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college prep


Ways to Make a Difference During Your Senior Year

Senior year is filled with meaningful moments. Whether it's prom, homecoming, or any other big moments, it can feel like the most important year of your entire life. In the middle of all the deadlines and all of the scholarships and college visits, I want you to remember this important truth: Your senior year can be even more memorable if you put yourself out there to serve other people. I know, it sounds counterintuitive to make time for yet another thing, but service projects can leave lasting memories that will far outweigh any time crunch you may have. Here is a short list of ways you can serve other in your community and nationwide, even during senior year (you can even list volunteer work on college applications and scholarship applications):

Source: pexels

Source: pexels

-Serve at a Mobile Pack Location: Feed My Hungry Children is an organization that helps feed children in other countries, and they hold events that you can volunteer at, packing the sealed food. This is a great way to serve in a practical way, and you can go in a group from your school or church if you can gather others up. They register for their events about 4 weeks before they happen, and you can find a location HERE

-Become a reading partner for a child. Many local elementary schools have programs that match high schoolers with young children to expose them to reading and mentoring. This is an excellent way to be a great role model for younger students, as well as spend your time helping enhance someone's education. Many of the schools where these programs occur include children who may not have parents to help them complete homework, or help them read. Here is an example program in Dallas, but you can find these programs easily on Google in your own area.

-Walk for charity: If there is a cause, illness, or program that you are passionate about, doing a walk to raise awareness will be a great way to give your time and effort. You will also get a great workout, and walking reduces stress, which you will have plenty of during senior year! Here is one example of a vision care walk in Houston, but the same website has tons of options no matter your zip code.

-Volunteer at a food pantry or clothing closet: Needy families and kids utilize food pantries and similar programs for their nutritional and clothing items, and these centers need volunteers to sort and organize the donations that come in. Volunteering at these pantries is crucial to their success, and you can really make a difference in the lives of the families that are helped. You can also help out at shelters for victims of domestic violence if that is a cause close to your heart. 

-Volunteer at an animal shelter: Many people are passionate about the care and protection of vulnerable animals, and going to an animal shelter is a great way to implement those values. You could also hold a animal food drive for your local shelter, or with an adoption day for animals who are at risk of ending up at a euthanizing shelter. There are usually always volunteer jobs cleaning cages and kennels, and working with animals who need holding or feedings. 

By doing service projects, you can ensure that your senior year holds even more meaning that late night study sessions or a successful senior project. You can make a true difference in someone's life. 




Your Friends are Heading off to College...Now What?

While college is a pretty natural choice for many seniors, there are several for whom another path is where their life is taking them...and you may be one of those. It can be surprising to the ones around you, but you're not alone. Many seniors choose to forego college to many other exemplary options, such as joining the military, starting an awesome new job, or going to community college. Although it can be lonely and unconventional, these are really worthwhile options, and you should never feel ashamed for choosing a different journey. Here are a few ideas on how to handle this time when your friends are getting ready to head off to their universities:

Source: pexels

Source: pexels

-Support them: It might feel awkward, and even lonely if you are the only one who has chosen to not go "away" to college. But your friends (your true ones) will love and support you, no matter what you have decided, and it's up to you to do the same for them. Attend their graduation parties, say your goodbyes, and help them get started on their big move with an awesome attitude. Your friends will always remember that you stood by them and truly celebrated their accomplishments.

-Find the positives: Maybe going away to college was what you hoped for, and it didn't work out, whether it was too expensive or you didn't get into your dream school. This can feel completely crushing, and can feel like your world is crashing down around you. Instead of wallowing in the hardships, find the positives to focus on, when you can. Here are a few: less student debt if you choose a less expensive school, the ability to live at home or work part time (thus offsetting alot of student loans), and time with loved ones in your hometown or close by. 

-Search for ways to enhance your college years: Even without college or at a community college, you don't need to miss out on the traditional college experience. Look for ways to join clubs, choirs or even sororities wherever you are at, and figure out creative ways to make new friends. If you are joining the workforce right away, seek out opportunities to meet up with co-workers for meals or fun activities, and remember to have some fun! 

-Don't apologize: Even if staying close to home, or joining the military wasn't your first choice, you don't need to explain or validate your choices to the people around you. You don't need to justify your choices, even if they were hard ones. Stand strong in your decision, and be proud of your hard work. You graduated high school, after all, and that's nothing to scoff at. No matter what you do next, be sure to own it. You're an adult now, and you can be proud of the choices you've made if you are confident they are the right ones.



Ten Things for Your New Dorm Room!

What do you really need for college? Well, I'm sure there are about a million different opinions and options, but we have put together a simple list of ten practical and affordable items for your new home. This is the perfect start as you begin to shop (because we all want to save a little when paying for things like college!), and gives you time to hunt thrift stores and places like eBay.

1) Bed Risers: These simple plastic items will allow you to settle your twin bed above the floor and give you extra space and storage underneath. Make sure your bed is secure on them before sleeping on it, and have a friend or family member help you lift!

2) Laundry hampers: Small and lightweight collapsible hampers will make your laundry days easier and simpler. Plus, a hamper that folds up will take up less space in your dorm room, and you can even toss some models right into the wash themselves. 

3) Fabric tote or storage bag: You can never have too many reusable bags like this one. You can use them to bring along lunches, textbooks, or clothes when you have long days, and use them for grocery shopping as well.

4) Foldable ironing board: We know not many people iron anymore, but you'd be surprised how often you may end up needing one. One that can slide under your bed is your best choice for a dorm room, and if you can, negotiate with your roommate so you can share!

5) Over the door hooks: You can stash jackets, purses, towels and more on these easy storage solutions, but be sure your roommate and your dorm door agree. Some hooks don't allow a door to fully close when they are installed.

6) Shower caddy: If you are going to be using a shared shower space, a caddy is a must, especially one where it can hook onto the shower or somewhere else while you are pulling items from it. Get one with holes throughout so it won't hold standing water and become mildewy.

7) Magnetic calendar: A dual purpose item like this is best for dorm rooms because we all know that space is a precious commodity in those tiny spaces.  A magnetic calendar can be used as a write-on/wipe off space (check to be sure it can be wiped off), and to display pictures of loved ones as well.

8) Under the bed storage containers: We recommend these for clothing, especially items like sweaters or swimsuits that will not be used for part of the year. Generally, you can fit 3-4 under a regular size twin bed. You can also use them for miscellaneous items that don't have a good spot, like cd's or books.

9) Small toolkit: Even if you're not very "handy", a tiny toolkit with basics like a hammer and screwdriver can be a real lifesaver. Check with your roommate since you'll likely only need one between the two of you! 

10) A car vacuum: A tiny, handheld or car vacuum is perfect for a dorm room because it'll help you stay tidy but isn't as bulky as a regular one. You can also use it in your car if you have one on campus, or even store it in your trunk to save space.

These ten items should get you off to a great start as you prepare for your next adventure! 



What to Bring with you to College

The journey from high school to college and onward is one of the best ones, but it can be a bit frightening without preparation. It’s so important to prepare before college, because as soon as you get there, you’ll be studying and keeping busy for what will feel like 24/7. If you’re missing some essentials, you might panic, and your grades may suffer for it. The whole journey can be a bit overwhelming, but I’m here to help! Here are a few necessities to prepare you for university.

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Under-bed Storage

Dorms aren’t the biggest rooms in the world, so it’s important to buy items for their storage and for their multi-functionality. This one will go under your bed, and it’ll store shoes, blankets, off-season clothes, and whatever else you can fit in there.

USB Bed Risers

To get some more room under your bed, use these bed risers to give you that extra height. These are dual-use as well, since one of the risers has an outlet and USB ports, for all of your charging needs. Now you can sleep easy in a cleaner room, while everything charges literally at the foot of your bed.

Thin Hangers

You wouldn’t think this would be something as important, but closet space is that essential. You’re bringing and buying enough clothes to last you for a few years, throughout each season, so you’re going to want as much space as possible. These huggable hangers will keep everything organized and hanging close together, allowing you to keep everything hung and wrinkle-free.

Storage Ottoman

These wonderful footstools will let you keep your feet comfy while storing whatever you can fit inside it. It’s the classic dual-purpose furniture, and it can end up being one of the most important pieces in your dorm. There’s so many different styles to choose from, but this modern gray-white chevron one is a good place to start.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sometimes, it’s just impossible to study due to all the noise going on around you. Libraries might not always be the answer, but noise cancelling headphones might be just the thing. This wireless Cowin pair is great for the price, and offers you perfect silence in even the busiest of places. Store them in your backpack or in your dorm for quick access whenever you need some soothing tunes, or just some peace and quiet.

Stepping out on this grand college journey is so exciting, and when you’re prepared, there’s nothing holding you back from accomplishing everything you’ve ever wanted to. Here’s to your bright future!