A Letter to My College Self: What I Wish I Knew

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Hello, World.

For those of you who have been following along for some time, you probably know my college story. However, I wanted to recap it for those of you who are new to this little corner of the internet. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to attend college. Though college was emphasized in my life, it was not necessarily the norm. I am the youngest of fifteen grandchildren on both sides of my family. I’m the fifth to attend a four-year university and the first to finish my degree in four years. Some family members took five to six years, some took nine. So, again, while college wasn’t a totally foreign subject, I was by no means born into a family in which college was the expectation. However, I always loved school. I loved learning, had a slightly ridiculous obsession with school supplies, and thrived in the classroom.

Originally, I had dreams of attending an Ivy League college in New England and spent my high school career working to achieve that goal. I applied early and had my heart very broken in December of my senior year. I was devastated. I was convinced that nothing would work out well because I didn’t get the thing I wanted most. Then, the next morning, I received an acceptance package from Saint Mary’s College of California. This was one of the last schools I applied to, and truth be told, I only applied because they waived my application fee. I had toured another university that has a similar campus and student body and wasn’t a fan, so was hesitant to look into Saint Mary’s. However, I finally went and looked at Saint Mary’s in early February (I think…), and within fifteen minutes of walking around campus knew I had found my future home. Everyone was friendly, it was obvious it was a very community-based place, and I just had this feeling like I was exactly where I need to be at that point in my life. So, I enrolled.

My first year at Saint Mary’s was amazing. I fell absolutely in love with the school, grew incredibly as a person, and felt happier than I’d ever felt before. And then guess what happened? Each year got better, culminating in a remarkable senior year with lifelong friends who I love deeply. If you were to ask me the most important moment in my life thus far, I would immediately answer it was the day I decided to attend Saint Mary’s. While I did have unhappy moments and some personal troubles while in school, I cherish my four years on the campus in the Moraga hills and would not trade them for anything.

So, without further ado, here is a letter I wrote to my college self –

Dear Callie,

You are in the most important and fun years of your life and it is your duty to live it as fully as possible. I am writing to you as a much more confident, funnier, and mature version of yourself, so take my advice seriously. I want to share some of the wisdom that I learned in college. This letter will contain only the advice that I wish I knew at the time. You will love college, but I want to share with you the things that would have made it even better as I reflect on college with the nostalgia only an alumna can know.

First, you need to remember to live in the moment. I understand you are a planner and insistent on having a five-year plan at all times, but you really do need to slow down, unplug, and just enjoy being in college. While it may feel like you’re too busy, know that it’ll only get busier and now is the time to soak up all the college memories and be present in them.

Second, you should know that plans change and adaptability is an incredibly valuable trait. So, become comfortable with the unknown. You enter college with an idea of where your life is heading, but sometimes you go completely off course and end up at a far superior destination. While it’s completely acceptable to plan, know the plans you make are not written in stone. Your life is not the 10 commandments and is malleable.

Third, the most important question to ask yourself when things are hard is “will this matter in five years?” To 98% of the problems you face, the answer will be no. You may be tempted to say “yes, of course,” but just know the actual answer is no. Most of the things that happen in college that feel horrible and make us feel like we’ll never be the same do change us but it’s almost always for the better. We become stronger, better versions of ourselves. So, when you have what feels like a life-altering falling out with a friend your sophomore year, know that things will be okay and by senior year all will be right in the world. And a year after graduation? It’s a good story to tell.

Four, figure out financials early. College is expensive. This is not a secret. It is important to figure out how you’re going to pay for college. Apply for scholarships and financial aid, look into whether taking out a loan is the best decision for you and find resources that help make loans as painless as possible. San Francisco based company, Earnest is a low-interest lending company that offers custom repayment plans that fit student’s needs, which is huge!

Look into your options, and find lenders who want to give you the resources to reach your goals. Also, work on saving up money! While that new top is probably really cute, the money may be better used by saving it rather than spending it!

Five, say yes more. This tidbit of advice ties into my first piece of advice, but I want to stress the importance of making college live up to its fullest potential. When you think you should stay in instead of getting coffee with a friend or when you think you won’t have fun at karaoke, just say yes and see what happens. You will undoubtedly surprise yourself! Say yes now because in a few years, yes may no longer be an option. You only have a limited number of adventure filled outings with your friends, blasting the year’s top hit and laughing until your eyes water. Use them wisely.

Six, embrace the conversations you get to have with people. Professors will take an interest and invest in you, be sure to take advantage and ask them the hard questions about your career choices, publishing papers you wrote for class, and just getting to know professionals in your field. You will meet your forever friends and build friendships stronger than anything you’ve known. Enjoy the late-night conversations, discuss your fears with them, and relish the moments they offer advice.

Seven, involvement is the key to living a great college experience. Some people go through college never “formally” involved in clubs or organizations and have a great college experience. However, they’re likely heavily involved in a group of friends. They are not sitting at home (and I mean their home, not their apartment or college dorm), hanging with the family just as they did in high school. My best friend went home almost every weekend of our first year of college, and for the next three years, she said she regretted that and cautioned incoming students against making the same decision she did. Whether you join clubs, become a student leader (shout out to my future RAs), or just get really dedicated to the people you meet (movie nights on Friday, bar trips on Saturday, study sessions Sunday), you need to be involved. Feeling like you have a place in your college community is key to leaving college feeling incredible.

College flies, and I do mean flies, by. You probably feel like four years cannot possibly go quickly, but let me just tell you it does and the first year after graduation is rough because college is such a unique portion of life. College is a vibrant, loud, exciting time. Take it in, allow it to impact you, and revel in the unique community to which you belong.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Planner Envy: The Best Planners for Back to School

Hello, World.

I have a bit of a planner obsession. While many people have turned to electronic forms of planners or calendars, I am still “old school” and prefer paper planners to electronic versions. Planners help me keep my life in order and I often tell people, “If it’s not in my planner, it won’t happen.” As a busy law student, I have a lot to keep track of (class readings, job applications deadlines, Business Law Review responsibilities, social engagements, my personal events, my blogging schedule, etc.), so I need to make sure everything gets written down or else it may be overlooked.

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Over the years, I’ve tried a few different planners and brands, and I’ve definitely loved some while I loathed others. The key to a great planner for me is enough space to write everything and having a month/daily view combo. I like seeing my month “at a glance,” but I also want the room to plan my days. In high school, I used a planner akin to the Day Designer, which I loved for that time in my life. In college, I lived and died by the Passion Planner. Honestly, I had so much going on in a single day that the Passion Llanner kept everything clear and easy to track.

In law school, I went from the Simplified Planner to a Lilly Pulitzer Planner to a Rifle Paper Co. planner. I settled on the Rifle Paper Co. planner as the best for law school because I decided to-do lists worked better for me in law school. I also liked the freedom of how I planned my day. I didn’t have to plan by the hour but it had more structure than just a bunch of lines. Though the Simplified Planner works GREAT for a lot of people, I didn’t like it because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I didn’t love that the hourly layout because I had a lot of classes that started at 11:15 then ended at 12:50 and I didn’t like that I couldn’t show that with precision in my planner. The Lilly Planners are great for many of my friends, but I just didn’t like the layout. I don’t totally know why, but it didn’t work for me. I liked the clean cream pages of the Rifle Paper Co. Planner and that I had little check boxes to check off items as I went through them.

However, depending on your needs and preferences, I think all four of the above planners are fantastic options for college or graduate school (and even your first job!).

Truly,
Callie leigh

P.S. This year, I will be using the Herb Garden Rifle Paper Co. planner!

Best Backpacks & Bags for School

Hello, World.

As back to school is in full swing, I wanted to share my favorite bags and backpacks for the school year. I used totes all through college but switched to a backpack for law school because the books were so heavy. However, at the end of the year, I got an LL Bean Medium tote and began using it as my book bag. I attribute my switch back to a tote bag to the fact I had bigger gaps between classes, so had an easier time switching out books. I personally prefer totes to backpacks, but backpacks are sometimes more practical and can be stylish as well.

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Madewell Leather Transport Tote | I used this bag in college and love it. I still have it with me in Virginia, but I don’t use it quite as much because sometimes it feels heavy if I need to carry a lot. You know how some bags you can fill to the brim, but it doesn’t feel super heavy? This isn’t one of them. However, this bag is durable and can hold quite a lot! I have the open top, but I recommend getting the zipped version if you worry about your bag tipping over and such.

Madewell Canvas Transport Tote | I haven’t personally used this bag, but I imagine it’s similar to the leather version. I love canvas for bags because it’s pliable and comfortable on the arm. I’m not sure how the canvas feels when it’s filled, but I love the green canvas enough to consider it!

LL Bean Boat & Tote | I recently got this bag. I’d been eyeing it for a few years and finally decided to bite the bullet. I am so happy I did! The bag is a great size, not too huge, but not too small. It fits a ton. I used it mostly during my finals study period, and I was always amazed how much I shoved in it… and it never felt heavy. Again, I have the open top, but I also think a zipped top is a great option for school! I’ve definitely had my bag spill over in the car, and it’s not ideal!

Longchamp Le Pliage Tote | Though I’ve been eyeing this bag for years as well, I haven’t purchased it yet. However, I know a ton of people who swear by this bag. My Co-Chair on Honor Council in college used the red version and thought it was the greatest thing ever! So while I can’t say it’s worked for me, I know enough people who love it to include it in this roundup.

Madeline & Company ‘Slim’ Backpack | I saw a post about Madeline & Company a few years ago when she first started and thought her backpacks were really awesome. The only thing I didn’t love was the shape! However, she recently released a slim version that I think would work super well for college or law school or another graduate level degree. I love the faux leather version and I really admire the creator!

Hershel’s Heritage Backpack | I saw this backpack all over my college campus! I also see it all over the undergrad campus at William and Mary. I’ve never personally used it, but I know it is a popular brand that is in constant demand. They have so many fun prints and colors!

North Face Women’s Recon Backpack | I use North Face for my backpacks ordinarily and I usually really like them. They always have tons of storage and room, which is great for busy college students running from class to meetings to outings with friends. As a graduate student, their backpacks are great for fitting a lot of books, research, and notes.

What’s your go to bag? What’s your favorite from the bags featured here?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Starting a New Semester: Tips for Starting a College Semester Strong

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Hello, World.

As I’m gearing up for a new semester of law school, I miss the days of preparing for a semester of college. Not that I don’t enjoy law school, but getting ready for a law school semester is different than getting ready for college. I remember in college my biggest fear was the method of note-taking I would use. So, I wanted to share my tips for gearing up for a new semester of college and how you can have a successful mentality that will lead to tangible success.

The key to having a good semester is preparing for it properly. In college, I always prepared for a new semester by purchasing new school supplies, meditating, and reading up on the classes I was taking. New semesters are kind of like the new year. People have “resolutions” if you will. I always used to say “this semester I’ll workout regularly,” which rarely happened if at all. I knew people who would say “I’m definitely going to get enough sleep. 7 hours every night!” I even had a resident who said she was going to stop skipping class. However, new semester resolutions, much like new year’s resolutions often fail. So, today I wanted to share my best tips for starting a new semester successfully… and keeping the success going all the way through finals.

Designate study hours || Examine your schedule. Figure out when you’ll be busy with class or extra curriculars and attempt to figure out the best hours to study and finish homework. I know this might seem too regimented, but honestly knowing what part of the day you’re going to devote to studying will make your life easier. The hours that you set aside with become a habit and will begin to feel like your productive time – the time to get s*it done.

Form a Study Group || If you prefer to study alone, find friends that also prefer to study alone and ask them if they want to go with you to study, but you can study individually. My roommate and I “study together” regularly, but what this actually means is we sit and do independent work. However, having someone there who is being productive motivates me and I think the same is true vice versa. If you enjoy studying with people, find a study group you enjoy (that is productive) and meet with them throughout the semester.

Get School Supplies || When I have good school supplies, it makes doing work easier. I like to stay organizes, and post-its, page tabs, colored pens, etc. make this a breeze. I like to have colorful school supplies and a rainbow of options for pens. I color code everything and there’s something about colorful, cute school supplies that makes me feel more motivated!

Go to Office Hours || I highly recommend going to your professor’s office hours throughout the semester. This may be hard to believe, but most professors actually like you to go their office hours. I found that I built the best relationships with professors whose office hours I attended. Whether it was to get feedback on a draft of my paper or just checking in or going over something in the reading I wanted to talk through, I got to know my professors and it made me more comfortable in class! I tend to be quiet in large groups so open discussion was hard for me to adjust to, but getting to know my professor made it easier for me to participate. Whenever I got nervous, I just looked at my professor and imagined I was having another conversation with just them.

Plan at least two weekend activities per month || College goes so quickly and it’s important to make time for your social life. Making commitments with friends for at least two weekends per month (doing something fun and different) in advance will ensure you are experiencing new things and stepping out of the little college bubble. It’s so easy to just stay on campus or go to the same few places, but committing to new things will expand your college experience as a whole.

Study All Semester || It’s often tempting to cram studying for finals into the end of the semester. However, if you work hard and review all semester you won’t need to cram. Rather you can review and study the areas you’re really unsure about, which will allow you to tailor your studying to focus on the areas in all classes that need attention. If you study all semester and stay on top of your work, you won’t feel the horrible panic of finals!

How do you prepare for a new semester? What was your favorite tip in this post?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

Dorm Rooms Inspired by My Favorite TV Characters

Hello, World.

I remember when I first moved in the dorms my freshman year of college pretty vividly. I felt like I totally over packed ( I did). I felt nervous that my belongings wouldn’t fit (some didn’t). I worried that once I got my room all set up it wouldn’t look as good or as home-y as I wanted (it did). Today, I am sharing designs for dorm rooms based on my three favorite TV characters – Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, and Rory Gilmore. As much as I love my room in Virginia, I love decorating new spaces, so picking out pieces for each room’s mood board was fun!

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First up, Aria Montgomery. Aria is from Pretty Little Liars, which recently had its series finale. She’s artsy, bookish, funky, and, foremost, eclectic. The thing I always liked about Aria’s style is the unique look she has, featuring unconventional pattern pairs, lots of random animals, soft but noticeable accessories. I tried to create a dorm that resembles the room she has during the show’s high school years but also wanted to make it feel more like a college freshman as opposed to a high school student.

I chose a lot of natural, warm elements because such elements, to me, are most reminiscent of Aria. I also wanted to include a lot of pillows because Aria’s spaces are all warm and comfortable, which to me means pillows and lots of them. I tried to mix patterns and texture with the pillows since a bed is the focal point of a dorm (it serves as a bed, a couch, a hangout area, etc.). Aria also seems like a person who would have a throw blanket for cold dorm nights. I also imagined that Aria would want photos on display, so put a cork board above the bed that has a world map on it. Additionally, I thought the letter board felt retro and uniquely Aria, a trend she would probably have adopted before it was cool ( a nod to all the hipster spirits in the room).

For bedding, I picked a gray tone with a slightly girly detail. I love the tables, which I imagine Aria will leave stacks of books and old coffee cups on while she runs to and from class. A faux wooden trash bin also seemed to fit Aria’s room design. I pulled warm gold tones and neutral storage boxes to complement the natural, but the warm vibe I wanted to encompass. Music is important to the TV show and Aria (B-26, anyone?), so I wanted to pull a pair of headphones I could see Aria wearing around campus. Finally, her shower caddy wouldn’t look like any old shower caddy, so I picked a cute pattern from PB Teen.

I love Aria Montgomery, and her style was definitely informative for my own. Designing a dorm room for her was so fun, and I hope it brings a little inspiration to those of you living in a dorm this year or a smaller apartment!

Pillows: Kitty | Fringe | Moon | Namastay in Bed | Pattern | Velvet

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Second, we have Spencer Hastings, the embodiment of a stylish academic. Preppy and feminine, I wanted Spencer’s room to have an elegant feel but remain young. I also wanted the decorations to reflect Spencer’s ambition and drive. Spoiler alert: you get a glimpse of Spencer’s dorm in a flashback, and it was way too bland to be real.  Anyway, I started with a velvet duvet in a soft gray tone (a nice shade that’s more durable than white but still light and neutral). Similar to Aria, I imagine Spencer would have a decent amount of pillows. However, I wanted to mix her preppy upbringing with the more laid-back feel her style takes on by the final high school season of the show. I mixed crisp blue and white pillows with cream and floral patterns for the pillows. For wall art, I chose pieces that are most appropriate for her: Latin to reflect the time spent studying, a horse art piece to show appreciation for her equestrian background, and the spines of “books” with great qualities topped with glasses to illuminate her studious attitude.

For a pinboard, I liked the gold scalloping and burlap texture. I also imagine Spencer takes organization and school supplies rather seriously, so chose a clean, clear paper organizer and a preppier print for the storage boxes. I also included a pencil cup from Kate Spade. I imagine Spencer is a “go go go” kind of college student, so included a travel cup for her coffee so she can always have some with her. Finally, I feel like shower caddies are SO important but an oft forgot item, so I chose a pink, practical caddy from PB Teen for Spencer.

Pillows: Bow | & Symbol | Grecian Print | Rise & Shine | Whales | Shag

I personally believe I am a mixture of Aria and Spencer in how I decorate! screen-shot-2017-08-08-at-1-50-57-pm.png

Finally, we have the one and only Rory Gilmore. To clarify, her “dorm” at Yale was unrealistically large. I mean, maybe Yale gives nice rooms to first-year students, but her suites always felt more like apartments. Still, for my version of Rory’s room, I chose to focus on the things that she couldn’t live without, which are coffee and her academics (books, laptop, killer book bag). I think Rory would definitely have a coffee maker, which today would be a Keurig. Additionally, to have coffee she would need some great mugs. A simple navy and white mug, a ruled paper print mug, and a “coffee before talkie” mug all seem to fit the bill.

I also chose a marble hard top case for Rory’s laptop, as its stylish but also protects her computer. I also believe the Mark & Graham travel tote would function as a great book bag. A few wall hangings I picked for Rory’s design highlight her love of books, coffee, and becoming the next Christiane Amanpour. To pay homage to her Harvard turned Yale dream board in her childhood bedroom, I also included a Yale pennant. Rory seemed practical and not “frilly,” if you will, with her decorations so I chose a practical caddy. For bedding, I stayed simple with few pillows (1, 2) as I think Rory’s decorating style is far more simple than most.

Which design is your favorite?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

Guide to Graduate School Admissions

Stylish Academic's Guide to Graduate School Admissions

photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

Hello, World.

I’m so excited because today’s post is a guest post featuring one my best friends, Holly! You’ve probably seen her alluded to or featured in many of my college posts. She’s the Paris Gellar to my Rory Gilmore. While my blog focuses pretty heavily on college and law school, I realized that I want to be able to reach all stylish academics, but I don’t have enough personal knowledge to speak about graduate school admissions or experiences (graduate: excluding law or medical school). Then one afternoon, I realized I should call in the best person I know to speak of such things: my best friend! So, today on the blog, Holly will be sharing her experiences with graduate school admissions. The post is riddled with tips and tricks for making the process as painless as possible. I hope you enjoy. I will put the disclaimer out there that Holly is pursuing a M.A. in History at the present time, so her knowledge is tailored to that field. However, I do think her tips are useful for any graduate program, but obviously be sure to do your own research about your individual program.


I knew as early as high school that I was destined for graduate school. Though the desire to punish yourself with 2-7 more years of advanced education is not a decision everyone makes so early in their life, nothing can prepare you for the roller coaster that is graduate school. I studied history for my Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in undergrad, so naturally, I decided that my future was destined for the halls of academia. A life of teaching as a professor and writing historical books and articles appealed to me. While all my best friends in undergrad chose the route of law school, I was the only one who pursued a conventional graduate program. The major hurdle on the road to graduate school was actually applying and surviving, the harrowing process of graduate admissions. Unlike law school, whose admissions process is similar to undergraduate admission, the graduate admissions process (at least in the field of history) is vastly different. Since I have successfully survived the process (though not without a lot of rejections, tears, and comfort food), I am offering my two cents and encouraging support for anyone who intends to take the same crazy adventure on which I embarked.

First thing first, as soon as you discover you want to pursue advanced degrees, find out what kind of standardized test you have to take and start studying for it. For most conventional grad programs the test is the GRE. I know, it’s the words that no one wants to hear. But, the sooner you can take the exam and get it out of the way, it will give you more time to focus on the actual admissions process. Since I knew early on that I was pursuing graduate-level degrees, I took a GRE prep course at the end of the spring semester my junior year of college and then took the actual exam over the summer before senior year started. All I can say is that no matter how you slice it, standardized tests suck. Luckily, in most cases, the university won’t give two figs what you actually scored. Still, if you want to take it again go ahead and take it again. That’s the benefit of taking it early!

The second part of the process starts with countless hours googling potential advisors and programs of interest. All grad programs are unique, but in the case of history, whether you are pursuing an M.A. or a Ph.D., keep this in mind: you’re shopping for an advisor, not school name recognition. Name recognition of particular schools (e.g. Harvard, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, etc.) is not nearly as important as the professor who is going to serve as your advisor for the next 2-5 years of school. That is not to say that I am discouraging anyone from attending those schools (because seriously if you get in then go). I am just saying that big name schools are not the only way to go. Many brilliant and well-respected historians teach at universities that aren’t Ivy League or typical big name institutions. Your academic advisor in graduate school (at least in history) is everything. They are not only responsible for guiding you through your program, but they are responsible for whether your pass your comprehensive exams and/or your thesis or dissertation. Their name will be linked to yours if you are applying for a job as a professor later so you want to choose an advisor who is respectful to you, respected in the field, and has a good track record of landing graduates jobs after graduation. How do you find an advisor? Bust out your FBI hat and start googling. This requires knowing what you want to study. So at least have a general idea of what want to pursue in grad school. If you know that much, you can start looking up different schools and finding people who study what you like to study. Another way to go about this is reading different academic journal articles or books about what you like and finding where the authors are currently teaching. Or, you could go the old fashioned way and ask your undergrad professors if they have colleagues or know of any professors who study what you like. The most important thing to do is to email the professor you’re interested in and introduce yourself and express your interests. Also, make it clear that you are contemplating applying to their program and inquire whether they will be accepting graduate students for the next year. A professor who responds (because to be honest not all professors will answer your email) is likely to be brutally honest about whether they are accepting grad students or are interested in your research. So if a response expresses interest in you and your area of study, then do not hesitate in building a professional email relationship with that person. Professors hold a lot of power in graduate admissions so any morsel of communication and interest is helpful to the process.

Once you can narrow where you want to apply and who you want to work with, then you can start the real application process. Basic requirements for a history program will include three letters of recommendation (which should be from professors you have worked closely with or who know you and can attest to your work), a writing sample (of anywhere between 15-30 pages), a letter of intent (which should state: “I want to study –” and “I would like to work with Professor(s) —”), and transcripts from every college level institution you attended (and I do mean every. single. school.) Some schools may also require a CV or resume and a statement on language proficiency levels (fun fact: you’ll need foreign languages for history). Keep track of all the requirements, deadlines, and the like in a spreadsheet of some kind. Kiss your wallet goodbye and wave as the fees for applications, GRE scores, and transcripts make your bank account a barren desert and then begin the awful process of waiting.

This is the stage of the process that I think is akin to setting yourself on fire in misery while everyone else is happily going about their own business. If I could do this whole process over again, I’d omit one very large, and very bad, decision. Since I knew I was going to be a professor I decided to apply to all Ph.D. programs straight out of undergrad. It can be done (in fact I know many who have done it) but I do not advise it. Trust me, there is nothing wrong with doing an M.A. before the Ph.D., even if you already know you want the Ph.D.. While my friends were receiving what felt like numerous acceptances to different law schools, I waited, and waited, and waited, only to receive crushing rejection letters. Sometimes it wasn’t just one rejection in a day, but multiple. There is no way to describe how utterly discouraged, defeated, and depressed I felt about the rejections. I tried to put on a happy face and be happy for my friends, but truth be told every time they talked about where they were thinking of going I wanted to curl into a ball and cry. I had phenomenal grades, amazing recommendations, teaching experience, and numerous other things on my CV that I considered assets to my admission into graduate school. But, at every turn, I was being told, ‘sorry kid but we don’t want you.’ My friends didn’t know what to say, my family didn’t know what to say, and I faced the very real reality that I would need a plan B.

I am writing this now in an effort to make it clear that despite how scarring the experience was, it’s not the end of the world if you receive rejections. It certainly made me feel like I was a failure at the time, but getting punched in the face by grad school admissions doesn’t make anyone a failure. I wish I’d kept this phrase in my mind throughout the whole process: IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, TRY AND TRY AGAIN. Part of life is learning how to fail and face rejection. I don’t think I ever truly knew what it felt like to fail or be rejected before that moment in time. But, this whole process was unique. It was a unique lesson and at the end of the day, I am grateful for the rollercoaster that it was. Learn to fail and learn not to take it personally. Graduate admissions exemplify how not personal many failures and rejections are. Graduate admissions contain many anomalies. How many students does the program already have? How many people were competing for the same advisor? Did the department have enough funding for x amount of students? How many graduate students are your potential advisor already supervising? Is the professor going on sabbatical? All of these questions and numerous others are just a sampling of the variables that are taken into account when accepting graduate students. They symbolize not only how my rejections and failure were in no way personal, but about bureaucracy, logistics, and matters out of my control. If you’re put into the position of utter defeat by something like grad admissions, or by something else, then have your moment to grieve, pick yourself up, and keep going forward.

It turned out for me that I didn’t need a plan B. While I was at work one day my father texted me a picture of a letter from Boston College. I told him to open the letter, thinking that if it were a rejection he would at least be able to soften the blow for me. It was the last school that I heard anything from. He replied with a picture of the letter. It read, “Your application for admission has been reviewed by a faculty committee in the Department of History. While you were not recommended for admission to the Department’s doctoral program, the committee would like to extend an offer of admission to the Department’s Master of Arts program.” I was absolutely stunned. It turns out that in the application process there was a small and discreet little box that stated something like ‘would you like to be considered for the department’s M.A. program if you’re not accepted for the Ph.D.?’ For whatever reason, I don’t remember why, I was compelled to check that little box and thought nothing of it after the application was submitted. Turns out that little box really saved my bacon. It did bring up new challenges about finances and moving across the country, but my dream was to be an academic and at that point I would take any steps necessary to get there.

I have since completed my first year in the M.A. program. I will be applying to Ph.D. programs this fall and though I am still suffering from immense anxiety about going through the whole application process again, I know this time around that I won’t let rejection put my dreams on hold. One way or another, as long as you keep moving forward, it will all work out in the end.


Guest Post- Holly
Thank you, Holly! If you have questions about graduate school or Boston College, please email us at bottledcreativityblog@gmail.com or comment below. I will forward all graduate-related questions to Holly.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Collecting Qs

Hello, World.

In August I plan to do a Question & Answer post series. I’m answering all questions relating to college and law school! Now, this can mean a lot of things. You don’t have to ask me just about school or classes. Lifestyle questions are ok too! If you want to hear about making friends, eating healthy, or where the best coffee is (and how to know), those are all great questions as well.

Please asks your questions through this Google Form or by commenting below!
Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Doing It All

Stylish Academic's Guide to Doing ItALL.png

Hello, World.

I was having a conversation with an alumnus of my law school last weekend, and he mentioned that law associates who come in guns blazing, who charge the highest amount and work all hours of the week won’t [usually] last a year at his firm. Then he mentioned that it’s the same for law school – some students go in so hot that by the second semester, they cannot hang anymore. So, why is burnout such a real problem among young professionals and how do we prevent being one of the shooting stars (this is a How to Get Away With Murder reference, which if you aren’t watching, I recommend you start! So wickedly entertaining)? Well, a lot of not burning out is pacing yourself and preparing properly.

I watched a fellow law student my 1L year constantly stay up until the wee hours of the morning, only to get up early to be able to commute to school. This person worked constantly, rarely taking breaks and sort of overworking himself past the point of efficient studying. There were a few times I watched him fall asleep in class. I mean, if you’re sleeping through lecture, you cannot possibly be helping yourself. Also, if I noticed, there is a high probability the professor noticed considering we sat in the second row. At the time, I just kept feeling like that lifestyle just wasn’t sustainable. When I had my first day of property second semester, my professor, an older man who’s been teaching for years, said something about how last semester was over and the people who did well may do worse and the people who didn’t do well may do better.

Well, burnout was real, and a lot of those people who burned the midnight oil in the library looked so tired and worn out. A similar burnout occurs during finals. People don’t pace themselves, and by their last exam, their fingers flutter over their keyboard at a lag and their eyes don’t stay open without effort. Doing it all can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are smart strategies for getting it all done without suffering from complete burnout. So, today I want to offer my guide to getting it all done and remaining intact in the process.

Going back to How to Get Away With Murder for a moment, the law students who are referred to as the “Keating five” seem to be doing it all. They seem to be the top of their class, assisting their professor in criminal case trials, having a personal life, and covering up murders. I mean, the five stars are busy people. One of the interesting things about TV that we all know? It’s scripted and only shows us the highlights. We obviously don’t need twenty minutes of footage where the law students are studying in the library. The fact they study is implied by their status as a law student. However, there could be twenty minutes of footage of someone studying or someone working and it wouldn’t be inaccurate, just boring. Still, those boring moments contribute to the person’s outward success (if the students don’t study, their grades suffer, and ultimately they may lose their status as one of the chosen criminal law students). The boring moments are part of the “doing it all.” The reason we don’t focus on them, however, is because we focus on people’s major moments even though we are well aware that there’s much more that goes into that moment.

ONE || Find something that releases stress. The quickest way to get it all done without killing yourself is having something that you love that doesn’t cause stress. In fact, it shouldn’t be a neutral activity, but an activity that actively releases your stress. If you do not have something that releases your stress, you’ll be too stressed out to get everything done well. Remember, a lot of people get everything done, but they cut corners and don’t always get it all done properly.

TWO || Stay aware of your limits. Become familiar with any limits you have, and stay aware of them. If you know you are not someone who can work on Sunday nights, build a schedule that excludes Sunday night working. If you know you’re not someone who works well with a certain personality type, figure out ways in which working with that personality becomes easier (or figure a way to work with them less). Knowing your limits allows you to better play to your strengths.

THREE || Do what makes you happy. This may seem like an odd tip, but I feel like doing it all doesn’t really mean anything if you aren’t doing what you love. It’s a lot easier to stay vigilant and motivated if you love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, chances are every step on your career road will feel like you’re weighted down.

FOUR || Be selective. You can do it all, but when I say all I mean you can do everything you want to do. If you don’t want to do something, you are wasting precious time. When I was in college, my friend proposed that I try to be Co-Editor-in-Chief with her for the school newspaper. I thought initially, yeah, that’d be a good resume builder. However, after more thought, I realized it wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do and I knew my efforts would be better spent on the things I loved. So, be selective in what you want to do, then do it all!

FIVE || Stay organized. When you’re trying to do too many things at once, chances are something slips through the cracks. So, make sure you have a well-established system of staying on top of your tasks and commitments. For me, I make to-do lists. Loads of to-do lists. To-do lists help me track what needs to get done when. I put them in order of highest priority to lowest priority. I also have a section of things I should get done if I have a really productive day and finish my to-list early.

My final tip is this: doing it all is about preparation. You can do it all, but you want to be sure you’re prepared for what’s coming and that you remain in control of your schedule. If you become overwhelmed, you’ll probably start to let things slide, and your work product is diminished. Stay on top of your life and make strategic moves in your career. Look at things with the big picture in mind (aka do NOT get bogged down in too many details, but don’t lose sight of making sure the details are right). Life is about balance. If you are unbalanced, you cannot succeed because you will not know how to handle a heavier workload, a moved-up timeline, etc. Doing a lot of preparation on the front end will make the end result much better (and far more stress-free).

How do you do it all?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Are the Bad Boy and the Bad Friend Really Different?

If a friend treats your with the same tenderness they'd treat gum on their shoe, they may not be your friend..png

Hello, World.

I was in the fourth grade the first time I was friends with someone who consistently hurt my feelings. This may not seem unusual, I mean fourth graders can be pretty rude little creatures. The thought of my precious niece having to deal with “mean girls” in elementary and middle school makes me physically sick. I dealt with mean girls from a pretty young age. I used to think something was wrong with me. I used to think it was always my fault that something was going wrong with friends. Then I realized that kids change their opinions on literally everything so frequently, it’s hard to know if changing their mind about friendship is personal or not. However, when you’re a fourth grade girl who hangs out with her best friend one night after school, getting stomach cramps from laughing so hard, only to walk into class the next day and have her glare at you and ignore every attempt to talk to her, it’s hard to see that behavior as anything but personal.

Fourth grade and my twenties aren’t that different when it comes to friendships in all honesty. People say romantic relationships are riskier than friendships… I disagree. I personally invest far more of myself into a friendship than I do a relationship. Maybe this will change, but when I make friends, I want to be friends with the person for a long time. Also, I think it’s easier to feel less afraid of a friend hurting you than a potential suitor. How many of us go into friendships with the same guards up as we do when we’re dating someone new? We aren’t as guarded because we haven’t necessarily been scorned the same way by our friends. Sure, friends have falling outs as the years go by, but friends drifting apart is natural. It’s something that people typically don’t bat an eye at in life. Oh, you grew apart from so and so? Ms. Whatshername stopped calling after moving to a new place? That’s just part of life! I once wrote an open letter to the friends I’d fallen out of touch with, and I think falling out of touch is healthy sometimes and it really is normal. As frustrating as it can be, sometimes life just takes people different places and you’re no longer speaking the same language.

However, sometimes we don’t drift apart from people, even when we should. Some friendships seem great on the surface but are actually terrible for us. Why is it that we can recognize a bad boy a mile away, and know immediately the boy is bad for us, but when a bad friend is staring us down, we pretend like the boy and the friend are not made of the same cloth? We’ve grown up hearing about the exception to the rule in men. The Mr. Darcy versus the Mr. Mayer. There is a nice guy out there, just waiting to be found. Yet we don’t have the same scrutiny when it comes to friends. We accept friends like free samples handed out in the mall. We meet new people, find a common interest and bam! We’re friends. There’s so much less fear, no endless moments of thinking, “am I doing this right?” I’ve had a lot of unhealthy friendships in my life. In fact, those mornings in fourth grade made me scared that I was going to walk up to my friends one day and have them not like me, partly because the pattern that started in fourth grade was repeated in eighth grade and sophomore year of high school, until one day I decided to just stop trying to be friends with people who couldn’t decide if I was worthy of their friendship. If they couldn’t decide, they didn’t deserve my friendship. However, when I got to college, I encountered a group of people who were constantly rude to me for no apparent reason. My fourth-grade insecurities came to a head, and I ended up ugly crying in my towel to a friend. That’s when I made the decision final: if someone was going to treat me with the same amount of concern they would treat gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe, they didn’t need to be my friend.

Toxic friendships are hard to spot. They come in all different forms, some friends are passive aggressive, some are aggressive, some are so hot and cold the constant fluctuations give you whiplash. The first time I saw a toxic friendship play out in a big way was in the movie Something Borrowed (book and movie). Ironically, my oldest friend and I joke that we are similar to Darcy and Rachel, but not because of the toxicity of their friendship. We’re just opposites who happen to be best friends [the similarities stop there, though. Trust me.]. Anyway, Darcy and Rachel seem to be best friends on the surface, but the deeper you dig, the more you realize the friendship is incredibly draining and Darcy is consistently acting in such a way as to belittle Rachel. Though they seem like such great friends, the friendship is killing Rachel. No friend should belittle you. I had a law school friend who I talked to a ton first semester but took a step back from the second semester. The perception of myself as a law student, without their influence, was a stark contrast. I no longer felt like I was doing something wrong for not getting something immediately. I don’t want to go too far into it, but let’s just say I realized, with some distance between us, that their small comments were actually contributing heavily to my self-doubt and feelings of incompetence.

I’d like to conclude with this: you may not recognize a bad friend with the immediacy you would recognize a bad boy, but you should develop enough confidence in yourself to know that if someone is making you feel less than or inadequate or like they’re doing you a favor by being your friend, you’re most likely better without them.

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Have you ever had a toxic friend? How did you know? What did you do to change the situation?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Dorm Room Decorating Tips

Hello, World.

One of things I miss most about college is decorating a dorm room. While I absolutely love my house in Virginia and wouldn’t change how I decorated my room, I treated dorm rooms like blank slates. I loved that you could change a few simple details and feel like you had a whole new room. So, today I am here with my best advice for making a home in your dorm room! There are many things that can transform the often small space that is a dorm room into a cozy home that you will enjoy returning to at the end of a long study day.

Making your dorm room

Photo by Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash 

One || Less is more. I think the only thing that didn’t work for me in a dorm room was the space…obviously. On-campus housing typically offers pretty tight quarters, unless you live in an apartment style room (and even still there are space issues). The best thing you can do to feel at home without feeling claustrophobic is maximizing space. How do you do this? Well, you pick what you are willing to sacrifice space for, and then save space everywhere else. Saving space means maximizing space. In order to maximize space, you should try to figure out ways to create dual-functionality. I used to have desk in my room that was a desk for most of the day, and a makeup /get ready table in the morning and evening. However, I fought clutter by storing my “get ready” materials (hair brushes, curling irons, blow dryer, makeup, etc.) under my bed or in my bottom desk drawer.

Two || Make it your own with the largest items. If you’re unsure how to bring your personality out or make yourself more comfortable, I advocate choosing pieces that speak to you and that will be clearly displayed. For example, spend a little extra time finding bedding that resembles your personality. If you are happy and cheerful, pick a vibrant duvet that you won’t get sick of in a few months. Or, if you are more simple and understated, a classic white eyelet may be a better choice. I think there a a few spaces you can bring your personality out: the bed and the desk. Let’s be honest, the bed and the desk are basically most of the dorm room. You may have other spaces, but the bed and the desk are the main areas. Create a collage or gallery wall above your bed (while conforming to all wall hanging rules). Add a vase of flowers to your bookshelf!

Three || Shop the sale. A lot of popular stores have back to school specials, and I definitely recommend taking advantage of the sales. PB Teen always has great bedding bundles. While the price may seem a little steep, they are built to last you four years, so it’s well worth it! Follow the stores you like who sell dorm furnishings or accessories, and try to track when they offer sales! Another pro tip: many places discount their items after peak move-in season, so if there is something you like, but don’t need immediately, wait and by the middle of September, it’ll probably be on sale.

Four || Consult your roommate. There may be decoration ideas that you think are brilliant, but your roommate may think are not brilliant. For example, I wanted to buy a rug for my dorm room my sophomore year. I thought it’d be a chic, grown-up addition to the room. I asked my roommate, however, before I made a purchase. I knew there was a possibility that my rug would go into her space, and I didn’t know if she’d be okay with a rug. She gave me the green light, so I ordered a rug. However, we quickly learned part of the reason it was so cheap is because it shed… everywhere. I ended up removing the rug at Christmas because we were both sick of our stuff being covered in tan colors shavings (it was one of those neutral  knot rugs). The point here is make sure your roommate is okay with your design choices, especially when they may affect her space!

I plan to do a “get dorm room ready with me” post soon where I will style a few dorm rooms. In the meantime, what are your favorite places to shop? If you’re beginning college, what kind of decorations are you hoping to do?

Truly,
Callie leigh