Not Ready for College this Fall? Start in Spring.

Many students don’t think about deferring college till spring because the concept is foreign to them. Since they were 4 or 5 years old, school always starts in September. So it’s more about habit than anything else. They also feel that they are “behind” their other classmates and high school friends if starting in spring.  Once you are on campus, no one knows or cares when you started.  However, there are many benefits to starting college in the spring term instead of fall if needed.

If you just aren’t ready for college, then wait.  Going to college before you are ready can cause a lot of issues once on campus such as lack of focus, poor grades, premature dropping out and changing of majors many times over.  If needed, take some time to think about your future and your career in a “constructive”  way that fall.  One of the benefits of a spring start is that you are competing with fewer students for those required first semester classes and therefore, you are more likely to get them.  Also, your orientation is smaller and you get much more personalized attention from staff and faculty about living on campus and choosing classes. If you feel that your credits are dragging, take a few summer classes to make up for the spring start.  As I said, take advantage of the fall term when everyone else is away at school (September though December) in a constructive way by interning, working and/or meeting with professional in your desired field to make sure it’s the right fit for you.  Then you can start in spring more confident about your choices.  High school to college is a very big switch and some teens are better with change than others.  Taking a semester off isn’t a cop-out, it’s a small choice for some families and students.

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Overcoming Bullying: One Teen’s Story of Bullying and Survival

I believe being comfortable with myself will make me happy regardless of my situation.

This belief could come from the fact that I was bullied during the fifth and sixth grade. I had been friends with a girl for maybe two or three years, but then I decided to hang out with my other friend more than her. She felt betrayed, but I didn’t really notice what I was doing to her and she never brought it up. Then the bullying started. I figured that eventually she’d get over it or she’d get tired and stop. But she didn’t.

My former friend would pull my hair, punch me, and kick me…she even stabbed me with a pen once and broke my skin. I think my other friends tried to intervene as much as they could without getting anyone in trouble. It just wasn’t enough. I try to analyze why I never said anything and I guess it’s because I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble either. Even though she clearly was not acting like a friend anymore, I still felt loyalty to her from our past history. I also thought that if I didn’t acknowledge the situation, then it wouldn’t actually be real. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. The situation got to a point where it was really unsafe. I don’t know what would have happened if my mom hadn’t finally found out.

I guess she had noticed these marks on my body, but I’ve always kind of been prone to bruising so she didn’t think anything of them. Then one day she was walking me to school – which she rarely did – and she saw my friend pull my hair. She forced me to tell her about the bullying, and I broke down crying. She told me to talk to my teacher – which I did – and then the principal got involved too.

It was really awkward for me because we were a small class of about 30 and my former friend and I ran in the same clique of only five girls. I was nervous about what would happen to the friends I did like. Would they get angry at me for snitching on someone or would they stand by me? Surprisingly, the whole clique continued to hang out even though it was really awkward. My former friend and I just avoided each other completely. I’m not sure how we did that considering our group was so small…I guess that’s what made it so awkward.

On the positive side, I finished that year with a better sense of who I was. I learned from the experience.  I’m not going to ever let it happen to me – or anyone else – again. I swore that to myself. Since I was able to beat my problem and grow from it, now I know that I can handle anything.

Five Easy Ways to Manage Your College Expenses

For those of you heading off to college this fall, I have a few suggestions for you (and/or your parents) that may save you a little money along the ways.  Remember, you have 4 years ahead of you. Starting off on the right foot could mean saving a big chunk of change in the end.

Here are 5 easy ways to manage college expenses.

1) Leave the car at home. You don’t need it. Suspend the car insurance until the summer when you return.

2) Understand your meal plan options on campus. Sometimes colleges tier the plans. Find one that works for you. I see many families over spend on meal plans that don’t carry over remaining balances to the next semester. Be sure to ask.

3) Always buy your school supplies off campus. Much cheaper.

4) Get a part-time work-study job on campus. It’s convenient and if it’s an office job, they will probably allow you to use their computers, printers, supplies, etc. for your school work.

5) Take babysitting jobs off-campus. These positions are posted on job boards in the campus center or in the student employment office by local families.  They pay well and the work is mainly done at night when the kids are usually sleeping, so you can get your homework done. Ask if you can do your laundry at their house in exchange for 1 free hour of babysitting. Trust me…it’s well worth it! You get paid and have clean clothes.

For more advice or tips, just ask!