3 Easy Back-to-College Tips

Happy August everyone!

That’s right, I said AUGUST. It’s here now, which means the chaos of “back to school” is too. Unfortunately, next you feel like strolling around Target looking at things you didn’t go there to buy, you’ll start encountering everything marking the end of summer (*tears*).

Although you probably don’t want to be thinking about it at all right now, I have a few ideas for you to slowly prepare ahead of time for going back to school…specifically, back to college. Sure, you could wait ’til the last minute to get on top of things, but why when you have all of the time in the world right now? Soon, your schedule will feel overwhelmed again with full-time class, extra-curricular activities, and maybe even a few part-time jobs if you’re like me. Nothing feels better than going into your first day of class fully prepared to take on the semester, so consider the following to help you stay on a successful path:

Start Planning Out Your Semester

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Investing in a nice, organized planner is seriously worth it if you always have a lot going on, or have a horrible memory like me. Giving yourself an easily accessed visual representation of what is coming up in your life keeps you focused and attentive to what you need to be preparing for.

If you already have dates for family events, get them in your planner. If you already know about what times and days of the week you’ll be busy or have class, write them all down.

You’ll feel more productive and less flustered at the start of the school year (which is 27 days from now, eek!) when crunch time starts to kick in. Also, take a look at UMD’s academic calendar to help you note important dates throughout the fall.

Do Some “Fall Cleaning

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I’m not referring to cleaning your house here. I’m talking about purging your closet and junk drawers of all of the “stuff” you’ve been collecting but not using. Start with one category at a time (clothes, shoes, old books, school stuff, random items) and make three piles: Sell, Donate and Throw.

Some things you’ve been hanging on to could still turn you a profit via a consignment store, garage sale, or a Facebook marketplace post. It may not be much, but having some extra cash for when school rolls around is always a perk.

Other items you have you may not necessarily be able to sell, but you don’t want to throw them in the trash either. Donate them to your local shelter or Goodwill so that they can actually be used by someone else.

Last but not least, throw away some of the stuff that is just down-right gross. Pair of dirty sneakers you haven’t worn in a few years? Toss. Half-eaten bag of stale Cheetos you find under your bed? Garbage. That pile of coffee-stained papers from your 10th grade writing class? Throw it away! (Well, actually you should recycle it if it is paper but…you get the point). Stop using up your precious space with things that hold no value anymore.

Organize Your Backpack

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Your backpack may look exactly how it did on your last day of spring semester classes, and you probably don’t want that for this fall. Go through it, organize your supplies, and toss the stuff leftover you really don’t need.

Buy a few things from the store for classes. You’ll want to make sure your backpack is stocked with at least one pencil so you’re not that person asking to borrow one on the first day of school. Have a couple of notebooks, and your handy-dandy planner.

Also, it might not be a bad idea to throw together a small “emergency” pack to keep in your bag. This can include all the stuff you wish you had with you during school in a pinch, like different medicines, a mini-umbrella, facial tissues, a pair of extra socks, back-up headphones and non-perishable snacks.

 

Hopefully these ideas come in hand when thinking about what you need to do before school starts. And whatever else you think may help you prepare for this fall semester, do it! You’ll thank yourself later.

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/01/2017

 

 

 

Planning Ahead for Your Best Semester Yet

One last weekend before school officially starts this Wednesday at UMD! And oddly enough, I’m saying to myself, I’m so freaking excited!!!which isn’t how I usually feel about school. The reason why I feel so confident is because I’ve already started preparing ahead of class starting. This year, I am trying my absolute hardest to cut the procrastination crap and force myself into a mindset that says one word: success.

So, what if you had a crappy fall semester, and you’re in the mindset of failure? Answer: SNAP YOURSELF OUT OF IT. All successful paths are paved by past mistakes. You’re just like everyone else! It’s time for you to look at spring semester 2017 and say to yourself, “I got this. I’m gonna knock this semester out of the park.” Here are the best ways to put that thought into motion by planning ahead of time:

1. Buy a Planner & Map Out the Semester

If you don’t use a planner already, you are adulting wrong. Go get one!! I promise you that you will not remember everything by just thinking about it. Put pen to paper and plan January through May out. Some professors already have their Moodle sites up with tentative semester schedules, so utilize your free time before school starts to write absolutely everything down. If you have a work schedule, write it down. If you have set extra-curricular times, write it down. If you have a huge snowman building event, write the dang thing down. Having your entire semester at the tip of your fingertips is a sure way to succeed.

2. Skim Through Your Books

You don’t need to do any sort of heavy reading, but glancing over your materials is a great way to make out what each of your textbooks are like. Some may have great end of chapter summaries, while others have exceptional diagrams. You might notice that some chapters are relatively short in one book but another one’s are extremely long. Getting used to them first can help you ease back into full-on reading.

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3. Get All of the Supplies You Need Now

It’s not very smart to go into class on the first day with absolutely no materials. Get the notebooks, pencils, binders, and other necessities you need beforehand. You’ll feel a lot more confident in organizing your schoolwork if you already have places to put a syllabus and course schedules. Don’t be that person and go to the first day of class without a pencil.

4. Write Down Your Test Dates, Even Your Finals!

It may seem a little unnecessary now, but it comes in handy when you realize, “Oh wow, I have TWO tests the third week into school?! I better not screw around and start studying now!” Cause ya, it does happen actually. Finding out when your finals will be and when (roughly) is nice too because you mentally prepare ahead of time for that big week. You know exactly what test is when, and you can give yourself “x” amount of weeks before to start studying.

5. Put Together an “OH SH!% Kit”

This may seem strange but it is definitely school related. Make an “Oh Sh!&” Kit for your backpack or car that will save the day for you when you run into a problem(s) at school this semester (it is going to happen, and you know it). Include things such as:

  • Extra pencils
  • Gum
  • Granola bars or emergency snacks
  • A tide pen
  • Safety pins
  • Hair ties and bobby pins
  • Spare change and/or extra cash
  • Band-aids
  • Chapstick
  • Headache medicine and/or pain relievers
  • Travel tissues
  • Deodorant (guess what, we’ve all forgot to put it on sometime or another)
  • Floss and/or toothpicks
  • Cold medicine (you never know when it’ll hit you)
  • Warm socks

Random list right? But guess what…when you need one of these things and don’t have it on you, it could really frustrate your day. So find some downtime to put it together now, and you’ll thank yourself for having that one thing you needed badly later on.

I wish you the very best for spring semester of 2017, and know that you’ll succeed as long as you give 100%. You got this!

Written by Hannah Garrett on 1/7/2017

 

Parents’ Blog: The Best Finals Care Package EVER!!

Finals week is coming up at UMD from December 12th to the 16th. From going through two collegiate finals weeks already, I’ve compiled a list of “stuff” that us students would really appreciate in a care package. Sending us any sort of mail is one of the nicest gestures, especially when the extreme STRESS of the semester starts to sink in. Everyone wants great grades, but finals week can be full of the fear that we’ll fail. To help us out with these negative feelings, here’s the BEST finals care package EVER that you can send to your college student:

 

Homemade goodies

cookiesTalk about YUM! We love the feeling of homemade cookies, brownies, and whatever else we’re used to chowing down on for a sweet treat.

A little bit of spending money

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone – and trust me, we don’t realize we need money until the end of the semester when we suddenly need to use it.

A pack of fun pencils

We’re always in need of pencils. This is a must-need for all of our tests during the last week here!

A gift card to our favorite place to eat

You will be a SAINT if you send a Tavern on the Hill or Chipotle gift card. A gift card to somewhere we love to eat would make us unbelievably happy and have a moment to relax for once.

K-cups, coffee, tea or caffeinated chocolate (that’s a thing) – We’re gonna need it

If we consume any sort of caffeine, SEND IT OUR WAY! We will be staying up later than usual trying to cram every last detail of what we’ve learned into our heads and will be quite sleepy.

Warm, cozy sockssocks

These might seem odd, but college kids ALWAYS want socks since they seem to constantly disappear. Giving us some soft, warm ones will make us feel a lot more “comfy” in our time of stressing out.

Snacks to munch on

We will forget to eat consistently during the week before and of finals week. Sending us some semi-nutritious/semi-delicious snacks will give us the fuel needed for brain power.

Relaxing coloring books for adults (don’t search “adult coloring books”, you may not like what pops up in your browser)

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My mom sent one to me last year in a finals care package and it was one of the most calming things I did when needing a break from studying. Coloring helps you focus on practically nothing but filling in different shapes, and it lets your mind take a rest from so much cognitive functioning.

Something that reminds us of home

It could be our favorite blanket, a soft sweatshirt or even a picture of the family. This will definitely make us feel a little better!

A handwritten note with words of encouragement

words-of-encLast but not least – words of encouragement. Writing a nice little note telling us that “We can do it!” really sticks with us. When you believe in us, we feel able to take on anything that come our way during finals.

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/30/2016

 

Motivation Monday: Finding Purpose in Every Single Day

This will be my newest series of blog posts every Monday called “Monday Motivation”. I’ll throw up some snazzy, inspirational pictures along with a complementary explanation of how to make your Monday (and the rest of the week) absolutely amazing. The very first one today is about finding your purpose in each day.

So…why do we always give Monday a bad rap?

“Ugh…it’s Monday”

“I’m sooo tired…Mondays..”

“IT’S ONLY MONDAY AHHH!!!!”

Seriously…what’s the big deal? Why is Monday such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? (As Alexander would say). What’s so wrong with it? Today, you are given another brand-new opportunity to change your life, to change others’ lives and to change the world. Monday is no different than any other day, we just treat it like it is. Time to cut that out.

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People our age, the college kids and the “millennials” as many of our elders like to call us, really don’t like Monday. We love Friday, we love the weekend and we even love Wednesday because we get to say “hump dayyyyyyy!” and feel as if our week is “almost over”.

Monday is just as great of a day as any other day. You wake up, you look around, and you realize you get to make today yours. You can do anything you could possibly want to do today. Want to eat out for lunch today? Do it. Want to run a couple laps at the gym between classes? Do it. Want to wear your Chewbacca mask and watch Return of the Jedi while eating brownies? Do it!

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Stop waiting around for Friday, for the weekends, for Fall break, Spring break, any break for that matter. Every day is valuable; you just need to find your purpose in each one. When you sluggishly zombie-walk through your school/work week only giving 50% of your effort, you are not experiencing your life’s opportunities to it’s fullest. And that is the ultimate waste of time. You’re wasting your own time can’t you see! If you can find something purposeful to think about every single day, you will realize how much more you will accomplish, how much better you will feel about yourself, and how full your life really is.

That being said, how do we go from the dreaded “Monday blues” to finding something special about each day? What can you do that will change the habitual act of only trying half the time? You evaluate your goals, make a plan to do them, and act on it.

1. Evaluate Your Goals

Write this all down. Think about your passions. Your goals. Your wants in life. What are they? How do they make you feel? How badly do you want to achieve them? Are you doing anything right now to accomplish them? Are you doing anything right now that sets them back? Who are you trying to be this year? At graduation? 5 years from now? 10? List anything and everything about what you want your life to turn out like, no matter what your circumstances may be. Hang your goals up where you can see them every day.

2. Make an Action Plan

Every single day, reference back to your goals. What are they? When you look at them, do you feel inspired to do a little better each day? Write down everything you will do today to bring you closer to them. Start small. Want to lose 10 pounds? Make a plan to go to the gym for at least half an hour and choose water over pop. Want to ace that test on Friday? Make a plan to study for it in the library for a few hours and working with a tutor. If you truly want to achieve these goals, you need to make a game-plan as to how you’ll get closer to them every day. Writing down your top tree  actions each day to help you get there will make you feel focused and motivated

3. Go Out There and Get It

You can achieve absolutely anything you put your mind to – it’s all mental. If you let your brain tell you “No, I can’t, that’s impossible”, you’ll believe it. Be confident. Be your best friend. Tell yourself you can do it every single day. Drive yourself towards accomplishing those goals. Wake up and value your time. Find your purpose in the day by figuring out what you can do to better yourself; to get closer and closer to your hopes and dreams. Don’t waste your own time; go out there and get it done. Make it a priority to act on your three top tasks each day, whatever they may be.

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Monday is just another name for “today”. What are you going to do today?

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 9/26/2016

 

How to Jump Start Your Brain for the First Week of Classes

Now that the nerve-wracking first day is over, you may be confused as to what to do now. You went to your classes, sat through the syllabus and expectations and may have even taken a few notes. But NOW is the time to start mentally preparing yourself for everything you will need to get into the rhythm of for the semester – otherwise it’ll be too late. Procrastination is your very worst enemy when starting off your first few weeks of college, and if you get behind now, you may never catch up. Here are some very critical things to get done this first week back at UMD that will help you ease into a successful semester.

Actually Read the Syllabus

Although you may take one glance at it and think it’s a bunch of useless information, you need to read the syllabus. Every professor you have is going to be different in the way the teach, grade, and assign homework. Some may have in-class assignments that require consistent attendance, whereas others may not. You’ll want to know what to expect from each professor, and what your professors will expect from you.

Be Present in Every Class

Show up to every single class – whether you dread it or not – and pay attention. Take thorough notes and actually listen to what your professor is saying. Don’t doze off, daydream, or dink around on your phone. You’re paying for these classes, so sit up straight and act like it! You will reap the benefits later for knowing what’s going on.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions

If something in the syllabus confuses you, or you aren’t sure what to do in terms of an assignment, do not be afraid to talk to your professor. Having a large class in a lecture hall can feel pretty intimidating sometimes, and you may not want to raise your hand at all. Visit their office hours or shoot them a quick email – they are more than happy to help you out.

Mark Down Important Dates Now

Every professor typically includes a tentative schedule of the class assignment due dates, chapter readings, and exam dates for the entire semester. Write them all down in your planner now so that you can think about what you need to do for each class well in advance. Most classes already have dates set in place for final exams at the end of the semester too. This is especially useful if you have a job and are involved in extracurricular activities, and like to plan ahead of time.

Get Into a Habit of Reading

Reading class material online or in your textbooks isn’t necessarily the most desirable thing you want to be doing in your free time. But you have to make it a priority. Get into the habit of reading every single day whether its for two minutes or two hours. Reread notes you took in every class at the end of your day; even brief skimming will help you in the long run. The longer you procrastinate on reading your chapters, the worse off you will be studying for an exam. You will definitely not be able to read five chapters the night before a big test.

Find a Friend in Every Class

Finding a friend – whether new or old – in each of your classes comes extremely in handy for your class success. Don’t be shy to introduce yourself to people if you don’t know anyone. When it comes to studying and working on assignments, a study buddy is an excellent resource. And, not to mention, a friend you may end up having for a long time.

Hopefully you keep these things in mind as you go from class to class this week and begin diving into your semester. Don’t procrastinate, stay ahead of your school work, and keep focused on your college career. You got this!

Written by Hannah Garrett on 8/30/2016

3 Steps to a Fresh Start

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Starting my first year at UMD was both exciting and completely terrifying as a clueless 18 year old with no college experience whatsoever. I was the first kid off to college, my parents got their degrees later in life, and I had no older cousins or family members to really vouch for what the heck I should do in a new school three hours from home. Thankfully, I’ve made it through my first year here in Bulldog country without going nuts, and these are the three most important tips that helped me to succeed as a freshman.

1. Drop Those Bad High School Habits

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As many of you incoming freshmen may know, the end of senior year can be quite challenging as everyone is consumed by “senioritis” or “the senior slide”. I am guilty myself of procrastinating and dragging my feet through the last few weeks before graduation in high school, but those are definitely not habits you want to bring with you here at UMD. Now…you gotta get’cha head in the game. I cannot stress more this golden rule: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!!! Do not expect that you can study the night before a test and pass it in college as easily as you could in high school. Stay on top of your work, look ahead when you’ll have tests and quizzes, and prepare well in advance. Getting into this habit right away will pay off for you and your grades during your first (and super stressful)

2. Learn How to Effectively Take Notes & Study

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In high school, teachers were great about passing out tons of study guides, notes, and review material for classes. In college, every teacher is different and chances are you’ll be pretty much on your own in terms of knowing the material. Take really good notes (and actually GO TO CLASS) using your own style of organization to help you later on. It is best if you handwrite than use a computer to take notes, because you have to critically think about paraphrasing and summarizing. Also, the best way to study is to, and I repeat, consistently review your notes over and over. Re-read your notes the very same day you took them, and continue to review them later on during the week. Last minute cramming for a test on material you haven’t seen in a weeks is not fun or worth it.

3. Find Your Balance…Seriously!

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UMD is one of the best colleges when it comes to having the opportunities to join all kinds of clubs, service organizations, intramural sports, and on-campus jobs. You will definitely find your “thing”, whatever it may be! Just make sure not to overwhelm yourself with too many commitments, since school and the work that comes with it should always be your number one priority (*hint*hint*, you’re paying for it!) Being stressed out about not being able to juggle a part-time job, a huge club event AND four tests in the same week will not feel awesome if you don’t know how to manage your time wisely. At the end of the day, always find at least one other thing outside of school that will make you happy, but don’t take on more than you can handle. It’s college…have some fun, work hard in school and learn how to find your balance!

Okay, you gave me good advice…But what if I fail?!?!

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These three steps really helped me through my first year here at UMD as a completely confused freshman. If you utilize them to your full advantage and try your hardest, you will definitely succeed academically. But just remember that it is OKAY to make mistakes, and you are inevitably going to fail at some point in college. It happens to everyone! If you can pick yourself back up when you get knocked down, you will be on your way to success. Freshman year will be difficult at first, but just know, YOU CAN DO IT!!!

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 5/06/2016