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.

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Start Building Your Resume!

Resume

While there are many ways to create and build your social brand online through linkedin, twitter, e-portfolio’s, personal website, etc. i still believe in the power of a paper resume. When you apply for internships and jobs you still upload your resume or hand it to an employer at a career fair. Of course you’ll have the links to all of your online portfolios on your resume, but your one page resume is what an employee browses first. If they like what they see they will then do more research on you and browse through the rest of your information. I always tell students, and I’m sure I’ve said it in posts before, your GPA and your MAJOR are ONE LINE of your resume. There is A LOT more space to fill in on that piece of paper. It’s great that you were president of National Honor Society, captain of the soccer team, head lifeguard at the beach, and babysat the same kids for 4 years throughout high school however, campus recruiters don’t care about that. They know how much opportunity and experiences are available on a college campus and they want to see that you are taking advantage of those experiences. How do you start doing that? Here are some tips on jumping into the ‘experience’ world and start building your resume now!…even as a Freshman in college.

1. Join a club – This is the most obvious one. Clubs look great on a resume and are extremely useful to your college experience. You will network, meet alumni, possibly attend conferences, get active on campus, meet new friends and if you get involved early on, as a freshman or sophomore, you’ll have a much better chance of holding a leadership position as a junior or senior. Employer’s LOVE seeing leadership on a resume.

2. Talk to a professor – Ask them if they know of an opportunities for you. Ask them if they know of something that you may be interested in. When I was teaching freshman I had a student come ask me this. I had been a part of the campus for 6 years at that time and I knew the in’s and out’s of the campus so when she said she wanted to get involved I knew exactly where she would do well and what department she should apply for a student job in.

3. Find the Career Services office – Go into career services and introduce yourself. You want they to know you! Also ask them if they know of opportunities for you. Freshman, there are opportunities that are specifically for YOU – sophomores, juniors and seniors cannot do them. There are programs specifically for certain ages and you may miss them if you sit around and do nothing. Also – ask them if they have someone who can review your resume or if they have services to learn about how to create a resume and start revising!

 

You Only Give ONE First Impression, Don’t Screw It Up

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughingIt’s true that most people will judge you within the first second of meeting you and their opinion will most likely never change. You can form a good or bad reputation in the first weekend of college. People will form opinions about you even without meeting you. My first weekend of college I had formed opinions about people just based on observing the way they acted and also based on what other people said about them. It didn’t matter what happened over the next 4 years, because when I saw those people at graduation, I still remembered the first impression I had of them. It’s human nature to form an opinion about someone. Do a little experiment today, make an effort to meet someone new. As you meet them, be conscious of the observations you make about them. Are they speaking clearly, are they fidgeting, are they rambling on, are they making eye contact with you? Then as you leave, think about the opinion you formed of them. Is it a good one? Why? What kinds of things did they do that impressed you? Takes that impressed you and keep them in your back pocket, pull them out when it’s time for you to meet someone new.

Making a good first impression is incredibly important, because you only get one shot at it.  So how do you make sure that people are judging you accurately? Not just new friends but your professors, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, RA’s, administrators, corporate recruiters who come to campus, upper classman, everyone that you meet will form a first impression about you. Here is my best piece of advice for you to make sure you give the BEST first impression:

Know your purpose and your intention when meeting someone. One of the most important things to do when approaching someone is knowing why you are meeting them. It may sound odd but it will make you come across more confident and keep you in charge of the conversation. Think about it, if you see a professor and just walk up to them thinking, “oh man, here’s a professor, I should meet them so they know me, I hope I don’t screw up, I’m really nervous,” you’re going to go up to them, put out your hand and said, “Hi I’m Gabby” and then they’ll say “Hi I’m professor ‘whoever’ it’s nice to meet you.” Then after a few seconds of awkward silence, you’ll smile and fidget and maybe say something that doesn’t make sense and then walk away having achieved nothing. First impression – fail! So instead what you should do is think about your purpose. Think, “I am going to go up to the professor to introduce myself and let him know that I am excited about the first semester. I am going to keep it quick, I will remember to smile, I am going to speak clearly….now take a deep breath and stand up straight.” As I walk over I know exactly what I am going to do and exactly what I am going to say and I have just taken a deep breath so I am feeling good and I am feeling confident. I walk up to the professor, put out my hand and say “Hi Professor ‘whoever’ my name is Gabby. I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and let you know that I’m really looking forward to this semester [smile].” He may then say something as simple as “great it’s nice to meet you” and then you can say “You too, have a good day, I’ll see you next class.” Bing, Bang, Boom. Great first impression – success! Simply because I had a plan. It was much better than the smile and stare and awkward shuffling of paper as I walk away looking like an idiot. Having a plan or an introduction in mind will help you for every conversation you have and it will, without a doubt, help  you master the first impression.

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.

 

You Control How Much You Learn

College Student Studying in Library

One of the hardest things to do in college is making the effort to learn more. In high school you are told what to learn, what to study, what to memorize, what to write your paper about. You’re not in high school anymore. In college, how much you learn is up to you. How much do you want to learn? You can do just enough to get by or you can do more than is expected. Remember that knowledge is key and people pay for expertise. The more you know, the more you can do, the more people you will meet and the more money you can make.

There are a lot of opportunities for learning in college, often times outside the classroom. Think about the situations in life, thus far, that you have learned the most from? There is much more to college than a textbook. Take advantage of every opportunity you can.

‘Tis The Season

The Holiday’s are right around the corner.  Do you need a gift idea for your high school children, nieces, nephews, friends??  Make sure to grab a copy of my book “I Wish I Knew It Before Going To College”!  It’s an easy read and it’s full of great college topics.