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Looking back, you probably thought this day would never come, alas, the season is upon us. We are now in the final weeks of your senior year. The time seems to come so slow, but the final weeks will pass quickly. Before the time passes there are things that you should do before you say good bye to high school and embark on the new challenges of life. Here is a list of things to accomplish:

o Go to Prom. Prom is one of those once in a lifetime events that you cannot go back and redo. Some may not be into the primping, pomp, and presentation that comes with Prom, but you should still go. Be yourself, go with a friend if you do not have a date, and if you are not enjoying your time there you can leave.

o Do not skip graduation. Again, this is another once in a lifetime event. You will only graduate from high school once. This is the time to celebrate you and your successes, you may not believe it, but not everyone makes it to this point in their life and it truly is an accomplishment that you should celebrate.

o Get a yearbook. Again, one of those things that you may not care about now, but 5, 10, or 20 years from now it will be nearly impossible to get your hands on a copy. You tuck it away and bring it out later, because there is almost always a time that you will reminisce on high school and having a yearbook is necessary for memory lane.

o Connect with people you would like to stay in contact with after high school. Get their phone number, email, and social media handles. The friends you know in high school, will not be the same people you know after high school. There could be people at college that you meet from high school that you never knew, but you now have two thing in common; you are from the same town and went to the same school and have now ended up at the same school.

o Thank your teachers. Wrap up the year with a quick thank you note, graduation picture and even a gift. Your teachers have been there from the beginning with the goal of getting you to this point, so why not thank them and let them know how much you appreciate them helping you, developing you, encouraging you, and pushing you to this point. Don’t think about just this year or semester or even school. Think back to elementary and middle school. If there were teachers (coaches, guidance counselors, or principals) who impacted you, let them know. Teachers do not hear it enough and everyone love to be appreciated. Lastly, you think this may be the last time you will see them, but it may not be. You may need a letter of recommendation, complete internship hours, or need help with an assignment in college. The relationship is not ending, it is evolving.

o Let people know where you are going and what you are doing. Be sure to let your guidance counselor know where you are going and what your plans are after school. Again, the relationship is not ending it is evolving. There may be an opportunity for you to mentor students in the years to come if they are interested in a similar career path, or attending the same school, or are following in your footsteps. You may be asked to come and talk with a class and share your story, but if you do not share your story then no one will know.

o Work if you can. The best thing you can do is work and save money for your first semester. You will need books, supplies for school and your room, spending money for activities, and of course food. Have as much money saved as possible, because emergencies occur, and you want to be as prepared as possible. Avoiding work your first semester is ideal, because it allows you to get acclimated to school and the demands that it will bring. After first semester then you can consider a job.

o Get prepared for your next chapter. You do not want to wait until the last minute to gather the tings you need for the next chapter after high school. You can start to gather items for your room on campus, save money for textbooks, connect with your new roommate prior to arrival, and if available look at your syllabus so you can purchase books as soon as they are available.

o Celebrate your accomplishment. Go somewhere, do something, buy something memorable. Do something that YOU would like to do. Talk to your parents and figure out affordable, feasible, and approved ways that you can celebrate your accomplishment. For some it may be a trip, it may be a car, a spa date, a laptop/gadget, or it could simply be dinner at YOUR favorite place, or your favorite meal prepared by grandma. It does not have to be anything extravagant; it should simply be about you celebrating what you have worked for 12+ years to do.

o Spend the last few weeks with family, friends, and significant others. Taking the time to spend with important people in your life is critical. Your graduating affects everyone around you and anxiety levels are pretty high. Your siblings are nervous about you leaving home and what the family dynamic will look like without you. Your parents are nervous about you leaving the nest with all the information, skills, and tools that they tried to provide to you over the years. Your significant other is nervous about what the future will hold for you two. Lastly, your friends are nervous about what the new chapter brings, if you will still be friends, and how you will stay connected. This is a lot of anxiety to manage and navigate. Your role is critical to provide as smooth of a transition as possible. You do this by simply giving everyone some of your time before you leave. Allowing one group to monopolize your time will have a negative impact on the others. So, figure out a way to give some time to everyone before your next chapter begins.

o Thank your parents and grandparents. Your success has making it to this moment has truly been a investment. Find a special way to thank your parents and grandparents for te investment they have made in your success.

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Dating in college can be one of the most challenging aspects of the college experience. For some it will be easy; they may have come to college with their high school sweetheart and some may meet their “soulmate”. While for others it may be a bit challenging as they attempt to discover who they are and what they want or maintain a long-distance relationship. Regardless of your status there are a few things that you can do to safely navigate dating, love and everything in between.

There are three rules to take note of when it comes to dating:
1. Be comfortable with who you are. Before you start dating, you want to be comfortable in your own skin, confident in who you are, and know what you have to offer someone. Lacking confidence could make you susceptible to potentially harmful relationships.

2. Healthy relationships do not hurt. If you are in a situation where you are being physically, verbally, emotionally, or mentally abused…LEAVE!! This is a nonnegotiable component of dating! If you are being harmed in any way, you need to remove yourself immediately. Talk to a counselor about your concerns and remember who you are and what you bring to a relationship.

3. Know your intentions and find out theirs. No one wants to be led on, develop an emotional attachment and later find out that their feelings/intentions were not reciprocated. Be honest and up front about what you want and do not want. Just want to be friends; say that. Looking to be in a relationship; say that. Not looking to date anyone; say that.

Dating on campus can be challenging and difficult to navigate, below are a few tips.
1. Find out more about the person. Like their major, extracurricular activities, and friends that have on campus. See if you have things in common.

2. Learn more about the person’s dating history. Do they have a dating history with others the campus, do they have a reputation when it comes to dating on campus, or do they bring any drama to dating?

3. Have fun. Dating should be fun. Go out, spend time together, and enjoy each other’s company. Go out together and as a group to experience each other in both settings.

4. Stay focused. Your goal while in college is to ultimately graduate. Do not allow dating to interfere with that goal. The same goes for working, completing internships, and shadowing. Dating should never impact the factors that dictate your ability to graduate. Your school assignments should not be jeopardized, arrive late or missing classes, and simply not studying (enough) should not be a result of you dating. You want a partner that will encourage you to be your best self and accomplish the goals you have.

Long distance relationships require communication, trust, and patience. Below are a few tips:

1. Set expectations in the beginning. Let your partner know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. If you can only call once a day or visit once a month or want to video chat each night vocalize those requirements in the beginning. Come to an agreement with your partner, so you both have an understanding. Be sure to communication any new expectations should your needs change.

2. You will need to trust your partner. This may be the hardest part of the long-distance relationship. You will not always know where your partner is or what they are doing, but you must trust that they are being honest and doing what they say they are doing.

3. Long distance relationships also require a lot of patience. You will not always get to see your partner. Travelling can be expensive, so the face-to-face interactions will not always be feasible. With technology today, you can make the most of video and phone capabilities and it helps to make the time apart more bearable.

4. Do not let jealousy or loneliness ruin the foundation you have built with your partner. It is hard to see other couples having fun and doing things that you desire to do with your partner. Find other ways and thoughts to occupy your time and mind. Go out with friends, study with classmates, join organizations, get a job, or even volunteer. Do other things to occupy your time until you can reunite with your partner once again.

Dating in general can be very complex, now add in college and possibly long distance. You can imagine all the work that will be needed for relationships to flourish and grow. Use the tips above as a foundation as you explore dating on campus or navigating a long-distance relationship. Talk to family, friends, and professionals as needed as you navigate through the dating world.

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For many of freshmen, their first real-life exposure to Greek Life is when we step onto campus. Until stepping onto campus, you may have referenced Greek life through movies and television. There are reasonably some stereotypes, expectations, and possibly fears or hesitation about joining a Greek organization. Below are things to consider when thinking about joining a Greek organization.

1. Learn about the organizations that are available on your campus (and organizations not on your campus) and see what options you have.
a. You should become familiar with each organization on campus. Learn where they started, what they stand for, and what they offer to their members.

2. Make the decision for yourself. You want to make sure that you are joining the organization, because it is something you want to do and not due to peer pressure or someone else’s passion. You very well could be selected to become a member and your friend may not.

3. Get to know members of the organization. Invite them to lunch, get to know them, who they are and determine if it is someone you would like to spend more time with and develop a relationship with.

4. Think about the commitment. There is a certain time commitment and joining and being a member will be time consuming. Determine if you are able to balance the commitment with your other commitments i.e. school, work, extracurricular.

5. Factor in financial obligations. Greek life will require a certain amount of money. You will need money to join and money for events, activities, and service projects.

Once you make the decision on becoming Greek, there are certain stereotypes that may be true. You will need to work to determine the “type” of Greek you would like to be. Consider assuming a leadership role, determine how you want to service the community, and how you want to make an impact on the campus.

Unfortunately, partying can be negatively associated with Greek Life. You want to be aware of safe partying tips and ensure you and your friends are safe at all times. Below are a few tips if you choose to party.
1. Go with a friend and leave with the same friend. Stay together and be aware of each other’s location at all times.

2. Discuss a plan prior to attending. Have a general idea of when you want to arrive and leave. Ensure you are on the same page with your friend. As the evening progresses, check in and see if there has been a change in plans.

3. Only partake in alcohol if you are of age and if you want to. Do not allow pee pressure to force you into ingesting things you do not want. Moderation is key, binge drinking should be avoided.

4. Only drink or eat items things from people that you know and trust. Pouring your own drink and eating before arriving, will help reduce your chances of someone giving you someone you are unaware of.

5. Make sure you have a fully charged phone. You will want to make sure you have plenty of battery like in case of emergency. You should be able to call your friends, request an Uber, or alert emergency personnel of needed. If you see something, be sure to say something.

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The Spring semester has officially started. You have had a couple of weeks to settle in and now is good time to do a pulse check. Examine how the first few weeks have unfolded; have you started strong, pick up where you left off in the Fall, or do you feel overwhelmed? Whatever you are feeling, it is okay and checking in now can help steer your semester to success.

Have you had a test, written a paper, completed a group assignment? How did it go? Take this pulse check to determine if you need to study harder (or differently), get a tutor, or revise the focus of the group project.

At the beginning of each semester, we have discussed in earlier blogs, that you should write down short- and long-term goals for the semester. Use notebook or a journal to detail things that went well, areas for improvement, accomplishments and defeats for the past semester. Use these to jumpstart your goals for this semester.

This semester, take your goal setting to the next level, find ways to keep yourself accountable. Find out what motivates you and will help push you to achieve your goals. It may also be beneficial to find an Accountability Partner. An Accountability Partner will help you stay on track with your goals and remind you should you lose focus. Consider rewarding yourself for your efforts; perhaps a trip, a new gadget, or a concert. For some students the intrinsic reward is enough.

Every goal requires an action plan. Take time to plan out your goals and how you plan to achieve the goal. You will need to break down into smaller goals, so the bigger goal is more manageable. For example, your long-term goal may be to get an “A” in class, but that can seem like a daunting task. However, setting smaller goals of reading 2 chapters a week, writing one page each day a week before a paper is due, or reviewing notes each week.

Remember a goal without a plan is just an idea. Take this time to assess your progress thus far, don’t get too far into the semester before making adjustments. Find someone to be your accountability partner. Explore ways to reward yourself and to help you stay the course.

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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.

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We are now half way through the semester. Now is a good time to check in and see how things are going.  At the beginning of the semester we discussed short term and long term goals.  Now is a good time to assess your progress and how determine if any adjustments are needed. How are your short term goals shaping up?  Have you been successful in achieving those goals? Did you miss the mark? How about the long term goals, are you close to making the mark?  Did you under/overestimate your projected progress?

If you have achieved your short term goals and are on track to achieve your long term goals, you should reward yourself.  The reward doesn’t have to be big or anything major, it would be a simple treat to acknowledge your efforts and keep you on track to meet the next set of goals.  Think ice cream, favorite dinner, or a movie; a small token to reward your efforts.

If you have not achieved your short term goals and not on track to meet your long term goals, you should begin to evaluate what has happened (or not happened) to meet the marks you set.  Was there an event that prevented you from achieving the goal?  Did you underestimate the time, work, or commitment to achieve the goal? Assess the progress of the goals and determine if you have enough time to revamp the goals, reduce the goals, or increase attention to complete the job.

The same assessment of your goals, should be the same assessment of your studies.  Are you on track to pass your classes? Did you do well and feel confident during midterms?  Are you giving EACH subject the required attention?  Are you spending enough time in the library?  Are you going to your professor to ask for clarification?  Are you utilizing peers, campus resources, and time wisely?

With half of the semester under your belt you should consider how successful you will be in the course.  Asking yourself if you will pass the course, if you should drop the course, or if you have enough time to turn things around.  If you are passing, you want to continue utilizing the system you have in place and seek any ways you can improve in any area.  If you are considering dropping the class, you will need to examine the ramifications of withdrawing from the class. Will this affect your transcript, your grade point average, and length of your coursework completion? If you have enough time to turn things around, look at how you arrived to this point.  What are your study habits? Where can you pick things up?  What can you do differently? Are you utilizing your resources?

Midterms are a time to complete a self-check.  If things are going well, continue on the path and end the semester strong.  If things are not going well, change the course and dedicate more time effort and energy into ending the semester strongly.

It is the second semester of your senior year and it is time to ensure you have things in place to be successfully admitted to a university this fall.  If you have not already applied for a university, now is the time to complete the process and below are a few tips to assist you in the application process.

1.        Be organized.  Take the time to create a file, get a notebook, or organize information on your computer. Being organized will help you to easily identify materials needed for each application and reference when needed.

2.       Know your deadlines.  In your planner, on your phone, or put on the calendar; whatever your system may be, just ensure you know the dates.  Once you know the deadlines, create new deadlines that occur 2-4 weeks prior to the actual deadline. If something could go wrong, it most definitely will when you wait until the actual deadline.  You are asking for your application to get lost in the mail, miss the postmarked deadline, or not allot enough time for your recommendation letter to be received, if you do not allow time for any possible mistakes. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the application requirements, but also leave room for error.

3.       Read the instructions carefully. Yes; almost all universities will require you to undergo a similar process to be considered for enrollment. However, each application will request the information in a different way. 

Be sure to read the information very carefully and ensure you are providing the exact information that is being requested. When your application is reviewed for admission consideration, if you have an incomplete application, do not address the essay question as listed, and do not include all requested documents, your application could be denied.

The application process can be extremely competitive, you don’t want to give the reviewers a reason to throw your application out of the pool.  Complete all sections, include all accompaniments, and thoroughly respond to the essay question.  

4.        Proofread EVERTHING! Take your time and complete your entire application and essay.  Walk away from it! Yes; walk away and come back in 24 hours. Using your fresh eyes, now review all the information you have completed on the application including your name, address, and essay.  Again, you do not want to give the reviewers any reason to disregard your application.  A simple spelling mistake could have an impact on your application.

5.       Gather necessary documents. A complete application will take some time to complete.  You will need the following for your application to be completed:

a.       Thorough responses to all parts of the application.  Ensure each area requesting information is completed.

b.       A well-developed essay. Take your time to develop your main idea, supporting information, and conclusion that ties everything together.  Be sure to answer the question that the application is specifically requesting.  Recruit a second pair of eyes to proofread and provide feedback.

c.       Minimum of three letters of recommendation.  Make sure you formally and personally ask each recommender.  They may require a resume, a list of your awards, and to know more about your career goals.

d.       Proof of income. You will need to work with your parents to secure the requested documents that provide proof of your household income.

e.       Obtain your transcript.  You will need official copies of your transcript. Copies will cost you per copy and require that your account is clear of any other outstanding charges. 

 

Follow these steps and watch the decision letters welcoming you to your new university roll in.  Good luck in the application process.

The summer is winding down and it is almost time to head to school. You’re almost ready, but before you leave for school, you want to ensure you have all of the necessary “tools” to be successful.  As you embark the new chapter in your life titled college, do not become overwhelmed anxiety.  Small bouts of anxiety are normal and using the helpful tips below will hopefully allow you to ease the anxiety and transition smoothly. Below can assist you in creating your checklist regarding the things you need to complete prior to your arrival will help with the transition.

  1. Confirm your orientation.  You will need to know what day you will need to arrive.  Haven’t received orientation information? Giving the Admissions office a call and confirm date, time, and location.  You will also need to confirm is the orientation all day, overnight, and if there is anything you need to bring. Be ready as you could do everything from tor the campus, to selecting courses for the semester, to complete all financial aid documents.
  2. Confirm your housing. At this point you should know where you are living.  If you don’t know at this point, give Residence Life a call and see if your application was received, if you have a placement, and if they know your assigned roommate.
  3. Get to know your roommate.  Most institutions will send your housing assignment with contact information for your new roommate.  Utilize the information, reach out to them and start to build the relationship early.  Become friends on social media, determine a shopping list for your new space.  You don’t want to both show up with two microwaves, fridges, and vacuums.
  4. Start gathering your belongings.  In your housing welcome packet there should be a list of suggested items for you to consider. You can also find lists with a quick Google search. You will be surprised how many items you have when you begin to gather everything.  Start early and gather a small piece at a time, start with books, kitchen items, food, and end with your clothes. Believe it or not, you don’t have to take everything you own with you.  You will be back in 4 months (maybe sooner if your university offers a Fall Break) and you can exchange items and grab things you may need.
  5. Get supplies.  In addition to your usual notebooks and pens, you will need additional supplies as you prepare for school.  Consider laptops/tablets, what device will work best for you? You will have term papers to write, PowerPoint presentations to create, and research to complete. How will you accomplish these task and what tool will be the best to help you accomplish the task? Also, know the tools of your major are you an art student, are you an athlete, are you in theater? Consider the tools special to your trade.
  6. Save as much money as you can.  You will need money for many items such as textbooks that can range anywhere from $50-$200 each for your 6-8 classes. Although you will most likely have a meal plan, you will need food for after-hours meals. You will need to shop for essentials for your room; think shower caddy, lamp, bathrobe, and much more. In general, you will want money just to have in the event you and your new friends decide to go on a coffee run, grab a movie, or hit the popular diner down the street.
  7. Consider transportation.  How will you get to school? Once you arrive, will you need to get around? Some campuses are a brisk five-minute walk, while other require a more calculated transit. If you do bring your car, where will you park it? These are all things that you need to consider when considering if a car will be needed.
  8. Say your goodbyes.  There will never be enough time and this next chapter in your life will move at lightening speeds. Speed time with your grandparents, close friends going to other universities, little siblings, and most of all your parents.  Your transition to college not only affects you, but everyone that has regular contact with you. Do your best to spread your time among family, work, and friends before you leave.

Take time to create your “Off to School Checklist”. The checklist will keep you mindful of the items you need to complete prior to your departure.  Use your resources to ensure you are well-equipped and prepared for this next step in your life. Talk to older siblings, review information provided by the university, read the Freshmen Survival Guide, and use search the internet for other resources available. After you complete this checklist you WILL be ready!