Advice on Surviving Your First Semester

collegeHere are the Do’s and Don’ts of how to survive your first semester of college. This semester matters. You’re building the ground work, you’re building your blueprint for the rest of your college experience. Hey! Remember – if you want to start building your resume now, e-mail me to be a college blogger – it’s easy and will look great on your resume! 😉

1. Don’t go home every weekend. This is tempting, especially if you live close, or you have a significant other at home, but you will make absolutely no friends on campus this way and you will be miserable. You will also be known as “the one who always goes home.”

2. DO communicate with your roommate. This is crucial! One of the biggest causes of roommate conflicts is a failure to communicate, especially at the beginning of the year. If you don’t start early, it just gets harder and harder. If your school doesn’t require it, I recommend you and your roommate create a contract discussing your expectations of each other involving guests, cleanliness, alarm clocks, TV etc. It may seem silly, but it will come in handy later!

3. Don’t sit in the library every weekend. You will burn yourself out fast if you study all the time. You need to take social breaks. I understand that for some of you it’s easier to sit and read a book or stare are your computer screen than it is to go out and converse with new people. Socializing is important to your mental health and it will help you in the long run when you need to interview for internships, jobs, meet with professors, and work with new people.

 4. DO explore the different majors are your school. You will probably not end college doing the same thing you think you will do when you start. This is more than likely because when you start college, all you really know is law, medicine, and business, but there are so many more great options, so don’t be afraid to explore them and to change your mind! One trick I tell student is to go into the admissions office at their school and pick up the newest viewbook or list of majors. This will list all of the majors. When you see one that’s interesting you can then find a professor in that department and e-mail them. You’re on the campus now, use your resources!!!

5. Don’t spend every second with your new boyfriend or girlfriend. This is a topic that needs its own blog post and I very well may write one in the near future. It’s so easy to totally consume your time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend. It will take energy and effort to force yourself to spend time with your roommate and other friends. Force yourself to do that! Your bf/gf will still love you even if they don’t see you for a night or a weekend and if they don’t, then you need to get rid of them because that’s not healthy.

6. DO get to know your RA. Your RA is not out to get you. Remember, they’re students too, and writing you up just means hours of unwanted paperwork for them on a Saturday night. They hate doing it but they will if they have to, because it’s their job, and because they want you to be safe. Which brings me to my next point –

7. Don’t do stupid things. You cannot get away with anything. I know that you get away with a lot, now that you are out of your house and on your own. Yes, you can get away with staying up all night. Yes, you’re allowed to walk around campus whenever you want. But no, you can’t break the rules. No, you’re not invisible. I’ve seen the stupidest things done – I’ve seen students get caught for smoking weed with their dorm room door open. Seriously? What makes people think they can do that? Remember your morals. Keep in mind that college is not a guarantee and you very well can get kicked out of school. Don’t be dumb!

8. DO ask for help. I really mean this. If you are struggling with homesickness, depression, if you can’t sleep, if you are having trouble finding a good study habit, if you find yourself experimenting with substances, if you got too drunk one night and scared yourself, if you’re just not feeling like yourself ….find help and ask for help. Talk to your RA, go to health services, talk to a faculty member. If you have no idea who to go to, e-mail me and I will help navigate you to the right person -> gabbriel.simone@gmail.com

A Love Letter To College Freshman

loveletterIt’s possible that the first weekend of your college career just passed and you’re questioning a lot of things about this whole ‘college thing’. Everyone said this would be the best years of your life so why do you feel that way? Are you thinking, ‘why do I miss home this much?’ or ‘I don’t know if I can do this…’ It’s possible that you are very unhappy right now, it’s also possible that this past weekend was the best weekend of your life thus far. Either way, I’ll be honest with you – it’s going to be hard. I mean, it may even suck at times. College, is not meant to be glamorous. It is new, it is uncomfortable, you will feel emotions you’ve never felt. You will deal with types of people you never dealt with before. It’s not natural to live in a building with hundreds of girls and guys the same age as you. It will take you a few months, maybe even a year or so for you to appreciate the reasons why it is the best years of your life. Take a deep breath and give it time. I’ll say it again… it may take a few months or even a year for you to appreciate the reasons why it is the best years of your life. It’s hard…the adjustment to college is hard and it’s okay if you hate it right now but I promise you…it. will. get. better.

If you love college or hate college, here is a Love Letter To College Freshman that you NEED to read.  – I found this on http://www.moreloveletters.com and I couldn’t have said it better!

Dear You–

It may just be you & I up and awake in the world right now.

Just you… the quiet of a new dorm room… the glow of the laptop screen… this love letter… and a feeling webbing deep in your stomach that you may never get used to all this.

Ever.

It’s not true. You’re going to do just fine. You’re already doing just fine even if it’s one of the hardest things to convince yourself of when the tears are brinking and you just want to go back home: Back to comfort. High school. A boyfriend & friendships now sitting in the pile of “long distance.” Bonfires. Summer. Familiarity. Anything but this.

It’ll be the best four years of your life… that’s what they’re telling you, right? That—if done right—these next four years will sculpt you & change you & make you ready for the real world. Truth told: this is the real world. It’s yours. Stop thinking otherwise. Don’t let a moment more slip away.

These next four years are yours to be entirely & completely selfish.

To figure out “you” and how “you” make this world a better place. So start…

Start at the coffee bar. That’s a good place to start. Just visit the coffee bar and treat yourself to something sweet—you’re in college. It’s something to celebrate.

Knock awkwardly on the doors of your new neighbors. Everyone is waiting for someone to make the first move and plan a powwow. Be that person. Decide that tonight it is the football game and tomorrow it is popcorn and a movie night in your room. Pick a movie that is both drama & comedy, with traces of home & familiarity in it for each of you.

Befriend your RA. They are not the enemy. They are here to make every ounce of this easier for you… and they’d really appreciate the chance to try.

Call home when you have to. Cry your eyes out. Take slow slugs of the broth of homesickness in the morning.

It’s ok… It’s ok…

Let the homesickness in. Don’t push it out. Talk about it. Embrace it. It will head south eventually… I promise.

Write letters. To your friends at other schools. To your long distance boyfriend. To teachers back home. Glitter the maps with your cursive to one another. Give one another a reason to track back the campus mailbox for something other than a free pizza coupon. You’ll keep those letters for years & years. You’ll one day say that there is nothing like those letters you’ve kept stacked in a box beside your bed.

And on the note of friends… step away from Facebook for a little while. Not forever. Not for always. Just enough time to be present to the here & now. The meeting of new faces. The conversations at parties. The ice breakers that, yes, you clearly don’t want to do but should anyway. Be there for it. All of it. Don’t sit in the feeds of your friends back home; start new chapters that would make them proud.

Follow. Just follow wherever this year takes you. You’ll change. It’s inevitable. But don’t shy away from the change or the chance to develop into a better friend… a better leader… a better somebody. Accept it. When people grow distant and old relationships don’t fuel you anymore, just accept it. That’s life. It’s always happening. Clear away and cut the ties you need to cut… make room for Better & More. You’ll find best friends in this place…

Don’t go crazy looking for them. You’ll find one another and in a year from now you’ll wonder how there ever was a whole two decades of Not Knowing One Another. For now, just meet people. Sink into it naturally. You’ll get there. I promise. Just find the places where people are and start there.

A club. A meeting. The newspaper. Something. Anything. Not just for social purposes– your resume is going to start mattering sooner than you think… take it seriously.

And classes too—Go. To. Them. 8am or not—Show. Up.

Study. Try harder than you’ve ever tried before. Consider a time management course. Take at least one course that interests you… thrills you… makes you think. & don’t rush to choose a major. There’s time to get your feet wet with the muds of it all.

Most of all, embrace it. All of it. The new opportunities. The events on campus. The free stuff. The chance to grow apart from everything you’ve ever know. The chance to be someone you have always wanted to be…

Sit down during this first week of college… take out a piece of paper… and write it all down. Your hopes & your dreams & your goals for the next four years. Who do you want to become? What do you want to accomplish? It’s time to start all of this.

Write it all down. Put it in an envelope. Seal it up and scribble “Do not open until college graduation day,” in big, bold letters. And tuck it somewhere safe…

Get clear on what you want to make of these next four years and then go out and do it…

You’ve got this. You’ve really got this. And if ever you start to believe that you don’t, come find me.

Love,

Someone who has been there before.

Using Your Hours Wisely

clockThere is plenty of time in college. It’s often that I hear students, especially freshman say that they want to get used to their school work first before they get involved on campus. They say they want to get acclimated to their environment first and then do other things. It’s even more common that I hear high school students say things like, “I wish I could keep playing sports or join a club but I’m a health science major and I just don’t think I’ll have time.” While I agree that there is a transition phase in college and it does take time to acclimate, I disagree with the fact that you don’t have enough time to do a variety of activities on campus. I also think that having a few different things on your plate will actually help you transition better than just focusing on your academics. Think about your time this way — there are 168 hours in a week. If you set aside 56 hours for sleep (8 hours a night), and 40 hours for academics (this is A LOT of hours for academics, I guarantee that even the smartest students don’t give this amount of time to academics) it will leave you with 72 hour for everything else. 72 hours! That’s A LOT of time. Are you really going to fill it with doing school work and adjusting to the campus? Boring, if I say so myself. I actually think that if you used that time to just get used to your environment, you’d be wasting time.  Seize the day my friends!

Gear Up For the First Semester

transitioningThis first month of school is critical for setting up the rest of your semester. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new freshman or a returning upperclassman the transition from home life to school life is up to you. You have the opportunity to build a strong foundation for the rest of the semester, don’t let bad habits take over. Start to take control of your responsibilities – go to the gym, eat healthy snacks, watch those ‘liquid’ calories, stay up to date on classwork, and take a look at these simple 10 to-do’s to help you build a strong foundation. I suggest you take a few minutes to do arts and crafts, write these out on a piece of paper, bring them to school with you and hang them above your desk. I am a true believe in visualization – if something is staring you in the face everyday you will do it, or accomplish it. Add to your list daily!

1. Get to know your roommates – sit with them and really get to know them. These are the people you are going to spend the most amount of time with. You don’t have to be their best friend but you do have to live with them (and they have to live with you).

2. Get Organized! Your professor may have assigned work and projects and told you about them on day 1. Don’t expect them to remind you everyday about it and if you forget to hand it in when it’s due you will not get away with the excuse ‘i didnt know it was due.’ Get a planner and fill in the dates when assignments are due.

3. Go to class – Sleeping in and skipping your morning class may seem tempting, who’s making you go anyway? Get up and go! You are paying to be there, don’t waste your money.

4. Meet with your professors. Take the extra minute to show up before class or stay after class and meet your professor. Ask them a question, or tell them that you are enjoying their class so far. They’re human (everyone likes to be given complements) and they’ll appreciate the positive feedback.

5. Let go of the pressure of having to know exactly what you want to study – You’ve probably met a number of people who say they know exactly what they want to do when they graduate (i’d bet money that majority of those people have no idea what they want to do). College is a time to discover what you want to do. Let those people do what they want to do and be excited that you aren’t locked into one track right now, you are exploring!

6. Stay healthy! Go to the gym, eat your fruit and veggies, listen to music and go for a walk by yourself.

7. Take a deep breath.

8. Don’t cut corner – nobody gets placed on the top of the mountain, they all have to climb it.

9. Seek help when you need it – are you really stressed? Are your eating habits getting out of hand? Are you drinking more than you expected? Dont be afraid to ask for help. Walk to health services (trust me they’ve seen and heard it all) and tell them what is going on. Are you confused on an assignment? E-mail your professor, reach out to a classmate or go to the tutoring center. People want to help you.

1o. Call home to your family – they miss you, they want to hear from you.

 

Know When To Seek Counseling

depressionMost, if not all college campuses offer counseling services to offer aid to troubled students. Don’t’ be afraid to take advantage of this resource if you need it. You may be thinking that you’re not the type to need it. College brings an entire new level of stress, peer pressure, experiences, personalities, and opportunities that you may have never been exposed to in high school. Because of that, you may find yourself in situations where you are questioning your actions and your feelings. Have you lost control of your drinking and partying? Are you always sad? Are you having trouble focusing? Are you having trouble sleeping? Be aware and conscious of your actions and your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it.

If you’re embarrassed to talk about your issue or concern with a person in the counseling service, I can assure you that you have no reason to be. People who work in the counseling office have heard everything and anything there is to hear about issues in college. They are trained professionals and they aren’t going to look at your cross-eyed because the issue that you bring to them, they’ve probably heard hundreds of times before.

ULifeline – The online resource for college mental health — GET THE FACTS HERE

You’ve Been Talking to Your New Roommate and You Already Don’t Like Them

RoommatesYou received your roommate assignment for freshman year. You’ve jumped on Facebook and sent a friend request, maybe sent a message or an e-mail. Thankfully you heard back from them quickly and started to talk. It all seemed great at first – you’re both excited about going to college, the conversation seems to be running smoothly and then the more you talk, the more you realize that this is probably the worst roommate match up of all time. You think, “I filled out the roommate survey online, did res life even look at it!?….There is no way we are going to work out as roommates.”

The more you look at their pictures online the more you realize how different you are from them. You can’t wait for the college nightlife and they said that they like to be in bed by 10:00pm every night. Or maybe, you’re that person who likes to be in bed early and your roommates Facebook is covered with pictures of drunken nights and posts about being so excited to go to college and get to their first frat party. You talk about having friends from come visit and they say they don’t like when random people sleep in their room. The issues go on and on and now you’re freaking out because you haven’t even started your freshman year and you are worried that you and your roommate are NOT going to get along.

Don’t jump to conclusions! Living with someone and talking to them face to face is very different than communicating through facebook and e-mail. People change in college, even after the first weekend! Your roommate is talking to you as a High School student, most likely living with their parents. As soon as you more in with them they will be talking to you as a college student. Your mind, your imagination, your worries, are your biggest challenges…. not him or her. You need to give it time. You need to change your mindset. You’ve heard the horror stories about awful roommates but have you heard about the roommates who were complete opposites and became the best of friends? It happens all the time. Don’t compare your roommate to your friends from home. I did this all the time and I think it hurt the potential for some great friendships. I thought I knew what ‘type’ of person would be a good fit as a friend however, it turned out that the best friend I made in college was the complete opposite of my friends from home.

If you have concerns, keep your communication minimal until you actually get to college and experience living in a dorm. Think about some of the ground rules you will want to set and when you get to college have this discussion with your roommate. If you are your roommate really don’t get along once school starts this is something you will discuss with your RA.

Procrastination No-No!

Procrastination in college is on an entirely new level than procrastination in high school.  You thought waiting until after dinner in high school to write a paper that was assigned 2 weeks ago and is now due tomorrow is quality procrastination?  Try – college, 2am, paper due at 8am, haven’t even looked at assignment yet.  Yes my friends… procrastination at it’s finest!  Major problemo though!  The number one thing college students wish they knew before coming to college was how to manage their time.  Proper time management helps to avoid poor quality work,  avoids stress, keeps you organized, keeps you focused, and keeps you on task – all things that lead toward a successful college experience.

There are a variety of excuses that all you procrastinators use.  i.e. ‘I have to log on to facebook to see what’s happening’ ‘I need to call my boyfriend and settle our problems right this second’ (problems already? buh-bye) ‘I have to hang out with my friends’ ‘I need to take a nap’ keep going?…. okay, ‘I can’t study right now, i’m not in the right mood’ ‘I have to take a break before I start my work’ ‘I have to party tonight otherwise i’ll be wasting my college experience’

NONSENSE my friends…. get your shit together.  Instead of using the words i have to and i need to use the words i choose to.  You don’t have to or need to do any of those things, you all choose the things you do in college.  You don’t have to call your boyfriend instead of writing a paper, you choose to call your boyfriend.  You don’t have to start drinking at 7pm, you choose to.

ADVICE – There are a ton of resources on how to avoid procrastination and work on time management.  I will give you 1 piece of advice because I know that’s all you want to hear and statistically people only remember about 3 things that you tell them so I’ll bless you with just 1 thing and then you’ll have no choice but to remember it.  Here is it –> SCHEDULE LIBRARY STUDY TIME!  Every day have an hour that you just sit in the library and do work.  Make the library your space.  I did this when I was in college and it was the best decision ever.  I would sit down in the library during my ‘time’ and force myself to do work, even if it wasn’t due until the next week or two.  This made the library my ‘work time’ and my dorm room my ‘relaxing and fun time’.  If you are constantly putting work off until later you will constantly be thinking about.  When you’re sitting in your room or on your bed (when you should be content) you will be stressed because you will always thinking about the work that needs to get done.  If you force yourself to go to the library for at least an hour every day you will stay on top of your work and be able to use your room as an outlet away from work.  If you don’t have one space to associate with work (the library) then you will associate all of college with work and stress… train your mind and body to use the library as your work space and your dorm as your home… balance work life and home life (just like adults do in the real world, right?)

Okay, that post ended up being much longer than I wanted it to be.

Procrastinate | Later {haha}

{gab}