You’ve Got This.

The last day of finals is tomorrow! And if you’re anything like me, you’re feeling pretty burnt out.  I have one more exam tomorrow morning and then I am done! (WOOOO!!) I know a lot of people that have exams tomorrow morning and night, so here are some tips to push through that last day.

Get a good night’s rest. Go to bed early tonight! Don’t stay up late trying to cram everything in. Wake up early in the morning and do a last minute review. I’m honestly exhausted from the entire week and have not been sleeping much…which is all adding up. I don’t want to be so groggy and tired during my last final that I can’t think properly. So I’m heading to bed as early as I possibly can. Plus, its easier to look over your notes when the sun is rising…it feels super productive, believe me.

Ignore all previously completed exams. Do not stress over any grades you may or may not receive. Pretend the exam yesterday and the paper you finished last night never existed. They’re done! Worry about those grades (if you must) after you are completely done with finals.

Eat a good (maybe bland) breakfast! During finals week I get into the bad habit of forgetting to eat for the longest time, and then eating too much when I did eventually sit down to grab a bite. My stomach is not thrilled with me at the moment, and I plan on eating oatmeal tomorrow morning to help make it feel better. Having a stomach ache during your last exam would not be the best physical state to be in.

Stay as long as you can! It’s tempting to finish your last final as soon as you possibly can and then high tail it out of there…believe me, I also want to. But. Don’t. Avoid temptation. Summer will still be there for you when you get out that extra hour later. Use that time to look over answers and be sure you fully completed every question. Don’t rush! I know that antsy feeling comes along, but ignore it. Only leave the exam room when you are completely sure you have finished everything to the best of your ability.

Good luck with the rest of your finals! You’ve all got this!

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Ace Your First Test!

So now we’re at the point of the semester when professors are beginning to give their first exams of the semester. (I have my first physics exam on Friday!) The first test in a new class can be daunting, especially if you’ve never had the professor before and don’t know what to expect. So, don’t freak! I have a few tips to help you!

Ask your professor how they typically format their tests. It’s super helpful to know if you only have to worry about preparing for multiple choice, or if you also have to anticipate short answer questions. If a professor doesn’t offer up how their tests are formatted, ask friends who may have taken the class before! Previous students from other semesters can give insight into how long tests might have been, as well as types of questions that were asked. Be sure to NOT talk about the actual content of the exams though!! That can be considered cheating and might result in strict consequences.

Be sure to clarify what exactly you are being tested on! Some professors insist they only teach what they lecture on, so great! Study your notes! However, I’ve been in classes where anything was game for tests: lecture, lab material, and content from the text book. So, make sure you ask your professor to clarify what content is actually going to be tested on. It would totally stink to not read the chapters in the book and then have to fumble through 10 questions that you really have no idea how to answer.

Take advantage of practice tests/ study guides! If you are lucky enough to have a professor that gives you study materials, use them! Professors make those guides knowing what they are going to test students on; those study guides are gold, treat them as such. I use study guides to gauge out how the test may be formatted, ie: if there are a lot of short answer questions on a study guide, I assume that short answer questions will take up a large portion of the exam.

If you’re feeling uneasy, go to office hours! Take advantage of the times when your professor is in their office and ask any questions you might have. Even if you don’t have any specific questions, go talk to your professor and see what they have to say. If I ever feel uneasy about an exam I go talk to my professor about the exam just to calm my nerves.

These are only a few tips for tests that I have. But, obviously, my biggest tip is to study. Professor usually give exam dates well in advance, so don’t wait until the last night to cram in all the info you need to know.

Good luck on your first tests! (And all of the tests that follow throughout the semester!) You’re all going to do great.

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12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About College

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Most of our knowledge comes from experience. That’s why a lot us will look back on events in our lives and say things like, “If I only knew then what I know now.” We tend to think about things in retrospect – what we could have done better if we had known more at that present time. But of course, this never really does us any good because, try as we might, we can’t go back to those moments.

Now that I’m about to graduate this semester, I have been thinking of a lot of things that I wish I knew going into college, things I wish someone had told me. Although, even if someone had passed this knowledge my way then, would I have listened? Who knows? My hope is that, in sharing these tips with you, you’ll trust me and take it to heart so you can get the most out of your time and money.

  1. Take the classes that matter to you.
    I am going to be completely honest. Every semester, when it came time to build my schedule for the next semester, I focused only on a) what was required to graduate, b) what was most convenient time-wise, and c) what was easiest. This worked out to make my time here quite efficient, but all of a sudden, it dawned on me that I have taken all of the classes that I will take.
    I wonder if I missed things. I took a couple easy A courses, but did I take things that would be practical and applicable? Yes, but not as many as I could have. Do whatever you can to broaden your horizon now. Take communication, business and writing courses, no matter what your major is. These will help you so much. Then be sure to fit in things you find interesting.
  2. Class attendance is crucial, but your health is the most important thing.
    This past semester, I got hit with mono. It took me a week or two to get diagnosed, but I knew something was severely off. The type-A part of me was saying, “Go to class!” But my body was physically incapable of movement. I did the right thing and went to the doctor instead of class, then brought my professors a doctor’s note. When you have a serious illness like mono, you have to put your health first.
  3. The best way to do well in a group project is to take charge.
    We all know that, despite professors’ best effort, group work is never an equal division. And if you don’t get to pick who you’re working with, there’s no guarantee the people you work with have the same work ethic or concern for their grades as you do. Therefore, if you want to do well on a group project, the only way to do so is suck it up and take the reigns. You need to be in control, be responsible, and be aware of dates and requirements. As harsh a reality as it is, that’s just group work for you.
  4. Your professors want you to succeed.
    It feels like they’re out to get you when they hand you a research paper assignment, but I swear, they want to see you do well. They will do everything in their power to help you if you show you’re willing to work and to reach out to them.
  5. Make time to see your family.
    A lot of kids want to get away from their families when they go off to college. And even if that wasn’t the case for you (it wasn’t for me; I didn’t want to leave), it’s likely you’ll assume you have your entire life to visit your family, and you won’t make it a priority on breaks. The thing is, life is going to keep changing and more and more things will get in the way of spending time with them, whether it’s jobs or distance or whatever. Take the time while you have it and be with your family as much as you can.
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  6. Get at least one person’s phone number in every class you’re taking.
    This will come in handy on many levels. If you’re stuck in traffic and going to be late, you can text someone and ask them to let the professor know (make sure you pull over to do this though!). If you miss a class, you can reach out to them for notes. If you’re confused about something, you can ask them for clarification.
  7. Pens exist only to be sucked into a black hole when you’re not looking.
    Seriously, buy a million, because they’ll all be gone in a week, even if you don’t lend them to people.
  8. Learn to cook.
    This is for men and women. People like people with food. It will help you take care of yourself, make friends, get on professors’ good sides, and you’ll look smooth on dates.

    A Loaded Cheese Fries Grilled Cheese from my blog.
    A Loaded Cheese Fries Grilled Cheese from my blog.
  9. You really need to check your email.
    Ask any professor; students don’t check their emails. That’s because our generation is accustomed to texts, and email seems like a thing of the past. However, you have to remember that your professors still use email avidly. It never fails that the one day you don’t check your email is the one day you got a class cancellation notification, but missed it and drove to school for nothing. Plus, you need to look out for weather and campus safety updates. All kinds of important stuff goes to your UC email.
  10. Establish credibility with your professors.
    This is especially true for professors you know you’ll have again. Even if someone rubs you the wrong way, you want to be on their good side. Prove to be diligent, motivated, and responsible by consistently handing assignments in on time, showing up to all classes on time, and participating in class. Always hand in your best work and be friendly. That way, when an unfortunate circumstance does happen, your professor trusts you and is willing to work with you. For example, I got rear-ended on the way to a midterm a few semesters ago, and was consequently a few minutes late, but my professor knew what kind of student I was, and he understood.
  11. You are never “too busy,” so ditch that excuse.
    The saying is true: if you really care about something, you’ll find the time for it. When you tell someone you were “too busy,” you really just didn’t see the thing you didn’t do as priority. I don’t care how much crap you take on – I’m the queen of taking on too much – you will find a way to do what matters to you.
  12. It never hurts to ask.
    A lot of people refrain from asking for something they want/need if they’re sure the person will say “no.” I have always adopted the mantra that it doesn’t hurt to ask, and it’s almost always been helpful to me. When I’m feeling like things are going south in a class, I see if there’s anything a professor can do to help me, even if I think they’ll say “no.” Nine times out of ten, I get surprised. The same goes for anything. I’ve expressed to professors that the whole class could benefit from a couple days extra of studying and gotten tests moved back. This semester, an incredibly understanding professor was willing to work with my teaching schedule at the gym. People will surprise you, and if they say no, so what? You should ALWAYS ask.
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Top 10 Best Ways to Procrastinate

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We procrastinators share a special bond; we get each other. Nobody else understands why we put off assignments and tasks until the last second and voluntarily subject ourselves to working under pressure, but that’s okay. No one needs to get it but us.

One of the most annoying problems procrastinators face is when they run out of ways to procrastinate. How are you supposed to justify not doing your work if you’ve got nothing else to do? That simply won’t fly. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways to procrastinate so you never have to run out of things to do when you should be doing other things.

1. Buzzfeed

This is hands-down the number one reason I procrastinate when on my computer. Buzzfeed is an abyss of procrastination potential, especially because of its infinite feed format. You keep scrolling, but it never really ends.

The site features posts compiled by BF staff and contributing site readers, and there is no limit to the topic of each post. Most of them are “listicles,” meaning that they are articles in the format of the list. Almost all the posts are hilarious, but they do serious, in-depth news articles addressing crucial current events as well.

The best thing about BF is that there is something for everyone. Whether you like food, Harry Potter, sports, cats, Chipotle, make-up, feminism, or whatever, you’ll find posts about it on BF.

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Image from Theivyleaguecoach.com

2. Pinterest

Contrary to popular believe, Pinterest is not just for the ladies. Like Buzzfeed, there is something for everyone on Pinterest. It covers food, tattoos, nail art, make-up, animals, cars, celebrities – you name it.

Some people don’t understand how it works until they actually start using it. Think of it as a collection of online bulletin boards. You find pictures of things you like on the web and then pin them to the appropriate board. For example, say you love cooking and you found this great recipe on a food blog with a drool-worthy photo. You can pin that delicious picture to your “Recipes to Try” board.

The boards are customizable, and you can make any you like. If you’re planning a wedding, make a “Wedding Inspiration” board. If you’re into fitness, make a “Fitness” board.

Pinterest is great for procrastinating because it never ends. Just keep looking through all the stuff you like and pinning away.

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3. Baking/Cooking

This is a great way to procrastinate because it is actually productive. Plus, you can make it a two-for-one procrastinating session if you look on Pinterest for recipes.

If you’re procrastinating, it’s probably because you’re bored with what you’re supposed to be doing. And if you’re bored, you’re probably hungry. It just makes sense that you get in the kitchen and hone your cooking skills. It’s a legitimately useful ability to have!

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4. Online Shopping

Regular shopping works too, but online shopping can be done in the comfort of your pajamas, and there’s less chance you’ll order something online. With the internet, you have every one of your favorite stores at your fingertips. The possibilities are endless.

Go look for those new sneakers you need for the gym, or find a dress for your UC graduation ceremony. If you really want to torture yourself, you can look at adoptable pets in your area. Again, that is actually a productive way to procrastinate because animals need homes!

5. Cleaning

The only time I clean is when I don’t want to be doing something else. Even if you don’t live your life like a tornado like I do, there are literally always things that need cleaning. I bet you the top of your ceiling fan needs a dusting, and vacuuming is always necessary. Do some laundry, organize your closet, or clean your oven.

6. Movie Marathon

Pick out your favorite movies, make some snacks, and procrastinate the day away. This one never gets old because there are always new movies to watch. The best thing is binge-watching a franchise like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.

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Image from Harbortheatre.net

7. De-Clutter

It’s time to purge the stuff you no longer need. Again, this is  very useful way to procrastinate. I guarantee you’ve got stuff laying around that you’ll never use again. Grab two garbage bags, one marked “To Donate” and one marked “To Trash.” Fill them up and de-clutter your space. It is an especially good idea to get in your closet and do this.

8. Thought Catalog

This is similar to Buzzfeed in that it has articles covering all kinds of topics, and they are all reader-submitted. However, it is in a blog format as opposed to a feed. Honestly, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine because some of the stuff submitted is quality and thought-provoking, but some of it is controversial garbage. It is a ball to read some of the more ridiculous articles, and it’s even more fun to troll through the comment section.

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9. Work Out

If you hate working out, this won’t appeal to you, but it is one of my favorite ways to procrastinate. I honestly don’t even consider it procrastinating sometimes though because it de-stresses me while doing something good for my body, so it really is a necessary act.

Best of all, working out is customizable. You get to pick what you want to do, and for how long. Run for 30 minutes or dance for an hour; it doesn’t matter. You’ll sleep better too, which will help you in the long run when you finally have to finish that assignment that’s due tomorrow.

10. Nap

This has to be the best one. There is nothing like napping when you should be doing a million other things. Naps are fun, refreshing, and anyone can take them!

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15 Tips for Mind, Body & Soul Spring Cleaning

Spring 14

When spring rolls in, we feel like new people waking up from a long sleep. We’re like bears after hibernation, or caterpillars turned butterflies through metamorphosis. We feel ready for a new beginning and a new season.

To obtain this refreshed feeling, many of us defer to a little spring cleaning. But did you know there’s more you can do to reawaken yourself than dusting china (do people even own china anymore?)?

  1. Get a new haircut. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic; you can opt for a simple trim and layers. Or, if you are feeling bold, feel free to shed those heavy locks for something lighter and fresher. You can even experiment with spring colors. A new haircut can go a long way.
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  2. Paint your nails. With all the fun springy shades available now, the possibilities are endless. Pastels are always a great option.
    The strawberry nails I did
    The strawberry nails I did

    Embrace color!
    Embrace color!
  3. Embrace springtime scents. Whether it’s Yankee Candles or Bath and Body Works, there are some amazing ways to tantalize your olfactory senses. The light, fresh smells of the season will energize you and perk you up.

    Image from Bath & Body Works
    Image from Bath & Body Works
  4. Open the windows. I will be the first to say I’m not always a fan of bringing the outdoors indoors, but sometimes it is very refreshing to throw those windows open.
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  5. Embrace seasonal produce. Strawberries, asparagus, greens, carrots, leeks, lemons, peas and more are all in season right now. Get your paws on them while the gettin’ is good, and whip up some mouth-watering seasonal recipes.
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  6. Take a walk. This might not sound exciting, but you haven’t been able to take a walk all winter! It doesn’t have to be high-intensity or a workout. Just do it for the fresh air and sunshine.

    I know it looks like winter here, but alas, this is from March!
    I know it looks like winter here, but alas, this is from March!
  7. Sport spring shades. Pick out some bright colors and pastels to incorporate into your wardrobe. You can feel free to do some spring shopping, or just break out favorites from last year.

    Pastels!
    Pastels!
  8. Make the switch to iced. Iced coffee and tea doesn’t seem so appealing in the dead of winter, but now that the sun is shining again, get your butt to a Dunkin Donuts or local cafe and grab some icy cold goodness.

    Everyone loves iced coffee!
    Everyone loves iced coffee!
  9. Study outside. Grab your books or laptop and take a seat under the sun for a while.

    Image from Utica College
    Image from Utica College
  10. Try new make-up. I’m not a make-up wearer, but for you folks who are, grab some bright colors and switch it up.

    Photo from makeupgeek.com
    Photo from makeupgeek.com
  11. Wear something new. Have you never bought colored capris before? Or perhaps you’ve never dawned a hot pair of wedges. Whatever it is, give something new a try and update your look.

    I'd never worn a dress like this before, bonus point for pastel shades!
    I’d never worn a dress like this before, bonus point for pastel shades!
  12. Try yoga. A lot of these tips will switch up your appearance, but yoga will refresh your mind, body and spirit. New to the yoga scene? You can take BodyFlow, a 55-minute yoga/tai chi/pilates class designed for all skill levels, at Powerhouse Gym right down the road from the college! Try a class for free, or get a membership and classes are included.
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  13. Eat something cool. Get yourself a refreshingly icy strawberry lemonade or dive into some ice cream. These are things we typically only consume when it’s warm, so enjoying your first one of the season will automatically make you feel refreshed and spring-ready.
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  14. Flaunt your florals. Whether it’s shirts, skirts, scarves, bags, or the like, try out all the beautiful floral patterns blooming throughout stores this time of year. That will give you spring fever for sure.

    This floral skirt has "spring" written all over it.
    This floral skirt has “spring” written all over it.
  15. Drop the negativity. It’s easier said than done, but find something that’s really been bringing you down, and get it out of your life. Pick something realistic; you’re 3/4 of the way through the semester, so now is not the time to drop that really hard class. But you can avoid people that treat you badly or stop trying to force down that vegetable that you’re just never going to start liking. Nix the negative thoughts that plague your head when you look in the mirror, focusing on what looks good instead of what you don’t like. If something is causing you more stress than it’s actually worth, than you might want to re-evaluate it.
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How to Be a Better Commuter

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Photo by The Tangerine

Utica College has a fairly large commuter base. It attracts a lot of local folks, myself included, who choose to go home at the end of every day and drive back again in the morning. Some of us have a quick five-minute drive while others devote an hour or more there and back.

We all have our reasons for why we prefer it this way. And as with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages. One of the hardest things about being a commuter is dealing with harsh CNY winter travel and making that dreaded decision of whether or not to take your chances driving to school every time the snow rolls around.

There are several things to do to lessen the inconvenience and dangers posed by nasty weather. For starters, be smart when you’re making the decision of whether to face the commute or not. If you can afford to miss the class without severely getting points docked from your grade, then it might be best to not go in. Even if there’s important material, you can always try speaking to your professor or getting notes from a friend. Class is very important, and so is attendance, but your safety is the most important of all.

That being said, I am not in any way condoning skipping classes without a darn good reason. After all,we are seasoned veterans here in CNY when it comes to driving in harsh elements, so if you can, get your butt to class. It’s a given that you should drive slow, and always leave early on a bad weather day so you don’t feel the need to rush. But if you can’t avoid leaving late, do not try to rush there. It’s better to make it to class safely and a few minutes late.

It’s a good idea to even leave for class early on a good day when you’re a commuter. You never know what kind of traffic snafus or incompetent people you’ll encounter along your journey.

In fact, getting there early means better chances of a better parking spot. You can’t argue with that!

Being a commuter can also be tricky if you’ve got a long day with back-to-back classes and/or work. You don’t have time to run home again, so it is key to plan ahead when packing for the day. More obviously, you’ll need all your books, papers, etc. for your classes. But you also want to make sure you have tons of food to get you through the day. I recommend bringing more than you think you’ll need in case you get stuck being out later than you originally intended.

On a similar note, I recommend getting yourself a Brita water bottle. It has a built-in filter, so you can feel safe drinking tap water. That means you’ll have water all day long, and won’t have to bring or buy a million plastic water bottles.

It’s also not a bad idea to keep your car stocked with essentials like tissues, Advil, and your chargers for your phone/laptop/etc. This way, you won’t find yourself running to the store or back home when you unexpectedly need something.

If you have a laptop or tablet, I definitely recommend bringing it to school with you as a commuter. You never know when you might need it. If one of your classes gets canceled and you’ve got time to kill, you’ll be glad you brought it along.

Be sure to have a back-up plan for rides. Just last week when it snowed on Friday, I got completely blocked in by snow thanks to the snow plowers at my apartment complex, and couldn’t get out of the parking lot. Luckily, I had a friend who was willing to pick me up on her way into school.

Finally, try to be as picky with your class schedule as you can be. Some classes are only offered at one time, and you have to deal with that. But if you can choose classes so that you have to make as few trips to campus as possible, then do it. Your gas tank will thank you.

Are you a commuter? What do you do to make your life a little bit easier?

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8 Tips for Incoming Freshman

I sit here on my throne of having reached the pinnacle of my college experience as part of a few elite. I’m a senior; I belong to the wisest and most experienced few, in all affairs that are collegiate that is. Here are a few tips to help navigate the murky waters for the uninitiated (Incoming freshman, I’m looking at you).

1. Ditch the lanyard. This is the easiest give away, by far.

2. If you are sitting in the front row of a class and have your laptop out, bear in mind that everyone behind you can see you updating your Twitter or stalking your ex on Facebook. You pay to go to school, so pay attention.

3. Under no circumstances brag about your ACT/SAT score, barring the admissions office- no one cares.

4. Understand the type of person you are, and plan your schedule accordingly. If you are a night owl, taking 8.30’s everyday of the week will only set yourself up for catastrophic failure. Conversely, if you are an early riser, those three-hour night classes might encroach into your bedtime. Be wary.

5. If you’re the shy type, join student organizations, go to seminars and meetings hosted on campus. Join a team if you are of the athletic persuasion,  or go Greek. Once that seasonal depression hits and your roommate is the only person you have socialized with for the last half of the semester, you’ll be thankful you did.

6. On roommates, don’t room with close friends. Every healthy relationship needs some degree of separation. If the only person you hang out with happens to sleep 7 feet away from you, frustrations will arise and friendships could potentially be irreparably damaged.

7. Forget high school; this is your chance for a fresh start. Freed from the mundane social imprisonment of high school, you have the chance to blossom into the person you were meant to be. Or you can hold on to your past accomplishments and let them shackle you and never grow.

8. Skip the burger and fries combo. The freshman fifteen is a real and cruel mistress, transforming cute coeds into unrecognizable blobs over the course of two semesters. Wise up and eat heatlhy-ish, and work out. Your body will thank you for it.

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How to Survive the Final Stretch of the Semester

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If you recorded the amount of stress you have throughout each semester on a graph, it’d probably look the same every time: a short, gradual slope that suddenly shoots up into a steep, ever-increasing mountain. That’s because the assignments become more frequent and more involved the deeper we dive into the semester.

Since we’re at about the 3/4 mark, you’re probably dangling somewhere near the top of the highest peak right now. Not only are you in over your head, but you know you’ve still got more climbing to do before relief is in sight. This is probably your face most of the time:

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I need you to keep hanging in there though. Winter break is just around the corner, and you’ve got this.

Here’s what you can do to keep your head above the water for the remainder of the semester:

  1. Don’t shut down. When things are really overwhelming, it almost feels like you can’t do anything at all, so you want to give up. But instead of losing all hope, try to get just a few simple things done, and you’ll be amazed at how relieved you feel. I did the dishes the other night, and it felt completing a marathon.
  2. Don’t look too far ahead. This one is tricky because you don’t want due-dates to creep up on you. But if you look too far in advance, you’re going to get overwhelmed by the amount of work you still have left. Instead, try just focusing on the next two weeks and say, “Okay, what do I need to get done this week? What can wait?”
  3. Make study guides now. Do you need more than just your notes to study? If you’re like me, you like flashcards and study guides for test prep. However, putting those aids together can be more time-consuming than the actual studying. So, put together as much of your studying material as you can now so you can focus on the actual studying when finals come. A great site I love to use is Quizlet, and there’s an Quizlet iPhone app too. It lets you create electronic flashcards and offers different ways to study them. It’s much more efficient than paper cards.
  4. Check those midterm grades. If you aren’t satisfied, and you want to work on bringing them up, now is the time to do it. Wait any longer, and it might be too late to make enough of a difference. Don’t let yourself be surprised at the end of the semester. Or, if you’re happy with your grades, at least you don’t have to stress about raising them. Just make sure you maintain it!
  5. Create incentives. Tell yourself, if I get this paper done, I can go out with my friends on Saturday, or, if I study for this test for the next couple of hours, I can watch my favorite show tonight. This psychological tactic will motivate to get things done and out of the way.

Those are my tips. What do you do to survive the dreaded final quarter of the semester?

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