Back to School 2013: Six Tips To Nailing Your First Day

With Labor Day behind us and summer “officially” coming to an end, it’s time for college students to head back to campus and start hitting the books. From fresh-eyed first-years to seasoned seniors, the first days of classes always prove to be a challenge: in one day, you have to go from weeks of rest and relaxation to a daily academic grind. To avoid a rocky start, follow these steps to a blunder-free first day!

1.  Know where your classes are. It may seem obvious, but check where your classes are going to be held. Too many times, students (myself included) walk in late to their first class, with embarrassed looks on their faces, as the rest of their classmates look on. If you’re unfamiliar with the campus, grab a map and some walking shoes and give yourself a mini tour, scoping out the buildings and classrooms you’ll be in for the next few months.

2.  Check the class website — there may be homework due! It’s a grim reality, but yes, some professors do assign work to be completed by the first lecture. Familiarize yourself with your class’ websites, take a peek at the syllabi, download class lectures and start filling in your iCal or planner with important academic dates, like midterms, paper due dates and finals.

3.  Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbor. Your next-door (or next-desk) neighbors are in the same boat as you, attending the same lectures, completing the same assignments, readings and papers. Chat up the people sitting next to you; it’s a lot easier to survive in a class when you have study buddies!

 4.  Bring your laptop to class. Though you may expect a basic overview on your first day, many professors quickly breeze through the introductions and head straight into the course material. Have your fully-charged laptop or tablet (or, if you’re old-school, notebook and pen) at hand so you can take down notes.

5.  Schedule a visit to your college or departmental counselor. While it doesn’t have to be on the first day, definitely drop by the office of your academic counselors early on in the year! If you’re confused as to what classes you still need to take to complete your requirements and don’t want to be caught by surprise when graduation rolls around, it never hurts to ask the experts!

6.  Find your niche beyond academics! Though you may be in school to get a degree, don’t drown yourself in academics; it’s all about balance! Head over to the clubs and activities fairs during the first weeks of classes and go to any meetings or events that pique your interest. It’s a great way to meet new people and to get yourself engaged in something outside of the classroom! College is one of the most opportune times to discover more about yourself, don’t let it go to waste!

(Image Source)

Keeping Away the ‘Freshman Fifteen’

Making healthy choices when it comes to food is probably not too high on the priority list for the majority of you college students. As far as to-do lists, it might fall somewhere in between washing that mug that’s been sitting on your desk since last week and organizing your sock drawer. And who can blame you, there’s an all you can eat buffet waiting for you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s late night dining serving up pizza and burgers. And of course when it comes time to cram for midterms and finals what better way to stay awake than mindlessly munching on candy and Doritos washed down with a sugar laden energy drink? We’ve been there. We’re here to help you stave off the infamous Freshman Fifteen and hopefully spark some good eating habits that will benefit you long after you move out of the dorms. Here are our top ten tips to navigate the murky nutritional waters that is the college dining experience.

karly dining 2

1) Go for the Green:

When faced with a multitude of tasty options in your dining hall start at the stations with fresher choices, these include the salad bar or any fresh veggie sides. Fill your plate to your heart’s content; remember to go light on the dressing (balsamic vinegar and olive oil make a great, more healthful alternative). Besides offering a good range of nutrients, the fiber in the veggies will help you feel full and can keep you from feeling the need to fill up on heavier options.

2) Portion Control:

When choosing other options in the dining hall don’t feel like you need to completely ban certain food groups. Carbs, such as brown rice, whole grain pastas and breads as well as healthy fats, like those found in avocados, walnuts, salmon, and peanut butter are important for a balanced diet.  Just be aware of how much you’re putting on your plate.  For the figure- conscious a general portion size of rice or pasta is ½ cup which is about the size of a hockey puck. For fats, depending on the type (olive oil, butter, nut butters) the general range for one serving is one to two teaspoons.

3) Say No to Social Eating

Food is a common thread in many outings whether it’s for a club event, after an intramural sports game, or just hanging out with friends. Pizza, late night fast food runs, grocery store bought cookies and chips seem to be favorites. Basically, if you’re not hungry don’t eat just because everyone around you is. If you know that you’ll be in this situation eat something more substantial beforehand. Enjoy the company sans empty caloric intake.

4) Your Liver is Your Friend

We are not condemning alcohol. What would college be without it? A lot of studies have actually shown that moderate consumption of alcohol may lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, dementia, and even aid in weight loss. The key word however, is moderate consumption. Red wine is the most beneficial for the prevention of certain heart diseases and dementia. One glass a day is sufficient for women to reap the benefits. If your drink of choice is beer go for lagers or wheat beers (examples: Heineken, Blue Moon, Shock Top), or light beers, all of which contain about half the calories and carbs of their original counterparts, ales, porters, and stouts.

5) Smart Snacking

When hunger strikes in between meals reach for snacks that will help keep you full without weighing you down. Some good options are hummus and fresh veggie sticks, popcorn (not of the extra butter variety), apples or another favorite fruit with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter, a cup of lightly sweetened Greek yogurt topped with berries or some sliced bananas.

6) Have a Glass of Water

Keep hydrated throughout the day so you don’t confuse your body’s need for hydration with hunger. Keep a reusable water thermos with you while on campus and keep it filled. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water.

7) Just Chew It

Sugar cravings are hard to shake. All you want is a red velvet cupcake or a rich, gooey brownie. Instead of giving in, chew a piece of sugar free gum. Yes, it’s ludicrous to think a piece of gum can completely satiate your overwhelming inclination to inhale anything chocolate, but it might just give you that burst of sweetness that will help you walk on by instead of tearing open that bag of M&Ms.

8) Late Night Dining

Don’t do it. Ideally, try not to eat two to three hours before you go to sleep.

9) Partner Up

Setting goals and sticking to them isn’t easy. Find a like-minded friend who wants to make her health a priority and keep each other accountable.

10) Start Cooking

The best way to avoid unhealthy fast food and heat and eat meals is to get used to cooking. When you cook you can control exactly what goes into your meals and snacks. When you don’t see all the hydrogenated oils, sodium, sugars, and preservatives going into store bought meals you don’t think twice about them.

kd 3

kd 4

kd 5Sources: conrad-summer-2013


10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College

1) Find the Balance

Your first year of college is similar to a trip to the buffet. You’re excited, you’re hungry, and you want to eat as much as you possibly can. The more experienced buffet-goers laugh at your rookie mistake as they take just enough food to feel satisfied. You on the other hand? You’ll try to pack towers on that plate of yours.
When entering a new chapter of your life, it’s understandable that you’re trying to do it all. You want to do amazing in your classes, join as many clubs as possible, make life-long friends (or at least enough friends to avoid eating meals alone in the dining hall), and have an entertaining social life. The excitement will take you far, but you are warned- keep this up and you’re on the path to burn out. There’s no point in overwhelming your schedule if you sacrifice your grades, your health, and even your relationships. With the adrenaline of entering college, its easy to think we can handle it all, but you’re only human. Make sure you understand your limits and manage your time wisely.

2) Go to Class

Having the choice to attend or skip class is quite the change from highschool. Inevitably, the option is taken advantage of …a lot. I will admit that I had my share of mornings where I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed- so I didn’t. This is a trap. Don’t fall into the trap. Trust me when I say that life will be much easier for you if you’re not scrambling to catch up with lectures or irritating others by asking for their notes. While you may find a way to pass the class regardless of attending, years later you’ll regret this. Look at it this way- calculate all the money you would waste by not attending a single class. Yeah, not worth it.

3) Explore

One of my most favorite parts of college is the chance to really look into yourself and explore. A lot of people view college as a final time to do what you want to do and be what you want to be before stepping into the infamous “adulthood” stage. It’s a chance to test your limits and discover what you’re really capable of. So step out of your comfort zone- take that yoga class you’ve been dying to do. Talk to that cute person you normally would just admire from afar. Explore your limits and be fearless. Why not?

4) Take care of your health

It’s easy to put health in the backseat with so much going on. Sleepless nights to cram for a test, unhealthy “apartment” food (ie. a diet that consists primarily of ramen noodles, frozen pizza, and mac & cheese), and having so much to do that visits to the gym happen about as often as journeys to Mordor. These are only a few of the many ways that your health can take a big hit if you don’t take care of it. A lot will be going on, but you owe it to yourself to make sure your health is a priority. Go the extra mile to do this. Let your roommates help keep you accountable to a strict bedtime (yeah, turns out we need this reinforced even more as we get older). Buy on-the-go breakfast food so you don’t rush to class on an empty stomach. Walk the long way to class. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but repetition of these little things will go a long way.

5) Its okay to be confused

A lot of people I know ended up changing their major during college and that’s okay. A lot of people decided on an entirely new profession and that’s okay. A lot of people left college without knowing where exactly they were headed and while that’s scary- that’s okay. This was a lesson that I very stubbornly had to learn as well. We’re all accustomed to knowing the next step. We’re comfortable because we’ve been guided up until this point. Middle school led to highschool and a set highschool schedule led to college . But here, the babying stops. You have to make the difficult decisions and choose your path on your own. Its important to take a deep breath and not be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to need some time to figure it out.

6) Relationships are hard work

When I entered college, I happened to find a group of friends who, like me, were in long and serious relationships. By the end of the year, almost all of us were single. By no means am I saying that relationships in college are impossible. I am also not advising that you break up with your significant other just because you two will go to separate schools. I’m simply pointing out that relationships in college are hard. With a significant other potentially being far away, schedules packed with new adventures, and “temptations” everywhere you turn, you two will have to test your trust of one another. Effort is key and with so many distractions around, it’s easy to forget that a relationship is also a responsibility. I am a firm believer that relationships in college can actually be some of the best ones, but it will only prevail if you are willing to put in the work.

7) Go to office hours

A lot of students tend to avoid office hours and fail to see the point of it. Trust me, you’ll want to take advantage of this- its never a bad thing to make a good impression on your professor. You’ll be surprised at how much information they’ll divulge about the midterm/final and its the ideal way to get a letter of recommendation. Unless you have an absolute jerk of a professor, they tend to be happy that you just took the time to see them.

8) Be brave- Make friends in class

Congratulations to those of you who have a super-human immune system, but if you’re like the rest of us, sickness is inevitable. The thing I’ve learned is you ought to make at least one friend in class who can save you from the dilemma of missing notes from an important lecture. Keep in mind that this is still a friendship and friends shouldn’t take advantage of each other. Don’t be that person that obviously missed class all week because of partying and expects “friends” to take notes for them. Keep your favors to a minimum to maintain that relationship.

9) Drop the drama

One of the beautiful things about graduating from highschool is that you’re allowed to drop all the mess that accompanied it. Drama, sticky situations, exes, you name it! While they may not be out of your life completely, you can look at college as a place to start over. A lot of things that stressed you out in highschool will no longer matter and ideally, college is suppose to be a place where people around you are much more mature. And if they’re not? Then you can let go of them. The pressure of getting along with everyone in highschool has been depleted so go ahead and drop any unnecessary drama. You’ll be surprised at how much better life can get.

10) Take it Slow

Whether you’re in college for two years or five years, college finds a way to feel like you’re rushing through time. One minute you’re a freshman looking over a map to make sure you don’t get lost, the next minute you’re in your cap and gown taking graduation pictures. Many people have said that college can be some of the best years of your life. Needless to say, I suggest soaking it all in and taking it slow. If these really are the best years of your life, make sure they count.

The Annoying College Roommate Guide

I remember it all too clearly. I squished myself and a cart full of luggage into an already-packed elevator, walked down the hall to my dormroom, placed my hand on the doorknob, took a deep breath in, and silently prayed that I didn’t have a horrible roommate.

Let’s face it- your college roommate is usually a hit or miss. Can this person potentially be your best friend and future bridesmaid?  Yup, I’ve seen it happen. Can this person irritate you so much that you spend most of your year complaining about how horrible it is to live with her? Yup, I’ve seen it happen.

If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who fits in the latter category, then have no fear. We have a few ways to try and counter this seemingly horrible situation. The following are a number of roommate horror stories that we’ve encountered and ways that we would handle it. Read on for The Annoying College Roommate Guide:


5 Ways to Address the Annoying Roommate


“My roommate during my first year of college was the worst! I once came home to strangers making out on my bed and a bunch people sitting on my stuff. My roommate decided to throw a party in our dorm without even telling me.”

Here’s the crazy thing- despite how obviously rude some of your roommate’s actions are, there are actually instances when your roommate may have no idea that they’re actually doing anything wrong. It’s important to be vocal and let them know when they’ve made you feel uncomfortable. More often than not, they will be taken by surprise that they were being rude and they will mend the situation. And if they were aware that they’re being rude, but did it anyway? This lets them know that you won’t passively let it slide.



“I had my schedule planned out perfectly. All classes were in the afternoon so I could stay out late without having to wake up early. My roommate, on the other hand, decided to take 8am classes and was sooo loud getting ready in the morning. So much for more sleep.”

SOLUTION: Know their schedule
It’s inevitable that people will have different schedules. If you have a plan to sign up for late classes, let your roommate know. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to change their schedule, but at least they’ll know to keep quiet.



“My roomie had absolutely no shame. He would bring a different girl every week and lets just say its not easy to get studying done when you’re sex-isled as much as I was.”

Don’t hesitate to sit your roommate down and make rules with each other. You’re not being uptight- you’re just making sure they know what’s not okay. Of course, this shouldn’t be one person dictating what’s allowed and not allowed in the dorm/apartment. You both live there so you both have to agree on these rules and abide to it.


Businessman Using Laptop Working Late Into the Night

“My roommate had a bad habit of studying late into the night AND she could only study at her desk. She would keep the light on all night long.”

SOLUTION: Compromise
For any relationship to work, there has to be a give and take. Maybe your roommate could use a smaller lamp or try studying in a lounge. Maybe you could start wearing an eye-mask. Find a give and take system that works for the both of you.



“I kept noticing that whenever I left my wallet, I would end up missing money. At first I thought I was just being neglectful with my spending habits, but once I almost caught my roommate in the act of stealing my cash. Never ended up feeling safe in that room again.”

SOLUTION: Talk to your RA
When matters get serious, you need to handle them accordingly. You know when things have gone too far and you need let other people in on the situation. Advocating for yourself is not “tattling”. Besides, if your roommate is going to act like a child who doesn’t know better, then they may as well be treated like one.




Of course, all this may not even apply to you. You may have the perfect roommates who cleans after themselves and shows all signs of proper courtesy. Its important now to stop and take a good look at the situation. Are you being as nice to your roommate as she is to you? You may not even realize it, but the annoying roommate could even be you.


5 Signs that YOU Are the Annoying Roommate

caught with her hands in the fridge

-Taking food
You didn’t get to go grocery shopping so you decide to take a cereal bar from your roommate’s stash. No biggie right? Your roommate tells you that he/she doesn’t even mind so you feel like you’re in the clear. Soon enough, you’ve continued this for a week and before you know it, all the cereal bars are gone. Don’t be this person. No matter how kind your roommate may be, they will still feel some sort of resentment if you eat all their food. Keep it to a minimum and make sure you pay them back some how at a later time.




I am horribly guilty of this. For your sake, I hope you don’t fit into the category of deep sleepers. Known for our instinctive habit of hitting the snooze button or worse, our bear-like ability to sleep through all of our alarms. If you have this habit, you are warned- your roommate will hate you in the morning. If it takes sleeping with an alarm next to your face to ensure you wake up to it, do it.




-Adding your own roommate
So you have a new significant other and you two can’t get enough of each other. In fact, you two are now connected at the hip. While your roommate have no problem with your relationship itself, this is still another person taking up the already cramped up space. This is another roommate (except one that doesn’t pay) and non-stop third wheeling for your roommate. Stop. Even if its your friends that you constantly bring over- its hard enough trying to get alone time, don’t ruin it further.



Student in a library surrounded by piles of books

-Not understanding study time
You need to be mindful that you’re living with someone that does not have the same schedule nor the same study habits as you. If you’re on the phone, you may be interrupting.  If you stumble in late at night drunk from that party, you may be interrupting. If they have their headphones turned up to the highest volume possible just to avoid hearing you, you may be interrupting. Be polite and respect their space.

messy bedroom

-Not cleaning up after yourself
When your clothes start piling over to your roommates side of the room, you have a problem. If you’re wondering why your roommate never has people over, it may be because they don’t want their friends to see the jungle that you two call a room. Clean up your own mess!