7 Common Roommate Problems + How To Solve Them

7 common roommate problems and solutions

You’ve probably seen movies or tv shows where there’s always that crazy roommate who throws loud parties, gets intimate with their, um, guest while you’re trying to study, and is basically just a rude, inconsiderate person. News flash: this is actually sometimes really accurate. Yep, you read that right. In the real-life college world, these kinds of roommates do exist, and these scenarios are known for stirring up trouble. Whether or not your issues with your roommate are that wild, they can still be very annoying and need resolutions as soon as possible. After all, no one comes to college to be a crappy roommate.

Let me tell you, I am no stranger to roommate problems. I have had so many ups and downs that I could probably write a book about them. And that doesn’t even include the terrible problems and experiences my friends went through. That could probably be a sequel. Roommate problems are to be avoided at all costs because they can add extra, unnecessary stress to your already hectic life. Plus, it’s super awks if the two of you are fighting and you have to sit in silence together and pretend the other doesn’t exist. Here are some issues that you hopefully won’t run into, but if you do I also included handy solutions!

By the way, be sure to check out my post on 5 Things To Do Before You Meet Your Roommate for more tips!

1. They always have guests over.

Bonus points if they’re always being obnoxiously loud. It’s fine to invite some friends to hangout, but if you find that you can no longer walk into your room without seeing Tom, Dick, and Harry taking over the already small space, it’s time to have a chat with your roomie. Passive aggressively storming out of the room and hoping someone will notice is not the answer.

Solution: Be straight up about the fact that your roommate’s visitors are inconveniencing you. Your roommate may not realize that you’re not okay with this, so you have to tell her (or him in case any guys are reading this). Say something like, “hey, would you mind not having so many people in next time? I have an exam I really need to study for and I’d love to do it here.”

2. They invade your space and touch your belongings without asking.

I know some roommate contracts have you say whether or not you’re okay with your roommate using certain items of yours, and if you are not okay with any of that, you should use the contract to discuss this with your roommate on day 1. It’s never okay for anyone to take your personal items without asking. And it can be extra frustrating if you personally aren’t the type of person to do that to someone else. This has always been a pet peeve of mine, and it honestly drives me crazy.

Solution: Be polite but stern. There’s no way of sugarcoating this so don’t even try to. Say something like, “I’d be happy to share my [item], but please don’t take it without asking me.” Keep in mind that some people are really used to sharing everything with their friends or siblings, so to them, borrowing your hair dryer may not be that big of a deal. Make sure they know that it bothers you so they can stop.

3. They don’t take out the trash.

While there is cleaning staff in the dorm rooms, they are not responsible for taking out the garbage in your room. I know that after late night study sessions and half-eaten breakfasts the garbage can really pile up. Trash makes the room smell and it attracts bugs and things you don’t want sleeping under the covers with you at night (did I gross you out?). One year, I had a suite mate who would pretty much be the only person filling up the garbage bin in the living room, yet she would want us to take turns throwing the trash out. I found it annoying to have to be the one tossing out gross leftovers and huge boxes when I wasn’t the one who put them there, so I simply started using my own trash bin. I told her that I no longer use the one in the living room, so it would be her responsibility to dump it. But if your roommate isn’t good about taking out the trash at all, that’s a worse problem…

Solution: Create a trash schedule with your roommate if you share one garbage bin. This way, they can’t try to be slick by worming their way out of taking out the trash (you won’t believe how many arguments arise from who’s turn it is to drag the bin down the hall to the nearest trash room). And if you each have your own garbage bin but your roommate just doesn’t take out their garbage or forgets, politely suggest they set a reminder on their phone to take the trash out on the same day every week.

4. They’re always making the room too cold or too hot.

Boy, do I have stories about this…The room temperature is vital for focusing on your studying. If it’s too hot or too cold you may not be able to concentrate and be productive. And it’s not fair to you to always have to leave the room every time your roommate decides to leave the window wide open in December.

Solution: If your roommate controls the window and always keeps it closed, bring a fan for your side of the room if you think it’s too hot. It’s okay to politely ask if your roommate would open the window from time to time, but don’t take it upon yourself to invade their side of the room to open the window. And if your roommate always keeps the room cold, unfortunately, space heaters aren’t allowed in dorm rooms, so this situation requires a little more communication. Try to reach a compromise; suggest that the window is closed at night when it’s colder than in the day.

5. They turn the lights on when you’re trying to sleep.

If you’re a heavy sleeper, this may not bother you. But if you aren’t and you find yourself awake many times because of it, you may find yourself feeling sleep deprived, and you’ll probably lowkey hate your roommate for it.

Solution: Speak up. Your roommate may be trying to study and they won’t know that it’s bothering you if you don’t say something. Ask your roommate to use a desk lamp so you can turn the room light off. Don’t think that you can just sit on your hands and power through a semester of this, because if you don’t say anything, sorry but you can’t really complain here.

6. They smoke inside the room.

I’m pretty certain that smoking inside of residence halls is not permitted on any college campus, and if caught, the consequences can be serious, but what do ya know — people do it anyway. It happens more often than you might think, and it can be really difficult to be in the room if your roommate smokes inside it, especially if you have asthma.

Solution: You can’t tell your roommate to “just quit smoking” — some people smoke because it relaxes them when they’re stressed. Instead, make your room a smoking-free zone. Tell your roommate that he or she can smoke outside in the open air, but not indoors in your tiny room. Be nice but be stern and straightforward.

7. A room for two becomes a room for three (with only two beds).

You’ve probably heard horror stories of roommate bringing in friends with benefits, boyfriends, or girlfriends and having them practically live in the room too. If you know your roommate’s boyfriend or girlfriend well, it’s a little less awkward but it can still get annoying if it happens too often. Let’s face it — sometimes you want the room to yourself and they’re always in there. Plus, a room meant for two just cannot effectively accommodate three.

Solution: Say something like, “Would you mind going to the living room with your boyfriend/girlfriend after such-and-such o’clock? I have an exam that I need to start studying for.” This way, you’re still letting them hang out and have their fun, but you get the room to yourself when you really need it. Keep in mind that maybe your roommate always has someone sleeping over because that person lives really far from campus and needs to be in class early. If anything, have a conversation about it with your roommate so you see where the other person is coming from.

What’s the best/worst/craziest roommate experience you’ve ever had? Let me know in the comments! 

5 Things You Can (And Should) Rent For College

5 Things You Can (And Should) Rent For College

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine. 

 

When I began my freshman year of college, I think I spent more money than I really needed to. I didn’t know too much about what to expect when I walked onto campus and into my dorm room, and I was always getting mixed information about what I really needed for college life. Let’s not try to sugarcoat it — college is already expensive enough and students can’t go spending money left and right! Obviously, there are some items that truly are great investments for college that you should splurge on (a laptop, a really sturdy backpack, shower shoes, etc.) but there are also some items that will definitely come in handy that you don’t need to splurge on and have stare at you in the face for the rest of your life. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but still.

Renting items is ideal if you don’t think you’ll need something after you graduate or for more than a semester or two. You’d be surprised by how tiny your room back home really is when you come back with a ton of things you bought for college and have nowhere to put them. I know some people prefer to just purchase the item and hold onto it forever or sell it back, but renting saves so much money, and it’s actually easier to do than you might think. So without further ado, here are some things that you should definitely try to rent for college.

1. Textbooks.

During my freshman year, I was studying health science and PURCHASED over $500 worth of textbooks. I’m now a JOURNALISM major and have no need for all those chemistry and biology textbooks taking up space under my desk at home. I could’ve saved hundreds of dollars if I had rented as many necessary books as possible, so that’s why I’m telling you to rent those back-breakers if you can. You could end up changing your major like I did and you won’t even need those books anymore. Also, there are some textbooks that are complete nonsense that you probably won’t ever need to refer back to for the rest of your life. In my three years of textbook experience, there has been ONE textbook that I actually could see myself using for the rest of my life.

If you have a sibling attending college who is studying the same thing as you, then buying your textbooks is a good option because you can just hand them down to your brother or sister. Be sure to check out my guide to buying textbooks for all of the sneaky textbook-buying tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years!

2. A car.

It’s no 10-pound chemistry textbook, so the decision to rent a car for college should be really carefully thought out. For the most part, it will depend on your personal circumstances. Will you travel back home often? Does going back home mean having to book a plane ticket? Do you have an off-campus job that’s kind of far away? A car definitely would have helped me out this past semester, because I had to travel to a lot of places to report on stories for my journalism class, but I simply can’t afford insurance right now so I just had to deal with it. Plus, if I’m being honest here, I don’t think I’d be fond of waking up early to shovel my car out of the snow in January. An alternative, however, would have been to rent a car (which I stupidly forgot that I could do until the semester was basically over). My campus offers a car rental service that gives students free membership for a year. Students don’t have to worry about gas money, and they just pay for the number of hours they plan to reserve the car for.

If you don’t want to have to bother your friends for rides and just need to be able to get around from time to time, consider renting a car for at least one year.

3. Any extra furniture.

We all probably lowkey lust after a Pinterest-esque room but that would probably burn holes in every pair of pants we own. Still, having a cozy place is nice for when you want to relax after a long day, or have a place for you and your friends to chill indoors when the weather is bad. Many off-campus apartments may not even come furnished, which can make things even more expensive. CORT Furniture Rental  is a convenient service that helps students get what they want for their rooms and takes it off their hands when they no longer need it. This is perfect if you’re attending a college really far from home and need a few things without the hassle of flying them over and then back home again. I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t have room in my parents’ house for furniture I only need during the semester. That’s why I have this storage ottoman that I bought freshman year serving as a little coffee table in the living room because I don’t have space for it in my bedroom!

5 Things You Can (And Should) Rent For College

Being able to rent furniture also comes in handy if you’ll be living in your first apartment (yay!) and don’t really have any furniture for it. CORT can help you turn a bland apartment into something that’s completely you by delivering rented sets. Plus, CORT is accessible to a large number of universities across the country, so you don’t have to worry about your school being left out! You can have a comfortable room with rented furniture from the day it arrives.

5 Things You Can (And Should) Rent For College

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Dorm Decor + Free Wall Art Printables!

4. A storage unit.

If you’re attending a college that’s hundreds or even thousands of miles away from your home, a storage unit can really come in handy for the next four years. Moving bulky items and boxes back and forth is expensive and tedious. If you don’t have the means to keep doing so, you’re better off finding some storage space near your campus. I have had friends who come from states across the country and ended up renting a unit because going back and forth would have been way too much trouble. Plus, some storage companies even offer student discounts, so do your research to find one that fits your needs. Obviously, you don’t need a storage unit if you live literally 30 minutes or even two hours away from campus, but if you’re going to college in another state or country, definitely keep this in mind.

5 Things You Can (And SHould) Rent For College

5. A mini fridge.

I know some people may say that you actually don’t need a mini fridge for college because you have meal points for campus dining on your ID card, but I say it depends on the person. Personally, I prefer eating my breakfast in my room, and that usually consists of yogurt or a smoothie, or cereal, which I definitely need to keep refrigerated. Buying my fridge was kind of stressful for me because I didn’t know how big of a fridge I needed, and sometimes they’d go on sale for a few days only to be expensive again. And thank goodness my dad drives an SUV with ample trunk space to carry ALL my move-in essentials (including the fridge) in one trip, because moving that thing from one place to another is HARD.

Now that I’m home for the summer, the fridge is chilling in my basement, unplugged until August. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it after college — sell it, perhaps, to someone willing to buy it with all the stickers I managed to paste on there over the years? If you can rent a mini fridge that’s compact, clean, and not super gross, definitely consider it. You won’t have to worry about what will happen to it after you graduate, and you won’t have to go through the hassle of driving it back and forth every year.

What do you recommend renting for college? 

 

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21 Things To Avoid Doing Your Freshman Year

For many people, freshman year of college is pretty much the year of the most regrets, and it’s easy to see why. You’re on a new campus surrounded by new people; there’s so much pressure to be as well-rounded as possible and make good on the “best four years of your life”; and you realize that cranky high school teachers don’t compare to college professors who clearly think that their class is the only class you take.

There are a ton of ups and downs (that definitely are NOT exclusive to freshman year, too) but college is what you make of it, and you have to be willing to try, and yada, yada, yada. Do yourself a favor and check out these 21 things to avoid doing at all costs so you can bypass some major college mistakes.

1. Holing up in your room all day.

I’m definitely guilty of having done this from time to time. Trust me, even if you’ve just created the coziest dorm room in the world, locking yourself in there isn’t always as fun as wandering around campus and seeing who you can meet. The social scene in college can be a little stressful if you’re shy about putting yourself out there, and I was so nervous about it that I refused to go to events or extracurriculars alone, which often led to me not going at all if none of my friends wanted to attend. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a shot!

2. Only sticking to one group of friends.

Honestly, a lot of times your first semester friend group won’t even make it with you to Spring Break. Don’t be surprised if the friends you meet during the first month aren’t still your friends by next semester. Sometimes there’s just a natural drift. That’s why you shouldn’t only latch onto one group. Go to events and mingle to meet new people. Talk to the cool people in class.

Related: 10 Secrets For Making New Friends In College

3. Late night snacking on junk food.

I know the freedom of not having your parents around to yell at you when you dive into the fridge at 12a.m. can be so empowering, but don’t go crazy with the unhealthy treats in your campus dining hall — and trust me, there are A LOT of them! Too much junk food can lead to unhealthy habits and wasted meal points, which are super valuable and should be treated like gold in college.

4. Not getting to know your RA.

RA’s are the ultimate peer resource because while they have some authority in your residence hall and on campus, they’re students just like you. Stop by their rooms to chat for a few minutes a couple of times during the week. Add them on Facebook and say hi. You never know what opportunities they can help you out with.

5. Not getting to know the people in your hall.

It is entirely possible to get to know everyone who lives in your hall, you just have to put in a little effort. You never know what new friendships you can form, plus getting along with the people in your building can make your semester a whole lot more enjoyable. Go to building meetings and say hi to the people there. Socialize during RA events in the building. Even knock on your neighbor’s door just to say hey.

6. Starting a dorm room fire.

Unfortunately, some people bring items that are prohibited on campus, and accidentally start fires. There are judicial consequences for this, not to mention the fact that everyone in your building will hate you for reducing their belongings to ashes. Also, whatever you do, DO NOT push the popcorn button on the microwave when making popcorn! You WILL set off the fire alarm.

7. Partying a little too much.

Social party life is a huge part of almost any college you attend — even if your college isn’t on every list of major party schools. It’s nice to get dressed up and go out and have a good time, but you don’t have to go out every week. Plus, partying is expensive, so there’s that.

8. Skipping class because it’s “boring.”

I get that not everyone can appreciate the same topics being taught as one another because of different interests, but at least try to make the effort to attend. You’re hurting yourself by attending class a total of two times for the semester because come finals week, you won’t have any idea what to study for. But if you want to learn the right way to cut class, check out my Ultimate Guide To Skipping Class Like A Pro.

9. Sticking to a major you don’t love.

It hurts my heart when someone tells me they don’t love their major but don’t want to go through having to change it. I was in that very same boat from freshman year to sophomore year. I changed my major around six times until I finally settled on Journalism and Digital Arts. Get out of a major you despise early so you don’t feel like you’re behind. And don’t worry about what other people will think of you for changing it — you’re the one getting the degree and it should be something you love.

21 Things To Avoid Doing Your Freshman Year

Related: What To Do If You Want To Change Your Major

10. Losing your student ID or room key.

Your student ID is one of the most valuable possessions a student can have. On my campus, it’s how we get into our residence halls, pay for meals, get into free events, and even get discounts on purchases. As for your room key, losing it could mean having to pay hundreds of dollars to have it replaced. Be extra careful with them! Get a lanyard for your key and get a wallet case for your phone to store your ID (just don’t forget your phone!)

11. Plagiarism.

This is obvious for SO many reasons. If you got away with copying and pasting from Wikipedia when you were in high school, you certainly won’t get away with it in college. Professors have assignments submitted online so they can use software to search for instances of plagiarism. If you do cheat, you will be caught and the consequences will be severe.

12. Keeping fake friends.

You deserve friends who are as true and genuine as you are. Fake friends will only bring drama and agitation, and honestly you will NOT have time to babysit hurt feelings and gossip. Cut them off and move on.

13. Conflicts with your roommate.

It’s not a good idea to fight with the person who could potentially pour hair removal cream in your shampoo while you sleep. Getting along with your roommate will help your semester run so much more smoothly. Living with a stranger can be stressful, and getting along is sometimes easier said than done, but be welcoming and courteous, and also check out my post on things to do before you meet your new roommate to help you!

14. Not getting help if you need it.

Leave your ego in high school; there’s nothing wrong with not understanding the class material. And in college, there are so many resources to help you succeed no matter what your situation is. Letting your stubbornness take over can earn you a one-way ticket to failing the class.

15. Not taking a class you’re interested in.

If you have time in your schedule, take a class just for fun! Ever been curious about philosophy? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Greek. Is there a wine tasting class you’re dying to take (I wish!) Make it your mission to not graduate without having taken the one class you’ve always wanted to take.

16. Not considering study abroad or exchange programs.

Before junior year, I didn’t think studying abroad was an option for me. I had never traveled anywhere and didn’t really have a desire to. But then I got curious about seeing other parts of the world, and decided that this would be the year I did. My only regret is not studying abroad sooner! It’s honestly life-changing and you make so many memories and learn so many new things that actually stick with you because it’s like a hands-on experience times a hundred. Check out my posts on things to consider before you go abroad, and my post on how to be money smart while traveling.

21 Things To Avoid Doing Your Freshman Year

 

21 Things To Avoid Doing Your Freshman Year

17. Buying items not allowed in your dorm room.

Not only can you potentially start a fire in your room if the item is a fire hazard, but it’s simply just a waste of money to buy things you can’t even keep with you. There are also some items that are just plain unnecessary (like those wretched bed risers!!!) Do yourself a favor and check in with your campus housing office before you buy something you may not be allowed to have.

18. Overpacking for college.

Try to limit yourself to necessities when you move in because first, it makes things easier, and, second, over the course of the semester you’ll accumulate even more stuff in your room and you don’t want to drown in too much clothing and too many pairs of shoes.

Related: A College Girl’s Ultimate College Packing List + Free Printable!

19. Not checking in with your career center.

It’s actually never too late to start thinking about ways to get into the field you want to work in after graduation. Career centers can help you with pretty much all of your professional needs — resumes, cover letters, business cards, interview skills, what to wear, where to apply, how to accept or reject an offer — you name it. Pop in at some point your freshman year to at least get acquainted with the resources so you know what’s there when you need it.

20. Going home too often.

Missing your family is real, but you also don’t allow yourself to experience other aspects of campus life when you go home literally every weekend. Everyone is awkward/shy/energetic/excited-to-try-new-things freshman year, so you’re not the only one feeling antsy. Compromise and go home every other weekend in the beginning and see if that suits you.

21. Not getting involved on campus.

There are too many things going on in college for you to not be interested in something. Join a club or Greek organization; get an on-campus job; run for a residence hall council position; join an intramural sports team. It’s a great way to build your resume as a freshman, and you’ll make new friends. Also, don’t be afraid to let yourself try new things. This is probably one of the biggest college mistakes ever. You don’t have to try something that could put your life in danger, but every time you find yourself asking why, always ask why not.

Do you have any cool/crazy/funny stories from freshman year? Share them below! 

The Ultimate Guide To Skipping Class Like A Pro

the ultimate guide to skipping class like a pro

When I was in high school, I would never dream of skipping class. In fact, if there was a chance I’d have to miss a day of school for any reason, I’d get upset and cry because God forbid I didn’t get my perfect attendance award at the end of the year. I’m not super proud of the fact that I’ve skipped some college classes before, but I don’t regret the instances when I did. In college, you’ll likely find yourself faced with the decision of whether or not to skip a class, and sometimes that decision is really tough, especially if you’re a nerd like me and the mere thought of missing a day’s worth of lecture notes gives you heart palpitations.

But here are two things no one tells you about skipping class in college: First, it’s extremely easy to skip class. Your professors don’t patrol the hallways like your high school teachers do, and your parents aren’t making sure you leave your dorm room. You’d have to just be really unlucky to skip your 8a.m. bio lecture and then run into your professor on campus later in the day. Second, skipping class is a skill. Throwing your hands up and saying “I don’t feel like going to class today so I’m not gonna go” is too easy. So to help you out, I’ve basically compiled all my class-skipping advice and things you should consider right here in this one blog post.

Skip class if…

1. You’re really sick. 

Honestly, if you’re coughing up a lung and running a fever, don’t hold out hope that a dash of chicken soup will help you power through a day of long lectures and pop quizzes. Do yourself a favor and just stay home or stay in your dorm room so you can recover quicker. Check out my post on how to avoid getting sick in college for some tips because catching a cold is NOT fun.

2. You feel mentally drained or exhausted.

We’ll all likely feel this way at some point, and it’s important to note that if you feel this way it’s okay to miss class to recuperate. This is especially important if you’ve been running around all day. Use the hour that you’re skipping class to take a nap or do something for you to unwind.

3. You have an important interview or meeting during class time that couldn’t be rescheduled. 

Do you want a summer internship or brownie points from the professor? If I had to choose one, I’d take the internship without hesitation. But, you can actually have both in this situation. If you have to skip class for an interview for a position, let your professor know ahead of time if it’s a really small class and your absence will be noticeable.

4. You haven’t used any free skips yet. 

Some professors will allow you to skip up to three classes without your grade being penalized. I’m not saying you should become skip-happy and use all your free skips for no good reason. But if you have a few weeks of class left and you feel like you’re going to need to skip class at some point, you have these freebies as a cushion.

5. You will definitely drop the class within the next week. 

Only skip if you are 110% certain that you will never walk into the classroom again after a week. No need to waste time on it anymore. I actually did this for one class this past semester. I was actually on the waiting list for the class, but I still attended the first week because not going to the class even though you’re waitlisted is actually a bad idea. After that first week, I decided that it was just too much for me and I was already falling behind, so I decided that I can and will drop the class and transfer into a completely different one. I didn’t attend the next class and I dropped it the following day and moved on with my life.

the ultimate guide to skipping class like a pro

Don’t skip class if…

1. The weather is bad. 

Boo-hoo, it’s raining outside and you hate walking in the rain. You poor thing. Throw on your rainboots and grab an umbrella. If the weather in your area is bad enough, your class would be cancelled. If you’re a commuter and you don’t think you can make it to class safely from home, that’s a different story.

2. The weather is really nice outside. 

I know a lot of people love cutting class to soak up the sun, but fight every urge to do this. You’ll have your chance to be in the sunshine eventually. Just try to get through the next hour and a half of class without thinking about sunbathing in the grass.

3. You have an exam or presentation you’re unprepared for. 

A lot of colleges don’t allow you to make up exams, so getting a 50% is better than getting a zero. If you’re unprepared for your presentation, email your professor in advanced to let them know so they can plan material for the day or ask another student to present, and don’t just not show up. It’s way worse if you inconvenience your professor in this situation.

4. You hate waking up early. 

Tough turtles. Take a cold shower, have a cup of coffee, and get your ass out the door. Avoid taking early morning classes next semester. Take a look at my post on creating the perfect class schedule for tips. And if enrollment stresses you out, read my post on how you can make class enrollment less hectic.

5. There’s a class discussion and you didn’t do the reading. 

I know you may be thinking that there’s no way you’d be able to contribute if you didn’t read, but here’s a pro tip for that: Read whatever you can right before the class begins — if you can get just one page in, that’s fine. And just participate in the very beginning before everyone really delves into other parts of the reading. Boom. You give the illusion that you actually read when you didn’t. Another tip is asking a question in response to someone’s statement so you seem engaged, but be careful with this because you may be asked to give your own stance on the reading!

Extra pro tip: If the professor asks who didn’t do the reading, be honest and raise your hand. If they call on you randomly and you weren’t honest, you’re screwed.

6. You may be failing the class. 

Don’t torture yourself by missing out on opportunities to learn and help your grade. Going to class will allow you to ask any questions and get help from peers before it’s too late. Plus, if your grade in class is attendance based, DON’T throw away those points! It’s better to attend and tell the professor that you’re struggling than to not go and have to figure it out on your own later.

Related: How To Improve Your GPA For Next Semester

7. You’ve already used up a lot of free skips. 

Free skips are valuable in college and shouldn’t be wasted. If you’ve used up two out of the three and you still have two months of school left, I’d save the last one for an emergency if I were you.

8. You’re convinced you can do the material in your sleep. 

If that’s the case, you should use class time to further your knowledge by asking advanced questions or asking the professor to explore something related to the class that you’d like to learn more about. Plus, no one likes a cocky know-it-all.

9. Your class is starting a new chapter/topic.

Not being in class for fresh material is one of the worst things you could do. You’ll fall behind and it’ll be harder to take in next class’s lesson if you weren’t here for the intro.

10. You plan to ask the professor for a letter of recommendation. 

Definitely don’t skip! You need as many brownie points as you can, and you need to show that you’re committed to the class.

What to do if you plan on skipping class

1. Check the syllabus for the attendance policy. 

I mentioned before that some professors give you free skips. If you don’t remember if that’s a thing for your class, always check the syllabus. The syllabus will also tell you if there are any days when class isn’t being held, so you get a free skip anyway!

2. Email the professor ahead of time.

And if necessary, email them after class instead. Like, if you were sick and used the time to rest, when you wake up, tell the professor that you were ill and ask if there are any resources you could use to catch up on what you missed. They’ll love that you’re taking responsibility and taking their class seriously, and they’d be more willing to help you themselves.

3. Make sure someone in your class can fill you in. 

If you have a friend in the class who takes great notes, ask if you can borrow them for a night, or ask for a recap of the class. If you don’t have a friend in the class, this is a great reason to start getting to know the cutie who sits behind you.

Related: 10 Secrets For Making Friends In College

4. Don’t make up bull crap excuses. 

Never pretend you were in a car accident or you were ill. If you have to email your professor to give an excuse, don’t be too specific about your situation, or else they may think you’re lying!

5. Use your skipped class time wisely. 

Don’t skip class so you can watch the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Use the time that you would’ve been in class to get ahead or catch up on the homework assignments, study for an upcoming exam, or do an assignment you know you won’t have time to do the next day.

Related: 13 Tips For Getting A’s In Your Classes

What are your tips for smartly skipping class?

What has been your favorite and least favorite classes so far? Let me know!

How To Improve Your GPA For Next Semester

how to improve your GPA for next semester

So the semester’s finally over and you seem to have made it through in one piece — until you crumble at the sight of your new GPA…maybe this wasn’t your best semester yet (it’s OK, things happen) but instead of kicking yourself in the ass over and over for it, you need to get ready to give your average the comeback you know it can make.

Whoever said college is easy was without a doubt lying and I’d like to smack them across the face. Whether you’re studying biochemistry, engineering, history, journalism, psychology, or others, you WILL have at least one difficult semester. You may not do as well as you would have liked to, and while grades aren’t everything, there are still some pros to maintaining a good GPA such as:

  • Being able to rush sororities/fraternities
  • Scholarship qualifications
  • Study abroad applications
  • Membership in honor societies
  • Postgraduate education (med school, law school, etc.)

Take it from someone who once had a horrible semester and received a D in a class that brought down her average — it can be difficult to rebuild those numbers. But I didn’t say it was impossible. The glorious thing is that you don’t even have to wait until next semester to start improving those numbers; if you’re on summer break (or winter break if you’re reading this in December) you have a treasure trove of resources to give your GPA a makeover.

1. Set a reasonable goal.

If you currently have a 2.9, no way in hell will your GPA be a 3.7 by the end of next semester! Understand that making huge leaps of improvement will take time. This is somewhat because the credits for your classes will be weighted differently. For example, a 4-credit class account for more of your GPA than a 2-credit or 3-credit class. So if you get an A in your 4-credit class, you’ll be in a really good position for doing well that semester. But if you get a C in said class, you might not be satisfied with what you see, even if you get a few A’s in 3-credit classes.

Setting reasonable goals makes it easier for you to define your progress, which in turn can help you continue to reach your desired GPA. If you currently have a 2.9, aiming for a 3.0 or a 3.1 is pretty reasonable. 

2. Speak to an academic advisor.

More likely than not, they can tell you what classes you should take if you want to start making progress with improving your grades. They can make recommendations that fit you if you actually go see them. I know you’re super busy, but making some time even just once per semester to sit down with an advisor can make a huge difference. In the past, I have had advisors give me suggestions about the best class sequences for me so I don’t overwork myself. They’re actually a valuable college resource that often gets overlooked.

3. Take a summer class. 

If you can afford it, taking a summer class or two is a good start for improving your GPA. You’ll still be taking classes applicable to your major or school’s curriculum, and it’ll help boost your GPA if you do really well in them. I know people get annoyed when their average is boosted from like a 3.0 to a 3.09 after one summer class, but every decimal counts. If you’re feeling adventurous, try taking your summer class in another country by studying abroad! I have a bunch of blog posts all about studying abroad that you can check out, but my favorite one is probably things to consider before you leave.

And if you’re considering taking a class during the winter session, I also have a post for surviving those, which you can read by clicking here.

 4. Take a summer class at another university. 

This is like the ~pro tip~ version of the one above. Sometimes, universities in your neighborhood offer the same course you need to take for less money AND the course itself may be easier. This is good to keep in mind because, first off, summer classes are intense because you typically have six weeks to learn five months’ worth of material and get tested on it. Second, if your college is notorious for making classes more difficult than they need to be, this is a good way to still earn credits for the class while boosting your GPA. Always check with your college first to make sure the credits will transfer AND be calculated into your average.

5. Consider changing your major. 

I am in no way condoning giving up and quitting (all the time) but maybe the reason you didn’t do so well is because you weren’t studying something that you’re actually good at. I was actually in this boat and I’m so happy I changed my major — I suck at science and math, but I’m a beast at writing (if I do say so myself). I wanted to go to med school and be a doctor, but chem lab and bio were kicking my ass, and I was sick of doing just okay in my classes even though I worked so hard in them. I ended up realizing that the field just wasn’t for me and that writing was my calling, and I’d be truly happy as a writer. Maybe you’d make a terrible Business major, but a great Environmental Science major. Explore your college’s degree programs and see what stands out. 

Related: What To Do If You Want To Change Your Major

6. Change up your study habits. 

Maybe studying from midnight to 4a.m. didn’t do the trick for you. Perhaps actually sleeping during those hours and studying in the morning until class will actually help you more. It can sometimes take a while to figure out what study habits work best for you, but if after a semester of skimming chapters in textbooks didn’t help you, then try a more proactive approach like creating outlines or flashcards. You’ll perform better on exams when you know what habits work for you.

Related: How To Create An Effective Study Schedule, How To Have A Productive Library Study Session

7. Get a summer internship. 

A lot of college degree programs may require you to have an internship that you can receive college credit for. This in turn gives you a grade of “Satisfactory” on your transcript and depending on the college you attend, it could give your average a little nudge. Plus, during an internship you tend to learn things that you don’t always learn in a classroom setting. This is knowledge that you can bring to your homework assignments and exams, so don’t overlook the power of being an intern. 

8. Move forward. 

Life goes on whether you decide to cry about your GPA or do something about it. If you spend your time wallowing in your sorrows you won’t have enough time to make progress.

What are your tips for improving your GPA?

6 Things I Learned This Semester + Fall Goals

10 Things I Learned This Semester + Fall Goals

Last week, I concluded my junior year of college. My spring semester was insanely busy and full of stress, but thankfully that part is over. It’s so crazy to think that I only have one more year to do all the awesome, unique, fun shit that’ll be way harder to do after I graduate. It feels like I just discovered everything I was missing out on because I always played it safe and didn’t want to venture out of my comfort zone, and I’m kind of sad about that. But, I’m still really determined to learn from everything I went through over these last five months. The funny, upsetting, aggravating, and unique memories all surfaced at once, so I decided to write this post. And because I’m lowkey excited for the fall semester to start already even though I’ve only been home for four days, I also included some of the goals that I have for next semester. First off, here are the lessons I learned:

1. Some of the best experiences are the ones that happen spontaneously.

I know, this is one is a cliche but it was proven true for me over and over again this semester. I’m a very meticulous planner, and I don’t like straying from my schedule, but there were a couple of times when I randomly decided to do things, like make a quick stop at the beach to catch the sunset with my friends, and I always had so much fun. I have so many cool pictures from photoshoots and so many cool memories that I wouldn’t have if I stayed in my room bored out of my mind doing homework. Now I can’t tell if I’m still a crazy planner person or if I’m more go-with-the-flow. Is it possible to be a mixture of both?? What if I’m taking one of those personality tests and I can only pick one?? Maybe I’ll answer this question next semester…

2. Simply wanting something isn’t enough.

I always say I have an idea for doing something and then I rarely act on it. During the fall semester, I thought it would be cool to study abroad somewhere before I graduate, except it wasn’t going to keep on being just a thought for me. I took the necessary steps to learn more about the programs offered, talked to my parents about it, and did all the planning and research I could do for my study abroad experience (which turned out awesome!!) This semester, there were a lot of moments when I thought things like, wouldn’t it be so cool to have a fashion internship in Boston? I’d love to finally check out that ice cream shop everyone’s crazy about. Did I try to apply to said fashion internship? Did I make plans to visit said ice cream shop? No, and no. Sure, there will probably be more times when doing something turns out to be just a passing thought, but the next time I really want something, I’m going to put in the effort to plan for it so I can make it a reality.

By the way, if you’re thinking about studying abroad, check out my post on things to consider before you apply!

3. Having a good attitude will attract good people your way.

How you carry yourself is how people will see you — and remember you! This semester, my roommate told me that she remembers getting good vibes from me when we first met. We met for 15 minutes more than a year ago and she remembered me and liked me enough to want to be my roommate this year. This semester, one of my closest friends (who just graduated and is going to medical school!!) told me that he remembers first seeing me at a meeting for an organization we were both involved in, and he thought I seemed cool so he decided to talk to me. It felt so nice to hear that peoples’ first impressions of me were really good ones, but it was still a wakeup call to the fact that in the same way that you can be judged for the good things people see, you can also be judged for the not so good things people see.

If you think you’re doing a good job hiding the fact that you’re pissed about something, you’re probably not; someone is bound to notice and it may turn them off from you. Being more aware of this will definitely help me think about how my attitude affects the decisions I make and how I carry myself.

4. If you have even the tiniest feeling that you might regret not doing something, you probably will.

I think the only thing worse than regrets about the things we did are regrets about the things we didn’t do. Holy wow, I need to put that on a shirt or something. Anyway, ever since I applied to live my dreams of studying abroad in a foreign country, I decided to live by a new life philosophy: If you’re saying no because you can’t afford it or don’t have time for it, you’re probably holding yourself back. A tinge of fear or a love for being too comfortable is no longer an excuse for me to not do something. Five years from now, will I remember the time I sat inside in the air conditioning on a hot day, or will I remember the time I drove from New York to California with my best friend?

5. Sometimes great experiences are worth spending some money on.

Was studying abroad expensive? Hell yeah. Would I want to do it again if I had the money? Definitely. I’m probably biased but I think that any travel experience is well worth the money. You get exposed to something new, you learn a lot, and you make so many new memories. This can also be applied to attending a ceremony or conference you’ve wanted to attend for a long time, or signing up for a workshop you think is really cool.

Related: How To Be Money Smart While Traveling Abroad

6. But I also spend money frivolously sometimes…

I sometimes think I spend too much money, even when I think I’m buying something I really need. I sometimes forget that I should save my money for something that I really want, and then I feel bad once it’s spent. I’m definitely gonna work on this, though. If you’re in the same boat as me, be sure to check out my tips on how to save money in college.

Goals for next semester…

1. Go to the gym six days per week.

Towards the end of the semester, I got into the habit of attending the gym almost everyday. It was great because I was able to make some progress towards my fitness goals, I felt healthier, and it was something fun to do with my friends. Of course, there were some times when I didn’t feel like going because the weather was really bad and it was a long walk from the gym to my room. But next semester, my residence hall will LITERALLY be a three-minute walk to the rec center, so I don’t plan on making excuses for not going to the gym.

2.  Get my bartending certificate.

My college offers a bartending class (not for credit) that you can pay extra for. It’s a semester-long thing and in the end you can receive your bartending certificate. I’m not a drinker and I don’t know much about alcohol but I hope to use this class to learn more about mixing drinks and the unique qualities of each.

3. Make more friends in my new classes.

Friendships played a very important role in making this semester a successful one for me. So, I hope to keep the new friendships I formed strong and create more. At my college, there are so few journalism majors that it’s easy to walk away at least knowing everyone’s names. I hope to get closer to some of the journalism majors I didn’t get to talk to much in the spring. I also hope to make more non-journalism friends, too, which may be a little harder because I don’t have classes with them but we’ll see how it goes.

4. Keep posting at least twice per week.

Maintaining my blog got really difficult this semester because I was dealing with a class that ate up so much of my time, it was a miracle if I got two hours of sleep some nights. But, I made it through. There wasn’t a single week where I didn’t post, and I’m really proud of myself for that. I love blogging and getting to share things with you all on this site, so I definitely hope to keep doing that next semester.

5. Get straight A’s.

Getting A’s in your classes is such a great feeling. Grades aren’t everything, but sometimes seeing an A on your transcript for a class you know you really worked your ass off in can really be encouraging. I hope I can get those straight A’s, though it will definitely be difficult, more so than it was this semester. There were times when my brain was so fried that I couldn’t concentrate, but hopefully this summer will be a chance to get back on track and get focused for the fall.

6. Attend every football game at my school.

I’m not a huge football fan because I don’t understand the game sometimes, but I am a huge fan of college athletics. I love getting dressed up in red and going out to cheer on our teams while listening to the band, and possibly catching a t-shirt mid-flight. Football is huge at my college, and of course, so is homecoming, but everyone goes to homecoming. It’s gonna be my last semester getting to be a Seawolves Football fan unless I come back to visit as an alumna, so I hope to make the most of the season.

7. Work for the athletics department. 

Working for the athletics department is something I’ve always wanted to do. I adore our mascot so much that I even wanted to be the mascot when I was a freshman, but alas, I am far too short for the position. There was an excellent opportunity with the football team that would be perfect for strengthening my video editing skills, but the timing doesn’t work with my schedule, so I’m going to have to keep my fingers crossed for another upcoming position.

8. Actually use my financial tracker.

I made a financial tracker in my bullet journal last year and used it all of two times. I mentioned that I may have had a money spending problem this semester, so in the fall I hope to actually use my tracker to stay on top of my spending.

9. Start building good credit. 

While we’re on this real-talk, adulting thing, I might as well throw this one in there. Moment of truth: I don’t have my own credit card yet. *gasp* At least not one that’s completely my responsibility. I don’t use cards often at all because I probably wouldn’t be able to stop spending if I did. But I do want to start building good credit because I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now. I could be living at home with my parents; I could be on the hunt for an apartment in another state; I could be on the hunt for an apartment in another country. Good credit is important for many adult decisions and things, so better late than never, right?

10. Decorate my room really nicely. 

It’s my last fall semester in a dorm room, so I want to go all out with decorating. Well, not exactly all out. For my internship last summer, I wrote an article about two college girls who basically turned their dorm room into what I imagine a room in a palace would look like — I’ve never walked inside a palace, so I wouldn’t know for sure. Their room is goals AF but I doubt I can get on that level, but I still hope to create something that’s even half as enviable!

Thanks for reading this almost 2,000-word post! What are your goals for next semester?

10 Questions To Ask Before You Begin An Internship

10 Questions To Ask Before You Start An Internship

The semester has ended and you have moved out of your dorm room. If you aren’t studying abroad, taking a summer class, or working part-time, you’re likely interning somewhere. Internships are great ways to build hands-on experience in your desired career field, and they’re also great for networking and even making new friends. I had an editorial internship — my first internship EVER — last summer and I had such a fantastic experience. Of course, looking back, I found some things I could improve on, and I wish I had done a few things differently, but it’s a learning process, right? If you’re curious about what my experience was like, be sure to check out my post on What I Learned From My First Editorial Internship.  I didn’t know too much about what to expect, other than the fact that I was told I would take on the same assignments as full-time employees. I didn’t know anyone who already had editorial internship experience, so I was kind of like the guinea pig of my friend group. I didn’t know what would be considered appropriate office dress, and I pretty much didn’t ask all the questions I probably should have asked beforehand. Because I want to make sure you don’t stress on the inside as much as I did when I started my first internship, here are 10 questions to ask before your first day no matter what kind of internship you get. 

1. What time should I be in the office?

This is probably one of the most important questions that you can’t be shy about asking! I know you’ve heard of the average 9-5, but not every internship requires that you work during those hours. Some may ask you to come in a little later, and others may ask you to come in a little earlier. Some are even a little flexible and allow you to come in any time between, say, 8am and 10am. Usually, your hiring manager will tell you this info ahead of time, but if they don’t, be prepared to ask. Last year, I always tried to be in the office before my boss. Being late is obviously a huge internship mistake, but being there early will earn you a really good impression. Try saying something like, “what time are you usually in the office? Should I plan to arrive then, too?”

2. What is considered appropriate office attire?

Like I said, I didn’t know what was considered appropriate for the office on my first day because I failed to ask my hiring manager beforehand. I guess the question just didn’t occur to me, and I spent hours the night before combing through my closet looking for something decent. I settled on a plain button down, leggings and my favorite riding boots (it was still quite chilly at the time). I polished off the look with a statement necklace. My goal was to look business casual so that I was neither too dressed up nor too dressed down. And because it was still chilly, I brought a blazer with me so I was prepared either way.

The office dress code varies from company to company, honestly. Some are very laid back and will allow you to wear shorts, sundresses and jeans, while others will prefer it if you kept it more on the business casual side. Asking before you begin will give you enough time to buy any dress shirts if you need them, or invest in dress pants.

Related: 6 Pairs of Shoes You Need For Your Summer Internship

3. Should I bring my laptop or other materials from home?

This is yet another question I FAILED to ask…I didn’t even think about it, but not all internships will give you access to company computers. I just assumed that because it was an editorial position, I would have desk space and a computer to work on. Well, that and the fact that I was told during my interview that I would have a desk and computer to work at if I was selected. There may be times when having a laptop or even a tablet on you will come in handy, so ask to make sure it isn’t required. If you must bring your laptop, be sure to pack your charger and any other accessories you need.

4. Is breakfast or lunch offered?

Well, don’t ask it LIKE THAT…

At my previous internship, everyone in the office had access to the kitchen, so I could make myself a cup of coffee, have any drinks in the fridge, and help myself to bagels, pizza, and anything else that was catered or ordered. Of course, it’s always best to have some money for food on you at all times just in case. Also ask what the lunch policy is. If it isn’t clear if your internship offers you food, you can bring up the topic subtly by saying something like, “are there any great brunch or lunch places near the office?” Then, cross your fingers and hope they say something like, “actually, on Wednesdays we order pizza for everyone.”

5. Who can I contact if I have trouble getting inside the office?

It’s important to have contact information other than email of at least one person you’ll be working with. If the receptionist isn’t in and the office door is locked, you’ll need some way of getting into the office. Make sure you can call your boss and ask them to let you in if push comes to shove.

6. How does compensation work?

You’ll usually be told ahead of time whether or not the internship is paid, but make sure you understand how you will collect payment. Will it be deposited directly into your account once a month? Will you find a check on your desk biweekly? Also, become familiar with the person who deals with administrative tasks such as payments, so if for whatever reason you have a question about your money, or are confused, it’ll be a lot less awkward to go ask them.

7. Is there parking available? 

If you will have to drive to your internship, make sure you know whether or not you can use the company parking lot (or if there’s even a company parking lot!!!) Asking this will help you plan ahead in case you’ll need to leave home a little extra early to scout out a parking spot near the office.

8. What will a typical day look like? 

Say something like, “out of curiosity, what will a typical day for an intern look like? I just want to make sure I come prepared.” This way, you’ll know if you’ll be moving around a lot so you can avoid wearing the cute new heels you just bought. Plus, if you’ve suddenly got cold feet about your internship — which is perfectly fine and normal — hearing what your day-to-day will look like could calm your nerves and make you feel beter about it.

9. Who will I report to? 

Your hiring manager won’t necessarily be the person you submit your work and time sheets to. You’ll usually be told who you will report to after you submit any necessary paperwork, but if you aren’t, make sure you ask, and on day one, make sure you introduce yourself to this person.

10. Who can my career center contact? 

If it isn’t a paid internship and you must be able to receive college credit, make sure you ask what the company’s policies for credit are, and how your career center can get ahold of the hours and work that you log. Know ahead of time whether or not you’ll need a signature from your supervisor, or if you’ll have to submit a spreadsheet of your hours.

Good luck on your internship, everyone!

How are you preparing for your first day? 

7 Tips To Make Moving Out Of Your Dorm Room Less Stressful

THANK GOD THE SEMESTER IS OVER. I cannot tell you how many times I want to scream this from the rooftop and put it all over Twitter. It has been a wild semester and frankly I’m about ready to pack up and go home. Don’t worry, this post won’t be a rant about how dreadful these last five months have been. I promise, I’m going to tell you something useful. I’m actually going to talk about one of the most-stressful, most-hated, most-parents-yelling-at-you-because-your-stress-is-making-them-stressed times of the school year: move out day.

Move out day isn’t really a day, per se. You just move out of your dorm room after you take your last final exam, so this day is different for everyone. Move out day is usually less hectic than move-in day because on move-in day there are thousands of students moving in all at once. Last summer, I actually wrote a blog post on how to make move-in day less stressful and lots of people really liked it, so be sure to check that post out if you have the time and aren’t stressing about the end of the semester. And if you are reading this to procrastinate studying for any remaining final exams, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so here are my tips for moving out of your dorm smoothly.

1. Have your parents pick up non-necessities.

Over the course of the semester, you probably accumulated a lot of unnecessary items because in January you convinced yourself that you just needed a Keurig to make hot chocolate (ahem, me) and in March you had to take advantage of the massive online shoe sale. If you live close enough to campus that your parents don’t have to take a plane to see you, arrange to have them pick up a few things from your room. The other day, I sent my TV, a couple of storage bins and a whole lot of shoes back home with my parents. Items like these make a huge difference when packing. This will relieve the stress of trying to get everything to fit in your car.

2. Arrange a designated time to move out.

Figure out a time that works for you and your parents, especially if they work. Moving out doesn’t take all day, but it can take up a significant amount of time. If your mom has to be at work by 5pm, don’t arrange to start moving your things at 3pm because chances are, you won’t have enough time, and that’ll stress everyone out.

3. Pack as much as you can the night before.

All your clothes should be in your suitcase. Your mini fridge should be de-frosted and cleaned. All your books and desk items should be packed. Don’t wait until your parents arrive to begin putting things in boxes. I like to have everything packed and ready and moved into the living room the night before just to get it all out of my way.

4. Communicate with your parents.

This is honestly one of the easiest ways to ensure nobody stresses out over moving out. Your parents may not understand the moving process as well as you do, so you need to get them up to speed so everyone’s informed and aware of the next steps. This is especially important if your school makes you follow strict move-out procedures. Make sure they understand everything that has to happen every step of the way. They can also help you better if they know what you need to do.

5. Have your parents bring a hand cart. 

I have been using my dad’s hand cart to move in and out of my dorm room since freshman year, and, let me tell you, I don’t know how things would’ve gone without it. Hand carts help you save on the number of trips to and from your car. I can usually stack a couple of things on the hand cart and roll them through the hallway — it’s just so much easier! You can probably borrow a hand cart from your residence hall, but they often have limited quantities, so be aware of this.

6. Toss anything that can be thrown out. 

I hate bringing a binder full of lecture notes home because 1) it’ll weigh my bags down and 2) I don’t have any room for them at home. If you know there’s a really good chance you won’t need notes for a certain class in the future, just throw them out. Save the pages you think are most important and burn the rest of it. I’m kidding, don’t burn anything, but feel free to fling them in the dumpster.

7. Donate any untouched, non-perishable items.

Lots of residence halls tell students that anything left over will either be thrown out or donated. My building leaves boxes in the lobby for students to donate anything they no longer want. This can include clothing, canned food items that weren’t eaten, and dorm items that were gently used. When I moved out last year, I dropped off a whole bunch of extra items that I knew I didn’t want to have to deal with when leaving campus. This year, I’m probably going to end up donating non-perishable mac and cheese cups that I haven’t touched and other items. It’s a good way to save space in the car while helping others.

What are your tips for making move out day run smoothly? 

Related: 13 Things Not Allowed In Your Dorm Room And What To Bring Instead

 

 

8 Pro Study Tips For Acing Your Finals

Cue the horror movie music and screams of terror. Finals week is here, and as much as we’d all like to just fast forward to summer vacation, we’re going to have to get past this last level. As someone who easily gets distracted by so much as a piece of string on the table, I can definitely say that studying for exams is probably my least favorite thing to do. But when you have multiple exams coming up, you really start to feel the weight of crunch time. You can’t afford those innocent, little two-hour distractions, and you don’t want to be left thinking about all the things you should have done to better prepare for your tests. Finals week is especially important if you’re a graduating senior. We all get to the moment where we say, “it is what it is at this point,” but for some, there really isn’t anymore room to say, “fuck this” and let whatever happens happen. A good grade on your finals could be the difference between a D and a B- if you haven’t been doing so well during the semester. It can also be the difference between straight A’s and that one A- to kill your 4.0 for the semester. No matter what your situation is, here are my study tips to help you conquer finals week.

1. Change up your study spot. 

We all have that one spot on campus where we can study all day long. As much as I love sitting in the couches at Starbucks under the dim lighting, with an iced white chocolate mocha in front of me, the same environment can become very mundane. Maybe the 4th floor study lounge of the math building was a little too quiet and it drove you bonkers the other day. Maybe your room was a little too warm for you to concentrate. Make things a little interesting by moving your study group to different places on campus. If you study in the library on Monday and Tuesday, try studying in a college lounge or learning center on Wednesday.

2. Set a study goal for each day. 

Do you want to outline the first five chapters in your chem textbook today? Do you hope to start and finish your history class study guide? Goal-setting is a huge advantage because it helps you create a direction for your day. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have sat down knowing that I had to start doing work, but had no idea what I should get started on first. This will help things feel less overwhelming so you can get everything done — less time wasted on trying to organize yourself. In another blog post, I talk about how to create an effective study schedule, so you should definitely check that out for more tips.

3. Use highlighters. 

Forget about underlining with a boring pen or pencil. Highlighters add some color to your notes while helping the key information stand out to you better. So when you refer back to your notes later on, instead of reading every word from top to bottom your eyes will only glance over the highlighted aspects. And if you feel the need to highlight every single word in the textbook…you’re doing highlighters all wrong. Extra pro tip: create a color-coded key. Highlight vocabulary words or key terms in blue, key dates or formulas in yellow, key people in pink, and so on.

4. Come up with pneumonic devices. 

Pneumonic devices can often be clever, hilarious, and sometimes perverted, but, hey, whatever helps you remember key phrases from the textbook! I have relied heavily on pneumonic devices in the past. I also feel that they’re a more active way of reviewing information because you force yourself to think of ways to remember certain things rather than just repeating the information in your brain over and over again. What’s the silliest pneumonic device you’ve ever come up with? Let me know in the comments! 

5. Make up songs related to the material. 

When I was a Health Science major studying for my bio final, I needed to remember the Krebs cycle, but there were just so many steps to keep engrained in my mind. So, I looked up fun songs on YouTube and ended up finding the Krebs cycle sung to the tune of the infamous cup song! Mind you, it didn’t sing out every single small detail, but it helped me remember the major aspects of the cycle. Two years later, I still remember parts of the song by heart! You never know what will stick.

study tips for conquering finals

6. Email your TA. 

Your TA is a student just like you, and he or she was in your shoes just a year ago, so they know exactly how you feel right now. They also have the insider tips on doing well on exams. If you haven’t buddied up to your TA over the course of the semester, now would be a good time to reach out through email and start asking questions. Most TAs are extremely nice and will go out of their way to help their students. If you ask them to meet with you one-on-one, they’ll likely make the time in their own busy schedule. Your TA is a valuable resource, so make sure you actually get in touch with them before it’s too late.

7. Attend the review session. 

I know your days of sitting in stuffy lecture halls are over (for this semester at least) but sometimes review sessions can help you go from confused out of your mind to on your way to getting a solid A- on that final. Attending review sessions also gives you the chance to ask your professor any last minute questions you might not have thought about before. Extra pro tip: cover at least part of the material before the review session so you can ask for clarification on anything that came across as confusing.

8. Start the day off with a positive attitude.

Finals week may be a week of sleep deprivation, but always plan to start the day off in a good mood. If you have to head to Starbucks or take a long hot shower to put a smile on your face, go for it. This will help put you in the mindset for getting work done, and you’ll feel more like you can accomplish what you set out to do. One of my favorite things to do that instantly puts me in a good mood is listening to music while I shower or brush my teeth. I also have a post on how to make your mornings more exciting if you’re interested.

What are your tips for acing your finals?

How To Make Class Enrollment Less Stressful

how to make class enrollment less stressful]

Let me tell you a story: I was but a wee sophomore about to enroll in classes for my fall semester junior year. Since my school made us enroll online based off of times given by seniority, my enrollment time was 10a.m. I’m usually an early bird, so I didn’t mind having my time in the morning. I had no choice, really. But it was good because that meant I had a chance of getting into my classes before they filled up. So the night before, I go to bed and set my alarm for 9a.m. This way, I could also get ready to head to the library to study.

Fast forward to the following morning. My alarm went off. I turned it off and went back to sleep. The next time I woke up, it was 10:01a.m. I never jumped out of bed so fast in my entire life.

That was probably the most stressful class enrollment for me because I only got into two out of the six classes I wanted to enroll in, I was scrambling to add “filler classes” that were still open so I could retain my status as a full-time student, and I was running around campus like a crazy person trying to see which departments would take pity on me and just let me into their classes.

Moral of the story: class enrollment is stressful as hell. It’s just as stressful as room selection, to be honest. And that’s pretty much why I decided to write this post. I have a different post on how to create the perfect class schedule, that you’ll definitely want to read before you continue reading this one, so be sure to check that out. But here are my ~expert~ tips on stressing less when it comes to enrollment.

1. Visit your department advisor.

This is the BIGGEST reason why people stress so much. Self-advising is fine sometimes but not all the time. At the journalism department at my school, we are instructed to have a 45-minute meeting with our department advisor, and during the meeting, he basically tells us exactly which classes to take for each semester. We can go back and see him as many times as we want to, depending on whether or not something changes (we took a summer class, or couldn’t get into a class, etc.)

Visiting your advisor ensures that you stay in the loop of all of your degree requirements. Things can change, and your plan doesn’t always go the way you want it to. You might have fallen behind because you were unable to take the summer class you needed, or maybe you can even graduate a semester early because you took two extra classes this semester. Make an appointment ahead of time and be there early!

2. Have a few back-up classes ready to go.

I love back-up plans. Make sure you have a couple of extra classes in mind that you can enroll in just in case you don’t get into some of the classes you wanted. School curriculum courses are great back-up plans, but I don’t want to get into them too much here because I’m going to talk more about them in my second to last point.

If you have a not-so-good experience like I did, a good back-up plan would be to enroll in classes you’d like to take just for fun. Yes, taking classes for fun is actually possible in college, and this is coming from the girl who started her major a year late. It also never hurts to ask your advisor what other classes in the program could be an option for you.

3. Keep your enrollment date marked down and set reminders. 

Circle the date in red on your calendar. Create 10 notifications on your phone. Do whatever it takes to remember the date and time of your class enrollment. We tend to get really busy and caught up in our classes, extracurriculars, jobs and anything else going on in life. You probably don’t want to remember about class enrollment at the last minute!

4. Don’t schedule anything 30 minutes before or after your enrollment time. 

I say this because you’ll give yourself enough time to find a strong wifi signal (if enrollment is online), get settled, and open up your laptop. You definitely don’t want to be beating down on your keys or tapping your fingers impatiently because you’re just seconds away from having to click ‘enroll.’

Worst case scenario, if you have trouble enrolling or a class you really need is closed, you can head to an advisor’s office ASAP for help. If you can make sure you have more than 30 minutes after your time, that’s even better.

5. If all else fails, keep a few curriculum courses in mind.

And now we’re back to those curriculum courses. Most colleges that I know of require students to take curriculum courses that help them become more well-rounded…but to most people, those classes are just a way to accumulate credits while getting an easy A. I like to think of them as opportunities to do something a little different. Look for a curriculum course or two to fill in your schedule just in case you can’t get into some classes for your program. You can choose to keep these classes in your schedule, or have them act merely as placeholders so you remain a full-time student.

6. Wait-list yourself. 

People tend to drop classes, especially after the first week of a new semester. Put yourself on the waiting list for any classes that might have been closed before you got to them. You never know when space might open up.

How do you get through class enrollment?

How To Create The Perfect Schedule For Next Semester

how to create the perfect class schedule

Some people have all the luck when it comes to class enrollment. During this time of year, you’re probably going to see Snapchat stories or Facebook posts of your colleagues boasting of their perfect schedules for next semester — commuters end class by 2:30pm everyday; residents don’t begin class until 2:30pm everyday. But sometimes enrollment doesn’t always work out since some classes tend to fill faster than others, thereby turning your “perfect schedule” into complete crap (or almost crap). Over the last six semesters, I’ve had some great class schedules and some not-so-great schedules. I actually created my next semester schedule just a couple of days ago, which is why I decided to write this post. Since time is obviously of the essence (speaking of time, when is your enrollment date???) and I don’t want to drag this intro on for too long, here’s what you need to know on creating the perfect class schedule.

Avoid early morning classes if…

  • You prefer doing work and studying in the morning. I personally am horrible at doing work at night. I get sleepy around 10:30p.m. because I have so many classes that require so much attention during the day (welcome to college, Jasmin). So, I prefer doing work and studying in the morning hours. Unfortunately, this semester I couldn’t get around having to take an 8a.m., so I don’t have as much time to work and study in the morning. Starting your day with putting a dent in the mountain of assignments on your desk is good because you’ll (hopefully) be well-rested and attentive enough to get shit done. 
  • You have the late shift the night before. If you work until 3a.m., you probably don’t want just four hours of sleep before you have to wake up for class. If you can’t avoid an early morning class right after your shift at work, try to leave a gap in your schedule after that morning class so you can at least take a nap. 
  • You have a really long commute in the morning. Personally, I wouldn’t want to sit in an hour of traffic at 7a.m. to get to class on time, but this depends on you. If you like driving in the morning then maybe morning classes are something you would like. But if you’re bothered by the fact that the first thing you’d do in the morning is hit the road for angry car horns, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and your coffee staining the front of your shirt because you just slammed on the breaks to avoid an accident then maybe rethink early morning classes. 
  • You prefer to sit down for a full, proper breakfast. I have been attending a three-hour 8a.m. twice a week for the last nine weeks and, let me tell you, barely getting to stuff a granola bar in your mouth before class SUCKS. First off, a granola bar isn’t enough to keep me full. Second, there’s no eating or drinking allowed in my classroom. Normally, I’d break that rule anyway, but staff at my school are extremely strict about this because there are computers and other pieces of equipment in there and I have seen people be punished for breaking the rule. Third, we don’t even get a 10-minute break, so there’s no stepping outside to finish up your granola bar. As a result, I have been eating what’s quick and simple for breakfast: junk food. And I hate doing this to myself, so I created a schedule where I don’t have super early classes so I can actually take the time to make a healthy, filling breakfast for myself. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you know the drill. 
  • You simply aren’t a morning person. Why punish yourself? Figure out what times are best for you to wake up and start classes an hour or two after that. Keep in mind that doing this may mean that you’ll have a few classes that run into the evening, but if you’re cool with that then it’s totally worth it. 

Enroll in early morning classes if…

  • You’re a commuter and you prefer being able to go home early. I have a lot of commuter friends who make going home after class a priority. A lot of commuters don’t try to stay on campus for longer than they have to and who can blame them — driving up and down for college is NOT easy. If you’re a commuter who doesn’t mind the early morning commute if it means you get to end your day at 2p.m. then early classes will probably work in your favor. 
  • You study better in the evening/night. Get all your classes over with so you can have ample time to study afterwards. Some people are just better at focusing during this time than others. 
  • You’re an early bird. Well, good for you. I seriously admire the skill it takes to actually love waking up super early. I’ve had hell in the mornings when it comes to waking up, so to help myself out I started doing a few things to make my mornings more exciting. But more power to ya if you love the rise and grind of 7a.m. 
  • You enjoy a peaceful campus. I’ll admit that the campus is more peaceful in the early morning than it is at other times of the day. There are no people on their skateboards cutting in front of you at the last minute, no people walking slow as hell in front of you like they don’t have anywhere to be — ah, yes, you can’t argue with the serenity of a campus at 7:30a.m. 

 

how to create the perfect class schedule for next semester

 

I just really wanted to pay special attention to morning classes and when you should and shouldn’t enroll in them because I know for a lot of people (myself included) morning classes can really make or break their schedules, and not simply because of the promise of less sleeping-in that comes with them. Really consider everything above before you decide to enroll in a morning class. But now that that’s over, here are my other tips for having a schedule your friends will be jealous of.

1. Make sure you’ll have enough time to get to each class.

I don’t know what made me think that I could walk from one side of campus to the other for my next class in seven minutes. Oh wait, my degree requirement did. Basically, I can’t even walk that distance on my huge ass campus in 10 minutes. Give me 15 and I’ll make it through the door just a little out of breath. Don’t put yourself through the pain of having to do a 20-minute walk in 10 minutes. Of course, at times it may be unavoidable because of required classes — especially if there’s only one section of a class offered. If this does happen to you, let your professor in the previous class know that you might need to leave five minutes early to get where you need to be on time, and let your professor in the following class know that you might be a few minutes late because you’re basically walking from Mars.

2. Don’t enroll in a class that meets at the same time as your favorite club. 

If you live for Culinary club or the dance team at your school, make sure you can actually attend the meetings. My entire freshman year, I couldn’t attend some of the clubs I wanted to because I had class at the same time their meetings took place. Some clubs don’t always know ahead of time what the meeting date/time will be for the following semester, but try to go off of their current meeting time. Usually, they keep it.

3. Check ratemyprofessors.com for reviews on potential professors at your school. 

I used to not care what professor taught my classes but then I got a D in a class I put too much effort into. Familiarize yourself with each potential professor’s teaching style. Do this by checking out ratemyprofessors.com or simply asking upperclassmen who took the classes already. This can help you save so much grief by not having to suffer because your professor’s teaching style doesn’t match your learning style.

4. Avoid having class on Fridays. 

There have been a few semesters where I has zero classes on Fridays and, let me tell you, the feeling is AMAZING. Usually, many campus offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, so it’s really nice to have the whole day to make appointments, run errands, and visit the offices I need to visit. I can also go home at any time on Fridays, or take trips to the city and not have to worry about being back before class. I also like using my Fridays to workout and study. You’re pretty lucky if you can manage to not have classes on any one day of the week, but use that day wisely!

5. If you like taking naps during the day, make spaces in your schedule. 

I know many people who have the luxury of having one class in the morning, a break for nap time, and then class again later in the afternoon, and I’m honestly jealous. Well, kind of. I don’t take naps. But that’s still pretty awesome, especially if your dorm room is relatively close to all your classes. Naptime is something to be aware of for next semester, especially if you get limited sleep the night before.

6. Avoid evening classes if you have a long walk back to your dorm or if you don’t like driving at night. 

Can you tell that I’m rarely able to avoid this scenario? Late night walks back to your dorm room are nice and relaxing in the summertime or even in the fall, but during the winter time, 0/10 do not recommend. Long walks on icy ground or in blustering breeze are extremely miserable.

7. Throw in a class that’s just for fun.

You can start your day at 1p.m., have ample time for naps, and have the best professors at the school, but the icing on the cake is when you get the chance to take a class that isn’t required of you purely for enjoyment. It makes your experience much more fun. I’m not a Business major but there’s this social media marketing class that I’ve been eyeing for the last couple of semesters. This semester, I was able to enroll in a creative writing class because I wanted a way to get my creative fiction juices flowing again and decided that this was my chance to do so. It’s actually my favorite class this semester! Go out of your way to enroll in a class out of curiosity rather than out of necessity.

What are your tips for creating the perfect class schedule? 

Related: 10 Tips For Surviving Room Selection, The 8 Best Apps For College Students

10 Tips For Surviving Room Selection

10 tips for surviving room selection

I have never had a stress-free room selection process. Something has ALWAYS gone wrong for me and I have never gotten to live in the dorm rooms on campus I truly wanted to live in. And before you say where you live on campus next year doesn’t matter, it TOTALLY matters. At my school, the quad or even the building you live in can basically dictate how you should schedule your day. My quad is one of the furthest ones from the main plaza where classes are, and because my campus is so big, it usually takes me around 15 to 20 minutes to walk to class in the morning. In other words, I have to move my ass (and no sleeping in!) so I’m not late. I also have to make sure I don’t forget anything important in my room because then I have to choose between a) miserably going through the day without it or b) risk being late for my next class to burst my calves wide open trying to walk back to my room for it. And, unfortunately for me, I have forgotten things in my room many times. But enough about my dorm room that’s so far from civilization (you’ll hear more about it in my upcoming post on dealing with a dorm room far from your classes). Let’s get back to room selection…

A lot of colleges make room selection a “lottery process” which means everyone is given a specific date and time or number for selecting a room and all hell breaks loose. Room selection is known as that time of year when you know who your true friends are — I have seen it actually destroy friendships! I rarely encounter anyone who doesn’t have at least one crazy room selection story to tell. So if this is your first year participating in room selection, or you’ve gone through it before but still want tips on survival from the ~queen~ of shitty room selection experiences, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Think about what’s most important to you.

For some people, living in a building where every suite has a kitchen for cooking is a priority. For others, being able to have a single room is most important. Use your preferences to narrow down your choices. It will make room selection much easier. It also doesn’t hurt to try talking to a few people who already live in the buildings you’re considering so you can get their input on whether or not it’s worth it.

2. Make sure you have no holds on your school account.

You CANNOT participate in room selection if you owe your school any payments for anything. This could be from parking tickets, study abroad fees, any application fees that are missing, etc. Check your account to make sure there are no holds, and if you see a hold that you are unfamiliar with, go to your school’s admin office ASAP to figure it out and have it removed.

3. Form a group EARLY.

Sometimes you need a “full” group (usually at least four people) to fill a suite, so make sure you get everyone gathered ahead of time. Make sure your group consists of people you get along with because you’ll be sharing the space with them for a whole year. This would also be a good time to tell your soon-to-be roommate and suite mates what they can expect from you, and if anyone has any rules or conditions that they need to set, this would be a good time to tell everyone. This way, if someone doesn’t agree they still have the time to find another group if the condition will really be that big of a deal to them.

4. Don’t double dip.

Don’t promise to be part of one group and then also promise to be part of another group. I know a lot of people don’t like saying no to others, but double dipping will cause confusion and screw you over, and some people will be really mad at you for flaking later on. It’s better to be honest and say you already have a group you’re considering. When you’re offered a spot in a group you don’t want to be in, saying things like, “that would be cool,” or, “hmmm, we’ll see,” or, “yeah, maybe,” is a HUGE no because you aren’t explicitly saying that you’re interested or not interested. No one likes mixed messages.

10 tips for surviving room selection

5. Post on social media to find roommates.

If you don’t have a group to go through room selection with, post on any class pages on social media to find one. People do it all the time, especially if your school is big on class pages. Invite any interested people to send you a private message, or leave your email. Just be aware that there’s no time to drag your feet with this. These roommate arrangements tend to move quickly because people want the security of knowing they have at least one other person to help them pick a room. Once you guys start messaging, ask if you can meet up sometime soon to get to know each other a bit more and talk about any likes or dislikes. Exchange all information necessary for the process (usually their full name and student ID number) and decide who has the best lottery time for getting you into the room you want.

6. Be a little selfish.

Not everyone ends up getting their #1 choice but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try. Don’t let anyone convince you to abandon what you really want for something else (unless all the rooms have already been filled). It’s okay to be a little selfish and say you really don’t want to live where your friends want to live, and as long as you don’t expect them to get up and follow you to the dorm of your choice, there should be no hard feelings.

7. Have a backup plan and a backup plan for your backup plan.

Things don’t always go as planned — I should know! If your first choice fills up before you can pick it, immediately move to your second choice without hesitation. If you’re picking with a group, your backups should be discussed in advanced so you don’t have to panic to get in contact with one another to re-assess and come up with a plan B. Also have a backup plan for your backup plan because those can fail too. During last year’s room selection, not only did my group’s backup plan #1 fall through, but our backup plans #2 and #3 were failures as well!

8. Don’t sleep in on your selection day.

One person in the group is usually the one who selects the room for everyone else. If this is you and your selection time is in the morning hours, PLEASE don’t sleep in! If you miss your time, you kind of just screwed you and everyone else out of the room you wanted. One year, when I was picking my classes for next semester, I woke up EXACTLY ONE MINUTE AFTER my scheduled time. I never jumped out of bed so fast in my life!

Related: How To Get 8+ Hours Of Sleep In College

9. Make sure you have a good Wifi connection.

At my school, everything is done online, so a strong Wifi connection is a must! If you know the Wifi is always spotty in your room, you might have to leave to go somewhere else when picking a spot. Go outside in your pajamas for five minutes if you have to; you don’t want to risk getting screwed by a spotty connection.

10. Breathe.

At this point you successfully got into the room you wanted, got into your backup plan, or got really unlucky and have to live in the part of campus you like the least. If the latter happens, inquire about room swaps early on, or try to power through it for at least a semester. The good news is you made it through room selection (hopefully) as unscathed as possible and you have housing for next semester!

What are your room selection survival tips?

6 Terrible Cover Letter Mistakes To Stop Making

Every time I write a new cover letter, I find myself saying, “Damn, I wish I had known this before I sent my previous cover letter.” I hate saying that. Cover letters can be really tricky to write, especially if it’s your first time writing one and I hate seeing other people make the same mistakes that I have made, which is why I decided to write this post (and basically start this blog). In my internship search experience (last year + this year), I have written three types of cover letters:

  • One that got me an interview, and eventually, the position
  • One that got me just an interview
  • One that got me nothing

I am NOT a hiring team expert; I’m just a college kid like you looking for my bit of summer experience before I venture out into the real world. In other words, I, like you, still do not have the *perfect* cover letter writing formula that will get you an interview every time. But in the meantime, I do have some mistakes to share that I sure as hell will never make again — and mistakes that you’d want to hear about before it’s too late.

1. Don’t try to be overly funny.

I know you have a wonderful personality full of sarcasm, puns, and a love for cat sweaters (a.k.a. all of my favorite things) but don’t try too hard to be funny. If you’re pursuing an internship at a fun, vibrant company, you’ll feel like you need to express a bit of your personality there. I get this struggle, but I personally feel like it’s much better (and safer) to convey your passion for the company and its mission than to convey how good (you think) you are at cracking jokes while sounding professional. Being funny works if your joke is actually funny. There are some things that sound way better when you say it rather than write it. Show off your personality some other way. Remember that a hiring team will spend about 30 seconds looking at your cover letter; you don’t want those 30 seconds to be spent trying to figure out your joke.

2. Don’t basically re-write your resume.

Related: A College Student’s Ultimate Guide To Resume-Writing — With Examples!

I was warned against this many times. If you’re going to restate everything in your resume in your cover letter then what’s even the point of a resume? Your cover letter should hit on points that your resume doesn’t. Are you currently undertaking a huge multimedia project as video production assistant for your school’s athletics department? Did you hit huge goals during your time as contributing editor for your school magazine? Good, say that. If you did something that relates perfectly to the job you’re applying to, use your cover letter to briefly talk about it. This brings me to my next point…

3. Don’t be vague — show, don’t tell.

Don’t tell a hiring manager that you are good at time management. SHOW them. Were you able to balance seven classes, a part-time job, and your positions as student body president and writing center tutor? Awesome. These are details that show an employer that you’re an asset by providing specific examples. I didn’t back up lots of my claims in past cover letters, but I know to do that now thanks to advice from one of my professors.

4. Stop sending cover letters without getting a second opinion.

Go to a professor you trust or your school’s career center. And if your friends are master cover letter writers, go to them, too. Other people can usually catch things that you yourself can’t. Don’t be afraid of asking questions for clarification — it’s better to completely understand the mistake than to pretend you do and make it again later. Because people can be really busy and you don’t want to annoy them, you’ll have to plan ahead. If your deadline is Tuesday at noon, don’t email your cover letter to your best friend at midnight on Monday because that doesn’t give them a lot of time to read and edit. If anything, they’re probably already cranky from having to study for an upcoming test and not getting enough sleep. Do you really want someone who’s cranky editing your cover letter when it’s past their bedtime? Probably not.

5. Stop not sending your cover letter in the BODY of an email.

I recently found out about this tip and I’m SO MAD I didn’t hear about it before I sent out three cover letters as email attachments. If you send your cover letter as the body of an email rather than as an attachment, it ensures your cover letter gets read. And I don’t mean saying:

Hello, 

My name is such and such and I’m applying for the position of blah, blah, blah. Below, you will find my cover letter. 

(begin cover letter)

Nope. I mean having your cover letter BE the email. It sounds kind of bold but it’s also pretty smart. What better way to make a potential employer read your cover letter? Of course, company instructions trump blog tips, so if the hiring team explicitly says send your cover letter and resume as email attachments, then do what they say. You could have written the world’s greatest cover letter but if you don’t follow instructions, you WILL be rejected.

6. Saying: Dear Sir/Madam

If you’ve written a few cover letters already, you probably know to never, ever address a cover letter like this. This is cover letter suicide. Do some expert digging and try to find the name of the hiring manager who will read your application material. It helps to know a bit about other positions at the company because sometimes there is a specific position that handles internships and you won’t even know it. Hint: If you’re applying for a position at a magazine, that position would be editorial assistant. It’s different for every company in every field, so make sure you do your research. If you can’t find the name of the person to address the cover letter to, you can say: Dear Hiring Team. It’s much better than “Sir/Madam” and a HELLUVA lot better than “To Whom It May Concern.”

What cover letter mistakes have you made and what are your tips? 

The 8 Best Apps For College Students

I’m going to be blunt here and say that as college students, a good chunk of our lives resides on our phones. There, I said it. And I’m not necessarily talking about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m talking about the last minute (and enviable) email from your professor about class being cancelled, the room number for your advisor’s meeting that you jotted down super fast in the notes section of your phone, or your bank’s app so you can make sure you’re still a broke college student but not quite a broke college student. Phone apps make it easier for us to tackle the daily high’s and low’s and in-between’s. I’m constantly trying out new apps for various things and deleting the ones that don’t work for me. I definitely have my favorites that I don’t even remember how long ago I started using — I just know that my life wouldn’t be the same without them — and I have a few new ones that I’m starting to use every single day. So I wanted to create a post on the eight apps that I think are the best for college life.

This post doesn’t include any apps that are specifically to help you study for an exam, mostly because I think that the way you study depends a lot on the class you’re taking and I don’t think there’s any one app that can help you study the best for EVERY, or even most, classes out there (and also because I haven’t used a study app for my classes for a very long time). Definitely let me know if you’ve used any of these apps!

1. Google Drive/Google Doc

I am truly obsessed with Google Drive. I use it to take ALL of my notes for every class because I love that everything saves automatically, so I don’t have to worry about losing my hours of hard work if I forgot to save the document. I also love having the convenience of being able to open up my work on any computer or device. I’d also create study guides in there so before an exam, I could just study from my phone while I wait in the hallway rather than having a million pieces of paper around me trying to study. If you need to edit documents, however, you definitely need to download Google Doc. This is great for on-the-go editing, especially when you’re in college and super busy.

Related: The Confused College Student’s Guide To Good Note-Taking

2. Google Calendar

Google Calendar is probably my favorite app for managing my time. I like writing out to-do lists and I also love being able to see what events or assignments are coming up on an actual calendar, but I also love receiving reminders about those events. When I’m on the go, iced latte in hand and two-ton backpack on my shoulders, I don’t have time to stop and whip out my planner (as beautiful as it is) to check what I have to do next. So Google Calendar is perfect for when I have obligations that are back to back and very little to no break in between. I set reminders for 10 minutes in advanced, and I make them as detailed as possible — building, room number, etc. — so I don’t have to go digging for those details in emails or pieces of paper. Sometimes staying on top of your obligations really just comes down to remembering you have them. I highly recommend giving Google Calendar a shot for organizing your daily life.

Related: How To Create An Effective Study Schedule

3. Square Cash

Square Cash is an app that literally all my friends have been talking about. When we go out to dinner, do fundraisers, or do other things where exchanging money is involved, my conversations usually go something like this:

Me: “Can you take cash?”

Friend: “I don’t have any change. Just send it to me on Square Cash. Do you have it downloaded?”

Me: “No…” *insert awkward half-smile here*.

Yeah, that’s basically how it goes. So I finally decided to download Square Cash because I realized that more often than not, college students use debit or credit cards to pay for things (I know, what a SHOCKER!!!) and some people don’t really exchange physical cash anymore. If everyone’s out to dinner and one friend decides to pick up the tab with his or her card, everyone decides to pay him or her back through Square Cash. It’s as simple as that because the app connects to your bank account. This app is also free, so that’s an extra reason to get on it!

Related: How To Be Money Smart While Studying Abroad

4. GroupMe

I don’t know if GroupMe is big on your campus but it’s HUGE on mine. Almost every club or organization uses it as a messaging tool for their group events/meetings. It’s also perfect for contacting your teammates for class projects. When I studied abroad in Ireland, there were 32 other students with me (which is a fairly large group) so in an effort to get to know each other better, ask important questions about assignments and excursions, and plan activities on our free days, we started a GroupMe and it was extremely easy to relay messages to the entire group. Slack is another messaging app that’s used by some companies and organizations for communication. I use Slack at my current internship and it comes as a downloadable app for your desktop or laptop, so it’s extra convenient.

Related: 11 Tips For Conquering Group Projects

5. Sleep Cycle

Recently, I’ve been feeling very tired in the mornings. Although I end class late most days, I do work in between classes so I can still get to sleep early enough for my 8a.m. classes. So I’m pretty confused as to why my eyes feel so tired and why I still feel exhausted sometimes. I read about Sleep Cycle online and it’s an app that analyzes your sleep patterns and finds the appropriate time to wake you up (when you aren’t in deep sleep). I downloaded the app and you have to select a time frame that you would like to be woken up between. Because I’d want to wake up for my 8a.m. class, I’d select the 5:50a.m.–6:20a.m. time frame (I like being able to eat breakfast in my room and shower in the morning, and I have a pretty long walk from my dorm room to my class). I plan to use the app for an entire week to see how it compares to waking up to my regular phone alarm, but I just wanted to put this one out there in case anyone has heard of it or used it before.

Related: How To Get 8+ Hours Of Sleep In College

6. Pandora

It sounds weird to say that you need a music app for college, but I’m putting this on here because I think that music is such a huge part of our generation (and any generation, really). Listening to music is great while studying or working out, and Pandora is great for creating stations that you like to listen to and also discovering new songs you might be into. Sometimes when I’m playing a song from my station, a random song in the same genre as my station will come on and I usually like what I hear so I’ll ‘like’ the song so that Pandora will keep playing similar songs for me.

Related: The Ultimate Study Session Playlist

7. News app — CNN, BuzzFeed, etc.

What better way to stay current than to download a news app so you can read the news! You’ll get notifications when they publish the most relevant or biggest stories of the day. Yes, I know you can just use the apple news app, too, but if you want to read the news from the more than one source so you know as much about the story you’re following as possible, downloading apps is the easiest way to do that. The apps are free in the app store (yay!). So you can catch up on all the latest news while you wait in line for your iced mocha at Starbucks.

8.  Your school’s app

Download any and all apps that your college makes available to you; I promise you, they WILL come in handy. And if you don’t want to download all of your school’s apps, at least download the ones that have to do with safety. My college has a few apps for keeping students safe, especially when they’re walking back to their dorm rooms late at night, and I know other colleges do the same thing. Another really useful app my school has is its campus transit app. My campus is really big and we always have over six different buses running throughout various points of campus. The app lets me know when a certain bus will arrive at a certain stop, so if it’s winter and freezing outside, I can plan ahead to arrive about two to three minutes before the bus is expected to be there so I’m not waiting out in the cold for too long.

Do you use any of the apps on this list? What other apps have you found to be useful? 

How To Create An Effective Study Schedule

If you’ve ever tried to sit down with a textbook in front of you and an army of highlighters at your command, you know that studying isn’t always an easy feat. It’s like you KNOW you need to start studying but you just can’t seem to find the right time, place, or sometimes material to get down to work. Sometimes it’s even hard to not wait until the night before to crack a book open, but when you have the weight of your college world on your shoulders, that’s exactly what happens anyway. And we all know what can happen if you wait until the last minute to begin prepping for an exam or paper…

Over the years, I’ve found some techniques that really help me get my shit together come exam time — even when I’m not in the mood for studying or work. It’s important to note that these tips require planning ahead — even doing a little bit a day can end up making a huge difference. So here’s pretty much everything I do to create my study schedule.

1. Invest in a really good planner that has EVERYTHING you need.  

I say invest because some planners can be REALLY expensive. I purchased a Happy Planner (pictured below) for about $30 (though I didn’t realize it was $30 until I got to the cashier). But it’s a really great planner because it contains tabs that organize all the months and make it easier for you to find your place. There’s also a page where you can mark down birthdays and important dates/items for the month. This is the “Right Now This Month” page. There’s a big calendar for each month so you can write in exam dates and such while getting a general overview of everything you have planned. This is probably my favorite thing because I like being able to look ahead and see what’s coming up. You can also write down to-do lists for every specific day. Plus, there are also adorable and motivational phrases throughout!

How To Create A Study Schedule

Planners are well worth it because you don’t have to keep everything jumbled in your head. Your planner can help you keep track of everything going on — you just need to commit time to marking it up! This brings me to my next point…

2. Use your planner: Fill in exam dates and due dates. 

Every time I turn to a new month in my planner, I use the monthly outlook page to write in any project and paper due dates, dates for huge homework assignments and exam or quiz dates so I don’t forget. Make sure you keep up to date with this especially if anything changes. If there are tutoring sessions or professor/TA office hours, fill this in as well.

3. Get the “small” assignments out of the way first. 

It’s a rare occurrence to have a “small” homework assignment in college, but if/when you get them, finish them ASAP so you can focus more attention on the larger assignments. It’s so easy to forget about the small assignments, too. I cannot be the only who’s ever forgotten to do an assignment and had a mini hear attack when the professor goes, “take out your assignments.”

4. Find out what will be on the exam. 

Usually, your professor tells you a week or two in advanced what the exam will cover, so make sure you attend class so you can find out! If for whatever reason you missed class and didn’t catch the exam topics, email your TA or professor right away. After you find out what the exam will cover, you can better plan out how much time you’ll need for studying. If you already understand the majority of the topics, you won’t need as much review time compared to if you don’t understand the topics.

5. Figure out if you’ll need tutoring or some form of extra help. 

If you know you’ll have to see your TA or go to the tutoring center, you’ll have to start looking up hours and making sure they fit in your schedule. A lot of times, you’ll have to plan your whole day around whether or not you’ll be able to go to tutoring, so make sure planning this out is a priority. When I was a freshman, I found it hard to ask for help sometimes because I was stubborn and thought I could eventually understand everything on my own if I gave myself enough time. I was so wrong! If you need help, get it. Don’t sit around thinking that if you sleep with your textbook under your pillow, the knowledge will seep into your brain and you’ll wake up knowing everything.

6. Pick a study method. 

Different study methods work for different subjects and different people. I like knowing exactly how I’m going to study for something before I sit down to do it because I feel like it wastes time when I’m sitting there for 30 minutes alone just trying to figure out where and how to start. Here are some ways I have studied for classes I’ve had in the past:

  • Italian: flashcards
  • Chemistry/Any science or math class: completing practice problems
  • History: study group
  • English: reading the book and following syllabus themes
  • Journalism: creating study guides

There are other ways of studying for classes, but this is just how I studied for past classes. I think creating study guides is my favorite way to study for anything, though, because I like having everything I need to know on one piece of paper in one place rather than having to constantly flip through separate pages of notes in a binder. Group projects can be a risky business because they only work well if everyone can contribute something to the rest of the group.

Related: 11 Tips For Conquering Group Projects 

7. If you plan to join a study group, schedule time for it. 

I personally like knowing whether or not I’m going to be studying with others ahead of time so I can schedule that into Google Calendar. Google Calendar is also another way I organize my study schedule. I like receiving reminders when I have things to do, especially if my obligations are back to back and I don’t always have time to whip out my planner while running around campus. If you also like receiving reminders of what you have to do next, I highly recommend using this app.

8. Don’t bring negativity to your study session. 

Leave whoever pissed you off today at the door. I find that whenever I have a lot on my mind, I tend to be less productive because it’s just so hard to push negative feelings to the back of your mind. Try to deal with what’s on your mind before you sit down to do work. If you need to vent to a friend, vent to your journal, take a nap, give yourself a spa day, do it so you can focus better later.

Related: 20 Ways To Be Healthier In College

9. WORK.

This is the part where you actually sit down and do work. You’ve already planned everything out, you know what and how you’re going to study, you’ve ensured you’re in the right mindset for studying, now actually do it. Remember to give yourself some breaks from time to time, and physically place yourself in an environment where you can get work done.

10. If you can’t finish something, schedule it for another day. 

Sometimes I have to move things around to better suit my schedule (or my brain). It’s fine if you can’t get everything done that you set out to do, just make sure you allow time for it at a later day. I like drawing arrows in my planner to indicate that I’ve moved a task or assignment to another day.

How do you create your study schedule? 

Related Posts: How To Have A Productive Library Study Session