Keeping up with Current Events in College

We live in a world where we’re surrounded by news every day – on our phones, on our computers, on television screens and newspaper headlines and through word of mouth. The news is all around us, but how often do we take the time out of our busy days to really focus on what’s actually happening around the world, or even in our own towns? But it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, so here are a few tips to help you stay informed:

 

1.     Look beyond social media. Sure, it’s easy to get your news from Facebook or Twitter, but so often all we see as we’re scrolling is headlines. And headlines aren’t enough to be informed about the news. They’re eye-catching, of course, but often misleading, and sometimes totally false. Social media is a great tool when it comes to connecting with friends and family around the world, but it shouldn’t be your only source of news.

2.     Read the paper. I know, I know – in the middle of our busy lives, who has time to sit down and read the newspaper anymore? But newspapers are a great way to stay informed while unplugging from your phone or computer for a while. Many colleges have subscriptions to major newspapers and magazines, which means you can often find a copy for free in your school’s library or student center.

3.     Turn on the TV. This is another traditional way of getting the news, but it’s still a good one if you want to be able to multitask. Watch the news while you fold laundry, for example, or turn on your local station while you’re getting ready in the morning. If you don’t have access to a TV in your apartment or dorm, most colleges have a student center or lounge spaces where you have control over the remote.

4.     Plug in your headphones. Podcasts are an increasingly common way to stay up to date on what’s going on in the world. You might already be into podcasts, and for good reason – just put in your headphones on your way to class or while you’re working out at the gym, and multitasking becomes so much easier. Plenty of major news publications have podcasts that will keep you up to date, so you can find one that works for you.

5.     There’s an app for that. Whether you want to get your news from a specific source (or two or three) or you want a compilation of multiple news sources, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you stay updated on current events. Put it on the home screen of your phone so you don’t forget about it, and try to make it a part of your daily routine to see what’s going on in the world.

6.     Check your email. Once again, a lot of major news organizations have a newsletter that you can sign up for, sending a roundup of top news stories to your inbox daily or weekly. This is a great way to get an overview of what’s going on in the world, but once again you shouldn’t stop there. Usually each brief snippet will be followed by a link to an article or two where you can keep reading, so take advantage of that!

 

As college students, it’s easy to feel like we live in a bubble, disconnected from what’s going on in the world away from school and class. But it’s so important to be informed about what’s happening in the world and there are lots of ways to do it, so find one that works for you!


The Benefits of Being an Early Riser

Everyone likes sleeping in, right? Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing better than curling up under the covers and going back to sleep, knowing that you don’t have to get up for a while. But if you’ve ever had to rush to get ready before work or class and felt the pressure of not having enough time, you know how nice it would be to have a little extra time in the mornings. Still, just the idea of setting your alarm even earlier might be enough to make you start yawning. But as hard as it may be at first, there are lots of perks that come from getting up just a little bit earlier in the morning!

 

  1. More time to adjust. Let’s be honest – it can take a few hours after your alarm goes off for you to really feel ready for the day. And if you’re waking up too late, that could mean that you’re not feeling ready until you’ve already been in class or at work for a while. Setting your alarm a little earlier (or a lot earlier, if you’re really ready to make a change) can give you more time to “wake up” before you need to be ready for the day, helping you be more productive when you do get to work or school!
  2. Start your day with breakfast. How many of us have skipped breakfast at least once when we were running late or just “too busy” to eat? Probably too many of us. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and taking the time to start your morning by eating breakfast can help kickstart other healthy eating habits throughout your day. When you’re getting up earlier than normal, you won’t have the same excuse that you’re too busy or running late, making breakfast a part of your routine again!
  3. Get more done. Depending on how much extra time you want to give yourself in the morning, you could even spend that time getting some work done before your day even starts. If you feel more productive in the morning, that can be a great time to get ahead on homework or start a work project. Not only will you start your day on a productive note, you’ll also free up time later on that you can use for other things!
  4. Enjoy some alone time. Even the most extroverted people can find that they need some time to themselves occasionally. Even if you live with family or roommates, early mornings are a great time to spend some “me time,” in whatever way works for you, even if it’s just enjoying your coffee in silence.
  5. Get some exercise. If you’re having trouble sticking to a workout routine, getting up earlier than usual to get your exercise can be a great help. While it’s easy to come up with excuses in the afternoon or evening after work or class, those same excuses don’t work nearly as well first thing in the morning. Without all the distractions that come up during the day, you’ll be able to stick to your workout and start your day off right!

 

While getting up earlier in the morning often means you need to go to bed a little earlier the night before, this can be a great choice for several reasons. Not only will this restore your body’s natural sleep schedule, helping you feel more energized and rested, you’ll also have time to do other things that you normally have trouble fitting into your day. The idea of setting your alarm even earlier sounds awful, I know, but it can be a great way to get more done and start making other healthy choices!

 


The Value in Embracing Your Weaknesses

If you’ve ever been in an interview setting, you may have been asked to describe one (or more) of your weaknesses. That’s a scary question for a lot of people, either because they don’t know what their weaknesses are or because they don’t want to admit the weakenesses to themselves (or to other people). And that’s understandable, since we naturally want to present the best version of ourselves. However, acknowledging and embracing our weaknesses is incredibly beneficial in several ways.

 

The most obvious one, of course, is that recognizing the areas where we’re struggling can help us figure out where we need to put in more effort. Working hard to improve in these areas is important, but you can’t do that if you don’t know what they are! Taking a little time to really think about your weaknesses and what’s holding you back can help you in the long run. For example, if you know that procrastination is a problem for you and this is something that is negatively affecting your life, it will be much easier to avoid it and try to break that habit.

 

Even if you don’t think you can fully overcome your weaknesses, knowing what they are can also help you find ways to work around them. While it’s important to acknowledge and understand your weaknesses, it’s also important to focus just as much on your strengths. While none of us are perfect, we all have areas where we excel and traits and habits that help us succeed. Being fully aware of all your strengths and weaknesses can help you find ways to use your strengths to help you work around your weaknesses.

 

Finally, acknowledging and understanding your weaknesses is helpful because it allows you to ask for help when you need it. If you know you’re not great at editing your own papers, you can seek out resources that will help you improve or find someone who is good at it to assist you. Asking for help is just as hard as acknowledging the things we struggle with, but it’s so, so important.

 

It’s never fun to reflect on our weaknesses – often we’re all too ready to lay the blame on something (or sometimes somebody) else when we mess up or don’t succeed. But our weaknesses are part of who we are just as much as our strengths are and failing to recognize them means we never learn from them. Embracing our weaknesses is never an easy thing to do, but the benefits make it absolutely worth it!


Planning the Perfect Staycation

Everyone loves a good vacation, right? Time away from work, school, and the pressures of our busy schedules always feels like just the thing we need to help us relax and become reenergized when we start feeling burned-out. But for multiple reasons, a real getaway might not be in the cards. Whether it’s the time, the expense, or some other factor, it isn’t always possible to travel somewhere new and exciting when we feel like we need a break.

 

That’s where a staycation comes in. You’ve probably heard of it – it’s just like a vacation but without leaving town, you literally stay at your house! Staycations are great for when you can’t quite justify a true vacation, but still want to get away from your daily routine. In general, they’re less expensive and involve much less travel time (if any). Instead of the additional pressures that come with traveling, your time away from work or school can be relaxing and restful from beginning to end.

 

Now that you’ve hopefully been sold on the idea, here are a few things to consider when planning the perfect staycation:

 

  1. Where to stay? The most obvious answer is at home, and that’s definitely going to save you the most money! However, trying to relax at home when there are dishes to be done and laundry that needs to be washed can be difficult. One way to avoid this is to do some serious preparation before your staycation – do all essential chores ahead of time to avoid the temptation when you’re trying to relax. Another option is to stay somewhere else, like a local hotel or an AirBnB, to truly get you in the vacation mood.
  2. What to do? At first it may seem like your options are limited if you’re not leaving town, but take a second look. There are sure to be plenty of places in town that you haven’t been – a traveling exhibit at a museum, a new bookstore you’ve been meaning to visit, a local park or garden (if the weather’s nice). A staycation doesn’t mean sticking to the same routine you always do – be a tourist in your own city and do some (local) sightseeing!
  3. What to eat? Sure, you could finish out whatever leftovers you have in your refrigerator. But, if you really want to get into the vacation state of mind, think about trying a new restaurant or ordering takeout from somewhere new. Again, if you’re trying to get away from your normal routine, that should include food, too! If you do cook at home, consider trying a new recipe or two.
  4. How to do it? So you’ve got it all planned out – where you’re going to stay and what you’re going to do and eat – but it still feels like just another weekend at home. There are plenty of thing you can do to help your staycation feel like the kind of vacation you’ve dreamed of. Don’t be afraid to splurge (within reason), for one thing. Also, take a lot of pictures! You’d never go on vacation without pulling your camera out all the time to document it, right? A staycation shouldn’t be any different!

 

While it may not have quite the excitement that you’d get from traveling somewhere new, a staycation is a great option when you need a break but can’t afford an out-of-town vacation. If you plan it right, your staycation could be just the thing to help you relax in your time away from work or school!


Giving Back: Volunteering In College

Maybe in high school you were required to do a certain number of community service hours in order to get your degree, or a club or organization required volunteering in order to be a member in good standing. But many students, after they’ve gotten their diploma and moved on to college, tend to forget about all that community service they did in high school. In the midst of challenging classes and new and exciting extracurricular activities, it can feel like you don’t have a lot of time for volunteering.

 

But spending some of your time giving back to your community has a lot of benefits, both for those you’re serving and for you. Below are just a few of the reasons you should consider volunteering in your community, even if it isn’t required by your school or by a club or organization:

 

  1. A sense of accomplishment. This is probably the benefit you’ve heard about most often, that good feeling you get from helping others. One of the biggest rewards of serving your community is the knowledge that you’ve done something good, whatever your service was.
  2. Boost your resume. This is something that almost all college students are concerned about, and for good reason. Volunteering is a great addition to any resume – it shows commitment, time-management skills, and a dedication to your community, all of which reflect positively on you as a potential employee!
  3. Learn new skills. Depending on what kind of volunteering you’re doing, you may be building skills that can help you in other areas of your life, or even in your career. If you know another language, working with immigrants or refugees in your community is a great way to practice your skills while serving others. Other types of service may help you build computer or interpersonal skills that you can use in the future.
  4. Explore new interests. Again, this depends on the type of service you’re doing, but volunteering can be a great way to explore new career fields or interests that you may have. In addition to the skills you’re building, you’ll also have a be able to visualize yourself in a particular field before you ever get a job!
  5. Network, network, network. You hear it over and over again from your parents, your professors, and the career center. And volunteering is a great way to do it! Not only do you get to know your fellow volunteers, but you also can connect with professionals in the field in which you’re doing your community service. This is especially important if you’re interested in entering the field after college!
  6. Helping others. This is by far the most important reason to volunteer – giving back to your community. Any service is good service in some way, but community service that comes from a genuine desire to help others and to improve your community will have the most benefits for both you and those you’re serving.

 

It can be hard to carve out time from a busy schedule to find an hour or two a week to volunteer, but it’s definitely worth it!


Life is full of heartaches and heartbreaks, and not just the relationship kind either. The “I just failed my chemistry test”, “I can’t pay my bills this month”, or “I can’t be pregnant right now” kind also really hurt. We’ve all been there at one time or another, facing some really tough situations. Whether it’s due to your own mistakes that caused the pain or pain inflicted by someone else, pain is pain. We all need a little inspiration to keep pushing through when life as we know it at the moment just plain hurts.

I’ve learned that when everything around me seems to be crumbling, it’s crucial to have positive and encouraging influences in my life. Sometimes that can be accomplished through friends and family, but they can’t be there when I’m alone with my thoughts. Because of that I’ve learned to change my thoughts.

Of course that’s easier said than done. It begins with little changes. Writing encouraging phrases on Post-It Notes and putting them where I’ll see them throughout the day has worked for me. I’ve also used dry erase markers on my bathroom mirror to jot down some empowering messages for me to see when I start my day.

Technology has made it possible to easily find material for inspirational messages that speak straight to you and your situation with a quick search on google images or Pinterest. Don’t overlook the opportunity to also save images as your wallpaper or lock-screen background! I’ve included a few that have worked for me. Blessings to you on your journey to better thinking!

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It’s interesting how easy it is to forget what holidays are all about. Christmas is meant to be about giving but too often we focus on “what can I get out of it?” We prepare our wish lists before Thanksgiving even arrives, before we have decided what we should give to our family members. And Thanksgiving itself is meant to be about counting our blessings, and yet we often focus too much on the food we will eat, and the football game we will watch. Or maybe we get excited to see the people we will be spending it with and the things we will do to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, those are important parts of the holidays. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be a very special time if it wasn’t commemorated by family get togethers and festive traditions. However, each holiday has a theme which is worth pausing to think about, a lesson which is worth trying to learn in a new way each time the special day comes around.

 

Giving thanks is a beautiful theme. Gratitude makes each good thing more meaningful. Without gratitude, without pausing to appreciate all the beautiful things in our lives, they can too easily slip right by us unnoticed. If we don’t stop and notice the beauty, we might get too busy, too pre-occupied to see it. On the other hand, if we foster an attitude of gratitude, if we make time to give thanks, we will see more goodness and beauty all around us, and we will also appreciate it more than we did before. It’s the difference between being handed a sandwich and chowing down immediately, and looking in the eye of the person who handed you the sandwich and saying “thank you” and thinking to yourself, “I’m really lucky to be able to eat this. Some people have nothing to eat right now.” When we practice an attitude of gratitude, each tiny part of our daily lives becomes something to celebrate, something to rejoice in. This Christmas, we all have good and bad things happening in our lives. Some hard parts, some parts that are going well. But let’s really make an effort to give thanks, both in words and silently in our hearts.

 

By Colleen McCrum


Active listening is a skill that many people could use a little help with. It’s easy to talk to people without giving them our full attention. Practicing active listening skills can be just the thing to increase successful communication in your relationships.

 

Here are some ways to practice your active listening skills:

  • Stop what you’re doing. You cannot actively listen if there are other distractions stealing your attention. Give the person in your conversation 100% of your attention. It also communicates respect to the person you’re talking with.
  • Make eye contact. It shows the other person that you’re interested AND paying attention to what they’re saying. It also shows compassion to the person you’re talking with by sharing their gaze.
  • Just listen. This can truly be the hardest of all. Don’t interrupt. Don’t try to fix their problems. Don’t share your opinions. Simply listen and Hang. On. To. Their. Every. Word.
  • Wait for a natural pause to ask the right questions. The right questions are clarifying questions. This is the perfect time to ask questions to make sure you understand what the other person is saying.
  • Show empathy when necessary. When you’ve done all of the above, you should have a pretty good idea what emotion they’re feeling. For example: If your friend is feeling down and just needs a shoulder to cry on, now’s not the time to throw a pep rally of a celebration for your friend. Just be in the moment with them. (Tip: This is especially true for people who have just received difficult health news about themselves or loved ones.)

To all our college students out there; we’ve been there. It can be super hard to stay focused and motivated with Thanksgiving Break arriving and leaving your life so quickly and finals week on the horizon, but YOU CAN DO IT! We’ve got some tips to help you stay encouraged and carry you through!

  1. Start your morning with positivity.

Google encouraging quotes, grab some dry erase markers and let your creativity shine all over that bathroom mirror! Every morning you’re bound to see it, and hopefully it will make you smile. Ask your roommate to take turns with you and be surprised half of the mornings about what encouraging message you’ll find!

  1. Don’t procrastinate.

Why wait to start studying for finals? Get a jumpstart! Set aside time each day for creating a study plan to brush up on your current subjects. Now is also the time to get caught up on any reading you’ve just been skimming to get by during the semester. [Yeah, I’ve lived your life.]

  1. Take care of your health.

You need to be in tip-top shape both mentally and physically to perform your absolute best on any test. Finals are no exception. Even though TV shows and movies through the years have normalized the picture of studying for finals as if you’re supposed to be without sleep for days, living on pizza rolls and stressed to the max is obviously not the best-case scenario. Eat right and sleep tight now, while you start your studying plan and continue that routine up until the big tests.

Don’t forget that you’ve already made it this far, and you’ll continue to do great things! I’d tell you “good luck,” but if you follow this advice, we don’t think you’ll need it! <3


Y’all it’s so easy to do. You see something that you just KNOW your friend or family member will LOVE for a Christmas present, and you hand over the cash or the credit card to purchase your new-found treasure. Then—Oh wait! You see another something that you just KNOW your friend or family member will LOVE for a Christmas present… and before you know it you’re on the other side of the Holidays and Just. Plain. Flat. Broke.  

You’re left feeling upset that you’ve allowed yourself to get to this place once again because, trust me, as you get older life doesn’t get any easier to get through the holiday gift giving season without a plan. If your future self wrote a letter to you, it would probably look something like this: 

“Dear [Your Name Here],  

Please, for the love, write out a budget for this holiday season. Be realistic about it. Besides gifts, think about the travel to [our holiday destinations] to visit [our favorite or… maybe least favorite people. Your secret is safe with me!]. Don’t forget to take into consideration all of those extra lattes we enjoy while out shopping! (P.S. Did you know we’re probably spending more on our coffee each year than our retirement? Yikes!)  

Watch out for the retail tricks! There’s a reason why the US is expected to spend over 183 billion U.S. dollars for advertising in 2017, which includes market research to explore the psychology behind consumer decisions. Loyalty cards, store credit cards, decoy pricing, etc. are all ways that stores win in the end. If they didn’t profit from these practices, do you think they’d really keep doing them? Taking advantage of sales is a great way to shop if the purchases fit the requirements of our budget. Do not fall for the retailer mind games that convince you to buy a new tablet because you’ll get 72 rubber chickens for free! 

Gift cards can make great gifts, but beware! Hope I got your attention with that statement, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking. When purchasing a gift card at a store or on a website, 72% do some shopping for themselves. Remember, you’re not shopping for us when you’re picking up that gift card for [the name of that person who we know is impossible to buy for].  

Don’t forget that in order to properly execute a budget, tracking our spending is key. A budget is just numbers on a page unless you go back and account for how we spent the money on our budget items. There’s a sense of awareness and self-accountability when you complete the FULL process of budgeting. 

Finally, please know that no one in our circle wants us to go into depression debt on January 2nd, after all of the parties are over and the tree is down. If you have to cut back on gift giving in comparison to previous years, you’ll know as soon as you write out your budget, so be sure to do that early. That way you can talk with friends and family ahead of time to explain your new vision for avoiding overspending during the holidays.  

Sincerely, 

[Your name + some wisdom and sanity] 

 

P.S. You’re welcome, my friend. Also, can you please tell our friends the the future says that man bun is a bad idea?