The Post-Grad 15: What I’ve Learned Since My College Graduation

Me as a college graduate!

Me as a college graduate!

When I was a freshman in college, I launched The Freshman 15 series on my blog. Every month, I provided a list of 15 tips for college students geared toward a particular theme, such as getting involved on campus, navigating college relationships and overcoming homesickness. That first April in 2010, the series kicked off with a list of 15 lessons I had learned that year in college, and this quickly became a tradition – every April brought with it a list of what I had learned outside of the classroom that year (see Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4).

Although these posts were some of my blog’s most popular, The Freshman 15 series fell to the wayside about a year ago. However, this month, I am excited to announce that The Freshman 15 is officially back and (hopefully) better than ever!

As many of my readers may know, I graduated from college back in May 2013, so this month’s article comes with a twist – a list of 15 lessons I learned in the year since I graduated college! The past year was particularly eye-opening for me, as I moved to a new apartment, began working full-time and experienced other substantial changes in my life. In that time, I faced plenty of ups and downs, and am excited to share what I discovered in the process!

The Post-Grad 15: What I’ve Learned Since My College Graduation

 1. You can get through the seemingly impossible, but you have to take the first step.
In my first year out of school, I overcame a few challenges in my life that I thought would be impossible, simply by moving forward. Instead of sitting around, waiting for things to get better, I took action and made my life better. This year was proof that “Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” I achieved positive results in my life by doing things I’d never done before, and learned that our biggest opportunities for growth often come from the challenges we didn’t think we could face.

2. Don’t put glass bottles on the top shelf, especially above a carpeted surface…
… And if you do, make sure you have plenty of carpet cleaner on hand! I learned this lesson the hard way when I knocked a bottle of Kahlua off a shelf and had to make a late-night trip to the store for cleanup. Several rounds of vacuuming later, my apartment was as good as new, but my leg and foot were a different story! (The worst part is that neither my roommate nor I drink Kahlua or had any use for it on our shelf!)

01595c42c30d4e84d087359d60e68d083. Tragedy does not care about timing.
I have written about this before, but I cannot stress this lesson enough. Only a month after graduation, I experienced two profound yet completely different losses within four days of each other. At the time, I was in new-hire training at work, and in the middle of packing up for my upcoming move across town. Dealing with two negative situations at the same time was difficult and often felt unfair, but I quickly learned that – cliché as it is – life isn’t always fair. At the end of the day, you still have to find healthy ways to cope and still function as a human being. Life will continue to happen around you, whether or not you pick up the pieces, and the world will spin madly on.

4. You can find alliances in unexpected places.
Accept them. You will need them, as you adjust to The Real World, and from time to time, they will need you. Be the type of friend you would want to have, and open your eyes to the wonderful people out there who want to be yours.

5. Get a roommate.
You will save money this way, and you will be a lot less lonely!

I am fortunate to have this trail right outside of my neighborhood!

I am fortunate to have this trail right outside of my neighborhood!

6. Breathe in the fresh air.
I mean this literally. Make it a priority to go outside. Several months ago, my boyfriend and I discovered a nature trail near my apartment, and since then, I have enjoyed countless walks down that trail when I need to get away. (Recently, my roommate and I even encountered a bunny out there!) Find a peaceful place where you can go when the weather is nice and you need that change in scenery.

7. There will still be days that suck.
You know the ones I’m talking about… the long, cold, rainy ones when all you want to do is go home and sleep, but then you find yourself pulled into one fiasco after another, and when you finally think it’s all over, you drop your keys in the dark. Those days still exist, even now that you’re supposed to be a well-adjusted, sophisticated adult, and you will never escape them completely. But then there are the good days that make all the struggles and minor crises that much easier to take, because they remind us of the success we’re working toward.

8. You are never too old for a Disney movie night.
Sometimes it’s important to stop taking ourselves so seriously and to enjoy the simple things that remind us of our childhood. Whenever I’m sick, I curl up in bed and watch Beauty and the Beast, partly because Belle is my all-time favorite princess and partly because the film takes me back to a simpler time in my life. Find those comforts and take advantage of them when needed. (This same rule can be applied to the Spice Girls movie, which my roommate and I may or may not have watched at home a few months ago…)

9. Clothes make the man (or woman).
To be taken seriously in the workforce, you have to invest in a few key pieces. Make sure you have a nice suit and can put together a clean and polished outfit for an interview or for work. Some items can be found on sale or for much cheaper, but you will need to invest in quality clothes. (These are great graduation gifts to ask for!)

121212someecards110. Learn about finances before you graduate.
Know how to write a check, balance your checkbook and create a budget. You can find plenty of templates online to get started, but you will need to find ways to stay organized so that you can avoid paying late or spending more than your paycheck allows. Learn about how to build your credit score and develop positive habits now, so that your borrowing history doesn’t keep you from reaching your dreams later in life.

11. It is much more difficult to take time off to go see family.
Because of this, you have to value that time now more than ever. Don’t let those visits get lost amidst piles of work and obligations. Appreciate the family you have and make the time for them when you are able to do so.

12. When looking at jobs, think big picture.
Salary is important, but what about the job’s benefits? What about the company culture? Will you be happy there? I was lucky to accept a job where many employees have stayed on for years, one where I could see myself long-term, but some people will go against their gut and take the first job offer they can get their hands on. Keep an open mind, but don’t settle if the job isn’t for you.

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

13. Develop a sense of community, wherever you end up.
Find free events in your area, cheap museums to visit, local parks and other attractions that contribute to your community’s identity. This helps you to take pride in where you live, especially when you are in a new place, and in my case, it helps me feel less homesick! These types of events can also help you to save money while still having fun with friends.

14. Life doesn’t fit into a neatly shaped box.
Sometimes, things don’t go as you plan, no matter how hard you try. There may be times when your life feels less like a glamorous Audrey Hepburn movie and more like an extremely depressing episode of Girls. It’s okay to veer off path once in a while, so long as you develop that support system that can steer you back on course.

15. Be thankful for the good times.
I cannot stress this enough. While you experience highs and lows after graduation, you will want to remember the highs and never take them for granted. As one project I’m working on this year, I keep a jar of all the great things that have happened in 2014. Every time I experience something positive that I want to remember, I write it down on a small slip of paper and stick it in the jar. At the end of the year, I look forward to pouring everything out and reliving some of those happy memories. After all, amidst the lows, the year has also brought with it some pretty spectacular highs. :)


Readers: Are you a college graduate who would like to share a lesson you’ve learned since graduation? Email me at for details on how you can contribute to an upcoming article on So It Must Be True!

Masik Collegiate Fragrances: Fantastic U Giveaway

581777_10151777807567630_1870795621_nLast month, I wrote a review for the amazing Masik Collegiate Fragrances line after sampling two of their signature scents. Many of you approached me via social media to learn more about these perfumes and colognes, but today I am pleased to tell you that the company has rolled out its Fantastic U Photo Contest!

Here’s the deal: You can win up to $100 in products by entering the contest on the Masik Collegiate Fragrances Facebook page or (if you don’t have Facebook) through email, and following the directions below:

  • “Like” Masik Collegiate Fragrances on Facebook.
  • Post or send ( a photo that captures fanatical school spirit at your school.
  • Photos with the most likes and comments will win $100 worth of products.
  • Enter as many photos as you would like!
  • The contest ends April 23 – so what are you waiting for?

I encourage you to check out their website to learn about their different fragrances if you haven’t already. Best of luck! For those who enter, post a link to your fan photo as a comment here as well so we can see your school spirit! :)

Unhealthy Relationships: 5 Signs That the Nice Guy Isn’t So Nice

This article was originally published as a guest post on HUGStronger in September 2012, a college advice blog that has since been discontinued, and was later reposted on College Relationships here.

We’ve all been warned.  Before leaving for college, we receive a surplus of information from older friends, advising us both academically and socially.  These friends also share their dating wisdom, cautioning us against falling for the “wrong” kind of guy.

Pop culture portrays the “wrong guy” as the unmotivated slacker who skates by on an academic probation, or as the misogynist who only wants you for your looks.  However, during my freshman year, I learned that the wrong guy can be difficult to spot, because he often disguises himself as the nice guy you can’t help but trust.

That fall, I met a boy with whom I instantly connected.  We fell into an easy friendship that eventually developed into more.  With little dating experience behind me, I took his seemingly charming personality at face value.

In time, I learned that his “nice guy” routine was exactly that – a routine.  He simultaneously pursued multiple girls who had no knowledge of each other, while feeding them the same lines and spreading hurtful rumors. Ultimately, I realized our relationship was unhealthy and would only drag me down.

Nice guys do exist, and I’ve dated a few since then. However, when dealing with new guys, watch out for red flags:

ran-into-my-ex21. He says mostly negative things about his ex-girlfriends.
If he tells you extremely personal (or insulting) details about previous girlfriends, chances are he’ll say the same things about you when you break up.  Of course, you don’t want to date someone who still loves his ex-girlfriend, but if he seems particularly vindictive toward the girls he’s dated, you might want to break things off.

2. He likes to tell you about all of his admirers.
Even when he claimed to be interested in only me, my not-so-nice guy would constantly rant about the many girls who were “in love” with him.  I’m not a jealous person, but I often wondered why he needed to share this knowledge.  It’s one thing if other girls find him attractive; it’s another thing if he’s using that information to try and upset you.

3. He mixes up his stories.
First he tells you that he was spending time with his boys last night.  Then he casually slips in that another girl was there.  Then he gets annoyed when you ask him for details about his evening, and accuses you of not trusting him.  What starts out as simple curiosity can quickly morph into suspicion.

aint-nobody-got-time-for-that4. He plays hot and cold with your emotions.
If a guy is sending you mixed signals for any prolonged period of time, he’s not that into you.  If he’s truly worth your time, he will make it known that he’s interested, and he won’t keep you guessing whether or not he wants a relationship.

5. He disguises condescending remarks as compliments.
In trying to win me back, my not-so-nice guy once explained that I had grown since we last parted ways, and that he now felt more attracted to me because of how “assertive” I had become. (Translation: “Now that you’re unattainable, I consider you a challenge worth pursuing.”) The truth was, I hadn’t changed much in that time, and I didn’t need his affirmation that I had “grown” enough to be worth his attention. Remember, you deserve to be treated well no matter how much you still have left to learn or accomplish.

Not-so-nice guys come in all forms. Be aware of the warning signs, so that you won’t fall into the same traps as many others.  Don’t settle for anyone who treats you as anything less than you deserve.

Fabulous Finds: Masik Collegiate Fragrance Review

masik collegiate fragrancesThis week, I had the opportunity to test out the new Masik Collegiate Fragrance line, and readers, I think I’m in love! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, Masik Collegiate Fragrances are the signature perfumes and colognes for several universities throughout the United States. Each scent is inspired by the traditions, buildings and local plant-life of the university it represents, so as a fan of all things college, I couldn’t wait to try a few!

Because my university is young and does not yet have its own fragrance, I decided to sample the fragrances from two other Florida universities that many of my readers have attended: University of Florida and Florida State University. With a few Gators in the family, I was especially excited to try the UF women’s perfume. Infused with crisp pear, juicy mandarin and cedarwood (among others), the perfume has a fresh, citrusy scent that is definitely reminiscent of the Sunshine State. I was surprised to discover that the UF scent actually reminded me a lot of my own alma mater, the University of Central Florida, because of our own citrus ties! Whether you’re a Gator or simply looking for a fun new perfume, you will love the UF scent.

Inspiration for the FSU scent, courtesy of

Inspiration for the FSU scents, courtesy of

For my male readers, Masik also offers a men’s cologne for UF fans, complete with yuzu mandarin, green coriander, mint, clary sage, violet leaf, white sambaca, amber, white musk and sandalwood.

In addition, I sampled the men’s cologne from Florida State University, another wonderful scent that I would recommend to all the male Seminoles out there. The cologne, with oakmoss, Fuji apple, Meyer lemon and more, is meant to capture “the pride and determination of the Seminoles.” The scent is strong but not overpowering, and definitely one that I encourage Florida State students to try out.

Ladies, if you’re a Seminole or simply a fan of the university, the FSU perfume is infused with pomegranate, pink peony, juicy nectarine and other scents.

Aside from their UF and FSU fragrances, Masik also offers perfumes and colognes inspired by the following universities:

  • Inspiration for the UF scents, courtesy of

    Inspiration for the UF scents, courtesy of

    University of Alabama

  • University of Arkansas
  • Auburn University
  • Clemson University
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Kentucky
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of North Carolina
  • North Carolina State
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Penn State University
  • University of South Carolina
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Tennessee
  • Texas A&M
  • University of Texas
  • Virginia Tech

As a recent college grad who is still especially nostalgic for my days on campus, I love the idea of a collegiate fragrance line and can only hope to see my own university represented someday (nudge, nudge). :) Go Knights!

Do I have you excited about these fragrances yet? Then pop on over to the Masik Collegiate Fragrances Facebook page for giveaways and other exciting information! :)

The Weekend Five: Things I Miss Most About College

nostalgiaAs you may have guessed from the subject matter of this blog, I loved almost every minute of my college experience. Even during the times when I was drowning in assignments, battling the flu and waiting for that one completely-wrong-for-me guy to text me back (sometimes simultaneously), I was madly in love with my university and ready to share that love with the world. In the six months since graduation, I have begun to hit my stride through a full-time job and beautiful new apartment, but I’d be lying if I said there aren’t times I long to be back on campus, signing up for next semester’s classes and toying with the idea of a Master’s program.

I’m fortunate to have a great job that allows me to work closely with my alma mater, but there are definitely things I miss about campus life. Here’s a list of the things you miss out on (or the things that students shouldn’t take for granted!) once you graduate.

The Weekend Five: Things I Miss About College

1.    The countless opportunities to meet new people.
In college – especially if you attend a large university – it can be incredibly easy to make friends. No matter what your interests are or how much of a social outcast you considered yourself in high school, there’s a huge chance that you will meet a few kindred spirits in school. When you want to meet new people, you can join a club, attend a social in your dorm or even turn to the person next to you in class. As a “grown-up,” I find it a lot harder to meet new people in the Real World, because those social opportunities (minus the bar scene) are fewer and farther between. Take advantage of it while it’s abundant!

images2.    Taking classes.
Yes, I know, nerd alert. When you’re in school, you are primarily there to take classes and earn your degree (although campus activities and internships are important, too). However, unlike in high school, your classes focus on the subjects that interest you and that will benefit you in your career, so once you get into your major’s curriculum, the classes often become more enjoyable. And when there is room for electives outside of your major, you have the chance to study a subject that interests you just because. I now work in marketing for a financial institution, but in my final semester of college, I took an anthropology class and wrote a paper on the gender roles in a fairy tale versus its modern-day Disney counterpart. College classes allow you to think about things in a new way and step out of your element to learn something completely different.

3.    Ability to make appointments during the week without taking time off from work.
I dread scheduling doctor’s appointments, because most of my doctors work during the same time that I do! When I was moving into my apartment over the summer, some of the deliveries I needed were limited to weekdays, and I had a difficult time scheduling those deliveries because of events at work. In the end, I asked a friend (a student with more flexible hours) to sit in the apartment for me. I love my full-time job and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I miss scheduling my classes so I was done by 2 p.m. or so that I had Wednesdays or Fridays completely open for any errands I had to do. This is much harder to arrange once you start working.

ongoing-list-freebies4.    Access to free stuff.
Because I do a lot of marketing and events on a college campus, I say this a lot – students love free food and T-shirts. In fact, they will flock to any vendor who supplies those things! Because of this, they are constantly inundated with pizza, promo items and great discounts. This probably says a lot about the importance we place on the millennial generation as consumers and our expectations of them as the lowest common denominator in our society (or something thoughtful like that), but the point I’m trying to make is much simpler: As a student, you have unlimited access to free stuff.

5.    Being “in the know” about campus events.
My school began implementing new marketing strategies for the athletic teams, including a slogan that has caught on this semester. Although I was aware of this new campus tradition, it was weird not being a part of it as a student. I love attending events as an alumna, but a part of me feels like Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire or Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, reliving my glory days in a place where I don’t quite belong in the way I did six months ago. (Yes, I actually feel this way, even at 23.) As a college graduate, you can always remain connected with the campus, but things do change when you are no longer enrolled.

Graduates, what do you miss about your college experience? For those in school, what perks of college do you love the most?

The Weekend Five: Things I Learned in the Six Months Since Graduation

Me as a college graduate!

Me as a college graduate!

It’s crazy to believe that it has been a little more than half a year since I graduated from college! It feels like just yesterday I was ordering a cap and gown and finishing up my last few senior projects for the year. About a week before walking across the stage, I accepted a position in my dream job, and looked forward to beginning anew.

Six months later, I am finally adjusting to working full-time and living on a different end of town. As I settle into “adulthood,” I am still in love with my work and apartment, but I have also learned a lot since the day I turned my tassel and accepted my diploma.

This week, I will reflect on some of the lessons I have learned in the past six months. Feel free to add your own post-grad lessons in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Things I Learned in the Six Months Since Graduation

1. Not everyone will like you.
It’s harsh, but it’s true. No matter how sparkling your personality is, how hardworking you are or how well you match your accessories to your outfits, you won’t win the heart of every single person you encounter. As someone who cares admittedly too much about what others think, this was an especially difficult truth for me to accept. Sometimes this has to do with the other person — maybe he or she is jealous of you, or just bitter about something you can’t control. And sometimes this has to do with you — maybe you’re an acquired taste. Instead of trying to change those people, focus your energy on the things you can control.


ElleWoods2. Take advantage of everything you can get your hands on.
“That’s not in my job description” isn’t necessarily a good reason to turn something down. Whether you have the opportunity to learn a new software program or head up a project in a different area than you’re used to, you can make yourself a much more valuable asset by saying “yes” and trying something new.


3. Tragedy doesn’t care about timing.
In other words, life isn’t always fair. I learned this lesson the hard way when I experienced two great losses in my life within four days of one another. Although I knew that both were coming, they still hurt, and it was difficult to cope with one while coping with the other. Sometimes, you’ll experience several hardships in a short time, but you still have to pick up the pieces, show up at work the next day and function as a normal human being. Remind yourself that things will eventually turn up, and find healthy ways to cope with your feelings.


graduation4. Timing is, however, important.
Never underestimate the significance of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I would have begun networking earlier in college if I had known how helpful it would be in the time that followed. From job prospects to relationships, timing can make all the difference in how successful you are. Work hard, but be patient.


5. Learn to laugh about the bad experiences and mistakes you have made. After all, you can write about them in your memoir someday!
Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Whether you just endured a difficult breakup or struggled through an important interview, the way you handle your hardships will define you. You won’t be able to find humor in everything, but try to learn from your mistakes and not dwell on them forever. When I look back on some of the things I worried about in college, I can’t help but laugh and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” Nowadays, I think a little reflection and a few laughs are just signs that you’re growing up.


What are some of the things you learned when you first graduated?

Link Love Wednesday: Ashton Kutcher and Rejection

ashton kutcherThe past few weeks at work have been completely packed, as we gear up for the fall semester. From a football kickoff luncheon to several all-day tabling events, I’m loving my job but completely ready to unwind with some Link Love. What are some of the fabulous articles and blog posts you’ve been reading lately?

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers (Year 3)

promise-not-laugh-anymore-college-ecard-someecardsFor many of my friends, this was the first week of school — and for me, it was the first August since the early 90s that I wasn’t starting school! Since I first began blogging in 2010, I started sharing the lessons I had learned from each year of college, but my wonderful friends and readers have also shared their own advice and wisdom on my blog as well (here and here). In honor of the brand new semester, I bring you 15 helpful tips from 15 college students and alumni with diverse backgrounds and degree programs. Best of luck this school year!

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers (Year 3)

1. Study what you love.
Picking a major can seem really daunting upon entering college, especially if you’re unsure of your post-undergraduate plans. However, the most important thing is to study something you are passionate about. Don’t let overbearing relatives and nosy strangers dissuade you when they sneer, “Oh, you’re a [blank] major? What are you going to do with that?” Doing homework and studying for tests will suck a little less if you actually enjoy what you’re learning. And at the end of your four years, you will find the perfect way to apply your passion to your “real world” pursuits.
- Jill Dutmers, University of Central Florida, English Literature (@straightupjill)


2. Be open and accepting to all kinds of people.
In life, but college especially, you will meet a wide array of personalities! Students come from all walks of life and they WILL have different opinions, perspectives and values than you. Stay true to your beliefs but also make sure to keep an open mind. Understand that many students work multiple jobs to pay their way through college, may be going through personal issues or have social disorders. It’s so important to take all these factors in to consideration before jumping to conclusions about different types of people. Learn something new from different people your age…in the long-term you will grow more accepting and appreciative of others.
- Carlie Craig, Florida State University, Theatre and Media Production (@carliecraig, Website: Carlie Craig)


Zweinstein 23. Get familiar with your academic community.
Professors will be impressed if you stay informed about the current trends in your major field. Although some academic journals and monographs can be dry, make an effort to find a moderately accessible journal or a scholar that you like. Attend seminars and symposiums if you can, and submit papers to journals and local conferences (you’ve got nothing to lose!). Undergraduate publications and conference history will look great on a curriculum vitae.
- Brittan Wilkey, Wake Forest University, MA English (Blog: Discharmed)


4. Pay it forward.
As soon as you figure out what you plan on doing (whether picking a major, joining a club, or finding an internship) start passing along what you’ve learned and your experiences to anyone who asks or who may need it. Be a resource to people around you — you never know what difference you’re making in their lives by helping them out. On the flip side, never forget about the people who helped you out along the way and always remember to thank them and maybe even let them know what you’re up to especially if it’s been a while.
- Kaitlin Border, University of Central Florida, Accounting


5. You’ll meet your best friends in time.
Chances are, the first group of friends you get knit into won’t be the last. Don’t feel pressured to find all your best friends in the first semester. It takes a while to adjust to college and you actually transform into a new person as the months go on so don’t think any kind of group of friends needs to be there for the four years ahead. Be open to meeting new people and be mindful of when friendships naturally click. Those are the ones to tuck close to you. I didn’t find mine until my sophomore year but I still have them as best friends today.
- Hannah Brencher, Assumption College, English + Mass Communications/Sociology (Website: Hannah Brencher)


EssDormSocialTime6. Get to know your RAs… for the RIGHT reasons.
Resident Assistants aren’t just there to get on your case if you are being too loud. RA’s are students, just like you, and they have been through it. They are there to talk to you and help you out. Their training is VERY extensive and know just about every resource available to you from free counseling services to listing off names of student organizations. You pay big bucks to live on campus, and a big part of that payment is living on the same floor as a walking/talking college life guru. If you have a problem, or even if you are doing well, tell your RA, they want you to succeed and do your best.
- Karina Garcia, University of Central Florida, Advertising and Public Relations (@karinacreative)


7. Never stop making friends.
I am very much an introvert, so once I had a small circle of friends I was more than happy to stop putting myself out there. In result, for my first semester of school I had a very small group of people I knew well, while I was surrounded by dozens more who would have loved to get to know me better. Not every friend you make will last, and you might not think you’d like hanging out with a certain kind of person, but you never know until you try.
- Gabrielle Upshur, Austin Peay State University, English (Blog: Of A Writerly Sort)


8. Go to class.
Don’t skip class, even if it’s early in the morning or boring. The great thing about college is you control your schedule, and there’s time for naps.
- Kayley Tool, University of Central Florida, Nursing


How_i_met_everyone_else_-_ted_and_marshall9. You don’t have to be friends with your roommate.
Many people enter college with the expectation that they’ll click instantly with their roommate and become best friends. This isn’t always the case. Unless you pre-selected a roommate, you will be moving into a tiny dorm room with a complete stranger. You may enjoy baking and crafting while your roommate is interested in video games and cosplaying. It’s okay if you have nothing in common! Don’t try to force a friendship just because you live together. The most important thing is that the two of you cultivate an environment of mutual respect. Respect your roommate’s space and belongings and he/she should do the same for you. However, some people are just too different to get along. If you and your roommate can’t make things work, don’t hesitate to talk to your RA about the process of changing rooms. Classes and work are taxing enough and you shouldn’t have to come home to a stressful living environment every day. Moving in the middle of the semester can be inconvenient, but it’s better than being miserable for an entire school year.- Tori Twine, Elon University, Cinema (@toritwine, Blog: I May Be Mildly Obsessed)


10. Remember your passions.
I was miserable with my major for a while, until I remembered that I loved robotics. It basically reinvigorated me, and I’ve been doing a lot better since. Sometimes you lose sight of your passions, but it’s great when you remember them.
- Peter Cheng, University of Central Florida, Computer Engineering


tumblr_mes5drMMc51rwr9v911. Be open to all types of Greek life.
During my first two years of college, a lot of my friends joined social sororities and fraternities. While this looked like a lot of fun, I just didn’t think that Greek Life was right for me. In my junior year, I heard about an honor fraternity on campus and decided to check out one of their Rush events. Two years later, I consider it to be one of the best decisions I made in my college career. I experienced many leadership, academic and social opportunities and made some of my best friends. The point is social Greek Life is not for everyone, but there are so many Greek organizations on every campus that there is bound to be a place you’ll fit in! Try looking for sororities or fraternities related to your major or other special interests and don’t be afraid to go and meet new people!
- Jessica Faith Meyer, University of Central Florida, Political Science (@jfaithmeyer)


12. Get internships.
I know they pay less than waitressing or bartending – maybe they’re even unpaid!  But the skills you learn and the connections you make are worth so, so, SO much more than money.  If you’ve got a great resume filled with internships related to your field, it’s about a million times easier to land a job.  If you only work in restaurants during college, you’ll be a super well-educated and experienced server when you enter the workplace.
- Sarah Von Bargen, BA University of Minnesota – Morris (English), MA Victoria University of Wellington (Applied Linguistics) (Blog: Yes & Yes)


13. The easiest way to their hearts is through their stomachs.
When it comes down to making friends in college, It’s important to cater to your strengths. In my case, I’m a third generation, nearly full blooded Italian girl. Cooking a hearty italian meal is embedded in my DNA. Thankfully, our college dorm had a well equipped kitchen at my disposal, so cooking, despite our sensitive fire alarms, was encouraged amongst us all. First night at the dorms, I gathered my utensils and went to work in the kitchen. My new roomies, now my best friends, caught a whiff, literally, of what I was up to and decided to lend a helping hand. Within an hour we had whipped up a huge bowl of pasta and meatballs and made sure to prop open our door so the sweet aroma or marinara sauce could flood through the hallways – and into the nostrils of several hungry college kids. What a success! In seconds, our floor mates were lingering in our doorway, mouths watering and stomachs growling. We invited them in, gave them a plate and conversed. As simple as that. It was history in the making. Many of our hungry floor mates from that first night became some of my lifelong friends, even now after college. If you cook it, they will come. That, I’ll assure you is a fact.
- Lauren Durando, University of Central Florida, Advertising and Public Relations (@dran34)


Alice14. Stop and smell the roses.
Stop and smell the roses. –Yes, you could do this literally, but more figuratively, you should definitely take the chance to stop every now and then and appreciate the amazing opportunity that is attending college in the 21st century. The world is literally at your fingertips at any given moment via the internet. Opportunities abound around every corner. You are currently living and experiencing history being made on a day-to-day basis. Take the time to sit back every now and then and appreciate the epicness. Then go out and make your contribution to it in whatever form makes you happiest!
- Melissa Smith, George Mason University, PhD Human Factors (@mabsmith)


15. Find yourself in a new place.
It may sound lame but friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and coworkers will come and go but you will always have yourself with you. This took me a while to learn but I have been able to slowly build a better relationship with myself through studying abroad. In immersing myself in other places and cultures around the world, there are things I learned that can’t be learned from in a classroom. The main lessons in life that I will look back on when I graduate will be things that I learned from being abroad. In fact what you learn from museums, old ruins, or double decker bus tours doesn’t nearly compare to what you learn about yourself. About how you work with others, how you can navigate through a strange place, and the stress of being in the big open world. So study abroad and set forth on a journey to a new place to find your new self.
- Arielle Poliner, University of Central Florida, Event Management


A great big thank you to everyone who contributed this year! Readers, what is the biggest piece of advice you have for incoming college students?

The Weekend Five: Advice for Communication Students

130201587920As some of you may know, I just graduated with my bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations. I started my real-life grown-up job just a few weeks later, and as much as I loved my college experience, I’ve since noticed some of the ways my degree program could have better prepared me for the job market. On a more positive note, I have also noticed the things that my major did right, and how important those aspects of college were.

For communication students, finding a job after graduation can be especially difficult. Unless you were snapped up by the company you interned for, it can be challenging to muscle through the job search, while your friends who studied engineering are choosing between multiple competitive offers. However, as students in public relations, advertising and other areas of communication, you can also find ways to stand out to employers and succeed in the workforce.

The Weekend Five: Advice for Communication Students

1. Take more business classes.
Sure, you may have aspirations of becoming an art director or copywriter for a big agency, but a background in business will round out your education and help you not only in your professional life, but in your personal life as well. I used to dread attending my economics and personal finance classes, but looking back, I wish I had put more time into those classes and even taken a few more. Because my major was not in the college of business, we only had to take a minimal number of business classes, and most of our coursework focused on the sometimes nebulous concept of branding. Now working in marketing at a financial institution, I wish I had learned more about the business side of my major. You never know where you’ll end up working, but having a better background in business will ultimately help you to create results in a more tangible way.


1305521022158_78486322. Internships are your best friends.
Some degree programs require at least one internship – I was lucky to be part of one of those programs. However, at some universities, internships are recommended but not mandatory for graduation. Internships will give you real-life experience and teach you more than you can learn in a classroom, but they also give you portfolio materials to show at job interviews, introduce you to others in your industry and can even lead to full-time work. I interned at four separate companies during my college career, and at three of those internships, my supervisor had graduated from my school and interned at that company several years prior. Even if the company isn’t hiring, putting in the time for an internship is an important investment to make.


3. Save your work.
Keep your press releases, published articles, media advisories and design work – you never know when it will be needed! I saved everything I put together for classes and internships so that when interviewers asked me to supply three writing samples, I was able to do so. Employers will want to see what you can do, rather than what you say you can do. If you save all your work in one place, it makes it a lot easier to dig out on demand.


Nutty-Professor4. Get to know faculty.
The faculty members in your program should have an extensive knowledge of the industry, and some may still be working in it. You’ll want to make sure you connect with them through extracurriculars and office hours so they can help guide you when needed. Trust me – where employers are concerned, a recommendation from a trusted faculty member goes a lot farther than a simple response on an online job posting, and it will help ensure that your resumé is actually seen.


5. Social media matters even more.
In 2013, social media definitely matters when it comes to the job/internship hunt, but it matters even more when you’re a communication student. Because the jobs you’re searching for may require social media management, employers will want to see that you can not only adequately use those platforms, but that you know how to positively represent yourself online. My advice: make your page as private as possible, but don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see.


Communication students, what are your concerns? Graduates, what are your tips?

The Weekend Five: Facebook Posts from a Graduating Senior

deepest-condolences-graduation-ecard-someecardsAs I’ve mentioned in my four most recent blog posts, I am officially a college graduate! Of course, this means that hundreds of my nearest and dearest acquaintances are also now college graduates, proudly announcing this accomplishment through the platform we love best – social media. Throughout the month of May, my Facebook news feed has been teeming with posts revolving around graduation, new jobs and above all, the “memories.”

For every graduating senior, there are five Facebook posts to look out for on your own news feed. If you haven’t posted at least one of these yourself, then you are probably doing something wrong! :)

The Weekend Five: Facebook Posts from a Graduating Senior

1. “I need an extra ticket to Saturday’s graduation ceremony. Help!”
These statuses are everywhere and they are by far my least favorite! Because some universities limit the number of guest tickets that students can receive for commencement, students from big families or with a lot of supporters tend to posts these statuses within the month leading up to graduation. After a while, I stopped reading notifications from certain groups I belonged to on Facebook because I knew they would consist solely of ticket requests. (Besides, if I actually had extra tickets, don’t you think I would have used them to take additional family members, friends or my boyfriend to graduation?)


2. “I picked up my cap and gown! It feels so surreal.”
Sure, we wore them at our high school graduations, but picking up our graduation gear in college seems so much more important. Once you have that enormous gown and the mortar board cap, you’re pretty much ready for that diploma. Naturally, of course, at least 20 of your friends will feel the need to post something about it, so get ready!


images3. Nostalgic status about the past four years.
Whether this person decided to repost photos from freshman year or recap the past four years through an incredibly long Facebook status, you’re bound to find plenty of nostalgia on social media in May. Facebook becomes an incredibly bittersweet place where we can gush about the best four years of our lives and the amazing friends we made and all the opportunities that brought us to this very moment. (Believe it or not, in spite of the profound effect that college had on me, I still haven’t quite posted my obligatory nostalgic status about the good old days. I’ll have to work on it!)


4. Congratulatory posts from friends and family of graduates.
Let’s not forget about your friends who aren’t graduating! Those friends will mainly be posting congratulatory statuses and perhaps photos with someone they know who graduated, but they are just as wrapped up in the Facebook madness as those who have graduated. Usually with great achievements come great support, so look out for those tagged posts on your news feed as well.


5. Photos of everyone in front of the same buildings and university landmarks.
As much as I enjoyed taking my graduation photos, I’ll admit that plenty of them had cliché written all over them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! At every university, there are certain iconic buildings and landmarks that everyone will want to take a photo next to, so prepare yourself for multiple pictures with the same exact backgrounds. At my university, we are only allowed to set foot in the pond outside the library during Homecoming, so naturally I (and everyone else I knew) had to take pictures standing in the pond in my cap after I was finished with graduation!


What sort of posts have you come to expect from graduating seniors?