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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 for people on pip to support my ailing parents? 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 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.

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 (check out Connecticut Bail Bonds Group locations in Hartford County CT for bail requests) , 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


It is currently February. You have been back to school for about a month and you have probably already taken your first exam. If you are like me you are ready for a break, spring break. Spring break is known as a March/April mid-semester break. This maybe a time for you to catch up on homework, projects, and prepare for finals (Ha-I wish I could do this but it never happens). Common spring break destinations are: Mexico, Florida, Myrtle Beach, Cancun, Bahamas, and pretty much any place you can put your feet in the sand with a fancy drink in your hand.

These are great ideas but there are alternatives to spring break then a beach. Here are a few of my suggestions:
• Volunteer-You can volunteer at your college campus or at home. Look into Habitat for Humanity, and the United Way for local opportunities. You could also travel internationally for service opportunities. A big program at my university is Amazide which offers students a chance to travel aproad, earn course credit, and volunteer. They have service opportunities during spring break, summer, semester, or year long. Check out if you are interested or contact your universities Study Abroad office or Community Service Organization.
• Course Credit- You could also consider taking a class and earning some course credit towards graduation. The course credit you could earn will not be at your university but in Italy, Paris, Europe, etc. Check out your universities Study Abroad Office and look at your particular department and see if they are offering any trips. This is also a great alternative to not only spring break but studying abroad for a whole semester. A spring break trip would allow you to get your feet wet and see if a semester aboard would be your thing. The cost will also be a lot cheaper than a semester abroad and you may even be able to get financial aid to help cover the costs!
• Visit a Friend-For something that won’t hurt your budget visit a friend. You have met people from all over the country. Consider going home with them for a week or asking a friend to come home with you. You can show each other your hometown and fun stuff to do in your area.

These are just a few ideas. Most likely your university offers spring break alternatives. Read your schools newspaper, talk to professors, and study abroad office for spring break alternatives. Have fun!