Have you ever heard someone say they work best under pressure?  College students around the world believe that they produce some of their best work when they complete the assignment at the last moment.  Although they have been able to produce an assignment that meets the requirements of the assignment, it can be argued that it is not their best work.  Your best work will include work that you have provided adequate time to think about and examine, one you have taken your time to complete, one you have reviewed, and one that you confidently feel has received the best you could give.

 

Here are more tips on why you should avoid procrastination and get a jump start on studying and writing papers.

1.       Give yourself enough time to develop your idea.  You will want to birth your idea for the assignment and then provide adequate time to nurture, develop, and grow the idea. 

2.       Give yourself enough time.  Waiting until the last minute puts you at great risk to run out of time to work through your complete thought, all parts of the assignment, or review time.

3.       Give yourself flexibility in case of an emergency.  Anything can happen when it is crunch time to complete your assignment.  The fire alarm could sound, your computer could crash, or you could become ill.  Waiting until the last minute to start or complete the assignment could put you in a bad position if an emergency does occur.

4.       Give yourself enough time to ask for help.  What happens if you sit down to start the assignment and you do not understand the assignment or need direction. Waiting until the last minute will not allow to time to follow-up with a professor or maybe even reach out to a classmate.

5.       Give yourself peace of mind.  Waiting until the last minutes creates anxiety and undue stress.  The assignment is stressful enough, adding time constraints does not help with easing the discomfort of the assignment.  Take your time and allow yourself time to come back and review things with a clean and clear train of thought and not one that is full of stress. 

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As we settle in for the start of another academic year, it is important to reflect on what went well and maybe not so well last year. We are all life long learners, inside and outside of the classroom. Learning from past experiences is the best way to improve yourself and continue to grow.

Here are three ways to get the school year started on the right foot:

1. Set goals

Setting goals is a great way to stay on track throughout the school year and achieve success. There are many goals you can set for yourself and they don’t necessarily have to be GPA related. Maybe you realize you were extremely sleep deprived last year. You can set a goal for how many hours of sleep you want to get each night and organize your days better so you can get plenty of rest. A goal like getting more sleep has a positive ripple effect on many aspects of your life, including improved memory and learning abilities. Maybe another goal could be exercising a few times a week. Often, when we are busy, we forget to prioritize our body’s health. A goal like exercising more enhances your mood and energy levels, which can help you in your academic year. These are common goals we all likely share, but I challenge you to think outside of the box when it comes to goals. What are objectives, specific to you and your studies that could help do better this year? Identify a weakness you have or something you would like to develop. Then, think about how you can work on bettering yourself while staying motivated. For example, maintaining friendships can be challenging, especially when you are on a demanding academic schedule. A goal could be to keep up with friends more often this school year. Whatever your goal may be, be proud of yourself for aiming for bigger and better things!

2. Create a Schedule and WRITE IT DOWN!

Yeah…yeah… yeah… we all know schedules are good. But Hey! Do not ignore this tip. This is the best tip of all tips! No, really. Studies show that writing down to-do lists has remarkable positive effects on your brain. Staying organized is the key to academic success. You can be a brilliant person, but if you can’t keep track of all the due dates and responsibilities you have, then it means nothing. You are no longer in high school or middle school where teachers write the homework on the board each day. This is college. You likely have several courses with various endless due dates. Write it down. You can do this in a planner, a calendar or maybe daily to do lists. Whatever organizational style floats your boat – just as long as you are writing things down. Your brain isn’t superhuman. We all forget things; so don’t rely on your brain alone. Your philosophy professor is not going to accept “I forgot” as excuse for missing the paper deadline.

3. Get Involved

Become better connected with your school and campus by getting involved with student activities. You can meet new people while boosting your resume and doing something that you love! Campuses have various student organizations such as Greek life, service trips, volunteer groups and intramural sports. College may be the only time in your life when you are able to go on a weeklong service trip – so seize the opportunity and do it with your peers during spring break! Maybe you played sports your whole life and you are really missing it now that you are in college. Look into what your school has to offer because there are plenty of club and intramural teams available to you. If you are interested in a career in TV production, maybe your campus has a TV studio where you can help out. Getting involved helps make college feel like home. You truly do meet great people by getting involved outside of the classroom. The extra curricular activities I participate in have taught me what career path I want to go on, more so then my classes have taught me. Take advantage of opportunities sitting at your disposal on your campus.

Dun… Dun… Dun…. (probably) the most dreaded moment of your high school career has arrived… Standardized testing. AH! Your teachers, parents and friends have been talking about it for years and it’s probably stressing you out. Unfortunately, there is no study guide that will help you get a perfect score and there is no secret formula to absolutely blowing the test out of the water. BUT there are a few things you CAN do to score higher on standardized testing.

Here is one secret that more people should know: The SATs and ACTs are becoming increasingly irrelevant to many college admissions processes. Yes, I said it: irrelevant. Many schools are now test optional, meaning that you do not have submit your tests scores. Even schools that do require an SAT or ACT score are recognizing that standardized test scores provide a less prominent role in admissions decisions than in pervious decades. So, deep breath fellow scholars, standardized testing is not a matter of life and death. However, for those applying to schools that take into account testing scores, here is some advice that can help you battle through this stressful process with grace:

1. Pick the test that caters to your skills

The SAT and the ACT are very different. Some students excel on the SAT but not so much on the ACT and vise versa. Take a practice test of each and analyze which test format better fits your learning style.

2. Take practice tests

This is not like your average midterm exam. You cannot simply review and memorize the material taught in the last few sections of the textbook. Instead, it will be helpful to become familiar with the test format. The time constraints for each section and the question carefully worded to require critical thinking, are pretty unique to standardized testing. Knowing what to expect is half the battle.

3. If possible, use test prep services

Educational centers like Princeton Review and Kaplan offer courses to help prepare students for the SATs or ACTs. These classes can review material that commonly appears on these tests. They also provide strategies on how to deduce the correct answer. If this option is financially viable, I highly suggest taking advantage of it. If not, don’t fret. There are books that you can rent or buy that cover the same material as these courses. There are online resources available, as well! See what services your school offers to help students prepare for these tests. Sometimes, they incorporate practice tests and tips into curriculum or host test review sessions after school hours.

4. Take care of yourself

At the end of the day, you can spend endless hours preparing for these tests, but it means nothing if you are not well rested. Getting enough sleep and eating a good meal before the exam is key to full brainpower and your ability to focus. Also, remember that it is not the end of the world. If you feel too stressed, you may sabotage your own ability to succeed. As always, remind yourself that this test score does not define you.

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Whether you’re accepted to your top school, waitlisted, or having doubts, here’s how to deal, and what to consider, for each scenario. Here are three important mindset mantras:

  1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
  2. College is What You Make it
  3. Doubts Happen

 Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you got rejected or waitlisted from your dream school, you may be thinking: Why didn’t I study harder? Why didn’t I prepare for the SATs more? Why didn’t I take that AP course? However, I want to point out that there are a million valid reasons why you did not do each of those things.

You and I, we are not superhuman. We have other priorities in life that are more important than becoming a slave to schoolwork and the SATs or ACTs. For instance, taking care of yourself should always be a main priority. Some nights you need to go to bed early instead of adding another hour of studying. Some nights you need to relax and hang out with your friends instead of getting a head start on that next paper. Other times you may have a sports practice, student council meeting or work that prevents you from dedicating all the time in the world to studying. These are healthy priorities. It could become unhealthy and concerning if your only focus in life were to form the best college application out there.

Applying to college is an accomplishment within itself, so kudos to you for wanting to pursue a higher level of education. A rejection letter or wait-list notification does not define you or your intellectual abilities. Maybe those schools aren’t even the right fit, so trust the process. (Please tell me there is a Sixers fan somewhere reading this).

College Is What You Make It

Accepting the reality of not getting into your top school or not being able to financially afford your favorite school is challenging. It is okay to grieve the loss of this plan you had in mind, but try to remain positive. Simply put, college is what you make it. Students who have an open mind and are involved on campus truly enjoy the experience, even if the school they attend was not their first choice. See chapter 18, “Get Involved…but Not Too Involved” to figure out how to navigate all the opportunities your school has to offer.

No school is going to paint the perfect college experience for you. It is impossible for a few buildings with a sign that says “Blah Blah College” to accomplish all your hopes and wants. College is an experience, not a destination. You form a positive experience through interacting with new people and investing time and effort in your campus. Old folks reflect on “college glory days” because of the people they met and the memories they made. College isn’t the good old days because someone got accepted to their dream school.

What you put in is what you get out. If you are miserable on move-in day because you had your mind set on another institution, then chances are you are going to be miserable for quite awhile. It is important to note that nerves and homesickness are normal feelings that will likely improve with time. Chapter 5 offers ways to combat homesickness. Nevertheless, if you keep an open mind about making the school your own and your home, you will find it easier to make friends, enjoy your classes and get better acquainted with the college.

Doubts Happen

Give the schools you are considering more than one chance. Here’s a personal anecdote to show you that a making a huge decision, such as which college to attend, is not always plain and simple.

(Don’t try this at home): I visited two schools five times EACH, before choosing which college I was going to attend. Yes, you read that right. That is ten college visits between two schools…. Not to mention the other universities I toured. Bless my parents’ and siblings’ souls for accompanying me on those visits. Anyway, you might think I am crazy, but I learned something very important on the multitude of visits.

I discovered that the perfect school does not exist. You can pick any place apart and point out countless drawbacks and cons. A college becomes a home only when you make it your own. When you get involved in activities that you love, you begin meeting people with similar interests and priorities, which make it an enjoyable environment. So remain patient if you did not experience love at first sight with your school.

It is normal for your mind to wander into the thought, “what if I chose another school?” Those thoughts may pop into your head frequently during the transition from high school to college. Lean on your friends and family who can talk you through these nerves and be patient with the adjustment. If you are truly unhappy and considering transferring, chapter 28 can help you decipher what path to take.

Let’s revisit my journey of picking which college I wanted to attend. After my 500 visit days (sarcastic number estimate that is not unfortunately not too far off), I finally had to sit alone with my thoughts. Which college could I picture myself attending more? Which school has the best program for my major? Can my family and I take on those financial loans? Is this school too far from home? Is that school too close to home? I was overwhelmed.

Everyone told me to write a pro and con list for each school. I rolled my eyes and laughed at my guidance counselors and family when they suggested that option. Then I tried it and realized it is actually a solid idea. Emotions get jumbled when you try to rack your brain for the answers, so writing your thoughts down on good old pen and paper help. I suggest you try it if you are torn between a few schools.

The moment that I knew which school I wanted to attend was when I truly examined how I felt as a visitor on each campus. I realized that at La Salle University, my school, I felt important as a visitor. People genuinely cared about my interest in the university. Students spoke with enthusiasm and passion about their campus. Faculty took the time to introduce themselves and help me understand what the school can offer. Overall, I got the sense that everyone was happy to be there. This academically and emotionally supportive environment led me to choose La Salle.

So when you have doubts, try to remember that no school is the perfect school and that you have power and control over your experience. The months leading up to college probably evoke a sweaty mixture of fear, nerves, and excitement. Embrace those feelings because they are to be expected of such a monumental life change. This book, the Freshman Survival Guide, is a resource to help alleviate those feelings of the unknown college beast. You can also reach out via the “ask the iRA” section of this website for more personalized assistance. Personal questions can go to ra@nullthefreshmansurvivalguide.com or public questions can be made in the comment section of any blog.

As you face these stressful months of acceptance letters or rejection notifications and the soon to be decision deadline, remember:

  1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
  2. College is What You Make it.
  3. Doubts Happen

The team over here at The Freshman Survival Guide is rooting for you and hope you find your home away from home.

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Hollywood makes college spring break appear to be the epitome of party life. Movies depict a carefree, weeklong, tropical vacation with twenty of your closest friends. For college freshmen, this Hollywood phenomenon may give off the wrong impression of the typical spring break experience. Unfortunately, it often means a full week of work or studying for upcoming midterms. It is important to find the perfect balance between relaxing and enjoying your break, while also preparing for upcoming assignments. Here are five ways you can have a fun and productive spring break:

  1. Sleep

Okay, so this may seem very obvious. However, it is easy to get carried away with the excitement of spring break. Maybe you plan to visit your high school friend’s college because they are not on break. Maybe you try to line up several hang out sessions with all of your home friends. And maybe you overextend yourself and set up a full week of work. Whatever you end up doing, one week flies by. So make sure you schedule in time to sleep and recharge your batteries.

  1. Hang out with friends and family

You may be tempted to hop in bed and binge watch Netflix shows all day and night, but make sure you socialize too. If you live on campus, college significantly takes away from the amount of time you get to spend with family and friends. So use spring break to reconnect with the supportive and positive people in your life. The time you invest hanging out with your family or catching up with old friends can help make your break productive and fulfilling.

  1. Create your own staycation

A cheap and easy way to have fun over spring break is to create your own “staycation”. In other words, plan a vacation at home. You can try new things in your area such as paintballing, going to the zoo or taking a hike. A staycation could even encompass a movie marathon of your choice. Grab some popcorn and snuggle up to enjoy a day of your favorite flicks. The important thing is to relax and enjoy a break from the typical routine.

  1. Organize

Whether it’s your dorm room, study schedule or exercise plan, break is a great time to get organized. When it comes to midterms, time-management is key. It is impossible to properly prepare for five midterms in one week of time. Attempts to do so may lead to stress eating, sleep deprivation, mental breakdowns or the simply “I give up phase;” none of which translate well for your health or your grades. Planning when to study for an exam or when to write a paper is crucial. If you don’t plan, you may put all your energy into one midterm and cause your performance on the subsequent assignments to suffer. Buying a planner or making daily to-do lists are great ways to stay on top of your responsibilities.

  1. Study

Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did, but hear me out. After you catch up on sleep and hang out with your friends, it’s a good idea to view your upcoming assignments. You owe it to your future self to take advantage of the break and study so that you don’t have a major headache when classes resume. You will thank yourself for getting a head start on that monster paper. Oh, and if you are one of the college students that do have midterms after break, of course you should study! Procrastination does not lead to successful results, especially during midterms. Find a sunny spot in your house or go to a local library to set up shop and hit the books.

Spring break can be a fun and refreshing mid-semester pause. It is important for your health that you truly take a “break” from your responsibilities. Going for a walk, hanging out with friends or catching up on some sleep are all great ways to unwind from a hectic semester.

Well I have about one week before I move back into the dorm for my last year as a RA.  I cannot believe I have been in college for almost six years and a RA for five of them.  I guess you could say that I have been around the Res Ed block a time or two.  I have some advice for incoming freshman as they start their journey in college.

 

1. Remember what you are here for

I have lost count on how many freshmen I meet that loose track as why they are at college.  They get caught up with their friends, trying to be popular, partying, drugs, and laziness. College is not like high school.  You are responsible for yourself.  Your RA will not wake you up for class, make sure you study, or get your prescriptions when you’re sick (I had this happen to me this past year).

Take control of your education and be responsible with your choices.  What you do on a Friday/Saturday night may come to haunt you the next day, week, month or years later.  The choices you make now will affect you’re the rest of your life.

Now you are probably thinking wow Kailynn you are getting super deep or why should I listen to this girl? Well let me tell you.  What I am telling you comes from personal experience. I have seen alcohol and drugs cause student to fail at classes, be arrested, drop or most likely fail out of school. I have seen the student who does not study or go to class and those students rarely make it to their sophomore year.

So please remember why you are at college.  Make smart choices.

 

2. Ask for help

I will tell you again college is not like high school.  Your classes will not be easier and you will have to study (gasp).  You may find out that you do not even know how to study since you never had to do it in high school.  Well then ask for help.  Talk to upper classmen, tutor, professors, or your RA.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I had to learn this the hard way and you do not want to learn it the hard way.  Do you want to be the person who failed an exam or the class because you did not ask for help?  When you look back and think I could have passed that class if I went to my professors’ office hour.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Well because it is.

Asking for help does not always end in the classroom. In the dorm your RA is placed on your floor to HELP YOU.  So if you are having roommate issues do not wait till you are ready to murder each other. Bring your RA in.  I have been contacted by roommates who have been having issues since September and now it’s March and they cannot stand it any longer.  And I am always confused as why didn’t you tell me sooner? I could have helped.

So please ask for help. Whether if it is in your classes or dorm.  Talk to a friend, parent, professor, RA or iRA.  They are there to help you succeed in college.

 

3. Do your laundry/Take a shower

I think this point is self explanatory.  Your RA does not want to have the “You smell” conversation with you and neither do you.  It is very awkward for everyone.  Trust me everyone will appreciate you smelling good (and no frebreze does not count as a doing your laundry or showering).

 

4. Experience college life

Sometimes college can be really stressful. So take a break and breathe.  Experience college life. Make new friends, meet new people, join clubs, become passionate about something.  This is a time to grow and find out the real you.  Build yourself to become the person you want to be.

 

 

5. Don’t stress

Stress and college student really go hand and hand. If it is an assignment due tomorrow and you have yet to start, or your roommate’s music is driving you crazy, maybe your parents are hounding you about that grade you got on your biology test but the class average was a 52% and your were just below that average.  Annnd breathe….stress is there but it how you deal with it that makes all the difference.

Talk to a friend, RA, professor, or stranger on the bus.  Take time for yourself is important. Whether it is working out, spending time with friends, playing video games, reading a non-textbook, or just hiding out in your room.

That one class you got a C or D is really won’t make a huge impact on your life as a whole.  I remember when my advisor told me the “D’s” are for degrees.  I pretty much hated my life in one class and that statement really put things into perspective.  I didn’t settle for a D but it made me think that in 5 or 10 years this class will not matter.  I am not saying that you should make this your life motto (remember my first point?) but try not stress over the little things in life and enjoy the ride.

So here are a few points of advice and I hope that you listen and really take to heart what I have just said.  If you have any questions, comments, or would like to add more advice points please do so.  I would love to hear from you.  Oh and I wish all freshman and RAs a wonderful 2013-2014 school year an good luck!

 

-With much love

Kailynn, iRA