Monthly Archives: March 2013

Picking Favorites

Parents aren’t supposed to have favorite kids, right? Parents love all their children equally, even if Susie is pulling straight A’s while Sally is getting busted for smoking weed behind the 7-11. It’s only in the really messed up families that a parent picks an obvious favorite (or least favorite) child.

Perfect moment for this image.

And as a student affairs professional, I try not to have favorite students/residents/buildings/student groups/student leaders. But, just like siblings fight over this sort of thing, my students grumble about this constantly. “Why is she at that building’s event but not ours?” “How come she has a lunch meeting with him?” With the things these students know, I swear PDFM U has it’s very own Gossip Girl following me around and updating the students on my life.

“Spotted: The Author attending ABC’s Philanthropy Event”

Here’s the secret to how I choose which events to attend: I am a good, dedicated, overworked, entry-level student affairs professional. I also have no life. SO. If you invite me to something and I have the time free, I will 98% of the time be there. The students that accuse me of “never coming to anything” NEVER INVITE ME TO ANYTHING. Or…on a slightly more annoying note, the thing the students invite me to is something that as a professional, I CANNOT attend.

Remember back in college, everybody joked about this triangle?

I believe I chose good grades and social life, because I honestly don’t remember ever getting a good night’s sleep.

Well, that triangle still exists except the labels have changed – they are now me, students, and booze. You can still only pick two. If there are students and booze, I cannot be there. If there is me and booze, there sure as hell better not be students there. If there are students but no booze, I can be there. Maybe I should make a flowchart with this and distribute it to my students so they know what sort of events to invite me to…

I feel like I’ve mentioned it before, but in my almost one year here at PDFM U, there are some students who have gone out of their way to get to know me. I really appreciate that. They are the ones who have helped me the most and really let me know what’s going on at this school. Students out there – if you want to get to know a campus administrator better, you have to reach out! It’s a two way street. I know there are some people out there who set some very strict boundaries and won’t talk about anything personal unless it’s a work-related issue, but most of us do open up a bit.

Have you ever had to deal with this before? How do you handle students that accuse you of favoring one group over theirs?

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2013 Goal Updates – March

The downfall of me planning most of my posts ahead of time is that I start writing my “Goal Updates” post mid-month but really can’t do much since I can’t tell you all about things that haven’t yet. Then I forget about it until…oh…the day I intended on posting it. Sigh.

Be More Organized

Well, nothing says “We like you and want to keep you” quite like giving you a ton more responsibility, right? After spring break, I returned to this HUGE stack of mail in my inbox with all these new tasks that are assigned to me. I spent a week staring at the papers before deciding that I needed to come up with a system for them first. So far, so good.

I did a major spring cleaning of my bathroom. I know earlier this year I completely reorganized it, but for this cleaning I actually scrubbed the tub, sink, and toilet, I mopped the floor, shook out the rug…it’s all nice and shiny in there now!

I may very soon have a major change in my living arrangements (and that’s all I’ll say about it for now!) but because of that I am planning some rearranging. Unfortunately I think that might require taking some furniture apart because I’m pretty sure it won’t fit through my door.

Read More

I went on a trip earlier this month and downloaded a TON of samples on my Nook. I get a little mad when a sample has only 17 pages…with most of them being acknowledgements, chapter listings, etc. I did actually buy one of the books – “Sorority Sisters” by Claudia Welch. I enjoyed reading it and I think it’s something any female reader with a close group of friends can understand…not just those in a sorority. The one thing that stinks is books are EXPENSIVE. I think I’m either going to have to go back to Goodwill to look for books or try and find a library.

Schedule More Me Time

You know you’re getting to a point where your work life and your personal life are so entwined that you’re inviting your friends to college events for a night out. I have found other things to keep me busy in my new city, but work has been so busy with late night events that I haven’t really had much me time…good thing I enjoy work! I also seem to finally have a group of friends. Some have “normal” 9 to 5 jobs, others have crazy retail hours, and then there’s me. Ha!

Keep in Touch

This month has been soooo busy! I’ve traveled twice this month and I have one more trip coming up this weekend. Even though I didn’t travel to see my friends, I wound up being in touch with them more than a normal month because they’d comment on my Facebook pictures and we’d wind up chatting all night about where I was and what I was doing. I also did get to see my Big which was wonderful. She hasn’t visited me in my new city yet so hopefully we will find time for that in the next few months. It’s difficult because I don’t plan my weekends until I know what weekends I’m on call.

Be a Grown Up

I rented a car for the second time in my life. That seems like a grown up thing to do. I also found all the documents in order to do my taxes, but I still haven’t done them. Of course, that’s all negated by the fact I was pouty about not day drinking on St. Paddy’s. Oops.


In April, I plan on finishing a book that I haven’t read in forever and finishing a major non-work related project. Woo!

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How I Felt on St. Patrick’s Day

How I Felt on St. Patrick's Day

Knowing somewhere out there, college students are day drinking. I’m so old.

My First Formal Recruitment

Truth: the first time I experienced formal sorority recruitment was as a working professional. Undergrad U had a small Greek system and did not have formal recruitment. I had certainly heard of it but was positive it only existed in the large, Southern schools until I started grad school. Grad School State DEFINITELY had formal recruitment (it seemed to last forever!) and one of my friends there had an internship in Greek Life so I got to hear all about it.

Now, while some schools have their formal recruitment in the fall (well technically summer since some schools do it before move in), both GSS and PDFM U hold formal recruitment in the spring and don’t allow first year students to go through until spring. I can see both sides to this argument. It’s super easy for freshmen to sign up for recruitment before they know of anything else on campus. However, I had to see a lot of my friends and sisters that went through as a freshmen be placed on academic probation by the organization and sometimes even by the school because they couldn’t handle the heavy workload AND being a new member their very first semester. Forcing students to wait means that they might get involved with other activities on campus, but it also means they will be more prepared to balance everything and less likely to “grow out of” the organization.

For those of you who weren’t or aren’t involved with Greek Life, formal recruitment is a style of sorority recruitment put in place by the National Panhellenic Council – the governing body over 26 national sororities (or women’s fraternities). Recruitment isn’t just as easy as Sally Sorority inviting Nancy NewMember over for cookies at the sorority house. Actually, there’s rules against that. Sally would be accused of Dirty Rushing (ooooooohhh) and have to meet with her campus Panhellenic association and would receive a sanction and her entire organization might receive a sanction.

BACK TO THE POINT. Formal recruitment is a set period of time where sororities hold different recruitment events and women who are interested (Potential New Members – PNMs) register and are given a schedule of “parties” to attend. During the process, the PNMs rank the organizations they like and the organizations rank the PNMs. In theory, it works great because people can tell which organization they feel comfortable with and nobody has their heart set on an organization that hates them unless they are completely delusional, right? Wrong. In reality, PNMs wind up disappointed when they get cut from their “favorite” organizations and NOTHING sucks more than when a PNM is on the bottom list for all the sororities on campus and gets released from recruitment. If you want to know more about how recruitment works or hear different recruitment stories, head over to greekchat.com and be prepared to lose several hours of your day (WARNING: I went to greekchat.com just for the link and wound up getting distracted).

We had a lot of women that expressed interest in going through recruitment back in the fall. I was so excited to have huge classes and started dreaming of raising total and expanding. Unfortunately, not all of those women were interested when it finally came time to sign up for recruitment. We lost some to grades. Some transfered to other schools. Others were just not interested. One lied to my recruitment director and told her she transfered to another college…only for me to see her ALL OVER CAMPUS the following week. Not cool.

At first I was upset that there were so few women going through recruitment. I felt like I had somehow failed. Except. I didn’t. The current sorority women were the ones responsible for recruiting women. And I saw plenty of things that they were doing wrong. This made me feel a little better (does that make me a bad person?) but it wasn’t until my Panhellenic President pointed out that having a small recruitment with myself and so many members of our executive board being new was a good thing that I was truly okay with it.

I definitely learned a lot during formal recruitment. It was interesting to see the process, both because I hadn’t before but it was also my first time seeing recruitment as a professional. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s time to sit down and review how things went and try to think of improvements for next year. I definitely want to use the computer system more and update some of our older materials. I am also really excited to start working with my new Panhellenic executive board!

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A Request…

So April has snuck up on me rather quickly. And I need to write my next installment of “So You’re In Grad School”. I know exactly what I’m going write about for the second year portion (since it is oh so fresh in my mind) but I have absolutely no idea what happened my first year. Seriously. SO. If anybody would like to help with that portion, please let me know by emailing me at collegeforeverever@gmail.com by Tuesday!

In other news. I’ve become addicted to “The Carrie Diaries” except I have one minor OKAY major problem with the show. Whoever the set designer/prop chooser person is REALLY needs to take a good hard look at the items they are using on the show. I swear, I’ve seen some of those outfits at Forever21. And in a recent episode, a person made a dumb joke about computers only for Carrie to whip out a 3 1/2 inch floppy which true story, I used to high school. I saw what floppies from the 80s looked like and let me tell you, there’s a reason they are called “floppy”.

That is a floppy disk from 2001.

This is the sort of floppy disk my grandfather used in his Apple //e.

Sorry about the rant…just something on my mind. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Throwback Thursday – Something New

I’m not a fan of change. As old and dinosaur-like as my laptop is, I refuse to get a new one because that means I’d have to change all the settings and move all my files and it’s just a hassle. I know, I know, total first world problem.

I have this bad habit of hating the first year of anything. First year of middle school? I missed recess. I wanted to go back to elementary school. First year of high school? Despised. First year of college? Loathed.

Many students are excited to start fresh when they arrive at college. Not me. I kept my EXACT routine even though my earliest class was HOURS later than when my high school started. And of course, to make sure I wasn’t exhausted for my early morning alarm, I went to sleep early. Like, 9:30. Because that’s when I went to sleep in high school. And luckily since Undergrad U is full of weirdos, my roommate never thought twice about my early bedtime. However, a few weeks into the school year, I realized I was missing out. All the fun things were happening after 10 pm!! Finally, my friends dragged me out of bed one night. Okay, friends might be a longshot. They were people from my floor that were friends with my roommate that basically didn’t believe I existed because I was always asleep. One night they literally dragged me out of bed and brought me to Walmart at midnight…while I was wearing my pajamas. At first I was embarrassed  but then “People of Walmart” became a thing and I realized that I was not the worst dressed shopper.

Since I hated new things and change and all that jazz, I refused to try the food our city was famous for. I’m a picky eater. Eating too much of foods I like can make me sick to my stomach. Also, it seemed gross. I didn’t understand everybody’s obsession. It looks terrible, smells terrible, and probably contains more calories than all of McDonald’s menu eaten in one sitting.

And then two days before graduation, I tried it…and it was amazing. I suddenly understood everybody’s obsession. I was actually upset that I hadn’t tried it before. And then it got me thinking of all the things I wish I had done sooner in college. I wish I had made friends sooner. Joined clubs sooner. Had fun sooner.

College is a great time to try new things and I think everybody could benefit from leaving their comfort zone a bit, but that does not mean you need to succumb to peer pressure and disregard your values. Peer pressure is bad. In “I Am Charlotte Simmons“, Charlotte’s friend Laurie says that college is a time to experiment. Try new foods. Go to different types of art exhibits. Go see “Vagina Monologues” because I’m sure you wouldn’t have gone to a showing of that in high school. Some people want to experiment sexually or with alcohol or drugs. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Whatever you choose to do, please be safe. And try not to do anything illegal.

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The Benefits of Living On

Now that job search season is in full swing, I thought I’d touch on some of the benefits of a live on position. Yes, I know that I’ve previously complained about it, and I assure you that by this time last year I did NOT want anything to do with a residence life office. I was sick of fire alarms and students knocking at my door and students walking past my windows and well, there were days that I was sick of students in general.

But living on definitely has its advantages! The main one is the price. I know my live-off friends earn slightly more than me, but not enough to make up for what they pay in rent. Not having to pay rent and utilities lets me put more towards my student loans and other debt. Also, many live-in/on positions include some sort of meal plan, so I’m also spending less on food. Some schools do require that you pay a small monthly fee, but the ones I’ve heard have always been under $100 a month.

I also don’t have a monthly utility bill. I’m okay with having “basic” cable (is that what having only 70 channels is called these days?) and I don’t use phone service (hello iPhone!) so I really don’t have to pay any monthly bills. Many of my friends in apartments and houses keep their heat set to just above freezing in order to save money. I don’t have to worry about that and I can keep my heat set to a reasonable temperature.

If you live in an expensive city, professional staff apartments are probably way bigger than anything your off campus friends are living in. While my apartment isn’t a palace, it’s larger than most of my friends’ places and definitely big enough for me.

Many people value safety when looking for a place to live. I can’t really think of a safer place than a residence halls. You have to have an access card, many have a staffed front desk, and there are campus police patrolling frequently.

My favorite part of living on (and probably the thing I will miss most) is having maintenance workers on site 24/7. If something breaks at my parents house, they have to either figure out what it is or schedule an appointment with someone. If something breaks at my apartment, I submit a Fix It or call a number and BAM problem solved.

What are your favorite aspects about living on?

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I Might Miss Being a Second Semester Senior

I’ve had a few of my students say to me that they’re “over” college, that htey can’t wait to graduate. What? This time my senior year I felt like a crying toddler on the first day of preschool, clinging to my mother’s leg. “Nooooo I don’t wanna gooooo don’t make meeeeee!!” It’s like they say…you don’t know what you til it’s gone.

I know I hated college at one point. I’ve hated every phase of life at one point or another, but there are definitely parts I miss.

From college, I don’t miss arguing over whose turn it was to buy the toilet paper. Living with all guys, apparently it was ALWAYS my turn. But I do miss having so many friends living within a hundred yards of me. I miss the spontaneity. I miss the freedom…stay up too late? You can skip that morning lecture. You can’t do that when you have a “real” job. I also miss the feeling that you had all the opportunity in the world…applying for jobs anywhere and everywhere because there was nothing tying me down.

High school and middle school felt like hell on earth. I don’t miss the cliques and gossip and the “popular” kids. I hope they’re enjoying their jobs at the town gas station and grocery store. But I do miss everything feeling like an adventure and spending hours sitting on the floor of my closet talking on the house phone (remember those days?). I miss how simple everything seemed. The hardest decision I had to make was to do dance or cheerleading.

I took some time off after college. It sucked. If I hadn’t been approved for a credit card, I probably would have wound up homeless. And still I manage to find things I miss. I miss having a bar for every night of the week. We knew where the specials were. I miss feeling successful for the littlest things like being able to afford a new blazer or pay off my credit card in full.

As much as I’m looking forwards to “growing up” (whatever that means these days) I know there will be good things and bad things. Heck, there will be things I miss form my life the way it is now…like not having a rent check!

I’ve always been excited to own my own home. I can’t wait to make it look the way I want. Paint! Hardwoods floors! A porch! A garden…I can’t have a garden living in a dorm. But I also know that I’m not excited for the repairs and maintenance that ocme with owning your own home. What do you mean I can’t submit a FixIt?

It wasn’t until I got to college that I was able to understand how happy I was with how things were at that moment rather than constantly loking ahead to see what comes next. There will definitely come a time in our lives where what comes next is guaranteed to not be as good was what we have. I’m not saying that time is when you graduate college, but I hope my students learn to enjoy what they have. Soon.

Have you ever seen the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“? I first saw it my freshman year of college when I was busy hating everything. The basic plot is it goes backwards through this couple’s failed relationship. Anywho. Towards the end there’s this part where Clementine says, “This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.” And Joel says, “I know.” Clementine asks, “What do we do?” to which Joel simply responds, “Enjoy it.” And it suddenly made so much sense to me. I had spent YEARS looking towards going to college and here I was nearly a quarter of the way done and I wanted nothing more than to go back to high school.

So whoever you are, make sure you stop and enjoy some part of whatever phase of life you are in right now.

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Budgeting

(Originally written as a guest post for Sustainable Happy Life)

I have always loved being organized. As a nine year old, nothing made me happier than a freshly rearranged and reorganized room. Seeing all the organizational products at Ikea sets my heart a-flutter. Yes, this might make me seem like a weirdo, but at least I’m a well organized weirdo!

Something that needed a major overhaul when I got my first big girl job was my bank account. Even though I had this job that paid me (slightly) more money than I earned as a grad student, I had no idea where it was going. Payday would come and go and I was just as broke as I was the week before. I started by asking my friends how they kept track of money. Word of warning to my student affairs friends out there, do not ask this question to any of you friends that are engineers. The answer will just make you feel bad about every life decision you have made that got you to a job you love with a paycheck you hate. From my friends, I heard about things like mint.com and having portions of your paycheck automatically deposit into certain accounts. I also tried looking things up online but had trouble finding anything that pertained to me. Mortgage? Child care? These are not concerns of mine at the moment. Finally, I heard about the “envelope system”.

What is the “envelope system”? Well, to start with, I don’t know if it had a fancy name, this is just what I heard it referred to as so that’s what I’m going to call it. Sorry if you are the inventor of the envelope system and are offended that I am not calling it by it’s proper name. I would tell you to sue me, but I don’t have a lawsuit envelope set aside….back to my original point! The envelope system allows you to create a budget with multiple categories that limits your spending.

I’ll walk you through step-by-step of how I set up my system. The very first thing I did was make a list of the things that I know I have to pay for every month that I can’t or don’t use cash for. This might include your rent, loan payments, utility bills, and prescription medications…ladies, I’m looking at you. Birth control isn’t free yet! Subtract the cost of all of these things from your paycheck. If you already funnel some of that paycheck into savings, you’re going to want to subtract that money too. What you have left is what you’re going to work with for the rest of your budget.

Next, make a list of the things you normally spend money on. This might include food, clothes, gas, entertainment…that’s the best part of this – you can completely set it up for the things YOU spend money on. Play Magic: The Gathering? List that as a category. The second part of this step might take you some time. How much do you tend to spend these categories? If you’ve been primarily using a credit or debit card for these purchases, go back and examine previous statements to see about how much you are spending. If you don’t have a way to do this, track your spending for two or three months. You could just set some arbitrary numbers for yourself, but you will probably need to do some tweaking.

Once you know about how much you spend in each category per month (or have picked random numbers), total it up. This number SHOULD be less than the number we figured out earlier (paycheck minus bills). If not, you might need to make cuts from somewhere. The goal is to spend less than you make so you can save some money for things like, oh, I don’t know…a trip to Disney World?

Alright, so now we’re going to take a category. Let’s say you have budgeted $100 a month for entertainment (eating out, sporting events, movies). Divide $100 by the amount of paychecks you bring home each month. Write that number down along with the category name on an envelope. Do this for the rest of your categories with one envelope for each category. Now add those numbers up. That is the amount that you will withdraw from your account IN CASH every pay day. You will then put the money into the proper envelopes. If an envelope runs out before payday, you shouldn’t by anything else from that category.

And that’s it! That’s the envelope system!

What I like about it is that it is so flexible. I already mentioned that you get to create the categories. Another thing you can do is decide what to do with money left over at the end of a pay period. If you use all of the money from a category in a pay period, you can make the choice to take cash from another envelope…say using “entertainment” money to pay for gas or groceries (however it probably shouldn’t go the other way). This is also a system that is really basic so it doesn’t matter if you make $20,000 a year or $250,000 a year. It could even work with children!

The one thing I stress with any organizational system is that if it doesn’t work for you, don’t use it. You need to be able to keep up with it otherwise you will still be unorganized. There are other ways of budgeting out there, this is just one.

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Why I THINK I Joined a Sorority

It’s no secret that I was in a sorority during my time at Undergrad U. Unlike some of the people I joined with, I haven’t “outgrown” it. I still try to get back for larger events and while I don’t keep in touch with everybody, I do my best to keep in touch with those I was closest with. One of my friends from Junior League said that she goes on a trip with her entire pledge class every year. Eighteen women. Ten years. That’s kind of awesome.

Throw what you know!

People frequently asked why I joined a sorority. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it was never my intention to join a sorority. In fact, I spent most of my first year hating the sororities at Undergrad U because one put a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve found that my answer to that question has changed over the past few years, probably because my feelings towards my sorority have changed. I’m not saying there was ever a point where I didn’t like it, not at all! It’s just that being active is very different that being an alum.

A bit of what my first…okay SECOND taste of Greek Life looked like.

I think I first joined because I really didn’t have any female friends. I am still super close with the guys I spent most of undergrad with (we have yearly vacations!) but let me tell you, things get awkward FAST when you’re on a day trip with all guys and realize that you need a tampon. There was only so much that I could talk about with my guy friends, especially once I developed feelings for one of them… #awkwardcollegeproblems.

I mean, at least Donna had Jackie!

As I got closer to my last preference night ritual, I realized that I was going to have to tell all these potential new members about why I joined my sorority. This was towards the end of my senior year and I had been reflecting on the past four years, including my rough transition from high school to college. Something that one of my home friends said to me that first year seemed to apply to my joining a sorority…I was a fish that was always looking for a bigger pond. Once I got comfortable with being at college, I needed to find a new challenge. That challenge was joining a sorority and thrusting myself into a new group of people that I had never met before….because you know, that hadn’t happened enough my freshman year. So at that last ritual, I told all these girls that I joined to take on something new…and let me tell you, my sorority let me try TONS of new things!

Not my actual chapter.

Now that I have been out for a few years, I think I joined because I NEEDED sisters. I’m an only child and very recently had to see my mother and her siblings care for their aging mother. They struggled. There’s only one of me. It terrifies me to know that some day I will have to take care of my parents without any help. Not to mention the mere idea of not having parents…at least if you have siblings you have SOMEBODY. I have tons of close friends, but at the end of the day they have their siblings. Heck, even most of my sisters have actual sisters. I know that my sorority sisters will always have my back, but I still always wanted somebody that was just mine…and then I met my big. My big is also an only child. She has cousins that she is close with, but while many people go to older siblings for advice and to talk about important stuff, my big and I have each other. She’s put up with me hating…just about everything and I’ve helped her navigate surviving life after college ends (side note – that would be an AMAZING book title…just saying) and we bounce ideas back and forth constantly.

I love my big so much! I think she deserves her own post…but she’d probably just shake her head and say “LITTLE!!”

Just like I didn’t (and still don’t) have a set reason for joining a sorority, there are MANY reasons to go Greek. There are still so many negative perceptions out there and I nearly fell for them! I always encourage students to check it out…the worst that is going to happen is you won’t like it. Why did you choose to join your fraternity or sorority?

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