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

 

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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

Choosing a College

Hello, World.

Even though we haven’t gotten to spring break yet, I wanted to share a post about picking a college! I know a lot of people are probably in the process of hearing back from schools, or anxiously awaiting the emails (or envelope) that roll in beginning around this time and continue through March.

I remember being SO incredibly anxious when I was applying to college (and again when law school application season came). I was young, and stubborn, and insisted on applying early to what I thought was my dream school (an Ivy League that was both out of my league and not a good fit for me). I got the rejection in December, and after a few pity parties, I reevaluated my options, and the VERY NEXT DAY after being rejected, my acceptance from Saint Mary’s came. It was almost like a sign, if you believe in signs. I waited to make my decision, though, until I heard from every college I applied to, which was kind of a lot.

Once I had all the offers in front of me, I decided to make pro con lists, and visit the schools I was accepted to, but hadn’t seen yet. So, today I’ll share what went into my decision-making process five (!!!) years ago! [Note: I feel SO old writing that. I cannot believe my senior year of high school was five years ago…]

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  1. Take a Tour | I personally feel that touring a college can make or break your opinion, and ultimately your decision, about a college. I toured various schools when I was applying to college, and each tour was very distinct. In fact, I could probably tell you which tours left the best and worst impressions. I did an extended post about college tours a few years back, and still stand by everything I said then!
  2. Chat with Current Students | When I was applying to law schools, I was blown away that numerous current students from William and Mary emailed me and answered all my questions SO thoroughly. I think if you can chat with current students, whether on campus, through email, or over the phone, you can figure out if you’d like to be friends with people who comprise the student body. If you don’t really feel like you could be friends with current students, that may be a bad sign about the fit of the college!
  3. Make a List of Must-Haves | If there are things you really really want out of your college experience, make sure the place you choose can deliver them. You want Greek like? Maybe don’t attend a school that doesn’t have Greek. Do you want to be walking distance from independent coffee houses? Check out Berkeley, or schools that are located near a unique town!
  4. Talk to Faculty | Are the faculty you talk with people you’d want to learn from? People you’d want to build relationships with? If you feel like the faculty aren’t invested in students, maybe look elsewhere. But at the same time, if you want to keep a low profile, maybe that’s a positive for you!
  5. Class Size | Do you want to be a name or a number? If you’re constantly taking classes with 250+ people, you probably won’t get the individualized education you could get at a college that’s average class has 25 students. Class size can affect A LOT about your education, so make sure you figure out what you want. A way to figure this out? Sit in on a class at a large university and at a small university, and compare!
  6. Financial Aid Package/Scholarship Opportunities | College is a very expensive endeavor, so you want to assess the financial aid you will receive from schools. Additionally, a lot of schools offer merit based scholarships, and if you get one, it can be a huge help to footing the educational bill.  So, look into those opportunities!
  7. Spend a day in the town you’ll be living in | I think sometimes when you visit campus, you get a bit swept up in the experience, and forget to really evaluate if the town around the college is somewhere you’d want to live. I toured Santa Clara University, and hated the surrounding area. When I visited Saint Mary’s, I liked that Moraga was quaint, and that I had really easy access to San Francisco, Berkeley, and Walnut Creek. All the city amenities were there if I wanted them, but I wasn’t in the middle of them, which made for a better academic environment! However, if you want to be in a hustle and bustle city, go check out the city, see what it’s like, and make sure it’s somewhere you want to spend ample time! Cities vary greatly, so make sure the city you’ll be living in is the kind of city you like.

So, I could share more tips, but I feel like the above seven are the biggest indicators that you’ll be happy somewhere… or not! If you have individual questions, feel free to email me! I love hearing from readers, and now that I have college admissions at arms length, I like helping people figuring out what’s best for them!

Truly,
Callie leigh

Textbook Buying Tips

Hello, World.

I know many schools have already started their spring semesters, but seeing as my school hasn’t started yet, I wanted to share my tips for buying textbooks. As an English major, I usually need several books per class, partially because my books are usually novels. For spring semester this year, I need 31 books. Yes, 31. Can you believe it? I couldn’t when I found out. I feel like 31 books for a single semester is just mad. But alas, they are required and I had to buy them. Since I had to buy so many books, I looked into a few ways of purchasing them. Now I’d like to share some tips.
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1. Assess what books you have to buy from your campus bookstore. I almost always have to buy course readers through the bookstore. These are usually expensive, but only sold through the bookstore on campus because they are college and class specific. These books will need to be bought first. From there, you can make a list of books you still need to buy.
2. Determine which books you can buy used.
I typically buy general ed class textbooks used because I usually don’t plan on keeping them or needing them. I’m also not as picky about what is written in them when I read them. For major classes, however, I buy my books new.
3. Go to your local used bookstore.
I prefer to shop local, so I usually go to my local used bookstore to see if any of my novels or books are for sale there. I can usually find a fairly good amount of novels at my local bookstore.
4. Look on Chegg or Amazon.
Amazon and Chegg always have good prices. The cool thing about Amazon is they now offer a rental option if it’s a large textbook you have zero intention of using again. Amazon also has better prices than places like Barnes and Noble and others. Also, if you have amazon prime, you basically get the best price possible.
5. Buy online or e-book versions.
If you can, and your professor allows, buy textbooks in e-book or online versions. This saves loads of money, and will ensure you don’t have to deal with a pesky hard-copy if it isn’t a vital textbook.

How do you find great textbook deals?

Truly,
Callie leigh