Are you thinking of signing up for a study abroad program? Spending a semester or two outside the U.S. can be the experience of a lifetime. You’ll meet new people, have the chance to learn a new language, and see a different part of the world. However, it tends to be costly, and you’ll probably feel homesick. Read about these pros and cons of studying abroad to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Con: Homesickness

Speaking of friends, you’ll be leaving them behind. You’ll likely experience culture shock, too, which can make feelings of homesickness more intense. The first few weeks in a new country will be the hardest. You’ll need to learn how to get from one place to another, the food will be different, and you’ll have to adjust to any cultural differences.

Fortunately, there are ways to decrease culture shock and feelings of loneliness. There will likely be other U.S. students in the same city as you. Reach out to them. Try to make friends with the locals. You can also keep in touch with family and friends back home using Skype or any other video-chat software.

Pro: Learning a New Language

Whether you want to improve on the language you’re already studying or you want to try something new, you’ll learn faster by immersing yourself in it. Learning a second (or third) language is useful, even if it’s not part of your degree requirement. It can open up doors for you when it’s time to look for a job. And, of course, you’ll also be able to impress your friends when you go back home.

Con: Cost

When you study abroad, you have to deal with more expenses. You’ll have to pay for the flight there and back. If you’re planning to go sightseeing, you’ll need to account for that in your budget. Depending on where you travel, the exchange rate could hurt your wallet even more.

There are ways to make your study abroad program more affordable, however. It’s possible to transfer financial aid to the cost of the program, and there are scholarships or internships you can apply for. Just make sure to apply for programs and funding early, so you don’t miss any deadlines.

Pro: Traveling

By staying in one location for one or two semesters, you’ll have more time to explore the city than you would on a regular trip. Along with visiting the usual tourist attractions, you’ll also get to see how the locals live.

Another perk of studying abroad is how close you’ll be to other countries. You can make the most of your trip by visiting other places on the weekends. For example, if you’re staying in France, you can easily take the train to Austria or Germany. Are you studying in Australia? That puts you that much closer to New Zealand.

These are just a few factors to consider before you apply for a study abroad program. The most important thing is to do your research and make preparations well ahead of time.

Your college campus might feel like a ghost town during the summer, especially if all your friends have left. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. There are fewer students around, sure, but there are still places to go and things to do. Here are just a few ways you can make the most of your time on campus this summer.

Focus on Your Goals

Look at it this way: Fewer social events mean fewer distractions, which in turn makes it easier for you to focus on your long-term goals. If you’re taking a class, you don’t need to deal with the stress of a full course load. Aim for a higher grade than you normally would. Are you working full time? Decide how much money you can reasonably earn this summer, and pick up extra shifts when you get the chance.

If you’re going to school as well as working, you may find it more practical simply to find the right balance. Are you not working or studying? Consider applying for an internship, a summer job, or a volunteer job that relates to your area of study.

Make a Bucket List

Working towards a goal is important and everything, but you don’t want to burn yourself out. Make a list of things you’ve wanted to do throughout the school year but didn’t have a chance to do. For example, there may be attractions or restaurants in the city you never had time to check out. Now is the time to visit them. Is your dorm room or apartment in need of a makeover? Check out decoration ideas on Pinterest, and get started on your new project.

Other bucket list items could include trying a new hobby, such as mountain biking, photography, or cooking. There are plenty of activities that are cheap or free. For example, you can learn how to build your own website just by reading (or watching) do-it-yourself guides online. Would you rather spend time outside? Geocaching keeps you active and entertained.

Focus on Your Health

With more free time than usual, you don’t need to settle for a packet or ramen noodles for dinner. There are plenty of easy, healthy recipes you can make, no matter how big (or nonexistent) your kitchen is. Taco salad, homemade microwave lasagna, and overnight oats are just a few options that will help you ignore that KD box in the back of the cupboard.

Another perk of staying on campus during the summer is that it’s easier to make use of on-campus facilities because fewer students are using them. Stop by the gym or go for a swim in the pool, and enjoy the extra space. If you haven’t had your annual physical exam this year, schedule an appointment at the health center before it gets booked up.

These are just a few ways you can make the most of your summer on campus. The key is to get out there and keep busy. Doing so will not only make the months more enjoyable, but it will also give you something fun to talk about when your friends come back in the fall.

Summer break is here, and hopefully you’re dreaming of hot, sunny beach weather and all the fun things you can do with your new college buddies. But consider the summer a time for self-improvement, not just for fun. Whether you choose a job, internship, travel, summer courses, or volunteering, you’ll come back to school next year just a little bit smarter and more ready for the professional world.

Save-Up with a Summer Job

A summer job probably doesn’t sound like the most fun thing to do with all that time off you get during the break, but the financial and professional gains are highly beneficial.

Even if you’re only working at a local shop, you’ll get experience in how the professional world works and you’ll likely get experience dealing with the public. You’ll also make money which can be spending money for your next year at college.

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Maybe your summer job could even be to start that side-hustle you dreamed up in your entrepreneurship class. That might not make you a lot of money, but you’ll certainly gain a lot of business savvy.

Level-Up with a Summer Internship

A summer internship is a great way to get a leg-up in your future industry. There’s a lot to learn about the professional world that’s difficult to get from college classes. A summer internship could also help you decide what you want your major to be, or if you’ve chosen the right major for you.

If you’re lucky, a summer internship will even be paid. A paid internship can help offset the costs of not living at home for the summer or build-up your spending money for the following school year.   A great resource for college internships is http://www.internships.com

Refresh Yourself with Summer Travel

A summer vacation will sound very nice after your finals. And you deserve it! When making summer travel plans, consider how to also get some professional or life-experience benefits from the trip.

If you’re headed to New York, maybe schedule a meeting with the advertising firm you’d love to work for. If you’re going abroad, soak in as much culture as you can; it will change you more than you know.

Help Others with Volunteer Hours

If you’re not sure what you want to do over the summer and haven’t made any plans, consider donating your time. Giving back to your community and volunteering can have professional benefits, look good on your résumé, and be very emotionally rewarding.

A volunteer position with some organizations can also give you professional insight into how non-profits function.

Get-Ahead with Summer Classes

We know this might sound terrible: you just finished a class, so you probably don’t want to take another. But, taking summer classes can put you ahead of the game in college. Summer classes help students to graduate on time and to save a little money. Consider taking online or community college classes during the summer.

It might seem a long way away, but the school year will be over before you know it. It’s time to get your summer plans in order.

Entering college is an exciting time for any student, promising new experiences and challenges. You’ve probably heard that college will be the best time you’ll have and that it’s a place where you’ll learn lots and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. But what aren’t those around you revealing? These are just some of the things no one ever tells you about your freshman year.

You’ll Need to Study

No really. You might have been one of those high school students that managed to retain enough information to still pass tests, but those days are over. College introduces you to much more complex topics and densely presented information. If you don’t review the notes you’ve taken during class each day, the ideas simply won’t stick. Establish good study habits early to make sure you’re not left behind.

There Are Better Study Spots Than the Library

The library might have all the books you need, but it’s not usually the best study spot. So many students congregate here that it’s often noisy and distracting. For a really productive study session, check your books out and find a quiet spot on campus or an empty classroom. When people see you working, they’ll give you a wide berth, so you can study in peace.

You Might Feel Lonely

You’re probably approaching college anticipating big parties and late nights spent chatting to fascinating people about life, love, and the universe. You’ll probably experience all that, but during your freshman year, there’s bound to be loneliness too. It’s normal to feel like a fish out of water when you move from a familiar high school to college, where you may not know anyone at all. It’s OK to take some time and find out where you fit. You’ll get there, but don’t be surprised if you feel lonely in the meantime.

There’s More to College Social Life Than the Greeks

Pledging for a sorority or fraternity might seem like an easy way to find your people, but there are plenty of other ways to connect with like-minded souls. If Greek life doesn’t sound appealing, trust your gut and look for an activity that is. Colleges have many social organizations, including sporting groups, bands, student newspapers, activist groups, and more. Pay attention during freshman orientation and explore all your options. 

While joining groups is a wonderful way to meet people, it’s also not for everybody. Don’t be afraid to ask your lab partner to lunch, for example. A chance pairing could be the start of a great friendship.

Some People Aren’t Drinking

While boozy parties are a part of college life for some students, many people aren’t partaking. You won’t become a social pariah if you abstain from alcohol, so don’t feel pressured to knock a few shots back just to fit in. You can always find plenty of people who aren’t drinking at campus movie nights, games nights, and other events. Keep an eye on your college website and noticeboards to find alcohol-free fun. 

Being a freshman isn’t always easy, but knowing what to expect should help you confidently transition from high school senior to college student.

Have you heard of Thrivent? They bring a unique, not-for-profit approach to everything they do—putting people before profits in all aspects of their business. It’s the philosophy and the mission they’ve been guided by for over 100 years. One that’s backed by over $116 billion in managed assets of people who trust and believe in a different way of doing business, and a unique way of looking at money as a tool, not a goal. They help they’re members be wise with money, because when people are more financially secure, they’re free to live more content, confident and generous lives.

Introducing: Thrivent Student Resources

 

 

Thrivent Student Resources puts that philosophy to work in the lives of those who are on their journey to college. They provide a thriving hub of tools and resources related to helping you achieve your college dreams with as little debt as possible. They’ve spoken with experts, former/current students, teachers, administrators and parents to collect resources together that can help you make wise money decisions when it comes to your college experience.

How To Get Started

Joining their online community connects you with:

  • A dashboard with a to-do list of goals and tasks to guide you through the process
  • Our student loan crowdfunding tool called GradPath
  • Scholarship opportunities, as we add to our growing database
  • Educational resources about how to pay for college
  • Lessons on how to be wise with money during college
  • Fun and useful tools to help with your college funding needs

 

Let them help you on your journey to college with less debt. They have the tools and resources you need

to make informed decisions about how to prepare, plan and pay for college. Whether you’re going to a trade school, local university, vocational school or any other form of higher education, Thrivent Student Resources wants to get you to graduation with less debt.

Why Is This Important?

Student loan debt is at an all-time high. Thivenet’s  approach to educate on this matter is The New School Mindset. This means being wise with your money by only borrowing what you need. Here’s what they believe are the core values of The New School Mindset:

  • Borrow as little as possible to pay for school. Not a dollar more, not a penny less.
  • Look at education as an investment and calculate your ROI. Your loan payment should not be more than 10% of your usual income and you should be able to pay it off in 10 years or less with the right plan.
  • Have a plan of action to fund your education. They can help determine what you need and then track your progress.
  • Don’t leave free money on the table. They have the tools to help you apply for scholarships early and often. Every free dollar helps!

Your senior year of college is a time of transition as you focus on securing your degree while looking ahead to your career after graduation. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for this vital year of study.

Take an Internship

The period before your senior year is the perfect time to complete internships. An internship lets you put what you’ve learned in the classroom into practice and decide whether your chosen career path is really right for you. Volunteer for as many different tasks as you can to get a real sense of what you might do once you graduate. Talk to the professionals you meet about their own career paths, and learn how you might land your dream job.

While there are no guarantees, internships can lead to job offers. At worst, you’ll network with people in your field and gain on-the-job experience that should help you in your chosen career.

Clean Up Your Socials

If you’re like most college students, you probably document your life on your favorite social media pages. Take time before your final year of college to think critically about what you’re posting and clean up what’s already there. With 75 percent of hiring managers checking candidate profiles and a third rejecting applicants based on what they find, your socials could help or hinder your career transition. 

Browse through your photos and delete any from drunken nights of revelry, or at least make them private for friends only. Nix the posts complaining about boring lectures and annoying parents. Cleaning up social media also involves sending the right messages into the world. With a year up your sleeve, you can make yourself look incredibly employable. Start posting photos from volunteering jobs and sporting engagements. Write posts about the positive steps you’re making to become job-ready. Join LinkedIn if you haven’t already, as this is the No. 1 social media channel that businesses use.

Learn a New Skill

If you’ve completed lots of credits in your past years of study, you might find you have fewer academic demands as you near graduation. While it’s tempting to put your feet up, it’s smarter to use extra time to your advantage and start learning a new skill.

But what kind of course should you enroll in? Browsing through job ads for positions you’d love should provide inspiration. Perhaps employers in your industry often look for candidates who can speak Chinese or use Adobe InDesign? Take the opportunity to gain these skills through your college, a community center, or another training venue. Even if you feel like you have a particular skill, like coding HTML, studying it formally will help you prove your proficiency to potential hiring managers. Short courses could be completed before you return, while longer ones may take all year. Consider your college workload when selecting a training course to ensure you don’t spread yourself too thin.

Your senior year can seem daunting as the prospect of graduating looms large. But with the right strategies in place, you can feel confident that you’re prepared for what lies ahead.

You may associate bullying with playground taunts and middle school snickers, but this is an issue that can persist well into your adult years. Bullying is alive and well on many college campuses. Though there’s often little you can do to avoid the bully’s gaze, there are ways to stop the aggression in its tracks and prevent it from taking over your life.

Step Back and Don’t Engage

Bullies are usually looking for a reaction. Your distress gives them a feeling of power. Many bullies were themselves the victim of bullying in another situation. These individuals then go on to bully others as a way of reasserting themselves and regaining the sense of superiority that they lost before. This makes bullying a vicious cycle.

Break out of the cycle by refusing to fight back or by accepting any sense of blame, hurt, or inferiority. Recognize that bullies are only expressing their insecurities. Express nothing to the bully. Walk away quietly and confidently, and the bully will often lose interest.

Document the Problem

Though this may seem unnecessary, it’s always best to document any form of bullying that you experience on campus. Save text messages, emails, and social media communications for future evidence. If the bullying doesn’t stop when you ignore the instigator, this record will come in handy. It can help you prove to counselors, professors, or even law enforcement that there’s a serious issue going on.

Reach Out for the Right Kind of Help

You should never feel like you have to suffer bullying alone. However, your fellow classmates aren’t the best resource for handling a serious issue with a bully. Recruiting friends to help you fight back will only cause the issue to escalate. You should turn instead to a more impartial party who’s in a position of authority.

Someone like your school counselor, assistant dean, or RA is well-placed not only to council you on the issue, but to help you take action. These individuals may help you change your course schedule or living arrangements as needed to remove yourself from a hostile situation. If the bullying makes you feel unsafe or seriously disrupts your day-to-day activities, you may even want to ask campus law enforcement if they can help.

Find Your Circle

Bullies will often try to isolate their victims. In high school, you always had the safe haven of your home to return to, but the situation is trickier in college. Find a circle of friends well away from the bully’s sphere of influence so you have another kind of retreat here. Try joining a club, volunteering with a charity, or even getting a job so you’ll have plenty of chances to connect with new people. These friends can give you the support and validation you need to brush off the harsh opinions of the bully.

If you’re being bullied, keep your cool at all costs. Wait until you’re in a safe space to vent your anger, and turn to the right people for help. These actions can help you avoid a larger issue.

Bunking up with a flatmate is a quintessential college experience everyone should have. For better or worse, this is a powerful learning opportunity. Don’t panic if your roomie relationship isn’t blissfully smooth. Most people will encounter occasional issues when confined to close quarters. Try a few tricks to respectfully address the following conflicts and find effective solutions.

You Have Different Standards of Cleanliness

Everyone has their own idea of clean. It’s important to establish guidelines as early as possible on this issue so you don’t fall into bad habits. This is a fairly easy topic to address when you bring it up respectfully. Sit down and decide which chores you’re each responsible for and how often you’ll do them. Draft a quick list detailing how you’ll split the cleaning duties, and keep it somewhere you can both see for easy reference.

If your roommate is slacking on his or her responsibilities, offer a gentle reminder. Don’t let your frustration simmer while the mess worsens. This is a topic you should always speak up on.

You Keep Opposite Schedules

College classes and activities take place at all hours of the day or night. If you and your roommate are on opposite school schedules, you may find that you’re struggling to sleep through study sessions while your roomie tosses and turns as you go through the morning routine. Discuss the hours that you’d each like quiet and find ways that you can better accommodate each other. Try studying in the common room after certain hours or taking your blow dryer to the bathroom in the morning so you can both get your much-needed sleep.

Guests Are Sleeping Over Often

It’s not uncommon for a roommate to develop a relationship that eventually bleeds into their time at home. Their constant guest might be a significant other or it could simply be a close friend. Regardless, you may feel uncomfortable with your newly cramped living quarters or the noise and disruptions of having another person in the room.

It’s best to discuss your boundaries for sleepovers when you first move in. This way, your concerns aren’t aimed at a specific individual who might take offense. If you must address the issue later, try to do so when the third party isn’t present. Come armed with a compromise, and offer specific times and activities that you’re comfortable with sharing in exchange for reclaiming some of your time alone.

There’s an Undercurrent of Aggression

It’s unfortunate, but in some cases, roommates simply don’t get along. You may have radically different political or religious views and few interests in common. Try to smooth things over by inviting your roomie out for lunch or striking up a conversation in his or her area of interest. If these efforts don’t work, talk to a mediator, such as your RA or a school counselor. If this person can’t help you resolve your issues, they may help you switch rooms.

If you sense trouble brewing in your apartment or dorm room, act quickly. The earlier you address a problem, the easier it is. You’ll often find that open conversation can get you everywhere.

Being away from home and your regular routine for the first time isn’t always easy. During your first year of college, it isn’t unusual to make a few unhealthy choices or put on a few pounds. That doesn’t mean you have to gain the so-called freshman 15, though. Check out six ways to fight the freshman 15 and stay healthy throughout your first year of college.

Pace Your Meals Throughout the Day

As you might have heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also essential that you pace all of your meals throughout the day. Not only does eating healthy meals three times a day keep you fueled with energy and nutrients, but this schedule also keeps you from getting too hungry and overeating later in the day.

Develop a Dining Hall Game Plan

There’s no question that making healthy choices at the dining hall can be tricky. Not only are many of the foods fried or covered in cheese, but the portions are also huge. Rather than filling up on pizza or fried foods, opt for salads, fresh fruit, steamed vegetables, or baked or grilled meats. Try to avoid the pastas and cream sauces altogether or pick small portions and balance them out with a fresh salad on the side.

Snack Smart

Even if you eat most of your meals at the dining hall, you’ll want to have at least a few snacks on hand for when hunger pangs strike outside of mealtime. For instance, fresh vegetables and hummus or fresh fruit and your favorite nut butter are nutritious choices. If you don’t have a refrigerator, there are plenty of equally healthy snacks that can be kept in air-tight containers.

Skip the Drinks

From soda and smoothies to espresso drinks, most are packed with sugar and empty calories. Rather than making these drinks part of your daily diet, keep cold water, tea, and coffee on hand. You’ll spare yourself hundreds of calories and tons of sugar.

Find a Workout Routine You Love

While eating healthy is a big part of avoiding the freshman 15, adding more movement to your routine is just as important. Your workouts can be just as organized or freeform as you want. Find a gym routine you love, join an intramural team, or go running before class every morning. Just make sure you’re working your muscles and getting your blood pumping several times a week.

Know Your Triggers

Even when you develop a diet and exercise plan, certain events can disrupt your routine and cause get you off track. If you tend to overeat and under-exercise at certain times of the year or when you’re stressed, do your best to anticipate these events before they happen. Develop a game plan, such as scheduling gym time with a friend or stocking extra healthy snacks, to stay successful.

From dining hall specials to dinners out with friends, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make unhealthy choices. But when you keep these tips in mind, you’ll keep yourself on a healthy track and resist weight.

Living in the dorms comes with plenty of perks, such as being just steps from your classes, but it also has its fair share of challenges. After all, living in close quarters with someone you just met can be tough. Find out how to keep the peace and get along with your assigned roommate.

Share Your Expectations

Before the two of you start unpacking your things, connect with your new roommate to share your expectations. Tell your roommate about your daily habits, such as keeping an early schedule or studying with music. Let your roommate know some of the things you need to be happy, such as having quiet time to yourself every evening or welcoming friends to your room every Saturday. If you’re a neat freak or on the messy side, tell him or her right away so you both know what to expect.

Communicate With Your Roommate

Whether you’ve shared a room with a sibling for years or this is the first time you’ll be in such close quarters with someone else, communication is key when you’re living with a roommate. Even if you tend to keep things to yourself, it’s essential to address problems when they’re minor rather than waiting for them to blow up into a huge fight. Try setting aside 30 minutes each week to talk over any issues and make sure you’re both happy.

Respect Each Other’s Things

Just because you feel comfortable wearing your roommate’s clothes or borrowing her textbook for a mutual class doesn’t mean she feels the same, even if you invite her to use your things, too. Before you borrow anything, talk with your roommate about his boundaries. He may expect you to ask permission before borrowing each individual item, or he might welcome you to use anything he isn’t using. Find out where both of you stand, and make it a priority to respect each other’s things.

Think Twice About Inviting People Over

You might love creating a social vibe and jump at the chance to invite friends or classmates to hang out in your room. That doesn’t mean your roommate wants to share her space constantly, though. Talk with your roommate about when it’s okay to have friends over and when you both need quiet time. If you don’t see eye to eye, always try to compromise. You might not be able to host your study group every week, but inviting them over every other week might be a reasonable compromise.

Don’t Expect to Be Best Friends

One of the great things about college is that you’ll have the chance to meet hundreds or thousands of new people. You won’t connect instantly with all of them, and you can’t expect to be best friends with your roommate, either. If the two of you hit it off, you could make a lifelong friend. But if your roommate isn’t friend material, don’t stress. You can still be friendly, respect each other, and enjoy living together without being best friends forever.

Whether you can’t wait to live with a roommate or you’re dreading sharing your space, you can make it a good experience for both of you. Keep these tips in mind for maintaining the peace and getting along with your assigned roommate.