Sleep Challenge!

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by Lucillia 

People are not lying when they talk about a lack of sleep in college.

Pulling all-nighters to study, 8 am classes and chatting with your roommate until 2am are all contributing factors. Getting a good night’s rest can be really challenging.

For me, I have always put sleep first because I have found that I am never productive when I am tired. But there is a difference between getting sleep and getting quality sleep. The latter is not something that I have been so good at prioritizing.

When I saw that the Wellness Center at my school was hosting a sleep challenge, I thought it would be a good thing to try. For this 21-day challenge, we were told to download a sleeping app that tracks the quality of your sleep. Basically, you keep your phone next to you all night and it measures your movement while you sleep.

Besides this, we were also given a calendar with different tips to help us sleep better. For the first week, our goal was to develop a routine before we go to bed. For this, they recommended doing things like brushing your teeth, putting away your phone 20 minutes before you fall asleep, getting your backpack ready for the next day and doing a light exercise before turning the lights out!

The goal for the second week was to try and wake up at the same time every morning. No matter if you have to be to work by 7 am or don’t have class until 1 pm – the consistency adds value. I have heard that this will eventually train your body to wake up at that time, even without an alarm.

Can you imagine?!

Finally, the goal for the third week was to try and get a sufficient amount of quality sleep each night.

Anyways, six days into the sleep challenge and my sleep app had calculated that my sleep quality was only 60%. I didn’t even know it was that bad. All of my graphs throughout the night told me that I was waking up about every hour, even without knowing it.

I usually go to bed at a decent time every night, so my goals going forward are to put my phone away 20 minutes before I lay down and to see what I can do to stay in a deeper sleep throughout the night.

Any other ideas for a good night’s sleep? Feel free to comment and let me know!

Also, the app is called Sleep Cycle (for iPhone), for anyone interested in tracking how well they sleep and joining the challenge!

Filling out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

FAFSA Steps

by Lucillia

Thinking back to my senior year, the year when high school students must fill out the FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid), I procrastinated doing it. Besides regular schoolwork, college applications and scholarships, it felt like just another application that I honestly did not want to fill out. Anyways, as I have come to find out with most things, it was not that bad after I just did it. I think I filled it out in half an hour.

Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps on the path to college – whether that means technical school, community college, or a 4-year college or university. The way my old College Possible coach put it is that with the FAFSA, you are literally getting money for filling out your personal information.

Here are my tips for filling out the FAFSA:

  • MAKE SURE YOU FILL OUT THE FAFSA.
  • GET HELP! You want to make sure that you fill out the FAFSA correctly. There’s lots of help available. If you’re a Minneapolis Public Schools student, go straight to your Career & College Center, which has lots of great FAFSA workshops, resources and personal support. Or talk with one of your high school counselors.They’re there to help you!
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use fake sites like FAFSA.com. Make sure that you only use the ACTUAL FAFSA site at https://fafsa.ed.gov. The help tab on the home page, as well as the Frequently Asked Questions section, are really helpful.
  • FAFSA is absolutely free to fill out. You will know if you are on a fraud web site if it asks you for payment.
  • Carefully read everything. Directions are there for a reason! I know a woman who changed her last name, and because the FAFSA requires your birth name, everything got messed up, and basically she had to wait a whole year to go to school and fill out the application again the following year. YIKES!
  • You also have to fill out the FAFSA every year you are in school.
  • My coach sent me this YouTube link with videos about the basics and it was really helpful. Check it out!

Fill out that FAFSA — and good luck!

When it comes to Scholarships, be like Mr. Krabs

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by Lucillia

Who doesn’t love free money? However, if anybody needs it, I am pretty sure that college students would top the list.

When I first started high school I didn’t think that college was really a choice of mine. Going into my freshman year of high school, my brother was beginning his freshman year at St. Cloud State. Before the first semester ended, however, he moved back home due to his inability to keep up with the costs. The thing that really worried me was that my parents said they wouldn’t co-sign a loan for him. And if they wouldn’t do it for him, then they sure wouldn’t do it for me. But I was naïve back then. There are sooo many ways to pay for school above and beyond just taking the entire cost out in loans.

Going into my sophomore year of high school, and looking back on his poor decisions I realized where he messed up. He got good grades, but he wasn’t really involved, he wasn’t networking and he wasn’t enrolled in any college prep programs such as AVID or College Possible.

Despite my fear of not being able to afford college, I really wanted to go. So I kind of “over did it” with my involvement. But boyyyyy, did it pay off!

Long story short, I was awarded three scholarships. One from St Thomas that covers pretty much everything except room and board, and two others to cover my room and board. If I hadn’t gotten the scholarships that I did, I wouldn’t have been able to go to St Thomas.

Some factors that I believe to have helped me to succeed in securing scholarships:

1. College Possible (I won’t go into details in what they do, blah, blah, blah, check out the link – but just know that you should join!);

2. I was also an AVID student;

3. Educational Talent Search student;

4. I took challenging courses; and

5. I networked.

I also went to college visits that my high school’s College and Career Center (CCC) hosts. Sometimes students go out as field trips and sometimes they have Admissions Counselors from a particular college come and give small presentations about their school.

Now remember that I never could have even dreamed about going to an expensive private school. But I decided to go any way. I personally talked my Admissions counselor and went on my way. A couple of months later he was back at my school, wanting to speak to me. I didn’t know what to expect, but he ended up selecting me as a Dease Scholar.

The moral of this little story is networking. Learn what it is, and do it often. You never know who you are going to meet, and when an opportunity will present itself. It’s very important to always leave a great first impression. It’s also great to be involved. Programs like College Possible, AVID and TRIO can help you out so much in the long run.

Yes it is a lot of work, and exhausting. But in the end, it’s so worth it!

College Culture Shock

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by Lucillia

Culture shock is something that a person deals with when going into a new environment. For some it could be traveling to a new country where you’re not familiar with the culture and language. Or it could be as simple as going to a new school where it’s obvious that you represent the minority, as was the case for me.

My high school – Thomas Edison High –  was very diverse. Because my norm is being surrounded by many different cultures and ethnicities, coming to the University of St. Thomas has been very different for me.

In three of my four classes, I am one of the only African Americans. To me, it’s the “elephant in the room”. While I was typing this blog, I became curious if others felt this way too. I asked my friend (who represents the majority) if she noticed how “not diverse” our classes are. She said that she isn’t really aware of it. I wonder why that is…

So anyway, how can one who looks like an outsider fit in?

For me, the adjustment started this past summer. St Thomas offers a program each summer for incoming freshman who are “under represented” called The REAL Program (REAL stands for Reaching Excellence in Academics). My group consisted of 16 mixed people, Asians, Indians, African Americans and Latinos, and the program lasted five weeks (basically my WHOLE summer!). We took a theology course (which is required to graduate), got on-campus jobs, learned about and utilized many campus resources, lived on campus, did fun activities like Valley Fair, Minnesota United FC soccer games, movie nights, etc. (all for free!).

And most importantly, I met 15 of my best friends. Programs like this help with the transition from high school to college and bring awareness to diversity on campus. Some of my high school friends laughed at me for doing the REAL Program because it took up my whole summer, but it was really one of the best experiences of my life.

Looking for these types of programs is actually super easy. I took five minutes to search for diversity programs at different colleges in Minnesota. Hamline University in St. Paul has diversity scholarships (as most colleges do), the University of Minnesota has diversity leadership workshops and Mankato State University hosts enriching educational programs and cultural activity conferences for not only students, but faculty and staff as well. These groups and activities will help you feel included on campus and get some connections started.

In my three weeks so far on campus I have joined the Hana club, which is the biggest diversity club on campus. They host activities to promote awareness of different cultures. I really enjoy this club because there is a strong sense of community, like we’re all united. My roommate also identifies with the African American community, so this has helped with my transition from high school to college as well.

Dealing with culture shock is a serious thing. It causes you to be confused, sad, lonely and nervous. However, there are ways of dealing with it. Join clubs, make friends with everybody and just remember that lots of other people are in the same boat as you.

Most importantly, try and ignore it. Being able to adapt to new environments is a skill and it can be learned. Realize that you are part of the community, too!

Introducing Lucillia – University of St. Thomas

IMG_2986Hey all! I am very excited to back for another year of blogging with the crew! I can’t believe I am already a sophomore! Over the last year I have grown so much as a person and I am very excited to continue this journey at the University of St Thomas.

Besides starting a new job and taking a math class over the summer, nothing really exciting has happened on my end. This coming school year I am looking forward to (fingers crossed!) studying abroad in Africa, declaring my major (once I figure that out) and seeing if I can balance two jobs and being a full time student. Wish me luck!

  • High School: Thomas Edison High
  • College: University of St. Thomas (once a Tommie, always a Tommie)
  • Intended major: Undecided
  • Intended minor: French
  • Dream career: Not sure, but I want to travel, get paid well, and not stand on my feet all day
  • Spirit animal: Elephant (I have an elephant tattoo)
  • One weird thing about me: I hate it when people put their feet on me. Eww!
  • My celebrity crush: Kim Kardashian