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Graduation Gift Ideas

June 10, 2011

Graduation Gift Ideas

by Katie Askew

Are you still looking for that special graduation gift for a future college student? Here are some foolproof gifts I wish I was given as a graduating senior and they will set you apart from the standard gift of money or towels. (Really, who needs 20 quick-drying towels?!) Your future freshman friend will thank you for it!

Amazon.com and Target gift cards. Sure, buying your books at the student bookstore is easy and convenient but if you know your class schedule and required books before the first day of class, you will save enormous amounts of money buying from Amazon. They even offer free shipping and handling for students! As for Target, it really is a one-stop shop for college students. Can you say economy-sized shampoo and conditioner?

Light-blocking sleep mask. Okay, so maybe the guys won’t enjoy this one as much but once any student has an 8 a.m. exam, he or she will be thanking you – the great gift-giver – for the eye mask that allows them to sleep in a brightly-lit, small room shared with a roommate that likes to stay up until the wee hours of the night with all the lights on. Throw in some earplugs as a cute (and inexpensive) companion gift!

Bicycle lights. Is your friend bringing a bike to school? Bike laws are a concept a lot of students forget about, especially when they aren’t used to riding a bike every day. Let me tell you, bike police are real and they WILL issue you an expensive ticket if you are riding a bike at night with no lights. In addition, a bicycle U-lock is also a great gift and necessary no matter how safe you think your college campus is!

Good luck gift-givers!

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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How to Not Kill Your Roommate

by Darci Miller

Before college, the only time I’d ever shared a room with someone was at sleep-away camp. Living in a bunk with a dozen other girls was certainly an experience but I was still nervous about moving in with my freshman roommate. We’d talked on Facebook but never met in person and all of a sudden we were supposed to live together harmoniously.

Not only did we survive that first year without killing each other but we successfully lived together sophomore year and will be moving back in together in August for year number three. Pretty good for a first roommate experience! While I lucked out in finding someone I’m totally compatible with, I think our trick was abiding by several unwritten rules.

First and foremost is respect. We never touch each other’s things (including food) unless we get permission to. At the same time, there are certain things we share: Her printer is mine to use as I need it (as long as I help pay for ink), she has full privileges with my television and then there was the time we bought a jar of Nutella together. Respect also involves being quiet when you come in at 3 a.m. and keeping sexiling to a bare minimum (no pun intended).

Compromising is important as well. You’ll have to learn to go to sleep with the lights on now and then (I did) or plug in your headphones if your roommate wants to turn in early. If you both go in knowing that you’ll have to give a little, you’ll make each other’s transition much easier.

In my opinion, the most important aspect of living together is liking each other! You don’t have to be BFFs but spend some time together and find something to bond over. Do you both hate the Yankees? Are you both huge OneRepublic fans? Heck, do you both like Nutella? It can be the littlest things that form a great relationship and make living together a pleasure.

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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Keep Your Wallet Happy Without Sacrificing Style, Technology or Fun

by Jessica Seals

The pressure of always wearing the trendiest clothes, owning the newest cell phone and having an active social life can leave a deep hole in any college student's wallet. However, there are ways to avoid throwing money away every week.

Don’t spend $200 on jeans. Most cities have stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls that sell designer clothes for less. So many students put themselves in debt only to say they are wearing True Religion jeans but you can get more for your money while looking just as good, if not better!

Don’t buy electronics as soon as they are released. Although you may be dying to have the latest smartphone, waiting a few months will guarantee you a lower price. Also, there are cheaper smartphones that work just as well as an iPhone; check with your wireless provider to see if you’re eligible for a free or discounted upgrade as well.

Don’t make a habit out of eating at restaurants all of the time. Bills from Olive Garden and Red Lobster can add up quickly so many students become best friends with fast food dollar menus or decide to only dine out at nicer places on special occasions like birthdays. If you have a meal plan, figure out what dining halls serve the best food and if your dorm has a kitchen, it can be cheaper (and healthier!) to make your own meals. It can be fun cooking with friends and trying each other's recipes, too!

College tuition and fees are enough to put a student in debt. By cutting down on expenses for your social life, you'll still have a great college experience but without a great deal of financial stress.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Living on a Budget

June 17, 2011

Living on a Budget

by Anna Meskishvili

Ah, college living. Welcome to the life of Ramen, Groupon deals and at-home-manicures.

Attending school in a city, I have a lot of unforeseen spending like cab fares and impromptu coffee stops. Here are some tips on how to maintain a livable and realistic budget when you start school:

Eat at the dining hall. Dining halls don’t get enough credit. They are the best way to save at least $25 a week on one of the biggest areas of spending for college kids – food. To make a mundane cafeteria meal more fun, plan a dinner with your friends. If and when you do go out, get a doggy bag – great late-night snack or lunch the next day!

Stay in. It’s the seventh Friday of the semester and you and your friends are getting ready to cab your way ($6 each way per person) to the frat house ($5 at the door) to have a mediocre time...like you’ve been doing every week. The whole night will cost you about $20 and a jungle juice stained top, so why not save some cash and stay in? I’m not saying don’t be social but one night in with a movie and a $10 pizza for you and three friends can be a good time for less.

Make trades. Imagine having access to 10 fully-stocked closets. That’s the beauty of living in a dorm: You have the ability to share clothes and make new friends. If you’re nice about it, that cute girl down the hall will let you borrow that expensive top for your hot date. Take advantage but be responsible!

Living on a strict budget is not easy but grinding through it can be fun! Every time I make myself a bowl of Ramen, I am happy to know it only set me back $.19.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Facebook College Group Etiquette

by Alexis Mattera

You’ve been accepted. You’ve paid your deposit. You’ve stocked up on apparel emblazoned with your future school’s name. What’s next? For many students today, it’s joining their new school’s Facebook page to share their excitement, concerns and any other feelings about their upcoming postsecondary experience. Sure, some students think that what they say or do on this page won’t matter because it’s “just Facebook” but others – like incoming Wake Forest freshman Nicole Echeverria – will tell you that being “that guy” or “that girl” won't help your cause.

Echeverria recently penned a piece for USA Today Education detailing her experiences on her school’s Class of 2015 page and the recent high school graduate has created some pretty good guidelines for other incoming freshmen to follow online. Metaphorical pinkies up!

  • Introducing yourself with a few simple facts (name, hometown, prospective major, interests, etc.) and initiating conversations with other admitted students is a great way to make friends before setting foot on campus in the fall. Meeting new people can be difficult for some; breaking the ice online makes the process that much easier.
  • Asking questions about anything and everything can bring about some excellent insight about the coming year. You could find a mentor on campus, seek out help filling out housing forms or see who else is going to a meet-up for students in your major.
  • Limit your comments and likes to a reasonable amount. Chances are, other members of the group have notifications sent to their inboxes and if they see your name on each and every one, you can bet they’ll want to delete you from all friend lists – virtual and real.
  • Feel free to friend others, but don’t do so with reckless abandon. If you notice you and another person have been commenting on all the same threads, send them a friend request with a short message noting this. Who knows...you could have just met your new roommate!

First collegiate impressions are no longer made on move-in day but instead in the months leading up to it. How are you putting your best foot forward online?


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Catholic University’s Single-Sex Dorm Reform

by Anna Meskishvili

Last week, Catholic University president John Garvey announced that beginning with this upcoming academic year, all dormitories would be single-sex. The university based this decision on reported studies that students living in co-ed environments are more likely to engage in binge drinking as well as hooking up.

Garvey emphasizes that within co-ed environments, gender roles get blurred and women try to “outdrink” men, which can only lead to harmful situations. From reckless drinking comes reckless behavior such as unprotected sex, which is more easily accessible in a co-ed dorm. If his changes are instituted, Garvey claims this is all less likely to occur.

This change in housing is not passing without some strong opposition. John F. Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, claims that this may even be illegal because it violates the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on sex, race, religion and other factors.

Through my own experience living in single-sex and co-ed dorms, I can tell you that boys will be boys and girls will be girls. No matter what environment you place 300 18-year-olds in, they will be as reckless as they choose to be. In fact, as stated in a CNN article about the matter, many women do their heaviest drinking while with other women and boys tend to “bro-out” with their guy friends and binge drink; therefore, separating the two groups will likely not change their initiative to engage in alcohol consumption.

From my experience living in an all-girls dorm, all the female interaction leads to cliques, cattiness and bullying; this is much less likely to occur when there are boys present to dilute the female egos. Being in single-sex dorms makes it harder to branch out and ultimately does not benefit the students living there. What do you think? Do you think that eliminating common ground between boys and girls in dorms will eliminate the problems Garvey cites, too?

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Social Media and Your College Life

by Angela Andaloro

As embarrassing as it is to admit, one of the coolest parts of selecting your school is telling everyone you know. A school hoodie used to be announcement enough but now, one of the first questions incoming freshmen ask is how they can find out their new school email – a requirement to add their school on Facebook.

Social media is an excellent outlet for communication between freshmen, students and administration, and even students and peer leaders. Many students who live on campus “meet” their roommates for the first time via Facebook. Students can also follow their schools on Twitter, as well as accounts designated for various clubs and organizations. With so many benefits, why wouldn’t college students look to social media as a way to jumpstart their college social lives?

The answer to that is simple: overexposure. Students forget just how open the Internet is. No matter how iron-clad you believe your privacy settings are, the information is out there to be passed around. Many students are concerned about this when it comes to photos, and rightly so – they are often warned of the dangers of posting sexually suggestive images, pictures of parties with illegal activities going on and other questionable material – but there are other ways social media can get students in trouble. Students have been known to voice their comments and complaints about teachers, classes and administration via social networking sites in recent years. When such complaints turn into rants and get out of hand, the administration takes action.

With such a delicate balance between helpful and harmful, how should a student handle social media? I believe in one rule: use social media for communication, not broadcasting. Social media can be great to communicate, ask questions and answer questions. Broadcasting your feelings and not expecting something to occur as a result, however, is unwise.

How do you keep your social media use safe and enjoyable?

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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What You Need (and Don’t Need) on Campus

by Jacquelene Bennett

Packing for college can be stressful and frustrating. You buy something you think you are going to need and end up never using it or you forget to buy something and end up making 20 trips to the store on the already crazy move-in day. But fear not, I am here to help.

Now I know that colleges give students lists of things to bring with them but those lists can be wrong. Below, I have provided you with some helpful tips on what and what not to bring with you to college that I have learned myself over the last few years.

What to Bring

  • Extra linens. A few towels and an extra set of extra-long twin sheets go a long way when you’re out of quarters for laundry.
  • Mattress pads. If you are able to get several of these for your bed, DO IT – you back will thank you later on because you will be sleeping on an old, used mattress that will be very uncomfortable otherwise.
  • Pictures and decorations. Being away from home for the first time sucks. Bring lots of pictures and familiar stuff to make you feel more comfortable.

What Not to Bring

  • Desk lamp. The light is too bright to have on while your roommate is asleep and the overhead light you have in your room is good enough while you are doing homework.
  • Printer. More than likely, your school has a printing quota that allows you to print from the school’s computer labs that rather than buying your own paper and ink.
  • Every article of clothing you own. When you move in, it’s still summertime. Bring only seasonal clothing with you and switch them out when you are home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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Dealing with College Stressors

by Katie Askew

Stress is unavoidable, especially in college. At times, it seems like there is a never-ending list of homework to complete, reading assignments to study and laundry to do – not to mention maintaining a healthy social life! It’s important to remember that although you can’t avoid stress, you can learn to manage it. Here are some ways how:

Make time for yourself, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Living in a residence hall can be stressful in itself because you are constantly surrounded by friends and roommates inviting you out and pulling you away from study time. Assignments pile up quickly and just like that, you’re behind in three classes. It’s sometimes hard to find alone time when living with a roommate – and 20 neighbors who also happen to be your best friends – but if you are feeling overwhelmed, chilling out by yourself helps to relax, revive and cross some things off your to-do list! Taking a nap, listening to music, reading a few pages from a non-required book or going on a short walk can help to clear your head and refocus your efforts.

Schedule time in your week for doing something you love – and stick to it as if it were a class. For me, music is my stress outlet. I make sure that I play marimba or piano regularly during the school week to not only keep me sane but also to keep me going through my homework. I always have my music time to look forward to and it helps to keep me focused on my assignments, not distracted from them. I know that the sooner I accomplish my work, the sooner I can pound out some music.

Whether it’s taking part in a favorite activity or just sitting quietly by yourself, make time for it in your week and you will feel much less stressed.

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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Getting Along With Your Host Family

by Mariah Proctor

A practical stranger just walked into my room in her underwear to tell me not to be so rough with the cold water handle of the kitchen faucet.

Yes, living with host families is an adventure but can also be one of the most rewarding parts of a study abroad. It’s an adjustment to suddenly be sharing personal space with people you hardly know but here are a few rules of thumb that can help make the whole experience a little smoother for all.

Follow their rules, not yours. One of the biggest adjustments of attending college in general is that not everyone grew up with the same sensibilities as you did and the things you thought everyone knew (i.e., obviously mustard should be kept in the fridge) might be a ‘just you’ thing. That gets compounded fourfold when you are in a different family and a different culture so when your host family sets up initial guidelines, follow them. Even if it’s not how you would ever do things, you are in their home and you should respect their rules.

Monkey see, monkey do. For all of those other things that just have a big question mark and for which those new strangers whose , two words: watch and learn. Try to be observant and aware of the way things are done and follow suit.

Communicating isn’t stepping on toes. Don’t assume, ask! If there’s a language barrier, use some clever props or charades; through giggles and victorious discovery, they’ll figure out what you mean. Don’t feel like you’re being silly or an imposition for communicating your issues. Solving those issues will make you a less imposing presence.

Show your gratitude. Most of all, remember to be gracious and courteous! Your host family has opened up their home to you; learn all that you can learn from them because you will have no better opportunity for cultural immersion. Maybe, just maybe, these complete strangers can become like family after all.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.


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