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Val’s Declassified Squad Creation Guide

By Valeria Tirado

March 3, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I would love to be part of Taylor Swift’s fabulous, and seemingly ever growing, squad. While the chances of that are slim, forming your own squad can actually be as easy as Taylor makes it look.

Even in college? Yes, even in college! Being in the right place at the right time makes a difference, so I’m going to tell you where I think are the best places to find gal pals and network in college.

The first place should be obvious: your classroom. Most of the classes you’re taking in community college are probably your basic courses (that was smart of you) so your classes will be diverse when it comes to majors. But that’s not a bad thing. While your long-term career goals may be different, your short-term goals are similar, which is to graduate community college and then transfer to a 4-year school that will lead you into a successful career.

Having friends to support you, as you support them, throughout your journey will be a great asset to you. What better place to start than right in your classroom where you’ll already be surrounded by many ambitious women just like yourself? Studying together, trading notes, and swapping advice are just a few of the ways you can begin these long-lasting friendships.

The next place (or should I say places?) I would go to find new additions to my squad are the school’s common rooms, such as the library, cafeteria, gym, etc. At the library, you’re always going to find studious people so you can’t go wrong there. Ask a girl, or a group of girls, if you can study with them. Most shouldn’t mind but I guess if you need an excuse, a few good ones are, “I need some help with this…” or “I’m new here…” I guarantee it’s not as hard as it sounds.

In any other common rooms, the deal is the same. Use the machine next to someone at the gym and strike up a conversation, or sit with someone new for lunch. Not all of these interactions may turn into budding friendships, but you never know who you’re going to hit it off with.

The last place that I advise you to look for new girl friends are at club meetings. Find a club that piques your interest and when you go to the meetings, you’ll be in the same room as a bunch of other ladies who are just as interested in it as you. Pretty cool, right? Even if you end up quitting the club, that doesn’t mean you have to leave the awesome ladies you met behind.

Club meetings are where I’ve met most of my girl friends and we have supported each other through so much. They are definitely a place you do not want to miss out on.

With the exception of some common rooms, networking with professionals and faculty can begin at these same places too. If you take a class with an inspiring professor or meet a club member who you really admire, be sure to let them know that and get their contact info to keep in touch. You never know how they may be able to help you in the future.

Building a strong network of women early on, especially in college, will give you an edge later on so please take advantage while you can. I hope this guide has helped you, and good luck building your ultimate squad!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Make the Most of Your Time at Community College

By Valeria Tirado

February 1, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I know a ton of people who decided to spend their first two years of college at a community college and then transferred to a four-year school to finish their degree. It seems to be a popular trend these days and with good reason.

One of the biggest reasons is that community college tends to be a lot cheaper than a four-year school. Two years spent at a community college can save you a lot of money! Now, just because community college is temporary and you won’t be getting your Bachelor’s degree there doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to take advantage of what they can offer.

Knock out your basic courses

Most four-year colleges have about two years’ worth of general requirement classes that they make all students, regardless of their major, take. Most four-year colleges will also transfer credits from other colleges for these basic courses. Yes, that includes community college.

If you know what you want to major in, check out the classes your desired school will make you take for that major. If you find that almost half of them are basic courses, you may want to think about doing those at a community college first and then transferring over.

Make sure to take all factors into consideration. If you’re on a budget, and perhaps unsure of what you want to major in, then definitely consider doing community college first because not only will it save you money, but it will also give you some time to think about what you want to get a degree in.

Get involved

Community colleges aren’t so different from four-year colleges when it comes to extracurriculars. They have clubs, honor societies, special events, career services, and so much more; just like four-year colleges! If you do go to community college, make sure to take advantage of these organizations.

Any clubs/honor societies that you join will make your time there more enjoyable, and they may even offer those same ones at the four-year college you’ll be transferring to later on. Career services can not only help you get a job, but also help you decide what school to transfer to and even with what you may want to do later on after you get your Bachelor’s.

Time spent at any type of college is not a waste of your time because it all contributes to your education and life experience.

Network/Make friends

Making friends is a pretty obvious one because friends always make school more enjoyable. Don’t think that just because you’re out of there in two years you shouldn’t make friends. They say that you meet your best friends for life in college, and that doesn’t exclude community college.

Most people you meet will probably have the same goal of transferring to a four-year college later on. That’s something you can bond over and support each other through. Trust me, you don’t want to go through college alone!

Networking is also a great idea, especially with professors. I’ve known many professors that not only teach at a four-year college, but teach at a community college as well. Some may only teach part-time at a community college and have very interesting careers outside of there. These professors are usually more than willing to help you when it comes to talking about college or career advice. You never know until you ask!

I have met a surprisingly large amount of people who don’t think going to community college is a good idea because it’s not “as good” as a four-year college. To be honest, especially when it comes to the basic courses, community college offers about the same kind of education you’ll get at your average, much more expensive, four-year college. Plus, community college offers a lot of the things that a four-year college does.

It’s not for everybody but it’s definitely something to think about. Just don’t think that you shouldn’t get involved in anything just because you’ll only be there temporarily. In fact, you should make the most of the little time you have there because I guarantee you’ll miss it when it’s over!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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