TA 101: Survive and Thrive

You check your email, expecting more of the same: that particular type of academic spam that includes pleas to submit your work to some unheard-of journal, reminders from your online course, and Dropbox notifications. And then you see it, that most delightful of all subject lines: “Offer: Assistantship Funding.” Phew!

So, you’ve been accepted as a TA. Congratulations! You celebrate for a hot second when it dawns on you: you’re about to be thrown into a classroom with 100+ students who will be coming to you with endless questions; most of which were answered in the syllabus. They’ll be submitting dozens of papers that you’ll have to collect and grade. What if you actually don’t know enough about the subject to write a paper yourself, let alone assistant-teach the class? Eek!

Relax. You got this! You were selected for a reason and the fact you’re reading this article means you care enough to do some research. Here are a few handy TA tips to help you not only survive but thrive.


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Learn your students’ names

I know this seems impossible. There are hundreds of people in the class and half of them are named Ashley or Brian. But it will make your life easier if you know their names. You’ll be better able to track attendance and know who’s doing well and who needs help. Plus, it makes you look like you know what you’re doing when you greet them by name. It makes handing back graded papers easier, too.

If you’re like me and have a terrible memory, use these tried-and-true mnemonic tricks to learn their names:

  • Do an icebreaker that will give you interesting facts about them. You’re more likely to remember a person’s name when you know something about them.
  • Look for patterns. Perhaps Brendan, Brandon, and Brian sit next to each other in row three. Don’t let their similar names befuddle you; use it to your advantage by identifying row three as the “B” row.

Be super-organized

Spreadsheets are your friend! Try not to be scared of them. They’re super handy for tracking attendance, grades, due dates, and pretty much anything you can think of. There are a lot of online videos and resources to help if you’re new to using Excel and its more advanced features.

You should be the person whom both your fellow students and the instructor rely upon to know the answers. Make it a point to learn the syllabus, memorize due dates, and have everything at hand. As you know, we students have dozens of assignments and grades to keep track of. We have brain farts. Wouldn’t you want your TA to be able to immediately tell you when the essay is due or what they made on the last pop quiz?

Stick to the books

If you’re tasked with leading discussions or making study guides, rely as heavily upon the instructor’s chosen material as you can. In a typical week, you and your students will have to read hundreds of pages for classes; that leaves little room in our brains for any other new material. Even if you have an article that perfectly illustrates Concept X, if it’s not on the syllabus, leave it at home.

However, by all means, use creative, visual ways to communicate information. Leading a study group? Design an infographic that shows this week’s material using a free tool like Canva. Giving a guest lecture? Make a Prezi that breaks down the concepts.

Lead by example

You overslept, your cheap car broke down, you got held late in another class. It happens. But you simply can’t be late as a TA. Your fellow students will betray you: while it’s okay for them to be late (at least, to them), it’s never okay for you to be late, and they will call you out on it. Do everything you can to ensure that you can be on time for the class you TA. I once missed the bus, so I ran two miles to be at the class I was TAing on time. Anything is possible with adrenaline.

In addition to being timely, you should be attentive and professional. During class sessions, no checking your phone, no working on other projects, no multi-tasking, period. I know, it sucks. But as soon as you divert your attention from the lesson, everyone else follows. Don’t be that guy (or girl).

Do your own work first

Wait, what? you say. I’m being paid to TA, so I’ve got to prioritize that! Yes, you do, but your own coursework needs to be your top priority. That’s because there will always be more TA work, and it’s easy to fall into a pattern where you never stop working on TA duties while your own work suffers.

By the same token, stick to your office hours. That’s your time to answer questions, grade papers, and do everything you’re assigned to do. Yes, you’ll need to pull some extra hours to get it all done, but when possible, you should set clear boundaries with your students. Don’t answer their messages at 4 a.m. Don’t meet with them outside of office hours. Respect your time (it makes time management easier, too).

When things go sour, don’t wait to address it

I know you’re not like this, but some students are simply awful. They feel entitled to A’s and they’re abusive toward anyone who holds authority — especially TAs, because they think you’re a punching bag. And you’re not!

Get the instructor involved at the first sign of a problem student. Don’t be like me: I waited until the problem student cornered me and the other TA in my office and became physically aggressive to let the supervising professor know. By that time, our academic careers were on the line because the student, who hadn’t turned in a single assignment and still expected an A, had written to the dean asserting that we were treating her unfairly. Get your side of the story straight before it gets to that point. (For the record, it turned out fine for us.)

There you go: a handy 101 course in how to survive and thrive as a TA. In a nutshell: be organized, be proactive, be cool. Remember: you got this.


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6 Habits That Could Be Hurting Your Mental Health

A little bit of stress is a normal fact of life for pretty much everyone. But when your stress or worry becomes overwhelming, it’s time to change up habits. While some health concerns obviously need to be addressed by a professional, there are plenty of small changes you can make that have the potential to make a big difference. You might not even realize it, but these six habits could be messing with your mental health:


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Sleep habits

Okay, we’ve all been there: not getting enough sleep while you’re finishing a big project or stressed about an interview or rehearsals. If it happens once in a while, that’s no big deal. The harm comes when you start making your “normal” sleep habits bad ones. Not getting enough sleep – and yes, pulling all-nighters to cram for a test – is actually really bad for your brain and your overall well-being.

It’s not just about the hours, either. The concept of “sleep hygiene” basically helps you develop good behaviors around sleep so that you can get the most rest and benefits. Make small changes:

  • skip caffeine and heavy
  • hard-to-digest foods in the hours before sleep
  • turn off your digital devices
  • start a small pre-sleep routine to teach your body to wind down

These practices can help you get a more restful sleep, which translates to a more refreshed and alert day!

Avoiding exercise

When you feel crummy, the last thing you want to do is exercise. The truth is, though, that exercise might be the best thing you could do. Getting physical movement going, whether you like weights, running, dancing, or yoga, is the key here. Not only does exercise help you feel better physically, but it’s a great outlet for stress and frustration. When your body is strong, your mind is stronger too!

Time management

Getting your schedule under control is one of the best ways to start feeling like you can tackle other things in your life. It’s easy to fall into habits of procrastination, poor scheduling, or overcommitting yourself, and then your stress just gets compounded when it feels like you never get anything done.

Instead, find a time management system that works for you. Do you like color-coded digital schedules? Do you like writing out your to-do list by hand on a pretty day planner? A neat and sleek to-do checklist? Figure out what works best for you, divide up your time – and then work to stick to it. Be sure to schedule in downtime, too, to avoid burnout!

Perfectionism

The pressure to do everything and do it perfectly is everywhere these days. If you spend all your time trying to be perfect, however, it’s going to take a major toll on your health. Pursuing excellence is not the same as overloading yourself in the effort to achieve some benchmark of “perfection.” Focus on effort and excellence instead: set realistic goals, focus on the journey as much as the outcome, and check in with yourself to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too far. You’ll find that your work is much better, and you’re much happier, when you’re not fussing over every single possible mistake.

Over complaining

Sometimes, you just need to vent, and that’s okay. But like many other behaviors, it’s when the complaining becomes a common habit that it gets in the way of your health. Negativity only leads to more negativity, which then gets you spiraling into a pretty miserable mood all the time. If your complaining is something that can be acted upon, try to do that instead. If it’s not something you can change, then allow yourself a set time to vent to yourself, your friend, or your cat, and then redirect your thinking to more positive things. The same goes if someone wants to complain to you: it’s okay to listen or even commiserate briefly, but don’t let your relationships with friends or colleagues become focused on sharing complaints.

Social media

Be honest: how much time do you spend scrolling Instagram or Twitter? It’s probably more than you realize. While social media can be a great way to stay connected, that constant sense of connection is a double-edged sword. Not only does it get in the way of your real, relaxing downtime, it also makes it all too easy to constantly compare yourself to the image that others put out online. Instead of automatically reaching for your phone, try to get away from your devices and enjoy a different hobby some of the time!


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5 College Prep Tasks to Do the Summer Before Senior Year

Summer vacation means you get to finally take a relaxing break from school — but if you’re a high school senior, summer can also be an opportunity to get a jumpstart on college applications.

If you can devote even just a few hours each week to college apps, you’ll save yourself a TON of stress later when it comes time to press that “submit” button.

Here are 5 college prep tasks you can work on over the summer:


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#1: Start drafting your application essays

As many colleges allow you to apply via the Common App, you can count on having to complete their essay. The Common App gives students several different prompts to choose from, and they’re all pretty broad. Come up with a draft of your 650-word essay over the summer. That way, you can ask a tutor or English teacher to read it over for you once school starts back up. If you plan to apply to schools that don’t use the Common App, check and see if their essay questions are online.

#2: Decide on a final college list

By the summer before senior year, you may have already toured some colleges and may even have a dream school in mind. This is a good time to finalize the list of schools you’re applying to, considering factors like academics, social life, location and cost. The exact number of schools students apply to varies quite a bit, but if you have your eye on highly selective universities, somewhere around 12-15 sounds about right. Make sure to have at least one “safety” — a school where you feel confident you’ll be admitted with your grades and SAT/ACT scores.

#3: Build your resume with a job, classes, etc.

The summer before senior year is your last chance to add something big to your resume. Get a job lifeguarding at a local camp, enroll in classes at a college or intern at a company that does something you’ve always been interested in. Volunteer work is another great way to boost your resume and give back during your extended vacation. Of course, summer is also the time for fun: Don’t forget to relax with pool days, Netflix binges, or a family trip.

#4: Think about financial aid options

College is notoriously expensive, and this is a good time to look into different financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The FAFSA — the federal form used to determine how much you qualify for in loans/aid — should be submitted as close to Oct. 1 as possible, as you can increase your award by filing early.* Many students also seek out merit scholarships, which often have rigorous applications that require you to submit additional essays or letters of recommendation. While most of these won’t be due until the fall or later, summer is a good time to do some research and figure out which opportunities are a good fit.

*Always check with the official FAFSA website for any changes or updates.

#5: Study for your final SAT/ACT

Most students take the SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year, but if you’re not yet satisfied with your score, you’ll have one final opportunity in the fall before applications are due. Order a prep book, join a class, or schedule sessions with a tutor to make sure you’re prepared for test day.


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Internship 101: The Dos and Don’ts

Internships can be awesome! They’re a great way to gain experience, see what it’s really like to work in a field that interests you, and to make tons of connections that can help you in the future. Use the tips below to discover what you should — and shouldn’t — do during your internship to make the most of it.


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DO: Bring a pen and paper with you everywhere

An internship is, most importantly, about learning. Most programs have special events for interns with speakers or discussions on topics relevant to their field. Oftentimes, your supervisor will also have check-in meetings with you where they assign you tasks or ask you about your current projects. It is important to always bring a pen and paper with you, as you will never know when you will need to remember something for later. Invest in a nice, small notebook to bring with you to your internship, and you can fill it with all that you learn over its course for later reference.

DON’T: Sit idly

The cliché exists for a reason – interns don’t always have the most glamorous work. Sometimes you will be assigned tasks that seem mundane or simple. Sometimes you might not even be assigned anything at all. This is your chance to show your supervisors that you are reliable, and doing a great job on small things will allow you to build a trusting relationship with them. Even if you have nothing assigned, be proactive and try to ask for more work, see if anyone around you could use a hand, or even read up on current news about the company or your field.

DO: Try to meet as many people as possible

Most places that hold internship programs have a large network of employees that would love to meet young people and discuss their jobs. Choose a couple of people in your office that seem the most interesting to you, and ask your supervisor if they can connect you. Have coffee, lunch, or even an email conversation, and you might make a lasting connection that will teach you a valuable lesson or help you later in your job search.

DON’T: Make a bad impression on your supervisor

Some say that each day of an internship is like a job interview. This can hold true – you probably won’t have more than a semester at your internship, and being dependable and responsible throughout its duration is critical. This means showing up on time, not leaving early, staying off of your phone and social media, dressing professionally, and responding to emails in a timely manner.

DO: Make friends with the other interns

Most internship programs have at least a couple of interns rather than just one. If you all ended up in the same place, odds are you have something in common! Take time to talk to these people over lunch breaks, during events, or even outside of work. It can be a good idea to make a group chat with part of the group so that you all can answer each other’s questions, share your experiences, and make closer connections. These people may end up being your good friends, and they will make your internship experience a lot more rewarding and enjoyable!

DON’T: Forget to thank your supervisors

Supervisors do a lot for their interns, as they make the whole experience possible. Show your gratitude each day through your actions, but also make sure to follow up more concretely before you leave. Schedule a final lunch, and bring a thank you card with you as a tangible representation of your thankfulness. They will appreciate it more than you know!

An internship is the perfect time for personal and professional growth. Done correctly, you can leave with friends, connections, knowledge, and even a job offer! Keep these dos and don’ts in mind, and you should be able to navigate the process seamlessly.


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Handy Checklist for Graduating Students

Congratulations! You made it through years of college lectures, living off weird campus food, and late nights studying. All that hard work has paid off and you’re about to come away with a degree (finally!). No matter if you’re heading to graduate school, starting a new job, or taking some time off, you should be proud of this major life accomplishment!

Even though you should totally celebrate, also make the time to take care of a few things before you leave college. Here’s a list of a few to-do’s to consider for your final semester.


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Sign up for an exit loan counseling session

This session is mandatory for students who’ve taken out federal student loans and provides important information on how you can pay back what you owe. Luckily, the exit counseling session is easy to check off your to-do list. The entire process can be completed in roughly 25-30 minutes online.

Fill out the necessary graduation forms

If you’re walking in your school’s commencement ceremony, it’s important to file the necessary paperwork so that they’re ready for you to walk the stage. Check your university website to find out what date you need to apply for graduation by. Also, make sure to purchase your cap and gown — you may need to schedule a fitting for the gown — by your school’s deadline.

Visit your school’s career center

If you’re applying to jobs right after graduation, get in touch with a career counselor at your school for advice. The counselor may be able to provide you with contact information from alumni who pursued similar career paths — people who would be great for you to set up informational interviews with! Also, your career center can help you polish a resume or cover letter and prep for any upcoming job interviews.

Review your online presence

Whether your next step is graduate school or the job market, there’s a good chance someone will Google search you at some point. Make sure you’re giving off the right impression. Same goes with your social media profiles: Delete any posts you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see — and make profiles private if you don’t think they give off a professional vibe. Also take the time to give your LinkedIn a refresh! Add any missing information — awards, internships, etc. — to enhance your profile.

Ask professors/faculty members for recommendations

Regardless of your next step, you’ll probably need a letter of recommendation at some point. Determine which faculty members might be good to ask. Do you have a mentor on campus? Is there a professor you’ve taken several classes with? Those are good folks to ask! Be sure to write a thank you letter — and maybe give a small gift — to anyone who agrees to help you in this way.

Prepare for move-out procedures

Unless you’re attending graduate school at the same place you went for undergrad, you’re likely moving to a new neighborhood, city or state following college graduation. This means you’ll need to move out of your dorm or apartment. Instead of putting unwanted items in the dump, re-sell textbooks online and donate gently used clothing. To avoid having to move heavy furniture, see if the new resident of your apartment wants your stuff.


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7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Summer Study Abroad

Summer is one of the best times to study abroad. You don’t have to take a break from your normal school schedule and miss out on seeing your college friends, the weather is almost always beautiful, and you get to spend your summer exploring different cultures, languages, and cuisines. Use these tips to make your study abroad as memorable and fulfilling as possible!


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1.     Plan in advance

A summer abroad is a huge commitment, and the thought of departing to a new place for a few months can be very scary! Try booking your flights for your trip and any other travel accommodations you might need well in advance. This will not only be cheaper, but will give you more peace of mind. If you know that there are certain places in your host city that might require reservations (e.g., a really famous restaurant, a super busy museum, etc.), it might not hurt to go ahead and make those arrangements, too.

2.     Travel to neighboring cities and countries

Traveling when you’re abroad is often much cheaper and much faster outside of the USA. Many places in Europe or Southeast Asia are easily reachable by super-fast trains or budget airlines. Take advantage of the cheaper prices and the shorter travel time, and map out a few cities near your home base to explore when you have time on the weekends or a break in your program.

3.     Make friends with other students in your program

Going abroad is fun all in itself – but making friends who can share the experience with you makes it all the better! Even if you do not know anyone coming in to your program, try and form connections by going to dinner as a group or planning outings to museums, beaches, parks, or other fun spots. You may even meet some of your new best friends.

4.     Take pictures

Taking photos is one of the best ways to look back on your study abroad. If you do this in combination with a journal, you will be able to keep some great memories of your trip! Your phone camera is a good place to start, and try buying a few cheap disposable cameras as well. You are sure to have some fun surprises when you develop the film, and this method is better than having your super fancy camera lost or stolen in the streets of a big city.

5.     Dive into the local flavors

Being abroad gives you the perfect chance to explore local traditions and specialties. When you can, try to avoid tourist traps – these will usually be in the main shopping areas (like the Champs-Élysées in Paris or Las Ramblas in Barcelona). The food is usually overpriced and doesn’t taste as great as some of the food you could find in other parts of your host city. If you are going to a city whose primary language isn’t English, avoid eating at places with English signage or menus – this is a sure sign of a tourist trap! Finding authentic local places will leave you with a better taste of how locals act and eat on a daily basis, and you can really immerse yourself into your new home’s culture.

6.     Look for student discounts

There are all kinds of discounts for students travelling abroad, even in the summer. Most museums and attractions will have marked down ticket prices if you show your school ID. You can also look into student ID and travel cards like the ISE or ISIC card if you will be abroad for a while. Some rail lines will offer student discounts as well if you’re trying to travel cheaply. Even if there is not an advertised discount at a place you want to go, it doesn’t hurt to ask! You never know if that answer will be a yes.

7.     Remember the reason you came in the first place

If you are doing a summer study abroad, then that means you need to study– at least a little bit! Use the summer away from the stresses of the regular semester and allow yourself to really invest in your schoolwork. If you’re learning a new language, practice with your friends or host family. If you’re learning about history, take time in museums to read and understand your host city’s past. You will appreciate your surroundings so much more as you begin to know more about them.

A summer abroad can be one of the most challenging and exciting experiences – these memories will last you a lifetime! Refer to these tips when planning your time abroad and you’ll be sure to learn a ton all while documenting the experience and diving into your host city’s culture.


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How to Bounce Back from a College Rejection

You spent months completing your college applications, and then more months waiting for a reply to the big question: did you get in? And even though you are amazing and well-deserving, sometimes the answer is going to be no.

Whether you’re dealing with your first heartbreak or have just been denied your dream school, facing rejection is never easy. College rejections can feel like a slap in the face.

Although it’s hard to rally in the wake of a denial, you can use your college rejection as an opportunity for personal growth and learning. It’s OK to take a little bit of time to wallow. After all, rejection is a tough pill to swallow! Just remember that you are not alone—most people don’t get into every college they apply to—and still end up loving the schools they end up going to.


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Here are smart tips for staying positive and bouncing back from a college rejection:

Consider what’s the best fit for you

Any college that doesn’t admit you probably wasn’t the right place for you to go. There are hundreds of well-regarded colleges out there. Chances are high that you’ll have a great experience at a school that does want and appreciate you! Think about the characteristics that made your top school your No. 1, and consider whether there are other schools that might have similar qualities.

Keep off your social media

One thing that can amplify feelings of rejection? Checking your Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media accounts. Oftentimes, college decisions come out on the same day, so you might find your feed flooded with posts from peers who’ve been admitted to their top choices. Seeing friends celebrate their admittance when you’ve been denied can feel lousy. So, take a social media detox for a day or two.

Explore other options

When it comes to college, there’s no end-all, be-all. Do research into other schools and get excited about someplace else—especially if it’s somewhere you’ve already been admitted. Attend an admitted students’ day at a school where you’re in to get a feel for the place. Buy a sweatshirt for that school. Research different clubs and activities there. Get used to the idea of going somewhere else that would be lucky to have you, and get excited about it!

Remember that it isn’t personal

While completing your college application is a timely process, remember that the admissions office has very little information on you. Your GPA, test scores, essay, recommendations, and resume don’t convey everything about who you are as a person. Realize that the rejection doesn’t reflect at all on your worth as a person and how awesome you’ll be at another school.

Allow time to be sad

If you feel like crying, listening to your favorite sad song on repeat, or just sulking, it’s 100 percent ok. It’s perfectly normal to feel upset or even heartbroken in the wake of a college rejection. Take some time to mourn, but also think of all the success you’ve achieved in high school. Feel proud of everything you were proud about before letter came—there are still loads of exciting opportunities that await you in college regardless of where you go, and that’s something to celebrate.


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ACT vs. SAT: How to Know Which is Right for You

Say hello to the SAT and ACT! Both are great choices, but deciding which one to take should be a strategic decision. After all, you’ll spend weeks learning strategies and doing practice drills right until test day. So how do you pick one?

Let’s cut to the chase: the best way to decide which test is right for you is to take a practice SAT and a practice ACT. By going through the test taking experience for both, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which suits you more. What’s great about taking practice tests is that there’s no expectation for you to get a “good” score: you’re simply seeing how the tests are formatted, what types of questions are asked, and what the pacing is like.

In addition, here are a few smart questions to consider when deciding between the ACT and the SAT:

How much time do you want to spend reading?

One big difference between the two tests is that the ACT gives you 35 minutes to do the Reading section. On the SAT, you have 65 minutes. Some would rather get it done quickly, and thus gravitate towards the ACT. Others prefer to not be in such a time crunch, which is why they take the SAT.

It’s also important to consider when you do the Reading section. On the ACT, it’s the third section (out of four multiple choice sections). On the SAT, it’s the first section. Would you prefer to tackle it at the halfway point or tackle it right away?


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When it comes to math, do you prefer having a variety of question types, or do you want more algebra-based questions?

Another key difference between the ACT and the SAT is the Math section. On the ACT, the topics you’ll be tested on include pre-algebra, algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry. On the SAT, the topics are called “Problem Solving & Data Analysis,” “Heart of Algebra,” “Passport to Advanced Math,” and “Additional Topics in Math.” It might seem hard to decode what these SAT math topics cover, but a reductive way to describe the SAT Math section is that it has more algebra and less geometry.

How do you feel about not having a calculator for a math section?

On the ACT, you can use a calculator for the whole math section. On the SAT, the Math section is split into two parts: non-calculator problems and calculator problems. Some dislike the idea of having to do math without a calculator. The problems on the SAT non-calculator Math section are designed to be done by hand, but if you prefer the security of having a calculator, the ACT Math section is completely calculator-friendly.

Would you rather have a definitive science section, or have science topics sprinkled throughout the entire test?

A big reason why many are intimidated by the ACT is the Science section. In reality, the ACT Science section is basically reading comprehension, but with graphs and tables. In contrast, the SAT weaves science throughout the entire test. For example, two of the SAT reading passages will be science-themed and contain charts. Don’t let the lack of a clear SAT “Science section” fool you—you’ll still have to deal with science.

After reviewing the above factors and taking a practice version of both tests, you will be better prepared to make an informed choice between the ACT or SAT.


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Not So Crazy Reasons To Change Majors

Things were different when you first started college. You carefully picked a major that would lead you to the career you’ve always dreamed of—or maybe you picked a more neutral major to give yourself time to explore. But that was then, and this is now. You’ve learned a lot, gained new experiences, and are no longer so sure you want to stick with that original choice. It’s easy to get locked into the idea that the major you first chose is what you have to stick with forever, but that’s definitely not the case! Changing majors is actually not as big a deal as you think. Here are four common reasons students change majors.

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Your passion has waned or changed

Think back to when you were a kid—what did you want to be when you grew up? If that job is still your goal, then you’re in the minority; most people change their minds several times as they learn and grow. That doesn’t stop just because you’ve started college. In fact, all those required courses and elective requirements might be the very thing that makes you realize that your planned career path isn’t your passion anymore. This might show up in a couple of different ways. It might start with you just not enjoying the field you used to love, feeling like your interest has faded. Or perhaps you took an elective course and discovered a new interest. The key is making sure that it’s not just one bad (or great) class that’s caused this shift in perspective. Take some time to be honest with yourself or even visit a career advisor to make sure this decision isn’t made impulsively.

The career prospects in your field don’t interest you

If the realities of professional life in your field of study don’t appeal to you, that’s a perfectly fine reason to step away! Lots of people have hobbies or interests that they love but would never want to do for a living, and that might be what your first major turns into. If you do change your major for this reason, make sure that whatever you switch to has career options that you can see yourself taking.

You realized your awesome skill set is a better match elsewhere

The idea of a job and the realities of it are sometimes very different things. Maybe you got into your major because you love the theoretical side of it, but in the course of your studies, you’ve realized that the field requires a ton of heavy-duty statistical analysis, which really isn’t up your alley. Don’t feel bad—that’s what college is for! It gives you a glimpse of a field before you commit to it 100 percent. If you love the field you’re in and it’s just one or two skills that are holding you back, you might want to weigh your options and see if those skills are really deal-breakers or not for you. If it’s the meat and bones of the job that turns out to be a mismatch, though, there’s nothing wrong with finding something that suits you better. It’s not a failure to understand your own strengths and try to tailor your professional life to them—and it’s much better to do it now than ten years into a career!

The financial prospects concern you

We don’t like to talk about it, but it’s a fact: at some point, you’re going to have to be concerned about your pay. Part of college is learning what real life in your field will look like down the line and what kind of professional life you can expect. This doesn’t mean you should change your major to the highest-paying job you can find, but rather that you might want to decide how much you’re okay with getting paid and if the job is worth the typical salary range. Alternatively, you may want to explore specific niches in your major: it’s okay to gravitate towards a specialty that pays well—that doesn’t make you greedy! The Occupational Outlook Handbook is good place to start looking at median pay rates. Some things to keep in mind: if you’re just changing your major to make more money in the future, that’s not a great idea—the economy is always changing, and you don’t want to be burnt-out in a job you don’t like and find out that it’s not even paying what you hoped. Be realistic, ask current professionals how they do it, and learn how to balance your finances with your passion.
One change you may want to make? Going from manually creating citations to generating them on BibMe.org! BibMe citing tools make it easy to build an APA title page, an MLA works cited, a Chicago style citation, and other bibliographic notations.

How to Use Thanksgiving Break Productively

TGFT: Thank goodness for Thanksgiving! Whether you’re spending your break with friends or family, the time off is a nice respite from school. But between forkfuls of pie, you can actually make great use of your school vacation by getting ahead on schoolwork and even making progress toward securing that summer job/internship—yes, that timeline is sneaking up already.

Here are six things you can do over Thanksgiving break to help you return to class feeling ready to take on finals week and secure the perfect summer internship.

Get ahead on schoolwork

Chances are, you have long-term assignments or projects due sometime after Thanksgiving. Get ahead on work—and save yourself from stress down the line—by using your break to complete these. It could be as small as brainstorming research paper topics, or as consuming as finishing an entire presentation. Just target a few assignments you’d like to work on, and bring your books with you if you’re traveling for the holiday. This way, when finals week comes up, you’ll be able to focus on prepping for exams rather than on finishing projects.

Update your resume

Haven’t had the opportunity to add your fall internship or new leadership position to your resume? Now’s your chance. Summer internship and job opportunities for many fields begin to open up in November—so Thanksgiving marks a great moment to ready your resume for the job search.

Start your summer internship/job search

Thanksgiving is early to start your internship or job search—but it’s not too early. Get ahead of the game by scoping out when your target companies begin their recruiting cycles. Add important dates—like application openings and deadlines—to your calendar, so that you’re able to have everything in before the due date.

Pro tip
: Cover letters and writing samples can be time-consuming to craft, and Thanksgiving is a great time to work on them both! If writing isn’t your strong suit, this grammar and
plagiarism checker can help review your letter so you send it off with more confidence.

Catch up on missed readings

If you’ve managed to fall behind in any of your classes, it’s not too late to catch up before finals week begins! If you’re leaving school for the holiday, shove those textbooks into your carry-on suitcase or toss them in the backseat of the car before you head out of your dorm room for the break. Take careful notes that will help you when it comes time to study for final exams.

Pro tip: if you’re doing readings for a research paper, start citing sources as you take notes. It’ll make it MUCH easier later when you write your paper and need to create an
MLA works cited, an annotated bibliography, or a reference list in APA format or Chicago style format.

Get some extra sleep

Yes, you read that tip right! Feeling tired after completing the majority of the fall semester? Now’s the time to get the sleep you haven’t recouped since midterm season. Try getting a full eight hours of sleep every night during the break—and try to wake up naturally, not from the sound of a buzzing alarm. That way, you’ll go into finals season feeling refreshed, rather than burnt-out.

Take some me-time

Thanksgiving break provides a good time to get ahead for the quickly approaching finals week, but it also marks an opportunity to finally take a breather after making it through the majority of a busy semester. Sprawl out on the couch and watch a few Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends,” or go for a jog in the park. Thanksgiving break is a break, after all, and self-care is important. After completing most of the fall semester, you’ve earned some time for rest and relaxation before hunkering down for finals week.


Want to step up your writing game? Learn more about subject-verb agreement, what a predicate adjective is, how to use demonstrative pronouns, and other grammar points with BibMe’s grammar guides!