A College Student’s Guide to Creatively Keeping in Touch

By Natalie Posdaljian

Keeping in touch as a college student is vital for maintaining relationships with family and friends, keeping them in the loop and weaving your home life with your college life. Reliable ways of keeping in touch, such as texts, emails and chatting on the phone, can get redundant and don’t always provide the best insight into your life as a college student. Instead, spice up how you keep in touch with your family back home.

student video chat

Video Chat

Video chatting with a laptop isn’t new to the scene nor is it the most creative way to keep in touch. Expand your virtual horizons with the iPad Air 2, which is thin and light enough to take anywhere. Video chat with your family at a public park in your new town or while you enjoy a much needed caffeine fix at your favorite coffee shop. Or, your family can video chat you when they all get together for a birthday party or Sunday afternoon BBQ. Although you won’t get a bite of the cake, you can still chat with all your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Snail Mail

With the speed, efficiency and reliability of technology, it’s understandable why snail mail is a thing of the past. Yes, you have to handwrite your letter, buy a stamp, stop at the post office and wait a couple days for your mail to reach its destination, but that’s what makes snail mail fun. The feeling of checking the mailbox and finding something addressed to you that’s not a bill or advertisement is priceless. Sending snail mail to your family leaves them obliged to write you back, giving you something to look forward to in the mail. You also can throw in a copy of the A+ paper you wrote. Snail mail is especially great for grandparents, who typically appreciate handwritten letters the most.

Vlog

A vlog (video blog) is a unique way to show others what a day in the life of a college student looks like. Whether you keep it private for your family to enjoy or you make it a public YouTube channel, vlogging is in. Model one of your vlogs off a cooking show, with a twist on ramen or PB&J sandwiches. Vlog a tour of your favorite spots on campus, such as where you get your morning coffee, restaurants you frequent, the gym and the library. Or keep it simple and just talk straight to the camera about school, your roommates, professors and anything else that’s on your mind.

Shared Photos

There are so many ways you and your family can share your photos. If you’re looking to keeping it virtual, create a private album on Facebook and make all your family members contributors so everyone can swap photos. Or, use a photo sharing site like Flickr or Photobucket. Take it a step further by sharing developed photos (yes, people still develop photos). Throw just a few photos into that letter you’re sending, or use an app like Groovebook to upload all of your photos for just $2.99 (college budget approved) to send your family a keepsake photobook.

Family Facebook Group

A private family Facebook group is great for quick life updates, such as acing that Calculus exam, or for sharing links to YouTube videos with each other. Having your family in one Facebook group creates a forum full of sharing, likes and comments between the people that matter the most to you. For those statuses or photos you can’t share with your entire following, a private group lets you share your silly selfies or embarrassing stories with those that will love you no matter what.

Author Bio: Destined to be an Armenian housewife perfecting her hummus recipe, Natalie Posdaljian instead chose a life of marine field biology and sriracha. Born and raised in southern California, her veins rush with salty seawater and sunshine no matter where she goes.  When she’s not saving jellyfish from extinction, Natalie is dancing in the shower, knitting on a plane or swinging in her hammock.


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Is There a Right Way to Drink? A Healthy Perspective on College Drinking

By Adrienne Erin

Congratulations! You’ve finished high school. Now it’s time to head off to college. Isn’t it great to feel free? No parents and no boring home life. You’ll get to make new friends and have new experiences. And best of all, you’ll get to go to parties. What’s not to love?

It’s a given that you’re probably going to drink at least once in college. Chances are you’ve heard the pep talk about alcohol multiple times already, so you know what’s coming. But the point is: Sure, you can have fun, but it’s important to remember you’re in college to learn. Part of that learning is to gain a healthy perspective on drinking.

There’s a wrong and right way to drink. Which one will you choose?

The Wrong Way to Drink

This shouldn’t really need explanation, but people still abuse alcohol every day. Those who don’t drink responsibly can exhibit reckless behavior such as:

  • pressuring others to drink
  • binge drinking
  • drinking at a very fast pace
  • messing with other people’s drinks
  • driving drunk

If you think you see someone drinking irresponsibly, do your best to stay away from them. Find some new people to hang out with, or leave the party.

The Right Way to Drink

If you’re underage, it’s obviously wrong to drink in the first place. But if you do choose to drink at a party, keep these tips in mind:

Make a plan for how you will get home.

This should be the first thing you think about when preparing for a night out. Know how you’re getting home well before the party.

There are a few ways to go about this. You can have a designated driver within your friend group. If there’s public transportation in your area, like buses or trains, use them. NEVER get into a car with anyone who has had too much to drink, and NEVER drive drunk – even if you’re just tipsy. You’ll pay for the consequences of those poor decisions for the rest of your life.

Pace yourself.

It takes a little while for the effect of alcohol to kick in. You might feel completely fine right after taking a shot, but remember that you’ll start to feel the effect a few minutes after.

Make sure to space out your drinking. Having a non-alcoholic drink in between, such as soda or water, helps keep you from going too fast. Aim to keep a one-to-one ratio with one glass of water for each glass of alcohol. For each alcohol beverage you have, drink a non-alcoholic beverage.

Keep in mind that safe, responsible drinking means no more than one drink in an hour.

For reference, one drink equals one 1.5 oz. shot of 40% alcohol, one 5 oz. glass of wine or one 12 oz. beer per hour.

Drink with people you know.

It’s a wise choice to stick with your friends while drinking. If you go alone, you could get into trouble and have no one to look out for you. Avoid drinking with people you don’t know that well or don’t trust. These people could potentially be dangerous, or they might run off somewhere else without telling you.

It’s also important to stay with friends who drink in moderation. Stay away from people who oppose not drinking as much, or encourage binge drinking.

Keep an eye on your drink too, especially if you’re with people you don’t know well. They might seem friendly, but they could sneak date rape drugs or something else dangerous into your drink.

Eat something before or during drinking.

If you drink on an empty stomach, you’ll feel the effects of alcohol quicker. You might also feel sicker. Eating before you go out will help you stay under your drinking limit.

Be sure to eat a meal rich in proteins and carbs. These help to absorb the alcohol.

Know your limits, and measures.

You are the most important person at the party! Your friends may keep a close watch over you, but you also have to take care of yourself. Part of this is knowing your limits. Listen to your body – it won’t take much to figure out how much is enough.

If it’s your first time out, drink at a steady pace to determine your alcohol tolerance. It also helps to drink with friends or people you know well so that you won’t get socially anxious and drink more than you can handle.

You can quantify your tolerance, as well. For example, it could be “three beers per night,” or “two glasses of wine in four hours.”

If you want a fun, harmless way to help you determine what an effect certain amounts of drinking could have on your body type, try this choose your own adventure game.

Know how to turn down a drink.

Drinking is supposed to be a social activity, not a place to show off how much you can stomach. There’s no need to keep up or even accept a drink in the first place.

When you don’t want to drink, decline with a polite excuse. A simple “No, thank you,” should do the trick, but if needed, you can add more. Try things like “I don’t drink,” “I have to drive home,” “I’m the designated driver,” or “I’m pacing myself.”

Choosing Not to Drink is Totally Okay

If you don’t like drinking to begin with, it doesn’t make you uncool in the slightest. You should applaud yourself for steering clear of a night that could negatively impact your health or your life. In fact, there are tons of other alternatives to a night of partying.

You can always stay in and have a fun-filled night with your friends. Watch movies, play video or board games or see what’s going on around campus. Or, check out this list.

College campuses usually have great alternatives to parties on weekends. These can include things like dances, paint parties, movies, social gatherings, speed dating or athletic intramural events.

Whichever you choose, know that there’s a right and wrong way to drink. When you go out, plan ahead of time and be alert. You’ll thank yourself after a long night of partying – and if you do things right, maybe you won’t feel so groggy the morning after, either.

How To Cope With The Transition From College To The Working World

By Thomas Maurer

Coping With Uncertainty

graduation student  open arms to welcome the worldwide jobFor some graduating students there is a rush to get out of the confines of academia and into the working world. For others there is an element of uncertainty and apprehension.

College was a place where you were your own boss and the thought of being forced into the rat race is abhorrent.

While the world has always been an uncertain place, there is a strong argument that it is more uncertain than it has been in recent decades, especially for college graduates. It is no longer as simple as getting into a good college, getting good grades, graduating, getting a good job and settling down, even if that was what you wanted in the first place.

The economy is uncertain, good jobs are harder to come by and the competition is fierce. We all want meaningful and rewarding work but at the same time you need to make sure you first have the ability to make a living. It may be that you have to take a menial job while you wait for your dream career.

Unfortunately the uncertainty doesn’t end there. Once you are making some money you have to be able to protect it, as inflation, taxes and student loan repayments eat into your earnings. There is a very real fear that once you actually get a job you will feel like you can’t leave, chained to the paycheck that you need to pay your student loan and ever increasing living costs.

By comparison the college lifestyle seems like a dream. You were essentially your own boss and while you had some hoops to jump through and requirements that you had to meet, how you went about doing all those things was up to you. The loss of freedom in moving to a 9 to 5 job, with a boss, can be a hard adjustment to make.

While those fears are very natural and well-justified, the direction of your life is in our own hands. You can make decisions that will lead you down the path to a deadening soul, or you can make decisions that lead to freedom, flexibility and the rewarding career that you want.

Life is what you make it, so while you should acknowledge the challenges and uncertainty, don’t let it weigh you down. Focus on the upside and you will benefit from the all the wonderful opportunities in the world.

Embrace New Opportunities

The world and the economy changing is only bad news in you are inflexible and unwilling to adapt. The last two or three decades have seen people abandon the notion that you should have one career for your whole working life. It is now perfectly normal to have three, four, five or more career changes throughout your working life.

This is now changing again, where the idea of even having a traditional career in the first place is optional.

Flexible work arrangements, digital nomads and freelancers with clients all over the world are going to become the new norm. Thanks to the Internet it is possible to avoid getting a “regular” job at all. It takes a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, but commuting online or starting an internet business is not a pipe dream, it is a legitimate and perfectly reasonable goal.

The global economy is still adjusting to the emergence of half the world from communism. People in those countries are willing to work for very low wages compared to the West and this has resulted in a lot of business moving East and a shifting of wealth and power to Asia.

What this means for you, the new or soon to be new graduate, is that traditional opportunities may be limited to you in North America and Europe. But opportunities abound in China, Vietnam, India, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries. Developed Western economies located in the Asia Pacific region such as New Zealand and Australia are also well placed to benefit from this transition.

If you are flexible, adaptable and willing to think outside the box then you can take advantage of these possibilities.

There is also the opportunity of geo-arbitrage. This means earning money in more valuable Western currencies by working online, while living in an emerging economy, such as Thailand or Chile, where prices are cheap, your purchasing power is greater and therefore standard of living is higher. $1000 a month goes a long way in a place like that.

Get Out There And Do Something

While the college classroom is familiar and comforting you aren’t actually productive. You learn but you don’t create or do. The chance to actually be productive and do something in the world is very exciting and beats the monotonous drudgery of the classroom.

Learning is important but human beings are designed to make, create and do. The thing that scares people is being stuck doing something you don’t like, working in a job you hate, for a boss that you don’t respect. This can happen for a period but eventually you will find something satisfying if you hustle hard enough.

While it may be daunting and uncertain moving from college into the working world it can actually be very liberating.

Doing something useful and contributing to a business or an organization is very satisfying and you can take pride in your paycheck, which is the reward for the value you have provided.

Embrace The Freedom From Structure

The lack of structure in life can be challenging at first. When all your friends graduate and go off in different directions and move ahead in life at different speeds, it can be disconcerting. But the trade-off is that the freedom and possibilities and endless. Going to college ties you to a specific location for a number of years and limits the possibilities for income – this will no longer be your reality.

It grated on me when people told me that the world was now my oyster, but looking back on it they were right all along. There have been some periods of employment where I have felt boxed in and enslaved, but they have always been temporary and voluntary. It has been easy to walk away and fly half way around the world for a new adventure.

At the end of the day the only constant thing in life is change. You went through a big change moving from high school to college and you will go through a big change again moving from college to the working world. But it won’t be the 40 years chained to a desk that you fear. The world is an exciting place full of opportunities.

Life inevitably goes on, so you might as well make the most of it.

Author Bio: Thomas is interested in helping students get through college maximizing their potential with the minimum of stress. He writes about study skills and stress relief at www.mellowstudy.com

Top Tips to Keep Your Identity Safe During Your College Search

By Elliott

According to the Javelin Strategy and Research 2013 Identity Theft Report, individuals aged 20-29 account for one in five complaints of identity theft reported to the FTC, which is the largest number of complaints among any age group. At the same time, the number of identity theft complaints within this age group filed has increased from 56,635 complaints in 2010 to 57,491 in 2012 according to TribLIVE. These trends suggest hackers and identity thieves are taking more interest in young adults. One of the primary reasons is that college students who generally have good credit scores are much less likely to watch their financial accounts and credit scores.

To protect yourself from fraud, you need to understand identity theft and take all of the precautions to reduce your risk, especially while you are applying to schools and visiting campuses. Below are tips for protecting your identity and your financial future.

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Going to School with PTSD: Online Education and Anxiety

By James Hinton

I was an older student with an anxiety issue. After spending time in the Army, including several combat tours, I had been diagnosed with PTSD. Being around large numbers of strangers worried me. Noisy settings where I was not completely in control gave me the need to run for it. I would even feel a touch agoraphobic if I was not close to something I could bunker up within.

When I made the decision to obtain a college degree after getting out, these all presented me with significant problems. While some of the university classes I participated in had relatively small class sizes that enabled me to learn faces fairly quickly and find a certain degree of comfort with, large classes were a daily struggle. I would have to position myself close to doors so I could bolt outside for relief if needed. More boisterous classes could result in frequent, embarrassing episodes where I just plain had to get out.

Eventually I made it through and obtained my Bachelors, but it was not a particularly easy or enjoyable process. My struggles had frequently led to my considering quitting, which had only caused the depression that comes with PTSD to get worse. Preparing for class had been an anxiety inducing process that involved my wondering whether I’d make it through to the end, or have to make a dash for the door yet again.

I still wonder sometimes how I made it to graduation.

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What Type of Learner Are You? How to Find Your Learning Style

By Cindy Boesel

A clash of learning styles can be one of the biggest setbacks in the learning process. That’s why it is important to discover the learning style that suits you the most. People are different, and every one of us requires a different kind of support, special attention to certain things or some alone time to acquire maximum information. The sooner you discover your natural learning predispositions, the better chance you have to successfully change your learning techniques. Let’s take a closer look at different learning styles and methods to recognize your preferences.

Learning styles

We distinguish seven major learning styles. Keep on reading to find out how to differentiate between them.

What's your preferred learning style?

What’s your preferred learning style?

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The Move-In Checklist: How to Transition From Dorm to Apartment

By Brian Wilkins

Graduating from college means getting your first real job, buying your own medical insurance and, of course, getting your first real home. Whether you choose to live in an apartment or rent a house, you can prevent any major hurdles with the proper planning. These three tips will ensure the smoothest transition possible.

student

Credit Report

Your payment history and amounts owed on any credit cards and other revolving accounts make up 65 percent of your aggregate FICO score, according to myFICO. If you currently owe on your credit cards, you should prioritize paying them down, particularly if they are close to being maxed out. You also should consider getting a secured card because these types of accounts will minimize the hit your FICO score takes for opening new credit and protect you from potential default.

You need at least six months of on-time payment history to be considered “established” by the credit bureaus and most landlords. Keep in mind, move-in expenses can get pricey, particularly for places that require first and last month’s rent and a deposit. Therefore, now is the time to start saving.

Scouting Report

Just like pictures of restaurant burgers always look better than the actual product, photos of apartments and homes advertised for rent look better than the actual property.

Don’t move into a place based solely on pictures. When visiting potential new homes, check for cracks in the floors walls, and inside kitchen cupboards. These are sure signs of pests like cockroaches or mice. Ask about the neighbors above you and next to you. The longer they’ve lived there, the better. Especially if you want a quiet place, avoid moving into a place with upstairs neighbors with kids or who have had noise violations. You also may want to request a unit on the top floor to avoid some of the noise.

Know your rights as a tenant. Every state has a tenant rights handbook that spells out the limits of landlord access to your place and their handling of maintenance issues.

Moving Checklist

Once you find and visit your new place and sign the papers, it’s time to prepare to move in. Call the local utility company to ensure power is on the day you move in. You also should call your Internet and cable provider ahead of time if you don’t want a delay in service.

Since this is your first place, you probably will need to build up your furniture over time. To start, determine the overall style you want your place to have. Smaller apartments can feel extremely cramped if you buy bulky furniture meant for a house, so you may want to take the floor plan or dimensions with you when buying furniture.

Pierre Josselin, a designer for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, told fashion website Divine Caroline that first-time renters should splurge on one piece of furniture they love to be the staple of their new place. Whether this is a couch, armoire or something else, this centerpiece can then be complimented with less expensive furniture. A throw rug and new drapes may provide that touch of home and posh feel. Furthermore, think about adding a couple of indoor plants to add a little life to your new place.

The move to a first apartment doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep it simple, stay organized and everything else will take care of itself.

Brian Wilkins is an Arizona State University journalism grad who has worked as a radio broadcaster and banking industry professional. He is an independent journalist, blogger and small business owner who loves life. He lives off-the-grid and has not owned a TV in more than six years.