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Charlie Fletcher

The Final Stretch: Five Steps To Take Before Graduation

The Final Stretch: Five Steps To Take Before Graduation

As graduation approaches, you’re likely thinking about what you’ll do after you cross that stage, get your diploma, and move on to the next level of your life. However, before you even get that far, you need to get some important tasks sorted out so you can set yourself up for success. Start with these five steps.

1. Take a Breath and Get Anxiety in Check

After spending two-plus years in college, it’s only natural to feel anxious about leaving your familiar surroundings and being thrust toward the world outside of school. You might be thinking about how hard it will be to find a job, where you’ll live, and generally, what comes next for your life. If you don’t control these worrisome emotions, you’ll only feel worse once you graduate, so try to quell your anxiety by confiding in the school counselor or talking to your parents so they can put you at ease.

You can also manage your anxiety using your senses. For instance, sometimes you feel better via your sense of touch by getting a hug from someone you care about. Sometimes, pleasant scents like jasmine and lavender melt your stress. You can also ease your anxiety through taste by drinking a soothing cup of chamomile tea. Try a few remedies and see what works.

2. Update Social Media Accounts

It’s important to closely scrutinize your social media accounts as you prepare for the job search and life of adulthood outside of college. Use this as a turning point, where you start to portray yourself in a more professional light. You can post pictures of your graduation, shots of you at your college job, or just photos with friends and family, so employers can see you have a well-rounded life.

Take this time to create a profile on LinkedIn. You may have a limited amount of job experience to post there, but you can add a professional headshot, details about your major and classes, and your aspirations for a new job. That information will show off your skills, and employers can find you by using the keywords on your profile.

3. Start Getting Your Resume in Order

As with your LinkedIn profile, you likely won’t have much to say on your resume at this point. However, you’ll need one to apply for jobs, so it’s a good idea to start putting it together. List your education and any jobs you had before and during college. Showing that you worked while keeping up with your classes will tell potential managers a lot about your work ethic.

Fill in some empty space by adding a section with the skills you learned in school that can help you in a future job. Focus on leadership skills like communication, adaptability, and empathy, and try to show how you used some of them in the past. If you learned technical skills specific to the type of job you’ll be seeking, be sure to add those as well.

When you list skills and accomplishments, make your resume appear more impressive by using “power words”. When you’re talking about past achievements or jobs you’ve held, use action verbs to describe what you did. Action verbs include strong words like “coached,” “facilitated,” “motivated,” and “developed,” among others. These words show that you used initiative to make something happen in your past, and you can do it again at this new company. Don’t overpower your resume with these words; use them subtly when they fit the context.

4. Start Your Job Search

Put yourself ahead of the competition by starting your job search even before you graduate. In a perfect scenario, you would have interviews lined up before or soon after you graduate so you can hit the ground running once you get out. Instead of just firing your resume to any company that asks, think about what you want to do for a living, then apply and target your resume toward those jobs.

As you’ll soon learn, in many cases, just turning in a resume may not be enough, and some companies may not even respond. It may not be because you’re unqualified, but that they get a lot of resumes day after day. So, if you want to work at a company, it’s wise to follow up with a phone call or email to jar their memory. Since it takes time to find a suitable company, send in your materials, and interview, it’s essential to start preparing early.

5. Start Networking

While you’re in college, try to meet as many people as you can, especially those in your same degree program. You never know if there may be a connection that you’ll need to get a job. If you don’t know where to turn, consider connecting with an alumni association or at least start researching groups to join after graduation. Once you find one, try to become a member and become active within the organization. Learn about the committees they host and volunteer your time and try to attend a few events throughout the year. Even if an alum is not part of the group, consider contacting them if you think they can help. The more people on your side after graduation, the better.

This is your essential checklist for the steps you should take when you realize that graduation day is quickly approaching. Take an active approach to your future now, and you’ll be ready when the big day comes.

SEE ALSO: Five Best Freelance Jobs for College Students in 2023

Protecting Yourself and Your Property While Living in a Dorm

Protecting Yourself and Your Property While Living in a Dorm

It would be a luxury if students could just focus on their studies and growing relationships with fellow students and professors while at school. But according to Research.com’s statistics on student crimes, “Among various crimes in college and university campuses, the most common are burglaries (42%), sexual harassment (31%), and motor vehicle thefts (12%).” Due to crimes like these, it seems that students must also concentrate on actively protecting themselves and their property.

If you’re living in a dorm, this task gets even more challenging. Think about it. You’ve got a roommate you don’t know. It’s a relatively small space, so fire and other hazards are common. Someone else was living there before you, so bed bugs and other bacteria may be festering. The list goes on.

Not to worry, though. Protecting yourself and your property while living in a dorm is simple if you take the following actions.

Secure Your Belongings

You don’t bring an entire house’s worth of belongings with you to your dorm. However, you do bring things that are important to you. You also bring things that are vital to your thriving while in college. It’s only right that you secure them.

Always lock your doors and windows when you leave your dorm room or when you’re headed to sleep. If you’re allowed to, amp up security with a small smart video doorbell camera and/or a smart door lock you can enable or disable remotely.

Also, consider getting a small safe for your dorm room to lock up money, jewelry, and other important personal documents. And because your laptop is incredibly valuable, invest in a laptop lock to secure it.

In addition to securing your physical belongings, protect your personal data.

Protect Your Personal Data

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you carry a lot of personal data on your devices. This information is extremely valuable to cyber criminals who need personal information to carry out their crimes.

Don’t make it easy for them to get a hold of yours. Instead, protect your personal data, first, by educating yourself on cybersecurity, cybercrimes, and common scams targeting college students. When you know what to look for, you can actively avoid it.

Then, adopt practices that help you protect your private data. For example, use a virtual private network (VPN) to safely access the internet. Practice good password hygiene. Enable the cybersecurity tools built into your laptop and any software that you use.

Also, securely dispose of any old or non-working electronics. Using a third-party electronic destruction service is incredibly secure and helps to prevent identity theft because you’re completely destroying the device. So, any data that remained after you wiped and encrypted your device will be gone too.

Brush Up on Fire Safety Tips

The National Fire Protection Association revealed that “From 2015-2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties.”

Fires are a real risk when living in dorms. The most common causes of fires are cooking, heating, appliances, electrical systems, lighting, smoking, and intentional fire setting.

If you were hoping to set up a space heater, use a portable cooktop, or have crazy light fixtures and a sea of extension cords to power everything, think again. Your dorm rules have likely already ruled these things out anyway.

Aside from refraining from things that could cause fires, you should also know what to do in the case of one. Know the emergency evacuation plan to follow. Make a note of where the fire extinguishers are. And get yourself out of danger when all else fails.

Inspect Your Dorm Regularly

Who else was so excited to move into their dorm that they didn’t really pay attention to what was going on inside of it before they moved all their stuff in? Although it’s not a huge deal, an initial inspection of your dorm is a great line of defense against things that can harm you and your property.

For example, after looking around the windows and other places where moisture surfaces, you may find that there is mold. After looking over your mattress and sleeping area you may find bed bugs. You might also find traces of other insects and rodents.

Hopefully, you don’t. But these things can absolutely find a home in your dorm room and make you sick over time. Protect yourself by doing an initial inspection of your dorm room and then regular inspections thereafter.

These inspections can double as cleaning days. Regular cleaning is another way to fight off illnesses, mold, insects, and other things you don’t want nesting in your dorm.

Pay Attention to What’s Going On Around You

One of the best protection mechanisms you have in your arsenal is you. The more aware you are of what’s going on around you, the more effective you can be at protecting yourself and your property.

Pay attention to everything that’s going on around you whether you’re at your dorm, in class, at a party, or at a facility on campus. Be especially aware of the following:

  • Potential threats
  • Who’s at the parties you attend
  • Who visits your dorm and what they do
  • Which campus security officers are on duty
  • Who’s around you when walking to your dorm or car
  • What’s going on around you during late-night outings
  • Your gut instincts when meeting people or attending events

Awareness and hypervigilance are your friends when protecting yourself and your property while living on campus.


Staying in a dorm seems like one of the most secure living options when going to college. There are always people around, you can rely on campus security officers, and campuses have intentional policies in place to protect students.

Still, these things don’t guarantee your safety. You share the responsibility for protecting yourself and your property while living in a dorm. Use the guidance above to create the most secure dorm living situation possible.

SEE ALSO: 5 Practical Tips on Keeping Your Dorm Room Clean

Six Considerations To See If Studying Abroad Is Right For You

Six Considerations to See if Studying Abroad is Right for You

Getting the opportunity to study abroad is exciting, especially if you haven’t traveled much before. You’ll experience many new things, meet new people, make new friends, and see some fantastic sights.

However, for all of the positives of studying abroad, there are just as many challenges that you may face as well. This is not to say that studying abroad is a bad idea, but before you take the leap, you should take the time to understand what you are getting into.

The more research you do ahead of time, the more likely you are to have a better experience. Below, we’ll dive into some top things to consider to help you decide if studying abroad is right for you.

1. The Educational Benefits

Let’s start with something positive — the academic benefits.

Studying abroad fosters learning and intellectual development, which have been shown to improve grade point averages and completion rates. So even though you may have to learn a new curriculum structure depending on where you study abroad, the educational benefits are generally worth it.

Furthermore, many study abroad programs offer access to majors or courses that might not be available to you in the States. So not only will studying in a different country potentially help you improve your grades, but it can also provide you with more learning opportunities.

2. Travel and Moving Logistics

While moving to another country to study might be exciting, it will also come with its challenges. For example, just the logistics of getting everything together so you can move overseas can be a nightmare if you aren’t fully prepared.

You’ll need to sort out your travel documents, like your passport and visa, and make sure your parents have copies in case you lose them. You’ll also need to figure out how to move things over with you or if you’ll just buy new items once you’re there.

For example, if you have a vehicle, will you ship it or leave it at home with your parents? Shipping a car overseas is possible, but it can be expensive. However, if you will need a way to get around once you’re there and public transportation isn’t an option, then shipping your car is worth considering.

3. Healthcare Logistics

You also need to consider how you will receive and pay for medical care when you are studying abroad. The last thing you want is to end up sick in another country and not know how to get the help you need. Even if you are in good health, with no preexisting conditions, you never know what could happen.

So it’s a good idea to sit down and look at your health plan. Some health insurance carriers provide overseas coverage, while others don’t. If yours doesn’t, you should look into overseas student health insurance and research the healthcare facilities you will have access to once you are there.

4. Culture Shock and Language Barriers

While getting to experience a new culture is exciting and beneficial to you, it can also be a big adjustment. Many study-abroad students find that learning to adapt to a new culture — such as new traditions, languages, policies, and behaviors — can be difficult and can negatively impact their learning experience.

In short, studying abroad can be a culture shock, and if you don’t speak the native language of the area you’re studying, it can make things even harder. That being said, if you prepare for these big changes and know what to expect, you might have an easier time adjusting.

5. Financial Challenges

Managing your finances can be another challenge when studying abroad. Not only is there the cost of studying at an international university to consider, but there are many other out-of-pocket expenses. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for study-abroad students to run out of money in these situations.

So before you move overseas for your education, ensure you have a solid financial plan. You’ll need to budget for things like food, personal items, transportation costs, entertainment, and extracurricular activities. You may also need to get financial support from your parents or look into getting a job while you’re abroad.

6. Personal Growth and Opportunities

Ending on a positive note, studying abroad can teach you many things about yourself and open you up to many new opportunities. It can teach you new skills, such as self-awareness, communication, independence, and adaptability. And it can open your eyes to new cultural experiences and help you make new friends.

Study abroad experience also looks good on a resume, which can open you up to more career opportunities, both in your home country and where you studied.

Final Thoughts

Though studying abroad has some potential downsides, don’t let this deter you. If you really want to study in a new country and experience a new culture, there is no reason why you can’t make that happen. You’ll simply be more likely to have success and enjoy the experiences if you take the time to do some research and fully prepare yourself for the things you will face.

SEE ALSO: 10 Splendid All Time Academic Benefits of Studying Abroad

5 Practical Tips on Keeping Your Dorm Room Clean

5 Practical Tips on Keeping Your Dorm Room Clean

It is a great feeling to be on your own for the first time as you attend college. However, independence also means taking care of yourself and your belongings. If you live in a dorm with a roommate, then cleaning will not only free up room in an already tiny space, but tidying up will also reduce germs, dirt, and debris that can easily build up over time. Yes, cleaning can be daunting, but you can do it with these practical tips.

1. Know You Are Not Alone

First, understand that if you are unsure where to start when it comes to cleaning your college dorm, then know that you are not alone. In a recent study, 28% of college students said that they were only somewhat prepared to clean their own room. Many respondents said that they weren’t prepared at all. The fact is that many adults also do not know how to properly clean their homes, so you just need to learn how to do it right.

The best way to stay ahead of clutter and debris is to clean your room when you notice it is starting to get dirty. If you wait too long, then the mess will be so large that you may give up before you even start. However, if you clean every week or you clean up immediately after using a dish or making a mess, then you won’t have to turn cleaning your dorm into such a project.

2. Start By Decluttering

If your dorm is a mess, then the first step that you should take is to organize and declutter the space. Put everything in its place, organize your drawers, and dispose of everything you don’t need. If your closet is full of clothes that you may never wear, then consider donating them. Some professors still give out a lot of physical paperwork. You can save space by digitizing all of those files. You can get rid of notebooks altogether by bringing a laptop to class or recording the lectures on a computer or smartphone.

By decluttering the space, you get a better picture of the dirt and debris that you need to clean to make your dorm spotless. Plus, many people are stressed around clutter because subconsciously, they feel like if their home is out of control, then they are losing control of their life as well. An organized room could be instrumental in your success at school.

3. Put Effort Into It

It is important to put a focus on cleaning the table, chairs, desk, and other spaces where you spend a lot of time. Germs can quickly build in these areas, and if you don’t take the time to clean, then you could easily get sick. While a casual wipe here and there may be a temporary solution, you really need to wipe with purpose to effectively clean a surface.

When you wipe down a table or desk, avoid wiping in a circular pattern and instead wipe in a linear fashion. When you wipe in circles, you might clean up some debris, but you are essentially moving the other dirt out to other areas of the surface and onto the floor. By wiping in a linear fashion, you can trap the dirt in one place and dispose of it. Remember that you may need to use more than one wipe on any given surface to really get the job done.

4. Clean To Stay Healthy

While wiping down surfaces is a good way to remove caked-on dirt, you need to take a comprehensive approach to cleaning your dorm. Contact with germs is only one of the ways that you can get sick. For instance, many college students get pink eye (conjunctivitis) when they are in college because they use the same towel, sleep on the same bedding, and even share the same contact lenses with a floormate. The fact is that pink eye can cause blurred vision, watery discharge, and excessive tearing, and you don’t want to experience that while studying for the big final.

The best way to prevent pink eye and other communicable diseases is to clean your towels and bedding regularly and don’t share these fabrics with others. Also, make it a point to clean yourself and wash your hands whenever you use the bathroom or touch food. The fact is that the cleaner you are, the less likely you are to get sick.

5. Share Responsibilities With Your Roommate

The great thing about living in the dorm is that you often have roommates to help out with the cleaning. If you are in your very first year of college and you have never met this roommate before, then you should sit down with them and create a schedule of cleaning responsibilities, from dusting to vacuuming. Add each of your names to a calendar and follow it throughout the semester. You can also split the costs of everything from the decorations in your dorm to the cleaning supplies, so it is fair.

If your roommate becomes difficult or combative, sit down with them and ask what is on their mind. Maybe they want to switch chores or maybe they feel pressured to clean and complete their schoolwork. Have an open mind and come to a compromise that suits both of you.

As you can see, there are several practical tips that you can start practicing today to maintain a clean and uncluttered dorm room. Consider this advice, and you can be cleaner and healthier during your college career.

SEE ALSO: Tips for Living With Your Partner in College

Five Scams Targeting College Students and How to Avoid Them

Five Scams Targeting College Students and How to Avoid Them

College can be a difficult time financially. You’re trying to make it on your own and have to make every dollar count to ensure that ends meet.

Unfortunately, scammers are aware of the position you are in and see you as an easy target. During your years in college, it’s highly likely that you’ll be targeted by a scam of some kind. You can reduce your risk of being tricked by learning about some of the common scams that target college students and how to avoid them.

Credit Card Scams

If you’re financially secure, your college years can be a great time to build credit. You’ll have to make a few major purchases every semester, and it’ll look great on your credit history when you pay these off in a timely manner.

However, scammers know that college students are looking for lucrative credit card deals and will do anything to take your hard-earned money. You need to remain vigilant during your college years to avoid the most common credit card scams.

As a student, you may think that you have the awareness necessary to detect phishing scams. However, phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. You might, for example, receive an email from someone posing as the Dean of your college or a professor — only to find out they are actually a scammer.

Slow down whenever you receive any information remotely related to finances. Read the sender’s address, and follow up in person with anyone that you think may have notified you about credit cards or financial deals. Don’t open any suspicious emails and never give your details out if you aren’t entirely confident that you are speaking to a legitimate company.

Credit card scammers will try to take advantage of your precarious financial position by running “overcharging” scams. Overcharging scams occur when you are told that you have been overcharged and are due a rebate. In reality, these scammers just want your card details so they can drain your account. Watch out for any rebates or low-interest-rate offers that don’t relate to your actual spending history. Visit your bank if you’re still unsure, as they can help you identify legitimate deals and offers.

Housing Scams

You’ll view some dodgy-looking apartments and houses during your college years. In addition to black mold and leaky pipes, you need to watch out for half-truths and deceptive information that targets college students.

If you’re searching online, watch out for digital housing scams. Folks will pose as legitimate agents, only so they can collect your personal information and disappear. So, double-check the veracity of any letting agents before arranging viewings or signing papers.

Watch out for misleading photography, too. Letting agents will use anything from fish-eye lenses to low-angle pictures to make a property look more appealing. While this isn’t technically a scam, it can be frustrating when you show up and find that your new home isn’t what you expected. Avoid disappointment by viewing in person and checking the blueprints to get exact measurements and sizes.

Romance Scams

For many, college is a time of romance and relationships. You’ll meet plenty of like-minded folks when you attend college and may want to meet a life partner between your study sessions.

Unfortunately, romance scams are on the rise. The FBI receives as many as 24,000 romance scam complaints a year and “girlfriend gifts” have accounted for losses in excess of $1 billion.

As a student, you may think that you can tell a tinder date from a catfishing attempt. However, scammers are becoming increasingly heartless and sophisticated. As a rule of thumb, don’t give gifts to anyone you haven’t met in person. Even then, monetary gifts are hardly a sure sign of romantic interest.

Instead, take it slow and get to know your potential partner before you start thinking about romantic gifts. Slow down, and be sure that you can trust them and their interests. If you find that they flake on you more often than not, then they may well be a scammer.

Financial Aid Scams

Every college student wants to win a scholarship or earn extra financial aid. College is expensive, and financial gifts can make a real difference to your quality of life. However, scammers around the country offer illegitimate financial aid in the hopes of stealing your cash.

Stick to trusted sources when searching for scholarships. Your college probably has a financial aid portal with scholarships that have been vetted by professionals. Avoid any scholarships that ask for “advanced payments” as you should not have to pay to enter a scholarship drawing. Instead, stick to legitimate sources that offer free entry for financial aid opportunities.


During your college years, you’ll log on to dozens of public computers and surf the web using an array of hotspots and wifi providers. This makes you an easy target for cyber scammers, who know you’re busy working on assignments and may not have the tightest digital security.

Start by blocking spam calls and robocalls. Robocalls and spam change their message frequently and may offer anything from IRS refunds to new cars. As a rule of thumb, you can’t trust an unknown number and should sign up to robocall blockers to reduce your risk of being scammed.

Keep your passwords up to date and avoid the temptation to save passwords on devices that aren’t your own. If Google notifies you about a breach, you should change your passwords ASAP and check your bank account. Acting swiftly can reduce your risk of being scammed and ensure that you keep hold of your well-earned income.


As a college student, scammers believe you are an easy target. Being aware of the most common scams can reduce your risk of being tricked. Even small changes, like following up on email correspondence in person, can reduce your risk of being scammed and ensure that you are able to fully focus on your studies.

SEE ALSO: Should I Buy This? A Guide for Budgeting in College

Tips for Living With Your Partner in College

Tips for Living With Your Partner in College

For many students, college is hard enough on their own. Now, imagine you are there with your significant other. This can be a tough situation, but you can make it work with proper planning, a desire to succeed, and by keeping your eye on the main objective of graduating so you can make a better life for yourselves. Consider these steps, and you can be with the one you love while excelling at your studies — all without missing a step.

Plan Ahead Of Time

If you are going to college for the first time or you have already been in college, but now you are going to move out of the dorms and in with your partner, you first need to take a beat. This will be a new experience, and if you go in blind, then there is a chance that either your relationship or your studies will fall apart.

What you need to do is create a roommate agreement. This document will outline all of the situations that will likely come up during your relationship and provide solutions ahead of time, so you are both on the same page. This agreement can discuss things like who will do the dishes, who will sign the lease, and who will pay for food, among other considerations. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

While you are drafting this agreement, consider the pros and cons of living with your partner at university. While you will be with the one you love, you will also both need your “me time,” so you need to write that into the agreement. When will each of you get a chance to be alone and get mentally refreshed? You will also need to share everything, including the TV. Put in writing who will get to watch TV and when. Also, note the times when the TV should be turned off. Put all of these details in the agreement, and then each of you should sign it.

You will also need to put thought into the best tactics for moving to your college apartment without straining your relationship. Moving is hard for all couples, so proper planning can alleviate that pressure. Talk ahead of time and put a moving date in the books that you can both agree upon. Both of you should also be involved in the packing process. Do not get rid of or leave behind your partner’s possessions before consulting them first. If you do decide to leave any electronics behind, ensure that they are disposed of properly so they don’t end up in a landfill polluting the soil.

Put A Lot Of Thought Into Finances

One of the things that couples fight about most is finances. If you want your relationship to continue to thrive while you are in college, then you need to be in agreement about finances from day one. Money may be tight, especially if you have a full class load and a part-time job. Even with both of your incomes, you may still need to be cautious with your money.

The best thing that you can do is to create a budget. Look at every dollar that you have coming in every month and then account for all of your recurring expenses. In college, expenses could include tuition, books, meals, transportation, entertainment, and more. Write down everything, and don’t forget about the costs that many people forget, such as their daily Starbucks run or the cost of the streaming services that you pay every month. Once that is done, look at the money you have left. If there isn’t much, then you may need to cut expenses.

Instead of going to Starbucks, get coffee and breakfast at the cafeteria. Instead of going to the movie theater in town, go to the free campus theater. You can also save money on your monthly utilities. Turn off the lights when you aren’t home and take advantage of natural light during the day. You can also cut down the water bill by taking shorter showers, and if you get approval from the landlord, install low-flow shower heads. You can also save a lot of money by keeping both heating and air conditioning at a moderate level — most people don’t realize how much energy and money the thermostat can eat up.

Remember That You Are Still In School

Through it all, it is important to remember that you are still in school and that passing your classes and graduating with a degree is the primary objective. Make sure that you don’t prevent your partner from having the opportunity to excel in school. While you may be in love, you still need to take time to study. Because of your relationship, it may be tough to study at home, so go to the library where you can work without distractions.

You also need to support your partner when they need it most. Be a shoulder to cry on if they don’t get the grade that they wanted. Help them understand a subject that may not be their strong suit. College can be tough, but if you can make it through this together, then you can make it through anything.

It is also important that you enjoy your accomplishments. Find inexpensive ways to celebrate when one of you aces a test or completes a tough assignment. You can watch one of your favorite movies at home on Netflix or go to the $5 bowling alley and just be there for one another. Never show jealousy or anger if your partner succeeds.

As you can see, it is possible to live with your partner in college and do it successfully. Consider these tips, and you and your loved one can enjoy an amazing life until graduation and beyond.

SEE ALSO: College Dating: 5 Ways to find Love on Campus

Learning to Cope: Six Wellness Activities for College Students

Learning to Cope: Six Wellness Activities for College Students

There is no way around it. Being a college student can be stressful. There is constant pressure to get good grades, impress your instructors, and work towards a bright future. When you are on your own and away from home, it is easy to try and cope with stress through unhealthy behaviors like drinking or hanging out with a bad crowd. However, it is important to manage that stress in a healthy way. We’re here to tell you that there are many wellness activities that you can try that can help to quell some of that unwanted anxiety. Consider some of these helpful tips and see what works for you.

1. Look Inside Yourself

The first activity that you should try is to take an honest look inside of yourself and decide if you are becoming mentally drained or burned out. Sometimes, something as simple as your college major could cause you stress. Recent research shows that some of the most stressful majors are education, psychology, and science. So, if you are entering one of those programs, then you need to already have a plan of action to maintain your mental health.

Sometimes, we may try to convince ourselves that we are happy, but inside, we may be struggling. The first step is to understand the signs of burnout, which can include trouble concentrating, reduced energy, or a general lack of motivation. If you notice that you’re having consistent issues, then you should try one of the activities below.

2. Get Creative

It is not uncommon to focus on your schoolwork so intently that you forget to take breaks and rest your mind. As a solution, consider intertwining your work with some new creative hobbies to get you back on track. There are many fun hobbies that can help with your memory and concentration, including painting, playing a musical instrument, and learning to knit and crochet.

These hobbies can be helpful because they allow you to put schoolwork aside while you do something that you enjoy. It is easy to get lost in a painting or to fall in love with playing the trumpet and watch as your anxieties melt away. Playing an instrument has also been found to reduce cognitive decline. So, if your school has a band, consider joining.

3. Go Out With Your Friends

Another way to get the healthy mental breaks that you deserve is by going out and keeping up with your social life. Getting out of the dorm and meeting up with friends is a great way to do something completely different and take your mind off of your work for a few hours. Plus, your friends likely have similar issues, so you can talk with them and learn the methods that they use to handle their stress.

Consider the idea of combining your school work with your social life by forming a study group where you can meet up, attend to your studies, and improve your social skills along the way.

4. Spend Time With Animals

Many people deal with their stress by adopting a pet. A dog or cat will act as a constant companion that will give you a purpose and a sense of responsibility. Since many colleges may not allow pets in the dorms, you can try a different approach.

Look online and see if there is a stable or equestrian center nearby and ask if you can ride or work with the horses. There are many benefits to riding horses. Among them is the ability to strengthen your core, legs, and back as you ride. Horses can also have a very calming presence for people, and riding through the wilderness can bring you back to a more natural place where your worries can drift away. If you are able to care for one of the horses, then you could also get a sense of routine and companionship that can help you to ease your mind.

5. Get Your Feelings Out

If you don’t find healthy ways to cope with your stress, then your anxieties can escalate over time. A good way to find peace is to get your feelings out. If you have mild stress, then you can clean up your mindset by talking to a friend or consider journaling. Writing all of your feelings out can do wonders for your psyche. The best time to do so is before bed. By writing out your anxiety and stress of the day, you can get it out of your system and ensure that you get a good night’s rest.

6. Reach Out for Help

Finally, if you try the activities above as well as your own relaxation methods but you are still feeling stressed, then you may want to join a group or speak to a professional. The fact is that if you are feeling mentally drained or upset, you are not alone. Student mental health is a priority on many campuses these days, so school officials are making it a point to provide services that can help young people in need. Look at local bulletin boards, speak to your resident advisor, or talk to your counselor about groups on campus that can help.

In the end, if you are a student who is coping with anxiety at school, then know that you are not alone. Consider the activities discussed here, and seek extra help if you need it so you can thrive during your college career.

SEE ALSO: Five Scams Targeting College Students and How to Avoid Them

Should I Buy This? A Guide for Budgeting in College

Should I Buy This? A Guide for Budgeting in College

College is an exciting time for many reasons. In addition to learning the skills you will need to land an amazing career after graduation, it is also a chance to gain some independence away from home and set up your own little life. The trap that many graduates fall into is that they get some extra money from side gigs or student loans and spend it too fast or waste it on the wrong things. If you go down the wrong path for too long, then you could find yourself in financial ruin.

The solution is to create a budget, see what is left over, and then make smart money decisions that will allow you to get what you need without landing in financial hot water. Let’s talk about how students can change how they think about money.

Create A Budget And Focus On School

The first essential step toward financial security in college is to create a budget. You need to sit down and look at every dollar you have coming in from side gigs, financial aid, and anything you get from your parents and then compare that to your monthly expenses. Factor in everything you pay every month, from tuition and room and board to your food budget, costs for extracurricular activities, and books. Consider using a personal budget worksheet to make these calculations.

Look at how much you have left and make the proper adjustments to your lifestyle and buying decisions. Remember that while you are in college, your schooling is the top priority. If you need to decide between spending one hundred dollars on a pleasure trip to Denver or on a class that can help you in the future, then go with the educational opportunity.

Also, if you need to decide between different electives, then do your research so you can spend your money on the class that will further your career. So, if you are going into business and you want to start your own company someday, then an accounting class is a good use of your money. If your future career might involve public speaking, then consider presentation design classes. These seminars can teach you how to put together facts and create attention-grabbing presentations. Public speaking is a great skill that could give you a leg up in your career.

Get Smart About School Supplies

Even if you avoid extracurricular activities and just stick to your classes, you will find that college gets more expensive by the day. That is why you must be smart about what you need to buy and also consider alternative solutions.

For instance, while many new students get excited about buying new books for all of their classes, a trip to the cash register can be a sober reminder that the average college textbook costs between $80-$150. Multiply that by six classes, and you could go through all of your money before you know it. Instead, consider the idea of buying your textbooks used, or you can ask about renting the books that you need. You can rent books on campus or use popular sites like Amazon Textbook Rental. Renting is a much more affordable option, especially if you never plan to read the book again after the class ends.

You can also save money by avoiding the purchase of electronics and costly devices instead looking at inexpensive online apps. As an example, many students may purchase the Microsoft Office Suite so they can use Word and Excel for their classes. As an alternative, you can use free apps, like Google Docs and Google Sheets, and perform the same actions for a fraction of the cost.

Also, if you find yourself scanning a lot of schoolwork into your computer, you may be attracted to the idea of buying an expensive scanner. However, you can save a fortune by using a mobile scanning app that allows you to simply take a picture of your document and add it to your electronic files without the need to carry around bulky hardware.

Handling Miscellaneous Expenses Outside Of The Classroom

Of course, handling your finances in the classroom is only half of the battle. You also have a personal and dorm life to afford. The good news is that for just about every expense, there is an alternative. For instance, decorating your dorm can be fun, but the expenses can quickly get out of hand, so find an affordable way to make this space your own by making DIY decorations and buying furniture and bling from the thrift store.

Food costs are also a big issue for many college students. If you have a busy schedule, then you may think that eating out at a fast food restaurant is all you have time for, but if you go out to eat every day, the expenses can get out of control. So, consider the idea of going to the grocery store to get all of the food that you need for the week. In addition to saving money, if you try this tactic, then you will have all the food that you need right there in your dorm, so you don’t have to leave when you get hungry.

When you do need to travel to the store or to the library for your study group, consider the costs of taking public transportation versus using Uber or Lyft. Taking the bus may not be the most luxurious way to travel, but you could be spending a fraction of the cost. In Illinois, the cost of public transportation is close to $3 versus the average Lyft ride, which costs closer to $20. The point is that there is always a more inexpensive way to do things. You just need to do your research.

As you can see, it is possible to make a smart budget that can make college much more affordable. Consider the tips here, and you’ll be able to buy everything you need and have some cash to spare.

SEE ALSO: How to Prepare For Your First Year of Living in a College Dorm

How to Prepare For Your First Year of Living in a College Dorm

How to Prepare For Your First Year of Living in a College Dorm

Not everyone chooses to live on campus, but for many people, it’s a big part of the overall college experience. Living in a college dorm for the first time gives you a taste of what it’s like to live on your own. You’ll be met with new opportunities and responsibilities. If you don’t prepare yourself now, you might even be in for a few surprises.

While living in a dorm is exciting and can offer newfound freedom as you enter adulthood, preparation is key, especially when you’re not sure what to expect.

Let’s cover a few simple, effective ways you can prepare for your first year of living in a college dorm. The more you plan ahead now, the easier the transition to dorm life will be.

Knowing What to Pack

Chances are, you’ve spent the majority of your life in one place. All of your belongings are in your “childhood” room and home. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to take everything with you to a small dorm room — especially if you have roommates.

But, what should you bring with you?

Start with the basics. Think about the things you’ll be using every day that will make your life easier, more comfortable, and more convenient. Some of the necessities you should pack include:

  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • Toiletries
  • A laundry bag or basket
  • Clothing for two seasons

It’s also a good idea to bring some items from home that will bring you comfort. Photos, a stuffed animal, or other small tokens or trinkets that are meaningful to you can make the transition easier when you’re feeling homesick.

Make sure to pack the right way so your belongings are secure on the trip. Use bins for moving and storing your supplies, rather than cardboard boxes. They can double as backup storage to keep your dorm neat and tidy when certain items aren’t in use. Your parents can help you out with packing, and they can even assist with making a checklist of things you need so you won’t forget anything. Talk to your family about the possibility of sending care packages, too. It can help to make the transition easier.

Finally, make sure to pack some decorative items that will make your dorm feel like “home.” The more comfortable you feel there, the easier it will be for you to adjust to your new routine.

Becoming Independent

Your first year of college is likely your first time living on your own. Though your parents might be helping you out with certain things, there is a whole new world of responsibility and freedom at your fingertips.

There are so many ways to grow and learn in college, and it can start in your dorm. Establish a daily routine that keeps you on a healthy schedule. It can be tempting to stay up late and sleep in if you don’t have early classes, but creating a routine will benefit your physical and mental well-being.

You’ll also have to keep up with things like cleaning your dorm, restocking necessary supplies, and managing meals if you don’t go to the cafeteria or other on-campus options each day. On top of all of it, you might want to consider how you can become more financially dependent since you’re away from home. Again, your parents might help you out by sending you money, but now is a great time to get a part-time job either on-campus or off, if you have transportation.

Start by budgeting your needs and wants, and you might be surprised by how much you’re spending each month on “extras.” When you build a budget that focuses on things like paying off bills and groceries first, you’ll start to see that your wants could be holding you back from saving as much money as you’d like. By working on budgeting and financial independence now, you can have a nice “cushion” saved up by the time you graduate and enter the working world.

Dealing With Roommates

It’s rare for college students to live alone. While some campuses across the country have single rooms, first-year students rarely get them unless they’re specifically requested. As such, you’ll likely have to deal with at least one roommate, if not more.

If you’re able to find out information about your roommate before you move in, try to connect with them. Talking on the phone, texting, or even video chatting can help to break the ice so things aren’t so awkward or unfamiliar when you move in.

If you find that your roommate is difficult to get along with or live with, don’t immediately think dorm life isn’t for you. Try some of the following strategies to work out your differences:

  • Talk things out
  • Express your needs
  • Don’t spend so much time in your room
  • Practice self-care

Though you might not like it, having a difficult roommate in college can actually serve as another life lesson. You’ll have to learn how to get along with people who have opposing views or bad attitudes. It’s not easy, but it’s a part of life. The good news? Unless you request the same person, you’ll probably have a different roommate next year. You never know when you’ll meet a lifelong friend to make up for a bad living experience.

Living in a college dorm should be exciting, but it’s okay if you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed. Keep these tips in mind to prepare yourself as much as possible. From packing to personalizing your living space, embrace the experience and enjoy living on your own for the first time.

SEE ALSO: Rushing a Fraternity or Sorority? 8 Useful Tips

Ways College Students Can Manage Academic Fatigue & Burnout

Ways College Students Can Manage Academic Fatigue & Burnout

Recent statistics on student stress are disheartening. Many catch our eye, but this is especially alarming: “39.1% of college students in the U.S. report feeling well-rested for only one or two days a week.” And 19.5% don’t feel rested at all.

There’s no way college students can be at their best, not getting adequate rest. And it’s no wonder academic fatigue and burnout are hitting them harder than ever. If we don’t address it now, the performance of college students will continue to diminish, and their futures will hang in limbo.

If you’re experiencing academic fatigue, stress, and burnout, these four tips can help you get to the other side.

Know When You’re Experiencing Burnout

University of the People defines academic burnout as “a negative emotional, physical and mental reaction to prolonged study that results in exhaustion, frustration, lack of motivation and reduced ability in school.”

Understanding the definition of general burnout is also critical. You don’t want to overlook a burnout diagnosis just because school isn’t what’s making you feel burnt out. The three criteria for a burnout diagnosis include:

  1. Severe lack of energy and complete exhaustion
  2. Feeling mentally distanced or increasingly negative about one’s job
  3. Diminished effectiveness in one’s role

Whether you’re experiencing general burnout or its subset academic burnout, you need to be able to pinpoint when you’re experiencing it so that you can manage it. If you’re encountering any, all, or a combination of the below symptoms for a prolonged period, academic fatigue or burnout is likely the culprit:

  • Your creative spark is gone
  • Your attendance is suffering
  • Your body is simply exhausted
  • You can’t concentrate in class
  • You’re more irritable and frustrated
  • You’re missing deadlines more often
  • Sitting through a lecture is nearly impossible
  • You’ve lost confidence in the work you’re producing
  • There’s a spike in feelings of anxiety and/or depression
  • You’re no longer interested in participating in discussions and group projects

It’s important to note that burnout can overlap with other mental health conditions. For example, you could be losing your creative spark and energy because of depression. Or you could be more irritable, frustrated, and lack confidence because of an anxiety disorder.

With this in mind, separating burnout from other mental health challenges is vital to getting better.

Be Intentional When Choosing Classes and Your Schedule

College students are known to take on more than they should when choosing classes, whether to graduate earlier, have a better shot at an internship, or something else entirely. In addition, getting into specific courses can be so competitive that many students will take, say, the 7 a.m. class even though they know they aren’t morning people.

Taking too many classes and choosing the wrong times to take them can lead to high levels of stress that ultimately result in academic fatigue and burnout.

It’s much better for your health and educational success to be intentional when choosing classes and your schedule. Really take the time to select courses you’ll enjoy and engage in. Now, you won’t enjoy every class. So, supplement the ones you don’t care for but have to take with those you’re excited about.

And be sure to put together a schedule you can maintain. For example, don’t go for early morning classes if you know you do your best work in the afternoon and vice versa. Also, figure out the best way to spread courses throughout the week to ensure you’re accommodating how you learn, study, and live.

Grow Real Relationships With Your Professors

Good for you if you’re lucky enough never to experience academic fatigue and burnout. But for those that do, having good relationships with professors can help make the experience much more manageable.

You know those office hours your professor tells you about on the first day of class? Unfortunately, not nearly enough students use them to their advantage. But you should. Use office hours to develop genuine relationships with your professors.

Commit to getting together with your professors at least once a week. Not only can they help you with any challenges you’re having with coursework, but professors also encourage students to use office hours to talk about things other than school, burnout, and academic fatigue included.

When you have a strong relationship with your professors, you’ll be more inclined to be transparent about what you’re going through. And together, you can develop a plan to simplify school and life.

Put a Plan in Place for Recovery

You’re burnt out, and academic fatigue has gotten the best of you. What do you do? Well, first, don’t panic. Most students will experience burnout at some point. Already having a plan to recover from it will fast-track you getting back to yourself and your studies.

The first step is putting the books down and taking a break. Then, do something that you’re passionate about. And for the long term, focus on boosting your energy levels healthily. For instance, incorporate a self-care routine in your day. Drink more water than anything else. Cut down on your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Exercise regularly too.

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to do, understand, and manage all that comes with college on your own. Burnout and academic fatigue will be right around the corner if you do.

Instead, lean on your relationships with your professors for support. Choose classes and schedules strategically. And finally, know the signs of burnout and put a plan in place to recover from it.

SEE ALSO: Common Problems When Writing Your Assignments