Friday, September 27, 2013

Pack Your Bags- Traveling in College

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When you arrive at college, you realize the world’s so much bigger than your hometown. And then you step into class or the student union and realize it’s even bigger than this. You’re surrounded by students from across the country and around the world, learning from professors and faculty that have seen and done more than you could imagine. You may start to wonder when (or how) you’ll get to see the national parks, state capitals, and international cities that textbooks detail and teachers bring alive in class discussions. College is the perfect time to travel domestically and internationally, expose yourself to different cultures, and have some of your own adventures. These opportunities are definitely in during your next four years. Here are some options to consider when thinking about traveling in college:

  • Study Abroad- what could be better than spending three months in a foreign country, taking your typical college classes with a view of international cities outside your classroom window? Studying abroad allows you to explore and immerse yourself in another culture, learning its values and gaining a global perspective. Many colleges have programs in Europe and every other continent. Contact your school’s study abroad or external programs office to learn what options they offer and how to participate. In many cases, tuition and room and board remain the same whether you’re on campus or in another country. Extra costs come through travel fees set by the school to get you back and forth and any traveling you decide to do on your own (hello summer job!) Hint: if your school doesn’t have a program to your dream destination, there’s often an option of transferring to a different school’s program as long as you work it out with your college. (And if you need any other reasons to convince you to study abroad, this HuffPost article gives you six more!)
  • Alternative Spring Break- while we all want (and deserve) a break after the agony that is midterms, volunteering your time through an alternative spring break program is a worthy and fulfilling reason to skip relaxing. Alternative spring breaks started in the 1970s at Georgetown University, though the term for the program was born at Vanderbilt University in the 1980s, according to The Washington Post. Spending the week rebuilding homes, teaching English, or working on conservation projects will give you a fresh perspective on issues you may have discussed in class and connect you with the people dealing and working to solve these problems every day. While these trips are hardly glamorous, participants leave gaining more knowledge about their world and developing a sense of community and understanding with the people they work with. Trips like these are usually funded through your school or through fundraising, so students typically pay a small fee (or no fee at all!). In many cases, it’s cheaper than buying a plane ticket home to see family, and an important and worthwhile cause to put the money towards! If your school doesn’t have a program in place, this list fromYahoo! provides several sites to help you start your journey.
  • Volunteer Abroad-if you decide after an alternative spring break program that volunteering is your passion, spend your summer volunteering abroad! Plenty of opportunities exist outside of the U.S. to do similar projects in communities in South America, Africa, and Europe. They’ll provide you with insight into the lives of people around the world and may change the way you think. Read this USA Today piece by a college student of what he discovered while teaching in South Africa.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ins and Outs of High School Leadership

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We know a good leader when we see one. They’re enthusiastic, focused, and ready to take on anything with the help of their team. These traits aren’t just in famous CEOs or policy makers though—your class presidents or basketball team captain have them too, and so do you. You can be a leader in your high school or community, helping to make change or putting on a great school concert! Although you may hear friends talking about leadership positions in terms of how they look on college applications, there’s more to taking on a leadership position that will benefit you long after graduation. These helpful reminders and research from Study Point will guide you toward a leadership position that fits your goals and away from the pitfalls some high school students make.

Taking on leadership positions, according to Study Point, will help you discover passions and build self-esteem. Actions associated with leadership (hard work, accomplishment, recognition) boost positive self-image and increase self-esteem. By leading your school softball team, youth ministry, or school newspaper, you’ll put in hard work and see the amazing results you and your group have achieved, showing your unique capabilities as a leader. In addition, one study showed that students who held leadership positions in high school were more likely to hold managerial positions as adults, according to Study Point. By participating now, you could set yourself up to guide people in whatever career path you choose!

When looking for leadership positions in high school, it’s important to know what your passions and skills are. If you don’t like public speaking, you shouldn’t run for class office, but if you love art you could become president of the art club. And while you’re dreaming of the big title now, know that in order to get there, you have to work your way up from the bottom. This will make you a better leader though, providing you with valuable experience and knowledge about the organization. As a leader, you’ll also have to know how to work well with others and listen to their ideas, which you can get while working as a club member! Other important traits to have as a leader are optimism and the ability to take action. Seeing the positive in every situation and knowing when to step up and make a decision will let your peers see you as a leader and rely on you in tough situations.

While it is tempting, resist the urge to have multiple leadership positions just so “it looks good.” Pick areas you’re interested in so you can dedicate more time to them. Leadership isn’t just about the title—it’s about demonstrating those qualities in everyday life! So be a leader, whether you’re captain or a great team member.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Transitioning from Middle School to High School

Upon entering high school, you’re faced with many challenges. You leave old friends in middle school or just outgrow them; you get serious about your future, more homework, first jobs, and new friendships. You just want to learn where you fit in with all of this confusion and be your confident, happy, high school self.  Let TGHT give you a few ideas on the transition from middle school to the high school lifestyle!

Make a good first impression: When transitioning to high school, first impressions are important. Get to know your classmates and be eager to learn in any situation. Reach out to other students, be kind and polite, and keep in mind that they are in the same position as you. Don’t be afraid to meet new people; if you feel someone in your class shares the same interest as you, be friendly and get to know them.

Be YOU: Don’t get carried away with growing up too fast. Yes, you have four more years until college, but enjoy your high school years. Find your interests and join organizations that you feel can help you express yourself. Don’t get caught up in appearances and being with the “popular crowd” if that’s not who you are. Focus on your grades and how you can become a better you—not anyone else’s efforts. Above all, remember not to judge others—especially when you haven’ t gotten to know them.

Listen: In high school you have a little more independence than you did in middle school. You’re given your homework and a due date with a little more creative freedom. Make sure you’re taking in everything you’re being taught. If you have questions in class, don’t be afraid to ask them because someone in your class is probably confused about the same topic. If you show your classmates that it’s okay to listen and ask questions, you may give them the courage they need to participate as well.

 Make new friends: In high school you’ll more than likely split from old friends, whether you attend different high schools or simply just outgrow each other. Don’t worry; with age comes maturity, and you may not always mature at the same pace as the friends you had in middle school. You must be more independent and explore your new environment, and while it may be hard seeing your old crew but not having that connection, it will get better with time.  Be open to new friends and new opportunities; join clubs, find new interest and be open to new experiences!

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The transition from middle school to high school can be very confusing, but adjusting and making the best of your experience is the best option.  Remember that meeting new people and having to study hard is not a bad thing, it’s preparing you for the next step. So enjoy your high school years, join organizations, create relationships with your teachers, and have fun!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dealing With Change

Our blogs over the past few months show that college comes with a lot of “new:” new classes, new environment, new friends. For the first time you may really feel like an adult, taking charge of everyday choices you may not have thought about as a high school student. But without the familiarity and comforts of home, it may seem impossible to face all these changes, let alone handle them. However, with some perspective (and these handy tips from The Huffington Post), you’ll find you can handle anything this new phase of your life will bring.

Photo credit: The Huffington Post

Accept It: The first step is realizing that your life won’t be the same—and that’s okay! Denying or ignoring the change won’t make it go away. Focus on all that’s new and exciting at college—opportunities, friends, snacks at 2 am—instead of what’s at home.

Reflect: Taking a moment to pause and think about what’s going on is extremely important. Whether it’s talking with a school therapist or family member, going for a walk, or meditating, reflecting on what’s changed will help you sort through the chaos. It will give you the opportunity to figure out what about the change bothers you and provide different ways to look at the situation.

Baby Steps: Dealing and accepting change won’t happen overnight (or within the week). Take your time and slowly move through this process. Don’t get consumed by missing your old life and worrying about your future; take one day at a time and set small goals to accomplish so you can see the progress you’re making. If it helps, make a list of short-term and long-term goals to quiet the worry.

Find A Mentor: Having someone who’s “been there” before can be a huge help. Talk to a family member or friend about your worries and ask them how they got through it. Having someone on your side who understands and can give valuable advice will make the transition better.

Be Optimistic: A small shift in mindset can make a noticeable difference. Thinking in terms of positives rather than negatives will help you see changes as opportunities. Be optimistic in knowing that the confusion and fear won’t be permanent—they’ll soon be replaced with excitement and passion for everything you’re discovering!

Don’t get stressed if you seem to be struggling with change. Everyone’s feeling it, even if they don’t show it. Allow yourself to go through this process, and you’ll come out the other side ready to conquer the next four years!

Monday, August 26, 2013


When you’re in college, sitting in your first semester classes, millions of thoughts are running through your head. “She has a cool notebook,” or “I wonder what’s for lunch in the cafĂ© today.” Do you ever really sit and think about what’s next? You have your major set, but is it the right one for you? Does this major help express your talent or passion? What are you great at and could see yourself doing for the rest of your life? These are the questions to sit and ask early on before getting into a major and deciding to change it at the last minute. Need help figuring out your passion? TGHT has you covered.  

Create a Career

Many people don’t know the difference between a job and a career. When choosing a career, you are choosing the kind of work you do based on your interest. It’s more long-term; even if you switch companies or organizations, you’re still in the same field. Do you want to jump from job to job without honing in on a particular skill-set or do you want to know all there is to know about a particular field and type of work? You’ll choose this path for yourself, and college will help you turn your passion and talent into a career you love.

When you speak…Listen

What do you enjoy doing? When you’re sitting alone, relaxing, where does your imagination lead you?  Take notes when you have free time and answer this question. It may be a tough one to answer, but everyday take notice of the things that interest you. 

Be Open

Yes, you’re in college and you have your major set. Even though you have your classes planned for the next year, stay open to new ideas. A new opportunity may arise where you can take an extra elective course. Take it! Find something that interests you and don’t be afraid to step out of the box.
Find a Mentor

Do you know someone in your family, community, or university that interests you? A person that talks about the same interest you have and seems so passionate? Don’t be afraid; express your interest in learning more and ask them to be your mentor. People are usually thrilled to teach someone or have a person to talk about their passion with. 

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"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within yoru the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." Harriet Tubman

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Perfect Study Spot

When making the transition from high school to college,  new ways of studying have to be put into place. High school provides you with lots of quiet time in your room, after school tutor sessions, or open book/open notes test. In college things, are quite different. You have more freedom, activities to get involved in, and no parents to answer to. You may think you can open your notes for a few in your dorm before the test or run to the library for an hour, but those two places are full of distractions. How can you find the perfect study spot without interruptions? TGHT has a few ideas. 
  • Pick one indoor spot and one outdoor spot. Both locations should be noise free with wireless access if you need it.
  • Your outdoor spot should be a nice shaded area with a great view. Enjoy nature while reading for your history class or reviewing for your next French oral test.
  • Make sure the locations are "your" spots; always choose the same area. Let a few friends know where you are for safety reasons.
  • A small coffee shop is also great for studying. They’re normally quiet and have great snacks. 
Photo Credit: HERE

Do you live on campus?
When you live on campus, life is so much easier, right? You’ll be in your dorm studying and preparing for the next day’s lecture...NOT! On campus, you meet tons of new friends, attend events, and get involved in thousands of other things that do not involve studying. 
  • Find a study spot someplace other than your dorm room. Head out to one of the local study spots we discussed previously and keep your dorm room for last minute overviews.
  • Instead of heading back to your dorm for a quick hour nap, spend that in between time studying. That hour or two before your next class starts is the perfect time for studying while your mind is fresh.
  • If you have plans to visit friends or family on the weekend, plan accordingly. Make sure you get all studying done during the week in your designated locations.

Living off campus?
Living off campus gives you more freedom and more study spots to choose from, but commute times can throw your whole day off. 
  • On campus study spots are a great idea, so find a location and stick to it. Just because your last class is over doesn't mean you must race home. Enjoy campus life for a few hours.
  • Coffee shops near your apartment or house is also great for off-campus students. Make sure it’s not during peak hours and wireless access is available. 
  • Public parks or flower gardens are great study spots. A nice scenery and just the right amount of serenity helps you stay focus. 

Where was your on or off-campus go-to study spot?

Monday, August 19, 2013


When going off to college we automatically think our weekends will be spent studying, making new friends, and attending on campus activities. You’re so excited about learning your way around campus and making sure all financial aid paper work is in order, that being homesick is the last thing on your mind. Think about all the things you’re missing: a home cooked meal, privacy, less responsibility, and quiet time ….you should be worried if you don’t get homesick, LOL!

This can be a challenge for some, but let TGHT help you survive being homesick.

Photo Credit: HERE
Leave your dorm room: It’s okay to talk to your parents, skype your friends or talk on the phone to those you miss but being in your room is when you’re most homesick. Designate one day during the week where you’ll make those types of phone calls. If you’re starting to feel homesick in your room, head to your campus university center or coffee shop to mingle or do some reading.

Be sad and get over it: If you miss home, it’s normal to be sad. We’re pretty positive that other students are feeling the same way you are. Just remember, be sad for a day and that’s it! When that day passes it’s time to move on, get up, and get active. Join an on campus club, work out, attend an event, and make sure you’re getting the full “campus life” experience.

Make college home: Yes we all know college will never replace where you grew up, but you can always make some of the same memories. Think of it as a home away from home. It’s all about recreating those moments. Did you have great friends? Were you heavily involved in your community? Love for journalism? Meet new people, sign up for campus volunteer groups, or join the schools newspaper staff. Also decorate your dorm room similar to your room at home; this will help you feel more comfortable in your new space.

You’re not alone: Do you feel like everyone is adjusting so well to campus life and you’re the only one in your dorm room homesick? That’s not true at all; you’re not alone so take the time to reach out to others.  Have a “homesick sleepover” night and invite your new friends, make sure they bring blankets, movies, and snacks. Are you good at planning? Organize a day to go out and volunteer at a local shelter. This will remind you how precious family time is and how fortunate you are to go off to college.  

Make sure you’re keeping in contact with your high school friends. They may be struggling with homesick and need to hear your voice. Schedule a three way call once a week to update each other on college life and experiences or schedule a weekend visit and enjoy a different college atmosphere. Having those childhood friends close during your college years will help your transition even smoother.

Do you have any tips for a homesick college student?