June 1, 2017

Tips for Graduate School



College was a cultural, social and academic shift from high school. Now, graduate school is another huge change; most people who’ve been through it will tell you that it’s a lot of work and not as much play. If you know what to expect and how to manage it, though, grad school will be a rewarding and beneficial experience.

First of all, the work load may shock you. You can almost consider graduate school like your full-time job—and then some. So don’t expect to have the kind of social life you might have had in college. It’s helpful to remind yourself that you’re studying what you love, or at least what will get you where you want to go in your career. It’s also good to give yourself a break: Chances are, the amount of reading you’re asked to do isn’t humanly possible. So get done what needs to get done, skim the rest and take solace in the fact that everyone else is in the same stressful boat.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out help. You were accepted to grad school, so you’re smart and have good study habits, but this is different, so don’t go it alone. Talk to your professors if you feel confused, stuck or even inspired. They’ll appreciate you showing initiative. Also, while graduate school doesn’t have as much built-in guidance as undergrad does, it should still have resources that can help with things like time management, prepareing for nerve-racking oral presentations or even making friends.

Which brings us to: Make friends in grad school. You’ll always have your Alpha Phi sisters, but if they’re not with you in this chapter of your life, branch out a little. Hit the gym—it might alleviate some stress and help you sleep well too—join a campus service club or simply study with your classmates. Even if you prefer to study alone, take part in study groups now and then, as these people are your comrades through school challenges and celebrations. 

Besides exercising, remember to eat well. You do yourself no favors by living on coffee and Red Bull. Remember what your mother told you and fuel up for the day with a healthy, protein-heavy breakfast and drink lots of water. Resist going out and ordering in, as you’ll probably spend too much and eat poorly. Instead, grab those newfound friends and cook together. Or at least make your own, healthy meals. You’ll kick yourself if you work so hard only to be down for the count when you get sick.

Another important part of grad school is the connections you’ll make. Talk to your professors because they are probably some of the big wigs in your field. They have the knowledge you need, and they also may have the power to help you get a job.

Speaking of getting a job, it’ll help the process if you start early on to organize the work you complete in graduate school. Other than your thesis (which goes without saying should be organized), consider making folders for any academic papers, studies or research you do.

In the end, graduate school can boost knowledge, earning potential and your career in general, but it’s up to you to graduate with more than just a degree.

How to Write a Graduate School Admissions Essay



What do a surgeon, a lawyer and a professor have in common? They all had to write a personal statement, or essay, for their graduate school application. The graduate school essay can be incredibly stressful, but here are a few tips to make it more manageable.

Talk to people who are in your prospective program:
Connect with university alumni and your Alpha Phi network. They can give you writing samples and advice regarding your essay’s content, and put you in contact with professors that teach at your dream school and might even edit your essay. The possibilities are endless.

You’re smart, so show it: Write about your fridge-worthy research paper, or discuss what you learned in the lab that you practically slept in while running all those experiments. Describe your mentors and how they influenced your academic career. Talk about the moment you knew that you had to go to graduate school. Don’t be shy about discussing your academic achievements. You are trying to convince a graduate program that your intellect would be beneficial to their program.

Add some spice to your essay:
By adding colorful details, you will maintain your reader’s interest. Feel free to incorporate your ethnic, religious or cultural background. This will allow the admissions committee to fully understand your individuality and any obstacles you have encountered. In addition, tie in your other passions and hobbies with your motivations for attending graduate school. For example, I incorporated my lifelong dream of becoming a batboy for a baseball team into the reasons why I wanted to study gender inequity within religious institutions. If you decide to take this route, make sure that all details relate back to your thesis.

Edit, Edit Edit: The graduate admissions process has no room for typos. Ask professors, your friend who has memorized Strunk & White and your parents to read over your essay. Remove any details that are superfluous to your argument. At times, graduate school essays can have too much information; try to find a balance between academics and your personality. Each school should have a personalized essay. Your reasons for attending University X will vary from your reasons for attending University Y; let your essay reflect that.

Above all, do not underestimate your academic prowess! Be confident about your abilities. If you are excited by the prospect of pursuing a subject that interests you, it will show in your essay. Have fun with this process, plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to review your essay. Good luck!

This article was originally published in the “Collegiate Perspectives” blog in 2011 by Devin Denny (Theta Kappa-Rochester).

Funding Grad School



Funding Graduate School
You decided what you want to be when you grow up, and it requires more schooling than your four-year undergraduate degree. Which also means more money. Have no fear, there are ways to fund your dream.

What does the school offer?
First check the school you’re considering. It probably offers some scholarships, fellowships, work opportunities and other funding options. Many universities have financial aid offices that specifically help with these sorts of questions, but you can also contact your specific department of interest, as they may know of other money sources. Talk with some current students to find out how they’re making ends meet. Tip: The earlier you submit your school application, the more chances you have for school-provided money.

Federal and state aid
For many graduate students, their funds come from submitting that multi-page FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). Unlike for undergrad, you’re now considered independent from your parents, so you won’t need all their financial details, just your own. The good news is that for graduate school, the initial loans are often larger than for undergraduate loans; bad news is that the interest rates are usually higher, and they start calculating right away. Look to state-specific aid, as well, and know that sometimes a state extends its reach to neighboring states.

Fellowships
Fellowships are coveted awards that bear names like Rhodes and Fulbright and might include a tuition waiver, travel, stipend for independent research or other bonus. Of course, they’re highly competitive and typically take into account academic achievement, as well as character. Besides the big-name fellowships, many universities have their own.

Assistantships
You’ll have to work for your money with an assistantship—for instance, helping a faculty member with research, teaching a class or providing administrative duties—but you’ll get work experience and probably a great reference upon graduating. Just be prepared for the stress and time constraints that working will add to your schedule.

Private loans
While private loans typically come with a higher interest than state or federal loans, they’re often a good last resort.

Related work
If nothing else, you can earn some money by working outside of your class time in a related capacity, such as teaching at a nearby community college or writing for trade journals.

Resources
Sites that provide a listing or links to graduate school funding options and information: scholarships.com, fastweb.com, edvisors.com and gradschools.com, which has a financial aid section.

Applying to Grad School



Applying for Grad School
If you’re headed to graduate school in the fall, then you’ve already done this part (congrats!). But maybe you’re planning to attend graduate school and still considering your options or wanted to get some work experience first. In any case, it’s not too early to get the ball rolling in terms of your application.

Talk to Your Teachers
Before you graduate, find time to chat to your teachers about which graduate school programs they’d suggest for you. Request information from the schools, and then ask your teachers if they’d be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Chances are, you’ll need two or more for an application. You’ll also need school transcripts, so keep that in mind; you might not be able to get them before you graduate, but you could find out how to request them.

Tackle the Exams
Find out which exam is required by the graduate schools for your field of interest—and what score you should aim for to be in serious contention for acceptance. Most graduate schools require the GRE, but if you’re considering law school, you’d go for an LSAT, medical school requires the MCAT and business school, usually a GMAT. It’s a good idea to enroll in a test prep course to fully prepare—the sooner the better—but know that you can typically retake an exam within the same year.

Draft Your Personal Statement
For college applications, the essay was your beast to tame; for graduate school, it’s a little bigger, because you’ll need to not only recap your academic career, but indicate why you will make a good addition to their program. The trick is, to tell a story—the story of you—but give them all the information they need at the same time. Get more tips in “How to Write a Graduate School Admission Essay.”

Gather Samples of Your Work
Depending on the type of graduate school you’re applying to, samples mean different things: an art portfolio, research results, published papers, etc. Whatever it is, take care to present it in an appealing, comprehensible way. Whatever you do to make it easier for the admissions committee to receive, understand and, hopefully, enjoy your submission, works in your favor.

Check the Instructions
Each graduate school may have slightly different requirements and requests. Be sure you understand and follow the directions for each one. Failing to do so not only shows a lack of respect for the process, but it makes you look lazy and may kick you out of the running entirely. For example, maybe one school wants 1,000 words for a personal statement, while another one says 500 max, but you send them both 1,000. It will only take a second for the admissions office to put your application in the “doesn’t follow instructions” pile.

Cross Your Ts

No point in rushing to send something if it’s not done well. Give yourself enough time to complete your application and then have time to go back and edit and proofread. An admissions committee might not notice that you’ve polished to perfection, but they’ll notice if you don

May 22, 2017

2017 Alpha Phi Cap and Gown Photo Contest


Alpha Phi is holding its ninth annual Cap & Gown Photo Contest! Submit your best photo of you and your sisters in caps, gowns and Alpha Phi stoles by Monday, June 5 at 12:00 p.m. CT to be entered in the contest. Even if your graduation takes place after the deadline, graduates are encouraged to try on their cap and gown today and snap away!

We will be sharing selected photos from the submissions on Facebook on Monday, June 5. Sisters will then "vote" by liking their favorites. The photo that gets the most likes by Friday, June 9, at 5:00 p.m. CT will win. As an added bonus, submissions may be featured in the 2016 Summer Quarterly!

To apply please send the following to photosubmission@alphaphi.org with the subject "Cap and Gown Contest - [chapter name]":
  • Your name
  • Your chapter/school
  • Your photos with description
Contest Information:
  • The Alpha Phi 2016 Cap & Gown Photo Contest is limited to entries received before Friday, June 2, 2017
  • Entries must be submitted as digital photos and they must be submitted as attachment as .png or .jpg files;
  • Photos will only be considered for the 2016 Summer Quarterly if they are high resolution images (at least 3 in. x 5 in. at 300 dpi).
  • The entrant must be the sole creator of the images being submitted.
  • The entrant will not receive payment for the images selected or used.
  • Selected submissions will be featured on Facebook, but not all submissions will be included.
  • By entering the contest, each entrant agrees that the photos may also be used in other Alpha Phi International communications.
  • Acceptable hand symbols include the ivy leaf.
  • Photo collages are not accepted.

If you have any questions, contact photosubmission@alphaphi.org.

May 18, 2017

Transitions: Protecting Your Identity


Identity theft involves someone else using your personal information to create fraudulent accounts, charge items to your existing accounts or even to get a job. You can minimize your risks by managing your personal information wisely and cautiously. Here are some ways to protect yourself from identity theft.

  • Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.
  • Guard your mail from theft. If you’re concerned about the security of your mailbox, deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered. If you’re planning to be away from home and can’t pick up your mail, contact the U.S. Postal Service toll-free at 1-800-275-8777, or visit usps.gov to request a vacation hold.
  • When possible, require passwords to use your computer, credit card, bank and phone. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number or telephone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. It’s a good idea to keep a list of your credit card issuers and their telephone numbers in a safe place.
  • Don’t give out personal information on the telephone, through the mail or online unless you’ve initiated the contact or you know who the person is.
  • Tear or shred documents like charge receipts, copies of credit offers and applications, insurance forms, physicians’ statements, discarded bank checks and statements, and expired credit cards before you throw them away. Be cautious about leaving personal information in plain view, especially if you have roommates or are having service work done. Before you trade up your computer or phone, wipe out any personal information.
  • Find out who has access to your personal information at work and verify that the records are kept in a secure location.
  • Be careful what you say on social media. Don’t include your home address and don’t make it obvious that you’re on vacation. Also be wary of wifi when you’re at coffeeshops: Don’t send personal information via an unsecure wifi connection.
  • Never carry your social security card; leave it in a secure place at home. Give out your social security number only when absolutely necessary.
  • Order your credit report every year from annualcreditreport.com to make sure it is accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized.
  • Only carry the identification that you actually need when you go out.
Source www.ftc.gov

Transitions: Student Loan Lowdown



With no federally subsidized college tuition in America, low-interest federal loans have always been second best. But now you’re graduating, and the government will want its money back.

When to pay back a loan
After you graduate, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment on your student loans. This “grace period” will be six months for a Federal (FFEL) or Direct Stafford Loan and nine months for Federal Perkins Loans. Before you graduate, you should receive information about repayment, and your loan provider will notify you of the date your loan repayment begins.

It can’t be emphasized enough the importance of making your full loan payment on time either monthly (which is usually when you’ll pay) or according to your repayment schedule. If you don’t, you could end up in default, which has serious consequences.

Student loans are real loans-just like car loans or mortgages–and they have to be paid back on time. You do have a choice of repayment plans if you received a FFEL or a Direct Loan. But Federal Perkins Loans don’t have repayment plan choices; you generally have up to 10 years to repay. Your monthly payment will depend on the size of your debt and the length of your repayment period. If you don’t repay your student loans on time or according to the terms of your promissory note, you might go into default, which will affect your credit rating. There is assistance for borrowers having difficulty repaying their education loans, including deferment and forbearance.

Defaulting on your loan
If you default, it means you failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note (the binding legal document you signed at the time you took out your loan). In other words, you failed to make your loan payments as scheduled. Your school, the financial institution that made or owns your loan, your loan guarantor, and the federal government can all take action to recover the money you owe. Here are some consequences of default:
  • National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it hard to buy a car or a house.
  • You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to school.
  • Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
  • State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
  • You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.
  • You can be sued.

If you’re worried you might miss a payment, call and talk to your loan servicer about different options. In some cases, for example, you might be able to consolidate your loans or reduce your interest rate if you sign up for electronic debiting. Just know that you should never have to pay to talk to someone about repayment options.

Loan Consolidation
A Consolidation Loan allows you to combine all the federal student loans you received to finance your college education into a single loan. There are many companies and organizations who will offer you the opportunity to consolidate your loans. Consolidating can be very beneficial-it typically offers one payment to make and the possibility of a lower interest rate. You can only consolidate once for the length of the loan.

Cancellation and deferment options for teachers
Do you want to teach? If you’re a teacher serving in a low-income or subject-matter shortage area, it may be possible for you to cancel or defer your student loans. Something to think about. Get more information at studentaid.ed.gov

Transitions: Spending and Saving Your Hard Earned Money


When you’ve just graduated and you’re looking toward the future, it’s difficult to think about saving for a rainy day, much less retirement. But as you move through your career, it’s important to save for all of life’s exciting events (and maybe some tough times) that await you down the road. Remember, saving is not always about how much you save—it’s simply the fact that you do save and allow your money to grow over time.

Retirement plans
Many people have the opportunity to save through employer-sponsored retirement plans—often in the form of a pension, a 401(k) plan or something else. The 401(k) plan is widely offered by private corporations. Similar retirement plans are offered by nonprofit employers (403(b) plans) and government employers (457 plans). Because the money you contribute in these types of plans most likely comes out of your gross income (meaning, your salary before it is taxed), all of these plans offer employees incentives for tax-deferred savings. In other words, you don’t pay tax on the money you put aside in these plans until you withdraw it.

How much should I be saving?

A good rule of thumb is to try to save 10 percent of your gross income (pre-tax). Whether you do that with a combination of savings plans (401(k) plan, bank savings account, piggy bank on your dresser, etc), or all in one place, always work toward the magical 10 percent. But, if you can only save 3 percent now, then save that 3 percent and work your way towards 10 percent. When you start saving at a young age, it becomes part of your routine and it has longer to add up and grow.

Transitions: Organizing Your Finances



1. How do I get financially organized? Automate as much financial duties as you can—do direct deposit and online banking and set up online/automatic bill payments to avoid late fees. Check out free services like Mint.com and PersonalCapital that allow you to keep track of all of your accounts in one place. Also, only keep as many accounts as you need, and not more. Don’t be dragged into opening accounts just for coupons or bonuses. To avoid getting buried in paper, sign up for paperless billing and account statements, but make sure to have an email account where all of your notifications go so you don't lose track.

2. What are some things I can do to get and keep my financial house in order? Recent grads need to make sure you have a handle on any student loans you may have and when those payments will start. Make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities, and enroll in a payment plan that will work for your situation. You also need to understand your paycheck and employee benefits. This might be the first time you’ve had to file taxes, pay for insurance and can save for retirement. Another key thing is to have a small amount of money set aside for emergencies. Even $1,000 can help avoid getting into trouble due to something unexpected.

3. How do I begin to budget? You need to know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. You need to know how much you owe and to whom, interest rates, payment terms, dates, etc. Budgeting apps like You Need a Budget (YNAB) help with budgeting, but you have to get real with yourself and face the numbers first. 

4. What about all those statements, receipts and other financial papers that pile up? What’s best to do with all those? Try to store as much electronically as possible. Keep anything tax-related for at least seven years. Most paper bank and credit card statements can be shredded once you verify that all the transactions are accurate and the balances are correct. Monthly bills can usually also be shredded or deleted once the next month’s bill comes and you’ve verified it’s correct. Or simply file it and keep it for the year. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. That way, bills don’t get missed because they’re buried in a pile and, when you need to access a particular statement, you’ll know where to find it.

5. Anything else I should know? A password management program like LastPass helps you keep track of all of your different online financial accounts and keep the passwords secure.

Top tips on being financially organized:
· Start with cash flow: Know how much is coming in and how much is going out for bills and spending.

· Set a budget and stick to it. Write it down or use an app to help.

· Know how much you owe in debt, who you owe it to, how long it will take to pay off, and what the interest rate is.

· Know your credit score and use the free website annualcreditreport.com to track your credit reports yearly.

· Have some money set aside for emergencies.

· Save for goals like retirement, travel, buying a house or buying a car in accounts that are meant for that purpose so that you can track your progress.

Source: Nannette L. Kamien (Gamma-DePauw), principal, Inspiration Financial Planning LLC, inspirationplanning.com

Transitions: Insurance



Insurance Coverage
No matter what Congress decides to do about the Affordable Care Act, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s important to have health insurance. It’s like car insurance: You pay for it and hope you won’t need it. If something unexpected happens, having health insurance could mean the difference between being able to move on from the situation and the potential of financial ruin leading, at its worst, to bankruptcy. As of now, children up to 26 years old can remain on a parents’ health insurance plan, but if this isn’t an option for you, then it’s best to arm yourself with some basic information about insurance.

HMO vs. PPO
When you choose an HMO, it usually means that you will select one doctor from a list of all the health care professionals in the plan, and that doctor will serve as your Primary Care Physician. This physician will coordinate all of your health care, which means that he or she treats you directly and, when necessary, manages your referral to specialists. The only exception to not going to your Primary Care Physician first is for visits to an OB/GYN or an emergency situation. When you choose a PPO, in most cases it means you have the ability to use any doctor or facility you choose within a network of providers. If the physician is “out of network,” additional fees may apply, but there still may be some coverage. A good way to determine which is right for you is to decide if you have current doctors that you wish to continue to visit. See if your doctor(s) is in the HMO plan that is offered. If so, then you may only need an HMO. But if your doctor(s) isn’t included in the HMO plan and you don’t wish to switch doctors, the PPO plan may be the better choice for you.

Cost considerations between HMO and PPO
HMOs tend to have low out-of-pocket expenses, including no deductible and low office co-pay amounts. There is usually no paperwork or claim forms to complete and some pre-existing conditions may be covered. PPO out-of-pocket expenses tend to be a little bit more than an HMO plan. But you may go to any doctor in the network at any time, without a referral, including all specialists.

Short-term health insurance
If you’re considering a short-term health plan to get you from college to a new job, for example, there are some things to be aware of: 1) Most short-term plans exclude preexisting conditions, so make sure you can get what you need; 2) If you begin treatment for a long-term illness under your short-term plan, the insurer can choose not to re-insure you once your plan has expired; 3) Short-term healthcare might not count as having “continuous coverage.” Changes to the Affordable Care Act may require continuous coverage in order to have any preexisting conditions covered. So, while these types of plans may be cheaper upfront, they may be much more costly in the long run.


Do I need Life Insurance?
It depends on your situation. A good life insurance policy would handle the financial responsibilities you leave behind, so family members wouldn’t be burdened. Unlike the funds from an estate, the benefits from a life insurance policy will go straight to your beneficiaries, without any roadblocks. Several key questions listed below can help give you “yes” signals that you may need life insurance:
  • Are you married?
  • Do you own a business?
  • Do you have dependent children?
  • Are relatives (seniors, disabled) financially dependent on you?
  • Do you possess a sizable financial estate?
  • Do you currently have major financial obligations? (mortgage, multiple loans)

Transitions: Credit Cards



Choosing and Using Credit Wisely
Chances are you’ve received (or will soon!) your share of “pre-approved” credit card offers in the mail, some with low introductory rates or other perks for recent graduates. Many of these solicitations urge you to accept “before the offer expires.” Don’t feel pressured by the marketing. Take your time to do your own research and shop around to get the best deal.

Credit terms and conditions affect your overall cost, so read the fine print before you agree to open a credit or charge card account. Also, just because a friend is opening a particular card, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Each one has characteristics that might or might not work for you. There are several respectable websites for credit card comparisons, such as wallethub.com. Just know that these sites often get advertising dollars from some of the cards they list.

What to look for in the credit card fine print
:

Introductory APR (Annual Percentage Rate). Is your card offering “6 months at 1.9% APR”? That sounds pretty great, right? But you need to find out what the APR will be once those 6 months are over. It could jump to more than 22%!

More info about an APR.
The APR is the cost of credit, expressed as a yearly rate. It must be disclosed before you become obligated.

What about a “variable rate” card?
Some credit card plans allow the issuer to change your APR when interest rates or other economic indicators–called indexes-change. These plans are called “variable rate” programs. Rate changes raise or lower the finance charge on your account. The issuer must disclose to you that the rate may change and how the rate is determined, meaning which index is used and what additional amount (sometimes printed as “Prime + XX%”) is added to determine your new rate.

What about annual fees? Annual membership or participation fees range from zero to hundreds of dollars for “gold” or “platinum” cards. Be sure to factor this into your decision when selecting a card.

Transaction fees and other charges. If you aren’t careful, fees can really add up quickly. Some issuers charge a fee if you use the card to get a cash advance, if you make a late payment or if you exceed your credit limit. Some charge a monthly fee whether or not you use the card. Do your best to avoid any additional fees.

What happens if my payment is late? One late payment to a credit card can have devastating effects on your financial life. Some cards with low rates for on-time payments apply a very high APR if you are late even just once in any specified time period. These rates sometimes exceed 20%! Information about delinquency rates should be disclosed to you on credit card applications or in solicitations that do not require an application. Once your APR is raised because of a late payment, it’s difficult to get it lowered again. But it’s always smart to call if this happens—often, if it’s a one-time error, you’ll be able to get the charge reversed and APR lowered.

What if my card is stolen?
Am I responsible for the charges? If your card is used without your permission, you can be held responsible for up to $50 per card. If you report the loss before the card is used, you can’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you’ll owe for unauthorized charges is $50. To minimize your liability, report the loss as soon as possible.

Tips to Choosing and using a credit card:
Nearly every day, you’re involved in some type of financial transaction. When you have a credit card, it can be tempting to use it too often, racking up debt before you know it. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” you know how credit card abuse can get out of control. Interest and late fees add up to a lot more than that new pair of shoes cost. To keep you in check, think of your credit card as a bundle of cash instead of a handy piece of plastic. If you don’t have that money in the bank—or at the absolute least, enough to pay minimum balances on time—don’t spend it.

More things to consider: 
Shop around for the plan that best fits your needs.
Make sure you understand a plan’s terms before you accept the card.
Hold on to receipts to reconcile charges when your bill arrives.
Protect your cards and account numbers to prevent unauthorized use. Draw a line through blank spaces on charge slips so the total amount can’t be altered.
Pay off balances at the end of the month to avoid interest charges—or at least the minimum to avoid late fees.
Keep a record in a safe place separate from your cards of your account numbers, expiration dates and the phone numbers of each issuer to report a loss quickly.
Carry only the cards you think you’ll use.
If you do forget to pay a credit card bill and you incur a late fee, call customer service. They are usually agreeable to waiving the fee one time.

Your free credit report
Although you’re just starting to build credit, it’s helpful to request a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com, especially if you plan to purchase a house or car soon. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives Americans access to one free credit report every 12 months. Don’t get scammed into a website that asks for a credit card number to run a credit report; they’re notorious for hidden charges and sneaky monthly fees unless you cancel. Popular sites creditkarma.com and creditsesame.com also offer a free credit score from one of the three credit reporting agencies. When you order, you’ll be asked for your name, address, social security number and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may also need to provide some information that only you would know.

What is a credit report?
A credit report contains information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment or renting a home. Get a copy every year so you can consistently see where you stand, and to spot any errors—and then get them fixed.
Source: www.ftc.gov

May 12, 2017

Traditional Alumnae Chapters and Ivy Connection Chapters



As you know, Alpha Phi is a lifetime organization. While you will always be a member of your collegiate chapter, there are more than 130 worldwide active traditional alumnae chapters and Ivy Connection chapters that you can join! Alpha Phi will continue to be a source of lifetime value to you because we are flexible with our programming and services to accommodate your changing needs.

There are many benefits to membership in an alumnae chapter. These include an introduction to a new community, an instant circle of new friends, philanthropic and community activities, fun social events, business and networking opportunities, and opportunities to support a local collegiate chapter. Many chapters have even formed special interest groups to accommodate the variety of members’ interests and schedules. The primary focus of all alumnae chapters is fun and friendship! Each traditional alumnae chapter and Ivy Connection chapter is comprised of local Alpha Phi women from different collegiate chapters. You will have the opportunity to meet other alumnae at all stages of their lives.

What is the difference between a traditional alumnae chapter and an Ivy Connection chapter? An Ivy Connection chapter is geared toward women who have graduated within the last 10 years while a traditional alumnae chapter is for women of all ages. Some cities have both types of chapters, each with its own leadership and activities. Regardless of which organization you join, you will find new Alpha Phi friends and create more wonderful memories wherever you go!

Most chapters do not hold business meetings, just fun events! Chapter members meet for lunch, attend movies and the theater together, participate in book groups and hold a variety of other activities. But if you want to take a more active role in leadership, you are encouraged to become an Executive Council member or join a committee. Your alumnae chapter experience will be whatever you want it to be!

How to Find the Right Volunteer Role



Alpha Phi is for life, but what does that really mean after graduation? Alpha Phi may have been the focus of your collegiate life, but it doesn’t necessarily remain your priority as an alumna. That being said, there are so many ways you can remain engaged with Alpha Phi and at a commitment level that fits your life and your interests.

We hope you will consider volunteering! Recent graduates typically look for advisory board roles when they think about giving back. Makes sense because it’s what you have the most experience with—and Alpha Phi would love to have you. There are so many more opportunities to consider, though. For instance, collegiate chapters need housing volunteers, and recent graduates like yourself make excellent housing volunteers because of their energy and insight into today’s college woman. Alumnae chapters also need you now more than ever. Your enthusiasm and desire to connect and network can bring new life into a chapter, something that will bring rewards in many ways. And don’t forget our Affinity program. You can help your chapter’s alumnae stay connected and guide Alpha Phi’s alumnae development efforts.

Thinking about serving? A few things for you to do….

· Update your PHI Form (personal history and interest form) so that when volunteer opportunities become available, we can identify you as a potential volunteer. Your contact information (address specifically) needs to remain accurate.

· Check out our Volunteer Opportunities. Just know, these are updated monthly and may not represent all of our needs.

· Reach out to our Program Manager for Volunteer Development to discuss your plans after graduation and how Alpha Phi might benefit from your knowledge and experiences.

Alpha Phi is truly for life! We are ready and waiting for your involvement—when the time is right for you.

Transition



Alumnae pin: A delicate circle of forget-me-not flowers, this pin reminds our alumnae that they are always connected to Alpha Phi and helps everyone demonstrate their lifetime membership. This pin is available to our collegiate chapters and is used by many chapters during their Senior Ceremony. But it is available to all alumnae, you can order the pin and wear it with pride!

During sorority recruitment, we often touted the future potential of networking as an alumni member as a benefit of joining a sorority. We kind of threw this in for the more “serious” types, who needed a more lofty reason to join a sorority than matching sweatshirts and date dashes. I knew a sorority sister could help set me up with a formal date, but I never really imagined them setting me up with a job. I have actually had the same girl from my sorority help me obtain not one, but two jobs.

I have experienced first-hand the power of this alumni network, and thought how many other girls could benefit from this type of network. A lot of girls think that sorority connections end at college, even though we sing about our lifelong bonds. I now realize how that network and these connections are very real and powerful for helping women find internships, jobs, roommates and more, especially in the current economic climate.

LinkedIn

I joined the national group for my sorority on LinkedIn, but realized that while it was helpful for job hunts in new cities and random mass requests, it wasn’t going to be as powerful a resource as I wanted. I decided to take things into my own hands and create a LinkedIn group specifically for my own chapter. I encouraged the girls to invite other alumni and current members to join in the hopes of fostering communication regarding job openings, internships, etc. I also hoped it could be a forum to discuss the specifics of certain careers, grad school advice, and any other wisdom that would be beneficial to a younger group of girls. Within minutes of creating the group, a job posting was listed! I also reached out to a friend’s younger sister, who is currently in the chapter. I asked her to announce the group at their next meeting and to encourage the girls to join. I wish I had something like this group while I was job hunting straight out of college!

Facebook

While Facebook is definitely more of a social tool compared to LinkedIn, it’s still a great resource for keeping in touch with people. You probably belong to a group created while you were in college that listed various events going on, etc. Now is the time to take a look and see where your sorority sisters are. Maybe someone lives in a city that you are hoping to get a job in, or works for a company where you’d like to be hired. You might see that they are friends with someone who you want to meet and they can easily make the introduction. Just keep in mind that Facebook groups and messaging are more personal than they are business-related. You might want to send someone an email or look them up on LinkedIn if you don’t really know them well and the message is strictly professional.

National Sorority Website

Most sororities these days have advanced websites for their current members and alumni to join. If you just moved to a new city, you can locate a local chapter and get involved with them. These new connections could help you find a job or instruct you on the best way to get hired in their city. Bonus: You might also make some friends! Also, most sororities have newsletters that they send out to their alumni. You could submit your information and list the type of job you are looking for and see if anyone reaches out to you.

Online networking is a great resource for alumni and current members. If you were in a sorority in college, I highly recommend you take advantage of these built-in connections. You already paid your dues, now reap some benefits!

There are many sad things about graduating college, but for sorority women, one of the worst may be the prospect of leaving your sisters—and all of your incredible accomplishments—behind. Did you know that you don’t have to? Even after graduating, there are ways that you can stay involved in your sorority, be it your chapter, your region or even nationally. From social or networking gatherings to advocacy to advisement opportunities to leadership positions, staying involved with your sorority is a great way to maintain lifelong relationships, network and spread some good throughout the world.

After all of the effort you put into sorority recruitment, learning what each chapter stood for, where they volunteered and which one was your best fit, why wouldn’t you continue the relationship? If you approach it the right way, you’re not just joining a chapter. You’re joining a giant community, built to last you a lifetime.

1) It helps you maintain your current friendships and gives you the opportunity to make new friends.

Who can forget how easy it was to make friends back in school? I think most post-grads can attest to the sad reality that it’s much harder to make friends once you’re out of school. I think it’s especially hard to form solid female friendships. Being connected to your town’s alumnae group is probably one of the easiest ways to meet people and reconnect with sisters who you may have lost touch with. You’d be amazed how simply having that in common can serve as a foundation for a friendship. And if you find yourself relocating for a job or for school, one of the easiest ways to settle into your new hometown is to join that city’s alumnae group. Also, being active gives you something to look forward to each week and/or month since your social calendar might be slightly less full once you’re out of school.

2) It is an excellent networking tool already at your disposal.

When you’re in the chapter, you might sometimes hear sisters touting the networking benefits of being Greek, but on some level, it’s hard to fathom life beyond college. Sure, you’ll be thinking about how to attain that dream job, but have you thought about how being connected to a sorority can help you land a job? Or that it can help you find a mentor who you can provide you with career advice? Or that you could even be a mentor for someone? Get connected with the alumnae group through social media. LinkedIn has especially been useful when seeking career advice, job leads, and finding a roommate. When I was in school, I did an internship at my sorority sister’s magazine and remained in touch with her even after I graduated. She remained a dear friend, and now she is one of my co-workers. She was the one who recommended me for my current job. It’s incredibly beneficial being part of a network of women that could potentially help you move forward in your professional life. Sometimes having a connection makes all the difference in the world.

3) It allows you to remain linked to an organization that probably played a significant role in your college life.

Of course, being a post-grad sorority woman is a totally different experience from that of a collegiate member, but I think maintaining that connection reminds you of all the memorable times that you hopefully gained being a member of a Greek organization. As an alumna, it’s really interesting to watch your collegiate chapter’s dynamic change over the years. Plus, if you keep up with your chapter’s activities on social media or you volunteer at Rush, it brings forth all types of nostalgia.
Get Together for a Trip Once a Year

This is a great idea because it’s exciting, but still practical enough to commit to! A trip like this will give you something to look forward to every year. Combining sisterhood with the enjoyment of travel means you could see places you’ve never seen before with friends you care about! Whether it’s an international journey or a quick trip to see where sisters live now, it’s an annual highlight. Many chapters even have planned service trips that you can take!
Use Video Chat and Social Media

Mobile apps and sites like Facebook have made it easier than ever to stay in touch after college. The thing is, you have to be consistent and remember to use them! Video call sisters who live further away, and consider starting a Facebook group so everybody can easily chat together. Send emails, photos, and texts to stay informed on the latest.
Stay Connected to Your National Sorority

Your national sorority has all kinds of resources for helping you stay connected. For example, you could subscribe to the national sorority newsletter to be aware of the latest news and events. Also consider visiting the national sorority website and following on social media.

Staying Connected to Alpha Phi



As an alumna member, one of the easiest ways to stay connected to Alpha Phi is to pay your dues. There are two types of Alpha Phi International dues you can pay. To remain in good standing with the Fraternity, you are responsible for paying your International Alumnae dues during each fiscal year (July 1–June 30). These monies directly support the Fraternity and help the Executive Office to continue to develop programs and services for alumnae and collegians. Alpha Phi needs your support, and it helps you stay connected, especially through receipt of all four issues of the Quarterly magazine.

You can pay annual dues, which, as of April 2017, are $38.44 (that includes dues of $37 and your Founders’ Day pennies) or lifetime dues, currently $450. With lifetime dues, your annual dues and Founders’ Day pennies are paid up for the rest of your life.

In addition, Alpha Phi offers its annual Alumnae Advantage Program for $50, which enhances your alumna membership experience with programs and services available only to alumnae who choose to join the program. Your dues and Founders’ Day pennies are included in the cost, and some of the benefits include corporate discounts at rental car agencies, discount tickets at movie theaters and full access to the Alpha Phi online community—another great way to stay connected.

If you choose to join a local traditional alumnae chapter or Ivy Connection chapter, it may charge local dues that will range from $10 to $25, but some don’t charge dues at all. This money supports the alumnae chapter’s social programs, events, newsletters, fundraising efforts and more.

Giving to the Alpha Phi Foundation is another way to stay connected and give back. There are many opportunities to donate, including annual or monthly gifts at any level.

As an alumna, you will now also have the opportunity to write recommendations for legacies or potential new members, which keeps you connected to your collegiate chapter in an important way. No matter what else you do, keep your information up to date, so we can always connect with you.

How to Connect with Alumnae



When you became a member of Alpha Phi, you probably weren’t thinking about what you’d do when you left college; after all, you worked so hard to get to college, you were focused on making the most of it. But remember, Alpha Phi isn’t just for four years; it’s for a lifetime. And as an Alpha Phi, you are part of something bigger, a network that extends around the globe, in fact. Alpha Phi will continue to be a source of lifetime value to you because services and opportunities cover all phases of your life. While you will always be a member of your collegiate chapter, there are more than 130 worldwide traditional alumnae chapters and Ivy Connection chapters that you can join now that you’re graduating. In other words, you have a built-in network of outstanding, successful women who are happy to assist you in all kinds of ways.

You’ve already made connections as a collegian—within your chapter, on your campus and at leadership conferences. Now it’s time to reach out to alumnae:

1. Join an alumnae chapter. On the Alpha Phi website (alphaphi.org), navigate to the Chapters page where there’s a list of all the alumnae chapters in every state and country. There’s usually a contact and email address listed, so reach out! A traditional alumnae chapter is for women of all ages, while the Ivy Connection chapters are geared toward women who have graduated within the last 10 years. Some cities have both. Find out about any events coming up, mark them on your calendar and you’ll have an instant circle of new, supportive friends, from a variety of collegiate chapters. Each alumnae chapter is different, but many host philanthropic activities, social events, business networking lunches, and opportunities to support a local collegiate chapter.

2. Social media.
Some of the easiest ways to connect with alumnae are through social media platforms. Make sure to join the Alpha Phi LinkedIn group, as well as the subgroups that are targeted toward specific professions, allowing you to connect to other Alpha Phi alumnae professionals in your field. On LinkedIn, you’ll also be able to communicate with people about job posts and apartments for rent. Of course, don’t ditch Facebook. Ask to join a group that’s in your area, and you’ll find it’s a goldmine for making connections.

3. Volunteer.
Consider volunteering in some capacity, and you’ll be automatically connected to a larger network of Alpha Phis. Plus, you’ll be building your resume at the same time.

May 8, 2017

Alpha Phi’s Rich History


"We thought it would be a fine idea socially to form a circle of sympathetic friends whom we would know personally. We had as our aim the mutual improvement of each other, ever trying to do our best in college work, always keeping a high ideal before us. Never under any circumstances were we to speak disparagingly of a sister. We were to be ever loyal to one another, in joys or sorrows, success or failure, and ever extend a helping hand to our sisters who needed our aid; truly we planned to be a 'Union hand in hand.' " – Clara Sittser Williams, Founding Sister of Alpha Phi

Alpha Phi was founded Founded at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York on September 18, 1872 by ten collegiate women who would go on immensely impact women all over the world. True feminism and true friendship drove their creation of a women’s secret society where they could stand together with the deep bond of sisterhood. The original ten founding sisters had no knowledge that any other society like theirs existed and their bravery, organization, thoughtfulness, and innovation would go on to inspire generations for what is almost 150 years now.

            In addition to starting the first of many sororities at Syracuse University, in 1886 Alpha Phi became the first women’s fraternity to build and inhabit their own chapter facility. In fact, Alpha Phi is considered a fraternity and not a sorority because it was founded before the word “sorority” even existed.

            Sororities began to emerge though, as more and more girls transitioned to being collegiate women and Alpha Phi aspired to unite them in a common mission. In 1902, it was Alpha Phi who called an inter-sorority meeting that led to the formation of the National Panhellenic Conference that now includes 26 member organizations that promote Alpha Phi’s values of leadership and service.

            Alpha Phi’s scope grew from national to international in 1906 as the Xi chapter was chartered at University of Toronto, proving that Alpha Phi would continue to grow and impact women on a global scale. Today women from all over the world in all walks of life proudly wear their Alpha Phi pins. All Alpha Phi’s are linked by the rich history of the organization, and can take comfort in the notion that Alpha Phi has made such a positive impact for women globally.

            The original ten founding sisters, 22 years old and younger, could likely not fathom the significant impact they would contribute in their lives and beyond. To be an Alpha Phi is to know that you have the capability to change the world for the better by utilizing philanthropy and core values. Each sister is capable of amazing accomplishments. To date, history has only supported the notion that Alpha Phi’s will continue to make the world a better place.

"Now that we have founded the Alpha Chapter of the Alpha Phi Sorority, is this all there is to do? ... No indeed ... We have all the Alphabet to go through, and to go through again and again ... Can we not be a World Society as well as a National One? Yes, there is work enough for all of us and today is no time to be idle." – Martha Emily Foote Crow, Founding Sister of Alpha Phi

Sydney Stelter is a member of the Gamma Phi chapter at Florida State University. To read more about her, click here.

May 5, 2017

Transition from College to Real Life



For the past 18 or 19 years of your life, you’ve been either told what to do or knew what you needed to do. Now, you’re on your own. The options are open and your Alpha Phi sisters will still be there for you, but the safety net of school won’t be there any longer (unless, of course, you choose graduate school!). You might feel worried, scared, excited, ambivalent or all of the above at various times. And that’s totally valid. To help you with your transition as you graduate, we have some advice:

1. Don’t freak out. It is normal to feel uneasy about graduation, but don’t let that anxiety get the best of you. For one thing, you’re not alone. Talk to your sisters about your fears and excitement. You’re in this together and they all want to see you succeed, just like you want them to succeed. On a professional note, try not to let your anxiety about what to do next push you into a job you’re not sure you want. It’s better to wait for the right job than to take one and feel miserable about it. Of course, you might not immediately achieve your dream job, so weigh the pros and cons, but be patient.

2. Be humble.
You’ve worked hard and earned your degree, but that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to land a job or impress an employer or earn a lot of money. In the real world, you’re essentially starting from scratch. You’ll need to prove yourself just as you did in school. The world doesn’t owe you anything just because you got a high GPA. You do, however, owe it to yourself to make deliberate decisions, not rash decisions based on fear.

3. Visit your University’s career center. Floundering a little when it comes to job-hunting? Most campuses have helpful career centers with a wide variety of resources, including an online portal with job opportunities and alumni contacts. Take advantage of these resources. This can also be a good place to get a second glance at your resume and cover letter. Bring in a completed draft for feedback—you may need to make an appointment for this, so check beforehand.

4. Interviews are opportunities. Remember, an interview is a two way street—you’re learning about the job and putting your best foot forward, and in turn the employer is presenting the job in a positive way and learning about you. Make sure to come with questions—both job related and personal. People always enjoy talking about themselves, but stay away from getting too casual and chummy with an interviewer, as you do want to showcase your professionalism. Also, be prepared for the big questions, like, “What do you want to do with your life?” It’s a daunting one because you may not really have an answer, but have something in mind and something better than, “Work for your company and make a difference!” Be honest; if you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, that’s OK; just consider your strengths and emphasize what you’re passionate about. An employer would rather see who you are than hear an answer that they have encountered many times before. Honesty makes you stand out, and standing out is a good thing.

5. Network. One of the best ways to get information about a company and its open positions is to use personal connections to your advantage. Sometimes it can feel like you’re submitting your cover letter into a cyberspace black-hole, but making contacts at specific companies gives you a leg up—and a name to put down as a reference. It also makes you feel more in control, something that recent graduates often lack. Alpha Phi is a great foundation for networking with women in your field of interest, and with email and cell phones, it’s easier than ever to get in touch. Recommend that you meet for coffee and bring your resume. In that meeting, chances are, the alumna will give you the names and emails of three or four other contacts. If not, feel free to ask. Not sure where to start the networking process? Join the official Alpha Phi International LinkedIn site.

6. Learn time management.
At school, you could plan classes so you didn’t need to roll out of bed until 11am. In real life, you’ll likely have a job that requires you be, not only awake, but dressed and raring to go by 9am. So mentally prepare for that and factor in an earlier bedtime. On the flip side, you shouldn’t need to pull all-nighters for your job!

7. Carry Alpha Phi with you.
Never let anyone tell you that Alpha Phi is “just a college thing.” The life lessons gained during your time as an Alpha Phi helped you become better friends, sisters and even employees. Alpha Phi supports you even when your sisters are spread far and wide.

How to Find a Roommate



Whether you lived in your chapter house with Alpha Phi sisters as built-in roommates, off-campus housing with your besties or a single dorm with friends all around, it’s probably a given that once you graduate you’ll be looking to share rent with someone. The sooner you start planning this post-graduation requirement, the better. So, if you’re not sure how that’s all going to pan out, it’s time to figure it out.

Before jumping in, test the waters with a few key questions.
Does the person…

--drink, smoke or use drugs?
--have a pet?
--keep odd hours?
--have a significant other who will be staying over?
--have sufficient financial means to pay the rent and utilities?
--want to share costs of things like toilet paper and trash bags?
--consider themselves neat or messy?
--plan to share household chores?
--plan to hang out with you or do their own thing?


Now, check out these tips for finding that person:

1. Try social media. Many of the posts on the Alpha Phi LinkedIn group page focus on women seeking roommates, sub-letters or apartments. Skim what’s there or post your own in-search-of. The same goes for your college or Alpha Phi chapter’s Facebook and Twitter pages (use a hashtag like “roommate”).

2. “Roommate finder.” Search that term online and you’ll find results including roomiematch.com, easyroommate.com, roomates.com and roomster.com. They all have their own features and idiosyncrasies, and some are global, while others are limited to certain cities, so find the one that works for you. Besides narrowing down by answering questions and criteria, you’ll get a sense of rental prices in the city you’d like to live.

3. Use Craigslist.
Proceed with caution on Craigslist due to reports of scams and frauds, but it can still be an effective means to an end when used smartly. You can search postings or create your own post.

4. Use your network. Friends, family and Alpha Phi sisters all have connections, so tap into them. It could be a sister’s friend or a friend’s sister, but whatever it is, it’s worth pursuing. Do they have an apartment and need another roommate? Or does she want to look for an apartment in the same city as you? Finding someone close to your own age is most helpful, but not essential.

5. Check on campus. First stop, your Alpha Phi chapter, but then check the campus postings in general. There’s often somewhere that pulls together student roommate queries.

6. Ask your employer. Are you moving to a new place with job in hand? See if the human relations director can point to any roommate resources or possibly another new hire at the company who might be seeking a roommate too.

7. Tell everyone.
Get the word out that you’re looking for a roommate. Tell your new coworkers, your family, your Alpha Phi sisters.

May 4, 2017

Relocating to a New City



You might be heading to a new location for a job, for a significant other or because it’s just where you want to be. In any case, moving somewhere new can bring up a lot of emotional and logistical worries. Be ready for the ups and downs with some encouraging advice.

You’ll make friends.
You may have the most amazing apartment and a great job and even a decent roommate who willingly takes out the garbage. But if you don’t have a good friend or two, a new city can feel pretty lonely. So where do you meet people? Not sitting on your couch. Join an Alpha Phi alumnae chapter in the area, take a class, join junior league, attend a free concert in the park, volunteer and check out meetup.com for people with similar interests (just remember to be safe and follow your instincts if anyone seems suspicious). Then make a connection with someone who seems like a potential friend. Exchange phone numbers and know that you might need to be the one who makes the first call. Bottom line: Be proactive, take the initiative and get off your couch and start exploring.

You’ll feel settled.
It’s a weird feeling moving from a place where you were the expert to a place where you don’t even know where the nearest Starbucks is. Don’t panic and don’t be paralyzed by fear of the unknown. It’ll take some trial and error to find what you’re looking for, and when you do, give yourself a pat on the back because you did it! You can always ask around too—and if you don’t know anyone, start by connecting with the Alpha Phi alumnae chapter in the area. Mostly remember, it’s a learning curve and all part of the adventure. Pretty soon, you’ll be showing around visitors like you own the place.

You’ll learn how to get around.
One of the best ways to learn a new city is to get lost in it. Just be aware of the sketchy neighborhoods so you don’t end up in a dangerous situation. Invest in a city map that you can actually hold in your hand—GPS does a great job of directing us places, but it falls short on presenting the big picture. Study the map to understand where your apartment is in relation to work, to the gym and to the nearest train or bus station. Traveling by public transportation through a new city also gives you a great perspective on how close or far everything is. Taking the bus might be slower than a train, but sometimes that’s a good thing because you can catch street names as you roll by. Never hesitate to ask a train attendant or bus driver which way you should go—in some cities (New York, we’re talking to you), they may not be cheerful, but they’ll be helpful.

You’ll have enough money. Moving costs a lot, between the security deposits and the new cleaning supplies and the trip to IKEA for a new bedspread (and a few other things), it just does. Plus, there will be unexpected costs, like that parking ticket you got because you didn’t know the street cleaning schedule. In other words, you might be feeling a financial pinch for a little while. It’s expected, but it doesn’t have to last long if you listen to your inner accountant and reign in spending enough to feel sturdy again. Do your best to keep away from credit card debt: It’s a nasty lesson to learn the hard way that racking up debt and its interest only benefits the bank, not you. Be smart about it and you’ll hit that financial balance between splurging and paying your rent on time.

You’ll be challenged and be OK.
Without a safety net of people you know, everything will seem a little harder. Just know that it gets easier, but it also takes some time and patience. After a few weeks of floundering, you might think you made a huge mistake, but push through it. Give yourself at least a year to acclimate. It might not seem like it, but life will fall into place. Call your Alpha Phi sisters for a venting session and then get back to making your new city your new home. In the end, you’ll have faced your fears and learned valuable life lessons, including how strong you are.

You’ll keep in touch with your Alpha Phi sisters. You’ve likely realized by now that graduating is bittersweet. One of the incredible aspects of being a member of Alpha Phi is that, no matter where you go and where you are, your sisters will always be there. You might not be able to share breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight ice cream runs with them quite as often, but you’ve already created a bond that stretches across state and even country lines.

You’ll see how it goes!
If you’ve done everything you could and muscled through the hard parts, and you’ve been in your new place for more than a year, but you just aren’t feeling it, you can always chalk this up to Plan A gone wrong and work on Plan B. We all make mistakes and then we learn from them, right? We might laugh about it or cry, but it’s OK. You only get to the great things in life when you take a risk or two, and sometimes that means falling on our faces a few times. Dust yourself off, take stock of what worked and what didn’t, make a graceful exit and move on.

Making Friends as an Adult



It’s something that doesn’t quite sink in until it’s happening: It’s hard to make new friends when you graduate. In school, you met potential friends all the time, and then you saw them almost every day, so the bond grew quickly. In real life, it takes more effort, but it’s definitely doable. In fact, without the limitations of a school environment, you might even have more in common with the friends you make beyond school. Here are some ways to go about it:

1. Join your alumnae chapter. That’s an easy one, so it makes sense to start there. You’re an Alpha Phi for life, so reap the rewards.

2. Volunteer. Again, a great place to start is Alpha Phi’s volunteer listings online to see if there are any opportunities in your area. Or find a cause you’re interested in attend an informational session. Maybe it’s an animal rescue organization or a homeless shelter. Either way, you might have to work up the courage to go by yourself, but once you’re there, you’re bound to meet people with similar interests.

3. Get a dog. Babies and dogs are inevitable attention-getters, so if you have the time and space for a dog, one of the benefits of having a dog is the people it will attract. Visit a city dog park to mingle with other dog-lovers or just stroll around busier areas and chances are someone will ask to pet your dog. Don’t want to commit to having your own dog? You could borrow a friend’s or serve as a foster parent for a rescue organization, meaning you’d only have dogs for short periods of time.

4. Check your social media. Are there friends of friends or Alpha Phi sisters in your area that you didn’t even realize? Introduce yourself and plan a time to meet in person. Or ask a mutual friend to make the introduction.

5. Answer the invites. If an acquaintance or a coworker asks you to join them at a party or a networking event, unless your gut says “bad idea,” go for it. You might not even like the person who invited you, but you might meet other people there who were worth time spent.

6. Connect with a religious institution. Almost every church and synagogue (and some mosques) have young adult outreach activities, often even outside of the religious space itself. It’s worth checking out the options in your area or simply attending services to meet people there too.

7. Join a social sports group. You don’t need to be a star athlete to play for fun. Many large cities have social sports clubs that generally meet weekly for things like beach volleyball, touch football, soccer and more. Some of the most fun happens after the game is over when teammates go out to socialize.

8. Work out. Turn your exercise into a friend-meeting exercise. Join a running club or register for group exercise classes. Chat up the people who seem like your kind of people and suggest coffee or a drink at some point, then follow up.