4 Things to Consider when Picking your First Apartment

One of the most exciting things about college is finding that first apartment. The parents are gone and what better way to celebrate your independence than living with your closest friends? It becomes your home away from home, sanctuary, and your space to relax when college gets too crazy. However, it can easily become your hell if not careful. One bad apartment experience can end up affecting your academics, personal health, and relationships. Before you sign that lease, take a look at this list of things to consider that will help prevent potential problems from arising.

1. Friends don’t always make the best roommates

Everyone has heard those awful roommate stories – slobs, brings random people home, etc. Eliminate the risk of becoming part of the bad roommates club by choosing a roommate based on common values. A few topics you should discuss include apartment cleanliness, alcohol consumption, and their social life (will there be people over every night). You should also consider talking to their current roommate. Being friends is different from living with someone, so it will give you a different perspective. Then, prepare a list of pros/cons or at least a mental list that make you aware of potential issues that could happen when you live with this person.

2. Location

I made the mistake of living farther from campus, and it sucked. I had to rely on the bus to get to class, and I felt very disconnected from the rest of my friends. So, when apartment hunting keep in mind the distance from town and college life.

3. Have you met my neighbor?

Although it is difficult to figure out until you move-in, take preliminary measures to ensure your apartment is in a safe area. Read reviews from websites such as apartmentratings.com to figure out if the area has a high level of crime, sexual predators, and if the complex is geared towards college students. I find that apartment complexes filled with students help with the transition as well as eases the parents mind. Parents are much more accepting to cosign for an apartment where you will be living with fellow peers than with 50 year olds.

4. Take Precaution of Building Construction Issues

Although I researched apartment complexes near campus and read reviews, I didn’t take into consideration the construction of the building itself. When I read reviews of pest infestations or thin walls, I thought that won’t happen to me. As you can probably guess, it did. Within a week of move-in, we had cockroaches popping up and I could hear everything my neighbors were saying. The sad part was that they weren’t even yelling. So, when going through the process, take everything into consideration – the good and the bad.

Overall, try not to get overwhelmed and write pros/cons for every apartment you see. Keep yourself organized to avoid these common mistakes, and take your time with the process. This could be the apartment for the rest of your college years, so what’s the hurry?


Jobs – Is it the Right Fit for You?

Image by dickuhne

Image by dickuhne

Do you wake up every morning and get ready for work wondering how you got here? You want to be doing something else, something you’ve always dreamed about. There’s a feeling that something doesn’t fit right – the ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling.

If you have a job that means you spend at least 70% of your conscious waking hours doing it, thinking about it or preparing for it. That’s a lot of time! And if it’s not giving you any satisfaction at all then it’s time for a self-analysis. Some lucky few breeze through life knowing they’re in the right place. The rest of us lesser mortals have to search – find out where we fit.

Ghost of Career Present

The trick is in trying to figure out exactly what doesn’t fit. You don’t change a whole outfit just because the socks have thick inseams. Find out what part of your present situation is unsatisfactory.

  1. Are you happy with your financial situation? This does not just mean how much you’re getting paid but also your future security. There’s always a small part of you wondering how you’ll survive in your old age!

  2. Are you unhappy because you have been stuck with the same job in the same company for a long time?

  3. Are your educational qualifications (or lack of) a hindrance in moving ahead?

  4. Is it you or is it the people around you? More specifically, are you down because of lack of support?

  5. What is your skill set? Is there something you can add to make things better in your current job?

Answer these questions Click to continue reading…

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4 Tips for Writing a Quality Thesis

Turning out a major paper is, for most college students, a daunting task well before word one is written. It’s lurking out there at the end of the semester; eventually it’s going to be a title over a lot of white space on your computer screen. What follows here is some suggestions that a) may help you “right-size” the assignment; and b) select a topic that works for you and for the class.

1. Develop your Topic

The classic format for a thesis is beginning with a question or a proposition, and then writing a document that either answers the question or fleshes out the proposition. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable writing about an issue that has developed as a result of your academic work, rather than something that you’ve pulled out of the air because it meets the assignment requirements and no one else is doing it. In other words, massage the class material and extract a question you’d like to see answered or posit a theory that your studies have created in your mind.

It’s just a lot easier writing about something you are interested in rather than a contrived topic where you feel like you need an instruction manual. If you get half way through your research and decide that your thesis proposal is wrong, don’t abandon the concept – change the theory you’ve put forward. You don’t need to be defeated by your own research; you simply need to create a thesis body and a thesis proposal that match.

2. Build your Thesis with a Structure that Works

This one is obvious, maybe too obvious to be worthy of discussion. Personally I am unaccustomed to working with an outline, never have been good at following one. But working with a series of section titles is a little different; it allows you to insert facts or observations into relevant sections as they come up, rather than structuring your document around an outline that may prove to be inaccurate or inadequate once you’re into the research.

For me big presentations like a thesis has always been a process of bringing order out chaos, rather than beginning with an orderly frame and filling out the pieces. Just as a thesis topic might morph somewhat during the research and writing process, so too will the sections that you’re using to construct the document. If those sections are subject to a little shifting, that’s okay too.

3. Consider the Source…

The internet makes research a lot easier than working your way through the library stacks, but online research can be limiting. You’re at the mercy of the search engines for one thing, and information that you’re seeking may not be on a website that’s designed to be on the front page of Google or Yahoo or any of the others. Mixing time in the library and time online during the research process will give you a more solid base of material and a much better list of citations.

The internet is great for contemporary information on a topic; the library for material that was not only developed on your topic but published. That’s credibility you won’t get from many web sources. What you will get online is contemporary thought and opinion on your subject which will give your thesis some immediacy.

4. Some Suggestions for Editing

Even if you’re a “first and final” type of writer, for major papers editing is a necessary evil. One of the keys to this process is leaving the time to do it thoughtfully; that’s not easy for those of us who are used pushing deadlines. But editing will make your work better. Sometimes your first draft doesn’t get from A to Z as you expected it to working from your thesis proposition. The editing process can make your work more accurate, but more importantly it can bring the content of your paper into line with the subdivisions you’ve created.

If the result of that process is a conclusion that varies from your original, you can rewrite both the “A” and the “Z” to match up with all of the information in between. Remember, you’re working towards producing a piece that is coherent as a whole, not a piece that relentlessly pursues a posited set of assumptions that have proven to be off track.


EQ (Emotional Quotient): Why It’s Crucial for Your Applications

Image by Daniel

Image by Daniel

If you’re a college student focused on your studies and GPA, you probably don’t think much of your EQ, but this is in fact something you should think about even before you graduate. EQ or emotional quotient measures emotional intelligence—something some may dismiss as unimportant, holding to the outdated concept that IQ rules all.

We know now how untrue that is, though. EQ is currently held to be one of the strongest predictors of success for people because it indicates their levels of self-awareness, emotional management, self-motivation, empathy, and social ability. The import of EQ is particularly clear in the business field now, where many hiring managers are even screening applicants with EQ as one of the primary criteria.

The importance of EQ is easy to see if you think back to all the times you’ve seen IQ-smart people do seemingly awkward or stupid things. Many real-life problems can’t be solved with theoretical or even scientific learning alone. Whether it’s the classmate you’re paired up with for a project or the team you have to work with once you start an internship, there are social considerations in your performance that require EQ.

A low EQ can make you less effective at dealing with others and many professional fields are unforgiving to the less-than-socially-adept. It’s also bad for self-esteem, as low EQ tends to correlate to higher potential for depression and lack of confidence. And of course, a low EQ can make it more difficult for you to deal with life since it makes you bad at managing emotions like stress.

Fortunately, EQ is far more flexible than IQ: it can be improved greatly with the right guidance. The more time one has to work on it, of course, the better. This is why you should work on improving your EQ now instead of later. That way, you’ll be better prepared for life after graduation when your college life is over.

There are many ways to improve EQ, and most important of them is improving self-awareness. This is the foundation of all other aspects of EQ. The more aware you are of your own emotions, the better you will be at managing them as well as at recognizing like emotions in others. It also gives you an idea of what the appropriate response would be to their emotions based on your own experiences. A job interview is just basically a potential employer testing your reactions and responses to social situations at work, after all.

But can’t results be faked? Yes and no. You can appear to have a higher EQ than you really have, at least for a time. For example, some candidates can pretend to be more comfortable with social situations during job interviews than they really are. This is dependent on the job interviewer being “duped by the act”. However, this can be harder (but not impossible, in most cases) to pull off if the EQ test is more scientific.

Interestingly, pretending to have a higher EQ can help you develop your actual EQ, though. For example, producing “more socially appropriate” responses to employers’ queries can help you hone your skills at identifying what is “more socially appropriate” in the first place. This is crucial for workplace EQ.

A good if informal way of honing and testing your EQ for this as well as other indicators of emotional intelligence is to simulate job interviews with your friends. They can give you feedback on your responses afterwards. Your friends can even make suggestions on responses they feel you could have improved.

You can also improve EQ through simulation of workplace structures by joining clubs and other groups that require regular teamwork. It’s why employers look at the extracurricular activities on your resume, after all: it’s good preparation for the social aspect of the office. The more you work with others, the better you get at it, not just through self-aware improvement but also by taking the advice and critiques of others.

If you want a more standard (numeric) measure of your EQ while you’re working on it, though, there are countless free tests online that can help you in that regard. The University of Washington has one here, for example, and Berkeley has one here. You can measure your EQ with tools like these to get a sense of whether or not your efforts to enhance emotional intelligence are working and to find out where you may need additional effort. Many employers use them or similar derivatives, so it can be good practice early on for application tests—it’s not that different from getting a copy of last year’s Accounting Final Exam as prep for this year’s, after all.

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Sleepless and proud… Really?

Image by MissTurner

Image by MissTurner

One of the most puzzling trends that’s emerged in the supercharged, super busy life of the modern man is the pride associated with sleep deprivation. “I didn’t get any sleep last night” is said with an air of bored superiority and translated as “I work so much more than you”. Are we really competing with each other based on how much (actually, how little) we sleep?

I’m not going to hit you with all the boring details of what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Instead, I’m going to kick you where it hurts – sleeping less than your body needs means more pounds on the weight scale! That’s right folks! Sleep is brain food. If you’re not giving your brain enough rest time, it starts asking for chocolates and doughnuts and brownies. So unless you want to start loosening the notches on your belt, pay attention.

First of all, you know there’s something wrong with your sleep cycle if you wake up cranky every day, have strange cravings or can’t eat anything for two hours after waking up, have memory and concentration problems, and feel like napping in the middle of the day. These are all simple signals your brain is trying to send. When you don’t listen, you crash – literally and figuratively. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of road accidents, increased insulin levels and heart disease.
Second, lets debunk some sleep myths.

  1. There’s no magic number. There is no minimum daily requirement (its not a vitamin pill). Some people get along with as little as 2 hours a day and others need upto 9 hours. Find out what works best for you and then be consistent.

  2. Reading in bed is not a good idea. Your bed should be a place your brain associates with sleep. Read in the living room, read on a comfy couch in your bedroom, but the bed is a shut eye zone.

  3. Snooze marathons don’t help. Want to know the real cause of Monday blues? Sleeping all Sunday. No one has a perfect routine. There are times when we just can’t get enough sleep and our body accumulates “sleep debt”. If you’ve missed out an hour of sleep everyday in the week, you can’t pay it off by sleeping 6 hours extra on Sunday. Sleep debt has to be paid off in installments – sleep a little bit more every day of the next week.

  4. Working out before bedtime is a definite no. In fact, avoid any intense activities before bedtime (chill, this doesn’t include sex). Tiring yourself out before going to sleep is not the answer. Instead, gradually change your daily schedule to cover all mentally and physically intensive activities at least 4 hours before your bedtime.

This next part is really important. Click to continue reading…

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