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?


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].

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!

Callie leigh

College Bucket List: What to Check Off

Hello, World.

Today I thought it would be fun to share a college bucket list. I’m sure there are many of similar lists floating around the internet, but seeing as I really miss my alma mater, I wanted to share my own version!

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  1. Put yourself out there.
  2. Try something new.
  3. Get involved in a club.
  4. Leave your dorm room door open.
  5. Smile at people as you walk around campus.
  6. Go to the party on Friday night.
  7. Go see the professor you’re scared of in office hours.
  8. Stop by office hours of your favorite professor.
  9. Go to brunch with friends.
  10. Don’t worry about sleep a few times throughout your time.
  11. Make the Dean’s List.
  12. Study Abroad (I didn’t do this, but wish I would have).
  13. Go to a sporting event.
  14. Write something for your college newspaper.
  15. Vocalize your concerns about something affecting your campus.
  16. Go on a road trip with friends.
  17. Make at least 1 life long friend (I’m sure there will be many more).
  18. Try new restaurants.
  19. Watch the sunset with friends on campus.
  20. Take a class outside of your major. Something that simply interests you.
  21. Visit friends at other colleges.
  22. Become a regular at your favorite coffee shop.
  23. Do something besides going home for Spring Break.
  24. Drink coffee and read a book in a cafe.
  25. Begin an unhealthy addiction to coffee.
  26. Cure a hangover with fast food and old movies.
  27. Work hard in classes, and come out with As.
  28. Give it your all.
  29. Call the person you met during orientation and never saw again. Ask them to get coffee.
  30. Laugh at your failures.
  31. Challenge yourself to be kinder, even when it’s hard.
  32. Throw caution to the wind, and plan an impromptu outing with friends.
  33. Go after that guy you think is cute.
  34. 33(a). Don’t get upset when he doesn’t call.
  35. Put yourself first, and do something purely because YOU want to.
  36. Spend more time on friendships, and less time stressing about guys.

Okay, so that’s not everything you can do in college. But, these are some of the things I did or wish I did while in college. I really miss my college, and all my college friends. Seriously, if I could go back to senior year for a minute, I would.

College is a fun, amazing time. A time to truly enjoy where you are and who you’re becoming. So, take advantage of it!


Callie leigh

Finding Study Inspiration

Hello, World.

As we get further into the semester, it feels like we’re already in the trenches, even though it also feels like we just got drafted. So, I wanted to share my top five tips for getting study inspiration on the days that you aren’t necessarily feeling studying, but have to anyway.

Some days, I am extremely focused from the minute I get up, and other days I just can’t quite dedicate myself as effortlessly (even though I will get the work done). I’m sure I’m not the only person who has “off” days in terms of focus because we aren’t robots. If you do have the constant drive and focus though, props to you!


I was talking about this post with my roommates and used the term “studyspo” and they were both confused. Apparently that’s not used outside of a hashtag, but whatever I’m going to pull a Gretchen Wieners and try to make it happen. So, when you need some study inspiration studyspo, look to the five places I’m going to share with you.

  1. TUMBLR. I follow SO many student tumblrs and they share so many study photos, which immediately makes me want to be productive. Some of my favorite blogs are Lawyering in Lilly, Law School in Lilly, and Study Spaces.
  2. #studyspo. In Instagram, when I need a little inspiration or motivation, I search the hashtag studyspo, and this will usually inspire me after a few minutes of scrolling.
  3. Make a To-Do List. Sometimes my lack of motivation is coming from being unsure where to start because I have a lot on my plate. Making a to do list puts everything visually in front of me, and I can prioritize what I need to get done when.
  4. Get Outside. Feeling restless can sometimes be fixed by listening to yourself, and getting away from your desk for a bit. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a trip to the gym, a fifteen minute meditation, listening to your restlessness, rather than fighting it, can often restore focus.
  5. Make some tea, eat a chocolate, inhale deeply. Some days I have trouble getting focused, and the first four attempts to get focused have failed me already. At this point, I make a cup of my favorite tea, eat a piece of chocolate, and inhale. Then I put my nose to the ground, and pump out an hour of work putting my phone on do not disturb, and forcing everything distracting out.

While the above tips may not seem immediately helpful, I suggest you try them one at a time. Finding focus can be hard, but I promise it’s doable. And if you’re a serious student or Type-A worker, you know that focus isn’t exactly optional. Sometimes we just have to get the work done, whether we want to or not.

What’s your go to method for finding inspiration?


Callie leigh

College: Making the Most of Four Years

Hello, World.

Most of you are probably either nearing the end of your first semester of college, or somewhere in the midst of your college experience. Where ever you are in your college journey, it’s not too late to begin really making sure you are making the most of your four years.

When I started college, I felt like it would take forever. I thought four years would last so long, and I’d have all this time to accomplish so many things. However, college went faster than I ever expected. So, I want to share with you my top tips for making the absolute most of your four years, and really enjoying the last time in your life where responsibility, for the most part, seems not as serious.

music festivaloutfits foroctober.jpg1. Get involved. My number one tip will always be the same. Getting involved is so profoundly important. I don’t think my college experience would be even a shadow of what it was if it wasn’t for the ways I got involved. I wrote for my school newspaper, I was a Resident Advisor, I was a Weekend of Welcome Leader, I worked for the Academic Honor Council. I was involved in various aspects of my campus life, and I appreciated what that offered me. If you’re struggling with college, getting involved is an immediate way to start feeling like you have a voice, like you are part of the community, and like you can make a change.

2. Make time to develop friendships. I miss the days where I could run downstairs and see my RA duty team, I miss the days where I had 40 people down the hall. I miss having hour to 2-hour conversations over coffee with my closest friends. I miss Friday nights with Chinese food and wine and Gilmore Girls with my best friend. BUT, I wouldn’t miss those things if I didn’t invest substantial time into cultivating and growing friendships throughout my four years.

3. Make a list of must-dos. I had a list of things I felt I absolutely needed to do while in college in order to leave feeling accomplished. I ticked off everything but studying abroad for my college’s January Term (one of the downsides to being an RA). I think having definite things that you want to accomplish is a great way to start! And I think there’s this amazing feeling when you check on the items on your list off.

4. Expose yourself to people unlike you. I think something that helped me learn so much about myself, my world, and my life is the exposure I had to people so different from myself. I come from a very homogenous hometown, where many people are religiously, politically, financially, and racially the same. Opening myself up to many different people who had lives, thought, and beliefs different from my own was one of the more rewarding aspects of my college experience. I recommend going through college with an open mind, and open heart, and the desire to have open dialogue.

5. Live on campus. Living on campus may seem frustrating (those pesky RAs down the hall telling you be quiet and not drink underage, the shared washer/dryer situation, the smells, etc.) BUT I think it’s a really really great way to meet people, keep informed about on campus activities, and feel connected to the community. I had friends who moved off campus, and they liked it, but they also complained about not know about things (like when tickets to our biggest basketball game went one sale). Living on campus is rewarding, and I highly recommend it!

6. Go to class. I know college is all about skipping class and taking naps through class and all that jazz. However, you’re paying quite a pretty penny to be in college. You get so much more our of the experience if you consistently go to class. So, go to class!

7. Explore your college town. I definitely miss the area I went to college in, but I’m thankful that I spent four years making not only my college but the town feel like home. I think exploring the surrounding area makes you feel less like you’re in a small college bubble.

8. Find your passion. College is a fun time to explore things you have an interest in. Explore life, take classes you find mildly interesting, and see what makes you happy. Though my college classes and activities I found my passion for law, and decided to go to law school. You never know what you’re going to discover.

9. If you find a calling, go to it. Sometimes things pull us in a direction that we can’t explain, but I feel it’s important that we follow it. There are things I was involved in that didn’t necessarily think were the best choice for me, but ended up being super rewarding.

10. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I think I was hyper-focused on the next step, rather than just enjoying every moment. So, to all of you in college, enjoy it. Take moments to enjoy it. Take moments to relax, take moments to go out with friends. Do your work, but sometimes it’s okay to attend a sporting event or on campus play and worry about reading later. Don’t be too focused on what’s next. Before you know it, you’ll forget to live.

Callie leigh

Battling Homesickness in College

Hello, world.

Today I’m here to talk about something that’s really only rung true this year for me… homesickness. I don’t think I fully understood how hard homesickness is until this year, as I’m in my first year of law school. Luckily, I’ve been so busy that most days I’m not totally aware I’m feeling homesick. It’s more like gut wrenching sadness I get when talking to my mom, or the choked up feeling I get after hanging up with my dad, or the nostalgia that overcomes me when I see something that’s reminiscent of California. Homesickness is rough, and can often be debilitating if it gets bad enough. So, I know that a lot of people feel homesick in college, especially their first semester of college. I was lucky enough to be close to home during college, and could easily go home for weekend if I wanted. Or my parents would come visit. I thought moving 3000 miles away would be a breeze, but I sure was wrong. As a result, I wanted to share my top tips for overcoming the homesick feeling, and what helps me stay positive even when I just want to FaceTime my mom and cry.


(1) Take every day as it comes. I can’t think too far in advance, I resist looking at the calendar, tallying how many days until I’m on plane because sometimes it doesn’t feel too far away, but as soon as I look at a calendar, the length left hits me like a train. I’ll be thinking, “oh, this semester is going so fast, it must be Christmas soon,” then realize I still have 50 days left until I’m CA bound. A way to circumvent this is to focus on each day, and just do what I can within that day without giving too much thought to being so far from home.

(2) Surround yourself with friends. This can help alleviate some of the lonely, homesick feeling, but it’s not a cure-all. Chances are that most your friends have seen family, so they’re not feeling homesick. It’s good to be around people, but I stress that when they start talking about trips home, it’s okay to tune them out. It may seem rude, but hearing about all your friends spending time with family will just make being homesick worse. Still, being with friends is definitely helpful!

(3) Make time to call family. Make sure you’re making time to call, FaceTime, etc. Keep your family present in your life, and you will miss them less. I always try to call my parents once a day, but sometimes that doesn’t happen so I try to ensure that the next time I talk to them, I have AMPLE time to chat.

(4) Remember that home misses you too. I get a text from my mom daily that she misses me. I understand that this distance isn’t easy on my parents and sibling, which makes me feel less bad for being sad and missing home. Reminding yourself that home is still there, waiting for you, and wanting you to return makes it a bit easier to be away from it. Home isn’t going anywhere!

(5) Look forward to the day you get to return. I know I said don’t plan too far ahead. What I meant was don’t look at a calendar each morning and count the days, and wallow in the number of days that remain. Rather, look forward to going home, but don’t dwell on how far away it is. I’m not going home for Thanksgiving, and ALL my friends are. I’m focusing on the work I’ll get done, and looking forward to Christmas when I get to go home after finals, and just relax with family and enjoy the holidays.

(6) My final tip is to be expressive. Say you miss family. Say you’re feeling homesick to your closest friends in the new environment. People are willing to help you feel less homesick, but they can’t help if you don’t tell them. People are not mind readers, something I’m learning now more than ever. Sometimes you have to just spell it out. It’s hard to acknowledge homesickness. I cry whenever I do, but it’s also a big help if people are aware you’re feeling homesick, and can try to make you feel less so.

How do you deal with being far away?

Callie leigh

Being a Resident Advisor: Pros and Cons

Hello, World.

I’ve put off this post for a while. Full disclosure, I questioned whether I should even write it. I wanted to share about being a Resident Assistant, but I’ve actually gotten in trouble before from my former bosses for speaking about my experience in a slightly negative light. But then, I was thinking, and I realized I don’t work for them anymore, and my experience was real and my own, and therefore I have the agency to share it if I want to. Before I begin, I would like to say that my former boss, when reprimanding me for commenting on a bad work experience I had my first year as an RA, said “what if a future employer saw that? They’d be scared you would just post about any bad experience on your blog.” To that, after months of reflection, I say that had the office handled the problem appropriately and in a more validating way, I likely wouldn’t have felt compelled to speak out publicly. All I did was write a sentence about how I had a bad prior experience, and the feelings that someone made me feel, and that I had taken action to change my situation and was excited about it. I didn’t think it was wrong to say, and still do not. And in the future, I will not blog about drama at the work place. I try to be authentic and genuine when I blog, and so sharing something that hugely and negatively impacted a year of my college career felt like it deserved a sentence on this platform, but apparently I was wrong. Anyway, I’m not here to rant, but rather share the pros and cons of the RA experience that I had at during my undergraduate years.

resident advisor post

Before I jump right in, I should probably explain the unique RA position that SMC has. Everyone I know that goes to a state college or really large college says they hardly see their RA. At schools of that size the RA role is to be utilized if they are in desperate need of help, have a roommate issue, or are locked out, but otherwise RA/Resident interaction is limited. At SMC, the RA is expected to be in their room, door open from 8:30 pm to 11 pm during the week and 8:30 pm to 1 am on weekends. We have to have events (4 social, 4 education per semester), and interact a TON with residents. The job is 24-7. Once you become an RA, you never stop being an RA. Even know, days away from beginning law school, I reference my RA experience at least once a week, often more.

Okay, so think of this position as overwhelming, draining, and 24-7, but also rewarding, fun most of the time, and a way to meet a ton of awesome people you never would have met otherwise.

PRO: You will learn patience and leadership skills you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

In the RA role, you have to deal with people’s problems. You have to be a great role model, and listener, and help people. You have to try to find solutions to their problems, and you have to be really proactive. You’re often on your own, handling situations that are sometimes extreme or scary (suicidal student, pregnancy scare, sexual assault), and you have to figure out the best way to handle it. Some situations can be very by the book, but sometimes in the moment you don’t know what to do. I once was almost physically assaulted by an intoxicated student. Scary stuff that you’re not exactly trained for. However, I feel like a grew a ton professionally and personally as a result of holding the position.

CON: You will be held to a higher standard than everyone else.

You may read that and wonder why I put it as a con. Well, when you’re held to a really high standard, you are basically under a microscope. This is okay for a while, or if you’re perfect and never want to live your life. When I was a sophomore applying for the position, I didn’t go out, I was overly studious, and I was a rule follower to no end. However, once I got the position, I quickly learned that people change, including myself. And honestly, I think being an RA changed me more than anything. I become tired of having to enforce rules everyday like an overbearing parent. I felt guilty telling people not to have fun and enjoy college. I started feeling self conscious as residents who hardly knew me decided they didn’t like me. But the moment I knew the position may not be the perfect fit for me like i had once thought, came within two months of the beginning of my senior year. I waited until I was 21 to drink, and I was 21 just in time for senior year. A year that should be filled with friends, memories, lasts, etc. But then, I went out with friends, we took a photo, and each of us posted it on a social media platform. However, I alone was called in because I have a blog, and the photo found it’s way onto my blog because I share my life and college experience. In the photo, everyone was 21, we were all coherent, and everyone in the photo agreed it was an okay photo to post. Honestly, the photo was less risque than 90% of ads for cheeseburgers. But we were reprimanded. Reprimanded for drinking of age, reprimanded for enjoying our last year of college, reprimanded because our residents might see it and think of us differently. If there’s one thing I can say, however, it’s that RAs who show themselves as humans with flaws or just human and understanding are far more successful and are better able to connect with residents than RAs who present themselves as error-free robots. What it really comes down to is respect, never lose the respect of your residents, but don’t treat them like horrible people for partaking in aspects of college.

PRO: Even though you are supposed to have an affect on your residents lives, they will positively affect yours as well!

The best feeling in the world is when a resident thanks you, and tells you that in some way you made a difference in their year. But the thing is,  I often want to tell my residents that they had an equally great impact on me. I loved getting to know them, I appreciated the nights of duty where they hung out with me, I loved when they showed up to events I planned, and I look forward to watching them grow even more in the rest of their college career. Residents can become your friends, and often many do, staying in touch with me even after I’m no longer their RA. Residents make this job enjoyable, even the difficult ones. No matter who you have on your floor, chances are they will have an impact on you.

CON: Some residents will hate you.

You know, in everyday life there are people who don’t like others. There are people who decide they dislike someone. When you have 40+ girls on a floor, chances are your personality won’t mesh perfectly with everyone, but as an RA it’s your responsibility to be kind and reach out to everyone. Typically, difficult residents were easy to deal with because I would, as Selena Gomez says, try to kill ’em with kindness. However, some residents will hate you for writing them up, for handling things according to protocol, or for handling things in a way counter to what they want (i.e., according to protocol but they don’t get their way). I know hate may seem like a strong word, but honestly, it’s not too strong. This is part of the job. You have to have a thick skin, and keep your head up. This isn’t always easy, seeing as some residents are more vicious than others.

PRO: Your fellow RAs are going to become your family. Not all of them, but some of them!

Through the RA role, I found some of my closest friends. The RA Role is strenuous and complicated, and only those who hold the position can really empathize with your frustrations, limited schedule, and crazy outbursts of “I need a drink!”

CON: You will likely lose friends.

When I became an RA, I didn’t realize how 24-7 the job would be. I thought I would throw events when I was on duty, be on duty a couple times a week, and then have the rest of time to continue my life as usual. I was wrong. I got really busy, and after about the fourth time of not being able to go out, people stop asking. Also, some people just get tired of having an RA as a friend, and stop trying to maintain the friendship. This is a con, because it’s never good to lose people, but its also kind of like cutting the fat. The people by your side at the end of the RA role are the real MVPs in your life for the long haul.

PRO: You will learn time management like never before.

Being an RA, you will have so many things going on at once, so you become an expert of keeping track of every hour. You will likely become more aware of your time, and how precious it is. You will likely begin scheduling free time and friend time. It can be difficult, but being able to handle a crazy schedule will likely be useful in the future.

CON: It may affect your ability to be a great student.

Some of my worst semesters in college occurred when I was a RA. I was always a student, and I took my studies very seriously. Being an RA, though, I became drained, had less time to do homework.I never felt ahead on schoolwork. I would tell people if I was ahead on my classes, I was behind as an RA, and if I was ahead on being an RA, I was behind on being a good student. I could never find the balance to continue being a straight-A student and a great RA. Maybe it’s because my heart wasn’t fully in both, but it was a struggle, and I missed being able to focus seriously on my studies. My burn out came early spring semester of senior year, and I could hardly care about anything but trying to enjoy the end of college.

Some finals thoughts about the role:

I am thankful for my time as a RA. I wouldn’t change my path if I could. I am thankful for the people who made the position all the great things it was, and I have forgotten the things that made me question why I even became a RA. However, you will realize that not everyone does the job for the right reasons, some people do the bare minimum or less and some people go above and beyond. Figure out the RA you want to be, and go for it. Do not let people’s expectations or demands defeat you. Realize that if your residents like you, and you’re doing what’s required, you’re doing okay. Remember that a positive experience is what you want to give residents, but you don’t need to give them the whole world. Never let the position make you less of a student or less dedicated to your other passions. Do not let the position ruin your experience. You’re going to spend SO much time making a great experience for the residents, but don’t let that detract and minimize the fun and experience you get to have. If you know your bosses play favorites, just be un-apologetically yourself and do your best. You got the job for a reason, so focus on your residents and forget the bullsh*t. So, there you have a good percentage of my thoughts about the RA role. Sure, I have other thoughts, but none I’m willing to share right now. If you have questions about anything in the post, please comment and I will answer them as best I can!

Callie leigh

Enjoying the Single Life in Your 20s

Hello, World.

Something that’s been on my mind lately is the fact that it seems like everyone around me is either getting engaged or getting married. So many people I know are making serious moves in the dating world, and even though I’m seriously happy for them, I’m getting sick of the dating questions I always get. Countless people ask if I’m seeing anyone, or when I think I’ll get married (hello, I need to be dating someone first), and I can’t even tell you how often I hear “you’re going to meet the love of your life at law school and get married and never return to CA.” I mean, never say never, but also, I’m not banking on this. I actually like being single. This may be shocking, but some women in their 20s don’t mind being single. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re closed minded to meeting someone, but unless the person really stands out, I’m okay just working through school and doing my thing. Powerful women are okay, single women are okay, and driven women are okay. But anyway, I wanted to share some thought about why it’s completely okay to be single in your 20s if you haven’t met anyone or aren’t even looking!
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Don’t feel discouraged when you are single, instead embrace it. I feel like being single in college was one of the best things for me. In high school, I dated or liked someone really often. I felt like I needed a significant other or I was doing something wrong. How immature that thinking was. I did the most learning about myself, and became more confident in who I was when I was single in college. I focused on my girlfriends, and I focused on being happy and being content with being myself. I focused on my goals, and got to a point where I didn’t want to compromise anything for anyone. I wanted to make decisions that felt right with myself. Going to law school was a big decision, and I knew that if I was in a relationship, I would have had factors I didn’t want (like how close or far I would be from my boyfriend, or how to deal with long distance or whatever factors come with having to factor someone in). In season 7 of Gilmore Girls, Rory and Logan have this big talk about factoring each other in when making decisions about jobs and graduate stuff. I knew that was a conversation I didn’t want to have, as in I didn’t want to factor in anyone but myself and my family. I liked having to only answer to myself.

Now, when people ask me about dating in college, I say to keep it casual, keep it to a minimum, and to focus on yourself! Your twenties are your time to be selfish. Enjoy the time to yourself! Learn about yourself, learn about the world, travel, eat good food, drink good coffee, do what makes you happy. You do not need a significant other or counterpart to complete you. When I talk about this, I say, when I meet someone who really catches my attention, I’ll date them or see where it goes, I’m not opposed to the opposite sex, but I’m also not dependent on it either. I will date someone when I feel like I should or want to see where something goes, but I am also completely okay being single, and not in a rush to date. Again, if you meet someone you want to date, date them! If nobody is catching your eye, stay single. Don’t rush or force a relationship because you feel like you should be in one. The last relationship I had, I wanted a boyfriend, I wanted someone to call my boyfriend, so I ignored the red flags and pushed myself in to something that wasn’t healthy and ended poorly. Sure, the experience gave me a lot of perspective, and showed me what I definitely did not want, but it also turned me off to dating just long enough for me to realize the positives of single life.

Now, I’m not going to lie, I like having a boyfriend. I like the idea of going on dates, having someone to talk to, or be romantic with, and whatnot. But I also don’t want a boyfriend that doesn’t make me ridiculously happy or doesn’t treat me well. So, I wait. I will say I think the dating culture for 20 somethings right now makes it difficult to find what I see myself having. If I decided tomorrow I wanted to start dating, and I DO NOT mean hooking up, but actually dating, the kind of dinner and movie shenanigans most people treat as the most archaic practice, even more than what we see in Game of Thrones, I think it’d be trickyMost people my age don’t want to seriously date, and it’s sort of like, why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? If so many people partake in hookup culture, there’s no point in a guy trying to date a girl. I’m not saying there aren’t men who want to date seriously, but they’re harder and harder to come by.

So, if someone comes along that really just makes you want to date, go ahead and go for it. But it’s also completely okay to stay single in your 20s and do all the things you want to do without having someone romantic. There’s nothing worse than getting caught up in a relationship and then feeling like maybe you missed out or resenting the relationship if it doesn’t work out and you put yourself on hold during its duration. It’s okay to put yourself first, and live life, and be happy. Do what feels right, and live each day as best as you can!

Callie leigh

The Arbitrary Nature of College Grades

Hello, World.

In light of school starting soon, I wanted to share my thoughts on college grades. For you just beginning college, you’ve likely heard mixed reviews, either college is way harder than high school or that college grades are different, slightly more arbitrary.What do I mean by arbitrary? Rarely do you ever see a final breakdown of your grade. Yes, the professors put percentages and weighted assignments and whatnot on their syllabus, but it becomes kind of unnecessary because you can use those percentages to guesstimate what your grade will be, but know that you will likely not have your final returned to you, so that grade will be unclear. There are many areas that may remain unclear, but just have faith that your professor will give you a grade close to the one you think you deserve based on your performance. One of the reasons I wanted to share the arbitrary nature of college grads is because there were a few instances in my college years where my final grade was confusing to me. Most of the time I was pretty good at inferring what grade would be on “report card” if you will. Sometimes, though, I was utterly confused.

One example? When I had to take a science, I took geology thinking it’d be an easy A. When everyone basically failed the midterm, though, I started to sweat. There were a lot of moments where I accepted a Bt would probably appear next to Geology at the end of the semester. But I made a point to arrive on time, attend every single class, and talk to my professor a lot during lab and field trips. This was the largest class I had in college, as many of us were simply trying to fulfill our science requirement with something not as intense as biochemistry or O-Chem, stuff science majors even struggled with. So, I studied for hours, more than I usually would to be honest, for the geology final, went in, and nearly cried by the end because the test was far more challenging than I imagined. The girl in front of my actually stood up and exclaimed, “well that was fun to fail.” Nobody felt great about the final, but I did my best and hoped my grade would be a Bt or higher. Final grades came out, and an A- appeared on my transcript. I texted my then-roommate, who literally responded with “HOW?” because she saw me after the final, and probably assumed what I also assumed: that I was getting a B at most. But, I think my apparent dedication to the course, and my interactions with my professor helped him bump me up since no one was doing stellar work, at least in my section. So, thus concludes the first example where my work didn’t necessarily reflect my grade, but I took the grade and smiled and moved on.

The next two examples are grades where I thought I had the A in the bag, and was blind sighted by a Bt. I cried the first time this happened, and was utterly irritated the second time. Being a Type-A student who works her butt off, I know when grades don’t add up, and I take it seriously. This is also a lesson in advocating for yourself! So, the first time my grade came back lower than expected was my junior year when I took a legal theory class. I was so excited, it was an elective class that I took for fun, and figured I would do well in. So, I knew the breakdown of how grades were formed in the class, and going into the final I had not received below a 94% on any assignment, paper, or quiz. So, I was feeling confident, especially because in the syllabus, 89% was the cut off for an A-. The final was open book, open note. I didn’t study as much as I should have, and definitely relied too heavily on the open aspect of the test, but I still felt I did well, probably a B- range. So, when final grades came out and I had a Bt in the course, I immediately broke down in tears and freaked out. I was so confused and felt like the grade wasn’t right. After talking to my parents, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask my professor for a grade breakdown. When she returned the breakdown, my grade was a 89.5%, which according to the syllabus, was an A-. I emailed the professor back, and explained that I appreciated the breakdown, but also referred to the grading the syllabus outlined. She emailed me back really quickly, explaining I was right and she would change my grade! Relief set in, and I felt SO happy. This was hugely important because had I never advocated for myself, I would still have a Bt in the class, and a lower GPA (when applying to law schools).

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The final example I have of explaining why grades are somewhat arbitrary comes in the fall of my senior year, right when I was applying to law school. I was taking a seminar class, which is a special program my college offered where everyone is required to read the great books of our world, and talk about them in meaningful ways. I’m not going to lie, the program is better in theory than practice, or at least I felt it didn’t really accomplish what I thought it would. I had one good experience, which was during my junior year, and the rest felt like mediocre English classes where no oner read and everyone basically regurgitated SparkNotes. However, many of my friends had great experiences, so it really just depends on the professor, the class, etc. But ANYWAY, I had a professor who had been recommended to me, and I kind of realized a few weeks in that this seminar wasn’t going to go well. For one thing, I was having trouble getting into the conversations, and the professor would talk for a huge portion of class, which is basically anti-seminar (there should be no lecture, and minimal participation from the professor). So, I went through the motions, but at the end of the semester, I had to meet with the professor to talk about my grade and final paper idea. During the conversation, he said my grade was really close between an A- and a Bt because I didn’t talk enough (keep in mind no one really talked, and those who did were kind of all over the place with their thoughts and didn’t really leave the topic open). I felt a little defeated, but I tried to improve my participation for the last few weeks, and my writing grade was over 100%. When grades came, I had a Bt. I was upset. I wasn’t sure what grade I deserved because the dynamic of the class was so weird, but I wanted to see a breakdown. So, I emailed the professor. He was like, I’m traveling but will get back to you in a week. I was stressing for the week, hoping my grade was wrong, or at least that I would see a clearer explanation about the Bt. Finally, he got back to me, and realized he miscalculated my grade by ten points. The difference? An A- instead of a Bt. So, he apologized for the confusion, and changed the grade. I’m not trying to sound whiney in this story, or that I fight for grades I don’t deserve. I actually get horrible anxiety about asking for grade breakdowns, but sometimes they are totally worth it!

All of this is to say that sometimes professors miscalculate, sometimes they give you a little boost because you put in a lot of effort and never missed class. Most professors retain about a 10% participation grade, which can really affect where your final grade falls. If you attend class 90%+ of the time, and do your best, they will often bump you a bit up, at least from a minus to a solid letter or from a solid letter to a plus. Do good work, and don’t count on getting higher grades than you deserve. But, if you feel something isn’t right, ask about it. If you’re struggling, go to office hours and show you’re invested in the class. Also, recognize that your professor probably has 100 or so grades to keep track of, where you only have one, so your calculation could be more accurate. In the end, college grades are more arbitrary than you expect, it’s not like high school, so prepare to keep track of your grades, know your scores on assignments, and ask questions if something doesn’t feel right. If the grade seems a little higher than expected, you can either ask about it, or assume the participation grade saved you! But in the end, enjoy college and only stress about grades when you feel something is wrong.

Callie leigh