8 Cheap Ways To Save Space + Keep Your Dorm Room Organized

8 Cheap Ways To Save Space And Organize Your College Dorm Room

Successfully moving into your dorm room is only one small piece of the college student-adulting pie, and, personally, I hate the part that comes after…

Because your clothes, shoes, and bedding won’t unpack themselves (remember that episode of Jimmy Neutron where he put microchips inside pants so they’d fold themselves???) you’re going to have to start organizing ASAP. College dorm rooms are notoriously tiny, and it doesn’t help that back to school catalogs think that colleges have the luxury of affording students tiny palaces for rooms—seriously, I don’t know what dorm room can actually fit all the crap they brainwash us into bringing! Which is why my freshman year of college, I watched upwards of about 30 different “How I Organize My Dorm Room” videos on YouTube to get an idea of how to really optimize the small space I have.

Fast forward three, almost four, years and past a lot of trial and error, and I think I’ve finally pinned down the absolute best, and my favorite, ways to save space while keeping my room looking neat. And trust me, I know you may not want to spend a ton of money buying organizing containers and bins for every little thing—I certainly didn’t—so that’s why I’m highlighting the cheapest ways to save space in your dorm. And to really help you prep for this most exciting time of year, I’m also going to talk about my favorite ways to keep my dorm room organized, whether you’re living in a triple, double, or the coveted single!

Cheap ways to save space…

1. Hang your jewelry using adhesive hooks.

Using Command Hooks is by far my FAVORITE way to store items to save space. They don’t require hammering anything into the wall, so you won’t damage anything, and they remove cleanly (as someone who once ripped paint off the wall because I didn’t know how to properly remove a Command Hook, I can attest to the fact that taking your time when removing the adhesive makes such a difference!).

Last year, I bought small hooks and stuck them to my wall in a cute pattern. Then, I hung my bracelets and necklaces from them, and it not only looked super cute, it also helped me avoid having to bring a jewelry organizer to school. I was able to see everything I had at once so I could easily choose what I wanted to wear, and putting them back at the end of the day was a breeze. Command Hooks don’t cost much, and they usually come in packs.

Pro tip: buy larger Command Hooks and hang your purses and handbags on them!

2. Tape your power strip to the side of your desk.

During my first two years of college, my surge protector was literally all over the place, and it was always in my way. I’d sometimes trip over it, or get other cords tangled around it because I figured the floor was as good a place as any other for leaving it. Then, last year my dad suggested I use some double-sided mounting tape to secure it to the side of my desk, and it was the easiest hack ever! It makes it easy for me to plug things in from the comfort of my bed, I don’t trip over anything, and mounting tape doesn’t cost much, and you’ll certainly have enough left over for next year.

3. Push small furniture items under the bed when you’re not using them.

I love cute little storage ottomans and other pieces of furniture, but if you aren’t using them as frequently as you thought you would, push them under your bed to keep them out of your way. Having them in the middle of the room, or by the door can hinder your ability to move around freely, and it might annoy your roommate. If you aren’t sure if you’ll really use a piece of furniture, save money by renting instead of buying. Check out my post on Items You Can (And Should) Rent In College for more details.

4. Buy an over-the-door mirror.

I know not everyone feels they need an over-the-door mirror (though they are really useful when you want to check your outfit before you leave but your suite mate is in the bathroom) but if you do choose to invest in a full-length mirror, buy one that can easily be hung over your door so you don’t have it propped up against a wall where you can easily trip over a corner and break it (or your roommate could trip over it and break it!). They usually cost around $20, and they’re even cheaper when they go on sale, so keep an eye out for that.

5. Get a desk lamp that doubles as a pencil holder.

My school provides us with desks that already have a light built into them, so I’ve never had to purchase a desk lamp, but if you’re going to, save yourself from making two purchases by getting a lamp that’s also a pencil holder. I’ve always thought those were really cool, and a smart asset to any college student’s academic wishlist. You can put extra pencils, pens, highlighters, paperclips, sticky notes, and more into the storage compartments. Plus, most of these lamps also include a place for you to charge your phone. Pretty spiffy if you ask me.

6. Store items on top of your mini fridge.

If you bring a fridge or microwave to school, make use of the space on top! Get a plastic container and put cereal boxes, granola bars, and other food items in it for easy access. You can find the containers for super cheap at a dollar store, so it’s definitely a win.

7. Use thumbtacks to hang items from your cork board.

The desks that my school provides us with also come with a built-in cork board type material, so we can use push-pins and thumbtacks to hang things on it. This is also a great place for any accessories such as sunglasses, watches, and rings. If you don’t have a desk mirror, use it to hang a hand-held mirror.

8. Don’t bring items that are prohibited in dorm rooms!

This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to save space: simply DON’T purchase any items you aren’t allowed to have! Always check with your school if you’re unsure of whether or not you can have a certain item in your dorm room. I can name at least 10 items that aren’t allowed in my school’s dorm rooms without even thinking. If you’re caught with these items, they’ll be taken away until someone can bring them home for you. Read my post on 13 Things Not Allowed In Your Dorm Room + What To Bring Instead for details on some common prohibited items (and their totally UNprohibited substitutes).

How I organize my room…

I use magazine holders for notebooks.

I love love love magazine holders because they provide easy access to important books and papers (and, yes, my magazines) while also adding an extra flair to my desk. They keep things tidy because Lord knows that without them, I would probably just stack my books anyhow on my desk.

I use plastic bins to organize my supplies in my desk drawer. 

This has been one of my favorite desk organization hacks since freshman year! I was tripled my first year and had to share a desk with one of my roommates, so instead of having all of our markers and highlighters rolling around and getting lost, I started using small, plastic bins to hold small items and it worked! I could usually by two or three for $1, so it was super cheap. If you love DIY and have the materials on hand, I also suggest creating your own desk organizers using cereal boxes and decorative tape, or gift wrap.

Related: 13 Smart Money-Saving Tips For College

I store shoes under my bed. 

There’s no reason for your shoes to be thrown all over the room, and if you have a roommate or two, it would be even more annoying if they started doing the same thing, and you wouldn’t want that now would you? I keep my shoes under my bed because it’s easy to get to them and they stay out of the way. Another good place for shoes would be storing them on the shelf in your closet. I never purchased a shoe rack because I couldn’t imagine having space for one when I was tripled.

Some other things I keep under my bed are my mini fridge, plastic containers for storage, and an umbrella.

I keep my laundry bag in my closet. 

It’s kind of the same idea as the shoes; the goal is just to keep the laundry bag out of the way. I used to hang my bag on the back of my door handle and it was super annoying! You can also put this under your bed.

I never put any items in my walking space. 

I always try to keep the main walking area as clean as possible. Can you imagine tripping over someone else’s crap every time you want to leave the room, or having to practically jump over boxes and shoes? This is especially important if you have a roommate, because I always like to think that the walking space doesn’t belong to any one person. Be careful, or you could run into problems with your roomie!

Related: 7 Common Roommate Problems + How To Solve Them

I usually have most of my decor on my wall. 

I know everyone wants a Zoey 101-esque dorm room, but that’s TV and TV loves exaggerating shit. Avoid the octopus lamps and other floor lamps because they take up space and likely aren’t even allowed in your room; if you have a bad dust allergy, avoid bringing in decorative rugs. For dorm decor, I usually tape cute art prints to the wall and use decorative tape to create “picture frames.” It’s so cute and so easy, and doesn’t take up space at all. Check out my Guide To Dorm Decor for more decorating tips.

What are your favorite ways to save space in your dorm? Which of these tips is your favorite?

Macarons & Mascara Signature

Informational Interviews: What They Are, Why They’re Important & How To Rock Yours

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (welcome back! :D) you probably already know that I study journalism and one of my biggest career dreams is to work for the biggest digital media sites out there (Well, hello there, BuzzFeed and INSIDER). The thing is, competition is tough and I can basically get in line behind all the other twenty-somethings graduating in a year who also want to work for the biggest digital media sites out there. While experience is extremely important, you’ll gain an advantage by getting to know some of the people who work in the industry you want to break into, and what better way to do this than to ask for an informational interview??

Honestly, I have never even heard of the term “informational interview” until this summer. I was lucky enough to have been able to score one recently with a writer I was introduced to at HerConference, and I learned so much from her! It was such a great experience that I wanted to share it with you and give you tips for meeting your favorite writers and editors. So let’s get right into the world of informational interviews.

P.S., while you don’t have to study journalism and media to have an informational interview, please note that this post will focus on informational interviews from the perspective of a journalism major (a.k.a. me), so tailor any examples here to better suit your field of study. 🙂 

First thing’s first: What exactly are “informational interviews”???

“Informational interview” is a super professional term for a coffee meeting between you and your favorite writer, editor, or freelancer from whom you receive career and industry advice. I prefer to call them coffee dates, but the meetings don’t even have to involve coffee; if you both love tea, it could be a tea date, or if you’re feeling bold, you might invite him or her to a pub for drinks (only do this after you get the job you want to say thanks for the advice!)

The editorial assistant I met with was a panelist at the conference attended, and she made some points that I really wanted to learn more about. Luckily, she is friends with a co-worker of mine, and he was able to give me her email address, so when I messaged her for a meeting, she agreed! The tips she gave me were fantastic, and will definitely help me become a stronger writer for future sites I write for.

No, you don’t have to bring your resume and cover letter because this is NOT a job interview. As a matter of fact, you’ll be the one asking questions, so make sure you’ve got good ones. Don’t ask anything that you can easily Google the answer to. If you’re nervous, start off by asking your “interviewee” how they got to their current position, and just go with your natural curiosity.

How do you organize an informational interview? 

Like I said, I organized my first meeting through a co-worker giving me contact information and telling the editorial assistant to expect my message. Using your connections is one way to go about setting up a coffee date with someone you’d really love advice from, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask! Your colleagues and bosses were in your position at one time, so I’d imagine they’d love to help you in any way that they can. You might have to do some LinkedIn research to find any of your co-workers’ connections who have had jobs at any of the places you want to work at. When you find someone, see if your colleague can message their connection to expect your email. This is way better than just having them give you an email and then keeping your fingers crossed that it’ll get a response.

Another way of getting an informational interview is the infamous cold email (another phrase I hadn’t heard of until recently). Basically, you look someone up, find their email address, and you just go for it! You usually won’t have any common connections, which can make cold emails seem intimidating at first, but honestly, what’s the worst that can happen—they might say they’re too busy, or they might ignore you. Either way, it doesn’t cost you anything to try.

Lastly, you may meet some influential people in your desired industry at networking events. But this requires that you actually look for and attend networking events, meet someone you’d love advice from, and actually get their contact info so you can email them. It can be difficult because literally everyone and their mother will likely want to get in two minutes with an Editor or Social Media Director, but if you need tips, I’ve got a post all about How To Survive Networking Events. Once you get their email, message them as soon as you can and ask for a meeting. But no matter which method you choose to organize a meeting, you have to make sure that editor, writer, or social media manager actually says yes…

Get them to say yes: how do you give them a reason to meet you?

“Hi, so-and-so! My name is Jasmin and I’m a student and writer at XYZ. I love your work on ABC Magazine, and it’s my dream to work there. I would love to meet you for coffee in the city when you’re free.” 

That’s a pretty decent example of what you should NOT send to someone you want to meet for coffee! Why should this person care enough to meet you for a couple of iced chai lattes in a noisy, packed coffee shop in Manhattan instead of leaving the office to go home, eat a fancy steak dinner, and dip their toes in a warm bubble bath? Simply put, just saying you love their work and want to meet them isn’t enough.

Yes, it’s a good idea to say that you enjoy reading their work (as long as that’s actually the case!) but they don’t want to attend a coffee meeting where they’re being fangirled over because that’s just a waste of their time. Try to be as specific as possible about why you’d like to meet with them. Did they mention something specific in a particular article that you’d like to hear more about? Did they recently receive a promotion and you want to know more about how they got their position? Great, say that! This will help them prepare what to talk about so they help make the most of your time together, and having a focused topic of conversation will help you think of focused questions to ask. This is called giving them a reason to meet you. And, without this handy tool under your belt, be prepared to receive an “I’m too busy” or be ignored altogether.

But why are informational interviews so important???

I know, I know, I’ve been going on and on about the do’s and don’ts of informational interviews, and I didn’t even mention how extremely useful they are! Let me start off with the most obvious benefit to informational interviews: making new connections! By the end of the meeting, you should walk away with a new professional email, and, if you’re lucky, a cell phone number. But I always like to say that the connections you make are only meaningful if you actually use them! Don’t just tuck this well-earned email address into the back pocket of your favorite skinny jeans and forget all about it; shoot them an email or text the following day to thank them for their time. Send them a card during the holidays, and email them for their birthday. Don’t reach out to them only when you’re about to apply for a position. If you keep in touch regularly, they would certainly keep you in mind for internships, full-time positions, and anything else their company is working on.

Another reason why you should ask for an informational interview is because you get the chance to access insider information on your favorite company or website. I mean, hell-o, you get to sit in front of experts in the field and have their full, undivided attention to ask them any career-related question you want the answers to. Not only that, but you also get to hear about what steps this person took to get where they are now. IN. FULL. DETAIL. I love hearing other peoples’ stories because they’re always so encouraging, and give me great ideas on what my next move should be. Also, don’t forget to talk about the small stuff and ask your interviewee about themselves.

Those were the obvious reasons why informational interviews are so important, but here’s one that most people forget about even though it’s probably the most important: You will ALWAYS learn something. Even if you thought the conversation was so boring you were tearing up from all the yawns you were holding back, you will definitely be able to take something valuable away from the experience. It could be a clue as to what your next steps should be, or where you should look for your next internship, so pay attention!

So, how do you rock this meeting???

1. Dress nicely. 

You don’t have to dress like you’re attending a business meeting, but you also shouldn’t bust into the cafe wearing short shorts and a crop top. Aim to just look put-together. For my meeting, I wore a dress and flats because it helped me avoid overthinking my outfit. It helps to think about what you would wear to your internship (MORE: 6 Super Cute Pairs Of Shoes You Need For Your Summer Internship)

2. Arrive early.

Something my broadcast professor always told the class was: If you’re on time, you’re late. Plan ahead so that you arrive at the cafe or meeting place with enough time to get yourself settled in before the person you’re meeting arrives. Try to have the drinks ready when he or she arrives. Pro tip: let them pick the cafe and ask them what their favorite thing to get from the menu is.

3. Come prepared with at least 4-5 questions.

One of my editors told us interns a story about the worst coffee meeting experience she’s ever been invited to. Long story short, the girl who asked her to the meeting didn’t have any questions ready and basically just expected her to sit down and start talking. Needless to say, that was a complete waste of her (the editor’s) valuable time, and this is probably the WORST thing you could do at an informational interview. You should go with your natural curiosity during the meeting, but also prepare some questions so at the very least, you have something to start with, something to ask if you sense a lull in the conversation, and something thought-provoking to end with.

4. Ask what they suggest you do moving forward.

Always try to ask how the advice can be applied to you. Say something like, “what kind of experience do you think I should try to add to my resume in the near future?” (P.S., check out my Guide To Resume-Writing and my post on How To Join Clubs To Boost Your Resume!) This shows that you care about staying active and gaining as much industry experience as possible. Who knows, they might even answer with a swift, “you should consider applying to this recently opened position at my company.” *wink, wink*

5. Don’t whip out your resume.

Be aware that some professionals actually really enjoy sitting down to meet with curious college students and young graduates, so don’t ruin the fun by pulling out your resume. You aren’t there to interview for potential openings at the company, and the person you’re meeting certainly isn’t prepared to interview you. If anything, this could annoy them, and they may not want to keep in touch with you. If you’re particularly eager to share your resume, ask if you could email them a copy to get their thoughts on how to properly leverage your experience.

6. Be yourself and have fun! 

Informational interviews are seriously fun and exciting because you never know what you’ll find out, and you might really click with the person you’re meeting. Pretend you’re meeting up with an old friend if you’re nervous. Just relax and enjoy the experience!

So yeah, there you go! I know this isn’t my usual post style but I was practically bouncing off the walls because I was so excited to talk about how informational interviews can be such a worthwhile experience. I hope these tips help you feel confident when you ask for an informational interview in the future!

Have you ever been on an informational coffee date? What are your tips?

How To Thrive In Small Classes As An Introvert, Or If You’re Really Shy

Large college lecture halls that accommodate 300+ students are what some college goers dream of. There’s no pressure to sit up front under the professor’s nose, no one will really notice if you fall asleep in the back, and you’re way less likely to get caught doing work for other classes. But, not all college classrooms are big enough to house a tiny village, which means that at some point you may be forced to sit in a high school-esque room with a mere 20 other students where the professor can actually see your face.

You’ve probably heard by now that in college, you can’t get away with not speaking up, and if you’re shy or introverted, that kinda sounds like a nightmare. Ya girl knows EXACTLY what it’s like to have that nervous sweat roll down your back when the professor warningly announces that they’re going to pick someone randomly to answer a question. And then your face gets so hot and so red that you swear you’re going to pass out in your seat at any moment—oh yeah, I’ve been there more times than I can count. It takes a lot of internal convincing for me to finally decide to raise my hand and answer or ask a question in front of the class. Unfortunately, some professors make class participation a huge part of your overall grade. You likely won’t get A’s in class if that’s the case. And while grades don’t define who you are, your academic success may be important down the line when applying to grad school or joining honor societies and programs.

Keep in mind that there is no special set of strategies designed specifically for introverts and shy people that will magically help them succeed in class. But these are some things that you should pay keen attention to in order to thrive in class if you’re shy about speaking up! Seriously, guys, I’m so excited to share this post with you—I thought of it while eating dinner and promptly put down a spoonful of mashed potatoes and scooted my chair back to lock myself in my room until this post was finished! So before I explode from the excitement, here are tips for being seriously successful in small, participation-heavy classrooms when participation isn’t a strength of yours.

1. Make a friend in class.

You don’t need to be the life of your class party of 30—just have even one friend in there with you who you can sit with, talk to, help each other out, and exchange confused looks when you have no idea what the hell is going on. Before I really started making any J-school friends, I remember how uncomfortable it felt to sit in a room where it seemed like everyone had a friend but me. It’s really important to have one or two reliable friends in the class if you aren’t going to speak up much because they can help you answer the questions you might not have asked in class. And, having a friend with you makes anything mundane so much more enjoyable. Find someone who seems cool and sit next to them every class. You’ll eventually start talking a little and exchange numbers. Read my 10 Secrets For Making New Friends In College!

2. Email the professor when you don’t understand something.

I know a lot of people who are afraid of sending emails to professors regardless of whether they’re introverted or extroverted, and if this is a fear of yours, you NEED to get over it if you want to do well. Professors always ask if people have questions in class, but some of them can be quite asshole-ish and dismiss perfectly valid questions as “stupid” which makes students less likely to want to even raise their hand in the first place! If you’re nervous about asking for clarification in front of your classmates, email the professor as soon as class is over to get answers. You may think you’re bothering him or her, but that’s kind of what they’re here for. You’ll get help, and your professor will see that you obviously care enough to reach out (easy participation points!)

3. Go to your professor’s office hours.

I took this English class last fall, and the professor was absolutely terrifying. She’s a sweet woman when you get to know her and when she sees that you care about the class, but I was honestly too scared to raise my hand in that class. The worst part of it was that I knew that was killing my participation grade, so when she offered easy points to anyone who visited her office hours to review their exam grade, I signed up immediately. Don’t hesitate to visit your professor if you don’t talk much in class. It can help you get full credit for participation, and your professor will get to know you better and understand where you come from. Plus, bonding with professors is important if you plan to ask for a recommendation letter. Be sure to read your syllabus to know your professor’s policy on office hours—do you just walk in, or do you need an appointment?

4. Create a good connection with the TA.

If you’re shy about talking to the professor, talk to the TA if your class has one! TA’s are like the bridge between the professors and students, plus they’ve already taken the class and did well in it, so they can give you the insider tips on how to get those A’s for days. As a former TA, I personally loved it when students—whether they talked a lot in class or not—approached me for advice or with questions about the class. It made me feel useful and trusted, and I could tell that it really made a difference for students. Don’t wait until the end of the semester to email your TA to ask for help; go up to them after class and introduce yourself, or ask if they’d be willing to get lunch with you to go over your mid-semester project idea.

5. Take impeccable notes.

If you’re not going to get on those class participation points, you better damn well make sure you have incredible notes to help you ace exams later on! I’m not going to talk about this too much because I have a blog post all about how to take good notes in class, but be sure to leverage your listening and observational skills in this situation.

What’s the one class you had that made you nervous to speak up? 

5 Tips For Joining Clubs To Boost Your Resume

5 tips for joining clubs and extracurriculars to boost your resume in college as a freshman

There’s nothing I love talking about more than ways to get involved on campus. Well, actually, I love talking about blogging and planning just a teeny bit more, but joining clubs is such an important part of the college experience that I’m super excited to give you the deets on all things extracurricular. Let me start off by dropping some crazy news on you: When I was a first semester freshman, I didn’t join any clubs on campus. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Bupkis. My second semester freshman year, I signed up for like five clubs of interest that I knew I’d love, but only remained committed to one…which I quit two semesters later.

So, why should you listen to what I have to say about joining clubs that kick ass on any resume?? Well, because eventually, I realized a few important things, and I got my extracurriculars in order by joining one amazing organization on my campus that brings together a ton of great girls who love to write, and not only did I stay committed to this club, but I also received the opportunity to become part of the E-board last semester! But it doesn’t stop there; I used my experiences with this club to apply for a much bigger position on the national team and actually got picked!!!! That club, in case you were wondering, is my school’s chapter of Her Campus (you might’ve heard of it) and I’m now a News Blogger on their national team. Yay! Yay! Yay! 

But I promise, I didn’t tell you that to toot my own horn; I included that story because it’s an example of how I used a club that I joined to elevate my resume and become a more competitive applicant for a position I wanted. As a college freshman, you may not have much experience listed on your resume. Hell, you may not even have a resume! But joining clubs is one of the best ways you can start building one. So, without making this intro any longer than it needs to be, here are tips for joining clubs to actually make your resume look good.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Resume-Writing + Examples

1. Don’t join a bunch of clubs. 

No, seriously! I know everyone in college will tell you to fill your weeknights with as many clubs as you can so you can make friends and explore more interests, but you actually don’t need to join that many. I think it’s way more effective to just join one or even two clubs that you can eventually move up to E-board positions in. Keeping track of a ton of clubs can be so exhausting, but if you pour your time into just one club you really love, you’ll make friends, have a bunch of new experiences, and dedicate more time to playing a bigger role in the organization. Being able to show that you’re an organized team leader always looks impressive. And, if you can relate the position to what you want to do, that’s even better. You might be studying public relations or marketing, so saying that you’ve gained knowledge of promoting social media accounts and analyzing an audience as the social media director of the culinary club is really important experience.

2. Join professional sororities and pre-professional clubs and orgs. 

If you’re like my high school self and think that Greek Life is all about partying and drinking, think again! There are some professional fraternities and sororities on college campuses all over the country, so joining one is a great way to get involved with Greek Life while also adding to your resume. They’re often co-ed and referred to as “frats” so guys and girls can share skill-enhancing experiences. I’m not part of one because, unfortunately, there is no journalism co-ed frat on my campus *sad face* but I know lots of people who are part of Business frats, Engineering sororities, and more, and they love all the opportunities and career advice they’re given.

Pre-professional, non-Greek clubs are also a great way to connect with other students who want to do the same thing as you. If you’re pre-law, join the pre-law society; if you’re on the pre-dental track, see if your campus has a pre-dental society. These orgs are great resources if you’re just starting out and need guidance and tips, and you’ll get so many different opportunities to participate in exclusive programs offered in partnership between your university and outside groups, which you’ll definitely be able to brag about in your cover letter or during an interview.

3. Join campus media. 

I know what you’re thinking: “Ummm, but I’m not going to be a Journalism major…” Well, you don’t have to be to join your school newspaper or magazine. There are roles other than news writing that are essential in campus media. If you want to build a photography career, volunteer to be the newspaper’s photographer. You’ll get excellent experience photographing campus events for stories. If you’re interested in computer science or design, join the media crew as a site director or designer so you can get hands on experience maintaining and designing a website. No task is too small.

4. Become a campus ambassador. 

Nowadays, there are campus ambassadors for so many companies—PINK, Yik Yak (remember this fun app?), and more. Being a campus ambassador is a great way to build experience in marketing and PR for a company you already love, or a new company you’ll start loving. It shows initiative and helps you build connections with brands outside of your campus. Campus ambassador isn’t exactly a club, but it’s an active presence on campus, and you usually have to recruit and organize other students from your school to join your team. So it’s kind of like a club in a way. Whatever you want to call it, it really looks great on your resume when you’re just starting out.

5. Start a club yourself. 

If your campus doesn’t offer anything you’re in love with, create something! The club doesn’t even have to be related to your major, it can be something you really enjoy doing. Maybe you love dessert and watching those food videos on Facebook. Create a club centered around baking and sweet treats. It shows initiative and self-discipline since you’ll be in charge of growing everything from the ground up. Not to mention the leadership, organizational, and communication skills you’ll build from it. I was the founding editor in chief of my school’s chapter of the Odyssey when I had no journalism or writing experience whatsoever because I had just changed my major. The Odyssey was at the top of my resume for every internship I applied to, and I always had so much to say about it during interviews. It was a ton of work, but I grew so much from it and turned it into something I could be really proud of.

What are your tips for joining resume-boosting clubs?

Check out my post on Cover Letter Mistakes That WON’T Get You An Interview!

7 Smart Things To Do During Syllabus Week For A Better Semester

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about the infamous college syllabus week. And if you haven’t, it’s basically the first week of the semester when you get to go over the future class material, meet your TA, and basically scope out the class to see if you’ll actually like it or if you’ll just give up and decide to settle for a C one month in. If syllabus week sounds too good to be true, you’re damn right it is! You may be really tempted to just chill during syllabus week because nothing serious is really happening in class yet, but that, my friends, is your first mistake.

I’ll be the first to admit that during my first ever freshman year syllabus week, I took the lack of work for granted and didn’t use my time (or my syllabus) wisely at all. Don’t forget to do these TK things during syllabus week to get your semester started on the right foot!

1. Print all of your syllabi and keep them in your binder.

Your professors spend hours creating your syllabi for a reason! Contrary to what so many people think, your syllabus is choc full of important quiz and exam dates, project and paper due dates, and the outline of everything you’re going to be studying for the semester. Most times, the syllabus also includes all of your homework assignments for the semester, so it’s definitely not something you want to lose! I know lots of professors post their syllabus online, but it’s so much easier to have a physical copy that you can highlight and annotate whenever you please. Plus, sometimes professors make changes to the syllabus over the course of the semester, and those changes may not be reflected in the online version. In my post on must-have school supplies, I talked about how I use a binder to organize all of my syllabus handouts, and I seriously stand by this because, you guys, it makes it a helluva lot easier to avoid that mini heart attack during finals week when you need a handout you received at the beginning of the semester!

2. Mark down all quiz, exam, and project due dates.

So, umm, sorry to tell you this but you’re going to have to actually read your syllabus after you print it out. I know, they can be so hefty sometimes, but think of it as an excuse to visit the school cafe and indulge in an over-priced iced coffee while you get some light reading done. Be aware of all of your semester’s exams and projects for every class ahead of time. I cannot tell you how many mini heart attacks I could’ve stopped myself from having every time I realized that I had a paper due in just two short weeks, or that the project I didn’t know I had was due soon. I highly recommend investing in a dry-erase calendar that you can hang on your wall, or a planner with monthly calendars so you can easily write down those dates and stay on top of your game at the beginning of every month. I really like the Happy Planner and the ClassTracker planner, which I wrote a review on.

Related: 11 Tips For Conquering Group Projects

3. Talk to your TA or Professor about the class expectations.

Syllabus week is prime opportunity for you to get to know your class TA, get your professor to know who you are, and figure out if you’ll really be up for the class you signed up for. If you’re like me and dislike surprises, knowing the extent to which you’ll be expected to work will be instrumental in helping you avoid any curve balls that might be thrown your way. I know it’s important to challenge yourself every once in a while, but if there’s a chance that at some point you’ll be expected to do something that you really can’t do for whatever reason, it’s important to know that in the beginning when you can jump ship rather than mid-semester when dropping the class could negatively impact your transcript.

Shoot your TA an email and ask if you can discuss the class over lunch or dinner. You’ll feel a little less awkward considering they’re a student just like you! Also use this as an opportunity to get the inside scoop on how to get on your professor’s good side. Visit your professor’s office hours to get to know him or her, too. Make sure you check your *ahem* syllabus to find out if you need to email them for an appointment first!

4. Rearrange your schedule as needed.

Even though everyone and their mother will be trying to change their schedule and advising offices and the admin office will be flooded with students trying to get out of one class and into another, syllabus week is my favorite time to change my schedule. It’s better, in my opinion, to get it out of the way before you have a ton of assignments on your plate and completely forget. Plus, it’s so easy for the class drop deadline to slip right past you when you’re busy! Use this week as an opportunity to add more classes, drop a class, or completely re-vamp your semester schedule. Check out my post on creating the perfect class schedule for more useful tips!

5. Talk to your classmates.

It can be insanely easy to just chill by yourself in a corner of the lecture hall for an entire semester (been there, done that!) but that makes it way harder to find additional resources (a.k.a. your lovely classmates) when you need them. Plus, you could be missing out on an opportunity to make new friends if you always keep to yourself. I was that person for a long time, and looking back, there were so many cool people that I’ll probably never get to know because I didn’t make the move to sit next to them and introduce myself from week one.

Your classmates will always have something to offer you. Always remember: if you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room! Don’t think anyone is beneath you, and don’t think you can’t learn from someone else because you feel more experienced. It’s totally okay to start up a conversation with whoever you happen to be sitting next to in class. In fact, that’s how I made some of my closest friends. Try asking a question about the homework before class starts, and if the conversation keeps going, ask that person if they’re free and want to go for lunch.

6. Find shortcuts to and from class.

Okay, I’m going to get a little salty here because I did NOT do this my entire first semester and was SO FREAKIN’ mad because of all the time I could’ve saved. I’m the kind of person who sometimes prefers to keep doing things I’m comfortable with—I will always walk the same way to work or to the grocery store because it’s familiar and I don’t have to think about it. This can set you back if the familiar way also happens to be the longest way—especially if you’re already running late for class! I love that you can easily use syllabus week to scope out all the best shortcuts to any point on campus without looking lost because it’s literally the first week of school; EVERYONE’S lost.

7. Find your textbooks for as cheap as possible.

One of the biggest mistakes you could make in college is buying your textbooks before your classes start. Granted, it’s not the biggest mistake, but it is super annoying to realize that you just spent $500 on your textbooks when you could’ve spent half of that if you had put in the work to swerve your school bookstore and go through rental sites. Start looking for your textbooks after you had the first class so you’ll know if it’s worth getting one. Also, your professor might straight up tell you not to get the book, or may suggest where to find a copy for free.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Buying Textbooks In College

What’s your plan for succeeding this semester? 

Be sure to check out my post on How To Prepare For The First Week Of College for more useful tips!