list clip art           With the close of the school year, it’s time to start thinking about your plans for next year. What classes would you like to take or are there any clubs you’re interested in joining? Thinking about these kinds of things ahead of time gives you plenty of time to make a decision instead of feeling like you are under pressure to make all your decisions right away. Sit down this summer and make a bucket list for next year!

In regards to class schedules, try to schedule classes as early as possible. Popular classes get chosen very quickly and you’ll want to make sure you get a spot. If you have certain classes you’re required to take by a specific semester try to take them as early possible. Class deadlines are the same as any regular deadlines-the earlier you meet the requirements the easier you will breathe.

Planning your activities out in conjunction with your class schedules can give you a better idea of how much free time you’ll have after all you want to do. Trying to overstretch yourself can end in you being exhausted and overwhelmed as opposed to feeling engaged in everything you want to do. Keep your schedule as full as you want it, but make sure to pencil in time for yourself as well. Take that rock climbing course you’ve always wanted to, check out that indie theater you keep saying you’ll attend, or go hang out in that coffee shop. Doing something for yourself can help make you feel at peace with the rest of the schedule that you can’t always control.

Whether you make your bucket list on a computer, write it down in a book, or just keep it in your head, having an idea of what you want to do can make your life much less stressful. Planning ahead can help you decide what is or isn’t the most important use of your time. A more thought out plan for the next year can give you more free time and leave you feeling in control. The idea of a bucket list for college might seem silly, but trust me. Checking off your wish list will give you a feeling of accomplishment unsurpassed by anything else.

exercise

It’s no secret that college can be incredibly stressful, especially during the time of finals and thinking about what you’re going to do with your summer. Alleviating this stress is important, and it is even more important that you do this in a healthy way. While hiding in your bed and eating junk food may be tempting, doing that every single day will eventually just lead to even more stress and feelings of depression.

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there: you get to vent your frustrations on equipment instead of people, and the endorphins you receive during exercise boost your mood and concentration! You don’t necessarily have to utilize your university gym to get these effects; you can just start running or playing pick-up ball with your friends. If you do decide to go to the gym, take advantage of all it has to offer. Many university gyms offer swimming pools, exercise classes, equipment for tennis courts or racquetball courts, and a variety of cardio and weightlifting equipment. There is something for everyone, no matter what you’re interested in.

The best way to keep yourself interested and your stress levels low is to change up your form of physical activity. Swimming might be your favorite, but doing it every day can eventually become monotonous. Try doing a dance class or weightlifting class every few days to keep your body and mind guessing. While you might not be interested in working out at first, give it a try the next time you’re feeling stressed. You might find the benefits greatly outweigh the effort it takes to get to the gym.

Finals week is the time of year when all of your good habits like sleeping, eating healthy, and exercising go right out of the window. Most of your meals turn into coffee and a snack, you don’t have the time or energy to work out, and it’s so easy to tell yourself you have to stay up to study and pull three all-nighters in a row. However, this is the time of year that you should focus on your health the most. Your success in finals can be directly traced back to whether or not you ate well or slept at all.

With this in mind, prepare for finals week by making a study plan. Make sure you know when all of your finals are and then you can plan the rest of the week around it. Even though it sounds silly, schedule time to eat, sleep, and get some physical activity. Writing these things down will help you remember to follow your schedule when the time comes, and you’ll be less likely to skip them when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  Additionally, if you are too overwhelmed with finals, remember there are people you can talk to about how you feel. There are mental health counselors, friends, and mentors who are all willing to help you when you need it. Keep an eye out for campus de-stress events as well, as many colleges hold events during finals week specifically to help you de-stress.

Finals week is the summation of all the hard work you’ve put into the semester. Take a deep breath, focus on yourself and your studies and you’ll do well. There is no reason to panic, you’re at the final step and then you’ll be halfway done your freshman year!

Have you gotten involved with campus activities/organizations? Why not? What are you waiting for? College is about growth inside and outside of the classroom. What are you passionate about outside the classroom? What do you like? What do you want to learn more about? The only way you will get involved outside of the classroom is if you venture off and take a chance.  Find out which campus organizations are active on your campus.  You can find this information on the website, in the student activities office, or by asking other student like student governments, classmates, and your roommate.  You will find organizations from intramural sports, to drama groups, to political groups, to special interest groups such as anime, ballroom dancing, and much much more.

Identify a couple of organizations that might be of interest to you.  Find out when they meet.  How? Look for flyers on campus, use the email listed on the student activities website, or follow them on social media.  When they host events; go! When they have a meeting; attend! When they need officers on the executive board; run! This may sound easier than actually doing it, but going is the hardest part.  Once you arrive others will welcome you with open arms, because they want some who is there to support the mission, do the work, and share the same interest.

Are you afraid you won’t fit in? It’s okay and it is normal. Go to the meeting and be yourself.  You will find people that will appreciate you for who you are.  You will not have to pretend, people will navigate towards the natural you. If you attend the event and things are not what you thought they would be stay (know that you do have the option to leave at any time) and give it a chance.  Come back again, you will be a little more comfortable and you will recognize some familiar faces. After giving the experience a fair chance, if you still feel like this is not the organization for you. Go back to the drawing board; choose another organization and try again.  Continue to try and put yourself out there.  You will learn more about yourself, expose yourself to new social situations, and benefit in the long run from the experiences.

As you continue to grow professionally and personally, you will start to realize the importance of giving back to the community where you live and where you come from. Giving back does not have to
be a long labor intensive project, but every little bit helps and counts.  There are offices on campus dedicated to community service and leadership enrichment. In addition, clubs and organizations tend to do an annual community service event each year.  Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and do what you can to give back. Below are 75 Ways to get involved and give back to the campus and surrounding community.

  1. Set up a Help-O-Meter to keep track of the number of hours you volunteer and try to beat your previous number each year.
  2. Organize or volunteer to help at a recognition program for students on campus who participated in community service projects throughout the year.
  3. Volunteer in an office on campus.
  4. Write letters to soldiers.
  5. Make birthday cards for the elderly.
  6. Run or walk in a charity race with friends.
  7. Practice random acts of kindness.
  8. Train for a marathon to raise money for a cause.
  9. Volunteer your talents at a charity auction.
  10. Recognize veterans on campus.
  11. Do something  nice for someone anonymously.
  12. On Thanksgiving, adopt a family for dinner.
  13. Trim Christmas tree with gift ideas for local kids and have people on campus pull from the tree and purchase gifts.
  14. Organize a coat drive.
  15. Organize a shoe drive for Soles to Souls.
  16. Organize safe trick-or-treating on campus for local kids.
  17. Conduct an Easter Egg Hunt for needy children.
  18. Make homemade cards for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparents Day.
  19. Volunteer at the local YMCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, or Boys and Girls Club.
  20. Surprise your parent(s), neighbors, or friends and offer to babysit.
  21. Start a program for students on campus that may need help with food or clothes.
  22. Sponsor a concert in the park; proceeds go to local music charity or program for young children.
  23. Help organize a drive to help meet the basic needs of those oversees. Water, feminine hygiene products, etc.
  24. Organize a volunteer-a-thon against each residence hall; see which hall can volunteer the most hours in a month.
  25. Create a “Give Back” day on campus.
  26. Find a new nonprofit organization and volunteer to help them as they grow and expand.
  27. Adopt an elderly person. Visit them, go for walks, help them with chores around the house.
  28. Read a book during story time at a local daycare.
  29. Cheer up a sick friend with soup.
  30. Call an old friend.
  31. Instead of birthday gifts ask family and friends to make donations to a charity.
  32. Make get well cards for people in hospitals.
  33. Become pen pals with younger students and tell them dos and don’ts for college.
  34. Collect old magazines and donate them to schools or daycare.
  35. Plant a tree.
  36. Start a community garden.
  37. Clean a highway.
  38. Collect unused make-up, perfume and toiletries for battered women in a shelter.
  39. Collect prom dresses for girls in need.
  40. Donate old eyeglasses to an organization.
  41. Collect costumes and donate them for a dress-up at an after school program.
  42. Make emergency kits for departments and students on campus.
  43. Have offices compete against each other to collect money for a good cause.
  44. If you’re good at fixing bikes, volunteer to teach others how to fix their bikes.
  45. Conduct bike safety checks for your neighborhood.
  46. Sponsor an alcohol free homecoming event.
  47. Organize an alcohol free “weekend” pledge campaign on campus. I.e. Homecoming, welcome week, etc.
  48. Recruit people to help paint a mural.
  49. Set up a buddy system for freshmen and seniors in the same major.
  50. Start an anti-smoking campaign to make your campus smoke free.
  51. Make new freshman survival kits for orientation.
  52. At the end of the school year, collect school supplies and start a back to school drive for local kids.
  53. Volunteer for hall council or student government.
  54. Have a party or dance and make a canned good the price for admission.
  55. Recognize outstanding professors and professional staff on campus.
  56. Go door to door in the residence halls and encourage students to register to vote.
  57. Volunteer at a local candidate’s campaign office.
  58. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter.
  59. Donate art supplies to kids at a summer camp.
  60. Make a care package for soldiers.
  61. Clip coupons, become an Extreme Couponer and donate the food to a local homeless shelter.
  62. Sponsor a food drive on campus during Thanksgiving.
  63. Prepare a home-cooked meal for the international students on campus.
  64. Bake cookies for your RA, the custodial staff and maintenance.
  65. Join the local Habitat for Humanity.
  66. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Walk dogs, play with kittens, and feed the animals.
  67. Organize an adopt-a-pet program.
  68. Rake leaves, shovel snow, clean gutters or wash windows for a senior citizen.
  69. Visit a nursing home and teach seniors how to use the internet.
  70. Set up a recycling system for your residence hall.
  71. Clean a local park.
  72. Pick up litter across campus.
  73. Volunteer to clean up the stadium/gymnasium after a home game.
  74. Work to make the campus more ecofriendly.
  75. Challenge each graduating class to donate something to the college to make it better for the next class.

With the holidays arriving, everyone can imagine that feeling of being entirely way to stuffed with food, yet we all somehow mange to eat a piece of pie or have a dish of ice cream. Sometimes, our college lives can get just as packed as our holiday stomachs. From personal experience, I have always had the need to be busy. If I wasn’t busy then I felt like I was unproductive. This semester I took on an incredible load. I was trying to handle three jobs–a clerical assistant job for 3 hours a week, my RA position, and an environmental educator assitant postion for 16 hours a week. As well, I was taking 5 academic courses, which meet for 3 hours a week and the whole 6 hours of studying that accompany each one. I also needed time to sleep, eat, and be sociable. In short, this was just WAY too much. I was a stubborn student and ignored all of the advice from those who care most about me.

I eventually had to withdraw from my co-op (the 16 hour a week job). It was too much to handle with also trying to write my senior thesis. Lesson to be learned: It’s great to be involved and be involved in more than one organization. It’s great to have jobs and take on certificate programs. Just watch how much you take on. You don’t need to stuff your plate SO high that you can’t enjoy it all.

Any questions about  this topic?! Email the iRA team. We’ll be happy to share our advice.

In high school there were a limited number of clubs and activities one could participate in. There was drama club, math club, science club, band, choir, and sports. Of course there were always some other clubs sprinkled in there too, but those were generally the same from school to school. In college, there is a wide range of clubs and activities one could join. Most schools have some sort of “Club Fair” where the various clubs and organizations hold tables and get interested members. This is EXTREMELY important. The clubs I joined as a freshmen are clubs I still associate with today as a senior.

So here is a list of just SOME of the options for clubs and activities on campus. Check out your college resources to see what clubs and organizations are right for you.

If you liked THIS in high school Try THIS in college
National Honor Society Alpha Lambda Delta, National Honor Society for First Year Students
Drama/Musical Theatre Alpha Psi Omega, National Theatre Honor Society OR your college’s Drama Club OR audition for your college’s musicals or plays
Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts/Community Service Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity
Youth Group Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Newman Catholic, Hillel, or whatever organization fits your faith background
DECA Collegiate DECA
Above the Influence Above the Influence (If your college does not have a Collegiate chapter, start one yourself!)
Model U.N. Club Model U.N. Club
Yearbook Yearbook
Newspaper Newspaper
Student Government Association Student Government Association

It’s weird to think that the weekends, a time generally used for fun and parties, can actually be used to get some work done. This is going to be a shocker for some, so hold on to your seats! The key to getting the MOST out of ANYTHING is time management. I am a HUGE stickler for promoting time management, but I guess that’s part of the job as a student/RA/Student Leader in multiple clubs/etc. You need to know how to balance work and fun. While some students can write amazing papers at the last minute and pull multiple all nighters, not ALL of us can do that.  So if you are one of those students who needs time to get his or her work done and still wants to have fun, this post is for you!

The first thing to do is look at the due dates on your syllabi. Write them down! In an agenda, in a planner, in your phone, computer, email account, a word document–however you like. Knowing the date of a big research paper or of a big exam will help you prepare your study and/or research time. After you look at the dates of your assignments, look at a calendar of events set up by a Center of Student Involvement or something similar to that on your campus. Highlight and write down ANY events you want to attend. You may be thinking: How can I attend Club Fair and still get my essay done? The answer is simple: work ahead. Don’t wait until 2 am to write your 8am’s English essay. The weekends can be great chances to get ahead in your work, instead of playing “catch-up” later on.

Now  that I’ve given you a little bit about time management and how to get your work done, here are some suggestions of things to do on the weekends to have fun.

1. Go to a Broadway Musical. Your school will most likely sell tickets at a discounted rate. They will even take you to the show, so there is no worry about transportation.

2. Explore your campus. Ramapo College of New Jersey has a reservation right across the street from our campus so that is a popular place for students to go.

3. Attend a sporting event. Most colleges have football teams (Ramapo doesn’t but we do have a Basketball team as well as Soccer). Go to see a game once in a while and deck out in school spirit!

4. Try the local town’s big festivities. Maybe the town nearby really celebrates St. Patrick’s day. Maybe it’s some other festivity that they go all out for. Explore your surroundings and go out of your comfort zone.

Overall, just enjoy what you do. No one can tell you how to have fun, but we can just suggest things to do. Enjoy the experience of college; it’ll be gone before you know it.