Packing for an out of state college can be very challenging. With school right around the corner, you’re probably hustling to check more and more off your shopping list. Between trying to achieve the perfect dorm and a new and improved wardrobe, you might be wondering how you’ll get everything to campus.
You’ll have to stuff your whole life into a few suitcases while others can pack their cars with everything they need. As someone who has to travel to an out of state college (Texas to New Hampshire), I’ve had to become a little more of a savvy packer.
I collected a couple of tips & tricks that I plan to use this fall when heading to campus. There’s also a free packing guide specialized just for you out of staters that you can download at the end of the post!
In college, you’ll learn quickly that your success rides on your organization and time-management skills more than anything.
There’s so much more going on in college than there was in high school. Your assignments will be spread out, you’ll be involved in a lot of activities, and will generally have more to keep track of. Having something to organize your life is crucial to ensuring you’re making the most of your semester.
Using an agenda is a tried and true way to get your life together and keep it together. Everyone organizes differently, but if you’re someone who benefits from writing things down and loves taking the time to plan out their day, getting an agenda for college is the way to go!
“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.” -Ellen Burstyn
Our generation is filled with people who are so afraid of being alone. It’s filled with people who don’t know how to be alone. We often think that solitude equates to loneliness, which is far from the truth.
In high school, I was scared of being alone too. In an environment that celebrates extroversion and deeply misconstrues the opposite, I struggled with my own introverted tendencies. I thought there was something wrong with me when I preferred to go home and read a book while my friends were going out and seemingly making the most of their high school lives.
I quickly learned that my time spent alone was putting me miles ahead of my peers. I gained wisdom and an understanding of myself and the world around me that was noticeable to others. Solitude gave me the opportunity to think, reason, and discover myself in ways that couldn’t be possible if I was constantly interacting with people. This doesn’t mean that I never go out and never socialize– it just means that I value alone-time and thrive during these periods.
There are so many benefits that come with being alone. Even if you’re an extrovert who may not need alone-time to recharge, learning how to spend time with yourself can improve your relationship with yourself and others. I’m here to teach you how alone-time can ultimately help you, and how to embrace it without fear.
Being Alone Built My Confidence
Here’s the thing, if you’re sitting in your bedroom or house alone, you have nobody to socialize with except your conscience. You can finally hear yourself think, and for some, this is scary. You learn who you really are when all of those external influences fall away.
Being alone forces you to accept yourself, quirks and all, because everyone wants to enjoy their company.
It won’t happen immediately, but the more you get to spend time with yourself, the more you’ll become comfortable in your own skin. Your worst critic is yourself, and if you can please that one, your confidence will skyrocket. As a result, people will gravitate more to you simply because of your positive demeanor.
The nights in high school that I spent alone, I became more and more me. I learned what being an introvert meant and that it was okay to be one. I dove headfirst into creative adventures, and I was amazed by the many talents and strengths that presented themselves to me. I’m much more confident in my abilities. I love hanging out with myself because my own thoughts and revelations make me a very entertaining companion.
When you learn to appreciate yourself, the self that comes from the inside and isn’t influenced by your peers, you have won life.
There is nothing you can’t do when you reach a deep level of self-awareness and allow it to manifest externally.
This is important especially if you’re going into college for the first time. I expanded on the significance of self-awareness and how it relates to your next 4 years of college here.
I Stopped Being Reliant On Others for Happiness
Fact: You will never be lonely if you know how to be alone.
I have lots of friends who can’t stand being by themselves for more than a few hours. If they are, they feel friendless and become miserable.
This kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable. Unless you force your friends to abandon their lives and stay in a giant house with you, at some point or another you will be left alone.
If you know how to entertain yourself, you will never have to be reliant on others’ presence for your happiness again.
Friends are amazing to have and to be around, but they have their own stuff going on. They won’t alwaysbe accessible to you.
I stopped listening to the voice in my mind that told me I wasn’t a “normal” teenager if I wasn’t constantly surrounded by my peers.
I stopped feeling the need to fit in. I never succumbed to peer pressure because I wasn’t desperate for friendship.
This allowed me to form quality relationships instead of worrying about the quantity.
If you’re someone who is a serial dater (gets in relationships after just leaving one), or always needs social interaction to feel whole, I seriously recommend practicing being alone. You’ll be so much happier once you realize that you can be whole on your own.
I Became Smarter and More Creative
Statistically, you work better alone. Without the judgement of your peers or social pressure to conform, you are likely to become more creative. You’re free to discover and try new things. And, if you mess up? No one is watching! Boredom breeds creativity, and when you’re alone, you will get bored. That’s when you really start to have fun. One day I was bored, so I started playing piano again. I drew cool stuff, I wrote, I started a blog.
I was able to tap into a reserve of creativity that I had no idea was hiding there.
“People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.” -Karl Lagerfeld
I also found myself becoming smarter. When you’re interacting with someone, you’re taking in so much information, but you don’t really get to process it. When I got time to myself, I could analyze and notice so much more about my surroundings.
You will gain a perspective that is like looking in on the world from the outside.
You’ll be able to make strong decisions and judgements from a logical standpoint rather than letting circumstances control you.
You’d be surprised how much your brain can do without the distraction of others’ presence and own ideas.
How to Be Alone
Now that you’re sold (hopefully), you’re probably wondering how you can maximize the benefits of your alone-time. I’m going to discuss some of the things I like to do when I’m alone. That being said, I encourage you to come up with your own activities and do things that you love because that’s the best way to grow.
Disclaimer: Don’t become a hermit. You do still need to go outside, and social interaction is important. Just to clarify.
Read Substantial Books:
Lately I’ve been interested in self-help and Philosophy books. I’ve started to stray away from fiction books because they can get repetitive especially in the Young Adult genre. Instead of switching between Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat every 3 seconds, I try (keyword being try) to pick up a book instead. Books are hands down better sources to build up your brain than social media. Find ones that will challenge you in some way (intellectually, emotionally, etc).
Start a New Project:
I am the master of starting new things and abandoning them. That’s okay, though. I still learn a lot in the process even if I don’t quite get to the end. Start projects, dive headfirst in them, and enjoy every moment. Find out what you love, and what you’re not so good at. You’ll discover and build your strengths here.
Have a Sense of Adventure:
Let yourself get bored, then battle the boredom. I mean, come on. We have the world at our fingertips, you can learn anything, do anything, and be anything all by yourself. If you’re bored for more than an hour, you’re not doing life right. Social Tip: If you bore yourself you probably bore other people. So once you learn how to be interesting on your own, people will find you interesting too.
People often use their alone-time to simply chill out. This is an effective way to rebuild your energy and sense of balance. Watch Netflix, take a nap, have a luxurious bath, or journal. Take part in activities that center and calm you.
Go Out By Yourself:
This is probably the scariest part of learning how to be alone. Going to events by yourself can make you feel a little awkward and a little self-conscious. You might think that everyone notices that you’re alone, but in reality nobody cares. Go to a movie or café by yourself. You might meet new people who you would otherwise have never gotten to talk to if your friends were around.
In a society thats full of people who fear themselves, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. I challenge you to unabashedly become your best friend, to love who you are inside and out. Do something different. What is life worth if it’s spent doing what literally everyone else is doing? Remember, being alone is not lonely if you enjoy the company you’re with.
Cherish being alone, because that’s where you are truly free.
So, tell me: How do you like to spend time alone? Let me know in the comments!
The hunt for your dream college can be rough, I’ll give you that. But, it doesn’t have to be. I believe that everyone should be able to go to the college of their dreams or at least one very close to it. People say that the 4 years you spend in college are the pinnacle of your adolescence. They should never be wasted on a college you feel just so-so about!
Dartmouth College took me completely by surprise when I discovered it was my actual dream college. I had originally set my eyes on Stanford University (for about 4 years actually). But, after a visit on a west coast college tour, I realized I only had lukewarm feelings toward it.
However, Dartmouth swept me off my feet the moment I drove into the campus. Dartmouth met every vision that I had of my dream college. I’m sure I wouldn’t have landed on this treasure if not for these 5 steps.
If you’re knee-deep in the dream college search, or just starting, follow the tips below and you’ll narrow down your choices by far.
How to Find Your Dream College
1. START WITH A CLEAN SLATE
I had been enamored with the idea of Stanford University since I was 12 and my mom took me there while she was on a business trip. My expectations and imagination ran wild for 4 years, and when I returned at 16, I was disappointed by the reality.
If you’re hanging on to any college for whatever reason (parents are alumni, you saw it in a TV show once, etc) you’re going to have to get comfortable with the idea that it might end up not being the best fit. Make sure you haven’t fallen in love with the idea of a college.
Instead, you should keep a completely open mind. Don’t start your college search leaning one way or another just yet. You’ll need to ask yourself some questions first, which brings me to my next point.
2. SET YOUR STANDARDS
In order to weed out your dream college from the thousands you have to choose from, you should already have an idea of what you want by the time you start your heavy searching. Jot down what you see yourself doing in college, what it looks like, etc. Basically everything you imagine college being.
You need to set up the standards of your ideal college. You must do this in order to ensure that you’re finding the college that fits YOU, and not trying to fit yourself into a college that isn’t for you.
Can you answer these questions?
WHAT TYPE OF ACADEMIC PLAN?
It can be hard to pick an academic plan when you’ve never actually been to college before. You can divide up colleges and their academic curricula into two main categories: Liberal Arts colleges and Universities.
Liberal Arts colleges value the arts, humanities, and the sciences. They emphasize having a well-rounded education that requires a wider breadth of knowledge.
Universities are much larger schools that usually focus more on research. You are typically fixed in the major you choose and won’t need to branch out to other topics if you don’t want to.
DO THEY TREAT YOUR MAJOR WELL?
Some schools will teach your major differently or better than others. With my major, Cognitive Science, one college had a more technological approach to it and another took a scientific approach. I wanted the scientific approach. These nuances are important to take note of.
Some schools also teach certain majors better than others. I wouldn’t recommend going to a school that hardly pays attention to their Psychology department if you’re trying to major in that exact subject.
If you are undecided, narrow your major choices to at least 2-3 and research the top ranking colleges in those majors. You can even dig a little deeper into the colleges by looking at where graduates who studied your major are now.
WHAT TYPE OF CAMPUS SETTING?
There are three types of colleges: Rural, Suburban, and Urban. Each have their pros and cons and you want to choose carefully. Check out College Board’s page on the characteristics of each campus.
WHAT TYPE OF CAMPUS VIBE?
Do you love partying or are you a tad more reserved? Maybe you’re a monogram junky, and a preppy school would be good for you. Or maybe you’re a hipster and want to go to a school that really values social activism and staying #woke. Whatever the case, find the campus vibe that appeals most to your personality. College is for finding your people, your tribe, you know? You can’t do that if it’s difficult to relate to 90% of the student body!
You can include lots of other criteria in your college search, too. Maybe you plan on playing varsity sports and want a D1 level school. Proximity to home is another good one. I made sure I moved far away from the South!
How to Find the Colleges:
After you’ve set your standards, it’s time to find the colleges that meet them. Start with the broadest standard. This would be the academic plan or campus setting. The easiest thing to do is search rankings. If you’ve chosen the Liberal Arts curriculum, search “Liberal Arts college rankings” in Google.
Cut your coat according to your size and choose the colleges your high school performance best meets.
Then, narrow your search down further. Once you’ve chosen around 20 colleges, start checking out where each college is, where they rank in your particular area(s) of studies, and so on until you’ve whittled down your choice of colleges to the cream of the crop.
3. CREATE A HIERARCHY
After you’ve set your standards and found maybe 5 to 10 colleges that meet a majority, if not all of them, you need to create a hierarchy. Categorize the colleges by how close they meet your criteria. I also ended up ranking my colleges by difficulty to get into. I had 2 that I really wanted to go to, but were also the highest tier as far as acceptance rates. Then I picked 2 to 3 mid-level colleges that I had more than a 60% chance of getting into, and I was fine with them as well. Then I chose another 2 “fallback plan” colleges that met a majority of my criteria, my admittance was almost guaranteed, but wasn’t completely in love with.
The top 3 or 4 in your hierarchy should be the ones you focus on the most. These are colleges that you’d be totally okay with getting accepted to and are excited about.
4. TAKE A COLLEGE TOUR
If you can budget for college tours, absolutely take them. I literally cannot stress this enough. I recommend visiting your top 3 colleges.
Every college sounds great on paper, but until you see it physically, you will never truly get an authentic feel for them.
Dartmouth was in the top 5 of my hierarchy, but it wasn’t my number 1 at first. It wasn’t until I actually visited the campus that it became my dream college. If you can’t visit, take the virtual tour online and do the most thorough research that you can. One of my favorite things to do was look up college vlogs on Youtube for each college on my list to get a closer look inside. (These searches will also help you get more of a feel for campus vibe and setting.)
5. RESEARCH, ADJUST, GET EXCITED
Depending on the dream college you’ve decided on, you may need to start kicking your ass into gear. Research more in-depth acceptance rates of your college.
If there’s a median ACT/SAT score or GPA of accepted students, you want to make sure you can get there or above that level by the time you start applying for colleges.
If the odds truly seem against you for that college, pick the next best thing and focus on that. But, still apply to the top one, you never know!
Now that you’ve found your college, it’s time to get excited and get passionate. I realize that it’s scary to get your hopes up about a college, especially if it has a really low acceptance rate.
However, your chances of getting in increase 100% (in my opinion, at least) when you show full-on passion for the college you’re applying to. Admissions boards can see right through an application and tell whether you’re actually excited about their college or are applying “just because”.
A little advice: You know that saying “reach for the stars and you’ll end up among the clouds”? That’s the exact mindset you should have here. Shoot freaking high, you never know where you’ll land. Dartmouth was my first choice and also the one on my list that was hardest to get into. I did my best and succeeded. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, don’t miss out on opportunities because of self-doubt or fear of failure. You can do this!
Hey, you! Want more college advice and resources? Check out my most helpful posts here:
Before I started my blog, I never had any semblance of a morning routine. I was easily distracted by things that were time-wasters like social media or even just lying in bed for more time than was needed. Since I’ve started Macarons in the Morning, I’ve seen a need to establish a more concrete routine to maximize my productivity and complete my goals faster. I found that I was more creative and motivated in the early hours, so I set up a morning routine rather than an afternoon or evening one. With my routine I have become a more balanced, centered, and productive person.
WHY YOU NEED A MORNING ROUTINE
A morning routine works with the natural tendencies of our bodies and minds. The mind loves structure and pattern. Our brains work best when they know what to expect. When we know what’s coming up, we can prepare appropriately, and make the most of the event. To contrast, when our next action is undetermined, we waste an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what to do, how to carry out the action, and only think about how we could’ve been more efficient after the fact. With a routine, we’ve totally skipped the middle man and can jump right into the efficiency and productivity part.
You’ve accomplished something before your day has even started. Don’t you just love crossing things off of a to-do list? A morning routine is like a daily to-do list full of things you actually enjoy doing and that you can cross off before it’s lunch time. Having a sense of accomplishment can help your mood and set a confident, grateful attitude for the rest of the day.
You live with purpose. A theme that’s gone viral this year is intentional living. Often coupled with a minimalistic lifestyle, living intentionally means applying purpose behind your actions. When you develop your personal morning routine, each part of the routine has a specific purpose. You will feel more accomplished and fulfilled when you’ve completed goals that have meaning behind them. Into-Mind has a great graphic of how you can have a more full life by living with intention and breaking down bigger and more abstract goals by establishing manageable daily habits.
MYTHS ABOUT ROUTINES
They’re too strict and don’t allow for spontaneity. Routines can be as broad or as down to the very second as you want them to be. For the more free-spirited mind, a more general morning routine with looser time slots (or no time slots at all!) might be better fitting. It’s all about completing the things you want in an orderly fashion, and making productivity a habit. Life will always bring its spontaneity. I promise, surprises will never be scarce.
They stifle creativity. While this is a highly debated topic, I’d definitely say that my morning routine has increased my creativity. Allotting a time to sit down and create something has been a lot like going to the gym everyday and working out. It’s gotten easier and easier to come up with cool stuff the more I train myself to work that creative muscle. And, of course, if I have ideas throughout the day, I won’t shut my brain off and say “ah ah ah, it’s not creativity time!” I simply jot down the ideas in my notes app or in my Moleskine and work on them when I have time.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR ROUTINE
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. A few things you should keep in mind when creating a routine:
Have a goal in mind. It can be as abstract or as specific as you want. And you can have multiple. My main goals for the morning are to get as much creative work done for my blog as possible, enrich my body by working out or eating a good breakfast, and enrich my mind by allotting time to read a novel, journal, or catch up on the news.
Keep your priorities straight. Every list of goals has a hierarchy. Prioritize the ones that are most important to you. They don’t necessarily have to come first, but you should spend the most effort and time on them. Blogging is a huge priority in my life and I spend hours on it. I start my blogging duties last because I often go well into the afternoon with it, but getting started in the morning assures that I will get something done.
Now, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. Once you have your goals set, you need to figure out which order they should go in, and where daily chores might fit best into your routine. Your routine should have a natural flow of events.
What is the best time for me to wake up? Does this allow enough time to complete my routine?
Does the first thing I do after I wake up center me and prepare me for the upcoming events of the day?
Have I taken care of chores and daily necessities like eating breakfast and getting dressed that could later become distractions?
Have I allotted time for reflection, self-enrichment, and goal planning?
Have I broken down the more abstract goals into achievable daily goals?
How and when am I most productive? Am I completing the most important parts of my morning at that time?
The best way to start and stick to a routine is to do a little at a time. And don’t be afraid to mend it as time goes on. Your morning routine should be something that you enjoy and find useful. If it ever becomes a burden or you find that it doesn’t work with how you naturally function, make changes.
Delayed Gratification: There is nothing that will make me work faster to finish a task than if I know a box of macarons or a Gilmore Girls marathon is waiting for me at the end of the finish line. Setting up a reward system, whether it be earning a 30 minute break or a yummy snack after a tedious task, can make you more productive because there’s an incentive involved.
Work with Yourself: At certain times of the day, I just can’t work up the energy to get a task done. And that’s totally fine. When it comes to creativity or putting out great content, I never want it to be forced or for it to become a chore that I don’t love. Learn how to work your mind. Identify the times you work best, and make the most of it, and don’t punish yourself for the times where you aren’t at your best.
A Cluttered Space is a Cluttered Mind: People underestimate the influence that the physical world has on their ability to work. If your work area is a total mess, your brain can easily become overwhelmed and distracted. Make sure your space is organized before you start your work. You’ll be a lot more focused when there isn’t all kinds of displaced items scattered around you.
Understand the Why: When working towards a very large goal, there are a lot of laborious steps in between that tire us out and can sometimes cause us to lose sight of the big picture. Once you’ve broken down your big goal into smaller goals, always remember to put purpose behind them. No matter how small, how annoying, or how tedious it can be, keep in mind the why and it will become much easier to complete the task.
Your routine can be adapted for nighttime as well, and I encourage you to develop one for whichever time of day you see fit.
So Tell Me:What’s your favorite part of your morning routine? Answer in the comments below!