Monday, September 26, 2011

With the economy on the rocks, some students may be worried about their finances.  Take a look at this New York Times article from last winter (link below).  

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/education/27colleges.html

I know for finances are something my fellow graduate classmates and I worry about.  Some of us have taken out loans and others work on top doing school work.  Some people feel that setting monthly budgets is a helpful money management strategy.  The website Mint.com is a great, free resource for doing just that as well as keeping an eye on your bank account and making sure bills are paid on time.  What are some other money saving strategies?  

Some things are simple, such as making a list when you go to the grocery store and sticking to it.  It's easy to find yourself wanting to buy things that you can live without.  Cutting or printing out coupons is another easy way to save at the store.  However, don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it!  

College is a great place to just hang out with friends and guess what?  This activity is free!  Try making dinner with your friends instead of going to a restaurant or renting a RedBox movie instead of going to the theater.  Sure, nights out are fun and a nice thing to treat yourself to every once in awhile, but if money is tight, staying in can be just as enjoyable.  Chicago also has a number of free things to do- festivals, museums, the zoo, etc.  Go to www.explorechicago.org for some ideas.

Find cheap text books!  Go on to Amazon.com or Half.com to find used textbooks for great prices instead of buying them new at the bookstore.  You can also come to the ARC or go to the library to check books out instead of buying them.  One of my classmates checked his a textbook out at the library for now and figured that if he decided the book would be useful to own, he could always buy it later.

Those are just a few ways to help you start saving!  Feel free to add to the list!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sometimes things you learn in class may seem a bit confusing maybe you realize you have gap in your notes from lecture yesterday.  Such instances are a great reason to come over to the ARC and receive help from a tutor.  Another option and something I've recently witnessed at the ARC is to engage in a group study session.  This option can be especially helpful when there is no tutor around.

Students can benefit from sharing ideas and knowledge with others.   For instance, you can not only gain a better understanding of the material by learning from your peers, but you can also master a topic by explaining it to others.  Furthermore, group studying gives you the opportunity to support and encourage one another.  However, it's easy to get off topic and begin discussing your weekend plans or the recent Bears game.  So, it's helpful to assign someone the task if keeping everyone on track.  

To get the most out of group study sessions stick with the following guidelines:

1. Keep the group number to about 4 - 6 people
2. Work with others who share your motivation to succeed academically
3. Limit the session to about 2 - 3 hours
4. Plan the session ahead of time so you have a chance to prepare and review some of the material
5. Take turns teaching each other in order to reinforce learning

Monday, September 12, 2011

Many undergraduates, especially freshmen, live in a dorm with a roommate whom you may now know.  Sometimes your new roommate may end up becoming your best friend, while other times you may not want anything to do with each other.  Still other times, your roommate may be just that- someone with whom you share a living space. You may get along with the person, but not associate with him or her besides "good morning" or "hey, would you mind taking the trash out? I'm running late" type of exchange. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this type of roommate relationship nor the best friend type.  Roommate problems can come about in all of these scenarios- whether you like or dislike your roommate.  The key to keeping things pleasant is communication.  We all have those little things that bug us, but a lot of times, strangers, such as your new roommate, may have no idea what pushes your buttons. 

So, what should you do?  Talk about it!  Set aside a specific time to discuss what is on your mind.  Make sure to listen to your roommates response or to any complaints he/she has.  Then, agree to make changes to accommodate one another.  Remember that it may take some time to change, so don't get too annoyed if your roommate slips up a few times!   If you feel uncomfortable talking directly to your roommate, make sure you speak to your RA.  The key thing is to not let it go if it really bothers you.  Sometimes it's okay to be laid back and go with the flow, but what you don't want to get to the point where you become passive aggressive toward your roommate or let the annoyance build up until you end up starting an argument.  Most likely, your roommate will appreciate your assertiveness and be happy to pick his towel up from the floor, lock the door when she leaves, or whatever it may be that has been bothering you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Well, another year has officially kicked into gear.  We've been through the, "how was your summer," and "it's so good to see you." Now it's time to get back to work- class, homework, clubs, etc. (not that there won't be any time for fun). How can you make the most of your time in college?  How do you make time to go down town without sacrificing your grades?  What about that call home mom wanted you to make at least once per week..is it really necessary?  There are a lot of questions that you may ask yourself as you move through the school year.  Maybe, some of the upper class students have already figured it all out, but for freshmen, there be some difficult things to figure out.  It is important to remember that you're not alone.  It may sound cliche, but it's true! It typically takes some time for students to adjust to college life- to living away from home, taking harder classes, leaving their old friends behind, and becoming more responsible in general.  I hope that you take a minute to read the ARC blog, which will hopefully help you answer some of those questions I mentioned above.