Monthly Archives: July 2015

Gettin’ It Done Week One!!


10 Quick Tips to Conquer Your First Week of College


  1. Get Your Lazy A** to Class! Of course, no one should already be “lazy” by Week 1, but after orientation sessions, dorm socializing, and new sleeping arrangements, you may not feel as perky and full of life as you’d like. TOUGH! It’s time to get focused and fired up, and your number one priority is your classes. Get there. Get psyched. Learning really is fun…. embrace it!
  1. Be Alarmed By Your Alarm. If your alarm (or phone or whatever you use to wake yourself up) is next to your bed, fully equipped with a snooze button, and too easy to ignore, you’re off to a bad start. Put it on the opposite side of the room, so you MUST be on your feet to deal with it. Once you’re on your feet, you’re up. Stay that way!
  1. Take Note of Your Notes. As soon as you walk into class, be ready for note taking. Have a plan and a system that will work for you. (Yes, you can be flexible and adjust your system as you go.) There’s plenty of note-taking software to choose from, but many believe there’s benefit from hand writing your notes and then revisiting and reorganizing them after each class session. (And you could do this reorganizing by hand or by typing. Your call. See what works.)
  1. Ain’t Nothin’ Silly ‘Bout That Syllabus! That special piece of paper (or electronic file) you get in every class is your contract for that class. Read it in its entirety to make sure you’re in the right class at the right level. It’ll also tell you how the course will progress, important dates, and what the professor deems important. If there is ever any question, concern or conflict related to course materials or deadlines, you and the professor will always refer back to the syllabus where it’s all “set in stone.”
  1. Don’t Forget Your First Date. That’s right! Every date on your syllabus matters, and you should enter all of them into your personal calendar before you begin Week 2. This allows you to see the big picture, find conflicts, plan accordingly and…. I dunno… meet, rather than miss, important deadlines. Duh!
  1. Buy Your Books. You will hear a lot of chatter about what books you may need or not need for class and how you could avoid buying some. During your first year, plan to buy your books (or rent them). Ask each professor if used books are okay (e.g. you may not need the new book with accompanying DVD or workbook). As you progress past your first year, you can learn tricks of the trade and make informed decisions about the resources you’ll need for your courses moving forward. Do you truly believe, however, that you’ll be able to borrow your friend’s book right before finals? You should probably have your own.
  1. Scope Out Your Silent Space. This may take longer than one week, but begin exploring special spaces on campus where you could “get away,” avoid distractions, and get some serious work done. (Hint: It’s probably not your dorm room!) It may be an outdoor bench when the weather is nice, a quiet room upstairs in the library, or that tucked away spot in that back hallway of the engineering building where you can still get a glimpse of that cool sculpture. Whatever it is, be sure you enjoy being there, so you’ll return again and again and be productive.
  1. What’s the Score on Your New Social Schedule? During orientation, you may have gotten in a groove, having lunch with some new friends. Once classes begin, all of that could change. So, scope out the eating scene to see who might be available for meals when you are. If your dorm mates aren’t around, it’s a great opportunity to ask any new classmates if they’re up for lunch. More important, don’t be afraid of eating alone every now and then. It’s a good way to recharge your battery or catch up on email. Or, you could put your electronics away and enjoy some people watching (and you may have a chance to wave to someone from class – a.k.a. New budding friendship possibilities!)
  1. Hop on Your Healthy Habits. Once you have your class schedule, you should be able to plan your sleep, eating, exercise and “spiritual renewal.” If you’ve got an 8am class, but your roommate doesn’t, you need to talk about bedtime and grab your earplugs & eye mask (or try this t-shirt trick from Find the healthy foods and your exercise ritual right away and lock ‘em in.

If you need some peace and quiet to connect with more than the cacophony of your college campus, maybe with your God, or the Universe, or your inner self, then where and how will you find it? Whether it’s religious services, meditation, yoga, or a walk in the park, find it early to make it a habit.

Routines become… well…. routine. If you do not take care of yourself right out of the gate, it can be hard to rectify those bad habits later.

  1. You’re Not Too Cool for School. Seize every opportunity presented to you early on. If you’re invited to go to dinner, do so. If you’re invited to check out a club, join an intramural activity, or attend a campus event, do so. If you’re invited to help a professor in class, do so. These are all rich experiences you are paying for, and they will pay great dividends as you progress through your college life.

(NOTE: Many campuses use email to let its members know what’s going on around campus, from concerts to guest lectures to theatrical events. These notices may come fast and furiously, but do NOT be tempted to block all campus emails. Find a reasonable way to check them regularly without being overwhelmed by them. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on some truly cool stuff.)


BONUS TIP: See the “Three Week Streak” at the blog for additional tips to get you through your first few weeks.

Michael Metzler is author of Carpe College: Seize Your WHOLE College Experience. He’s been an educator for nearly two decades at both the high school and college level. To learn more visit About the Author at


© 2015 Michael Metzler, Author of Carpe College! Seize Your WHOLE College Experience

Friday Feature: Former Student Julie Van Buren

This week we feature Julie Van Buren via Honeoye Falls-Lima High School and Ithaca College. She’s got great perspective & valuable advice, and it wasn’t too long ago that she was navigating those college waters. So let’s see what she has to say….

Julie Van Buren

What do you work for?

I work to pay my bills.

I work to feel a sense of purpose.

I work a 9-5 to feel normal, typical or average.

I work hard and I do it to make my family and close loved ones proud; to set an example for the people that look up to me.

I work for the lifelong journey to figure out what it is that I am passionate about, what it is that I am here to do. I know that the important part is the ride and not the final destination.

I work to learn as much as I possibly can, about as many things I can.

I work so that I can be a contributing member of society, to invest in the future of our world and to give back whenever I have the means to do so.

Julie is pictured here (from left to right) with her sister’s Boyfriend Dave, sister Lindsay, Dad, Mom, and Boyfriend Derek at a family get together around the Holidays 2014. (Victor, NY)

Julie is pictured here (from left to right) with her sister’s Boyfriend Dave, sister Lindsay, Dad, Mom, and Boyfriend Derek at a family get together around the Holidays 2014. (Victor, NY)


I have worked for four different companies/ businesses since I graduated from college with a BA in Psychology back in 2011. It was very scary starting to look for a job with a liberal arts degree as my knowledge foundation. Afraid of making ends meet, I took the first job I was offered which was a spa attendant position at a resort in my college town, Ithaca, NY. The job involved washing dirty robes, towels and linens, folding them fancily and restocking the locker rooms and treatment rooms… for minimum wage. Not exactly what I had in mind. But I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I was a very determined, hard worker. Humbled. Very humbled by that experience. It made me grateful for what I had and it made me aware of the evils that exist amongst us. It made me think more about how I treat people who I perceive as being “under” me. I think many of us experience these perception- altering experiences when we transition; it is intense but it is a sign we are growing and becoming who we really are.

After that, a relationship took me all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California where I stumbled upon a front desk position for a real estate and investment firm. My whole concept of job and career was essentially turned upside down as I was thrown into the cold and exacting atmosphere of the corporate world. Again with this experience, it wasn’t what I DID that I take away. It was who I met and what I witnessed that resonates with me as I sit here looking back in retrospect.

When my relationship didn’t end up working out, I found myself back in my hometown loving it more than I ever had as a child and teenager. Again, I took the first job I was offered as an administrative assistant for a local staffing agency. When I felt I wasn’t being challenged by that, I applied for grad school. It was a Master’s program in Human Resource Management. I made it through one semester of full time work and school (Fall 2014) and felt that the program’s cost didn’t meet my perceived value of it. I am happy I tried it but did not return.

I was recruited by a small company off of LinkedIn this year; an IT staffing and recruiting firm where I now hold the position of Program Manager. I work with contracts and do some HR stuff. The position is new so it is still much unevolved but I am learning to adapt. The people are wonderful, they share a lot of the same values as I and the environment is very flexible to accommodate the demands of society’s modern lifestyles.

Julie is pictured center volunteering with the Rochester Red Wings staff and boyfriend Derek during the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2015. (Downtown Rochester, NY)

Julie is pictured center volunteering with the Rochester Red Wings staff and boyfriend Derek during the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2015. (Downtown Rochester, NY)

What do you do for fun outside of work?

Cooking and eating delicious food
Trying new local restaurants
Live music
Sitting on my porch and catching up with Derek
Hanging out with my family
Meeting new people
Binging on Netflix (OrangeIsTheNewBlack!)

What advice do you have for younger people as they prepare to launch themselves into the adult world?

Give yourself room to make “mistakes”. I put mistakes in quotes because you may make a decision that gets you in a hairy place or embark on a journey that takes a left hand turn out of nowhere but that doesn’t mean it was a mistake. Don’t compare yourself to others; the facades we see on social media are just that; facades. Your peers may appear to be extremely successful and blissfully happy with their career paths or significant others but that may not always be the case. And if it is, great! Don’t feel like your career absolutely has to define you. Be proud of what you do as it is always an important piece of the larger puzzle. Meet as many people as you can (even if you are an introvert like me!). You never know who you will run into or meet and how that will change your life. Follow your heart. Above all, be good to yourselves and to those around you.

Is there anything you regret not doing while you were in college?

Yes. I regret not taking the opportunity to go abroad. Many of my close friends and peers participated in studying abroad programs and it gave them the opportunity to see the world. As a freshman in college, I would urge you to become familiar with all of the offerings made by your institution so that you can plan for them in advance. There are once in a lifetime opportunities presented to you in college; don’t let them pass you by!

Julie is pictured to the far left with some of her first friends at college back in 2007! She is going to be in the wedding of one of these gals this summer.

Julie is pictured to the far left with some of her first friends at college back in 2007! She is going to be in the wedding of one of these gals this summer.

Carpe College Friday Feature: Former Student Jon Schreiner

I’ve had students who entered business, medicine, law, engineering, politics, teaching….  I’ve even had a couple of pop music stars.  And now for something completely different! (As the Monty Python guys used to say.) 

Meet my former student, Jon Schreiner, who’s taken a road less traveled.

He comes to us via Owatonna High School, Drake University, and a few other stops along the way….

What do you do for work?

Officiating the wedding of one of my old college students, with my kids as the ring bearer and flower girl.

Officiating the wedding of one of my old college students, with my kids as the ring bearer and flower girl.

I graduated with a business degree from Drake University and initially had every intention of global domination. I wanted to make tons of money, retire early and live on a lake-every Minnesotan’s dream. God had a different plan for me, and I ended up doing college ministry for 7 years, and I now pastor a small church planted in Des Moines, IA. Walnut Creek is a non-denominational church that was started with about 50 other people who moved from the church I was attending. We are boasting about 175 people a week, which at times feels like how a fisherman tells you about his latest catch. For real though, 175.

What I actually do for work changes day by day. I used to think serving as a pastor meant hosting pot-lucks, and visiting people in nursing homes. I laugh, because that really is part of the job, but its so much more. My goal is to see people transformed to be more like Jesus, and then train and equip them to do my job (just maybe eventually somewhere else). As far as tasks to see this accomplished, it looks different every day. I am a public speaker, bible study leader, event planner, marketing representative, visionary, mentor, friend, counselor, accountant, and ambassador for Jesus (not necessarily in that order).


What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is seeing God change people, and getting to be a tool to be used in that process. When I went to Drake, I didn’t expect to be where I am. I went to church, knew about God and was generally a good person. Then, I met this buddy, we became best friends, and he lived like no person I had ever met. He lived like Jesus told people to live. Extremely kind, funny, loyal — the friend you always want, but think may not be real. I was challenged, my life looked nothing like his, and yet I claimed the same God. Eventually, after reading the bible, learning not just the stories, but the teachings of God, I realized I’m not as good a guy as I thought. The bible teaches that compared to God, no one is good. Every person makes mistakes, including “perfect” me. Thankfully, Jesus came into the world and died to be the payment for my sin. All my good works didn’t make up for my mistakes, only God was able to do that, and so I believed that Jesus really did die for my sins. Not having to be perfect to be accepted by God and others changed everything for me. Even though I grew up in the church, I think I understood Jesus for the first time and became a Christian my first year of college.

I share all that, because that is the kind of affect I want to, and get to, have on others. I want to be a friend who will live like Jesus, and allow God’s word to affect others. Lives and eternities are transformed moment by moment everyday, and I get to be a part of that. How could anything else be my favorite part of my job?

My family:  Ada-1, Eden-3, Owen-5, Jenny-unknown, Jon-31

My family: Ada-1, Eden-3, Owen-5, Jenny-unknown, Jon-31

What do you do for fun & enrichment?

Fun for me has changed over the years. I still love sports, backyard football, pickup basketball, ultimate Frisbee and Kan Jam. However, having 3 (almost 4) kids has transformed that somewhat. Now, I get to coach my oldest child in sports. As a family, we enjoy travelling to Minnesota and Kansas to visit family. In a way, I got part of my lake house dream as we visit our parents’ lake houses on each side of the family.

How did you prepare for your life & career so far?

Getting a business degree is probably not your typical pathway to becoming a pastor. But, what I learned at Drake University was invaluable. I was a resident assistant in the first year dorms following my freshman year. This is what really prepared and pushed me into ministry because I got my first true taste of serving others. When I was graduating, I could not get Matthew 6:33 out of my head “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” I wanted to be wherever God wanted me. That could have been a white-collar job, it could have been working oversees with missions or even with underprivileged people in Des Moines. But I saw God using me with people at the same stage of life He changed me: college. Having that opportunity to live with first year students and influence their college experience in a positive way helped me see I wanted to continue doing exactly that after I graduated.

Ministry is really about loving God and loving people. The best way to prepare to be a pastor is to spend time with God in prayer and in reading his word; then spending time with people living out what you are learning. That is enjoying the good times with others and walking next to people through the tough times.

Talking with Joudy about Jesus on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic

Talking with Joudy about Jesus on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic

What are you proud of?

This seems petty, but in high school I was voted most likely to succeed, and I feel like it’s been true. I don’t mean this in its natural comparative sense, like I am doing better than others. What I mean is, I don’t know what else I could have chosen to do that would have offered more success for me. My understanding of success has changed. Living for Christ is the greatest thing anyone can ever do, and I am proud to be a part of what God is doing through me.

What advice can you give younger people as they prepare for the adult world?

I like this question and could type until my fingers fell off, but will spare you from most of my words of wisdom I force on my own family. However, I would give this piece of advice, figure out what you are doing and why. I loved my class with Metzler because he would always ask “What do you know, and how do you know it?” This question was essential in my life totally changing directions. I realized I was striving for something unattainable, the perfect life. The harder I tried, the more fleeting it was. I came to the conclusion that this life is fleeting, and I want to be ready for the next. Faith in God has to be internalized and individual, but I would challenge all people to take an honest look at religions. I believe Christianity is the truth, but I also welcome others to look into all faiths and decide what they think about God. Is there one? Is it knowable? What does this mean for me?

I let all my preconceived notions get in the way with asking some very basic questions about God. Once I stopped imposing what I thought I knew and started asking honest questions, God changed me. Are you open to asking tough questions about yourself and life? You wont regret it.

You can learn more about the church or contact me through the website at I am at the south location.

My wife Jenny and I after the birth of our first child, Owen. I let my hair grow out so some day Owen would be embarrassed and proud of his dad’s terrible haircut.

My wife Jenny and I after the birth of our first child, Owen. I let my hair grow out so some day Owen would be embarrassed and proud of his dad’s terrible haircut.