The soundtrack to my college studies

If you know me at all, you know music is a huge part of my life that I could never go without. I’ve written about life-changing concerts, my family’s strong musical roots, my love for singing, and picking acoustic guitar back up this summer. Music is often how I connect with others (if I find out we have common tastes, I can talk to you for hours with unlimited suggestions to check out), deal with certain emotions/situations,  and “when words fail, music speaks.” Ever since the gloriousness that is Spotify came around, discovering new music and finding incredible playlists is basically how I survive the little thing called studying. My friends and I are constantly sharing the latest up and coming band with each other. Two concerts I’ve been to this year (and one next month) have been for artists I just happened upon on Spotify or through word of mouth, listen to on repeat for weeks, see their tour dates, and spontaneously plan a trip to see them. Whether I’m up to my eyeballs with histology notes, cranking out a five or ten page religion paper the night before it’s due (which definitely happened last week for the first time in my college career), or trying to stay awake studying for my mundane business class exams, the music I listen to when I study has played a crucial role in my life as a college student.

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

If I leave for Common Grounds, Dichotomy, Lula Jane’s, the library, or BSB without headphones and a fully charged computer, studying is a lost cause. I literally can’t study in silence. The loud chatter of sorority girls or stressed freshman isn’t exactly music to my ears, either. Side note to Mom and Dad, Beats or Bose for Christmas??? After all, I would use them all throughout the dental school years.

I’ve recently been hooked on Spotify’s “Indie Folk for Focus” instrumental playlist, but I actually just made a new one called “Study Sounds” tonight. It’s currently sitting at about 29 hours of nonstop songs: more than enough to fuel a full couple of nights hitting the books (or Powerpoint printouts and colored pens – I haven’t cracked open a textbook since I don’t know when). What’s on this A+ mix?

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don't happen without some serious study tunes

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don’t happen without some serious study tunes

Andrew Belle, Colony House, Johnnyswim, Ivan & Alyosha, John Mark McMillan, The Head and the Heart, Sarah Jarosz, Nickel Creek, Jon Foreman, Fiction Family, The Oh Hello’s, Knox Hamilton, Fleet Foxes, Penny and Sparrow, Jon McLaughlin, Ben Rector, Vampire Weekend, Jillian Edwards, Andy Davis

If any of your study playlists or iTunes in general are in a rut, I hope you’ll check some of these artists out. They won’t disappoint.

In other news, tomorrow marks 5 weeks until the first round of acceptances! It’s also when my motivation for this last year’s classes/GPA will probably take yet another hit for the worse. My pre-dent friends and I are already anticipating the big night out [*hopefully*] celebrating years of blood, sweat, and tears to get that coveted letter or phone call. For now I guess I’ve got to get back to those studies for yet another multiple test week…


(Part 2) So you’re done with high school: A college senior’s thoughts to new grads

Well I promised a continuation of my rambling advice about entering college, so here it is (even though it’s really only one more huge point I wanted to talk about). If you missed part 1 – check it out here:


shout out to all my tri delt friends 😉

6. Do not feel like you need to rush Greek life to make friends or fit in. This is in no way meant to take a stab at all my incredible friends that do happen to be in a sorority/fraternity. They know I like to give them a hard time sometimes, but I’m sure all of them could convince you to rush after telling you that Greek life has done all these great things for them. I’m just speaking from personal experience, the decision I made that was best for me, and wanting to give you the other side of the story that too often gets no attention. Even though it feels like Greeks sometimes run the campus or are everywhere, in reality, it’s often the considerable minority (Baylor’s is surprisingly only around 25% I think). From the second you step on campus, you will get asked a very typical slew of questions from everyone you meet: where you’re from, what are you majoring in, which dorm you’re in, and lastly ARE YOU GOING TO RUSH? I hate this question just because it automatically places you in one of two categories. Well I’m telling you that if you answer no and your peers no longer want to pursue that friendship with you (aka potential sister/brotherhood), then they never really were going to be your close friends. Some people think that if they don’t join a frat/srat it will be impossible to make a lot of friends in college, network for business (oh how I get that answer every single time and why our business building – nicknamed Hankamer High – easily has the highest percentage of Greeks), or that they’ll miss out on something that apparently is advertised as a crucial part of normal college life. Here’s my opinion on it, and why I chose to answer no every single time I got that question.

  • Money. We’re already attending a very expensive private university, and several hundred to even a couple thousand more a semester would never fly with my parents. I’d rather any little extra bit be going to my future schooling/wedding fund personally.
  • Constant forced socializing. I am exactly down the middle of extravert and introvert. I really do love meeting new people and would consider myself a pretty outgoing, confident, and friendly person. I do not consider myself as someone who enjoys surface level small talk or having to attend meetings, mixers, socials, and several other events every week because I need “points.” Also, who actually has time to get ready and dress up that much? Between full course-loads and working multiple jobs I barely have time to sit down and eat dinner or even shower every single night.
  • Girls and way too many of them. Hello, estrogen overload. I love my good girl friends, I really do. But expecting to be like “sisters” with over 100 girls and never getting tired of hanging out with any of them? I’ve actually always considered myself as a girl that would almost rather have more guy friends than girls. I love hanging out with guys because, generally, there is no fake facade, catty gossip, diet talk, judging each other all the time, or emotional roller coasters complaining about being single or asking for advice about their breakups.
  •  Limited opportunities for non-Greek things. This was probably my biggest deciding factor. I am someone that loves to be involved in several different spheres and could never narrow myself to being in just one or two things and have the SAME friends that do everything together (aka srats/frats). It always seemed to me that girls in the same sororities were such tight friends (think, “On Wednesdays we wear pink”), but those sisters were the only kind of people they interacted with consistently. The main answer I give is usually something like, “I didn’t want to be in a sorority, because I didn’t want to JUST be in a sorority.” With all the crazy time commitments they have and events planned all the time, it didn’t seem like something I would want to sacrifice so much for in order to commit to only that one thing. I’m highly involved in ASDA, All-University Sing, the fitness department, academic jobs (SI, TA), Antioch Church, previously the choral department, and oh yeah – I’m a biology major with double minors applying to school to become a doctor (my grades kind of matter). I love having so many countless friends ALL over campus and from all kinds of backgrounds with such varying personalities, passions, things in common with me, etc. Variety really is the spice of life, and I just didn’t want to be so into sorority life that that’s all I really got to do in college. Finally, there was no way I wanted it to take time away from studying and succeeding in school which was in fact the reason I came to college: furthering my education.

Again, please don’t read this as me thinking I’m so above Greek life, and I completely realize that it is absolutely the best decision to rush for some people. Just don’t believe the lie that it also has to be for you.

So you’re done with high school: A college senior’s thoughts to new grads

2003d52d4a3d26c5b571be9aca7df730We all know what time of year it is: the season for graduations. I wanted to write tonight addressing new high school grads bound for the next big step as a senior who’s now had enough time to gather up little bits here and there of advice on how to navigate this whole thing called college. f41544ab177000e17f3874cba3896da7

Think of this as simply my words of wisdom to a younger me, and take them for what you will and even call it cliche. I am not at all trying to convince you that I have everything figured out, because that is far from the truth. I do believe that I am a credible source of how to at least succeed academically, and hopefully along the way you’ll also thrive socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically in these glorious four years of your life. The real world will be here far sooner than you would like, I can promise you that.

I don’t even know where to begin because there is so much I wish I had time and space to tell you. ee89b68318b6ef81d797b76d9b81f911

1. Don’t stress if you don’t know what you want to major in. Ideally you can at least narrow it to a broad department such as humanities, science, business, etc., but even if you aren’t at that point, don’t fret. Yes, freshman class scheduling can be easier and more beneficial to you in the long run if you do have a general idea, but  whatever you do, don’t hesitate to switch departments the second you feel that it’s not right for you. If you don’t enjoy studying for your freshman biology class, you probably shouldn’t stay bio/pre-med (like the 70% of the incoming freshman class at Baylor, for example). You’re looking at at least twelve more years of that, so if you don’t love it now (when it’s beyond easier than anything in your future education), you never will. I don’t know exact statistics, but I’d say most students end up changing their major/career path at least two or three times before coming to a decision. For me, in high school I considered biomedical engineering. I entered college thinking I wanted to major in biochemistry, minor in nutrition, and was still back and forth between pre-med (surgery) and pre-dent (orthodontics). Well now I’m a biology major minoring in business and religion applying to dental school strongly considering oral and maxillofacial surgery. Life changes. Experiences affect you. God leads you down different paths. You change. It’s all OK and so worth it in the long run. So be flexible, moldable, and willing to give up what you think are your dreams so God can give even bigger and better ones for you.

214539a210d7628c3cfabca645a7c2262. Be yourself. College is awesome for endless reasons, but one of the ones I loved the most is that literally know one cares who or how you were in high school and back home. No one cares what you made on your ACT, what varsity teams you were on, or if you always (or never) had a boyfriend/girlfriend. For me, I had always thought my pre-college identity was tied up a lot in academics, sports, band, and just about every extracurricular activity there was. It was so refreshing to come to college and nobody had to know what all I did in high school, and they wanted to get to know me for ME, not what I do. The thousands of people you will be surrounded by are all on a new, crisp, unwritten page of their lives just like you. Want to join the crew team but have zero experience? Go for it. Inspired to step out on a limb, leave behind your introverted ways, and try out the salsa dancing club? There’s no better time. Adopt a completely different style of the way you dress just because you feel like it? Why not? While judgment by others is unfortunately inevitable in every stage of life, I feel like college is far less so than shallow small town high school where everyone knows everything from the last eighteen years about everyone. People are drawn to confident, unique, multifaceted, and fun people. So make a new name for yourself, be quirky, and not cookie-cutter.

IMG_40923. Figure out how to study, and figure it out fast. Sorry, whatever you did in high school is so far from this new way of living that I speak of. Experiment with lots of methods to find what works for you – type notes on your computer, record lectures, handwrite notes with room for drawing and categorizing, make flashcards, etc. Are you a better solo studier or do you benefit from a group setting? Whatever you do, please please please don’t start the never-ending snowball effect of procrastination. Would you rather have 4 weeks of hell during the semester come exam times, or just some slight discipline every week to keep life manageable? Look over your notes daily, rewrite them if needed, find online resources like quizzes and videos, find accountable and focused people to study with (some to challenge you and others that you can help explain material to), and my next point:

robin-williams-carpe-diem4. GO SEE YOUR PROFESSORS. Seriously I can’t stress this enough. They get paid to teach you, so if you’re not getting it in class, go to their office hours for one-on-one extra help as soon as you feel lost or behind. Not only that, but if you end up pursuing professional or grad school, you will need several letters of recommendation from professors that actually know you on a much higher level than just where you sit in their class. More than anything, a large portion of them can be extremely relatable, encouraging, and genuinely interested in your life and ambitions. They were once college students too! I’ve been so blessed at Baylor to be surrounded with sincere and caring professors and mentors, overwhelmed by how incredible they’ve made my undergraduate experience. I’ve been over to one of my professor’s house for dinner with classmates, exchanged personal blogs with another, had several long life chats leaving refreshed and uplifted, and even hope to workout sometimes with one of them next year. Don’t graduate college wishing you would’ve made a better effort.

6c10fa6751fe7166c18dec7b9a063a6c5. Get plugged into a spiritual community that fits for you wherever you might be in your faith journey. Finding a new church can be a really overwhelming thing to think about right now. You’ve probably grown up in the same church for most of your life and you’ve reached a level of comfortable and predictable that you are just fine with. Well, college is a time to figure out your own individuals beliefs, personal preferences for corporate worship and small groups, and discover where God would have you in this season to really stretch you and to thrive in your relationship with him and with those around you. Just because you went to a Baptist or Methodist church with your parents your whole life, does not at all mean that that’s where you’re expected to end up in your new home. I’m not saying it would be a bad thing, it just doesn’t have to be the only option. As someone who spent the majority of their life in a very conservative Southern Baptist church and is now attending a non-denomenational, mission-minded, and so-called “charismatic” community church, I can confidently say that I adore my church and church family, and I know that I’m where God knew I needed to be. Spend some time “church-hopping,” and if you really want to make the best choice for your faith, don’t only go where your new-found friends are visiting. Find your new home, and don’t wait too long to wish you would’ve sooner.

I probably will end up having a sequel to this post, just because I’m so passionate about telling younger people the truth about this thrilling, nerve-racking, harder than anything you’ve ever done but also so much better time of your life just around the corner. But it’s midnight, and because college is so notoriously sleep-depriving, I’m tired.

3ff4f9b4d4a4ab1e38ce11dfd5856582Congrats, class of 2014!

Do as I say, not as I do

FINALS Survival Guide: What to DO and what NOT to do.

For some reason, a lot of people think I have it all together and am super type A when it comes to studying. For the most part, sure, I like to be very organized when it comes to exam time and I’m  obsessed with list-making.  That doesn’t mean it always goes according to my little perfect plan for test domination. If it comes across like I do have it all together and have all the secrets to smart studying, then I’m doing a good job of hiding my occasional procrastination, mini-mental-freak-outs mid study sesh, 15 minute turned hour social media time-wasting break, late-night snacking, and sans-coffee desperation. I thought I’d put together a little list (there’s that type A in me) of some of the things I’ve learned over the past 2 and half years of conquering the week of *f-words* and not having it end up the other way around.

  1. DO write up a detailed schedule of what you plan on studying each day and for how long.  DON’T get discouraged when you’re already behind your ideal plan after day one (ahem, me last night).
  2. DO organize all your notes/papers/outlines/powerpoints by chapter and unit test so it’s in manageable chunks. DON’T do the math and realize you’re responsible for over 2000 slides of detailed information (yay biochem).
  3. DO make time for exercising to keep your sanity and get some feel-good endorphins flowing. DON’T sit for more than a couple of hours without at least taking a lap around the library to remember your brain is attached to a body and that body needs to move.
  4. DO plan ahead with ample healthy snacks and on-the-go meals. DON’T waste your time at the library arguing with your “study” group over what pizza to have delivered after you’ve realized you haven’t eaten a real meal all day.
  5. DO take the time to calculate what grade you need to make on each of your finals to earn the grade you want; this will help you know how to prioritize which classes deserve more of your time. DON’T spend more time doing this than actually studying.
  6. DO take occasional breaks after every hour or two to do fun things like listen to your favorite song you can’t help dancing to, looking at pretty/funny/motivational things on Pinterest, or reading a passage from your Bible.  DON’T let this turn into all out motivation loss and precious hours down the drain.
  7. DO try to get maybe at least 6 hours of sleep each night.  No, it’s not the ideal 8 or 9, but does that even happen in real college life??? DON’T pull all-nighters. Period.
  8. DO have maybe one or two fun events to look forward to in the midst of finals. For example, tonight my Jesus and the Gospels professor has invited our class over for dinner at his house tonight to be together one last time as a class. I’ve also been known to host a small dinner party during finals for a much-needed break (last year was soup sampling with butternut squash and broccoli cheese soup – comfort food at its finest). DON’T treat dead days as an excuse to go party and get drunk like a lot of students do, thinking you’ll have enough time to study before your finals. Nope.
  9. DO prioritize studying over your appearance/getting ready time. DON’T forget to regularly shower and please try to refrain from pjs and pillows in the library.
  10. DO be confident that you will do well if you’ve worked hard all semester to learn the material. God honors our diligence in our studies for His glory, and He is faithful to keep His promises. If you know He has called you to become a doctor or lawyer, trust in His plan for your future. It might end up looking differently than what you’re envisioning, but don’t lose hope because of the challenges of school.  DON’T let your GPA define you.