Category Archives: GRAD SCHOOL

UWG CSA Maymester 2016

28th May 2016

As if the perks of studying student affairs weren’t abundant enough, I was given an incredible opportunity to go visit six colleges in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It was a seven day road trip with some of the loveliest people from my cohort and some new and amazing people from Mississippi State’s CSA program. The craziest part of it all was that I volunteered to drive one of the vans. It was an equally empowering and (mostly) fun endeavor.

Here are some highlights of my UWG CSA Maymester 2016 journey!

This trip allowed me to get out of my comfort zone, which is something I don’t do nearly enough. I have been contained within the safe walls of my home institution, UWG, for so long. I’ve been content and most times overjoyed about it. I LOVE UWG. It never occurred to me that I could have that same passion for another institution until we visited The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. First of all, Colonial Williamsburg was an absolute dream. It combines my love of the very old, the historical, the beautiful, and the creepy. I could have spent forever in that amazing place.


I mean, seriously, LOOK at this garden. I was so excited!

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This is a snap I took on our ghost tour through Colonial Williamsburg which was AMAZING and thrilling and beautiful.

The next day we arrived at College of William and Mary and it was POURING rain. I fell in love with the campus anyway. It was so beautiful and Thomas Jefferson learned there. I mean … how cool is that?!

13267770_10156935509805181_7538325132017792358_n The Wren building! I was GIDDY about this place. SO incredible.

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Can you see how hard it was raining?! Still beautiful, though 🙂

After I was torn away from my new favorite place on Earth, we headed to North Carolina. We stopped at North Carolina Central University. I was amazed by this school. The energy, the beautiful campus, the pride, the history. It was all very powerful and very inspiring.
Unfortunately, my phone was dead while we were there so I have no photos. Here is one I snagged from a classmate’s Facebook, however. Look how excited we are!

Our next stop was at Duke University. It. Was. Incredible. The chapel was fantastic and everything I’d hoped it would be and more. I didn’t get a great picture of the outside, but here  are some shots from the inside.

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It’s so beautiful it hurts. The rest of Duke was equally as fantastic, as you can expect.

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What surprised me about Duke was how cool they were. After seeing their not-so-great stories in the media over the past few years, I expected the staff to be stiff and conservative. I could not have been farther from the truth.

We stayed in North Carolina and visited UNC Chapel Hill the next day. I liked it, but didn’t have enough time to really explore it. I will say, The Carolina Union was so impressive. It seems no detail was overlooked. I got an opportunity to informally interview some unsuspecting students and was delighted to hear all the great things they had to say about their school.


Reppin’ UWG in my outfit, of course! This was a mural in the Carolina Union. So cool!


My sweet friend, Jessica, and I really loved this bench but, of course, it was rainy and wet that day so we couldn’t really sit on it.

All in all, this trip was priceless. I am so lucky I was able to go. I was able to grow closer to my cohort, network with professionals, expand my horizons, and learn a lot.

Big thanks to Dr. Varga, one of our incredible CSA professors at UWG, for making this happen. We appreciate you more than you know!

If you would like to see more detail about our journey, you can check out our travel blog!


“Travel is the best education anyone can have.”

My Favorite School Supplies

24th March 2016

Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a school / office supply addict. Because I have invested at least a zillion dollars in school / office supplies over my lifetime, I thought I would create a list of all my tried and true favorite ones. These are the supplies I find myself buying again and again every year. Bonus, most of them are inexpensive!

My Favorite School Office Supplies

My Favorite School Supplies

Paper Mate Flair Pens

I LOVE these pens for journaling and writing in my planner. They come in awesome colors and most importantly, they are inexpensive! You can get the set above for less than $10 here.

Paper Mate InkJoy Ball Point Pens

Another cheapie favorite. I use these for color-coded notes. These are only $3!

Mead College Ruled Notebooks

How darling are these? I have always been a fan of Mead paper, it is bright and doesn’t induce smudging as much as other paper I’ve used. You can find them here.

Sharpie Clear View Highlighters

Hands down the best highlighters I have ever used. They help keep my notes neat and beautiful! They are inexpensive as well, check them out here.

Kate Spade 2016 Agenda

This is the planner I wish I had. It’s definitely not as inexpensive as the other items on this list but it is worth the investment. Plus, it’s Kate Spade.. need I say more? Check it out here!

HP Wireless Printer

A good printer will make your life so much easier in college. Invest in one like this that’s wireless and enjoy stress-free printing all semester long!

Avery Binders

I love how durable Avery binders are. This one also happens to be pretty!

Post-it Note Tabs

I use these for all kinds of things! My favorite use is in my planner (each color representing a different area of my life). I also use these with my textbooks and my class notes. Somehow, even with all those uses, this pack lasted me an entire year. The possibilities are endless!

Divider Sticky Notes

SO helpful for notes. I have also used these in scrapbooks and my Smash Book journal!

G2 Pilot Pens

I love these so much for journaling and writing in my planner. The more colors, the better!

Washi Tape

I use washi tape in my planner, on scrapbook projects, and with my stationary. I absolutely adore this collection, so cute!

What do you think? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

XO – Sarah

How I Use My Planner by Sweet Southern Simplicity Blog

How I Use My Planner

19th January 2016

Hello friends! I have had a few questions recently about how I use my planner. My beloved, life-saving planner..

How I Use My Planner by Sweet Southern Simplicity Blog

I have always loved planners and agendas. They help me so much! I can’t remember anything unless I write it down so my planner is my go-to. I have used many planners in the past, including the Erin Condren Life Planner, but no planner compares to the Day Designer I got from Target last ‘Back to School’ season. Also known as my favorite “cheapie” planner.

Internet, meet my planner. 

– The pink background is actually cardstock and it’s interchangeable (The cover has a front pocket). I decided on pink and white for now since Valentines Day is right around the corner.
– The gold is a vinyl decal I designed in Silhouette Studio. I put it on top of my planner’s cover (versus on my cardstock) so it will always remain regardless of how many times I change my cardstock out.
How I Use My Planner by Sweet Southern Simplicity (My vinyl design messed up a little in the transfer process 🙁 )

I usually have the front littered with Post It notes of things I need to remember/add to my planner.

Here is what my monthly view looks like.
I use Post-it page flags to denote different events and actions in my life. I would suggest, for your sanity, to invest in Post It brand page flags because they stick so much better than any other brand (regardless of how cute 🙁 … Damn you Target Dollar section). Furthermore, they unstick so you can move them around if necessary. I ALWAYS have to move things around after I plan the month out.

In this photo I was using mara mi page flags, they were beautiful but unfortunately not as durable as the classic Post It.
Planner Month View | How I Use My Planner | Sweet Southern Simplicity Blog

Below is my weekly view.
Things get a little more exciting here. On the top of the page I denote which ink color represents each area of my life. Mine breaks down like this:

Aqua – Home / Personal
Lavender – Assistantship / Practicum
Navy Blue – Class / GSAP (Student organization)
Blue – My marketing job / Blog / Booth
Green – Bills / Personal (side hustles)

Planner Weekly View | How I Use My Planner | Sweet Southern Simplicity Blog

I adore the way the week pages are laid out. Each day has two sections “My Schedule” and “To Do (which has check boxes). It seems to work well for me and helps me stay on track. I organize my tasks and appointments by color. I also add important detail. For example, if I write an assignment down, I also denote its due date and other important details. On the bottom of the page there are four sections. The first is “This Week’s Top Three”. Next to that is an inspirational quote (which I always, always love). Then a notes section and a section for gratitude (which I also love).

In the back “Notes” section of my planner I keep some handmade budget planning worksheets and my goals. I love having it all in one place. It seems small, but it truly makes life so much easier!

If you would like to see what supplies I use for my planner click here.

That’s how I use my planner, how do you use yours? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a great, productive week! Plan On!

XO – Sarah


How to Prepare for a New Semester

12th January 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Confused? I’m talking about the beginning of the semester, of course! Call me a nerd, but it truly is my favorite time. It must have something to do with my love for office supplies and new beginnings. I’ve been going to school for twenty years now and I have just recently perfected the art of preparation. Here’s how I prepare for a new semester.

How To Prepare for a New Semester | Sweet Southern Simplicity

Write down your highs and lows of last semester.
I think this is an important step that is often overlooked. By analyzing what I did right and wrong in the previous semester, I can anticipate my struggles in the new semester.

Write down your goals.
Write them down, make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T, include some plans on how to achieve them, and keep them somewhere you can see them often. Here are mine from last semester.

 Invest in supplies that make you want to use them.
Here are some of my tried and true favorites! Find what works best for you and invest in it, it makes staying organized much more fun.

Personalize your supplies.

How to Prepare for a New Semester | Sweet Southern Simplicity

Okay, maybe this isn’t totally necessary.. but it’s so much fun! The above photo is of personalized notebooks for this semester. All hail the Silhouette Cameo, I’ll show you how to DIY soon!

Clean out last semester’s notes, etc.
Recycle what you don’t need, organize what you want to keep, and make room for the new!

I have a trusty planner that I use religiously. Between my classes, assistantship, practicum, and part time job it is absolutely necessary to plan out my semester ahead of time. Write down important dates for the entire semester. If you have your syllabus, go ahead and write down assignments and their due dates.

Order Your Books
Your life will be easier if you don’t procrastinate on this one. I order all of my books from Amazon because I have a Prime membership and I heart free shipping. Don’t forget to sell your books from last semester for a little extra cash! You can trade them in for an Amazon gift card, too!

I hope this helps you prepare for your BEST semester! Do you have other tips on how to prepare for a new semester? Let me know in the comments below!


Ten Things I Learned at my First CSA Conference

6th November 2015

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first professional conference, SACSA 2015 in Greenville, SC. It was such an incredible experience! I am already so excited to attend in Jacksonville, FL in 2016.

For those of you that are not familiar with SACSA you can find more information about it here.

Ten Things I learned at my First CSA Conference

I learned so much over the four day span. Many of those lessons were learned from the amazing CSA folks at UWG, but some of them were from experience!

Ten things I learned at my first CSA conference:

1. Travel Authorization forms are a real thing. Before you go to your first conference be sure to find out all the necessary financial pieces if you are eligible for reimbursement. If you don’t know what that is, do some research on your school’s website or ask a faculty member. The process can get overwhelming for newbies so planning ahead is key! That way, you don’t make anyone else’s job harder and you get your money back faster.

2. Plan ahead. This one is obvious but I’ll be honest, I did a bad job at this! I did not manage my time well and did not give myself enough time to pack thoroughly. I didn’t make a list and I didn’t think it through. I forgot the following items: my debit card, my toothbrush, an umbrella, chapstick, a padfolio/briefcase. All of which are pretty important when attending a conference for four days. Which brings me to my next lesson..

3. Be open to being flexible. I was not planning on waiting in Bank of America’s lobby for my new debit card for an hour the morning of the first day, but I did. I requested a toothbrush from the hotel’s front desk and got it for free. I ended up using a small journal and my purse as my conference supplies, it wasn’t my favorite set up but it got the job done! The point is, being able to work with what you have and being flexible with your methods will help keep you sane.

4. Do your research. Research the organization and some of the members before you go. It will prepare you for the conference and for networking! Networking is so important at conference, ensure that you have something valuable to add to the conversation.

5. Speaking of networking, don’t be afraid of it! I get so nervous about networking but it is SO IMPORTANT in the field of college student affairs. I have to continuously push myself out of my comfort zone to meet new CSA people. It is so worth it. I learned so much from the professionals and other graduate students I met this past weekend.

6. Quality over quantity. One meaningful connection is better than 100 random connections. It is not a competition to see how many business cards you can give out. There is no prize for that.  If there are specific institutions or functional areas you know you are interested in, find those people! And don’t discount networking with other students. I met some pretty fantastic and inspiring students this weekend and I learned so much from them!

7. It’s not a competition. Competitiveness can be really ugly, being supportive is always in style. People in your cohort may attend more sessions than you or they may connect with the mentor of your dreams. It does not matter. Focus on yourself and keep a positive attitude. I struggled with feeling inadequate compared to some of my other cohort members. That feeling could have ruined the conference for me, or my passion for student affairs if I let it. I am fortunate enough to have had amazing supportive friends there to remind me to not let it get me down and a counselor to reaffirm it for me when I got home.

8. Find your friends, but let them go. UWG has some rockstar CSA graduate students and I am so fortunate to call many of them friends. I would not have been able to make it through the weekend without them! I loved getting to hang with them but I didn’t stick with them the whole time. Going your own way will help you meet new people, grow your network, and learn something new. You can see your cohort at home, get out there and meet people!

9. You never know who’s watching. Save the negative and/or crazy for your hotel room!

10. Enjoy it! Don’t get so caught up in wanting to do everything that you burn yourself out. It is okay to skip some of the sessions and relax. I appreciated hearing this from my professors and multiple professionals at the conference.  Self care is always important and it’s especially important at conference. You can’t learn or network effectively if you’re exhausted, starving, and cranky.

I hope these tips will help any CSA newbies like me feel more prepared for conference. It can be intimidating but always remember you are there because you deserve to be there. You are there to help shape YOUR future. Own it!

XO – Sarah

“Let new adventures begin.”

Semester Goals

25th August 2015

Today was my first day as a graduate student. It’s crazy and hard to believe, but it’s real and I am so, so excited! I’ve been so busy working two jobs and doing my graduate assistantship (in the best office ever) that I haven’t even had time to panic about my first day of classes.

I had two classes today and man, do I have my work cut out for me! I am looking forward to them though, I can already tell I will be learning a lot.

I was planning out my assignments and papers tonight when I realized I hadn’t even nailed down my semester goals! Absurd!  I’m a firm believer in setting goals, so naturally this post is a list of my goals for my first semester of grad school. Hold me accountable!

Semester Goals on Sweet Southern Simplicity Blog

1. Develop a solid morning routine.
I am NOT a morning person. Not even close. Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice in the matter. I have to be a morning person from now on. I report to my assistantship at 9:00 am every weekday. I want to start waking up extra early and easing into the day so I am at my very best when I’m at work. This will also give me time to eat breakfast and pack my lunch so I will be saving money and eating healthier.

2. Avoid procrastinating.
I work well under pressure, but I do not enjoy it at all. I want to finish my assignments and papers with days to spare so I can edit and perfect them without the soul crushing stress.

3. Join professional organizations and get involved.
I really underestimated the power of professional organizations when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. I don’t plan on making that mistake in grad school.

4. Find a mentor.
This has been suggested to me many times. I have always been so intimidated by this, why would someone volunteer their time to me? Now that I am studying College Student Affairs I realize that many of my supervisors and professors want to serve as a mentor. That’s why they do what they do in the first place! So I am looking forward to being mentored and soaking up as much information as I can.

5. Blog consistently.
I would love for my blog to become a source of information for people interested in College Student Affairs. In order for that to happen I will have to blog consistently and have stellar content!

6. Really enjoy and soak up the experience.
I am usually so stressed out during school I forget to enjoy the experience. School is amazing!! If I don’t let stress and anxiety consume me I will be in for a great semester!

What are your semester goals?

XO – Sarah

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
-Nelson Mandela