If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I talk about planners a lot. In fact, something is probably off within one of my posts if using a planner isn’t mentioned. My planner is what keeps me sane and on top of my crazy schedule. Between school, work, blogging, 3 organizations, and attempting to have somewhat of a social life, I definitely wouldn’t remember what I had to do without a planner to track it all. Today I’m sharing with you how I stay organized with my Erin Condren planner, although now my layout looks a bit different. A couple months ago I showed you how I use the vertical version of the planner, but I realized I wanted to try something a little different. A few weeks ago I took the plunge and purchased a horizontal version of the planner and I’m in love. I’ve found my “planner peace” as the organization gurus on YouTube say. With that, here’s how I use my planner.

How I Stay Organized with my Erin Condren Life Planner 2

Color Coding

First things first is my color coding system. While it does overwhelm some people, I personally like being able to open my planner and scan for particular colors. Here’s how it works: Red is for classes/tests/important things, yellow is for school events, light green is for work outs, dark green is for work, pink is for personal, purple is for blog, orange is for tutoring, and then light purple/light blue/light pink are used for my 3 organizations.

Monthly View

My monthly view is what I use to see big picture or more important events. In my monthly view I write down blog posts, my work schedule, test dates, when I have papers due, school events, doctor’s appointments, and anything deemed important by one of my organizations such as volunteering or Business Week. Basically, it’s my bird’s eye view of a month for planning things in advance. For example, when the ask off is posted at my work for the upcoming month, it’s my monthly view calendar that I have open so I know when I need off.

DSC_0497

Weekly View

My weekly view is nothing short of crazy. On the lined section of the week, I write out my basic agenda for the day. Everything from classes, work, appointments, and meetings for my organizations go here. I like to put important things by the day of the week and then from there write my day in the order that it happens. For example, if I have a test on Monday I will write “Accounting Test” next to Monday and then from there write out my classes schedule, etc.

In this planner the right hand side is unlined. I use this section of the planner to write what assignments or papers I have due for school that day. This makes it super easy for me to plan homework and studying for upcoming weeks when all I have to do is flip forward a few weeks to see what’s happening.

Finally, I use the notes section to write down reminders or to-dos that I know I want to get accomplished, but don’t know what day I’ll get to it. For example, I’ve written down to schedule an appointment with my adviser, to stop by the study abroad office, and to add the new TAM syllabus to my planner.

DSC_0502

Accessories

It wouldn’t be an Erin Condren planner without utilizing a few of her amazing accessories. Some of my necessities are:

To-Do List Dashboard: I absolutely love this accessory for my planner. I use it to mark my weekly view and then use the bookmark that came with the planner to mark the current month. I use this book mark daily as my to-do list and couldn’t be more happy. At the end of the day, I simply wipe away that days to-dos and begin planning for the next day.

Designer Dots: I have a semi-demanding work schedule. I work at an apartment complex and sometimes working a shift means that I will be on-call that night in case any of the residents get locked out of their apartments. I like to use the daily dots to mark when I have an on-call shift just so that when I look at my weekly view I know that it’s coming. I also have color coded the daily dots sheets and use the others to mark days that I have a test/paper, important appointment, or am going home for a break.

 

What kind of planner do you use to stay organized? If you use an Erin Condren planner do you use the vertical, horizontal, or hourly version? If you were to win the giveaway, which treats will you be buying for yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*The links in this post are affiliate links.

To say that I was stubborn when I was applying for colleges is an understatement. I was persistent that I was only visiting and applying to two universities knowing that I was going to get into at least one of them. I had my had my heart set on attending a University of Missouri school, whether it was Columbia or Kansas City. I had made lists of organizations I wanted to get involved in at either of the two schools and had even researched potential dorms to live in at both schools but didn’t bother to look at any of these things for other schools. Did I say I was stubborn?

While I do attend the University of Missouri-Columbia and still love the branch campus in Kansas City, I wish that I had been more open minded to other universities instead of just touring them so that my parents would stop pestering me to branch out a little. Today I’m hoping to share with you what to keep in mind when you are choosing a college and making the very scary decision of where you would like to complete your under-graduate (and even maybe your masters!) degree.

Seniors guide to choosing a college

Location.

  • Distance from home.

As a senior in high school I was persistent that I wanted to be far enough away from home that it would take about a day or so to get home. While thankfully I came to my senses that it wasn’t a good idea, I knew that the closest I wanted to be to home was an hour and that I didn’t want to be out of the state of Missouri. The furthest away I looked was about seven hours and I found a happy medium in Columbia which is about three hours from my house. It’s far enough away from home that I feel independent, but close enough to home that if something where to come up I could be home.

  • Size of the city where your university is located.

One of the reasons I scratched several potential schools off of my list was because the towns were so small. I grew up in a town with around 80,000 people and that doesn’t have the broadest range of stores, restaurants, and places to hang out. I knew I wanted to find a nicer city with lots of people, stuff always going on, and more stores. I love Columbia for the beautiful down town within walking distance from campus, the gorgeous nature trails, and wide range of restaurants and stores whether locally owned or chains.

  • Climate of where you are moving to.

My university is known for its journalism school and people from around the country come just to be a part of it. It has always been interested me to watch people who have never truly seen snow until they make it to mid-Missouri for college. They seem to either love it or hate it once they’ve experienced it, but will also sometimes admit that thinking about the climate of where they were moving to had never crossed their minds. If you are looking into a school, especially if they are out of state, do research on what the climate can change to during the year. This way, you won’t be trying to order a winter coat after the first snow of the year.

Cost.

College is horribly expensive, but that shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing your dream schools. Apply for scholarships both through the universities you are applying to and outside sources, look into grants, and see about any students loans that you could take out. While I realize that student loans are frowned upon, if you have to take them out try your hardest to stick to the ones that are offered to you by your university. For example, if you are offered $7,000 as a loan, you don’t have to take the full amount if you don’t need all of it. Also, there isn’t as much interest on them compared to if you took them out from a source outside of your university (typically).

Campus size.

Campus size was huge to me and I never realized how much of an influence it could have on your college experience until I talked to a friend of mine that goes to a much smaller university. She made the comment that the most people she had ever had in a lecture was 100, that every professor knows her by name, she knows everyone in her class, and the walk to class is five minutes max. It’s a huge difference from my school where I’ve had several 500 person lecture classes, have to make the effort to meet my professors so that they know my name, I barely know the people within my major, and it can take me up to fifteen minutes to walk to class. When you are looking at colleges, the size of the campus plays a major role. While yes, the 500 person lecture classes scared me at first, I can’t imagine going to a smaller school that doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of my school and my friend can’t imagine going to a school that even offers lectures for more than 100 people.

Student body.

There are several things that I wish I had been a little more aware of when I was touring colleges. One of those things was the student body as a whole. My campus offers a very wide range of on-campus housing options, has a ton of school spirit, and the students are all very involved. Essentially, it’s almost as if I am always immersed in the school environment. While I love that aspect, for many that idea makes them cringe. Here are some things to look at within the student body of potential universities.

  • Commuter verses on-campus housing.

If you choose a university that offers on-campus housing, it basically immerses you in the school environment at all times. The dining halls are just around the corner, you can wake up twenty minutes before class and still be on time, and there are always people on campus and something happening. Commuter colleges don’t have any dorms (if they do it’s typically 1-3 at most) but typically has several apartment complexes near-by, students only typically come onto campus for class, work, and tutoring and go on their way, and typically there are less students on campus at any given time.

  • School spirit.

I didn’t understand exactly how much spirit my university had until an older sister of one of the girls in my dorm said that she couldn’t get over how much black and gold you saw around campus. She said that at her school you typically spotted a t-shirt for the school here and there, but that many students wore shirts supporting other universities. I love that my school bleeds black and gold and that on any given day whether it’s a game day or not you spot a sea of school spirit. For many people seeing that much school spirit is a bit too much.

My university offers over 700 clubs for you to join not including our Greek life and most students are involved in a handle of them. I personally love the hustle and bustle of students and just how involved we are within our university. On the other hand some students want to be able to take a step back and not be so involved within their university.

Major offerings.

A huge thing to consider when choosing a university is the major offerings. If you already have an idea in your head of what you want to major in, check to see if the universities you are looking at offer those particular majors and if they offer any majors you might consider incase later on you decide that the major you chose just isn’t for you. For me personally, I was set on broadcast journalism, communications, public relations, or marketing. While I ended up going with marketing, both schools that I was seriously looking at offered the majors that I was looking into.

Campus housing.

A big thing to consider when you are looking at colleges is whether you want to live at home, on-campus, or off campus. When looking at on-campus housing take into consideration the cost of living there, whether you want community or suite style, how many roommates you are okay with having, the location of the dorm on-campus, and if the dorm is open for you to stay there over breaks should you not be able to go home. When looking at off-campus housing consider the distance from campus, if the apartment offers shuttles to and from campus, if the apartment complex is catered towards college students or is a regular complex, and how much the monthly rent is.

Greek life.

One of the main reasons that I chose my university was because of the size of Greek life. While after a year of being an active member of a sorority I decided it simply wasn’t for me and decided to drop, I have nothing against sororities and am still happy that Greek life played such an important role in where I chose to go to school. If you are interested in joining Greek life, look into how many chapters your school has, how much involvement the chapters have on campus, and the potential price. If you choose a school with a smaller Greek life, things typically aren’t as extreme as compared to a school that has Greek life like Mizzou where pomping is how you spend the majority of your fall semester to prepare for homecoming.

If you are in high school, what are you looking for in a college? Do you think any of these tips will help you? If you are already in college or have graduated from college, are there any points that you would add to this list? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

College applications are a bit overwhelming to say the least. Between sending in your ACT/SAT score, working to maintain your grades, perfecting the essays for the applications, keeping up with the deadlines, and the overall stress of whether or not you will get into the school you want is a lot. And while maybe it was just in my head senior year, it can be difficult to stay on top of it all. Your potential of getting into the school of your dreams shouldn’t be determined by the fact that you missed the final date to apply because you had confused it with the date your senior scrapbook page was due. In today’s post I’m hoping to give you tips on how to stay on top of your applications in the overwhelm that is senior year and include some insider tips that I learned after being accepted.

seniorsguidetocollegeapplicationsWrite all dates down for your applications in a planner.

When you begin the college application process, all kinds of dates are thrown at you. Once you get these dates, make it a habit to write down the dates in a place that you will see them. Typically you should write down what day the application opens, what day the applications close and then any dates that the college or university might give you such as when you can begin signing up for orientation, what dates you can sign up for classes, and any other information. One of my close friends applied to several universities and gave each university a different color in her planner so that she could easily differentiate between the schools.

Apply on the day applications open.

Unless the first day that applications open is early admission or early acceptance, apply the first day applications open. Benefits from applying early, depending on the university, can include being among the first freshmen to select your dorm room or even being one of the first freshmen to sign up for classes. And as a freshmen the upperclassmen have already had their pick of dorm rooms and classes, so take any benefit you can get.

Have a folder on your computer to save application essays.

This is one of the best tips a close friend of mine gave me before I began applying to colleges. She advised me to write all of my college applications in separate Word documents and save them based on what the question was that they answered. This way, I could easily find the essay I was looking for when I was filling out an application for another university and edit it as needed. While typically universities don’t ask the same questions on their applications, they typically ask very similar questions so you can easily edit a previous essay to fit the new question.

Don’t lie about or boost your GPA.

One of the number one mistakes people make when applying to college is lying about or boosting their GPA. If you have cumulative GPA of 3.647, then you cannot round it up to a 3.65, it must stay at a 3.647 or a 3.64. While yes, it does seem a little on the intense side, if your GPA does not match what is on your transcript that your high school sends to the universities you applied to you risk not getting accepted because it will be seen as a lie.

Apply even if you don’t make the automatic acceptance requirements.

What surprised me that most when I hear people talking about why they did or didn’t apply to a university is when they tell me that they didn’t apply to a school simply because they didn’t have the ACT/SAT score for automatic acceptance. The university that I currently attend had an automatic acceptance requirement one point above what I had scored on my SAT. One point. Whether you are off by one point or more, still apply! Even if you end up not getting accepted, you at least know you tried.

Apply to more than one school.

Personally, I had my heart set on one school. I had dreamed of being able to attend since I was a sophomore in high school and there was no convincing me to go elsewhere unless I ended up not being accepted. With the majority of students already waiting until the last minute to submit their applications, you are definitely risking it when you only send in one application. Even if you only apply to two schools, apply to your risk school/dream school and then apply to a school that you know you can get into so you have the ability to have a school to fall back on incase things don’t go as planned.

Have a back-up plan.

I touched on this a little in the topic above, but have a back-up plan. Sadly, things don’t always go as we planned and we have to find an alternative solution. So just in case anything happens, have a plan you can fall back on. I know it isn’t the most fun thing to think about, but it is definitely something that needs to be thought about.

Are you a senior applying to colleges? If so, what do you tips to you hope to utilize from this post? If you are already in college, what tips would you add to this list? I would love to know in the comments below.

The other day I got an e-mail from a girl going into her freshman year of high school. She mentioned that she was nervous and didn’t know what to expect and truthfully she was just hoping it would be better than middle school. She continued on to say that she had read my post for incoming college freshmen, but was wondering if I could write a post for my readers that are in high school, especially since she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life at that point and was already stressing about what she wanted to major in at the college level.

That’s what stuck out to me. Just going into her freshman year of high school she was feeling the stress of trying to figure her life out and know what her college major should be. I quickly e-mailed her back and asked if she would be okay with me mentioning her e-mail in my post (she said yes) and if a post with my advice for high school students would be okay with her. Because honestly, after experiences of being a camp counselor and being a small group leader in high school, it wasn’t the first time I had heard concerns very similar to her.

Today I’m sharing what I wished I had known going into, and even in, high school. If I’m being completely honest, many of these things I didn’t appreciate and acknowledge as something important until well into my second semester of college. If anything, I hope at least one of these things helps you out.

14thingshighschool

A relationship doesn’t define you.

There is so much pressure in high school that being in a relationship is what defines you and completes you as a person. Definitely not the case. I promise, even though it’s hard to see others in relationships, being in a relationship is not what makes you complete. It’s completely fine to not be the girl bouncing from relationship to relationship.

Explore your true passions.

If you do have in mind a career you think you might want to pursue, contact someone that you know who works in that field. Typically, people are more than willing to show off what they do at work on a typical day and what the job entails. And if you aren’t interested in exploring a possible career just yet, explore things that you are interested in or already involved in even more! If you have always loved horses, look into taking horseback riding lessons, if you are already involved on your dance team and want to do more involving dance, look into opportunities to teach dance.

Concentrate on your GPA, learning how to study, and how to use a planner.

I’ve had several people ask me about what they should work on in their early years of high school. While it’s great to start thinking about what kind of career you would like to have, it’s nowhere near time for you to start deciding on exactly what you want to do. Instead, at this point, concentrate on having and maintaining a good GPA, learning study techniques that work for you (I have a post about my favorite study techniques here if you wanna check it out) and learn how to use a planner. These are skills that will not only help you in high school, but give you a huge advantage when you get to the college level.

Look into opportunities to volunteer.

For those of you that are freshmen or not quite old enough to get a job, look into opportunities to volunteer. Especially if you are wanting to have something to build your resume for when you do start applying for your first high school job and start filling out scholarship applications, it’s a great thing to have to reference. Having actively volunteered gives you a leg up for your first job, especially since every company seems to be looking for prior experience.

Find yourself.

I know it’s the typical cliché go-to-answer on what to do in high school, but finding yourself is truly important. High school is the time where you can explore many opportunities given to you, such as clubs and organizations through your school, sports, volunteer opportunities, and so much more. Find what you love and what clicks for you, whether it’s on or off campus.

Don’t let your insecurities get the best of you.

I struggled immensely with many insecurities in middle school and in my early high school years. While yes, there are still things I am insecure about, my insecurities truly got the best of me at ages 15 and 16. I still had braces, didn’t have all of my adult teeth yet (yes, awkward, I know), was super pale, felt too tall for my own good, hated my nose, wished for darker hair, wanted smaller feet, and felt that my long build made me look too stringy. And while those insecurities still come creeping back to this day (aside from the teeth stuff, that’s all good now), it no longer cripples me with fear that my insecurities are the only thing the person I am talking to is noticing. Never allow your insecurities to keep you from feeling confident and meeting other people.

You lose friends and you gain friends

While thankfully I never personally experienced a falling out with a friend, I did learn that some people really do just come into your life for a season. Those friendships are something that you should appreciate just like the friends that you are already planning to ask to be a bridesmaid in your wedding. Everyone comes into your life for a reason, even if things didn’t end well. In the end of it all, you have learned and grown more as a person.

Your “status” in high school doesn’t matter after graduation.

The thing that I’ve watched my fellow colleagues struggle with the most is the transition from their high school self to their college self. It truly is a shock to come to college when no one knows, or really cares, who you are. You have a blank slate and are no longer the nerdy girl or the super athletic guy. And it’s your choice in how you go about “painting” that slate. Get involved in a sorority, find a group for engineers, volunteer with Puppies for a Purpose, or even start a campaign to bring more awareness to mental health and wellness on campus. I promise, things get so much better after high school.

You don’t have to know what you want to do with your life

Having attended a very small school that had preschool-12th grade, it’s amazed me to realize how many of the girls that were younger than me looked up to me and remembered me after graduation. One of the girls approached me the other day and mentioned that she was going into her freshman year of high school and still didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. And the truth is, even in college and beyond we don’t know what we want to do with our lives. In fact, many college students stay undecided for a year or more before they choose a path they want. Whether you are a sophomore, junior, or even a senior, you don’t have to know exactly what major you want and have your life plan ready to go. At this point in time, just focus on looking into careers that match your personal interests and passions.

Don’t rush to grow up and be a “college girl”.

Maybe it was just me, but there were points where I couldn’t wait to get out of the beige hallways of my high school and out into the real world of being a “college girl”. I craved the independence, dorm life, a full schedule, and the nights out with friends. And while all of those things are great and I’ve already created many amazing memories, don’t wish away your high school experience. You will miss the days of not having to pay for all of your groceries or not being the one to sit on the phone with the maintenance company for 2 hours to have someone come fix your shower. You miss the familiarity of friends, family, and neighbors from home that have always been around. You miss the free time that you had that you didn’t realize was there. Whatever point you are at in your life right now, just enjoy it and don’t wish it away.

Find mentors in the people you look up to.

I never comprehended how much I would appreciate my former high school teachers, dance teachers, and other adults in my life until after I graduated from high school. When first semester was a shock and I wasn’t sure how I would balance the things I wanted to do on top of my demanding course load, I immediately knew to message my high school English teacher. She had managed to teach 5 different English classes, get her master’s degree, hand back graded assignments the day after we turned them in, helped her two kids with her homework, husband was away for months at a time doing military training, was actively involved in organizations outside of our school, and still found time to watch a little Downton Abbey. Honestly, even with that list I probably missed several things. I am forever thankful that I had her to go to for advice.

Sometimes mom and dad’s advice is right. And it’s important to listen.

If I had taken the time to write a post like this in high school, this point wouldn’t have been on it. It wasn’t until I got to college that I truly started appreciating what my parents had to say. While maybe I only had that eye opening moment because I was homesick and desperately called my mom for advice, believe it or not, your parents were teenagers at one point as well. And they get it. Your first break-up, a falling out with a friend, doing poorly on a test, the first time you drink too much, and so much more. While they have raised you to do your best and be responsible, we all have those moments. Yes they will be upset, yes you might get in trouble, but in the end, they have been there and are more than happy to give advice.

Your ACT/SAT doesn’t matter once you’ve gotten to college.

In high school, all I wanted was another point on my ACT. That one point was what would lead me to 1,500 more dollars in scholarships. And if I could obtain another point above that, I could get up to 2,700 more dollars in scholarships. It was always just one more point. I spent so much time stressing, taking practice tests, and even attending ACT workshops on the weekends just to raise my score. It always felt like a competition of who had the highest score and even a competition as to who got the best score from taking the ACT the fewest times. And while it does matter in high school if you plan on furthering your education, once you walk into your first lecture in college, your ACT/SAT score no longer matters. That in itself should be relieving!

It’s okay to take a gap year, not go to college, etc.

Yes, I just said that. Sorry to all of the parents, educators, and those that value higher education reading this that are contemplating whether or not my advice is something that they should continue to read, but it’s true. If you want to take a year off and explore more of your interests and save up some money, do it. If you want to start or even complete your education at a community college, that’s wonderful. If you feel that college isn’t for you and you want to pursue real estate and be an agent, more power to you. You don’t have to take the traditional route and go to a four year education. Just find what works for you.

Are you in high school? Do any of these tips apply to you in particular? If you are out of high school, which of these tips do you support and what would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The transition to college is difficult to say the least. From the massive work load, roommates, new found freedoms, homesickness, and meeting new friends to name a few, adjusting to your new environment is anything but easy. In fact, it’s confusing, stressful, and at times completely overwhelming. Once you get used to things, it gets much easier, it’s just getting through the transition period that presents a challenge. I thought it would be nice to share the things that I struggled most with in my transition to college and what I did personally to handle the situations.

seniorsguidetransitioningtocollege

The Workload

Compared to high school, the work load that college brings is slightly frightening. While you are more than capable of handling the workload, it’s about figuring out how to go about it.

  • Manage your time. I was the queen of managing my time in high school, so I thought that college would be the same. Boy, was I wrong. The first 2-3 weeks of school were stressful and had me fearful of what the rest of my college career would bring since it just seemed like so much to handle. Once you get into a routine and figure out how you want to manage your time, it gets so much easier.
  • Go to tutoring and office hours. Along with the freedom and independence that comes with college, also comes a feeling that it’s no longer okay to ask for help in classes you are struggling with. That’s so not the case. Your professors and tutors are there to help you and want you to succeed. They are well aware that the transition to the workload in college is difficult and will be there to give you tips not only on how to succeed with your homework assignments and tests in their class, but also give you pointers on managing your time. Which, if I might add, is always much appreciated.
  • Use a planner. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I preach that you need to use a planner. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my planner and I still scratch my head as to how these people do it without one. Whether you choose digital or paper, fill it in, write down important dates, and refer to it consistently. I promise it will soon be your best friend.

Homesickness

Homesickness is a battle that all freshman deal with. Being away from your family and loved ones that have been by your side for so many years is difficult, especially when you are going from seeing them on a regular basis to once every few months or so. And the truth is, everyone deals with homesickness differently. For me, the biggest triggers to put me in a homesick funk where when I logged onto Facebook and saw that my friends attending the same university had classes together or when I would drive down the road and see a car or truck that looked like my mom and dad’s.

  • It’s okay to be upset. I am the kind of person that absolutely hates showing emotion. In fact, I’m not even one to cry in front of people. When my parents visited over the weekend only three weeks after dropping me off, I had the hardest time saying goodbye and started to cry. The fact of the matter is, it’s okay to cry and be upset. It doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are going through a transition. I promise, it gets better.
  • It doesn’t mean that you don’t like your school. Maybe it was just me, but I entered college with the misconception that if you ever struggled with homesickness, it meant you didn’t like your school. Not the case at all. In my case, it was difficult for me to miss my family and friends from home so much when I loved my new found freedom and university.
  • Personalize your room. I covered my bulletin board with pictures of my friends and family from home. Everything from my dance recitals to pictures at high school graduation. It was always a comfort for me to walk into my dorm room and see faces of the people I know and love.
  • Don’t wallow in your emotions. While yes, I did say early that it is okay to be upset, that doesn’t mean that you should allow yourself to be upset all the time. Go out for ice cream with your new friends on your floor, look into organizations to join, go to the gym, or write. Whatever it is that can take your mind off of being homesick, do it.

Finding Your “Niche”

One of the hardest things for many people in college is finding your niche again. Just because you were the super star of sports in high school doesn’t mean that title transitioned with you to college. And that realization is hard for many people as they make the transition to college.

  • Get involved in an organization related to your major. The best thing to do to meet people that share the same mind-set as you is to get involved in an organization related to your major. Being a marketing major, I have the opportunity to join a business fraternity or even groups for women in business.
  • Do your research beforehand. Before you make the big move to college, do some research on organizations that match your personal interests. Maybe you like to bake, want to find a church, enjoy PiYo and TurboKick, and are interested in the steps it takes to start your own business. If that’s you, then maybe Cupcake Club, a church group, a class pass to your gym, and the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs is for you.
  • Go to involvement fairs. If you don’t know where to start, go to the involvement fairs on campus. Typically they are held the summer before your freshman year during orientation and during the first week or two of classes. They are the perfect way to find a few organizations to check-out to see if you might be interested in joining.

Making New Friends

The hardest thing for me in finding and making new friends was that I didn’t come to my university with a group of friends from high school. Being the only person from my graduating class to come to my university, it was a bit nerve racking at first to realize I didn’t have some of my closest friends by my side. If I’m being completely honest, that is what gave me the push to get out and make friends once I got to college.

  • Meet the people on your floor. One of the most fun things after a long day of classes followed by an equally long sorority chapter meeting is coming back to your dorm’s lounge and seeing familiar faces. When you move into your dorm, introduce yourself to people, even if it means that you are knocking door to door. I promise it doesn’t make you “weird” or “strange”. In fact, when a girl from down the hallway went knocking on doors to meet people, we were excited to meet her because someone knocked on our door. It’s the little things, guys.
  • Join organizations. I quickly joined two organizations within the first few weeks of my freshman year and made some of my very closest friends that way. Since I joined organizations of interest to me, I was able to meet like-minded people that enjoyed the same things I did.
  • Talk to people in your classes. Whether it is someone in your math class or the fitness class that you joined, talk to them. One of my best friends is a girl that I met in my cycling class and I’m forever grateful that I decided to say “hi” to her during my first time attending.
  • Ask people to hang-out. Don’t just sit around and wait for someone to ask you to go to something, be the one to initiate it. If you have gotten to know people well enough that you have their cell phone number, never hesitate to ask them if they want to get coffee, meet in the library to study, or invite them to church.

The Freedom/Independence

Since you are no longer living under your parent’s roof, you have a completely new sense of freedom. No more texting where you are at and checking in throughout the night about your whereabouts and when you will be home and most of all, no more curfew. With this new found freedom comes some responsibility on your end. It is up to you how you choose to manage yourself with this new found freedom you have.

  • Set standards for yourself. Personally, I don’t drink, but I still like to be back to my apartment by 11pm on school nights so that I can get a good amount of sleep before my 9am class. If you are choosing to drink, set a limit on how much you will drink and have a time that you want to be home by.
  • Don’t go too crazy. For some people, the new found freedom they have is overwhelming in the sense of “what will I do first?” Many of the things that people want to do are dangerous for them both physically and academically in that if you go too crazy, you are not only hurting yourself, but could be expelled from the university. Please, please, please do not take advantage of your new found freedom.
  • Have a friend to check-in with. It sounds super weird and a little like you are going back to under your parents roof, but if you feel that you will take advantage of your new found freedom or won’t follow the curfew you set for yourself, have a friend on your floor that you can check-in with to stay accountable. It might be something you only have set in place for the first month of school, but is a great thing to consider continuing after that just in case. When one of my friend’s got into her first car wreck late into the evening on a Friday night, it was great that she had several numbers of people in our dorm to come and help her out!

Roommates

Besides having shared a room with my younger sibling on vacation and with friends during summer camp, I had never shared a room with someone for an extended period of time. It was a major adjustment to me personally to realize that my roommate might be a night owl was I was a morning person, that even if I had the door locked and was enjoying some time to myself she still had a key to access the room, and that we might have completely different expectations of how things would work within our dorm room.

  • Make a roommate contract. I was surprised when I talked to a friend that mentioned that her and her roommate hadn’t written a roommate contract because they are required at my university. Some things that you might want to think about are:
    • Will you allow guests to spend the night? If so, how many nights are acceptable?
    • Will you have quiet hours in your room or times set each week so that both you and your roommate can have some time alone?
    • If one roommate wants to go to bed and the other stays up, will the lights stay on or be turned off, should headphones be worn, etc.?
    • If any noise in on in your room, should headphones be worn? Or even have examples of when headphones are or are not acceptable.
    • Will you be sharing food, clothing, shoes, etc.? If so, set the boundaries of when they need to ask or if they can just borrow the item.
  • Communicate. If there was something that wasn’t covered in your roommate contract that your roommate does that bothers you or that you aren’t sure of, don’t be afraid to speak up. I promise, mentioning it to them won’t make you bossy, mean, or stuck-up. Talking to them now instead of not saying anything about it will help you to avoid any difficulties with them later down the line.
  • Talk to your RA. If something comes up with your roommate and you are unsure of how to handle it, talk to your RA. Chances are, they are someone who had difficulties with a roommate in the past and they also received lots of training so they know the rules of how to handle things.

If you are going to college, which of these tips do you plan to utilize? If you are already in college, is there anything you would add to this list or a point in this list that you think incoming freshmen should pay close attention to? I would love hear about it in the comments below!

Want to check out more posts related to senior year? Click here.