Making the Most of College Tours

Visiting a university campus can feel extremely overwhelming. You're potentially seeing buildings that you will call home for four (or five) years. It doesn't have to be this daunting though, remember that they are trying to impress you when you visit. I toured several schools before I applied and eventually made my final decision about where I would attend university. Here's a few tips I learned from visiting campuses and from being a student.

Ask Questions
When you go to an informational session or when you take your actual tour, there is someone with you who's job it is to answer questions and ensure that you are well informed. Don't be afraid to ask questions about classes, residence halls and other facilities on campus. There are no stupid questions!

Make Notes
It can be easy to get certain aspects of a university confused with others, especially when you are touring several. Jot down important or unique things about each college. You can even do this in your phone if you don't want to carry a notebook and pen. 

Don't Just Attend a Showcase
Yes, showcases are great. They will show you all the amazing things about the school and you'll see plenty of other prospective students. However, these are also the days when the food in the dining hall is the best it's ever been and most of the actual students are nowhere to be seen. 

Visit during the Semester
I understand that summer is a great time for tours. It's easier to find time to travel to schools that are further away. If you want to really get a feel for the campus, I recommend going back while classes are in session. This way, you'll be able to see what the students are like and what the dorms look like when they're actually occupied.

Dress Comfortably
Put on your walking shoes, since most campus tours are pretty lengthy. Check the weather forecast in advance and bring a rain jacket anyway. It's okay to dress pretty casually, especially since any current students you encounter are secretly wearing clothes they slept in and haven't showered all week. 

Explore the Town
The deciding factor between two schools, for me, was the surrounding area. Take a look around, even if it's just driving, the town you could be living in. Make sure they have the essential stores and a few restaurants. If you have time, eat a meal off campus too. 

If you have any questions about something I didn't cover, leave a comment below! I'd be happy to answer them. Also, if there is anything else college or sorority related that you would like to see on the blog, let me know! Check out my other college related blog posts here!

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Open Letter to the Group Chat

We all have one. The infamous 'group chat' is known for giving you constant notifications and draining your battery before lunch time. If you're really blessed (cursed?), you're apart of more than one. They may seem like a burden sometimes, but we all know we would be lost in life without our group chats.

Thank you for the advice you constantly provide me with.
Whether I need to know if a shirt is cute or if I'm deciding which photo to post, you answer all my questions. If I can't remember what time we need to be at an event, someone knows. You've allowed me to rant about anything going on in my life and I've listened to you do the same. 

Thank you for providing my with entertainment 24 hours a day.
When I finish a class and open my phone to over 100 notifications, I know something dramatic has happened... or you all discovered a new meme. Either way, I can't wait to read (skim) all of the messages. I never feel lonely when the group chat is blowing up.

Thank you for the updates before they hit social media.
The group chat is the first place I go to make announcements about my life. New job? New boyfriend? New pet? It's all in the group chat before it is on Twitter. I'm so glad I get to hear about your day or about something exciting happening first.

Thank you for making embarrassing photos resurface.
There's nothing I look forward to more than when someone sends a photo from middle school to the group chat. This always leads to stalking each person on Facebook in a race to find the best material. I truly enjoy seeing pictures from a time before front cameras existed for selfies and when crocs were popular.

Thank you for understanding when I put you on mute.
Sometimes I can't keep up with all the messages you send. Maybe I'm out of town, and the plans you are making for lunch aren't relevant. I might be in the library, cramming for an exam. Thanks for never being offended that I've silenced my notifications or stopped replying for a few hours. We all need a little 'me' time. 

Without the group chat, I would live my life in constant boredom. Or worse, I would have to send 7 different texts every time something happened in my life. So thanks, group chat. You're pretty special.

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What Not to Bring to College

Last fall, I started college at Missouri State University as a freshman. When I moved into the dorms, I wasn't completely sure what to expect. I shared some of what I was bringing with me on the blog. There's a lot of things that college freshman need as they transition to university life. However, there are plenty of things you don't need to pack when moving into your dorm.

T-Shirts from High School
Once you set foot on campus, you don't want to wear t-shirts from high school events. Keep them at home to wear when you are visiting, sleep in them, or make a t-shirt quilt. You're going to accumulate more new shirts than you can imagine in your first year at college. Show off your university pride with a couple new items from the bookstore and collect as many free shirts from campus events as you can. Also, if you are joining a sorority, you're going to acquire plenty of shirts. Make space now for all the new clothes.

Extra Furniture
Dorm rooms are notoriously small. If you are living suite-style like I did, you may have an extra kitchen or living room area for a comfy chair. However, most residence halls come equipped with the necessary furniture. In community style dorms, there simply is not room for extra pieces of furniture. Purchase some cushions and extra pillows to make your bed comfortable. You're going to end up using that area for sleep, studying and relaxing so make the most of the space you do have.

Small Kitchen Appliances 
Again, you probably lack the space for these. You're also probably going to use them once. Other than a small coffee maker, there is really no extra kitchen appliance necessary for you to purchase and bring. My university supplied us with a microwave and mini fridge. I don't know how common this is at other universities, but make sure you check closely to see what will already be in your room on move in day. There may also be regulations on what types of appliances your school allows you to have in the dorm, so read up on those as well.

Excess Decorations
Pack what you need to customize your dorm room and make it feel more like home. Don't go overboard on this though. Leave space to hang photos with new friends. Bringing too many decorative items will make your small room feel more cramped too. If you are planning on joining a sorority, you are going to be spoiled by your big with an endless amount of crafts. These will slowly consume your dorm (glitter, glitter everywhere) and cover any available wall space.

Anything Prohibited by your University
This should be obvious, and includes many things that are pretty self explanatory. This list is going to include items like candles, alcohol or drug paraphernalia and weapons. Some schools have very specific restrictions on the types of appliances, extension cords and power strips you are able to have in their residence halls. Read up on this carefully before you shop. 

Remember that you can bring anything you ended up not needing home when you visit. Usually it is better to be over prepared than under prepared, but I found that this isn't the case with college. You can always shop for things you need later or forget to bring. It's more difficult to take or send things home, especially if you are going to a university far from home. Leave a comment if you have any other suggestions or questions! Check out my other college related blog posts here! 

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Strawberry Festival

I found myself in H&M recently, shopping for clothes to wear to work and came across these shorts. I'm not sure why I was in the Coachella section of the store, but I couldn't leave without these shorts. The elephants quickly caught my attention, and I decided they would make a great addition to my wardrobe. I wore them for the first time to the Kimmswick Strawberry Festival in Missouri. Kimmswick is about an hour south of Saint Louis, on the Mississippi River. The strawberry festival is essentially a market that covers their downtown with booths from different vendors. There was food, jewelry, clothing, antiques and decor items. I even found a Missouri State key fob that I told myself I didn't need. I quickly returned to the store and bought it though. What is self control? I love exploring little towns and seeing what is going on around me in the summer time. I can't wait to share more adventures on here!

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Sorority Crafting Necessities

I don't know when crafting became a sorority tradition, but I can't imagine college without it. In my dorm, we dedicated nights to staying in and crafting together. There's so much inspiration on pinterest and always things we wanted to make. I've painted and decorated a countless number of canvases, frames, and jars as gifts. The world of sorority crafting can seem a little overwhelming at first. There's a few things you'll need to stock up on. 

Brushes - you don't need to spend a lot of money on brushes. I've built up a collection by purchasing different variety packs. 

Paint - instead of buying a separate 2oz acrylic paint each time you want to make something, buy the basic colors now. You can mix to create different colors and shades. Make sure you have plenty of black and white.

Tape - straight lines are impossible without good painting tape. The cheapest scotch tape you can find will do the job, but make sure it's stuck down or your paint will bleed.

Canvases - never buy canvases at full price! All the major craft stores have different sales each week. I like to buy several at once, and they often come in value packs. Don't underestimate canvas boards either. They're cheaper and help to make a wall of canvases look more varied.

Frames - unfinished wood frames make great gifts after you paint them and add some decorations. Michael's has some for only $1!

Ribbon - you can add ribbon to anything to give it some added flair.

Rhinestones - you can also put rhinestones on pretty much anything. There's some really cool canvases on pinterest made with rhinestones. They also look good on anything wood, like a frame, letters or pin box. 

Glitter - should you add glitter? Yes, always add glitter.

Glue - you're going to need a few different types of glue in your crafting supplies. Elmer's glue is perfect for working with glitter. I also recommend getting a mini hot glue gun for embellishments. Lastly, modge podge is your new best friend. Seal paint and glitter, especially glitter, with it to make it last longer.

I've linked everything you need to get started below:

Artist's Loft Fundamentals Natural Hair BrushesReeves Circle Plastic PaletteAcrylic Paint Value Pack by Craft SmartScotch Greener Masking Tape for Performance PaintingCraftsmart Paint Pen Set, Broad Line, 3 Count, Multi
Artist's Loft Necessities Canvas Super Value Pack, 8" x 10", 8" x 10"ArtMinds Wood Frame, 4" x 6"Kerr Mason Pint JarCelebrate It Tempo Grosgrain Ribbon, 1/4", Light BlueDarice Gems, Rhinestones Round, Clear

Creatology Glitter, 8 oz. SilverCreatology Glitter, 8 oz. GoldElmer's Washable School Glue ClearMod Podge Matte, 16 ozArtMinds Fashion Mini Glue Gun, Pink

Striped Dress

Dress // Necklace (Lilly for Target) // Sandals // Watch (similar) // Bracelet

When college students come home for the summer, it suddenly becomes less acceptable to wear over sized t-shirts and athletic shorts everyday. Instead of forcing myself into jeans, I will always opt for a dress when I need to be a little fancy. Any excuse not to wear pants, right? I'm absolutely obsessed with the stripes trend that is becoming more and more popular in clothing. I picked up this dress at Old Navy (surprise) recently on sale. You can even get it in nine other colors, if stripes aren't your thing. It's already proved to be the perfect summer dress for high school graduation parties. I've collected some other dresses that are perfect for graduation parties and other summer events:

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Why you Shouldn't get a Dory

Finding Dory will premiere in theaters this month. It's an exciting time for Disney Pixar fans of all age. Millions will rush to see this film during it's opening weekend. I will most likely be among them. When Finding Nemo came out in 2003, it was wildly successful. After, many children begged their parents for their own 'Nemo'. Since clown fish can be bred in captivity, the Finding Nemo craze was not detrimental to their population. However, the upcoming Finding Dory poses a potentially devastating threat to the Blue Tang, known to children as 'Dory'.

Researchers have not learned how to breed blue tang fish in captivity yet. When these fish lay eggs, they release them into open water, which makes it extremely difficult to raise hatchlings domestically. In order to obtain a blue tang fish, they must be captured from coral reefs. The majority of these fish will die during this process and transportation. Some collectors have been known to break coral when obtaining blue tang, which is extremely harmful to the reef. Also, in the wild, blue tang grow up to 1 foot in length. This is impossible in a tank, which harms their muscles. Removing these fish from the ocean can contribute to damaging coral reefs as well. Potentially, an entire ecosystem is at risk.

In Finding Nemo, a fish travels far to rescue his son. Nemo was captured by divers and kept in captivity. The film reveals the effect that tank life has on tropical, marine fish. When viewing Finding Dory, it is important to remember these fish were meant to live in the ocean. In order for their populations to thrive, blue tangs should be living in their natural habitat. 

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7 Myths about College

College is weird. It really is. There's plenty of information out there for prospective students. There's also a lot of rumors about university that simply aren't true. You're going to hear a lot from parents and teachers about college life but here's a few myths I rounded up:

You can succeed without studying

This may have worked in high school, but it's not going to cut it in college. You're going to have to put more time into academics once you begin taking college classes. There isn't always homework or busywork that will be checked, but the overall workload increases immensely between high school and college. You'll also find that you can study all night and still not get an A.

Everyone has the same college experience

There will be people with the same major as you, and people in the same organizations as you. This does not mean you are having the same college experience. Everyone will have a unique time in college. If you want to broaden your college background, try joining clubs that don't pertain to your major. Branch out and make a variety of friends so you don't get stuck in a rut.

You need to know your major as a freshman

I went into my freshman orientation and first semester with my major declared. However, that's not common. I know plenty of people that finished an entire year of school without choosing a major. You can take general education classes to figure it all out. It's also very common to change your major several times. It's easier to stay on track if you change your major early, though, so you don't have to go back and take new prerequisites. 

The FAFSA will provide you with a lot of aid

I don't know how widely believed this is, but don't expect too much from the FAFSA. Instead, explore your options for earning scholarships from your university based on grades and ACT score. Apply for any other scholarships that you can. Look beyond your college as well, and find other resources for scholarships.

You don't have to go to all of your classes

I mean, technically this is true. Most of your professors aren't going to take attendance. It doesn't hurt them if you miss class. Other professors will give attendance points or take away points for classes you don't attend. Some will offer extra credit for a certain attendance rate. Read your syllabus for this information. However, even if attendance isn't mandatory, you should still go to class. You're missing valuable information and wasting money each time you skip.

College is one big party

When you move into your freshman dorm, you automatically have a lot of new freedom. With freedom comes a huge responsibility. You can do literally whatever you want with your time, but academics should always be your first priority. Spend the occasional Friday or Saturday night in studying or just spending time with friends. Sometimes the quiet nights are the most memorable.

The Freshman 15

Okay so this one might be the most true. You can avoid it though! Use the resources your campus has, like a recreation center, and exercise regularly. Also, just because the dining hall has dessert options, it doesn't mean you need a cookie with every meal. 

You're going to hear a lot of misguided and outdated information about college while you're still in high school. While I can't say what every university is like, I do speak from very recent experience. If you really want to know what college is like, reach out to older students at the school you are going to attend. I promise they're not scary and they'll be excited to tell you about the college! Check out my other college related blog posts here.

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Where to Shop for your College Dorm

When shopping for your college dorm, there are so many things you need. There are also a ton of options of where to shop. I've rounded up a few of my favorite stores and options so it's not too difficult for you!

I didn't actually purchase anything for my dorm room from Anthropologie, but they have so many unique options for bedding. If you don't mind spending a little more, definitely check out Anthropologie.

I bought a lot at Bed, Bath & Beyond before I started college. They have almost everything you could need. Shop here for basic items, storage solutions, and small kitchen appliances.

Any storage that you could possibly need can be found at The Container Store. They have a lot of different storage options that come in collections so you can stay organized.

I absolutely love Home Goods. When you're looking for decorations and other odds and ends, start at Home Goods. I would even look at several locations, if you are able, since they tend to have different items in stock.

Again, IKEA is home to great storage and organization items. They're fairly inexpensive but you'll have to put everything together yourself. IKEA also offers different collections to fit your style.

I love shopping online with Overstock. Usually, they have brand names at lower prices. They currently have a College section, and a ton of bedding options. 

This is another online shopping option. PB Teen has everything you need, from bedding to shower accessories to storage. They even have backpacks on their website.

Target is another place that I purchased a lot of items for my dorm from. They have a lot of options, especially if you want to get some neutral options to start with. Keep in mind that this is a popular college shopping destination, so you are almost guaranteed to have the same bedding as someone else on your floor.

I would shop at World Market for more decorations and fun stuff, but they also have bedding and furniture. They also have some options for office accessories, which are perfect for desk organization. 

Here' some of my favorite bedding for your dorm!
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