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March, 2016

  1. Use the campus, literally

    March 30, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Most people aren’t successful while studying in their room. In my room, you could hear a pin drop because my roommate and I do not speak. But, MOST people, aren’t “so lucky” to have such a quiet room. Even I, with an extremely quiet room, need other places to go to study. Needless to say, find a few comfortable places that fit your studying style in order to be productive, whether you’re cramming for an exam or finishing a project. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done, while avoiding as many distractions as possible, unless you like distractions! Some people do. Everyone is different.

    Use your campus resources as well. Seek professional help if and when you need it. Most colleges have health and counseling centers. If you’re sick or feeling isolated or depressed, please take advantage of the many services these offices provide students. Even if you want to just talk to someone, do it. You don’t ever have to face these issues by yourself. If your friend suggests it and thinks it’s a good idea, try it. You’ll never know if it helps if you don’t try.

    Find the Career Services center on campus. Regardless of whether you are entering college as undeclared or have your entire future mapped out to the minute, seek out the wonderful professionals in your college’s career services office and get started on planning, preparing, and acting on your future. Update your resume and make the update from being a senior in high school to a freshman in college. They are different. Have someone look at it before you show it to anyone important.

    Also, meet with your advisor. While you might think they don’t care about you because it is a random person, they will if you care as well. I have the pleasure of meeting with my advisor every three weeks as a part of my program on campus. Indeed, it was annoying at times if we didn’t have anything to talk about last year, but now, meetings are incredibly important because my life is constantly changing. They will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you. They should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts, in addition to any mentors that you have. And don’t be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don’t click with the one first assigned to you. At most large schools, you can go to Drop-In Advising Hours as well.

    Also, use the resources that make you happy as well. Get a gym membership. Go to fitness classes, especially if that is an easy way for you to exercise. Go swimming. Take a bus to the mall if you have a shopping problem like me. Watch movies at the student center. Get your tv time in if you enjoy that. Just don’t forget to do something for you, every week.

    Until next time…

  2. Building Relationships = Major Key

    March 19, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Building relationships from day one through Graduation Day is a major key in college. From making friends to expanding your professional network, it could make the difference from being hired in a full-time job when you’re still in college vs. one year down the road. Trust me. It will help you eventually.

    First, and foremost. Make friends with everyone you can on campus. In your club meetings, turn around get to know one person every other week. In your class, ask a question of the person beside you and see where that goes from there. I made a great friend/study-buddy in one class last semester by asking her a simple question and we are still close. When you’re out at night with friends of friends, get to know everyone’s names and then add them on social media to keep in touch. Be outgoing. Don’t sit in you room with your lovely (or not so lovely) roommate all day. I know plenty of people who only hangout with their hometown friends in college. That isn’t a bad thing at all, because my high school best friend is here and I’m glad she is, but college is all about building new relationships in a new community that will last you a lifetime. I bet some of my best friends right now will be my truly close friends for the rest of my life. Also, to be completely honest, make friends with the Housing Staff, the cooks in the dining halls, security officers, RA’s, and the list goes on and on. You never know when you’ll need something!!

    Next, truly get to know your professors. They are actually human beings with stories and experience. Most of them are quite nice. But, at the end of the day, they are far more likely to go above and beyond for someone they already know. So don’t wait until you’re in trouble academically or you need a favor to get to know them. If you’re not doing too hot in a class by the end of the semester, chances are they’ll be more willing to find a way to help you if they know that you’ve been to office hours and you participate in class. Also, they will also come in handy as a reference when you are interested in applying for research experiences, internships, or externships in the future. They might even be willing to write you a letter of recommendation if you’ve truly built a great relationship which will come in handy if you’re applying for scholarships (do it do it do it) or acceptance into programs on campus or at other institutions. You may even end up being friends with some of these people!

    Finally, be a good friend. Despite the fact that some girls that I’ve gotten to know recently screw up quite frequently, I continue to help them (sometimes when I should not) because that is who I am.  Sometimes your friends need you to be there for them and sometimes you’ll need them to be there for you. Don’t ever let them down. Stay true to who you are and they’ll return the favor when you need them.

    Until next time…

  3. 2 more things….

    March 16, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    I have two pieces of advise for the day. One is to apply to your life at this point, in spring of your senior year. The next is for the beginning of your semester.

    Now that you are in the home stretch, take this advice with a grain of salt.

    1. Have fun.
    2. Study for your AP exams. You will be thrilled with yourself when you come to college as a 2nd semester freshman or even a sophomore, like me. IT WILL BE WORTH IT. For example, for a 5 in AP United States History, I received 6 credits, the entire requirement at Penn State! Work hard. It will be worth the credits and your time.
    3. Look forward to the beautiful parts of senior year like Prom and your end of year events.
    4. Do not let Senioritis get the best of you. Go to school because by the time that AP exams are over, high school is a joke. All you have to do is show up. Seriously, just go. You’ll regret missing 25 days in last month of school a few years later. You never get those days back.
    5. Spend time with your high school friends. Say hello to everyone you know when you see them. Spend time with your friends outside of school from now until graduation and until the day that you go to college.You don’t know if you’ll ever see them again. I lost one of my best friends during my Spring semester of freshman year and I cherish every moment that we spent together during high school.
    6. Take advantage of this time because high school is so much easier than your college experience will be.
    7. Don’t worry about petty drama or waste any of your time. It won’t matter in four months.
    8. Enjoy your parents cooking. Food will soon be quite crappy. You won’t eat steak, anything homemade or any other “luxury foods.”Eat at your favorite restaurants whenever you can because the broke college life will quickly set in.
    9. Everything will feel like a last. Cry if you need to. Embrace how special everything is. Take pictures at every event.
    10. Eat your favorite desserts and such. Actually, take lots of pictures. You probably won’t ever be skinnier than you are now.
    11. Go to any athletic event or the party or movie because Netflix can wait.
    12. Hangout with your younger siblings. They will miss you alot.

    Next, I would like to address your dining experience on campus at Penn State, to give you a fair warning. The food at East is generally terrible. The Big Onion has good food for on the go and their pizza is apparently fantastic. The best breakfast on campus is at Pollock Commons if you are looking for a good plethora of options. They always have a sweet option such as the French Toast Sticks. The pancakes aren’t good. (Hint: make lots of pancakes at home if you enjoy them) A great lunch is available at West Commons where you can end every meal with a smile as you eat their chocolate chip cookies. But, South has the best dinner options because they offer more weekly variety. The prime rib is muy bueno. Dinner at Pollock and West is luck of the draw beyond the staples of burgers, fries, pizza, pasta and salad. They offer late night at South but its a hodge podge of food from breakfast to breadsticks. The best chocolate chip cookies though are hot out of the oven from Pollock. The daily ice cream is wonderful as well. I enjoy milk and it is fantastic from the Creamery, served out of cold vats! I promise that the food isn’t bad here…it is just not home.

  4. Don’t make school harder than it is…

    March 2, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    The adjustment to college can either go really well or quite poorly. Some students who were active in high school continued to stay on top of things and other simply feel too comfortable in their bed. But, the freedom that you obtain when your parents drive away for the first time is insane. They actually don’t come back a few hours later. Success in college is all about what you do when no one is looking.

    I’m not saying you need to schedule your day down to the half-hour, like I do, but it definitely works! Be organized. Get a planner. During sylly week, write down all of your exam dates and project due-dates that are outlined in the syllabus or online. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments — often for the entire semester — and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, use an app, or get a big wall calendar — whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due. Writing it on a dry-erase board in your room will make all you have to do, quite visible.

    Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but sleeping in, watching Netflix, and skipping that 8 am class will be tempting at times. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.

    Don’t procrastinate on your assignments. Finishing your online physics homework at 11:58pm when it is due at 11:59pm is not enjoyable. Procrastination makes things more difficult for you because you’ll probably end up always catching up and never getting ahead. That will give you unnecessary stress. It also helps if you actually do work ahead on those assignments that you know about in advance because then there is less for you to worry about later on. Then, you’ll be able to concentrate on other assignments and maybe even have more time to go out and have some fun in this fun place.

    Take advantage of the free academic support that Penn State provides, FOR FREE. Students on this campus who don’t go to class oftentimes go down to LionTutors or Nittany Notes for what they could have gotten in class, from a Guided Study Group or by asking another student for help. When I heard of Penn State Learning, I just assumed that I would never need help. But, honestly, Guided Study Groups for physics have helped make my would-be B test grades, A test grades. The resources are all there. You just have to take advantage of them.

    Make friends in your classes. Even if you think your best friend group is absolutely amazing and “no new friends” is your motto, think again. This university is full of thousands of potential friends. It would be fantastic if you expand your horizon beyond the three people you always hangout with and go out with. Simply talk to people and ask questions. Don’t be awkward and immediately ask where they go on the weekends but simply start something. The best time to do this is sylly week because, at that point, everyone is looking for new friends.

    Until next time…

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