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Applying for a Student Loan: Where Should You Begin?

As the cost to attend college keeps rising, so does the need for students to find ways to cover that cost. Savings, grants, and scholarships are often not enough to pay for college, leaving a student loan as one of the primary options to finance the education you want. As you consider student loans, It’s important to know that not all student loans are the same. Before you decide to jump in with student loans, you should consider all of your funding options including grants, scholarships and others.

Private student loans

Private loans, like the name implies, are provided by lenders like banks and credit unions, as opposed to federal student loans, which are funded by the federal government. While there are a lot of benefits to getting a federal student loan, there is a maximum limit of how much you can borrow. You should start by utilizing federal student loans if you can, but with the rising cost of college, federal loans may not be enough. Private student loans can help fill this gap.

Give me some credit

Federal loans don’t require a credit check, which means when you apply for one, you’ll get the same rate as every other student. When applying for a private student loan, your unique financial circumstances and credit history are taken into consideration, which can affect your approval odds and the interest rate offered if you are approved.  While having to pass a credit check may seem like a disadvantage, private loans commonly give you the option of having a cosigner. With the right cosigner, it could make a big difference in the rates you’re able to receive and may make it easier for you to acquire a private loan with a good rate. After you graduate, you may have the option to refinance your loans using your improved and established credit, which could offer you the benefit of a lower rate.

Shop around!

Where should you begin? Student lending platforms like LendKey can help you find a private student loan to cover your cost of college.

What’s the difference?

The rates and terms you may be able to get can vary drastically from one lender to another. Taking the time to shop around now could save you thousands of dollars in the future.

Federal students loans always have fixed interest rates, meaning your interest rate will be the same for as long as you have the loan.  With private student loans, you often have the option of choosing between fixed and variable rates.

There’s more to consider than just the interest rates. Will there be reliable customer service?  Will the lender also be the one to service the loan? LendKey services the loans that are originated on its platform, and LendKey’s US-based loan specialists are consistently praised for their friendliness, reliability, and how quickly they are able to respond to questions.

The loan with benefits

If a private student loan fits your needs, LendKey connects community banks and credit unions to students like you. Because LendKey partners with community banks and credit unions, these institutions prosper when their customers prosper, so they want you to succeed. Lendkey also streamlines the lending experience, making it easy to keep up with your loan. You can complete the entire process online, including reviewing your loan, applying, and making payments.

LendKey can also simplify repaying your existing student loans with student loan refinancing once you have graduated. If you have multiple loans already in place, you can combine them into one brand new loan, making it more convenient to keep up with. The greatest benefit  —  one loan means one interest rate, which could save you thousands in interest over the life of the loan.

When you work with LendKey and one of their partner lenders, you have a strong team behind you, helping make your dreams come true.

LendKey was founded in 2009 immediately following the Great Recession. Through partnerships with banks and credit unions, LendKey has helped more than 92,000 borrowers and disbursed more than $2.9 billion in loans.

For more information visit http://www.lendkey.com. 

See Also:

Common Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

Avoid These Interview Mistakes

Writing the Perfect Resume

Nootropics: Can They Make You Smarter?

Our modern lifestyles require us to retain more new information today than ever before, from rigorous exam preparation to big deadlines at work.

Dominating this fast-paced information-filled world is social media and its effect on cognitive health. Social networking platforms portray an elusive mirror of supposed perfection and happiness; however, excessive usage has cultivated multiple cognitive problems such as loneliness, depression and social anxiety.

In a study published by Psychology Today, findings demonstrated that real, direct social interaction was negatively linked to excess Twitter use in university students, with loneliness being the prime cause.

Nootropics to the rescue?

Nootropics, or “brain boosters,” work by increasing and decreasing the activity of brain chemicals. For example, GABA is a brain chemical responsible for reducing anxiety, whereas the neurotransmitter norepinephrine heightens adrenaline in humans.

Other neurotransmitters include serotonin that regulates anxiety and dopamine. A lack of dopamine can cause insomnia, fatigue, memory loss and abrupt mood swings. Moreover, chemical imbalances can be triggered by either too low or high glutamate levels, with the latter being a symptom of Alzheimer’s and the former creating cognitive problems, like ADHD in children.

Herbal Nootropics

Nootropics can come in herbal or synthetic forms. Herbal nootropics use the herb ashwagandha, which
was used historically in the holistic practice Ayurveda. The herb works to revitalize your mental performance by improving attention levels and reducing fatigue. A secondary benefit of ashwagandha is its potential to restore a mental harmony, therefore ideal for those who suffer from anxiety within social interactions. Native to South East Asia, mitragyna speciosa, which is commonly known as kratom, is another herbal nootropic. Adopted by tribal societies in South Eastern Asia to provide energy, stimulate hunger and treat wounds, Kratorm is now used as a cognitive stimulant to maximize productivity levels.

Synthetic Nootropics

Synthetic nootropics, available globally, are used to improve memory and concentration levels. Modafinil is one such example of a synthetic brain booster, available only through prescription to ensure its is the right and most effective type of treatment to meet the specific needs of a patients. Modafinil is also used to treat narcolepsy, the chronic brain disorder causing individuals to fall asleep at random.

Synthetic nootropics are also widely utilized to treat social and cognitive problems. The compound Phenibut is a derivative of GABA and was once embraced by the Soviet Union as a medicinal drug. Its properties allow
it to have a stress-reducing effect and improve the sleep quality of its users.

See Also:
Brain Food – Eating For Concentration

Provigil: “Viagra for the brain?”

Writing the Perfect Resume

Writing the perfect resume is one of the toughest parts of job-hunting, and also one of the most important. If the gruelling odds of success are making your job prospects seem as sad as your blank resume, don’t worry. Even if you have little or no work experience, knowing how to draw on relevant skills and a clearly set out resume will help you to sell yourself effectively. Here’s how to impress a recruiter in six seconds flat.

Resume Format

If your recent nightmares consist of being stared at by a blank page, there are plenty of resume templates available online that can help you get started. Remember to list your experience in reverse-chronological order and choose a format that plays to your strengths. If you have less work experience, you may want to feature your education first. If you’ve been exploring the industry during college, you could highlight a separate section about your relevant or professional experience.

Unfortunately, the design of your resume is important, too—hiring managers may have to read thousands of applications and they won’t appreciate the extra work if your information isn’t clearly set out on the page.

Design rules:

  • Aim for one page, but if you have information that is highly relevant, add a page instead of compromising on a clear layout.
  • Choose an easy-to-read font and keep this consistent.
  • On average, hiring managers spend just six seconds considering a resume before deciding whether to dismiss it.
  • Use a variation of font sizes (make headers and your name larger).
  • When choosing a font size, many resumes follow a 24, 12, 10 format—the name is 24pt, the body headers are 12pt, and the bullet points are 10pt.
  • Create white space by breaking up text with paragraphs or lines.
  • Never set margins below .5—if you lack experience, stick to one inch margins.
  • Focus on readability

Profile summary

Including a brief profile summary or statement at the top of your resume can be a great way to attract attention and show the employer, at a glance, why you’re qualified for the job.

E.g. “Self-motivated and adaptable business graduate with proven experience in business, marketing, sales and communication.”

Education

With entry-level applications, graduates benefit from emphasizing the education section on their resume. Include the names of institutions, their location, the date of graduation and your degree. Only include your GPA if it is above average. You may also wish to mention your thesis or the most relevant courses that you took.

Work experience

Yes, getting professional work experience whilst you study greatly helps to differentiate your application from your competitors’. If this isn’t you though, don’t panic—you may have more experience than you think. Part-time jobs, volunteer work, summer internships and college clubs will all work to embellish your resume. Include the company’s name, location, your title and the dates of employment (month and year). Use around three to five bullet points per experience to cover your main duties and achievements.

Additional sections

While education and experience are necessary to a resume, adding additional sections can help to strengthen it. Examples include: skills, interests, certificates, publications and languages.

Perhaps most important here is a skills section that features soft and hard skills. Soft skills include attention to detail, teamwork, critical thinking, etc. Hard skills include technical expertise, foreign languages and SEO knowledge. Don’t try and save time here—each resume should be tailored to the individual job ad. Don’t list all of your hobbies, unless they’re relevant—you’ll need things to discuss in the interview.

Tips to make your resume stand out!

Statistics are your best friends—exactly how many followers did you attract to social media pages? Even if a company doesn’t ask for a cover letter, you should almost always include one. Submit a separate document that highlights your strongest skills and qualifications or include it in the body of an email with your resume attached

Step-by-step resume checklist

  1. Decide on a resume template and make it readable.
  2. Make your contact information easy to find and use a professional email address.
  3. Write a brief profile summary that responds to what the company are looking for.
  4. Write your resume content—most relevant and most recent experience first.
  5. Check your skills clearly match those in the job ad.
  6. Check you use tailored keywords, quantification and action verbs

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 of College News.

See also: Free Courses to Boost Your Skills Profile

Avoid These Interview Mistakes

Do You Need a College Degree to Be Successful? 

The Dos and Don’ts of College Interviews

Applying for college or university is stressful enough, without the added pressure of reviewing for exams and making sure you’re on track of coursework deadlines, which is why we have compiled a list of our dos and don’ts when it comes to preparing for your college interviews.

The Dos

  1. Tailor your interview research

While widely researching many universities and colleges during your application process is advised, when it comes to preparing for interviews, it is better to tailor your fact-finding mission. Tailoring your research will not only prepare you for the interview process, it will also give you better insight as to if a particular university is for you. Start by noting the classes you’re most interested in, and afterwards, record how specific elements of your prior experience or education tie into these subjects.

Moreover, be sure to make note of why you would like to study “X Course” at this particular university? The interview stage is about assessing your overall suitability both for the course you’re applying to and university.

  1. Practice makes perfect

Alongside measuring your compatibility with the course and college, the interview stage looks at your communication skills. Shed the waffle with a concise script of what you plan to say, either in bullet points or as a complete text.

To avoid ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ when it comes to responding to questions, go over the type of questions most commonly asked at interviews for your course. Even if these questions aren’t exactly the same ones that come up, you can still quickly modify your answer in your head to execute a well-delivered, fast response.

  1. Smile

The stress of seeing applicants come in and out, while in the waiting room might sky rocket your cortisol levels; however, it is essential you make yourself feel at ease. Just remember that the interviewer you’ll be seeing was once an applicant.

Also: try smiling while you speak. In a Ted Talk about body language, Ron Gutman highlights the benefits of smiling though citing the study by UC Berkeley and Wayne State University. Their study observed the width of smiles on yearbook photos and baseball cards featuring different MLB players. The results of the study concluded the wider the person’s smile had been, the longer and happier they had lived.

Don’t forget smiles are contagious, so shine a warm, beaming smile at your interviewer, and it’s likely that they will do the same, putting you both at ease.

Don’ts

  1. Do not be late

The difference between being late and early is the type of first impression you provide to your interviewer. If you feel travel may be an issue, pad your journey with plenty of time. Even consider booking a hotel close to the university or staying over at a nearby friend’s house if possible.

  1. Don’t sell yourself short in interviews

Smiling is a good place to start when it comes to expressing confidence and appearing more confident. Nonetheless, smiling alone won’t get you into college. Learning to ‘sell yourself’ is crucial, and don’t draw attention to your negative attributes or undermine any of your achievements. Especially when facing the frequently asked questions such as, “What is your greatest weakness?” or “What is a skill you could improve upon?”

At first glance, these types of questions imply the interviewer is asking you to address something you lack, when in fact these questions give you an opportunity to turn the question on its head. The lack can be transformed into a quality or an attribute you hold too much of. For example, you could interpret being too obsessive over detail, as the result of your need and strive for perfection.

End your interview with a strong handshake and an appreciative thank you. Good luck!

See Also:

College- Admissions Scandal Exposes Famous Parents

10 Things I wish I’d Known In College

 

Sell Textbooks

Textbooks Begone: How to Put Cash Back in Your Pockets and Ease the Pain of Outrageous Book Prices

There are few things more frustrating than staring at a stack of expensive books that cost you hundreds of dollars and will probably never be opened again. But at the end of each semester, millions upon millions of college students across the country do just that.

The average college student spends over $1,200 a year on books and materials[1]. That’s an enormous amount of money, and with sky-high tuition fees, rent, and bills, very few college students can afford to blow that kind of cash on books that effectively become paperweights once the semester ends.

On-campus used bookstores might take your textbooks off your hands—if you’ve got the specific ones they’re looking for and they’re in perfect condition—but they’re going to offer you pennies on the dollar or, worse, put your book on consignment, forcing you to wait for payment until they sell (which may never happen).

Traditionally, there hasn’t been a good option for students looking to recoup their outrageous book costs. But now there is: TextbookCashback.com.

The easiest way to sell unwanted books

TextbookCashback.com is an online book buyback company that stands out because of how easy it is to get rid of your old books at a price that makes it worth your while. The site is incredibly easy to use, shipping is a breeze, and payment is extremely prompt.

All you have to do is type in the ISBN of the book you’re looking to sell, and the site will instantly provide you with the price they’re currently paying for that book. The site pays more for most books than the major competitors, and if you’re happy with the price, you simply print out the free USPS shipping label provided and drop your book in the mail. As soon as it arrives and is accepted, TextbookCashback.com will cut you a cheque or pay you instantly via PayPal.

The process is quick and painless, making it an ideal solution for students with stacks of unwanted books that could be money in the bank instead.

Wear and Tear? No Problem!

Used bookstores and other buyback services are extremely picky with what they’ll accept, often to the point of being unreasonable. It’s crazy to think a student hoping to resell their textbook at the end of the semester can’t jot a note on a page or highlight a passage, but that seems to be what a lot of companies expect.

At TextbookCashback.com things like minimal highlighting or writing, slight cover damage, and normal wear and tear are no problem. If your book is a valid US student edition, and on their current buy list, you’re good to go. Not all books are eligible for buyback at all times, but the list is constantly changing and updating, so even if they aren’t buying the book you’re trying to sell today, they might be soon.

Get Paid Quickly with Near-Zero Effort

Selling books on your own is a pain in the butt. Putting up a listing, negotiating a price, and arranging a pickup or delivery all take time and effort—assuming you can find a buyer at all. TextbookCashback.com removes all of that headache so that you can turn your books into cash as quickly as possible.

Once your books arrive, acceptance and payment are extremely fast. If you choose to be paid by check, your payment will hit the mail the next day and be at your door a week or so later. If you opt for PayPal, you’ll be paid instantly upon acceptance. The only work required of you is to print out the shipping labels and dump your books in the mail.

You can also rest assured that the amount on your check will be the amount you were quoted. Some book buyback companies have a bad reputation for quoting one price and then offering a lower amount once they’ve got your books in hand. Those kinds of shady practices give the whole industry a bad name, but with TextbookCashback.com what you see on the quote page is what you get.

If you’re like most college students and you’d rather have cash in your pocket than a stack of old, unwanted textbooks, you owe it to yourself to check out TextbookCashback.com. It only takes a few minutes to look up your books and if you like what you see, you’re only a few clicks away from reclaiming some of the hard earned money that outrageous textbook prices steal away from you every semester.

Go to www.TextbookCashback.com now and see how much money you can put back into your pockets today!

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whats-behind-the-soaring-cost-of-college-textbooks/

Five Ways to Make a Difference on World AIDS Day

Five Ways to Make a Difference on World AIDS Day

December 1 marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

Since 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) have declared this date a chance to support those currently living with HIV, and to remember those killed by AIDS-related illnesses.

Only identified in 1984, the virus has killed more than 35 million people around the world. Sufferers continue to face stigma and ignorance while battling with one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

A recent survey shared on the World AIDS Day website showed than one in five people with HIV have experienced verbal harassment or threats; a third have had their HIV status disclosed without their consent by someone close to them; one in five were treated differently by their GP; and many reported pressure at work to disclose their status. 18 percent of the respondents also reported suicidal thoughts within the last 12 months, and 17 percent “often” skimped on food due to poverty.

This Saturday, awareness events, celebrations of life and fundraising campaigns will spread information across the globe. The White House will display their annual 28-foot red ribbon to reaffirm a commitment to eradicate AIDS—a goal the UN hopes to achieve by 2030.

Here’s how you can help.

Support a charity 

Whether it’s to support your local community or distribute contraception around the world—donating to a HIV charity, the (RED) Campaign or The Global Fund is the easiest way to help sufferers and foster research. Some great charities, include:

AIDS United—supports over 300 organizations with grants and advocates on behalf of people living with HIV on a local, state, and national level

AmfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research—one of the world’s most important and ambitious funders of HIV research

Black AIDS Institute—committed to African American communities where the risk of HIV infection and stigmatization are high

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS—raises funds for medications, healthcare, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation—the HIV charity that has made the greatest impact in prevention, treatment, and care of at-risk women and their children in the developed world

Elton John AIDS Foundation—funds programs that others don’t, such as groups fighting HIV criminal laws and activists demanding needle exchange programs in states that ban them

Rock a ribbon

In 1991, 12 artists met in New York at a time when HIV was highly stigmatized and suffering communities were largely hidden. The artists avoided traditional colours associated with the gay community to convey that HIV was relevant to everyone. They chose a red ribbon for boldness, passion, the heart and love.

Now, the red ribbon is a universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. Show that you refuse to allow stigma to distort disease by distributing or purchasing ribbons and displaying your support.

Raise awareness  

Raising awareness does not have to mean raising money—education is so important for eradicating ignorance, encouraging testing, knowing the symptoms of HIV, and supporting loved ones. Talk casually about HIV, be an active listener, download posters, repost World AIDS Day Twitter and Facebook prompts and share your story if HIV has affected you, or those close to you. The UN’s short documentary, ‘A New Picture of Health’ can also be used to spread awareness. Access it, here.

Raise funds

If you’re keen to raise funds to help sufferers and researchers—bake sales, raffles, car washes, quiz-nights and sponsored runs are all tried-and-tested, fun ways to make a difference. More specifically, organize to wear red at school or at work on World AIDS Day. You can collect donations from everyone who wears red, or get sponsored to sport an outlandish, red-themed outfit all day.

Know your status

According to the UN, 9.4 million people living with HIV don’t know their status. HIV can be transmitted at any time through blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk, so regular checks are crucial for protecting and empowering yourself, as well as other people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that anyone who has unsafe sex or shares drug needles should get tested at least once a year. What better time to begin than on World AIDS Day?

Visit AIDS Vu for geographically specific information and resources for testing.

Further reading: Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Top 5 TED Talks For College Graduates

Top 5 TED Talks For College Graduates

If you’re a recent college graduate, you’ve probably realized that the real world is hard, and you’re likely wishing that you’d paid more attention to the professional and practical advice that was offered to you during college.

If you’re in dire need of some guidance that extends deeper than how to deliver a firm handshake, let us introduce you to the inspirational world of TED Talks. These College News favorites will help you stay positive, motivated and true to yourself.

Why some of us don’t have one true calling, Emilie Wapnick

Has the classic question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” ever repulsed or confused you?

In this illuminating talk, writer and artist Emilie Wapnick describes the kind of people she calls “multipotentialites”—those who have numerous interests and the desire to move on to something new after developing a specific skill.

“But then I would become interested in something else, something totally unrelated, and I would dive into that, and become all-consumed, and I’d be like, ‘Yes! I found my thing’, and then I would hit this point again where I’d start to get bored.”

If this sounds like you, Wapnick relates to the anxiety of pursuing a career and feeling abnormal. She emphasizes that this is an illogical, culturally engrained fear, and explains why multipotentialites are needed in the workforce just as much as those who are “specialists”. If you’re feeling stressed about choosing a major or finding the perfect job, find comfort in this talk.

Why you will fail to have a great career, Larry Smith 

Economist Larry Smith advocates that there is no such thing as a good career. Instead, there are great careers, passion, purpose and power in the word: “unless”.

“Passion is your greatest love. Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent. Passion, interest—it’s not the same thing. Are you really going to go to your sweetie and say, ‘Marry me! You’re interesting.’ Won’t happen, and you will die alone.”

If you’re about to settle into a job that your parents, your fear or your practicality have chosen for you, this extremely motivating talk could set you on a path to become extraordinary instead.

The skill of self-confidence, Dr. Ivan Joseph

Athletic Director and former varsity soccer coach, Dr. Ivan Joseph is often asked for the most important skill he looks for when recruiting. His answer: self-confidence.

For Joseph, confidence is the ability to believe in yourself, regardless of odds, difficulty or adversity. If you’re thinking that this is harder than it sounds, then you’re both right and wrong—Joseph insists that confidence can be trained with hard work. Through repetition, self-affirmation and by persevering through failure, you could develop this desirable skill.

“There’s enough people that are telling us that we can’t do it; that we’re not good enough. Why do we want to tell ourselves that?”

Graduating college and stepping into the real world requires confidence, but Joseph explains that we cannot expect ourselves to feel confident until we are familiar with a situation and know how to tackle it. The only way to achieve this is to begin. 

Why 30 is not the new 20, Meg Jay

If you learnt this lesson re-watching the iconic movie 13 Going On 30, you’ll know that assuming that life automatically sorts itself out when you hit 30 is naïve. Psychologist Meg Jay will encourage you to throw out your collection of pizza boxes and stop considering your 20s as a throwaway decade.

“Claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative, things you can do. Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.”

If you’re feeling lost as a twentysomething, Jay believes that one good TED Talk could help you to take control of your defining decade, use your weak ties, pick your family and get some identity capital.

Overcoming hopelessness, Nick Vujicic

This powerful talk by motivational speaker Nick Vujicic is packed full of valuable first-hand advice on overcoming hopelessness and learning to be kind to yourself and those around you.

“Think of the three biggest discourages in your life. They’re not your biggest discourages. You are. You are. It only takes seconds for me to tell you something discouraging but then, you may never forget my words.”

Transitioning into the job market can feel like a hopeless, unfair task, but being reminded that we are not born with hope but born to live through pain, could inspire you to have faith in your future. 

Further reading: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known In College

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

Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Since 2012, the United Nations has been declaring October 11 International Day of the Girl Child.

Today marks a day that aims to recognize and address the challenges that girls encounter around the world. The organization will work alongside girls to promote girl’s empowerment, their human rights, and declare that they have the ability to change the world.

This year, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child is ‘A Skilled Girlforce’, which starts a year-long effort of advocating for education and skill enhancement.

According to the UN, “Of the one billion young people—including 600 million adolescent girls—that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.”

In the meantime, here are eight charities to support for girls and women across the globe. We don’t need a special day to honour girls and #PressforProgress.

Plan International (equality)

Plan International is active in 71 countries and strives to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. The charity puts emphasis on gender equality and empowers communities to tackle the cause of discrimination against girls.

The organisation works to overcome adversity and “support the safe and successful progression of children from birth to adulthood.’” Focus areas include: education, ending violence, youth activism, sexual health and rights, skills and work, early childhood, emergencies and providing sponsors for girls.

Camfed (education)

Camfed is an international, non-profit organisation that supports girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. With a big focus on education, the organisation tackles poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and become leaders of change.

“Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported more than 2.6 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and more than five million children have benefited from an improved learning environment”. From transportation and school fees to child marriage, the organisation works with community members to diminish the challenges that stand in the way of female education. 

Girls Not Brides (child marriage) 

Girls Not Brides brings together organisations from over 95 countries to end child marriage and give girls the choice and freedom that they deserve. 15 million girls across the globe become brides each year, and this organisation brings attention to these figures.

By raising awareness of health, education, death and violence, the organization aims to “build an understanding of what it will take to end child marriage and call for the laws, policies and programmes that will make a difference in the lives of millions of girls.” The charity provides facts and resources for you to share, and even gives you the option of using your own wedding to support girls across the world.

Young Women’s Trust (careers)

Young Women’s Trust supports young women aged 16-30 who are struggling with low or no pay. The organization provides free coaching and advice on CVs and job applications, and actively campaigns for “fair financial futures”.

By focusing on closing the gender pay gap, supporting young women in male-dominated sectors, and promoting apprenticeships for young women, the organization boosts women’s confidence and supports them in having a voice and becoming financially independent. 

CARE International (poverty)

CARE International puts women and girls in the centre of their mission to defeat poverty, achieve social justice and save lives. Currently working in 79 poor and developing countries, providing life-saving assistance during disaster and war, and helping people to rebuild their lives.

The organization believes that “equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to lift whole families and communities out of poverty”. It provides expertise in areas such as economic empowerment for women, inclusive governance, humanitarian response, and engaging with and influencing policy-makers and the private sector. 

Orchid Project (violence)

Orchid Project is a British charity that “envisions a world free from female genital cutting”. More than 200 million girls and women are living with the consequences of having their genitals—including part or all of the girl’s labia and part or all of her clitoris—removed. Physical consequences include, death, hemorrhage, tetanus, HIV, trouble urinating, menstruation problems, pelvic and abdominal pain, infection, sores, cysts, and infertility.

The charity raises awareness of how, why and where FGC happens and partners with organizations to prioritise an end to FCG. 

Free The Girls (sex trafficking)

Free The Girls is an international, non-profit organization; devoted to helping sex trafficking survivors achieve “economic freedom, restored health, social well-being, education, and opportunity for a different, hopeful future”. Through reintegration programs and economic opportunity, the organization joins survivors on the journey from horrific trauma to living safely with family.

Second-hand clothing is a thriving industry in many countries around the world so Free The Girls also organise bra donation. You can donate lingerie at your local drop off point and help survivors to earn a safe income and become an entrepreneur in their own communities.

Innovating Health International (healthcare)

Innovating Health International is a non-profit organization dedicated to treating chronic diseases and raising awareness for women’s health issues in developing countries. They aim to “increase access to treatment and education services for chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and injuries”.

By working with local partners and building healthcare that responds to local needs, the organization supports women’s cancer care, cervical cancer prevention, chronic disease study, and the building of pathology services and national disease registries.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault