college life

5 Things I Learned Being a Commuter

My decision to commute as a college student was not easy. There were some pros – like not having to pay for housing; but there were also many cons- like not getting the “full college experience.” I remember thinking I would be the only one in my group of friends who didn’t go away for college. Three years later, I now realize I made the right decision. Along the way, I learned a few things which made being a commuter easier. Here they are:

The Best Time for Class

Traffic is always a hassle for commuters. Students who dorm enjoy the luxury of rolling out of bed and walking to class. If you are a commuter, it’s important to account for the possibility of traffic by waking up and leaving extra early. If you take morning classes, you must leave extremely early or you run the risk of getting stuck in the morning rush hour. On the contrary, if you take evening classes, you’re subject to the late afternoon rush hour. I’ve learned late morning and early afternoon classes are the best for commuters to register for. Yes, it’s in the middle of your day, but most of the time it’s worth avoiding heavy traffic. If your main goal is to avoid rush hour, ideally schedule your classes from 10AM – 2PM.

The Most Convenient Coffee Places

It’s practically a fact; college students live off of caffeine. You never know when you’ll need a little pick-me-up! That’s why it’s necessary to know where all the most accessible coffee stops are along your commute. It’s also vital they aren’t too far off your route or you risk adding more time to your commute and the possibility of traffic building up.

How to Efficiently Use Gas

The greatest downside to commuting is definitely having to pay for gas. Along with gas, potentially putting serious mileage on your car is another negative. The best way to save on gas and keep the miles down is staying on campus between classes. Even if you have a few hours before your next class, don’t travel all the way home and then all the way back. Use the time to get some work done at the library or go hang out with friends. You’ll quickly see staying a few extra hours on campus is worth it.

How to Make the Best/Easiest Schedule

With my senior year approaching this fall, I feel I have mastered schedule making. As a commuter, it’s ideal to be on campus as few days as possible. If you’re going to be successful with this strategy, you really must make those days count. Try scheduling more than one class per day. It’s easier to be on campus two days a week, taking a few classes each day, than being on campus 5 days a week while taking one class a day. You’ll save on both gas and time.

How to Use Your Time in the Car Wisely

You spend a lot of time in the car as a commuter. This may seem like wasted time, but there are several ways to efficiently use this time. Buying books on tape is one of those ways. You can buy whatever you like – fiction, nonfiction, educational or biographical – and listening to it while in the car increases your knowledge and keeps you thinking. Another great option is recording lectures (as long as it’s okayed by the professor) and listening to them on your way home. It’s a great way to pick up on things you missed the first time around. Reviewing lectures in the car is also a great study tool.

No one said commuting life was easy, but with things I learned from experience you can save on gas, make the perfect schedule and optimize your time in the car.

 

Balancing a Part Time Job on Campus

We all like making a little money on the side, but balancing a part time job and schoolwork is tough. Even for the best students, scheduling around classes and work shifts is a challenge. When academics get rough, oftentimes a job becomes a nightmare. But never fear! I’m here to give you some advice on how to manage your academics and your part time job at the same time.

Scheduling Your Time

Schedule everything! Make sure to use Google calendar as much as possible, scheduling everything from your workouts to your study times. By scheduling when you study, work out, and take breaks, you can prevent wasting time. Budgeting lets you know where your money is going. Scheduling lets you know where your time is going. By scheduling your time, you will stop having those days where it feels like you’re scrambling to get everything done. Below is an example of my Google calendar for a day earlier this year.

Balancing a Part Time Job

An example of my weekly calendar

Talking With Your Boss

Your boss is a person too, and they probably also had to juggle a million and one things in college. They get it, I promise. If you’re having an especially bad week, talk with your boss and ask if she can cut some of your shifts. If she can, she probably will. Employers know an unhappy employee is often a bad employee. If you feel uncomfortable about speaking to your manager, consider brushing up on your workplace communication skills starting with this article from Forbes. Should talking to your boss fail, you may be able to swap shifts with a fellow employee. Worst case scenario, they say no. Why not ask them before resigning yourself to a week of torture?

Balancing a Part Time Job

Treat Your Part Time Job Like a Class

Treat your job like any other class, in every possible sense. Don’t skip your job. Try to schedule your shifts the same way you would a class. Ask your manager if you can work at a consistent time every week. If possible, try to block it in with all your other classes. For instance, most of my shifts as a tour guide were right after my classes. I could get all my structured responsibilities out of the way early, and then have the afternoon to work out or do homework. By treating your job like a class, you’ll develop better professional habits and use your time more efficiently.

Do you have any tips on how to manage a job during the school year? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Benefits of Attending a Small University

Small Univeristy

Unlike most of my friends I graduated high school with, I go to a very small university. It’s a place people never hear about, and until I went searching for my perfect educational match, I hadn’t either. There are times I feel looked down on, as if my degree won’t be worth as much as ones given out by well-known universities. Luckily, I have come to realize my degree will be worth just as much – that I’m receiving a quality education at my “no one’s-ever-heard-of” college. There are various benefits of attending a small university. Before you overlook a small university, here are a few benefits to consider:

Personal Classes

Every professor knows my name within a couple weeks of the semester starting. That’s because we have small classes with a 30 student maximum.  At bigger universities, attendees sit in a lecture hall with over 50 students for three hours a day and are never called by their name. Smaller classes are beneficial, especially for learners like me who prefer group discussions over hours of straight lecturing. Getting to know your professors in a more personal setting also makes it easier to approach them with any questions or concerns about the course. Nothing’s more awkward than asking a question half way through the semester and the professor asking, “And what’s your name again?”

Strong Advising System

You will quickly get to know your academic advisor. Similar to the attention you receive from professors, they will actually know your name and agenda instead of referring to you as “another science major”. You won’t have to go into every meeting and repeat your situation for the hundredth time. They remember who you are! This is extremely beneficial and will help with your academic planning.  Also, I’m continuously getting emails from my advisor throughout the semester. They frequently check up on you, making sure you’re doing well. It all adds to the more personal aspect.

Getting Involved is Easier

Joining teams or clubs at larger universities can be very intimidating. At smaller colleges, it’s significantly easier because there aren’t as many people in a club. Once you’re a member of a smaller club, you’ll find everyone’s contributions are ultimately more meaningful. Everyone becomes an important part of the team because there are less people to fill positions and work on projects. In addition, student groups are easier to reach out to and they provide quicker responses. At a small university, you won’t feel like an outsider peering in.

Lower Tuition

Last, but certainly not least, is the lower cost of tuition. Large universities could potentially charge over 40 grand per year! Smaller schools are typically less than 20 grand per year.  Attending a smaller school gives students the potential to have less student loan debt – if you’re lucky you may not even have any- and still receive a quality education. Lower tuition rates also makes receiving a higher education more financially obtainable. If you’re career requires a masters or doctorate, you may want to begin your journey at a smaller school.

The next time someone has never heard of your school or is surprised it’s so small, don’t be discouraged! There are many advantages to smaller classes and club sizes. Regardless of size or notoriety, it’s always best to attend a school that meets all your needs, both educationally and financially.

Mindful Meditation: A Cheap and Effective Stress Reliever

Mind over Matter

Part of being a college student is constantly dealing with an influx of stress. Unfortunately, this influx is rarely paired with helpful coping mechanisms for overcoming it. I’ve yet to have a professor hold an instructional yoga class before an upcoming exam. In most situations, we’re forced to find our own methods for stress relief.  When you’re already experiencing stress and anxiety, finding a solution in the moment to overcome it is a challenge. However, I recommend one mechanism currently showing great promise: Achieving mindfulness.

Mind over matter. We’re often confronted with this mantra when our will power is in question. When we’re studying for a chemistry exam but expecting to fail, mind over matter. When we’re tempted to stray from our diet, mind OVER matter. When you have a cold on race day after foolishly signing up for a second year of cross country despite knowing you struggle with running… mind. over. matter.

What does mind over matter really mean? To break it down, matter is the situation you are confronted with; the cross country race, the exam. The mind is yourself, or your thoughts and feelings. Ashumans, we’re constantly thinking and assessing everything happening in the spectrum of our existence. Mind over matter is the notion that if we can get a grasp on our minds, then we can overcome the matter in front of us. If I will myself torun and finish the cross country race, then I can.

mindful meditation

The Research BehindMindful Meditation

Mindfulness is a growing interest in the field of psychology. Where tactics like psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy once reigned, mindfulness now conquers. In psychology, mindful meditation is a practice intended to combat the negative effects associated with disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Hopelessness, stress, and neurotic feelings are some of the many negative effects it can help reduce.  In contrast, cognition, awareness, and attention can increase when one practices mindful meditation. 

Mindful meditation is a means to achieving mindfulness. Physiologist are sewing meditation into the foreground for treating psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. A meta-analysis conducted by Eberth & Sedlmeier in 2012 compiled 39 previous studies on mindful meditation and analysed the results. The individual studies focused on how mindful meditation affects a person’s well-being, including their ability to concentrate on their thoughts. In this analysis, mindful meditation referred to the Buddhist practices Vipassana and Zen/Chan. The results of the analysis showed that both mindful meditation, and even general meditation, led to positive increases in attention,mood and well being, and a reduction in anxiety.

mindful meditation

Effective Ways to Meditate

To employ the practices featured in the meta-analysis for achieving mindfulness, one must work towards self-awareness and focus the mind on present experiences.  Concentrate on becoming open, curious, and accepting.  Luckily, you can practice mindful meditation anywhere you find comfortable.  You can chose to meditate in your dorm room, in the park, or in a quiet space on campus. This means mindful meditation accessible to everyone.

There is no limitation to how you can meditate; we’re all very different.  You can meditate in bed, while sitting down on a park bench, or even through exercise. Personally, I enjoy meditating while on a long run since I’m naturally fidgety. However, I acknowledge that most people tend to despise running. How you successfully practice mindful meditation will depend on your personality. Simply by setting aside time to focus on your thoughts and reflect, you too can achieve mindfulness.

Are you new to meditation? There are quite a few online resources for those who haven’t meditated before. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center provides a variety of free exercises that provide instructions via audio guides. Additionally, Youtube  has a great selection of meditation guides that are tailored to a variety of specific needs such as anxiety relief and help with sleeplessness.

mindful meditation

Why You Should Try Meditation

Stress from school is never pleasant. It also limits our ability to concentrate and work efficiently. Students who feel stressed or overworked may even turn to destructive behaviors such as binge drinking or illegal drugs, both of which are harmful to the mind and body. Mindful meditation provides easy access to stress relief in a safe and effective way. It’s also free!  The next time assignments feel like they’re a bit too out of hand, take time to relax and focus your thoughts. Try practicing mindful meditation to gain control over your situation. You’ll quickly discover the benefits are endless!

Why College Students Need Yoga

Why College Students Need Yoga

Why do college students need yoga? When anyone thinks of yoga, they immediately picture people doing headstands and breathing. Some people might think what really can you learn from it? Since I was eight years old, my mother had brought me to her yoga sessions and I have been hooked since then. Yoga is not only about learning to control your breathing or becoming more flexible (although those two things will improve), it can improve balance, decrease stress and reduce risks of heart disease. Here are the reasons college students need yoga.

Yoga Reduces Stress

Why College Students Need Yoga

One of the big reasons I think college students should do yoga is the stress management. Students are constantly stressed from all the homework, the student loan debts, to being overworked at jobs. Yoga provides an outlet to dealing with that stress instead of turning to vices like smoking or drinking. It lets your body and mind relax, clear your head and help you find solutions to problems.

Student Performance

Why College Students Need Yoga

There have been several studies showing that yoga can allow people to become a better student by enhancing focus and concentration skills. It is a way to improve self-awareness and breathing control. Just like how yoga can help you handle stress, it can help how the overall performance as a student.

Improve Your Attitude

Why College Students Need Yoga

One thing that I never fully believed when I was younger was how yoga can change your overall attitude and personality. In its own way, yoga can change the way your brain thinks. Not only can it reduce anxiety but change how the brain responds to emotions like fear and depression. Letting yoga change your attitude can change how your mindset on how you see everything else.

Yoga can be useful for all the reasons  above but one of the biggest reasons I do yoga is purely the feeling of happiness I get after a session. So if you’re struggling with concentration, depression, anxiety, poor grades, etc. during college, give yoga a try. Whether you’re taking yoga through a class at the gym or at home on a laptop, let yoga change you physically and emotionally. What do you have to lose?