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Choose Your Student Organizations Wisely!

by Melissa Garrett

School clubs and organizations can be one of the best ways to meet people who share your interests. When you first begin college, the large amount of choices available can be both exciting and overwhelming: It may be tempting to join every group (believe me, I know) but it is best to commit to just one or two that you really enjoy.

When I first started at Chatham, the Student Activities Fair was the best thing ever to me. There was the Creative Writing Club, All Faith Gathering, newspaper and countless other organizations with booths set up and ready to give us information. Everything sounded so interesting that I attended initial meetings for nearly half of the organizations; not only did this prove to be very overwhelming but also I ended up realizing that there were only a few groups that actually lined up well with my genuine interests.

Once I had narrowed down what I would be most interested in, I started to only attend meetings for the Gay-Straight Alliance and Chatham’s All Faith Gathering. I went on to become the president of the GSA, which just goes to show that putting a lot of effort into a club you really love can be very beneficial to both yourself as well the club’s future! Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to lend a helping hand to an organization every once and a while – and by all means attend campus events if they sound like a fun way to support your fellow students! – but you shouldn’t overextend yourself.

Although a ton of student organizations can be exciting and the people may be friendly, it’s always a good idea to choose wisely and stay actively involved in the ones that most interest you. Remember, you are at school first and foremost to take classes, so don’t get so caught up in extracurricular activities that you run out of time to study.

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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Your College Dorm: Keeping It a Pleasant (and Clean!) Place

by Melissa Garrett

When many students begin college, they will be living away from home for the first time. If you are one of these students, it’s likely you have a lot of thoughts about living in a college residence hall. You’re probably wondering what your roommate will be like, how you will decorate your room and how you will adjust to a new environment but there is an area of residence hall living that is often overlooked: sharing kitchens, bathrooms and other common areas.

During my freshman year of college, I lived in Chatham’s Woodland Hall. Though it was a great place to live for the most part – all residents friendly and it is the only residence hall on campus with an elevator – there were some not-so-great qualities as well...the worst being the kitchen. Despite the number of posters that resident assistants hung up asking people to “Please stop dumping food in the sink” and “Please clean up after yourself”, no one seemed to listen. (I’m not even going into detail on the condition of the bathrooms.)

It might be easy to say that cleaning up after students is the job of university staff but they can’t possibly handle everything, especially when people are being careless and lazy. College students are young adults and learning responsibility is very important. This sort of problem in cleanliness really isn’t that difficult to fix and all it takes is a little pitching in from all of the residents. If you pick up after yourself and do your part to make sure things stay clean, chances are that others will follow.

Is there a problem with cleanliness at your school? If so, be sure to report it to your resident assistants so that they can hold a hall meeting. Also, be sure to take charge yourself by expressing your feelings about the place that you live. Tell your friends politely to be sure to clean up after themselves when they are done using a shared space. We are all neighbors in the residence halls and a clean environment is definitely much more pleasant to study in.

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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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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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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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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How Housing Placement Can Affect Study Habits

by Chelsea Slaughter

Choosing where you want to live for a full year can be a big decision! Whether you realize it or not, where you live can really impact you and how you study – so much so that it can make or break your academic success. Here are ways to amplify your opportunity with the best housing options during your first year at school:

  • Know the Purpose of the Building You Choose: Many dorm buildings have different purposes or themes. On my campus, there are dorms where the majority of sorority girls live, dorms where most of the band lives and dorms where most athletes live. As I freshman, I chose a “Cocky Experience” dorm, which was just a dorm aimed at introducing freshmen into the college experience. We had study sessions and group meetings every month and my dorm upheld “quiet hours” more than the sorority dorm that my friend resided in. It was also within walking distance of the library so as you can imagine, it was way easier for me to get my studying done than it was for my friend to do the same.
  • Stray Away from Off-Campus Options: Your first year of college is all about learning the ways of your new school and yourself. When living off campus, you are pretty much disconnected from the school both academically and socially. When my sister stayed at an off-campus apartment, she was always disturbed by the amount of noise from outside forces. Off-campus options have less rules and more tolerance for disturbance; you are also no longer close to a peaceful area like the library or academic center.

You want everything in your favor during your first year so make sure to choose the best option for YOU. Your housing choice will have an impact and it’s up to you whether it will be for better or worse.

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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Managing New Experiences in College

by Veronica Gonzalez

Attending college can be both fun and challenging. As a student, you’ll definitely have lot of new experiences but it’s best to know about the good and bad.

The good things about college experiences are that they constantly revolve around activities. In college, it wouldn’t hurt to get involved with a club or organization that interests you – this way, you can make new friends and give yourself a sense of school pride. Also, doing community service with your school can impact you socially because you’re reaching out to your own community and getting to know more people. Plus, joining an honor society or a club that associates with your favorite subject will sweeten your college experience by bringing out your smart and talented edge.

Even though new experiences can be exciting, it’s just as important to be very careful when having them. In college, there are many parties and socials and if one over-parties, their academic performance can easily suffer. Also, peer pressure is always present: People may try to lure you into dangerous addictions like smoking, drinking, etc. – this can also lead to academic failure so watch out.

Now knowing the pros and cons of college experiences, you can rest assured that there are ways to have a great time in school. First, academics always come first so make much of your time “study time” as to not lose sight of your academic goals. Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with going to socials but it’s best to do it in moderation. Finally, listen to yourself: Know what’s best for you and understand that what you do while attending college will stick with you...especially thanks to the Internet. Enjoy your time in college but remember not to lose sight of your goals!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.


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Taking Summer Courses at a School Other Than the One You Attend

by Mike Sheffey

I took AP Statistics in high school and I attend Wofford College full-time during the traditional school year. This summer, however, I’ve been taking statistics at UNCG...so what gives? Well, Wofford would only accept AP scores of 4 or higher and I received a 3 and after my late declaration of comp-sci as a major, I figured out that I actually need it. So off to summer school I went – at a university I wasn’t familiar with and with professors I didn’t know and students who were strangers, no less – but I’m actually thrilled that I had the opportunity to study at another institution, albeit only for a summer course.

UNCG was beautiful and way different than Wofford. And the class was organized, taught and tested on completely differently. The textbook was all online – something I’d never experienced at my main college – but I loved it: All of the resources, tables and info were in one place and there was great statistical software built right in! But having it all online meant that the class was entirely learn-for-yourself, at your own pace, in your own time (which I had NONE of). It was different but I appreciated the class and continuing my coursework over the summer actually kept me grounded and on top of things I was involved with. Even a) planning a two-day music festival with friends b) working a full-time management position at my pool and c) applying for another internship (stay tuned for another post) didn’t keep me from passing!

It was rough with the mix of everything else I was involved with but my experience in the class itself was pretty positive. So if you’re considering taking classes at another institution during the summer or over break, remember that it won't be bad...it will just be different. It will cause you to form better and varying study habits that will most likely help you in the future and having that structured schedule in the summer will actually help in everything else you’re involved with as well. Embrace the opportunity!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Mary Steffenhagen

by Mary Steffenhagen

Hey there, Scholarships.com readers! I’m Mary, a junior English major/business minor student at Concordia University of Wisconsin.

I’ll admit, I didn’t give my college search as much time or thought as I should have. I chose to attend Concordia for two main reasons: I was offered a substantial academic scholarship (and rather a lot of financial aid) and was able to take a free trip to London, Normandy and Paris through the honors program during my freshman year. However, my time at Concordia has been well spent as I have been able to take a number of fascinating classes with some exceptional professors, make a few lifelong friends, travel and even get some decent sleep.

I love having a busy schedule so this year I plan to intern in Milwaukee and hopefully (fingers crossed!) head to New York City in the winter. I've indulged myself a little with my English major – reading and being impacted by what I read has always been one of the best parts of my life – and I am looking forward to a career that not only allows but requires me to do just that.

The opportunity to be a virtual intern with Scholarships.com is one I couldn’t pass up: Not only is this the sort of writing experience necessary for my resume, but it’s a bit out of my comfort zone. I hope to challenge myself to be a resource to you readers and help bring some insight into the ordeals of life as a college student.

I’ll sign off with the most important thing college has helped me realize (so far): Challenge yourself and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish. Thanks for reading!


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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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