How Not Posting New Content Improved my Blog

For the past two months I haven't posted any new content on my blog. Not one new blog post, guest post, picture, nothing; but my page views have consistently stayed the highest they've ever been! 

In the middle of the semester, I was completely stressed out, to the point where I contemplated dropping out and opening a Mac n' Cheese store with my friends in Disneyland (we were going crazy.) I had no time or mental energy to come up with new content or even think about my blog.

When I was getting ready to go back home for Thanksgiving break I started thinking about how I hadn't done any work my my website and how my page views must've been in the toilet. I logged into my analytics and saw that they were actually some of the highest they had ever been! I started looking at where they came from and realized three key things:

  1. my highest read posts have been my most read posts for over a year: most of my new content wasn't even making it close in my statistics for viewership. 
  2. most of my new content had nothing to do with my old content.
  3. my traffic came mostly from Pinterest and other blogs (thanks for all the shoutouts guys!) 

This information was eye opening. I realized all of my new, irrelevant content was almost like digital clutter weighing my blog down. I looked at my analytics honestly and objectively and realized that I'm not a fashion blogger, or a food blogger or a travel blogger. My blog is a guidebook for life based on the obstacles I've faced. People respond the best to the things I can write the about the most honestly: right now that's college! 

I've used my analytics to help me create ideas for new content in 2016. Instead of posting daily of weekly I will be posting relevant content bi-weekly! 

What do your analytics say about your blog?

xoxo

AME



Dorm DIYs

I LOVE crafting. I'm obsessed.  I could sit in my room painting things and pouring glitter until my hands turned numb.  The problem with doing this in the 10ft x 8 ft dorm room is that theres not too much space to glitter as my heart desires. 

But with the help of $30 and some brown paper bags from the grocery store, I got to make the cutest, UMass inspired, wall hanging. 

What I Used: 

  • 5 Wooden Letters from the Target Craft Section;
  • A 2oz bottle of white, satin, paint;
  • A 2oz bottle of gold, glitter, top coat paint; 
  • A foam brush 
  • A brown paper bag 
  • 1 packet of Command velcro strips 

I cleared off my desk, unfolded the brown paper bag, and laid it out on the top of my desk.  I painted two coats of the white paint onto each of the front sides of the letters.  I suggest not painting the backs of any crafts for your dorm because if the paint scratches your dorm wall you could get charged for it. While the top coat was still slightly wet I painted the top glitter coat.  

2015-10-19 20.37.32.jpg

You can't see the glitter visibly until light shines on them.  During the day when the sun hits the letters they sparkle; and at night when I have my strung lights on they glow.  And the white backdrop makes them fit perfectly into my minimalistic, chic, dorm. 

Have you done any Dorm DIYs lately? 

xoxo

AME


Apartment Hunting

Life has been hectic with midterms, my job and mourning over the loss of not being in a sorority.  It's safe to say there have been plenty of late nights, devoured brownies, and time spent watching season after season of Grey's Anatomy. 

But something exciting that's going on is that my friends and I are starting to hunt for apartments for next year! This is especially exciting for me since HGTV has been one of my favorite T.V. stations since I was 8, and I almost applied to school for interior design. 

Photo from: http://interiorsbystudiom.com/columbus-day-colonial-home-historic-house/

Photo from: http://interiorsbystudiom.com/columbus-day-colonial-home-historic-house/

Thinking about budget, and bedrooms, and square footage is exciting for me! This process has been nuts since we can't actually sign a contract until next May at the latest. 

My Must Have for an Apartment or House:

  • A max monthly rent of $2,500.00 a month
  • 2-4 bedrooms
  • A balcony or backyard
  • Relatively clean kitchen 
  • Anything but carpet (hopefully) 
  • Within 3 miles of my college campus
  • The ability to paint the rooms for the duration of the contract 

Do you live off campus? How was your house search? Is is better than living on campus? 

xoxo

AME 

 

Sorority Recruitment and Why I Dropped

I've been thinking about sorority recruitment since I graduated high school over a year and a half ago.  I went to a small all girls high school. We had bigs and littles, we baked, crafted, spent hours watching gossip girl together, and graduated knowing we had found friends that would last a lifetime.  And by the end of high school my friends had all decided to rush a sorority and convinced me to do the same. 

All of my friends moved down south for college, and greek life is a lot bigger down there than it is in Massachusetts, so I decided not to rush when I got to campus my freshman year.  It was during my college's Relay for Life in the spring that I decided I was going to go through recruitment in the fall of my sophomore year. 

Photo From OSU Panhellenic 

Photo From OSU Panhellenic 

I spent the next roughly six months preparing and getting excited about recruitment.  I researched all of the sororities at my school, learned their symbols, songs, philanthropies, etc.  I couldn't wait to find my home; to get the same feeling of safeness I had when I walked blindly into my freshman year at an all girls high school, and I couldn't wait to find another group of girls like the ones I found in high school. 

I was warned that it was going to be emotional, and that I will probably get dropped, but no one prepared me for what really happened.  I did my research and thought I knew exactly what house was the perfect fit for me; then they dropped me after the first round.  Then two more houses that I loved dropped me the next day.  And after I dragged myself to house tours that I wasn't excited about, and tried so hard to connect with girls I hadn't connected with yet, the last house I had an ounce of connection with dropped me the morning of preference day. 

The UMass Chapters

The UMass Chapters

I couldn't handle it.  I texted my Rho Gamma thanking her for all the help she's been, but that I couldn't do it.  I couldn't go to preference parties at houses I felt uncomfortable in with girls I had nothing in common with.  And I dropped.  

I then spent the next 17 hours watching all of the friends I made during recruitment find there houses, get bids to their favorites and get ready to meet their new family. To say I cried is an understatement.  I ended up ordering a pound of wings and stated watching 9 episodes of Grey's Anatomy in a row.

I have been dreaming about the perfect recruitment, finding the perfect house filled with the perfect sisters.  But that didn't happen for me.  People keep telling me to try again in the spring or next fall.  But the thing about greek like in Massachusetts is the sororities aren't big enough to take on a spring recruitment class, and when there's more girls rushing then there are in sororities there are bound to be countless girls who end up like me. 

I am so happy for everyone this fall that went through and found their people.  As emotional as recruitments been for me, I don't regret going through it.  I made some great friends in that short week, and I can't wait to visit them in their new sororities!

Did you Rush? How was your experience/what's your new chapter?!

xoxo

AME


Back on Campus

This past Thursday I finally moved back!  To say I'm excited is seriously an understatement.  Be warned this is a sappy post. 

The first week of my freshman year I may have been the only one who was not homesick; and I didn't feel homesick until our laundry room in the basement flooded (for the first time).  But this year is different.  When I was at home I actually made attempts to spend time with my parents - because I actually wanted to. Weird, I know.  My relationship with all of my parents (child of divorce) strengthened this past summer, and it was a lot tougher to leave. 

It also didn't help that my mom just had a baby six months ago, and step mom had a baby a little over a year and a half ago, and I wanted to spend time with. {Granted minimal time because I'm not good with babies, but you get the point}. 

My Mom's Adorable Daughter Frankie 

My Mom's Adorable Daughter Frankie 

My Dad and His Handsome Son - Mason 

My Dad and His Handsome Son - Mason 

But as different as leaving this year was, I am also a thousand times more excited than I was last year.  The friends I made here at UMass last year are like family to me now, and five months is a long time to go without seeing people that you're used to seeing all day everyday.  

I'm stepping out of my comfort zone this semester: I will be going through Sorority Recruitment in a little less than a month, I'm about to begin my first semester on the Executive board of the Women in Business Society on campus, and in only one week I will be fulfilling a life long dream of mine. 

My dorm before I decorated

And you know something surprising?  I am so excited for class!! I'm probably more excited for actual school more than anything (*cough* Geek *cough*).  The classes I'm taking this semester are things I'm interested in, or challenge me and make me think. 

It's an amazing feeling to move back onto campus knowing I have an amazing family supporting me at home, a wonderful relationship (happy almost two years :)), and just the most incredible group of friends.  I couldn't be more thankful to all of those people and to all of my readers going into this year. 

Thank you again! 

xoxo 

AME 

Paying for College

The phrase "paying for college" makes me cringe.  Throughout my entire college search process I never thought of the price of the colleges I was looking at.  I always assumed some magical thing would happen where I would win a full scholarship or my parents would miraculously win the lottery.  But when that May 1st decision deadline rolled around I had an important decision to make that would literally impact me both mentally, socially, and financially for the rest of my life. (scary to think that making the right decision relies on a naive 18 year old) 

I had to chose between going to Fordham's Lincoln Center Campus and fulfilling my dream of living and learning in Manhattan, or going to UMass Amherst (my parent's alma mater) in the middle of nowhere and having less financial debt. 

The hardest decision of my life ultimately ended in me choosing the slightly cheaper state school in order to save future Alex from surviving off of Ramen and living in her parents basement when she's 28.  I thought that was the last decision I had to make, but I was wrong.  

 I was born to teen-parents, so I had no large college fund waiting for me, and no financial security blanket holding me up. This made loans my only option as state schools don't typically offer academic scholarships. My parents told me to start researching loans, and to start building my credit and stuff about interest rates and budget plans; and all of it made me want to scream!! 

For my last two years of high school I worked as the office manager for a bankruptcy attorney and thought I knew everything, but I was wrong.  The words made my head spin, all I wanted to do was go to the mall, and thinking about my future made me want to crawl under a rock and sit in the fetal position.  No one had ever taught me about how to pay for college. 

Recently a company called College Ave reached out to me about this problem.  No one in college understands how to pay for college.  High schools think that learning about chemical compounds on the moon are more important then teaching us how checking accounts work, and College Ave has set out to help fix this problem.  

Whenever I visit the most common sites for loans I get an instant headache just trying to figure out what all of the words mean and how it impacts me, but after 5 minutes on the College Ave site I feel so much better.  They easily break down what everything means in terms you understand.  They show you all of your options and payment methods without distraction.  And they're completely transparent about the whole process. 

Paying for college sucks.  Signing a loan and knowing you'll be owing upwards of $100,000 or even $200,000 from just signing that paper is scary.  But with College Ave you'll be able to confidently pay for your college without signing away your soul. 

It's time to start talking about paying for college, and it's time that students learn what about their loans really mean. 

How have your experiences been with getting a loan?

xoxo

AME 

Thank you College Ave for sponsoring this post! 

Preparing for Sophomore Year Move-In

Sophomore year is two weeks away! I cannot believe it.  I feel like just yesterday I was touring colleges excited about the future, but nervous to leave my high school bubble.  Now I'm anxiously waiting to return to campus.  

I've started preparing to return to school (mostly because I just can't wait to be back), and it's been so much easier than last year!  After living in a dorm for so long I now feel like I know what I should pack, how I should pack it, and what I really don't need to bring. 

| Backpacks > Tote Bags | 

When I went to my all-girls high school I used a purse for my school bag, and every other time of the year.  So last year, in addition to my backpack, I brought 5 tote bags, and 2 cross body purses. I now know that that was completely unnecessary.  If I ever used a purse, I put one thing in it. There was no need for all those tote bags!  I plan to bring one or two smaller purses with me this year. I will also be investing in a larger backpack.  My beloved black north face backpack was just too small for everything I needed to carry. 

| Leggings are necessary |

This year will also be the year I invest in more leggings.  I love love love lululemon leggings. Their really the only leggings I'll wear (aside from a few old favorites).  But last year I only brought two pair thinking I would probably wear real pants more often.  Again, I was wrong.  Leggings are the northeastern college girl's uniform. Literally. I am budgeting to buy 3 or four more pair of basic colored leggings from the lululemon outlet store before I return to school. 

| Purge, Purge, Purge |

I just recently invested in the app Stylebook to help me with this task.  I brought so many clothes last fall to college that when I was packing to go home, realized I hadn't even unfolded let alone wore most of them.  Lay out everything you think you want to take to college and ask yourself some questions.  When will you wear this? How often do you wear it now? Is it appropriate for the climate of your college? Is it a useless t-shirt from high school? is it ripped or stained? Does it fit? 

Don't take anything that doesn't fit in hopes of eventually fitting into it.  It'll never happen. 

| Plastic Bins | 

When you pack for college don't use cardboard boxes.  Instead, invest in some plastic bins and space bags.  I space bagged all of my clothes that I was hanging and putting into my built-in wardrobe at school to save space in my car and lighten the load.  But I didn't use plastic bins. 

how funny is this picture of my roommate, friends and I's first time going to target at college?

how funny is this picture of my roommate, friends and I's first time going to target at college?

This year I will be buying as many bins as I can because I didn't realize how much dead space there was in my dorm that I could've used for storage.  My 15 pairs of shoes were always everywhere; so I'll be buying a bin just for them, and packing my shoes in it for the journey.  Same goes for my extra sheets and towels, you'll always need a place to keep them. 

The Cure to the "Blogger Headache"

One of the biggest struggles I have as a student blogger is physically staying in front of my computer for as long as a need to be.  I suffer from chronic migraine, which comes with the burden of an almost daily headache that begins around 1 o'clock if I don't already have a migraine.

When I was 13 I was given prescription glasses (despite my almost perfect vision) to try and help my headaches.  When I was 15 they discovered I had astigmatism, and hoped that new glasses would help, they didn't. 

I was told to wear the glasses while I worked on the computer or watched TV, which is basically all the time.  But instead of helping they actually worsened my headaches.  As soon as I took them off I'd get confused or disoriented and have to sit for five minutes before I stopped being dizzy. 

Recently, a company called Phonetic Eyewear reached out to me about a new type of glasses made specifically for computer use.  I was ecstatic!  I went online to look at some of the glasses thinking they'd look like boring, ugly standard looking glasses. Oh My I was surprised! The glasses reminded me of Warby Parker and they were extremely affordable. It's on $49 for a pair with just the computer lenses, and $99 with a prescription. 

Once they came in the mail i was so anxious to see if they worked.  I put them on and didn't notice kind of drastic change right away, but as soon as I took them off I realized how much they were helping me. 

These glasses are meant to block the blue light that comes from computers from entering your eye and causing your eyes to strain, which typically causes those afternoon headaches for most people.  When I took these glasses off and saw my laptop for the first time I was amazed! I had no idea how blue my screens really were. 

I've been wearing these glasses for about a week now and the difference is amazing.  All you students, bloggers, or student bloggers out there need to look into getting a pair of these glasses.  Not only will they look super cute in your Instagram pic with your Starbucks and the book your reading, but they'll also help save you from that eventual blogger burnout caused by eye strain.  

Honestly guys, I'm amazed at how much I love these glasses.  I feel like an idiot for spending so much money on prescription glasses I never wear.  When I'm not as poor of a college student as I am right now I will be buying at least two more pair. 

If you end up trying out the glasses, let me know what you thought of them! Use the code "LIFESTYLIST10" to get 10% of your order! 

I can't wait to see if these help you guys! 

xoxo

AME 


Madeline & Company Backpacks

School is almost here! (que happy dancing now!) I am so excited to go back to campus, but I have a huge list of stuff to get done before I go.  One of the things I need to do is buy a new backpack. 

Last year I invested over $100 into a north face backpack because I had always heard that those are the best.  I was sadly mistaken.  Only one binder and my laptop fit into the backpack, and I could barely squeeze my water bottle into the side pocket. 

During the Smart Girls Group conference, which I unfortunately could not attend, an adorable high school senior named Madeline, of Madeline & Company, debuted her new backpack collection {read her interview on The College Prepster Here} Guys, I am in love! These backpacks are literally perfect. 

  • it's almost 9 inches deep which allows you to carry plenty of books (why other backpacks don't have room for books baffles my mind)
  • There is a padded laptop sleeve built in to the inside
  • Cushioned shoulders and back
  • Water bottle sleeves on the side that aren't made out of mesh, but still waterproof
  • Small zippered pocket on the inside for your phone and any other small supplies (ex. pencils, pens, headphones, etc.)
  • And motivational words on the back panel of the bag to lift you up on your most stressful days! 

The bags come in eight color combinations: four featuring black as a base color and four featuring navy.  And some bags even have the cutest striped lining.

But my absolute favorite part of these bags is that they're Made in America! For the same price as a North Face backpack you're getting much more functionality and you're helping create jobs in your country.  

I'm ordering the black one with the gold and pink stripe this week (because it matches my blogs design and I love it so much).  Use the code "xocollegelife" for 10% off the purchase of your new backpack.  And be on the lookout for an updated What's in My Backpack post for sophomore year featuring my lovely new backpack coming soon! 

xoxo

AME

My Skincare Routine

this is not a sponsored post, these are my own thoughts and opinions. 

I have tried pretty much everything you can buy at CVS for your skin.  Growing up even when I didn't have acne, I've always had blotchy, red, skin. It's something I used to be very self conscious about that I'm just now starting to get over. Plus I have a skin allergy to Tea Tree Oil that makes it hard to get higher end products.

Being a generally lazy person for someone who always has two planners, no matter what I tried I never really stuck with it because I didn't see instant results.  Or even worse I saw an instant result that was bad. 

image.jpg

About a month into college I stopped washing my face all together.  It was causing me a lot of break outs that I wasn't used to and it made my skin dry and irritated (which just brought the red blotches out more).  What I did do was just use make-up remover wipes before I went to bed and moisturized.  I've alway used Neutrogena original make-up remover wipes because they just leave my skin feeling the best. 

After I remove my makeup at night, I use Neutrogena's deep moisture night face cream.  This is honestly a miracle worker.  Whenever I put this on I wake up with dewey glowing skin and it's just awesome.  It's even more amazing in the winter when your face is dry and windblown. 

Every morning I usually splash some water on my face then put on Neutrogena's daily moisturizer for oily to combination skin.  These three things (plus some of the Neutrogena simple face cleanser once in a blue moon) kept my skin looking amazing at school! But when I came back home for the summer I noticed my skin was more oily and I started getting a few little blackheads. 

This is when I decided to purchase Neutrogena's toner. I had never really used toner before but I started just putting it on a cotton ball and rubbing it over my skin after removing my makeup and before I put on any kind of lotion.  The first time I used it I noticed it took off a bunch of makeup dirt I didn't know I had on my face, and it was less oily. 

My love for Neutrogena is ever growing, and I promise you this is not a sponsored post, I'm just in love with all of their products!