The New Student on Campus: 5 Tips to Be the Best Version of You!

Fast forward past the sleepless nights leading up to your arrival on campus. Fast forward past the excitement mixed with anxiety when you say goodbye to your family and friends back home. Fast forward past the flight or drive that it takes to even get to campus. Push play on the reality of what it means to actually “show up”.

One’s arrival on campus as an incoming freshman can be daunting—does the expression “being a little fish in a big pond” ring a bell? Although you may at first feel overwhelmed when having to establish your place at your new school (which is totally normal!), here are five tips on how to make the transition easier along with putting your best foot forward when meeting your roommate, classmates, teammates, professors, and academic advisor.

  1. Be polite and presentable – remember all of the manners that your parents have instilled over the years? This is the perfect time to put them to good use. Hello! How are you? Please, thank you, and nice to meet you go along way. First impressions (fortunately/unfortunately depending on how you view them) mean a lot, too; therefore be well kept when attending your first days of classes, going to ‘Meet & Greet’ student events, and checking out extra curricular activities during club fairs.
  2. Set personal and academic goals – think about certain objectives (and even write them down) as to why you have chosen your major, what you hope to learn/do at your new school, and what you hope to achieve at present and in the near future. In this way, you are putting your intentions into action and forward motion!
  3. Get social (without social media) – ask questions, introduce yourself, attend campus events, join clubs, try out for a sports team, sit with new groups of students in the dining hall, knock on your dorm mate’s door that is opposite of and next to yours…our natural inclination as humans is to sometimes hide when we are out of our comfort zone. Yet don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make your presence known! In person opportunities to meet others is a sure way of expanding your social circle.
  4. Take care of yourself – it may seem like the last thing on your list of concerns, but one’s health and well-being should always be their first priority. Make sure that you give yourself needed time to keep up with deadlines by staying organized to prevent unnecessary stress, try your best to make healthy choices while in the dining hall (but of course a good junk food binge now and then is also part of the college experience!), avoid too much caffeine because if you consume too much, you are literally drinking up your sleep, and of course, get needed rest so that you can function at a more productive rate during your waking hours.
  5. Meet assignments and take pride in your work – although it’s normal to want to impress your professors, TAs, and even classmates, the person that you should be most concerned with impressing the most is you! Try your best to succeed, even in the face of failure. As long as you know that you have done all that you could have to realize an assignment, study for an exam, and submit a paper, you will develop a positive work ethic and self-image. You will truly surprise yourself! A word to the wise: although one aspires to achieve good grades, there are times that you may work extremely hard but the results aren’t as you have hoped. Remember that we all are human and there is always room for improvement…just as long as you are willing!

By: Marisa De Marco-Costanzo

Accepted! Now What?! 10 Pieces of Advice to Help You Make Your Final Decision

After that dreaded period of anticipation of waiting to see if/when an acceptance letter will arrive after completing the tedious task of applying to college, you finally get your first acceptance letter followed by some others. Ah, a sigh a relief! Yet another dilemma crops up…you ask yourself the burning question over and over again, “Which school should I choose?” Yet it doesn’t end there. Seeking out additional support and advice, you also turn to nearly everyone that will listen including (but not limited to) parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers, and coaches.

Although choosing the school that best suites your wants and needs is one of the most important decisions that you will be faced with while shaping your academic career, it is also one of those rare moments in time in which you should feel a great sense of accomplishment because all of your hard work and efforts have paid off throughout high school and luckily, you have options.

Here are 10 pieces of advice to take both to heart and mind when making your final decision:

  1. Take your time – if you are still waiting for more options, take this time to reflect. Yet be sure to adhere to deadlines that require your response by a given due date. Make a note in your calendar so you don’t forget!
  2. Do your research – look up some information and/or review some previous info that you have already gathered on each school so that when you make your final decision, it is an informed one.
  3. Make a list of “Pros & Cons” – literally sit down with a piece of paper and pen in hand. When comparing and contrasting the various schools that you have been accepted to, write down key factors that are both positive and negative in helping you determine which school has the most “pros”…for you.
  4. Evaluate your finances – conduct specialized research on the cost of each school including tuition, housing, meal plans, and any extra fees (i.e. study abroad, use of facilities). Once you have done this, talk to your family about your financial circumstances. If you have received scholarships and other types of financial assistance, these may be your deciding factors!
  5. Talk to your most trusted group of listeners – ultimately this decision is yours to make, but it is also helpful to have a good network of people that you trust and that you feel can guide you in a positive direction.
  6. Reach out to current students & alumni – once you have narrowed down your top choices, try to reach out to current students (and even alumni) through social media in order to get some feedback about their experiences, both past and present, at your school(s) of interest.
  7. OKAY, time is now up – once the moment has arrived, you should feel confident in your decision and you should proudly be able to confirm your attendance at the school of your choice. Once you have, be sure to follow deadlines that are asked of you regarding filling out information in the school’s portal, addressing any needed documentation, and payment.
  8. Inform the other schools – take the time to let the other colleges and universities know that you will not be attending so that you can give another student the possibility to fill your spot.
  9. Take a deep breath – after making any type of important life decision, it is always helpful to literally take a breath and take some time to “decompress” in order to re-energize. 
  10. Get to graduation – although it may seem like a “done deal” now that you have been accepted to college and have given your response to attend, this doesn’t mean that you are in the clear. Finish out your high school career as best as you can!

By: Marisa De Marco-Costanzo

Paris, Je T’aime (Part 2)

…After settling into my tiny dorm room that evening, I explored the building I would call “home” for the next ten months. In the basement were a foosball table, a pool table, and a TV. Impossible to be bored! My bedroom was simple, the kitchens simpler, yet the colored faces of the students I passed were all smiling. As I moseyed back to my room, I noticed a tall, lanky, dark haired boy opening the door to the room directly across from mine.

“Hey.” I tapped him on the shoulder before he could finish turning his key.

He spun around, evidently surprised.

“I’m Andrea. From New York. Your new neighbor,” I said pointing to my door.

“I’m just saying ‘hi’, since I’ll probably be seeing you a lot. Nice to meet you!” I said in an overly hyper manner.

Gosh. Why did I crumble into total awkwardness when speaking to a cute guy?

An amused grin spread across his fair face, and if hearts could melt, mine must have started to.

He held out his hand. “Hi, I’m Konstantin. From Russia.”

I shook his hand (firm handshake) and smiled. His hazel eyes smiled back.

“What are you doing now, Andrea?”

“Oh, I just arrived. Literally, today. I don’t know.”

“Oh! Come on, I’ll show you around. I’ll take you to the Eiffel Tower! It’s breathtaking at night.”


This was supposed to be a new start, a new country, a new life. I would grasp every opportunity by the horns and live life with the attitude of my Italian professor, who would respond to any student’s bizarre, malformed sentences with: “Why not?”

Here was a Disney prince come to life asking if he could show me around the most romantic city in the world. Though shy, I was by no means a total idiot.

“Um, why not? Just give me a sec.”

I rushed to grab a light sweater, the whole time praying I wouldn’t wake up.

By: Andrea Schiralli

Paris, Je T’aime (Part 1)

Paris—the city of lights, chocolate, baguettes, art…love. What isn’t Paris known for?

During my junior year of studies at Cornell, I decided to study abroad in Paris. I had fallen in love with the French language through an elective and switched majors during my sophomore year. Although I did not meet the minimum language requirements to study in France (at least 4 semesters of the language plus a writing course), I set up an appointment with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and promised him that I would try my hardest and not disappoint, insisting that French is a Romance Language just like the others—Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian—that I already speak. How hard could studying French literature in France with minimal grasp of the language be? I was about to find out.

As soon as I stepped foot on Parisian soil, I felt as if I were transported to a land of my “wildest dreams,” to quote the great Western philosopher Taylor Swift. I will never forget walking to the study abroad office—a joint-run Cornell, Emory, Duke, and Harvard program—on my first day in France. The mid-August sun shone upon the hundreds of year old architecture, giving the city an ethereal feel. My steps felt like floating, and I was completely high off of being in what all Parisians proudly and justifiably call “la plus belle ville du monde.”

The thirty other study abroad students and I congregated in the study abroad office—a small, three-room space in a charming, cobblestone street in St. Michel and were introduced to our advisors and then introduced ourselves to each other. 28 of the other students in the program were only staying for one semester—a short three months—and they were assigned to either live with a host family or in their own private apartments. However, a Harvard girl and I were to stay the entire academic year, so we were to live in a francophone dorm in Cite Universitaire, a foundation with over 40 dormitories each representing a different country, as in most of Europe colleges do not have their own campuses, let alone dorms. Although the French House, Monaco House or Canada House would fulfill the francophone requirement, to my surprise I was told we would live in the West African dormitory, as many on the Ivory Coast speak French as their mother tongue.

Another surprise that our advisor told us was that classes would not start for an entire five weeks! In the interim, the study abroad students were to attend daily French grammar classes and had the option to go on scheduled activities and field trips to famous museums and cities outside of Paris. This overall relaxed attitude—five weeks until class began?—set the tone for how life in France is stereotypically (and accurately so) perceived: a little bit too relaxed, yet with artistic and cultural appreciation trumping work or academics.

By: Andrea Schiralli

Real College Stories & Advice for College-bound Students

Read through posts that provide great tips, strategies, and advice about once you get accepted into college and what to expect once you begin your undergraduate journey on campus and perhaps even abroad! For any inquires, please contact us and feel free to comment!

Why Embracing Writing Makes High School and College Life Infinitely Easier

After receiving a C+ on “How to Write an Effective High School Paper,” a 10th grade writing assignment that was given to my classmates and me in September, I couldn’t help but think that the year ahead was going to be a complete struggle and bore. Ugh! I thought when seeing my carefully handwritten three-page paper all marked up with red lines, symbols, and illegible comments by my English teacher. In my defense, the other students received from the C to F range, with the exception of one girl who got a B-.

Mrs. Brown (*name change to protect the innocent) positioned herself as the type of teacher who would never even dream of giving out an easy A; it would only be earned if merited. The sight of Mrs. Brown each afternoon could turn your stomach after lunch. Oh, the demands she had on us to become highly effective writers and readers with a strong command of the English language!

One day when another classmate began to zone out during her lecture, she called him out—however, through use of empathy instead of wrath. She opened up and for the first time shared a little bit of her own experience as a high school student with us. She talked about her struggles with writing and how with diligence, she transformed her weaknesses into her strength. She admitted that she too would find herself zoning out as a student only to find that she missed out “on all the learning” that she could have benefited from.

In that moment, Mrs. Brown seemed different; she crossed the line from teacher to one of us: a human. She explained how learning in general can be so much more interesting if one actually pays attention. She added that when one continuously looks at the clock or out the window, time will never pass, and learning feels like a chore, whereas when one is engaged, time passes quickly, and one even wants more of it.

The next day, when I took my seat, I determined to listen intently and perform to the best of my ability so that I too wouldn’t miss out on all of the important things I needed to learn. It worked like magic! The class period flew by, and I finally understood some key writing elements that I was previously fuzzy on.

Mrs. Brown’s class surprisingly ended up becoming my favorite that year, and I ultimately earned my A. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.  If it wasn’t for her hard but meaningful lectures, writing activities, and numerous requests of essay revisions, I don’t believe I would have developed my writing skills and passion for literary expression.

For the remainder of my high school and college career, my confidence as a writer helped me achieve better results and assisted me to reach heights never imagined. It also made my studies that much easier. Other teachers and professors would even compliment me on my abilities and command of my language expression.

So what’s the point of all of this? Writing not only becomes one of the fundamental skills that we need to use as students, but it is used in our everyday lives; both personally and professionally in all types of forms. It’s a type of communication that gives us freedom—the freedom to share our innermost thoughts and convictions with our readers.

By Marisa De Marco-Costanzo