College Wardrobe Essentials

The absolute hardest part of packing for college is figuring out what clothes to pack. If you’re moving to the other side of the country or even just a few hours away you have absolutely no idea what you’re gonna wanna wear everyday once you get to this new environment.

My freshman year I under-packed. I was so worried about bringing too much that I didn’t even have a pair of jeans the first week of school because packing me thought they were “off-season”. My approach freshman year was to only bring clothes that I would need until homecoming (when my family was coming up) to save space in my dorm. I brought actually nothing and my family ended up having to come see me a lot sooner with the rest of my closet.

pictured: my 1 and a half year old brother attempting to pack my already overpack Jetta. 

pictured: my 1 and a half year old brother attempting to pack my already overpack Jetta. 

pictured: my 1 1/2 year old brother and I accepting our defeat and realizing were going to half to take two cars. 

pictured: my 1 1/2 year old brother and I accepting our defeat and realizing were going to half to take two cars. 

Sophomore year I knew I had it in the bag. I brought ALL of my clothes sophomore year (not an exaggeration) but I packed all my truly winter clothes in buckets to keep under my bed, and the rest I put away.

What I realized as soon as I tried unpacking my winter clothes was that all of my other clothes, except for a few pairs of shorts, were really essentials or not seasonal and I may wear them at some point. I had no true summer clothes to pack up to make room for my bulky sweaters and sweatshirts. How I lived in my exploded closet of a dorm for 3.5 months blows my mind.

One of the biggest things I learned in my struggles with finding the perfect packing balance is that I never wore any of the trendy clothes I bought. All those cute tribal print rompers I got at Marshall's for $3 just took up closet space. But I never put them away because I could wear them and I liked them! I found myself wearing basically a uniform everyday: leggings, jeans or shorts with a plain t-shirt or a UMass tee; sneakers, flip flops or boots; and my backpack or large tote bag. My exception to my ‘uniform’ was a t-shirt dress on unusually warm days.

The first step to packing for college is nailing down the essentials. These are the things you’ll be wearing everyday! No matter what you wore in high school, or what you think you’ll wear every day, be prepared with a closet full of basics: (I've linked to over 20 of my favorites at the bottom of this post!)

The Essentials:

  • Plain T-Shirts (white, grey, black, navy - mostly white)
  • 2 or 3 good pairs of jeans. Don’t pack 36 pairs because they’re all slightly different shades with rips in slightly different places;
  • Black leggings- multiple pairs;
  • Athletic shorts;
  • 3 or 4 pairs of non athletic shorts. Try for a variety: 1 great pair of denim shorts, some 3” chino’s, maybe even a fun linen pair. They’re comfy and great to mix and match with solid color tees;
  • Cotton t-shirt dresses (2-3);
  • Sandals, sneakers, and neutral flats;
  • Neutral sweaters and cardigans; and
  • A large tote bag.

If you know that your major specifically requires a certain dress code (i.e. lab-based science requires closed toed shoes) make sure you plan that into your essentials packing to ensure there’s room in your closet!

Finally, what essentials should you splurge on, and what should you save on. I have gone through A LOT of trial and error trying to find the perfect balance between splurging and saving, and I think I’ve finally found the working combination!


Splurge:

  1. Jeans
  2. Leggings
  3. Tote Bag
  4. Shoes

I splurge on these four things because I use them literally everyday.

I used to get my jeans at Charlotte Russe for $11 a pair and thought they were fine until I felt like I was buying a new pair every other week because of how fast they were getting ruined and ripping. Finally I found my favorite pair of jeans at Gap. They cost around $60-80 a pair, but I get them at the outlet on sale, and I get them in every color and style imaginable.

The same thing happened with my leggings. I would swear by the $10 leggings rack at Nordstrom Rack and I loved my VS Pink leggings more than life, but they ripped all the time! Finally a family member showed me the light (AKA Lululemon) and bought me one pair of leggings. That was 5 years ago and I still have and use the leggings all the time. Spending a little extra on the things you wear everyday, and that get wore out from being washed so often, will eventually save you some money in the long run from not having to keep re-buying so often.

I suggest splurging on a tote bag because it holds so much, and gets dragged literally everywhere, so I wouldn’t risk it falling apart.

And for shoes, this is more of a comfort splurge rather than a financial. If you find a really comfy pair of black flats, but they’re not necessarily a brand you’d want them to be, get them anyway. Your feet will thank you. You walk so much in college that comfort is honestly more important than looking a certain way. Splurge on a few overly-comfy shoes for your very deserving feet.


Save:

You should save on everything else you’re going to buy (except maybe sweaters if you live in the frozen tundra like me) Basic tees, camisoles, socks, shorts, rompers, cotton dresses, and so many other things are disposable, usually trendy, and spending a lot of money on them just isn’t worth it.

If you see a basic tee for $35 it is not worth it, you can just as easily get the same plain white tee for $5 somewhere else. Save your money, you’ll need it for late night Chipotle runs and Chick-Fil-A.

Shop sites like Tobi and TJ Maxx for fun trendy pieces that may not be in style next season or next year; they’re definitely not worth the money if you can’t foresee long term use out of them.  

Your major may also play into what other basics you should bring. I’m a business major so I also have neutral button ups, suit pants and blazers; but my roommate freshman year was pre-vet and working on our schools cow farm was required for her class, so she had to bring work boots and overalls.

Shop My Favorite Essentials: 

Bonus tip: J.Crew [Factory and Regular] and Madewell both offer 30% student discounts on there already discounted items! Be sure to shop the sales! 

I can't wait to hear how all your packing goes, be on the lookout for a full packing list + PDF!

If you just graduated, where are you going in the fall?!

xoxo

AME

Summer Reading List '16

One of my favorite parts about summer is that after work I actually have time to do things like read for fun! I normally stick to a very rom-com like genre but this summer I'm hoping to branch out a little bit. 

Here are ten books on my reading list for the summer:



If you're having trouble finding some new books to try, my mom helped me find this fun website that basically quizzes you on your hobbies and your taste then gives you three book recommendations! 

What's on your summer reading list?

xoxo

AME

What I Learned During My First 2 Years of College

One week ago I packed up the last bits of my dorm and officially moved out of dorm life forever. My finals had ended, my entire life was in the backseat of my car and all I could think on the drive home was, “my sophomore year is over.”

I learned a lot in the past two years here at UMass, but what I’ve learned about life and who I am are things I’ll be taking with me long past graduation (in just two short years *crying*).

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

| It’s OK To Fail Sometimes|

In high school, you had to be perfect. And honestly, it wasn’t that hard. Just do the work, put in the time, and the grades, results, etc. will follow. I soon found out that’s not the case in college.

To quote my Junior Year of high school english teacher, “Just because you worked hard on something, doesn’t mean it’s good.” This statement IS college. 4.0 GPAs are not achieved just by putting the work in. Just because you spent the hours studying, did all your assignments to the best of your abilities, went to office hours, joined the right clubs, and did all the right things, doesn’t necessarily mean much.

You might not get an A on that exam, getting a C in a class sometimes becomes something so celebrate; that internship you thought you were guaranteed might be given to someone else; and that Executive Board position on the club you joined isn’t just yours because you tried.

Always do your best, and work hard, but don’t let not getting a perfect ending crush you. My first semester of college I failed a class I took specifically for an easy A. Failed meaning I got an F. My GPA was ruined and I hadn’t even been there for a full year. It killed me. I thought about transferring, I wouldn’t talk to my “Dean’s List” friends anymore and I felt like I had let my whole family down. But that F wasn’t the end of the world, or my GPA.

Whether you literally fail, like I did, or are let down by not achieving something you had set your mind on, don’t let it rule your life. Keep your head up high, move on, and keep working hard.

| Don’t Follow The Crowd ‘Just Because’ |

I’m not much of a partier, so when I showed up my freshman year at one of the biggest party schools in New England I was so worried I wouldn’t find any friends. I just love sleep more than anything! I would much rather be in bed with netflix and a pint of ice cream by 10pm then cold, roaming around looking for a half decent party I might be able to get into.

At first when I told people I didn’t want to go out, it was awkward and strange, but you know what, they didn’t care. I get some looks from time to time when I roll up to my friends pre-games in PJs (but I know secretly their jealous)

The point of this rant, is I didn’t follow the crowd and I’m much happier because I’m doing what I want to do when I want to do it. If there’s something that you want to do, try, a club you want to join, but it’s not what your friends or everybody is doing, who cares? You’ll only spend your time wondering if you would have liked it, or what it would be like.

So go take that 7AM spin class, go to the art club meeting, rush a sorority, go out for the rowing team, do whatever you want to do! You only have four years here, make the most of them.

| Find Your People and Make Time for Your People |

The best and worst thing about going to college is being away from your family. That huge support system that you definitely took for granted your whole life is now not there everyday. Find your people. People who you can spend hours with at the library and not want to rip your hair out at the end of the day. People who will answer your call at 2 AM to go get McDonalds, people who will be there for you when life just gets hard.

Finding your people takes time, but once you find them, make time for them. Don’t get caught up doing you everyday. I love alone time. I love being by myself, and sometimes I get really caught up in that. I realized that I had my people in high school and because I would be so caught up in doing my own thing everyday I never made time for our friendships. Make sure you set some time aside in your hectic day for your people, even if it’s just going out of your way to study in a different spot for a few hours or sacrificing a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix to hang out with them.

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| Go to the Gym |

Just do it. You’ll just feel better about everything.

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The past two years have been full of ups and downs, incredible memories, regrettable classes, and wonderful friends. As much as I wish I could go back to freshman year and do it all again, I’m so excited to be back on campus in the fall in my wonderful new apartment!

What's the best thing you've learned so far? If you're a senior in high school who just graduated what are you looking forward too most?!

xoxo

AME

6 Apps Every Student Needs To Survive College

There’s no denying that college is already super hard and overwhelming. With the seemingly unending deadlines, piles of homework, examinations, peer pressure, and all-nighters fueled by energy drinks and endless amounts of coffee. But, projects and homework don’t have to be a nightmare. With the right resources, you can make your life easier. Here, we rounded up the best 6 apps every college student should have on their phone.

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Evernote (Free)

This app is the only app you will need to fix your messy notes. Evernote is packed with features that will help you organize your class notes and projects And the best thing is, it syncs to your other devices, be it an audio note, text, image, or video! You will never have to worry about losing those a precious homework assignment again. And if  you find yourself stuck on a math problem, you can easily get homework help here.

Skype (Free)

There are a lot of messaging and video-chatting platforms available today, but nothing compares to Skype when it comes to reliability and support. Just in case you need to talk to your friends about a certain project you are working on, or you want to call your family back home.

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Google Drive (Free)

During your time at college, you will collect a huge amount of files that need to be properly stored. And where else better to save those important documents than Google Drive! Google Drive also gives you access to apps similar to Microsoft Office, which means you can work on your projects anytime and anywhere with an Internet connection.

iTunes U (Free)

If you own an iPhone, or any Apple Device, downloading iTunes U will be for the best. iTunes U gives you access to an incredibly large library of courses and seminars given by professors from well-known universities. You can expand your knowledge in  areas likes the Arts, Psychology, Mathematics, and Foreign Languages. Plus you may be able to find a cheaper copy of your textbook on the app!

Twitter (Free)

Staying in the know is an important part of college, and no better way to do this than getting yourself on Twitter. It is also a fun way for letting your friends know about what have you been up to. Follow your favorite celebrities, bloggers, and news agencies to make sure you will get all the juicy details right on your phone as soon as they are happening.

Mint.com (Free)

Since you may be  far from your parents and living alone can be really expensive, it is a good thing to keep yourself on a budget. Mint.com lets you track your spending and know when you are going over your budget. You can also add your credit cards and savings account to help sort out your transactions.

Spotify (Free)

Spotify is the only music app that every college student needs! With millions of songs available, your study session is sure to be an enjoyable one especially when you are listening to your favorite artists. Do you jam out to Fetty Wap or do you prefer studying to a Soothing Waters playlist in the background? Whatever you like, it is on Spotify!

Uber (Free)

Uber is the most popular ride-sharing app right now. Whether you are off to an important group study session or just need a safe ride home for the night, Uber is for you. Plus it lets you split fare if you are riding with friends!

Fast Scanner (Free)

Have you ever had a really picky professor who doesn’t allow file types other than a pdf, but you saved it as a .doc and printed it out instead? Don’t worry, because Fast Scanner lets you scan any document and have it automatically save it as a pdf.

Dictionary.com (Free)

You need to have Dictionary.com on your phone, for the biggest reason being that t lets you search for those words you are unsure about when you’re writing that research paper. Never make the mistake of using a word you are uncertain about just because it sounds fancy and looks cool. Search for its etymology and its meaning before using it. This app is also a great help for when you are playing Scrabble and other word games with your friends!

Images by FirmBee and Unsplash under CC0 Public Domains.

 

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Your Guide to Finals Without All-Nighters

For whatever reason, all-nighters have become popular around my college campus. It's becoming almost cool to have more all-nighters under your belt than the person next to you! I don't know who started this trend, but I am so against it it hurts. 

My junior year of high school (arguably my most productive year of life e v e r) I discovered the art of Time Management! Time management isn't just using the time your given to get all your work done, it's about making your day the most beneficial day to both your to-do list and to yourself in a timely manner. 

The countdown to finals is coming up fast for so many of us (mine start in 8 days!) and stress levels are high. I've found finals week, especially in spring, to be the week where literally everyone gets a cold: your stressed, seasons are changing, pollen count is high, and everyone is in lecture again which means it's packed full of germ-y people. Adding several all-nighters into this equation is like asking your body to shut down right before you need it the most. 

A finals week without all nighters is possible with just a few simple time management steps:

| train yourself to start sleeping earlier | 

Two weeks before my junior year in high school I decided I was sick of feeling so annoyed in the morning when I woke up and making my carpool late. So, I decided to start 'training' myself to sleep early. I was a chronic night-owl so going to bed before midnight was unheard of, but suddenly at the start of the year I found myself in bed by 9:30 and usually asleep by 10. 

By creating a nighttime routine, and starting it earlier and earlier each night, I re-cycled myself. You know, like parents do to new born babies who are basically nocturnal. 

I started noticing how much more energy I had during the day, how focused I was, and how I actually started to enjoy track practice after class. My early nights didn't stop at college. Getting to bed before 10 is my favorite thing to do, and I try to do it at least five days a week. 

| make the most of your your 9-5 | 

When I got to college and realized that my school didn't provide an itinerary for me, I had to come up with a plan. My plan was treat everyday like a work-day. If I have a morning class my day begins when class does and ends at 5. If I don't have a morning class I try to be up, dressed and coffee in hand by 9 to start tackling the day. 

This does NOT mean I'm spending literally 8 hours in the library all day. I usually have 2 classes per day which help break it up, and the rest of the day I fill in with little blocks of time. I try to set a block for each class to review what I have going on that week and if there are any assignments. If there are I either do them, or start them. If I don't have anything to do for one particular class, I move on to a different one. 

If for whatever reason I've finished all work and class, and it's still not 5 I take a walk around campus, sit outside, go to the campus center, or maybe [not so often] go to the gym. 

Staying out of your room during the day makes your day a lot more productive! Whenever I go back to my room I want to nap, resist the urge or you'll nap until noon the next day and get nothing done. 

| develop a list making system | 

I like to make a master list of all the major assignments I have to do for all my classes before the next exam on a piece or two of loose paper. I paperclip it inside my agenda so that I can see what has to get done and break it up amongst the days when my schedule may be a little less packed. 

Find a system that works for you; digital, an agenda, post-it notes. Literally anything, but as long as you write just your major tasks down, you'll feel a lot less stressed. 

If I'm uber stressed I get really crazy and write actually every single thing I have to do for the next two weeks - it looks like a novel. 

| schedule a break | 

If you don't make time in the day to get outside or watch that episode of Grey's you've been dying to see, you'll resent your 9-5. 

I love laying outside when it's nice here and reading a book or watching a show, but if it's cold or rainy I'll sit in our library's coffee shop and eat some lunch while I read or watch tv for 1 episode length (30 minutes - an hour.)

| don't forget about yourself | 

It's easy to forget to do stuff for you when your so close to finals, but take the time. Treat yo self to an at-home manicure; go see that movie on discount Tuesday that you forgot to see last month; take a drive or two to Starbucks and Chipotle and get some pick-me-up food. Don't let stress make you forget about you. 

How are you guys preparing for finals?

xoxo

AME