Category: Lists

Advice From a Senior: How to Prep for College

This weekend I visited home and got to chat with my younger siblings and cousin about my best advice for college. As the oldest of all the cousins, I’m the first to go through the 4-year process and working in admissions means I have LOTS of advice about going to college! I decided to share some of my top tips here, too. I’ve learned a lot in four years and I hope some of this advice is of use.

  1. Take high school seriously!

Let me be clear – your GPA doesn’t define you. You are MUCH more than a grade, a score or a mark on a test. However, doing your best in school is really important. Chances are, if you give it your honest best shot, you’re going to come out with a pretty decent GPA. This is going to help when it comes time for scholarship money, and EVERYONE loves free money, right? So don’t give up after you get that first acceptance letter, because your grades matter all the way til’ the end and they could end up saving you some cash in the long run. Temple is really incredible about giving scholarships based on academic merit – you can check out the five different tiers of scholarship they offer here – and that’s JUST based on your academic performance. On top of federal aid or outside scholarships, this annual award could really help! So try your very best and turn in your best work. It’s worth the extra effort in the long run.

  1. Trust your gut.

Choosing a school is hard. It’s SO hard. When you first start looking around, you’ll feel like there are a million options with a million pros and cons. This is kind of true. There are many varied, diverse types of higher education institutions. Some colleges are urban, some are rural, others right in between. You might be one of 26,000 undergrads or one of 2,000. Your school might have tons of on campus housing, or maybe it is typical that every student lives off campus. This is just to name a few examples. My best advice here is to take a big deep breath, explore plenty of diverse options, and at the end – trust your gut reaction! I know it’s corny, but what they say is true: when you know, you know. Let me tell you a story.

When I first visited Temple’s campus, is was only because I had gotten into a school that I simply could not afford. I was interested in checking out Temple, but I was still really upset about not being able to go to the other school. Even still, when I walked down Liacouras Walk for the first time, I suddenly felt comfortable there. I looked around and saw students having lunch, chatting with friends, walking to class, and I thought…”Yeah, I can see myself in their shoes. I think I can really fit in here.” And boy, was I right. I trusted my gut and made the greatest choice I have made yet in my life. Temple opened every door for me, gave me lifelong friends, and showed me where my passions and talents truly lie. All because I went with my gut instinct! So trust yourself, and you’ll end up in the right spot.

  1. If you take an AP class, take the AP test!

This is something I didn’t do and I wish I had. If you’re already in the class anyhow, it’s definitely worth it to at least give the test a try! Those credits, if accepted at your future university, could help you graduate sooner or allow you to check off a gen-ed requirement from your list early on, which will open up room in your schedule for your major classes or other interesting electives. As long as you paid attention in class, the test should at least be something take give a shot at. Double check with your potential colleges if you’re a senior, and make sure they’ll accept the AP credits!

  1. Enjoy the process.

By the 10th college tour, you might feel a little burnt out. If you haven’t found “the one” yet, you might even feel a little discouraged. Just remember one thing – this time in your life never occurs again! Looking at schools and colleges is a unique, exploratory time in your life that you can never get back. I know this sounds silly, but you’ll look back on the process and miss it a little one day. That feeling of being right on the edge of your next big step in life, the unknown and excitement that is ahead of you – that is a beautiful thing! Even if your feet start to ache after one too many walking tours, try to smile and really take it all in. You’ll be glad you did.

Have specific questions? Let me know below! And don’t worry – college truly is the best years of your life. It’s all worth the process in the end.


5 College Kid Friendly Weekend Ideas: Philadelphia!

I’ll be honest. Nothing feels better than stepping out of your last class on Friday and realizing that you are free for the weekend. It’s an especially great feeling when you live in a city with SO much to do and SO little time.

But I also know know that nothing feels worse than checking your bank account balance and seeing a number that is much lower than you were expecting.

So for all of you college kids on a budget, I’ve put together a list of my 5 favorite things to do on the weekend for little to no cost. (I’m not including the cost of transportation, which is only $3.60 round trip on the subway, and you might even be able to walk to these places!) Maybe I’ll inspire your weekend activities! Read on…

1. Rittenhouse Square [Free! + a cup of coffee]

WHAT TO DO: If you live in the city and have never been to Rittenhouse, GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE! This is hands down one of my favorite places to go when the weather is nice (and even when it’s cold). Take the Broad Street Line to the Walnut-Locust stop, head down Walnut towards 18th Street, and you’ll hit the park soon after. On the way, you’ll walk past a Starbucks, so my recommendation is to grab  your favorite drink and take it with you.

WHY I LOVE IT: I am a people watcher. I could do it for hours. I just love to watch the hustle and bustle of life happen all around me. Rittenhouse is absolutely perfect for this. Plus, there’s always someone entertaining. Be it the fantastically talented juggler, the swing band, or even just another bored college kid and his guitar, you’ll have something to watch. It’s beautifully laid out, easy to walk around, and another plus: a popular spot for dog walkers. If you’re an animal lover like me, you’ll totally dig it. There are also special events held here depending on the day, so Google before you go! There is a farmer’s market on most Saturdays, but double check it’s times before you leave.

2. The Italian Market [free; bring CASH] 

WHAT TO DO: I am a through and through Italian girl. My grandparents have taught me the ways of pasta from scratch, fresh bread and real and true olive oils. So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely love the Italian Market. This little gem is on 9th Street. To get there easily, take the Broad Street Line to South Street. Walk down South until you hit 9th Street, and it starts about a block in once you’ve begun the walk down 9th itself.

WHY I LOVE IT: The real question here is, what don’t I love about the Italian Market. This is true and authentic Philadelphia. Produce, fresh fruits, beautiful flowers, and nearly anything you could purchase at the Fresh Grocer can be found here, sold by local vendors who line the street, for dirt cheap. I mean DIRT cheap. You will literally not find this stuff cheaper anywhere else. The bustle of the market, as it is a popular destination, is all part of the charm. There are also some of the most amazing bakeries I’ve ever eaten in. I suggest picking up a fresh cannoli if you’re hungry, or a cup of gelato to satisfy the sweet tooth. Even if you aren’t shopping for food, this is great place to just soak up the atmosphere of Philly and enjoy a nice day out and about.

3. Magic Gardens at South Street [$5]

WHAT TO DO: This one is just cool. Located at 1020 South Street, this is hands down one of the coolest urban art displays in the country. For $5, you can enter the garden itself to check out the art display. The mosaic art, which lines the building walls as well as the “garden” itself was created by an artist named Isaiah Zagar. The glass, bottles, tiles and mirrors that line the place are absolutely breath-taking and make AMAZING Instagram posts! 😉 They’re open daily, but be sure to check specific hours before you go as they do change depending on the seasons.

WHY I LOVE IT: This is one of those “go-to” places in Philly, particularly on South Street, that is so worth seeing at least once. You can’t miss it as you walk down South, and it’s so eye catching that you almost have to go in. It is displays of urban art like the Magic Gardens that remind me why I love the city so much. We have such a vibrant and eclectic mix of people in the city. This is just one great example of an outward expression of just one of those thousands of unique personalities.  It’s also great knowing your money is going to a good place, as your admission price is used to help fund the non-profit organization that runs the gardens themselves as well as funds art education resources for the city.

4. Franklin Fountain at Penn’s Landing [$5-10] 

WHAT TO DO: I scream, you scream…that’s right, ICE CREAM. Franklin Fountain is an old fashioned, straight out of the past, soda fountain. It’s located just near 2nd and Market, so getting there is not difficult. Stepping inside is  a little like entering a time machine. All of the decor is endlessly interesting, with period antiques furnishing the place. Their staple? Homemade ice cream, scooped into the original ice cream container (which looks just like a Chinese take out box). The staff, called soda jerks, are all dressed to the part, and everything down to the red and white paper straws have the inner history dork in me squealing! I love this place. I absolutely adore it. Their ice cream is a bit more expensive than something like Dairy Queen, but you are truly paying for quality and experience when you dig in. It is so good, even I can justify spending my hard earned cash here.

WHY I LOVE IT: Why NOT?!? It’s old fashioned, full of charm, and located directly across from Penn’s Landing, a cool site to see if you’ve never seen the view of the river from the city. If you and your friends are just looking for a nice way to spend a great spring day, this is the place. As far as ice cream goes, the soda jerks are more than willing to let you try before you buy. My personal recommendations are Peanut Butter, Maple Walnut, and Hydrox (OREO!!!) Cookie. It is a must visit. Beyond the ice cream they also sell old fashioned candy and soda that I have literally never seen anywhere else. I am such a geek about this stuff, so I totally love it. Once you’ve got your ice cream, take a walk over the Landing or even to the dog park just across the street. It is a great place to just sit and relax, and one my friends and I frequent very often.

5. The Kimmel Center, KimmelSTIX ,[$10]

WHAT TO DO: If you are a theater nerd, or you just love performing arts, this is the ticket (haha!) for you. The Kimmel Center, which is located directly at the Walnut-Locust stop on the Broad Street Line, is amazing at offering student friendly rates to certain shows that are playing at their theater. This could include operas, cultural performances, musicals, comedy shows, or even speaker series. The Kimmel Center is a beautiful, breathtaking theater that brings in world-renowned programs each show season.

If this sounds like something up your alley, you’ll need to sign up to receive access to the student priced tickets when they go on sale. This one does take a little bit of planning in advance, as you need to sign up for the service. However, it’s totally worth it. Do it RIGHT NOW if you have a moment.

First, register for KimmelSTIX online using this form. According to the Kimmel Center website, “KimmelSTIX is open to high school, college and graduate students, ages 18 to 30, with a valid student I.D. card.” Once you’re all good to go, you’ll recieve an email each month letting you know what shows will have ten dollar tickets available.

WHY I LOVE IT: Repeat after me: “You cannot beat a ten dollar ticket.” Did you say it? Good. Say it again. You really can’t beat the price here! Regular costs for these shows can range anywhere from $20 to over $100 just to see these shows. Because the Kimmel Center understands that college students don’t always have expendable income, they make it nearly impossible to say no to attending their shows with this discount. I use this service almost every month, and I have yet to be disappointed. If you have some time to plan, this is an amazing way to spend your weekend.

So that’s the list! If you are from the area, what hidden gems do you frequent that didn’t make the list? And if I’ve inspired you, please let me know! I love the feedback. Hopefully this little list will help you make the most of this first weekend of what finally feels like Spring, and many more weekends in the future. You guys RULE.



6 Spring Semester Staples

Turning the Paige

Ceremoniously, the last day of my winter break always seem to be a crazy scramble to repack all of my stuff. (Don’t mention this to my mom. My procrastination drives her up a wall. Hi, mommy!)  Break ends, and it is time for my return to Philadelphia, and subsequently the start of the spring semester. In this mad rush, my number one concern is that I’m going to forget something completely and end up without it at school.

But I will tell you this – there are a few things you will NEVER see me forgetting. Six things actually.  I’ve got some items that are absolutely essential to my success in the spring, so I thought I’d share them with you. Without further ado, I present my 6 Spring Semester Staples – Sophomore Year Edition!

  • MY PLANNER –   Anyone that knows me will tell you that organization is not my strong suit. In high school, I never wrote anything down. As it turns out, you can’t do that in college! Since, my planner has become my lifeblood. My external heartbeat. My one true love. Basically if I didn’t have my planner, I would lose my head. I don’t have a fancy one, although I do often drool over the Lily Pulitzer ones when I see them. I just use a simple Temple planner, but I PACK it full. Here’s an example of a light week:

…..and a heavy one: 

Honestly, this one is a staple ALL year, not just in the Spring, which is why it’s number one on my list.

  • TECHNOLOGY GLOVES – It might be “Spring”, but it’s still cold! Especially here in Philly. One of the biggest mistakes I made my freshman year was leaving my winter hats, gloves and scarves at home when I returned for the second half of the year. Trust me, you’ll still need ‘em. Speaking of fingers, there is no point in wearing gloves if you’re just going to yank them on and off every time you need to use your phone while you’re outside. Save yourself the trouble and grab some technology gloves. Your freezing fingers will thank you.
  • STURDY BOOTS – This one I have learned from experience, unfortunately. Like I said, winter doesn’t end right away. Snow might still be on the ground, depending on where you go to school. In Philly right now, we have NO shortage of snow and sludge. If you don’t have a sturdy pair of boots to stomp around in, you’ll end up with wet feet and less than clean shoes, and no one wants that! Especially not if you have to sit through class with those soak toes. Last year, I only had my rain boots (BRIGHT PINK ones, mind you) to wear when it snowed, or even when the roads were still slushy. This year, I came prepared! For us city students, these sturdy boots are a must have, boys and girls alike. They make walking to and from class SO much easier, and your feet stay happy with you. Plus they’re adorable. Win win. (The boots in the picture are the ones I wear almost daily!)
  • BUBBLE UMBRELLAIn Philly, the winds can be somethin’ else sometimes because of the buildings and the air tunnels they create. They can really get to whipping. So much so that in the rain, in order to keep the rain from getting in your face, you’ve got to duck a bit as you walk. But I think I’ve found the solution. These bubble umbrellas are a savior when it comes to less than perfect weather. I happen to love a good rain storm, so it doesn’t bother me at all, but I do like to stay dry. This umbrella works so well because the wind can’t get underneath and flip the whole thing inside out, a common sight in a city rain shower. No one likes a broken umbrella, plus this one is clear so you can see through it and keep your head high as you walk! A good umbrella, regardless of the one you choose, is KEY. It’s also one of those things people tend to forget when they pack. Take it from me – a good umbrella makes for a good day! And it keeps you dry too. Always a plus. 😉  
  • ID WALLET AND LANYARD – As I was talking to my roommate about this post, she mentioned that keeping her ID and keys together is crucial to not losing her stuff. I have to agree! I am a huge fan of having everything together in a small, compact place. I’m also NOT a fan of carrying too much cash. That’s why this ID wallet is perfect for me. On the outside, it’s got a spot for your ID card – perfect for Temple because we use them to get in and out of buildings. Super easy to access your Owl Card like this! Second, its got enough room in the zipper pocket to keep your debit card, some change or subway tokens, and a little bit of cash. This is exactly what I need! Plus, I keep mine attached to a lanyard that has my key on it. This way everything is together, I can account for all of my belongings, and it fits perfectly into my backpack without being bulky. I’m obsessed with my little pouch wallet, can you tell? This one might be more for the girls, because boys often just carry their wallet. Sorry guys. 
  • WATCH– There’s nothing worse than whipping your phone out in class to check the time. You know how it goes – you mean to look at the clock and lock the screen again, but then you notice all your notifications, and before you know it you’re pulling a face for Snapchat and missing out on the class instruction. Trust me on this one: PHONES ARE DISTRACTING! As fun as they are, they keep you from putting your full attention into work, especially during class time.So wear a watch. They look awesome, and they’re useful. Plus, even if you’ve got your phone attached to your palm, it actually is faster just to glance at your wrist. And did I mention they look awesome? As a bonus, if timeliness is one of your new year’s resolutions, this will help you out for that, also. Boys, watches are cool, I promise.

So that’s that, friends. My long winded list of Six Spring Semester Staples for my new semester here at Temple. What about you? Do you have any “go tos” that you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below! And maybe this list can help you out as you make some new spring choices as well.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading so far! I can’t wait to share more with you in the future.