Why You Should Take a Gap Year
College Life |  Source: klwsk

Why You Should Take a Gap Year

There's no time like the present.

YOCO. You only college once. You only have four years of undergraduate schooling to make lifelong friends, drink cheap beer, and be a young and free adult. What happens after college? You get a job or an internship and start working while you work your way up in the industry until you retire 50 years later.

OK, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but in a sense, it's true. Once you are done with college, unless you go back for graduate school, you almost always get a job and that's where your fun, carefree life full of Natty Light and rooftop parties begins to come to a halt.

But is doesn't have to be that way. This is the time to do all those things that you have always wanted to do. Stop saying, "Oh I'll do it someday when I'm older." Chances are it won't ever happen if you keep saying that.

Before you take that internship that you don't really want, or before you take that job that doesn't really interest you, think about what you really want to do in order to make yourself happy and the places you've always wanted to go.

Graduate with your class, go party with your friends, and take a gap year. A lot can happen in one year, and you can discover unimaginable, beautiful things about yourself. We have our whole lives to work. Why not just take one year for us?

Why not travel to California and see the Hollywood sign if that's what you've always wanted? Why not buy a ticket to go to London and see Big Ben? Why not visit Belize or Panama? Why not bike across the United States? Why not? We are so young. Why not do these things now?

I spent four months studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and that was all it took for me to understand how important it is to make your dreams a reality. You learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom; you learn things about yourself that you didn't even know existed; and you discover what it really feels like to live and be free.

Go see the world. There is too much out there for it to be left unseen.

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Advice on Getting an Internship for People With No Connections

You suck, but it's OK!

There is no sugar coating it: getting the right internship is just as important as going to college at this point. While it can be stressful, it is more than possible to score yourself an internship.

A year ago, being a girl from small-town Indiana, I would have told you finding an internship in an industry almost foreign to my state would be impossible. Now, I've been to New York City for one and am on my way back this summer for not one, but two more internships. Here's some pro advice on doing what you think can't be done from someone who's been there.

1.Attend every career fair.
I know so many people who have gotten amazing internships from career fairs. While they can sometimes seem like a hassle, they are so worth it if you're serious about your future. Prepare a resume and research information on the companies you want to hit while you're there.

They'll be impressed that you know your shit; and if they feel like they're important to you, you'll become more important to them. While seeing a list of big companies can be intimidating and the "why would they want someone like me" mentality is an easy one to pick up on, there is a reason they're coming to your school: They're looking for people like you.

2. Figure out where alumni work.
This can be really helpful simply because people like to hire other people from their alma mater. While, of course, you have to have the credentials, school pride holds a lot of weight in the job market. Universities often have a list of alumni at big companies somewhere on their website, but if you don't find what you're looking for there, use the LinkedIn search options or visit your career center.

3. Search company websites.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and companies will typically have a career section. This is a good place to find out if the company is hiring interns or at least a good place to find an email and a name to contact with inquiries.

4. Find exact names and emails.
While this can sometime be extremely difficult, finding a way to contact a real person (not just jobs@whatever.com) is extremely helpful and important. A lot of times these won't be right on the careers page, but there are ways to find who you're looking for. Sometimes it takes serious investigation of the company's website; and sometimes it takes a little cyber-stalking.

I've gotten emails from searching names of people I know who work there and the name of the company. Sometimes they have their email out on other social and professional platforms. This works especially well for magazine internships. Search the internet and try to find the email format of the company you want to apply for, ie. firstname@companyname.com. The next step is as simple as finding the names of people in the department you want to work for (in a magazine check out the masthead towards the front) plug the name into the email format, and send away.

Search the internet and try to find the email format of the company you want to apply for, ie. firstname@companyname.com. Next step is as simple as finding the names of people in the department you want to work for (in a magazine check out the masthead towards the front) plug the name into the email format and send away.

5. Find websites that post internships.
While I can't tell you specific sites for all industries, for those of you looking for fashion or editorial internships, check out freefashioninternships.com (where I scored my first internship). These kinds of websites post who's looking for what kind of intern, as well as either information to send your resume to or an application right there you can fill out.

6. Ask around.
You'd be surprised how many potential connections are around you. Maybe one of your dad's coworkers knows someone, or maybe a friend of a family friend works for the company where you're trying to intern. Spread the word and see what happens.

7. Talk to professors.
A lot of professors actually worked in the industry their classes center on. Their prior field experience can help you a lot. Make a point to become friends with your professors and attend their office hours. Eventually, you may find yourself in a position to ask if they could help you out a little on your internship hunt. Most likely, they'll be more than happy to do it.

8. Get involved.
This is a great way to meet people with similar interests, who then may have helpful connections. Whether it's writing for a website like FlockU or joining an on campus club. Even people your own age may have connections they're willing to share.

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College Life |  Source: businessinsider.com

Malia Obama Is Taking A Gap Year, and You Should Too

If Malia can, so can you.

Malia Obama, oldest daughter of President Obama, recently announced her plan to take a gap year before attending Harvard University. Harvard, among other top universities, actually encourages high school students to take a year off between high school and college.

Source: giphy.com

Why do this? What do colleges gain by promoting a year off before school? More importantly, what do YOU gain?

I was so excited to finally be a "cool" college student that I not only scoffed at the idea of a gap year, but began school the summer immediately after high school ended instead of waiting until the fall.

Yes, I'm that much of a nerd.

It went great... at first. Everything was new and exciting! College has a very different feel compared to high school and I finally felt grown-up. I did extremely well in my summer classes and made a few friends in the process.

By the time fall semester rolled around, I was insanely burnt out. The idea of going to class everyday was exhausting and I literally gave 0 fucks about homework or studying for tests. My GPA quickly went from a 3.7 to a 2.5.

Source: giphy.com

I was so excited about this new phase in the my life that I didn't want to take a break. I wanted to just jump right in and soak it all up. Well, I did and my GPA suffered greatly for it.

Taking a year off between high school and college is becoming increasingly more popular. The American Gap Association's 2015 National Alumni Survey shows that students who take a gap year have improved college graduation rates and GPAs (among other things) compared to those who did not.

Universities are picking up on this trend and some schools, such as Princeton, are offering financial assistance to students who wish to take a year before undergrad to travel abroad. Pretty cool, right?

Even if your school doesn't offer any gap year programs or benefits, you can still use that time to relax, work (because college is expensive af), sightsee, and learn more about yourself and what you want out of life.

You may end up finding you actually love photography more than you thought and want to switch your major, or that volunteering at a hospital made healthcare much more appealing to you.

Source: giphy.com

Without taking a year to grow and develop before college, you may end up missing out on some really cool things. I wish I had taken time off to take a vacation or saved some money. You don't want to spend your next year at college chasing your GPA because you were too burnt out to care.

Source: giphy.com

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College Life |  Source: nyu.edu

Why I Turned Down My Dream School

It hurt, but it made sense.

The day I got accepted into NYU, I stayed up giggling and grinning like an idiot. All of my hard work had finally paid off. I wanted to become a filmmaker, so NYU Tisch was basically the best thing that could have happened to me.

I had taken countless standardized tests. I was the captain of the cross country team, a proctor, and the head of a publication. I was basically the golden child of college acceptances.

But I turned it down.

It all started when I took a gap year. I was offered the opportunity to study abroad in a gap year program, so I put NYU on hold and set sail for my year off. When I returned home, nothing felt the same.

First of all, I started to realize that my dream might not be worth the cost. NYU is expensive. Like, really expensive. Did I really want to take on such severe debt just for a degree In film, of all things? I wasn't even so sure of my major anymore--let alone taking on over $100k in loan debt to make it a possibility.

Nothing seemed to make as much sense as it did that day I got my acceptance letter. For years, I imagined myself going to college in NYC. How do you give up years worth of daydreams?

In February of 2014, I formally withdrew my acceptance from NYU and started the college application process all over again. The deadline had already passed for most colleges, so I struggled to find schools that would even consider me.

Luckily, I was accepted to a few small liberal art schools closer to home. They were the complete opposite of NYU, but they felt right in a way NYU hadn't in months. So, here I am today, studying English at a college in a quiet town by the beach. I don't have a zillion dollars in loan debt, and I feel confident I made the right choice.

This school is definitely less challenging than a more elite school would have been, but Forbes Magazine argues that that can work to my advantage. I'm more likely to graduate at the top of my class in this environment, thus leading to more job opportunities in the future.

I won't say that I don't think about what my life would have been like at NYU. I do. All the time. Sometimes with sadness, but never with regret. I've found a new passion in English, and I've discovered that there is bravery in changing one's mind.

So don't feel bad about being unsure, and don't be afraid to change your mind. There's strength in recognizing when something doesn't feel right. Don't believe the hype about having to attend the most prestigious college in order to lead a successful life. Studies show that if you're a good student, what school you attended doesn't really matter at all. College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.

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College Life | 

Grade Level: Fifth-Year Senior

It's not the time it takes to get somewhere, it's the direction you're going.

Graduating from college in the traditional four years isn't always a given. Whether it's due to switching schools or majors, constant curriculum changes, or completing prerequisites for graduate school, four years to graduation doesn't always seem doable. As a fifth-year senior, here are a few things you'll realize as you attempt to make it through that final stretch.

Everyone around you will seem like babies. Newsflash: They are babies. Every freshman around you was still in middle school when you were graduating high school. Don't allow yourself to feel old. I prefer the term "seasoned".

Don't get upset at the babies (aka freshman) turning the library into a social event. Remember, you once did the same thing. As a fifth-year senior, you'll find that getting your work done in cozy coffee shops is much more appropriate, and fun.

You might feel lonelier. As a fifth year, you'll do more things alone, like studying, eating, grocery shopping, and even working out. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. When the day comes for you to move to a new city and start a new career, you'll already feel comfortable enough to dine by yourself or try out a new workout class alone. To be honest, the time alone I've had in my fifth year has given me more time to get in touch with myself. I've realized I needed this extra year to understand my passions and where they could take me next in the post-college chapter of my life.

Going out is different. When you do have time to go out, it will be a lot different than it was your first four years: Two-For-One weeknight specials at the bars will turn into a glass of red wine on the couch and bad reality TV. Your body will reject going out multiple nights in a row and you might be the oldest one at the campus bars. But this doesn't mean you can't have fun anymore, it just means it's time to mix it up. Find out which bars downtown are known for an older crowd of med students and young professionals and grace them with your presence.

Don't beat yourself up. Sure, some of your friends are living in cool places and working their new 9-5, but that doesn't automatically put them in a better place than you. I'm sure they get jealous that you still get winter breaks, Fridays off, and hot athletes in your group projects. Remember, time will pass, and you have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy where you are right now.

This extra time in school is happening for a reason. Maybe you need more time to understand where your career is going, more time to understand who you are, or more time to meet people who will make a difference in your life. Remember, it's not the time it takes to get somewhere, it's the direction you're going.

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College Life |  Source: cisabroad.com

Why I Chose to Study Abroad My Freshman Year

No, I won't miss out on the one night stands.

When I tell people, "I'm studying in Florence, Italy for my freshman year of college", I often receive two general responses: "Why the fuck would you do that and miss out on your freshman year?" or "OMG that's so cool. You're going to have so much fun. I'm so jealous."

Even though the first response can be discouraging, it's my favorite to respond to.

Why did I decide to study abroad for my freshman year?

For one, not a lot of schools offer freshmen the opportunity to study abroad. Unlike schools that offer a study abroad program freshman year like Northeastern, Marist doesn't force you to study abroad for a semester due to a lack of space on campus; Marist allows freshmen the choice to. I chose to apply to Marist's Freshman in Florence Program (FFE) because I chose to have a unique freshman year.

After spending four years of high school at an elite all-girls prep school, I wanted to do something different. I've already lived in a dorm for four years, survived eating food in a dining hall for four years, and have understood the challenges of being an independent student over the course of four years. Why not up the stakes and be a student in a foreign country?

In addition, I don't feel like I'll be missing out on typical freshmen parties, one-night stands, and transition to living away from home because I've never gotten drunk or have the urge to go out during the week; I like to genuinely know and care about the person I sleep with. And, I've already experienced living away from home (including an extremely homesick freshman year).

Studying in Florence fits perfectly with my major: communications. I'll gain a global perspective as a comm major that I wouldn't in Poughkeepsie, NY as a freshman. Not that everything is about resumes, studying abroad freshman year will set me apart from other students when I apply for internships and jobs. Sure, thousands of juniors and seniors study abroad, but thousands of freshmen don't study abroad on a given year.

I've never been to Europe! Living in Florence for a year will give me access to a culturally rich city, country, and continent. I can't wait to learn Italian, study in a new environment, cook for myself in my apartment, dip into the Mediterranean Sea, taste wines at Italian vineyards, eat delicious food, and visit my relatives in Germany. It's much cheaper to travel in Europe, and I've already brainstormed places that will satisfy my craving for wanderlust.

Sure, there will be plenty of obstacles while I'm abroad and a challenging transition back to Marist's campus in Poughkeepsie sophomore year. But as students and young adults, we are constantly encouraged to take chances. For me, studying abroad my freshman year is one I don't want to miss. I hope you'll consider the same.