The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers (Year 2)

pexels-photo-1370296.jpegToday I bring you a very exciting blog. For this month’s Freshman 15, I asked 15 college students and alumni to share their advice for navigating university life, based on their own experiences (much like last year’s blog!). We have an amazing group of contributors: documentary filmmakers, contestants and cast members from America’s Next Top Model and Real World, the owner of an organic vegan blog/brand, website creators, you name it. Enjoy the wise words of some of the coolest college students and grads that I’ve met, and feel free to add your own in the comments section below!

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers (Year 2)

1. Enjoy life outside of the classroom.
In college, you will do more learning out of the classroom than you will do in it. Don’t forget to grow as a person as you grow academically. This will eventually prove so much more important–in your personal and professional lives–than the specifics you learned in lectures.
— Alexandra Govere (Real World: San Diego), Stanford University, Civil Engineering Major (@alexgovere)
Blog: The High Fiver 

*

2. Learn for learning’s sake.
While it’s important to take classes that will help you reach your chosen profession, be sure to take a few on some things you would enjoy learning. These fun classes will offer a break from the stress of your regular course load and provide the chance to learn about something you find interesting. And you never know, these fun classes could lead to new friendships and a world of new opportunities that you never considered before!
— Monica Monticello, University of Central Florida, English Major

*

3. Communicate with faculty.
Talk to your professors! They can’t help you or work with you in the event of an absence if they don’t know who you are! You can do this by asking them about something you don’t understand, or telling them how much you liked a video they showed during their lecture. Talk to them face-to-face whenever possible.
— Rachel Milock, University of South Carolina, Information Science Major (@singyouhome)

*

pexels-photo-1370296.jpeg
4. Stay organized!

My biggest tip to balancing school and other things would be to stay extremely organized. I keep a planner (not in my phone or computer) and color code classes and events so I never forget about anything. As soon as I get the class syllabus I split up the work evenly every week until test time/assignment due date. A few days before an assignment is due or an exam is going to take place, I’ll write down to study for it/make sure everything is finished. It helps to be redundant…if I only write an assignments due date on the actual date, the chances of me remembering it before the day it’s due is slim to none.
— Nicole Lucas (America’s Next Top Model), University of Central Florida, Psychology Major and Marketing Minor (@NicoleMLucas)

*

5. Stay in the present.
Make sure you don’t spend all your time worrying about the future. It’s good to have the go-getter attitude and want to make sure you’re going to have a job/acceptance letter at the end of these four years, but it’s also important to make the most of your college experience. Play hooky for a day, join a bunch of clubs, start an organization – those are the stories you’re going to share someday.
— Mina Radman, University of Florida, Journalism Major

*

6. You don’t have to party.
Although “college” is often synonymous with parties, it’s okay if that’s not your scene. Contrary to popular belief, people won’t think you’re a “loser” just because you decline an invitation to party with them. There are a community of people on every college campus who prefer to play board games on Friday nights rather than go to frat parties. Various organizations (such as religious groups, Student Union Board, etc.) often host fun (and free!) events on weekends, which are great for meeting people with similar interests who aren’t into the party scene. Also, don’t be afraid to go to those events alone. You may arrive alone, but you’ll likely leave with a few new acquaintances and a few more numbers in your phone’s contacts!
— Tori Twine, Elon University, Cinema Major (@toritwine)

*

7. Manage your time.
Learn time management and learn it fast!
— Logan Kriete, University of Central Florida, Radio/Television Major (@logankriete)

*
8. Stay excited.
Most freshmen have a period of heightened sociality during their first year at college. They’re more willing to attend study groups, talk to strangers, and join campus organizations. However, as the excitement of college-life begins to fade, I’ve noticed those same freshmen (including myself) are inclined to draw back socially. So as freshmen, I urge you to hold on to that bit of excitement you’re feeling right now, and make it last! Continue to get involved on campus and with your peers throughout your college career. The rest of your college years will thank you for it!
— Marilyn Malara, Florida State University, Editing/Writing/Media Major (@wowmarilyn)
*
9. Experience everything you can.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. So take a risk and try something new. Be someone who says “yes.” You never know when a leadership position, unfamiliar class, study abroad experience, challenging internship, new friend, or even a ridiculous past time like line dancing will change your life. If you leave college with just a degree, you truly missed out.
— Jamie Gregor, University of Central Florida, Advertising/Public Relations and Marketing Major (@jamiegregor)
*
10. Stop comparing.
If I could do one thing over when I was in university it would be to stop comparing myself with other women. I used to always think that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough and I spent so much time unhappy with myself and struggling with an eating disorder. I missed out on so much. When I look back at pictures of this time in my life I feel sad for all the things I missed out on. Instead of seeing someone who needed to lose weight or who wasn’t beautiful enough, I see someone with so much possibility, love, and beauty. I just wish I could have seen it at the time. So my advice is to appreciate what you have NOW. Stop wishing to be someone else or to have someone else’s body. Stop telling yourself you are too fat to go out. Work with what you have and hold your head up high. Don’t let this time pass you by!
— Angela Liddon, University of Guelph, Psychology Major (Blog: Oh She Glows)
*
11. Keep a calendar.
Keep a calendar either digital or old fashioned. I have yet to update to a fancy phone so I still have a paper and pencil calendar. You can not only use it to keep track of appointments, events and classes but also to remember when you should study and when you have tests coming up.
— Rebekah Callari, University of Central Florida, Molecular & Microbiology Major
*
12. Get out of your comfort zone.
Do what terrifies you. My sophomore year of college, introverted and disconnected, I agreed, with some coaxing, to put my name on an email list for the student newspaper. A year later, I was one of the top staff writers for the news section, churning out several stories each issue. Figure out why you’re afraid of something and make sure you’re running for the right reasons. I wasn’t. But plunging headfirst into journalism taught me more than how to write. It brought me into a circle of equally passionate writers.
— Kaleigh Somers, James Madison University, Media Arts & Design Major (Blog: HUGstronger)
*
13. Trust cautiously.
Be careful whom you trust: Just because they live with you, sit next to you in class, or are in a club with you, does not guarantee that they will keep your secrets. Think twice before spilling your soul to someone you’ve only known for a few weeks. They are still capable of judging you and betraying you. College is a scary place, but don’t rush into friendships right away. Good things take time, and you will thank yourself for waiting before opening up to people.
— Shannon Payne, University of Central Florida, Anthropology Major (@shannon_nicolle)

*

14. Don’t date your neighbors.
Dear freshmen, my golden rule for college life — well actually, life in general — is to not date someone that lives in your dorm or a co worker. It might seem cool at first since you get to see each other all the time but that gets old as quick as Drawing with Friends! Unless you love drama and tears by all means live and learn!
— Zhe Liu, University of Hawaii, Psychology Major
*

15. Know who to turn to.
In college, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Studying too hard, participating in too much, and sleeping too little can inevitably lead to a more stressed-out you. Never forget that college is an excellent opportunity to build a “safety net” of new friends and acquaintances who are there to keep you sane, calm you down and boost you up when you need them most. Also, don’t forget that mom and dad are just a phone call away.
— Robert Gottfried, University of Central Florida, Legal Studies Major (@thegottfried)

*
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog — you are all amazing!

The Freshman 15: Mid-Semester Motivation Tips

Can anyone believe it’s almost March? As so many of us find ourselves inundated with midterms, essays and appointments, we sometimes forget how to cope with our hectic workloads and instead allow the chaos to overcome us. While some of us may become complacent and decide we just don’t care how we score on that psych exam, others feel completely overwhelmed and buried by all of our stressors.

For February’s Freshman 15, I will discuss just a few ways to tackle that mid-semester slump and remain motivated throughout the year. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below!

The Freshman 15: Mid-Semester Motivation Tips

1. Stop telling yourself (and everyone else!) how stressed you are. (Tweet this!)
First of all, stress isn’t always a bad thing — in fact, it gives us that “fight or flight” response that allows us to act in emergency situations! A little bit of stress is good because it helps us perform to the best of our abilities. Second of all, although too much stress can be harmful, chances are that when you complain about it, you’re only making it worse. The more that you tell your friends (who most likely have a lot on their plates as well!) that you’re “stressed out,” the more that you hear those words in your own mind and the more stressed out you become.

*

2. Reassess what you want.
During the fall semester of my freshman year, life wasn’t easy. Not only was I constantly sick, but I was in the middle of muddling through my general education requirements, many of which were not of interest to me. In fact, although I had a soft spot for my speech class, I had trouble feeling enthusiastic about any of the classes I was taking, in part because I didn’t have an end goal (a major) in mind. Once I finally chose a major to stick with, I found myself much more excited to go to classes and learn about the subjects I wanted to learn. Moral of the story? Choose a major that you’re going to be happy with. If your gen ed requirements are completed and you still dread going to classes, perhaps it is time to choose a new major.

*

3. Cut something out of your schedule.
Grades should come first. If you find yourself so over-extended on extracurricular activities that you’ve worn yourself thin, it’s time to cut back and prioritize what activity is the most important to you. So many of us don’t know when to say “no” because we’re so excited about the myriad of opportunities we have in college, but it is better to do a few things well than to do many things halfheartedly.

*

4. Discover a new hobby.
When I think of people with a lot of stress in their lives, Harry Potter always comes to mind. After all, his only surviving relatives despise him, he is constantly in detention, his Potions professor is out to get him (or so he thinks) and every year he has to save the world from the wrath of Voldemort. Harry’s friends provide some solace in his life, but when he hits the Quidditch pitch on his Firebolt broomstick, Harry is at peace (except, of course, when someone tries to bewitch his broomstick or send Dementors after him during a game). The point is – we all need a break, whether we find it in a game of Quidditch or a DIY project. If you don’t already have something that calms you down, find something. Too many hobbies will make you a little eccentric, but one great one will help you ease your mind when you have time to take a break.

*

5. Change your scenery.
Sometimes when you’re in one place for too long, you become a little stir crazy. That’s why it’s important to change it up every so often! I tend to study in my room, but if it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, I might bring my textbooks out to the garden at school just for something different. Whether you relocate to Starbucks, the library or a hilltop, you will surely feel invigorated by your new surroundings.

*

6. Give thanks.
You may be thinking that this has nothing to do with motivation, but ever since I started this gratitude challenge back in mid-January, I have felt infinitely happier and more inspired than ever. By writing down five things you are thankful for each night before you go to bed, you are challenging yourself to find the good in a sometimes bad day, and you begin to put your own problems into perspective. Try it!

*

7. Surround yourself with positive people.
It’s hard to be optimistic when everyone you encounter is constantly whining about how difficult everything is. Find friends who know how to look at the glass half full – you can always learn from those people, and their happiness is usually contagious. Life is too short to be grumpy.

*

8. Ditch the social media.
Studies reveal that using Facebook while studying tends to result in lower grades. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that liking your friends’ statuses and browsing pictures from last weekend’s party will not help you get an A in English class. With exams around the corner, you’ll need to know that Romeo and Juliet were star-crossed lovers, but you do not need to know that Robbie and Julia are now in an open relationship. Besides, your mind will be a lot clearer if you spend a little less time on Facebook.

*

9. Find a role model.
Having a mentor is an amazing thing when it feels like the walls are closing in on you. If you’ve met an older student that you aspire to be like, ask yourself what that person has done to become so successful. Better yet, ask him or her about it in person! People love to talk about their successes, and if you meet someone that you look up to, then when you feel like you’re about to give up on something, you can always ask yourself, “Would ____ do that?” Role models give us that extra boost of inspiration when we need it.

*

10. Practice relaxation methods.
For many people, yoga and pilates are two phenomenal ways to burn calories and calm down from the day-to-day hustle and bustle. For others, they aren’t enough. Find something that helps you slow down when things become too much to handle. Learn how to meditate and breathe properly. These are just a few healthy ways to keep yourself grounded.

*

11. Set new goals.
Feeling complacent? Do something about it! Challenge yourself with a new goal to reach. Apply for a study abroad program, learn a new skill, or join an organization that sounds appealing to you. Find ways to keep your college experiences fresh and exciting.

*

12. Remind yourself of your positive attributes.
If you feel completely stuck and unable to accomplish what you need to accomplish, this handy trick will help get you out of your rut. In this exercise, you’ll need to list 100 things that you love about yourself. Think you can do it? In early February, I tried this out and was proud of some of the attributes I came up with. You’ll have to think outside the box a bit on this one, but once completed, this exercise really does boost your self esteem/self efficacy and help you regain motivation.

*

13. Up the ante on organizational skills.
Sometimes, you just need to be a little more disciplined than usual to get the job done. Perhaps you’ll need to keep a more detailed agenda than usual, or maintain a more organized study space. Click here for tips on managing your time and organizing your life!

*

14. Seek help when you need it.
Go to office hours. Meet with tutors and academic advisers. Make an appointment with the counseling center. Do what you need to do to stay on your game; don’t worry about what others are going to think. You should be your biggest priority.

*

15. Be sure to address any deeper issues.
Sometimes we aren’t held back by a lack of motivation; rather, we have been affected by something farther beyond our control. Know the difference, and take care of yourself and the issue at hand.

*

What topics would you like to see in the future?!

The Freshman 15: Ways To Stand Out Professionally

pexels-photo-1179804.jpeg

During my freshman year of college, I dreaded the idea of having to present myself to the professional world. Having taken a lot of my major coursework with upperclassmen, I was always bashful about comparing my high school-oriented resume with the beautifully compiled lists of internships and accomplishments my older classmates had already experienced. After all, what could I, a high school graduate with only a few months of college under my belt, truly claim to have achieved?

Of course, as I became more immersed in campus life and began to connect with faculty members, I realized that no matter how old you are, there are always methods for marketing yourself and reflecting a professional image. Freshman year is a great time to begin cultivating that image and developing the tools you’ll need to properly maintain it. This month, we’ll explore some of the preparations you can take to land officer positions, internships and selection into other opportunities in the semesters to come.

The Freshman 15: Ways To Stand Out Professionally

1. Get involved on campus as early as possible.
Research shows that students who join organizations and activities on campus are more likely to graduate from college. This isn’t to say that you should sign up for every club that your school has to offer, but you should pick out a few that sound interesting and start going to their meetings. Chances are, the girl who was just elected president of the pre-med student society (you know, that girl who knows everything about the department and seems to be really put-together?) has been attending meetings and joining committees since her freshman or sophomore year. Look for organizations that interest you now. Remember, today’s members at large are tomorrow’s executive officers.

*

2. Create a new resumé.
Because you’re in your first year of school, it’s obvious that you won’t have a lot of college-related items to add to your resumé. However, organizing a brand new document with your local contact information and a few new tidbits of information (ie: “Member of the Ultimate Frisbee Team” or “Volunteer at Junior Achievement”) can shape things up quite nicely for when you do have more information to add in. If you don’t already have a section to list your skills and proficiencies, you can always beef up your resumé by listing some of the things you’re good at — Microsoft Office suite, Adobe Creative suite, HTML, event planning, you name it. Once you’ve put something together, bring it to your school’s career services center or to an advisor who can give you tips on making it really shine.

*

3. Don’t fret if your greatest accomplishments took place in high school.
In all likelihood, this won’t be true forever. In your first year of college (and even, to an extent, your second year), you are not expected to have made great waves at your university just yet. Because of this, it’s okay to list some of your high school accomplishments on your resumé for the time being. Professionals often disagree on how long this practice is acceptable, but most people will expect you to list some of your high school involvement and awards while you’re starting out. You can phase those out over time.

*

recruitment-social_media-social_network-social_networking-websites-profile-kkin233_low.jpg
4. Behave on the Internet!
I don’t mean to scare you, but your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram is probably visible to a lot of people that you aren’t aware of. Because of this, you should try to keep your posts clean and not post statuses that you are going to regret. I’m friends with a few faculty members on Facebook who have gone on to hire me for positions or serve as references, but if I displayed an unprofessional side of myself on the Internet, those same people might not find me as personally reputable. Of course, the best way to avoid all of that is to change your behaviors in person, but the very least you can do is make sure that you are aware of the image you’re putting out through social media outlets.

*

5. Never throw out anyone.
As my favorite actress and idol Audrey Hepburn once said, “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Never throw out anyone.” Not only is networking very important when looking for an internship or a job, but it is equally important not to burn any bridges. You may hate your supervisor for a particular project, but you must still treat that person with kindness and respect. Gossiping about them later to future employers or other authority figures will make you look like an immature, irresponsible worker and a bad sport. Nobody wants to associate with someone who will talk negatively about him or her behind his or her back!

*

6. Fix your voicemail message.
Once you get to college, it’s time to kiss your cutesy trying-to-be-clever voicemail greeting goodbye. Once you start applying for internships, jobs and even positions on campus, you will receive plenty of phone calls (some that you will not be able to answer), and when the caller hears your voicemail greeting, he or she may form somewhat of an opinion. It is important to speak clearly and be succinct. Something along the lines of “Hi, you’ve reached Justin Bieber at 407-555-3933. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name and a brief message, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can” usually does the trick. For tips on what not to do when crafting your voicemail greeting, click here.

*

7.  Suit up.
Even if you don’t want a job for a few years, you never know when you will be called upon to attend an interview or an event that requires “business casual” or “business” attire. You don’t have to break the bank, but make sure you have a few pieces you can wear to look presentable at these types of events. A professional appearance goes a long way – and you don’t want to be the one person who showed up at the dean’s reception wearing jeans.

*

8. Get to know your professors and faculty members.
Your professors may know everything there is to know about success in your industry. Connect with the right people, and you will find the perfect mentors. Talking to certain faculty members has also opened up countless opportunities for me, because those people wound up calling me when they heard about openings for jobs they thought would fit my talents and interests. They can easily be your best resources on campus and some may grow to be dear friends.

*

9. Practice your public speaking skills.
This one tends to scare people — myself included! Most of us have degrees of communication apprehension, or a fear of speaking in front of groups, but by utilizing this skill often and accepting constructive criticism on it, you will be much better off in interview and presentation settings. Most general education programs in college require a speech course, so I recommend taking that as early into your college career as possible. My first speech class gave me insight into my own nonverbal quirks — I play with my hair when I’m anxious and I used to sway while standing in front of the room — and this allowed me to correct these nervous tics and other weaknesses I had. (In fact, during a media training session at my internship last spring, I was actually commended for my ability to stand still! Go figure.) From my senior year of high school to my junior year of college, I have transformed from the girl who started shaking before an in-class presentation to the girl who hosts Open Mic Nights in front of a hundred people. I’m taking another public speaking class this semester, and although I still find it a little nerve-wracking, I think it’s great to be able to develop these skills even further!

*

10. Create a professional portfolio.
This applies to students of every major, but especially those whose ideal professions require them to create things. As an Advertising/Public Relations major, I save everything I write or publish at my internships and freelance experiences so that I can show potential employers in the future, “This is a news release I wrote. This is an article I wrote for a medical journal. This is a PSA I wrote for the radio.” This allows me to showcase my accomplishments in a way that my resumé never will, and it gives employers a sense of what I can do. If you’ve gotten articles published in your high school paper or yearbook, keep them in your portfolio. If you’re an art major, compile photos of your best work onto a CD you can burn and give to employers. Look online for ideas on how to create an effective portfolio, or ask me more about it in the comments section below!

*

11. Know your strengths.
Give yourself credit where credit is due. Obviously you will improve your skills in college and learn a lot about the industry of your choice, but in the meantime, recognize the areas you are good at and try to hone those talents. As I mentioned in the resumé section of this post, you can look to your past experiences to determine where you really shine. If you led a major fundraiser in your high school honor society, you might conclude that you’re a creative problem-solver with skills in event planning and delegation. If you were an editor for your high school yearbook, you can claim a proficiency in Adobe Creative Suites and a strong attention to detail. If you were the captain of your cheerleading squad or soccer team, you may be able to attribute your leadership and time management skills to your athletic involvement. Knowing your strengths will ultimately help you to create your own personal brand.

*

12. Arrive 15 minutes early for everything.
This is a good rule of thumb for any appointment you have, whether that’s an interview  or a class. Unless you are headed to a party where you have been instructed to arrive “fashionably late,” being early usually won’t have any negative effects. Employers will see that you’re responsible and that you take the job seriously, while professors will see that their class isn’t just an after-thought to you. Arriving early will ease a lot of the stress as well; life is a lot easier when you aren’t rushing from one appointment to the next.

*

13. Before an interview or presentation, prepare yourself with possible questions.
I do this before every interview I attend. You should anticipate, more or less, what the employer or selection committee is likely to ask (ie: “What makes you qualified for this position? Why are you interested in working for us? What are some of your weaknesses? What is your availability?” — We could make an entire blog post dedicated to interviewing!) so that you have some answers already prepared. That way, you know what you need a better answer for and what sounds appropriate. If you can find a friend who will practice with you, all the better! If you seem articulate and well-prepared, you will project a much more professional demeanor.

*

14. Respond promptly to emails and phone calls.
When you leave emails sitting in your inbox for days, the senders of those emails assume that you don’t care enough about what they have to say, or that you are too irresponsible to check them. Similarly, when people leave messages on your voicemail, it is important to check them and return those calls as soon as possible. It may sound simple, but so many people don’t bother to glance at their phones or reply to important messages until long after it was necessary to do so. Responsiveness is an important trait in the professional world and will demonstrate your communication skills.

*

15. Demonstrate an interest in the companies or programs you apply for.
Nobody will want to hire you if you don’t really care. If you decide to apply for an internship, you should be familiar the company’s background and body of work, as well as some of the familiar faces with the company itself. When interviewers ask you why you were interested in that position specifically, they aren’t asking you “Why do you want an internship?” They are asking you “What aspect of my company appeals to you and why?” If your only answer is that it seemed like a good opportunity and you don’t know much about the company, employers won’t be impressed. Always remember to do your homework!

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers

pexels-photo-267885.jpeg
Each month, I write The Freshman 15, my list of fifteen tips for college freshmen based on various themes, such as homesickness, time management skills, dating and dorm room must-haves. About to begin my third year of college, I have definitely learned a lot from my experiences and feel that I have some pointers for incoming freshmen, but I still have plenty to learn from the people around me. This month, fifteen other college students and college graduates have contributed their own advice with us about navigating through university life, and I am excited to share the tips they sent me with you. 🙂 Enjoy!

*

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers

1. Get involved in Greek life.
Joining a sorority does three things, in stages: as a freshmen, it give you an instant social network outside of your dorm floor; as an undergrad, it gives you leadership opportunities for your resume and something extracurricular-related to talk about at internship interviews; and as a college graduate, it gives you friends for life. (It will also in general improve your choreographed dancing skills and guarantee you never eat lunch alone). I recommend Greek Life to almost every incoming freshman I know.
– Molly, Northeastern University, Smart Pretty & Awkward 

*

2. Know your resources.
I think college students should take advantage of the resources they have on campus, especially the mental health/counseling department. As a student away from home, you’re very prone to feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, etc. It’s good to talk to someone about it, and it’s even better to recognize that you’re not alone. 🙂
– Kevina, University of Florida, Kevina-Lee.Net

*

 3. Find your perfect balance.
My first semester I holed up in my room most the time and studied a ton, and I got great grades. My second semester, I went out and partied, worked on some extracurricular clubs and events, dated, and had a ton of fun. My grades, however, suffered. It takes a while to learn how to balance having fun and enjoying your year with making decent grades, however, it is much more rewarding to try. One of the things my dad told me he regretted about his college experience is that he stayed in his room all the time, worked 3 jobs, and didn’t go out and meet people. It’s taking me some time to learn the balance, but I’m definitely enjoying it more.
– Carson, University of Central Florida, the sky and trees all blur

*

pexels-photo-207691.jpeg
4. Follow the First Five Rule.
For every class especially giant lectures halls, sit within the first five rows. This enables you to pay attention and not text or go on facebook. You also may learn valuable information before class when other students are talking to the professor that may help clarify something or help you with the next test. Sitting in the first five rows also lets the professor see your face more which in return may help your grade since he/she realizes you make the effort to come to class all the time and pay attention! (If a classroom only has five rows… then sit in the first three rows.)
– Heather, Broward College

*

5. Work on your group project etiquette.
Participate in your group projects. Do more than you have to. Go above and beyond. People always remember slackers, and one day, you may see these slackers again looking for a job where YOU work. You will gladly tell your boss that this person was a slacker. Just because you’re in the “real world now” doesn’t mean your work ethic has changed. Treat the classes in your major like your job and your classmates like future coworkers because one day, they might be.
– Karina, University of Central Florida, Karina Creative

*

6. Find a unique way to get involved.
Get involved in interests/hobbies outside your major. It helps you stay sane when you get stressed/burnt out and continue to meet new people, because you end up seeing the exact same people in class when you hit junior/senior year.
– Courtney, Boston area, Coffee and Debussy

*

7. Look for a university job.
If you plan on applying for a job, look for one on campus. They will be more flexible with your schedule.
– Jessie, University of Central Florida 

*

8. Know your strengths and trust in them.
Don’t let anyone discourage you from taking a class. Just because someone else thinks it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t step up to the challenge. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t be the best (such as advisors, friends or anyone who might just be jealous of you).
– Alexandra, University of South Florida

*

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Professors are more than willing and eager to help students who are either struggling or looking for reassurance. If you feel like you could use some extra guidance battling homesickness, exploring majors, picking classes, or healing a sore throat, all schools offer help through counseling enters, career services, advisors, and health centers! Take advantage of the resources your school has to offer and don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance! These offices are there for a reason!
– Beth, University of Central Florida, The Utterings and Mutterings of a B.A.G. Lady

*

10. Keep your place clean.
Clean the place at least once a week. If you don’t, before you know it, it will look like a hellhole. It’s harder to clean a hellhole than just cleaning once or twice a week. Besides, hellholes are hell to live in. 🙂
– Emily, Palm Beach State College 

*

11. Confidence is everything.
Before you go to any smaller class for the first week or so, be prepared to say something about yourself. And when you get called on, act like the most confident person in the room at that moment. People are attracted to it and you make instant friends– or get a relationship out of it! 😉
– Kate, University of Central Florida, Concrete Canyons

*

pexels-photo-1640775.jpeg
12.  To get the meal plan or not get the meal plan?
I say don’t get the meal plan. Understanding that some people can’t afford anything other than the meal plan (you are the only exceptions), for those of you doing it because you think it’s the real “college experience” and you’ll meet tons of people, you’re wrong. The food is horrible, even if a slice of pizza looks good, it will never taste good. The amazing looking pasta will also taste disgusting as will anything else you eat there. The appeal of the “bottomless” food is also your worst enemy. The only thing worth eating in a dining hall is the desserts and eating too many of those will lead to the very thing that gives this blog its namesake. Instead, locate some convenient inexpensive food joints off campus or in the student union, or make monthly trips to the grocery store to stock up your dorm room. It works and it’s actually pretty convenient. (Hint: Always grocery shop after eating a big meal. If you’re hungry, those Cheez Its and Oreos look really good. If you’re full, you’ll be happier settling for granola bars and 100 calorie pack pretzels.)
– Melissa, Florida State University, Melissa Thinks You Should Read This

*

13. Stay on top of things!
Make yourself a schedule of all your activites and classes, as well as when you have to study. Organization helps a lot.
– Shantel, Arizona State University, Girl Meets World

*

14. Listen to your mother.
You can never have too many washcloths or pairs of underwear.
– Susan, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (my mom!)

*

15. Don’t put yourself in a box.
Make sure to not limit yourself. This is college. You can be yourself without labels and preset stereotypes.  You are supposed to try new things and explore your interests.  Join clubs that are different. Try activities and events that stand out from the norm, because these are the experiences that will make the best memories and possibly uncover talents you didn’t know you had. Your new best friend, style, major, hobby, or career could be just around the campus corner.
– Jessica, University of Central Florida

———————————————————————

Bonus Tips:

From Melissa, Florida State University, Melissa Thinks You Should Read This

16. Some friends are semesterly.
It happens. You meet someone you have a class with or that lives in your dorm and you get along really well. You have a lot to talk about whether it’s the number of times your teacher snorted in a single class, the lack of usable washing machines in the laundry room, or the creepy old janitor who plays practical jokes on you in the hall. You text occasionally and instantly accept their Facebook friend request. Then after a semester or two, you have different classes and maybe you’re living in a different dorm or apartment. You’ll make new friends and the cycle will start all over again. Don’t fight it and don’t be angry. This isn’t to say that all friends are semesterly. Some are for years and some are for life. However, some of them will always tag team it.
17. Don’t make long-term plans with high school friends.
This isn’t to say that you and your besties from high school will never speak again. However, before you leave for college, you might feel nostalgic and scared and plan a specific weekend in the far future to visit a friend at another school. This is a no no. As hard as it is to believe, you will make new friends in college. You’ll have parties to go to, football games to tailgate for, study groups to attend, and just about a billion other things that you and your new friends will do. Don’t risk already having a perfectly good weekend blocked out because you were scared a few months ago. You could miss out on something really great and even more opportunities to meet people. Once you’ve started college, wait a while to make plans to visit people. Even then, you might be so happy and comfortable at school that you’ll tell your friends from home, “Sorry, buddy. See you at Thanksgiving.” You can tell them all about your awesome college life as you pass the yams.

*

From Emily, Palm Beach State College

18. Stay in shape!
Don’t abandon the gym. Although it takes time away from partying and schoolwork, all that partying adds fat, and without the gym, you’ll gain weight.

19. Be mindful of your health.
Although you’re too lazy to make a gourmet meal like Mom used to make, don’t live off of fast food. Make a rule to only eat it three times per week max. A lot of stores have college student easy cookbooks you can use, and you should always have bread around to make sandwiches.

*

From Karina, University of Central Florida, Karina Creative

20. Only buy the books you need.
Never buy your books in the bookstore; order from Chegg. If your professor says you don’t need the book, you don’t need the book.

21. Maintain some social media discretion!
NEVER post anything on your facebook/twitter/flickr/tumblr you wouldn’t want your boss/grandma to see.

*

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog! 🙂 You guys are amazing!

To my readers who have gone through college: what was the most important thing you learned your freshman year?
 

The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned (Year 2)

After a year of writing about all things college-related, I would like to celebrate my 12 months of Freshman 15 entries with a follow-up to my very first college post from my old blog, The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned. Throughout my sophomore year, I have experienced a new set of successes and challenges, and I hope to share everything I have learned this year with you.

Thank you all for giving me a wonderful year for writing! Here are 15 of the lessons I learned in my sophomore year of college.Tweet this!

The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned (Year 2)

1. Don’t put dish soap in the dishwasher…
… Unless you want soap suds all over your kitchen! Oops. This was a mistake I made a few weeks ago, when my roommates and I had run out of dish detergent. The moral to the story: even when you think you’ve begun to master the art of being a domestic goddess, you’re wrong. There will always be some little mistake that will humble you.

*

2. Friendships don’t always turn out as predicted.
In fact, when I wrote the original Freshman 15, I couldn’t have predicted half of the things that were about to happen in the next year. While I did gain some very close friendships that seemed unlikely at the time (but for which I’m extremely grateful, of course!), I also lost a few that really stung. In the end, it’s important to be careful with who you place your trust in, and accept the fact that things may change in the future.

*

3. Extra credit can be your best friend.
If your professor offers some sort of extra credit assignment, DO IT. By skipping out on one extra credit assignment in a psychology class in the fall, I managed to give my GPA its first minor blemish. It wasn’t the end of the world, of course, but I was not a happy camper, to say the least. By going the extra mile, you can sometimes salvage a borderline grade or even give yourself a bit of a cushion in case you mess up a little on a test later in the semester.

*

4. Discipline is key.
The only way you can really manage your time and get all of your assignments completed is by being disciplined. This means sometimes staying home from a night out with friends so that you can finish a paper, or bringing a homework assignment to lunch with you, or even keeping a million alarms on your phone. Whatever it takes for you to be productive, you have to bite the bullet and do it.

*

5. You can’t be or do everything.
College is probably the most exciting time for opportunities, and I encourage you to take part in as many of them as you can. However, as I’ve learned this year, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. As Director of Fundraising for one of the clubs I’m in, web developer for a research group, PR intern, member of various clubs and full-time student, there have been times when my schedule felt too heavy. On top of that, because of my heavy involvement, I would hear about other opportunities that appealed to me, and it was difficult not to apply for them. Ultimately, you have to know your limits, and don’t sign up for anything you can’t commit to. I knew students who dabbled in everything but never fully committed to anything, and it became frustrating for both them and the people they had to work with. Find a few things you love and stick to those.

*

6. Attend functions alone.
Yes, college gives you the chance to be a social butterfly, but sometimes it is much better to go to events by yourself. I love my friends, but when I want to go to an educational event like the Book Festival or an ad agency tour or some event with keynote speakers, I want to be able to schedule my time however I choose, without having to compromise with someone else. Going to an event by yourself not only gives you the freedom to do as you please, but it also allows you to meet new people with similar interests, reconnect with others and learn about yourself.

*

7. Going home is never quite the same.
Ever since my first summer away at school, my family has told me how much I have changed. I knew that college tends to change the dynamic between you and your parents, but that fact never fails to surprise me a little every time I come home. I also notice huge changes between myself and old friends from high school, and although some of those friendships are built to last, I can see that others will easily falter. Being back home is a huge reminder of how much things have changed.

*

8. 5-Hour Energy can have delayed effects.
On Sunday, I finally gave in to the pressure of surplus energy. I have never tried an energy drink before, and I don’t drink coffee or soda, but all of my friends were getting their caffeine somehow, so why couldn’t I? I took a shot of 5-Hour Energy at 8 p.m. (first mistake) and then didn’t feel the effects till around 1 a.m., when it was too late for me to regain any of my productivity. The good news: I woke up the next morning with tons of energy to power me through the day. The bad news: the three hours of sleep I did squeeze in probably wasn’t healthy. In the end, 5 Hour Energy was not a great alternative.

*

9. The thing you wanted most isn’t always what you wanted it to be.
Unfortunately, some of your expectations will fall short. Maybe the class you were dying to take just isn’t cutting it for you, or maybe the club you have been trying to get involved with isn’t the place you want to be anymore. Be open to those feelings and realize that even if this isn’t what you want, there’s always something else.

*

10. Plan as much as you can, but allow changes.
It’s good to have a basic mental outline of where you want to go in the next four years, but don’t be upset if you begin to deviate from that path. I enrolled in college as a Journalism major who then considered Psychology, English, Creative Writing, Sociology, Elementary Education, Anthropology and Humanities before eventually switching over to Advertising/Public Relations with minors in Psychology and Spanish-turned-English-turned-possibly-Hospitality-Management. In other words, your interests might change. Your academic and career plans might change. Have ideas, but have back-up plans too.

*

11. It’s okay to stop and breathe.
This is something that the perfectionist in me often struggles with, but one of the most important things I have worked on. It doesn’t matter where you find that inner-peace, whether it’s through yoga and meditation, an intense workout at the gym or a creative release, as long as you can find something to keep you grounded.

*

12. Perfection is impossible.
This one goes hand-in-hand with #11. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how strong or competent or intelligent you are — you will still mess up from time to time. Accept those mistakes as they come, and try to learn whatever you can from them. As Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Only do our true colors show when we are put to the test.

*

13. Be good to others, whether they deserve it or not.
I have always lived by this, even though many of my friends disagree with me to an extent and think I should act on my frustrations a little more. Still, I refuse to stoop down to someone’s level just because they have wronged me in the past. I think it’s better to be cordial than to seek revenge on someone; chances are, they don’t have much going for them to begin with!

*

14. Don’t let your relationships define you.
I’ve said this before, but it is important to recognize yourself as a separate entity and not as an appendage to someone else. I spent my first year and a half of college focused on relationships, spending way more time focusing on boys and friends than on myself. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before someone will disappoint you — and it’s important to have something else going for you aside from all of that. Don’t ignore the world of dating and don’t neglect your friends, either, but do make time to do the things you love and to better yourself. It’s one of the most valuable things you can do.

*

15. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
(Yes, that’s part of a possible Marilyn Monroe quote.) I thought I had the perfect freshman year. My sophomore year was a lot rockier and I am definitely happy to be done with it in the next few days. But I have to remind myself that all of the negative things that happened this year have allowed me to grow and make room for better things in the future. Above all else, we have to have hope that even when the year absolutely sucks, things will eventually improve.

*

Some questions for you:

– What have you learned this year?
– What are you still wondering/struggling with?
– What do you hope to read about in the future? 

The Friday Five: Girls You Meet In College

A few weeks ago, we talked about the five boys you meet in college, so now it’s time to talk about the girls. College definitely changes us in ways we wouldn’t expect, and we often take on roles that we never even thought of in high school.

Of the five girls you meet in college, which one are you? Tweet this!

Today, as we discuss the five girls you meet/become in college, think about which category or categories you fall into. It may surprise you!

The Friday Five: Girls You Meet In College

1. The Perpetual Girlfriend.
Ever since middle school, she has been in and out of relationships. She’s a sweet girl, but she gets bored easily, and now that she’s in college, she has her pick of the litter. Of course, that doesn’t mean she can’t choose a different guy in a couple of months. The Perpetual Girlfriend updates her relationship status on Facebook more often than she gets her roots touched up, and seems to have a different boy for every day of the week (or, as my friends and I like to say, she gets “a new boyfriend to replace her new boyfriend”). She is a devoted girlfriend in the time she does have to cultivate a relationship, and makes a great support system, but at the first sign of conflict in the relationship, she’s out. She is probably capable of standing alone, but she chooses not to.

*

2. The Mom.
The center of the group, she worries about everybody. Nurturing and supportive, she takes more time out of her day than she can afford in order to meet her friends’ needs and make sure that everyone is happy. Your boyfriend cheated on you? The Mom will drive you straight to the mall to help you forget about it. You made some poor life choices? The Mom will yell at you no matter how you break the news to her — in person, on the phone, via Skype — and then mutter something about your ability to turn her hair gray. She may not always have the right answers, but she tries her best to give her full attention to each person’s problems.

*

Hipster+little+girl+wow+thanks+everyone+who+thumbed+first+ever_249bae_3146579.jpg3. The Hipster.
She’s not always as obvious as the male hipster you encounter, because she will try to pull off her eclectic style as “fashionable.” However, her attitude is the same as any other. She has done everything you have ever done, but before you did it and clearly better, and she wasn’t even trying. She claims to only know “obscure” music, and turns her nose up if you have heard of one of her preferred bands/films/artists. Those interests of hers that are not obscure usually resemble the interests of a 12-year-old boy in the late 90s. She prides herself on being “different” from other girls, even though there is a whole flock of girls just like her on campus.

*

4. The Nerdette.
It doesn’t really matter what subject she’s studying — English, History, Biology — but it occasionally consumes her life. She loves what she’s learning, either because it interests her or it has some prestige, and doesn’t care about looking silly. Maybe she’s a nerd on her own, or maybe she hangs out with a lot of male Nerds herself (computer engineers, perhaps? or is that just me? :)), but she embraces the Nerd lifestyle and understands your Internet jokes.

*

5. Miss Involved.
Miss Involved can belong to two subsets — Miss Campus Activities, or Miss Sorority Girl — or fall somewhere in between. I say this because Greeks tend to have a lot of involvement in school anyway (they dominate SGA and Homecoming), but at the same time, being involved doesn’t always mean being in a sorority. Miss Involved is the model student when it comes to her major specifically, but she also belongs to several clubs on campus and is always looking for more opportunities. Sometimes she feels overextended, but if she had to give something up, she wouldn’t know where to begin. She spends half her time in the Student Union, is friendly and can be spotted at a variety of school events. When it comes to dating, she tends to gravitate toward Ladies’ Man.

*

Which girl are you? Guys, which of these girls have you dated? What other categories can you identify?

The Freshman 15: Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

The Freshman 15: Things I Wish I'd Done Differently in CollegeWith the year of 2010 coming to a close, we compile our lists of resolutions — ways we would like to change in the upcoming year. In creating these lists, we often look back on the past year and reflect upon what we could have improved upon. Therefore, in the December edition of the Freshman 15, I will talk about the things I wish I had done in my freshman year of college that would have improved my college experience even more.

Although I enjoyed my freshman year and found it a successful one, I did make mistakes from time to time (as we all do!) and from them I learned how I would do things differently in the future. For all current freshmen and incoming college students, try and keep some of these in mind as you make your way through that first year! 🙂

Here are the 15 things I wish I’d done differently in college. Learn from them! — Tweet this!

The Freshman 15: Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

1. Make health a priority.
Living on-campus meant that pizza and other dining hall food quickly became staples of my diet, which once included fruits, vegetables and vitamins. Combining this with the fact that I lived in close proximity to hundreds of other people and attended classes with tens of thousands of them, I was bound to get sick sooner or later. During my first fall semester of college alone, I ended up with the flu, two ear infections and ultimately mono. Although this may have just been bad luck and could have happened to anyone, I honestly think that by disregarding my health entirely, I made myself a lot more vulnerable to illness. Moral of the story: take your Vitamin C, eat junk foods in moderation and carry hand sanitizer everywhere you go!

*

2. Pay attention to on-campus opportunities early on.
Yes, I managed to get involved in a few clubs by the end of my freshman year, but I also missed out on an entire semester during which I could have been meeting new people and becoming a greater part of my school. Although I spent a great deal of that semester in the Health Center and catching up on assignments, I avoided a lot of the socials until my spring semester. Having developed a group of friends early on, I was convinced that I didn’t need to get involved right away, and now, looking back, I wish I hadn’t taken that attitude. In the spring of my freshman year, I decided to try out some of the organizations, and quickly found my home in one of them. The earlier you get involved, the better — you’ll get to utilize some of the older students as mentors, and have a greater connection to the club when you’re an upperclassman and you want to obtain an officer position.

*

04443d5ccad65d1ae44add1c716206c5.jpg
3. Connect with faculty.
As you begin to apply for internships, scholarships and various jobs, you will need to compile a reference list — and no, these references shouldn’t be limited to the people who knew you in high school. Go to your professors’ office hours and talk to them about assistantships and research opportunities. Connect with the ones you like and ask for help when you need it. This year, I finally became acquainted with the faculty in my honors college — the people who had always offered help but whom I was afraid I would burden — and they really were willing to answer my questions and point me in the right direction. One of them even connected me to a professor who offered me a job! If I had pursued these relationships a year ago, I can’t even imagine where I’d be today. The sooner you get to know your professors and advisers, the better!

*

4. Settle into a healthy sleep cycle.
No matter how old you are, sleep is the best way to let your mind and body recharge. However, because college presents so many new challenges and opportunities, you may start to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to really get the rest you need. The old joke goes that if your options are good grades, a social life and a healthy sleep cycle, it is only possible for you to obtain two of those. During my freshman year, I definitely sacrificed those hours of sleep in favor of other things, and my body did not thank me for it. The point is, if you develop good sleep habits now, they are more likely to stick with you in the years to come, leading to greater productivity and success!

*

5. Attend more athletic events.
For a lot of college students, this one isn’t even remotely a problem — and tailgating on Saturday mornings is as routine as brushing one’s teeth. For someone like me, who doesn’t fully comprehend the rules of football and tends to get bored by halftime, athletic events aren’t quite as exciting. But while I’m not always enamored with every aspect of a game, I wish I did attend more of them, if only to show off my school spirit, cheer on my classmates and enjoy the overall atmosphere. Besides, they are a fun (and often free, depending on what school you attend) way to socialize with your friends and truly feel like a part of something.

*

pexels-photo-1449059.jpeg

6. Focus less on relationships.
Okay, we’re in our late teens and twenties, so naturally one of our first priorities is dating. We think about it all the time: who’s hooking up with whom, who broke up, who got back together, what that text from that boy meant, etc. Although dating and relationships can be fun and worthwhile, however, they shouldn’t take over our lives. I found that I spent entirely too much of my first year of college worrying about relationships and non-relationships, regardless of what my status was with whomever I liked at the time. I also learned that you cannot let anyone be the sole cause of your happiness — and by putting too much stock in the whole world of dating, you are not giving yourself enough credit. There’s a time and place for everything, and I’m not suggesting that you ignore a connection with someone when you feel it, but please don’t let those connections control your emotions entirely.

*

7. Find a way to present yourself well.
As a freshman, you may not have to apply for too many jobs or positions yet, but eventually you will want to become a leader on campus and you will need to know how to show people the very best you have to offer. Last year, I wanted to obtain a coveted position in one of the organizations on campus, and when the interview itself came around, I wasn’t prepared for the type of self-marketing I was expected to do, and I didn’t get the job. Over time, I’ve done a lot of self-discovery and reflected upon my strengths and weaknesses, and I think that really helped me in obtaining several internship offers for this upcoming semester. If only I had learned this sooner, I may have been another step ahead.

*

8. Know your school’s limitations, especially on holiday weekends.
I began college in the middle of the summer, and wound up spending the 4th of July Weekend up at school. While most of my friends had gone home for the holiday, I was not about to chicken out on my first weekend of college. Instead, I stayed at school with two other friends and a ghost town for a campus. Without a car at the time (this was before I got my trusty car, Carlos), we were basically stranded — no restaurants at school were open, and our dorm rooms were not well-equipped for cooking our own food. Eventually we befriended someone who was willing to take us to Publix and the local sub shop, but the weekend was extremely boring and the school was not prepared for the students who had stayed behind. Although I wouldn’t suggest going home at every chance you get, I would strongly recommend finding out the school’s accommodations before sticking around on a holiday weekend, especially if you don’t have a convenient means of transportation.

*

pexels-photo-1166657.jpeg
9. Utilize the resources on campus.
Chances are, your school has lots of these… and many of them will go unused. When I needed advice on a major after switching from Journalism, I visited Career Services, and later on, I returned for assistance with my resume. However, there were plenty of other places on campus I should have become acquainted with at one point or another: the Writing Center and the Math Lab, for example. Whether you need help with a paper or one-on-one tutoring, there’s usually some resource available to help you, and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it!

*

10. Don’t rush into relationships or trust too much too soon.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, college relationships (both romantic AND platonic) are notorious for moving quickly. Because you’re getting to know so many people in a much closer capacity in a shorter period of time than ever before, bonding with those people you meet is inevitable. The trouble is, not only does this put too much pressure on a friendship or relationship that is still very new, but it also causes us to trust people with our darkest secrets before they’ve proven themselves trustworthy. Although several of the people I met early on are some of my closest friends today, there have been some surprises over the past year and at times I wish I hadn’t rushed into certain friendships so quickly. Be open to meeting new people and sharing your experiences, but don’t share everything right away — some things should be reserved for the people who have earned them.

*

11. Write down your goals.
Having an active list of what you want to accomplish throughout the year (much like New Year’s Resolutions) helps you to track your growth and progress over time. I came into college with a lot of expectations, and looking back, I wish I had kept track of those to see what I actually achieved and what values changed. Before I began my sophomore year, I posted my goals for the year to my Facebook Notes, and over the past several months, I have gone in and crossed off each goal as I’ve met it (and added the date next to it for added organization). Your list doesn’t have to be so public — I keep mine that way in order to share my dreams with others — but you should definitely make one and then refer back to it often.

*

pexels-photo-210661.jpeg
12. Find an outlet.
In just one week of college, you will find yourself juggling a full course load, club meetings and a social life — and sometimes it may feel like you don’t have time to breathe. To avoid total insanity, try finding a way to relax from it all. Go to the gym, take a walk outside, paint something… the world is yours. In April, I found one release that allowed me to relax while doing what I loved, and that release was blogging! Throughout my freshman year, I found that some of my passions had been ignored, especially writing and reading (more on how I plan to change the latter in my next blog post!). Don’t ignore what makes you happy – instead, make it a priority to do those things at least once each week.

*

13. Make yourself a bigger priority in your own life.
This is YOUR life! It may be admirable to help your friends and neighbors out from time to time, but you do need to find ways to do things for yourself. For much of my first semester, I assumed it was my responsibility to take care of some of the others, even if that took away from time I could have spent studying or relaxing on my own. While I am still learning about becoming assertive and learning to do what is best for myself, I have begun making time for me. This is probably one of the most valuable lessons I could learn in college.

*

14. Keep in touch with the people you want in your life.
Don’t feel obligated to maintain relationships with people you didn’t mesh well with in high school or college,but make sure you don’t ignore the ones you do want to remain friends with. I met so many people in the first two weeks of my fall semester of freshman year and was so busy with them that I was too exhausted to really keep up with a lot of them once things began to settle down. Although I wound up with a close-knit group of friends that I loved, I knew there were others I still wanted to see, and ultimately I learned to make those get-togethers happen for themselves. Don’t lose touch with someone you really like simply due to laziness!

*

15. Don’t expect perfection.
As an eternal perfectionist, this is something I struggle with constantly, and it is both my strength and my downfall. At times I forget how much I have accomplished, even if I am not perfect, and have to remind myself that I am human. As you begin your college career, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as smoothly as you think they should. You are in a brand new environment that is constantly changing, and you are adjusting to a completely different way of life. Allow yourself to be the best you can be, and don’t expect yourself to be a superhero every single day.

*

I hope these tips are helpful as you make your way into the new year! Some questions to consider:

– For my older readers, what do you wish you could have changed about your freshman year/college experience as a whole?

– How did college help you grow as a person?

– What topics are you hoping to learn more about in The Freshman 15 series? Anything you would like me to address in the upcoming months?

The Freshman 15: Ways to Get Involved on Campus

Welcome, freshmen, to the month of September! If you’ve made it this far, chances are you’ve already found your way around campus, learned a little bit in your classes and met some new people. Now you have an idea of How Things Work when it comes to student life, and you’re gaining a better understanding of what college is all about. So… what next? It’s time to make yourself a part of the college experience – after all, what you get out of college will only be as much as what you give, and it is never too early to get involved.

Of course, this may sound a little easier said than done. As a freshman, you might feel somewhat intimidated and maybe even overwhelmed at the thought of joining an organization or trying a new activity. When I first enrolled at my university, there were so many opportunities available to me that I had no idea where to begin. (At that point in time, I didn’t know where I even belonged on campus, or what I wanted to major in, or what truly interested me!) One year later, I am still discovering what I like and don’t like, but I have a much better handle on how involved I want to be, and how I’ll go about doing that.

If you are still looking to make your mark on campus, this article is for you!Tweet this!

The Freshman 15: Ways to Get Involved on Campus

1. Figure out what you’re passionate about.
Before I go into any further detail, I just want to clarify that this does not mean you need to figure out your entire life’s purpose in a matter of weeks. All you really need to do here is narrow your search… are you looking for a way to participate in community service, or are you looking for something to build on your skills? Are you looking for something educational, or are you looking for a way to make social connections and just have fun? Having an idea of what you want will make it easier to find an organization or project that interests you.

*

2. Keep your eyes and ears open.
There are announcements for various clubs and events everywhere you go — from your professors, your email newsletters, the signs on the bulletin board outside your dorm room, etc. Be receptive to those announcements and if something catches your attention, jot down the date and time and go to an informational meeting. As I’ve mentioned before, the worst thing that can happen is that you decide the club isn’t for you, and you wind up with some free food.

*

3. Look for organizations within your major.
If you already have an idea of where you want to be after college, then find a club that focuses on that career path. As a member of both the Ad Club and QUOTES (my school’s Public Relations Club), I learn all sorts of inside information about the integrated marketing industry and how to get ahead when I pursue internships and jobs in the future. Both clubs expose students to the aspects of those careers that they wouldn’t be able to learn in a classroom, and I’d imagine that the societies for engineering, pre-medical, political science and accounting students would provide similar opportunities for growth.

*

4. Go Greek!
Although I personally am not involved in a sorority, I can definitely see why the Greek system is so popular. Pledging a fraternity or a sorority ensures that you’ll meet a lot of new people — hopefully ones that you’re compatible with! — and immerses you right away in social and philanthropic activities on campus. Fraternities and sororities are always in the know about what events are going on, and their members are often extremely involved in other school organizations and activities (especially Student Government and Homecoming). By no means am I the expert on Greek life, but if you’ve ever briefly contemplated rushing, I’d say go for it.

*

5. Check the listings online.
Most colleges and universities keep an online database of their registered student organizations, so why not take a look? The list will give you access to those clubs that aren’t very well advertised, and help you to figure out what is available to you on campus. If your club of choice is not available, then start a chapter of your own.

*

6. Pursue a mentorship.
Assuming you don’t have an older sibling or friend who can help guide you, you should look for someone who can serve as a mentor. Seek out older students in your major, or the student who showed you around the school during freshman orientation, or someone that you admire. Talk to that person about your interests and goals, and see if he or she can give any advice on how to pursue those at the university.

*

7. Go to a Student Government meeting.
Find out when your school’s Student Government opens its meetings to the public, and then attend a few. Not only will you learn about the major issues affecting your school (which, in turn, helps you become a more involved student), but you will also hear about upcoming events and opportunities when SGA members and people in the audience make their announcements.

*

8. Seek out all the hot spots on campus.
Figure out where people congregate. Is it outside the Student Union? Next to the gym? Outside of the dorms? Usually where the crowds are, the action is too. Street Teams will generally be handing out fliers for their clubs’ events, and other organizations will have tables set up where they can answer any of your questions. If you have no idea where to start in your campus involvement, this may work best for you.

*

9. Do your part.
Find a local charity or cause, either through the school or on your own, and figure out a way to give back. If your school does not have a support system set up for a cause that means something to you, then create your own fundraisers or organization to help out.

*

10. Go to the “cheesy” events.
True, you might not want to go to that all-freshman event that your school is putting on, or you might think that the activities that your RAs have set up are kind of lame… but if you have nothing else to do, then go anyway! You’ll probably meet new people and even have a good time while you’re there! Going to an event you might not normally be interested can actually open the door to other opportunities if you keep your mind open.

*

11. Talk to everyone.
As you’re forging new connections on campus, you can always tag along to the clubs that your friends are already involved with. Find out what interests others if you aren’t sure what interests you, and see if you have something in common or if there is something new that you will want to try.

*

12. Join an intramural sports team.
So you’ve always enjoyed flag football, but never had the chance to pursue it on a team? Join one in college! I have friends at all different schools who have joined soccer, ultimate frisbee and other intramural teams that have helped them to maintain healthy lifestyles and build a deeper sense of community. Go to your school’s gym or athletics center and talk to them about intramural opportunities.

*

13. Network with faculty.
Even though I’m only a sophomore now, I wish I had done this earlier in my college career. (More on that in December’s post!) Talk to your professors, advisers and program coordinators now — meet them during office hours, ask questions and let them know who you are and what you’re all about! I only started talking to my available faculty resources recently, and already it has opened up some doors for growth and opportunity and further advisement. Often they have some great ideas on how you can get started on the right path.

*

14. Stay plugged in with social media.
As technology becomes an even greater staple of our lives, it also becomes the main communication tool for many clubs and organizations on campus. Be sure to check your email often, but also look for updates on Facebook, Twitter, blog pages and other forms of new media. Find out what your clubs of interest are using, and don’t miss out on an event just because you didn’t know where to look for it!

*

15. Be strong and take charge.
You don’t need to be excessively aggressive, but look out for yourself. If you see an opportunity that looks amazing to you, pursue it. Know when to say no, but know when to say yes as well… and welcome anything new and exciting that comes your way! You won’t accomplish much just sitting in your room by yourself. You have to be a go-getter and take advantage of what you want!

*

For those of you who are/were involved on campus, how did you get started? What helped you to develop your presence in college?