When you are trying to figure out where to live for your upcoming year, you may not realize it, but you are making one of the biggest and most important decisions of your upcoming year. As you approach the end of your freshman year, you have started out on a new path of independence that requires you to be mature and responsible. Choosing where to live this upcoming school year is no different.

 

Some schools and universities require that sophomores still live in the dorms, in which case, you must follow suit. However, numerous schools give sophomores the freedom to choose. This decision usually comes down into three main categories: Dorms, Off-Campus School Sponsored Housing, and Off-Campus.

 

Luckily, for you, I have lived in all three styles throughout my college career, so I have tips, pros, and cons involved for each major aspect of college living.

 

Proximity to Campus

  • Dorms: Dorms are almost always the closest option to campus and your classes, because most schools put dorms on the edge of campus somewhere, so everything is within walking distance. How nice is it to wake up for that 8am class at 7:45 and still not be late?
  • Off-Campus School Sponsored Housing: Generally, this option is still close enough to campus so that it won’t take you long to drive or walk to campus, but still far enough away to not be suffocated by the school and to live “in the real world” a bit. Most off-campus housing options I know of are within a few miles of the school campus.
  • Off-Campus: Obviously, you can apply for an apartment anywhere you want. So, depending on your choice, you can be pretty close to campus, or have a long morning commute ahead of you every morning.

 

Payments

  • Dorms: Most colleges make you pay for your dorm when you pay for tuition, so you never have that looming over your head every month.
  • Off-Campus School Sponsored Housing: These usually act the same as dorms, from my experience, but some schools may offer different payment options.
  • Off-Campus: The responsibility is all on you every month to remember and pay for your rent. Make sure to set reminders so you don’t incur late fees or, at worse, eviction.

 

Amenities

  • Dorms: Almost all amenities (laundry facilities, dining hall, recreational fields, gym, etc.) are in a very close proximity to where the dorms are, so take full advantage of that!
  •  Off-Campus School Sponsored Housing: While most don’t offer as much amenities as dorms, these still usually have basketball courts, laundry facilities, gym, and a park with playing fields in a close proximity.
  • Off-Campus: It all depends on where you live, what the apartment complex offers, what is in the neighborhood, etc. Also, remember that you also have to begin paying for apartment amenities on your own (electricity, water, trash, TV, internet, etc.)

 

Roommates

  • Dorms: With a roommate application form you fill out, chances are you will get a roommate similar to whatever you fill out in your application. That, and since dorms are smaller, you will have a small number of roommates, generally only 1.
  • Off-Campus School Sponsored Housing: I have seen off-campus school sponsored housing programs both do and not do roommate application forms. That, and these generally are “apartment-style” housing arrangements, so you will have 2+ bedrooms, a living and kitchen area, so you will be rooming with 3 or more people per apartment. The most I have seen on a college housing program is 8 students per apartment.
  • Off-Campus: You are responsible for determining your own apartment style, bedroom, size, as well as finding your own roommate. If you are seeking a roommate, I highly suggest interview roommates before moving anybody in on blind faith.

 

Networking

  • Dorms: These are all about networking and socializing with people. Since you are living in such close proximity to every other student in the dorms, it is hard not to make friends, socialize, and make friends.
  • Off-Campus School Sponsored Housing: The style of this housing puts students more apart from one another, so some networking and socializing is lost, however it isn’t hard to still get to know others, especially if you attend the events.
  • Off-Campus: You will be renting out an apartment next to everyone, other college kids, businessmen and women, families, children, etc.

Love is in the air, because tomorrow is February 14th! Valentine’s Day! The Day of Love! … or Single’s Awareness Day! Or to the more counterbalanced individuals among us, it may just be Thursday! Regardless of the holiday you find yourself celebrating tomorrow and who you are celebrating it with, be it a boyfriend, girlfriend, a single friend, or group of friends, cat, dog, fish, hamster, or, as it is commonly referred to as nowadays, being “forever alone” (cheers!) this time of year raises the questions, concerns, (and hormones,) of many a college student in regards to the universal favorite topic of sex and relationships.

 

Let me begin by disclaiming that I will sound like a broken record repeating a lot of the same information pounded into your head many a time already, but that is because our buddy Cupid over here fires his arrows and bolts, never sticking around for the fallout that sometimes carries over from careless actions that college kids falsely believe they are immune from. At the risk of sounding like the ageing RA that sternly wags his finger at you, I have seen it time and time again. So, I decided to team up with our beloved winger archer and tie some helpful hints to the arrows you may find yourself prodded with this year.

 

Cupid’s Arrow #1: Meet the Ugly Green Monster’s Equally as Ugly Relative

Sometimes, students come into college with very little or no experience about their sexuality, so when they hear their friends and peers boasting about their latest sexual conquests the night prior, they may get trailed upon by that obnoxious brute called Peer Pressure.

 

Before we even begin to dive in further here, let me just stop and give a friendly piece of advice: Never Force Anything. Attempting to force friendships usually does not get you very far, attempting to force relationships usually is a sign Cupid had a bit of a cockeyed shot, and attempting to force sex just finds you in a whole world of hurt, both ethically and legally.

 

Unquestionably, we all desire for connection and intimacy, but that should not encourage you to force anything just because “everyone else is doing it.” Mistakes derived from peer pressure can have some unsatisfying and regretful consequences attached with them. Case in point: a very good friend of mine was on a bit of a sexual dry spell, and after a bit of peer pressure from a few of his teammates, he had sex with a girl that he hardly knew and had zero connection with. The next morning, he felt extremely embarrassed over his hasty decision and was ashamed with himself, not to mention it managed to destroy a friendship between him and one of his other friends who actually knew the girl.

 

At the end of the day, it really is okay to take things slow and do things your own way, regardless of what your peers around you say or think. Dr. Seuss said it best when he said, “People who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.”

 

Cupid’s Arrow #2: Welcome to College, Where the Hormones Rage (As Do the Risks)

Okay, so college is all about meeting people, and sometimes these connections create friendships, and sometimes they develop into something more, and when this happens, clothes tend to come off. College kids are notoriously bad at thinking, however, that not practicing safe sex is still okay because y’all are 17-22 years old and immortal. However, you aren’t.

 

Sure, I understand sex feels better without a condom, but I know that it also is not worth an unplanned pregnancy or even contracting an STD or AIDS. This day and age, we are lucky as young adults to have the widest variety of condom choices, including thin condoms that still feel great and keep you protected.

 

Also, guys and girls, always have condoms around ready for use. Nowadays, you can buy condoms that come in small safety packets that keep the condom safe from elements such as heat, being crushed or ripped, or anything else that would weaken most other condoms. This way, you can keep them in your wallets, purses, in the glove box of your car, or in the sock drawer back home. Then, they are always willing and ready to go, just like you!

 

Cupid’s Arrow #3: Person A Meet Person B

By no means is any piece of relationship advice sound and foolproof for every couple in the entire world, because we are all different and we tend to all interact and love others in unique ways. Therefore, in this regard, I have very little advice to give if you are already in a relationship, because you discover what works and does not work as a couple on your own. However, I do have this: Communicate.

 

Communication is still how this world works, the last time I checked. Distance undoubtedly puts a massive strain on any relationship, especially those couples at two different colleges across the country/globe. So be sure to communicate with one another, and trust what the other is saying. Same goes for you couples who attend the same college. Communication is still just as vital. And for those of you single, you know what, that’s cool too. College is a great time to find your groomsmen, not necessarily your wife.

 

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let’s start out the new year with a story, shall we?

 

Once upon a time, there was a recent high school graduate going away to his first semester of college at a university. His orientation day went great, and he signed up for all general education classes for his first semester. Come second semester, he did the same, because whenever anyone asked him what his major was, he would simply say “Undeclared.” Truth is this student did not have any idea what he wanted to declare, or even do with his life. A path moving forward was foggy and full of unknowns. So, fast-forward to sophomore year, he finally declared an English major because he liked to write, so why not? Well… after only a semester of that, he discovered writing was more of a hobby (because writing for deadlines wasn’t that fun.) So, back to square one. Well, Recreation & Leisure seemed interesting and sounded like a fun major! Well, after a few classes and research, he discovered the university only offered it as a minor. So, back to square one. Again. Well, upon going to enter his junior year of college, the student realized he had tied with a small time animation company he often did freelance work for, so he took a shot in the dark and declared a Digital Filmmaking major that required him to transfer schools. But, he finally had a major! Yay!

 

Well, upon [finally] graduating from college 2 ½ years later, he realized that, despite all that work he did and that senior project he completed and that degree he just received, filmmaking just wasn’t his cup of tea anymore either. So, he applied and got accepted to intern at Disneyworld to learn Business, Hospitality, and Leadership as he begins to apply for Master degree programs in Higher Educational Leadership.

 

The End. … well, not really.

 

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this fun little trip down memory lane is about yours truly and underlines one very difficult part of the college adventure for many students: What Major Should I Declare?!

 

It may seem like everyone but you have declared their major and already know their career choice, including their 5, 10, and 20-year plan within the first few weeks of college. And, for some students, it’s true: they already know exactly what they want to do. But, for a vast majority of students, the process isn’t so easy and they don’t know what to actually declare as a major. Half of them probably do not even know what they actually want to do in life. This is perfectly fine! As proof from my story above, it took me 4 ½ years of college and 3 years of being an RA to finally discover my passion in life was helping college kids (like you!)

 

Most colleges and universities give you 4 semesters/2 academic years (or some sort of equivalent) before you actually are required to declare a major. My advice: take every second of those 4 semesters if you feel you really need it! Don’t ever feel left behind just because you haven’t declared a major by the middle of your sophomore year and others have. The first two years of college usually focus on general education anyways, regardless if you are a declared major or not.

 

This brings up a very important point that I found troubled a very large amount of my residents over the years: if you are not 110% sure about the major you are declaring, be very careful about attending a school heavily focused on a particular set of subjects (trade schools generally fit into this category.) These types of schools tend to offer little to no wiggle room for changing your major and general education takes a backseat to their set curriculum. So, if you ultimately ever decide to transfer somewhere else later on, you may find a chunk of credits won’t transfer, so you will have just wasted time and money. If you are not 110% on declaring a particular major, I suggest attending a college/university that offers a flexible schedule that allows you to do your general education credits while also getting to experience similar classes in that major. If you like it enough, then transfer to that school that focuses heavily on it. Definitely speak with college advisors for further guidance if you feel like this may be the case for you.

 

If you are completely at a loss for declaring a major, look at your interests and hobbies as a good starting point. Say, if you love being near the ocean, maybe take an Introduction to Oceanography or Introduction to Recreations class. If you do photography as a hobby, maybe you will discover honing your skills and becoming professional is just for you! Generally, usually two things will happen: either you find out you love this hobby enough to major in it and make a career out of it, or you discover it is just better off being a hobby. But, that is the point of introductory classes, so you can experiment!

 

When you finally do major in something, be prepared for a little bit of a surprise: it is common for schools to add in a few required classes here and there that will have little to do with your declared major. This is because universities want you to try new subjects still, because you never know when that random Geochemistry of Crystalline Rocks class will just sweep you off your feet and away from that Business major you had declared. I have personally seen it happen quite a few times to friends, colleagues, and my own residents.

 

Lastly, something incredibly important to remember that most college students in general don’t seem to realize: Your declared major does not equal your future career! I am the biggest example of this point if there ever was one. While I may have declared and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Digital Filmmaking, I immediately applied and picked up an internship with Disney after graduation to learn new subjects and perspectives in Business, Hospitality, and Leadership on top of my 3 years of experience being an RA to further develop a future career in Student Affairs in a higher educational institution, all of which has nothing to do with the major I declared and graduated in. It is not even close!

 

Choosing and declaring majors is hard sometimes, but also one of the more fun parts of college because you just never know where you may ultimately end up when it is all said and done. Take it from the guy who has taken the adventure. So, go out and experiment, have fun, and let that major problem of yours become a minor one.

That’s right. FINALS.

 

Finals will always be the hardest time of the semester for students because you have term papers to write, tests to study for, projects to create, speeches to memorize, Power Points to recite, the list is seemingly never ending!

 

Now, I certainly wish I could list off ways to make preparing for finals magically easier, but the truth is, Finals are no joke. A lot of hard work and commitment is required to be put into your Finals in order to pull out a good grade. But, as always, there are little snippets of personal experience that I can shed light on that will help you cut a few corners here and there and make the Finals process a little bit less stressful.

 

Eat Right, Sleep Good, & Take Breaks. Simple as that. Eating right gives you proper nutrients and brain power to focus on study those exam questions, sleeping good makes you a lot less stressed and maintain a proper schedule, and taking breaks gives your brain some leisure (because cramming for 9+ hours with no breaks over night with no sleep eating nothing but fast food isn’t healthy, believe it or not.)

 

Whatever you do, DON’T miss the review session. Interestingly, it seems like many of my fellow peers and my residents at Housing seem to think “review session” is synonymous with “Wow! No class, I learned all this already!” I think the exact opposite. I hear “review session” and think “Wow! A window into what the Final is going to look like!” And I am right about 99% of the time.

 

Pay Attention to How Professors Structure Their Class. If all the past tests have been multiple choice, more than likely, so will the final. So prepare accordingly. If there has always been two essay questions at the end of the tests or midterm, more than likely, so will the final. Time to put that essay thinking cap on! Also, listen to when the professor or TA say something along the lines of “This might be a good essay question on the Final.” That is, generally, a pretty good indicator to what the essay question on the Final is going to look like. Personally, I always highlight a giant neon star next to those notes.

 

During Finals, BREATHE. Before I start any final, verbal or written, I remember to take a giant deep breathe and calm down for 10 seconds before actually starting. If giving a speech, those 10 seconds give you enough time to feel a bit more comfortable in front of the audience instead of starting in a babbling mess due to your nerves. Same goes with a test. Take a breather before beginning and then dive in. Starting off calm actually helps your mental state.

 

Ultimately, the truth of the matter is most students find their own way how to deal with Finals that works for them. The above tips are merely tactics that work for me and ways I have found them to be most successful with my Finals schedule. The bottom line: Just try your best!

Operation C.O.U.P.O.N.

 

Managing your money in college is a cardinal life skill that is borderline essential to learn and master during your years in college as, just like so many skills and lessons in college, it will carry with you after you have graduated from college and have stepped out into the real world (you know, that time when those things called “student loan payments” begin appearing at your doorstep.)

 

So, whether you are already a seasoned penny pincher, or are embarking for the first time on this financial quest to find the cheapest alternatives possible, I have compiled a list of tips, tricks, and resources for everyone to help save you a couple of dollars at the cash registers. I like to call it Operation COUPON. It’s cheesy, yet effective.

 

C – Coupons. Do Not Put Too Small a Price on Them!

Extreme couponing is an elusive discipline that probably rivals your Statics and Electricity & Magnetism class in terms of difficulty and time dedication, but what if I told you that couponing while in college really is not as hard as people make it out to be? I see countless residents of mine throw away coupons as if they were nothing more than an annoyance, but there be gold in them there pages!

 

Case in point: When I, a self-proclaimed money miser, needed a new pair of shoes, I paid attention to local retail store sales. When I found a good deal that offered free shipping on any online order, I went on the offensive, finding a 20% off your purchase coupon in the newspaper ads delivered to our Housing program. Next, I went online and found a 30% online order that also took off $15 on your next purchase. Long story short, thanks to two simple coupons, I got me a new pair of Nike Dual Fushions, normally $75, for just under $40 (with free shipping!)

 

Keeping up with the weekly sales at local retail stores and supermarkets, and then combining them with coupons and/or other promotional codes will start saving you money quickly. Sure, it may only be 10 cents here or a dollar off there, but it adds up in the end. Save more money by shopping at cheaper supermarkets too (here is looking at you, Wal-Mart.)

 

If your particular dormitory does not get newspaper ads with the boatloads of paper coupons, then go online! Countless websites out there have printable coupons, such as:

www.coupons.com

www.redplum.com

www.smartsource.com

 

Additionally, when ordering online, Google promo codes for the website you are ordering from in order to save on online purchases. You can find a promo code for just about any website out there that will reward you with anywhere from 10%-40% off your online order.

 

O – Opt for Used Books, and Obey the Law of Recycling Books

If you haven’t noticed yet, textbooks are outrageously expensive and school bookstores tend to juice you more than any other store known to mankind. So, if you don’t feel like withdrawing your entire life savings in order to buy one semester worth of books, follow these simple moneygrubber methods:

 

METHOD ONE: Try to find someone who took the class last semester and see if you can simply borrow their book, or at least buy it from them (guaranteed to be significantly cheaper than the bookstore.) A lot of the time, students will place flyers on bulletin boards around the dorms or on campus letting other students know what books they are selling.

 

METHOD TWO: Check the library. Many campuses have the textbooks available there, and while you cannot normally check them out, you can at least do your homework. An hour at the library two times a week sounds a lot better than spending $250 on that Critical Approaches to Ethical Theory textbook.

 

METHOD THREE: If the above two methods aren’t quite working out, or are not exactly your cup of tea, then order online. Websites like www.amazon.com or www.skyo.com are always a good way to save on buying textbooks. Also, little known fact, buying older versions of your textbook is much cheaper, and the changes between versions is usually so small you can’t hardly detect them with a microscope. In addition, also order an international edition of your textbook. They are almost the exact same book, the only difference being a few foreign words or characters sprinkled in here and there. International edition of textbooks are always exponentially cheaper. And, if you use one of those aforementioned promo codes on your online order, your $175 textbook is suddenly $20!

 

At the end of the semester, sell your textbooks to other students or online (www.bookscouter.com is great for this.) Just, whatever you do, don’t sell them back to your bookstore because the profit you make from them probably won’t even buy you anything off the dollar menu.

 

U – Utilize Student Discounts for Computers & Computer Software

No matter how you go about it, computers and the software and applications you will need throughout college is going to be expensive. Nevertheless, there are even ways to cut costs here to make the blow to your wallet a little less penetrating.

 

Primarily, utilize your student discount! Patronize it! www.journeyed.com is the place to go when you are in need of computer software and applications, as it targets towards college kids. A simple verification showing you attend one of their participating colleges or universities (their list is massive, so chances are, you school does) will land you up to 80% off the retail price of the latest software and programs.

 

If you are ineligible for those discounts, however, there are still ways to save a little bit. Purchase Linux software, which is (generally) equivalent to the higher-priced Windows alternatives. In addition, shop online software clearinghouses for other discounted products from all vendors.

 

When buying a computer, decline extended warranties. Assuming you are buying your computer from a reputable manufacturer (Dell, Apple, HP, etc.) and store (Best Buy, Staples, Fry’s, etc.) then your computer is already under the manufacturer’s warranty for at least the first year after purchase anyways. Do spend the extra money for good anti-virus and firewall protection, however. This will keep your computer running smoothly for years to come, and prevent the need to spend money to fix viruses or other issues down the road.

 

P – Practice Practicability

  • If you are living in off-campus apartments, don’t pay for TV. The internet is your television! You can seemingly find every single show imaginable online.
  • Feel like going to the movies? All praise the significantly cheaper matinée!
  • Want to rent something for a night in? Hello Redbox!
  • Have a Wii, Xbox, or PlayStation? A cheap monthly Netflix account is your new best friend! Also available via the mail!
  • Want to read the newest big hit in the literature world? Hey, libraries still exist!
  • Looking for freebie events around town? Pick up that newspaper! It lists upcoming concerts, art fairs, theaters, festivals, art galleries, museums, and so much more, usually free or for very cheap admittance.
  • Need your daily coffee fix? Buy a thermos, and visit the dining hall in the mornings and fill ‘er up! Better than buying your $5 Starbucks cuppa joe every morning.
  • Need a gym? Use your campus gym (memberships are usually free for students!)
  • Want new music? Just do your research about file sharing network programs and their methodology so you don’t find yourself with spyware or other inconveniences.

 

O – Obligate Originality

A lot of the time, you do not even need to spend any money in order to have a good time and enjoy some good company. Be creative in what you choose to do, even if it includes things as simple as a picnic, a long walk with a friend, a pick-up game of football or basketball, board games in your dorm with your roommate, reading a good book, visiting a local river or lake, or even attending the events that your Resident Assistants set up (we love that!) Ladies, forego the salon nails, make it a girl’s night, and do each other’s nails! Sometimes, the simple things are the best.

 

When it comes to decorating your room, you do not need to go out and spend a lot of money. And, as a side note, as Christmas is right around the corner (at the time of this writing, anyways) create decorations for your apartment and gifts for friends and families by using your own two hands.

 

Pintrest. Need I say more?

 

N – Navigate Nominally

When it comes to travel, finding the quickest way from Point A to Point B is also going to be the cheapest. Regardless if you are traveling short distance, long distance, or even internationally, there are even tips and tricks to getting the best deal.

 

Short-Distance: Carpool. Rather a no-brainer that traveling with friends makes things cheap individually.

 

Long-Distance: If you go to college out of state or far away from home, when it is time to go home for your breaks, you might find yourself wondering how to accomplish that the cheapest way possible. If you decide to go by plane, naming your own price for a plane ticket so that you aren’t juiced is a good way to go. www.priceline.com is great at allowing you to do this. If flying is not your thing, check Greyhound and Amtrak also. Did you know that both of those companies also offer discounted travel rates for students?

 

Internationally: While not exactly feasible for a majority of us, even traveling internationally can be cheaper for students when using www.statravel.com. This website specifically targets students and teachers and gives amazing discount rates for round-trip flights all around the world. I mean, I challenge you to find a better deal for a round-trip flight to Paris for only $600.

Alcohol in college- it is prevalent theme in about 98% of any college movie. Epic parties every weekend, tons of beer and alcohol, shots, and hangovers. While movies tend to sometimes over-exaggerate what college is like, alcohol in college is a real issue that, chances are, you will encounter at some point in your college career, if you haven’t already.

 

When it comes to being safe with alcohol in college, there are some steadfast rules that do not need too much elaboration. Just follow the rules!

 

  • If Your Dorms Don’t Allow Alcohol in the Dorms, Don’t Bring Alcohol in the Dorms! It isn’t worth getting kicked out of the dorms just to have a case of beer in your room.
  • Don’t Ever Drink & Drive! Also, don’t get into a car with a drunk driver ever, under any circumstances. It isn’t worth gambling your life or anyone else’s. Speaking from personal experience, it isn’t an enjoyable experience having a friend killed due to a drunk driver.
  • Use “Safe Ride” Most colleges realize that parties and drinking are going to happen regardless of their rules and prevention. So, many campuses offer a “Safe Ride” program where they offer a FREE taxi service to and from the dorms to wherever you are in town. All you have to do is save the number in your phone. Use it!
  • If you are over 21, be careful about buying alcohol for anyone underage.

Now while you are completely free to experiment while in college, definitely be smart about your choices when it comes to drinking. First, make sure to party off-campus. Parties in the dorms usually are highly distracting to neighbors, probably against your dorms rules, and are shut down and can land you in some trouble quickly. Always make sure to have a designated driver or use the Safe Ride program as noted above.

 

Second, know your limit and maintain control of yourself. This may be hard to discover if you are a first time drinker, but you will feel a change in your body, way of thinking, and personality. If you feel yourself to begin to act outrageous, and do or say things that you regret, then it is probably a good time to put the solo cup down. It is always best to have friends around who can look after you as well.

 

If you find yourself struggling to overcome a growing tendency of drinking, you may be growing an addiction to alcohol. Matters such as these are serious, and need to be addressed quickly, regardless if it is with yourself, your roommate, or a friend. I don’t know of any college campus that does not have some sort of place where you can seek help with this type of issue and work on getting you back on the right track. If you feel you need it, never hesitate to seek the help you need. Drinking is never worth destroying your college career, or your life.

Going off to college brings with it an obvious amount of newfound freedom including the sudden ability to eat whatever it is you want and buy whatever it is you want, which means that suddenly all of that junk food that you were most likely forced to eat in moderation back at home becomes readily available 24/7. And, unless you are a college athlete with a consistent workout schedule, sometimes it can be hard to create an exercise routine. What is even harder: staying motivated to eat right and exercise.

 

The “Freshman 15” is a term that a majority of universities and colleges refer to as the general weight that college freshmen will gain during their first year of college when healthy diet and regular exercise are thrown out the window in favor of the not-so-healthy alternatives. Luckily, according to several different resources including studies by Cornell University and the University of Guelph as cited in The Freshman Survival Guide, the Freshman 15 is different for everybody. Some may only gain a few pounds; others maybe will gain more than fifteen. You may even be like me during my freshman year and actually lose weight! The point is everyone’s body is different, so adjusting to the college lifestyle will take a toll on everyone’s body differently too. Nevertheless, here are some universal tips and tricks when it comes to staying healthy throughout your college experience regardless if you are a health nut or a Red Bull junkie.

 

Eat Right

Eating right can be difficult in college, especially when everyone’s favorite college delicacy, Top Ramen, is 58 cents per pack while buying the healthier food options seems to add up to more than your college tuition. And The Freshman Survival Guide said it best when they stated that “dining-hall eating is more like eating at a restaurant (not always a five-star) for almost every meal.” Fortunately, there are easy ways to make slight adjustments to your eating habits that make for overall healthier results.

 

  • Eat three meals a day! It may be hard to eat breakfast when you are rushing out of your dorm to get to your 8am class, but grabbing a granola bar, piece of fruit, or even dry cereal helps you from overeating during later meals and also provides brain food during those early mornings before lunchtime.
  • Snacking can help to keep your appetite in check! This one comes with an asterisk- by snacking I don’t mean an entire bag of Doritos between lunch and dinner. Snacking moderately on something light and healthy actually helps keep you going during the day and lowers your appetite with those bigger meals. Personally, I have a bag of trail-mix for such a purpose. A handful here and there between my meals does wonders. Other snack ideas may be yogurt, pre-cut fruit, or string cheese.
  • Balance Your Food Groups! We aren’t saying to never indulge in those 3 slices of pizza on a Friday night when kicking back with your buddies. Just don’t eat it every day. And when eating at the dining halls, try your best to get a good balance of dairy, grains, fruit, vegetables, and protein. Don’t go for the cheeseburger & fries every single meal.  A salad never hurt anybody.
  • Some colleges provide special kitchenette areas in the common areas of their dorms, or have apartment style Housing with a full kitchen available for cooking. A quick Google search will find you easy college recipes that will not break the bank. A common website frequented by myself and one I share with my residents at the beginning of the school year is www.supercook.com. It allows you to enter in the ingredients you have, and pops out a meal you can make using those ingredients. Pretty nifty!

 

Exercise

Staying active while in college is very important. Regular exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but also increases mental alertness in class, clears your head, keeps stress at bay, and helps you sleep better every night. Personally, I treat exercising and going to the gym like an additional class that I cannot skip, and I almost always work out with a friend in order to keep my motivation high. Most colleges offer a free or discounted gym membership with tuition, so take full advantage of it! But, if the gym isn’t exactly your scene, there are still some other strategies to staying active:

 

  • Walk or bike to class! Depending on your class schedule and size of your campus, this could easily add anywhere from 20-60 minutes of exercising every single day! Also, take the stairs in your dormitory instead of the elevator when going back to your room.
  • Join a fitness class or an intermural sports program. These are generally always free with tuition as well and are fun ways to get exercise with friends!
  • Some people may enjoy doing workouts in the comfort of their own dorm, which is perfectly all right too! An awesome website I share with my residents is www.gainfitness.com/strength. It allows you to set how long you want to work out, the type of work out, and set a fitness goal, and it will crank out an entire workout for you that you can do completely in your dorm room.

 

Sleep

Sure, between the late night study sessions and last minute homework assignments at 3 in the morning, sleep can be a scarce thing for any college kid. While sometimes our all-nighters are born out of necessity and cannot be avoided, try not to make it a habit of it. Lack of sleep can reduce brain function, bring on physical and mental fatigue, make it difficult to concentrate, and produce killer headaches (not to mention a crabby mood.) Try your best to stick to a sleeping schedule, preferably one that allots for 6 or more hours of sleep a night. And, obviously, avoid eating or drinking anything before bed. Especially caffeine.

 

Relax

College is no doubt a stress fest, but having down time is also essential to staying healthy. I make it a point to always find time to relax and have fun with friends on a regular basis. Yes, while grades are incredibly important, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by overworking your brain either. Finding that balance between school, work, sleep, and a social life is difficult, but definitely possible. And once you find that balance, you will find yourself healthier and happier.  Guaranteed.

When it is time to leave for college, one of the hardest things to do is say “goodbye” to your family, friends, your pets, even your bedroom! It can be even harder if you are going to college out of state where a weekend home is not exactly a viable option.

 

For many college kids, leaving for college may not seem like such a big deal when it is still months, weeks, or even days away. However, in reality, it won’t hit most college kids until it is the day that you actually start packing. As you begin to pack away your clothes, your pillows and blankets, games and DVDs, and other personal items that made your room yours, it makes a lot of college kids start to feel sad and nervous about the situation. And that is just your bedroom. You still have all of the people in your life to say “goodbye” to. How do you do it? How do you cope with all of those emotions you are probably feeling?

 

Have One Last Outing With Your Friends: Do yourself a favor and don’t wait to do all your packing the day before you leave. That way you can spend your last day in your hometown with your friends doing whatever it is you all love doing. Most importantly, don’t focus on it being your last day, otherwise that is all you and your friends will find yourselves focusing on and it won’t feel as genuine as it usually does hanging out with them. Focus on spending another great day with your friends. It isn’t time to say goodbye until the end of the day when you have to go home.

 

Guys, It Is Okay to Cry: Okay guys, I was a tough 18-year old guy leaving for college at one time too, so I get it. You have this masculine principle that “Guys Don’t Cry” to uphold. Well, from one guy to another, what if I told you that it is okay to cry? I’m not afraid to admit that the day my best friend and I had to say “goodbye,” he and I both cried. It is natural to be going through dozens of emotions, and you would be amazed how crying actually helps to convey these pent up feelings. Because before you know it, you and your friends will have cried yourselves into smiling and joking about the situation, and it makes it that much easier to deal with the circumstances. Guaranteed.

 

Don’t Say “Goodbye”: This is something I found myself doing after my freshman year of college when it was time for me to go home for the summer. Instead of saying “goodbye” to all my friends, I simply said “I’ll see you later” or “I’ll see you soon.” Sometimes “goodbye” just sounds too gloomy and melancholic, but saying “I’ll see you later” is somewhat of a casual promise that you will see each other again soon.

 

Do Not Go Home the First Weekend: This is touched upon in The Freshmen Survival Guide and it is a point that I completely agree with 100%. You may be feeling lonely and/or homesick throughout your first week of college (which are completely normal feelings to be experiencing, by the way.) Nevertheless, resist the temptation to go home during that first weekend. While it may help to alleviate some of those feelings for the duration of the weekend, it will make returning to your dorm on Sunday night even harder. Instead, stay on-campus, find some programs or activities that your school is putting on, and go to them! There is always something going on during the first weekend. This is your chance to try new things and make new friends! In turn, it will help to make college your home away from home.

 

“Goodbyes” are never easy, and even though you will be sad, nervous, and afraid to leave your home, family, and friends behind, just know that college is going to be one of the best experiences of your life. And even though you may be on a completely separate path in life then your friends back home does not mean they still won’t be your friends when you all come home over Winter and Summer Break. After all, truly great friends are always difficult to leave and impossible to forget.