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With the back-to-school season in full swing, I wanted to take this time to share some advice with those heading off to college. I've only been out of college for two years, so it's still a time in my life I remember well. And I definitely recall what the biggest challenges were for me then.
It's an awesome time in your life, but also a stressful one as you try to figure out what you're going to do with the rest of your life.
So I wanted to share six lessons I wish I had known when I started college -- instead of learning them much later.
1. You don't have to have to choose your major as soon as you arrive Freshman year. I got to college 100 percent sure I was going to be an English major. It took all of one semester to know I was notgoing to be an English major. It took another two years to decide that I wanted to major in Political Science. I actually changed my major -- multiple times. And even though I went through three different college majors, I still made it out in four years.
2. Join in, even if it means leaving your comfort zone. My comfort zone is relatively small. I am not a big fan of trying new things. I struggle in social situations with people I don't know. I'm not good at coming out of my shell and making new friends. As a result, there were a lot of times in college where I skipped events that I should have gone to, and didn't make an effort to make friends with the girls on my dorm floor. Although I left college with some amazing friends, almost all of them I met in my last two years of college. I really wish I would have joined in more.
3. GO TO CLASS! This was a tough one for me. I am not a morning person. College was the first time in my life where there was no mom there to drag me out of bed in the morning and make sure I got to school on time. And I made the brutal mistake of scheduling math as my earliest class of the day. I can't stand math, so I had basically zero motivation to make it to this class. I didn't get a very good grade, and lost a scholarship as a result of it.
4. Learn how to manage your money early. I worked all the way through college. This taught me to manage my time well, but not necessarily my money. I spent way too much money on clothes and junk food, and should have saved a lot more. I also took out more money in loans than I needed to help pay rent and blew through it too fast. Trust me, you'll regret it if you leave college with no money in the bank!
5. You don't have to be best friends with your freshman roommate.They might not even be in your life after freshman year. My freshman year I lived with a really nice girl, but we didn't have much in common. In any other situation, we probably wouldn't have been friends. We both were determined to become good friends. After freshman year, I only saw in her passing when we ran into each other on campus or at bars. And that's okay! That same year I met another girl on our dorm floor who I had way more in common with, and she and I lived together for two years afterward. She was one of my best friends in college.
6. Don't procrastinate, and remember why you're there. College is fun and there are a lot of social aspects to it, but ultimately you're there for the classes. And if you're only in college for the social aspect, you need to rethink your priorities and stop wasting tens of thousands of dollars in tuition when you have no interest in school. Sometimes partying is going to have to take a backseat to studying. Make that most of the time. When you've got a paper due, start working on it early. I pulled my fair share of all-nighters in college to study or write a paper, and I regretted every single one of them.