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

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

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

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

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

Cheap ways to save space…

1. Hang your jewelry using adhesive hooks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Buy an over-the-door mirror.

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

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

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

6. Store items on top of your mini fridge.

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

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

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

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

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

How I organize my room…

I use magazine holders for notebooks.

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

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

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

Related: 13 Smart Money-Saving Tips For College

I store shoes under my bed. 

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

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

I keep my laundry bag in my closet. 

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

I never put any items in my walking space. 

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

Related: 7 Common Roommate Problems + How To Solve Them

I usually have most of my decor on my wall. 

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

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

Macarons & Mascara Signature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you organize an informational interview? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But why are informational interviews so important???

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

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

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

So, how do you rock this meeting???

1. Dress nicely. 

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

2. Arrive early.

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

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

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

4. Ask what they suggest you do moving forward.

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

5. Don’t whip out your resume.

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

6. Be yourself and have fun! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Make a friend in class.

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

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

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

3. Go to your professor’s office hours.

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

4. Create a good connection with the TA.

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

5. Take impeccable notes.

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

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

5 Tips For Joining Clubs To Boost Your Resume

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

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

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

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

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Resume-Writing + Examples

1. Don’t join a bunch of clubs. 

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

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

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

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

3. Join campus media. 

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

4. Become a campus ambassador. 

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

5. Start a club yourself. 

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

What are your tips for joining resume-boosting clubs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: 11 Tips For Conquering Group Projects

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

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

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

4. Rearrange your schedule as needed.

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

5. Talk to your classmates.

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

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

6. Find shortcuts to and from class.

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

7. Find your textbooks for as cheap as possible.

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

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Buying Textbooks In College

What’s your plan for succeeding this semester? 

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

How To Prepare For The First Week Of Classes

How To Prepare for the First Week of Classes

This post is sponsored by High Sierra and Her Campus Media. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Macarons & Mascara possible!

 

From the instant we decided we’d had enough of laying in front of the A.C. and stalking our classmates’ cooler-looking Instagrams, we wanted nothing more than to just go back to school already. Well, that moment is almost here! If you’re starting your first year of college, you may or may not be quite so eager to pack your life into the back of your mom’s SUV and back it out of the driveway. Starting college can be a scary time, after all. With so many items to buy and so many school accounts to keep track of, starting the first week of a new semester can be quite stressful.

So to help you out, I’ve created the ultimate list of everything you need to do to prepare for one of the biggest weeks of your life, including what to buy and what to do. And I’m not talking about the obvious stuff like pack your bags and buy bed sheets; I’m talking about the small stuff that so many people (including me!!) often forget about. And, if the thought of moving into your dorm room is giving you cold feet, I’ve got tips that’ll make move-in day so much easier! Are you ready? Yeah, I know you are.

To Do:

1. Start checking all of your school accounts. 

Don’t wait for the first day of school before you log into your school email account for the first time. Your professors will start sending you syllabi, class material, and even assignments weeks before you guys even meet (welcome to college). I know it can feel overwhelming, but try to stay on top of these as early as possible. You wouldn’t want to open your email on the first day of school and be bombarded with 20 different things from all of your professors.

Also check any account related to school that you set up during orientation. There could be important updates waiting for you, and you don’t want to overlook these. Your financial aid information is the perfect example of something you’d need to log into your school account to take care of before the semester starts. Plus, if you have any questions about anything, you have more time to get them answered rather than scrambling around at the last minute.

2. Get doctors appointments out of the way. 

Your school most likely requires you to submit some type of medical or vaccination record, especially if you’re going to be a student athlete. If you don’t have an updated record, make sure you visit the doctor to do so before your first week of classes. If you’re dorming away from home, you probably won’t have the time to leave campus and visit your doctor. The last thing you want to have to do is rearrange your schedule to fit a visit in. Make sure you stay on top of this so you don’t have to worry about it when you actually start classes.

3. Contact your roommate(s).

Roommates, roommates, roommates. What even can I say about roommates? My experiences with roommates have been the best of times and the most annoying of times, and also in between the two. Issues with roommates can seriously turn your college experience sour. Common roommate problems include cleanliness of the room, inviting people over, and sleep schedules, so make sure you discuss all of that prior to meeting each other. It helps you know exactly what to expect so you don’t go in blind. But how, might you ask, can you contact someone you’ve never met? Thanks to the power of social media and email, it’s pretty easy to do a quick search of your soon-to-be roomie and message them. Just introduce yourself and say that you’re excited to meet them on move-in day. It’s on them to respond to you.

Try to contact your roommate at least two to three weeks before you start the first week of school. It would be important for you to talk about who’s bringing what so you have time to look for the items you promised to bring if the two of you agreed to share a few things. Common shared items include a mini fridge, a fan, and a vacuum cleaner. I have a post on things you should do before you meet your roommate if you’re interested in totally owning your roommate situation!

4. Get into the habit of waking up early. 

I know the last thing you want to hear is that you should practice waking up at 7a.m. during summer vacation (ugh!) but trust me when I say that getting into the habit of waking up a little earlier than usual will help you so much when you actually start classes. If you were totally unable to avoid early morning classes and you aren’t prepared for it, waking up during that first week of school will be a major pain in the butt.

Also, starting your day early can help you be more productive. There aren’t enough hours in the day to sleep in and still get everything done on time (believe me, I’ve tried!) I prefer waking up early and going to my favorite on-campus study spot to start getting work done. I also love schedule interviews and meetings in the morning to get them over with. I’m not saying that you should wake up early every day for three weeks, but once in a while, try to wake up earlier so you know how it feels.

5. Join your school Facebook group. 

When I started college, I didn’t have a Facebook account (yeah, I was a little behind on the social media game). Because of that, I definitely missed out on any early social media connecting with classmates. One of the easiest ways for you to connect with the people in your peers is to join your school Facebook page. At my school, there are also specific Facebook groups for major classes like chemistry, physics, and math where students can help each other and ask and answer homework questions. Be on the lookout for anything like this, because it can be a serious asset to doing well in class. Once you join, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself! Engage in the group by commenting and answering questions that you have the knowledge to answer. Everyone is nervous and it’s so much less stressful when your classmates are helping you out.

To Buy:

6. A planner that works well for you. 

I cannot even begin to tell you how much of a difference having a planner can make when it comes to organization and success in college. It’s just so much easier to stay on top of your assignments and get things done when you actually have a place to jot everything down. I’m currently using the ClassTracker planner, which I wrote a review on, and I love it so much! If you prefer a slim, lightweight planner, then I think it would be a great planner for you. And if you like planners with a little more sparkle, definitely look into Happy Planners. I used one last year and loved it. It kept me motivated, helped me stay on top of my to-do lists, and I was actually excited to whip it out and write in it because it was just so pretty!

Get a planner and start getting used to it. Print out your schedule and glue it to the inside of your planner. The ClassTracker has a space for you to write your schedule in, so that works really well for me. Mark down any important events happening prior to the first week so you stay on top of those as well.

7. A really durable backpack. 

In high school, I used to buy super terrible bags and backpacks for carrying my books and school supplies around. See, I knew in a month’s time I’d be left with a gaping hole in the bottom from all my textbooks, or a strap that was on the verge of snapping like a twig. But I never really cared as long as they looked cute. College is already expensive enough, so you’ll need a strong backpack that lasts for all of your class and study essentials. This way, you won’t have to spend money every couple of months for a new one. The High Sierra Loop Backpack and its Stacked Compartment Lunch Bag are my new favorite packs for school and for adventures (more on that in a bit!)

How To Prepare For The First Week of College with High Sierra

The backpack is super roomy, which I love because there’s nothing I’d hate more than not being able to fit all of my class essentials in one bag. There are multiple pockets, so you can easily organize all of your stuff. I love keeping smaller items, like lip balm and spare pens, in smaller pockets so I don’t lose them under huge textbooks. In other words, no more loosing your earbuds at the bottom of your backpack. Since I did some studying abroad earlier this year, and have no doubt that I’ll be going on even more adventures, having a compartment for my laptop and other tech gear is super important in a backpack (lucky for me this backpack has that!) If you’re planning to study abroad in the future (or even a hiking or camping trip, or a weekend getaway), add this backpack to your packing list

How To Prepare For The First Week of College with High Sierra

The padded straps will make carrying around your laptop and heavy books easy on your shoulders, especially if your schedule will require you to be walking around campus from class to class all day. Okay, I’m going to go all fangirl on you for like two seconds. This backpack is equipped with two mesh beverage pockets for taking your water bottle on the go. I haven’t had a backpack with this since, like, middle school and I’m so excited this High Sierra Loop backpack has them! I hate having my water bottle rolling around the bottom of my bag and getting all warm (ick!) so this is perfect. You can use the other pocket as a place to store your umbrella for easy access on super rainy days.

How To Prepare For The First Week of College with High Sierra

I know walking around a college campus with a lunch bag sounds kinda lame with dining halls around every corner, but it’s actually a great investment, especially if you have a long ride to and from home on the weekends. I get car sick very easily, and my school is two hours away from home, so having snacks on hand is super helpful during the journey. And because the stacked compartment lunch bag keeps food and beverages cold, you don’t have to worry about fruit, yogurt, or other refrigerated snacks getting gross during your drive. I also really love that the strap on this lunch bag is actually a quick release buckle, so I can easily attach it to my backpack and just go!

How To Prepare For The First Week of College with High Sierra

What’s in my backpack?

My laptop, for starters! As a journalism student and blogger, I never go anywhere without it! I also keep a folder and notebook on hand to organize papers (believe me, you’ll have a lot of them!) and just in case I need to physically write something down to turn in (like when your professor throws a pop quiz your way). Of course, I keep my pencil case full of pretty pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, and a stapler in my backpack as well. You probably guessed I would say this, but I also keep my planner in my bag for easy organization. Be sure to read my post on must-have school supplies so you know what to purchase!

How To Prepare For The First Week of College with High Sierra

And, I never go anywhere without my wallet, a good book, my eyeglasses, earbuds, sunglasses, and a camera for cute pics because, seriously, whether you’re on campus or at the beach with friends to catch the sunset, you never know when a good photo-taking opportunity will arise.

Quick backpack organization tips: 

  • Put small things in small pockets. They’re less likely to get lost, and you won’t have to dig around for them at the bottom of the grand canyon, er, I mean, your bag.
  • Arrange books by size order. Keep the big stuff like binders and folders in the back, and the small stuff like a reading book and pencil case towards the front. This really lets you maximize the space in your bag.
  • Keep all your personal items in the same pocket. For me, this includes lipstick, lip balm, mini deodorant, and any extra hair ties.

8. Professional looking clothes. 

You guys, I completely overlooked this when I was starting my first week/semester and it seriously came back to bite me in the rear end. In college, opportunities for networking, internships, and jobs are all over the place and can pop up at any time. You need to make sure you have something professional—business casual works—to wear to any spur of the moment appointments. Lucky for me, I pulled something together with my signature black leggings, a slightly wrinkled teal button down, and tan riding boots. Had the interview been less casual than it turned out to be, I probably wouldn’t have been the best dressed.

You can never go wrong with a fun, printed blouse or button down. Something simple like polka dots or stripes would be perfect. One Bandage or pencil skirt is good to keep on hand, and be sure you have even just one pair of dress pants you can wear. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for cute and affordable dress pants going into my senior year since I’ll be applying to way more positions beyond the semester. H&M is a great place for finding blazers and button downs. Express is also a store that’s perfect for that. My biggest caveat is to ALWAYS try on the clothes before you buy to make sure you like how you look in them! I usually just eyeball the piece and hope for the best, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something that doesn’t fit me right because of that.

9. A lanyard for your keys and ID. 

It’s really easy to lose your ID and room key—a.k.a. two of the most important things that you should have on you at all times—but it’s just as easy to not lose them. A lanyard with a keyring and ID card holder helps ensure that you keep both items in the same place. This was always super helpful for me because I hated having to pull out my wallet for my ID card, and then dig around in my back for my key. (By the way, you have to pay money to replace both of those things if you lose them!)

An alternative to keeping your student ID in a card holder on a lanyard is to keep it with your phone. My phone case is from jimmyCASE and has a really strong built-in pocket, so I keep my ID, metrocard, and a few dollars there for easy access.

What are your tips for prepping for the first week of college?

P.S., don’t forget to check out my post on things you should avoid doing your freshman year of college!

Networking 101: How To Survive Networking Events As A College Student

Networking 101: How To Survive Networking Events As A College Student

I love, love, love networking events. It’s a chance to meet new people, learn more about the jobs and industries that might interest you, and get fed for free (who doesn’t love free food??). I know the idea of talking to dozens of people in the hopes that you’ll meet someone who may be giving you a job or recommending you to someone in the future can seem really daunting, and super exhausting, but it has become increasingly important. While you probably already have an awesome resume and cover letter, there are obvious pros to having an arsenal of contacts when you’re out in the job market. I used to think that you needed years and years of experience in order to build up your contact list, but don’t be surprised to know that there are actually some college students out there who haven’t even left the nest yet, and already have almost a hundred business cards, and tons of personal emails from figures in their desired industry. In fact, you should aim to be one of those students, and I’m here to help you out.

I’m not a networking expert, but I was once a super shy student who would have cringed at the thought of being confined to a space where I have to wear a name tag and talk about myself. Now, especially as of late, I’m practically on the hunt for events where I can do exactly that. As long as I have the time and means to get to the location, you’ll probably see me there. This summer has been huge for me, professionally. I’ve already attended so many events, and I still have a lot more to visit before going back to school. I definitely don’t claim to be perfect at networking. In fact, every time I return home from an event, I do a little self-reflecting on what went great, what didn’t go so great, and what I can do in the future. And today, friends, I’m here to share those findings with you. Use these tips at your next networking event to seriously get the most out of your experience!

1. Come dressed to impress. 

I know this sounds really small and kind of stupid, but trust me, this will make such a difference in your confidence levels. As much as I love sneakers and a cozy sweatshirt, I know that sporting them to a professional event will make me less likely to want to talk to the people who look super dressed up, and I’ll just feel out of place. So, yes, get dressed up for networking events. If you aren’t sure how dressed up you should be, you can never go wrong with a simple dress, flats, and statement necklace. My other favorite is a button down with leggings and nice heels. Pro tip: make sure your shoes are comfortable. Last night, I attended an event in the most painful heels ever (I didn’t know they’d hurt so much!) and I was slightly less inclined to stand in one place for long and talk to people.

2. Go alone. 

The best way to meet new people is to just attend the event by yourself. As comfortable as it may be to bring friends you already know and love, you’ll end up just sticking by their side the whole time, and you’ll hardly meet anyone new. You’re there to get out of your comfort zone, after all. I know standing around awkwardly by yourself definitely isn’t fun, but you’re more likely to get the most out of the event when you’re alone.

3. Just jump into conversations. 

This is how you make sure you aren’t awkwardly standing by yourself the whole event. When I attend events by myself, I typically try to grab a drink first, and then I look around for the nearest group of chatting people, and bam—I just join their conversation. Literally just walk right up to them and introduce yourself. You’ll be wearing a name tag, but it’s just common courtesy. They won’t kick you out of their group, and they won’t sneer and turn away like a group of mean girls from high school. They probably did the exact same thing you just did! The drink just gives me something to sip on if the conversation dwindles or if I don’t know what else to say, but this is why you should try to join a group: there will always be someone talking, so you don’t have to worry about awkward silences. So, you really don’t have to worry about this if you don’t think of yourself as super extroverted (trust me, I’m not either).

4. Approach professionals with specific questions. 

There will probably be some type of presentation where you’re introduced to a few really successful people in the industry, or people with jobs you might like to have in the future. This will take a little bit of assertiveness, but after the presentation, try to speak with them. If you have to wait in line for three minutes of their time, that’s the perfect opportunity to think of specific questions to ask them. Nothing is more awkward (and more of a waste of time) than approaching them and just saying, “Hi! My name is Jasmin. Nice to meet you! Thanks so much for being here!” and then smiling for God knows how long. Say something along the lines of, “Hi! My name is Jasmin, I’m so glad I was able to hear you speak. I really wanted to ask you about such and such.” Ah, much better! They won’t remember Jasmin who grinned like an idiot for two whole minutes, but they might remember Jasmin who asked a really engaging, insightful question.

5. Target professionals who were in your position not too long ago. 

They’re the best people to talk to because they were in your shoes probably just two or three years ago (maybe even last year!) so they know exactly what you’re going through, and they truly want to help you. They’re way more likely to stand and talk with you longer, and they may have more time to really connect with you than, say, the CEO of your favorite company would. If this person currently has a position at a company that you want in the future, ask them for tips on applying, and if there’s anything they recommend including.

6. Don’t leave until you talk to them.

Be a little stubborn here. I know it’s been a really long day, you have a slight headache, and your feet hurt from trudging around in heels, but if there’s someone who can seriously help you and who you really want to talk to, don’t leave without getting a word with them. You’ll just kick yourself later for not saying hi. I promise you can leave as soon as you get to talk to them.

7. Pick the brains of other students who intern where you’d like to intern. 

This is the best way to receive insider information on the company you’d like to work with. But don’t only ask what a typical day is like, or what their favorite project is. Get to the juicy stuff like, “what do you recommend putting on your application,” “what should I expect from the application process,” and “is there anyone you work with who I can connect with as well?”

Related: 12 Tips For Getting A Summer Internship

8. Give out business cards.

Business cards always look super impressive, but when you’re a college student dishing them out, it’s like you’re basically the Beyoncé in the room. Everyone you just spoke to is excited to take one, their jaws drop to the floor, and their eyes are practically tearing up at how badass you are with your deets printed on a card. I highly recommend printing business cards with basic info like your full name, email, phone number, and social media (if you have professional accounts! DON’T give your potential future boss an Instagram handle to an account full of your Spring Break photos). I printed 100 cards for just $10 from Vistaprint. It’s been almost one year, and I have just 40 cards left! Here’s an example of what I always say when I want to give someone my card:

“I’d really love to connect with you and ask for more insight. Could I leave my business card with you?”

Find out how to say goodbye to awkward networking experiences!

If you don’t have business cards, don’t fret! Ask if you could exchange email addresses or friend requests on Facebook with the person you’re talking to. Last night, I went to an event organized by Twitter, so everyone was exchanging Twitter handles and following each other. That works!

9. If they tell you they “aren’t good with business cards”…

Of all the times I’ve popped my go-to can-I-leave-my-business-card question, I’ve gotten ONE SINGLE PERSON who actually said NO because they “aren’t good with keeping business cards.” That’s totally fine, because maybe they feel they’ll just lose your card and won’t be able to contact you; it happens. If they say this, obviously don’t convince them to take it. Just ask if you can exchange emails, Twitter handles, LinkedIn profiles, whatever!

10. Say goodbye to the people you met before you leave. 

This is something I’d actually like to start doing in order to improve my networking game. Mind you, this will probably only work if the event is small enough for you to actually find the people you met. But it can’t hurt to try. Going back to quickly say goodbye, and that you really enjoyed talking to them will make them remember you more because, frankly, no one else really cares enough to let other people know when they’re leaving.

11. Leave with an invitation to coffee or brunch. 

I usually meet one or two people that I really connected with, and got to hang with for most of the event, so when we part ways I always say that we should message each other for coffee before we head back to school. Letting them know that they are free to hit you up any time is super important because it’ll allow you to stay in touch. After all, connections are only good if you actually use them. This person could become a true friend, a significant other (love at first email!), a future co-worker, or even a future employer. But don’t just say it; actually make plans with them. If it’s been a few weeks and they haven’t messaged you, message them and ask if they’d like to meet up. It’s on them if they ignore you or say they’re busy.

What are your tips for surviving networking events? What’s your favorite event to attend?

 

School Supplies You Actually Need For College

School Supplies You Actually Need For College

I love this time of year because of all the cute back to school supplies and the thrill of opening up a fresh pack of colorful gel pens. Can you blame me? But I’ve always been a chronic over-buyer when it comes to supplies, and that’s really not good. Plus, the supplies list that schools send out usually list extra items that you really don’t need. I know there’s security in feeling over-prepared, but I promise you will not need a binder for every single class—this coming from the girl who used to actually buy an entire binder for every class! You may not even use some of the things you thought you were going to use, and you’ll end up spending more money than necessary.

If you’re about to begin your first year of college and are unsure of what school supplies you actually need, then here are my suggestions! (P.S., don’t forget to check out my post on the 13 Items That Are A Complete Waste Of Money!)

1. One binder.

When I was in high school and middle school, a small binder for each class was actually expected most of the time, because our teachers wanted us to divide up the sections for class notes, homework, quizzes/exams, and projects. So basically, one class got an entire binder full of looseleaf. On any given day, I’d have at least three binders in my backpack for whatever classes I had. But in college, that’s totally unnecessary. Especially if you prefer to type all your notes as opposed to writing them. I think one 1.5-inch binder is perfect for organizing handouts, exams, and other papers for class. I use a binder for keeping track of all of my syllabi, so I know exactly where they are when I need to refer back to them. That being said, one item I’ve kept with me from high school is my 3-hole hole puncher. Whenever I need to add hole-less papers to my binder, it’s easy to just punch some holes.

You can use divider tabs to separate the papers in your binder for each class. This way, you can keep all your papers from your history class in one section, all the papers from your math class together, and so on.

2. Notebooks for at least half of your classes.

If you’re like me and take the best notes when you’re typing on a laptop, purchasing notebooks may be a little tricky. It’s good to keep notebooks around regardless, but I don’t see the point in buying notebooks for every single class when I’ll just use my laptop instead. However, there are some classes that you’ll have where you simply cannot type your notes. Take math class, for example. It would take an insanely long time for you to type all those formulas and solve equations. So using pen and paper is clearly the most efficient way to take notes. Same goes for physics or chemistry class. For some classes, you may not know which form of note-taking is better until you actually start the class. So, it doesn’t hurt to buy two notebooks for college (you likely won’t take more than four classes your first semester).

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Note-Taking In College

3. At least 2-3 folders.

You could probably feed all the hungry college students on campus with the amount of papers you’ll accumulate (if they ate paper). Gone are the days of folding up homework worksheets and sticking them in between the pages in your notebook. I keep one folder just for any papers related to administrative matters (my degree progress reports, any bursar or registrar documents, etc.) because every single one of those is important and I’d hate to lose one. I usually put small handouts and extra looseleaf for class in my other folders. It just makes organization way easier. Of course, use your best judgment and your class schedule to really decide how many folders you’ll need.

4. A pencil case, and pens and pencils.

I personally love using mechanical pencils and colorful pens because college lecture halls don’t come equipped with pencil sharpeners, so you don’t have to worry about sharpening mechanical pencils. While colorful pens help many people—myself included—learn better, you’re definitely okay simply purchasing black and blue ink pens, because those are standard for many things, and apparently more professional than purple ink. Your pencil case should be big enough to fit some pens and pencils, one or two highlighters, and a few other necessities. I used to use a plastic pencil box because I loved having all of my colored pens and highlighters on hand (yep, every one of them), but I ended up not even carrying my pencil box to class after a while because it got annoying.

5. A planner.

Planners are God’s gift to unorganized and forgetful college students everywhere. They’re seriously amazing for keeping assignments and obligations in check. I don’t know what I would have done all those years if I didn’t have a planner by my side. I literally write down EVERYTHING in my planner, and it helps me stay focused. Plus, it makes me look super busy when I sit in the library and write feverishly in it. Invest in a planner that has exactly what you need in it. If you like something colorful and adorable, I highly suggest the Happy Planner. I recently did a review on the ClassTracker Planner, so be sure to check out my thoughts on that!

6. A stapler. 

Believe it or not, you sometimes still have to hand in physical papers and homework assignments in college. I personally relish those instances because, let’s face it, if your school’s wi-fi is notoriously crappy, hell hath no fury like that of a sleep-deprived college student trying desperately to submit an online assignment at the last minute. A mini stapler is absolutely perfect because you can keep it inside your pencil case so you always have it with you. Alternatively, paper clips are really great supplies to keep on hand. You can get a pack of super cute ones for just $1 at Target. Ah, you gotta love Target.

7. A USB thumb drive. 

Invest in something that you can store files on once in a while. In college, a lot of space on your laptop gets taken up by 20-page papers and lecture slide downloads. You don’t need an expensive thumb drive—just something small that you can keep in your backpack or desk drawer just in case you reach the point where you’ll need to move some important documents to make space on your laptop.

8. A pair of scissors. 

You’d e surprised by how often you’ll need a pair of scissors in college. In fact, scissors and tape are two supplies that students often forget to bring to college. It’s always the little things…You won’t really need to carry them around in your backpack everyday, but they’e good to keep in the desk drawer in your dorm room. You probably already have a bunch of scissors lying around at home, so you don’t even need to buy another pair for college.

9. Sticky notes. 

They’re really great for creating quick to-do lists and marking your place in textbooks while studying. They don’t take up much space, so it’s easy to carry them around with you. And, if you buy them in packs of three, you can leave two sticky note pads in your desk drawer and one in your backpack.

If you’re starting your first year of college, what’s the biggest question on your mind? 

If you’re returning for the new semester, what’s your favorite must-have supply item? 

Macarons & Mascara - signature

5 Tips For Staying On Top Of Assignments + ClassTracker Planner Review

How To Stay On Top Of Your Class Assignments

I received a free ClassTracker Planner mentioned in this post. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

Let’s talk about assignments. I’m pretty sure that every task or obligation related to class I’ve ever had to complete usually involved me complaining about it ad nauseam, but this time, friends, I’m actually here to share some valuable advice with you when it comes to getting your crap done.

In college, assignments can pile up much faster than you might expect. Do your calculus homework suddenly becomes do your calculus homework, read chapters 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 for English class, and write an 8-page extra credit paper to save yourself from flunking. Before you know it, you’re consuming way too many gummy worms and way too much coffee trying to finish everything in time. Unfortunately, there will rarely be a time when you have very little to nothing on your plate, so I’ve come up with these tips to help you manage your tasks a little easier. Plus, I’m sharing a review of one of the most well-known academic planners for students, the ClassTracker Planner, so stick around to hear (read?) my thoughts!

1. Use down time in between classes to work on assignments.

You don’t have to wait until your day is done and you’re back in your dorm room to start cracking open a book. If you’re ever bored during your two-hour break between classes, or if none of your friends are free to hang out then, grab some lunch and sit down with your homework. This is how I get the majority of my work done most of the time. I bring whatever materials I’ll need, and in between classes, I go to my favorite study spot and get right down to it. It makes me feel like I can breathe a little easier even if I only manage to complete one assignment. That’s one less assignment to worry about later on. Plus, in the time that you would’ve spent doing the assignment at night, you can now go out to dinner with friends or attend a club meeting.

2. Get the quick and easy assignments out of the way first.

I like doing the easy stuff first so I don’t feel like I need to rush through the longer, more in-depth assignments. Plus, this is a good way to stay motivated to keep bowling through assignments because you’ll actually be able to cross things off your to-do list. And, honestly, a lot of times it’s the small assignments like these that we often forget about and then have to b.s. at the last possible minute. When you sit down to do homework, always ask yourself: which of these assignments can I finish in an hour or less? And that’s probably the assignment you should tackle first.

3. Pay attention to due dates.

Most professors don’t offer credit for late or missed assignments, so make sure you manage those dates. Set reminders on your phone or laptop if you have to. Write down the due dates on sticky notes and tape them to every wall in your dorm room—whatever works. Not staying on top of important dates is the easiest way for your work load to fall apart. Keeping due dates in mind can also help you prioritize assignments, so you’ll know what you need to get done the earliest, and what you can afford to keep on the back burner for a little while longer.

4. Read your professor’s emails.

Believe it or not, your professors actually don’t sit at home and decide to pull an email from their behinds for craps and giggles. Read those messages in their entirety because they’ll contain information regarding any changing deadlines or assignment expectations that you’ll really need to know. Avoid starring them for later, because chances are you’ll forget you even put a star next to them and you won’t ever read them.

5. Don’t think you’ll “just remember” it.

I’m super guilty of having done this in the past, and it usually comes back to bite me. Never trust that you’ll simply remember which chapters the professor wants you to review for an upcoming exam, or the due date of your next project. Write them all down! This also goes for the small things, like running errands, that you tell yourself you’ll remember and then five minutes later you forget. Planners are the perfect way for you to organize all this information. They’re also way better than grabbing a scrap of looseleaf from your bag and scribbling down reminders. Make sure you invest in one for the school year. And speaking of planners…

How To Stay On Top Of Your Class Assignments

I promised I’d share my thoughts on the ClassTracker Planner I recently received, and here they are! As you probably already know, I’m obsessed with planners and organization, and love being able to easily plan things out. And, the coming of a new semester just makes me extra excited for all that. The ClassTracker Planner is meant to be a clean and simple planner that makes organization easy. I chose the color “Teal” to match the aesthetic of my dorm room and most of my school supplies. The planner is very slim, which means it won’t take up much space in your already-heavy backpack. Previously, I had been using the Happy Planner, which I love to death because of how colorful and inspirational and quirky it is, but it is a bit bulky and often added a little extra weight on my shoulders.

How To Stay On Top Of Your Class Assignments

The planner I received covers the academic school year for August 2017 to May 2018, and when you flip open the pages, there are three charts for you to write out your semesterly schedule. I like that there are three schedule charts instead of just two because some colleges actually have more than two semesters. Mine doesn’t, but this would be very helpful for the people whose colleges do. There’s also a section for writing down your goals. I divided that box into three columns so I could divide up my goals between different semesters. I added another term just in cade I decide to study abroad again this winter! I personally love setting goals because they help me stay focused and help me understand what steps I need to take in order to get where I want to be. Check out my Fall 2017 goals post if you’re curious about what the rest of my goals are!

How To Stay On Top Of Your Class Assignments

Another thing I’m obsessed with is calendars, so I was glad to see the next page incorporated into the planner. I like actually being able to see any events, appointments, and due dates organized in squares next to each other because I’m more of a visual person and this helps me better gauge how much time I have before something important is coming up. As you can see, my August calendar is rather empty right now (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that again in the coming months, though). And, you can feel free to use the extra space on the sides to jot down any reminders for the month, quotes to keep you going, or even just add fun stickers to the side to really make this planner yours.

How To Stay On Top Of Your Class Assignments

The last section of the planner I’m going to share with you is the week by week section where you can actually jot down daily homework assignments and to-do lists. In my previous planner, this section was just seven columns across the page with space to just toss everything in, so I like how these columns are actually organized by assignments, things to remember, activities, and upcoming quizzes/exams. And, in the corner, there’s a section to create a small to-do list. I think this makes it super easy to organize everything you’re tackling that day so you won’t forget a thing.

If the ClassTracker Planner sounds like the answer to all of your college organization prayers, check out their site for more details and to purchase one for yourself (let me know what color you order!)

What are your tips for staying on top of assignments in college? 

How To Choose The Right Major

How To Choose The Perfect Major In College

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now (well, hello again!) you probably know that I changed my major like six times over the course of three semesters. It was annoying and sometimes tiring, but admittedly exciting to get to dip my toe into other fields. But every twist and turn has led me to the field I’m studying today: Journalism. Sure, I wish I had somehow known that I’d be a Journalism major from the beginning so I could’ve saved myself from struggling through classes I hated, but I guess sometimes you have to stumble a little before you get it right.

In high school, you don’t learn how to choose the right major, unfortunately. And while there is no magical formula where you plug in x and out pops your perfect major, there are some things for you to consider in order to make the decision a lot easier.

First thing’s first…

Don’t pick a major just because all of your friends picked it, or because you think you’ll be thought of as “less smart” for choosing something else. Someone else might suck terribly at something you’re really good at, and vice versa. There will be a lot of people on campus who bash majors that they think are “easy.” If you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is crapping all over your major, you should either ignore them or tell them where they can stick their opinion. Yeah, I went there.

Oh, and another thing…Can we all agree once and for all that there is NO SUCH THING as an “easy” major???? Thanks. Now, onto the tips for choosing the perfect major!

1. Consider your hobbies and interests.

Do you love sports and have always been interested in healthcare? Maybe you’d like a career in sports medicine. Make a list of all of your hobbies or interests if you have absolutely no idea where you should start. For me, I’ve always loved writing, and I love reading magazines and doing all things beauty, so I want to have a career as a writer in the magazine industry. Remember to consider clubs or organizations you were part of in high school, and things you like to do in your free time.

2. Think about what you’re good at. 

I’m absolutely horrendous at math, so I have no idea what possessed me to think that I’d be good at economics. If you’re really good at getting people to listen to you on Twitter or Instagram, consider a career as a social media coordinator for your favorite company. If you took your high school robotics team to championships, consider something in the computer science field. And if you swear up and down that you absolutely aren’t good at anything, keep looking! Everyone’s good at something. 

3. Do you want to have the chance to travel? 

Lifestyle is an important aspect to consider when deciding on a major, because different fields foster different schedules. While there are many other important factors to consider, the opportunity to travel is a huge one that many people think of first. A doctor may not travel to five different countries over the course of a year, but a journalist, especially a foreign correspondent, most likely would. If traveling while working is important to you, be sure to consider which fields allow this type of mobility so you have an idea as to what you should study.

Related: How To Travel Cheaply In Your 20’s

4. Consider whether you want a set work schedule or a more unpredictable one.

I know nothing’s set in stone, and we don’t hold the crystal ball to our futures, but thinking about how you’d like to work is another important lifestyle factor that can help you decide on a major. Maybe you like the rush of being pulled away at a moment’s notice to do something incredible. Or maybe you prefer having a set, 9-5 so you can make time for other obligations. Or maybe you like the idea of being your own boss and setting your own work schedule.

5. Make a list of things you hate.

I know this sounds strange, like why would you need to be reminded that you hate something…but this can help you rule out majors that right off the bat are not right for you. Do you hate art and drawing because you were never good at it yourself? You probably wouldn’t want to study it then. If you hate math and science (like me) stay away from any major that says applied math, statistics, finance, the science of anything, and most things ending in -ology. If you hate dogs and cats (hard to believe, but there are in fact people who dislike animals) I doubt you’d be happy as a veterinarian.

6. Do you want the opportunity to work on something  you’re passionate about?

Most people have causes that they’re passionate about—social work, animal rights, environmental issues, etc. And using those passions can help you settle on your perfect major. Don’t be afraid to really dig deep. And it doesn’t hurt to talk to an advisor. They know the school’s programs inside and out, and can tell you if there’s a major that suits your passions.

7. Look into potential careers in the field. 

This was my favorite thing to do in high school when it came to thinking about what my major would be. I’d research careers that I could have if I studied a certain field, and if it sounded good to me, I’d pick it. If you want to study computer science, look at the various options for jobs and see if there are any that click with you. Same goes for if you want to study marketing or history or english. However, don’t think that the options Google lists out for you are what’s set in stone. Nowadays, you never know where you could end up! My class once went on a trip to BuzzFeed’s New York City headquarters (Yes, BuzzFeed) and we met a guy who works on those addicting to watch Tasty videos but he didn’t even major in Journalism or Video Editing or anything—he was an Engineering major!! Crazy, right?

8. Consider shadowing a professional. 

This is a great way to figure out if you’d truly enjoy a career in a certain field. Can you wake up every morning and put a smile on your face when you walk into your place of work, ready to take on your challenges? Hands-on experience will tell. It gives you the opportunity to see a day in the life of a professional. Maybe after you shadow a marine biologist you realize that this isn’t the field for you. It’s okay—it’ll save you a ton of time and energy.

9. Get an internship or take a summer workshop.

I know you’re thinking that you haven’t had any relevant experience so you can’t possibly get an internship, but on the contrary, there are so many opportunities in various fields opening up for high school graduates and underclassmen. You just have to be willing to do some research and email a few people. Interning is a great way for you to get an inside look at the industry you want to be part of. If you can make it through the summer and come out loving every minute of what you did, maybe you should consider studying for that career.

Related: 10 Questions To Ask Before You Begin An Internship

10. Research your college’s programs.

A quick Google search of your college’s majors should give you a list of all the degree programs. There’s nothing wrong with running your finger down the list and stopping at the names that jump out at you. Click on those programs and read more about them. Find out what the classes will be like and what the program will focus on. Is there room to adopt a concentration or specific track within the program? Is there the opportunity for independent study? Also feel free to ask your advisor these questions.

11. Ask upperclassmen for insight. 

Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to grab someone’s attention and get them to talk to you. If you exchanged names with the senior Biology major who stood behind you in line for mac and cheese, shoot them a friend request and pick their brains for insight into the program and what they want as a career. I know a lot of people are selfish and don’t want to help others, but if you’re lucky enough to meet someone who would love to see you succeed even though they have no idea who you are and don’t owe you anything, hold onto them as a mentor.

12. If you aren’t sure, add a minor first. 

Minors are safe because if you later on decide that you want to adopt the field as a major, you’ve at least already completed a nice chunk of the courses because you added it as a minor first. And contrary to what we all thought in high school, your major and minor DO NOT have to be related! While having your major and minor as closely related as possible is a prudent move, having a minor that has nothing to do with your main field of study can help you become a little more well-rounded. Plus, it’s another way to explore other interests. You may be the only Psychology major with a Dance minor on campus, but who cares as long as you enjoy them both!

What are you studying in college? What are your tips for picking a major? 

Related: How To Make Class Enrollment Less Stressful

 

 

The Ultimate Guide To Cleaning Your Dorm Room

The Ultimate Guide To Cleaning Your Dorm Room

When you’re super busy balancing classwork, a job or internship, and your social life, cleaning up after yourself can be easily pushed to the back of your mind. I’ll do it later tonight becomes I’ll make time on Saturday. And at that point it’s best to just stop lying to yourself; your room will be messy for about another week or so, possibly till the end of the semester.

In all honesty, I hate cleaning my room. I can’t really recall a time when I was absolutely thrilled to clean anything, really. But, having an already clean room is extremely helpful when you’re moving out at the end of the semester because you’ll have much less trash to sort through. Plus, you never know when you’ll have a surprise visitor. So, here are some tips to help you get organized and get cleaning — plus, stick around till the end of the post to download a free copy of my dorm cleaning schedule!

Daily Tasks

Make your bed.

Your roommate probably doesn’t want to see pillows strewn all over the place. Make a habit out of smoothing out your comforter and fluffing your pillows every morning before leaving for class. Bonus tip: if you have an early morning class, make your bed as soon as you wake up so you aren’t tempted to crawl back under the covers and hit snooze!

Wash any dirty dishes.

We’re probably all guilty of leaving cereal bowls with milk still in them out to rot for at least a week before finally deciding to wash them (oops). Take care of dirty dishes as soon as you have them. They start to smell awful, and the longer you wait, the harder they are to clean.

Dispose of unwanted or unfinished food.

I’ve gotten into the habit of throwing my unwanted food or food containers from the dining hall in the trash room in the hallway instead of throwing them in the garbage can in my room. This unfinished food can attract bugs, and can make the room smell terrible. So, if you’ve had enough of the mac and cheese from the dining hall, get rid of it ASAP, and don’t leave it to melt under the heat of your un-air conditioned room.

Throw dirty clothes in your laundry bag.

Keywords: In. Your. Laundry. Bag. I’m super guilty of throwing sweat-soaked workout shirts on my bed or on the back of my chair because I’m too lazy to pull out my laundry bag and throw them in there. Don’t be like me. This adds to clutter, which gets really annoying when you can’t find what you’re looking for. If you’re absolutely sure you can’t wear a pair of pants one more time before you sentence it to the washing machine, do yourself a favor and put it where the other dirty clothes are.

Weekly Tasks

Clean up the clothes pile on your desk chair.

We all have that desk chair that becomes Mt. Neverest when we’re too lazy to put our clothes away. It’s really aggravating to have to move the clothing pile to your bed when you want to sit at your desk, and then move the pile back to the chair when you want your bed. Make sure you take the time to put your clothes where they’re supposed to be instead of letting them pile up.

Get rid of expired food.

Have you ever kept bread way past its expiration date? Yeah, it’s not pretty…Toss anything that’s no good as soon as you realize it’s gone bad. Check expiration dates weekly, so if something’s about to spoil soon, you can at least finish it off so your money doesn’t go to waste. Also, because I love cooking, I created a post on Tips For Cooking Meals In College that you might love!

Do laundry.

I’d say laundry is best done every other week instead of every week. It gives you a chance to build up a load that’s really worthy of your $1.50 (if your school makes you pay for your own laundry). Because laundry can literally take up half the day, be sure to plan your schedule accordingly, and figure out when the best times for doing laundry are.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Doing Laundry In College

Take out the trash.

You’d be surprised by how quickly you can accumulate trash in a week in college. If you fill up the garbage can, you must take the garbage out. It’s as simple as that, yet you won’t believe how many people just let the crap pile up as though the trash can will grow wings and take itself out. Living in a space that’s full of trash is really annoying and can get super gross. Too much trash can also cause roommate problems if you aren’t careful. Create a trash schedule if you need to—just make sure it’s taken care of weekly.

Clean off your desk.

Clear out any papers, wrappers, and tissues. Your desk can accumulate a lot of dust, so make sure you’re wiping it down. Freeing this surface from dust and germs will also ensure that you avoid getting sick. Be sure to clean off any other surfaces that you’re frequently touching, as well.

Related: How To Avoid Getting Sick In College

Vacuum the carpet.

For the sake of all that is allergy-free, VACUUM REGULARLY. I vacuum my dorm room once every couple of months when things get really dusty and annoying, and half the time I’m sneezing up a storm. Cleaning your carpet regularly can help you avoid all that. Since dorm rooms are notoriously tiny, it’ll probably take you just five minutes to go through the entire space if you’re vacuuming weekly.

Monthly Tasks

Wash your bedding.

Whether you prefer washing your pillowcases and sheets at the beginning of the month of the end, pick a day or weekend to be your designated bedding-washing day (I really tried to come up with a better name. Sorry). You can even throw them in with a light clothing load so you don’t have to snag extra machines.

Go through your closet.

The weather can change drastically in a month if you go to school in a region that experiences all four seasons. Make sure everything in your closet is suitable for the suddenly chilly November weather, or the insanely hot May weather. Put away anything you likely won’t be wearing for a while. Also, re-fold any clothing you just stuffed inside your drawers. This will make it so much easier to find what you’re looking for in the mornings.

Wipe down windows.

If you live in a campus apartment, you might want to make cleaning the windows a monthly task. You might be surprised by how quickly they can get dirty. Just pass a window wipe over the glass and you’re done!

Clean out your mini fridge.

Get rid of anything that smells bad, and anything growing mold. Also, get rid of anything you thought you’d eat but didn’t so it doesn’t go bad (give it to a friend who might like it).

If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading! Click on the image below or click here to download your free, printable dorm cleaning schedule. Happy cleaning!

The Ultimate Dorm Cleaning Schedule

What are your tips for keeping your dorm room clean? 

Guide To Dorm Shopping: 13 Things That Are A Waste Of Money

Guide To Dorm Shopping: Things To Not Buy For College

Tis the season for lengthy dorm packing lists and shopping guides that detail every unnecessary thing you don’t need for dorm life. Bonus points if it specifies the exact isle in Target to find the item in. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shopping at Target, but I don’t love spending extra money on items I’ll end up not needing for college because I faithfully trusted those annoying shopping lists universities swear by. In case you couldn’t already tell, that’s exactly what happened to me when I was preparing for my freshman year of college.

I know it can be hard to really figure out exactly what you need, but you’re probably better off putting questionable items on hold until you can get the expert advice of an RA on campus, or until you actually move in and see for yourself what items work for you. But if you’re as excited about dorm shopping as I am, you probably can’t wait to pull into the store parking lot and shop everything college. To help you make things a little easier, I’ve created a list of items that you absolutely, positively do not need to buy for life in the dorms because they’re simply a waste of money.

1. A printer.

Not only would you have to purchase a printer, but you’d also have to continuously buy paper and ink (super expensive!) and that’s definitely not something you’d want to be bothered with. Honestly, using the printers in your school’s library isn’t that bad. Yes, there are long lines of people printing out textbooks (ppst! Check out my money-saving tips for buying textbooks!) but at least you won’t have to cough up $40+ every time you run out of ink. Plus, there are definitely printers all over campus, so you won’t have to keep your fingers crossed the line in the library runs smoothly so you can make your 8a.m.

2. A floor lamp.

I promise you, your dorm living room and bedroom will have ceiling lights — you don’t need a floor lamp. Plus, I know octopus lamps (the admittedly aesthetic floor lamps with several shades and bulbs) aren’t allowed at most colleges because they’re considered a fire hazard. A floor lamp won’t really do anything for you, except help you get on your RA’s nerves.

Related: 13 Things Not Allowed In Dorm Rooms + What To Bring Instead

3. Bed risers.

I made the mistake of buying bed risers, and when I got on campus, I saw that the bed frames were adjustable, so I didn’t even need them! A lot of colleges have beds that can be raised without risers, so check with your university first. Bonus tip: if you made the mistake of purchasing bed risers before moving in like I did, RETURN THEM ASAP so you can get your money back!

4. A bedside caddy.

Chances are, your desk will be close enough to your bed that you can just lean over and grab whatever you need — no caddy needed. And if it isn’t, you can probably just rearrange things to be more comfortable.

5. Board games.

You honestly probably won’t even have time to play board games in college! And if you do have some time to kill, you’d probably prefer to go to a campus event, party, or the gym. If you really want to play board games with friends, you can borrow some from your RA’s office. They usually have a wide variety to choose from, and you won’t have to worry about storing it when you’re done.

6. Any over-the-door organizer of any kind.

I know of so many over-the-door shoe organizers that everyone and their mother says you need, but honestly, you probably wouldn’t even need that many shoes in college. Plus, you can literally just store your shoes under your bed and save the space behind your door for a mirror or something. Don’t get me started with those collapsable hanging shoe organizers that “save space” by hanging from your closet. They actually take up more space than necessary.

7. An ironing board and iron.

How many shirts do you think will really need ironing during your college career? Maybe you’ll have a few business casual campus events, but I don’t think an iron and ironing board are justified even then. You likely won’t even have time to whip them out if you’re running late for an 8a.m. interview, and some colleges don’t allow irons that don’t come equipped with an automatic shut-off. Keep your professional clothing pieces wrinkle-free by not folding them into a corner of your drawer. If you want to put your mind at ease, though, I packed a cute, mini steamer my freshman year, and have had it since. It’s compact enough to be stored anywhere, and all I have to do is add water, turn it on, and steam my shirt — super easy to use, and it didn’t cost much at all!

8. Extra storage containers.

Okay, a couple of storage containers for things like extra towels, utensils, and personal items is understandable. And I know everyone has different necessities, but if you’re lining your closet shelves with lots of huge containers of stuff while you also have under the bed storage, there’s a possibility that you’re packing too much stuff. Before I started college, I looked at a zillion dorm room tours on YouTube to get an idea of how I should store things in my room. This gave me an idea of how many containers I’ll actually need, so I avoided buying too many.

Related: The College Girl’s Ultimate Packing List

 

9. Hair tool organizer.

I adore my Nume Magic Wand, 19mm curling wand, and straightener, but I really don’t think they need an organizer all for themselves. I just keep them in a drawer along with other hair care items, and it works really well. And if you don’t use straighteners, curling wands, or hair dryers, then you probably wouldn’t consider a hair tool organizer anyway!

10. A bath rug.

Most colleges provide bath rugs. Or rather, the residential hall staff supplies bathrooms with rugs. I would check with the residence hall first so you don’t waste money, and if they don’t provide rugs in suite-style bathrooms, then you can start considering if you want to bring one or not (they are helpful in avoiding slips after a shower).

11. Light bulbs.

Spare light bulbs are great if you’re moving into an apartment, but for dorm room life they’re totally unnecessary. If a light in your room goes out, file a work order or tell your RA and you can have someone come by and fix it for you. Be sure to familiarize yourself with dorm room maintenance policies so you know what to do if you ever need anything fixed.

12. Curtains.

I know, I know, the curtains in your residence hall are plain, dingy, and not your aesthetic at all, but unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it. Most colleges forbid students from changing the curtains because the ones provided are fireproof. This is understandable as a fire safety concern, but if you want, there are other ways to make your dorm room feel cozy and less bland — just check out my guide to dorm decor!

13. A safe.

WHY. EVEN. What could an 18-year-old college student possibly have that requires extra guarding in a safe? I know we all have some important items that we want to keep extra safe (passport, credit cards, emergency money, etc.) but you really don’t need to invest in a safe right now. Opt for a small lockbox instead. It’s big enough to store important documents and things, and small enough to fit comfortably in a corner of your drawer.

What items would you recommend not buying for college? 

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? 

 

Visit Sponsors Site

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!