Freshman 15: Tips for Freshman Orientation

I am so excited to start a new series on the blog today. While titled 'Freshman 15', this 15 is not the dreaded kind. Over the course of the summer, I am planning to write 15 posts geared toward incoming college freshmen. Speaking from my own personal experiences over the past year, my hope is that by sharing some of my tips that you may find them useful as you begin your college experience!


At this point in the process, your freshman deposit is secure, you may have chosen your housing and roommate(s), and this summer is all about preparing for the upcoming school year. So to begin the series, let's start with one key part of the freshman experience before classes even begin — orientation. My orientation dates were just a week after my high school graduation, and I was excited to get the ball rolling so soon on this new experience. I really didn't know what to expect at orientation, but it left me walking away both excited and ready to start my college journey. While orientation differs at each school, you will likely select your first semester classes and learn about school programs and services. So although your experience may not be identical, I hope you find this post helpful!

First for a little background, here's a brief description of my orientation. At the University of Alabama, orientation took place over the course of a day and a half. On the first day, the initial program was with all the students at the orientation session. The orientation student leaders were introduced and a few of the student services departments spoke, congratulating us on our college choice and welcoming us to campus. Afterward, we split up into our respective colleges based on majors. I then learned about what life would be like as a first year business student, the classes available for a student at the introduction level, and later the academic advisors spoke to us individually about what classes we should take in the fall. At night we had an open gym event at the student rec center. The following morning was spent choosing and registering for our classes for the fall.

Looking back, here are a few pieces of advice I would give a future freshman about to attend their orientation:

Don't be afraid to ask questions.
It is, after all, orientation — you are not expected to understand the school system or registration process, and it is definitely not high school. When making our decisions about classes and our freshman year course load, UA had a plethora of staff and student advisors that were ready to help in any way that they could from understanding prerequisites to how far a walk it was between buildings. I would highly recommend utilizing these individuals in your decision making process. Before I went to orientation, I curated a list of questions regarding my AP credits, UA's placement tests, and other factors that would influence my course load. When it came time to speak one-on-one with an academic advisor, this was really helpful and made it possible for me to make the most out of my conversation. I also suggest obtaining a phone number or email of an academic advisor that you could reach out to throughout the summer as well. You may not have any questions or need to contact them, but it's so much easier to have a direct contact just in case. 

Know that plans can change.
I remember being so nervous that the classes I chose were set in stone and the schedule decisions I made that second day would determine the rest of my college career. But changes do happen. Little did I know I would be changing half of my schedule two weeks into the school year. I discovered a placement test I could take to move up a level in a course. I took the test in the summer and qualified to move up. Changing one course, however, impacted three others which required dropping and adding half my original schedule. So even if you like your schedule, listen when they describe the add/drop process and make sure you know the deadlines. Just keep in mind that everything can still change after orientation so don't worry about it too much in the moment. Oh, and avoid 8 a.m. classes if possible!

Be open-minded and friendly.
Everyone at orientation is in the same position: most really don't know anyone else there or just know a couple people, and no one wants to be alone. In this mass of new students, take orientation as an opportunity to make friends with people in your group. The girls who I ate lunch with at orientation are girls I see all the time on campus. Sure, you probably won't find your best friend at orientation, but by being open-minded you can learn from students around you and begin to find familiar faces you will probably see on campus again.

Take everything with a grain of salt.
While it was helpful to learn about what some of my future classmates had done to prepare for the upcoming school year, everyone is in the same boat of uncertainty and has a different approach. At my orientation, a large subject amongst the girls was sorority recruitment. I remember standing in line for lunch and girls telling rumors they'd heard about certain houses and talking about recruitment. While some information such as deadlines may be helpful, other information could be false. Try not to let these rumors or debatable topics distract you out while at orientation. The student orientation leaders are going to provide much more solid advice than other incoming freshmen. 

I hope that this post was helpful and that your orientation is productive and exciting!

Have you been to orientation before? If so, what would your pieces of advice be to an incoming freshman?



Graduation Dresses with Lauren James

It's bittersweet to say that graduation season is upon us. It seems like it was just last month that I graduated high school and closed that chapter of my life. Graduation is such an exciting time full of celebrating all the accomplishments of the last four years and the anticipation of the next four.

This time last year I picked up my cap and gown and took some final pictures before the graduation ceremony that would come just a few weeks later. I remember the constant conversation with my friends about finding the perfect dress that would not clash with the forest green color of our robe. The general census: white was best.

This is all personal preference, of course, but I don't think you can go wrong with a white graduation dress. It is so elegant and timeless, and there are plenty of options from which to choose. One of my favorite places to look for white dresses is Lauren James. With a plethora of styles and cuts, the dresses are feminine and classic with a modern twist. I wore this style in the pictures below, and love the summery feel of the seersucker fabric with the fit and flare design. The bow on the back is a fun addition, too!

While these pictures are from last year, Lauren James offers the same dress this year, too!

Where do you like to shop for white dresses?



Favorite Memories of Freshman Year

In just a few short weeks, my goodbyes will have been said, my room will be packed up, and I will be heading back to Chicago for the summer. It seems absolutely crazy that my freshman year is almost over. I remember events from August and September that feel like they happened just the other day. It feels impossible that this year is ending so soon.

They say time flies when you're having fun, and this certainly is the case for my freshman year. As I look at the past year, I think back to the amazing memories made with people I have grown so close to over such a short time. It is hard to sum up all that has happened, but I wanted to take today's post to share some of my most memorable moments of the past year. Here's a look back at my favorite memories (in no particular order): 

Big/Little Reveal 
I think this night will be one of my favorite memories of college. Meeting my big sister Emma in my sorority was one of the biggest blessings of the year. Amazingly, we became fast friends just a few weeks before big/little reveal. The week leading up to reveal, she, her big and grandbig tricked me into believing that I was not going to be in their "family." But, when I saw Emma holding a sign saying, "Welcome home, Kathleen," I was so happy and don't think I have ever run so quickly to hug someone. I am so thankful to be in such a close-knit family full of successful, kindhearted and talented women. These girls have become my closest friends and quite literally my "home away from home." Whether it is sitting at Dairy Queen for hours and talking or watching endless episodes of Gilmore Girls, many of my favorite memories from the year have been with this great group of friends.

Capstone Agency & CreateAthon
Applying for Capstone Agency during the fall was one of the best decisions I made this year. Capstone Agency is the student-run integrated marketing communications firm here on campus, and for the past year I have worked as a digital associate for my team's client. I love this real world experience and the opportunity to work alongside such dedicated and passionate students. One of my favorite memories with Capstone Agency was the 24 hour marketing pro bono marathon we did to produce work for local nonprofits. It was a blast to work for an outstanding client, stay up late with new friends, and watch the sunrise from the top of the communications building. I have grown so much this past year in Capstone Agency and can't wait to see what next year brings.

Football Season 
You may be rolling your eyes to hear me rave about Alabama football, but experiencing a season full of (almost) all wins and an overtime National Championship win created memorable gamedays and a fun school environment. From watching the opening game against FSU to attending the National Championship parade, each game consisted of a full stomach of southern food, long days of tailgating on the Quad, and watching the games with my closest friends.  

Room 105
I ended up switching rooms between first and second semester. My best friend Julia's roommate transferred after first semester, so I moved downstairs in my building to live with my her. Living with my best friend means there is never a dull moment of the day. From conquering overflowing toilets to Disney sing-a-longs, being in the same room as Julia meant I was always laughing and always had someone to talk to after a long day. The endless small moments of fun made this semester fly by, and I am so thankful she will be living next door to me next year so our shenanigans will still be in full swing.

Industry Immersion Trip
Looking for some adventure and wanting to explore a future career, I applied for an Industry Immersion trip offered by the communications school at UA. I was so nervous getting on the plane, but spending the week in New York City was one of the highlights of my year. I fell in love with the city, became such close friends with the other students on the trip, and learned more than I could imagine about the communication field and what it's like to work in New York. The trip opened my eyes to the career possibilities in this field and provided networking opportunities with UA alum. I have also wanted to go to New York for years, so being able to be a tourist and explore the beautiful city was unforgettable. 

There are countless other amazing moments from the semester, but these experiences shaped my year into a positive one where I grew on both a personal and professional level. I couldn't be more thankful for the people that came into my life this year and the doors that opened for me to get involved on campus. Here's to hoping that sophomore year tops this one!

What are your favorite memories of this past year?



Easter Weekend in New Orleans

Last weekend left me with a full heart and a full stomach of beignets after spending the weekend in New Orleans with my family. Conveniently, my younger brother's spring break ended with Easter weekend, so my parents and brother ended their spring break road trip by swinging by Tuscaloosa on Thursday afternoon to pick me up and head down to New Orleans. After a busy week full of tests and meetings, I was so excited for a little getaway!

Having never been to New Orleans, I was thrilled for the opportunity to explore a new city. We arrived late Thursday night and my brother and I slept in on Friday before exploring the French Quarter. Starting the day with beignets at Cafe du Monde, the day was sure to be fun. I have never had beignets before, but I walked away from breakfast stuffed from the fried dough delights and wanting to return as soon as I had more room in my stomach.

We enjoyed spending Friday strolling around the French Quarter. I loved seeing the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, snacking while sitting on a balcony with flower boxes, and walking through the lively streets. The weather was so pleasant and it was the perfect day to just stroll through the city.

Friday night, my family and I ate at Antoine's Restaurant. The restaurant dates back to 1840 and has a rich history filled with famous visitors. The meal was one of the best I've ever had and it was followed by a tour of the property where our waiter described the various uses of each room and the history of the family-owned restaurant. The dinner was such a filling and fascinating experience that was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me!

After sleeping so well because of the delicious meal, we spent Saturday exploring the Garden District of New Orleans. I loved how this area was different from the French Quarter and offered a contrasting experience. With brightly colored houses and southern charm on every corner, this neighborhood was my cup of tea. My mom and I split off from my dad and brother for a bit and we had the best time taking pictures and exploring such a cute area. 

Our last night spent in New Orleans consisted of heavy appetizers at a restaurant where we could watch Loyola in the Final Four basketball game followed by walking around the French Quarter. It was fun to see this area all lit up at night. Always one with a sweet tooth, my mom and I suggested we find a place for dessert. One aspect of New Orleans I loved the most was the open air restaurants. We savored dessert at a restaurant where where the exterior walls were filled with floor to ceiling French doors that were open so you could enjoy the fresh air, warm weather and street music. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

On Easter morning, we went back to Cafe du Monde for one last taste of beignets. New Orleans was quite the cast of characters on Easter. We missed the parade, but saw a handful of bunnies and more than one Elvis. I enjoyed hearing Easter hymns coming from St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Park as the line stretched out the door of the church. The sun was shining on this sweet southern city and it was the perfect Easter morning. After enjoying every bite of the beignets, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and head back to Tuscaloosa.

I didn't quite expect to love New Orleans as much as I did, but it was the perfect holiday weekend getaway filled with southern charm and delicious food. I am so thankful I was able to spend the weekend with my family and had the chance to explore this new city!

Have you ever been to New Orleans?



Tips for Increasing Productivity

Are you a night owl or an early bird? Last semester I got into a habit of working late into the night, which resulted in my feeling exhausted during the day. My remedy was to to take naps or watch Netflix throughout the day in an attempt to recharge and keep going. While this night owl approach worked okay, I set a goal this semester to shift my productivity to the daytime and create more time in the evening to relax, socialize and even sleep.

I do not know if I will ever be an early bird. I do, however, like feeling as though I have completed a lot at the end of day rather than looking at a long list of items still left to tackle. Here are a few of the changes I have made that are helping to maximize my productivity during the day.

Don’t Lay Down
It’s obvious yet it was easily what killed my daytime productivity last semester. Between or after classes, I would come back to my sorority house, sit down in our informal living room, and either turn on a show or take a nap. Once I sat down and let my body relax, I immediately lost productivity and any motivation to get work done. Now, between classes I like to go to Starbucks or to the study room in the house to get some work done. Though it may not be a ton of time, it always feels good to mark something off my to-do list no matter how small.

Be Somewhere Productive
Along with the first point, I like to try to work in a place where I know I will be productive. I find it so much easier to be productive in a location like Starbucks than I do in my dorm room where I am tempted just to hop in bed and turn on a show or nap for a bit. Being somewhere with fewer temptations for relaxing or distractions from studying helps keep me going and not let down.

Plan a Mid-Afternoon Pick Me Up
There are some days when I wake up and one of my first thoughts is when can I squeeze a nap into the day. On days like these, instead of planning a nap I like to think of something I can look forward to in the afternoon that can keep me going. Whether this is getting a coffee with a friend, checking out the tabling events at the student center, or walking around campus sometimes a mid-afternoon distraction can keep me from mentally letting down.

Write a To Do List in the Morning
One habit I have been trying to stick to this semester is writing out a to-do list for the day each morning. By doing this when I start the day rather than in the evening I am more motivated to get things done seeing all that I have to do. The sooner I mark everything off my to-do list, the sooner I feel like I can take a break. No matter how small each task on my list is, it feels good to feel like I am being productive throughout the day.

College is all about learning what works best for you. I'd love to hear any tips you have for being more productive during the day.



Latest Instagrams

© Let's Get Preppy. Design by Fearne.