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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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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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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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Maintaining Healthy Relationships in College

by Chelsea Slaughter

Balancing relationships on campus can be a task. For new college students, the freedom can be quite overwhelming: Students are no longer under the microscope of their parents and can come and go and do as they please. As amazing as it sounds, however, it is key to remember the pros and cons of this autonomy.

Without an outside viewpoint, it is much easier to get caught up in detrimental relationships, both romantic and platonic. When you have so much access to another person, it becomes quite easy to take them for granted or vice versa. Sometimes you need a break from friends and groups to regain your own identity. This is ok. Always remember to make choices that are best for YOU. Are you in a parasitic friendship? Are they draining you and giving nothing in return? If the answer is yes, then you need to reevaluate the path of your friendship.

While friendships are important to keep healthy, the most dangerous relationships can be ones of the dating variety, as college-age students are the most at risk for domestic abuse relationships. Consider these statistics:

  • 53% of victims of domestic violence were abused by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner and 32% experienced dating violence by a previous partner.
  • 60% of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships.
  • Nearly one third of college students report having physically assaulted a dating partner in the previous 12 months.
  • Approximately 90% of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker.

Open your eyes and see the signs of unhealthy relationships. Whether it’s a friend or significant other, know when to separate yourself from situations that are not conducive to your educational experience and your health.

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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Life After Study Abroad

Lessen Reverse Culture Shock with These Easy Tips

July 5, 2012

Life After Study Abroad

by Darci Miller

When preparing for your semester abroad, you’re bombarded with advice – bring this amount of clothes, make sure to see these cities, make sure to experience the culture of your new country, etc. – but what about when you go home? I spent five months living in London and becoming pseudo-British. What was I left with when I returned to the U.S.? A strong affinity for tea, thousands of pictures and no idea how to deal.

Reverse culture shock was almost as scary as culture shock itself. I went from the Tube to the subway, chips to French fries, looking left when crossing the road to looking right, a flat to a house and (most jarringly) life in a big city to life in a suburb. I can no longer see Olympic Stadium from my bedroom window and my friends are scattered across continents. Life in America seemed incredibly unappealing.

What really helped me has been keeping some of the habits I picked up in London the same. A group of friends and I still send Facebook messages instead of texting, I still drink tea every night before I go to bed, and I still keep my Oyster card in my wallet. Blogging about everything while the feelings and memories were still fresh was very cathartic and a quick glance at photos never goes amiss. These things remind me that, while I’m not physically there anymore, studying abroad HAS changed me: I’ll never be the same as I was before I went...and that’s okay.

At the same time, jumping back into home life is very important. Don’t give yourself time to be too sad: find a job, restart a hobby, reconnect with old friends. Is there something you’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t gotten around to it? Now’s the perfect time! Getting excited about things you’re doing at home make the sting of no longer being abroad much more tolerable.

If you were happy at home once, you can be again – you just have to figure out how to make it happen for the new, world-traveling you. But you do have to look the country-appropriate way when crossing the road. There’s really no getting around that one!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit.


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A Single Student’s Take on College Relationships

by Darci Miller

It may seem odd to some that a girl who’s been single for her entire 20 years of existence would be writing a blog post about relationships in college. My perpetual singledom, however, gives me a pretty unique perspective on relationships, so hear me out.

Two of my friends are in a relationship. They got together about five seconds after they met freshman year and now, as juniors, they have no lives apart from each other. He has a dorm room but he basically lives at her apartment and they spend every day and night together. I’m fairly certain he’d rather be single – she sort of strong-armed him into the relationship in the first place and somehow got him to change his mind after he broke up with her last year – and while he does care about her, he’s pretty much only still with her for sex. She isn’t any better, as she is completely dependent on him for EVERYTHING. Can you tell that they have the unhealthiest relationship ever?

The misconception seems to be that when we begin attending college, we’re all magically more mature and will all find healthy, successful relationships. Clearly, this is not the case. I’d love to find a boyfriend but seeing what my friends’ horrible relationship looks like, my attitude is that it’ll happen when it happens. And when it does, I have a really good model of what not to do - ever.

Just because we’re young and make mistakes shouldn’t give us a free pass to use other people the way my friend is using his girlfriend and vice versa, but I digress. If you’re interested in sex, just go to eduhookups.com – one night stands may turn my stomach but users of this website are at least upfront about their intentions. In the meantime, if there are any guys looking for a healthy relationship based on more than just the physical stuff, call me.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Traveling While Abroad

April 5, 2012

Traveling While Abroad

by Darci Miller

My backpack is packed, my tickets are printed, my passport is at the ready and my camera is fully charged. My train to Paris leaves in exactly three hours and one minute and from there, a few friends and I begin a three-week backpacking tour across Europe. Our stops include a city I’ve wanted to visit since the fourth grade (Copenhagen), the world center of the Olympic movement (Lausanne), one of my favorite cities in the world (Venice) and two cities in which I was considering studying abroad (Munich and Berlin). Am I excited? You could say so.

Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to achieve any travel dreams you may have. Money is, of course, an obstacle but there are ways to travel on the cheap, especially in the European Union. For an extended trip like mine, the Eurail pass is a great option, letting you choose your number of travel days and countries. There are also Megabus deals between countries starting at next to nothing, plus discount airlines.

Airlines can charge an arm and a leg for checked baggage so it’s smart to fit everything you need into a carry-on or backpack. Invest in a sturdy one and remember to pack light! Bring clothes that can easily be mixed and matched (and ladies, a great space-saving option that gives you tons of outfit choices while traveling is bringing shorts and tights instead of pants if it’s warm enough!).

It’s also important to remember to book travel as early as you can to save on transportation and hostel costs. When it comes to hostels, try to stay in places that your friends have stayed in before you; personal recommendations are always a plus. Don’t be too worried about sharing rooms with strangers, either: Most places have lockers where you can keep your stuff safe and most people staying in hostels are in the exact same boat as you.

As for an itinerary, my friends and I don’t have one. We know when we have to be at the train station and we have a list of things to do in each city but that’s it. We’ve discovered that part of the fun is wandering around and seeing what we stumble across – don’t be afraid to leave some things to chance!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.


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