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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.

As you navigate through your career you will soon learn how to make professional connections. Those connections will allow you to collaborate with colleagues, mentor and be mentored, and assist as you navigate through your career.  As a rule of thumb, you never want to burn bridges.  You will learn that your industry, especially within your city and state can be a very close-knit community and you never know if you will cross paths with someone later down the line.   

As you progress as a professional, you will need to apply for internships, scholarships, membership into organizations, applying for graduate school, and seeking professional positions.  One of the things that you may need is a letter of recommendation.  Letters of recommendations will help you distinguish you from other applicants.  The letter will allow readers to paint a picture of who you are and what you have done or accomplished. 

One of the very first professional connections you will establish will be the person(s) you seek for a letter of recommendation.  If you have already identified a mentor, you may already have someone that you are comfortable with and can easily approach to assist you. If you do not have mentor and are unsure who to approach you may have to put more thought into your request.

If you are nervous or unsure who to approach, here are a few things to consider. 

1.       Update or create your resume.  Highlight your accomplishments, what you have done, and you are at a glance. Provide your resume when making the request so the person can refer to your accomplishments in the recommendation. 

2.       Identify a potential list of people to ask.  You may need 3 or more letters of recommendation and they may be required for different reasons.  One to speak on your work experience, one referencing your community service, and one that can speak to your educational aptitude. Consider coaches, professors, counselors and advisors, colleagues, classmates, and former supervisors.

3.       Ensure your recommender can speak to your skills and will have positive things to say.  You do not want to enlist the help of someone that has negative things to say about you, your work ethic, and your ability to succeed in the new capacity you are applying for.  

4.       Provide enough time for the recommendation to be completed. Provide ample time for the recommendation to be completed. 

5.       Know the requirements for the letter.  Make sure you know the required length, if there are specific questions or information that should be included. 

6.       Know the deadline and how recommendation should be submitted.  Some applications will require online submission while others will need to be physically mailed.   

7.       Be prepared to write your own letter.  Some people may need your guidance and for you to jumpstart the letter and they will adjust and add to suite their needs.

8.       Be prepared to hear “no”.  You may select someone that does not feel comfortable completing the recommendation.  The person may not have time or be able to meet your deadline.  The person may not know you well enough.

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Did the fall semester get past you? Were there things that you wanted to do, but did not have the opportunity to complete?  Did you learn about opportunities or organizations when it was too far into the semester?  Spring semester provides another chance to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities you missed in the fall semester.  Each semester offers new opportunities to engage and try new things. If there are things you were unable to accomplish, participate in, or finish, use the new semester as a fresh start. 

Each semester also offers a new opportunity for change.  There will be students who change universities, graduate from school, or rearrange responsibilities due to schedule demands.  These changes will provide possible new opportunities for jobs, involvement, and exposure.  So, do not be afraid to ask about a vacancy, seek membership, or dive deeper into new found passions.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

1.       Attend Rush and learn more about Greek Life on campus.

2.       Visit the Work-Study office for possible jobs

3.       Go to an organization fair and see what options are available on campus.

4.       Talk to a professor or your advisor about opportunities to get involved in the department.

5.       Reach out to a classmate that is already involved and learn about any upcoming opportunities.

6.       Consider local government and run for a position in your classes election.  Help with someone else’s campaign or serve as an election judge.

7.       Apply to be an RA for the fall semester. Applications are due early spring semester and may require a 2 or 3 step interview process.

8.       Read posters and flyers on campus for possible information about events and opportunities.

It is a new year and a new semester.  It is around this time of year when resolutions are brewing and there is an openness to change.  What better time to introduce yourself to something new that you have not tried at the university.  Last semester is done and in the books. This semester think about all of the things that you did not get a chance to explore, try, or do on your campus. College is the perfect time to go and explore things free or very low costs.  Commit yourself to trying two new things this semester.  Go visit a play in the theater, go to a sporting event, or participate in an intramural activity.  Join a club, already in one? Take on a leadership role.  Take a class that peaks your interest as an elective, volunteer in the local community, or look for a part-time position on campus. Think about Greek life, take a fitness class, or start a community garden.  Join an honorary society, have lunch on campus somewhere you have not dined, or get to know you RA.  There are many ways to get involved and to try new things.

Take the first few weeks of the New Year and decide how you want to map out your semester/quarter.  While mapping out your plans, be sure to create a list of short term and long term goals.  Your short term goals should include something you will accomplish in 4-8 weeks and your long term goals should be accomplished within 8-16 weeks.  Make your goals varied in focus, interest, and difficulty.  Academic, personal, and achievement should all be included.  Perhaps your short term goal is to join an organization and your long term goal may be to join the executive board for next year.  These are obtainable goals and will allow you to push yourself into new roles you may not have considered.

Take in the New Year and try something new.  Each semester you should push yourself out of your comfort zone to try something new.  If you don’t like it you can always try something new and hopefully be able to share your experience with someone else.  Ready, set, go…create at least two goals of trying something new this semester/quarter.

As most colleges and universities Greek Life will be starting, or have started, their Spring recruitment, it is important to keep in mind some aspects about going Greek or not going Greek in college. I asked some of my friends what they thought about pros and cons were about going greek. These stories are from men and women who are proud Greeks. Hopefully their stories will help you see if going Greek is right for you. Whatever the decision, do what feels right and not what someone says you should do.

“I went greek back in Spring 2011 during my freshman year and since then, there has been alot of pros and cons that I face in greek life. Pros: Ive met so many people when I joined my fraternity that over time I just keep meeting more and more. Being in a fraternity also gives you a connection with tons of other people from around the country in other colleges, active members and alumni. This depends on if the fraternity is national. Other pros about greek life is that it gives me stuff to do around campus such as community service, greek events, and even parties. For cons: Pledging sucked and I hated it. Also, there is alot of stupid drama in greek life which I personally hate. Lastly, dues are way too expensive and you have to pay them every semester.”

“Not only did I choose to go greek, greek life chose me as well. I never thought of myself as a sorority girl but seeing the amazing women of AOII changed my mind. I decided AOII was right fit for me. It had a lot to do with fate and just plain luck. I am so glad I went greek.”

“I didn’t want to be Greek at first. A friend dragged me to meet the Greeks freshman year. I didn’t have any reason as to why I was against it; I just thought Greek life wasnt for me. But when I met the sisters of Tri Sigma, I felt so comfortable around them..And now, I’m proud to call them my sisters. Going Greek was probably the best decision I’ve made at college.”

“I debated going Greek for a while in my first years at school. I know my friends all enjoy their experiences but going Greek just didn’t seem to fit my already busy lifestyle. While it would have looked great on my resume and have been the “icing on the cake”, I realized I did just as much to make my resume stand out without being Greek, than some students do by being Greek. My decision was right for me.”

 

For many of us, there is a stereotypical view of what your college experience should be like. For some, this includes becoming a member of the Greek Life community at their school. Here are 10 things tips to keep in mind, if becoming Greek is something you are interested in.

1. Understand Greek Life on Campus

2. Think about your personality type

3. Think about the social scene

4. Talk to your friends about joining

5. Know your motivation for joining

6. Decide if you want the commitment

7. Understand the Financial obligation

8. Talk to students who are already Greek

9. Talk to “non Greeks”

10. Think about the long-term.

As always, turn to The Freshman Survival Guide for more information on Greek Life.