First Snow + My Winter Bucket list

Feeling Festive

Why You Should Spend a Summer in your College Town

If you're not excited for the school year to start up in August, you either picked the wrong school... or you're already living in your college town. Most students can't wait to pack up and move back to the city they go to school in. This summer, after my trip to New Zealand, I moved straight down to Springfield. I've been working two jobs on campus, cooking for myself, and beginning to actually be responsible for myself. Let me tell you, this has not been easy, but I'm glad I did it.

8 Habits for Better Grades

I'll be honest with you, I'm not the poster child for amazing grades in college. In my four semesters, some have been better than others. There's definitely a few small things you can do to improve your grades and hopefully get you on the Dean's List! I promise they aren't difficult habits to develop, you just have to be consistent.

How to "Do It All" In College (+ free iPhone wallpaper!)

In my spring semester, I became a pretty busy person. I was serving on executive councils for multiple organizations, coaching Girls on the Run, searching for an apartment/house, making summer travel plans, blogging, interviewing for jobs and taking 12 credit hours (should have been 15, but I changed my major and dropped a statistics class). My calendar was so full that I started blocking out time for lunch with friends and taking naps, or those things weren't going to happen. I've talked about time management in several blog posts but how do you actually balance all the things that college entails?

Mount Cook, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

Waiterere, New Zealand

Palmerston North, New Zealand

Exploring Dallas, TX

Exploring Waco, TX

Magnolia Market & Garden

College Backpack Essentials

What I like to have in my backpack in college is a little different than high school. Then, I could carry around textbooks and it wasn't a big deal because I never had far to walk. Now, I'll sooner take my laptop to class than a heavy textbook. There are also things that weren't necessary in high school that I do need on a college campus. So here's a list of the main things I keep in my backpack at college and why:

Backpack - Before I started college, I purchased the North Face Jester backpack. It's the perfect size and has a pouch in the biggest part for my laptop. My goal was for this backpack to last through college, and I think it will. Some people opt to use tote bags for classes but I don't want all the weight of my books on one shoulder.

Pens - I write in blank ink usually, or I opt for a pencil in math/science classes. I have a set of paper mate flair (ultra fine) pens with me for my agenda. I keep my classes color coded and reserve the pink shade for sorority events.

Calculator - I didn't buy a special calculator for college, so I've been using this pink TI Scientific calculator since the beginning of high school. I only need it for my accounting and statistics classes, so you may not even need one depending on your major.

Agenda - I've been using a Lilly Pulitzer agenda for the last two years and it's perfect for what I need it for. I record all assignments, tests, meetings and campus events in here so it's always with me.

Water bottle - I always try to have a full water bottle. I noticed these Corkcicle water bottles at the store I work at when I'm home and I had already got my Mom the tumbler cup version. They keep your water cold for the entire day, or keep hot drinks hot for four hours. 

3 Subject Notebook - This semester, I have three classes back to back on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so I purchased a three subject folder/notebook to keep them organized. This way, I only have to grab one book in the mornings. This notebook also has pouches at the beginning of each section so I can keep my syllabus and other handouts on hand.

1 Subject Notebooks - For my Tuesday/Thursday class and my night class, I have separate notebooks. I like the Five Star ones because they're big enough and they also have a folder at the beginning of the notebook for handouts.

Phone Charger - In my room, I have two long phone chargers but I keep a short one in my bag just in case. I should also probably find my portable charger and keep that on hand, but it's easier to just have a cable. I usually also have headphones in my backpack. Both of these items come in handy for long library sessions.

What do you keep in your backpack? Let me know by leaving a comment down below!

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College Campus Winter Survival Tips

It may be "spring" semester, but there are still two months of winter left. If you go to school in the south or on the west coast, you can pretty much stop reading here. In most parts of the United States, January and February are the coldest months of the year. It can be tough staying motivated when all you want to do is hide in bed with hot chocolate and Netflix. However, there are definitely things you can do to to make winter a little more bearable.

Add more blankets to your bed. If you are living in a dorm, it's bound to be chilly at night even with the heat turned on. I have two blankets on my bed, as well as a comforter. Even though I often wake up with less blankets actually covering me, it's nice to be able to get super cozy at night. Then, mornings are freezing, which makes it harder to get up and get moving. Set your alarm a little earlier so you can hit snooze or lay in bed a little longer. Give yourself time to prepare for the weather outside and drink a cup of coffee if you need it.

Invest in a to-go coffee mug so you can take coffee (or hot chocolate!) with you in the morning. This will also save you some money, since you won't have to stop at Starbucks everyday on your way to campus.

Although it may be awfully cold outside, it's likely to be much warmer in academic buildings. I would suggest dressing in layers so you don't end up sweating through your classes. Instead of just throwing a sweatshirt on, start with a t-shirt and work your way up to your winter jacket. Walking across campus in tennis shoes sounds great until it snows and you have wet socks for the rest of the day. I like my duck boots for winter weather but rain boots work just as well. Waterproof boots will keep your feet warm and dry.

Getting sick while you're at college is no fun. Having a cold in the winter is even worse. Watch out for sick friends or roommates and start taking Vitamin C now to prevent catching anything. It's important to take care of your body, especially in winter. Use lotion regularly because winter means dry skin. 

If you are lacking motivation in the mornings, it's going to be even harder to make yourself go back to campus to study later. Head to the library straight from class so you can relax when you do get back home or to your dorm.

Winter at college can be a nightmare or it can be totally bearable. Instead of spending your time hoping for classes to be cancelled, make the most of the cold weather. Hey, maybe you will get a snow day this year! Until then, keep your room cozy and bundle up before you go to class!

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Ultimate Guide to Sorority Lingo

With the Spring Semester approaching, many Sorority women are preparing for spring recruitment. At some colleges, this means formal recruitment with door stacks, chanting and hours of conversation. On the other hand, sororities at other schools participated in this type of recruitment in the fall and some chapters choose to participate in some version of informal recruitment. This type of recruitment usually consists of more casual and spread out events before bid day. While talking about this with a friend who is still in high school (and knows only a little bit about Fraternity & Sorority Life) I realized there are so many things I'll say and she has to ask for clarification. That's where the inspiration for this blog post, defining sorority lingo, came from.

Active - an initiated member who is a current student and member of a chapter.

Alumnae - an initiated member of a chapter who has since graduated, transferred schools, or otherwise left the chapter with alum status. Chapters often grant alumna status to members who get married or have other special circumstances. This is different from dropping the chapter.

Badge - purchased by active members, it is a pin worn at formal/ritual events.

Bid - an invitation received by a women to join a chapter.

Big - or "big sister", a mentor. Each sorority women is paired with a big, the process is different depending on the chapter.

Continuous Open Bidding (COB) - any recruitment outside of formal recruitment. This includes spring recruitment, if formal recruitment takes place in the fall.

Exchange - an event with another chapter, often fraternities, held for members to get to students outside of their chapter. These are often planned prior to Homecoming or Greek Week for teams to socialize.

Executive Board - elected officers that govern the chapter, including President and Vice Presidents.

Greek Week - similar to Homecoming, but only involves the Fraternity & Sorority Life community. There are competitions all week, usually centered around a dance or singing competition at the end of the week.

Lavaliere (Lav) - a necklace bearing the letters of a sorority or fraternity. Sorority lavalieres are common gifts but to be "lavaliered" by a fraternity man signifies that he is putting you above his brothers.

Legacy - a woman who's mother/grandmother/sister (some other relationships, like aunt, are recognized depending on the chapter) is an alumna of the sorority she joins.

Little - sophomores and older members take littles, and become a big, they usually guide them through the initiation process and develop a strong and unique bond.

New Member - a woman who has accepted a bid from a chapter but is not yet initiated. Sororities do not use the term "pledge" to describe members. 

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) - an organization that oversees all 26 national sororities.

Paddle - a wooden plaque decorated and given as a gift.

Panhellenic Association (PHA) - the governing board overseeing sororities at a given university.

Philanthropy - every Fraternity or Sorority has a philanthropic focus. Many host events and raise money to benefit a national and local philanthropy.

Pi Chi/Rho Chi (Panhellenic Counselor/Recruitment Counselor) - an active member of a sorority who disaffiliates for recruitment in order to guide PNMs through the process. She must remain unbiased.

Pomp - there are several different styles of pomping. Essentially this is the tissue paper on Homecoming floats. Members spend an incredible amount of time and money on pomp during Homecoming.

Potential New Member (PNM) - any woman eligible to go through the recruitment process.

Preference Round (Pref) - this is the final round of formal recruitment. It is a very sentimental day for active members, especially seniors. On this day, PNMs get a look into the deeper aspects of a sisterhood.

Quota - the number of women a chapter can extend bids to during formal recruitment. This is determined through a formula that considers the number of chapters on a campus and number of women going through the recruitment process.

Recruitment - the process in which a chapter hosts events welcoming women into their houses (or rooms, if the university does not have chapter houses). Recruitment is focused on developing a connection based on values with women who could receive a bid.

Ritual - a ceremony, or ceremonies, that are unique to each chapter. Rituals were developed by founding members of sororities and fraternities and reveal secrets about the chapter only initiated members know.

Total - the maximum number of women a chapter is allowed to have as active members. Chapters often participate in continuous open bidding if they are not at total.

Twin (Twiddles) - two littles with the same big. This happens when the number of women in a new member class is higher than those available to take littles or when a member takes a second little as a junior/senior.

I hope this clears up some confusion for those of you considering joining a sorority! Please let me know, by leaving a comment, if there are any terms I should add!

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How to Prepare for Spring Semester (over Break)

If you're anything like me, you've been home for a couple weeks and you're ready to go back to your college town. It's not because I don't want to spend time with my family or see friends from high school. I'm genuinely happy to start a new round of classes. I'm ready to see where my positions in different organizations will take me. It's simultaneously terrifying and exciting to see that I'm almost halfway through my college career. With that said, there's a few things you can do now to prepare for the upcoming semester:

Organize Your Planner

The main thing that made me excited to register for classes was being able to fill in my planner. I write the course code for each class on the days I have it in advance so I can fill in assignments and test days. I also go through my school's Academic Calendar and write in important dates (such as Public Holidays and Midterms/Finals). Last, I copy events from my sorority's semester calendar to my planner so everything is in one place. I use a color coded system, but different methods work for different people. 

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Check Your Syllabi

I've honestly been waiting for my Blackboard to be updated with next semester's classes. If your new syllabi are available, print them out now so there are no surprises on the first day of class. I write down test dates in my planner as soon as I know them. This way you'll know in advance which weeks will be the busiest. If your professor does take time to go over the syllabus, which some upper level instructors won't do, make notes and highlight important things. Keep your syllabus somewhere you can always access it throughout the semester.

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Evaluate Your Previous Semester

Take this opportunity to reflect on the fall semester. What did you accomplish? What do you wish you had done? What study habits worked best for you? Based on my last semester, I'm going to try new ways to take notes in my spring classes. I also want to make an effort to visit my professors' office hours as necessary. This is something I always said I would do more last semester and always put off. Then suddenly it was the week before finals and I didn't want to be that person.

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Set Goals

It's important to have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) goals for yourself. Write them down and measure your progress. Make sure you have ways to accomplish your goals so you can actively work towards a positive result. Make a plan to check up on these goals and hold yourself accountable.

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Buy Textbooks

This is the one thing I dread about a new semester. It's rough watching hundreds of dollars go towards textbooks, but you don't have to. Last semester, I rented almost all of my books through Amazon and saved a lot of money I would have spent at the bookstore. While you have time, shop around and compare prices to find the best deal. I would also recommend not opening any new books so you can return them if your professor says you don't need it. I'm also a fan of using online books, which saves you some money if you already need to purchase an access code for assignments. However, I know that this doesn't work for everyone.

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How are you preparing for the spring semester? Let me know by leaving a comment below! Also, check out my other college-related blog posts here.

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