FOMO and the College Experience

There’s a current dysfunction in our society called FOMO—fear of missing out. Technology and social media have made FOMO such an epidemic that it’s now an actual word in the dictionary. And it has redefined how Millennials experience college (and life, in general).

[Explore FOMO in depth: view my Storify]

You come home exhausted from a long day, and you’re more than happy to stay in. You convince yourself that you’re 100% content with a night in alone—until you open your Instagram feed, or see your best friends drinking wine together in a Snapchat story. Even when you try to avoid checking social media, your friends can still find a way to reach you.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.30.09 PM

Actual screen shot from my iPhone.

Suddenly, the thought of staying in on a Friday night seems more depressing than it does relaxing.

Dead week, finals, and fomo

Dead week is upon us, and we’re trying to soak up as much ‘college’ as possible before heading home for the holidays. Final exams and project deadlines are coming up, but they’re often pushed aside until the last possible minute. It happens every semester, no matter how many times we tell ourselves we’re NEVER procrastinating again.

FOMO has made the pressure to study this week even more difficult. Friends are still going out, but you have a 7:30 a.m. final on Monday — it’s a constant struggle.

University of Iowa students share their experiences with FOMO in the midst of dead week and final deadlines. Watch below:

FOMO: Does it get better?

Listen to my chat with Andrew Nguyen, a graduate student at the University of Texas pursuing a degree in economics and Kim Hinkle, a successful entrepreneur and University of Iowa alum. They put FOMO into perspective and talk about life after college.

Chinese student population skyrockets, causes students, UI to adapt

This is a University of Iowa student lifestyle feature.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Studying-at-the-library fatigue is a common condition among college students – symptoms include: excessive caffeine intake, a nap at home, or (the classic) repeated claims of quitting school.

But for Chinese students, it makes perfect sense to just take a nap at the library when they’re tired, and domestic students often ridicule this abnormal behavior.

A misunderstood cultural difference

“I think a lot of domestic students don’t know that back in China, sleeping in the library or sleeping in public places is perfectly fine,” UI junior Yuhao Chen said. “But maybe, on the other hand, a lot of international students don’t know that sleeping in the library is not a normal thing that people would do in the states – so I think that misunderstanding of cultural differences is interesting.”

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3 ways to make the most of Thanksgiving break

It’s no surprise how fast Thanksgiving break flies by. It’s tempting to hibernate on the living room couch during this precious week off from class. But, every time I return to campus after break, I realize I shouldn’t have spent the ENTIRE week doing nothing.

Thanksgiving break is obviously a time to be grateful for family, friends, and food. It’s a time to unwind and leave the stress behind for a week. However, it’s always a good idea to utilize the free time you have during break to your advantage — here are 3 ways to make the most of it.

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5 things you need to survive a library study binge

Like many college students, I’m no stranger to the long days that turn into nights at the library. My workload only seems to be growing with demanding classes, law school preparation, and internship responsibilities; finding myself at the library (or journalism building) for 15 hours straight is completely normal.

It’s not easy to stay in one place for hours at a time and maintain focus. Here are some materials you should pack on your next library binge that’ll help prevent you from finding excuses to leave early.

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how to take lecture notes in college

[View the full story here: “How to take lecture notes in college”]

Summary: Sometimes, you’re be blessed with that saint of an instructor who posts all the notes online, along with a YouTube video of the actual lecture (you know, just in case you happen to miss class one time). Other times, you’re stuck with a super old-school professor who doesn’t believe in technology or PowerPoint Presentations, and stands in front of the auditorium and just talks.

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top 3 ways to make extra cash in college

Being a full-time student with a part-time job takes up most of my time during the week. When I’m not hustling from class to the office, or spending time with friends/family, I’m taking on other side gigs. These gigs can be temporary, freelance-type work, or something that requires more attention throughout the week.

Where do I find the time to do all of this? I have certain weeks that are slower than others—usually my workload slows down following a big exam week, or the few days after completing a big project at work. University holidays are another good time to spend working side gigs. The point is, making a little extra money shouldn’t be another responsibility to stress out about; rather, it should be seen as a fun hobby that happens to put some extra cash in your wallet.

Here are three ways I make extra money on the side, while also jugging a demanding college student schedule.

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why you should apply for jobs you’re not qualified for

Taking on new challenges can be scary. Applying for ‘real life’ jobs and thinking about life after college is even scarier. Older, wiser people are always telling us to gain as much work and leadership experience as possible while we’re still in school — we might be tired of hearing it, but those older, wiser people are right.

The jobs that interest me almost always include qualification requirements that are well beyond my professional experience: 5+ years working in the field, 2-3 years of management experience, etc., etc., etc. Sound familiar? Your first thought might be to skip right past these highly-qualified positions, thinking that sending in your resume would almost be an insult to that company’s standards.

But if I can tell you one thing I’ve learned, it’s to do the opposite. Apply for that dream job. Do things before you’re ready. No one is an expert before starting something new — we’re all beginners at some point.

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backpack alternatives for the stylish college girl

For the last three years, my black Northface backpack was my best friend. I couldn’t be found on campus without it. My backpack carried all of my school, work, and life necessities, and it was easy to lug around when I had to walk around campus all day. I brought it from class, to the Daily Iowan newsroom, to Noodles for lunch, and even to reporting on the scene for a TV story.

A classic, black backpack will probably never go out of style on a college campus. I loved my Northface Jester because it made me look sporty, but at the same time studious. I never even thought of replacing it with a shoulder bag because 1) regular bags/totes can’t carry everything I need, and 2) everyone in college carries a backpack (if not, they carry a Longchamp, and I didn’t really want to do that, either). A backpack just made sense…

…until I found a new best friend, the Madewell Transport Tote.



I had my eye on this beauty for only a week before giving in and buying it — personalized monogram and all. I haven’t looked back since. While I did love my backpack for a long time, and it held up great throughout my first three years of college, here is why I ultimately decided to replace it:

  1. A simple, yet elegant tote made me feel like I could dress up to class and look normal. With a backpack, I felt like I had to dress sporty or casual to match the large accessory on my back.
  2. It actually DOES carry all my necessities.
  3. I started going straight from class to the office of my new job. I wanted to feel more professional as I walked into the building. Since my co-workers are all older and sophisticated, I felt a little young and out of place strolling in with a backpack.
  4. I’m pretty sure lawyers don’t carry backpacks, so I thought I’d start adjusting to the legal life early.

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the college student’s guide to a productive day

Unlike a full-time, 9-5 job, a college student’s schedule is generally broken up with a few classes per day — meaning, there’s no obligation to stay in a certain place and work for eight hours. Unless students set up their courses to run back-to-back, many undergrads find themselves with at least an hour to kill before their next class. While the extra time between responsibilities seems great, it can also be a curse on productivity.

When you have a full schedule and an overloaded to-do list, take advantage of the breaks between class to get things done. There are plenty of ways to stay focused and productive during the week — here are some of my go-to strategies to keep myself on track every day.

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