Alyssa J Freitas

Friday, March 27, 2015

Must Hear: Andrew Belle

Inadvertently, I have my professor to thank for discovering Andrew Belle. When I walked into my professor's office to practice for my upcoming sales competition, I enjoyed the classical music he was listening to. He told me that he absolutely loves using Amazon Music as part of his Prime subscription because there is tons of music to take advantage of. My family has Prime but I never really investigated what you can get out of it, besides two day shipping (which is wicked awesome! Just wait until we have drones flying along and its mere hours shipping...).

Must Hear: Andrew Belle |

I wasn't really sure where to start so I just chose a random playlist. A song by Andrew Belle came on and I was completely captivated. I proceeded to listen to all of his music from his album The Ladder and his EP All Those Pretty Lights. There's also The Ladder Remixed and In My Veins. Andrew's newest album, Black Bear, isn't available free to Prime members but you can sample some of the songs through Amazon Music. His work is simultaneously upbeat and soothing, with great instrumentals and a to die for voice. I could go on and on about what a great artist he is, but why don't you just check it out for yourself!

If you like what you hear, check out Andrew's YouTube channel here!

Who's your favorite recently discovered artist?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why I Gave Up Television...Except For Downton Abbey

If there's one thing in my life that I've given too much time to without reward, it is television. Sure, there's entertainment value and it's a good way to relax during downtime, but in the long run it is not providing substantial benefits. When I got back to my dorm room after a long day I used to grab a bag of Tostitos and some chocolate and turn on Netflix. As good as it was to zone out, I realized that there is far too much to learn and experience to waste time not using my brain.

Why I Gave Up Television...Except For Downton Abbey |
Now, I'm not saying that I've stopped relaxing or allowing my mind to take a break; rather, I've found a better way of doing it. When I want to enjoy my downtime I still get out my Tostitos and chocolate (if you've never done this you need to try! I eat a few chips then take a bite of chocolate. Sweet and salty is the best) but instead of turning to Netflix I pull out a book. I've always been, and always will be, an avid reader so making more time in the day for that pursuit is a joy!

But what about when I don't really want to use my brain? Well, that's where dancing comes in! I turn on Bollywood music and jump around the room just having a grand old time with me, myself, and I. It is so important to be your own best friend at times, and for me there's nothing like dancing in front of the mirror and laughing at my attempts to be a Bollywood star. Plus, I'm exercising right? Right. There's no doubt that moving about lightens my mood.

In the title of this post however, I do concede that there is one television show I will continue to watch and that is Downton Abbey. For those of you who don't know (and if you fall into that category: where have you been?!?!) Downton Abbey is a British drama centering on the Earl of Grantham and his family, as well as the servants of the Downton household. It comes on PBS and the  fifth series (what seasons are called in British television) just finished. I love the costumes, drama, and accents so much! And there are many historical events and references so I still sort of feel like I'm learning. If you don't already watch I recommend you start! It is going to be hard to wait nearly a year for it to come back (which means a year without any television for me!) but it will be worth it.

Would you ever give up television? If you could watch only one show what would it be?


Monday, March 23, 2015

How To Choose A College

Decision making is a funny thing. Most of the time when you make a decision it is not long lasting or life altering. Although it may seem like it at the moment, choosing where you go to college does not dictate your future! If things aren't working out you can always transfer or change direction. Now that I have hopefully put you a little bit more at ease (I know this is a stressful time...), you should think very seriously about where you decide to go to school.

How To Choose A College |
Everyone has different criteria and places more importance on certain aspects of schooling. I'm going to share with you what went in to my decision process, what I wish I had done differently, and give you suggestions for making the process as easy as possible!

I can distinctly remember using the College Board website to obsessively save colleges, make side by side comparisons, and read student feedback. I felt empowered because although my parents had their criteria, this was the first major choice I was making in my life without being told exactly what to do. The first step I took when facing this decision was to create a list of criteria. When doing this you should keep in mind:
  • Your friends should not be a major influence on you. My best friend and I share everything and are always asking for each other's opinions. When it comes to choosing a school it is extremely important to make the choice that is right for you. You are looking for a place that will further your professional and intellectual ambition, so use your preferences to guide you.
  • Don't be married to rankings. It is so so so easy to get caught up in rankings and wanting to go to a school because of the perceived prestige. Yes it is true that these rankings have value, but ultimately when you get into the workforce you will be evaluated on the skills you have developed and the evidence you can present that you are a good candidate rather than the ranking of your school. If you are going to look at rankings, one I recommend is the SMI (check out my post about this method of ranking here).
  • Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. When all you and your friends, and your family, and your teachers, and your mailman are talking about is college it can be easy to be swayed all different ways as you hear a variety of advice. Much of it can be valid, just be sure to remember who the source is and do your own research.
So what was on my list of criteria? Initially I wanted (in no order of importance):
  • A strong business school
  • A small/medium undergraduate population
  • A campus (i.e. not a city)
  • A catholic school
  • In the Mid-Atlantic or New England (but really, no further south than New Jersey)
  • High value (meaning a good price for the return I thought I would get with job placement)
All of these criteria were guiding points for me as I picked which schools to apply to. I did apply to some bigger schools and non-Catholic schools even though it did not quite fit all of my criteria, but because it excelled in one area or another. Once the acceptances came in, it was easy to eliminate based on price. If there was not enough scholarship I couldn't go. Everyone will have that one thing which will help them narrow down the choices. For you it might be the feel of the campus when you go to visit or perhaps it will be that you realize the distance from home is too much (or perhaps too little haha).

I eliminated The College of New Jersey initially because it did not meet the Catholic requirement. I was really just looking for any way I could to narrow down the list. I so wish that I had taken the time to fully investigate the school and realize that what was most important, like a strong business school and proximity to home, was what made TCNJ the best. I came to see that growing in my faith was something I could do, through the Catholic Campus Ministry, without being in a Catholic school.

Looking back, I wish that I had been more open minded and given TCNJ a chance from the starting gate. My dream school was sitting right in front of me, but in my haste to narrow down I discounted it. So what should you do to avoid a mistake like mine?
  • Realize there is more than one way to meet your requirements. For me, I had to realize that my faith journey did not need to be furthered by my school, but rather that if I sought the resources it would actually be a better way to grow. 
  • Don't just focus on looks. We all (well maybe not all, but most of us) want to go to a picturesque school with ivy covered buildings straight out of the movies. Or perhaps modern buildings are more your style. Whatever you may be looking for aesthetic-wise, remember it's what's on the inside that counts. You may think to yourself, "I won't be happy if I have to be on an ugly campus" but just trust me when I say that yes, although it will contribute to the experience, it should not be one of your top concerns. 
  • Have realistic expectations. When visiting schools, I did not expect the freshmen dorm rooms to be as tiny and outdated as they were. But at some point you need to realize that this is reality and where it is important, like with alumni networks and academic rigor, you can demand the best. When it comes to accommodations or food, you may just have to accept it. 
Finally after dragging out the process longer then I needed to, I decided to come to TCNJ and I could not be happier with my decision. The game changing moment for me was when I truly looked into the academics, realized I would be foolish not to attend the top business school in the state, and talked with the dean of the school. Funny story there: I emailed the dean of the business school, not realizing what a big deal that was, and asked him if he would sit down with me to talk about making this decision. The fact that he took the time to meet with a prospective student when he has an ENTIRE SCHOOL TO RUN just shows how much attention TCNJ gives to undergrad students. Hopefully you have an aha moment like this, or something that shows you that this school is the place for you. You don't need to expect that in your college search, but there should be something that stands out to you about the school you choose.

So now that I've told you all about what went on for me, let's go over the steps you should take to make the process as painless as possible.
  1. Develop your criteria list. You will have, of course, had requirements which led you to apply to the school. Now is the time to refine it and have your very top priorities ironed out. Ranking your requirements will make it easier to evaluate your schools.
  2. Eliminate the schools that you know aren't going to work. This can be very hard when it's your dream school and something like money may be the issue, but it will be better to let go of something you know you can't have early on so you can more quickly put your attention on the viable options. 
  3. Visit or re-visit the top schools. Going to the top contenders with your priorities in mind and asking questions to clear up any areas you are unsure about can be hugely beneficial. 
  4. Ask for the opinions of people who matter. Your parents and guidance counselor can aid you in weeding out the schools which are surely great, but aren't the best for you. 
  5. Make a pros and cons list. Once you are able to narrow it down to two schools, it's time to whip out your pen and paper and make a list. Weigh out the benefits and drawbacks of the two schools to see where they stand.
  6. And drum roll please...make your choice! 
Once you have all the information you need to make an informed decision, send in that deposit baby because you're going to college!

How are you making your college decision? If you are already in school, what was the most important thing to you when you were choosing? 


For more college posts click here!

Friday, March 20, 2015

5 Ways To Be Your Own Best Friend

I recently read a quote that resonated with me: There is only one relationship you will be in forever and that is with yourself. It struck me how true it is and how since this is the case your relationship with yourself must be cultivated and nurtured. It is not always easy to be confident in yourself and your worth, but life will be much better if you are your own best friend.

5 Ways To Be Your Own Best Friend |

Here are some ways to love yourself and your time alone a little more (because you're always free to hang out!).
  1. Find a solo activity you love. For me this is blogging, reading, and writing. I could sit for hours by myself consumed with any of these three occupations. Figure out what you enjoy or what boosts your mood and learn to do that on your own.
  2. Don't let lack of company stop you from doing what you want. I have no problem doing things alone, like going to the movies or out to eat, but it can be difficult for some. Try and go outside your comfort zone and realize that you're a pretty awesome person to hang out with. 
  3. Always do what you think is right. We have to live with ourselves day in and day out, so it's important to make choices that we know we'll respect down the road. You wouldn't be friends with someone who doesn't stay true to who they are, so make sure you do!
  4. Laugh. No matter what, there is always something to laugh about, so make sure you have a good chuckle even when you're by yourself. Watch a funny YouTube video or dance in front of your mirror like crazy. Do something that brings you joy!
  5. Take the time to get to know yourself. "What are you talking about? Of course I know myself!" you might be thinking, but do you really, truly know yourself. I sometimes find that I am not completely truthful with myself, or don't fully understand why I do the things I do. Think about yourself and your personality and fall in love with the wicked awesome person you are!
What do you do to develop your relationship with yourself?


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blog Elements I Hate

I am in no way, shape or form a blog design expert! It took me many months to get a layout I was happy with and I know that there is certainly room for improvement. I am, however, an avid blog reader and I have decided that this gives me the authority to critique blog elements.
Blog Elements I Hate |

There has been a trend for a more magazine, editorial like layout and I am not a fan. Perhaps I am a creature of habit, but a traditional blog layout it what I enjoy. Oh how I hate it when I have to click through a slideshow to read a post! Let me just scroll down and read what I'd like instead of waiting for each slide to load. Am I alone in this? What are your feelings on slideshows?

And in the same vein of having to click through and waste those precious extra seconds, I do not like the "read more" option to continue looking at a post. I understand that if you have an image heavy post it can clog up your homepage, but I would prefer that to having to click multiple times to get the entire post.

How about when you stumble upon a blog you love and you can't find out more about the author? Please, please, please make your about page and social media easy to find! I like you and want to connect but if you don't make it easy I'm not going to go out of my way.

Then there are the blogs with far too many ads. An ad above the title, an ad below the title, ads on the sidebar, an ad between each post. Enough is enough! Yes it's great to make money off of blogging, but not at the expense of the user experience.

Poor navigation is also a bummer. If I liked one of your posts, chances are I'd like to read more on the same topic. If you don't have labels or an easy way for me to find similar posts, I'm out.

What do you think? Are my grievances valid or do I simply demand too much from the blogs I follow? What annoys you about the blogs you read? What don't you like about my blog? Let me know in the comments!


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