Archive for the ‘Helpful College Tips’ Category
Yes, you’ve got a meal plan. No, meals shouldn’t stop there! There are ways to eat healthy, on a budget, with nothing but a microwave available to you. If you don’t have a microwave in your dorm room, many residence halls have common rooms or common kitchenettes for students to use. Check with your RA! Dorm cooking is far from gourmet, but there are a few fun things you can do if you’re out of meal credits and have limited cooking supplies.
Sweet potatoes only take about 5 minutes to microwave. Poke a few holes in your sweet potato with a fork before microwaving. When your sweet potato is done cooking, slice it down the middle to make sure it’s soft and ready. To spice it up, grab a can of black beans and a can of diced tomatoes and pour them into the potato. Salsa works, too. Add 2-3 minutes to your microwave time for each additional potato you put in there. (This cook time also works for corn on the cob!)
A new trend in the frozen food aisle is steamable packets of vegetables! Steamed veggies are hard to do without a stove and strainer, but these packets are microwave-ready. All you do is follow the instructions on the package for cook time; the package serves as a cooking container. If you’re looking for more than vegetables or salad for dinner, use these steamed veggies as a healthy side dish option.
This is a great idea if need a quick, filling breakfast full of protein. You’ll need a microwave safe bowl and plate. Pour about half a cup of water into the bowl. Crack an egg into the bowl so it’s completely under water and cover with the plate. Microwave on high for 1 minute and then scoop out with a spoon. So easy! Add microwaveable oatmeal as a side, and you have a hearty meal.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, get ready. There’s a microwaveable dessert out there for you! In a microwave-safe bowl, combine your favorite fruits. You can either buy fresh berries, slice up an apple or banana, or find chopped fruit in the frozen food section of the grocery store. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until the fruit is soft and hot. Sprinkle granola (and cinnamon if you like) on top. You’ve got yourself a miniature fruit crisp!
Again, these aren’t gourmet meals. However, they are healthy options when all you’ve got is a microwave and a student budget. Enjoy!
Some people may deal with stress better on their own, but for those of us who take solace in friends, there are many things we can do together to help get through the stressful times. Studies have found that reaching out to family and friends and making social contact can help distract you from the stress and provide a much-needed pick-me-up.
An old adage says that laughter is the best medicine. When things are looking grim, getting together with friends to just sit and talk or watching a funny movie can help boost your spirits. Laughter is an easy way to reduce stress and can cause positive physical changes in your body that promote a relaxed, pleasurable feeling. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has short- and long-term benefits, including stimulating your organs, soothing tension, improving your immune system, relieving pain and increasing personal satisfaction. It is an easy stress-reliever, and can take the weight off your shoulders in as little as a few minutes.
Eat Good Food
“Comfort food” got its name for a reason—when you’re stressed out, there are few things that can make you feel better than a great meal. Everyone has their favorites, whether its something savory or something sweet, that are the perfect go-to when times are tough. Whether it’s a break from the library at your favorite local restaurant or a home-cooked meal that you and your roommates make and eat around your table together, good food is a great stress reliever. Many people find the act of cooking to also be a stress reliever, and spending time in the kitchen will feel like a productive use of your time.
Do Something Creative
Creativity is a great stress reliever because it taps into a different part of your brain than that used when you study. Creativity can be expressed through music, cooking, art projects or anything else that you enjoy, and having the experience with friends can be even more beneficial than doing it alone. Try playing a game, singing along to really loud music, or cooking a new recipe—it’ll help you feel happy and fulfilled and ready to tackle your work when the break is over.
You may not think of a hug as a stress reliever, but give it a try! Physical contact is extremely important to humans, and the benefits of having someone around who gives really good hugs is often underrated.
Whether you’re a new freshman just learning the ropes, a sophomore with sights set on choosing a major and buckling down, or an upperclassmen moving full-steam ahead, when it’s time to get into serious study mode, stress is always close behind. Here are some simple ways to manage stress and keep yourself on track.
Get Some Exercise
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times before, but exercise can be a great way to reduce stress when you’ve got a lot going on. If you’re very busy, you can take the time to work out and still feel like you’ve made a productive use of your time. Head to the gym to take an exercise class, go for a run, swim laps, or do whatever you like to do to stay active. Yoga is also a great option because it combines exercise with meditation, which also is an excellent way to help relieve stress. When your body feels good, your mind also feels good, and the extra endorphins will help you tackle the stress and keep everything in perspective.
Listen to Music
Everyone has that favorite song or playlist that makes everything feel better on a particularly stressful day. Studies have even found that in addition to relaxing your body and your mind, the right music can actually help lower blood pressure. Some students like to listen to music while they study and others need complete silence to concentrate. Whatever you prefer, listening to soothing music can help you feel more peaceful. Take a break from doing work for a few minutes, close your eyes and listen to your favorite song. It’s a short rest that can be taken anywhere and can really help you feel rejuvenated very quickly.
Get Enough Sleep
Making sure you get enough sleep is one of the most important ways to stay productive during stressful periods in college. Even when you have three exams in one day or a very important paper looming on the horizon, getting a good nights sleep will help you stay calm and focused. As humans, we work best when we’re well-rested. Staying up all night to cram for an exam may seem like a good idea at the time, but you will actually retain more information and perform better if you work roughly 8 hours of sleep a night into your study schedule.
Welcome to college! Here is the key to your teeny tiny dorm room. Good luck fitting all of your stuff in there!
Dorm rooms are notoriously small. Plus, you’re sharing the space with someone else. It’s time to get creative with storage and organization. The key? Think vertically!
- CLOSET SPACE- Chances are your closet is narrow and shallow. Try adding another rod for hanging clothes! You can find versions that hang on your current closet rod and double your hanging space. A hanging shoe rack is another great way to utilize closet space. Your rod doubler can allow you more space for a hanging rack, or you can find one that hangs on the back of your door! There are also hangers that can hang multiple shirts or pairs of pants at once.
- DESK SPACE – Dorm room desks are not enormous. If there’s room, place two file drawers underneath the desk, snug to one side. Make sure you still have plenty of space to sit. If there aren’t shelves on top of your desk already, try these white magazine files from Ikea. They are inexpensive and a great way to organize papers and documents by school subject. You can also create shelf space with stacking file trays for papers. If you’re storing books on top of your desk or on shelves, bookends are a good idea. They’ll keep your books from falling over – or falling on you!
- BED SPACE – That’s right, bed space! Each dorm is different, but many offer (or already have) lofted beds. If you can loft ‘em, do it. It creates a nice space for your desk underneath your bed. If you have bunk beds, use the space under your bed to store suitcases. Store your winter clothes in your suitcases during the warmer months, and vice versa during the winter.
- DOOR SPACE – As mentioned previously, doors can be used for storage too, depending on your needs. Hanging shoe racks, towel racks, or hooks are awesome storage tools that make use of your door.
- SPACE SPACE – You won’t have a lot of it, but where you do – think vertically! Stacking plastic drawers are ideal for dorms. You can store everything from bath stuff to school stuff to clothes stuff in these drawers. They come in a variety of sizes, so you should be able to find narrow versions or wide versions, depending on where you’d like to put them. If you have a bed on the ground (not lofted) these drawers can double as a night stand.
Finding storage space in your dorm will require a little creativity. The good news is that the tiny dorm room isn’t a new problem – students have been dealing with it forever! That’s why there are so many neat tricks and space savers out there for you. Go get ‘em! Start organizing!
Your RA is your Resident Assistant (or Resident Advisor). They are upperclassmen that live in residence halls and dorms with underclassmen. RA’s have been trained to resolve disputes between students, uphold housing guidelines, and give you any and all advice you require as a freshman. Your RA is a terrific resource for all things college and will be there for you if anything goes wrong. Here are five ways you can get to know him or her better.
1. Attend meetings your RA arranges. It might feel silly or lame, but go anyway! Especially at the beginning of the school year. She will have important information on dorm rules and will share something about herself. Like a professor, your RA will have certain hours she is available to you and can point out special tips for your specific dormitory.
2. Friend your RA on Facebook. If she’s on your news feed, you can see what sorts of activities she is involved in and invite her to your own! You can also message her privately if you have an issue you don’t feel comfortable talking about in person. However, keep in mind Cappex’s tips on How to Use Social Media Effectively. Your posts are available for all eyes on Facebook – including your RA.
3. Ask about her major and extra-curricular activities. Finding out that your RA has similar interests (football!) and stressors (bio exams!) will make her more accessible. Take it from Kaitlin Travers, who wrote an article for USA Today’s College section last year on being an RA. Instead of power hungry tyrants, Kaitlin proves that RA’s are college students just like you.
4. Use your RA and their training! Don’t be shy. If you have any sort of question or issue, check with your RA first. Chances are she is eager to help and will have an answer for you. You’ll get to know her problem solving strategies and how she interacts with you.
5. Invite your RA to a study session. Since they are upperclassmen, RA’s might have insight into study tools to use or great professors to take. They also might have experience working internships or be able to share their experience being an RA! Being an RA is a great way to save money on room and board during college.
Bottom line? Your RA doesn’t have to be a stranger. She also doesn’t have to be your best friend! But RA’s are definitely a good resource and will work with you if you work with them.
Have any RA success stories? Share them here!
Are you an RA? How do you like it?
As the eldest child in my family, I wasn’t lucky enough to get my hands on those glimmering snippets of valuable college information. I knew my father had a college roommate who put on The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” and danced after his final class every Friday, and I knew that movies I had seen portrayed college courses taught in something more like an arena than a twenty-five student classroom. My concept of college lied somewhere between these two ideas, and regardless of that fact, I took my first steps on my college campus ready for whatever freshman year would throw at me! Having graduated in 2009, here are three things I wish I had known on my first day.
There Are Better Places to Get Your Textbooks
For the first two years of my college education, I took the option of having the college bookstore collect everything I needed for my courses, placing it all neatly into a huge box, taping it up, and giving me a call when it was ready. Don’t get me wrong: this was highly convenient! I didn’t have to wait in the same line as the other hundred people looking to cash out, and I knew I had what I needed before the bookstore ran out. On the other hand, this was not the cheapest way to go, and taking back books professors decided they didn’t want the first week was a pain! If I had it to do over again, I think I would spend more time buying books off of Craigslist, buying used books online, or renting books!
Nobody Is THAT Perfect
My freshman year, I had big dreams, and I was going after them! For me, this meant getting to know the people around campus I idolized. I wanted to be like my RA, who was not only beautiful, she was brilliant in her double major, and a leader in a dozen organizations! I wanted to be like the president of one of my campus groups, who won tons of academic awards and everyone on campus knew him! I soon learned that my RA struggled with major body image issues and was miserable as far as relationships go. That guy on campus everyone knew? He frequently asked if he could copy my work. That’s when I learned these people weren’t perfect, and I was reaching for something that was never there. Of course, the lesson here is not to go around pointing out others’ flaws, but rather to not let the seemingly perfect perception of your classmates dampen your own confidence in yourself. Perfection isn’t a realistic goal, but improvement always is.
Not Everyone is Trustworthy
While there are certainly people I didn’t like, and who didn’t like me, I had not met too many people with truly poor intentions. My junior year of college, I was approached by a guy around my age who said he was selling magazines so he could study abroad. Seems legit, right? He wanted me to pay him in cash, and there just happened to be an ATM near where we were standing. How convenient, right?! After taking out a hundred dollars (he said he’d give me change), he took off with the money! I learned then that if something seems off, I would be willing to risk possibly disappointing someone to get out of the situation.
What’s so hard about college?
You might think it’s the coursework. After all, college level academics are more difficult than high school academics, and often times, the methods used to teach a college level course are unfamiliar to a freshman. You might think the hard part of college is making friends, as you’ve likely left most of yours, along with your family, behind.
While the academic and social aspects of college can be challenging, the students who haven’t figured out how to balance everything are those that have the toughest time. The demands of college students are high, and they’re coming from every direction: you have two professors expecting papers by the end of the week, your club meets every Wednesday, your RA is holding a mandatory event tonight, you have a group presentation tomorrow, Mom wants you to call her, and your best friend just broke up with her high school sweetheart and she needs you right now. Feeling stressed yet? Most college kids do.
So what are you going to do about it?
Well, you could simply throw your pens in the air and say, “Forget this! College is too hard!” and walk out. There are plenty of students who do. Or, you could learn how to balance all of these activities in a way that brings you success and happiness!
Your first lesson is a basic one: get yourself a planner (and use it)! Write down when your assignments are due and when you plan to do them. Schedule in your weekly meetings, even if it seems obvious that you’re busy at 7 p.m. every Monday. Note test days, birthdays, off-campus parties, visits home, group project meetings, campus events, when construction is going to be blocking your typical entrance to your campus, when you’ll need a new toothbrush, and everything else you need to remember. Color code it if you have to! Pour your life into this thing because your mind will not be able to handle it all.
Your second lesson, one that many people have a difficult time with, is being able to recognize when things are about to get crazy, and doing something about it. When you’re documenting everything in a planner, it will only take you a moment to realize there’s a dark and twisty Tuesday coming up where you have a twelve page paper due, two meetings scheduled for the same time, and coffee with your ex where you’ll discuss whether or not you’re getting back together. Yikes. Understand that this is a storm warning, and you’ll need to make preparations for it.
Your final lesson in performing a successful balancing act is being able to prevent spillage from one demand into another. Focus on the task at hand. If it’s homework time, don’t get on the phone for an hour. If your friend is visiting from another college, don’t spend that time polishing the final words of a paper. Think of your demands like paint: while a few mix nicely, too many mixed together makes an ugly greenish brown.
Now that you know how to set achievable goals, it’s time to figure out exactly what your goals are. Now that you’re living on your own for the first (or maybe fourth, for college seniors) year, it is important to set goals for yourself so you can start to grow into the person you want to be. Make a list of the things that are important to you in your academic, work, and personal lives, and you’ll be on your way to setting goals that will prepare you for your bright future.
Academic goals are important because with all of the distractions in college, it can be easy to lose your focus and get off track. If you get in over your head, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the things that are important to you. Students set academic goals for themselves throughout the course of college to ensure that they graduate in the perfect position to find a job or obtain a higher degree. Your academic goals can be to get straight A’s this semester, maintain a certain grade point average for all four years, graduate with honors or another certain distinction, ace the hardest class in your major, or anything else that would feel like an academic achievement for you.
Personal goals can come from any aspect of your personal life that you’d like to change or improve. The most common personal goal that students in college share is losing weight and having a positive body image. These goals provide positive incentives for students to be dedicated and work hard because the outcome feels extremely rewarding. Other personal goals can include improving relationships with friends and family, achieving new life skills that help you prepare for living in the real world, or conquering a long-standing fear that you’ve been working on for a while.
One major reason to go to college is to ensure that you will be perfectly equipped to enter the job market after graduation. Having job-related goals is important because on harder or more frustrating days, it will help you remember what you are working toward. You can set work goals for the near future like finding a job in your field after you graduate, or for a time that will come farther along in your career like becoming the head surgeon in a hospital. Work goals can include finding work-study or research opportunities while you’re taking classes, securing internships for the summer months, or maintaining regular communication with previous employers who can potentially help you find a full-time position after you graduate.
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