What You Can Learn From My Freshman Year

If you’re reading this, it probably means you’re an incoming college freshman. If not, then you’re just a very, very eager high school student. If the latter is true, sit down and buckle in buck-a-roo because high school goes by quickly and you really will miss it when it’s gone. If the former is true, congratulations high school grad! You did it.

Now it’s on to the big leagues.

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Guest Blogger // College Applications, Early Decision, and High School with Allie Miller

Greetings internet folks. Exciting things are happening on the blog today because we have a guest writer. (insert cheers and applause.)

Like I’ve said before, I can’t be everywhere and know everything. (Just kidding, of course I know everything. Just ask my mom; she thinks I’m awesome. Then again she also thought I was the cutest baby in the world even when I was about double the size of a normal human infant and was dressed in a cow costume on Halloween. Thanks for that Mom and Dad.) Anyway, I think there are certain experiences that are valuable and that those valuable experiences should be shared with y’all. Since you’re my readers, and my readers are the best people, and thus you deserve the best.

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My Recruitment Experience


Hey there crazy humans. How are ya? Ya good? Well good ’cause I’m good. I can already tell this post is going to be all caddywampus and that’s fine because Rush is crazy so a post on Rush should reflect that craziness.

Just kidding that would just be an absolute pain to read. We’ll try to find some form of organization here.

Disclaimer: Rush is different at colleges everywhere. So the number of sororities, number of days, styles of rounds, etc. varies place to place. So if you’re rush is set up differently, TOUGH NOODLES, this post is a description about the process at the university I attend. Also, sorry for yelling “tough noodles” at you.


Photo: Alpha Phi pledge class 2015 at The University of Virginia

So here’s what my university’s ISC website describes recruitment as:

“A four-round process that places over 900 women into 16 sororities. During each round, potential new members (PNMs) meet sorority women from each chapter and learn about each chapter’s values and character. With each round, PNM’s visit fewer houses as they figure out where they are best suited. After a matching process, PNMs receive a bid card from one of three sororities the PNM visited in Preferential Round. Throughout recruitment, PNM’s and sorority women are not allowed to talk to each other outside rounds to ensure equal treatment.”

DUN DUN DUN here we go:

Round 1: Round Robbins.

So for me this was 2 days. I saw 7 sororities on one day, and 8 sororities on the next day. Each round was 25 minutes and the attire was “snappy casual” (whatever that means).  For me this was actually really fun because there wasn’t any agenda to the conversations or pre-set topics; you literally just chat. Be warned: if you go to a school with a large recruitment pool (a.k.a., there are a lot of girls rushing), be prepared for a lot of noise. It gets loud in those houses. So bring cough drops. I’m serious. Your voice will get lost from yell-talking all day.

My take-away advice from this day: Have fun. Honestly. If you’re stressed about recruitment and looking good, it will show. Talking to people is fun and recruitment isn’t life-or-death so just don’t treat it like it’s a huge deal. They’re humans. You’re a human. Wow so much in common. But really, it isn’t anything to stress about. And if you are getting stressed, STOP IT. They smell fear. Just kidding. But we can all smell sweat so don’t get nervous. You’re going to want to join the house that you fit in best with so be you.

General advice: If you’re visiting a lot of houses, take notes after you leave each house about what you liked or didn’t like, blurbs to remind you of the conversations you had, etc. At then end of the day when you go to rank your top houses, it’s easy to forget things! Especially if it’s a 2 day round.

After this round the maximum number of houses you could get invited back to was 11 and I was fortunate enough to get invited back to my top 11 the next day.

Round 2: Philanthropy.

YAY. NEXT ROUND. This round for me was 30 minutes per house, again over the span of 2 days. We watched a video on each house’s philanthropy and then discussed the philanthropy with the sorority women and then chatted some more if we didn’t have any other questions. I don’t have as much to say about this because it’s more talking and getting to know the houses.

My take-away advice from this day: ASK QUESTIONS. You’re looking to join these houses and you should know a lot about them. It isn’t just them selecting you, you’re selecting them as well. Ask about their philanthropy, how involved they are with it, how much hands on volunteering they do versus events, what other events they do, how strong their sisterhood is, how diverse they are as a group, what they like to do together, etc. And take a look around and see what the people are like there!

After this round the maximum number of houses you could get invited back to was 7 and I was fortunate enough to get invited back to my top 7 the next day.

Round 3: House Tours.

Time to stalk the Pinterest-esque sorority houses! During this round you’ll be escorted around the house to see what it looks like all around, and be introduced to even more girls. This round was about 40 minutes and was a lot more personal. By the third round, the pool of girls each sorority has invited back is whittled down a lot, and you’ve come back to meet the same girls for the third time so you can be more personal. It’s easier to get a sense of what they’re like and they get to know you better. Yay for girl-flirting.

My take-away advice from this day: You’re hanging out in the rooms of these sorority women, probably sitting on their bed, and talking to 1 or 2 of them at once. Can you see yourself sitting here in a t-shirt and sweats talking to the same girls? Do you feel like you’d fit in and do that nearly every day? Because when you’re in whichever sorority, you’ll be sitting in that same house, hanging out with those same girls. So does it feel like home? Hmmmm? Does it?

Also, don’t wear heels. You’re climbing stairs and there’s carpet and other deathly obstacles for you to trip on and look like a goon. If you do wear heels, say a quick prayer before climbing the stairs in them.

After this round the maximum number of houses you could get invited back to was 3 and I was fortunate enough to get invited back to my top 3 the next day.

Round 4: Preference Round.

A.K.A. Prefs.

So this round is an hour. And you only go to 3 houses. And it’s formal. And very personal. You sit down one-on-one with one sister, and you will also participate in a ~*secret ritual*~. There will also probably be singing.

At this point your round will be very unique to you because these are girls you’ve come back to see many times and there’s a one-on-one conversation. And there’s usually secret stuff. Like I said, ~*rItUaLs*~, but anyway that’s about as much as I can describe this round.

Then you go and rank your top 3. Then you have bid day. And then you get a bijillion awesome new sisters and there’s glitter and stuff everywhere and it’s great. (Sarcasm and humor aside, bid day will be one of the best days of your college career.)

So there ya have it! That was a little blurb on my experience. With a few tips thrown in. This kind of ended up like a Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide episode. While this was more of a brief overview, there are Tip and Outfit posts to come. Yay. You know… if you want my 2 cents anyway. Maybe you read this far, maybe you didn’t. Maybe I’m just babbling to myself on the internet. Whatever the case, good luck during recruitment!

In case you’d like to learn more about the Recruitment process, you can check out this book on Amazon!

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Learn Something

Well hey.

So at this point if you’ve followed my blog for long enough you know I’m a closet nerd. And by closet nerd I mean I like to think I don’t come off as a nerd but I’m really just a huge, obvious nerd. (But let’s pretend it’s still “closeted.” It makes me sound cooler.)

ANYWAY, I really enjoy reading (beyond Pinterest articles and blog posts) and people (aka you folks) have asked that I start sharing what I’m reading currently or articles that I find.

So read this and learn something.

I bet I just sounded kind of like your mom… Sorry about that.

The Contemplative Classroom, or Learning by Heart in the Age of Google by Barbara Newman

(link here) *Click access online and then click on the PDF

Things that Newman discusses and explains:

No.1: “Surface obliterates depth” & about our new mode of instant stimulation

No. 2: Internet Addiction

No. 3: FOMO and online profiles

No. 4: Multitasking and how bad it is

No. 5: The problem with certain lecture methods and how to learn better

No. 6: “Mental bulimia” and how we memorize today

Why you should care:

These things affect us in our everyday lives, especially college students. We should be learning to think and learn better as well as take care of ourselves.

It’s about 10 pages and you should read it.

Yep that’s about it. I would say more but the article speaks for itself. Learn my friends.

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12 Study Tips You Need To Know

Hello people of the internet. Me here, as usual, after all this is my blog. And me is here to share my treasure chest of study tips with you. I promise they’re super smarticle. And goodly. Perfect for getting the edumacations.

I use study tips and tricks of all kinds to help me integrate knowledge better and recall that knowledge more efficiently. What a smart sounding sentence. See, this is why you’re taking school advice from me. I keep getting off track. You know what’s tough to do when you get off track? Study. I’ll start with some of my tips for staying focused. Then we can move onto to other things. Like sleep. Sleeping is one of the most important things for studying. Which seems like a paradox but we’re going to get to that part later down the road.

12 Study Tips You Need to Know


I swear nowadays our attention spans are like nine seconds long. But it’s a little hard to focus when you’ve got instagrams, tweets, statuses, posts, and whatever the heck else you “have to keep up with.” PUT IT AWAY. Take your phone and toss it out the window. Where I will be waiting patiently below to catch it and keep it safe forever and use your data plan. Just kidding. Just throw your phone at the wall instead. Actually don’t do that either. Gently lay your phone down in a nice cozy drawer to be tucked away while you study.

HAH I have tricked you. That actually doesn’t work for most people. If it works for you, then I am giving you The Self Control award. But the rest of us will be studying integrals and derivatives one minute and “If I want to derive 78 times x to the 3rd I need to omg the Starbucks barista totally spelled my name wrong again. Wait this is twitter. How did I get here.” The phone magically ends up in our hand without us thinking about it. You know what you need? The Self Control App.

No.1: Self Control App.

I get it for my computer too! I’ll let you read more about it if you wish but basically it blocks you from a list of websites you choose for an amount of time you choose. You cannot change the list of websites once the timer has started, and you can’t shut down the app. You can’t even delete it. Or restart it by restarting your computer. I swear this thing is creepy. But it works!

No. 2: Take more breaks.

If you try to push your brain too much and it starts wandering, go give yourself a break. Your brain doesn’t absorb information while it is only half paying attention. The scientists in PrepOfTheSouth Labs Incorporated have said so. And if the “I’ll study for an hour and then take a break” doesn’t work for you, make shorter intervals! Some people’s brains can’t handle an hour. Especially if you are reading a book for English that you don’t like. Read for 10 minutes straight without stopping, then take a break for 10 minutes. Then read for 10 minutes. Then break for 10 minutes. You’ll probably be able to focus better in shorter spurts! And your mind will wander less.

No. 3: Hit the gym

This one is a little unorthodox. You will probably only need this if you keep on getting distracted at home or at the library by fiddling with something in your backpack or cleaning your room unnecessarily. Study at the gym. I mean, don’t go bench pressing with one hand while holding The Odyssey in the other. If I need to focus on something like reading a text book, I walk on the treadmill and read. I don’t bring headphones or anything either. And you can’t get up to fiddle with anything because well, you’re in the gym. All you have there is your book. Plus you get exercise too! In fact it actually is proven scientifically (not by our beautiful and talented PrepOfTheSouth Labs Incorporated scientists. By “real” scientists) that your brain is much more active while working out because of all of the endorphins pumpin’ through there and because your activity and mood is elevated, you are more likely store the information better.

(You know what’s cool? Science proving how exercise dramatically improves brain power. Click here for cool science.)


This is one of my favorite tips. I wish I had one of those pretty metallic star stickers your elementary school teacher used to give you when you did something nice to put next to this tip.

No. 4: Materialize your goals.

I truly believe that motivation can make us do anything. And when you have some strong, solid motivation to get good grades or study hard, you work like a machine. But it’s hard to keep motivated when your goals are so intangible or so far ahead. “Get into a good college” is such a simple idea and you know what you have to do but it’s easy to forget when there’s such a delay in gratification. Especially if you’re a freshman for example. So materialize your goals. Bring them into the present. I also believe a goal isn’t a goal until you actually write it down and bring it into the world. Otherwise it’s just an idea in your head.

Take a sticky note and write your goal on it. “Get into Whatever University.” “Get into SomeOldDude’sLastName College.” “Get into Med School.” Whatever it is, write it down.

Then you need to translate that goal into specifics.

Underneath your goal, write the numbers. It’ll make it more concrete. “Need #.# GPA. Get #### Test Score.”

And finally, and this is the most important part, translate that into tasks. When you turn your goals into a list of every day activities, it feels much more “real” and you stay much more motivated. Write things like “Study Biology at least 1 hour every day.” “Read 1 Text Chapter every night.” “Review class notes and materials every Sunday after dinner.”

Now you put that sticky note above your desk or study space and I promise it’s the biggest motivation. Even better than if you had a cute miniature animal like the Geico gecko egging you on while you studied. Actually that might be annoying.

No. 5: Clear the clutter.

Plain and simple. Get rid of all your crap. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call your things crap. But get it out. Your study space should be clean and streamline.

No. 6: Move around.

Get up and move. This might be my second favorite study tip. Studying the same thing in different places creates stronger memories because the brain is making new associations with the same material. It’s also extremely helpful for me when my brain starts slipping into a lull. To get out of a study funk, get up and move somewhere else! The change of scenery is refreshing.

(Want some proof? BOOM. Science.)


This is the fun section because it involves sleep.

You physically require sleep. If you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t work. And you know what’s part of your body? Your brain. And you know what you need to study and test well? Your brain. You need your brain to be healthy to optimize your learning and studying. And brain health begins and ends with sleep.

No. 7: SLEEP ENOUGH. Thanks Captain Obvious. Well you’re welcome. Not getting enough sleep seriously damages your performance as a functioning human being. Selective sleep deprivation studies have shown REM sleep deprivation causes psychological problems, and slow-wave sleep deprivation causes physical problems. How can you study well when you’re psychologically or physically fatigued? The answer: You can’t. Might as well get enough sleep so that you get all your REM and slow-wave sleep in!

No. 8: Study sleepy.

What?! That’s dumb. No it isn’t. It’s smart. You’re scientifically proven to absorb information like a sponge right before you fall asleep. Weird huh? I recently started going through flashcards as I was falling asleep and boy did it do wonders. I remembered so much more! I use the Quizlet iPhone app so I can flip through flashcards while I’m in bed and the lights are off. But feel free to use primitive technology such as “lamps” and “index cards” with “ink” on them if you want.

(Don’t believe me? Here’s some science! One // Two )

No. 9: Sleep right after you learn.

This kind of goes along with No. 8. Like I said, you learn when you’re sleepy. But sleep consolidates our learning. Studies have shown that you retain far less information if you don’t sleep or don’t get enough sleep after learning something. So if you need a study break, take a nap! It settles everything into your brain. I do this on Sundays when I’m studying things for a test or reading the text book to keep up with a class. Right after reading for a few hours, I hit the hay for about 20 minutes, then keep going. It made a huge difference in my memory.


No. 10: Test yourself

Studies have shown that the best way to learn and remember information is to test yourself! Even though you may find it tedious, it works the best. Even the small self-tests at the back of textbook chapters help!

No. 11: Read notes out loud.

Reading notes aloud makes you integrate the knowledge in 2 ways: seeing it and hearing it. The more integration, the better!

No. 12: Watch it.

Want to integrate a little more? Watch a YouTube video on it! YouTube is filled with professors and grad students explaining certain topics. This is also extremely helpful if you’re trying to understand something better (or if you’re teacher just ain’t doin’ it for ya.) Like I said before, the more integration, the better. Hearing the information and having a visual will help you recall the information again later.

Yay tips! So reading this was fun right. Also really long. Sorry about that. I like words. You know what else I like? When my readers get good grades.

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