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Adios, First-Day Jitters - Start Preparing for School NOW!

by Kayla Herrera

Back-to-school season is in the air and whether you’re a transfer student or incoming freshman looking forward to entering a new environment, you don’t want to be without these must-have items for the school year:

  • Planner: I know smartphones have fancy scheduling apps but nothing can compare to writing your to-dos into a paper planner. I actually got reprimanded once for pulling my phone out to schedule a speech as we signed up for it so stay out of trouble by going with the old-fashioned method.
  • Ballpoint pens: Pens are crisp, bold and perfect for taking smudge-free notes. Pick up an economy-sized pack for backup and sharing with classmates or roommates – someone will ALWAYS need one.
  • Mechanical pencils: These are great (and necessary) for Scantron exams and math problems. Bonus? No sharpener needed!
  • Folders: I have found that folders help me keep everything in order by class. Color-coding them will help further organize your college life.
  • Pictures from home: Looking at the faces of those you love will help you get through those lonely off-days.
  • A journal: The best therapy is sometimes writing and when no one is available for you to talk to, a journal can be a great sounding board.
  • Music: Whatever genre that appeases your soul, music has the power to change lives, fix what’s broken and turn any bad day into a slightly better one. I never would have survived my freshman year without music from my iPod or at a campus concert.

All of these items got me through my first year of college...and I didn’t know about the folders until second semester! I hope they will aid you in the best way possible as you tackle your first year at a new school.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done and that is what she is here to do.


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Taming Noisy Summer Neighbors

by Kayla Herrera

If you’re a college student, the following scenario is bound to present itself: You have to work or have a test early in the morning but your neighbors have decided to party until 3 or 4 a.m. You’re not a party pooper (you just don’t want to be a zombie the next day!) so you should know there is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for yourself – and your health – to better perform at work or summer academics.

Don’t jump out of bed and bang on your neighbor’s door at the first sound of noise. Wait and see if the activity continues either the next night or next week. If it does, say something to your neighbor to let them know you’re below/above/next door to them. They might not realize how loud they are and how thin the walls are.

If the party noise continues for multiple nights, try to gauge why before confronting your neighbors. If they’re clearly intoxicated, just tell them to keep it down because you’re trying to sleep. (It’s no use having a serious conversation with anyone in their condition; sometimes, they realize it’s late anyway and just needed a reminder.) If you happen to talk to someone sober, explain to them that the noise has gone on for a few nights now and it is interfering with your work or school schedule. Suggest a compromise like quieting down after midnight.

If your neighbors ignore you and you still can’t sleep, bang on the ceiling, floor or wall with a broomstick or threaten to call the cops. I’ve done this twice and both times, my neighbors have quieted down...fast. Unless the party is WAY out of control, someone sounds hurt or something illegal is going on, don’t actually get the police involved – saying you will gets the message across that you’re serious about taking action. Sometimes drastic measures have to be taken but they’re effective: I haven’t had problems since and neither will you.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done and that is what she is here to do.


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Pet Ownership 101 for College Students

by Kayla Herrera

Students taking classes and living away from family and friends for the summer often yearn for a companion, a snuggler or just a pair of appreciative eyes. There is a solution – or at least a Band-Aid – to help heal the lonely hole in your heart: a pet!

Before deciding get a pet, check with your landlord. Even if your lease prohibits pets, it doesn't hurt to ask if your landlord will make an exception; my landlord’s biggest concern was cats scratching up the furniture so it’s possible yours may allow smaller animals. I decided to get a rabbit but before doing so, I read up on them and did my research to prepare, just like I would for a college exam.

So far, my rabbit has been extremely entertaining – almost as if I own a small dog: He lies out on the couch with me, watches television with me and follows me around the apartment. I even bought him a harness and leash so I can take him outside and am getting an old pet stroller to take him on walks. Pets can become the center of our worlds and my rabbit has definitely become the center of mine.

If loneliness is nipping at you this summer, think about getting a pet. Just make sure you have the money and time to devote to your pet once school starts up full-time again; if you have even slight concerns about your class schedule, work-study or social life will get in the way of properly caring for your pet, save the trip to the pet store or animal shelter for a later date.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Handling Pests in Off-Campus Housing

by Kayla Herrera

When the campus dormitories have run their course and you are ready to have a room bigger than a closet, living in off-campus housing can be an exciting experience. Be forewarned, however, that you may have to deal with pests. No, I’m not talking about rude, unkempt roommates but insects, rodents and other undomesticated animals.

As a college student, you may have never dealt with a pest on your own before. I sure hadn't...until recently. During finals week, I heard scratching in my ceiling. I ignored it but after returning from a week-long trip, the source of the scratching revealed itself. I screamed, “it” crawled into the ceiling and I covered the holes with duct tape, still not knowing what the creature was. I called my landlord but he was out of town and said he'd take care of it on Monday. That weekend, a friend and I heard the scratching again, this time from the kitchen. “There it is!” screamed my friend as I tried to chase “it” out the door. “It” jumped behind the couch then flew back into the kitchen (I had no idea that “it” could fly!). My friend held a pot so we could capture “it” but when “it” ran toward her, she panicked and dropped the pot on top of the creature, paralyzing it. “It” – what we later found out was a flying squirrel – died soon after.

So off-campus dwellers, if you hear animal noises or have a large amount of insects inside your rental unit, call your landlord immediately. It’s their responsibility to get rid of the problem for you and if he or she doesn't or refuses to help, he or she is breaking the law.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Will You Go Out With Us?

Couple Dating in College

October 7, 2011

Will You Go Out With Us?

by Kayla Herrera

When college students couple up, they sometimes become hermits and for couples that live together, this behavior is even more prevalent. It doesn’t have to be your way of life, though! Break free from the monotony and try this rising trend among students here at Michigan Tech: couple dating.

Girls need girl time and boys need boy time so in addition to spending time with the friends you had before you were in a relationship, find another couple you’d like to get to know better and plan a night out. Go bowling, go out to eat or see a movie. Any time I’ve been on a couple date, the other girl and I kind of have our own conversation going while the guys talk about their things. This is a great way to have that girl time or boy time without having to completely move around a jam-packed schedule.

I know you’re thinking couple dating sounds like something only people in their 30s and older do but it really isn’t. I speak from experience: Couple dating made my own relationship more exciting and resilient! After a successful couple date, all parties are generally happy and refreshed. You can hang out with your loved one – which can be hard if you have opposite class and work schedules – and socialize with others at the same time. Don’t ever feel like you are becoming “that old couple” – you’re just making new friends and having fun in a more convenient way!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Dealing with Helicopter Parents in College

by Kayla Herrera

When I first left for college, my mother called me every single day for the entire fall semester and half of spring semester. I understood why (I was the first child to ever leave) but when I had issues with the campus newspaper, my parents tried to butt in and fight my arguments for me...from six hours away. Now, as a fourth-year college student, I’m still hearing that I need to get my life together, to stop living day to day and plan the future, to date someone else, to move to a different apartment, et cetera. In the course of four years, nothing has changed.

How do you even begin to deal with helicopter parents like these? The first thing I would recommend is sit them down and talk to them in person. If you can’t find a time over break, do it over Skype. It’s the next best thing to a phone call – even better, actually, because they will be able to see the seriousness in your eyes and body language.

You want to ease into this discussion gently, so start with the positives. Tell them how much you appreciate everything they’ve done for you and how great it is to have them as parents before telling them some changes need to be made. Explain your concerns using clear examples and ask that they do not interrupt you until you’ve stated your case. Then, a discussion can be had. Just stay calm and positive...and don’t get lippy! If your parents are unwilling to bend, then settle for a compromise. Surprise them by suggesting a mature settlement – even then they can't ignore that maybe you have grown up a little.

Unfortunately, I am still trying to make my parents realize I am 21 years old with two jobs, a 15-credit load and a life of my own. The progress is slow but hopefully these tips will help you make your parents realize their little boy or girl is all grown up and they no longer need to hover overhead.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Apartment Hunting? Follow These Rules

by Kayla Herrera

The start of a new year marks the time to seek an apartment for the fall semester. I know that’s the case at my school: Once the calendar turns to January in Houghton, Mich., students start climbing all over housing advertisements and residences are gone in no time. It really is a race here because in this rural town, affordable quality housing is limited. No matter where you attend college, there are some key things you should keep an eye out for when you tour a place you could potentially call home.

Noise. Ask about street noise or neighbor noise then take a listen for yourself to determine whether it’s too loud or too quiet for you. I lived on a main street once and when I moved to a quieter one, I could not sleep for a week because of the silence!

Mold or water damage. If there is a basement, look/smell for mold and search for wet spots or signs of flooding. Mold can bother allergies or make you sick and flooding could ruin your belongings; basements are prime locations for both to occur.

Pests. Keep your eyes peeled for chewed corners or holes in ceilings or walls. As I noted in a previous post, pests such as mice and squirrels can poop all over the place, eat your food, damage your apartment's structure and scare the daylights out of you. Do not move into a place with these warning signs unless the landlord promises to make repairs before you move in.

Maintenance. Make sure your landlord has a maintenance man or has offered you a phone number to reach him or her in case they handle the repairs. Trust me, no hot water plus hair covered in conditioner at 11 p.m. equals a not-so-fun extracurricular activity.

Be wary of everything from cleanliness to the neighborhood (nearby bars and hot spots mean there WILL be drunken singing at 2 a.m.). The race is on – good luck!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Should You Take a Semester Off?

by Kayla Herrera

I have been attending college for about four years now and have never taken a semester off. The thought used to make me shudder – how could someone even think of taking time off from school?! – but after this semester, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Some of my friends took semesters off to travel and learn more about themselves, while others were lost and not sure what they wanted to do in life. Some have experienced the loss of a family member or friend and others fell so ill that it interfered with their everyday lives. But me? My situation has been a combination of flying squirrels, bad landlords, health issues and money problems. Stress from school has skyrocketed to its worst level ever and I am planning to take the summer off, since I cannot afford to withdraw from spring classes if I want to stay on track. (I did consider attending part-time but found it could create problems with financial aid.)

If you’re considering taking a semester off, do NOT just drop off the face of the Earth. Let your adviser know your plans and keep the lines of communication open so that the process of coming back to school is easier when you are ready to do so. You may be taking time off from school to destress but I’d also recommend doing something related to your major – picking up an internship/job, volunteering or studying for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or GRE – to stay somewhat involved in your field.

Lots of college students take time off for one reason or another; if external factors are competing with school to the point where your grades are suffering, take a break – you’ll return to school more motivated to succeed.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Moving in the Middle of the Semester

by Kayla Herrera

Whether the rent is too high, the landlord is negligent or there is an army of flying squirrels gnawing away at your apartment, your housing situation may need to change. This usually happens at a most inopportune time, like in the middle of the semester; it’s is a stressful, horrible and distracting experience but if your current place is bad enough (remember my last post?), the move will benefit you in the end.

Packing is a nightmare – not only is your place going to look like a tornado ripped through but if you do not keep your school stuff together, it will get lost in the mess – but you can maintain some sense of order. Keep a designated space for school work, books and any other college necessities or put everything in a labeled box so you will know exactly where to search when you need something for school.

As with your school supplies, separate your items into well-marked boxes to make unpacking easier and then begin transporting the boxes. Try to schedule moving day for a weekend or day you do not have class or work; unfortunately, I only had one day and had to skip all of my classes to get the job done but I did let my professors know ahead of time. When you arrive at your new place, make sure everything appears as promised in your lease before you start unpacking.

Moving in the middle of the semester is awful, I know. Things will get crazy, messy and even unmanageable but the best thing you can do is to stay organized. The hustle and bustle of a move has been known throw wrenches in otherwise perfectly timed schedules so use a planner or cell phone calendar to remember important dates and appointments while you are relocating. Good luck and enjoy your new abode!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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What to Do About a Negligent Landlord

by Kayla Herrera

I have tons of horror stories about roommates and housing but the one connective thread is an unprofessional landlord. While I can’t tell you why this problem is so prominent in many college towns, I can guide you on how to deal with it.

First, know your rights. Look up your state’s tenant laws and make note of them. In Michigan, a tenant has the right to withhold all or part of rent depending on the problem until the apartment is fixed. We’re not talking broken lights or chipped paint, though – think more along the lines of pests, unusable plumbing and no electricity.

Next, reread your lease. Whenever you sign a lease, make sure to 1. read it thoroughly and 1. get a copy. (My landlord didn’t even give me a copy of my lease and I had to email him several times to get it.) If the lease does not say anything about apartment fixes (it should), do not sign it until it’s amended. If the landlord complains, cite the tenant laws to support your case.

Lastly, be confident and remain firm in all dealings with your landlord, especially if the issue is detrimental to your health or living. For example, my neighbor has had bad plumbing since July but even after multiple complaints, the landlord hadn’t remedied the issue by October. She knew her rights, though, and together we sent the landlord an email stating she was moving out and he would be responsible for finding a replacement tenant...but not until the apartment was fixed. We also said if immediate action was not taken, we would call a health inspector (also due to persistent flying squirrel incidents in several apartments). Needless to say, the landlord agreed in a panic and we were able to avoid going to court over the matter – a mess we definitely didn’t need during midterm time.

If you follow these tips, even the worst landlord ever can be dealt with. Good luck, renters!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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