Stylish Academic’s Guide to Avoiding Drama in College

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Hello, World.

Remember when Gossip Girl sent a blast announcing the Upper East Side crew wasn’t done with her upon high school graduation and that she would be following them to college? I think we all inhaled and exhaled so sharply in that moment. Bummer for them, but that meant we had more seasons of Gossip Girl! When you think about one’s first year of college, it’s hard to remember that in August, after moving into your dorm room, you’re really only three or four months away from high school.

Some behavior that’s sometimes normal in high school isn’t always welcome in college. The first being drama. Everyone’s life becomes a lot easier when the drama is stuck in a TV show and doesn’t permeate a person’s real life. Note: though this post is focused on college, I will say that in all stages of life minimal drama is desirable. If I notice someone loves drama and does whatever possible to create it, I quickly side-step interactions with them and minimize my exposure to them. So, I think it’s relatively easy to avoid drama in college, but sometimes it can be difficult because everyone is living in close quarters and if you’re at a small school, most people know each other.

I remember when I moved to my college, I thought it was huge compared to my 300-person high school, but others who went to much bigger high schools thought it was too much like high school [pro tip: size of college is something to really consider when choosing where to attend]. College gossip is real and college drama happens, but I want to share my top tips for minimizing drama:

  1. Surround yourself with positive people. Negative people brew drama like it’s a house roast. Whether intentional or not, negative people tend to create drama because their negativity either rubs off on others OR people vent about the negative person, thus brewing drama.
  2. Keep venting to a minimum. People will annoy you most likely, at one point or another. However, if you’re having issues with someone, either vent to someone you really trust, like your closest friend or your friends from home, or keep it to yourself. The more you vent, the more drama will form.
  3. Acknowledge issues as they happen. If someone annoyed you or hurt you, tell them. Handle your problems with people with them directly. There is no worse thing to do than telling everyone but the person that you’re upset. The more you do this, the more you send two messages: (a) you create drama and (b) you aren’t mature enough to handle your issues responsibly, quickly, and effectively.
  4. Focus on individual friendships. Some people believe the best way to live is to be friends with everyone all the time. That may work for some, but it didn’t work for me or many residents I had in college. When you nurture and develop individual friendships, they tend to be longer lasting and more genuine. I’ve never been someone who could hang out with 5 people at once all the time. Sure, I had “friend groups,” but I always made a point to schedule one-on-one time with all my friends. Whether it was coffee dates, study sessions, shopping outings, etc., I wanted to get to know the person as an individual and not just as a component in a larger group. This way, you know what each person is offering and adding, and you can discern if someone fits well in the group, but isn’t someone you want to seek out one-on-one. This also clarifies who the trustworthy friends are!

Four easy steps to an as-much-as-possible drama free college experience. I think the biggest thing is remembering that people talk. You don’t want to build a reputation as someone who talks negatively about people or stirs drama. Additionally, if you realize someone isn’t a good fit for your life, you can slowly step away from them. This may be difficult, as sometimes they’re very present in your life, but I think minimizing interactions is a great start. That way, it’s not some huge dramatic blowup, but rather a mature departure from the relationship. Drama can come about in ways you weren’t expecting, but it’s always best to be the bigger person! Or, if that doesn’t work, you can do as one of my duty partners did in my RA days: ignore it away!

Truly,
Callie leigh

 

 

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Handling Rejection with Grace: Jobs, Relationships, and Life

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Hello, World.

It seems only fitting the banner image for this post is a street in New York, a city that can eat people up and spit them out. New York City isn’t for the weak, but it is somewhere many people go with a dream that may or may not come to fruition. At the end of the day, some people will inevitably fail while pursuing the dream they so desperately want. Inevitably, we all fail in some aspect of our lives. We won’t just fail once, either. We will fail multiple times in different aspects of lives. However, how one handles that failure says a lot about their character. On the same vein, some failure results from rejection. The rejection that rears its ugly head at the worst, most earth-shattering times is the most damaging, but rejection in any form, even the insignificant, can impact us.

When we want to succeed so badly it hurts, someone telling us, “no, now is not your time,” stings a bit extra. It’s like getting lemon juice in a papercut. So, how do we handle rejection with grace while also subtly saying, “that won’t deter me, but nice try!” to our nay-sayers? Well, I think the biggest thing we can do is not let people in our heads. Don’t let someone’s comments or “not good enough,” insinuations get to you. You can take constructive feedback, but if the comment is just flat out hurtful and beyond the nature of constructive, it’s perfectly fine to disregard. I was scrolling through Twitter the other morning, as so many law students who aren’t ready to face mergers and acquisitions reading do, and I noticed a thread from the author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney that immediately caught my attention and made my thumb lift from the lit-up screen. Her tweet said this:

“When I heard When I heard an agent say a ‘middle-aged woman in a writing class’ was not a client he wanted & I thought I’LL SHOW YOU #misfitsmanifesto”

When I read this, I wondered what had spurred it. There wasn’t anything in particular that preceded this in her feed that indicated it was a response to something. However, following this tweet, there was another:

“So don’t listen to dummies and don’t be discouraged. Just make your manuscript the best you can.”

I liked the sentiment of the tweets because the author is encouraging people to ignore those that say such rude, condescending things, and keep pushing forward. The agent who said this was rejecting D’Aprix Sweeney as an author, belittling her work in the process, but D’Aprix Sweeney, rather than curling up and crying, said, “hm. let me prove you wrong.” She may not have said it to the agent’s face, but she took action to become a successful author whose novel is the topic of book clubs and Goodreads threads around the world. This is, of course, just one example of someone handling rejection well. However, handling rejection isn’t easy…handling it well is even harder.

Rejection is just part of life, unfortunately. Whether we’re working hard in law school to get that big firm job, or on every dating app in search of something, or trying to maintain friendships we can feel are failing, we set ourselves up for someone to tell us “now is not your time,” over and over. However, success is kind of like lightning in a bottle. You’re not always sure what’s going to happen, how you’re going to get X, but once you hit it just right, it’s pure magic. So, we have to put ourselves on the rejection chopping block time and time again to see if this time we’ll hit it just right and find success. Handling rejection with grace isn’t some equation or perfect step-by-step process. If anything, handling rejection with grace is saying, “thank you for your time,” walking away and trying again tomorrow. While someone can say no to you, they can’t rob you of your gumption. So for every “no” uttered, remember you only need one yes to get somewhere.

I grew up in an environment where I was told, “the worst they can say is no,” every time I was hesitant to do something – talk to a romantic interest, apply for a leadership position, go after a job, apply to law schools I knew may not take me, etc. It created a less scary aura around everything I wanted to do – if they said no, bummer but I could move on. If they said yes, well, I got what I wanted! Being fearless but realistic is important in handling rejection. We cannot be so scared of rejection that the fear alone is the biggest roadblock in our lives. We have to keep going, putting ourselves out there, and remember that we will get what we want if we work toward it strategically. If you can’t get X immediately (I know, hard to believe in the instant-gratification world we live in), maybe try getting to X the long way around, by starting with Y, moving to Z, and attacking X tangentially.

I’m not going to tell you rejection gets easier or that you become immune. Rejection is discouraging as hell and by the fifth or so “thanks, but no thanks,” you can feel your ego bruising. However, if we stop putting our name out there and let the few rejections push us so far down they become the end game, we’re letting ourselves down.  So, how do we handle rejection with grace? We say, “I understand,” take the night to drink a glass of wine [or a scotch, neat], take a bubble bath, listen to some James Arthur before getting up in the morning, putting on our big-girl pants and showing the world it cannot shake us.

Truly,
Callie leigh

 

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Prepping for Finals Early

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Hello, World.

Even though it’s only September, the months in a given semester go quickly, so I wanted to offer my advice regarding how to prep for finals early. This is sort of an extension of my post about steps to better grades. In law school, your final grade is solely based on your final exam. So, it’s wise to begin prepping for final exams early. However, if you just start studying for finals, you’ll likely burn out and lose momentum when you should be kicking into high gear (aka mid-November). So, I’m sharing my top three tips that can accompany my three tips to better grades.

  1. Talk about the material with friends and family. Discussing material aloud with other people will allow you to gauge how well you know the material. I had a criminal law TA who said, “I taught the course to my wife. Teaching it to someone who had minimal understanding allowed me to understand the material, find the areas that I didn’t get as well, and solidified my ability to discuss it, which helped the essay portion of the exam.” This advice was some of the best that I received my first year of law school. My sweet mother talked to me for five hours on the phone as I walked through my torts outline. This process was long and tedious, but I knew which areas I needed help with before the exam. Discussing the material with others throughout the semester will kick-start finals review.
  2. Take “reading notes” and “class notes.” Some people do this, but some people only really take reading notes or rely primarily on class notes. Personally, I find having reading notes that I take based on what I think is important from the reading and separate class notes based on what the professor thinks is important allows me to see where I’m missing points or if I’m pulling out the right highlights of the reading. If I’m not, there’s a chance I will miss points on the exam because my professor and I aren’t considering the same facts important. Ninety percent of a law school exam is issue spotting (they make you think it’s analysis. Let me just say: if you don’t spot the issue, you cannot do the analysis). Recognizing how your professor reads or addresses legal issues is key to getting a high grade on the exam.
  3. Outline beginning at the end of October. You’ll hear a lot of different things in terms of outlining. You may even wonder, “what the hell is an outline?” An outline is just what it sounds like — an outline of the course. You go through major concepts, tests, etc. and outline the course as it is taught to you. I prefer outlining later rather than earlier. Some people disagree, which is fine, but I find that whatever I outline last is what I remember most. If you begin too early, it’s not as fresh because you probably won’t look at the beginning of your outline until a week or so before the exam. Outlining later forces you to review early concepts and understand how and where they fit in the whole course (spoiler alert: sometimes outlines are best ordered different than how you learn the material).

How do you prep for class or finals?

Truly,

Callie leigh

3 Steps to Improved Grades

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Hello, World.

As the school year is now in full swing, and our social media feeds become riddled with fall-inspired photos, I figured this is an appropriate time to talk about grades. For those of you just starting your academic program, you may be thinking, “but it’s still so early.” Well, it’s honestly never too early to think about grades. I’m sharing my top 3 steps that will lead to better grades, whether in college or law school or some other academic career. The steps worked for me and I believe they will work for you as well if you follow them! To give you my perspective, I did very well throughout college. I did not do as well as I wanted my first semester of law school. So, I implemented the three steps I’m about to share, and my grades improved drastically.

Step One: Do Not Study with People Who Make You Feel Dumb8d1f223a-7dd3-43c3-8556-2f25086c3fe6_text_hi.gif

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This may seem straight forward, but I think a lot of people encourage study groups and as a result, people feel pressured to study with people. Most people don’t really care who they’re studying with, they just want to be in a study group. While it is completely okay to study in groups, who are in your study group is actually what is most important.  My first semester, I studied with people who made me feel inferior or as if I was really dumb for not getting a certain concept. Let’s just say by the second semester, I’d said my goodbyes to them and no longer studied with them. My confidence increased immensely.

Step Two: Review at the End of Each Week 

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In college, you get a lot of review days as you learn and it’s a lot easier to cram. However, to truly perform well on a final, it’s good to take time to review throughout the semester. Additionally, some professors move very quickly and if you don’t understand a foundational concept, you’ll be lost later. Even if you feel like everything is cake, review!!! I spent my Friday afternoons my second semester of law 1L reviewing, typing up my handwritten notes, and re-reading areas that I thought I understood while reading but was confused by in class discussion. This small change greatly helped me understand how each concept fit together by the end of the semester.

Step Three: Find a Non-Academic Hobby and Take Time to Indulge Each Week

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This may seem like the last thing that will lead to better grades, I know. Here’s the thing, though: burn out is very very real. There’s a reason senioritis exists and there’s a reason people who do very well one semester fall by the second. It’s hard to sustain a state of constant work and learning without becoming overwhelmed. The spring semester of 1L I started working out regularly and it transformed my mental state. I had greater focus, more energy, and more motivation. While your hobby doesn’t have to be working out, find something that allows you to take mental breaks and focus on something other than academics.

Do you have your own tried and true tips for improving grades?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

Celebrating Without Gloating: Thoughts on If It’s Possible & How to Celebrate Your Successes

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Hello, World.

Have you ever had a friend who constantly gloated? Have you ever been that friend? People often get annoyed when people celebrate their own successes, and it’s a fine line between celebrating our triumphs and being the “gloating” friend who stops being invited to things because she’s too self-involved. I’m of the belief that women should support women. We should champion our friends and encourage their dreams. We should be happy for them when things work out and celebrate when they take a major step in their careers. However, there does seem to be an unspoken rule about the line that separates celebrating and gloating. When does a friend relishing her own success turn into gloating? I’m here to share my thoughts on the topic and offer a little advice on how to celebrate yourself without coming off as self-involved or narcissistic.

To begin this discussion, I think it’s important for me to acknowledge the first time I thought, “ugh, how many more times do I have to tell her congratulations before I can stop hearing about this?” I will say this didn’t happen in high school. Sure, I had friends who were a little conceited, but I was usually happy for them and I never felt annoyed by their comments about their own successes. However, in college, I did have a friend who was constantly making comments about how smart she was how she did this well or that, etc. Again, most of the time it rolled off my back and I just nodded, internally rolling my eyes but thinking that eventually, the self-centered comments would subside. In law school, I’ve noticed that being happy for other people is limited. Law school, for better or worse, is a competition ring. Sure, higher education doesn’t have the same formalities as the Roman Gladiators, but there is a constant undercurrent of competition. Suddenly, someone has a great first semester, and there’s a quiet, steady rumbling of dislike directed their way. Or, the guy that sits next to you is constantly asking you and those around him to stroke his ego (that’s not a euphemism, some people really just need positive reinforcement).

However, there are other people who do well and succeed and we applaud them without hesitation. This double standard, where we eye roll and ask “when will it stop?” about one person’s success but congratulate and admire another’s – I’m not sure what the root of the inconsistency is, but I have a strong feeling it has to do with the person’s actions. How someone handles their individual success is informative for how those around them will respond. As soon as someone begins saying, “I mean, I got all A’s. It’s not that hard,” you can cue the collective eye roll of their peers. If someone doesn’t say a word, but suddenly graduates Order of the Coif, we’re all thinking, “she’s humble. Hell yeah! Congratulations.” When we hear, “I got another interview, ugh,” those students who haven’t gotten one are going to feel resentment. The actual person the resentment is aimed at doesn’t matter much. The fact of the matter is this: people feel annoyed with people they feel are purposely bringing up their successes purely so they can talk about them. Therefore, whether you get the eye roll or the praise boils down to how others perceive your intentions.

If people perceive you as arrogant, you get the eye roll. If people perceive you as humble, you get the praise. If people perceive you as a know-it-all, you get the eye roll. If people perceive you as genuine, you get the praise.

However, how you’re perceived probably had a lot to do with the insecurities of the other person. In all honesty, I believe that people perceive someone as more arrogant when they are insecure about something. For example, if someone is upset that they’re not doing as well, they may take someone’s comments about their own successes far more personally than if both people were confident in what they’re doing. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some people who are just flat out arrogant a**holes. The type is easily recognizable. Look for the person who doesn’t have many friends, who people who hardly know they person refer to in a distasteful manner, and who pursues other people’s dream just to prove they can do it even if it means nothing to the person. That is the person who will, no matter what, get the eye roll. However, sometimes well intentioned people get placed in an arrogant box. This is rare, but it does happen. When this happens, I attribute the placement to the fact that whoever perceived them as arrogant, gloat-y, etc., may have just taken their actions a little more personally than necessary.

So, if you want to celebrate your successes, tell your support group the exciting news, get dinner or drinks, relish the moment, then keep it to yourself. Write in your diary. Go for a drive where you blast your favorite song and sing your praises. Then let it go. While it may suck that people may not be super happy for you for an extended amount of time, the chances of being classified as arrogant will likely decrease. Also, those who truly matter will continue to be happy for you. Those who believe you shouldn’t be allowed to express your excitement about your successes are probably temporary.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Studying in a Coffee Shop

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Hello, World.

When I was in college, I got into the habit of studying at coffee shops. I’m not a library person, really, because I think it’s too quiet and usually too cold. In coffee shops, there’s just the right amount of background noise and I am my most productive when studying at a coffee shop. I have a full routine – get a chai latte, a muffin, unpack my bag, set up my laptop, go over my planner, and work. However, studying at coffee shops can be an art form. There are a lot of things that can reduce productivity at a coffee shop. I’ve heard a few people say they cannot study in coffee shops for various reasons, most a result of failing to properly prepare for serious “coffee shop study” (note: this definitely reminds me of the meme below, just swap “bedroom” for “coffee shop”).

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I want to share my top five tips for studying a coffee shop effectively. Though I now have a very productive rhythm at coffee shops, I used to definitely be the person who was going to “study” with friends, and we ended up just having coffee and talking with books open in front of us. So, if you like the idea of studying in a coffee shop, but haven’t necessarily found a good rhythm yet, this post is just for you!

Bring All Chargers | I have forgotten my laptop charger more times than I can count, which limits the time I can stay somewhere. If you know you need your computer a lot when you’re studying, be sure to bring a charger with you. Tangentially, when you arrive at the coffee shop, try to get a table near an outlet so you don’t have to move if you need to plug in your computer.

Bring a few snacks of your own | Everywhere I’ve studied has never had a problem if I pull out my own snacks, as long as I’ve purchased something at the coffee shop. Usually, if I arrive at breakfast or lunch time, I’ll get a meal and a chai. However, depending on how long I stay, sometimes I need a snack, so I bring my own. My favorite study snacks are veggie chips/straws.

Pack a Sweater | Regardless of the outside temp, I recommend bringing a sweater to a coffee shop. In the spring and summer months, and even early fall, the AC in coffee shops can be intense, so I usually get cold in a coffee shop when studying. I always try to take a sweatshirt or cardigan with me to ensure I don’t get so cold I end up wanting to leave before I’ve made a dent in my workload.

Sit at the Biggest Table that is Reasonable | While I don’t suggest hogging a four person table if the place if packed and people are waiting for tables, I do think you should get a slightly larger table so you can spread out your materials and have a comfortable study area.

Headphones may be necessary | Some coffee shops are very loud and some just play crappy music. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to pack a set of headphones, whether just earbuds or Beats. Having headphones can help tune out some of the noise. While you may be thinking, “if it’s too loud, just go to the library or somewhere quieter.” I’m kind of weird, and I like a fair amount of background noise, but if someone if having a super intense conversation right next to me, it can be distracting. The headphones help me tune out that noise while still giving me enough background noise.

I could go on, as always, but I think I covered my biggest tips/steps for productive study in a coffee shop. I prefer studying at coffee shops because libraries are too quiet for me, and I like to be able to refuel (aka drink chai or coffee by the gallon) and have the option to easily grab a snack if I need one. While coffee shop study trips aren’t for everyone, I do recommend testing it out and seeing if it works for you!

Truly,

Callie leigh

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

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

 

Why the First Year After College is Hard

Hello, World.

When I graduated college last May, I felt like I had reached this amazing ending, and was so excited for a new beginning in law school. I thought “I just need to finish college, and the world will open up.” I was wrong. The world was already open to me, and I think the amazing thing about college is that you’re an adult, living on your own, getting your life “together,” but you also aren’t fully an adult yet. You don’t, necessarily, have the responsibilities of full blown adulthood. I realize I’ve talked about this before, but today I wanted to share a more in-depth analysis of why the first year out of college is one of the hardest.

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I was recently lamenting how nostalgic I am for college days, which is a feeling I’m not used to. I’m typically a somewhat unattached person. Usually, by the end of my time somewhere, I feel prepared to move on. And that’s what’s funny about college. I felt so ready to move on while I was in college, but now I would give just about anything to experience senior spring for just a day again. Anyway, I was lamenting my feelings to a friend of mine from law school, who lived in Russia for a year after college but before beginning law school. She was saying she was talking to a friend while she was in Russia, and both were really struggling. Typically I’d say it probably had to do with Russia, but she said most of her friends felt weird their first year after college.

I think most of the discontent comes from the feeling of loss. I spent four years creating a life, a family, a community at a college, and then left it for something totally new. Most of my college friends (read: all) don’t live nearby, and I don’t get to see them everyday. That’s a hard adjustment. Couple not seeing my favorite people everyday with being in a totally new place with totally new people, and it’s not easy. Additionally, we start feeling really displaced. It’s like, “hey, I had a home! Hey, I had a routine. Hey, I knew who I was and what I wanted!” and now… I don’t. I feel displaced, lost, roaming aimlessly trying to remember why I started what I’m currently doing because I’d rather just be jumping in my friends car, and heading to get Chinese food, followed by cheap beer and karaoke at the terrible, but close bar near campus. I’m not trying to be dramatic, or make those about to finish college feel like they should purposely fail a class so they don’t have to leave (though it is oh so tempting).

The thing is, I knew that no matter what I did or where I went after graduating Saint Mary’s was going to feel a bit inadequate. Saint Mary’s is so unique, so community based, so close-knit, that I felt like the support system I had there, the environment, wouldn’t be easily replicated once I left. While I do love Virginia, and am thankful for the friends I have here, I do find myself drifting back to Saint Mary’s when I have a second to let my mind wander. The reality is this: most people struggle to find their footing the year immediately following college. People used to tell me “make it last. See if you can stay a few extra years” and I would laugh, not really getting why they’d say that. One of the reasons I chose SMC was the guarantee I’d be out in four years. But now I get it. Four years is nothing. Four years is so fleeting… it’s not about making it last, it’s about making the most of it.

Pack your four years with so much goodness, so many memories, so many late nights, so many dumb decisions, so many “why the hell nots” that you feel like you really discovered who you are, what you want, and who matters to you. Remember why you started, stay up until the sun rises, go after that boy who makes your stomach turn, forgive the silly boy from freshman year your sophomore year, laugh until your eyes water your best friends, drink too many jack and cokes and sing that Kanye song you don’t know the lyrics to. Pretend you want to watch another episode of some random Netflix show just to spend a little extra time with someone who makes you laugh. Because soon it’ll be gone. The irresponsibility of responsibility that is college will pass, and then there will just be responsibility. So, for those of you still in college, make the most of it.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with being out of college. On Monday, all the SMC seniors were posting pictures about their last first day of school, and it made me feel so nostalgic because if only I could go back and whisper to myself: make every second matter. Make every second last because there are less of them than you think. I think a lot of my decisions my last semester of college were driven by fear of the unknown, but also the knowledge that I wouldn’t be back at SMC in the fall, prepping another residence hall for move in. I was so scared to say goodbye to college; I wanted to keep every little thing as long as I possibly could until the inevitability of parting ways was too close to ignore any longer.

So, all of that is to say that the first year after college is disorienting, and can be a real struggle. But, there is hope and positivity and good times left to be had. However, college is such a unique, special experience, and I will forever be grateful that I spent four years at such an amazing, supportive, comforting place. I miss it daily, am a little jealous of those people still spending time there, and cannot wait to return [I will be at graduation this year to see my favorite duty partners graduate].

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