Top 10 College Course Catalog Tips

October 3, 2011

One of the top ten college course catalog tipsContributed by Lisa Pratto, Top 10 Guru

Whether you are a freshman or a perpetual student, you could probably use some tips on how best to work a college course catalog.

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Top 10 Tips for Dealing with Homesickness at College

August 29, 2011

Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Top 10 Guru

You’ve looked forward to college for years. You couldn’t wait to be on your own, far from family curfews and that bathroom you had to share with your sister.

But now that you’re there, it’s not feeling quite like you imagined. In fact, you miss your parents, your room, your dog. You are homesick.

Before you hop on the next flight home, give these tips for dealing with homesickness at college a try.

10. Know that homesickness at college is normal

Some people are embarrassed by their feelings of homesickness. But the fact is, most college freshman experience some kind of homesickness. And the first semester is the hardest. Just knowing that what you feel is normal, and will pass, can make it easier to deal with.

9. Make your room your own

Settling into your room, placing your things on the desk and dresser, making your bed and hanging your posters can make your new space feel more like home. Once you have the things you brought with you unpacked, buy one or two new items to add a fresh look to your dorm room or apartment.

If your budget is tight, there are usually free poster give-aways around college campuses. And the local thrift store can be a great source for super-cheap frames, decorations and even furniture.

8. Do something you love

Whether you love to read, scrapbook, hit a tennis ball, run or draw, think of something you love to do, and immerse yourself in it.

Your favorite activities will offer a welcome distraction from homesickness, and make you feel more at home.

7. Make a discovery checklist

No, this is not a bucket list. This is a list of every event, location and local tourist attraction you want to see. Then use free afternoons or mornings to explore, checking things off your list as you go.

For an extra dose of homesick-beating medicine, ask your roommate or classmate to go along and explore with you.

6. Blog about your experiences, but make it funny

Almost every experience in college has a funny side, so share that on a blog. Write about the instance drop/add procedure, or the weird stuff the bookstore sells with school logos (does anyone really and truly want a mascot-adorned toilet paper holder? Seriously!)

5. Identify the triggers

For me, the worst time was twilight, when I would see the headlights of cars heading home. But instead of sitting there, wishing I could head home, too, I made sure to stay busy and away from the windows at twilight.

For my roommate, it was a certain TV show she used to watch with her sister. Instead of watching it alone and feeling sad, she invited a bunch of dorm mates to watch it with her, and then talked about it afterwards in a phone call with her sister.

Figure out what triggers your homesickness at college and either avoid it, or do new things at that time so you start to associate good college experiences with it.

4. Keep in touch with the folks back home.

No, you shouldn’t spend hours a day on the phone with your buddies from high school, but checking in with the folks, chatting with a friend still at home, or even talking to your annoying little brother for a few minutes can help keep connected, and reduce homesick feelings.

3. Talk to people who have been through it

Talking to people who have made it through the experience can often help. Not only will it remind you that homesickness at college is normal, they may be able to provide you with some ideas for dealing with it.

2. Talk to your RA, advisor or a school counselor

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by homesickness, seek out your RA, an advisor or a school counselor. You may need to talk with a professional to learn coping techniques.

1. Book a flight home…but not for tomorrow

If all else fails, book a flight home for some time on familiar turf. But don’t pick the next available flight. Make it several weeks down the road. Not only will that ticket give you something to look forward to, you’ll have several weeks to get more comfortable at college. That way it will be easier to return to school and your new life at college when the visit is over.

Top 10 Surprises About Going to College

August 29, 2011

Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Top 10 Guru

If you just started college, is it everything your expected? If you’re like most people, there were some surprises about going to college.

Here’s our top 10 list for the college freshman, or college bound.

10. No one asks if you’ve done your homework

When you decide to go from class to a party, no one will be around to ask if your homework is done, or remind you to take your cell phone. It really is up to you now.

9. Getting homesick is normal

That queasy feeling you felt when your parents drove away? The tears you fight back when you hear your little sister on the phone? Yup, even the most together, self-assured college students feel it. And yes, it does get better.

8. There are a whole lot of really smart people there

surprises at college
In high school, you had a mix of the college bound, and the not college bound. Now you’re surrounded by people who were not only college bound, but actually made the cut. It can pretty intimidating, until you realize that you’re one of them!

7. It’s okay to not know what you want to be

surprises at college
Ever since we were kids, people have been asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up. But guess what? Part of the college experience is figuring that out – kind of. Fact is, lots of people change their majors, and many never end up doing what they studied. And that’s okay.

6. Life is expensive

surprises at college
If you’re like most college students, mom or dad used to pay for a lot of life’s little expenses. Now that they’re not around to run to grocery store or fill up the car, you’re starting to get a feel for how expensive it all can be.

5. You are much messier than you thought

surprises at college
It takes a few months for most new college students to get the hang of cleaning up after themselves, doing laundry and putting things away. (Some never do.) But for most of you, there will come a day when you look around, realize you’re making a mess, and change your ways.

4. Your professors won’t care if you don’t come to class

surprises at college

Some of them might not even notice. But when it comes time to take a test, or hand in a project whose due date was changed on a day you missed, you’ll learn to care – a lot!

3. There’s no one to call your teacher and tell them you’re sick, or get an extension on a paper

surprises at college
Fact is, not only won’t most professors care if you miss class, they won’t care if you have to come to class sick, forgot about a project due date, or overslept. In college, the syllabus is law.

2. Classes are only part of the learning experience

surprises at college
In college, you’ll learn at least as much from interacting with other people, managing your time and budget, tackling difficult challenges, and planning ahead as you will from the “official” classes.

1. You are much more capable than you thought

surprises at college
This isn’t about swagger or ego. You will be amazed at just how much you can manage, and how smart you really are. And that is the real lesson of college.