Sixteen years of sitting in a classroom, and you’re almost there. College is almost over, and soon every friendly face will ask you about your future plans. Some of us can answer the “what are your plans after college” question with grace, charm, and confidence. Others will stumble through our answer, desperately trying to finagle our way around their judgements and our own confusion. This necessary life transition can seem intimidating and it is easy to be fearful of the unknown. But as you hang on to the last days of student life, there are a few things you should do to ensure the easiest transition into “real world adult life” when all of the college fun is over.
Check out our “Surviving Senior Year Checklist”!
Feeling nervous about your senior year or plans after? Watch these TED Talks.
This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!
“Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen” is the motto for WriteGirl, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged girls find their voice, and hone their creativity through writing. Since they began in 2001, WriteGirl has made waves from LA to the White House, where Michelle Obama honored them with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award - the highest national honor for such programs. The organization’s unique mentorship program is highly individualized, providing girls with one-on-one meetings and monthly writing workshops that explore poetry, creative non-fiction, songwriting, screenwriting, and more. During their twelve year history, 100 percent of the girls in their Core Mentoring program have gotten into college, many of them with full or partial scholarships. This is WriteGirl’s proudest accomplishment, despite the numerous plaques and medals that adorn their walls. As Keren Taylor, WriteGirl’s executive director, explains that there is nothing better than being able to “give a girl tools to be able to be positive and thrive and rise above whatever challenges she’s facing.”
Keren Taylor grew up in Vancouver, Canada, where she kept a list of the hundreds of books she read per year during her teenage years . After being recruited by her 9th grade teacher to help assess her high school’s summer reading list, they discovered how few women writers there were and even less books with female characters. In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, Keren explained, “That was the important moment for me in realizing the importance of women’s voices being heard by young people.”
It wasn’t until she was laid off from a corporate job that she found the time and inspiration to finally work on getting that voice heard. She always knew that she “wanted to do something that would be inspiring and something that would have meaning for others." So she began dipping into her savings to create her vision.
With Keren’s ambitious mindset, and previous experience with nonprofits (she helped start a literacy program for young girls while living in New York), she had no problem getting WriteGirl on its feet in LA. WriteGirl’s hands on approach to the often overlooked issue of literacy among teenagers is just another reason why this nonprofit is so successful, “[We] have a fun way to lure teens into writing is what makes us unique.”
Los Angeles has long struggled with high school dropout rates, usually hovering around 35 percent. WriteGirl has made it their mission to help young girls “get creative, get through high school, and get to college.” In 2004, WriteGirl launched the In-Schools Program, which currently serves four Los Angeles schools in Lawndale, Azusa, South Los Angeles, and Santa Clarita. Many of these students are foster youths, on probation, pregnant, or already mothers. Young girls in their situations rarely get the education and encouragement they need to stick it out through high school, let alone get into college, but with WriteGirl’s help they are able to develop self-confidence, critical thinking skills, and creativity that will provide them with endless opportunities. Many of these girls experience an ah-hah moment through WriteGirl’s program. In her CNN interview, Keren described these moments as, "eye-opening experiences that really give them a lot more hope about their future."
Along with being awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from the First Lady, WriteGirl has received 58 book awards for their anthologies, including "You Are Here: The WriteGirl Journey" and "Bold Ink." Just this past month, Keren Taylor was named a CNN Hero for her incredible story. This year, 350 girls from 60 different areas in Los Angeles will be participating in WriteGirl’s mentoring program – the most they have ever had. Keren and the rest of the WriteGirl team are confident that all 350 girls will make it to college and they’ve got the track record to prove that they can do it.
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There is nothing worse than having back-to-back classes and being stuck with no lip-gloss. If you are like me, your school bag is an important part of your ensemble, so you change it regularly. And, if you are really like me, rushing to class leads to forgetting the essentials. I’m sorry but being without essentials is extremely distracting. How am I supposed to listen to an hour lecture and type the speed of lightening with ashy hands? I can’t speak up in a group meeting when I’m afraid that the odor of my morning coffee and onion bagel might melt off my classmate’s mustache. In order to avoid these potentially embarrassing moments, I came up with a solution: the minimergency kit. This kit is only for your book bag, and carries everything that you might need in a moment’s notice during a hectic school day. Here is the recipe for the perfect minimergency kit:
This kit should be about the size of a small make-up bag, and should be brightly colored, so you won’t forget it when switching bags. Here are a few of my favorites this season:
Everyone has a favorite lip-gloss that they cling to for everyday use. However, you don’t want to put your favorite in the bag, because you will end up taking it out, and forgetting to put it back in. Either buy an extra of your favorite product, or put another option in the bag, so it’s always there. I always carry the Lancome Juicy Tube in Pink Horizon in my minimergency kit. Although, MAC’s Tinted Lip Gloss in “Oh Baby” is my favorite.
Lip balm has different purposes than lip-gloss. There is nothing worse than having extra chapped lips, and trying to cover it up with sticky lip-gloss. There are a few chap sticks that have a tint, such as Maybelline’s Baby Lips, which have dual purposes. But, having some sort of soothing lip moisturizer is a must!
I hate being ashy, and the hand soap in the lecture hall bathrooms is never kind to the skin. I like to keep a small bottle of hand lotion on me at all times. Also, during the summer, the terrain can be rough on sandaled feet, and you don’t want to be the girl with gray toes because you left your lotion in the pocket of your last book bag. I am a big fan of Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie Shea Souffle, but I would suggest buying a travel size bottle of your favorite lotion.
Toilet seats have considerably less bacteria than a computer lab keyboard. And, believe it or not, there are still a few people that think it’s OK to sneeze into their hands, and then open the classroom door. Enough said!
Avoid coffee and bagel breath by keeping a pack of gum in your minimergency kit. Another perk: chewing gum can actually keep you alert by keeping you moving. It’s never a good idea to make a presentation while chewing gum. But, keep it on you for those slow mornings and potentially insulting breath.
Having hair in your face can be incredibly annoying during a long day. I find that most people keep a hair tie around their wrist for this, but maybe I have big wrists, because they always cut off my circulation. I keep a whole pack of hair ties and one large hair clip in my pack. I have accepted that losing hair ties is just a way of life, so I like to stay stocked.
How many times have I dripped coffee or tea on myself and had to walk around all day resembling a 3-year-old? Hmm…too many. Learn from my mistakes and carry a Tide pen with you. Even if you don’t need it, believe me, one of your close friends will. Small stains are inevitable during a busy day, and have a reputation of ruining the cutest outfit.
Another tool for outfit mishaps! You never know when the strap to your tank might finally come loose or the button on your sundress might give way to the extra 10 pounds you gained during freshman year. Better safe than sorry!
Your TOM (time of the month) always seems to come at the perfect time—NOT. Every woman’s worst nightmare is being stuck anywhere without the necessary precautions when TOM comes for a visit. Plus, cramps are the worst distraction in the world. Whether it is, Advil, Midol, or Ibuprofen, make sure you are not stuck in class while in pain. It’s just the worst.
For those awful hangnails!
You can build your own minimergency kit, or Sephora has a few options that you can buy. They are also great gifts or stocking stuffers for the holidays. Good luck!
A few days ago while I was having lunch with close friends (also recent grads), we talked about the dating experiences we had in college. The four of us had high’s and low’s in the college dating world. And, we agree that every dating story ended with a well-noted lesson, and possibly allowed us to have better relationships after graduation. Our stories include epic episodes of passion, love and lust, as well as tragic failures. We encountered Prince Charming, who ended up being a mere frog, and frogs, who grew to be kings. It is all very confusing. Some of the lows felt traumatic because we thought that our situations were unique. Yet when I have these conversations, all of my friends share similar stories. Looking back, there are a few things that I wish someone would’ve told us in regards to relationship commitments in college.
First of all, college is a time to learn about ourselves, our passions, our talents, our limits and our resiliency. In order to learn our limits, we have to experience triumph after adversity. In regards to dating, having bad dating experiences makes the good ones a thousand times better. A lucky few find their spouses in college, but the majority of us move through a few dating experiences before sticking to one. Just as internships teach us more about our passions and talents, dating teaches us about our likes, needs and love.
Below is a list of ten tips I wish someone would have whispered in my ear.
1. Listen to your heart, and be honest with yourself.
There are multiple times in college that requires you to stop, take a breath, and check in with yourself. Getting through college alone is a task, but it is even harder if you are unhappy. And, if you are unhappy, you have to adjust your surroundings or change your priorities.
2. It’s okay to have a change of heart.
Some times things don’t always happen the way we would like them. In the beginning of my freshman year, I started dating a football player, who was being bombarded by the thrills of being a campus star. I was falling for him, and his distractions left me doubtful of a future. So, despite our attraction and friendship, I moved on. At the time, I felt awful about it, but now I see that it was for the best.
3. Realizing what you DON’T want is valuable.
When things don’t go well, it can be a blessing. My close friend said to me the other day, “A set back is just a set up for a come back.” Defining your dislikes is essential to creating a situation that brings joy. Some times a person is great, but may not be compatible for you. That’s ok, because you will be better able to sense when someone is compatible once you move on.
4. Commitment requires an investment of time and energy.
All commitments require your time. With classes, exams, projects and papers, you will be lucky to have time to yourself or with your friends. Before you dedicate yourself, take some time to think about if the relationship fits with your short and long term goals.
5. Finding a mentor can make life a little easier.
It is always a good idea to befriend someone slightly older than you that can give you advice based on their past experience. This could be senior female in a healthy relationship that you admire, or your sister that recently graduated from college and landed the perfect job. These women can help you balance your classes with your relationships, or may give you advice when a relationship isn’t working.
6. The most compatible partner is usually found through networking.
When you are focused on your academic and career goals, you will most likely find yourself with likeminded people. This can be a good environment to date. BUT, as a woman, be cautious of partners within your industry. You don’t want a bad reputation to precede you.
When considering dating on campus, evaluate the relationships the person you’re considering has with other students, women, professors, etc. It is in your benefit to know that this person is respected on campus.
7. Dressing for the occasion is a must.
If you are on date, you must know that the person sitting on the other side of the table already finds you attractive. When styling your outfits, aim for something that complements your shape, rather than displays your body. The goal is to feel confident, so you can present the best version of yourself.
8. Avoid burning bridges.
When things aren’t going well with your significant other, it is always more beneficial for you to maintain a decent relationship with that person once it’s over. You don’t have to be friends, but you should be able to say hello in the hallway. You’re ability to overcome the adversities of the relationship mark your truth strength and your inner beauty. Plus, you will run into that person again—believe me.
9. There is no competition.
Believe in yourself. When we spend time worrying about others, we instantly invite negativity into our relationships. There is a reason that guy decided he wanted to date you. Stay secure within yourself and your worth. Trust your heart.
10. There are always opportunities for growth.
All experiences in life are meant to teach us new things about ourselves. But, in college, new experiences happen every day, and sometimes it can be draining to have so many things happen at once. But, it is comforting to know that many of our perceived “unique” dating experiences are common. Whether you fall in or out of love, there is always an opportunity to become a better person.
The best thing you can do is to acknowledge that you are a human being in a period of immense growth. Always follow your heart, and don’t get too bummed when things don’t turn out well. Unlike college, you don’t get a grade at the end of a relationship. It’s all a learning experience. Happy dating!
It’s Friday. You’re invited to San Diego for a weekend getaway with your girls. Super excited, you immediately begin planning your wardrobe. You go online to check your account balance. Oh, that’s right. You’re in college and you’re low on funds. Womp.
Instead of being too sad that you have to pass on this quick trip, why not try some other inexpensive ways to have fun? Besides, your friends will appreciate the money they will save.
So, what is a fun-loving girl to do with a restrictive budget? Don’t worry, we have a few solutions for all you Made Women out there who are looking for the best bargain activities.
Groupon can be your saving grace. It has hundreds of discounts and deals that will enable you to take trips and try new activities without draining your bank account. If you’re new to this ingenious resource, you simply type in your city, and it will offer you discounts on everything from restaurants and hotels to sky diving! So don’t fret, there’s hope for those of us who wish to go out on the weekends, but cannot afford something extravagant.
Turn up that Macklemore, and engage in one of the trendiest activities as of late: thrifting. You may be weary of purchasing clothes that have past owners, but you’d be surprised at the pieces that you can find at your local Goodwill. $20 designer jeans? Yes please!! And of course, not everything you see at secondhand stores are gems, but that can make the experience even more fun! Try on the most outrageous outfit you can find!
Instead of paying for pricey yoga sessions and fitness classes, I suggest a bike ride or hike! Depending on where you live, you may be limited by the season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the snow-covered ground and go sledding, or enjoy a nice day by the pool in the triple-digit heat! Create your own free workout!
When in doubt, do a simple Google search and see if there are any free concerts or museum days coming up in your area. I know I’ve had success in discovering free outdoor concerts during the summer by simply searching the topic. There are also numerous websites devoted to 50 free things to do in (insert your city here). I have always found that a little Google research beforehand can only expand your activity options! Besides, let’s face it: we already depend on Google.
These are only a few suggestions, but hopefully it shows that there are plenty of opportunities for women on tight budgets. Don’t let high prices threaten your ambition! You can always find a less expensive way to enjoy yourself.