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Student Guide

Off to College In Two Weeks and I Feel Stressed
So it's finally catching up to you.  As the day gets closer you feel like you have so many random thought that you just can't sort them out.  Don't worry, its normal, and everyone going off to college feels just like you at about the same time.

I'm Not Ready! - Or Am I?
Sure this feels like a big step, and it is, but if you sort through your feelings you'll see that maybe you are more ready than you think.

You'll learn that you just want to get it over with so you don't have to feel like this any more.

Understand What You're Feeling
Once you understand what you're feeling, and the stages that come with it, you'll see that you are ready to take on this new challenge and don't want to just get it over with.

Your First Feelings
Your first feelings that come over you are those that you just want to enjoy your current life to its fullest.  You want to savor your friends, your sleeping habits, your activities, your routine, in short - everything.

The Next Wave
At some later point, before you go off to college, you begin to feel somewhat anxious, and now you're confused.  How can I possibly feel anxious when at the same time I don't want this life as I know it to end?

The Turning Point
Let me tell you what the turning point was, or will be, and I guarantee that as soon as I tell you, you'll recognize it and everything will make sense.

At some point something like this happens:
- One of your friends say something like "This is the last time we will all be together"
- One of your friends say something like "This is the last time we will all be doing this"
- One of your friends say something like "This is the last time we will all be here"

The pattern is that someone, other than you, actually announce "This is the last time" and when you actually hear those words out loud and think about it, suddenly all the sentimental emotions come rushing in.  You might hear this as early as during one of the last days of high school.  You might hear this as late as a couple weeks before your move-in date.  Regardless of when you hear it - the feelings begin.

Now, realistically, it will probably be the last time you will be doing something like what you were doing when you heard those words.  If it was in high school - then it will be the last time.  If it was during a social activity it will be - at least for a while.  Either way just hearing the words out loud, and knowing that the time is coming, makes it seem almost prophetic, and you begin to feel melancholy.

I'm Leaving For College On...
While you're dealing with the sentimental part, one of your friends announce the "official" date of when they're leaving for college.  Now you have a deadline! - More mixed up feelings.

The day comes, and the first of your friends actually depart for college.

I'm Leaving Too
If you weren't the first to leave for college - nothing feels the same.  The neighborhood, the routine - nothing.  Just knowing that the friend that left wont be around makes everything feel out of place.
Everything feels out of whack!! - Oh no!! It's starting!!

Now the next tidal wave of emotions start.  Nothing feels the same, and so you begin to think,  I might as well leave too.

But just because you feel that way, doesn't mean that you can leave right then and there.  Your move-in date might be days if not weeks away.  You desperately want to hold onto what you had, and at the same time - move on so you don't have to endure these feelings any longer.

Don't Worry
If you think about it, you'll see that the sequence of events is exactly as described, and it happens over and over again with everyone going away to college.

Feeling Better
How do you deal with it?  Talk to to your parents or relatives.  Reminisce with them because when you do, you'll realize that they were there all the time.  Somehow, that stability will give you the re-assurance that while many things do change - family will always be there for you, and that in itself is the anchor in your life.

In other words - your parents aren't going away,  Your friend may have left, you may be leaving, but your family will be exactly where you always knew they were, and will be when you come back.  That stability will make you feel that now you're really ready!

More Quick Articles

10 Tips From a Dad for the College Bound Child

A New Found Freedom

Staying Healthy

A Quick Word About Careers

Staying In Touch - The Social Network Phenomenon

Dressing Like a College Student

The Credit Card Monster on Campus


10 Tips From A Dad to the College Bound Child
1.   Eat right - not all junk food, not all the time.  Some fruit.  Good carbs.  Good protein.  It's that easy.
2.   Exercise - you'll need it for mental alertness
3.   Get enough sleep - not in class.
4.   Get involved - the more involved you are with school activities, the more you'll feel like you belong.
5.   Find a mentor - a teacher or counselor that you can confide in and guide you through your academic maze.
6.   Take only classes that interest you the most.  You'll do better in those.  I promise.
7.   Listen carefully - you'll be with some of best and brightest minds you'll ever meet again in your life.
8.   Expand your mind - yeah, I know you like Jazz, but some of those Hip Hop concerts are free - try one.
9.   Have fun - you may never go down this road again, make the most of it.  All work and no play is no fun.
10. Call your parents often - you are loved.  We don't want to miss an opportunity to remind you.


A New Found Freedom
So, you're finally out of your house and you feel like you have a new freedom that you never had before.

You can stay up all night, dress however you want, even go without shaving, and God only knows what else.

Being away from home may seem like a burden of rules and regulations were finally lifted from you, and in a way they were.  You see, when you lived at home, you had to follow what felt like were your parents' rules.  Now you don't really have those rules.  You can make your own rules now, so before you do, I would like for you to consider the following:
Just because you can - should you?

If you apply this simple phrase to every rule you now make for yourself - you'll never go wrong.


Staying In Touch - The Social Network Phenomenon
You will be leaving your friends soon... and making quite a few new ones.  It's important to remember that as you progress through your college years, keeping in touch with your friends, regardless of what school they're going to, is not only emotionally healthy, it will also help you develop what is know in the business world - good networking skills.

How will this help you?  Well, without going into great detail about the emotional aspect, you have a history with those friends.  These may be people you grew up with, went to school together and probably invited many of them to your home.  Now, when everyone seems to have scattered all over, you have some fond memories, but having the contact with the person to share those memories is so much more special.

However, those same friends, much like yourself, might have different interests, or might be given different opportunities when they finish college.  Think of how much good can be accomplished by that social network you nurtured.  Think about how many of those friends you might be able to help one day when you have a job, and an opportunity to get them one.   Think about how many people would help you when you need an introduction to a company you would like to work for, and one of your friends may already be employed there.

You see, that network of friends you cultivated for many years, may some day be the "friends in high places" that could help you.


Staying Healthy
Living on campus will pose new challenges which require new solutions.  Getting the flu, or a cold will inevitably be your first challenge.  Unlike the days you lived at home, you and only you, can do something about it.

Sometime within the first week or so that you're on campus, familiarize yourself with the location of the infirmary.  Most campus have a well stocked and well staffed infirmary.  A simple call or visit will get you in and you can quickly obtain most over the counter medications with the necessary recommendation.

Most, if not all colleges, require that every student living on campus either provides proof of medical insurance or obtain medical insurance through the college.  Either way, you'll be covered and you may only incur a small nominal fee.

For additional information, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners ( NAIC ) has a great article on College Health Insurance Needs and  the American College Student Association web site has additional resources for you to explore.


Dressing Like a College Student
So what does a college student actually dress like?  College students have somewhat very unique requirements for dressing.  The college dress code at times may seem somewhat strange but in the end it's really about comfort and practicality. Commonly, girls as well as boys find jeans and khakis very comfortable.  Boys tend to gravitate more to simple t-shirts and sometimes layered with an open button down shirt.  Girls seem to like t-shirts as well and at times layered with sweatshirts.  Logo clothing of the college, needless to say, is not only very commonplace but also very pervasive.  Logo college clothing is generally found in abundance at the campus bookstores and are designed for comfort, durability and easy to launder.

Whatever you decide to wear, simply keep in mind that comfort should always come first.  Ease of care is the next  criteria, so always look for clothing that doesn't need to be dry cleaned or you'll soon find out that dry cleaners and campuses rarely go together.


A Quick Word About Careers
As promised, this is a quick word about careers so here goes:
Find what you really enjoy doing and you'll never work a day in your life.


The Credit Card Monster on Campus
There was a time when you might have thought there was a monster in your closet or under your bed.  You soon learned that there wasn't and life was just fine.

Unlike those days, this monster really lives on campus and is at first glance - a happy monster.  This monster offers you goodies like t-shirts, caps, key chains... whatever this monster thinks you'll be attracted by.

But, there's a catch.  Ahhhh! - There's always a catch.  You cant have any of these goodies unless you sign up for a credit card.  Well, that's exploitation at it's best.  You see, while you may actually be old enough to have a credit card, you also need to be mature enough to know when you should use it.

Unfortunately, many college students graduate college with so much credit card debt, that it makes the student loan almost seem meaningless.  Additionally, credit cards require monthly payments, generally, your student loans actually don't in most cases until after you graduate.  If you leave college with all this credit card debt, and use all your income just to keep making the payments, how are you going to pay your college loans when the time arrives.

You see, the monster is also at times pretty heartless.  Heartless you say, how could he be heartless?  he gave me this really cool t-shirt!

Well, credit card companies are in business to make money.  You spend $100 dollars and they want $124 dollars back over time.  When you can't afford to pay them - well they use the same techniques you parents warned you about when you were in elementary school - they put it on your permanent record - otherwise known as your credit profile or credit report.

Get enough of these little comments on your credit profile, and sometimes just one will do it, and soon you won't be able to obtain a car loan or a mortgage.  To make matters worse, some employers are now beginning to check credit references to get a better picture of the person they're thinking of hiring. 

Don't fall prey to this credit card monster.  Think about the credit cards that you really need, and utilize credit only when absolutely necessary, and when you know you can actually afford to pay it back - the sooner the better.

There are two major credit profile reporting companies, and if you need more information or just want to check your credit profile, you can visit their websites at Exeperian and Equifax to get a better understanding.

In the end, good discretion will result in good credit, and a whole lot of less stress.


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