Author Archive: katiepartyka

Managing Stress During Finals Week

We have only a few weeks left until the dreaded finals week! This can be one of the most stressful times of the year for college students.  If you crammed for most of your exams during the semester, you might have forgotten the majority of the material and now you’re being asked to remember it all.  Unfortunately, if you become too stressed out, it can make you perform even worse on your tests! During this time of the year, we as students really need to find a balance between apathy and anxiety.  We have to care enough to study, but not care too much to the point where our stress prevents us from retaining any information.  Here’s some tips to help you manage your stress during finals!

First, try to focus on one test at a time.  If you’re freaking out about the biology exam you have on Friday, you’re not going to retain very much information about the psychology test you have on Monday. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed if you think about all of the tests you have that week. Try to plan a schedule for when you’ll study for each exam.  This always helped me to stay on track and not get overwhelmed.

Next, take advantage of the resources we have on campus! Campus Ministry offers movies during finals week and also FREE massages.  Definitely get a massage; it’s free and you deserve it.  It’s always a good idea to take breaks here and there, so you don’t get burned out from all of the studying.

Go to the Rice Center! Exercising will help you to relieve stress and clear your mind for awhile. Then, you’ll be ready to ace your next exam.

Make sure you sleep! When you sleep, your brain organizes all of the information you just studied.

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Living a Balanced Life in College

One thing that people always told me before I came to college was you get to choose 2 out of 3 things: studying, sleeping and having a social life.  The dilemma is that we want, and need, all of these things in some form.  Fortunately, I’ve found that it is possible to get all of these things and more.  Time management is an important skill that will make the rest of our lives less stressful.  Learning to live a balanced life has become very important to me as a Benedictine student.  BenU even offers a scholarship award for people who have lived balanced lives in high school.  You can get the scholarship if you’ve been a leader or participated in community service.  The purpose of college is to train ourselves for a profession we one day hope to have.  Obviously this entails learning and getting good grades, so we have to study.  We pay an awful lot of money to have the opportunity to learn skills we will need later on.  However, every human being also needs to sleep.  Without enough sleep, you’re more susceptible to stress and you will have a harder time getting work done efficiently.  So does that mean you should choose these 2 out of the 3?  Absolutely not.  I’ve learned to get both of these things and also have a social life.  If you don’t save time to relax and hangout with friends, then all of your hard work isn’t really worth it because you probably won’t be very happy.  Plus, without taking time out to do something fun you will probably get worn out very quickly, which is especially dangerous to those of us hoping to go on for further education.

Here are some tips that you can use to make sure you have a balanced life while you are in college.

Make a schedule and follow it. This is one of the most helpful things you can do to make sure you manage your time.  Make lists of the things you need to accomplish: short-term and long-term.  Dedicate certain times of the day to getting those tasks done and cross them out as you go.  Staying organized will help you to get things done efficiently and stay less stressed.

Prioritize. As you get comfortable in college, you will realize that certain aspects of your life are more important than others.  Academics should be one of your highest priorities since we pay a lot of money to take classes at a university.  Deciding which things are priorities will help you put an order to the tasks you want to get done.  We should put classes and homework before watching the latest episode of our favorite TV show.  Getting the important things done and treating our TV show as a reward can give us incentive to get homework done quickly.

Make use of your time. One of the things I have found that is most effective in keeping a balanced life is using small breaks during the day wisely.  As much as we just want to jump into bed after class and nap, if we use the hour we have in between classes to get a homework assignment done, we will get to sleep more at night.  It is very easy to sit around on Facebook or texting and the next thing we know we have just wasted two hours and have to get to class.  If you make a list of things and devote those two hours to getting a homework assignment done, you will have time later in the night to relax.

Get involved. I know it may seem like getting more involved will only take away from the time you have to sleep and have a social life, but it can actually do the opposite.  If you are involved in clubs or other social activities, you will get less burned out from school.  A variety of school, clubs, work and social life will make your day go by quicker and you won’t feel like you are always studying.  However, make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many activities.

Go somewhere to study. If you go to a library, you will have less distractions around you.  Sure there are people around and they may talk to you for a little bit, but in your dorm you can easily access the t.v., snacks, and your roommate.  Go to a quiet floor of the library, so you don’t have the option of slacking off and talking to people.  If you truly devote an hour or two to homework, you will get a lot more done.

Turn it off. Put your cell phone away and sign out of Facebook and Twitter for an hour each day.  I know it feels like you might miss out on something, but you won’t.  I’ve noticed it takes me almost double the time to finish an assignment if I have my phone nearby.  Those seconds you take to check your texts or social networking sites add up and take up a lot of the time you could’ve used to get something done.  Plus, you can’t truly focus on learning if you are distracted by your phone.

Overall, just try to plan for things and stay organized in college and you should have no problem balancing out your academics, clubs, work, sleeping, eating and social life.  College can be a lot of fun and you can learn a lot, so try to take advantage of both of those opportunities and get as much as possible out of this experience.  But also remember you need some “me time” every so often.

Advocating for a Cause in College

One of the best places to advocate for something you care about is in college.  There are so many opportunities and interest groups for you to get involved in.  A lot of people become very passionate about certain issues in college as they start becoming more knowledgeable about problems in the world.  This is the time in which we are most idealistic and enthusiastic about our ability to make changes in the world around us.

It is important that when you get to college you don’t just become one of those students that complains about issues, but never makes an effort to change the problems.  Advocating for causes can be an extremely rewarding experience.  You may even find many other people that are concerned with the same issues as you are and they can help you with the cause.

One way you can advocate for something you care about is by starting a club.  When I came to college, I started becoming more interested in certain efforts to cure diseases.  At the end of my freshman year, I had the idea of starting a club to raise awareness about cure foundations.  Eventually, I changed that idea into a reality.  During my sophomore year, I began seriously planning out the fine details of starting a club.  I met with faculty members, and this year I actually got a club called Care to Cure approved.  This has been very rewarding to me and has instilled many leadership qualities in me.

Another thing you can do is sell t-shirts!  I’m not exactly sure why, but college students (including myself) love t-shirts.  You never feel like you can have enough t-shirts when you are in college.  If you want to raise money or awareness about something, a great way to do so is to design a t-shirt and sell them in the Kindlon Hall of Learning.  As people pass by to class, you can try to get your point across and make money to donate.

Bracelets are a great way to make money for donations as well.  Plus, you can personalize them with a message that is important to you.  I am part of Best Buddies at Benedictine and we are currently selling bracelets that say “ Spread the word to end the word.”  This is an effort to get people to stop using the r-word.  This is something that is very important to me because I have a best buddy, Brian.  He has Down syndrome and the r-word can be very hurtful to Brian and other people with disabilities.  Selling bracelets for only a few dollars can add up and spread a message.

Host events.  Find out what types of events students at your school seem to like the most.  Maybe it’s movie nights, dances, comedy shows or even a bags tournament.  Keep an eye out for the events that seem to be the most successful on campus and create something similar that revolves around the cause you are advocating for.  You can use the event purely for raising awareness or you can even charge a small entrance fee to raise money.

Make use of technology, too.  The majority of college students use Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.  Reach out to people on those sites and ask them to join your cause.  I have posted links to sign up for walks, posted statuses about club meetings or events and put up pictures from events.  These things seem to be very effective because you can get large numbers of people to view your posts.

You can also create petitions for people to sign.  There are large numbers of people at a university that you can ask to sign petitions for something you care about.  This is a quick way to get a lot of names and people usually don’t mind taking a few seconds out of their day to sign something.  This requires a lot less effort than trying to get students to go to events.

Be creative.  You don’t always have to follow the exact same path as leaders of groups before you.  See what works and don’t be afraid to try things out.  Create fun, new events that you think you yourself would be interested in.  All in all, just make sure you are involved in the things you care about when you get to college.  This is the easiest time to be involved because you have access to a large, diverse group of people.photo

Leaving Home

One of the toughest aspects of going to college can be leaving your parents.  As much as we say we can’t wait to leave home and be in charge of ourselves for once, going to college can be a difficult adjustment.  Most of us live with our families until we are 18 and apply to college.  After 18 years of living with the same people, you’ve probably formed a pretty strong attachment and gotten comfortably settled into a routine.  Then, all of a sudden, after nearly two decades, you’re forced to break that routine and start over.  This can be an extremely exciting time for many of us, and it should be something to look forward to.  However, you may not realize how important your family is until you leave home and live on campus.  (Even commuters will have to adjust to seeing their families less as they spend more time at college.)

So how can we adjust to this huge change? There are lots of ways you can stay in touch with your family and still maintain your independence. You will probably grow as a person a lot while you’re in college.  Having freedom provides us with a chance to find out who we are and what we want in life.  It’s important that you keep your family in the loop, though.  They’re the ones who have helped you become the person you are today after all.

While many people say technology is ruining our social skills, we can actually use all of the new technology to stay connected to our families whether they are 10 minutes away or 5 hours.

Skype. This is an awesome way to see exactly what is going on at home and allow your family to see what you’re up to.  This will probably make your parents more comfortable too and that works out best for everyone. Plus, actually being able to see your family will alleviate some of your home sickness.

Call home. Try to create a routine and dedicate a certain time once a day or a few times a week where you call your parents.  Then, you can keep in touch and catch your parents up on your busy life.

Write a letter. This may seem old-fashioned, but it feels good to get mail when you’re alone at school.  It’s exciting to get a letter and also to write one out to your family.

Involve your family. Ask your parents and siblings to help you plan for college and do all of your dorm shopping.  This is when I bonded with my family the most.  It was nice to be able to include them in the process of me going away.  Also, a nice thing you can do is to get your family clothes or other items from your college.  I got my sister a Benedictine hoodie before I left and it made her feel more connected.Photo on 2011-07-13 at 20.34

The nice thing about a school like Benedictine is that a lot of the residents are from nearby towns.  Personally, I’m only from a town a half hour away so I get the best of both worlds.  I can go visit my family for a few hours on the weekends, then drive back to school and hangout with friends later that night.  Sometimes it’s really easy to get busy and feel like you don’t have time to stay connected, but a call home can relieve a lot of stress.  As much as we want to be on our own and can’t wait to get away, we never realize the importance of a close relationship with family.  Communicating with our family at least a few times a week will make us a lot happier.  It’s good to crave independence and freedom when you’re in high school, because that will allow you to make a life of your own.  Sometimes we need time away to truly appreciate the ones we love, so just make sure you put in a little effort to keep in touch.

Pre-Med Tips

I remember coming to Benedictine as a freshman and wanting to go the pre-med route.  I started taking the classes that were recommended and doing well in them.  During my freshman year, I really wasn’t aware of how much more it takes to get into medical school than just studying a lot.  Here are some tips if you are thinking about becoming a pre-med.

Get Involved! Medical schools want to see well-rounded candidates so make sure you join clubs when you start school.  Join clubs that interest you and try to become very involved with them.  If you stay involved for a while, you may be able to get an executive board position.  Also, join AMSA at Benedictine.  AMSA will provide you with tips for getting into med school and going through the Health Science Recommendation Committee.  Medical schools like to see involvement in AMSA.

Gain experience.  Medical schools also want to see a student who knows a little bit about the medical field.  They recommend that you try getting your CNA or EMT certificate.  That way you can work in the field a little bit and make sure it is the right fit for you.  You will also be more comfortable in the healthcare field if you have experience. You can also gain experience through shadowing doctors or taking the practicum that Benedictine offers.  The practicum is a class that allows you to shadow doctors and reflect on your experiences.

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t cram for tests, because you will forget the information.Try to really learn the material so that when it comes time to take the MCAT you are prepared.  Really building a strong foundation in your basic chemistry and biology courses will also help you later on in your more advanced science classes.

Volunteer.  Being a good physician isn’t just about knowing how to treat a person’s illness.  Doctors need to have communication skills and good bed side manner, as well.  Try to volunteer, and not just to put something down on your resume.  Try to learn from your volunteer experiences and better yourself because of them.  Service is a two way street.  By volunteering, you are also gaining a lot.

Study. You need much more than a good G.P.A. to become a successful doctor, but when it comes down to it you do need knowledge.  All of these extra things are important, but if you don’t put effort into your classes or do well,  medical schools won’t be very interested.  Make sure you manage your time so that you can study for classes and get good grades. Try to form a habit of going to the library or quiet zone in Krasa at certain times during the day.  When you form a routine, it will be much harder for you to procrastinate.

Take a break. Medical school is going to be a lot harder than undergrad for all of us pre-med students, so it is important that you don’t get burned out.  Make sure you save a little time for yourself and a social life.  Take a small break everyday to talk to a friend or do something that relieves stress.  You’ll be able to study more efficiently if you aren’t worn out everyday.  After all, what is the point of working so hard if you’re not happy while doing it?

There is a lot more that goes into applying to medical school, but these are some things to keep in mind when you start school as a pre-med student.  Time flies by in college, so don’t wait to get started on all of these things!

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