College Advice for Students Struggling With ADD, ADHD and Other Learning Disabilities

Macalester CollegeStarting college courses brings with it a collection of new challenges for every student. Students with ADD or ADHD have a unique set of challenges as they settle into life at college.

Fortunately, there are steps these students can take to achieve success and earn a degree. Learn some helpful tips for college students who deal with ADD or ADHD:

Take Advantage of Academic Support Services
The best colleges for students with learning disabilities are the ones that provide plenty of academic support. Some students need assistance with tackling the work in all of their courses, while others need limited academic support for a learning disability. A student with ADD or ADHD must take it upon themselves to inquire about these services and use them whenever needed.

Academic support comes in many forms depending on the resources of a college. Some schools offer students one-on-one tutoring services, while others offer group tutoring sessions. Supplemental instruction is another example of support offered in colleges for students with ADHD. The tutor offering supplemental instruction reviews material taught in a class to make sure that the student has absorbed all of the important points in a lecture. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of adjusting the way course material is delivered.

Some colleges also offer courses in study skills for ADHD students. Students with learning disabilities get to practice study strategies and learn how to take notes in an effective way. The best colleges for students with learning disabilities have the tools to test students who suspect that they have ADD or ADHD. If a student does have ADD or ADHD, the college takes steps to provide the person with the academic support they need to be successful.

Record Lectures
College students with ADD or ADHD sometimes find it helpful to record lectures. This allows them to go over confusing points and review various parts of the lecture at their leisure. They don’t feel as much pressure to take constant notes because they know they can go back and revisit the material. Some colleges, for students with ADHD, automatically allow students to record lectures, while others require students to seek the permission from each instructor. It’s a good idea for students with learning disabilities to let their instructors know the situation so they can contribute to the student’s success.

Use Technological Devices to Stay on Schedule
Today, students with or without a learning disability can use the alarm on their phone to keep them on schedule. For instance, a student with ADD or ADHD may set the alarm on their phone to let them know when it’s time to walk to the library to meet for a study group. Another student may use their phone to let them know they should start off to their first class of the day.

Some students with learning disabilities keep a calendar in their phone that they can refer to at any time to find dates for exams, projects, and meetings. Students may even find it helpful to send themselves reminder texts or emails regarding quizzes or tests.

Use Non-Technological Devices to Stay on Schedule
The individuals who offer academic support at colleges for ADHD students may suggest that students use a large desk calendar to keep them on schedule. For example, a student could highlight upcoming test days for various classes or start a countdown of the days before a big project is due. A desk calendar is something that a student would look at every day. Plus, students can make notes on the calendar to remind them of their progress on various assignments.

They can also purchase a cabinet with a system of drawers so they can separate the notes and other materials for each course. Often, a simple organizational system can assist students with learning disabilities in staying on schedule with all of their coursework.

Our professional tutors at Veritas Prep instruct students who have varying levels of ability. We prep students for standardized tests including the SAT. Our online SAT tutors scored in the 99th percentile on the exam, so students benefit from working with instructors who have hands-on knowledge of the SAT. We also assist students with college admissions by helping them with college essays, filling out applications, evaluating extracurricular activities, and more! Contact Veritas Prep today and let us know how we can help.

Do you need more help applying to college? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Tips on How to Start College on the Right Foot

roomateExcitement, nervousness, and curiosity are just three of the emotions felt by a college freshman in late summer. Most students who are preparing to start college want to do everything they can to set a positive tone for the school year. Fortunately, there are several steps that students can take to accomplish this goal. Take a look at some practical tips for how to start college on the right foot:

Walk the Campus
It’s important for new students to arrive early to each class on the first day. This gives them the opportunity to choose a seat and relax a little bit before class begins. So a few days before school starts, it’s a good idea for students to get a campus map and walk to the buildings where their classes will be held. It may also be helpful to make notes on the map regarding the route. Knowing exactly where to go can reduce a student’s stress level on the first day of class.

Create a Study Schedule
Creating a study schedule is one of the most effective tips for starting college on a positive note. Once a student receives their course schedule, it’s time to create a study plan. Ideally, a student should dedicate the same amount of study time to every course. But once school starts, students may have to adjust their study schedule to focus more time on challenging courses.

It’s important for students to make efficient use of the free time they have during weekdays. For instance, say a student has just two classes on Monday and Wednesday that both take place in the morning. This gives them the opportunity to schedule study time on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Not surprisingly, a student’s study schedule may experience frequent adjustments throughout the semester.

Record Important Dates
Lots of students who are starting college have a full schedule of courses, sports activities, club meetings, and social events. As a result, they can sometimes lose track of important dates related to various assignments, tests, etc.

One of the most helpful tips for starting college on a good note is to compile all critical dates in one place. Students can use their smartphone, a wall calendar, or even a desk calendar to help them in this process. After getting a syllabus from each professor on the first day of class, students can transfer the important due dates onto their virtual or paper calendar. With a quick check of the calendar, students can see quiz and test dates as well as due dates for papers. Those who get organized at the beginning of the school year are setting themselves up for academic success!

Get to Know Professors
Students wondering how to start college on the right foot can make a point of introducing themselves to their professors. Whether a class is held in an auditorium with 100-plus students or takes place in a small classroom with 12 individuals, it’s a good idea for students to get to know their professors. A student may go up to their professor after the first class, give their name, and ask a question about a chapter in the textbook. As a result, the professor knows who the student is and will likely recognize them again if they want to discuss a quiz grade or ask for clarification on an assignment.

Professors appreciate students who are diligent about their work and ask questions that can help them get more out of the course material. Students who start college with enthusiasm are putting themselves in the right state of mind.

Our staff at Veritas Prep understands the importance of starting college on the right foot. We prep high school students for college by teaching them effective strategies they can apply on any section of the SAT or ACT. We also review practice tests with them to pinpoint skills that need improvement. This enables them to submit their best performance on the SAT or on the ACT, which can expand their options when it comes time to apply to college.

Our admissions consultants have firsthand experience with what college officials across the country are looking for when they evaluate student applications. We use our expert resources to help students as they prepare to send applications to the top colleges in the United States. We are proud to offer students knowledgeable online instruction, expert guidance, and much more as they pursue their goal of higher education.

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How to Study Abroad in College

study aboard girlHigh school seniors who are researching colleges are smart to look at all that a school has to offer. Most students look at the specific study programs offered by a college, as well as its campus activities and various academic resources. Also, many students like to find out if a college offers opportunities to study abroad. College students can learn a lot by spending a semester or more living and studying in another country.

Consider some helpful information for students who want to know how to study abroad in college:

Conduct a Search for Colleges That Offer Students the Chance to Study Abroad
Fortunately, there are many opportunities for today’s college students who want to study abroad. High school seniors who are thinking about studying abroad, but are still unsure, should go ahead and apply to colleges that offer the option. That way, if they do decide to study abroad, they’re at a school that can make that happen.

Often, colleges that offer this study opportunity provide information on their website. Some schools create short videos that give students a quick look at their international programs. Student testimonials can also help prospective students decide whether to participate in the program.

Our professional consultants at Veritas Prep help students to apply to colleges that offer invaluable opportunities, including the chance to study abroad. We have inside knowledge regarding what college officials are looking for as they evaluate students’ applications, letters of recommendation, essays, and other materials.

Tips for Deciding on a Location
England, Ireland, Australia, China, Africa, and Italy are just a sampling of the places that college students go to study for a semester or more. With all of the possibilities, it can be difficult for a student to decide where they want to go. One tip is to think about whether they want to study in a country with English as its native language. Of course, this is a moot issue if a student is traveling to a country to learn and practice a foreign language. But if a student is not studying a foreign language, they may feel more at ease in an English-speaking country.

Living arrangements are another consideration. Some study programs require students to live with host families, while others require them to live in dormitories. Students should consider whether they would be comfortable with the specified living arrangements during their stay.

Another thing to consider is how far a student wants to travel away from home. Some students want to be able to travel home fairly quickly, while others want to go to more remote locations. Many of the answers to these questions depend on a student’s personal preferences.

Benefits of Studying Abroad in College
Taking courses while living in a foreign country allows students to experience different cultures. Many students sign up for college study abroad programs because they want to learn about the arts, cuisine, and customs of people living in a particular country.

Another benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to explore various interests that may lead to a future career. For example, a student who spends a semester studying in Kenya may feel inspired by seeing the various forms of wildlife there. As a result, the student might decide to pursue a career as a wildlife conservationist. And on a practical note, one of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is earning credits that count toward graduation.

When to Study Abroad in College
Some students who participate in study abroad travel to a foreign country during the regular school year, while others go during the summertime. The timing depends upon the study programs offered by a college. A student has to consider their own individual situation to determine the best time to study abroad. College students who participate in these programs are often willing to forgo their summer vacation or miss school activities during a semester so they can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

No matter where you choose to study, our team at Veritas Prep can help you get there. We provide students with assistance throughout the process of applying to college. We also have services for students who want to prep for the SAT. Our online SAT tutors teach students using first-rate study resources and test-taking strategies. Contact our Veritas Prep offices today and let us help you achieve your goal of attending college and earning a degree.

Do you need more help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Three Expensive Things Worth Buying (Even on a College Budget)

featured_money@wdd2xNo matter how you’re financing your college education—through scholarships, savings, working, loans, etc.—your college budget is likely to be tight.

I had generous scholarships and a reasonable pile of savings helping me through my four undergraduate years, but even then I spent plenty of time counting coins at the supermarket, dragging my laundry home to avoid the dorm machine costs, and making up excuses to avoid eating out with friends or colleagues at restaurants out of my budget (ordering the smallest and cheapest dishes said restaurants had whenever I couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse).

In some ways, four years of penny-pinching paid off: I graduated in a more financially secure position than I’d expected to, never had to take out a student loan, and avoided burdening my family with high college costs. However, I also learned the hard way that there are some things worth splurging on.

I know that college student budgets vary widely, and that sometimes it’s just not possible to spend money on the arguably luxury items in this list – whenever the funds can be safely afforded, however, I highly, highly recommend investing in the following three things:

1) A Good Mattress
This may not be an option if you live in a dorm, but if you’re buying your own bed to use throughout college, this is a must (and even if your school does provide you with a mattress, a good mattress topper is just as helpful). Even though I could have spared just enough money to buy a mattress with adequate support, I ended up with some nasty shoulder and lower-back pain because I spent far too long on a thin, flimsy bit of foam that thinned to nothing within four months of regular use (even though I’m a relatively small person; I heard plenty worse from my larger friends).

Today, two awful dorm bed mattresses later, I’m working on hammering out the kinks in my shoulder with a massage therapist who charges $85 per hour. And I’m not alone – I know others who picked up lifelong back problems just from a year or two on a bad college mattress. Pay for the mattress now to avoid paying for your health later.

2) Fresh, Healthy Food
Meal plans and junk food are tempting and (often) cheaper than the healthier options, but your body and your mind will thank you throughout and after college if you choose fresh produce over instant ramen. Healthy food improves your academic performance, keeps you energized, and boosts your mood, which makes you both a better student and a generally happier person. Pay for real nourishment to get the most out of the money you’re spending on your education.

3) Study Abroad
This is by far the most expensive item on this list, but it deserves to be included because study abroad is an incredible supplement to your college education. Study abroad programs allow you to expand your horizons and gain new perspectives through travel and exposure to new places and people. Classes help you meet types of people you’ve never met before; program and university affiliation provide a safety net (health insurance, counseling resources, emergency loans, and other benefits) to reduce the risks that may come with spending a lot of time in an unfamiliar place; and financial aid and scholarships are available to ease the financial burden.

Studying abroad is especially worth the money because it’s something you can only do while in school. The opportunity to spend an entire semester or year exploring a new world, especially with a program and an academic structure to keep you safe and help you integrate, is rare and precious and should be seized.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Live Chat Event Helps You Find the Right College Match

collegeweeklive-1Deciding which college to attend can seem like an overwhelming decision. How do you know what type of school is best for you? Which are the best degree programs? And once you decide on a school, what will it take to get in?

There’s now a website – CollegeWeekLive.com – where these questions can be answered in live chats with colleges and education experts. Nearly one million high school students a year visit CollegeWeekLive.com to text and video chat with admissions counselors at colleges and universities around the country.

Throughout the year, you can watch live presentations or join a one-on-one or group chat to ask anything you’d like about topics like classes, professors, degree programs, campus life, dorm rooms, and more. Many of the participating colleges also have live chats hosted by some of their current students who can give you plenty of insider advice about what it’s really like to live on campus.

Get Free Advice at Back to School Day
The next big event is their Back to School Day on Thursday, August 25, 2016. You and your parents can sign-up for free and login between 2:00-10:00PM EDT to:

  • Chat with representatives from 100+ colleges and universities around the country
  • Attend live presentations and Q&As with education experts
  • Enter to win a $1,000 scholarship when you research colleges during the event

Top Questions to Help You Find the Right College
Don’t be shy about asking questions during a virtual college fair. This is your chance to really get to know each school! Here are some great questions to get you started:

  • What do students seem to like best about your school?
  • What do you feel makes your school stand out?
  • What’s your favorite part of campus?
  • What fun things are there to do off campus?
  • What types of students tend to do best at your school?
  • What percentage of students get a job in their field right after graduation?
  • What test scores do I need to get admitted?
  • What advice do you have for making my application stand out?
  • What are some of your most popular degree programs?
  • Which are some of your strongest programs and why?
  • How accessible are your professors?
  • What types of scholarships are available?
  • What kind of work/study opportunities do you offer?
  • What is student housing like?

Get Advice from Admissions Experts
Education experts such as Ted Fiske of The Fiske Guide to Colleges participate in many of CollegeWeekLive’s online presentations. You can watch live presentations and ask questions during the live events, or even view the presentations on-demand.

Common presentation topics include:

  • How to write a great college essay
  • Tips on researching colleges
  • The ins and outs of college admissions
  • Finding the best scholarships
  • Preparing for the ACTs and SATs

Check out the schedule of virtual college fairs and live chats and signup for CollegeWeekLive for free.

collegeweeklive

Does Your College Pass the “Broken Leg Test”?

Run OnDon’t worry, college-bound high school students – this post is not about another test you have to take. I’m sure you’ve had just about enough of testing for a while! The “broken leg test” is a term that I learned from a family friend, and it has to do with the college search process.

For athletes that want to continue to play sports in college, there’s another aspect of looking at schools: finding a college sports team that you like and that will take you. But my family friend’s advice to athletes was to make sure that the search for a good athletic program didn’t overshadow the search for a good academic and social fit. He told athletes to consider whether they would still like the school they wanted to go to if they got injured and were no longer able to be on the sports team. Hence, the broken leg test.

This is, first-and-foremost, good advice for athletes. Sports are, of course, a big part of school for athletes, but college is too big an investment for athletics to be the only consideration. Applying the broken leg test is a good way to make sure that an athlete’s college choice is well-reasoned and positions the athlete well for the future, no matter what injuries may occur.

The idea of the broken leg test can be valuable for non-athletes, too. Making sure that your college choice isn’t disproportionately based on one factor is a smart thing to do. It forces you to think broadly about the aspects you want your college to have, and not get caught up in one little detail that catches your eye. There are so many things to love about college, and life is so unpredictable, that you’re more likely to be happy if your reasons for choosing a school are numerous.

Consider the following example: Imagine a student – let’s call her Caroline – really likes College X. She visited College X during a special concert performance on campus and loved the performers and the atmosphere. However, with a careful application of the broken leg test, Caroline should be wary of putting too much stock in this one experience. Possibly, the concert doesn’t usually draw as talented of artists, or the student body acts much differently on normal days of the week. Would Caroline still be happy at College X if concerts and other events like this weren’t nearly as good when she went to the school? Only if the answer is yes should Caroline still consider attending College X.

So, for athletes and non-athletes alike, the idea of the broken leg test is a good thing to keep in mind when choosing a college to attend. If, for some reason, you were unable to participate in one major college activity you had planned to participate in, would you still be happy at the school you chose? Keeping that question in mind is a good way to make sure that even if something drastic happens, your college choice is still a good one.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Intern

Stop WorryingCongratulations! You’ve just gotten your first internship offer, and you’re ready to accept.

Now that you’ve completed the search, application, and interview processes, survived the tense waiting period, and written up a few new bullet points to add to your resume, it’s tempting to think that the hard part is over now. But far too many interns end up squandering their internships by forgetting that being an intern comes with responsibilities–and that being a good intern, or a bad intern, can impact you and your career beyond just your resume.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your internship:

Understand what you’re signing up for.
Are you sure you’ll be doing work, or at least contributing to work, that either interests you or teaches you something useful? Have you asked? Do you have the time in your schedule to commit to this internship? If you have met, or can meet, your potential coworkers before accepting the internship offer: do you think you’ll get along with them? Be sure that you’re a good fit for this position, and that this position is a good fit for you. If either of those things is not the case, your internship could turn out to be a worse experience than it’s worth.

Take your work seriously. 
Are you getting paid? Great. If not, that’s no excuse to not take your internship seriously. Often, the experience and connections you gain from internships are more valuable in the long term than your salary, especially since interns usually don’t have very high salaries anyway. You aren’t really working for free: remember that you applied for the position in the first place, and that you’re exchanging your work for the opportunity to learn about that business and what it contributes to. Besides, making a good impression on and genuinely aiding your supervisors and coworkers can pay off through connections and letters of recommendation later on.

Don’t snub menial jobs.
Accept that some of your work will probably be administrative or very low-level. Filing, stapling, and the occasional coffee run may be boring, but it’s necessary work, someone has to do it, and even your higher-ranking coworkers probably do some of this too (if not more.) Just be sure that you’re spending most (or, at the very least, a significant portion) of your internship time learning useful things.

Be aware of your work level. 
Ask for more work if you’re sure you can handle it. If you’ve got all of your internship responsibilities under control and have both the time and the competence to take on a bigger project, let your supervisor know. You may even consider taking the initiative to propose and assume responsibility for a new project that you think could support the work of your team. Only look for more responsibility if you’re sure you have what it takes to live up to higher expectations. Remember that, if you end up not being able to handle that responsibility, you impact not only yourself and your own work but your team’s as well.

Keep your ears and eyes open.
Much of the value of an internship comes from exposure to work beyond your internship duties. Get a feel for the conventions, politics, and priorities of your field and your organization by shadowing meetings, paying attention to conversations around you, asking (appropriate) questions, setting up informational interviews, and doing your own side research on interesting topics and issues that come up.

Follow these tips and your new internship is sure to be beneficial to both you and your company.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

5 Great Jobs to Hold in College

moneyI, like many of my peers in college, held jobs throughout my undergraduate career in order to help make ends meet. Working while taking classes, especially at a demanding university like UC Berkeley, isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when hours worked begin to dig into study time. I knew many undergraduates who resented their jobs at cafés, restaurants, parking garages, and theaters in the neighborhood for putting extra pressure on their study schedules.

As far as college jobs go, I and a few of my friends were extremely fortunate to find positions that not only gave us the flexibility we needed to keep our studies on track, but also offered us opportunities to learn important job skills or to engage with our fields. I realized quickly that, even though undergraduate students often don’t have many options when it comes to jobs, college work hours don’t have to feel like a waste of time. Here are five of the best job options we found:

Tutoring
Just about every university (or university area) I know of offers paid tutoring opportunities, which are a great way to develop leadership, communication, organization, and public speaking skills. Tutoring hours are often flexible, and tutoring subjects that you yourself study can help you stay sharp in your own field. Many tutors I know also love their work because of the positive impact it can have on students.

Note-taking
I took notes for my university’s Disabled Students Program, which paid me a stipend in exchange for detailed lecture notes for disabled students’ use. Some universities also allow private note-taking companies to hire students to take high-quality lecture notes, which are then sold to other students. Taking notes on lectures, especially those in your field, allows you to combine learning time with work. If you’re enrolled in the course that you’re taking notes on, you can earn money in exchange for work you’d be doing anyway.

Research Assistantships
These aren’t always paid, but it’s worth looking into them either way. Gain experience in and exposure to your field, build relationships with experts, and contribute to interesting projects by working with researchers at your university. The hours are often very flexible; in many cases, research assistant projects can be completed from home.

Internships
Again, these aren’t always paid, but are definitely worth exploring anyway. Holding internships in your field will offer you work experience, exposure to your field, and sometimes even academic credit if your university accommodates it. If you need to work during college, it makes a lot of sense to do the same work you’re going to college to learn about in the first place.

Short-term Employment
Do you study computer science? Help a local business redesign its website. Do you study journalism? Hone your writing skills by looking for work as an editor, drafter or blogger for a nonprofit near you. Doing short-term work related to your field of study will help you better craft the skills you’ll need to succeed post-college and will look great on your resume, too.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

The Importance of Challenging Your Worldview in College

GoalsCollege is a time for many important things, and one of those is re-imaging the way you view the world. For many college first-year students, life has (up until this point) been lived in one place with people of mostly similar backgrounds. Once in college, however, you will be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, opinions, cultures, and experiences that will be very different from your own.

Many colleges recruit students and faculty from all over the country and the world, so there’s a good chance many of the people you meet will be from places you know nothing about. While this may seem scary to some, it is actually a great opportunity for learning and growth.

By engaging with diversity in all its forms, you will be able to see things from different angles and expand your perspective to better understand the full complexity of the world. Recognizing socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, and political diversity are important to seeing the world through fresher, clearer, more well-informed eyes. Our worldviews are often limited by what we have seen in our own lives, so when we make a sincere effort to understand how people from different backgrounds understand the world around them, we learn new modes of thinking and encounter challenging questions we may not have previously been aware of.

In seeking out new perspectives, your resulting opinions will be stronger, you will be a more worldly person, and you will recognize that there are always new things you can learn more about. Whatever opinions you hold now can continually be improved, updated, and amended.

Here are some things you can do on or off campus to make sure your time in college allows you to critically reassess your views and opinions:

Seek out people who disagree with you.
It’s easy to get caught in an echo chamber of people who already share your opinions, but this doesn’t force you to challenge the way you think. Making an active effort to be friends with people with different political or religious beliefs will ensure that you don’t get stuck in an opinion bubble. Plus, when you have good relationships with people who disagree with you, you are more likely to realize that their opinions come from good faith, not from a radical desire to “ruin” the world.

Advocate for unpopular opinions.
This can be a hard role to play in conversation, but it’s important to be a voice that won’t just kowtow to the dominant ideology. When someone makes a claim, it’s valuable to be the one to push back on it (respectfully), since this can cause all people involved to more deeply examine why they hold their beliefs. You don’t have to play the “devil’s advocate” and stick up for opinions that you truly find appalling, but you can ask probing questions, critique arguments, and voice the viewpoints that nobody else is sharing.

Explore unfamiliar topics.
On college assignments, students have a tendency to write about things they are familiar with. This may make for easier work, but it doesn’t have the kind of benefits that learning about unknown topics does. When you do a research paper on a culture you know little about, or write a philosophy essay on a moral dilemma you hadn’t considered before, you will be able to learn with an open mind and grow in areas you hadn’t previously imagined. Sure, it might be hard to dive into an unfamiliar topic, but in the long-term, learning how to challenge yourself like this is sure to come in handy.

Reflect on your own beliefs.
Being away from home, college is a good time to reflect on where your beliefs came from. Sometimes things that seem central to your identity are actually just a byproduct of your upbringing, and may not be what you really believe when you take the time to reflect. By really analyzing why you think what you think, you’ll often realize that a different way to think is just as or even more reasonable. Self-reflection is an important part of personal growth, and college – the hallowed place of learning – is the perfect place to perform that growth process.

If you are curious and bold in your thinking in college, your beliefs will change and grow throughout your time there. Although this thought may be disconcerting, the uncomfortable process of intellectual growth and development is exactly what college is designed for.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

An Introvert’s Guide to College Job Fairs

HandshakeMy first college job fair was during my first semester of college. I signed up as soon as I saw the email. I’d heard a million times that networking was the most important thing to master in the work world, that universities like UC Berkeley could get me access to recruiters I’d never meet otherwise, and that one of the most important things I could learn at college was how to land a job.

I put on my nicest (only) suit, tossed a stack of freshly edited resumes into a folder, and marched into the fair, thinking I’d walk back out that evening with an empty folder and an internship.

Instead, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the thick crowds and by the storm of recruitment stands, students, flyers, and small talk. I left the fair exhausted and frustrated: I was completely drained of social energy, frustrated by the fact that expending my energy hadn’t resulted in an internship, and unable to match any names or faces to the dozens of business cards I’d collected. I had spent far too much time with recruiters for positions I didn’t care about, been overshadowed by more gregarious students, and fumbled through awkward, forgettable conversations with the few recruiters whose companies I was really interested in working with.

Over the next four years, I realized my mistakes and eventually developed strategies for reconciling my naturally quiet self with the chaos of job fairs. Here’s what I learned:

1) Dress the Part
For introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between: you may be a college student, but you shouldn’t dress like one! Generally speaking, people wearing Jansport backpacks are harder to take seriously than people not wearing Jansport backpacks. Invest in a couple of nice, professional outfits and a simple bag.

2) Do Your Research
Look up the list of recruiters in advance, and do some research into the participating organizations that catch your eye. Only visit the recruitment stands you’re interested in engaging with. It’s exhausting and inefficient to wait until your conversation with the recruiter to decide whether or not you’re interested in working with an organization, especially if you have limited social energy to expend. If you know what work you’re interested in, don’t waste time and energy on positions you don’t want to take.

3) Arrive Prepared
If you don’t know what work you’re interested in, you’ll need to cast your net more widely. Read websites and fair descriptions to acquaint yourself with the attending organizations, and then prepare a set of questions to ask. For instance: What internships/job positions do you have available? What might a day’s work in your company look like? How much exposure could I get to the workings of the rest of the organization?

4) Play to Your Strengths
Don’t feel obligated to stop at every recruitment stand. Actually, you’ll likely get better results if you engage more deeply with fewer recruiters. Introverts may not have as much social energy as extroverts do, but when introverts choose to expend social energy, they tend to be better at shifting interactions beyond small talk and towards in-depth, productive conversation. Understand your limits, stick to them, and play to your strengths.

On that note, take breaks and conserve energy. In order to stay focused and be at your best during conversations that matter, opt out of conversations that aren’t productive towards your goal. When you need to, grab a snack, find a quiet corner, or step out for a coffee. If your college offers the option, attend smaller recruitment events where the atmosphere is less stressful and you’re likely to feel less pressure while speaking with recruiters.

College job fairs may be overwhelming, but by following the aforementioned tips, you’ll be able to make the most of these important opportunities.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

The Most Overlooked Question You Should Be Asking During Your College Search Process

Swarthmore CollegeColleges, like all other organizations, love to market themselves positively. Their brochures are bright and shiny, filled with impressive statistics, pictures of happy students, and never-ending lists of reasons why they are great. Talk to students, too, and they’re likely to gush about how much they love their schools and how happy they are to be there.

For the most part, these things are true – many colleges have lots of great things about them, and many students are really happy where they are going to school. But for someone doing the college search process and trying to determine which school is the best fit for him or her, this uniform positivity can be a bit unhelpful.

As any rational person will say, no place is perfect, and hence no college is perfect. Every school has at least a few minor issues, and in my opinion, knowing what the negative aspects of a school are is almost as important as knowing what the positive aspects of a school are. This way, a student can make a decision on which school to attend based on a comprehensive understanding of the school, not just a one-sided view of it.

So, one really important question to ask students and staff when considering a school is, “What are some things you don’t like about this school?” Or, in other words, W”hat would you change about your school if you could?”

This might not be the question that you want to ask, or even one that you feel comfortable asking, but it is of utmost importance. You will spend 4 years at the college of your choice, and that time will be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The best way to make sure you’ll be prepared to handle those “downs” is if you have an idea beforehand of what kinds of “downs” they might be.

For example, a school might seem great to you on its website, yet still have a student body culture you don’t like or a greatly underfunded department you thought you wanted to major in. Maybe the walks between classes are really long, or the food options on campus are boring. Maybe the student body differs too greatly from you politically, or the professors care more about research than teaching.

Information like this is hard to find out on your own; finding it requires talking to people who actually live at the school and are willing to offer their honest perspective. Admitting that a school has flaws doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend the school – it just means that you should choose a school with negative aspects that you are comfortable with and prepared to manage. Whether the issues are big or small, you’ll be a more informed college search-er if you take the time to figure out both the positive and negative parts of a school.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Don’t Worry About Your Freshman Roommate!

roomateBefore my first year of college, one of the biggest things I worried about was the prospect of not liking my freshman roommate. After having my own room (and a decently sized one at that) for all 18 years of my life, the prospect of spending two full semesters in a small dorm with someone I had never met was a scary one.

What if I don’t like him? What if his side of the room is a mess? What if he goes to bed at 4AM and blasts music every night? How is this nondescript roommate questionnaire going to pair me with someone I’m actually compatible with? What if he doesn’t like me? In my mind, the negative possibilities were endless.

In one sense, these fears are reasonable. Since you don’t have many (or any) friends at your new school before the year starts, it makes sense to want to have a perfect relationship with your roommate. Couple that desire with the seemingly random roommate pairing process at many schools, and it’s easy to get anxious.

However, in my experience these fears are oftentimes unfounded. Here are a few reasons why:

You Don’t Have to Be BFFs 
While it may not seem so beforehand, making friends in college is not too hard. That said, it’s not imperative that you and your roommate are best friends for life. Being friends with your roommate certainly doesn’t hurt, but if you aren’t super close, you’ll still be able to easily develop a solid friend group. Plus, sometimes it’s good to look outside your dorm for friendship, since it forces you to expand your horizons and get out to meet people!

Closeness Breeds Compatibility 
Even if there are certain factors that may seem to hinder your compatibility with your roommate, the fact of the matter is that most people are perfectly capable of living with each other. Barring extreme circumstances, most people can get along when they have to.

Additionally, the more you spend time living with your roommate, the more you two can figure out how to room together effectively. As long as you’re nice about it, making small requests like turning the music down or cleaning up the room a bit are likely to help out your situation without harming the room dynamic. Good communication is key – when communication lines are healthy and open, little annoyances can easily be prevented from turning into bigger problems.

(Yes) New Friends 
One overlooked thing about having a roommate is that even if you two aren’t very close, you’ll still get introduced to his or her friends. For me – someone who was friendly with, but not best friends with, my roommate – it was fun getting to know my roommate’s friends and hang out with them in our room. It’s easy to get caught up just in your own friend group, so spending time with my roommate’s friends was a nice change of pace. The ironic thing is that even though I didn’t end up being great friends with my roommate (something I had worried about), I ended up making more friends because of him!

Overall, going into college can be a nerve-wracking time for a lot of people. However, worrying about your freshman roommate is an unnecessary expenditure of worry. Hey, you’ll both be mature, responsible, college-ready adults, and even if you seem different, I’m confident you’ll be able to make it work.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Why Be an Intern? 4 Reasons You Should Consider Getting an Internship

MBA JobsInternships are time consuming, energy consuming, and frequently unpaid. Taking internships often means filling time that might otherwise be spent on classes or extracurricular activities – and spending that time completing low-level work from an organization you likely won’t be affiliated with for more than a few months. So why are they so useful, and why is competition for them often so fierce?

The answer is that the benefits of an internship goes far beyond an intern’s (often boring) day-to-day workload. Here are a few:

1) Insight Into a Career Track
There is no better way to learn whether a career track is right for you – or whether a particular field is right for you – than to observe and meet people who are in it, and to be in it yourself. Often, interns gain just as much, if not more, from shadowing and observing company staff as they do from completing their own assignments.

2) Connections
Being in a work environment in your desired field means being regularly exposed to professionals in that realm. Internships are great networking opportunities; the connections you make as an intern can potentially open doors to future internships, study and research opportunities, and even job positions after graduation.

3) Resume Boosters
Internships look great on resumes because they show that you haven’t just looked at a subject in theory through classes and textbooks – you’ve tried it out in practice and gained perspective on the practicalities, frustrations, and other everyday realities involved in that line of work. If you continue pursuing positions in that field, whether in the form of more internships or longer-term employment, having an internship on your resume tells potential employers that you understand the work you’re getting into and have useful skills and experience to apply to it.

4) Practice
In nearly every field, working life is very different from student life in terms of hours, expectations, environment, social surroundings, and more. As such, the transition from studying a field to working in it can be a difficult one. Interning helps you to transition more slowly into working life: having fewer responsibilities and less expected of you than other full-time staff will allow you space to learn time management, to adapt to a new rhythm of life and work, and to even make a few mistakes.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Find an Internship in 5 Steps

InterviewCollege students have heard a million times how important internships are for career development, and how wise it is to start looking for internships in college rather than to wait until after graduation. This is repeated so often because it’s good advice – often, the best way to get acquainted with, and get a head start in, a career field is to see it first-hand.

Finding an internship opportunity, however, can be difficult, as they’re not often well advertised. Here are are a few tips you can use to help you find the internship of your dreams:

1) Decide what you want to learn.
Are you looking for exposure to a particular field? Are you looking to gain certain skills? Choose a priority and let that guide your search. This is important because you’ll probably encounter plenty of internship opportunities that you aren’t interested in. Don’t be tempted to take on uninteresting internships just for he sake of completing an internship; poorly chosen internships can turn out to simply be a waste of both your time and your host organization’s time.

2) Find out about internships in your field of interest.
Talk to university advisers, friends or classmates (or do research on your own) to get some information about whether organizations in your field of interest offer internships, what kinds of internships exist, and what qualifications you might need to be eligible for them.

3) Get help from your school.
Ask the career center at your university, which may have alumni networks, job placement programs, information about internship fairs, and other resources that can aid you in your search.

4) Check with local companies or organizations.
Are there any specific organizations you’ve considered pursuing a career with? Check their websites to see if they offer internship opportunities. Even if they don’t, it’s worth giving them a call or paying their office a visit to ask, as many internship opportunities aren’t posted online.

5) Utilize your personal network.
Do you know anyone in your field of interest? Ask them if they know of any open internship opportunities you might be eligible for. If so, see if you can get application information or an introduction to the internship coordinator. If not, see if your contact might know anyone else in the field who might know of potential open internship opportunities.

Don’t be disappointed if you can’t immediately obtain an internship position with a large or well-known organization. Internships in large or famous organizations are not necessarily more interesting, more enriching, or more respectable than other internships. Choose your internship based on whether you think you can learn or gain something worthwhile from it.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How You Should Spend Your First Summer After College

Study on the BeachOkay, so you’ve just finished up your first year of college. It was (hopefully) awesome and you (hopefully) learned a lot, but now it’s time for summer. Glorious summer! Throughout middle and high school, summer vacation was always the peak of the year – a time to relax and enjoy the company of old friends without the incessant demands of school.

Now that you’re a college student, though, things can seem a little different. All of a sudden, you might feel pressure from your family, friends, or classmates to use your summer in a certain way. This often manifests itself in the form of pressure to further your career prospects via an internship, fellowship, or job shadowing.

While doing this may be important, it is not the only worthwhile way you can spend your first summer out of college. It is important to remember that it is your summer – not anyone else’s – so what you choose to do with it should be a reflection of the values that are important to you.

When you don’t let any narrative or stereotype limit what you feel you are “supposed” to do with your first summer, you will be more free to make the best choice available to you. There are 3 main ways that you can use this first summer, each of which have merits and drawbacks that I’ll explore below:

1) Summer Job
One classic way to pass the long summer hours is with a summer job. This can take many forms, such as scooping ice cream, being a camp counselor, working as a cashier, and much more. Businesses are always looking for young people to fill positions, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find some form of work.

These jobs may not pay high wages, but they can be a great source of income, both to chip away at outrageous college debts or to just have some fun money to spend during the summer. They will also add work experience to your resume, and give you real-world skills that can be valuable outside of just that specific job.

2) Internship
Even though the pressure to find elite internships is often excessive, internships can be a valuable use of your time in the summer. Internships can connect you with career opportunities, help you learn what jobs are of interest to you, and give you skills that might be valuable down the road. However, internships are often unpaid, meaning that doing one is likely a long-term, rather than a short-term, investment in yourself. There are some paid internships out there (Go get one if you can!), but these are a rarity.

If possible, combining an internship with a part-time summer job can be a good way to have the best of both worlds – gain career skills while also raising money – but this can sometimes take too much time out of your summer, a time when you should be able to decompress after the rigors of college rather than add to your stress level.

3) Travel and Relaxation
College students are in a unique position, in that even though they are close to the “real world,” they still can put off searching for careers, if only for a little while. One great way to use your youth is to travel with friends or family to see new places or revisit childhood destinations. You’ll meet friends from all over the world in college, and summer is a great time to really see where they come from.

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel, you can also use your summer to completely relax. Without homework or classes, you will have time to read books, go on adventures, and give your brain a well-deserved break. Although this won’t earn you money or directly prepare you for a career, it can help clear you head and put you in a good position to continue learning from, and enjoying, your college experience.

Each of these ways of spending your summer has different values and benefits, so there is no way to definitely rank which one is best. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer – anything you choose to do over your summer vacation can work out if you approach it with the right mindset.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Life After College: Getting a Head Start

study aboard girlPost-graduation depression is all too common. Students spend four years poring over textbooks and slogging through all-nighters to graduate with a degree, only to realize after graduation that they really have no idea what to do with it. The shift from a few classes a day to a 40-hour workweek, along with a social shift away from large groups of people your own age, often makes graduation a difficult transition period.

I graduated six months ago and ran into this crisis myself. I was lucky: I had done a few internships, read up on jobs I’d like to pursue, and connected with mentors who have been invaluable in guiding me through the process of starting a career, but I still spent plenty of long nights trying to figure out how to navigate the working world, and wondering if I was prepared enough to pull it off.

Here are three things I’m grateful I did, and three things I wish I had done, to better prepare myself for life after graduation:

I did internships in my field.
I knew from the start of my undergraduate career that I was interested in politics and international relations, but I didn’t know where in that vast field I might fit best. By completing a wide range of internships, I became acquainted with the work culture in my field, and I learned about the types of work environments I function best in, the types of work I’m best suited to, and the types of organizations I prefer to work for. Internships helped me find exactly which jobs I wanted to apply for after graduation, and boosted my resume to make me a better candidate for those positions.

I graduated with a degree in a field I love.
It’s hard to study a subject for four years if you’re not really interested in it. It’s even harder to jump headfirst in a career rooted in that subject – 40 hours (or more) per week is a lot of time to pour into something you don’t really care about. It’s never too late to choose a different field, but it’s much easier to make the switch earlier on than later.

I kept learning outside of class.
I went to office hours, built relationships with professors, and did the optional readings on the syllabus. Life is structured around learning in college, but after graduation, learning takes initiative; when nobody assigns you readings or schedules your exams, it’s easy to let your understanding of your field slip. I developed my sense of educational initiative while I still had a strong external learning system supporting me, and was able to lean on that initiative after I left that system.

I should have only taken the classes I was really interested in.
Contrary to my freshman year beliefs, taking more classes didn’t automatically mean I would become a better student or a smarter person; I only really gained from, and engaged with, classes I sincerely found interesting.

I should have spent more time on extracurricular activities and internships.
Classes gave me the academic foundation I needed to pursue a career in the international relations field, but the social skills, leadership skills, and professional skills I gleaned from extracurricular activities and internships were just as important in preparing me for the real world.

I should have taken more classes outside of my specialization.
By zeroing in on political science my freshman year, and devoting any open space in my schedule to even more political science classes, I closed myself off to other interesting and important fields. A better understanding of computer science, biology, economics, literature, art, and other subjects would not only have made me a more educated and well-rounded person, but would also have enhanced my understanding of political science. The world isn’t clearly divided into academic fields – all fields intersect, and I would have become surer of my own interests and opinions earlier on if I had been exposed to more opinions and potential interests.

Life after graduation doesn’t need to be so intimidating – learn from the tips above to ensure your transition from college to the real world is as smooth as possible.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

The College Transfer Process: How to Transfer Colleges

Columbia UniversityIt’s not unusual for a student to start courses at a college, only to realize that they want to make a change. Perhaps the student wants to attend a school with more resources for art students, or maybe a student wants to switch to a school that allows its students to put their knowledge into practice via internship opportunities.

There are countless reasons why college students want to transfer to other schools, and understandably, students in this situation want to know how this process works – how to complete the prep work necessary to put the transfer into motion. Before taking this big step, examine what a student must do in order to transfer colleges:

Researching the Deadline for Transfer Applications
One of the first steps to transferring schools is for students to visit the website of the college they want to attend. Many colleges have a specific section on their website where students can find information about transferring into the school. It’s important for students to note the various application deadlines so they can submit all of their necessary documents on time.

Sometimes, visiting the college itself to talk with an academic counselor can make the college transfer process easier. For instance, during such a meeting, a student can inquire about the minimum number of credits necessary to transfer into the school (as some colleges won’t consider transfer students unless they’ve earned a certain amount of credits at their current school). The counselor may also be able to help map out strategies that will allow the transfer to graduate on schedule.

Completing an Application
Just like high school seniors, a college student who wants to transfer to a different college must fill out an application, which are available online for most schools. This application must be filled out completely and submitted along with the other required materials by midnight on the date of the deadline.

If you need help putting your application materials together, just contact us! At Veritas Prep, we can evaluate a student’s college transfer application – our professional consultants have experience working in the admissions offices of some of the best universities in the country, so we know what schools are looking for when they evaluate a student’s application, recommendation letters, and other materials.

Getting College Transcripts
A transfer student must also submit their latest college transcript. Naturally, college officials want to know about a student’s performance at their current school before admitting them. Some colleges will even want to see a student’s SAT or ACT scores to get a clearer picture of the person’s academic abilities (this is especially true if the student has spent a short time at their current school). But not to worry – at Veritas Prep, we can provide you with guidance on what colleges look at when evaluating transfer students. Our consultants have experience with the college transfer process and can offer students solid tips on how to navigate their way into a different school.

Obtaining Letters of Recommendation from Professors
For some students, one of the steps to transferring colleges is to garner letters of recommendation from professors. These letters help college officials determine whether the transfer student would be a positive addition to the school. Letters of recommendation should come from professors who are familiar with the student and their work ethic – getting a glowing letter of recommendation from one professor is better than getting lukewarm letters from half a dozen instructors who don’t really know much about the student.

Other Tips for Students Who Want to Transfer to Another College
There are other considerations students should keep in mind when considering transferring, too. Students who have scholarships or other types of financial aid at their current school must determine whether these will be affected if they transfer to another college. Also, transferring to a new school can potentially affect a student’s graduation date because the student may need to take additional classes required by the new college. Transfer students should also check into the availability of housing on campus, as some colleges may not have available housing at the time the student transfers into the school.

Students who want to know more about how to transfer colleges should also take into consideration how their standardized test scores may impact their ability to transfer. In some cases, transfer students with plenty of college credit to their names don’t need to worry as much about their previous SAT or ACT scores, however, if you’re one of the many students who feel that they could improve their scores, Veritas Prep is here to help you do that. We are proud to help students continue to pursue their goals and receive the highest testing scores possible through hard work, dedication, and the right resources. Let us help you today!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Why You Should Consider Leaving the College Bubble

transition into collegeIn college, it can be easy to get so caught up in everything happening on campus that you forget your school exists as part of wider community. This so-called “bubble” phenomenon is real at schools all across the country (see “Vassar Bubble,” “Bowdoin Bubble,” etc.), and can actually be a detriment to students’ overall college experiences.

At Brown, going out into the Providence community is often referred to as “getting off the Hill.” We live on College Hill – which is, in a sense, physically separated from the rest of the city – and sadly, some Brown students rarely venture off the Hill.

At first glance, it might appear like this issue isn’t very important. There are so many exciting things that happen on college campuses, and college is such a unique time in a person’s life, it might seem as if students should spend as much time as they can on campus. After all, one’s time in college is possibly the only chance he or she will have to be that involved in school activities, whereas one can interact with local communities at any point in one’s life.

While somewhat convincing, this argument neglects to consider that getting involved off campus can actually strengthen the college experience. The typical aspects of college life – like classes, clubs, and parties – are great, but they are a bit removed from the “real world.”

Going out into the local community, be it through volunteering or just through the local social scene, is a good way to stay connected with the struggles and successes of everyday people from all walks of life. Plus, doing this can diversify a student’s interactions beyond the ideological, economic, and age-related homogeneity that is sometimes present in college communities.

For me, I’ve gotten tremendous value from volunteering off campus. I help out at an elementary school and a nonprofit legal advocacy group (both are in Providence), and doing each has strengthened my ties to the city and bolstered my academic experience.

There’s no better way to care about a community than to become invested in its children. When I’m working with 5th graders on math problems, I’m reminded of the educational opportunities I’ve been granted, and am intimately aware of how important it is that the children of Providence receive those same opportunities. Similarly, when I help increase turn-out to meetings that will make utility rules more fair for low-income RI residents, I am forced to reflect on the immunity a college campus often provides, and how I can use my studies to make a tangible improvement to the world.

These experiences are not unique to me. As a group, college students have an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the privileges that college provides, while also connecting with local communities that are vibrant in their own right. It is often said that it can take a while for a college to start to feel like a home. Learning more about the town or city in which your college is located will be great way to expedite that process and to become a more involved citizen, overall.

So, even if you think you are totally content to stay within the gated confines of campus, I urge you to try to expand your horizons and enter into the communities around you. Whether it is finding local groups to volunteer with, checking out public libraries, or frequenting local parks and businesses, a college experience is wider and deeper when it expands beyond the campus bubble.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Survive Studying Abroad (From Someone Who Has Done It Three Times!)

Passport Number 2Studying abroad was one of the best decisions of my undergraduate career. I was fortunate enough to get to spend a summer at the University of Cambridge drinking tea and touring castles; to go “abroad” to Washington, DC, almost 2,500 miles away from my home university, where I attended research seminars and interned at a foreign policy think tank.

I was also able to finish my final undergraduate semester here at the University of Geneva, where I spend my free time touring Europe and watching diplomats at the UN work through the biggest political issues of our time.

I wouldn’t trade my study abroad experiences for anything. I’ve met incredible people, seen incredible places, and gotten to know both the world and myself better.

I’ll also be the first to admit that studying abroad isn’t always wonderful. Spending months in an unfamiliar place can be scary and isolating. Leaving your community behind means spending a lot of time alone, perhaps more than you’re used to.

At the same time, being thrown into a new community means spending more time socializing with strangers as you settle in (a frightening thing for introverts like me.) Separation from friends and loved ones means being cut off from your support system, and makes it harder to deal with tough days or homesickness. New cultures often come with culture shock, new academic systems and teaching philosophies often come with frustration and misunderstandings, and new languages often come with miscommunications and embarrassing moments.

That’s not even to mention the problem of logistics – I’ve gotten lost, nearly missed trains and flights (almost always due to public transportation mishaps), confused currencies, misplaced important documents, been pick-pocketed, and mixed up visa paperwork more times than I’d like to admit. Studying abroad opens up worlds of opportunity, but is rarely easy.

Three study abroad programs in, I’ve figured out the pattern. Students spend the months leading up to their study abroad programs building up beautiful, romantic ideals of the place they’re headed. Midterms and finals at your home university make the idea of a distant, unfamiliar place an appealing one.

The first week of the program feeds this dream (Tourist pictures! Sightseeing!), but as the novelty wears off and the dream fades, the isolation and culture shock start to sink in. For many students, navigating unfamiliar food, buildings, weather, and people becomes exhausting, and these students retreat to their rooms, where they end up squandering their limited time abroad trying to lessen their homesickness by spending weekends and evenings in. I’ve never seen more Netflixing, Skyping, or junk-food snacking than I did in my dorm buildings in Cambridge, DC, and Geneva (I’ve fallen into the same trap a few times myself).

The trick, it turns out, is an easy one: remind yourself how cool and special it is to be able to spend a whole semester in another part of the world, and remind yourself how few people get that opportunity. Remember that you can always return to more familiar environments after your program, and that a few months isn’t a very long time.

Embrace the differences between people and places as part of what makes the world such an interesting and beautiful place, and remind yourself that improving your understanding of communities different from your own makes you a more tolerant, understanding person. Keep in mind that the cultural and travel skills you’re picking up are increasingly valuable life tools in our globalizing world, and know that you’ll never look at your own culture and community quite the same way again – you’ll be more aware of the mannerisms, attitudes, habits, and other attributes that make you and your community who you are, because you’ll understand how few people in the world are like you in those ways.

Whether studying abroad is fun and exciting or whether it’s frustrating and frightening is to a great extent dependent on your attitude while you’re there — but the great thing is that either way, it is enriching, special, and completely worth it.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

An Introvert’s Guide to Getting Settled in Big Colleges

walking studentMainstream movies, TV shows, and music would have us believe that large colleges are full of loud parties, heavy drinking, and Greek drama. To some of my fellow bright-eyed high school graduates, the scene was an exciting and alluring one. To others—bookish, quiet introverts like me—the idea was terrifying.

I was relieved to eventually discover that college isn’t just four straight years of toga parties and sorority rushes. For most of my first semester, however, I really thought it was: it seemed like everyone around me was partying every night, and all that ever seemed to appear on my Facebook feed were pictures of proud new pledges waving freshly earned Greek letters. Even at UC Berkeley – 34,000 students strong but hardly considered a party school – I felt plenty of pressure to act more like the toga-wearing, letter-waving characters I’d grown up hearing so much about. The 700-person lecture halls, packed study cafes, and loud dorm buildings only scared me more.

I found my place eventually, but it took me a while to realize that I didn’t have to betray my introvert self to do it. Here’s what I learned:

Not everybody is partying.
Actually, pretty few American college students socialize every night (for more, see this research project). It’s just that people tend to Instagram more often about upcoming parties and their nights out than, say, the nights in their rooms with a book and a bowl of instant mac and cheese. It’s worth going to at least a party or two just to see what it’s like, but you’re not considered weird for preferring work time or lazy time over crowded rooms and sweaty dance floors.

Know how you connect best with people, and then do that.
Do you prefer small groups? Join a campus club or attend events that interest you. Do you connect best through one-on-one interactions? Say hello to the student next to you in lecture, or invite your dorm floormate out for a coffee.

Unlike high school, college won’t often create small-group social interactions for you – you’ll have to take the initiative to plan them yourself – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people happy to interact with you in that way. Parties and giant welcome events aren’t the only way to find friends.

Find your hideaways.
Look for quieter areas of campus and less-frequented cafes. Head to higher or lower floors of campus libraries instead of parking near the main entrance. Peaceful surroundings will help you settle back into yourself and store up enough energy to re-enter the fray when you’re ready.

Recognize that your bedroom might not be your refuge anymore.
If you live in a dorm and/or have one or more roommates, you may not be able to come home at the end of a long school day to a quiet space. Instead, try using your time away from home as your break from socializing so you can save up enough social energy for the evenings. Take walks between classes, sit on your own during lectures instead of next to classmates you know, or find a quiet place on or near campus to eat your lunch alone.

Remember that smaller classes are often more socially intense than large lectures.
People tend to keep to themselves in large lectures, so it’s easy to avoid draining small talk just by blending into the crowd. In smaller classes, however, you’re more visible and more likely to be approached. Smaller classes offer great academic benefits, like closer relationships with professors and more personalized learning, so the answer isn’t to avoid small classes. Instead, consider setting up your schedule in a way that avoids stacking too many small classes into the same day, or in time slots too close together, to save yourself enough time to take a social break if you need to.

Be proactive in finding your circle of friends.
Introverts tend to prefer having a few meaningful friends over meeting a slew of acquaintances. The nice part about big colleges is that they’re big enough that you can be sure there are people around who share your interests. The frustrating part is that you have to sift through thousands of other people in order to find them. The only answers here are persistence and luck – choose classes, extracurriculars, and social events that you’re interested in, and be open enough to socializing with strangers that you can give yourself a chance to form close connections.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Successfully Use Your College Weekends

roomateWeekends in college – stereotypically the time for football games, Frisbee on the green, and massive parties – are not always so glamorous. While it is true that these things do happen with regularity on the weekends, they don’t tell the whole story. In fact, with how much work college students have, a significant part of many students’ weekends is often spent in the library.

This presents itself as a bit of a dilemma – you want to go do fun things with your friends, but you also don’t want to be behind on schoolwork for the upcoming week. There is both a pressure to do work and a pressure to be social. Luckily, balancing college life is not too hard, and learning to do so can reap great benefits. All you have to keep in mind are the concepts of moderation and planning, and your weekends will end up being both productive and fun.

So what do I mean by moderation? Moderation is two-fold. One part is doing things in small chunks, rather than reserving huge blocks of time for doing just one thing. Breaking up your work into manageable chunks to do on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is a good step towards making sure you don’t get overwhelmed. Doing this reminds you that the amount of work you have is rarely as bad as you think it is, especially when you consider that all 24 hours of the weekend are available for productivity since there obviously aren’t any classes.

Lots of people have fun on Friday and Saturday and leave all their work for Sunday, but this can result in a difficult end to your weekend, where your marginal productivity greatly decreases as the day goes on. The best path forward is to split up your time and try to ensure that you do things in manageable bursts, not long grind sessions.

The other aspect of moderation is thinking about the weekend as a time where you can both have some fun and do some work, instead of thinking of it in the extreme as only one or the other.  Many college students either say that they’re going to have the most crazy party weekend ever or they will have to be holed up in their rooms all weekend to study for their 3 midterms the following week.

In reality, most weekends can fall somewhere in between. All it takes is shift in mindset to one that thinks in moderate and not extreme terms. If I say that I’m going to have a pretty good weekend because the last week of work was challenging, that still leaves open the possibility that I’ll be able to do a little bit of work this weekend without feeling like I’m sacrificing all my fun. Self-talk is important in how we shape our perceptions, and the same is true with thinking about how we should spend our weekends.

Planning, the other important concept in balancing one’s weekend, is exactly what it sounds like, and while some students enjoy the weekend because it is less structured than their school week, planning out your time is actually quite useful. If you make a plan that includes all you have to do and all you want to do, you’ll be able to physically see that you can balance having fun and doing work. When you have a general idea of what you are doing and when you will be doing it, you are more likely to actually get yourself to do it.

It’s true that random plans with friends always come up on the weekend, but when you have a plan of how you want to spend your time you will be able to make a smart choice as to whether it would be responsible of you to follow through with this spontaneous plan (often times it is). I definitely believe that having fun during the weekend (and the week) is important, but I also mean to convey that having a plan, albeit a flexible one, puts you in a position to succeed.

Weekends are great respite from the daily grind of the school week. In order to make the weekend fun and keep up with work, it’s important to learn how to wisely balance work and play.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

7 Tips to Make the Most of Your College Office Hours

ProfessorEvery college orientation I ever attended strongly emphasized the importance of attending office hours in building relationships with professors, allowing students to explore subject material in greater depth, and laying groundwork for strong letters of recommendation in the future. Even so, most college students I know either glean very little from office hours or do not attend them at all.

Office hours were by far the best and most useful parts of my college classes, but it took me most of my undergraduate career to start making the most of them. Here’s what I learned:

1) Just go. Individual attention from professors is rare and valuable, especially in large classes (like the ones I take at UC Berkeley, which sometimes hold hundreds of students.) Often, office hours is the only one-on-one time you’ll ever get.

2) Be sure you’ve done the reading and are caught up on the class. It is both embarrassing for you and impolite towards your professor to use his or her extra time to make up for work you should have already done. Make a good impression by showing that you take his or her class seriously.

3) Don’t be scared. Professors are often more relaxed and approachable in office hours than they are during classtime. Many enjoy working with undergraduates, or prefer more individual interaction with students over the more impersonal environment of the classroom. (Also, if you haven’t had much experience with it before, it is useful and important to learn to be comfortable interacting with superiors and authority figures. Office hours are a great way to do that.)

4) Have some questions prepared in advance. Don’t feel limited to only talking about the class; professors are often a great source of career planning advice, information about your field of interest, and tips about what other classes you might find interesting.

5) Be interested in the answers you get. Office hours allow you to learn about a field from the experts themselves. Take advantage of your access to them – and strike a better rapport with your professor – by taking a real interest in the insights your professor offers (or at least making a sincere effort to).

6) Be honest about how well you’re doing in the class. If you’re struggling to understand a concept in your class and have made an honest effort to do so, it’s perfectly fine to admit it. Your professor can help, and will appreciate your honest; he or she wants you to learn their material just as much as you want to pass the class.

7) Stay open-minded. Office hours aren’t just a networking opportunity. Networking for networking’s sake has its advantages sometimes, but your experience in office hours will be more productive and meaningful (and your letter of recommendation, if you get one, will be better) if you really get to know the person you’re talking to.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Take Advantage Your Time as a “Partial” Adult

ReflectingI like to call the time that you’re in college “fake adulthood.” You have some responsibilities, you’re more on your own, and life starts to get a little harder. That means life is becoming more like the “real world,” but you’re not quite there yet – the real real world is still years (and a diploma) away.

In college, you have access to “free” resources, built-in support systems, and a room to sleep in; many of you will still be financially supported by your parents, and perhaps most liberating, you will not be completely screwed by messing up or failing a class. The real world (the work world) isn’t affected by some wrong answers you gave on a multiple-choice test in your History of Ancient Greece class (unless, perhaps, you’re planning to become a History of Ancient Greece professor after college).

I don’t mean to say this like it’s a bad thing – college can be a wonderful time in your life, regardless of whether it is the “real world.” What I do mean to say, is you should take advantage of the freedom and the relative lack of consequences that college entails!

There are lots of ways to do this, but two big ones are to take risks and to branch out – go explore the world and explore your own mind. You’re not bogged down by a set 9-5 schedule with rigid responsibilities, so take this opportunity to let your creativity roam free. A day in college can be spent perusing the Iliad, picnicking at a public park, attending a scientific demonstration, or going to a collegiate sporting event (for free!). It’s hard to imagine a teacher or a banker having the schedule flexibility to do all that, especially on a weekday.

In college, you can also take advantage of the fact that you aren’t working full-time to donate some of your energy to causes that you might not have as much time to later in life. There are often built-in networks on college campuses for you to get involved in volunteer work right away. Community organizations also usually love energetic, youthful volunteers, so there is bound to be a plethora of places near your campus eager to take on some extra help.

Perhaps most importantly, you can use your time in college to work hard and develop skills for responsible adulthood so you aren’t thrust into the ring with no experience. Practice cashing checks, doing laundry, buying groceries, etc. – that way, when you actually have to do live on your own, you’ll be more prepared and less nervous about making that jump into reality. It is too easy to pretend that these daily tasks of adulthood are too far in the future to be worried about, and by overcoming that self-deception and gradually preparing yourself for the routine of adult living, you will build habits that will serve you well for a lifetime to come.

College is a unique time for many reasons – during your time there, you are on the cusp of adulthood but still have ways to exercise youthful freedom. Take advantage of this by exploring yourself and the world, all while preparing yourself to soon take a step into that oh-so-scary place – the real world.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

7 Resources You Need to Utilize While in College

Macalester CollegeOne great and often overlooked part of being in college is the wealth of resources you have access to. Some of these resources are exactly what you think of when you think about colleges – big libraries, distinguished professors, expansive dining halls. – but there is also a variety of lesser-known, but equally important services and centers that many colleges have to support their students and contribute to the overall college experience.

It’s a good idea to check these places out, since it is your tuition money that funds them, after all! College is one of the rare times where many of the services available to you will be free (technically nothing in life or college is really free, but that’s besides the point), so take advantage of this while you can. Here is just a sampling of resources found at many universities that I recommend utilizing during your time in college:

Career Counseling
College is about learning, but it’s still not a bad idea to prepare for the job search early. Lots of colleges have career service centers that can connect you with alumni networks, guide you in crafting your résumés, and help you figure out what future career path will be right for you.

Fitness Center
This is a big one for me – gym memberships are really expensive, but colleges give you access to their fitness centers for free. When someone gives you an opportunity to get in shape and stay healthy for free, that’s not something you should turn down. Plus, taking a break from your studies to exercise is a great way to de-stress and have some fun – the pick-up basketball games I’ve played at my school’s gym has been some of the best of my life!

Student Health Center
Again, healthcare is something that will cost a lot more once you get outside of college. Getting sick when you’re separated from your parents can be a jarring experience, so know that you can feel comfortable reaching out to campus health professionals to help you.

Mental Health Counseling
As much fun as college can be, it can also be a very stressful time. Like student health centers, mental health counseling is often offered by colleges as a safe place for students to go to speak to a mental health professional about any difficulties they may be experiencing while at school. Your school will want you to be healthy, mentally as well as physically, so don’t be afraid to seek this service out.

Writing Center
There are more people to turn to than just your professors or TAs when you’re having trouble with a writing assignment. Lots of schools have writing centers, where students and staff will go over your papers with you and give you detailed feedback on how to improve. You’ll probably have to be proactive in making an appointment, though – from my experience, spots at these centers fill up fast!

Library Staff
In high school you may not have talked to your librarians much (mine were awesome, but that’s a different story), but in college, the library staff can be incredibly helpful with research or just with navigating around the facility. The Dewey Decimal System can be a little difficult to use, especially when the library has 4 floors and thousands of books, so utilize your library staff to assist you.

Academic Support
Some colleges offer subject tutoring for students in certain classes, while others hold workshops on subjects such as how to manage homework time in college, steps to succeed on problem sets, and a variety of other topics. All colleges want their students to succeed academically; it’s incumbent on the student to seek out what academic support programs and resources their college has at their disposal, but there will always be options available to you, no matter what school you go to. Trust me, if you search for academic help, you’ll find it!

College is more than just going to school (even though school is very important). Universities have lots of resources to help you in all aspects of your life – use them while you still can, and while they’re still free!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Making College Friends Before Freshman Year Begins

transition into collegeA lot of people get nervous about showing up to college and not knowing anyone, but that fear is not necessarily relevant anymore. With social media and college networking events, it’s possible to meet people in your class between when you get accepted and when you actually arrive on campus.

Facebook pages for admitted or enrolled students are common for lots of schools. Many of these school pages are very popular, and students are always super excited to get involved posting on them. I spent way too much time on Brown’s Class of 2019 Facebook page for weeks after I got in – everyone seemed so friendly, interesting, and excited to be part of our new community.

When someone ends a post with, “Looking to make friends, message me if we have anything in common!” go ahead and reach out if it seems like you two could get along. The best-case scenario is you make a new friend. The worst-case scenario is you have a semi-awkward conversation with no real repercussions. That seems like a situation where it is impossible to lose, so it’s worth your time to give it a chance. I met some cool people from my Brown Facebook group that I still see around campus. I may not be BFFs with all of them, but the more friendly faces you know around campus, the more comfortable you will feel.

There will also be meet-ups and congratulatory events to attend in your area that will be sponsored by schools or even just informally by new students. Going to these might be nerve-wracking, but it is a nice way to hear from enthusiastic alumni and learn some of the faces of your new classmates. I still see large groups of students who met each other this way (and through massive group chats) walking around campus together all the time!

So, I’ve talked a lot about how you could make friends before school starts, but the real question is, “What’s the point?” Doing this could allow you to make a friend, have people to hang with outside your dorm during orientation, find a roommate, or get over some of the awkwardness of meeting new people. Moving in to college can be stressful for a lot of reasons, and the fear of struggling socially is a big one. By knowing people beforehand, you can alleviate some of this fear and focus your efforts on acclimating to college in other ways.

Don’t worry, though, it is by no means necessary to figure out your friend group before you get to school. People find friends on their own at school, so it’s totally not a “must” that you go searching around for a best friend before you even get to school. Everyone at college is looking to meet new people, which makes it really easy to find friends among people you don’t know.

Making friends before freshman year even begins is one of those things that would probably benefit you if you did it, however if you don’t, you’ll still be in a perfectly good position to have a great social life on campus.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Why You Should Have a Mix of Classes in College

In ClassWhen you get to college, the vast array of courses available to you can be incredibly exciting. If you’re like many students whose high schools had limited course offerings, you might be tempted to take a bunch of classes in college in a subject you love that your high school didn’t offer.

This makes sense. You’ve been stuck taking the same math, science, and history classes the last 12 years – maybe now you really want to spend your tuition money studying what you actually enjoy, like architecture or astronomy. Or maybe you really liked history but disliked math and science, so only plan to take social studies courses.

In both of those cases, I’d urge you to reconsider. While I know from personal experience that it’s really easy to just take subjects you know you already like, it’s really important to branch out and be balanced. I think there are 2 primary reasons why taking a broad mix of classes is good for your academic and personal development.

The first reason is that taking different subjects forces you to think in different ways and develop different skills. Each discipline pushes you in different directions intellectually: math will hone your numerical analysis; history will hone your critical thinking; philosophy will hone your argument analysis; science will hone your command of data; architecture will hone your spatial reasoning… I think you get the point by now.

What I’m really trying to say, is that working with a variety of subjects broadens your horizons as a thinker. The more you’re challenged to develop a mental capacity outside your comfort zone, the more able you’ll be to think on your feet and synthesize diverse information successfully.

The second reason is that branching out allows you to find other things that interest you aside from what you already thought you liked. The academic world is filled with fascinating subjects. You won’t discover most of them if you stick to what you know. We’re teenage college students (or soon-to-be college students) – our desires are fickle and change all the time. To really maximize our intellectual enjoyment, it’s crucial to explore the unknown.

Of course, the hardest part of this will be actually finding courses to branch out with. How are you supposed to know what you will like among the things you don’t think you’ll like? It seems like a tough predicament, but the solutions are pretty simple. One good way is to search for courses in a department you’ve never even heard of, like, say, Egyptology. Then just pick the class that sounds the most random and go for it. Think of all the cocktail party trivia you will learn! The other way is to look around for great professors. The best professors will get you to fall in love with subjects you never thought you enjoyed, making any class you choose a good one.

College is a time where you’ll be exposed to the most new information you’ll have ever seen in your life. Take full advantage of that opportunity by learning about as many different subjects as you can. Trust me – your future self will thank you for making yourself smarter and more interested.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

3 Reasons You Need to Take a Day Off in College

In college, you can get busy. Like really busy. Like how-did-I-ever-think-I-was-busy-in-high-school-I-don’t-think-I-even-know-what-busy-even-meant busy. Don’t worry, college is still really fun and exciting, but the workload and responsibilities can get overwhelming at times.

It’s easy to fall into the mindset of thinking you should be doing something all the time. Reading now, essay later, dinner with friends at night, club meeting afterward, problem set before bed… With so much on your plate and a seemingly endless supply of homework, taking a break from working can seem like a dangerous idea.

I’m here to say that breaks are good. Breaks are great! I think breaks have so much value that I’d go so far as to advocate taking a full day off from schoolwork once per week, every week. That’s right, I said it: take an entire day off! Don’t worry about finishing your project or getting ahead on your textbook reading. Spending a day without doing any homework is a great idea, and here are a few reasons why:

1) A day off allows you to relax and recharge.
The demands of college life can really add up, so a whole day on the schedule devoid of school responsibilities is just what a student needs to stay relaxed and mentally healthy. It’s wonderful to wake up knowing that you could spend all day in bed and still not feel behind in school.  Burnout is a real problem among college students – what better way to make sure that you aren’t working too hard than to make one day entirely work-free.

2) A day off gives you time to do things you enjoy.
The things you do in college will often be fun, but it’s common to not have time in your schedule to do things you used to like. (For me, it was reading for pleasure and playing the piano). When you have a whole day in front of you with no schoolwork responsibilities, you won’t feel to make time for those things. Instead of being so sick of reading textbooks and articles for school that you can’t bear the thought of reading any more, you will feel rejuvenated and free enough to cozy up with your favorite novel!

3) A day off makes you extra organized the other 6 days of the week.
When you know you only have 6 days to get all your work done, you will really learn to make those 6 days count. Setting aside a day for free time will challenge you to be organized and responsible the other days of the week so that you can reap the benefits of your day off.

College is a time where you get to set your own schedule. Take full advantage of that by making one day on your schedule a relaxation day. If you really can’t afford to give yourself a full day off every work, remember that the value of taking breaks still exists even if the time period is shorter than a whole day. Working all the time is unhealthy and counterproductive; be sure to remember to step back, relax, and a take a break. You’ll have earned it!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.