How to Break Out of Your Shell at School

Guest article for Teen Vogue by Dr. Carol 

Moving to a new state and starting over at a new school sounds exhilarating — until you realize it’s time to socialize with a whole new group. With so many changes, acclimatizing to college may seem more difficult than your advanced calculus class. But remember: Everyone is feeling the same way as you — some students are just easier at hiding it, Dr. Carol Langlois, a teen and youth culture expert and author of Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image, tells Teen Vogue. With that in mind, use these tips to help you break out of your shell so college is no sweat.

Sleep tight

Yes, eight hours of shut-eye is definitely your ticket to staying awake during class, but it also presents an opportunity to begin a new slate and help manage those night-before jitters.

“Set yourself up for success before you go to bed. Have your alarm set to play your favorite song so you wake up in a comfortable space. Or, have a photo of you and your best friends by the bed that you can look at first thing in the morning. I’d rather wake up looking at that instead of a bunch of schoolbooks sprawled across the floor,” Dr. Carol says.

Similarly, anything that reminds you that you are talented, valued, and loved creates the same effect. Dig up any trophies or special ribbons and splay them across your night table.

Start your morning off on the right foot

Yes, breakfast is definitely a must, but overnight oats aren’t going to do you any good if your mind isn’t in the right place.

Dr. Carol suggests practicing positive thinking for three to five minutes before you get out of bed (that does not include scrolling through Instagram!). Keep your eyes closed and remain calm, breathing in and out.

“Tell yourself ‘Today is going to be a good day. I am going to have fun with my friends. School is going to be okay,’ and so forth,” she says. “You have to consistently manage the negative attitude, get out of bed with a clear head, and start the day in a positive space, or at least move in that direction.”

Don’t overanalyze

Think about all those times you tried to rehearse what you’d say out loud, only to beat yourself up after it came out wrong, or someone spoke over you and you missed your chance. Conversations that flow organically breed deeper bonds.

“I know this may sound strange, but don’t think too much. Stop constantly second-guessing, questioning, and wondering. I know blocking out the negative can be exhausting, but what’s the alternative? Being depressed, sad, or angry? Think of all the energy you waste dwelling on those feelings,” Dr. Carol says.

For more on this article click HERE

Staying Safe at College (Tips for Freshman Women)

Sadly, sexual assault on campuses happen every day. With college just a few months away, I wanted to send some reminders to the young women out there about staying safe at school. Having worked on campuses for 17 years, I know the reality of what can happen, so let me give you a few practical pieces of advice.

My best piece of advice is to find a great group of friends that you can trust. Friends, who will have your back, be there for you and always protect you. Build a community, a “sisterhood” and look out for each other every day. Find this sisterhood on your dorm floor, in your sorority, through your sports team or through your campus job. I don’t care where you find it, just do it!  This is the best safety precaution you will have during your 4 years of college.

Also, here is a list of general precautions. These are recommended by schools, police and actual sexual assault victims. We all want you to enjoy college. We just want you to be safe too.

Post this list in your dorm room as a good daily reminder. 

Don’t walk across campus alone in the dark. Take the path that is well lit. Forget about shortcuts in the dark.

Know where the emergency help boxes are on campus.

Don’t go to parties alone.

Don’t leave your friend (drunk or not) alone at a party, unless she is with good friends.

Keep the number of your local cab service programed in your phone or download Uber.

Don’t leave your drinks unattended at a bar or at a party.

Bad decisions are made late at night. I don’t care how cool or interesting some new guy is… do not go anywhere alone with him @ 2am.

If you have a male study partner, meet him at the library or at a cafe.

Always let at least one friend know where you are. Text with updates often, especially if you feel nervous.

Keep pepper spray in your purse and/or room. (It’s legal in all 50 states.)

Know where campus police is located and have their number programed into your phone.

Dont wait for a bus or train at a badly lit spot and make sure you know when the last one runs each night.

Find some great male allies on campus.

Download the application kitestring to your phone.

Lastly, trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is.

 

Helping Your Teen Survive Freshman Year of College

My parents taught me many skills in life to prepare me and keep me on the right path.  As the youngest of seven, I had the advantage of observing trial an error by my older siblings.  By the time I came around, my parents had fine tuned their parenting skills.  Among the most important skills I learned from them were responsibility, hard work and dedication/discipline.  My parents did not believe in handing out money simply on demand. I had an allowance that I earned, was always told ways in which I could earn extra money around the house and I had my first job at thirteen. As a family, we had weekly responsibilities within the house that were to be completed on time or evening/weekend activities were forfeited. There was no whining or questioning, we knew the rules and simply obeyed or disobeyed and paid the consequences that were enforced on a consistent basis.

More importantly, from that responsibility, hard work and dedication came a sense of “independence” which I feel was the glue that truly helped me (and my siblings) succeed in college.  I could balance my check book, change a flat tire, get the most bang for my buck at the grocery store, think quickly on my feet and maintained an emergency fund all before freshman year of college. All thanks to my parents. That way the only unknown factor that I really needed to adjust to was the level of work expected of a new college student.  I watched many students and friends crumble around me because they couldn’t manage their time, money, relationships, and the daily pressures of day-to-day college living.  I truly think teaching children to be independent by way of responsibility, hard work and dedication/discipline is part of that check-list of life skills necessary for a successful transition to college.