Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to College: 5 Tips for Choosing Schools

August is here! You know what that means - it's time for back to school shopping, last minute vacation plans, summer sales, and for high school seniors, applying for college.

University of Texas at Austin: The Tower
My next few How to College posts will be centered around the college application process. If there's anything I'm good at, it's planning. I was that crazy kid that did extensive research on tens (probably hundreds) of schools before I started narrowing it down. After applying to 7 schools and helping many of my younger friends through the same process, I think I've got my method down to a tee!

Do I think the education system is flawed? Absolutely. It sucks that you have to pay money to be rejected (thanks, UChicago), and THEN have to give up the blood of your first born child to pay for your education (please don't take this literally).

But I'm going to do everything in my power to help you beat the system, because everyone deserves an education that doesn't cost your entire life's savings!

So, what's the first step? Probably choosing schools to apply to!
University of Alabama: Gorgas Library

It's daunting, I know. There are thousands of beautiful colleges that offer you what you need. How on earth do you even begin to decide? Before you start on this exciting journey, I NEED you to keep one thing in mind:

They're all the same, you just need to pick one.

Man, I wish I heard this sooner. An old friend told me this when I was struggling to decide where I wanted to be for the next 4 years, and the day after he said this, I committed to a university. Keep this in mind, and the process will be much easier for you. After all, college is just a place.

1. Use College Board

I know, I hate them, too. They're in charge of the ACT, SAT, and AP tests - basically, they control and monopolize the college application realm. But they're here to help, too!

When I began to look at schools, the Big Future feature was my best friend. You can search for colleges by location, major, and social life. Don't know your major yet? That's totally fine. Take other factors into account - do you want a small school or a big one? Is it in a city? How much does it cost? How are their sports?

College Board has brief profiles of each school, giving you information on population size, majors offered, location, cost, and more. If you've found a school you're interested in, go to their website. While College Board has a plethora of information, it's not always accurate and should be used as an overview.

2. Ask friends, family, & teachers

These people know you best! If you're struggling in your college search, ask around. See where your friends are applying, and look at your family & teacher's alma maters. They've already been through it, and chances are, they can help.

Careful though, don't let college rivalries get in the way! I speak from experience when I say that some teachers won't be supportive. I had a teacher laugh in my face when I told him I was visiting UA. Don't pick a school that's right for someone else - pick a school that's right for you.

University of  Alabama: The Quad & Denny Chimes on game day

3. Search by location

Okay, so you can't find anything on College Board, and you don't like the schools your friends recommend. Well, have you always wanted to live in a city? Maybe you want to move to the other side of the country, or maybe you cant to go abroad, like Abby!

If you've always dreamed about living in a specific place, check out schools in the area! You can use College Board to do this, or just Google "Colleges in _____." You'll get plenty of results!

Don't forget to look in surrounding areas, too. Say you want to live in New York City, but NYU is ranked as the 2nd most expensive college in the nation. Remember, NYU isn't your only option in the area! Have you considered the CUNYs? What about Berkeley? Both options are still in the city, and cheaper than NYU. Also consider schools in DC and Philadelphia - both cities are only 2 hours away from NYC by bus!
University of Texas at Austin: Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex

4. Search by cost and scholarships

So you still have no idea where you want to go. That's totally fine! Searching by cost and scholarship eliminates most of the decision-making for you - pick the schools that will be the cheapest for you. That's what I did, and I am so happy that I won't have thousands of dollars of debt when I graduate.

Alright, shameless plug here, but well worth your time: The University of Alabama offers incredible scholarships. In 2012-2013, we had the most National Merit Scholars of all public universities. You know why? Because of our scholarships! National Merit students have almost all costs covered, including tuition, housing for 4 years, and last time I checked, they get iPads. No, the university didn't pay me to say this, I just think my investment is 100% worth it.

Generally, state universities have a lot more scholarship opportunities than private universities. Look in-state, too, because for state schools, you'll qualify for in-state tuition, and there are often additional scholarships like the HOPE (TN and GA).

Many schools offer automatic scholarships based on standardized test scores. I applied to Indiana University Bloomington and received an automatic scholarship because of my ACT score. UA does this, too!

I don't mean that you should choose the school that's the cheapest. If you're dream school costs a little extra $$$, go for it. Keep your options open!

University of Alabama - Million Dollar Band and GAME DAY

5. Other things to keep in mind
The earlier you start looking, the better. That way, when senior year starts, you can talk to other people about your options. I know it's already August, but I didn't finalize my list until September. Right now, you've got time!

I know I've said this a lot, but remember that you should pick a school for you. Don't make it difficult like I did - when it comes down to it, they're all the same! I am a firm believer that a degree is a degree, no matter where it came from.

In the end, college is just a place.

If you don't love your university, that's okay. Have confidence in your decisions. Apply somewhere totally random if you feel like it! Remember that even if you don't get into your dream school, transferring after freshman year is always an option. Or you could stick it out and come to love your university, like me. Can I get a roll tide?!

If you have any questions or tips on picking colleges, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email! I'd love to talk about your thoughts on the college application process, and I'm always here to help. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

4 Reasons Why You Should Intern in College (Not Just for Your Resume)

Pre-internship: I've never lived 675 miles from home. I've never driven for 12 hours straight by myself. I've never paid my own bills, and I've never worked 8 to 5... I've never been swing dancing, either.

Post-internship: I've done all of the above - swing dancing included!

Interning this summer was so much more than just a job, and today I'd like to share why I think you should do intern, too!

1) You'll be on your own

My first question is WHY ON EARTH do we not learn how to pay bills in high school? What do you mean I have to go through separate companies for gas, electricity, and water? What is renter's insurance?!?

Because I chose an internship so far away from home, I've been able to experience what it's like to be completely on my own. I covered all of my expenses while living alone in my little 343 square foot studio apartment. I paid my own bills and bought my own groceries. (It was a paid internship.) It was really exciting the first week - Oreos? Ice cream? Cake mix? You bet. I'm getting all of the things, and I don't even have to ask my mom *insert suggestive side-eye emoji here*.

Sure, I had a couple of friends here, and I got to know the interns. But I lived alone for the first time. This may not be a lot for some people, but it was a huge step for me. After interning, I know that I am capable of supporting myself.

2) You'll try new things swing dancing! Living in a brand new city gave me the chance to do a lot of exploring and adventuring.

Swing dancing at Sons of Hermann Hall
I went to a concert alone for the first time (huge shoutout to Jukebox the Ghost, Oh Honey, and Ingrid Michaelson), I went to an Instagram meetup alone, and I went to a museum alone. All were incredible experiences, and I wouldn't have done them if I wasn't interning here in Dallas.

I'm not saying you have to do everything alone, but going to things by myself used to be really out of my comfort zone. In essence, the "new thing" I did this summer was adventuring on my own, which I never would have done at home or at school.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and I encourage you to do the same!

3) You'll meet people

I met Courtney of Champagne and City Lights!

I connected with so many people at my internship. Early relationships with coworkers at your company will always help you down the road. Even if you don't want to return to the same company as full-time employee, many of them are willing to help if you ever need anything. Plus, you never know what's going to happen in the future, and you might need that job offer. It's just like blogging - networking is key!

me casually meeting my favorite band EVER, Jukebox the Ghost!

I didn't just meet people at work - I also met Claire the biology major at the Ingrid Michaelson concert, Tran the swimsuit designer at the Instagram meetup, and Nate the physical trainer-turned-entrepreneur at the farmer's market. It's these little moments that count - you will always learn something when crossing paths with a stranger.

4) You'll learn about the field

I guess I should talk about working, right? I didn't spend all my time exploring - I actually did do my job!

While getting an education is important, you really don't learn everything you need to know to work in the field. You won't know how to do your job until you're actually on the job, and interning prepares you for that.

Even if you don't end up enjoying your work as an intern, you've learned something you don't like to do, and that's just as important. I learned how to analyze big data, but I also learned that I don't like analyzing big data. You can safely say that I've crossed that off of my list of potential careers!

Overall, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to intern in Dallas. If anything, interning is an incredible learning experience. College teaches you a lot, but it doesn't teach you how to work full-time.

If you're looking for an internship or have any questions about professionalism, don't hesitate to tweet me or email me! I am always happy to help, and I'd love to share my experiences with you.

Have you ever interned? Did you enjoy it? I want to hear all about it in the comments!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to College: Comfortable Outfit Basics for Class

This post marks my first addition to the Bloggers Go Back to School linkup, hosted by Cathleen and Nicole! The theme for this week is fashion, and today, I'm going to give you ideas for cute and comfortable outfits! Nikes and oversized t-shirts, begone! (Unless you want to wear it. I'm just saying, wear what you want, not what you need to wear to fit in!)

Let me preface this by saying that the normal attire on my college campus consists of oversized t-shirts, Nike shorts, and Chacos. Everyone wears this, and I'm often asked why I'm so "dressed up" for class.

I'm not dressed up. I literally dress like this every day.

Now, I'm all for wearing what you want, but don't hate just because I'm not dressed like you! Can a girl wear a chevron necklace without getting stared at? Jeez. I mean, there are plenty of other people that don't sport the Nikes and Chacos on the daily, but not nearly enough people so that I don't stick out. I could go on about this forever, but that's a rant for another day.

My outfit formula for this school year is fairly simple since I'm making an effort towards a minimalistic wardrobe. This is how I typically go about creating an outfit for the day. Select one option from each category, and you can't go wrong!

TOP: Sleeveless Shirt + Graphic Tee

Sleeveless shirts are my go-to for the summer. Button-ups are my favorite choice because of their versatility. You can tie it, tuck it in, or wear it as-is. Plus, comfy, and if you want to, you can wear a sports bra.

BOTTOM: Maxi Skirts + Soft Shorts

I'm a little late to the soft/linen shorts party. I bought my first pair this year, and I don't know how I survived before. They're definitely going to be a staple for this fall. They're hella more comfortable than my normal denim shorts.

If you have to wear pants, you could easily opt for wide legged pants, jersey pants, or jeggings. I've also found that the Columnist crop pants from Express are incredibly comfortable.

Rompers + Jumpsuits + Dresses

If you're not feeling the top + bottom combo, go for a one piece. Rompers and jumpsuits are not given enough credit! You put one on, and your outfit is basically done. Same goes for a dress. If you want to go out after class, all you have to do is throw on a pair of heels.

SHOES: Converse + Sandals

I have a confession. I'm a poser. I claim to be a style blogger, but I wear the same shoes almost every day - but I'm glad I do, because it makes my minimalist effort a lot easier. My white Converse are my go-to's! Also, don't laugh about what I'm about to tell you. Get shoe insoles. Converse shoes have NO arch support whatsoever, and it's super bad to walk around like that all day. Just get the insoles. No one has to know, and your feet will thank you later!

If I'm not in the mood for sneakers, I opt for these sandals from Target. I've had them for over a year and they're still in good shape! I would wear flats, but I've yet to find a pair that don't make me want to chop my ankles off. Have any suggestions?

OUTERWEAR: Cardigan + Plaid

I go to school in the south. It's hot. The only reason I suggest wearing cardigans and jackets is because generally, classroom temperatures are near sub-zero. I normally throw a cardigan in my backpack, but you could also tie a plaid shirt around your waist.

ACCESSORIES: Long Necklace + Studs

Not gonna lie, I wear this chevron necklace from Forever 21 almost every day. It matches almost everything in my closet, and I can dress it up or down. If you're looking for one, you can find unique ones on Etsy!

Stud earrings are also a staple. I don't wear dangles anymore unless I'm really trying. I just purchased the Itty Icons Stud Set from BaubleBar while they were on sale to replace my low quality F21 earrings.

And that's a wrap! Want to see more posts on back to school fashion? Check out other bloggers participating in the linkup by searching social media with the hashtag #BloggersBTS. I look forward to reading more posts!

If you've made it this far...

...thank you so much! I've got a quick question for you - do you prefer Disqus (my current commenting system) or the native WordPress system? I'm making the switch in the next month or so and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Also, I've finally decided on my social media accounts. Tweet me at @crazyscarfgirl, and follow me on Instagram at @thecrazyscarfgirl. Have a great day!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Morning Loves #2: Minimalism

After coming across Daisy's blog, Simplicity Relished, I've been thinking long and hard about minimalism this week. If you're not familiar with the minimalist movement, Alyssa has a great post on it.

I used to believe that minimalism meant to get rid of junk. While this is partially true, I've come to realize that it's more than that - living minimally is a lifestyle. And my life is far from it. I love to shop. I overcommit my time on the regular. I have a lot of big ideas, with no clear plan on how to achieve them.

My first step towards a minimal lifestyle was to alleviate my schedule. Next semester, I've focused my extracurricular commitments to organizations that I love and that I know I can dedicate my full attention to. I've also relieved my class load by not scheduling classes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The semester hasn't even started yet, and I already feel so relaxed! I know it's going to be such a nice change from having 3 meetings + classes in one day.

Next, I've decided to downsize my closet. If I had a fatal flaw, it would be my ability to make impulse purchases. Not going to lie, I commonly use the "retail therapy" excuse. I'm working on this by selling some of my clothes via (shameless plug) Poshmark and donating the rest. I would much rather spend money on experiences and travels over clothes that will go out of style in a month. I'm going to make a conscious effort to purchase quality, timeless pieces that can be remixed, as Audrey would say. Maybe I'll even try a capsule wardrobe for the fall semester.

Removing clutter isn't restricted to just my time and physical possessions, but also my blog. Prior to my year long blogging break, I tried to stick with the norms of a typical style blog. It was sub-par, not necessarily because of the content (which was pretty bad anyway), but because I wasn't really passionate about it. I was going through the motions of what you "needed" to do to become a successful fashion blog.

While style is still very important to me, I'd really like to refocus my content on more than just style, I just don't know what yet. I have a lot of hobbies and interests! I know that it's apparently important to select a niche, but as Kaitlyn and Sarah said to me in last week's #NectarChat, there are no rules about what I can and cannot share. I just need to find a way to define it. I don't know exactly what this means for Crazy Scarf Girl, but you'll be seeing less meaningless photos and more meaningful words.

I think these are the first steps I need to take to gain clear focus on my goals. Without all of the extra clutter of meaningless commitments and unnecessary purchases, I can spend more time doing things I love and on what I want to accomplish, like starting my own business. While it's a scary thing, I've done it in the past with a small Etsy store. Kat does a great job on addressing and overcoming the fears of running your own business.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for one day. This week, be on the lookout for my first post in for the #BloggersBTS linkup! I'll be showing you how to comfortably dress for class.

Have a fantastic Sunday! How do you feel about living minimally?