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


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


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


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





College Cold & Flu Season: Newsflash-You’re Not Dying

So I am absolutely sure this is not the first blog post I’ve written about being sick while also being sick myself. It feels like in the past few weeks, there’s been a nasty bout of illness going around campus – heck, maybe even the entire state of Minnesota. Who knows. I have been sick for what feels like a month, with recurring episodes of waking up with a headache, struggling to get out of bed, blowing my nose incessantly, and trying to figure out how to talk without sounding like a Gremlin.

Being sick in college is tough! There’s no mom or dad to bring you some soup and tuck you into a warm bed. There’s no, “I’ll call you in sick today at school” or mental thought of, “It’s okay, I won’t miss much anyways.” NO. There’s only a big fat smack in the face of sinus pressure when you wake up and the alarm blaring at you saying, “Yeah, um, you need to school right now because you have 17 tests, 49 quizzes and 23 group projects due today…oh and don’t forget you have to work your 12 hour shift tonight at work cause your boss is this close to snapping at you and making you clean toilets.”

Even though that is a ridiculous and over-dramatic scenario, it sometimes can feel that way when we are bombarded with a virus that has us feeling like we’re on the verge of calling up friends and saying, “Just so you know, don’t let Tiffany come to my funeral.” It’s very easy assume your life is crumbling to pieces because your nose is leaking some strange-colored mucus 24/7.

Newsflash – you’re not dying.

As a college adult – which, YOU are – you are going through a critical transition period of your life from dependent teenager to sorta-kind of-maybe-independent undergraduate. You’re not about to jump into the lifestyle of a 25-year-old, but you’re also out of the house and need to be a little more on your own. That means that when it comes to being sick, you should put on your big boy/girl/etc. underwear and take care of yourself. Cause…well…sorry to break it to you but nobody else is. SO, where do you go from here?

1. Stop Stressing Yourself Out


I could say this a million times and I’m sure you’ve heard it even more. STOP. STRESSING. OUT. YOU’RE GONNA BE OKAY. Whatever it may be about, find healthy ways to minimize or stop it all together. Stress takes a toll on the immune system and if you’re getting sick all the time, you may need to take a step back and take a breather.

2. Don’t Stay Up Late on Your Phone


Go. To. Bed. Dude. You will never fully recover if you’re staring at your own Snapchat story over and over and over (it’s okay I’m guilty of it too) instead of getting a good night’s rest. Sleep is the time where your brain and body will take over and start to take care of you. Why would you want to inhibit that just to *like* another cat video?!

3. Eat Right, Drink Right & Move Right


Don’t eat garbage, don’t guzzle pop, and don’t lay around moaning in your bed all day like an injured wildebeest. You’re only prolonging your sickness OR letting one fester for the future. Eating healthy, whole foods will help properly fuel and heal your body. Drinking enough plain water and moving enough throughout the day will do the same.

If you can focus on those three things while you’re feeling gross like I am right now, then you’re on the right track. If not, you’re in for a long recovery process that will feel like FOREVER. But again, you’re NOT dying. You’ll be okay.

Happy Hump Day!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 3/1/2017

What to Do with Your Next 30 Days

So…It’s already November…and hopefully some of you are like me and are thinking,


It feels like just yesterday I was celebrating the New Year and now it’s turkey, stuffing, weird-cranberry-sauce-thing-nobody-really-eats season! Time really does fly by, especially as a college student scrambling around with so much to do.

When brainstorming what I should write for this week’s blog, I randomly thought about a 4 minute TED Talk I watched last year. It must’ve been a sign, because it is amazing. It’s called, “Try something new for 30 days” by Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google. He is incredibly inspiring, and his talk has given me a new-found interest in trying something different every month. Watch it here and you’ll see what I mean.

Why should this apply to you, dearest college kid? Well, you can choose to do ANYTHING new for 30 days, which could mean improving your college life right now. You can decide for 30 days you’re going to ride your bike to school instead of drive. You can try to pack a lunch for school every day rather than spending your money at the coffee shop or food court. You can choose to, like he said, be a novelist for 30 days even! The options are absolutely endless, and I’m sure students our age can get extremely creative.

Even though the year is almost over, you can choose to make every month in the future a memorable one with brand new experiences. Like Cutts said, not everything you try will turn out that great. Some things you try won’t have much of an effect on you after the 30 days are up, such as quitting caffeine (Ha, I wouldn’t last a single day!), whereas others might have a significant impact on your entire lifestyle.

Pick something and get on a roll with trying it. Nothing is stopping you!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/03/2016


Parents’ Blog: What You Can Do this Semester to Help Your College Student

This will be the first of many blogs addressed to the wonderful parents of college students everywhere who may be first-timers with a gaggle of kids still at home, or who are finally empty nesters. The topics I will be writing about in the parents’ blogs will include insight as to what you should do, know, and think about as a parent of a college student. I am hoping that these topics will provide very helpful advice to you all as well as get you through your first or last time as a college student’s parent.

As the eldest daughter of four girls, I’m sure my parents were not quite sure what to expect during my first year at college. They definitely helped me out a lot here and there, and some of the things they did seriously aided me during challenging times at school. So, here is a bunch of great stuff you can do for your student this semester to help:


Try to Call Each Other 1-2 Times a Week

Even if it’s only for a few minutes, calling a loved one while you are very stressed out at school can be unbelievably helpful. I know that whenever I get off the phone with my  mom or dad, it’s like a giant weight is lifted from my chest. Talking to your student and actually hearing their voice instead of texting can make both of your days brighter. Also, thanks to modern technology, Skyping or FaceTiming is an even better way to make the best out of your calls to one another by seeing their faces. Make it a priority to call 1-2 times a week – maybe even set up a certain day and time to! You’ll appreciate it so much.


Send Them Letters and Notes of Appreciation

One of the best feelings I would have during my freshman year at the dorms was opening up my mailbox and receiving a handwritten letter from my mom, dad or younger sisters. Just a small note saying, “Hi, I miss you and love you” means the world. It was by far the best thing to get at the end of the day, especially ones that weren’t the greatest. They are wonderful to hang on to, and come in handy when battling homesickness.


Be Understanding of How Busy They May Be

Sometimes, we are truly swamped in homework. And although we would love to text you back all the time about the daily news at home, we might just get too busy to reply. Know that we are trying our very best to juggle a strange new life of working, studying, keeping up with responsibilities and also making new friends. You aren’t being put on the back burner – we just have some days where we need to put our dang phones down and concentrate.

Classic scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation


Make a Couple Trips Up to See Them

There is nothing better than seeing your family after a long time apart. Coming up to Duluth for a weekend to venture around with your college student can be a fun experience for your entire family, as well as a breath of fresh air to see them again. You’ll get to meet their friends, see their favorite places around the city, and make memories that you’ll have forever (by the way, we love getting free food again!!). Family weekend at UMD is September 30th-October 2nd this year, and involves a lot a fun activities for you and your UMD student to do together. Here’s the link of all the information you need to learn more about it.


Keep Them Motivated and Positive

There will be a point in the semester when us students will feel physically, mentally and emotionally run down. With juggling test after test, quiz after quiz, and project after project, as well as other non-school related responsibilities, we will feel absolutely exhausted. Keep us focused on doing our best and not letting the challenging moments of our semester get the best of us. Inspire us with your own wisdom and advice the very best you can – even if we act like “you don’t understand mom/dad” – because you know a lot more than we do. Having you there as our personal cheerleader is amazingly helpful when sometimes we don’t have enough energy to be our own.


Send a Care Package

Even if it’s only once, getting a care package is one of the best gifts a college student can receive. We feel so appreciative to get anything in the mail, especially if it includes items we love from home. Our favorite candy from a certain store, a movie that reminds us of home, a pair of nice socks with a  goofy design – thoughtful things from you mean a lot to us. Sending one before midterms and/or finals can be even better while we prepare for big tests.

Hopefully these ideas give you some help as to what to do this semester for your college kid. Just remember that as a parent of a student, you are already an awesome person for getting them where they are. Whatever you try to do this year for them is more than enough. Thanks Parents, you all rock.

Written by Hannah Garrett on 9/5/2016