Why You Should Build Good Credit in the US

The US is a very credit-based economy. People often need to borrow money for a variety of reasons: buying a home, a car, starting a business or in case of emergencies. Your credit rating is how many businesses gauge your reliability and trustworthiness. You wouldn’t just loan a bunch of money to a complete stranger, right? But if you can be trusted to pay off your credit card bill consistently, companies and banks are more likely to trust you as well.

Using a credit card responsibly for everyday purchases is a great way to build a strong credit history — a history that will benefit you in a number of important ways throughout your life. For example, it can help you when:

Renting an apartment

Landlords will check your credit history. Oftentimes, they’ll reject people with poor scores or charge them a higher deposit.

Buying a home

Solid credit often means you can secure lower mortgage interest rates because the bank trusts you. Over the course of a 20-year mortgage, that adds up to a lot of money you can save!

Buying a car

Many Americans take out loans when buying a vehicle. Poor credit means you’ll likely have to pay higher interest rates and give them a larger down payment — and nobody wants to do that.

Applying for a job

More and more employers run a credit check as a measure of how reliable you are. In a tight market, you might miss out on your dream job if your credit isn’t good.

Starting your own business

Having a business of your own is truly a part of the American Dream. If you’re looking for a business loan to get started or expand your business, your personal credit history will affect your ability to get a loan. A good credit history might score you a lower interest rate.

Better insurance rates

Insurance companies often use your credit rating when they set the rates for things like homeowners insurance, auto insurance and life insurance. A better credit history can help you save money.

The importance of establishing good credit applies in many other situations as well, and the stronger your credit, the more companies want your business and are willing to give you their best deals. Ultimately, that’s money you can save to achieve more of your goals.

You can start building that credit history by using a credit card. There are plenty of credit card options in the US, and as you do your research you’ll likely find different credit cards that meet your needs. One credit card in particular is a Deserve card, which is designed specifically for those trying to build their credit in the US, like international students. A credit card is great for everyday purchases, and if you pay off your bill every month (or at least the minimum balance) you’ll quickly see your credit rating rise and more opportunities open up for you.

Just remember who gave you this advice when you’re rich and famous. 🙂

This post is brought to you by Deserve and has been re-published on the CampusSIMS blog with Deserve’s permission. Deserve is a digital-first, mobile-centric, highly configurable credit card solution that uses machine learning and alternative data, Deserve partners with universities, associations, financial institutions, fintechs and modern consumer brands to develop, rapidly deploy and power white label and co-branded credit card programs for any audience. The cloud-based platform also provides millennials and Gen Zs fair access to credit products and the tools to achieve financial independence. They’re award winning EDU card offers great benefits for international students without Social Security numbers and domestic students. Cardholders can receive Amazon Prime Student on Deserve, 1% cashback, no international transaction fees and $0 annual fees. For more information, visit deserve.com.

How to Crush Your Next Group Project

Though it might not always seem this way, homework and class assignments do have a practical purpose outside of your time as a student. Writing essays teach you the importance in formulating an argument. Taking tests reinforce discipline and preparation. Then there’s the oft-dreaded group project.

Group projects elicit divisive responses because of the challenging nature of combining different personalities, different levels of understanding of class material, and different levels of work ethic. Yet, group projects are incredibly important in preparing students for what to expect when they enter the workforce post-graduation. In most job settings, it’s important to know how to work with people different than yourself to get a job done.

Because you’ll inevitably end up with a group project at some point during your college career, we’re sharing some advice for navigating group challenges and securing that A grade.

Designate a leader

In a perfect group project, every group member would agree on all elements of completing the project, do the exact same amount of work, and turn in what they need to the group on time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and with multiple personalities involved, it can be difficult to wrangle the group in terms of figuring out who does what, and coordinating everything needed to complete the project. This is where a group leader comes in.

Ask if anyone in your group would like to take the lead. Being the leader means keeping the group on task, collecting the elements needed for the assignment, and overall being in charge. Being the leader does not mean that one person takes on more work, and it’s important to make that distinction. Select a leader who is organized and conscientious, and who isn’t afraid to call out group members when necessary.

Delegate tasks and roles

Once you’ve determined a leader, now you have to determine everyone roles and contributions for the project. The leader will help assign each individual an element to complete for the project and the group will agree to the tasks and what’s needed for that element.

For example, if the group is working on a developing a business plan together, your group might have each member complete one of the following: company description, market analysis, competitive analysis, financial summary, etc. Each person would be responsible for that entire component. In something like a group paper, you might assign each group member to research various aspects of the paper topic, but then another person might be responsible for pulling the research into an outline, and then others with drafting different elements of the paper, and finally, another person would review and make sure everything flows.

The important thing is ensuring that everyone has equal roles and feels that they have equal responsibilities so that no one person is doing more work than the others. Make sure that each person’s responsibilities are clearly outlined so everyone agrees on the expectations needed to complete the assignment as a team.

Set deadlines within your group

Okay, so your professor told you the due date for the overall assignment – but your group needs its own set of deadlines prior to that due date to make sure: each member has time to complete their work, that your group can compile individual work into the single assignment, and your group can review that work ahead of the due date. You’ll need to figure out what are reasonable deadlines to complete each component of the group project, taking into account that your group members do have other courses, and obligations outside of class.

Additionally, your group members likely have different ways of doing things, so try to agree on deadlines that work for each person individually, but still leave your group enough time to check your final work and add any necessary finishing touches.

Try using Google Sheets, or a project management tool, like Asana, as ways to maintain transparency into deadlines, tasks, and responsibilities within your group.

Determine ways to review each other’s work

Though each individual group member might be responsible for a particular aspect of the group assignment, there still needs to be checks and balances within the group. Everyone should be responsible for reviewing and checking each other’s work to ensure that their part meets the standards and expectations pre-determined by the group. This is not solely the leader’s responsibility. At the onset of setting roles and responsibilities, and after determining deadlines within your group, you’ll also want to think about when and how you’ll review each other’s work. You might want to do it via email, meet in person to review, or find some other method that ensures that everyone has given their approval to move forward with each group member’s individual contribution.

Plan times to meet with your group and stay on-task

Even if your group plans to do some of the work to complete your project individually, it’s still important to maintain communication with your group in-between. For some groups, it makes sense to meet in-person a few times (or however many times you think is necessary) to help with the project’s progress and ensure the group has an opportunity to discuss any issues, questions, or roadblocks they’ve encountered. If your group finds it difficult to meet in-person, consider scheduling a time when everyone is online and working at the same time, and can communicate via Google Hangout or iMessage (or some other sort of method that works for the group). This allows group members to communicate in real-time and ask questions.

It’s important to keep in mind that while your group meets – whether in-person or virtually – the group needs to stay on-task. It’s great if you are friendly or even friends with your group members, but too much chit-chat and not enough work time means that you won’t be able to optimize that time you have together to complete your work. Give yourself a time limit on how much “small talk” you’re allowed to have at the beginning of your work session, and then move on to collaborating. Save time to chat again at the end, or maybe even suggest grabbing a meal together after your group meeting is over.

Hold each other accountable and speak up when you need help

As much as your group will do its best to distribute the workload evenly among its members, there will of course be times when some people do more work than others, or some members fail to do their fair share. It’s important to speak with your team members about this in a non-confrontational way and first, ask what sort of challenges they might be encountering that are preventing them from getting their work done.

If it’s a matter of their not understanding the assignment or struggling with the material, your group can work together to determine a way to help them so they can complete it on their own. If it’s a matter of work ethic, you’ll again want to discuss with your group a way to ensure their part of the assignment doesn’t go unfinished. Many professors will allow an opportunity to review your group at the end of the project, so if someone does fail to contribute equally, then that will be your moment to share that information with your professor.

On the other side, if you’re having trouble completing your part of the assignment, don’t suffer in silence. Let your group members know! Ask them for their insight and let them know what’s causing you issues as you complete the assignment. They are there to help you, and that’s one of the great parts of a group assignment — and something that will become incredibly beneficial as you enter the workforce after university.

The Most Frequently Asked Questions about F1 Visas

When you’re considering studying in another country, there are so many things you have to do to get ready. Some of those things are exciting — matching with your new roommate, learning about your new city — and some of things are…not. One of the less exciting, but absolutely mandatory parts of living in another country is making sure you understand the visa requirements. A visa provides authorization for you to visit, study, or work in a foreign country for a designated period of time.

For international students coming to the US, you’re going to need to get familiar with the F1 visa. To help with that, we’ve pulled together a list of the most frequently asked questions about the F1 visa. These FAQs are here to serve as a starting point, but for more detailed information, you should always speak to an immigration specialist, whether through your university or another channel for the best advice pertaining to your situation.

What is an F1 visa?

An F1 visa is the visa you apply for if you live outside the US, but want to study in the US. You’ll need the F1 visa if you want to study at a US school – whether that’s high school, college, English-learning program or any other type of academic institution.

Is there a fee for the F1 visa? How much is the F1 visa fee?

There is a fee called a SEVIS fee for the F1 visa and it costs $350.

What do I have to do to keep my F1 visa?

To maintain an F1 visa status, you have to meet the minimum requirement of classes for full-time students.

Can I work with an F1 visa?

You can work with an F1 visa, but there are restrictions. You can work on-campus. When school is in session, you can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, but between semesters (or when school is not in session) you can work more than 20 hours per week.

Do I have to pay taxes with an F1 visa?

You need to pay state and federal income tax, but you do not have to pay Social Security of Medicare.

How long can I stay in the US with an F1 visa?

As long as you are enrolled in school, you can stay in the US with your F1 visa. So the length of your program is generally the length you can stay. However, once your program is completed (or you graduate), you can stay in the US for another 60 days before needing to leave.

Is there an age limit for the F1 visa?

There’s no age limit for the F1 visa. As long as you are accepted to a school in the US, you are eligible.

Is multiple entry to the US allowed with an F1 visa?

You can enter the country multiple times with an F1 visa, unless otherwise noted. Your visa should indicate whether multiple entry is allowed, and you must have your school sign your visa before you leave the country.

Can I apply for an H1B visa?

You can apply for an H1B visa as an F1 visa holder as long as you have an employer to sponsor you.

Can I go to Canada with an F1 visa?

Yes, you can visit; however, you must make sure you have permission for multiple entry and you must check whether or not you need a visa from the Canadian government depending on your home country.

What happens if my F1 visa expires?

If your F1 visa expires, you can still stay in the US as long as you maintain your student status, but you will need a valid visa if you leave the US and want to return.

Is my F1 visa still valid after graduation?

Your F1 visa is valid after graduation for 60 days, or after you complete the entirety of your program.

Please note that for any and all questions related to immigration, you should consult an immigration specialist. These FAQs are intended as a starting point, and should not be used for complete legal advice.

3 Ways You Can Improve Your Participation Grade as an Introvert

If you’ve ever freaked out when receiving a syllabus and noticing that “participation” was part of determining your grade – you’re not alone. For introverts, or really anyone who can feel insecure speaking up during class, “participation grades” can be scary.

Professors require participation grades to encourage class discussion, to facilitate the exchange of ideas, and to make lessons overall more interactive. Class participation ensures that class is less boring for everyone (your professor included!), but it also can be a source of stress if you’re an introvert or if you’re feeling unsure of the class material. There’s no need to stress though – we’ve rounded up a few ways you can tackle the participation grade, even if you’re not outgoing in class:

1. Attend your professor’s office hours

Visiting your professor during office hours can be helpful to your participation grade for a few reasons. First of all, use this as an opportunity to express your stress or concerns about in-class participations. Let them know you’re introverted and that it’s a little more difficult for you to speak out during class. Ask them if there are alternative ways you can participate and contribute without missing out on crucial grade points. Your professor might suggest you emailing him/her directly with your thoughts after class or some other options for boosting your participation. Additionally, come to office hours with some questions and thoughts about your recent class material. Sometimes professors will offer participation points to students who attend office hours, as that is a form of participation, and in a more personal setting, you won’t have to worry about speaking in front of a large group.

2. Participate in online discussions

Does your class utilize Blackboard or other online platforms for class discussion? This is your time to shine! If contributing to discussion boards online is part of your class structure, use this opportunity to participate. Pose thoughtful questions about the class material either to help you understand a topic or to facilitate further discussion among your classmates. Whenever another student posts, be sure to reply to their question or comment, explaining why you agree or disagree, or reinforcing their point with new evidence, material, or thoughts. Not only will your professor appreciate it, but it will contribute to thoughtful discussion.

3. Be an active group participant

You know those times during class when you have to split up into groups to work on an in-class assignment or discuss a particular topic or concept? These smaller group settings can be much less intimidating — and much easier for participation. Be less of a passive group member and more active by contributing to your group’s thought process. Pose ideas and questions to the group. Voice your opinion and thoughts. Your professor will notice that you’re participating in the discussion, but there’s less risk of “saying the wrong thing” like you might worry about when speaking in front of the whole class. In fact, you might even be able to help your group come up with the right answer – or a good answer – and you’ll be associated with that victory.

How to Use Winter Break to Get Ready for Next Semester

You’ve survived finals! Or at least, they’re almost over, and the end of the semester is finally in sight. After spending the past few months attending class, studying, and completing assignments, you have really earned that break. But what do you do with all of that free time in the coming weeks? We have a few suggestions for how to use your winter break to get ready for next semester.

REST your brain, your body, your soul

For the first time in months, you likely don’t have any looming deadlines or assignments. You might not realize it, but your brain can get tired too! Spending all of that time coordinating your schedule and due dates, prepping for class, studying can be mentally exhausting. Use the time over break to slow down your pace and do things that mentally revive you. For some people, that might be exercising, meditating, going for a walk, taking a long bath — anything that allows you to relax. In doing this, you’ll feel recharged and ready to take on the upcoming semester.

READ for fun

When you spend an entire semester reading for classes, it can be difficult to remember that reading can actually be fun. Give yourself a break from reading assignments, and instead, pick up a FUN book (yes, they exist). Find a book that covers a topic you’re personally interested in, or find a novel that promises a compelling story. It’ll give your eyes a break from your phone, laptop, or even TV screen, and let you have some quiet time for yourself. Bonus? Reading will keep your mind sharp over the break!

HANG OUT with friends and family

There’s nothing quite as re-energizing as being around people who you love, who you have fun with, and who make you feel good about yourself. Spend time with those people over your break! If you’re heading home for the break, make time for people you haven’t seen in a while. If you’re traveling, find a travel buddy or make friends while you explore a new place. If you’re staying local, use this time to strengthen the bonds with your community. This quality time will make you feel good and catch up with people you might not have been able to spend time with during those busier times over the semester.

GET A HEAD START and prep for next semester

Okay, okay, we know the semester just ended – but with so much time ahead of the next, you could use some of that time to get ready for what’s ahead. As your professors start posting their syllabi, check out what books you have to buy and what assignments you’ll have. You could start some of the reading early, or even just map out some of the deadlines throughout the semester so you know how busy (or not) you will be in the spring, and can plan some fun things when you’re back at school.

5 Unconventional Study Tips for When Flashcards Just Don’t Work

Studying is a necessary – and unavoidable – part of academic life. If you want to do well in your classes, you need to prepare ahead of your exams and assignments to increase your chance of getting a good grade, and even more importantly, to retain the information and knowledge shared with you in that class. We go to university to learn more about a subject matter of interest to us, so it only makes sense that studying enables us to become an expert in that subject, and as a result, do better on our tests and essays. However, that’s usually easier said than done. Studying involves a lot of time and effort, and unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to studying. Everyone learns and retains information in different ways, so sometimes just reviewing your notes or making flash cards isn’t enough to help you actually understand what you need to know for that upcoming test. Fortunately, there are plenty of other study methods that can help you break out of your routine. We’re sharing five unconventional study tips that might just help you ace your next exam. 

1. Create a recording of your class notes

You know all of those notes you feverishly take during class? How many times do you actually review them before your next exam or test — if you even review them at all? Put those notes to good use and record yourself reading them. After each class, create a recording of yourself reading your notes, but don’t just stick to the script. Add some context for yourself for when you listen back to the recording later. Expand on some of the key terms or concepts by adding examples or recounting anecdotes that your professor might have shared but that you didn’t quite catch in your notes. You might even want to add some of your own questions into the recording as a reminder to find the answer. After you record yourself reading the notes, play it back when you walk to class, when you have to do chores around your room, or in any other scenario when you could add a study soundtrack. 

2. Create a study guide background for your phone background

You’ve probably been instructed to create a study guide before – but have you ever considered making a study guide worthy of your phone background? Think about it. Make a study guide that’s fun and colorful that puts key concepts and terms front and center. Use a user-friendly design tool like Canva to add graphics or fun fonts and colors that’ll make it easy to see the content when you look at your phone screen. Every time you look at your phone, you’ll be reminded of and become more familiar with the material. Consider making a new phone background after every class to brush up on what you learned, or just create one prior to an exam. As an added bonus, you’ll be forced to review the material while you’re making the study guide so that’s extra time with those terms and concept.

3. Doodle all over your notes

Sometimes words alone just don’t cut it. Sure, you try to write down as much as possible during class as your professor discusses the subject – but ultimately, you might need some more visuals to better understand what you’re learning. Go back through your notes and try adding some drawings and illustrations to help you consider the concepts in a different way. Sometimes it makes sense to add diagrams or charts, but you’re not limited to those sorts of illustrations. Maybe you’re learning about a particular event during a history or literature class. Draw it! Maybe you were learning something in physics class and there’s an example that helps you remember the concept – draw that example. If you’d rather make some doodles during class – do that too. It could help cement your understanding in the moment so that when you look back later, you can recall exactly what you meant. They’re your notes, so doodle in them and perhaps you’ll gain a better understanding of the subject matter in the process.

4. Assume the role of the professor

Having a study group is by no means an unconventional study method. Studying with classmates is an easy way to compare notes and collaborate on assignments when possible. However, maybe it’s time to rethink how you have your study group. Instead, reframe your study group as another sort of lecture or class session. Assign one person in the study group the role of the “professor” and have that person teach a key concept, term, calculation, or any other important element of the subject matter. That person can prepare a mini-presentation or lecture, and then “teach” the “class” (or rather, your study group). This is beneficial not only for the person assuming the role of the professor, as naturally that person would have to prepare and review the subject matter to ensure they can teach it to the study group. The study group itself also benefits because the “professor” might present the subject matter in a way that’s more accessible than the actual professor might have originally presented it.

5. “Explain it to me like I’m an eight year old”

Any Office fans? If you’re familiar with the show, The Office, you might recall one particular episode where Michael Scott asks his coworker, Oscar, to explain what a “surplus” was. Michael had been tasked with deciding what to do with the “surplus,” but didn’t know what it was. He asks Oscar to “explain it to me like I’m an eight-year-old” because the concept was difficult for him to understand. This reframing of the term in language that’s simpler and easier-to-understand is actually a great way to approach reviewing some of your subject matter. Take a concept you’re struggling with or that you’re trying to better understand, and then if possible, try simplifying it as though you were going to explain to someone who had never heard of it — or an “eight-year-old.” This forces you to consider the topic in a different way and once simplified, you might be better able to recall it.

How to Write an Awesome Thesis Statement

At university, one of the assignments you’ll be frequently tasked with is writing essays. They’re inescapable as a student, and you likely have already written many throughout your time in school already. However, one of the key components of a successful (and high-scoring) essay is a good thesis statement. You may have heard your teachers over the years emphasize the importance of a thesis statement in the papers you’ve written, but as you progress in college, it’s even more important that your papers are guided by this important element.

It’s pretty simple in theory: a thesis statement is a statement that describes what you’re going to discuss in your essay, usually appearing at the end of your introduction paragraph. Per Rasmussen College, it “clearly identifies the topic being discussed” and “should only cover what is being discussed in the paper and is written for a specific audience.” It’s usually one sentence (sometimes two) and it should give your reader an indication of what’s to come in your paper.

Without a thesis statement, you’re unlikely to meet the requirements of your assignment, and therefore, won’t be able to get a good grade. But having a thesis is more than just helpful in completing the assignment at hand — it’s a crucial tool for guiding your reader through your argument. To help you get an A on your next paper, we’re providing three tips for how to write an awesome thesis statement, including examples.

Tip #1 – Pick a side.

A thesis statement is not merely a statement – despite what its name implies. Your thesis statement needs to have an opinion. Neutrality is not an option when it comes to a thesis statement. It should not just be making a comment; it should be taking a stance, and deciding how you feel about the topic you’re about to discuss. When you think of your topic, the thesis statement should clearly indicate if you’re for or against it; it should allow you to prove something in relation to the topic you’ve chosen.

Basic statement:

The final episodes of Game of Thrones elicited mixed reactions from viewers.

Thesis statement:

The final episodes of Game of Thrones did a disservice to the show, undermining the build-up, and plot and character development that was a hallmark of the rest of the series.

In the first statement, there’s really no opinion on the final episodes of Game of Thrones, but in the second statement, you can tell that the writer is going to argue about something. In this case, the writer will argue why the final episodes did a disservice to the series.

Tip #2 – Guide your reader.

In addition to having an opinion, your thesis statement should also indicate what’s to come in your paper. In reading the thesis statement, your reader should then know: “This is what this paper is going to prove or argue, and this is how the writer is going to do it.” It should lay out the foundation for your argument. At the same time, the thesis statement will also serve as a way to guide you. Everything you write should be in service of your thesis statement, and should relate back to your point. The thesis statement acts as your North star or lighthouse – both you and you reader should be able to return to it and understand how the rest of your paper relates to it.

Basic statement:

Many people consider Friends one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.

Thesis statement:

Friends proves to be one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, thanks to its relatable characters, multi-seasonal narratives, and its emphasis on the power of adult friendships.

The first statement doesn’t give any hint as to what the paper is going to talk about. Could the paper be about Friends? Could it be about sitcoms? Could it be about what constitutes a great sitcom? It’s unclear. The second statement clearly indicates how the writer will prove that Friends is one of the greatest sitcoms – suggesting that the following paragraphs will discuss the characters, narratives, and friendship theme.

Tip #3 – Be supportive.

What came first: the thesis statement or the evidence? The evidence should come first – enabling you to come up with your thesis. It’s hard to know how you feel or have an opinion about a topic until you’ve gotten some background on it. As you start researching your topic, write down how you feel – your reactions, your thoughts, and your questions – and from there, you can formulate your thesis. The evidence is ultimately the foundation of your thesis statement, and allows you to determine how you want to present your argument to the reader. As you write your paper, your evidence should always be working to support your thesis. If you find that what you’re writing about isn’t in support of your thesis, then it’s time to re-think either your thesis statement or the argument that follows.

Basic statement:

In the TV show, the Office, the protagonist Michael Scott makes many inappropriate comments.

Thesis statement:

Michael Scott’s repeated offensive comments related to sexual orientation, race, and gender render him the most unlikeable character in The Office.

The first statement is really just an observation of Michael Scott’s behavior in The Office. The second statement, however, not only provides an opinion about Michael Scott’s behavior, but also lays out why he’s unlikeable. This sets the stage for the writer to lay out evidence in the following paragraphs in regards to the offensive comments he makes throughout the series and why that makes him unlikeable.

6 Ways to Meet New People on Campus

At the start of every school year, everything is “new” – new classes, new professors, new schedules – but in particular, it can be a time to meet new people. With a fresh start, you might be inspired and excited to meet new people and grow your circle of friends. However, even if you’re outgoing, it can feel intimidating to introduce yourself to people or just simply figure out how to go from “stranger” to “new friend.” To help, we’ve come up with X ways that you can make friends and meet new people on campus:

Join an on-campus club or organization

Clubs and organizations are basically built-in ways to make friends. Part (well, maybe even most) of the reason why clubs and organizations exist is to bring people together around something that interests or motivates them. With that reason in mind, it makes sense that clubs or organizations would be a great place to meet new people: you know that these fellow students have a shared interest with you. Usually, if you join a club or organization early in the semester, you’ll be introduced to new people automatically through group activities – so that takes the work (and any potential awkwardness) out of introducing yourself. Use that as an opportunity to invite a fellow club member to grab lunch or a coffee after a meeting to get to know each other more.

Become a part of a team

Okay, “togetherness” is literally in the definition: a group of players forming one side, or a group coming together to achieve a common goal. Joining a team is a great way to meet new people – and bonus: you have to get to know each other, because understanding your teammates makes you better able to work together. The introductions to your teammates will be quick and easy, because then you have to get to playing! After a practice or a game, invite your teammates for a celebratory (or maybe a consolatory) meal. And if the season is over? Keep up the camaraderie in the off-season by hanging out and inviting your teammates to other activities.

Get an on-campus job

A job might not seem like a great place to meet someone, but if you’re getting a job on-campus, it actually can help introduce you to a lot of new people. Consider all of the potential employment opportunities on campus: in the admission office, in the library, in the student center, etc. All of these places provide opportunities not only to meet new people by way of your co-workers – but also because you’ll likely be interacting with other students in some capacity. Additionally, your coworkers can introduce you to new people, or your job might even make you aware of some other opportunities for meeting new people.

Invite classmates to a study group

Listen, studying doesn’t have to be all work all the time. If you have a test or an assignment coming up, invite a classmate to help you study or prepare. It’s much easier starting a conversation with a classmate when you’re talking about class, since you know you both have that in common. Have your classmate meet you at the library, or another neutral on-campus location. Just try to actually get some work done when you ask a classmate to study or prep with you. Try doing some work, and then incorporating breaks into your session so you can recharge your brains, but also get to know your classmate. You might even suggest doing something after your study session, or another time, and in the process, it could even help you do better in the class!

Attend on-campus events

There are always so many events happening on campus at any given moment – so attend them! These provide great opportunities for meeting new people. Your school likely has a Student Activities office (or something similar) that has the sole purpose of coming up with things for students to do to provide a great on-campus experience. Check out their calendar of events and go to one that looks interesting to you. Other students with similar interests will attend the event, so you’ll know you have something in common. Don’t disregard academic on-campus events either though. If a professor suggests attending an event for extra credit, or something that might be helpful to class, invite a classmate to go with you – or if you see a classmate at the event, find a seat next to them. These are great ways to introduce yourself.

Actually attend your RA’s events

Most dorms have Resident Advisors (RAs, for short), and these RAs are generally responsible for planning and coordinating events for their residents. Part of their role on campus is to help facilitate a positive living environment for students in the dorms, and try to help everyone get along. As a result, they’re usually planning events that are aimed at introducing residents to each other and building great communities. Ask your RA if they have any events coming up and attend it — and don’t be afraid to ask your RA if they know of any other events to attend. They generally have a lot of information and will be a great resource in helping you make friends and meet new people.

Why You Should Attend Your Professor’s Office Hours

As you start a new semester, you likely are going to class and getting a new syllabus from each of your professors. You might have noticed on these syllabi that your professors list their “office hours” and wondered what exactly these mysterious office hours are. What does the professor do during an office hour? And why should you go? Office hours are actually an incredible resource available to you — and one that you should take advantage of — so we thought we’d provide some more information so that you can utilize them throughout the semester.

What are office hours

Office hours are a designated time in a professor’s schedule where they are available to talk with and help students. Generally, professors will offer a few times throughout the week when they are available, and during this time you can make appointments with them, or simply stop by their office if you have any questions or if there’s something you want to discuss.

Why do professors have them

Simply put: professors have office hours to help students with class material and assignments outside of class time. Though you might see your professor and ask questions during class, attending office hours gives you one-on-one access to your professor. Professors like to make themselves available to provide more information to students or to go over class material in a personalized way, versus during classtime when they’re trying to give a generalized lecture to the entire group of students.

Why you should go

There are a few reasons why you should attend your professor’s office hours:

Get more information about or help on an assignment

If you have an upcoming assignment, but feel like the expectations or guidelines aren’t totally clear, visit your professor during office hours to find out more. This allows you to get a clear picture of what you need to do so that you can be sure you’re giving the professor what they want. This is a great opportunity to also bring what you’ve worked on already and ask for help. Just remember to ask for specific feedback – your professor likely won’t have time to read an entire assignment or review all of your answers, so come prepared to talk about what you’re having difficulty with and what you are looking for help on.

Ask questions about class material and content

Have you had a class recently where the professor was going over a new concept or topic and you just didn’t get it? Or maybe you didn’t have a chance to ask a question about something, or maybe you just simply feel uncomfortable asking questions or sharing ideas during class. Office hours provide a great opportunity to do exactly those things. Write your questions or ideas from class down, and go to your professor’s office hours. Not only will this allow you to get answers and feedback on your ideas, but it will likely affect your participation grade – which is often a significant percentage of your overall grade for the class. If you’re uncomfortable participating in class, then doing so during office hours is a great way to ensure you still earn full marks for that grade.

Review unfamiliar terms and concepts before a test

Ever wish you could prepare for a test with your professor? You can by attending office hours. Your professor won’t re-teach concepts and content to you, but your professor can help explain things that you’re still having trouble understanding. Come to office hours prepared to speak about what specifically you need help with. It helps to bring your notes or any study materials you’ve been using, and mark what you’d like to discuss. Your professor can help you feel confident ahead of test day, and they’ll likely appreciate your commitment.

Get feedback on an assignment or test

So you got an essay or test back and you aren’t happy with your grade. Go to office hours and talk to your professor about it. Let your professor know ahead of time that you’d like to get feedback on your essay, or maybe you’re confused as to why certain answers were marked as wrong on your test. Bring whatever the assignment was, and think about what specifically you’d like to get feedback on. If you think that you deserve a different grade, ask why your professor gave you the grade they did, versus arguing for or against a particular grade. It also helps to ask your professor what you can do next time to get a better grade. Avoid being argumentative, as that will result in an unproductive session.

How to Prepare for Your First Week of Classes

It’s finally here – your first week of classes! Maybe you’re starting university for the first time this semester, or maybe you’re returning for another year. Either way, we’ve compiled some tips to help you prepare for class so you can start the year off successfully.

Read the syllabus ahead of time

You know that thing your professor posts on Blackboard or emails to you a week before class with all of your required books, class schedule, assignments, and due dates? That’s your syllabus – and yes, you should be reading it before the first day of class. We know you’re probably saying “But isn’t my professor going to go over it in class?” Some of them will; some of them won’t. Regardless of whether the professor discusses what’s on the syllabus, you can have a sense of what’s ahead for the semester by reading it thoroughly. Make a note of any questions you have about due dates, assignments, required reading, and anything else the professor included on the syllabus so you can ask about them on the first day of class.

Map out where your classes are on campus

Whether you’re a new or returning student, it’s important to know exactly where your classes are on campus. It’s helpful to know just how much time it will take you from your dorm to get to class – or even to and from other classes or activities you have throughout the day. This ensures that you’re not rushing around campus your first week back trying to get to class on time because you are unsure where a class is. If you need help locating where your classes are, consider checking the class roster (if available to you) and buddy up with a classmate to walk to class. Determining where your class buildings and rooms are ahead of time will remove some of the stress during your first week.

Charge your laptop or organize your class supplies

Before classes start, make sure you know exactly how you’re going to take notes and organize all of your materials. Some students choose to do this digitally, with physical notebooks and folders, or both. The benefit of getting your supplies in order means that you can show up to class knowing where to start taking notes and storing your information. Additionally, it means that you’re not devising an organization method a few weeks into the semester, ensuring that you don’t lose any notes from the first days or weeks of classes.

Get a good night’s sleep

It might be tempting to go out or stay up late the night before your first classes because you don’t have any homework yet, but just remember, these first weeks can help set the tone for the whole year. Getting a good night’s sleep before your first week ensures that you can be alert and make a good impression on your professors – and your classmates. You’ll be able to better plan for the weeks ahead, and better process the seemingly overwhelming amount of new information you’ll be taking in.