Post Date Jan 10

Preparing for Study Abroad

One of the best decisions I’ve made in college is deciding to study abroad. As a Spanish major, being immersed fully in Spanish culture was really important to me, but I found myself torn as to whether or not I should study abroad as it was way outside of my comfort zone. Ultimately though, with the help of the study abroad advisors and my Spanish professors, I took a leap of faith and absolutely loved my time abroad. It allowed me to grow in my Spanish-speaking ability and opened my eyes to the wealth of diversity and culture there is around the world.

For my study abroad experience, I opted to go to Valencia, Spain for five weeks during the summer. When considering where to go, it was really easy to narrow down my options as the Study Abroad Office has an online tool that allows you to sort programs based on area of study, cost, location and much more. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that would allow me to take classes towards my Spanish major, and the Valencia program allowed me to choose two classes I wanted to take out of the three offered. I got to live with a host family which made my experience even better! I ate authentic Spanish meals and interacted with my host mom and her daughter during every meal.

My daily schedule consisted of class for four hours, eat lunch, take a siesta at home in the afternoon, go on class excursions, eat dinner and then work on homework before bed. Our professors had fun mini-trips planned to build on what we were learning in the classroom. We visited historic places in Valencia like the cathedral, the downtown square and an art museum to give us a more well-rounded experience.

In preparation to leave, my study abroad group met together two times during the spring semester prior to our journey in order to talk logistics, meet each other and get any last minute questions answered. In addition to this, the Study Abroad Office has program advisors, peer advising and PackAbroad Ambassadors that are available to students as resources too. 

I would highly recommend that any student study abroad if given the opportunity as it exposes people to new cultures, languages and ways of life. If you’re worried about being able to afford it, have no fear! There is a scholarship application specifically for students going on study abroad which can help offset the cost. Also, NC State strives to make time abroad comparable to in-state tuition here, so if you’re an out-of-state student it could be cheaper!

Did you know NC State also has its own passport office on campus? It’s a well kept secret in my opinion, but it can be really helpful if students need to get their passport picture taken and apply for or renew a passport.

Talking with your academic advisor is a helpful first step in deciding to study abroad. My personal advice in all of this is: if it scares you, do it! 🙂 Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great way to grow as an individual in college and broadens your horizons as a student.

Bon Voyage!


Post Date Jan 10

Summer Sessions at NC State

To some students, taking summer classes may seem kind of odd. Isn’t summer supposed to be when everyone takes a break from school work? Don’t people travel, study abroad and work internships? While all of these questions are valid, there are countless reasons why taking summer classes can be a great option for any student.

First of all, summer classes are very flexible. NC State offers different summer sessions, allowing students to choose whether they want to take a 3, 5 or 10-week class. Whether students are working a part-time job, traveling or just have limited availability during the summer, they have the freedom to pick the timeline that works best for them. Maymester is especially cool as you can earn three credits in three weeks! Also, there are tons of online classes offered over the summer, so a student’s classroom can be anything from their kitchen table to the beach. The possibilities are endless.

Perhaps one of the biggest perks of taking summer classes is that it can alleviate stress. If students are worried about a class being especially difficult and time-consuming, it could be beneficial for them to take it during the summer. Students are able to enroll in just one class, giving them the chance to devote their time to one course, lighten their next semester’s workload and not be distracted by other assignments. Additionally, because it’s the summer, many courses have open seats and smaller class sizes, allowing students to get into high-demand classes and learn in a more intimate environment.

Summer is meant for adventure, and summer classes are no exception! In general, there are a lot of unique course offerings during summer sessions. If students are interested in something really specific or want to explore a new area of academia, summer is a great time to do that. Also, if a student is interested in pursuing a double major or a minor, they can start making progress towards those during the summer months! NC State’s Poole College of Management specifically offers a business minor that can be completed by non-business majors over the summer, which is a very popular option among students.

Lastly, summer sessions are practical. Whether you’re a senior needing to graduate on time or an underclassman wanting to complete some general education requirements, summer classes help students reach their goals, no matter where they are in their academic career. For Spring Connect and Transfer students, summer classes can be a smart way to earn more credit toward their major at NC State or catch up if they feel behind. Also, incoming first year students can take part in Summer Start where they move to campus during the summer, take classes and get acclimated to campus before the fall semester begins. The university offers summer housing arrangements, financial aid and more to help make summer sessions more feasible for students. 

So, with all that said, why not take a summer class this year?

Go Pack!


Post Date Nov 7

A Day in the Life of a Parks and Rec Major

I am a senior studying Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (PRTM), which is a major that many people don’t know about. I typically get asked if it has anything to do with the show Parks and Rec or if I will be a real life version of Leslie Knope (the answer is yes, obviously). With this degree, I want to create programs, such as sports and camps, for children with special needs. This major can lead to many different career paths, such as a hotel manager, an employee for a National Park, Program Director, Athletic Coach, and so much more.

My classes are a little different compared to other majors. We focus heavily on collaborative learning, so we do a lot of group work and group projects. I enjoy group work, it helps me get to know others in my major and see what their interests are. I also like to socialize, so being able to talk to people during class is pretty neat.

Many of my classes have a lab component to them. These labs aren’t like the chemistry or biology labs where you are sitting in an actual lab and do experiments. My labs can consist of going places for field trips to see what is going on in the field I am hoping to work in. One of my favorite classes was my Outdoor Recreation Management class where we went on trips to various parks in the Raleigh area to see how we can improve its current state. I also had a lab where I worked with a local community center to plan programs for them. I did have a lab where I had to meet in a computer lab every week to work on surveying which included analysis and methods, this lab wasn’t particularly my favorite, but it taught me useful skills that I can use in my future endeavors.

Many of the 100 or 200 level courses (typically freshman and sophomore years) that I took had a volunteer component to them. I was able to go out and give back to the Raleigh community through service experiences, such as Spirit League, which is a basketball program for teens and young adults with special needs. I still work with this program to this day and I love it.

This major also requires a 400 hour internship that I was able to do the Summer of 2019. The department does an excellent job of posting internship opportunities, I found my internship on our PRTM Internship page. I also took a class prior to my internship that prepared me for job interviews and it showed me various places to look for an internship. I learned how to properly format my resume and cover letter, and what to wear to a career fair or interview. My professors and academic adviser got to know me very well, so they knew what kind of internship I was looking for and they were able to help me during this process. I did my internship at an RV Campground where I got to make schedules and plan activities for the guests to participate in.

I really love my major. It is so important for college students to find their passions. I found mine with NC State Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. It has helped me to love NC State more and more everyday.

As always, GO PACK!

Amanda Kohl

Post Date May 20

Debunking the Summer School Myth

Summer school has always had a negative connotation in my mind from elementary school to high school. When students think of summer school, they often think of retaking classes because they did not perform well enough to pass the first time around. As students come to college, the perspective on summer school makes a 180-degree turn.

There are many different reasons that college students choose to take summer classes. Many students take them in order to:

  • Get ahead so that they can graduate early
  • Avoid a fifth year of college
  • Earn credits towards a minor or a double major
  • Take a class they may have an interest in, but doesn’t fall under their degree audit
  • Take a class with a certain professor they have heard is great at teaching the course

Whatever the reason, students should keep an open mind about taking classes during the summer.

It is not uncommon for students to get behind in their credit hours throughout their college years. Some students start out their experience in one degree program and realize that they want to change to a completely different discipline. In some cases, the existing credits transfer to your student’s new degree; but, in other cases, the change in major requires prerequisites that will need to be fulfilled. The summer semester is a great way to get those needed credits.

However, students should keep in mind that since they are taking the classes over a shorter period of time than if they were to take it in the course of a semester, the schedule is more compressed. Therefore, students must ensure they allot enough time each day to do their assignments since the fast-paced schedule makes it easier for students to fall behind.

Students can take their summer courses at essentially any university, college or community college. I would recommend that students discuss the courses they plan to take with their academic advisor, whether they are taken at NC State or another college, to ensure that the classes will go towards your student’s degree.

Summer classes can be taken online, so your student can live and work in their hometown, but are also offered on campus. Students can choose whichever classes work best for their summer schedule. NC State also offers on-campus living in Wolf Village Apartments to any students taking classes or working in the area.

Registration for Summer Sessions is now available. Talk to your student today!


Original Author: Olivia Reedy
Post Updated: 10/22/2018

Post Date Jul 10

Summertime and the livin’ is easy [with family]

Many of my summers are what people may call untraditional. Each person has their own ideas about how they should spend those often hot, transitionary months. Many parents work in the summer, leaving their students to decide for themselves what to do. But these summer months are a great time for families to make memories with their students, despite the different schedules.

For the past few summers, I have been out of the country. I left behind the North Carolina heat in exchange for more temperate, sometimes colder temperatures. I stayed with a French exchange family in France, exploring Paris, Normandy and the west coast. Last summer, before heading to France for the fifth time and England for the second, I studied abroad in Botswana where it was winter there at the time, resulting in freezing mornings and nights.

Although I am often gone most of the summer, my family is always a part of my travels in some way. Whether it’s going on trips to Washington, D.C., Atlanta, or the beach when I get back, it’s important to make that time to catch up with family. Two summers ago, after spending three weeks in France, my parents came and stayed with me at my exchange family’s home in Paris. I was able to show them the place that had been my home for four summers and be somewhat of a tour guide. We then all traveled to Tenerife, Spain to visit more family, and my brother met us there. The trip was so memorable and exciting because I was able to share my experiences with my family, and spend time with them that I hadn’t been able to during the school year because I was so busy with classes.

I realize that not all families travel during the summer, and it is not necessary to do so in order to spend quality time with family. It’s especially important to designate time for this over the summer before your student begins college for the first time. There is so much to do to prepare for that day, both emotionally, mentally and physically (e.g., lots of shopping). Without the support of my parents, I would have been crushed by the overwhelming anxiety and nervousness I felt about going to college. Spending that time with my parents beforehand and having those sometimes difficult conversations about my fears of what college would be like was helpful in calming my nerves and changing that anxiety into excitement.

Once your student starts college, their summers may be filled with studying abroad, internships, summer classes and other experiences that will not only shine on a resume but will also shape and mold your student into the person they strive to be. Summer is one of the best opportunities for your student to explore their interests, but also not forget the importance of family and taking the time away from school and work to be with them.

Although I often travel during the summer, some of my favorite summer break memories are the smaller trips I made with my family. Nothing extravagant, simply playing board games at my grandparents’ house at Lake Gaston while it poured outside, or kayaking down a river in the mountains of North Carolina. These trips are the ones that I will always remember and cherish.

This past weekend, I celebrated the 4th of July at my grandparents’ lake house with my family who lives close by. I took off work to be able to spend more time with my family, and so did other members of my family. Although taking off work may require working more before or after, it’s worth it to be able to have that special time with family.

Post Date May 30

A Summer in Raleigh

Since my first year in college, I have felt like I always had something big planned for summer. My first summer I was an Orientation Leader, and my second summer I studied abroad in London. At the beginning of this summer, I realized that I didn’t have any big plans for once. I had my job, but that was pretty much it. However, a summer in Raleigh is never boring! If your student is staying in Raleigh this summer and feels like they don’t have a whole lot to do, this blog post is for you…and them!

Concerts at Red Hat Amphitheatre, The Ritz, and more!
As the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh is always a great location for concerts. No matter the genre of music your student prefers, there is most likely a concert they would enjoy in Raleigh this summer. From Rascal Flatts to Khalid to Arctic Monkeys to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Imagine Dragons and everything in between; Raleigh concerts are always an easy opportunity to get a group of friends together to enjoy an evening full of music and fun. Check out the Visit Raleigh page to see more on concerts in Raleigh!

Supporting Local Theatre
There are many theaters in Raleigh doing shows this summer. I am assistant stage managing Theatre in the Park’s production of It Shoulda Been You, just off of NC State’s campus. Other shows going on in the area this summer are NRACT’s production of Spring Awakening in North Raleigh, TheatreFEST’s productions of Deathtrap, The 39 Steps, and Nunsense all at NC State, and many more. You can find more information on Raleigh performing arts centers and theatres here.

Baseball Games
Although not in Raleigh, there are two stadiums within a short distance for baseball fans. The Carolina Mudcats, located in Zebulon (a suburb in SE Wake County), and Durham Bulls baseball games, obviously in Durham, are always fun to attend! They both offer family nights, fireworks during the week and group tickets. I have already been to one game this summer in Durham and had a blast! Encourage your student to get a group of friends together or if you aren’t too far, make a family night outing and head to the ballpark for a minor league game. There are still plenty of games left this season!

Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeos
The Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeos are an experience not to be missed! These are rain or shine events on Fayetteville Street with free admission and over 50 food trucks from all over North Carolina. There are still three more Food Truck Rodeos – Sunday, June 10th 12-6pm, Sunday, August 5th 3-9pm, and Sunday, October 14th 12-6pm.

Explore Downtown Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh is full of good restaurants, fascinating (and free) museums, and even some great picture-taking locations if your student is interested in photography. My friends and I love to do mini photo shoots downtown and then grab a bite to eat at one of our local restaurants.

Rose Garden & JC Raulston Arboretum
If your student enjoys beautiful scenery, I would definitely recommend them checking out NC State’s JC Raulston Arboretum and the Raleigh Rose Garden, on the Raleigh Little Theatre campus. They are two of the most beautiful locations in Raleigh, in my opinion, and both are really close to campus.

Picnic at Pullen Park
Pullen Park is a great park that is right off of NC State’s campus. Get some friends together, everyone brings something to share, grab a blanket or two, and have an afternoon picnic that you’ll never forget! Here is more information on Pullen Park‘s amenities.

First Friday
On the first Friday of every month, downtown Raleigh showcases its art and creative community from 6-9pm with their event, First Friday. These are all free, public events featuring local art galleries, studios, museums, etc. that stay open late for our enjoyment.

Independence Day Celebration
Is your student in Raleigh for Independence Day? The City of Raleigh will be launching fireworks at the fairgrounds-area right by PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium. Other events for Independence Day will take place in Downtown Raleigh, including a concert at Red Hat Amphitheater.

Spend the day at Lake Johnson
Does your student like to paddle boat, kayak, canoe, or paddle board? Lake Johnson Park is the place for them! Spending a day at Lake Johnson is almost a summer necessity. After spending a day on the lake, you can even walk some of the trails located at the park.

Day Trip to the Beach
Raleigh is only a couple short hours to the coast making it perfect for a day trip. Pick a sunny day and get a group of friends together and take a beach day trip and make some memories that you will never forget. This is definitely one of my favorite things to do on a warm, sunny, North Carolina day.

No matter how your student spends their summer in Raleigh, make sure that they get out and do something fun – there are tons of opportunities for any interest or activity. Remind them to be sure to take tons of pictures along the way, too. These are memories they’ll have for years to come!

Post Date Oct 31

Summer at NC State

Fall semester isn’t over yet and advisors are already starting to make their pitch for Spring enrollment. As college has flown by, the only thing on my mind is my crushing senior year, right around the corner, with two full semesters of 18 credit hours. I most definitely do not want an impossible senior year, and I’m sure your student wouldn’t either. Luckily, summer sessions have taken all the pain away.

As a college student with two jobs, a major and two minors, my agenda is filled down to the minute with tasks to complete, exams to study for, and papers to write. My semesters are non-stop and I barely get time to sit and appreciate the classes that I’m taking. To graduate on time, I have had to take two summers full of classes, and honestly, I’m not complaining.

Last summer I was able to take three different class. That’s 9 credits off my regular semester load! I was able to thoroughly focus and enjoy my courses without the stress and hustle of a fall/spring semester. With enrollment for summer courses coming so soon, I can plan out my last year to make it the most enjoyable one yet.

If you student is worried about not doing their best in classes because of an overwhelming load of other responsibilities, fear not! The best way, in my opinion, to avoid an extra semester, and keep straight on life’s plan, are summer courses! They can knock off a minor, boost your GPA, save the cost of an extra semester, and allow you to pay more attention to your studies. It just may be the best option for your student. Here are the 2018 summer session dates:

  • Maymester (3 credits/ 3 weeks) – May 16 – June 7, 2018
  • Summer Session I (5 week) – May 16 – June 26, 2018
  • Summer Session I (10 week) – May 16 – July 31, 2018
  • Summer Session II (5 week)  – June 25 – July 31, 2018

Summer classes are a great choice for students to get ahead of their studies. The variety of classes available will surely cater to most, especially those looking to lighten up a semesters-load and not waste any time in that three month lull. Talk with your student and encourage them to check out NC State’s 2018 summer sessions!

Happy Fall,

Post Date Jun 30

Tips for Planning Vacation with Your College Student

Now that we are officially in the season of summer and on the horizon of the July 4th holiday, so many people are taking trips and fulfilling those big summer vacation plans, and it got me thinking…

Mom, remember when you would plan one or two summer vacations while us kids were out of school? As a child, I always looked forward to a week at the beach and a week visiting family during my summer vacation. Thank you for those! I know sometimes our car rides were filled with arguments; but the days on the beach, nights on the boardwalk and quality time with family are memories I will never forget.

Unfortunately, as my siblings and I got older, it became more difficult for my parents to plan a vacation around everyone’s schedules.

When your kids are younger, you don’t have to worry about planning a vacation around their work schedules and summer activities because they probably didn’t have any plans except to go to the pool. If your family is anything like mine, we have just barely managed to find a week during the summer where everyone can come on vacation. No matter how old we get, family vacation should still be a yearly tradition.

This photo is from my family vacation in December 2016. We spent 2 days in the Disney World Parks and 2 days at Universal Studios. This trip came about in a really comical way- my brother had mentioned a few months before that the Tower of Terror was closing down. The same brother had always been too short to ride it, so never go to experience the thrill. My parents did some research and the trip was planned by the end of the day, only to find out that the ride was closing down in Disneyland in California, not Disneyworld in Florida. Regardless, it’s a great laugh to look back on & memories were made for a lifetime.


Whether it is your first student, or your last, coming to college in these next couple of years, always find time for a family vacation. Here are a few tips to ensure that you can plan a well-needed vacation:

  • Plan in advance: If you pick your week of vacation way in advance, everyone will know about it and be able to plan around that week. If your student has a summer job or internship, they can let their supervisor know ahead of time that they need to be off that week.
  • Make it local: Because it can become difficult to travel far away due to other responsibilities, try finding a vacation spot that isn’t too far from home! That way, if any of your children need to leave early, they won’t have to travel too much. Another idea is to just find different events in your area and stay at home. Plan something for each day so it’s like a “makeshift” vacation!
  • Pick a different season: Over the past year, my family knew that summer 2017 was going to be busy due to my brother’s wedding. Instead of planning a summer vacation, we chose to do a week at Disney during December 2016. Sometimes fitting vacation time in between school breaks can be an easy fix. Like my family, you can choose to go over the winter holidays; or, you can plan a trip during fall or spring break. The weather may be different in the place you’re used to going, but it’s also an excuse to try a new location!
  • Make it shorter: Sometimes a 3-day getaway is all that is needed. Shorter vacations can be taken over holiday weekends, so everyone may have an extra day off anyway!

Sometimes it really does come down to schedules and the conflicts are what they are. If this happens, consider a staycation. Have fun locally and just enjoy spending time as a family. I am grateful for the memories, trips and activities my parents and family have provided but some of my favorite moments have happened with very little planning right inside our home. Sometimes there really is no place like home.

Happy Summer!

Post Date Jun 2

Summer Away From Home


Summer breaks as a college student differ from summer breaks as a high school student. This time is meant for opportunities to build experiences that contribute to your student’s future career. Some students are lucky and find an internship or job back home; so, your house is full and your pantry is empty, again. However, for those of you whose student is living elsewhere this summer for the first time, there may be a big adjustment. Sure- you have already become accustomed to them being gone during the school year, but there is something different about your son or daughter not coming home for summer.

Here are a few things to remember for yourself and to remind your student(s) as you both go through this new stage in life:

  1. Remember that this experience is helping your student for the future. Any time you begin to miss your student, remind yourself that this summer internship is assisting in building skills and character that your student will need to succeed in the future. Remind yourself that you have contributed to almost every aspect of your student’s life to get them where they are this summer.
  2. Continue giving support through phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts, emails, etc. Every time my Dad or Mom sends me a message or advice for support, I feel motivated to use their advice to push on. I know that my parents have had a lot more experience than I have, so their advice and support means a lot, especially when I didn’t directly ask for it. A simple “Good morning! I hope you have a wonderful day!” text reminds your student that you are thinking of them and hope the best. And to go off of that…
  3.  Be there for your student when they need it. Being away from home during the summer for the first time is going to be difficult for you AND your student. They have spent the majority of their summers at home participating in a variety of activities and now are adjusting to a ~35 hour work week in the real world. Your student will be developing new skills and working on several projects in which they may begin to feel overwhelmed or stressed. When your student calls or messages you in these cases, remind them to take their day one step at a time. Remind them of the purpose of this experience. I always call my Dad at times where I feel overwhelmed by work and he tells me to take a short walk and look for things I may have never noticed before. It may not sound like it works, but it gives me time to focus on something else.
  4. Plan a visit or a family vacation! In most families, summertime is the perfect time to take family trips and vacations. As your student(s) get older, it will be more difficult to plan a vacation that fits everyone’s schedules; however, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Most likely, your student will have time off that allows for a family vacation. Try to find out when this is as soon as possible so that you can maximize your planning time. If time allows for it, try to plan a visit to the area your student is living and working in. It may be a new place for the whole family and it gives your student the opportunity to be your tour guide.
  5. Encourage your student to make friends. Sometimes students receive internships in areas where they won’t know anyone. Although the main focus of an internship is to develop professional skills and experience in a specific field, students still need social interaction outside of their job in order to maximize their experience. Encourage your student to get to know the other interns and/ or check out events at a local college or university.

Summer breaks for college students are meant to build experience and connections for their future. It will be a big transition for the entire family, but it is still possible to uphold all of those summer family traditions. Best of luck to you and your student(s) in this new journey!


Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, shoes, sky and outdoor

Last summer, I worked in Brentwood, Tennessee as a teacher assistant in a preschool. My Dad and my younger brother live abroad and we were able to get together for a weekend in New York for the 4th of July weekend. I loved the opportunity of working in another state, but it meant a lot to me to be able to spend time with part of my family between work weeks.

-Olivia Reedy

Post Date Feb 7

Summer at NC State

Spring semester may have just begun, but it will fly by quickly–before long May will be here. As my semester quickly builds momentum, I can’t help but look forward to the long days of summer… the time when we can shed our coats and long pants, turn the alarm off, work on our tans, and go to class.
No, seriously. Hear me out!

As a student with two majors and a part-time job, free time is rare and precious. Most days are a long slog through class after class after studying after class, living under the constant worry I will not graduate on time, and that my student loans may become insurmountable. At least, that’s how it used to be. Last summer, I took nine credit hours, all towards my major, spread out across summer I and II. It was like the crushing weight of 18 plus credit hour semesters had instantly and permanently lifted.

I’ve heard that as many as 68% of students who graduate on time do so by taking summer classes, and I believe it. As a Junior now, my course load is more manageable, and my fear of not graduating with the rest of my class is gone. Taking summer courses was also much cheaper than the extra semester I would have otherwise needed.

Registration for Summer Sessions is open now, so your student can register at any time. If your student is worried about graduating on time, Summer Sessions may be able to help put them back on track to a 4-year graduation. Of our students who graduate on time, 68% of them took summer sessions. Summer Sessions can also raise your GPA, and credit for credit, Summer courses are much cheaper than taking an extra full semester. See the calendar below for session dates.

Maymester – May 17 – June 6, 2017
Summer Session I (5 weeks) – May 17 – June 22, 2017
Summer Session I (10 weeks) – May 17 – August 1, 2017
Summer Session II (5 weeks)  – June 26 – August 1, 2017

I highly recommend that parents and students begin to think about Summer Sessions at NC State. I even enjoyed the classes. They kept my brain active and engaged over the summer, but were not so rigorous as to cut into my free time. I was also able to do an internship at the same time and still enjoy my summer! It is a great option for students; encourage them to register soon before someone else gets their spot

Happy Spring,