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Keturah Ragland

Other Transition

Senior Year: Second Semester Checklist

January 10, 2017

The second semester of senior year can be one of your best.  You’re so close to finally getting what you’ve worked hard for all these years: your diploma.  Fun and college appreciation is at an all-time high.

Despite the anticipated weekends and “more socially-active than before” weeknights, your senior year still has some tasks that must be fulfilled. Try to manage the fun and the future simultaneously:

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Other Student Life

College Survival 101: Living with Your Roommate

September 15, 2016

Adjusting to living with a roommate can be hard because you never know how it’s going to go or what to expect. Here are some tips for a successful roommate experience:

  1. Don’t stress. Remember this is probably your roommate’s first time living away from home and with someone they do not know, so you are probably experiencing the same concerns as you. It’s always good to talk to your roommates before move-in day, talking to them and just beginning the process of getting to know each other may put you more at ease.
  2. Plan ahead. Not only will talking to your roommate help calm your nerves but it also gives you both time to discuss who will be bringing what. Especially when moving into the dorms, the spaces can be small and having two fridges, microwaves, televisions, etc. will only limit your space. Some people also like to coordinate furniture and other things like that.
  3. Negotiate and compromise. This is necessary when living with anyone. Negotiation will keep everyone happy and feeling comfortable in their living space. If you like to blast music at all hours of the night but your roommate has an 8 a.m., by not blasting your music you are showing courtesy and — who knows — maybe your roommate will return the favor!
  4. Build a relationship. I’m not saying you need to best friends until the end of eternity, but having at least a cordial relationship really can make a difference. If you and your roommate become really close friends that’s great, but no need to force a relationship.
  5. Respect. Simple, treat your roommate how you’d like to be treated. All about the compromise and negotiation, never demand anything and always have an open, honest line of communication.
  6. Have a Plan. Make sure you and your roommate are on the same page about what happens if your belongings get damaged or stolen from your dorm. Look into renters insurance policies to protect everyone’s belongings and liability.
  7. Have fun!

Living with your roommate in college can be fun, but it can also be stressful. Check out these tips to start off on the right foot!

Other Transition

7 Things People Forget to Put on College Packing Lists

July 25, 2016

Speaking from experience, packing for college can be stressful. Almost as overwhelming as finding your classrooms on the first day of class… OK, maybe not that bad. College is a truly terrific, exciting experience — it only gets stressful when we feel like we are not prepared. That’s why packing for college is the first step to success, and if done correctly, will allow students to feel at ease. While there is no shortage of college packing lists available online, it’s important to remember the less glamorous items as well.

  • Extension Cord and Power Strip


This is a necessity, especially if living in the dorms. The outlets are placed in the most inconvenient places (like right behind your bed frame) and an extension cord and power strip will allow for everything to be plugged in and allow for better accessibility to your electronics.

  • Form of Identification


Most parents may be hesitant to send these important documents with their students off to college, but if you are seeking to get a job or participate in work study, you are usually required to present at least one form of government identification when filling out paperwork. Sometimes copies will not suffice either (I learned that the hard way).

  • Tuition Insurance

Perhaps the largest expense of all, more than airfare, a laptop, gas or a flu shot, is tuition for many families. Luckily, this can be protected with insurance. Tuition Insurance can help refund lost tuition if a student should be forced to completely withdraw from school due to a covered reason. Most schools schools don’t refund most tuition after the first couple weeks of the semester, which could leave many college families vulnerable. Start by checking your school’s refund policy, which you should be able to find on their website, and consider whether you need more protection with GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance.

  • Umbrella/ Parka/ Rain boots


A necessity to have because “it was raining” is not a good enough excuse to miss class and even if the water is calf-deep, your crazy professor may still not cancel! While you are thinking of protection – be sure to evaluate the financial risks you are taking.  If you can’t afford to replace your property if it is stolen or damaged then consider purchasing renters insurance.

  • Medicine and Tissues


You don’t learn how expensive medicine is until you get sick the first week of college and end up at the local drugstore giving the cashier half of your weekly allowance. Many students catch colds the first couple weeks of school as they are adjusting to the new environment and being around so many people so this is a must have, plus who wants to be stuck using that sandpaper they call toilet paper on their nose? By the way, if you get seriously ill or injured, be aware that your college is unlikely to provide 100% refund to you. As a result, if you can’t afford the cost of an extra semester if you are forced to withdraw mid-semester due to an illness or injury, then be sure to get tuition insurance prior to the start of classes.

  • Renters Insurance

You’re probably bringing a lot of stuff — including pricey electronics –with you to college. Before bringing your laptop, smartphone, tablet, TV, speakers, dorm decor, clothes, bike, and more, you’ll want to consider the cost of all of these belongings. If your laptop or bike were stolen, could you afford to replace them? Renters Insurance can help you and your family protect your belongings if you face a loss or damage because of a covered reason, like theft, fire or water damage.

  • Stapler


You would be surprised how hard it is to find one of these on a college campus! Also, most professors require your papers to already be stapled before you enter a class or they will not accept it, always to be safe and prepared than sorry.

For further information on packing for college and full packing lists visit these links!

Pack It Up: What to Bring to College

Your College Checklist

Ultimate College Packing List

Don't forget these 7 things that people often leave behind when going to college!

This article was updated in July 2020.


How to Avoid Dorm Damage Fees

May 10, 2013
How To Avoid Dorm Damage Fees

As the school year concludes, dodging the dorm damages can be the final challenge to your semester. Dorms are bound to get some wear and tear, though universities are not always the most understanding of this reality. Here are some tips of the trade to pampering your dorm room before RA’s give it the run through:

1. Careful with the tape!
Whenever you’re pulling off posters or pictures, be sure not to tear too hard. Many dorm walls don’t respond well with tape, wall stickies or blue tacks. Using a wall scraper (you can find at most any hardware store) is a good way to ease the stickies off the wall without tearing wallpaper or paint.

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6 Study Tips for Finals

May 6, 2013
6 Study Tips for Finals

With finals just around the corner, it’s likely been six months since your last set. Perhaps you get rusty, forgetful, or just lazy in terms of studying for the big week. To better get into the swing of finals things, remember these six tips to best prepare for finals:

  1. Meet with Groups

Getting together in groups can have its benefits. If each group member is dedicated to putting time in, dividing and conquering can efficiently disperse information and class notes. Breaking up assignments, reviewing materials, and sharing ideas is both a real-world type of practice and an effective way for you to better consume information preceding finals.

2. Organize Your Materials a Week Before

Before you even prepare to actually start studying, bookmarking important websites, documents, and page numbers can be an efficient way to prepare before you really begin. Too many hours are spent organizing notes and looking for various items, so if you can get that part done well in advance, you’ll notice your studying will be much more sequential and smooth flowing.

3. Make Study Guides Ahead of Time

Completing study guides and chapter reviews is a great way to study; however, if possible, try to complete the study guide and material before you actually “study.”  Some students think making the study guide is their way of studying, but actually using it, reviewing it repetitively, and consuming and reading the information is the other important half of actually doing study guides. Getting started on them early will be best for everyone!

4. Balance Your Sleep Schedule

The most underrated aspect of studying for finals is balancing your sleep cycle. Ensuring you get somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hours of sleep for your finals is ideal for jump-starting your morning of studies and helping you retain your hours of studying. If you’re considering cramming, throw out the Red Bull and jump in bed. Maintaining a healthy diet is also crucial as you prepare for the big week, and time management is key!

5. Turn the TV Off, Shut the Phone Off and Close Your Computer

Dare yourself to drop the electronics. Go a day, or at least consecutive hours with no television, cell phone, internet, and other forms of electronics to maintain focus. According to, the average Facebook user spends roughly 6.75 hours on Facebook per month. Imagine what you could do with that additional 7 hours a month? One thing would definitely be many more hours of studying for finals. For some, a day without Facebook is like a day without food, but do your best to fend off the e-temptations and hit the library, cell-phoneless, and get things done.

6. Meet/Email with Professors

Consulting with professors leading up to finals can be imperative to understand the course’s content. Most professors are very responsive in email and can respond to your questions promptly, so if you have questions, comments, or concerns, maintain an open dialogue with your professors.


Resources to Help You Find Your Calling in College

April 29, 2013
Ways to Find Your Calling in College

Sunshine in Greece

You’re in college driving 100 MPH. But where are you going?

Finding your way through college is not always as easy as advertised. After all, some adults don’t know exactly what they “want to be when they grow up.” However, keeping an open mind and diversifying your horizons is always a viable solution in finding what you want to do.

College is that intermediary stage between your past and your future. It’s where you find yourself and what you like to do, but also what you don’t like. Your university can play a huge role in assisting you figure it all out. From mentors to teachers to shadowing and connections, that’s what you’re paying the big bucks to discover. Be sure to consider these valuable resource in finding where you want to start your career:

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6 Interview Tips to Get That Internship

April 23, 2013
How to Find a College Internship

The interview is the final step between you and that prized opportunity this summer. You’ve worked hard with good grades, extracurriculars, and a finely polished resume to earn this interview. So what must you do to reach your goal? Well, there’s a whole science to the interview process. Whether it’s your first go-around with real interviewing or you’ve interviewed more times than you can count, there’s always room to grow your interviewing skills. They say interviewing is like dating because you’re always looking for a match. If that’s true, be sure to be level headed, polite and prepared, just as you would on a date!

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Internship Resources for College Students

March 26, 2013
How to Find a College Internship

Getting an internship reflects the age old question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? Similarly, what comes first, a job or experience? It is often very difficult to acquire internships seeing as they are very competitive and require “work experience.” So if you haven’t landed an internship yet, how could you have experience?! Networking, building projects and being a leader at your school go a long way in giving you certain “real life” experience. In fact, many of the lessons and lectures you sit through at school are not as valuable as the tools you gain through them: the late nights balancing classes, essays, readings and extracurriculars, meeting hundreds of new people, living life on your own and finding your way in the world can be very practical to your future career.

Playing up on your strengths is very important, but utilizing assets around you is especially important in getting that coveted internship that may lead to a full-time position. Check out some of the internship resources that may help you find the opportunity you’re hoping for:

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Perfecting Your Resume

March 25, 2013
resume tips

Job and Internship season is just around the corner as the calendar approaches April, so things can get chaotic in a jiffy. Now is the time to get your stuff in check and putting some finishing touches on your resume can go a long way in helping yourself come job season.
A few details you should note regarding a resume:

  • It is a snapshot of your experiences, accomplishments and accolades
  • Highlight what matters – prospective employers look at your resume for mere seconds
  • Typos and grammatical errors are the death of your employment aspirations; employers are reading hundreds to thousands of resumes at times, so you must ensure its perfection

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Getting an On-Campus Job

March 6, 2013
On Campus Job

View of Central Campus From my MU Hotel Room, Iowa State University
Getting an on-campus job can be a money booster and resume enhancer, especially if your schedule allows for it this semester.  In fact, getting the new job can be a tougher task than actually performing the job if it’s as a desk clerk, hall monitor or college ambassador.  I present to you a cheat sheet on how to get a college job, fast:

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