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What to Expect at a Community College

by Carly Gerber

During the summer before my sophomore year of college, I knew I wasn't going back to the college I had been attending. It was too late to apply to a four-year university so I decided to attend a community college before entering a new university. From my experience, here's what you can expect while attending a community college:

  • Academics: Many students enter community college thinking it will be academically easier than a four-year college...but that couldn't be further from the truth. Community colleges are academically rigorous and the professors expected to see all your effort in your work. And if you need help, they have the right resources: My community college offered a writing center and a tutoring center, both of which I visited regularly.
  • Personal Life: A few students I met were balancing jobs, school and families. That’s obviously a lot of work but if students attended classes, did their homework and communicated with professors about their circumstances, many instructors were willing to work with the students to help them pass the class.
  • Community: Despite being part of the name, many students don’t think there will be a sense of community at community colleges. But there is! There were a number of sports teams and student organizations with lots of participation at my school. Plus, the college would have events going on during the school day, like a game of Jeopardy! that would bring students together and lighten the mood on a particularly stressful day.

Overall, I enjoyed the community college experience because it helped me grow both as a student and as a person. For those students who have also attended community colleges, how would you rate your experience?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Thinking of Transferring? You May Want To Hang In There

by Carly Gerber

Are you thinking of transferring because your freshman year didn’t go as planned? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side: As a transfer student, I urge you to think long and hard about leaving your current school. I hope these tips from USA Today College and my personal experience will help you realize that your university may be exactly where you belong.

  • Branch out. I wanted to be best friends with my roommate and to have that “perfect roommate” story. I met her through Facebook so I thought I knew what to expect but our match wasn’t compatible no matter how hard I tried to make it work. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate – the hardest part for me was accepting that we wouldn’t be friends but it forced me to meet new people.
  • Make a note each day about what makes your school special. During the first quarter of my freshman year, I was so happy about my college choice. I was grateful for the friends I met and thought my campus was in a great location but eventually, I began to dislike everything about the school....even the things I was initially fond of! These emotions are normal for freshman but instead of bailing right away, make a note about what you like about your school each day. There are reasons you picked your college, even when the plans you created don’t go as you expected.
  • Remember the past but look to the future. I had a great time in high school and didn’t realize how much I would miss it until I was at college. It’s okay to miss those high school days: Look back and appreciate those times but look forward to even better times during this new chapter of your life.
  • Take control of your experience. Do you and your roommate have a rocky relationship? Try switching to a new room or plan a new living situation next year. College is about experimenting and changing aspects of it that don’t work for you.

Hang in there and remember that the grass can be greener where you water it!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

by Carly Gerber

According to the Buffalo News, there has been a decrease in the amount of students who receive their undergraduate degree in four years. Fewer than half of the University at Buffalo graduates graduated in four years and many other universities have seen the same decrease in their students graduating in that once-traditional timeframe. For example, Niagara University had only 60 percent of its students graduate in four years, while Alfred University only had 43 percent of its graduates graduate in four years. These statistics aren’t just exclusive to New York State, either: I personally know students from all over who have taken an extra semester or two to graduate.

My circumstances of being a transfer student and a student who has changed her major more times than she can count have caused me to extend my stay at college by a few semesters. Initially, I felt guilt, regret, sadness and self-loathing for needing to spend extra time at college; however, I wanted to feel excited for the future and those negative emotions were only going to hold me back from my full potential. Now, I’m feeling excitement, urgency and passion to take my college career seriously and to become a proud and successful graduate. I feel more mature and wiser because of my setbacks and changes during my time at college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Habits to Keep, Kick in College

by Carly Gerber

Freshman year of college is right around the corner and I’m sure many of you are happy to be leaving those high school days behind you...but don’t leave behind EVERYTHING you’ve learned in high school! As a college student, I learned the hard way which characteristics to keep and kick but you don’t have to: USA Today recently shared some but I’ve included a few of my own tips as well.

  • Handwrite notes in class. Warning: Keep all technology in your dorm room or, if you must have it with you, make sure it’s switched off. Even those with great self-restraint will eventually take a peek at Facebook...which will turn into a 30-minute session. Using a good ol’ pen and paper will help you to avoid distractions during class.
  • Don’t do homework for one class in another class. In college, finishing an assignment for one class while in another class should be avoided. It will be harder to succeed in college classes – especially those within your major – if you aren’t paying attention in class.
  • Stay in Monday through Friday. This advice may seem unrealistic and just plain crazy but stay in Monday through Friday. There may be great deals on drinks and food off campus on Tuesdays but save your money and energy for the weekend. You will feel like you earned the night out instead of regretting your headache and exhaustion in your morning classes.
  • Get sleep. It’s been proven that getting seven to nine hours of sleep will do wonders for the body and anything less than those recommended hours will make you irritable, less able to concentrate, hungrier and (no surprise here) sleepier. Avoid all-nighters and staying up late like the plague because you’ll pay for it the next day.

Do you have any high school habits you’ve kept or kicked in college? Let us know in the comments!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Becoming a Better Communicator

by Carly Gerber

You may be thinking that the day you head off to college, you will be freed from listening to your parents’ opinions. Slow that ship before it hits the bridge: While it’s true you will become more independent at college, your parents (and their ideologies) still exist.

For example, deciding the major you want to pursue is exciting but just as you have picked it, your parents intercept your joyous mood by interrogating your reasons and drowning you with their viewpoints. Don’t get discouraged because this opportunity will help you to become an excellent listener and communicator. Here are a few tips from USA Today to help you become an excellent communicator with your parents:

  • Think. Thinking like your parents will prepare you to come back with solid arguments to questions you know they will ask. Also, your decisions or goals may change because your parents’ concerns are justifiable.
  • Research. Finding information on the Internet can be helpful as well as asking those without any stake in the game. For example, approach professors, advisers, the study abroad office, internship coordinators and anyone that can answer your and your parents’ questions. The more information you come into an argument with, the more clarity your parents will have about your endeavor.
  • Outline. Create a well-thought out, even written argument. Writing an argument will help you organize your points and stay on task instead of drifting into emotionally charged, unprepared arguments.
  • Pitch. Maybe you want to email your parents your written argument or discuss matters over the phone. During every discussion with your parents, remain calm as they speak their minds then go find the answers to their questions.

Becoming a good communicator - especially with your parents - is vital. Many of your parents are financially supporting your college careers and that makes their opinions the most important to acknowledge.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Taking a Gap Year May Enhance Your College Experience

by Carly Gerber

So you’re a high school senior who has worked hard to maintain the impressive grades and variety of extracurriculars that earned you multiple college offers. But before you purchase those extra-long twin sheets and start choosing fall classes, consider how a gap year could positively impact your future.

According to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, more than 50 percent of students in Norway, Denmark and Turkey take a gap year (also known as a bridge year) before college. In the U.S., however, the practice is far from the norm. A USA Today article recently explored some misconceptions about gap years – it’s believed that taking a year off is only for affluent students and students fear that they will be at a disadvantage because they will be a year behind their age group – but in reality, students who take a year off from formal education before entering college find “a focused sense of purpose, independence, self-confidence, grit and resilience,” says Abby Falik, who founded Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit that supports gap year choices. And to further debunk the myths listed above, Global Citizen Year even provides financial aid to students who would not be able to afford a gap year otherwise.

Looking back, I believe completing a gap year would have helped me a lot. I enjoyed my time at my first university but I wasn’t striving for a specific future. I felt lost and unsure if I was going down the right path...even after switching my major three times and transferring to a new university. Following three high-anxiety years, I took a six-month sabbatical from college – time that allowed me to explore and reflect on my goals. I am happy I made the decision to take a break from college because I was able to determine who I want to be and how I want to get there. I only wish I had done so sooner!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Interested in Volunteering This Summer? Here’s How!

by Carly Gerber

Summer break is a time when college students intern, work and enjoy the warm weather. This summer, however, try building your resume with volunteer work! Many employers want applicants who have volunteer experience. Volunteering shows selflessness and dedication – two characteristics most employers look for in potential employees.

One organization is called The Hands On Network. This organization will match you with volunteer opportunities based on the location you want to volunteer in and the type of experience you want. Another option is Volunteer Match, a site that finds an array of volunteer work in your area and that complement your major or interests. Lastly, there’s Idealist, which asks you for information such as the type of volunteer work, time commitment, the duration you want to volunteer and your location to find volunteer opportunities.

There are many more sites, services and organizations (including Scholarships.com) that can link you with volunteer opportunities so starting your search is easy! Volunteering can be a small commitment with an immense effect on the ones you’re helping. Plus, a prospective employer will be delighted to see an applicant who dedicates their time to helping others in need.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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How to Land a Job After Graduation

by Carly Gerber

Trying to find a job after graduation may seem grim but there are ways to better your chances. Here are a few helpful tips that any student (even you grads!) can use to get a job.

All in all, there are many ways to increase your chances of landing a job after graduation. If you are driven and use all the resources that are available to you, you’ll be employed sooner than you think!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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How Work-Study Can Help You Pay for School

by Carly Gerber

The student librarian or the math tutor in the tutoring center at your university may be one of the thousands of students involved in the Federal Work Study program.

The U.S. Department of Education explains that the Federal Work Study program involves universities assigning college students part-time jobs in their institutions or through private employers. The income may be minimum wage or higher (it depends on the work the student is doing) and the income goes toward the students’ college expenses. For example, the recipient can have the funds go directly toward tuition or books.

Students can apply for the Federal Work Study program (or FWS or Work-Study) annually by filing a FAFSA. The FAFSA asks an array of questions, the answers of which determine the amount of federal financial aid the applicant can receive. Within the application, it asks the applicant if they would like to be considered for the Work-Study program.

Students may apply for work-study annually. Also, students who are in high school should ask colleges they are interested in if they have a work-study program. Work-study program is a big time commitment but it’s a great way to defray the ever-growing cost of college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Finding Internship and Job Opportunities via Social Media

by Carly Gerber

Despite having other important things to check off my to-do list, I’ve spent countless hours on an assortment of social media outlets. (I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament.) Recently, I began using one form of social media that isn’t a time waster: It’s called LinkedIn and it uses social media to connect its users to employers.

A LinkedIn user will create a personal profile with a picture, a description of their work experience, the education they’ve received and the type of degree(s) they were awarded from their college(s). Many students, however, don’t take advantage of LinkedIn, which can connect them with a number of employers who have job and internship openings. While 90 percent of students use Facebook frequently or occasionally, 46 percent of students have never used LinkedIn and those students who have don’t make it a priority to use it during their job search. According to this article on readwrite.com, students searching for jobs focus their efforts, in order, on:

  • Employer's website (70%)
  • Contact within the company (65%)
  • School career fair (61%)
  • Online job listings site (58%)
  • Social networking - including LinkedIn (26%)

LinkedIn is underutilized by college students because many feel they don’t have enough work experience or connections to even create a profile. Yet, students who create LinkedIn profiles have a greater chance at making connections, which can lead to jobs and internships. Do you have a LinkedIn account? If so, has it been helpful in your quest for employment?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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