Tag Archives: college tips

feeling sophomore slumped? you’re not alone

I threw up the day I had to leave campus and return home at the end of my freshmen year. I didn’t want to leave my college bubble and had actually avoided going home that entire year. I left freshman year feeling accomplished both academically and socially. Once I returned to Austin for year two, I figured this feeling of excitement and community would return. I’d be ready to work harder, make more connections and more memories. 

The minute I returned to campus something felt off. I felt drained before the year even began, but blamed it on the nerves of beginning a new school year in person. Weeks of classes went by yet something still felt wrong. I wasn’t motivated, deadlines passed without submission, talks of the wonderful internships I could soon apply for filled me with dread, I withdrew from friends, and walks to my beloved turtle pond didn’t excite me as they used to. I started longing to go back home. Even the tower, which was once a landmark representing success and anticipation to me, became just another building. I didn’t know why I felt this way until I came across the phenomenon known as “the sophomore slump.”

Though it has many components, and everyone feels it differently, the sophomore slump is a period of disconnection from college life for second-year students. The excitement of independence and “firsts” from freshman year has worn off and you’re left feeling dejected. Students find it hard to maintain their college enthusiasm and live up to the academic and social successes of year one. They may feel emotionally detached from their college towns, pressured to declare a major and make big career decisions, or confused on what they want out of the ‘college experience’ overall. 

Second year journalism student Ileana Fernandez agreed that there’s a “slump in the air”.

“My school work has been piling on and it seems I can never catch a break,” Fernandez said. “A two-day weekend is barely enough time to catch my breath. Balancing my job and academics while still attempting to have somewhat of a social life drains me. To be honest I’m just trying to make it through the week, every week, again and again.”

Especially after the pandemic hindered the normalcy of freshman year for the class of 2024, many students came into sophomore year without social groups or familiarity with the campus. Fernandez and sophomore Daja Dansby both stayed home last year. While many classes are still online this semester, Dansby said zoom learning can make school feel non-existent. 

“When you learn online it’s so easy to pretend like school doesn’t exist. Like the black boxes on zoom aren’t real people, and like you aren’t really working towards anything,” she said.

“I didn’t know the sophomore slump was a thing until recently,” Dansby added. “I think the fact that we all lost a year to COVID has a lot to do with our collective lack of motivation. This stage in our lives is just a difficult one. We’re away from our friends and family for the first time, we’re messing up and learning lessons, losing friends and making more; we’re experiencing everything that comes with entering young adulthood. Pair that with living during a pandemic alongside the pressure of still needing to strive and succeed. It’s a lot, I’m not surprised we’re all going through it.”

There’s no vaccine for this illness ailing the sophomore class. This phenomenon of collective unmotivation is felt so widely by a myriad of students that it was given its own name. It’s important to remember that the sophomore slump is, indeed, collective. It’s not new and it’s felt by students everywhere. College combined with figuring out who you are as a person, and what you want in life is overwhelming; burnout is inevitable at one point or another. Learning how to cope can be difficult. There’s always hobbies to relieve yourself like podcasts, painting, journaling or exercising, but counseling is also a viable resource. Appointments can be booked at the CMHC to get whatever you need off your chest.  This is a battle not fought alone.

“To anyone feeling the same way, please know that there’s nothing wrong with you,” Dansby said. “You aren’t behind, you aren’t dumb. College is just hard. It’s okay to mess up and get stuck in slumps, it happens to everyone. You’re learning, which is what we’re all here for. You’ll get where you need to be eventually. Be gentle with yourself.”

Featured Image by Tara Phipps

A Penny for My Thoughts

As a college student, the ultimate struggle that most of us face is budgeting. When to spend money, when not to spend money and how to save money are all common questions asked by students. Personally, I’m terrible at handling my money. But the one perk of being bad with money is that I’ve had to learn some tips and tricks in order to save more and spend less. I’m here to share some of those with you. 

Keep a monthly budget 

I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to keep track of your money if you write down exactly what you’re spending it on. At the beginning of each month, create a note or find an online budgeting template and write how much money you have ready to spend. Then, write out all of your planned expenses such as shopping, food and necessities, entertainment, school supplies or anything else you might need. Every time you make a purchase,  write that down too. Then, at the end of the month you can see how much money you spend in order to help gauge further spending habits. 

If you want to buy something— wait 

One of my worst habits is impulsively buying something or spending my money on something that seems worth it in the moment, but then I end up with buyer’s regret and a hole in my bank account. My best advice; if there’s something that you really want, but it seems like a purchase that could set you back a little bit, just wait. Give it a couple days or a week, however long it takes you to be fully confident in your decision. This has helped me realize that not everything we want we actually need right away. Save up for it and buy it later!

Keep your spare change— never doubt the piggy bank!

Spare change and loose bills are something I always lose track of because I don’t think they’re as important as my bank account. But, that’s just not true. Keep a jar of change and bills you find laying around and soon enough you’ll have some substantial savings! Many banks will take rolls of your coins and exchange them for cash, especially due to the coin shortage from COVID-19. You can also deposit cash into your bank account, so that cash-isn’t-real feeling goes away. 

Limit going out  

This one is probably the most difficult for me. Sometimes I get so caught up in my day that I let myself buy food or a fancy coffee when I always have something available for free. To combat this, I’ve set myself an allotted amount of days I can buy food for myself. Usually, I let myself buy coffee twice a week and eat out once during the week and once or twice on weekends. This has helped me so much to hold myself accountable and keep track of my spending.  See what works for you, and do your best to stick to it. 

For my 21+ people, if you go out, don’t bring your card

Lastly, an additional tip for people who like to go out on the weekends. Don’t bring your card to a bar, bring an amount of cash that you’re okay with spending on drinks or food. This can help those moments where you think, “oh it’s just one more it’s okay,” and you will save money without even realizing. You just have to remember to not promise to Venmo friends if they buy you something once you run out of cash- guilty as charged. 

Remember, saving money is difficult, especially for students who aren’t used to living on their own and providing for themselves. Don’t get yourself down if it takes a little bit to get into a pattern of saving. Take it easy on yourself and do what you can, when you can. Don’t forget— a little goes a long way. 

Featured image by Ren Breach

10 Tips for a Smooth Transition from Online to In-person

We’ve all spent the last year glued to our screens, whether it’s trying to decipher what our professor is saying or scrolling through Tik Tok. In the midst of all the Zoom meetings, Discord chats, and Slack messages we have forgotten how to thrive in an in-person learning setting. So, here are ten tips on how to thrive during the transition from online to in-person learning, interaction, and life.

1. You need to calm down

After more than a year of spending time stuck at home with Tiktok being our only form of social interaction, it can be tempting to just say yes to every social invitation that comes our way. But, no matter what you do you cannot make up for the dumpster fire that was 2020, and acknowledging that is important. The pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives and that includes social interaction. It’s okay to want to stay in on a Friday night and binge-watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” you don’t need to force yourself to go out in the fear that you will regret it if there is another Lockdown. Understanding that we cannot make all our decisions based on the fear that the past will repeat itself will only benefit us in our post-pandemic life. 

2. Develop a routine

A big part of the anxiety that accompanies our transition back to in-person classes is ambiguity. Being able to have routines— even for the smallest parts of our lives— can help immensely. Whether it’s having a three-step morning routine that involves making your bed, putting on clothes, and making yourself look presentable for class, or an elaborate make-up routine, having one part of the day remain constant will help structure the rest of your day.

3. Get an alarm clock

It can be tempting to use your phone as an alarm but it’s also the reason you’re late every day. Not only is the alarm on your phone designed so that the snooze button is more prominent than the off one, but it also enables you to scroll through social media first thing in the morning. Having an actual alarm clock not only prevents you from mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, but it also means you’re going to hit snooze a lot less. If you’re like me and are paranoid about not waking up on time, keeping the clock at the farthest end of the room will ensure that you wake up. 

4. Engage with your classes

Zoom university has made it easy to not engage with material during class and going back in-person seems especially daunting when you can’t whip out your phone and scroll through social media when your professor goes on a long and boring tangent. However, identifying aspects of each class that you enjoy, whether it’s the friends you have made in that class or your genuine interest in the subject, will make you dread it a lot less.

5. Treat yourself

Whether it’s getting Boba with friends, watching a movie, or gorging on a pint of ice-cream(I am definitely not speaking from personal experience), find a way to reward yourself at the end of the week. The treat doesn’t need to be expensive— it could even be dancing to Taylor Swift music in your room. These treats act as a reminder for what a great job you’re doing and also motivate you to get through the week.

6. Stay safe

We are still in the midst of a pandemic and following COVID guidelines are crucial for keeping yourself and your fellow Longhorns safe. Make sure you download the Protect Texas app and fill out your symptom survey daily as well as get tested weekly. Wearing a mask in classes may seem strange, but it’s the only thing stopping us from going back online.

7. Plan, plan and then plan some more

Now that we are in-person, having a daily planner is essential. Not only does planning your day the night before gives you peace of mind, but it also means you won’t accidentally forget a class or a meeting. Having a monthly planner as well will help you keep track of your assignment due dates. Google Calendar and Outlook are great online planners, but nothing beats pen and paper. 

8. Catch some ZZZs

Lack of sleep is overhyped in college. Just because Brad from your Econ class hasn’t slept since Tuesday and is feeling great doesn’t mean you should follow in his footsteps. Lack of sleep catches up on you when you least expect it and it makes you more prone to illness. With the endless stream of assignments, it can seem hard to get seven hours of sleep but remember those hours of sleep will prevent you from the embarrassment of being woken up by your professor in your eight a.m. class. 

9. Find your style

Now that pajamas are no longer the informal uniform of college students across the world, finding something to wear in the morning can seem foreign. But remember it’s also the perfect opportunity to play around with new styles and try out outfits that are cute from the shoulders down— now that you’re no longer a box on a screen.

10. You are not alone

Remember that you’re not the only one navigating this “new normal” and, yes, you will make mistakes but remember so will everyone else. We are all in this together (cue cheesy High School Musical music) and going back to in-person classes means we are moving forward away from the catastrophe that was the pandemic.

Featured image by Serena Rodriguez

An Insider’s Look Into The Best Study Spots on UT Campus

Welcome back longhorns to another year on the 40 acres. Now that we’re a few weeks into the semester, midterms, essays and projects are already starting to pile up. So, where are some of the best places on campus to get some work done? Stick around to find your new favorite study spot, just in time for midterms!

1. The Perry Castaneda Library (PCL)

The PCL has some of the best study spots on campus. Looking to study with friends or in an environment with people working out problems and ideas out loud? Check out the 5th floor or the STEM study areas in the UFCU Study Room on the main floor. Looking for a quiet place with zero noise and distractions? Check out the silent 4th floor. The PCL has countless study spaces to choose from, so you’re sure to find what you need to succeed.

2. Flawn Academic Center (FAC)

Trying to get some homework done between classes? Look no further than the FAC. There’s plenty of seating and outlets at any given moment so you can save time on finding a place to sit and get straight to work. Plus, you might just run into Domino, the cute cat that lives just outside the FAC! 

3. Life Science Library in the Tower (MAI)

Need a quiet, peaceful and aesthetically pleasing place to study? Visit the Life Science Library located in the Tower. The rows of books, comfortable seating and small space offer a cozy and serene study spot for you to get some deep focus in.

4. The Engineering Education and Research Center (EER)

Want to study in a place that will inspire your innovative side? Make your way to the EER. There is a variety of unique seating options with tons of natural light and a spirit of possibility oozing through the walls of the EER’s three floors.

5. Outdoor Seating around the Robert L. Patton Building (RLP)

When the weather isn’t unbearably hot, or you’re able to find relief in the shade, there is a variety of outdoor seating surrounding the RLP building. The seats include incredible views of the modern Patton Hall, DKR Stadium and luscious trees. 

These are just a few of the many great study spaces located on or around UT campus. There are so many spots to explore! Whether you’re new to campus or a returning student, there is always a place for you here on the 40 acres.


Why Every College Student Needs Notion In Their Life

Let’s face it, staying organized in college is hard. Especially when most classes are online through Zoom or in some cases, completely asynchronous and self-paced. 

As a first-year college student, I was struggling with finding a way to organize my academic and personal life. Then I stumbled upon a productivity app called Notion. Those unfamiliar with this app are probably wondering what exactly is Notion and how exactly it works.

Released in March 2016, only available on web browsers and macOS, Notion works as a fully customizable interface described as an all-in-one workplace. From a daily journal to reading lists, creating a vision board, a budget tracker, or my personal favorite, a school semester planner, the app works for just about anything.

Also, one major bonus is Notion’s Personal Pro plan that is free for students and teachers who sign up with their school email account with no credit card required! Check out this article from Notion Official to learn more about setting up your personal workplace.

Along with free access, Notion’s Personal Pro plan offers users unlimited file uploads such as images, videos, audio, embeds, web bookmarks, and more. As well as unlimited guest collaborators on pages, and access to the version history of any page for up to 30 days. 

If you are new to the app and unsure where to start, I recommend checking out Notion’s templates available for users to duplicate and customize. Some popular templates include class notes, weekly or daily agendas, personal course schedules, meeting notes, and tracking job applications.

When I was first experimenting with Notion, a YouTube channel called Janice Studies was especially helpful in my journey to find out what works best for my needs.

Last year, she posted a video tutorial for a school semester template that included a weekly course schedule, a master schedule with assignments and due dates, as well as course pages with class information and topic lists. It was a lifesaver and I am forever grateful I found her channel before my first semester at UT.

Then, earlier this year, she posted another video tutorial for a new and updated version of the previous template. Similar to the last one, this is currently saving my life this semester.

This template features a master schedule and weekly course schedule. I found this one to be much more detailed with course pages now including lecture notes, learning objectives, and a grade calculator.

Another helpful resource for users new and old is the Notion Made Simple Facebook Group, which has nearly 34,000 members. In this group, users are allowed to share their workspace, templates (most of them are free but some cost money), tips and tricks, as well as ask questions if you are ever struggling or confused about something.

The most recent resource I have found from the Facebook Group is a website with free templates from Pranav – NotionSquared for a reading tracker.

Screenshot by Thalia Menchaca

Working as a digital library, this template allows readers to track their progress for multiple books based on the number of pages read. It also has the option to click on the title and start a new page for taking notes as you read. The website also has templates for goal tracking, efficient to-do lists, and spaced repetition for working or studying.

Though it may sound dramatic, I don’t think I would have survived this year not only without Notion but also these incredibly helpful resources that are free and available to users. Although there are moments when I struggled to customize a template to my liking (and also because I am a perfectionist), it gets easier as you get more accustomed and play around with it.

Featured Image by Lauren Breach