Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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    Lessons from a Student Leader during a Global Pandemic and Beyond

    Margaret Poltorak

    Being the president of my sorority has taught me about ways to thrive as a leader. I’ve learned a lot about myself in regard to my leadership strengths and weaknesses. Being a student leader on campus is not easy, especially when faced with unexpected events such as COVID-19. But here are the lessons I have learned since gaining my position. 

    Expect the unexpected

    This has been especially relevant for all student leaders during COVID-19. No matter how much planning and thought goes into every decision, there are still going to be events you cannot control. Whether it’s something as large as a global pandemic or as small as a member asking a question you weren’t expecting, know the only thing you can do is your very best. With every decision I make, I say “I’m making the best decision with the information I was given.” Especially in times of uncertainty, knowing your limits is extremely important as a student leader.

    Have people you can confide in

    Having people in your corner to seek advice from is key to being a successful student leader. My own support network includes: my executive board to support me with confidential information; my mother to vent to when being a leader takes its toll; and a friend not in the sorority that I can gain an outside perspective from. These people became the foundation that supports me and my greatest cheerleaders. When I first got this position, I tried to do a lot of the work on my own. Once I accepted that it’s okay to ask for help, I became a better leader.  

    It’s just a position

    Remember you are a student and a human being before you are a leader in your organization. Your mental health and academics should still take priority, even when that seems difficult. This is something I reminded myself often. No act, task, event, speech, or any other responsibility is more important than your own well-being. Remember to take a step back every once in a while and keep your position and your experience in perspective. Remember that it’s okay to say “no” and turn something down. You’re still a student and a human.

    Remember why you took the position

    In every student leadership position, there are the great moments – the times when you begin to think you are leaving a legacy. However, there are also tough times. I have had several moments in which I question why I accepted this position. Whenever I feel that way, I remember why I ran for presidency in the first place. During elections, I wrote a letter to myself about what this position means, and I continue to look back upon it during tough times. Doing this has allowed me to approach almost every week with the passion I had in the beginning of my term. When faced with challenges, remind yourself of why you took the position. 

    Being a leader can push you to grow as a student and a person. Many students can learn a lot through their experiences of being a leader, but it is important to remember the things above in order to have balance between your position and other obligations.


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    Advice for Homesick College Students

    Margaret Poltorak

    “Why did you come to Ohio?” This was the question I get asked often when fellow Buckeyes find out I am from San Diego. Being from California and going to school in Ohio has been an adjustment to say the least. Dealing with weather: manageable; classes: do-able. The greatest struggle has been and continues to be homesickness. There are two main times I’ve found homesickness to be the most overwhelming: exam time and sickness time. In this article I’ll discuss strategies to help college students get through the worst of times and stay mindful in college despite being so far from home.

    Exam Demands

    Exams – students hate them and professors love to give them. Add a sprinkle of wanting to go home and there’s a recipe for potential disaster. Studying for any kind of test can be a high stress time for students and that stress can lead to feeling homesick. The first tip I recommend is scheduling breaks. Call your mom, tryout a workout class, or take a walk. Do something to take your mind off of things. Not only is this a way to increase productivity, but it’s also a way to take a step back and consider all the amazing things in life. 

    Another way to handle homesickness during exam time is to avoid studying alone. My lowest of lows were when I was sitting by myself in the dimly lit library basement surrounded by complete strangers and stress. Even just having one study buddy who can provide you even the slightest bit of comfort could be the difference between getting through exam week or feeling unbearable homesickness. 

    Finally, keep perspective. When I failed my first exam it was the closest I’ve ever been to transferring home. At the end of the day, one quiz, test, or exam does not define anyone. Failure is a part of life and will only give space for growth. Take a breath, talk to your professor about ways to improve, and keep pushing forward.

    Sickness Season

    You know the feeling of that first sneeze, first stomachache, first scratch at the back of the throat. That’s right, I’m talking about sickness season. In high school getting sick, while not ideal, still meant a mini-vacation from school. College is extremely different. Family is not there to buy you soup or to put water next to your bed. Getting sick in college, to be candid, sucks. The first tip is to try not to get sick in the first place. Take as many preventative measures as you can. Get regular sleep, don’t share drinks, and of course, get your flu shot. 

    There will still be times when you will get sick despite the steps you’ve taken to prevent it. When that happens reach out to your friends. It seems like a small task, but people will surprise you. One of the times I felt Ohio State was a home away from home was when my friend Charlotte bought me tea and soup from Panera and delivered it to my bedside in my residence hall. Give people the chance to be there for you. And be there for them when they need it. 

    Lastly, take the time to get better. Staying up that extra hour to study, go out, or finish the last episode of a show is not worth it. Get plenty of sleep so you can get your body better. Make yourself and your health the priority.

    There’s no one fix that can help stop or prevent homesickness, but during the most homesick-susceptible times I hope these small tips and tricks help. Just remember – breaks come faster than you think and home will always be there, but the college experience is what’s fleeting. So do the best you can on exams, be as healthy as possible and enjoy yourself.