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If You Could Talk to Your Freshman Self, What Would You Say?

Filed under: College Life, Post Grad and Career - Social Community Manager
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This is Part 1 in a series of letters from college graduates to their freshman alter egos. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self about your college years?

photo of girlBy BookRenter Corporate Communications Associate, Rachel Freeman
Rachel recently earned her Master’s degree at San Francisco State in Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts. In addition to working at Rafter, she coaches high school volleyball. A kid at heart, she loves watermelon gum and water guns. In her spare time, you can find her traveling the globe (her favorite place is Israel!) and cheering on her hometown San Francisco Giants.


Dear freshman Rachel,

I’ll give you fair warning. By the time you are done with this adventure of higher education, you’ll have been in school for 19 of your 23 years. That’s a long time: exactly 82.6% of your life. And when you get to the finish line, your graduate school graduation, it will feel like the end of an era. School can be tough at times, but it’s a fun journey and you should take in everything: every friendship, every class, every event, every party. So as you embark on this awkward, fun, funny, stressful, amazing time in your life that I wish I could do again, here are some things I want to tell you:
–        Break out of the box you have created for yourself! When you were young, you pictured your life at 18 in a certain way. And that box is very restricting and claustrophobic. So step out of that box. Get out and party. Do things you may never have thought of doing –  introduce yourself to random people with whom you cross paths, join off-the-wall active clubs (think, the Rock Climbing Club, or the Swing Dance Club), and take off-campus adventures with your new friends (think corn mazes, hay rides and haunted houses). You won’t regret leaving your box behind.

–        Find people who make you a better person. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and what you are doing in your life. You will encounter people who may have selfish reasons for hanging out with you. You don’t need to be suspicious of everyone, but make sure that you get something out of the relationship. If not, don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. It’s okay to be a little selfish; after all, you’re the only one looking out for you.

–        Live a little! I know you don’t believe in drinking before you turn 21, but it’s not so bad. When people invite you to parties, GO! I know you think right now that it will be uncomfortable, but trust me, IT WON’T BE; everyone is just there to have a good time. And if you decide you want to start drinking before 21, it’s really not as bad as you think. Go with your gut. But never do anything because someone else tells you to. I just want you to know it’s okay if your views change over time.

–        Not everyone makes it through college with amazing roommates. And you are no exception. But instead of being upset about not having a college roommate that you’ll still be friends with in 30 years, think of these living situations as learning experiences. It’s teaching you about cohabitating, patience and not always getting what you want all the time. And those will be great skills to have when you finally do enter the real world (especially the “not always getting what you want” part).

–        Lastly, work hard to maintain friendships with those you truly care about. Even with Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and FourSquare and every other social network out there telling you what your friends are doing at all times, it won’t be enough to maintain those special friendships. Once you graduate from undergrad, pick up the phone and call your friends, send them “thinking of you” texts, snail mail them birthday cards. You may think your friendships will dissipate after college, but as long as you work on keeping in touch, they will actually strengthen.

So freshman self, I will leave you with 2 quotes. One comes from a future best friend. She once said: “Life is short, so fuck everything. These are the years. You can make mistakes. If you’re gonna make mistakes, do it now before 25 at least. After 30, you’re DONE! DUNZO! Out for the count.” Not sure if the part about turning 30 is true because I haven’t hit that milestone yet, but it’s still a good one.

And finally, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” If you live your life that way, I can guarantee you, you’ll be fearless.

Rachel Freeman, M.A.

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College Bucket List — Don’t Let Time Run Out!

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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By guest blogger Kelsey Bradshaw
Kelsey is a sophomore at the University of Oregon majoring in Journalism and Facebook (wait, that’s not a real major?!). Originally a track star from Medford, Oregon, she now enjoys going for runs with her friends and working out at Eugene Crossfit. She also enjoys visiting National Parks, playing in the snow, and hanging out at the beach…double points if they’re all at the same time.

When I was in eighth grade, I had a “quarter-quarter-semi-life” crisis and got really freaked out that I was going into high school. No matter the fact that I was 13, nor that virtually everyone from my middle school would be going to my high school…I got scared that I was getting old and I wouldn’t see anyone ever again. So I made a bucket list of things I wanted to do before high school…and it made school the most fun it had ever been. So, I decided to do a college version of it—but, you know, wearing glitter every day for a week won’t be on the list this time. Or maybe it will. Hmm….anywho, here’s a list everyone should think about doing before school ends! (I’ll be splashing in puddles naked if you need me).

1. Get out of the habit of wearing sweats to school. Dress up for a week, and see if not wearing lazy outfits makes you not so lazy at school.

#6 - Take a road trip with your friends. Photo by zeroatthebone.com.

2. Pick one sunny day and play hooky. I’m not telling you to do this every day—but pick one really nice day and sit in the sun, relax, and catch up with your friends. You deserve a break every once in a while.

3. Ace a test. Getting an A on a test could possibly be on the same level as Ryan Gosling asking for your number. Okay, maybe not, but it’s a really good feeling, so stop procrastinating.

4. Explore your town. Find a new restaurant, take a walk downtown, try a different street vendor or go into a shop you’ve never been into. You may find that café you pass by every day has killer mochas, or something else exciting like a cute barista.

5. Get in shape before summer. Less than two months until bikini season? Yikes. Get on that elliptical.

6. Road trip. The grass (and shopping, and restaurants, and overall hotness of the population) is always greener on the other side—so go explore the grass in the few cities over.

7. Decide who you want to be remembered as. When you graduate, will you regret anything? Will you have become the person you had always hoped of being? The sooner you start taking steps to get there, the sooner your goals will be achieved.

8. Actually talk to that One Person you’ve been eyeing all year long. Start a conversation, ask him or her out—just try not to reveal how much you know from Facebook stalking them for the last two terms.


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What I Wish I Had Known Before I Started College

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By guest blogger Serena Piper
Journalism major at the University of Oregon. Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus Oregon. Magazine, freelance blogger, future world traveler. In her spare time, she likes to read as many books as she can, go for long drives, and peruse news websites. Hopes to one day write for National Geographic.

Isn’t it unfortunate to find out at the end of your college career all the things you could’ve done differently to make the experience not only a better one, but also less painful post-grad? Then again, you probably wouldn’t be where you are now, and that’s hopefully a good place because, if you’re like me, you believe everything happens for a reason (even those tiny, yet crucial lessons you learned in college).

As my senior year comes to an end in just a few short terms, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned these past four years. Everyone’s college experience is different and we each take away something different, but there are always at least a few things we can share with each other that will help others be better prepared. Like not spending your entire financial refund in one week on a new video game console or a new wardrobe and remembering to wear flip-flops in the dorm showers. But it’s 2012 now and while some cautions stay the same, there are some different things I wish I’d known before I started my college career…

1. No college student eats only Top Ramen.

You will not solely be eating instant noodles in college. Photo by brownpau.

When I look back, it seems like this was just a scary story told to all freshly graduated high school students. “Make sure you’re stocked up on Top Ramen, because you won’t be doing a lot of cooking” was a phrase I heard repeatedly. And we all know that when you’re told something repeatedly, you start to believe it. Thank goodness I was proved wrong. The college budget may be tight, but it’s not that tight. Soup is just as cheap as Top Ramen (not to mention more flavorful and healthy), and lucky for us Tech Century babies, there are now websites, such as MyFridgeFood or SuperCook, that will suggest meals based on the ingredients you already have in your fridge and/or cupboards.

2. Travel lightly.

You may have to move locations a few times in college and the less stuff you have to have your dad help you with, the better. “How much more stuff do you have?” my dad would ask me after each trip to and from the moving truck. His words echoed in my ears when I arrived at my new place, exhausted but knowing I still needed to unpack if I wanted any space to maneuver in my new room. That’s when I realized I needed to downsize. One tip I’ve learned from Real Simple Magazine that has stuck with me: instead of keeping those old 4th grade basketball team photos and trophies, take a picture of them! This way you can keep the items digitally, but not have to cart them around.

3. A part-time job is a blessing in disguise.

This is America, so yes, you have a right to complain, but jobs are more than work and if you think you won’t have time for one, you’ll make time. Benefits: You get out of the dorms, you make some money, and you’re learning things your unemployed friends aren’t.  Even if you don’t like your job or wish you were doing something else, think of it this way: you’re learning skills you may use in the future. Plus, depending on your job, there may be some health benefits, as well, and you’ll be equipped with letters of rec when you graduate. Can your friends say the same thing?

4. Don’t even think about rooming with a high school friend.

Ok, some people can hack it, but there is a very high chance of losing said friendship the moment you move in together and he/she informs you their significant other will be staying the night every couple of days. Disagreements will turn into walking around on eggshells, and it’ll feel exactly like high school all over again. The last thing anyone starting college needs is more drama so if you want to play it safe, room with someone new. Plus hopefully you’ll end up with a new friend!

5. You probably won’t graduate in four years.

It may take you longer than 4 years to graduate. Photo by University of Denver.

When you graduate depends not just on your major, but also how many credits you take each term. Sadly, even if you do attend school full-time each term, you still probably won’t make it in four years. If you want to graduate in as little time as possible, meet with an adviser each term to make sure you are registering for classes that will apply to your degree. If it turns out you’ll be taking classes longer than you had wanted, look at it this way: you have more time to search for that post-grad job and (hopefully) save a little money before being out in “the real world.” Not to mention, you’ll have more time to defer those loan payments. By the time you graduate, maybe there will be a law forgiving student debt! Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

My number one piece of advice? Talk to as many people as you can before beginning college just so you know what you’re up against. College has its fun moments, yes, but they’re even more enjoyable when you’re prepared for anything that is thrown your way.

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Preparing for the Real World

Filed under: Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
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By BookRenter Business Development Associate, Elizabeth Schwandt
Elizabeth has a BA in International Studies and Environmental Science and a minor in French from Miami University of Ohio where she graduated in 2010. Elizabeth recently moved from Chicago and currently lives in San Mateo, CA. She enjoys the Bar Method, spinning, speaking French and reading.

This post is the second part of Post-Grad Life by Elizabeth. To read part one, check it out here.

Thinking about college graduation is… depressing.

I know, I’ve been there.

I loved being a second semester senior. I was only taking one class that I needed to graduate – my other three courses were just for fun. In anticipation of graduation, I was more concerned with spending time with my friends, going to my favorite restaurants and attending 90’s night at the local bar. Instead of worrying about the fast-approaching graduation ceremony, I spent my time enjoying my last weeks in college.

Who wouldn’t?

University career centers can be an invaluable sources of help for graduating seniors. Photo by Saint Louis University Madrid

As I reflect back onto my last few weeks of college, I have only fond memories. But in addition to attending hockey games and sorority events, I wish I had thought about my future, and my plans after graduation. I’m sure many of you are like me, in that you don’t want to spend your last days in college worrying about your future. However, I soon realized that enjoying your last few weeks in college is just as important as figuring out what you’d like to do after graduation.

For those of you college seniors who have an easy last semester or quarter, I would highly recommend that you start to think about what you’d like to do after college and get a head start on applying for jobs.

  1. Take advantage of your Career Center while you are still in school. They have great contacts at many companies, and can also help you with fine-tuning your resumes and cover letters.
  2. Reach out to your favorite college professors. They were once in your shoes, and may be able to give you some advice about how to start down your career path.

This will help you avoid the inevitable post-college slump, as well as get you on the right track towards a career.

While applying for jobs or internships, keep an open mind. Applying for jobs or internships that are not necessarily in your field of choice doesn’t matter, as long as you are getting experience in the working world. Also remember that you don’t have to keep your first job forever. This is just the beginning of a new chapter…

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Countdown To Graduation Check List

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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By BookRenter Mike

by Jason Bache

As a senior in college, the countdown towards graduation is in full swing. Every time I walk to class now, I realize how much I cherish my time here in college. That being said, there is plenty I need to do to get ready for graduation and make sure I end the year successfully.

Here are the top 3 things to make sure your graduation goes off without a hitch:

1) Apply for Graduation.

Although this may seem obvious, for some students this is an easily overlooked task. Confirm with your advisor that you have taken the required course load, and make sure the school registrar has you registered for graduation. Filling out your graduation paperwork is an important task on the way to graduating from school.

2) Send out Graduation Announcements.

Don’t hesitate to share the world the news that you’re graduating! Although some people might find them a little old-fashioned, I’m sure your mother doesn’t! Sending out graduation announcements can be fun and it’s always nice to let people know that you’ve successfully navigated the rough waters of college.

3) Order your cap and gown.

Trust me; you don’t want to be the guy or girl with no cap and gown the day before graduation. At UVa, we have cap and gown week, where the school makes a big deal out of all the graduating 4th years. You can probably order these at the school bookstore when you’re laughing at all the miserable people still buying expensive textbooks!

So there you have it, a quick checklist to make sure you are on track to graduate. If anything else, make sure to keep attending class and study as hard as you did when you were a freshman. You can’t graduate if you fail out of school!

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