If We Could Do It All Over…

Today’s post is a personal blog written by a very special young woman. Brooke Stier is a Radi to Write intern in the midst of completing her final weeks of college. Not only does she work with me, she serves as president of her college marketing club and works off-campus as well. In case she didn’t have enough on her plate this spring, I asked her to write a blog about her college experience through the lens of a soon-to-be graduate. And she obliged. Read on to get Brooke’s perspective on a “do over” of the college experience.

If We Could Do It All Over…Would Should We?     

by Brooke Stier

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 4.06.09 PMBeing a senior with some serious senioritis going on and an itching to figure out a big-girl job after I graduate, I haven’t had much time lately to sit back and take in my college experiences. So given the task to write a blog post about my senior year was refreshing to say the least. I struggled with a topic – should I give advice to high schoolers or do I reflect on the dos and don’ts of college? But then it hit me. Just the other day I heard my friend say, “Dang, wouldn’t it be nice to do college all over having known what we do now?” At first, I thought to myself, yes that would be so nice! But then I took a minute to reconsider. Would I really want to do college all over again? Should I do it all over again?

We all start out college as young, immature, perhaps pre-pubescent teenagers. Some of us walk around campus having a know-it-all attitude while others are just trying to blend in. Some of us think we are so cool when we make upperclassmen friends, and some of us may struggle to find friends.

Fast forward four years and you become young adults who are mature, skillful, and knowledgeable seniors. We look back on our time at college and realize how much personal and emotional growth we have gone through. We realize how mentally strong we have become. We start to realize those tedious required classes as freshman actually shaped us into the people we are today. We realize that we were not know-it-alls and college isn’t about how ‘cool’ you are. We realize we maybe should have tried harder to go out of our comfort zones and not worried about what others thought.

We realize so much after four years. Four years really shape a person and time flies faster than you can imagine. But would I do it all again knowing what I do now? Would I start college over having the maturity, knowledge, and experiences that I have now? No. Some may say yes, but they shouldn’t.

The whole point of college is to learn about yourself and have a few slip-ups in the process. College allows you time to figure out who you are, who you want to be, who you were put on this earth to be. College wouldn’t be college without any of that. If we started freshman year with the knowledge we have now as seniors, what fun would that be? We wouldn’t get to make dumb mistakes or fail a few exams, perhaps we wouldn’t have created the same friendships we did.

Our whole college experience would have been different.

Would that really have been as fun? Would it have been as challenging? Would it have been as rewarding?

I don’t think so. I credit all of my friendships, experiences, and mistakes to the past four years and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So what if we actually could do it all over again, should we?

IMPORTANT REMINDER: the Radi to Write interns are running a Facebook contest this week. The prize? A “box of sunshine” care package sent to the winner’s student of choice. Follow our Facebook page to get the details and learn how to get your name entered in the drawing.

Advice for Parents: 8 Things I Learned my Second Time Around

It’s that time of year. Spring has sprung and graduation season is nearly here. Again. We’re about to launch our second child. And I’m okay with it. You heard me right. It’s a good thing. She’s ready. And—believe it or not—so am I.IMG_1118

Click HERE to see today’s post on Grown & Flown that shares my thoughts as I head down this path for the second time.

8 Things I Learned my Second Time Around

For those of you with lumps in your throats as high school graduation day approaches, you are not alone. Grab a copy of Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage and let me join you (and support you) on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

You’ve ordered the cap and gown. Parents, are you ready for what comes next?

Does the melody of “Pomp and Circumstance” cause a small lump in your throat? Does the thought of your child wearing a cap and gown bring tremendous pride AND an undercurrent of fear? If you’re both excited and scared about your student’s upcoming high school commencement (and pending adulthood), you’re not alone.grad cap

The transition from high school to college stirs up mixed emotions for both students and parents. As parents, we champion our kids through diapers, preschool, puberty and braces. We support them through the sometimes stormy seas of high school. And now we face graduation.

And letting go.

An estimated 3.4 million college freshmen will load up their futons and dreams this fall, leaving frightened, overly-attached parents in their wake. This milestone is a big one! How do we learn what to expect? How can we equip our kids for success? What can we say or do to help the launch go smoothly? How can we impart wisdom and enable independence? How can we maintain a sense of calm in all of the chaos? Seriously, what’s a parent to do?

We start by maintaining an open, honest line of communication with our children. We talk about the fun stuff, the hard stuff and even the scary stuff. However, we must remember not to project our own angst onto our students. They already have enough worries of their own. They may not show it, but they’re scared too.

In addition, we need to be intentional about modeling emotionally-healthy behaviors for our kids. What does this mean? It means, if your student is having a meltdown, don’t have one of your own. It’s easy to play into the drama. Don’t do it. It helps no one. Plus, it detracts from our ultimate goal of raising healthy, happy adults who are equipped to survive in the real world.

We’re preparing them for college. And college is NOT high school. Parental roles and responsibilities change during this season of life. How does one transition into the role of college parent?

  • Parent like a mentor—listen, support and advise when asked. Give your student opportunities to make decisions.
  • Don’t hover. Your child will not learn valuable life lessons if you’re problem-solving for him/her.
  • Prepare yourself for this transition. Educate yourself by attending orientation sessions and joining an online parent group at your child’s university.

You’re not in this alone! Get your survival guide today. Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage will help you navigate both the practical AND emotional aspects of the freshman year. It addresses roommate relations, mental health issues, helicopter parenting, academic expectations, and money management. It also includes packing lists, care package ideas and shares expert suggestions from college administrators and staff, psychologists, experienced parents and current students.OuttoSea_cover_socialmedia2

Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage provides solutions to common college-related parental challenges and prepares you for what comes next. Read it today so you can enjoy the upcoming months, feeling prepared and empowered as you help your child set sail into college life.


10 life skills to learn while you’re still in high school

Our blogs are usually written for parents, but today we’re changing gears and sharing some information useful for high school students. So parents, please share this post with your teens! Today’s guest blogger is Adam Valley. He’s a junior at St. John’s University and working toward a Global Business Leadership major and an Economics minor. Adam’s been on the college scene for nearly three years and would like to share his thoughts on must-have life skills students will need as they transition from high school to university life.

10 life skills to learn while you’re still in high school

By Adam ValleyAdam headshot

These are 10 life skills that I believe everyone should learn while they are still in high school. They will help you not only in college but also in everyday life. These are skills everyone has and uses everyday—some knowingly, and others by accident. This list is not in a particular order because I believe the order of importance depends on the individual.

1. Conversation
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Being able to talk with people will get you farther in life than almost any other skill. People will teach you what you need to know to be successful at a job, but they can’t teach you personality. Solid conversational skills create opportunities.

2. Independence
Independence is all on YOU. You will be in charge of how you spend your money. You will be responsible for finding your way around town. You will have to feed yourself, yep that means cooking. And lastly, you will have to clean up after yourself. That includes laundry, dishes, vacuuming etc.

3. Plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Being able to set goals and develop strategies on how to achieve them is a great ability to have. This applies to your afternoon and to the rest of your life. Having your day and life laid out reduces stress and keeps you productive.

4. Deal with different people
Be able to handle and respect authority. These people went through what you will have to, if you ever want to get to their point (or beyond). Being able to handle your peers is just as important. You will most likely have to deal with someone on a regular basis that you don’t like but will need to get along with. This can be challenging but is a critical skill in college and in life.

5. Be yourself
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Being the best you you can be will always out do trying to be someone you are not. Authenticity matters. Once you are done with high school, you will realize who your true friends are. They are the ones who like you for who you are.

6. Make the most out of a bad situation
You learn more from failing, losing or making a mistake than you do from succeeding, winning or doing things right. Making a mistake is okay as long as you learn from it and use it to improve yourself.

7. Study
No one likes to study. One way to be successful is developing good study habits. If you are studying properly, you will get more out of studying and spend less time doing it. This opens up additional time for other activities you appreciate and makes life better.

8. Manners
Having good manners won’t get anyone anywhere special. But not having good manners can hold you back from getting where you want to be. It is not the most glamorous life skill but it is an important one to have.

9. Think critically
You are going to be in tricky situations. Being able to solve your own problems is important and powerful. This everyday skill is one that many people simply don’t have. Being capable of solving your own problems is part of becoming an adult.

10. Motivation
Staying motivated can be tough. Striving for success can be exhausting but it is something you just have to power through. It’s mind over matter. A motivated individual is always more desirable than one who is not. And nothing is better than being young and hungry. Welcome to college life!

The Benefits of a JOB in College

College coursework is a student’s primary job. However, many students find it helpful (or necessary) to work while attending college. With the cost of education rising alongside the cost of living, holding down a job while in school is increasingly common among today’s college students.untitled-design-2

Some parents are concerned about a job negatively affecting academic success. They don’t want their child burdened with job stress on top of school stress. However, experts say there can be many benefits—aside from income—of holding down a job:

  • Broadening connections on campus and in the community
  • Developing new skill sets and gaining practical job experience
  • Establishing efficient time management techniques
  • Expanding a resume and becoming more attractive to future employers
  • Building character and work ethic
  • Fostering ownership of education by contributing financially
  • Making friends

Dr. Laura Perna is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Understanding the Working College Student: New Research and Its Implications for Policy and Practice.” Her research shows that for students with good time management, working a modest number of hours per week (six to ten) won’t sabotage a student’s academic performance. In fact, some research shows students do slightly better in school when they work. As the saying goes, “busy people get more done.”

To learn more about jobs and college students, I went straight to the source—college students themselves—and asked for their opinions on working while in school. Below are two essays, written by two of our hard-working Radi to Write interns, that offer valuable advice to students (and their parents) as they consider taking on a job in college.

Say “YES” to a Job         by Brooke Stier

Scholarships or not, college is expensive. So I jumped at any job opportunities that came my way throughout my four years at CSBSJU. I started off having one job, that grew to two, and that quickly grew to four. Trust me, this is definitely not something to brag about – having four jobs is not for everyone, and it is not something I’d ever recommend. I often find myself overwhelmed with the amount of time commitment I have to give each job, on top of my regular course load, finding time to sleep and study, and trying to have a social life. However, even with all of that said, I absolutely would recommend students to have a job during college. Here are a few reasons why:
MONEY. Hard earned money which can be used to pay tuition, books, groceries, gas, nights out with friends, you name it.
Connections. I cannot tell you how many friends and new people I have met just based on the job that I had on-campus. And it was not necessarily my coworkers but it was also the interactions I had with other students while I was working.
Time Management. Having a job forces you to become organized with yourself. You will need to learn how to multi-task, set certain hours aside to do homework, plan a couple hours a week for hobbies and friends.
Appreciation. Having a job will make you learn to appreciate all that your parents did for you growing up (and probably still do for you). You are making your own money now and you will have to be smart about what you spend it on, how much of your check gets allocated to loans or gas or weekends away with friends.

Although I am biased toward having a job while in school, 
I understand this is not for everyone. I do not think everyone needs to have a job.
There are various reasons why one might choose to not have a job such as:
Financial means. Perhaps you are fortunate with great scholarships, or your parents have enough to support you through college, or you saved up enough yourself working in high school.
No time in your schedule. Maybe you have too many other commitments, or you are holding a heavy course load.
Not interested. Maybe you just have zero interest in having a job while in school, and that is fine. Although if this is the case, I would just ask that you think about the opportunities you could be getting. Yeah, maybe working for your school’s dining services does not seem super glamorous, but think about the possibilities for being promoted to a Student Manager, or the friends you could make, or even just being able to put some work experience on your resume.

So now after all of that, if you are thinking about having a job while in school, consider my 
3-step approach to ensuring your best possible job.

1.  Be realistic. Take some time to sit down and think how many hours a week you might need to study and do homework. But also factor in time to attend sports practices, or go to the gym, or attend club meetings, etc.

2.  Think outside of the box. Every college is going to have many jobs listed at the start of each school year, but it is okay to look elsewhere. If you have a way of transportation, look into nearby off-campus jobs whether you’ll be a barista, librarian, or retail associate. But also think about jobs where you could grow. Join a club on campus. Sure being a member is not necessarily a job, but maybe within the next year or so you will be promoted to have an executive position in the club – and that’s a job in itself. Trust me, speaking from experience, having an executive role in a club can sometimes require the hours of a part-time job.

3.  Be honest with yourself. So let us say you already found a job. But now you are realizing you either signed on for way too many hours or you need way more hours. Don’t be afraid to talk to your boss and tell them you need some extra time this week to study and you will make up for it the following week. Or ask them for more hours and show them your commitment. If you are finding yourself always tired, or your grades are dropping, or you are not in good health, or even if it is because you do not have enough time to spend with friends – that is okay, just be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself and then be honest with your boss about your needs and concerns.


5 Tips for the Working Student       by Sabrina Schultz

When I first envisioned going to college, I didn’t think much about what it would be like to have a job in college. I figured it would be just like having a job in high school, or much like my job during the summer. After my first week of school, however, I learned how wrong I was.

My first lesson came about three weeks into my semester when I was swamped with homework and struggling to make it to work on time due to my lack of sleep. It wasn’t until this time that I recognized how different having a job in high school is to having one in college. In high school, everything is already set up for you. There is not as much room for freedom and you’re most likely just working this job to save up for school or for fun money. When you get to college, however, things change and you suddenly must balance more school work, new friendships, jobs, sports, clubs, plus you must budget for tuition and fun activities.

Fast forward four years, and now as a senior I am balancing three jobs, finding a full-time job for after college, looking for apartments, being involved with clubs and spending time with my friends. What I have learned in my four years of college is that it never really gets easier to budget your time, but it does get easier to prioritize.

Here are five things that I would suggest every college student who has a job do:

1.  Pick a job you enjoy
Finding a job you enjoy is not always the easiest when in college, especially if you do not have a car. However, if you can pick your employment pick something you enjoy to do. This will make you want to go to work and provide less stress to your day.

2.  Make a budget for yourself every month
Having a budget for yourself lets you know how much money you need to make and how many hours of work you absolutely must work. Coming up short on money is one of the worst things to deal with in college, so learning this lesson early on will help.

3.  Learn to prioritize and say no
Learning to prioritize and say no are two things that all college kids struggle with. We always want to be able to do everything. The earlier you learn to prioritize the things that matter most to you the easier it will be for you in the long run.

4.  Get a good night’s sleep
This is easier said than done, but getting sleep can make all the difference on how productive your days will be. You will need all of the sleep you can get after a hard day’s work when you still have homework to do.

5.  Make time for fun
Although I believe having a job in college is important, and in some cases essential, it is also important to make time for fun. Making time for social activities will allow you to make more friends and will serve as good stress reliever when your job and homework get to be too much.

Meet the Intern: Sabrina

Sabrina pic.jpgI had the pleasure of meeting Sabrina Schultz last September following a speaking engagement. As we talked, she explained that she was vice president of the CSBSJU Marketing Club and asked if I would consider taking on some interns to help market my book.

Well, as they say, the rest is history. Thanks to Sabrina’s persuasive pitch, we now have a Radi to Write intern team!

Sabrina is a natural-born leader. She’s patient, practical and responsible. She knows when to delegate and how to empower the team.

As a college senior, she brings experience and perspective on the joys and challenges of university life. Read on to learn her advice for parents as they prepare to launch their students.

Area of study: Global Business Leadership Major, Writing Minor

Clubs & extracurriculars: Marketing Club and Bonner Leader

Fun fact about you: I can play 4 different instruments.

Best thing(s) your parent(s) did to help you as you started your freshman year:
To help me start my freshman year my parents helped me move in and purchased many of the things I needed for college! The best thing my parents bought me was a Keruig, which I use almost every day! They also would call me every couple of weeks to make sure everything was going well.

Best item(s) to receive in a care package:
The best items to receive in a care package for me were notes from my parents, chocolate, snacks, popcorn and some awesome movies!

What suggestions do you have for today’s PARENTS as they face the high school-to-college transition?
I would say let your children figure things out on their own. Have them pick their own schedules, have them help with the FAFSA and let them apply to colleges on their own. Let them be as independent as they can, but remember to check in occasionally! They’ll need some encouraging and reminding them how much you love them.

Meet the Intern: Shaelee

Shaelee Tripp brings a bright smile and even brighter ideas to Radi to Write’s Intern team. She works hard, balancing course work with jobs and extracurricular activities on campus and in the community. Read on to learn more about Shaelee and how her parents helped her navigate the transition from high school to college. shaelee-pic

Year in school: Sophomore

Area of study: Global Business Leadership

Clubs & extracurriculars: I am part of Marketing Club, Human Resources Club, and Communications Club. I also work at American Eagle Outfitters and Wolters Kluwer Financial Services.

Fun fact about you: I love to crochet am working on a blanket right now.

Best thing(s) your parent(s) did to help you as you started your freshman year: My mom and dad helped me start my freshman year by helping me move into my dorm and get it all situated to make me feel at home. They also helped me find my classes prior to the first day of school so I wasn’t lost.

Best item(s) to receive in a care package: Chocolate, popcorn, gum, letter from your parents, and chips.

What suggestions do you have for today’s PARENTS as they face the high school-to-college transition? I would suggest to parents to make sure that their students stay on track with doing homework when transitioning from high school to college, because there are a lot more distractions and the homework is a lot more intense and time consuming. Also, teaching them personal responisibilty such as doing laundry and keeping their space clean is essential to the transition.