Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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Now that I’ve graduated from college there are definitely a few things that I wish I knew before I entered college and along the way there were definitely a few things that I have learned about the college experience and I would like to share these with you.

Apply Everywhere

If you are a high school student and you know for sure that you want to go straight to a four-year university then I would really suggest that you try to apply to as many universities as you can. Many of the public universities offer high school students a free application.

It is really important to have an open mind and don’t set your heart on just one particular college because this can potentially set you up for disappointment.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to apply to a college that you think you would never get into because nowadays college admissions are becoming much more holistic meaning that they look at you as a whole person and not just based on your grades.

Community College

I personally started off at a community college and then I transferred to a four-year university. Here in the United States community colleges are local two-year higher education institutions where students can study and take classes that are of equivalent value to the classes that are offered in the first two years of a larger university.

Community colleges are a great budget friendly option because they are significantly cheaper than four-year universities. Community college is also great option for those that could not or chose not to take the SAT/ACT or those that just performed poorly on those tests.

Community college students are held by the same standards of excellence as university students.

Consider your Financial Aid Options

I was very fortunate to graduate university without any student loans and it was all thanks to the generous financial aid package that I received. It is completely up to you whether you choose to attend a public or private university however, in my experience public universities have much more generous financial aid packages.

In most cases you have to apply for financial aid from the government before you even start attending the university so make sure to look at the deadlines and apply as soon as possible.

If you’re in the U.S. each state has its own deadline for applying for state financial aid so make sure that you look that up as well. Here is a great resource for you to check out your own state’s deadlines State benefits are often even more generous so make sure you apply for both federal (FAFSA) and state financial aid.

If you have to take out a student loan I would definitely recommend Federal Loans because they are provided by the government and they charge lower interest rates than private loans and the monthly amount that you pay back after you graduate is based on how much money you actually make.

If you are interested in private companies one possible option is Earnest which offers great rates on personal loans, and helps you save money by using their platform for student loan refinancing. Earnest’s mission is to offer lower interest rates than traditional banks on personal loans and save you time and money when paying your student loans.

Meet with an academic counselor:

As a college student, you will likely put a good amount of effort into each class that you take and the last thing you want to happen is to find out that a class that you took and studied for will not count towards your degree! To avoid this problem and many other similar problems, you should really meet with an academic counselor.

Academic counselors are a free resource that are there to help you choose the correct classes and they can help answer a wide range of questions that you might have. In many cases they can create an academic plan specifically designed for you.

Take Advantage of Free Resources

Aside from academic counselors’ colleges and universities offer a wide range of other completely free resources for their students. Some of these free resources may include tutoring centers, math center, writing center, multicultural center, psychological counseling, financial aid office, student support services and a career center.

The important thing to remember is that there are a lot of people willing to help you during your time at university but they are not going to come ask you if you need help you need to go to them and they will help you with the rest.

Check out the Library

One free resource that all universities have is the library. The library is a great place to sit back and study and/or complete your assignments. The quiet atmosphere of the library truly makes it an ideal place for students. Most libraries have computers where you can get work done and for a nominal fee you can print papers. Many libraries have a course reserve where professors often place a copy of their course’s required textbook.

Attend Class:

I know that this is definitely a no-brainer but during my time in college I was surprised at how many people would simply skip class. First of all, I feel like not attending class, without a good reason is like throwing away the money that you spent on tuition. Also, just attending class and being present can really make the difference in helping you earn the grade that you deserve.

Additional tip: Attend office hours. The idea of meeting one to one with a professor may seem daunting but remember that professors are human beings and most of them actually want to help you succeed. One of my professors always encouraged us to meet her in office hours and she said that perhaps she can explain a topic differently than she would in class and this can help you better understand the topic.

Work Hard but don’t sweat about your grade:

Personally, whenever I took a more challenging course I would always worry that I would fail the course. However, the reality is that with hard work any college course can be passed. The only thing that you should do is to work hard and do your part as the student. Professors are often more lenient  than they may appear. At the end of the course they may give everyone a slight bump. Many courses are graded on the curve and usually this helps the hard-working students.

Be Social:

College is not just for academics but it is also a time to make friends and expand your network. My personal advice is to really take advantage of the first few weeks. During this time, everyone tends to be more social and it’s a great time to meet new people.

Many universities have hundreds of student clubs and organizations. Try to join at least one club and this can be a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and potentially make life-long friends.

Take a nap:

Ideally, everyone including college students, should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, I know that as a college student this can be difficult number to achieve. As students, we have too many things on our plate and in order to fulfill all of our responsibilities sleep is often sacrificed. However, if you’re feeling tired during the day it is highly recommended that you take a 30-minute nap. A nap can rejuvenate your body and recharge your brain.

These were just a few tips and things that I personally wish that I knew during my time in college and I hope that it will be helpful to you!

Also, feel free to share some of your own tips for college success in the comments below or feel free to Tweet me @YasminRaoufi

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Six Back to School Tips

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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In the spirit of back to school season I wanted to share some of my personal tips on how to make the transition back to school as smooth and hassle-free as possible. I created these tips with the college student in mind however, I hope that these tips will be hopeful for students at all levels.

Map it Out

If its your first time attending the college, or if you attend a large university, it might be a good idea to find the location of your classes before classes start. Most universities are always open in the sense that you are free to walk around and find your classes the day before or even a few days before they start.  The first week can be very hectic so its nice to have one less thing to worry about. I personally consider myself directionally challenged so this is a tip that I definitely always used when beginning a new set of classes!

Read the Syllabus

So this is a tip that every professor is going to encourage you to follow. The syllabus is a document, created by the professor, that basically explains the format and layout of the course and most importantly, it almost always includes a section about how the course grade will be calculated.  The syllabus also contains a section on how you can best reach the professor if you ever need to contact him or her. A lot of the questions that you may have about the course structure will be covered in the syllabus so I would definitely recommend saving a copy of the syllabus on your phone or laptop.

Buy Textbooks/Materials

Another great reason to read the course syllabus is that it often includes details about the required textbook and any other required materials. If you are going to order your textbook and/or other required course materials online its a good idea to order them as soon as possible because sometimes shipping can take a while.

I personally loved using DealOz for purchasing my textbooks because all you have to do is enter the book’s title, author, or ISBN number and this site will search through the web and find the best deals for best new, best used, and best rental price for the book that you need.

Almost all colleges and universities have a college bookstore. Purchasing from the college bookstore is often convenient but costly. Also, check to see if there are any local bookstores that are competing with your college bookstore and these stores may have the textbooks that you need for a cheaper price then the college bookstore. However, in my experience textbooks sold online are almost always cheaper.

If the course requires you to purchase scantrons or booklets for exams I would recommend purchasing those in the first week just to get them over with and have one less thing to worry about when its exam time.

Start Studying

From my experience, most of my fellow students always started studying only a few days before the exam if not the night before. I would definitely recommend studying as soon as possible and especially after every lecture when the material is still fresh in your mind. With this method you only have to study a few minutes each day instead of trying to cram all the material before the exam. Cramming the material before the exam can become very stressful and you are much more likely to really understand the material if you spend a few minutes studying it each day.

Take a nap

Many students often sacrifice their sleep in order to fit in enough time for their academic and/or social life. Some students even brag about pulling an all-nighter. The reality is that sleep is vital not only to our physical health but it is also very important in making us cognitively awake and alert which can help us perform better academically.

As someone who is a recent graduate I know that sometimes life gets too busy and we simply don’t have time to get the required seven or eight hours of sleep. However, in order to avoid feeling burned out or tired feel free to take a nap ideally for around 30 minutes a day. Research shows that a quick daytime nap can reenergize us without harming the amount or quality of the sleep that we get at night.

Stay Positive

It is totally common to be a little nervous at the beginning of each school year whether it is because you are starting a new school or you are taking a class or classes that you feel are challenging. I know it might be intimidating to ask a teacher or professor for help but there are there to help you and the majority of them are very happy to help. Always try to stay positive and remember that with hard work and determination you can excel in any class!

I hope you all find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

Graduated!!!

Hey Everyone!

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I am so sorry that I have not been able to update this blog for almost a year. This past year was my senior year of college and I was so busy focusing on my course work and studying that I was forced to completely abandon this blog!

I am happy to report that this past weekend I graduated from the University of California Irvine with a Bachelors degree in Psychology.

This certainly would not have been possible without the help of God and the unconditional love and support from both of my parents.

My journey through college has been a slightly unconventional one. I started off at a local community college and due to certain life circumstances I was a part-time student at the community college for a number of years.  However, after I transferred to UC Irvine I became a full time student.

I have to admit that my motivation to study did decrease a bit during this past year. In other words, I did develop a bit of senioritis. However, what really kept me going was the  realization that I was so incredibly fortunate to attend a prestigious public university and I was fortunate that my parents were completely supportive of my passions and they never put any pressure on me. More importantly, I constantly reminded myself that there are thousands if not millions of girls and young women who have a very strong desire to have an education yet due to certain circumstances they are not able to pursue their dreams.

I honestly feel so grateful for the opportunities that I have been blessed with and of course I am proud of the fact that my hard work has paid off!

Now that I have graduated I am super excited about finally being able to continue my blogging journey. For me blogging is literally a means of expressing my voice to the world. As some of you may know I was born with a rare disability that causes me to have a speech impediment often making it very difficult for others to understand me when I speak.

However, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am looking forward to using this blog as a means of communicating about a wide range of lifestyle topics and issues with an emphasis on topics relating to psychology. I will consider myself fortunate if I can help slightly improve the life of even one person.

I am looking forward to blogging again and I hope you will join me on this journey 🙂

With Love,

Yasmin