Things That Matter

College Is An Incredible Experience If You Do It Right. Here Are 21 Tips To Make The Most Of It

Congrats! You made it to your freshman year of college. Now what? You may be away from home for the first time, free from your mama’s watchful eyes. Some students spend their college years locked away in the library or the door room, barely emerging for meals. Maybe you feel the pressure of being the first person in your family to go to college. Other students spend the entire time on the spectrum of slightly hungover to wasted. Neither one of those is going to be good for you, so here are a few tips to get you on the right path to an enjoyable and productive college career.

1. Go To Class

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Going to class is the number one thing you can do to make sure you pass your classes. This is what you’re paying for, so don’t skip. If you are in class religiously, you’ll get material that is not in the reading and your professors will get to know you better. Both can help if you run into trouble later in the semester.

2. Don’t Overschedule

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Create your first years’ schedule thoughtfully. It may seem like a good idea before you get to college to schedule morning classes. Don’t blame us if you end up regretting it. Especially for your first semester, don’t overload your schedule and think about whether you are really going to want to show up to that 7:30 a.m. advanced chemistry lab.

3. Attend An Activities Fair

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It can be tempting to hide in your room when you first arrive at school, but many colleges have an activity fair that allows campus groups to show you why they’re the greatest. Don’t skip out on these activities. They can help you find your niche, whether you’re into student government, a gamer girl, or want to try out some intramural sports.

4. Find Your Study Spot

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You have to find a spot where you don’t cringe every time it’s time to crack the books. While you can study in your dorm room, be sure to check out other spots like the library, quiet corners of the student union. If you’re like Rory Gilmore you might find a favorite tree outside. Find a spot that is comfortable and where you can concentrate.

5. Have Fun, But Don’t Document Everything

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If you have ever wanted to dye your hair purple and pierce your nose, now is the time to give it a try. Just keep in mind, that if you are going into an uber-professional field like law or medicine, you want to be careful about making changes to your appearance that can’t be covered up. It may suck, but there are still standards of professionalism to be followed, so maybe hold off on face tattoos until you make a solid career path decision. Also, have fun, but don’t do anything illegal that will end up on your permanent record (because that’s a real thing now). Be careful what you put on social media sites. Future employers may be watching.

6. Join An Intramural Sport Or Activity

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Even if sports makes you wince, there are tons of intramural activities you can try. Not into volleyball? There are intramural chess teams at some schools where the only muscle you exercise is your brain. Try to find something that works for you.

7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Getting Tutoring

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Many colleges offer free tutoring, and this is not something you should be afraid to take advantage of. Don’t struggle in a class when you have resources available to help you. Don’t wait until the last week before finals either. If you feel yourself falling behind, check out tutoring programs or talk to your professors for help.

8. Talk To Your Professors

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Get to know your professors, both in and out of class. Ask questions that are deeper than “Will that be on the exam?” Your professors can be some of your biggest advocates, and you want to stand out. Most professors are willing to go the extra mile to help students who show just a little bit of interest. Besides, when else are you going to be surrounded by such academic rockstars?

9. Keep The Papers You Write

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While it may be tempting to have a giant bonfire at the end of the semester and burn it all, hang on to those papers you worked so hard for. Some job applications may require a writing sample, and they can be a great reference for later classes if they are in your major.

10. Make A Plan To Get Your Credits 

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For someone who loves learning, browsing through available classes can make you feel like a kid in a candy store. However, it’s important to have a plan to make sure that you get all your credits so you can graduate on time. Make sure to use your adviser as a resource.

11. Fight Your Introvert Ways

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If you are an introvert, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all extroverts in class and in college life in general. Make a point to raise your hand and speak out. Talk to people at the gym and in the dining hall. You never know where your next new friend will come from.

12. Ditch The Freshman 15

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Chances are, you have access to the best gym and more free time than you ever will again in your life. Use this as an opportunity to make and reach your fitness goals.

13. Intern Aggressively

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Use your contacts on campus to help you score an internship (aren’t you glad you made friends with your professors?). This is the time to be aggressively pursuing relevant work experience in your chosen field. It’s better to have unpaid internships now than when you graduate and have to begin repaying student loans. Apply, apply, apply.

14. Keep Your Door Open

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When you are home in the dorms, keep your door open. You’ll be more likely to snag an invite or get drawn into some dorm room fun.

15. Take A Weird Class

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Use your elective credits to take a class that is totally different from your major or what you think you want to do. This will broaden your horizon, and you never know – you might find your passion where you least expect it.

16. Get Your Money’s Worth

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Make sure to explore what your campus has to offer you. Does your medical center offer free visits? Does the gym have free fitness classes? Are there mental health resources on campus? Take advantage of all the things those student activity fees paid for.

17. Consider Studying Abroad

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Explore study abroad programs. Even if you can’t afford to travel, there are many programs with scholarships and subsidies available.

18. Become Friends With The University Events Calendar

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College campuses always have something going on, whether it be performances, art exhibits, special speakers, or sporting events. Generally, these are free or greatly reduced for students. Pack in as many activities as you can to expand your horizons. There should never be an excuse to be bored.

19. Cheer On Your Team

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There is just something so electric about dressing up in your university colors and cheering your team to victory. The games usually lead to fun times with every united for one cause. You might even make a new friend or two.

20. Don’t Forget To Call Your Family

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They probably helped get you here. Make sure to call your family at least once a week. Trust us – they miss you and are worrying.

21.  Enjoy the Moment

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These are probably some of the best years of your life.  Explore, learn, and have fun!  Four years will go by really fast – make the most out of it!


READ: From Diapers To Dorms, I Worked Hard To Make Sure My Baby Sister Could Go To College

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At Only 8 Years-Old, This Little Mexicana Has a Higher IQ Than Einstein and is an Aspiring Astronaut

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At Only 8 Years-Old, This Little Mexicana Has a Higher IQ Than Einstein and is an Aspiring Astronaut

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The Latinidad has been blessed with it’s fair share of geniuses. Carlos Juan Finlay, the Cuban physician who first linked yellow fever to mosquitoes, used his brains to save countless lives in the developing world. For American engineer Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina female astronaut, her genius took her all the way to the stars. Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century, used her genius with a paintbrush to create art that still resonates with viewers today. However, all of these people were definitely already adults when they were recognized for their gifts. The newest member to join their genius ranks is considerablly much younger.

Though she is just 8 years-old, Adhara Pérez already boasts a genius level I.Q. in the triple digits.

Twitter / @adn40

A native of Mexico City, Adhara has a measured I.Q. of 162. To put this into perspective, two of the worlds most famous geniuses, Albert Einstein and Stephan Hawking, each had an estimated I.Q. of 160. According to the “Yucatan Times,” the gifted Latina has already finished school, having passed elementary at 5 years-old and completing middle and high school by the age of 8. Adhara is now in the process of earning two degrees online, in industrial engineering in mathematics and in systems engineering respectively. She’s hoping to one day become an astronaut and colonize Mars.

Besides sailing through grade school in a quarter of the time it usually takes, the child prodigy has been busy with other projects. She has already written her first book, called “Don’t Give Up,” that tells her story of growing up as a girl genius. She has also appeared on several television talk shows and participated in different academic presentations involving space.

While her I.Q. is being celebrated now, it wasn’t recognized by her teachers and fellow students at first.

Twitter / @NMinutosMx

When Adhara was 3 years-old, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that falls on the autism spectrum. One of the defining symptoms of the developmental disorder is difficulties with social interactions and relating to other people. It was around this time that Adhara was experiencing bullying from her classmates. According to the “Yucatan Times” the other students at school called the little genius names like “oddball” and “weirdo.”

Nallely Sanchez, Adhara’s mother, recalled seeing first hand the cruel treatment the other kids inflicted on her daughter.

“I saw that Adhara was playing in a little house and they locked her up. And they started to chant: ‘Oddball, weirdo!’ And then they started hitting the little house,” she told the “Yucatan Times.” “So I said, ‘I don’t want her to suffer.'”

At that tender age, the teasing already proved to have a horrible impact on young Adhara’s mental health.

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According to her interview with the “Yucatan Times,” Sanchez says that her daughter began to experience a “very deep depression” and no longer wanted to go to school. Adhara’s teachers told her mother that the unhappy student began sleeping in class and put no effort or interest into her classwork. This was obviously not for lack of understanding the work.

Sanchez knew that her daughter already had mastery over algebraic knowledge and the periodic table so she was sure that the problem Adhara was having wasn’t an academic one. She decided to seek a therapist for her daughter in hopes of helping her. A psychiatrist they visited recommended that the mother and daughter go to a local education assistance center for further testing. That’s when her genius I.Q. was identified and she began her quick transition through school.

While she was once bullied for being different, her extraordinary genius has gained her notoriety from fans all over the world.

Twitter / @aideefrescas

This year, Adhara was named one of “Forbes” Magazine’s 100 Mujeres Poderosas de México. She shares this honor with some majorly talented and powerful women such as Irene Espinosa (Deputy Governer of the Bank of Mexico), Alejandra Frausto (Secretary of Culture) and Yalitza Aparicio (the breakout star of “Roma.”)

Twitter has been sure to shower the little genius with lots of praise as well. Some Twitter users expressed that Adhara’s parents must be very proud of of their daughter while others pointed out that this is exactly the reason why we shouldn’t bully people who think and act differently than us.

For now, the future appears bright for this little genius. According to “Vogue México,” Adhara is currently developing a smart bracelet for children with developmental conditions that will monitor their emotions to anticipate and prevent issues. She is currently studying English in perpetration for entrance exams in the United States. The Latina hopes to one day attend University of Arizona to study astrophysics.

This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

Things That Matter

This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

In senior year of high school, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca was told by her school’s guidance counselor that her dream of attending a four-year college was not in the cards for her. Salamanca, who had just found out that she was undocumented, had worked up the courage to tell her counselor about her immigration status. Instead of the support she was looking for, she was instead met with a discouraging response. “…She said to me, ‘People like you don’t go to college,’” Salamanca recently told Remezcla. Salamanca, needless to say, was devastated. 

Unfortunately, due to Salamanca’s status as an undocumented immigrant, she wasn’t eligible for federal financial aid. And because Salamanca was one of 11 children, she didn’t have the financial means to pay for college out-of-pocket. According to Salamanca, the conversation with her guidance counselor broke her “into a million pieces”. “This was the moment where I lost all hopes of being the first in my family to go to college”. But in the end, Salamanca had the last laugh. 

Years later, Salamanca used this experience to inspire her to create “Dreamers Roadmap”–a free mobile app that helps undocumented students find financial aid for college. 

While Salamanca was unable to take the traditional educational route that many entrepreneurs take, she instead used her grit and business-savvy to commit to changing the system that had failed her. “It took me a while to realize that I was probably not the only one in this situation,” Salamanca told Forbes. Once she had that revelation, she decided it was up to her to fix the problem. Instead of taking the traditional four-year college route, Salamanca enrolled in community college and got to work building her own business.

First, Salamanca devoted herself to creating a blog that gave undocumented and low-income students information about scholarship opportunities. When realized that she was one of 3.6 million Dreamers in the U.S. who were unable to qualify for federal financial aid, Salamanca realized she had an un-tapped market on her hands. Deciding to go a step further, Salamanca decided to create an app specifically for undocumented students who were looking to fund their college education. Despite having no formal background in tech, she applied for tech competitions–like the 2013 Hackathon for Dreamers. She left that competition with renewed confidence in both her ideas and her leadership abilities. It was then that she committed to both bringing her app idea into fruition and taking on a role as CEO.

Spurred on by her initial success, Salamanca decided to try her hand at the Voto Latino Innovators Challenge in 2014.

At the time, Voto Latino (founded by Latina actress Rosario Dawson) had put out a call for “Millennial-led projects that will improve the lives of and expand opportunities for Latinos in the U.S.”. Taking a leap of faith Salamanca decided to apply for the priciest grant: $100,000. Although she had no idea if she’d win, she decided it was worth a try. ” I thought to myself, ‘Well if I win even half, that’s a huge win for my project'”. And it seems that Voto Latino recognized the potential of her project as well.

Salamanca was ultimately chosen as a finalist for the competition and entered the final rounds in Washington D.C. as the only community college student as well as the only sole-female founder. At the challenge, Salamanca pitched her project to a panel of all-star judges that included Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, and Wilmer Valderrama. Apparently, Salamanca made an impression. Voto Latino gave “Dreamers Roadmap” a grant of $100,000 towards funding. 

Now that Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca is CEO of her own company, her future has never been brighter. 

Salamanca has come a long way from being told that college is “not for people like her”. Now, Dreamers Roadmap has over 30,000 users and is integral to the college-admission process for many undocumented students. Not only was Salamanca named a “Champion of Change” at the White House in 2014, but she also received a House of Representatives Award in 2015, and placed in Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list. Although she has encountered numerous obstacles in her life due to her ethnicity, gender, tax bracket, and immigration status, she has overcome them all through determination and perseverance. 

But more than any of these other accomplishments, it’s the impact she’s had on people’s lives that is the most impressive. To date, Dreamers Roadmap has helped over 20,000 students find scholarships for college. “We hear from our users via social media or email on how our app has changed their lives,” she said in an interview with Forbes. “Hearing their stories reminds me that we are doing a good job and fulfilling our mission of bringing hope and financial opportunities to immigrant communities”.