Dorm Essentials: What to Bring

I have an unhealthy obsession with dorm furniture.  You know that Bed Bath and Beyond circular that comes out around this time each year?  Yeah, I want it all.  Right now I’m in need of towels and sheets and I’ve been avoiding Bed Bath and Beyond until that stuff is all gone, because I will buy everything.

When I was about to enter my freshman year of college my school sent me a handy dandy list of things to bring. It was a little helpful, in that it told me to leave the candles and hot plates at home, but really it left a little to be desired.

First, although it is so exciting to get new things for your new living space, I think college is a time of minimalism. You’ll be leaving a lot of stuff back at home. It’s a good growing experience. Get on board.

Here’s what I’d bring if I was staying in a dorm:

(Don’t forget to contact your roommate to see if they’re bringing any of the things you can share!)

For Eating:
Microwave
Refrigerator
A plastic bin to put your snacks in

Sometimes the weather sucks, or you don’t feel good and you don’t want to go to the food halls. I get it. These things help. Some dorms have shared kitchens with these things in them. I could share a microwave with 20 other people, but not a fridge. And would you believe that we actually had our kitchen taken away from us multiple times? Apparently people didn’t clean up after themselves. Yeah, there’s that. And as for the plastic bin, it holds your snacks so no little dorm room pests get in them. My old roommate actually stored her snacks in a locking chest. You know, for when the dorm room pest is a bear. So yeah…

For covering your body:
If you live close enough I recommend bringing a season of clothes at a time. For fall semester in the mid-Atlantic, a few shorts, some pants and lots of short sleeve or light long sleeve shirts would do. A light jacket works too. Then, when you go home for Thanksgiving take those shorts home and trade in a few sweaters. Just a few! After all, the semester is almost done after that. In fact, I recommend you start moving some stuff home at Thanksgiving as well if you can’t leave it at the dorm.
Same type of thing for Spring semester. Start out with light long sleeve shirts, sweaters, pants, layering items and heavy jackets. On Spring Break you can switch your heavy winter things for more springy items.
As for jewelry, don’t bring it all. Just a few choice things that match everything. Lock it up in a lock box.  I used a cash box because it had dividers so I could stay organized!
Your shoes will be the most important clothes you bring to college. Your stilettos are cute as heck, but one day walking around campus with them and they’ll be resigned to special nights only. Have that one special pair. The others should be comfortable for walking.
I suggest limiting that makeup and nail polish as well.  Bring your essentials and a few things that feel super special.

For the room:
Extra Long Twin Bedding – I’ve heard that normal size twin bedding works if you get jersey knit, but I’ve not tried this myself!
Fan – Because often times dorms can be very hot
Vacuum – Because you’re dirty and the one in the dorm won’t work after 2 weeks
Shower Caddy – I opted for one that was cute but not waterproof. It was a mistake.
Alarm Clock – OK, you probably use your phone. But I like a standard alarm clock. However, I am a child and cannot remember to set said alarm clock when I come in already half asleep and having to wake up in only a few short hours. Enter the most amazing alarm clock ever.
Shower Flip Flops – The sad fact of life is that you’ll be showering in flip flops on the regular.  I’m sorry.  You’ll appreciate private showers so much more after this.

For school stuff:
Computer – I know some people who didn’t have a computer in college. It’s do-able. But I would want one if I could afford one. 
Calculator – Even if you don’t have any math classes
Pencils, Pens, Paper, Binder/Folders – Because they’re expensive in the school store. Or go to a different store once you get to school, because carrying too much stuff is lame.

For Stuff to Do:
I highly suggest you bring things to do in the dorm that make you happy! If you’re into video games, bring them. If you like making jewelry, bring some supplies. You may need it on a boring rainy Saturday.

But you want to know the worst thing about those Bed Bath and Beyond circulars?  They feature all these great things that seem like a great idea for your dorm, but would likely never fit.  It’s a cruel game.

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Dorm Essentials: Neverlate Alarm Clock

Upon my first week arriving at university I browsed the campus store and found an absolute gem. The Neverlate alarm clock from American Innovative.

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Not beautiful, but does the job with valor!

Now, I realize many of you are used to using your cell phone as an alarm, and that’s perfectly wonderful.  A great way to save money on an alarm clock.  But if you’re like me and you like an actual alarm clock, this is the way to go.

This clock is amazing. It may not be the hue of your new extra-long sheet set or have crazy cool sounds you can wake up to, but it will keep your life on track! Promise!

Let’s say you need to wake up at 8am on Monday/Wednesday, 9am on Tuesday/Thursday and 6am on Friday (for some ungodly reason). With this alarm clock, you can program the alarm for each separate day without ever having to change the alarm time! And, and, and! You never have to set the clock at night, so no more forgetting to set your alarm! You simply tell the clock which days you need the alarm to go off. This clock also has the option to wake up to radio, and even a nap function for those of you who love a regular 20 minute  (or however long you choose) afternoon snooze.

A bonus: This clock has a dial to set the time! No more hitting that annoying button to get to 7:55!

Honestly, this clock was my best purchase in college, and I managed to make it to nearly* all my morning classes.

 

*Disclosure: This clock will not prevent you from hitting snooze 15 times in one morning.

 

This clock is no longer available on the American Innovative website, but you can purchase the newest model, Neverlate Executive, here. More features, more stylish, more waking up power!

Taking a Break

When I was getting my undergrad degree I was so anxious to graduate. It’s exciting. You may or may not be done with school forever, you’re ready to start your career, and it feels like one big check off the to-do list of life.

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In retrospect, college life was amazing and I’d go back in a heartbeat. But that’s neither here nor there.

In my master’s degree I have the option to take 7 week long classes. These classes have 1 week off in between, and if I do one class per 7 week block, I can be finished with a degree in 2 years. Not a bad deal to complete it that quickly while working a full time job! Right now I’m in my 4th class. In fact, my fourth class ends in a week. So essentially I have 2 weeks until my next class starts up. And I still haven’t signed up for the class. And you know what? I don’t think I will.

Friends, I’m giving myself a break. This is very against my nature. I firmly believe I am a supergirl and that I can do anything. I am not supergirl. When I started my degree last September I felt great, and had a ton of motivation.  Lately, I’ve just been trying to get by. And that’s how I know I need a break.

So for anyone that is like me and needs some external verification for taking a break, this is it. Please. Take it. Give yourself some time to recharge. Just make sure you sign up for that next class now so you have something keeping you accountable to start back up.

If you need me, I’ll be on the beach.

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Choosing a Major

how to choose major

I learned this technique in my Decision Making Analysis class in grad school.

I learned this technique and I was completely infuriated that I hadn’t learned this in high school. Or even before high school. I mean, we start making decisions at a pretty young age, and bad decisions at that. Am I the only one that felt PARALYZINGLY overwhelmed when it came time to choose a college or a major?

First, I have a crazy analytic brain. Maybe you don’t and this won’t help you. But I have to share because I feel that it will sincerely help someone, and one person would be enough.

So, first a story from my past. The questions start so young. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer, “I don’t know” is only valid for so long. And that deadline seemed to be senior year of high school. I worked myself up into a tense, panicky, not fun version of myself, willing the vision to just come to me. It didn’t. I went to college thinking I wanted to do interior design and that I would transfer to a school that offered it after a year. In the mean time, I was an undeclared major. Being an undeclared major means that you are sub-par. You have to go to seminars and start getting your life together (at least at my alma mater), so eventually I just chose the major that had the best reputation at my school. It hasn’t turned out so bad for me. But I don’t recommend this tactic.

First and foremost I want to tell you that the deadline is not senior year. I promise. But I know that doesn’t ease the anxiety. You should still definitely make an informed decision when choosing a major.

Alright, enough about me. Onto the goods!

Major
This is what my decision making chart should have looked like in high school when choosing a major. Hint: I think I made the wrong decision.

This looks confusing, but it’s really simple. First list out your choices for a major. Then, make a list of the pros and cons. Put them all in the list under the corresponding choices. Now rate each option based on how good or bad the pros and cons are (-100 being very bad, 0 being neutral, 100 being very good). That’s column 1. Column 2 is how likely each pro and con is to happen, with 0 meaning it won’t happen, and 100 meaning that it definitely will happen. Then we multiply across the columns and get a sum for each major.

Interpretation

Basically, the major with the highest total should be your best choice. I’ve done this a few times for a few different decisions, and sometimes it actually makes me realize which option I really wanted to win. And that’s important too.

If that seems like too much work to get your future in order, no worries! I’ve happily provided a free downloadable spreadsheet that will do some of the work for you.

Celebrating Graduation

I graduated high school and college without much celebration.  Sure, I was happy, but I didn’t make a big deal of it.  A few years later, and I totally regret it!  So many great places are welcoming graduating seniors with open arms, and I have no idea why I didn’t just go have fun.
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If I was graduating, I’d celebrate in Ocean City, Maryland.  Please, please let me live vicariously through you and help you plan your senior celebration!
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Ocean City, Maryland has been a destination for graduating seniors for years. Memorial Day to the first 3 weeks of June have been dubbed “June Week”, and the seniors that come to have a good time are affectionately known as “Junebugs”.  Here are some tips and ideas for your June Week in Ocean City!

Get Yourself Somewhere to Stay

Some hotels and rental houses don’t rent to seniors.  Make sure you’re welcome when you get to Ocean City!  Here is a great list of the hotels that welcome seniors with open arms.

Thinking of getting the best rates at hotels.com?  Please don’t.  First, those rates aren’t always the best, and second, if something happens, often those reservations aren’t able to be cancelled.  (Not only college tips but travel tips for life too!)

I highly recommend booking your reservation at ocisfree.com.  Why?  Because when you do you get free stuff!  Stuff like restaurant certificates, free games of mini golf, waterpark passes… you know, stuff you’ll actually use to make your Senior Week amazing.  Just remember, that website shows many Ocean City hotels.  You need to make sure the hotel you choose is on that list of those that accept seniors.

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Get a picture with this guy. It’s a thing!

What to Do

Alright, that was the hard part.  I’m glad we’re past it.  Speaking of free stuff, Ocean City also organizes a ton of free events for seniors only from May 31 – June 17.  I want my free rollercoaster ride and laser tag!  Someone please invent me a time machine.  Sorry their website sucks.

Another place to go? H2O Under 21 Dance Club.  Right off the Boardwalk.  So much fun.  Again, time machine, please and thank you.  Just make sure you keep it classy.

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Some lovely girl riding the rides alone. Respect.

I can’t go to Ocean City without riding the rides.  The Zipper, the Giant Ferris Wheel and the Matterhorn are my favorite.  The Bumper Cars and Carousel are iconic.  I made an absolute FOOL of myself on Aladdin’s Lamp.  There’s this spinning tube and I walked the wrong way, straight up the side like some sort of spider girl, and then promptly fell on my face. Cute.
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Oh, and if you just met a girl that you think is totally hot, take her on the Himalaya.  Sit on the outside (always, gentlemen!).  Let the ride work it’s magic and soon she’ll be pressed against you giggling her head off.  Less obvious and more fun than The Giant Ferris Wheel.  But feel free to head there next.  You’re welcome.
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Big enough for you and all your friends, or just for two.

And please, while you’re there yourself some delicious boardwalk food.  Trasher’s french fries, deep fried oreos, funnel cake… it’s non-stop deliciousness.

Seriously, I could write for days about fun things to do in Ocean City, but neither of us has that kind of attention span.  Just be sure to check out events that are happening around town so you don’t miss anything.

Now I need to start planning my next trip…

Want info on something I didn’t cover?  Feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll get back to you!