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advice

In fashion, graduate school on
August 18, 2017

5 More Things You Should Know Before You Go To Graduate School

Over a year ago now I wrote a blog post called 5 Things You Should Know Before You Go To Graduate School. Since you know that I recently got done with my MA degree, I wanted to add a couple of more tips to that list that I made back then. Also, to mix it up, I decided that I should add a few fashion photos here too. Let’s get started.

For this article, I really wanted to focus on the keeping yourself healthy side of the graduate school experience. While the last post I made on graduate school was true, it was also very rigid and study oriented. Today’s five things are equally important, it just took me a little while longer to realize that they were.

5 More Things You Should Know Before You Go To Graduate School | Graduate school is tough. After getting my Masters I wanted to revisit my post to share better tips on what you should know before graduate school.

Keep Reading, Darling

In Academics on
February 10, 2017

How To Make Sure What You Are Studying Will Be On The Test

When studying for exams sometimes it feels like all our hard work is for naught because NOTHING we study ends up on the exam. There is no worse feeling than putting hours of studying into an exam, only to realize that what you are studying isn’t even on the radar of your professor. Here are some tips to making sure that you are not wasting your time when it comes to studying.

 How To Make Sure What You Are Studying Will Be On The Test | Studying is a very important part of the college experience. Above all else, you want to be an efficient studier. This post will help you understand how to better gauge what tests will look like as well as what will be on the test you take in college.

1 | Read Up On Your Professor

There are TONS of resources to figure out what kind of tests your professor is likely to give. Here are just a few of the ways you can do a little recon on your professor to see what kinds of tests they give and the relative ease/not ease of the tests they give.

Rate My Professors

This isn’t used nearly as much as it was in the past, but it can still be a good source of information about your professor. Go through and look for what they talk about, specifically if they have any comments on them about tests and test-taking. Beware though, most of the time RateMyProfessors has a slightly negative tinge to it. Most people don’t think to post a review unless they had an extremely negative experience, some are likely to post if they have an outstanding experience too so this won’t always be 100% applicable to the average student.

Talk directly To Old Students

Chances are you may be able to find a student who has taken this professor before, maybe not in this exact course, but professors tend to have the same teaching style regardless of the class they are teaching. Get a feel for the type of professor you will have by simply getting to know some old students and discussing their thoughts on the test. Bonus points if you can find someone who took your exact class in a different semester, those are the real gems when you are talking to old students.

Read The Syllabus

Doing research from other students is great, but there is also a treasure trove of information right in the syllabus. Read the syllabus, especially in the sections where it discusses assignments. You may be able to pick up some clues about the test or other assignments while reading.

Use your right now judgement

Above all else, use your “right now” judgement. Professors change over time. They may have had a particularly rough semester when someone left their review of the professors teaching style (or conversely an amazing semester that semester.) They could have changed the course exponentially based on past reviews since an old student took them. Syllabi almost always have a few tweaks to them by the end of the semester. You can pull from all of these sources to make predictions about how your course will go, but your right now judgement is the best judgement that you can use to determine what your professors tests and assignments will be like.

2 | Listen To The Lecture

Professors are pretty great about giving you clues, if you listen intently enough. The best way to make sure you are able to listen for those context clues is to be fully present and alert in class. You can be present, and not present at all. When in class it should have your undivided attention, because otherwise you could easily be sidetracked by the a million things happening in other places. 

I am going to give it to you straight, Facebook probably is a 1,000,000 times more interesting than anything your professor has to say.

What does this mean? It means you can’t give your Facebook a reason to compete with your professor because chances are your Facebook page will win. Your text message thread will win. Your game will win. 

I am telling you this, because it is true and these distractions will potentially cost you in a number of ways:

  1. You will miss out on all of the important clues your professor will hint at throughout course lectures about what will be on the test.
  2. You will potentially be burning bridges with professors because they will be able to tell when you are on your phone, no matter how sneaky you think you are being.

Instead of being attached to your phone, get attached to participating in the lecture. This is also important because the #1 way to cut down on your necessary studying time, especially for classes like the liberal arts, is to pay attention to course lectures.

3 | Understand The Main Concepts Driven Home By Any Textbooks

Let’s talk about course textbooks for a second, it is really important that you are able to understand the main concepts driven home by textbooks. Here are some examples of things you can do when you are reading course textbooks:

Be able to define all the definitions.

Go through your textbook chapters and be able to define the definitions of most of the concepts. Depending on the course you are taking, you may not need to be able to define them explicitly, but your professor will more than likely write the test in the same language used in the book and during lectures so you need to be certain that you will be able to understand what all the language means when you see it.

Be able to say at least a few sentences about each header and subheader in your textbook’s chapters.

The headers and subheaders of anything are really important. As you can see, even in this article I use headers and subheaders to break up various points. If this was something that you read for a test, you should be able to say something about all five points I am making in this article. Do the same with any textbooks or academic articles you are reading.

Be able to answer the questions at the end of the chapter.

Chances are your textbook has questions at the end of each chapter. These are really awesome because they tell you what the author of the text really wants to drive home, because those are the summary questions that were picked. Some professors pull a few of their questions straight from this section, so it would be a great thing for you to take a few moments to understand what the questions are and try your best to answer them.

4 | Fill Out Any Study Guides OR Create Your Own

If your professor provides a study guide, ALWAYS FILL IT OUT. There are no if, ands, or buts to this situation. Professors who give study guides are golden creatures that should be treated as such. Are you filling out the study guides your professor gives you? There is no better way to get a study guide than to get it from the person who wrote the test, so be sure to fill it out. Professors often write the test first and then give a study guide based off the test, so they are extremely valuable.

Professors don’t always give study guides though. The lovely Amélie of A Wanderer’s Adventure wrote an amazing posts about this very topic last semester. In the post How To Create A College Study Guide Amélie discusses how to create your own study guide, because sometimes you have to take things into your own hands a bit. Read that post for more information on how to adequately create your own study guide.

5 | Talk With Your Professor About What You Have Been Studying & Where You Need To Improve

Okay, this is the piece of the equation that you CANNOT miss. If you want to know if what you’re studying will be on the test, ask the professor. Professors want to help, but you have to be specific.

Come with questions, not a general air of dissatisfaction and confusion.

I cannot stress the above phrase enough. Come with a plan, a set of specific questions, and come after having wrestled with the material beforehand. If you come to your professors office, having done zero work on your own, you cannot expect a good result to come from it. Your professors want to know that you have dealt with the material at least a little bit, before they feel comfortable answering your questions.

Let your professors know that you want to do well on the test, that you have been studying, and that you would like help with what direction you need to focus your attention. Give them a spiel about what you have been working on.

Above all else, have time to implement what is being discussed in the meeting.

If you are going to ask your professor what you should be studying, you can’t do that on the day of the test. This is a strategy that is better used when you have at least a few days before your test. It will be difficult to discuss anything you need to study when you don’t have time to adequately study it. You want to give yourself time to take action, because this should be a very action oriented conversation that you will have with your professor.

Final Thoughts

Studying is important in college, but more important when you are juggling five courses, is studying efficiently. I hope that these tips will help you become a more efficient studier, so that you can make sure that the time you do take to burn the midnight oil, will have a positive impact on your life as a student.

What is your best studying tip for students?

In Guest Posts, Lifestyle on
January 16, 2017

8 Steps To Amazing Travel On A College Budget

I’m a college student who spends most of the semesters counting down to my breaks. No homework, no classes, no stress and possibly a vacation? Yes, please! Sign me up! I love to travel. I love driving, flying, taking the train, I’m up for anything! If it were up to me, I think travel is something all college students should experience. Spring break is one of the best times to get up and go. Unfortunately, spring break just happens to be one of the most expensive weeks of the year for traveling.

As a college student, some can only work part-time jobs, if that, so you must be more diligent when it comes to booking a vacation that qualifies as affordable. Traveling has some of the biggest and best loopholes but also some of the worst. Below I’ve listed some simple, yet awesome traveling tips. I swear by them. Save your money and you can still take that awesome vacation!

8 Steps To Amazing Travel On A College Budget | College students should be exposed to travel but it is often out of reach because of the price tag. Anna shares her 8 step strategy to having an amazing vacation even on a college budget. This post is perfect for the upcoming Spring Break season, but also any time where colleges students will be traveling.

Keep Reading, Darling

In sorority on
August 11, 2016

The Three Best Pieces of Sorority Advice I Ever Received

Today on the blog we are talking about sororities, and specifically, the three best pieces of sorority advice I ever received. When I joined my sorority in Spring of 2012, I was blessed with a great sisterhood, and overtime I received many pieces of advice that have helped me make the most of my sorority experience. I hope this advice helps you all as much as it helped me.

 The Three Best Pieces Of Sorority Advice I Ever Received | Sororities have taught millions of people great lessons. Click through for the three lessons sorority life has taught me that I continue to use until this day, after almost five years as a sorority woman.

1. Be Yourself.

When I went through formal recruitment I was dropped form every single house besides the one I ended up joining after the open house round. During recruitment, that was devastating to me. Sigma Sigma Sigma was where I found myself most at home, but I couldn’t help but be upset at the fact that no one seemed to want me in their sisterhood.

I held back tears and got that icky feeling in the back of my throat as I looked at my card during philanthropy day and there was only one name on the card. My mind was racing a million miles a minute––everyone seemed so nice, I thought it had all went well, what did I do? Was it my hair? My clothes? My conversational skills? I was being the best me that I could be. I was being myself.

I was upset at the time, but I got myself together, because Tri Sigma was where I felt most at home, so I had my number one choice. Why did I need to care about what other people thought about me? Yes I could have done this or that, I could have strapped my feet into too high high heels, caked my face with makeup, dieted and lost way too many pounds to fit into the other chapters versions of beauty, I could have gotten a manicure and a pedicure, I could have done all those things. 

But those things wouldn’t have been me.

Obviously, I didn’t go to the rounds like I just rolled out of bed. I did my hair, wore nice clothes, etc. I wasn’t going to do my makeup super fancy, I didn’t even own makeup. I wasn’t going to wear super tall heels, I didn’t own heels, and heels didn’t make me feel confident––flats did. I wasn’t going to get a mani/pedi, I hardly ever had my fingers and toes painted. 

So yes, I didn’t get into a ton of houses during recruitment, but at the end of the day, all you need is one. You can’t be a member of all the sororities on your campus, you can only join one. I wanted to be the one who would take me as I am. I am Amanda, sometimes I dress up but I hardly ever wear makeup, wear heels, or get my nails done. That’s just who I am. Take it, or leave it.

2. To Receive Much, You Must Give Much.

Flash forward to my time as a collegiate. When I first joined, something just wasn’t quite clicking. I have to say, it was essentially a year before things actually started to click for me. I wish I could say that I was super involved every semester of my collegiate Sigma career, but that just wasn’t the case. I was pretty uninvolved my first year, besides a stint on the event planning committee where I helped plan a semi-formal for the sorority my freshman year. 

I can’t count the amount of times I wondered if it was worth it. There were so many times, especially during the first semester of my sophomore year where I questioned if I should keep paying the dues and keep my letters. I was pretty distraught. I didn’t seem to be making much leeway within the sorority and I wasn’t sure what was going on. Dropping my letters would mean an amount of freedom that I hadn’t seen since my first semester freshman year. No more paying my dues, no more chapter meetings taking over my Tuesday nights, I would be free to do other things. When the pressure of going to chapter event after chapter event got too high, I almost caved under the pressure. Then, something extraordinary happened.

I got a call.

This was the call that forever changed my Tri Sigma path. The person who made this call probably doesn’t think about this or even remember it. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember how it changed my life. I got a call that asked me to hold a chair position for the spring semester. They were looking for someone to hold the Triangle chair position (which in my sorority is the chair position that submits things to our national magazine The Triangle.) This was a small role, and it was the catalyst I needed to go above and beyond. It was what started my Tri Sigma spark. 

That spark has had its moments. I think any spark has its moments. The moments when it is exposed too a little too much wind. The moment when it flickers. The moment when it needs to be reignited a little bit. That initial flame carried me throughout the rest of time with Sigma as a collegiate.

I was involved in and out of the sorority. Later on I picked up the housing chair responsibility and left behind Triangle Chair after having it for a year. I got to do even more great things with the Housing chair position that I held throughout the rest of my college career.

Being involved with Tri Sigma was such a great experience as an undergraduate. I even won an award during my junior year of college and had so many wonderful experiences with my sisters throughout. Understanding that once I started giving myself and my talents to the sorority, I got those rewards back 10x. 

What is your call(ing)?

Don’t be afraid to get involved however you can within your sorority. It starts off small, but one interaction can have a domino effect that you won’t believe. Will you push over the first domino? I sure hope so!

3. It’s Not Four Years, But For Life.

I have left collegiate days behind me. This summer marks my first full year as a Tri Sigma alumna. The last lesson that I learned is that it’s not four years, but for life. 

Earlier this summer I had the privilege of going to Tri Sigma Convention as a national officer. It was one of the most reenergizing experiences I have ever had to my Sigma spirit. Being around women who have been in Tri Sigma for decades upon decades was such a beautiful experience. These women were not only Tri Sigma sisters, but they were active. They so looked forward to the every three years our sorority got together at convention. For many sisters, they had been at 10+ conventions. As I was navigating my first convention, I couldn’t help but hope I would still be that involved years down the road.

Not only was I energized by the lovely women I shared my letters with, I was also energized by women I didn’t share my letters with through a variety of empowering guest speakers. I left Chicago pining for my next Tri Sigma trip, and being a little upset that convention only happened once every three years. 

I have gotten to know the Sigma story of so many amazing women over my time as a national volunteer. I have gotten to see the amazing things that chapters all over the country are doing. I am so proud of the letters I chose to rock and I still buy way too many Tri Sigma t-shirts. I bleed purple and having this connection with thousands upon thousands of women across the country is a magnificent experience. 

You can choose to be done with your sorority after you get out of college, but what is the fun in that? What is the fun in abandoning your lifelong commitment and connection? There is so much good to come from being involved with your sorority after college. So many connections you can make. So many wonderful, beautiful souls to meet.  

It just doesn’t make sense to be done with your sorority after college. 

The best is yet to come. Trust me. I have never felt more connected to my sorority, honestly. Even after I was super involved as a collegiate member. I get to be involved as an alumna in a way that I was never able to be involved as a collegiate. I get to do something I am passionate about everyday by helping the sorority connect on platforms like Instagram. I get to see the very best parts of hundreds of sisterhoods all across America. It’s a little Greek positivity bubble.

Final Thoughts

These three pieces of advice have carried me from my life as a potential new member to my life as an alumna. Honestly, I could use all of this advice at any stage of my sorority experience. If you are in a sorority, what is the best advice you ever received?