15 Things I Learned After Grad School

Oh, hi. 

SO sorry for the awkward silence lately. I started a new job in a new school that TOOK OVER MY LIIIIFE last semester. 

But I am so excited to announce that OC is back on track with new posts every Monday! Aside from acclimating to my new schedule, 2015 was a big growing year, too (responsible-sounding way of saying that I did a lot of whining). 

My first year after grad school reminded me a lot of my first year after undergrad. I guess no matter how old you are, finishing a big project can leave you feeling a little like, “okay, what’s next?”. 

Change can be tough, but it usually always makes us better/smarter/stronger, too! 

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned in 2015:

1 | Never give up on what you’re searching for- you’ll get there. 

2 | Hard work gets noticed and it pays off. Remember that when you’re “in the trenches” and wondering if it will ever get better. 

3 | Sometimes you’re already where you need to be.

4 | If you know you can do better, keep working. 

5 | Do what you love. Life is too short to even complete that. 

6 | Not everyone will love or approve of everything you do or how you do it. Forget them. This is your thing, not theirs. 

7 | Jump in and figure out the details later. Not everything you do will turn into a huge success, nor will you want it to but at least you can say you took the opportunity. 

8 | There is something really refreshing about how our personalities evolve over time. 

9 | Promote the heck out of yourself and your work. If you know you’re good, don’t ever question yourself. 

10 | In this day and age, there is no excuse to “not know how to” do something. Google it and learn to be great.

11 | Adult life is not that scary once you start.

12 | Your family will be there even when you and your old friends start to grow apart.

13 | Excess is disgusting. If you can do without it, do without it. 

(Important exceptions: Meiomi and anything from Target’s dollar-ish section)

14 | Invest everything in those you truly care about.

15 | Do what makes you happy and there are no regrets.  

Cheers, y’all! And happy 2016! 😀

What lessons did you learn over the past year?! Share them below! 

May & June Reader Questions

Here are some reader questions that I received in May and June that I think might benefit you, too! Enjoy!! 😀

Q: Through last few years I’ve been constantly coming back to idea of starting a blog… I did read through your post about how to start a blog.. and I know my content, I also know what I want my label to be and almost decided on a platform… 

the part that I’m struggling with is that what if nobody’s gonna read my blog at all.. what is normal and what is not, I know that I will not get tons of people as I start, but how do you promote your blog and if you could share how did it go for you, how many people read you when you just started, how many people are reading now? 

I guess I wanted to ask you to please share the story of your blogging with me. 

Things like how did you start doing it, how did you decide that that is what you want to do, what did you struggle with what were your mistakes?

A: At first, I was having about 15-30 readers a day visit OC. I had think I hit 1,000 pageviews around my first month or two of blogging. Just watch your stats in the beginning: What are people reading? What are they not reading? Keep refining your content to fit your specific readership. 

Additionally, always check where your traffic is coming from! One of my tumblr posts was lucky enough to be reblogged by the Organized College Student (who had many more followers than me). This helped OC grow a lot very early on! As far as promoting posts, most of my traffic comes through Pinterest! 

So building up your Pinterest account is one of the best things you can do for your blog! Another great thing to do is to share smaller amounts of content and more photographs on Tumblr. Because Tumblr. uses hashtags, you can get your content in front of people who are already searching for it! 

Pinterest and Tumblr are great resources because they’re easy to build up even if you don’t have a ton of your own content yet… so you can kind of build your brand by reblogging and repinning content that’s relevant to your niche (just be sure to always link back to the original content creators)!

Finally, for mistakes- I still don’t promote each post as much as I should. Blogging is not my full time job, you know? So, it’s hard to justify taking the time to share every post across every social media channel every time. You can never promote your content enough! 

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Q: I am going to be a sophomore in high school next year and I was wondering if you had some tips on my organization of my notes and handouts. This year I took six classes and did 1 inch binders for each class. It was a bit bulky to have all of those binders along with textbooks in my narrow locker and then into my backpack when I had to take them home.

A: For notes and handouts, I would suggest following the systems in this post:


And for note organization, I would suggest following the system in this post:


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Q: Most of my classmates do a folder and notebook for each class. I like that idea but I like to go home and rewrite my notes in colorful pens. I am afraid I would run out of pages in my notebook quickly and it would be unorganized because I would have the class notes and then the notes that I rewrote at home. 

A: Get a folder and a notebook for each class. Keep the handouts on the left side of the folder and your graded assignments on the right side. Take “sloppy” notes in mechanical pencil in the notebook. When you go home, rewrite the notes the way you want them to look. Then put them in a “study binder”. Save all of your neatly, rewritten notes in this binder, use tabs to divide the different classes, and refer to this organized notebook when you’re preparing for a big test! 
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Q: I am entering college as a freshmen in 2 months, and Im terrified. I need amazing grades to get into graduate school, and amazing grades come with organization. 

A: Don’t even start worrying about grad school until your senior year! Once you get into the rhythm of semesters, college won’t be scary at all! Just have fun, relax, and work hard.  

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Q: I noticed your post on Top 10 Semester essentials, and I was wondering if you could elaborate on your “4-calendar” “color-coded” “obsessive organization” system. 

A: For the sake of “college life”, I would only suggest 1-2 planners. 1 for normal everyday life and one for schoolwork. I like to be veeeery detailed when planning out my study time, so that’s why I have an academic planner just for that! My husband and I also have a calendar in our house (the Post-It one), where we keep track of each other’s schedules and social commitment, etc. The 4th one I use is my lesson planner for teaching.  

4 Tips for Organizing Your Finances in College

Over the past few weeks, I have received FOUR requests for tips on budgeting in college! If you requested this post (or if you’re just trying to get your financial life together) this post is for you! If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or underprepared to deal with finances, let me assure you that you are most definitely not alone! 

In fact, read these statistics from a recent survey of college students: 

  • 47% are concerned about their financial situation

  • 50% say that the cost of impacted their choice of college/university

  • 75% wish there was more helpful financial information available to them

  • 80% report they were unprepared and do not have a plan to pay for college

Let me tell you that in grad school, I definitely fell under each of these statistics. It was my first time paying for school by myself and there was a LOT that I had to learn in a short period of time. Here are 4 of the most helpful pieces of advice that I can give!

1 | Don’t be afraid of smart debt. 

I kind of grew up being terrified of debt and assuming that it was all bad. I paid cash for everything in high school and college. My parents gave me a credit card for “emergencies” but I really only used it when I was out of cash and it was my turn to buy the next round of drinks needed something important. The word “debt” just sounds scary, doesn’t it? No one wants to be in debt! 

It wasn’t until I got married and saw how my husband handles his credit that my fear of “being in debt” went away. It’s pretty necessary to understand and be comfortable with credit and debt in adult-world and we need to learn how to navigate our way through it confidently. Our unofficial rule is that any acquired debt should have a long term benefit. For example, 

Student Loan = College Education = Job Opportunities = Long Term Benefit = Smart Debt

Cute Dress = Gets Worn Out = Gets Given Away = Short Term Benefit = Not Smart Debt

(Side Note: College means saying “not right now” to a lot of cute dresses but that’s ok because it will all pay off!)

If you’re looking for student loans, check out College Ave Student LoansThey simplify the student loan process that you can spend your time preparing for your bright future! In fact, their sole focus is student loans… which means that they’ll break things down and make this as simple as possible for you! 

There are several different plans and College Ave will help you find the one that’s best for YOU! Not only that, they have more repayment options than anyone else, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs! 

Click here to find out more: http://www.collegeavestudentloans.com/

2 | Use an app to help you maintain your budget

There are tons of financial apps out there! My favorite is Mint because it allows you to create your own budget (and adjust it at any time). Not only that, it sends you alerts when it thinks your account balance is low, or when you’ve had *ahem* “high spending” in a particular category (stop judging me, Mint). I like the fact that I can link my bank accounts to it also so it gives me up-to-the minute information. 

But your bank app will also work just fine for updating you! And what if you want to apply for a student loan? Oh, there’s a mobile friendly application for that, too! Just head over to the College Ave app, fill in the 4 questions it asks, and you’ll get an answer in about 3 minutes! That’s pretty painless, right? I bet you have 3 minutes right now! Not surprisingly, this is the fastest and easiest app in the student loan industry!

3| Set up a savings plan (and don’t touch what you save!)

A plan?! Yes, please! The one I use is SO easy! Through my banking app, I set up a thing (yes, that’s official term) where it automatically transfers $20 each month from my checking to savings account. That’s such a small, harmless amount to part with each month, but it still adds up over time. Find an amount that works well for you. 

Once that money’s in savings, pretend like it doesn’t even exist! If you do this amount throughout 4 years of college, you’ll graduate with $1,000! And that’s enough to buy some real furniture for your first post-grad apartment, to keep stashed away as an emergency fund, or to put toward the payoff of your student loan! 

If you’re curious about student loans but don’t want to commit to anything yet, check out the Credit Pre-Qualification Tool & Student Loan Calculator from College Ave! This will give you an idea of what to expect if you actually get a loan (and I am all about knowing what to expect)! 

By using this simple tool, you’ll have a clearer idea of your budget for the school year and make better money-saving choices! YAY! It also makes the whole student loan process a little easier to understand by showing you the total cost over the life of the loan and what would be the best payment plan for you! 

4| Pay as much as you can as often as you can

I never, ever, ever make minimum payments. Not on my student loans. Not on my credit card bill. Not on my phone bill. Never. Of course, paying your complete credit card balance every month is ideal and will skyrocket your credit score like crazy. But that’s not always doable, especially in college. 

I try to pay a little more than what’s required when it comes to credit and loans. Even just $30 more than the required amount will help you out in the future! This is what I did on every student loan payment that I made. And it made a HUGE difference on the balance over time! Additionally, if you get paid twice a month, pay as much as you can twice a month. 

I promise, it’s worth skipping a Target trip for! Additionally, College Avenue gives rewards for making in-school payments! That’s right, if you choose to start paying your loans while you’re still in school (highly suggested), then you’ll have a lower interest rate than people who wait till they graduate! And there is no penalty for paying early (a huge plus)! 

You can just get as much as you need to help pay your college expenses! College Ave covers up to 100% of school-certified expenses. But if you can pay most of your own expenses and just need $2,000 to get started, they can cover that, too! Check out the low rates, use the tools, and decide what you need to help you succeed! 

Okay! Are you ready for an Instagram contest? 

Of course you are! Head over to Instagram right now and share your college goals by using the hashtag, you guessed it, #CollegeGoals! 😀

Do this anytime between NOW and June 30th and you can win prizes, including a $50 Chegg textbook credit and a $5,000 college scholarship! 

Head to Chegg for more details:  http://blog.chegg.com/collegegoals/

A huge thank you to College Ave Student Loans and Her Campus Media for partnering on this post!