Why A Mid-Sized School Was Right For Me, and Is Right For You Too

A Mid-Sized School Was The Right Fit For Me, And It Could Be The Right Fit For You Too

Not too big, not too small, and just right for me.

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When I was looking for colleges three years ago, I had very little idea of what I wanted. I was the oldest (and therefore first) in my family to go to college in this new generation, so I didn't have any older siblings or cousins to look to for advice on the 2000s college experience. I also had the minor problem of hating the "college visit" experience. I was never a fan of the overly-peppy tour guides, the staged presentation of the university, and the long presentations about financial aid, student life, academics, and more.

Couple that with the fact that I was looking for colleges in the Midwest – which meant that it was almost always too hot, too cold, or too rainy to be outside taking a tour- and I was definitely NOT a fan. To try to cut down on the number of visits in light of having no idea of what I want, my family and I decided the best course of action was to look at schools of three different sizes first and then pick a school in that size range that I was interested in based on distance, academics, and/or student life.

And thus my college visit plan was laid out by the beginning of my junior year of high school. (Hard to imagine that it was already four years ago!) I knew fairly quickly just from reading that I didn't want a really small school so that limited me to either mid-sized or big schools. The first middle-sized school I looked at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Wonderful school, but a little too close to home. I wanted the college experience of living on my own, but I couldn't economically rationalize paying for a dorm room when I technically drove a farther distance to my high school than I would have been driving to Bradley. I did, however, like the size of a mid-sized school and kept looking at similar institutions.

I also, per my parents' request, looked at larger schools. I took a tour of their alma mater, the University of Illinois, and I was certain about 15 minutes into the tour of the campus that this wasn't for me. This is nothing against the school itself; in fact, I had been visiting the U of I since I was a kid as my family made return trips for athletic events. (Yes, I was at the Wake Forest game in '05 season.) But regardless of how great those experiences had been, I couldn't wrap my head around the vast size of the school itself. I was used to a smaller grade school and high school environment, and the sheer number of people I saw walking around that day was too much for me to feel comfortable. It didn't feel personalized, and I didn't want to get lost in the sea of people. My brother goes to the U of I now and loves his experience there so far. So it is the best choice for some people, but it definitely wasn't for me.

So now that I had the mid-sized school decided upon, but ruled out the one closest to home, I started looking outwards from Illinois. After visiting a few different campuses, I settled on Butler University, a manageable 3-hour drive to Indianapolis. I couldn't be happier with this decision and wouldn't change it for the world. I love the personal atmosphere- the relationships I form with the professors and the fact that they actually know my name. I like the open atmosphere in the classrooms and the freedom to share my opinions without feeling like I am addressing (or actually addressing) an auditorium full of people. I like being able to walk from class to class and recognize and talk with the people I see. And I love that while Butler is able to have some of the big-school amenities (like an amazing basketball team to watch every year), it maintains a feeling of home that I don't think I would find at a larger school.

Like I said earlier, different size schools and better for different people. Some people like the anonymity, while others like attention. Some people prefer something in between. I would say, however, that a mid-sized school has a perfect balance of each, and I would highly encourage anyone struggling through the college selection process to give a mid-sized school a chance.

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30 First-Apartment Essentials College Kids Forget To Buy At Target And Later Order On Amazon

Don't wait until you need to take something out of the oven to realize that you don't have any oven mitts.

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If you're anything like I am, you're beyond excited to start planning and shopping for your first apartment. It's easy to get wrapped up in the fun stuff for your first apartment, trust me, as a former Bed Bath & Beyond employee I could spend hours wandering through shower curtains and bedding.

Before you get too carried away there are just some essential things that you'll need, but they aren't as much fun to pick out. Don't wait until you need to take something out of the oven to realize that you don't have any oven mitts, because I really don't see that ending well for you (I may or may not know that from personal experience).

1. Oven mitts

Gets those oven mitts because the sleeve of your sweater might seem like it will work, but I'm living proof that it won't, most sweaters have holes.

2. Trash bags

Don't wait until you need to throw something away to realize you don't have them.

3. Hand soap

It's not like a dorm bathroom where the maintenance staff refills a soap dispenser that's drilled into the wall. You're on your own kid.

4. Toilet paper

Again, no staff replacing it for you. Stay on top of it and make sure you always replace an empty roll, especially if you have roommates.

5. Water filter or pitcher

This one depends on whether your water is safe to drink or not, but be prepared. You don't want to move in under the summer sun only to realize you don't have any drinkable water at your snazzy new pad.

6. Tools

Hammers, screwdrivers, all that jazz. If you're moving in some furniture you're probably going to need tools to put it together.

7. Lighting

You don't want to be unpacking and stumbling around a new space in the dark your first night. Know what lighting is built in and where you might need to add some light.

8. Silverware organizer

Ok, so you probably remembered to pack the silverware, but do you really want to throw it all in a pile in a drawer? That's a good way to grab the wrong end of a knife by accident, maybe get some dividers to keep your silverware nice and sorted.

9. Dish towels

Most people think about bath towels, but if you're not used to having a kitchen you might not have thought of dish towels. You're going to need those when you're whipping up your favorite dinner.

10. Measuring cups

I'm a huge advocate for estimating and guessing in the kitchen, but if you're baking anything at all you should probably at least have some measuring utensils as a guide.

11. Bottle opener and corkscrew

You're going to want to crack open a drink and celebrate your first night in the new place. Wouldn't it be a buzzkill if you couldn't even get the drinks open?

12. Sponges

You have to be able to clean the counters and the dishes when you're done being an expert chef!

13. Paper towels

Spills happen, and you don't always want to clean them with your nice towels.

14. Toilet plunger

It's one of those things you never really think about... that is, until you need one.

15. Air freshner

You know, for after you use the toilet plunger.

16. Extension cords

You probably have a larger space than you're used to, sometimes those cords that come with all your new electronics just aren't quite long enough.

17. Utensil container

A little round pot or bucket is the perfect place to put all of your kitchen utensils. Things like spatulas and whisks will take up space in your drawers and create clutter. Plus, keeping them out makes them easier to grab when you're whipping up some food.

18. Batteries

There's nothing worse than getting your new TV all set up and realizing you can't use the remote.

19. Curtains

If you need darkness to sleep, you want to make sure you get those bedroom curtains up and ready to roll.

20. Toilet bowl brush

Sorry, but I'm certainly not reaching in there with my hands.

21. Ice cube trays

To keep you cool as a cucumber during this stressful time.

22. Can opener

Try prying a can open with your hands. I dare you.

23. Stain remover

For when you try to pry the can open with your hands and manage to spray tomato sauce all over yourself.

24. Carbon monoxide/Smoke detectors

Cause we don't want any tragedies here.

25. Collander

We both know you will be making pasta every night, so you're going to need to drain it.

26. Coasters

You definitely don't want to ruin your super fancy new Ikea table.

27. Dry erase board

No need to argue over who should take out the trash, just make sure to write down everyone's chores.

28. Underbed storage

On a college budget there's no way you can expect a walk-in closet, those clothes and shoes will have to go somewhere.

29. Drying rack

For when the dryer in your building inevitably stops working.

30. Step stool

If you're short, like me, you need a little help reaching that top shelf.

Hopefully this list has helped you feel a little more prepared to move into your first apartment. The decorating and planning is so much more enjoyable when you know you have all of your bases covered. I wish you the best of luck with your first major endeavor in the world of adulting!

Note: As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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