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<em>The following essay was submitted by Kristin Stickel as part of our <a href="">#Write2Win Contest</a>. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she's won a prize and we're reposting it here.</em> <p style="text-align:center;">--</p> <a href=""><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2107" src="" alt="Woman resting at work with the feet over the office table" width="300" height="199" /></a>The most important lesson I've learned as a college freshmen was not learned in the classroom or by reading books. It was simply learned by living and being a college freshmen. When a first-time student moves into their dorm room or apartment, they have expectations for what this new chapter in their life will hold, after all the books and movies make it all look so easy. The most important thing I learned is not to rush things while in college. With living in a smaller dorm and going to all the campus sponsored activities I expected making friends to be easier than it was, it took me a few weeks to find a close group that I fit into. Before I found my friends and sometimes even after I would feel homesick, I wasn't that far from home but it was still hard, college wasn't exactly what I hoped it would be,and I was beginning to doubt my decision to attend a four-year program.

When the last time you did nothing? Not bum around on the internet because you were bored. Not flip channels absent-mindedly. Not even try to fall asleep. Just nothing? It's been a while right? It's worth trying sometime. Once your brain stops screaming that you're wasting valuable time, you might start to appreciate the quiet.

There are books, magazines, articles, websites, e-books, mobile apps, pamphlets, seminars, weekend retreats, YouTube videos, documentaries, comic strips, and (probably) puppet shows dedicated to preparing yourself for a job interview. These information sources tend to nitpick every little detail about your appearance and demeanor in order to give you the secret recipe for landing a job. (No pressure or anything.)

<em>The following essay was submitted by Paris Singleton as part of our <a href="">#Write2Win Contest</a>. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she's won a prize and we're reposting it here.</em> <p style="text-align:center;">--</p> <a href=""><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2105" src="" alt="iStock_000004630282Small" width="300" height="199" /></a>Currently I am a sophomore at Texas State, and being a Bobcat is my life now. Before coming to college I was a wallflower, not much going on and not much to remember me by, but I remember promising myself that I would make a real effort to break out of that, have fun, push myself, and do what I wanted. My first year at Texas State was a full nine months of growing into adulthood, backtracking through things I hadn't done before, that I <em>should</em> have done in high school. My roommates were as different from me as I could have ever imagined, and we got on each other's nerves, but I think college, at least the first year is truly about learning from other people; really taking what they give out and adding that to your journey through the next four years of your life.

<em>The following essay was submitted by Alli Remily as part of our <a href="">#Write2Win Contest</a>. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she's won a prize and we're reposting it here.</em> <p style="text-align:center;">--</p> <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2103" src="" alt="iStock_000024157410Small" width="200" height="300" />The one thing nobody ever tells you about college is how completely alone you feel. For the first time in your life, you are supposed to do <em>everything</em> on your own when just a few months ago everybody held your hand. It's scary. The thing is, you're so excited to finally get to do whatever you want, to become an adult. But it's hard, a lot harder than anyone thinks. I go to college in another state, so I don't have the luxury of going home any weekend I want and have my family cook me food and do my laundry. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. My parents always wanted me to go to college in state but I fell in love with my out-of-state college when we first visited. So going to college 5 hours by car away from my parents has taught me not to give up when things get rough. I had a terrible first year of college. I was constantly homesick, crying all the time, and even having dinner with my family over Skype instead of with people from my dorm. It was really hard for me to make friends. But I knew that I couldn't just give up and go home, no matter how much I wanted to. It'd be a slap in the face to all the people who never get the chance to go to college.

<a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-2081" src="" alt="1000px-Flag_of_Michigan.svg" width="540" height="360" /></a> Back in 2006, Michigan voters put an end to race-based affirmative action through a ballot initiative. After eight years of back and forth, <a href="">the U.S. Supreme Court has finally weighed in</a>, granting Michigan, and the other states that qualify, limit, or outright forbid race-based affirmative action (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington) the power to make this decision on an individual basis.

In a move that mirrors the proposal in Oregon we talked about a few months back, Canadian province Nova Scotia has voted to eliminate interest on college student loans. The legislation is a deliberate and explicit move to remove the crippling financial burden of debt from new students as they start their careers.

You might have heard that the SAT is getting redesigned again. Among other changes, the plan is to shift back to the old 1600 point scale that old farts like me took. (That's the way it was pre-2005.) It'll also be the first test available in both print and digital form, a change that seems almost comically overdue. These changes won't take effect until 2016.

Misery loves company. A new study out of USC argues that stress is reduced when the experience is shared. In other words, complaining about your ridiculous deadlines, unreasonable professors, and brutal workloads with your classmates is actually a valid coping mechanism.

This winter has brought some of the worst weather in recent memory. If you've been bombarded with snow, ice, and sub-zero winds—or even if you're just tired of hearing about them—you can find some much-needed mental respite by sitting down and planning your spring break. However, before you start booking your tickets and packing your bags, be sure to start off on the right foot financially.

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