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New at School? Find a Mentor to Show You the Ropes!

by Cameron Pybus

I didn’t receive my acceptance letter to Texas A&M until May 7th, I had no idea where I was going to live because dorm rooms had already been filled and on top of that, I was working 40 hours a week that summer. I was in a not-so-ideal situation for a soon-to be-freshman in college and knew I was going to need some advice to have a successful year. I was going to need a mentor.

Having a mentor or someone who can show you the ropes is an incredible advantage at the beginning of your college career. It’s what helped me through my first semester and really launched my success at A&M. Seeking out somebody with experience to answer your questions may seem a little awkward at first but I bet they’ll be more than willing to help you out. Lots of new students decide to go it alone; that’s fine if that’s your personality but in my own personal experience, college is about the people you meet and create unforgettable memories with.

Here are some tips for finding a mentor or someone older to show you the collegiate ropes:

  • Put yourself out there. You can’t expect someone to find you, show you around campus and tell you which social club to join. Make the effort!
  • Figure out who can help you. For me, it was someone who had gone to my high school but for you, it may be someone you meet at orientation or someone older than you in your major.
  • Get involved. Being part of niche organizations and extracurricular activities are great ways to meet older students at your university and find advice for surviving college.
  • Keep in touch. Sure, it’s nice if they show you around the week before school starts but it really helps to utilize your mentor’s expertise throughout the semester.

Cameron Pybus is a rising senior at Texas A&M University, where he’s majoring in environmental design. He plans to attend graduate school in the fall of 2012 and eventually pursue a career as an architect. Cameron has been involved in various activities at A&M including student government organizations and a service organization called A.M.C. He just returned from studying abroad in Italy and is looking forward to his last year as an Aggie.


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Colleges Address Illicit Use of Attention-Deficit Meds

by Carly Gerber

I know a few people (and I'm sure you do, too) who take ADHD medication; however, their names are not the ones on the prescription bottles.

Most people – often college students – who are not prescribed attention-deficit drugs like Adderall or Vyvanse use the pills during times of high stress, like during final exams. Getting a hold of these drugs is so easy that sending one text message to a friend can lead you to the door of a dealer. Usually, the dealers are students who are prescribed ADHD medication and have extra pills to distribute...but not for free. According to a recent New York Times article, a student revealed he is prescribed 60 pills a month from his hometown psychiatrist; he personally uses only 30 or 40 and sells the extra pills to students who want the added push to help them focus.

Universities around the country have become aware of attention-deficit medication abuse and are creating rules to eliminate the misuse. The biggest problem is for university officials to find a system that works. For example, California State University in Fresno requires students to go through two months of testing and paperwork, then sign a formal contract which requires them to submit to random drug testing, to see a mental health professional every month and to not distribute the pills. Other universities, like the University of Vermont, want nothing to do with evaluating and prescribing students ADHD medication and would rather have students go to outside health professionals to get prescriptions, as the school doesn’t want to be liable if students get sick or die from using ADHD medication.

I believe there’s another problem here. Students shouldn’t feel stressed to the point of committing a federal offense by taking unprescribed attention-deficit medication. What do you think about students abusing ADHD medication and how can we eliminate this issue?

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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Creating Healthy Habits in College

by Carly Gerber

As we all know, it’s tough living a healthy lifestyle at college but according to USA Today College, doing so can lead to a higher GPA! Here are a few tips from me to help you live a little healthier while attending college:

  • Earn It. Sometimes, the best way to relax and forget about a hectic day is by watching TV but don’t go overboard and become a couch potato. Watching too much TV or spending too much time online can lead to procrastination so tell yourself that you have to earn an hour of TV or 20 minutes on Facebook. Just finished a paper for your English class? Awesome! Enjoy an episode of Homeland...because you’ve earned it.
  • Get Moving. Working out is the best thing you can do for your body and mind. According to the Mayo Clinic, frequently hitting the gym reduces stress, fatigue, helps your overall health and, eventually, you’ll look damn good in a bathing suit. Before the upcoming semester, buy a calendar and schedule work out days. Instead of exercising alone, go to fitness classes or enlist your roommate as a workout buddy to stay dedicated.
  • Find Alternatives. We all get hungry after a night of college activities but avoid eating a cheeseburger, hotdog, pizza or burrito; instead, enjoy a bowl of popcorn or veggies and dip. Buying healthy alternatives specifically for late-night munching helps me stay on track. I’ve already spent the money on these items at the grocery store, so why waste it?
  • Count Sheep. Regularly getting seven to nine hours of sleep improves concentration and memory and decreases hunger, fatigue and irritability. Create a sleep schedule that includes when you’ll go to sleep and when you’ll wake up. It’s hard for me to relax and fall asleep so I created a routine that tells my brain and body it’s time to relax. I wash up, light a candle with a relaxing scent, dim the lights and read a book. Within 30 minute, I’m fully relaxed and ready for bed.

Do you have any tips and tricks for a healthy college lifestyle?

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 Play (and Win) the Roommate Game

by Carly Gerber

Whether you’ve known your soon-to-be roommate for years or have never met before, there will be ups and downs to living with another person. Here are my helpful tips on setting up a positive roommate relationship and what to do if you and your roommate aren’t hitting it off.

  • Find the right match. Your university may set up a Facebook page dedicated to helping students find roommates or the college has a system in place that sets you up with someone. Both systems allow you to list your personality traits and your interests to match you with an ideal roommate...but this is NOT the time to write down characteristics you hope to have one day because you’ll be linked with someone who doesn’t fit your natural traits. Be true about the person you are and you’ll find someone who is a great match.
  • Speak up. Your dorm room or apartment should feel just like home so if you feel uncomfortable about something your roommate is doing, speak up right away or refer to your roommate contract. I regret the times I didn’t speak up rather than the times I did: Nothing changed when I didn’t tell my roommate my feelings and the frustration stayed with me.
  • From BFF to archenemy. This can happen to two randomly selected students or two people who were once best friends at summer camp. Trust me, I’ve seen it! If you and your roommate have certain issues that can’t be resolved, then you have to decide if you can live with the person or if it’s best you end your living situation. Many universities allow you to switch roommates and some students get lucky enough to live in a dorm room alone!

Good luck in your roommate search but don’t sweat it if you and your roommate don’t get along. We all want the roommate who will become our best friend for life but many times, that doesn’t happen. Surround yourself with people who accept you and who you get along with.

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 Make Your Dorm Room Feel More Like Home

by Carly Gerber

For me, there’s nothing like the feeling of driving around my hometown and getting flashbacks of good memories with my friends and family. There is nothing that can replace the familiarity of your childhood home but it’s important to make your dorm/apartment and your campus your second home. Here are a few things I did with my college living space to feel more like home:

  • Display photos. Whenever I’m having a not-so-great day, looking at photos of my loved ones or of a photo that has a good memory linked to it will put me in a better mood. I put photos all over my apartment to make it feel more like home.
  • Play up your interests. I love candles so it was annoying freshman year when I couldn’t light any of them. (Thank you, Glade PlugIns!) Now that I live off campus, I always decorate with candles – they make my room feel more cozy and welcoming. I also recommend decorating with things that interest you: If you’re a music junkie, decorate your walls with posters of your favorite bands and if you love fashion, tear pictures from magazines and make a cool collage.
  • Accept what you can’t change. I remember hearing my roommate complain that the dorm room was way too small and it made her miss her big room, big closet and big house. I know many of us don’t have the luxury of big beds and big closets but my point is that college living is going to be different than living at home. The rooms will be smaller, the beds will be narrower and you’ll be living in close quarters with someone you may barely know. If you can’t change it, embrace it – you’ll usually be better off for 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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Advice for Incoming Freshman

by Carly Gerber

No matter who you were or what you were known for in high school, college is a fresh start for all students. With a new academic year upon us (already?!), here are some tips for incoming freshmen on how to make their first year a great one:

  • Be a self-advocate. Your university has all the resources you need to help find internships, jobs, organizations and clubs to get involved with. For example, there are writing centers and tutors that want to help students but it’s up to the students to find the resources they need.
  • Be a student first. It’s important to attend class as much as possible and to create healthy relationships with your professors. If you’re applying for jobs or internships that need letters of recommendation, your professors will be happy to vouch for you if they know you and your work ethic. For students going to universities with large lecture-style classes, it’s still possible to create a relationship with your professors by sitting in the front and asking questions or going to office hours.
  • Start interning as soon as possible. Many students take classes while they have an internship so talk to a career counselor on your campus to learn how you can find an internship. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed during the school year, apply for an internship for holiday break or over the summer. Internship experience on your resume will show employers that you’re a hard worker and have dedication, which are qualities they want in future employees.
  • Pick your posse carefully. During my college orientation, one faculty member uttered that exact sentence. Once I got over the fact he used the word “posse”, I realized his advice is true: Surround yourself with people that make you a better person – you never know how meeting one person can positively impact your entire life so always be friendly and welcoming.

Do you have any advice for incoming college freshmen?

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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Going Green on Campus

February 26, 2013

Going Green on Campus

by Carly Gerber

Making the decision to go green is not only environmentally sound but cost effective and healthier. Here are a few tips you can take to go green on your campus!

  • Choose CFLs (a.k.a. compact fluorescent lamps): They use 75 percent less energy to produce the same amount of illumination and last eight to 15 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
  • Start recycling! Once you start recycling, you’ll notice how much can be recycled – your recycling bin may be fuller than your trash can!
  • Buy used textbooks. Buying or renting used books is much cheaper than buying new books, plus it eliminates trash in the landfills. You can buy and sell used books at your campus book store, as well as rent them from sites like Bookrenter or Chegg.
  • Many of you have already signed leases for next year but that may mean filling your new space with couches, TVs, kitchenware, etc. Instead of going to retail stores to buy these items, you can go to websites like Craigslist, Gigoit, Freecycle and eBay. Remember, every time you buy something new, you’re adding to your carbon footprint so buy used when possible!
  • Use recycled printing paper. Recycled paper may cost slightly more but it saves tress, energy, water, is a pollution reducer and the use of harmful chemicals and bleaching are much less than that of virgin paper production.
  • Don’t drive to class – walk, bike or use the campus/public bus system instead. When you drive to class, you waste time trying to find a parking spot, increase the pollution in the air and spend unnecessary money when you pay for parking.
  • Use a reusable water bottle. Not only will you be saving cheddar by not buying packs of water bottles but you’ll be decreasing the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills.

Have any other tips for going green on campus? Leave a comment with your suggestions!

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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A Guide to Surviving the Summer at Your Parents’ House

by Carly Gerber

Being away from home at college can make you feel liberated and independent. Nevertheless, summer break comes and moving back in with your parents is a reminder that you are not as close to independence as you thought: All of a sudden, you’re hit with rules, obligations and expectations that you lived without during the academic year!

Moving back in with your parents doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, deciding to leave school and come home for a semester unintentionally helped me build a better relationship with my parents. Here are a few simple guidelines that will help you have a drama-free relationship with your parents over the summer:

  • Follow the house rules. Washing the dishes right after a meal or making your bed every morning may not make sense to you but when your parents ask you to do a simple chore, don’t fight them on it. Completing small tasks around the house is a lot better than having your mom scream at you for 30 minutes. Eventually, you’ll have zero fights with your parents and you’ll be the golden child, which can come with its own perks.
  • Remember where you are. A midnight Slurpee run on a weekday may be routine for you at school but certain behaviors should stay at college. Your parents may view staying out late on weekdays as irresponsible, especially if you have a summer job or internship. The weekend is the time for you to stay out late and relax, not during the work week.
  • Bond with you parents. Your parents may think your music is a bunch of noise but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other things you have in common. Ask your parents out to movie, to dinner, on a walk to a park or for ice cream. Take time during the summer to hang out with your parents as if they were your friends. They may surprise you with what cool and interesting people they can be as well as great roommates!

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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Staying Healthy on Campus

by Chelsea Slaughter

The “freshman 15” is not a myth: It’s more of a warning because the “freshman 15” can easily escalate into the “freshman 20-40.” Adjusting to a new campus and a new meal plan can really have dramatic effect on your body...but only if you let it.

Most dining halls offer a plethora of choices. There's pizza, fries and burgers (oh my!) but consider reaching for smarter alternatives like salads, grilled chicken wraps and steamed vegetables. There is nothing wrong with indulging but just do it in moderation. It’s so easy to overeat when unlimited food is in your face every day – try to keep up balanced meals to help your body stay centered.

Being healthy is also about staying active. Check out your athletic center and see what it have to offer. Many campus gyms include cardio rooms with treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes; there are also rooms and equipment for weight training...and it’s all free of charge or already included in your campus fees! If you need a bit more motivation to work out, most campuses offer group exercise classes. (I personally enjoy step aerobics on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Zumba on Mondays and Wednesdays.)

The gym isn’t for everyone so remember that your small efforts add up. Walk to classes instead of driving or taking the shuttle. Toss the Frisbee around on the quad with your roommates or play basketball in the park. It’s not so much what you do, it’s that you do something!

Staying healthy does not have to be expensive or hard – it’s mainly about making smart choices. Don’t let that “freshman 15” sneak up on you!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Is Facebook Ruining Your College Experience?

by Chelsea Slaughter

Recently, I read an article about whether or not Facebook was ruining the college experience. A huge benefit to going to college is having the chance to interact and socialize with people from diverse backgrounds but are students letting Facebook keep them from these advantages?

The article states that there is an increased level of “homophily” on campuses. Homophily equates to “birds of a feather flock together” – students are using Facebook to find roommates more like themselves rather than learning about someone with a different background and set of interests. It also allows people to keep so much more in touch with childhood friends and family that they cling to old ties instead of taking the risk to create new ones.

I agree that the problem isn’t mainly Facebook but the students using it! When I graduated high school, I was so excited for my new college experience that I started a group on Facebook called “Jacksonville State University Class of 2014.” At first, it was just me adding people I knew who were going but I also added my JSU recruiter; she added all of her recruits, they added people they knew and the group continued to grow. For the entire summer, I socialized with incoming freshmen about dorm placements, orientation dates and class schedules. By the time school started, I knew a VARIETY of amazing people on campus!

Facebook and other social sites are what you make them – do not allow them to keep you in the same place and hinder your chance to learn diversity and growth! Yes, it’s smart to take caution when meeting new people but don’t shy away from new experiences. Be open, get involved and don’t be afraid of getting to know someone different...WITHOUT computer screens between you!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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