Tips on dealing with homesickness

homesickness

by Maddi

1. Get out of your room:

It’s so easy to spend hours watching netflix or reading in bed, eating the boxes of thin mints that the strategically-placed girl scout stands guilted you into buying and drinking your day’s worth of nutrients in Emergen-C’s.

It’s so tempting to change into pajamas after class at 2pm and procrastinate your schoolwork by hibernating until dinner. But this temptation, especially towards the beginning of the year, is one of the biggest catalysts of homesickness. Homesickness is normal and often prevalent no matter how far away from home you go. That being said, going out of state or across the country really limits the opportunity to go home, so it’s best to find methods to deal with feeling homesick.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to occupy yourself with something outside of your room. Whether it’s going on a run, going to get ice cream, or finding a pretty view to draw a picture of, forcing yourself to leave your room helps you adapt and get used to your surroundings.

2. Join a sport team or club similar to what you did at home

Although I’ve met the majority of my friends through clubs or teams that are different from what I participated in in High school, I’ve found that playing soccer here has been a great way to still feel connected to home. Whether it’s an Intramural, club, or varsity sport, doesn’t really matter as long as it isn’t adding extra stress.

Playing a sport or joining a club similar to what you did before college is comforting yet allows you to individualize that experience even more for yourself – which i have found to be really rewarding.

3. Join a group that is outside of your comfort zone:

While joining a familiar activity can be comforting, becoming a part of a group outside of your comfort zone differentiates life at college from life at home – which really helps the adaptation process.

For me, my unfamiliar experience was joining the Cal quidditch team. While yes it is nerdy and weird, it is the activity that compiles many of my different interests into one and has thoroughly changed my experience here at Cal. Little did I know that quidditch is a highly physical and competitive sport that takes part in the United States Quidditch association and has the close team atmosphere that I had always loved about soccer. Combining this competitive team atmosphere and my love for Harry Potter, quidditch turned out to be the perfect place for me to meet the people who I had most in common with – now my best friends.

February Q: What is your favorite food to eat/snack on when you are stressed out?

stress

This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our February question is: What is your favorite food to eat/snack on when you are stressed out?

Dralandra (Augsburg): My favorite food is pasta – shrimp alfredo, but when I am stressed, I love to eat cheetos or doughnuts!

Lulu (U of MN – TC): I absolutely love to snack! I’d have to go with either dill pickles or ice cream.

Ariana (U of MN – Duluth): Sour patch kids and pringles.

Natalie (Concordia): When I’m stressed out about my personal life and health, I eat entire boxes of Cascadian Farm Oats and Honey granola. When I’m stressed out about school, I tend to eat a lot of cheese based snacks: Cheeze-Its, Goldfish crackers, cheddar popcorn, etc.

Lucillia (St. Thomas): When I’m stressed out, I love a good Smucker’s pre-made PB&J sandwich!

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): If I’m feeling healthy, carrots and apples with peanut butter. If I’m feeling normal, a grilled mac and cheese sandwich, or tacos.

Alia (MCTC): I don’t eat when I’m stressed, otherwise, I eat chicken of all kinds.

Ellie (McGill): When I am stressed out I make tea and dunk WAY too many tea cookies in it!

 

January Q: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about college for high school students?

myth

This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our January question is: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about college for high school students?

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): The biggest misconception is that everyone drinks or parties and that a social stigma exists surrounding those who don’t go crazy; the party scene can be a lot more controlled and is definitely a choice.

Julie (U of MN – TC):  College will be easy. (It isn’t impossble! But it’s also hard work!)

Ariana (UMN Duluth):  That everyone likes to party and you have to drink otherwise it’s not a fun time. But now I think it’s the kind of people who you spend your time with… Get to know people that can have a good time all the time, without drinking.

Ellie (McGill):   That making friends will be difficult like it might have been in high school. Being in college gives so many opportunities to meet people, your friends will find you. Trust me.

Creating a Home in College

home

by Guanani

There’s plenty of college advice floating around about leaving home and transitioning to college, but very little about what it means to create a home for yourself once you’re there.

One of the most valuable things I’ve come to learn is the importance of creating a home; without a solid place to come back to, physically and emotionally, it’s easy to feel lost, confused, and not sure how to ground all the hard work and exploration that a college experience involves. Home isn’t just something you find, but something you actively create according to your needs and values.

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Here are a few things that make a home feel like home for me:

  1. A space where you feel comfortable and relaxed.

This can be tricky if you find yourself in a loud, cramped dorm situation, but home doesn’t necessarily have to be where you’ve been assigned to live.

Look for a place where you feel calm and can unwind from the day. If you have a friend who lives in a quieter area, spend time in their dorm. Maybe there’s a pleasant spot on campus with a cool tree, or a corner in the library you can return to on a regular basis that can serve as a home away from home.

  1. Headquarters for your life.

Home is the axis that supports the rest of your life, whether that means a pit stop for snacks or a nap, a cozy corner where you can reflect, or just a place where you keep your things. Ideally home in college is conveniently near your classes, friends, and sources of food and other necessities.

The important thing is for it to be close enough that you feel connected to the greater college community while still having your own personal space.

  1. People or a community to come home to.

This has been by far the most important part of creating a home in college for me. Feeling like I belong and having people to talk to, study, and go on adventures with became easier as time went on and new friendships were formed. Living in a distinct community without your family offers you the unique opportunity to build a family of friends to support each other when things get difficult, do homework with, or just spend time together on a regular basis.

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Making a home takes time and effort.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and finding the right circumstances and strong relationships to make it happen can be hard or even frustrating in the midst of all the various challenges college brings. Home should be a focal point in the constellation of your life, something you can rely on, feel safe in, and come back to over and over again.

As you move on from living with families and discover the possibilities offered by independent living, don’t forget to consider what creating a good home means to you.

Sleep Challenge!

Importance-Of-Sleep-During-Exams-623x576

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!

How to Win Over Freshmen and Influence People

Being a role model when you’re really not sure what you’re doing in your own life.

role model

by Natalie

Not to toot my own horn, but I am killing it in sophomore year.

In the past two months and seven days, I have started taking classes that I really, truly enjoy.  I have met some wonderful people.  I have written a handful of opinion columns that I’m very proud of (you can find the latest post here).  I started a club.  I finished a play and submitted it to a theatre competition.

But, most importantly, I have learned something new about myself: I’m pretty darn good at giving advice and being a support system.

At the beginning of this year, I began collecting freshman.  Not on purpose.  I didn’t go around with a butterfly net chasing the kids who still wore their high school state speech sweatshirts or letterman’s jackets.  I just, slowly but surely, became very close with a large network of first year students.  And, as I gained this new circle of friends, I gained a reputation for having the answers.  Which, if you’ve read any of my blogs from my freshman year, you’d know I don’t necessarily have.

Last year, I was an absolute disaster.

I spent my days panicking and not attending my classes.  This year, I have taken up the new habit of writing down exactly when I’m going to fulfill my responsibilities.  I’ve also taken to writing out To-Do lists.  Long story short, I’ve got my “poop in a group” this year.

As the year has progressed, I have become well-versed in taking people down, if you will. College is when a lot of people start to have mental health issues.  It’s stressful and challenging and there is a demand for a constant, shiny, happy attitude on college campuses.

It can become overwhelming.

Anxiety and depression are things I developed and learned to deal with last year.  My roommates have also struggled with mental health in their time in college.  So, because we have life experiences with not knowing how to deal, room 716 has become a popular hangout for first years who need help.

It’s fulfilling work, being a role model.  It brings me a lot of pride, knowing that I can help people because I’ve been in their shoes.  I have comforted these lost first years through times of self-doubt and it has strengthened my own ability to cope with overwhelming circumstances.  I have counseled a few of them through existential crises and “what if I hate my major” meltdowns and it has made clear to me that the struggles I faced last year were not unique.

Last year, when I began struggling with my schoolwork and mental health, my dad gave me an analogy that I have used on quite a few panicky freshmen this year:

When you forge friendships, you sign a contract for a shared emotional bank account.  We all have to withdraw sometimes when times get hard and the rent to live in our own heads goes up.  We all deposit into this account when we win the lottery and everything goes right.  Sometimes, you have to withdraw more than you deposit for a while.  But that’s fine because, eventually, you’ll be in a better place with a heavier emotional paycheck and you’ll be able to deposit back into the account when your friends need to withdraw.

There is a lot to be said for making it on your own, but there is more to be said for being able to ask for help.

When you arrive at college, a good thing to do is to seek out supportive friends.  It’s hard to see that at first glance but you’ll quickly learn who of your network of acquaintances is there for you.  Find and befriend your neighborhood know-it-all.  She/he knows where the counseling center is and how to study and how to lighten your load.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There is no shame in being in over your head.  There is no shame in struggling with your mental health or your classwork.  There is no shame in crying in front of your friends.

There is only shame in being too proud to admit to yourself that you can’t do it alone.

College is hard and sometimes, you just need to withdraw from your shared emotional bank account.

Midwest to West Coast

UC-Berkeley

by Maddi

Flying from Minneapolis to San Francisco International Airport, the first sign I saw when I stepped off the plane had directions to a yoga room. Needless to say, I had arrived in California! Too many suitcases and boxes in hand, my mom and I made our way through three-hour traffic over to the East Bay and our hotel right near my new school, the University of California at Berkeley.

yoga room

Move-in day was relatively smooth. My mom seemed to die a little inside each time she saw the size of my room, but I got the bottom bunk, which had been my main focus. To all future college dorm residents: the bottom bunk is essential to your overall happiness, so sacrifice other battles to win this one.

Along with the great bed situation, my randomly selected roommates turned out to be awesome. Picking random is a risk, but it also allows for the chance for you to meet people you might not normally reach out to, which is something that I definitely recommend.

So far, during the one month that I have lived here, Berkeley and life in California have lived up to almost every positive stereotype and expectation that I’d had coming from Minnesota.

It wasn’t just California’s weather that drew me here, but the stereotype that the people are generally open minded and progressive. The atmosphere of the student body and the type of people living in Berkeley were really important to me, and I think that these are factors that can greatly affect your adaptation to college, especially if you’re going far from home. I was able to bond with my floor-mates and most people I met quickly due to our similar values and mindsets. My Spanish class bonded right away through our discussions on Donald Trump and immigration, for example.

Another enticing feature of Berkeley for me was the stereotype that students were not only socially aware and passionate about creating change, but that they were less mainstream and a little weirder than most student bodies. This is something that I found to be true as soon as I moved in, and is one of my favorite parts of being here.

Anything and everything goes here – whether that concerns clothing or recreational activity or whatever else. I joined the Berkeley Quidditch team and am currently enrolled in a Harry Potter class called “UC Hogwarts.” These were two of the best decisions I have ever made. The unique personality of the student body largely corresponds to the cultural diversity of the campus, and this is another factor that I have found to be really important.

Over half of my floor is international and thus racially and culturally diverse. In the one month I’ve lived here I have already learned more about east Asian and Indian culture than in my whole life up until now!

school board

Just as Berkeley exceeded my social expectations, the rigor of the academics was by no means exaggerated!

I walked into my first day of chemistry class with 400 very intelligent students to find a rotating blackboard filled with foreign concepts entitled, “A review of the fundamentals.” That being said, don’t be discouraged from applying or attending a prestigious school. I soon realized that most people were in the same boat as I was and I’ve developed good study habits that benefit my schedule.

I look forward to providing more Berkeley updates throughout the coming year!

Apartment Living – Freshman Year

apartment

by Lulu

“I’m actually living in an apartment with three other girls!”

“Wait, so are you a freshman?”

I completely understand the reasons people may assume I’m not a freshman due to my living circumstances; however, I indeed am a freshman. The reason I’m living in an apartment is because there was a huge number of incoming first year students who wanted to live on campus.

There are only nine residence halls and over 5,700 seeking housing at the U of M – Twin Cities.

Although I applied for housing in early April, I didn’t receive my housing assignment until late August. Even then, I was assigned to expanded living with students much older than me. My family and I felt like the situation wasn’t ideal and would not have been a great match. I was initially bummed about the situation because I was hoping to gain the freshman experience in the dorms and live in “Superblock” where all freshmen live; however, I’m extremely grateful to be living in an apartment in Dinkytown with three amazing roommates.

During the first week on campus, I was reminded of the few disadvantages of being in an apartment. Even though I live right in the heart of Dinkytown, I was placed in a Welcome Week group with commuter students. It wasn’t the best situation, because I was looking forward to meeting other freshmen nearby and this week was designed for that opportunity exactly.

Afterwards, it just wasn’t as easy to meet other freshman friends as it would have been living in the dorms. However, I have definitely found a lot of great friends through various connections as a result of making an effort to meet new people and willingly putting myself out there.

In general, the main difference is being even more independent than living in a dorm. In addition to finding a balance, transitioning into college life, and settling in, I have more responsibilities such as paying for monthly rent and utilities. At first, it was a bit of a foreign concept to have to buy everyday living items like paper towels, toiletries, kitchen appliances, and other similar things; however, in being able to say that I hadn’t had to purchase those items prior is pure privilege. I’m very fortunate to have a meal plan, because I don’t have to worry about cooking and buying groceries.

Don’t get me wrong, though, because living in an apartment has numerous perks that I’m very grateful for.

There is a lot more space, so there wasn’t as much of a concern for packing items and worrying about it all fitting into a cramped dorm room. I have the privilege of having a bathroom with a tub and shower rather than a communal bathroom for the entire floor. Additionally, there is a laundry machine and dryer in my unit, so I don’t have to stress about stolen clothes or waiting my turn.

Overall, I’m living in a great apartment with gorgeous views of the downtown skyline and Dinkytown. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Apartment vs. Dorm Living

Gatehouse_Email-Feb9th-Dorms

by Elliane

I would like start out this blog post by saying that I am really enjoying second year, much more than my first.

That being said, my life is very different now compared to my first year. Last year I lived in the dorms here at McGill University, with a single room, communal bathrooms, and a mandatory meal plan.

Now I am living just off campus with my best friend for my roommate, I don’t have to wear flip-flops in the shower, and I can eat all the pasta and peanut butter I want.

In my opinion it is very important to live in the dorms or some type of university housing (rather than an apartment separated from the institution) during the first year away from home.

There are definite pros and cons to dorm living. Some pros include: inclusive community, pre-furnished space, not having to make your own meals, and (usually) close to campus. Of course, every person is different and some of those pros may seem like cons.

Dorms are a fun place to spend your time and meet new people. My dorm last year had a bunch of parties (even a prom!) but was very study-friendly during finals and promoted a nice studious environment. There was a no tolerance bullying policy and the entire residence system is considered a “safer space.” I met my best friends in “rez” last year, even though I am not the most social person. In saying that I think there is definitely a place for everyone and people for every person to meet in residence. This is why I think spending your first year in residence is important because then you have people to spend the rest of your years with (and maybe the rest of your life.)

Living in my apartment for the past month (4 weeks today!) has been such an amazing time. My first piece of advice for apartment living would be to choose your roommate wisely. Mine is my best friend Harriet who I can easily describe to be my other half. We know what annoys each other, we understand each other’s limits and respect them, and (most importantly) we have so much fun!

Even if your roommate is not your best friend, make sure you get to know them and spend some time learning about how you work together. Alternatively, if your roommate is your friend, establish some “roomie rules” because living together can be stressful.

Another upside to living on my own is that I get to cook for myself. I am an avid baker and a decent cook so I do enjoy setting aside time to make a nice meal. Let me tell you, though, there are some nights when I get home and think to myself “Nope. Sandwich tonight.”

And you know what? That’s okay! Living by yourself and being an adult, everyone has those days when they slip a little so don’t beat yourself up if you feel your “adulting” (as we like to call it here) slipping.

This year I am definitely more conscious of what I’m buying and how I’m spending my money. I’m not sure if it’s because I am living on my own and paying for groceries but I think that must be a factor. You would be surprised to see how much groceries cost and how quickly they add up!

I highly recommend living in an apartment after your first year so make sure you do if you can! Some colleges require you to live in dorms all four years, others it’s only two.

If you are still looking into where you want to go to college, think about what you want to do after your first year and do some research about your prospective choice’s options!

Move-In Day Round II

moving in

By Natalie

I drove up alone this time.

Mom and Dad knew I’d make it just fine and so they stayed in Minneapolis to usher my younger siblings to their first day of school.  I sang along to The Lion King soundtrack and Boston’s greatest hits.

I rolled up in front of Brown Hall after four hours of driving, entirely ready to start my year and entirely dreading having to unpack.  My roommates, Katie and Rachel, and my boyfriend, Nick, all came to help me haul my eight plastic totes full of office supplies, winter clothes, bedding, dishes, and books into my first floor room.

Brown Hall

Brown Hall

I spent a good amount of that afternoon trying to decide where to start.  The floor of our living space (I live in a quad this year so my dorm has two rooms: one for sleeping and one for pretty much everything else) was covered with plastic totes and folded up butterfly chairs.  The three of us navigated an obstacle course of rolled up rugs and bags of pita chips in order to turn the linoleum floor and beige walls into a home.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was stressful.  I nearly cried approximately 90 times that first day back, both from anxiety and from just plain old homesickness – an ailment I managed to avoid on move in day last year.

As I unpacked over the following two days, it dawned on me that I’m probably never going to move home again.

I’m never going to pack up all my things and move back into my parents’ house and live in the basement with piles of my compartmentalized life pushed up against the wall.  I’m never going to have my makeup and hair product strewn across the bathroom counter.  I’m never going to store my dishes in the white faced cabinets in our kitchen.  I don’t live there anymore.

Moving back to college after having four months back in the comfort of my childhood home was hard.  It was a sudden jerk into the reality of laundry and dishes and budgeting when, all of a sudden, I didn’t have my parents to do those things for me.

I traded my parents for two of the best roommates and friends a girl could ask for.  We had a solid sleep schedule (in bed by midnight, out by nine), we spend more time than I could count laughing and talking and creating some of the most ridiculous Snapchat stories ever.  Moving away for good is hard, but it’s easier when you have a good place to land.

This summer was a hard transition for me.

I worried that I didn’t belong in the world of Academia.  I worried that I was going to fall flat on my face again like I did last year.  I spent a lot of my time second guessing my qualification to do anything but be a homebody.  I nearly convinced myself to not go back to school.  But I did go back and it hasn’t been bad at all.  I came back to Concordia with an arsenal of anecdotal advice I racked up last year.

One of the bigger lessons I learned from freshman year that I’ll be applying to my life from here on out is that it’s okay to fail.  There’s no shame in it.

It is okay to take a huge leap or have a hard fall and fail.  It’s okay to try again.  In fact, it’s mandatory.  Another thing I took away from my first eight months at Concordia is that one of the perks of a private education is that you can ask for as much help as you want and no one is going to think less of you for it.

My Desk!

My Desk!

It’s been four weeks since I moved in to my cozy little home and I’ve nestled in.  I got a job writing for my school newspaper, The Concordian (http://theconcordian.org/), I love my classes, and I landed a role playing Marta in this year’s musical, Steven Sondheim’s Company.

All in all, this year is shaping up to be pretty dang great.

Down to the Minute

A Beginner’s Guide to Time Management

clock

by Natalie

College, not unlike all other stages of life, requires amazing skills of patience, scheduling, finagling, and, most importantly, time management.  In my first semester at Concordia I was taking 18 academic credits and working 5 hours a week for a small stipend as an intern in the theatre department, as well as balancing a full-fledged romantic relationship and a role in the musical, Les Miserables.

This semester, however, is a little different.  First, I stopped working in the theatre department because it didn’t pay enough and it wasn’t a good fit for me as far as scheduling hours went.  Second, I’m only taking 15 credits this semester, as I started taking an elective class about lighting design that proved to be too much to chew.  Third, I picked up a job working at Target.  I work 10-20 hours a week, folding clothes and working the cash registers.  And, on top of all of that, this semester, a friend of mine was hospitalized and I spent a good chunk of time being there for her.

I like to think of everything in my life as a class with a credit number.

  • My boyfriend, Nick, is a 4-credit course.
  • My role in Les Mis was two 4-credit courses; it took up about as much time as 2 full academic classes and I put in extra work on show weekends.
  • My job in the theatre department was a 1-credit course.
  • My job at Target is a 4-credit course.
  • My friend in the hospital was a 2-credit course.
  • My Netflix habit is definitely a 2-credit course at least.
  • My social life at large is probably about a 2-credit course as well (if we don’t include Nick and my friend in the hospital).

Assuming I did my math correctly (which is not a safe assumption), I came out with 35 credits last semester and 29 this semester.  So why did last semester seem so much easier than this semester has been so far?

Well folks, it comes down to how well I’ve been managing my time.  Last semester, I kept myself to a strict schedule that documented what I had planned 24/7.  I would wake up, go to breakfast, go to class, do chores, go to my next 2 classes, do homework, go to choir, get dinner, watch an episode of whatever series I was working on in Netflix, go to rehearsal, do homework, hang out with Nick, go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

This semester I haven’t handled my time in the conservative fashion I did last semester.  I have been waking up, going to class, getting lunch with friends, dilly dallying all the way to my next two classes, going to choir, getting dinner, going to work, coming home and going to bed.  On the days that I don’t have classes (Tuesday and Thursday this semester), instead of getting up and taking care of business, I sleep in really late, waste a whole bunch of time on Buzzfeed, eventually do some homework, eat dinner, go to work, hang out with Nick, hang out with other friends, stay up really late doing the homework I’ve been putting off, and then, finally, getting to bed.

The moral of this story, dear readers, is to take care of your time in college.  Ration it, split it up, portion it, and schedule it.  Make it work for you, not against you.  Working out a routine might seem mundane and boring but it is so beneficial when you set aside an hour and a half here, 45 minutes there to get your homework done.

College isn’t just going to class, and working a job so you can pay your tuition.  College isn’t just parties and friends and good times.  College is hard.  It’s hard work, it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time.  Time management is the best way to handle the barrage of knowledge and experience you’ll get hit with in college.

You might seem a little crazy at first when you have your day planned down to the minute but you’ll feel less stressed, more motivated, and you’ll learn how to be accountable to yourself and to others.  Time is money and we’ll all need to pay off our student loans someday.

Opportunities = Endless

blog

by Ariana

First and foremost, the most important thing I have learned from college, is that going to school provides endless opportunities.

No doubt, this is the best aspect of college. There is so much you can do, it is honestly mind-blowing. Before I started college I made a promise to myself that I would be a part of anything that spiked my interest and to get out of my comfort zone.

And so I did.

I joined 6 clubs and 2 organizations. I soon found out that it was a bit too much for me to handle, I had spent all my time going to meetings, talking to different people, learning about new things, discovering so much about U of M – Duluth. But it was great. College was in the palm of my hands and I couldn’t wait to get a taste of it.

Every school year, during the 3rd week of school, UMD has an activities fair, all of the clubs and organizations present themselves so that you can join their force. Here at UMD we have over 300 clubs and organizations.

I’ll sum it up like this: I went to that fair twice to make sure I went through them all. I was definitely eager to become a part of this college community. I became an Intern for the General election this past November, I was a part of Student Ambassadors where I gave tours and spoke to all the high school students that would come to visit our campus and I was a Student Advisor helping incoming transfer students register for classes.

As far as clubs, I am a part of Psychology Club; UMD Serve (community service club); Students Today, Leaders Forever, “STLF,” (Community service trips across the country); and I was a part of International club and Latino/Chicana Student Association, “LCSA,” (Hispanic club). I almost did it all, while also maintaining a job on campus at the Box Office.

All of these organization have taught me a lot.

When I was working on the election, I got to meet a lot of really awesome candidates, including the governor of Minnesota. Student Ambassadors is something I am also passionate about, because I want students to learn about UMD through our experiences or to even just ask questions about life here at UMD, because I was once in their shoes, and I knew what it was like.

Other opportunities are Internships and volunteering – this semester I am becoming a Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, “PAVSA,” advocate. PAVSA is a state wide organization that is a program aid for victims of sexual assault. I will be starting training in February and then I will be working with the organization through UMD’s office. The reason why I am pursuing this opportunity is because my ultimate goal is to be a mental health counselor and doing this will give me good experience with counseling and helping people in need. I am very excited to take this step and it is a great example of how you can do anything on a college campus.

Also recently, the career and internship services came into my class to talk about how they can help you find a job or an internship and that they have connections all over the state. I strongly encourage all of the college-bound students that are reading this to make sure to take advantage of every opportunity presented, trust me you will not regret it and you’ll have more fun than you’ve ever imagined.

Until next time

-Ariana

Summer Break: More Than Just A Time For Fun

summer

by Cara

There’s more to summer break than binge watching Netflix, going to the mall with friends, and staying up late just because you can. While the summer is a good time to relax, it’s also a great time to start planning ahead for the path you’ll take after high school. Making use of your summer break by taking part in programs will look great on college and scholarship applications.

Whether you want to get an early start on the college application process or explore your academic interests, there is a program for you. The programs I attended during the summer helped me decided what to study in college, and I also think they helped me stand out in my applications.

Below are three summer programs that I think are worth checking out. The best part is all of these programs are free, and one of them even pays its participants!

Questbridge College Prep Scholarship

The Questbrige College Prep Scholarship is not a traditional scholarship because you do not receive money to pay college expenses. Instead, it is a pathway to summer opportunities and getting a head start on the college application process for current juniors.

I didn’t apply to this when I was in high school but I know a lot about the application process because it’s similar to their senior year program for which I was a finalist. Seniors can apply for their National College Match program that helps high-achieving, low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to selective colleges such as Columbia, Stanford, and Yale.

Students selected as College Prep Scholars will receive free test prep, priority consideration to receive all-expense-paid college visits, early access to the National College Match application, and assistance from Questbridge to strengthen their National College Match application.

Scholars may also receive one or more of the following: full scholarships to college summer programs, an invitation to a college admissions conference, personalized college essay support, telementoring with college students, and/or Quest for Excellence Awards.

The application opens in February and will be due on March 25, 2015.

To be eligible, students must be juniors who are planning to apply to college during the fall of their senior year. They must also meet the citizenship requirement by being a U.S. citizen, Permanent Resident, or international student attending high school in the United States.

Questbrige is looking for students who have shown outstanding academic ability despite any economic challenges their family has faced. Many College Prep Scholars come from households earning less than $60,000 annually for a family of four and have also experienced long-term economic hardship.

When looking at your application they look at academic achievement, financial need, and personal circumstances. To apply you need to submit a transcript, one recommendation from a core subject teacher, an essay and short answer questions, financial information, and any test score information if you have taken any of these tests: PSAT, SAT, PLAN, ACT, Subject Tests, IB, and AP.

Most students selected have an average GPA of 3.88, an ACT score of 27 or higher, and are in the top 10% of their class. One of the great aspects of this program is that they are willing to consider your personal circumstances, so don’t let a lower GPA, ACT score, and/or class rank stop you from applying.

Carleton Liberal Arts Experience: July 5-11, 2015

I did not attend this program, but I think it is a great opportunity for current sophomores, especially those interested in attending Carleton College or another small liberal arts college. Students spend the week living at Carleton and learning about liberal art education by taking courses in science, art, social sciences, and technology.

Workshops are also held to inform participants on topics such as ACT prep and the financial aid process. The program covers all costs including living in the residence halls and travel to the Carleton College campus.

To be eligible, students must plan to attend college after high school. They must also be of African American descent or have an interest in African American culture. The application requires students to answer seven short essay questions, submit a transcript with their freshman and sophomore year grades, and submit at least one letter of recommendation from an academic teacher.

The application is available now and is due on April 1, 2015.

GopherBusiness Program: July 17-25, 2015

This program is run by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Participants compete in a business case competition, take business classes, live in the dorms on campus for a week, and visit local businesses.

The business case competition involves a different local non-profit each year. The program is free and you even earn a stipend! If you attend the Carlson School after graduating from the program, you will also receive a scholarship.

From the program website, “each year, we select approximately 45 students to be a part of the GopherBusiness program. It’s a highly selective program. GopherBusiness applicants should be:

  • Current high school sophomores or juniors.
  • Interested in business, non-profit or organizational leadership.
  • From a diverse background; a future first-generation college student; from an economically disadvantaged background; students with disabilities; females; or students of LGBT and related identities.”

The ideal applicants for the program will have a minimum 3.4 cumulative grade point average, strong math and science coursework, and demonstrated leadership and involvement.

When I applied to the program, the application required a couple of essays, a list of activities I was involved in, and a form that my counselor needed to fill out.

The application for this summer’s program will open on February 6, 2015 and is due April 3, 2015.

Getting to live on a college campus for a week during the GopherBusiness camp really helped me feel prepared to leave for college this past fall. I met so many great people and I’m still in regular contact with my roommate and people from my competition group.

If you have any interest in studying business after high school, I highly recommend this program.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about applying to these programs!