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10 Things I Wish I’d Known In College

10 Things I Wish I’d Known In College

As a recent college graduate, I can look back on my school years with some fond feelings and some memories that I’d rather just forget. So that you don’t have to make the same (many) mistakes that I did, here are the 10 things that I wish someone had told me before I’d set off for the chaos that is freshman year.

Your major will not define your entire life

This is one that I feel particularly passionate about because I seemed to spend most of my college years trying to explain—whether to students who actually had their lives figured out, or to my grandma—why I’d chosen to major in a “pointless” subject like English. This proved pretty difficult considering I wasn’t even sure why I’d chosen to go to college and “but I don’t want to be an engineer” didn’t seem to be a good enough answer. Obviously, the first thing to glean from this is that taking your time to make an educated decision about something that’s going to take up a lot of your time and resources, is probably a good idea.

Luckily, I discovered the concept of transferable skills. Sure, if you major in “Bowling Industry Management and Technology”, you’ve probably got a specific career path in mind. But if you decide somewhere down the line that bowling isn’t for you, you’ve learned management skills that can be applied in any workplace. More importantly, I loved English—and isn’t that the point?

Grades are actually important…

Unfortunately, despite the many transferable skills you might learn at college (like how to do laundry, or perhaps how to sleep and look like you’re concentrating at the same time), employers do evaluate you on your GPA (many companies actually filter applications by GPA). When it comes down to it, you’re at college to learn, so prioritize your studies, work hard and try your best to maintain a good GPA.

But a bad grade is not the end of the world

Throughout college, it was not unusual to find me shuddering over the memory of one particularly terrible grade. The dread and nausea had been made worse because I knew that I’d deserved it—I’d rushed the assignment to spend more time with my friends. With all my plans to graduate and stumble upon a career, it hadn’t really crossed my mind that I could, very possibly, fail college. This grade told my sleep-deprived and caffeinated self that my future was over.

After an extremely emotional and somewhat embarrassing visit to my professor’s office, and a math calculation by a friend who actually understood numbers, I was relieved to discover that this blip had barely affected my average. It turns out that we all have good and bad days, and if anything, this terrifying reality check shocked me into trying harder at everything else.

You don’t have to go to college straight away

One of my biggest regrets is not taking a gap year. With the relentless pressure to go to college, staying on at school can feel like the only option, but the reality is: it’s not. Your college education will still be there when you’ve had a bit more time to figure it all out.

Having a part time job is underrated 

Having something that is outside of school and being surrounding by a completely different type of friend is refreshing. Looking back, the excuse to leave the house for an environment where I had fun and physically was not allowed to study, definitely got me through my final semester. Also, the extra money and experience didn’t hurt.

Make the most of the experience

It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of college and adult life. Unfortunately, this stress does not stop after college, so you might as well make the most of it while you can. Say yes to classes that intrigue you, join in activities, learn a random skill and always take advantage of fresh air when you can.

Toxic people are to be eliminated from your life

It took me a good few years to get this mantra down. When you go to college, you’re thrown together with random people and forced to make friends or else have nobody to borrow milk from during times of need. This does not a good friendship make.

If somebody is negative, belittling or controlling, or simply brings way too much drama into your life, it’s okay to distance yourself. Toxic people will always drain your attempts to be positive and drag you down with them, which is not part of the college experience.

College can be lonely and that’s okay

Especially in freshman year, there’s an expectation that you should be having the best time of your life. Often on social media, this is reflected by constant partying, social engagements, and people spending money that they don’t have. Whilst I was happy to enjoy this unrealistic way of life for a while, it quickly became exhausting.

Surrounded by a crowd of semi-familiar faces, it is actually easy and normal to feel lonely at college. After moving away from everything you’re familiar with, it’s important to take time out to assess your state-of-mind and recharge.

Stop taking things personally

This is one that I’m still working towards. Being in a competitive situation that forces you to compare yourself to your peers can damage your self-esteem and solicit your defence mechanisms. By knowing your worth, not jumping to conclusions and letting things like a bad grade go, you’re automatically promoted to the master of your own emotions and energy levels.

Being addicted to coffee is totally fine…probably

My dependence on caffeine is definitely helping me now that I’ve graduated and actually have to get out of bed in the mornings. Take this advice at your own peril.

Further reading: 5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Dorm Room

Time Management 101: Keeping Up with College Life

Time Management 101: Keeping Up with College Life

Now that fall is well and truly here, the novelty of college has probably worn off a little. If you’ve suddenly found yourself face-to-face with reality, completely exhausted and having lost every single piece of stationary that you started with, you’re not alone.

Time management is a big concern for most college students. The flexibility of independence can also make it difficult to prioritise college work, social events, basic hygiene tasks and the hundreds of voicemails that your parents have left you.

Before you decide to give up and take a nap, follow these tips and you could be on your way to having it all.

Organization is the key to success

Whether you always carry the new (and, lets face it, completely blank) planner that you bought at the start of the year in your bag for peace of mind, or you often find yourself frowning at indecipherable reminders on your phone’s notes app, settling on a solid organization system is vital for time management.

Even if you pride yourself on having a fantastic memory, writing everything down will ensure that you know what’s on your to-do list. With millions of productivity apps at your dispense, logging events and setting reminders will lift the added pressure of remembering your homework and help you to generate a productive schedule. Just remember to bite the bullet and prioritize which tasks make it to the top of your list.

Practice makes perfect

Routine and schedule are two key concepts that are fundamental to time management at college, where there is no one to hold you accountable for your whereabouts. Typically, it is expected that you allocate around 35 hours per week for working and studying, including the time you spend in class. With other obligations and social activities in mind, creating a weekly timetable that leaves time for independent study will help you to stay focused and productive. Blocking out leisure time will also give you something to look forward to each day, and you’ll probably work faster knowing that the end is in sight.

It can be easy to fall into the habit of staying up late in order to squeeze in everything on your to-do list, but getting enough sleep each night is one of the most important steps in your routine. Luckily, the idea that everyone needs exactly eight hours sleep is unrealistic—some people may only need six, and some may need nine. Sleep is often considered in terms of 90-minute cycles and you should get at least five whole cycles per night (7.5 hours). Here, the key is to set a time to go to bed every night and stick to it. Every time you change your body’s wake time, it suffers something resembling jet lag, making you feel groggy and affecting your performance, even if you’ve had more sleep than usual. 

Limit procrastination

We’ve all been there. Making the executive decision to take a five minute break and cheer up with a cat video seems like a great idea, until you catch yourself poised to click “adopt” four hours later, only to realize that your accommodation doesn’t allow pets. Cue the panic, self-hatred, stress and eventually a nap to make it all go away, and you probably haven’t achieved a great deal. Breaking up your work into small steps can help you to focus and make the task at hand seem less overwhelming. Create a deadline for each of these steps so that you’re not waiting until the final deadline is near to begin work.

Nobody is perfect—instead of punishing yourself for wasted time, assign rewards for any work that you do complete. Lunch, an episode on Netflix, or a free hour to spend with your friends can all be incentives to be productive. Limiting distractions like your phone, social media and TV will make these rewards even more enjoyable, and seeking out a buddy to hold you accountable will ensure that you don’t break your own rules.

The key to time management can be as simple as understanding yourself. Self-awareness will help you to recognise the times of day when you’re most focused, and whether you’re more productive brainstorming with a group or on your own.

Healthy body, healthy mind

You’ve probably heard this one countless times, but making sure you allow time for self-care is essential for your mental and physical health, as well as your attention-span and energy levels. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week can literally boost your brain power.

Ask for help

Ever heard the idea that we learn from our mistakes? If you’re struggling to find a balance at college, that’s okay. Adjustment takes time, but you may need to accept that you’re trying to take on too much. Talking to a trusted friend, family member or mental health representative could help to ease some of the pressure and enable you to rationally think through your options and figure out a new plan.

Further reading: 5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Dorm Room

10 Spooky Books to Read this Halloween

10 Spooky Books to Read this Halloween

Whilst I appreciate a good jump-scare horror film, nothing can quite beat the many nights spent reading Goosebumps by the light of a friend’s shaking torch that permeate my childhood memories. Stories have been used to scare us since the beginning of time and it’s chilling in itself to realize that just a few words on paper can stimulate a consuming sense of dread.

Halloween is the perfect time to curl up with one of these spooky books—just make sure to leave the lights on.

House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

This dark tale is about a family who discover that their new home is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside—and so much more. Deserving of its cult following, the experimental novel immerses you to fumble blindly over color, footnotes, upside-down text and your own nightmares. The only spoiler that I can give is that the dedication page reads: “This is not for you.”

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

You may think you have exhausted your tolerance of haunted houses—that is until Shirley Jackson takes you to Hill House. This slow-burning psychological horror was the inspiration for the new 10-part Netflix series and tells the unnerving story of four strangers and their journey into the depths of Hill House. 

Bird Box, Josh Malerman

Interweaving the past and the present, this horror novel follows Malorie and her two young children as they flee to safety. The main problem is that something is outside, and glimpsing it has driven everyone to deathly violence. Blindfolded, Malorie is unable to see what’s following them.

Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn From the author of Gone Girl, comes an even-more-disturbing thriller. Reporter, Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to cover the murders of two young girls and is confronted by her own, twisted demons. If you’re triggered by cutting you should stay away from this one, though.

Pet Sematary, Stephen King 

It would have been rude not to include Stephen King on this list and Pet Sematary is frequently referenced as his scariest book. Set in rural Maine, the suspenseful, slow burning horror features the Creed family and their recent move to an idyllic home. When the family cat dies, they ignorantly bury it near an old pet cemetery. The ending of this one might just leave you too terrified to turn the page.

Silent Child, Sarah A. Denzil

In the summer of 2006, six-year-old Aiden fell into a river during a flood and drowned. His body was never recovered. Fast forward 10 years and when Aiden staggers out of the woods, injured and mute, his mother must attempt to reconnect with her son and figure out who took him.

Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane

Set in 1954, Shutter Island follows US Marshal Teddy Daniels as he arrives to investigate the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The strange case exposes human experimentation, war tactics, a killer hurricane and a protagonist who is left as messed up, disoriented and desperate to figure out the mystery as you are.

The Grave Tender, Eliza Maxwell

This southern gothic suspense novel is beautifully written and haunting. When Hadley returns to her hometown—where she’d witnessed her mother set herself on fire—she discovers that her family is surrounded by dark secrets. This book deals with several forms of abuse and trigger warnings include: rape, incest, domestic abuse and child molestation.

The Last Time I Lied, Riley Sager

If you like to be kept guessing, this spooky mystery is for you. Emma remembers her days at Camp Nightingale, playing two truths and a lie with her friends—until they all went missing. When she is asked to return to the camp as a painting instructor, Emma discovers that all is not as it seems. Her past and present collide as she seeks to discover the truth.

Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel, A W Jantha

Did you know that Hocus Pocus the book and a brand new sequel were released in July this year? You’re welcome.

Further reading: The Most Haunted Universities in the World

The Most Haunted Universities in the World

The Most Haunted Universities in the World

Are you brave enough to study at one of the world’s most haunted universities? Settle down for some college ghost stories that are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.

University of St Andrews, Scotland

 As well as being Scotland’s oldest University (dating back almost six centuries), the University of St Andrews is considered one of the country’s most haunted places. The weathered, gothic building is home to over a dozen ghosts, including a piper and a ghost ship.

A phantom monk also protects St Rule’s Tower in St Andrews Cathedral but it is the apparition of the White Lady who is most well-known at the university. Said to be one of the ladies-in-waiting of Mary, Queen of Scots, the grieving beauty resides inside the wall of a desecrated abbey and takes nocturnal strolls across the cathedral grounds. In 1868, stonemasons broke into a sealed chamber where they discovered an open coffin containing the preserved body of a young woman in a white dress…

Gettysburg College, USA

America’s most haunted college, Gettysburg College was the site of the brutal Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Unsurprisingly, ghosts are commonplace at this site, with frequent spectral activity occurring at Penn Hall—the oldest building on campus that served as a hospital and morgue during the battle.

Here, the most popular ghosts include armed sentinels, a little boy with a blue face known as the ‘blue boy’ and bloodstained Civil War doctors that haunt the basement.

University of Toronto, Canada 

The University of Toronto actually conducts haunted tours of the campus, so certain are they of the many specters that parade the halls. The Christie Mansion building was the site of a 19th century illicit love affair and death. The mansion’s owner kept his mistress hidden in a secret chamber behind the library (room 29), where she hung herself with her bed sheets.

Most famously, Russian stonemason, Ivan Reznikoff, attacked his colleague, Paul Diablos with an axe for his affairs with Reznikoff’s fiancé. Diablos stabbed the Russian with a knife and hid the body in a ventilation shaft. The university claims that an axe mark can still be seen and workers later discovered the skeleton of a man wearing a belt buckle with Reznikoff’s emblem in a ventilation shaft, after the building partly burned down.

Heidelberg University, Germany 

Many professors from Heidelberg University were sent to concentration camps during Nazi Germany, and two were also said to have been murdered. The most disturbing part of campus is the University’s clinic, where women who were forced to undergo sterilization under eugenic experiments can be heard weeping and screaming.

Chalkboards erase themselves and mysterious words appear on them over night, even though the halls are kept locked. It is also said that the smell of smoke and burning leather still lingers at the site where banned books were burned before WW2.

University of Northern Colorado, USA

The University of Northern Colorado warns prospective students about its phantom residents with a dedicated page on the university’s website. With a ghost story for every single building on campus, a less scary but memorable account of ‘Stoney Ghosty’, the spirit of a student who overdosed on drugs, claims that he is eternalized by the smell of marijuana.

On the other hand, the presence of another student haunts the attic where she was found hanging. Bullied by her peers, Edith would hide away and play with marbles. Students have reported hearing the noise of marbles rolling across the floor, and her ghost has often been sighted outside the Wiebking and Wilson dormitories.

Nagasaki University, Japan

The ghosts at Nagasaki’s medical school are said to be victims of the atomic bomb released by the US on 9 August 1945. The smell of burning flesh reeks the hallways, accompanied by ghostly figures and the screams of the 800 staff and students who were killed in the blast.

Chinese University of Hong Kong, China 

If you’re a male and you visit the Chinese University of Hong Kong, you could fall prey to the faceless ghost that haunts Single Braid Road, which runs beside campus.

The woman has long, braided hair and, legend has it, had her face ripped off after jumping from a moving train. With a train station at the end of the road, young men who tread the path alone risk being traumatized by the faceless specter. 

Smith College, USA

The largest women’s college in America is also one of the most haunted and has centuries of murders, accidents and epidemics peppered throughout its history. Smith’s website continually updates it’s list of reported ghosts, including a senior who died after forgetting to turn the gas oven off, a little boy who died after being locked in the attic, and a pining mother who cries for the baby she murdered in life.

Another infamous story describes the haunting of the Sessions House, where a British soldier and an American girl would meet on a hidden staircase during the Revolutionary War. The staircase is real, and new students are often set the task of finding it on Halloween. The ghost of General Burgoyne has been sighted wandering Sessions House looking for his love, and other students have seen the pair rendezvousing on the secret stair.

Further reading: Six of the Best Books to Read This Fall

The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

A recent survey by Redbox.com found that, after 45 years, The Exorcist (1973) is still the scariest movie that members have ever seen. Hocus Pocus (1993) is also celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, and it’s no surprise to hear that the iconic, 25-year-old classic out-performed all other family-friendly Halloween movies.

Whether you prefer fun or frightening, staying in with Netflix beats trick or treating—just ask the survey. We’re giving you 12 spooky movie options that you can stream for the best October ever.

The survey also showed that 72 percent of responders prefer popcorn to candy, so you should probably watch Children Of The Corn (1984) too. Happy Halloween!

  1. Scooby-Doo (2002)

Anyone who says this isn’t the best film ever made is lying—or just isn’t that nostalgic. The live-action re-imagining of the classic cartoon involves cults, spirits, brainwashing and meddling kids.

  1. It Follows (2014)

This horror film seems to be about an STD—except it takes the form of an evil spirit that sets out to murder its victim. Pass it on to survive.

  1. The Sixth Sense (1999)

This classic psychological thriller follows Bruce Willis as his character tries to help a young boy who is visited by ghosts. If you haven’t already been spoiled on the ending, your Halloween just got 100 times better.

  1. Coraline (2009)

Coraline is based on Neil Gaiman’s slightly disturbing children’s book. It follows a young girl who discovers an exciting parallel universe. Once you get over how creepy the character’s button-eyes are, this movie is awesome.

  1. The Babadook (2014)

On the surface, this monster movie seems like a terrifying horror film. Deep down, it is a terrifying horror film that cleverly explores the stresses of being a single parent and the manifestation of grief and depression.

  1. The Conjuring (2013) 

The Conjuring is inspired by a true story, and it’s petrifying. The movie follows paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they attempt to help a family who are being terrorized by a malevolent spirit.

  1. The Boy (2016)

Creepy doll movies are perfect for Halloween, and this one is no exception. When a young nanny breaks the list of rules for looking after a life-size doll, it becomes clear why the parents treat it like a real boy.

  1. Hotel Transylvania (2012)

If you need a break from the horrors, Hotel Transylvania’s monsters-meet-humans adventure is charming and fun. It was also voted as the fifth family-friendly favourite in the Redbox survey.

  1. Would You Rather (2013)

We dare you to tear your eyes away from this gruesome horror. The intense movie follows a group of unfortunate characters at a dinner party. In a merciless twist, the host forces them to play a sadistic game or pay the price.

  1. Curse of Chucky (2012) 

What screams Halloween more than Chucky? Another sequel. This installment is actually one of the most atmospheric and scary Chucky films, and follows a grieving daughter whose niece has a creepy doll.

  1. Van Helsing (2004)

This monster hunter saga is mainly here because it has Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in, but it’s also a thrilling roller-coaster ride of entertainment.

  1. Raw (2016) 

This one is best viewed on an empty stomach, so put the popcorn down. At school, a vegetarian girl is convinced to eat raw meat for the first time and develops a craving for flesh. This movie is famous for causing audience members to faint at the Toronto International Film Festival. Go on, we dare you.

Further reading: Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

Dr. Sherry Benton on Mental Health Support at College

Dr. Sherry Benton on Mental Health Support at College

If you’re a college student and you’re struggling with mental health, you’re definitely not alone. College News got advice from an expert.

With a recent research study showing that one in five university students are affected by anxiety or depression, the pressure on campus facilities is high. College News discussed the problem with Dr. Sherry Benton.

Dr. Benton is a psychologist and mental health care administrator with over 22 years of experience. She is also the founder of TAO Connect—a digital platform that functions to make mental health recovery treatments easily accessible.

College News: How can college students reach out about mental health struggles?

Dr. Benton: Most campuses have a counseling center, counseling service or psychological services. Find your campuses service and learn about their programs and services. Typically, they offer a range of options.

CN: What kinds of mental health support facilities should students be looking out for when applying for colleges?

DB: Ideally, campuses should take a campus wide, comprehensive approach—including prevention, resilience training, counseling, groups, bystander education programs and other services. The Jed foundation, “Jed Campus” program works with a campus over a four-year period to insure the campus approach to mental health, substance abuse and suicide, are comprehensive and well-coordinated. Jed Campus designation is an excellent way to insure a campus has taken these issues seriously and thought out the best approaches for them.

CN: What are the most common and the most effective ways to deliver mental health therapy?

DB: Different people have different needs and respond to different approaches. Traditional face-to-face individual psychotherapy is the most common and best known. However, research has shown it is not more effective than group therapy or internet based cognitive behavioral therapy for many common problems. Many people also find self-help or apps effective for them.

CN: Do you think that students do not receive enough mental health help at college?

DB: I think most universities work very hard to meet the need, yet providing psychotherapy is really expensive and often difficult to access everywhere not just in universities. Using effective models such as stepped-care can help campuses to stretch limited resources to provide more help to more students. In stepped-care, students are quickly assessed and then begin with a level of help likely to be helpful. Progress is monitored regularly and students can be moved to more intensive or less intensive levels of help depending on their responses.

CN: How can campuses raise awareness and take a proactive approach to mental health?

DB: Campuses can raise awareness through the following: educational campaigns, resilience training in freshman orientation classes, bystander education programs like Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) or Kognito, education programs through Greek houses, residence halls, athletic departments, clubs and organizations.

CN: Are there exercises that students can practice on their own to help improve their mental state?

DB: Mindfulness meditation is something everyone should do. The many health benefits and mental health benefits would suggest that daily meditation should be as consistent as brushing your teeth. Another option is TAO Connect, which provides students access to its self-help courses whenever they want, without having to make an appointment to see a therapist.

CN: What is TAO Connect?

DB: We are a suite of online tools for mental health screening, assessment, patient education, skill development and progress monitoring. TAO can be used as self-help or with a therapist or case manager. TAO’s materials are interesting and engaging with actors in scenes, animations, interactive exercises and journaling.

CN: How can students take advantage of TAO Connect?

DB: There are 120 colleges in the US and Canada offering TAO’s programs to students either as self-help or through their counseling center. Contact your counseling center to find out if your school subscribes to TAO.

Further reading: You’re Not Alone: Facing Loneliness In College

5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Dorm Room

5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Dorm Room

These low-maintenance houseplants have numerous benefits that every college student should get behind.

Whether you’re green-thumbed or not, gardening is probably the last priority on any college student’s agenda. Actually, it’s probably not on the agenda at all. With such a huge increase in responsibility, starting college can cause our actual priorities to become overtaken by stress, anxiety and loneliness.

Surprisingly, having a houseplant in your living space is scientifically proven to boost productivity, whilst also improving your mood. Plants can even help you to sleep, making them perfect companions for the stretched student. College News tracked down some of the easiest plants to care for, so there’s no excuse for killing your new roomie. Here are five reasons that your new best friends are plants.

  1. They clean the air

Indoor air pollutants are ranked one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Luckily, the evidence that plants clean the air actually comes from NASA. According to NASA, plants are “nature’s life support system” because they absorb some of the particulates from the air and also take in carbon dioxide, which is then processed into oxygen. Beyond this, microorganisms present in the plant’s soil also have a cleaning effect, which boosts your mood.

Our favourite plant to clean the air: Peace Lily

Care level: Easy

  1. They boost productivity

According to a study from Michigan University, being around plants can increase memory retention by up to 20 percent. Studies also showed improvements in both concentration and productivity. Large plants can also apparently absorb, diffract and reflect background noise. By also boosting alertness and reducing mental fatigue, having houseplants can literally make you smarter.

Our favourite plant for productivity: Spider Plant

Care level: Effortless

  1. They make you healthy 

At the Agricultural University of Norway, a study proved that the humidity generated by houseplants decreases dry skin, colds, sore throats, coughs, and the spread of flu viruses. Another study showed that being around plants post-surgery, led to significant improvement in physiologic recovery and lower systolic blood pressure. These benefits also extended to cognitive healing—patients with plants in their rooms experienced lower levels of pain, anxiety and fatigue.

Plants such as Aloe Vera are also medicinal by nature. Aloe can cure burns, ease constipation, aid cavities and ulcers, and has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Keeping one in your kitchen is probably a good idea if your unique gourmet cooking is considered a hazard.

Our favourite medicinal plant: Aloe Vera

Care level: Very easy

  1. They help you sleep

Most plants stop taking in carbon dioxide at night and instead respire like humans. However, some loveable specimens actually do the opposite. These plants are able to improve the air that you breathe during the night, increasing your sleep quality. Fragranced plants such as Lavender are also widely recognised as sleep aids. Lavender has been proven to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels—making it the perfect relaxant for your dorm room.

Our favourite plant for sleep: Snake Plant

Care level: Indestructible

  1. They reduce stress, loneliness and depression

Whilst it has been proven that houseplants reduce stress and anxiety levels, the act of caring for a plant can also better your mental health. Cultivating something has been shown to be calming and can boost self-esteem and feelings of control. It might sound cliché, but having something to water can get you out of bed in the mornings, boost your optimism, and improve your overall wellbeing.

Our favourite plant for mental health: Anthurium

Care level: Pretty easy

Further Reading: You’re Not Alone: Facing Loneliness In College

Back to School

Back to School: Getting Around Campus

The first year at college is particularly exciting; for many students, this is their first home away from their parents, and with that brings a huge sense of freedom. But campus life in those first few weeks of semester can prove to be confusing, too. Learn to navigate your new campus and get settled in quickly with our top tips.

Orientation day

Most colleges offer orientation days when new students go back to school at the beginning of the fall semester. This day is a perfect opportunity to register, sign up to classes, learn about general rules and policies and get to know new peers and faculty. Not only this, new students will be given a guided group tour of the campus and the opportunity to explore independently so that when the first day of class arrives, students are more adequately acquainted with their new surroundings.

Map it

Maps, whether they be printed or downloaded and interactive, are a basic essential for a new student’s campus pocketbook. Familiarize yourself with the major locations situated on the map and keep it with you during the first weeks of college to easily locate classes, the library, the school’s health center and the student union. Alternatively, if you are unsure ask older students or members of staff for directions.

Public transport

Public transport for college students tends to be very reliable, frequent and (perhaps best of all) affordable. Check the campus’ bus terminal for routes around your new city and their scheduled times. You will likely need a student identification card for travel discounts, so make sure this stays in your purse or wallet at all times. Some universities also provide park and ride shuttle services so you can park your car outside of college grounds and get into campus easily.

Campus security

Colleges across the nation are upping their security measures amidst recent reports of attacks and crimes on campus—according to rainn.org, an astonishing 11.2 percent of all students in the US experience sexual assault alone. Prior to starting classes, find out who your campus security personnel are and take note of their contact details. Always try to walk in groups where possible when traveling across campus grounds (particularly in the dark, winter months) and endeavour to plan ahead by telling your roommates where you are going and when they should expect you home.

Back to school checklist

Do you have:

  • ƒ Campus map?
  • ƒ Campus security contact?
  • ƒ Student identification card?
  • ƒ Classroom locations/numbers?
  • ƒ Student Union location?

Further reading: Exploring Campus

College Football 2018

College Football 2018: Players to Watch

The college football 2018 season is set to be a sizzler; keep your eye on College News’ top 10 favorites to watch on the pitch this year

Damien Harris: RB, Alabama Crimson Tide

21-year-old Alabama Crimson Tide running back, Damien Harris, is more than worth his salt. Incredibly, Harris was eligible for the 2018 NFL draft but chose to remain a member of the prestigious college football team instead. After rushing for 1,000 yards last year and with a touchdown count reaching 11 (up from two the previous year), the Kentucky-born player is no doubt an asset to the team. 247Sports said of the running back, “Harris is so talented, his hold on Alabama’s RB1 status nearly led to five-star Najee Harris’ transfer after his freshman season last fall.”

N’Keal Harry: WR, Arizona State Sun Devils

The Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver N’Keal Harry shows deep promise in the game despite his modest record of rushing for 659 yards and five touchdowns last season. Sports outlets everywhere applaud the player’s ability to catch the ball with exceptional precision. This, combined with his tactful use of running speed variations, makes Harry a strong candidate for the 2018 college football season. NFL.com said that Harry is “one of the most talented receivers in college football.”

Cam Akers: RB, Florida State Seminoles

Cam Akers already boasts an impressive portfolio in his so far short career, having achieved a whopping 13,243 yards and 149 touchdowns to date. The Florida State Seminoles running back was named MS Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016 and won the US Army Player of the Year Award in the same year. Holding the grand record for rushing 1,024 yards last season (beating Dalvin Cook’s 2014 record of 1,008 yards), Akers is cementing his reputation as a leading player in the game and one to put your bets on.

Drew Lock: QB, Missouri Tigers

Missouri quarterback, Drew Lock, has been making waves in the college football scene since 2015; that same year he was ranked by Rivals as a four-star recruit and the number six best pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class. According to seccountry.com, Lock is “considered one of college football’s premier NFL prospects heading into the 2018 season.” In an interview with FOX Sports, draft analyst Mike Detillier said, “I’ve never seen a quarterback more accurate throwing the football than Drew Lock from Missouri. He’s the best. The best quarterback here on this campus.”

 Justin Herbert: QB, Oregon Ducks

Quarterback Justin Herbert’s star is rising in the college football landscape and his place in the Oregon Ducks college football team is well-deserving. Herbert has long been applauded for his deft precision when it comes to throwing and catching the ball, with the NFL stating that, “Herbert’s arm and mobility will entice scouts, as well as help Oregon overcome the loss of head coach Willie Taggard after only one season at the helm.”

David Sills: WR, West Virginia Mountaineers

David Sills returned to West Virginia University in 2017 to take the post as the team’s wide receiver. The 22-year-old has lauded much critical acclaim in sports circles, with Sports Illustrated anointing him one of the greatest prospects ever. 247Sports said, “Sills led college football last fall with 18 touchdown receptions and averaged 16.3 yards per grab”—no mean feat at all.

Devin Bush Jr: LB, Michigan Wolverines

Linebacker Devin Bush Jr helps lead a fantastic defense unit for the Michigan Wolverine’s college football team. The 20-year-old has made it onto several players-to-watch-out-for lists so far this year, and it’s easy to see why. Chad Reiter at NFL.com said, “Bush is the new prototype for Linebacker in college and the NFL—not necessarily big, but fast and aggressive. He can blow through the A-gap to wrap up quarterbacks, attack gaps on stretch plays to bring down running backs in the backfield, and get out to the hash to cover receivers.”

Shaq Quarterman: LB, Miami Hurricanes

Shaq Quarterman was rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports, had scholarships offered to him for his exceptional sportsmanship prior to committing to Miami and was named Freshman All American by ESPN—it’s easy to see why this linebacker is one to watch out for this season. NFL.com said of Quarterman, “He’s fast, instinctive, and a terrific tackler. An NFL team will give him the keys to defense not long after he arrives.”

Ed Oliver: DT, Houston Cougars

Defensive tackle for the Houston Cougars, Ed Oliver, has been the focus of many sports journalists across the nation this year. In March, Oliver announced (before his final college season even begins) that he intends to enter the draft for the NFL in 2019. The six-foot-two athlete was rated a consensus five-star recruit, ranking as one of the top players in his class. 247Sports said, “No one in college football, at this size, moves like Oliver…The closest player to a ‘sure-thing’ in next year’s draft, Oliver has a chance to make serious noise on the Heisman race as a junior even if his team isn’t elite.”

Clelin Ferrell: DL, Clemson Tigers

“The headliner up front on the Tigers’ freakish defensive line, [Clelin] Ferrell is a monster pass rusher,” says NFL.com. This Defensive End player was a four-star recruit straight out of high school and rated the number five prospect in Virginia. Just last year, this player was even named the team co-defensive player-of-the-game, too, making Ferrell College News’ last, but by no means least, favorite to watch on the pitch this year.

Further reading: Playing College Sports: All You Need to Know

Student Loan Debt

Dealing with Student Loan Debt

The most recent data suggests that US student loan debt is soaring at a dizzying pace. This past year, figures have shown that it now currently sits at around $1.4 trillion—yes, trillion. Shockingly, college tuition fees have increased almost 400 percent in the last 30 years while the average household income growth certainly has not, says news site theatlantic.com. Yet, while the nation places great importance on college education for a sustainable and thriving economic future, yearly university fees are still climbing, forcing people to take out giant student loans and some would-be students to forget about college altogether. According to The Washington Post, some four in 10 people who have attended college in their lives have taken out a loan to facilitate their studies. A report by the College Board released in 2016 found that the average debt attributed to those who took out a student loan to complete a bachelor’s degree was $28,400, but the reality is often much higher for many students. What is even more egregious about this situation, is that it is largely students from the least affluent backgrounds who take on the most student loan debt. Around a fifth of people who have student loan debt are also “falling back” on their payments, incurring penalties and sky-rocketing interest rates on top of an already huge sum.

Some think tanks are now arguing that the US government should eliminate student loan debt completely, saying that, in the long-term, these crippling bills will do nothing to bolster the country’s economy later down the line, and may actually damage it. But, unless this happens and college is still your goal, it is key to take into account all of the financial options available to you to help keep costs down as much as possible throughout your studies. Financial aid in the form of scholarships or non-repayable grants can slash student loan debts down by a considerable amount, and there are also many universities across the country who offer significant financial aid packages which cover up to 100 percent in tuition fees.

Five colleges with great financial aid packages

There is a wealth of colleges throughout the US—including major Ivy League universities—who offer financial aid to those who need it the most.

  1. Columbia University

One of the most expensive schools in the states, Columbia University’s tuition and fees reach $55,056 per year. Thankfully, the college offers a very attractive financial aid package, which comes to an average of $55,521.

  1. Harvard University

Harvard University is considered one of the most elite schools in the world, and the privilege of attending is reflective of its mammoth yearly fees which reach $47,074. But, like Columbia, it offers a great financial aid page of $51,308 to cover this—and then some. 100 percent of students who were eligible for this package’s needs were met.

  1. Yale University

Annual tuition and fees at this Ivy League school reach $49,480. Yale offers an average of $52,894 in their financial aid package, and 100 percent of students who utilized the financial aid package’s needs were met.

  1. Princeton University

With annual tuition and fees costing $45,320, Princeton University offers an attractive financial aid package which sits at an average of $49,502.

  1. University of Richmond

While annual tuition fees for the University of Richmond are around $50,910, the university offers a financial aid package is $45,784, making the remaining $5,000 or so a lot easier to cope with when it comes to paying fees.

It’s safe to say that student loan debt may be an inevitable part of studying, but there are options available to help alleviate financial pressures during your school years. Make sure to research the universities you might like to attend before applying. Some schools may offer substantial non-repayable grants to help cover the ever-increasing fees attached.

Further reading: Applying for a Post-Graduate Degree