.

On Making it all Four Years

Congratulations! You have completed high school, now you are off to college, full of hope and promise, ready to face the world.

Or are you?

If I had just asked myself that simple question, am I ready for college?, I could have saved myself time, money, and hardship.

Society forces the concept that students must go to college immediately after high school, while the knowledge obtained in the past four years is still fresh on their young minds. What society fails to realize is that many young people are not ready for the trials of higher education at eighteen.
High school prepares you to go to college, which is only half of the higher education experience. The other half, making it as an adult, involves life skills high school fails to cover. You may have the education and intellectual ability, but without the maturity, you will crumble in the first semester. The main components a young adult must master to make it on his own are financial responsibility, self motivation, and job skills.

As a teenager, I was blissfully unaware of the ugly side of money: bills. I never paid a bill in my life until I moved out, and unfortunately, neither does the majority of today’s youth. Even if your tuition has been covered by scholarships, there is still the cost of books, living expenses, etc. Without the knowledge of budgeting, these bills can pile up and suffocate you. The best advice I can give is to make a small investment in getting a financial advisor to teach you how to handle money. It will pay off in the long run, and save you from a whirlwind of stress.

High school teachers drill due dates, test dates, study guides, and homework into student brains, something the students often take for granted. They grow to expect it; they have no incentive to study on their own. This poses a problem for today’s college Freshman. Teachers will no longer baby the students, reminding them of every test, project and assignment. And, worse of all, no more study guides. You must study on your own will, sacrificing the free time we all crave.

You go through college with the expectancy of getting a job, but you must get a job to make it through college. Part time jobs may be hard to find, but most colleges offer on-campus positions to help students. These jobs are much better than off campus jobs, simply because the employers will be more understanding of your class and study needs when you need time off. The best way to make it is to get a job or paid internship in your field of study. For example, a Journalism major could apply for the college newspaper staff. The more experience in your line of work you gain through college, the easier it will be to get jobs in the real world.

College is about more than just school. If you learn to master academics with other imperative life skills, you will master all four years of schooling and beyond.