COVID College Life is Overwhelming // Coffee Chats with Charley

Hey!

I can’t believe I’m a month into my senior year of college. 2020 is simultaneously taking forever and flying by. I keep getting emails about applying for graduation, registering for student teaching, and staying on top of current assignments.

My life has been everything except consistent. In my second week of classes, I was supposed to start a clinical as an education major which is essentially pre-student teaching. The problem is my state quickly became a COVID hot spot. Every school district started the school year with a different plan (some all in-person, some hybrid, some virtual). Those plans kept changing, too, with the rise of COVID cases. My college struggled with getting students placements, too, since principals didn’t want college students in the classroom. I didn’t get into a clinical placement until this week.

Now I have to catch up on all these assignments my professors pushed off due to clinical delays while keeping up with an increasing course load. I feel terrible if I’m not always working on some form of school work. I am struggling to keep up with my asynchronous courses (PE and Multicultural Ed) while my other courses try to get back on track. I honestly just need a freaking vacation week.

Which brings me to my next big revelation: My birthday is in less than a month. My 22nd birthday is quite literally the day before the election. I just realized while I took the entire weekend off with my vacation days, I have class on two of the days. I won’t actually get a decent vacation unless I skip one of my classes. Honestly, I know the month will fly by, but I’m still processing turning 21 last fall. I’m not sure if I’m ready for 22. I know I’m not the first person to have a birthday during this pandemic (obviously), but I’m seriously struggling with anyone turning a year older.

Basically, I have all of these big life changes on the horizon speeding towards me while I just want to pour my heart and soul into this blog and my socials. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head (and on my Notion) that I just want to get out. I want to find time to write poems and short stories to maybe publish. I need to redo my resources pages on here. Do I somehow try to monetize the blog? I signed up for an affiliate program, but I just want to redo all my links to include my affiliate link. I don’t have the time for that. I’m just sort of stuck in this weird limbo of passions.

With redoing my blog, I also want to shift to using Notion instead of a bullet journal and several notebooks, but I don’t have the time to set it up properly. Right now I have a rough set-up, but I’m waiting for a few bloggers’ templates to come out. I made a Notion page to help me start creating a cohesive wardrobe aesthetic and find basic items. I miss thrift shopping regularly, but I think organizing my closet will prepare me for when I can safely thrift shop again. I created this mood board:

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s way too hard to find plus-size models on Pinterest for mood boards. Do you guys want to see a series on here about revamping my wardrobe? Or would you want that more on a different social? Let me know in the comments!

I picked this one up per recommendation from Amber (@booksncatncoffee), and I am only a few pages into it. I can tell it’s going to be a really good read, but I don’t have a lot of energy.

I saw this one all over TikTok, so I watched this show in less than a day. I fell in love with the characters and story. Kenny Ortega really outdid himself with this one. If you haven’t watched it yet, I definitely recommend it as a feel-good show.

Yes, I know I went from listening to folklore on repeat to listening to Reputation on repeat. I didn’t appreciate Reputation nearly enough when it came out. I wasn’t in a good place in my life. I am giving it all my love now!

I absolutely feel like I word vomited in this coffee chat, but, to be honest, this is what having coffee with me is actually like. Ask any of my friends. I am now going to try to get some rest before my second clinical visit. Let me know what you want to hear more about in these coffee chats or just in general! Want to hear more about my journey as an education major? Or maybe sharing thoughts on different discussions? Give me ideas!!

Take care of yourself, honey bun!

Charley

Starting Senior Year During COVID // Coffee Chats With Charley

Hello!

I’m not sure how to start this new series. I guess I can just tell you what ‘Coffee Chats with Charley’ is exactly and what it will be for me. I always adored Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner’s blog series ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ where she shared anything on her mind and what was happening in her life. Seeing the glimpses of the blogger behind the curated blog posts made me realize how approachable my favorite bloggers were as well as opened my eyes to the non-curated parts of her.

Personally, I wanted to find a space on my blog where I could share my random thoughts and quick updates as necessary. With my fall semester being online, I’m not sure how much time I will have to plan, write, and format blog posts. I’m hoping by having this series available on my blog, I will be able to write more often throughout the semester.

I started my fall semester of my senior year. I never imagined college would look the way it does right now. Actually, I vehemently refused to believe I would ever be an online student. I told myself I simply did not have the motivation and self-discipline for it. Well, I survived my spring semester during COVID-19 being completely virtual. For the safety of my family, I decided to request full virtual for this semester as well.

I don’t tend to think too far into the future beyond this semester for my own mental health. But to give you a glance ahead: I’m an education major. My spring semester I will be student teaching. In May, I submitted a student teacher application in order to be placed in a classroom with a host teacher. I don’t find out where I’m placed until early December. Since I live in the United States, the government does not have a proper handle on COVID cases or a cohesive plan of attack. I spiral into thoughts about contracting COVID while student teaching, potentially affecting my family, and/or having little classroom experience before I become licensed as a teacher.

Becoming a teacher has been a dream of mine since I was in Kindergarten. I have other dreams now of opening a bookstore/cafe/plant shop or writing a book, but teaching is close to my heart and my first dream. I don’t know what comes next for me after teaching. I remind myself to stay in the moment of teaching and becoming comfortable in teaching. I still have a lot to learn, especially considering I’m not actually a teacher yet. But I’m a goal-oriented person who dreams of the future years ahead. It’s nerve-wracking (to be put simply) to think about completing my life goal so early in my life.

When I’m writing this, I haven’t even completed my first week of classes. I am struggling this fall to find motivation to actually get into the rhythm of starting class. A few of my classes are asynchronous (don’t meet at a specific time) while others are synchronous. I think I do better with synchronous courses since I have an actual time to work on my assignments versus doing things whenever I want. Getting back into a routine schedule will come with time, but I’m embracing the awkwardness right now. I’m figuring out what works best for me.

Beyond school, I need to balance working two part-time jobs. My first job is as a bookseller/barista at a store which is currently open to the public. I definitely feel the most amount of stress here from customer interactions. My second job is as a tutor for students with dyslexia. I help them through a research-backed program to improve their reading skills. I will be taking students on-site, but I feel safe doing so since the center’s restrictions are tighter than at my retail job. I only tutor online right now, though. As I get trained more, I will be able to take on more students.

My main desire with having two jobs (which equals to about 25 hours a week) is to build my savings account back up. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you wouldn’t know that my computer died on my first official day of classes. I got my card flagged twice by my bank’s fraud department when I tried to buy a laptop online. I legit cried all day trying to find a new laptop, having to drain my savings, and still figure out a way to buy textbooks for this semester. This first week of class has been a whirlwind of emotions. Maybe that’s why I’ve had a crappy school routine??

Anyways, I thought I could share some of what I’m currently reading, watching, and listening to at the end of each ‘chat’.

I had been reading a fall-themed romance book, but I legit struggled to get through the first short story. It just was not vibing with me for some reason. I read multiple tweets of people raving about AMERICAN ROYALS, so I decided to jump in. (Plus, my library checkout date was coming up quick.) I am about halfway through and enjoying it so far. I’m a little nervous about the ending because the ending of Katharine McGee’s THOUSANDTH FLOOR ruined the entire book for me.

TikTok definitely put this one on my radar for the first time in years again. I kept seeing videos of Nathan versus Lucas Scott and all these things, so I decided to finally watch the first few episodes on Hulu. I admittedly haven’t watched an episode in about a week or so, but that’s just because I have been reading. I will finish this series!

I am a basic white girl, and I have been listening to folklore on repeat since Taylor released it in July. I alternate with the Twilight movie soundtrack while in my car. Recently, I actually organized and redid my Spotify playlists, though, so I have been more willing to actually listen to other music besides folklore.

find me online

i’m not sure what i’m feeling

TW: suicide, grief, mental health

Note: I wrote this post about my grief for healing for myself. I shared part of this story in March 2018. With September being suicide prevention month, I have seen numerous Instagram posts, stories, and Twitter discussions that brought the grief back to the front of my mind in the past week. This post comes from numerous crying sessions and discussions with my friends.

The easy post for me to write this week would have been showing off all my sweaters. I took pictures, I made a TikTok, and even had a dance party for some cute pictures. But what you don’t see in those pictures is the crying myself to sleep for the week beforehand or the night afterwards.

I posted this picture to my personal Instagram following a night full of ugly tears. My social media feeds were filled with suicide prevention and awareness posts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that. The stories and tweets caught me off-guard, though. None of them had trigger or content warnings. No caution emoji at the top. With my heavy quarantine emotions, the grief of losing my godfather to suicide my freshman year of college came like a sucker punch to the gut.

The midnight hours and my sleep playlist combined with grief demolished the floodgates holding back this years’ emotions. I could only think of my godfather’s name and how I never got to go to his funeral. I still remember the feeling of hearing my mom’s voice tell me over the phone that no one had seen my godfather in days or heard from him since my dad talked to him. I remember telling my roommate that I needed to go. I actually planned to hang out with my friends that evening (for the first time that semester), but I called while going 90 mph down back country roads. I didn’t care about the danger. My grief blurred everything.

I spent the weekend at home watching my dogs while my parents drove north to help my godfather’s family make arrangements and talk to police to find his body. I remember a SWAT team showing up unannounced in my backyard while I was letting my dogs outside to arrest my neighbor. Staring down the barrel of an assault rifle is something I would never wish on anyone else. I feel the cold kitchen floor against my back and side as I hid in a windowless corner until my parents called a different neighbor to find out what was happening.

I remember my professor making me go to an art museum since I missed the field trip to the art museum due to going home. I skipped classes that Monday after the weekend. I cried most of the morning. I spent the day in town, sitting in the museum’s greenhouse area, telling myself not to cry in public. I cried the entire drive there and back. I’m sure I looked crazy.

I cried every day for a week. It was an accomplishment when I didn’t cry. I would go to a morning class only to skip the afternoon class. I never got the closure of his funeral because of class. I was not allowed to miss a class since I had to turn in a hardcopy (never an email) of my essay. I sat in that class with tears running down my face that everyone saw since it consisted of five people.

Every year I tell myself my dad and I visit my godfather’s grave for my dad. In reality, I do it for me. I need that annual visit to allow myself to cry and feel the emotions I bottled inside when I lost him. I told myself it was ridiculous to have these feelings when I saw the man only a few times a year. My grief hit harder when losing my godfather than any other loss in my life.

My blog post about his death was my most viewed post in one day for the past two and a half years. I cried every time I allowed myself to look at that statistic on my WordPress dashboard. Every time a post started to become popular I hoped it would surpass this post filled with my grief. It wasn’t until one of the College Declassified guest posts was shared that I truly felt relief flood my body. I no longer would have to share the post about his death in every ‘most popular blog post’ prompt for a blogger tag.

I don’t think we talk about grief nearly enough in America. People often say “I’m sorry for your loss.” and move on. We don’t talk about the lasting effects. We don’t think about how grief can burrow inside us and stay hidden until a social media post, song, picture, etc. That’s why I was so thrown by my response to the social media posts. The added weight of 2020 on top of my grief for my godfather broke me. And that’s not even me discussing the pressure of starting my senior year of college under normal circumstances.

I think we need to be aware of what we’re posting while on social media. We don’t know who is going to see our post or how it will affect them. When possible, we need to post warnings in case someone is having a bad mental health day. I one hundred percent support spreading awareness about suicide and prevention methods! But allow others the space to not see those discussions.

No description available.

xo,

Charley

september 2020 bullet journal // folklore by taylor swift inspired

Welcome!

To prepare for what is bound to be an unforgettable senior year of college (thanks, COVID!), I knew I needed to create a bullet journal spread I wanted to use. This summer, I fell into a routine of not wanting to look at my planner or use any sort of organization method for my plans besides a simple calendar. Then came the idea to use the album I’ve been listening to on repeat since its release as inspiration!

Yes, you guessed it. Taylor Swift’s eighth album, folklore, inspired these minimalistic bujo spreads.

For some reason, I found a letter to be appropriate for ‘folklore’ and quarantine in general. I have been feeling isolated, but mailing letters lets me be in contact with my friends safely. When I found this small envelope in my box of scraps, I knew it would work perfectly on my cover page. I added the basic quote every white girl used in their Instagram captions on September 1st.

I kept the calendar spread simplistic since I’ll be using my school planner for the majority of my due dates and such. My goal for September is to stay consistent in blogging, so I added one side of the calendar solely for glancing at when I post and planning in advance.

My weekly spreads all look the same. I used pictures from Connor Franta’s ‘note to self’ I thrifted earlier this year. (See my February bujo spread for more pictures from his book being used.) My markers kept bleeding through since they were fresh, but I just used black Papermate flair pens to write the days, my to-do list box, socials, and upcoming.

My socials box is new for my weekly spread. My goal is to jot down ideas for social media or my blog in these boxes to complete during the week. I hope this helps keep me organized for September with posting regularly.

I absolutely love how this spread turned out with the lyrics from ‘last great american dynasty’ to accompany my monthly bills spread. This spread is also new for me. In September, I want to keep track of paying my bills before I spend money on myself. I know I don’t have many bills, but one of my friends recommended doing this to help with finance tracking.

Here is my actual finance tracker spread. I generally log my spending every few days to keep track of where the majority of my money goes. For September, I really dialed back the spread to keep it simplistic.

For more bujo inspiration and ideas, check out my Pinterest board:

Materials used:

  • paper lunchbags
  • Connor Franta’s ‘note to self’ thrifted book
  • Papermate Flair black pens
  • magazine clippings

Which spreads do you need in your bullet journal? Do you have a favorite lyric from ‘folklore’? Let me know in the comments!

xo,

Charley

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College Declassified: This is the Time to Fail (And Get Back Up)

When Charley approached me for this blog post I was super pumped to help a dear friend, but more importantly was excited to get to share my story! Let me tell you it is definitely not what I pictured my life to look like and I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I rewrote this post because of it. So, like most things I guess I should start at the beginning.

Hello, my name is Abby! I graduated in 2017 from St. Mary Catholic High School . During that time I was a two-sport athlete with not a whole lot of confidence in who I was or who I really wanted to become. This is why when college rolled around I honestly didn’t have much of a clue. I’m on the older side of my siblings, but living through college and hearing about it are very different.

My college experience started at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. My major was nursing and I had my sights set on earning the grand title of Abby BSN RN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing- registered nurse). I spent my freshman year in the dorms with my best friend from high school. To answer your next question, yes we actually got along pretty well. Did we fight? Umm… yes, but we also learned a lot from each other. She is considered a sister at this point because you learn EVERY habit good or bad when you live with someone for a whole year. So, my best advice when it comes to roommates is find someone who balances you well. You do NOT need to be automatic best friends, but you DO need to respect each other.

After my freshman year I ended up transferring to Fox Valley Technical College due to financial reasons. I chose to stay on track to graduate with a nursing BSN degree by doing online classes through Grand Canyon while completing my ADN. This was probably the hardest transition I have ever had to do. Community colleges are great, but also really hard in the sense that most people come to classes just to learn and leave. You make friends, but most people are older or have jobs so they don’t have much time to hang out after class. At UWO, living on campus all you have is time to make for yourself or friends. I missed that community aspect so much my first year especially living at home.

ENTER CHARLEY!

I got a job shortly after starting FVTC at Barnes and Noble. One: to pay for schooling, and two: in all honesty to make friends. I could definitely say I was not disappointed in the work community I found. Later that spring I was asked by my old high school coach to help coach their track and field team. In a heartbeat I said yes, because running was truly where I found my voice. Especially in a year of feeling lost getting to coach the team where I learned how to be ME was so lifegiving. The following summer of my junior year I ended up landing a job at a local hospital on their emergency department registration team. So if you lost count I worked a total of 3 part time jobs.

When I started these I only had about 8 credits for school, but during the spring semester it jumped up to 12 credits (which in college terms is full time school). I quickly learned how to juggle multiple things at once with a never ending to do list running in my head. With school I dropped down to only working once a week at Barnes and Noble, saving the weekends for the hospital and the week for school and track. To answer your next question…YES, I BURNT MYSELF OUT SUPER FAST. When it comes to working and college I would say it depends on the person. It worked for me because I like staying busy, but what didn’t work was not scheduling time for myself. REMEMBER ME TIME IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR HOMEWORK!

Switching gears, this is where my story gets complicated.

When COVID-19 hit the United States, I was in the spring semester of college. This is the semester were nursing students usually are supposed to be entering their first nursing clinical. (For those of you who have no clue what a clinical is it is when you spend hours in the work environment on what your degree deals with. So for teachers this includes classroom time and for medical it means different types of patient care settings.) During this time you really get to put into practice everything you learn in lecture. Sounds hard to do with a global pandemic, right? Yeah, my school thought so as well. During this time classes moved online and I learned very quickly I am not an independent learner. I NEED the setting and routine of in person classes. I adapted as best I could, but I ended up failing a math exam which dropped my grade from a B+ to a F causing me to fail my class (We needed to pass this exam to give medications. If you didn’t pass it was an automatic class fail). Thus, I ended up also getting kicked out of my nursing school. EVERY STUDENTS’ NIGHTMARE!

What comes next is really still in the works. I now get to revisit and think through why I really want to be a nurse all while taking time to slow down. There are many bad days where all you can do is cry and blame yourself or everything else under the moon. On the other hand, there are also good days. A new door was opened up for me, and I’m not entirely sure where it heads.

In high school everyone starts and finishes (for the most part) at the same time. College is super different, and most don’t graduate in four perfect years. THAT IS OKAY! It may not feel okay, but I promise you it is. This is a time to fail, try again, maybe fail a few more, but always get back up. So in theory stay tuned, because this new season of your life, as well as mine, may never be what you imagined it to be. I promise you though, you will be exactly where you were supposed to be by the end of it.

My last parting advice is never be afraid to ask questions. Challenge why you do something because learning the why is much more important than just following blindly. SOOO SALES PITCH: feel free to reach out if you DO need someone to answer your college questions or even if you just need someone to listen. Life is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone!


Abby Keuler is a 21-year-old Wisconsinite figuring out life. She is passionate about helping others, running, and reading! While she’s not sure where the next chapter of her life will take her or look like, she’s excited to get there all the same.

College Declassified: The Current Reality of College of Is Compromise

Growing up, I thought I would end up going to college in a big city like New York. Not only was there not a lot going on in my hometown of Sheboygan, but I also felt stuck and wanted something completely different than the small city life. In the end, I decided to go to the only four-year college in my home county.

I was coming from a single-parent low-income household, and the decision that I made to attend the only college that offered me a full-tuition scholarship, was one that I never regretted. It did, however, mean that I was attending a college and staying in an area that couldn’t completely offer what I needed for my chosen career path. This compromise was and still is, something I often struggle with.

With less of a financial burden, I did have more time and money to explore new opportunities and attempt to fill the holes that were missing from my college experience and professional development. This meant that I was spending a lot of time off-campus and in the community trying to develop myself professionally through local and state politics. It also meant that I was often driving to other cities to attend various workshops, conferences, and trainings to not only learn but also to find a sense of community. Because my college wasn’t a very progressive and political place, and it was located in a not so progressive and political community, these were really my only options. 

Looking back though, I do think that my college experience was what it had to be given my circumstances. The reality of today’s world is that college is expensive. So students across the nation, myself included, have to compromise to get our education (at least until we *finally* fix this problem). 

So if you have to make a compromise, that is okay. There are things like the cost of college that are completely out of your control. This just means that there is a good chance that your college experience will look different than what you thought it would be. For example, I’m currently taking off two years to work before I return to school. I needed to do this for financial, professional, and personal reasons but at the end of the day, I will still walk away with a college degree, and you will too.

I, of course, don’t think that we should accept this as the status quo. We should be doing more to make a college education more affordable for everyone.


Dominique Lee is a student at Lakeland University studying Communication with a minor in Diversity Studies. She previously served as the President of the Student Government Association and has held various leadership roles with Alphabet Soup, the LGBTQIA+ student organization on campus. Currently, she’s working with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as a Field Organizer and she hopes to run for public office after she graduates.

College Declassified: What I Lost to Gain Perspective

Hey y’all!

My name is Abby Martin, and I’m so excited and honored to get to share my own personal college experience with you all. Charley and I have been good friends since middle school so we’ve seen each other through so many life and school changes over the years. When she asked me to be a part of her college series, I was equal parts honored and intimidated.

I’m a 22-year-old graduate, and even though it’s been a little over a year since graduating college with my Associate’s Degree, I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of figuring my life and adulthood out.

I think most people can relate when I say 2020 has been a year filled with so much uncertainty, change, and loss. When writing this piece, I wondered what lesson I could possibly draw from my own experience to help encourage college students, but especially while experiencing college in the midst of a global pandemic. 

Weirdly enough though I’d say the most important thing I learned about life through my own experiences in college is that we, as people, are meant to lose. I know that might seem a bit bleak, but if I was to take a guess, I imagine every college student, if asked, could tell me a story about something they had to lose during college. For some it might be the familiarity of what they had always known in their hometown, for others it might be a relationship, and, for some, it’s countless hours of sleep that they’ll never get back. Entering college can be a difficult time full of lots of changes and loss. When I started college I didn’t have a major chosen or know anyone going to my university, but I had this image of what college would be like that everyone had impressed upon me: that I would gain new friends, great memories, and a passion that hadn’t yet existed for me going into college.

To my great disappointment, my freshman year of college was nothing like that image. Instead of gaining all those things people had told me I would, I felt like more often than not I was just losing things. One of the first being my car. It was an old, used, piece of junk, but it was mine. It was my first car and one of the first things I ever owned that I could call my own. As a newly independent adult, this was my prized possession. So, I was devastated when it died on me in the middle of a campus parking in the dead of winter. Even though it never defrosted my windshield, blew two tires on the highway, made questionable rattling noises, and ultimately was a complete financial drain, I was sad to see it go. 

I didn’t just lose material things though, I lost more important things. I lost people too. Everyone has people they grow apart from once they enter college, but the truth is no matter how much you know or think it’ll happen going in, you may not be able to predict the ones who’ll go out. I know I didn’t. Losing those friends really affected my enjoyment of college. I’m a pretty shy, ‘have a small circle of friends’ kind of girl, but I value my circle of friendships deeply. I didn’t really click with anyone when I started college. It’s hard making friends in school enough, but losing people I thought I’d have in my life forever made it seem not even worth the try, even though it was so important to just try. So, that image of having the best time of my life and making life-long friends seemed more like a college fantasy than anything that could ever really happen in my life. 

As you might’ve guessed, I felt really alone my freshman year. I felt like I was losing time to make friends because everyone had already made theirs. Most of all, I felt like I lost who I was as a person because I had no passion to pursue while everyone else around me did. I kept thinking there was something truly wrong with me that I didn’t just have this passion to do something that everyone else seemed to have. It’s not like I don’t have talents or things I enjoy, but I just couldn’t narrow that down to a passion, career, or major. Instead of having that college experience everyone said I would get, I completely burnt myself out with stress, anxiety, and grief of all I felt I was losing at once. I felt seriously depressed, confused, and alone. By the beginning of my second semester, I was pretty much just ready to drop out of college… I didn’t though.

What completely turned my life around was that I lost one more important thing my first year of college: my pride. Up to that point I really shut myself out from people and opportunities. I had a really important view of myself and this idea that if I couldn’t figure everything out on my own there was no value in it. At a breaking point, I reached out. Me, someone who to be honest had a very stigmatized view of mental health for the longest of time, reached out to a counselor for help and to simply listen to me. I can honestly say this changed my whole life, maybe even saved my whole life. From opening up to a few, I learned to be more open to others, and from there more open to the idea of letting things happen naturally and in their due time. 

I had ultimately decided to do four semesters of college to graduate with my Associate’s degree then take some time off to work, travel, and figure out my next steps. This is something I was too afraid to do after high school even though it’s what I had wanted to do all along. I wanted to really explore the world, at my own pace, and the way I wanted to even if that isn’t the image of my life that everyone else had for me after high school, including myself. I know this isn’t what everyone would have chosen. Some might even say I made a mistake or that I’m losing something by not doing the traditional 4-year college path. Sometimes I think of all the small and big things I had to lose during college and the idea that I could be losing something once again always makes me pause. But when I think of all the small and then significant things, I’d lost in college the best of them all was the need to live up to anyone’s expectations of me, but my own. And If you ask me, that isn’t really a loss at all.

I still have a lot of life ahead of me and by no means have everything figured out. Right now, like many young adults, I’m living at home with my family and trying to just live each day as it comes. I’ve been struggling through feelings of uncertainty, change, and loss. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit some days, I feel like I’m losing time that I thought I might be spending very differently. It’s hard to not let that get to you. With every loss though does come a gain even if it’s hard to see. It takes time and patience, but that is what college taught me. 


Abby Martin is a 22-year-old college graduate dreaming of her next big adventure. She spends her time creating TikToks, caring for her plants (Neville & co.), and hiking at the nearest state park. You can find her on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.

College Declassified: Growing and Nurturing Who I Am Today

Hi everyone! I’m Sumedha, a 21-year-old Computer Science Engineering major in India.

If all had gone according to plan, I would have graduated in July and would have become a full-time employee in the company I got placed in by now. But because of COVID-19, all plans have gone awry. As I write this, we are meant to have physical exams in August even though the cases are rising to new highs every single day in my city. Things are very uncertain.

Anyway, I’m almost done with my college and hence have a lot to share with y’all today.

This is my college!

College was a mixture of freedom and obligation for me.

By the time 12th grade ended, I had been reading books for 5 years and blogging for a few months. I was so sure that I wanted to go into Arts and the course I had my eye on was Journalism, Literature, and Psychology. The only problem was convincing my mum to let me go for it.

I live in India and while you “become an adult” by age of 18, you’re still under your parents’ rules and wishes until you move out which is usually when you get married. And this custom meant that my mum had the final vote on my education and major. She is also the one who paid for my 4 years because we don’t work or do part-time jobs here unless it’s the last resort.* By the time I could convince her for it, it was too late and there were barely any spots open for the course. Considering that I did sciences and not arts in my last two years of high school did not help either.

*financial education & maturity only comes to us at the age of 30 because we are not! taught! anything! The bare minimum that I know is only because my parents gave me a little bit of knowledge since we knew that I’ll be the only one at home with active income once I graduate as they would have retired. The relationship between new adults and finance in India is another whole topic.

And hence, like the majority of young adults in India, I went into engineering. 

My mum’s argument for not letting me go for arts was that 1) I liked computer science/coding well enough and 2) I need a stable degree first and can pursue what I want after obtaining said degree. Who is going to study two completely different majors one after the other in this economy? I would have laughed if I wasn’t upset. Unlike many other countries, we can’t switch majors or do two at a time as well. I was stuck with computer science.

Mum was right, though. I did like computers. I do like coding, to an extent. Sure, I’m not passionate about it, but it’s okay. I was honestly better off than many other students who come into the stream. I didn’t do great in my subjects, but I wasn’t doing very bad either. There were actually a couple fun projects that I did during my course.

Since I knew that I’m stuck with this field and any higher education I pursue would be in the same field (IT is cut-throat when there is a surplus of engineers), I did make more effort to like what I was studying. Coding in itself was fun but the other aspects of computer science were not great. I had to actively try to like what I was doing. Not the way we want to start our careers but that’s what I had to do.

And that’s how the academic part of my college experience went. 

My dreams for college were: 1) go to a college away from home and 2) study something I like. Both of them did not work out. I travelled at least an hour each way to and from college for four years and studied something that I liked because I had to.  

Hence, I knew going into college that would not be how I wanted it to be. But there was one thing I was determined to have: a social life. I was a huge introvert in school and was literally known as the book nerd. Several people from my batch approached me for recommendations and to borrow books. I did have a few close friends (whom I’m still in touch with, amazingly!) but I wanted to try being friends with many people and having a big group. I decided to push myself hard out of my comfort zone.

On my first day, I was approached by a girl in the washroom, and she just walked up to me and introduced herself. I was awed by her confidence. She became my first friend, and I’d find out that she makes friends very easily. She is an extrovert and solely because of her, I was in a big group. 

It was great! I had tons of new friends, I had people to hangout with during breaks, and there would always be someone free to hangout with in the canteen. The group was also made of different kinds of people, none of whom were like my high school friends. The group was also made of many extroverts who were fans of spontaneous plans, which pushed me to saying yes more often. 

For almost the entire first year, I had a ton of friends, several plans, and frequently went out to chill with people. And since it’s college and mutual friends are plenty, I also met many people and learnt to welcome new friendships.

Sustaining through it all was not easy. I was still an introvert, although I didn’t seem like one, and I needed time alone or with people who allowed me to just be. I’d be the new me in college six days a week, and the evenings & Sundays would be to recharge and meet up with best friends from high school. It was almost like an active-charge & active-discharge cycle where I never simply rested. And that definitely took a toll on me.

When second year came around, I started to say no more often to plans and began losing touch with my friends. After a couple times, they stopped inviting me as well. You had to willingly keep hanging out to be constantly involved because, with so many friends, sometimes missing even a couple hang outs leaves you out of the loop. I was disappointed in myself because I had not gone through the entire first year that way in order to start over. But I simply couldn’t keep up with so much energy anymore. Looking back, I can see that it was unhealthy. 

But you know what? I was lucky another time. I slowly made new friends, and also made friends with people whom I had classes with before but never spoke to. This time, I was myself instead of working hard to be up-beat and saying yes all the time even if I didn’t have the energy for it. I learnt that saying no was actually okay.* 

*This became a joke later on because once I became more self-assured, I started saying no quite often. Not in a bad way, but I knew what I wanted and had the energy for. My friends make jokes of me saying no even today. One of them actually has my contact saved as “no”!

And then came the best years.

I had a new set of friends whom I became close to slowly. They learnt how I am and were okay if I said no to plans, and they still reached out to me every time. But I did find myself saying yes more because there were generally no crazy spontaneous plans. After classes we’d chill in the canteen or maybe go to a nearby place to eat and hang out. These hangouts weren’t crazy but they make up many of my good memories. Plus, the group has more people like me who are not great with spontaneous plans so we learnt to find a balance and also accept if not everyone wants to be in on the plan. 

I recognize that I was lucky enough to have a big group of friends twice in 4 years. When looking back at my college experience, friends and the growth of my social life will always stand out.

Saying no is okay because it allows you to say yes to big things.

This was one thing that I learnt along the way. Once I started saying no to plans that I knew I wasn’t interested in/had the energy for, it freed me up to pursue things that would require a lot of time but would be worth it. 

One such thing that I said yes to and had time for only because I said no to many other smaller things was being part of the organizing team for hackathons at my college. I wasn’t the one who came up with the idea, but I was part of the main team. A couple of my friends wanted to host a hackathon (because our college didn’t have anyone doing it yet) and asked me if I wanted to help as well. 

It started small but since we started in our 2nd year, we had time to learn and do better over time. It honestly taught me a lot–mainly about talking to people while being professional as well as friendly, organizing something on a bigger scale, and considering all the requirements when you’re hosting a hundred people for an event. 

I definitely wouldn’t have had the time or energy for the event if I was a person who had to be in every plan or hangout with friends. I was okay with sitting out of plans, and it honestly helped.

If anyone’s going into college where a ton of things happen simultaneously, don’t be afraid to pick and choose what you want to spend your energy on. There will be many exciting things happening but remember to take care of yourself and let yourself say no to some if it means that you have more time to yourself; to rest & to recharge.

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Another thing that college and having many friends gave me was a good environment to grow my confidence. Eventually I even started going out with a book club whom I met through bookstagram! I definitely wouldn’t have ventured out myself to meet strangers if I didn’t grow the confidence through college where I met a ton of new people and learnt how to manage awkward situations. 

The end was not great, though.

The last semester of college was fully planned out. Many of my friends and I had internships lined up. We would go to work/internship for 5 days of the week and attend classes on Saturday. It would be the perfect mix. Plus, we only had 4 hours of class (which is way less than our usual 7 hours for 6 days/week schedule of all other semesters). After classes, we’d go out to eat or chill somewhere maybe. It was going to be the best semester ever!

We had about two weeks of that experience before COVID-19 really hit and college was suspended. Those of us with internships moved to working from home. 

My college experience will always feel incomplete because this last semester was not there for us. We also missed out on all the events that we were looking forward to like the graduation ceremony and farewell party (which would have been thrown by our juniors). 

So yeah, I’m very disappointed about that.

If I could advise my younger self who had not begun college yet, I’d choose to say only one thing:

You can “reinvent” yourself slowly. Yes, high school labels or images don’t apply anymore but figure out who you are before deciding who you want to be. And do it slowly. Take your time with yourself.


Sumedha is a 21 year old Indian blogger who mostly shouts about books, bullet journalling and Kdramas online.

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College Declassified: 5 Reasons Community College Was Invaluable to My College Experience

Hey everyone! A huge thank you to Charley for having me on her blog today: I’m really excited to share my college experience. If you don’t know me, I’m Hanne! I’m a 20-year-old biology student going into my junior year of college.

My journey within college so far has been pretty standard: the dorms, late nights, bad cafeteria food, and too much coffee. However, what was not typical was how I got into college.

Before college, I was homeschooled K-12, and needless to say, I did not have the “standard” college application and admission process. In addition, before I started college, I attended my local community college for two semesters as a dual enrollment student. I really enjoyed my time at community college, and that’s what I’m going to be talking about today!

Although community colleges often get a bad rep (which is an issue in and of itself), I really appreciated my time there. I didn’t spend a lot of time there (I was only there part-time for 2 semesters), I really enjoyed it. My time there taught me a lot of invaluable life lessons that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. So with that, here are 5 Reasons Community College Was Invaluable In My College Experience. 

First off, as I mentioned, I was homeschooled. Although I did take some classes online and some classes in co-op groups, I lacked the in-person, chalkboard, desk experience that most public schooled kids had. Community college let me get into the college mindset at a lower risk setting. When I say “low risk,” obviously grades and stuff are still important, but doing dual enrollment means taking a much lighter course load. Instead of taking 15 credits right away, you get to start off at 6-9, which was really helpful to me. I got to learn what going to different classes in different buildings felt like. I got to see what doing assignments without someone holding my hand through them felt like. I got to experience a “college” before getting there, which was really helpful as someone who was homeschooled and didn’t really know how in-person classes worked. Now obviously this is a very niche pro, and one that definitely doesn’t apply to most people, but if you are wondering if you should dual enroll (especially if you’re homeschooled), this is a good reason why.

Next, because of dual enrollment, I started college with roughly 20 credits, which isn’t quite enough to be a year early, but gave me a pretty significant advantage starting off, which was really helpful, because now I have enough time to double major (and if I didn’t want to do that, I could graduate a year early)! Community college allowed me to “get ahead” on my courses, and helped me double major/graduate early! Not only that, but community college is cheaper than 4-year university (even when I attend my state public school, which is pretty much the cheapest possible university I can go to!), so getting ahead on classes not only saves you time but also a lot of money. If you are trying to save time or money on your college degree, this is a good reason. 

Another reason community college was so beneficial to me was showing me how to take classes. If anyone ever tries to tell you that college is a game of brains and smarts, they’re wrong. It’s a game of strategy. There are so many things you need to learn before you can figure out how to thrive at college, and community college helped me figure out how to succeed in college classes. Scheduling, office hours, final exams, study guides, recommendation letters–those were all things that I didn’t have experience with in high school/home school, and community college was a good way to help me figure that stuff out! There was a lot more support and resources helping people figure out how to be successful in college, and it was really helpful to me.

Next, community college helped me understand what college has to offer. Before I started attending community college, I had no idea what college was really like. Not the classes part, but the resources, counseling, amenities type of stuff. In my experience (and obviously this is not universal), the community college I attended was so much more helpful in helping me figure out how to take advantage of all the resources college have to offer. They were a lot more willing to help you if you needed a service, and it really opened my eyes to all the functions colleges have. If you are easily overwhelmed and are afraid of going to a large university, this is a good reason.

Last, and I think this is the most important, community College helped me understand what college would do. My whole life I planned to go to college. It was something that my parents wanted for me, and that I wanted, and it was pretty much a given. However, I didn’t really know the effects of college. Meeting all the hardworking older college students was really impactful on 16-year-old me! Most of the students there were working and paying their way through college on top of having a lot of other responsibilities to deal with. There were several young/teen parents, and a lot of people who had a difficult home life. Seeing how hard they worked to get a college degree was really important in letting me see how privileged I was to be able to attend college, and helped me appreciate my college years so much more! If you’re not really sure if/why you’re going to college, this is a good reason. 

If you are debating between a 4-year university and either dual enrolling or starting off at a 2-year university, I would highly recommend choosing the latter. It taught me a lot of life skills and a new appreciation for college that I don’t think I would’ve gained otherwise! If I could go back, I would have done dual enrollment for way longer, and maybe have even finished out 2 years there before starting to attend my current university!

Obviously my situation is a lot different from most other people’s (which is why I think Charley’s idea is so cool!), but I wanted to share my experience in the hopes that maybe someone who is trying to figure out if they should go to community college will come across it! It was really important part of my life and my college journey, and I’m really glad I did it. 


Hanne is a college student studying biology during the day, and a lifestyle and book blogger at night. She is passionate about getting the word about people’s books out into the world, as well as making time to do the things that you love. To this end, she also bookstagrams, bullet journals, and drinks too much coffee. You can find her everywhere @HanneasinHannah (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and her blog at losingthebusyness.wordpress.com.

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Introducing College Declassified & My Actual College Experience

Welcome to the first post of my brand new series, College Declassified!

I am excited to welcome a handful of friends and fellow bloggers to talk about their wildly different college experiences throughout the month of August. Every Wednesday and Friday you will find a different perspective of college right here!

When I came up with the idea for this series, I naively believed COVID would be a thing of the past. As America nears the beginning of many college’s fall semesters, I want to let first year college students know college is not a straight-forward, four year path of courses ending in a career. In fact, college isn’t a one-size-fits-all.

When I started my senior year in fall 2016, I knew exactly which college I was going to and planned out my next five years. Ask anyone, and they would have told you I was the person who had their crap figured out for the future. In reality, though, I had no idea what I was getting myself into with college. All I knew was I wanted to move away from home. I refused to look at the state university about twenty minutes away from home with a fantastic education program.

I spent my first year of college at a private college about an hour away from home (30 minutes drive on the back country roads for me, lol). My first semester looked like the ideal semester for a first-year college student. I had a friend group, joined clubs, worked out, did well in classes, etc. The reality was I struggled to find a true friend group. Did I have friends? Yes, I did. I still talk to Dominique (who you’ll see here in this series), and I could not imagine life without her sass and brilliance.

Dominique and Charley

Anyways, I ended up spending about every other weekend driving home. At the semester break, I cried before returning to college. I did not want to go back. I wasn’t sure what the heck I wanted to do in the moment. All my brain would process was the complete sadness at the thought of another semester full of loneliness and overwhelming financial debt. Because that was the other thing: I had to take out a private loan in order to attend this private college already offering thousands in scholarships and financial aid packages.

As someone who has to pay for college herself, I underestimated the pressure of debt looming over me while in an environment. If I had to list the reasons I left my first college, financial debt pressure would be the number one reason. I transferred at the end of the first school year to that local college I refused to tour my senior year. In fact, I toured the campus during my spring break.

I kept an open mind to the opportunities available in my hometown area when I moved back in with my parents to become a commuter student. I returned to my old job, but I have now been promoted and given the opportunity to help with social media post curations. I reconnected with friends on a deeper level and found amazing new friends along the way.

On a college level, I learned newer theories and techniques than my previous college taught. I made connections with local school districts through my college’s required observations. My teaching resume will now be more diverse with experiences. Do I regret going to my previous college? Not at all. I learned what works in relationships, discovered a love for yoga, and grew in my faith. I would not change my college experience in the least.

In fact, I’m glad college taught me to have goals with no expectations. Let me explain: my goal was to graduate college with a teaching degree. My expectations were to have a boyfriend, be first in my class, and have the most clichéd experience. My life looks nothing like that now, but I’m glad. I am still ending with my goal completed, but my journey to the end was unique.

I will be completing college with less financial debt than if I went to private school. My education network and knowledge base is vaster than available at my previous college. The friends in my life will stick by me no matter what and just care about me. I now imagine my future with goals in mind, but I know life will throw you curveballs. I can only hope to have a bat in hand steady enough to hit the ball out of the park. (And, yes, I just attempted a baseball metaphor when I don’t watch sports.)

xo,

Charley

P.S. Keep your eyes out for the next post coming this Friday by Hanne T!