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Your Guide to On-Campus Living

September 4, 2013

Your Guide to On-Campus Living

by Abby Egan

As an incoming college student, you’ve probably heard the term “freshman experience” a million times by now. Well, think of residence halls as feeding grounds for memories and experiences you can gain outside of the college classrooms: The social atmosphere of residence halls is the most basic way to build college connections and relationships and staying on campus during freshman year is essential to receiving that crash course to how life really is on a college campus.

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.

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How to Make a Miniscule Dorm Room Feel Less Like a Broom Cupboard

August 6, 2013

How to Make a Miniscule Dorm Room Feel Less Like a Broom Cupboard

by Abby Egan

On the way to college: "Okay, the car is packed. I can’t see out the back window but everything fit – barely. I wonder how I’ll fit it all in my dorm room..."
Unpacking at college: "What do you MEAN I only get one closet?!"
All unpacked: "I guess I’ll just send half of this stuff home with my parents because there’s no more room for it."

Dorm rooms are notorious for being the size of a closet – think Harry-Potter-Cupboard-Under-the-Stairs small – but you can do some magic of your own when it comes to organization. Most dorm rooms come with a closet/dresser, a few extra drawers and a desk for storage. The best trick to making space is by utilizing the space under your bed: Though it can be disconcerting to have your bed so high – I’d suggest getting a stepstool if the height is a problem for you – it’s the easiest way to free up space. Plastic drawers, bins or boxes can be used as under bed storage, plus most colleges have beds that can be adjusted high enough to slide at least one piece of furniture under. The more you fit under your bed, the more floor space you’re going to have.

Thank goodness we live in the 21st century where stores are stocked with aisles of nifty little storage contraptions for dorm rooms. There are amazing storage products out there for students like us – shoe holders that hang on the back of your door, accordion shelves that hang from your closet pole and bed risers to give you even more height than the school bed can reach – so take advantage of these opportunities to create more space. Freeing up even a few square feet can really make the difference between feeling claustrophobic and feeling comfortable in your own space.

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.

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In College, It’s Out With the Old and In With the New...

Except for My Teddy Bear and My Blanky and My...

July 22, 2013

In College, It’s Out With the Old and In With the New...

by Abby Egan

"I need to take all of my stuffed animals with me!"

"Why?"

"'Cause I’ll need them!

This was an actual conversation I had with my friend when I was packing for my freshman year of college. I was absolutely convinced that I would decorate my bed with the stuffed animals I had collected since childhood; after my first few days at school, however, they were shoved in bins under my bed to make room for my new friends to hang out.

Dorm rooms are always smaller than you anticipate. Your storage space is tiny, especially when you’re sharing one room with two to three other students, and bringing unnecessary knickknacks along becomes a hassle. Entering college can be frightening because you’re leaving so much behind and starting a whole new chapter of your life but remember, you’re going to be making memories along the way.

When packing memorabilia, keep it simple and sweet: one or two things you absolutely can’t leave home without. Most students don’t move out of their family homes permanently when leaving for college so leave the family scrapbooks and little league trophies at home. Look forward to the stuff you’re likely to collect along your journey through college. Look forward to the change of lifestyle when you move away from home. But mainly look forward to the change you’ll grow into as you become a better version of yourself.

Nowadays, my bed at school is decorated with one stuffed animal: my school mascot. As for the rest of my cuddly companions? They’re at home whenever I need to visit them.

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.

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College To-Do List: Find Your Academic Advisor

July 10, 2013

College To-Do List: Find Your Academic Advisor

by Abby Egan

When I started college, I was intimidated by my peers that knew exactly what they wanted to do. I knew what I liked to do but not what I might want to do after college, realistically. So, I entered my freshman year with an undecided major...and an immeasurable pressure to figure out who I was going to be.

I rushed to declare my major as English/creative writing because I love to write. But then I decided I love kids and I’d rather be a teacher so I changed it to education/literature. But then I realized that I hate literature classes, so I went back to English/writing. And then I decided I love philosophy, so I added a philosophy minor. This past semester, I realized I love psychology classes, too, so I’m even thinking of adding a psychology minor now. What I learned along the way was 1. Find what you love, 2. Don’t be afraid when that changes, and 3. Connect with your academic advisor.

An academic advisor – the person who helps you choose your classes and makes sure you’re doing everything you need to graduate – is the most valuable asset you have on campus, as they are available to you for unbiased advice and guidance every step of the way. For me, this person was Mr. Elder. We met during orientation; he was this ancient old man that only spoke when the moment called for his wise input, which was usually dispensed in the form of a long-winded story with a moral ending. He has been my advisor since day one and I can honestly say I would be utterly lost without him.

But just because you’re assigned to one advisor doesn’t mean you can’t seek out another who better suits your needs. Find the best academic advisor you can so they can layout the opportunities available to you. A good academic advisor will lead you to where you want to go but allow you choose the direction in which to travel. They are your connection to the dreams you want to achieve beyond college, even when your dreams change as frequently as mine do.

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.

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What Do You MEAN You Didn't Miss Me?!

Dealing with Homesickness in College

July 31, 2013

What Do You MEAN You Didn't Miss Me?!

by Abby Egan

When I began attending college, I was convinced my family was going to fall apart without me. My little brother was going to cry himself to sleep every night, my mother was going to go crazy without our nightly chats over tea and my father was going to destroy the television because I wouldn’t be there to help him manage the remote. But then I left...and everything was fine.

My family members went about their daily lives as usual. They didn’t weep when they walked past my room. They didn’t even call me that often – heck, I had trouble getting them to pick up their phones when I called! I rushed home after one month living away at school, acting as if I’d been stranded on an island for years. I walked in the door expecting my mother to fall over in shock and my brother to rush at me as if all his dreams had just come true. Imagine my surprise when my brother merely glanced at me from the couch and said, “What? You weren’t gone that long.”

At first, I was hurt but then I realized that I didn’t get emotional when I saw family pictures on Facebook, nor did I think about them that often because my classes, friends and clubs were keeping me pretty busy. Leaving home for college can be hard on everyone involved but it’s not the end of the world: You have a new life to lead away at college – don’t miss it because you’re wallowing in what you left behind.

If you ARE feeling homesick, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give your dad/sister/friend/cat a call. Everyone likes to feel as if they’re needed and I can guarantee there will be tears when your mom hears you miss her. Plus, vacations and long weekends are never that far around the corner.

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.

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College Classes: A Matter of Endurance, Not Skill

August 1, 2013

College Classes: A Matter of Endurance, Not Skill

by Anthony Guzmán

Most can agree that high school was not too challenging. I know this because the standard procedure for me was to complete busy work, memorize stuff and regurgitate that information on test day, forgetting the material almost instantaneously. When I got to college, however, I abandoned that method...fast.

As you move through college, the memorization method fades away into REAL learning because college courses introduce you to the material and demand that you get familiar with the information through study and homework. You are then encouraged to make sense the material your own through personalized notes, diagrams, dialogues, etc. Higher-level courses will require application and synthesis, using what you know and applying it to a new situation or idea.

You will always get a million voices of advice but there isn’t always a set answer for it all. My response to your concerns about the academic part of college is simple: It all depends. There are plenty of factors that play into the difficulty of a college class including where you attend school, what your major is, who the professor is, what the grading is like and what the pre-requisites are. Here are my personal tips for a success in the classroom:

Before College

  • Take anything that can help you attain skills, work ethic and critical thinking (AP, honors, dual credit, etc.).
  • Experiment with new study methods to help you not only learn but retain information.

When You Get There

College is not just for smart people: It’s for people that want and try to learn. I’ve seen high school valedictorians fall and barely-admitted students rise, the latter of which proves that if you can get admitted, you have what it takes to undergo the academic rigor. Don’t let the saying “College is hard, impossible or not for you” prevent you from giving higher education the old college try!

Anthony Guzmán is currently a rising sophomore at Texas A&M University where he studies business management and Spanish. He hopes to use business to create positive change through non-profit organization. He devotes the majority of his time to Catholic ministry and he also enjoys dancing, being with friends and family, and traveling.

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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Anthony Guzmán

July 3, 2013

Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Anthony Guzmán

by Anthony Guzmán

Howdy, Scholarships.com readers! My name is Anthony Guzmán, a sophomore business major and Spanish minor from Austin but most importantly, I am the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Class of 2016!

That's my typical introduction as a student here at Texas A&M University in College Station. As for how I got to this point, choosing my school was cake after I experienced A&M's family feel, tradition and dedication to financial aid. (Yay!) I study business management because I love people and intend to use my major to help others through non-profit organizations. I am also the first in my family to attend college so I'm trailblazing and taking advantage of all the opportunities that have arisen right in front of me.

But I am not always doing the nerdy college thing! I love to dance, hang out and meet new friends. I call myself athletic because I casually knock the soccer ball around and I go out for a few long runs. Also, I participate in many organizations: For example, I am heavily involved in ministry at my school's parish, which reflects my deep love for my faith.

As you begin your journey toward college, you may be tempted into thinking, "Look at all these successful college kids...they make it sound so easy" or "I’m not as bright as them." Well don't fall into that: Just over a year ago, I had no idea what, where or if I would study after high school but I was fortunate enough to find resources to help prepare myself for what was to come! So think of this guy Anthony as your friend or big brother, a resource you can utilize. Feel free to pick my brain – that is what I am here for! You are already on your way to a bright future. Thanks and Gig'em!

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Planning Your Ideal Study Abroad Experience

July 11, 2013

Planning Your Ideal Study Abroad Experience

by Anthony Guzmán

Maybe you grew up in a small town where everyone knows everyone and gossip spreads like wildfire. Or maybe you just want to experience something new. Whatever the case is, my advice to you is to see the world through studying abroad! Who am I to tell you what to do? My freshman year of college has been the best year of my life, partly because I studied abroad. For spring break, the Mays Business School sponsored 15 freshmen to travel to Paris; this trip gave me the travel bug so I started the process for my first study abroad trip.

Imagine the study abroad planning process like an upside-down pyramid: At the top you have, “I want to go somewhere!” but as you move down the pyramid, you narrow your search until you are left with the perfect trip for you. To get to that point, you need to answer these questions:

  • What kind of study abroad program (faculty lead, transfer credit, reciprocal exchange, internships, etc.) and where?
  • Can I receive academic credit for the courses?
  • What kind of courses will I take? (languages, major related, etc.)
  • For how long? (I recommend during the summer or when your degree plan allows it.)
  • What is your budget (ex. Latin America is cheaper than Europe) and is the financial aid you receive from your school applicable? (I was fortunate enough to have my study abroad experience paid for with scholarships, financial aid, donors and family; if you need additional aid, apply early.)

As you can see, study abroad encompasses many aspects but there are plenty of resources. The first place to begin your search is your school’s study abroad office: Set up an appointment, attend a seminar, review the study abroad website or just swing by and look for flyers for different programs. There is something out there for everyone whether you want to learn a language, teach English, dive deeper into your major or explore a different culture. For example, during May and June, I studied with Sol Education Abroad in Costa Rica, took classes at a local university, lived with a host family (my most cherished part) and went on excursions with a great group of students from different colleges.

Everyone’s study abroad is unique – I did it my freshman year and it helped me get ahead while I had the time of my life! – but it’s on you to make the experience a reality. Bon voyage!

Anthony Guzmán is currently a rising sophomore at Texas A&M University where he studies business management and Spanish. He hopes to use business to create positive change through non-profit organization. He devotes the majority of his time to Catholic ministry and he also enjoys dancing, being with friends and family, and traveling.

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Staying Stylish on a College Budget: It's Not Hard!

July 29, 2013

Staying Stylish on a College Budget: It's Not Hard!

by Melissa Garrett

Whether you dread clothes shopping or can’t wait to go back to school in style, there’s no denying that new clothes can put a serious dent in your budget. Although college students can spend small fortunes on their new fall wardrobes, they definitely don’t have to: Clothing happens to be one of the easiest categories to cut back your spending if you know where to go.

While some people may turn up their noses at the thought of shopping at Goodwill or other second-hand stores, they can actually be great places to find brand names at very low prices. Just recently, I bought some clothes that included a Lip Service dress and tops from Express and Loft among other popular stores...and I walked out of the store having paid less than $20 for all of my new clothes, some of which didn’t even appear to have ever been worn. I am very picky about what I wear (I usually prefer black) and even I manage to find several items each time I visit a second-hand shop.

While shopping at thrift stores is fantastic, you must buy with skepticism as you would at any store. Don’t load up your shopping cart just because the items are cheap – prices add up and if you are careless, you may end up spending as much money as you would have at a department store! Remember that items have been owned before so check garments for any defects before purchasing. Also, don’t forget that a pair of fabric scissors can work wonders: Don’t be afraid to get a cheap, plain top and alter it yourself to make it an original.

All of this saved money can really benefit college students throughout the school year. More money in the bank means bigger budgets for textbooks, school supplies and fun...and who DOESN’T need a nice day out with friends after a hard week of studying? The better you learn to balance your budget, the more often you will be able to feel guilt-free treating yourself to a study-free weekend.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.

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All Faith Gathering Encourages Open-Minded Thinking

July 11, 2013

All Faith Gathering Encourages Open-Minded Thinking

by Melissa Garrett

At Chatham University, the inclusion of all students is a top priority. One way this is accomplished is through a student organization in which people of various spiritual beliefs can gather to discuss their views. The All Faith Gathering has gained momentum in the past year and continues to positively impact the lives of Chatham students by encouraging diversity, acceptance and tolerance.

Each Thursday afternoon, students gather in a small room below the campus chapel. Meetings begin with a drum circle, with each guest listening to the sounds around them in order to sync up and create harmony. This is often followed by a discussion question that gets students’ minds flowing with spiritual thoughts and theories, making for interesting conversations throughout the gathering. The rest of the hour usually consists of either a spiritual discussion or a guest speaker who teaches the group about their religion or special belief system.

Although the average attendance to Chatham’s All Faith Gathering may be considered small, it is a tight-knit group that has formed close bonds of trust between its members. Most choose to live in the All Faith Living Learning Community in Woodland Hall, helping us to grow even closer together. As a living learning community, first-year students residing there with an interest in faith are encouraged to attend the gatherings.

Holding a gathering for students of various beliefs would be a good addition to any university campus: All it really takes is a few committed students, creativity and a sponsor. There are no set rules for how to hold a gathering and anything goes as long as respect is kept between members. By providing students with a place to be completely open, they can feel more comfortable being themselves regardless of their spirituality...or even their lack thereof.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.

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