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So far Michelle Balaun has created 163 blog entries.

Happiest Time of the Year


We are approaching what is considered to be the happiest time of the year...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, other holidays, New Year’s… for many of us, it is a time of joy, reflection, and family. Holidays can also be a very difficult time for those who are alone and those who have lost someone. I was raised in a family that always welcomed friends to share in our family holiday time so now to be facing the holidays while trying to balance protecting our matriarchs in the family, is forcing us to redefine how we celebrate. 

Are Your Family Dynamics Changing?


When we dropped our daughter off at college, her dad and I and her younger sister drove away, tears streaming down our faces (well not her sister’s face). We’d return home as a family of three which took on a whole new personality. This was the first of many life shifts I came to understand. It took some time for us to adjust to the empty chair at the dinner table and to cooking for three and only having to chauffeur one child around. It was different. Not good different, not bad different … just different.

Top Tips for Finals Week


December is the best month filled with holiday cheer, amazing food, and time spent with family but before this fun time happens, students have to get through the struggles of finals week. If you are anything like my student, finals week is a stressful one. And with finals going virtual this year, some students may be taking them from home. We turned to our interns, many of whom are juniors and seniors for their top tips for finals week.

We’re Coming Home !!! Let’s Compromise.


Here we come, home for Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years, so we are going t need to compromise. For students, coming home for Thanksgiving this year doesn’t necessarily just mean a 3-day break where we come home on Wednesday and are gone by Sunday because most colleges have decided to go online after Thanksgiving. This means that we will likely not make our return to campus until mid-January of 2021, if not later if that is what we choose to do. Some students who have leases are choosing to return to school after Thanksgiving and ride out the three weeks of in-between. Students in dorms also have the option to come back, but others may choose to stay home. Most sorority houses will be open for the two weeks after Thanksgiving so women will have a place to take exams.

Tis the Holiday Shop Season


It is hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner. For this year’s holiday gift guide, we’ve sent out our interns to pull together an unscientific list of gift ideas… we’re just the messengers. We asked them for ideas and they gave us everything from lowcost to lavish, from the newest releases to timeless picks… from the usual to the unique. We’ve even included some charities to donate to as that is part of our family tradition. I believe we are all just hoping for a holiday filled with family, good health, love, joy, and blessings.

Best Holiday Gift Ideas for College Kids


We know how busy you are and how sometimes thinking about gift-giving is the last thing on the list. Coming up with a clever, thoughtful, and decent gift can be a challenge. HaveUHeard spends a lot of time coming up with great ideas for you and your college student. Then we find ways to save you money too. Most of our gift guides feature some kind of savings.  Take a look at these simple ideas, presented to you as a theme. You could theme your holiday and have everything surrounding just one theme. that certainly will narrow down all the speculation. Your kids will remember the yoga Christmas or the Apple Hanukkah. That just might make this 2020 holiday time easier to swallow. 

Stocking Stuffers for College Kids


I had a really big holiday stocking which meant lots of good loot! The heavy stuff always slipped down into the toe. There would be, an apple or orange, candy, funny stuff, useful stuff, and one really really good prezzi. Ok so here in Florida there aren't many fireplaces to hang stockings, nor are there many staircases to hang them from either. So you'll need to get creative! Let us know where you hang your stockings! While you're figuring that out shop for some of these great stocking stuffers for your favorite student!

25 Holiday Etsy Gifts


2020 might be the longest and quickest year we’ve endured, and to add to it, we’re almost at the start of the holiday season! The pumpkins are on display and now the turkeys are on their way (didn’t mean to rhyme there, but we love it). Are you wondering what gifts to hide under the tree or next to the menorah? Holiday shopping might be tough this year considering we rarely leave the house, but we’re loving anything personalized these days! Whether jewelry, custom loungewear, or household items, Etsy is our absolute go-to for the holidays!

College Majors to Pursue in Tough Times


I have been writing in the college space for over a decade. The content we often included online addressed future employment opportunities for various majors. Our go-to resource was, and still is, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We would look at specific occupations to find out which ones were the fastest-growing as well as the job outlook for specific industries.

Taking the Campus Tour


You may have already toured some of the colleges your student is considering, but once the acceptances start coming in, students have to make decisions as to where they envision themselves for real. Your students may have specific things that will help them weigh out the pros and cons of each college and they may be rather diverse from the things that you are interested in for them. Either way, taking a tour can help make a big decision.

Writing a College App Essay or Personal Statement


Imagine if colleges could personally interview all their applicants before deciding who will receive an acceptance or a rejection. It will surely give them a better picture of each student; a glimpse at what their grades, test scores, and formal resumes do not show. That is the purpose of the college essay or the personal statement. This is the place to showcase not only your writing skills but to expose a bit of who you are because you are surely far more than numbers. This is one of those rare times in life where you can essentially brag a bit.

Charcuterie Boards Loved by College Kids


When my daughter sent a picture of herself holding up the beautiful charcuterie board she made to share with some friends on her birthday, I admit I was rather surprised. I, or anyone I knew, would never have prepared, or probably known what a charcuterie board was, way back when I went to college. I knew she had a sophisticated palate, but I also liked to believe that the allowance I sent weekly was moderate enough that she was learning to eat on a budget. However, I also learned that charcuterie boards are “a thing” amongst the college sect and they can be put together on a moderate budget. 

Is Grad School the Best Option?


In a recent news story, it was reported that graduate school enrollment may increase in the coming months and years. Not surprised, because it seems like a positive thing for new graduates to do with their idle time if they can’t find a job. We still began to wonder if it is the best option. The truth is, we are all about furthering one’s education. The question; however, still remains as to whether the benefits of additional schooling will outweigh the prospective job opportunities during a) an economic turndown b) the hovering unprecedented times and c) the student’s chosen field. It’s not like grad school is suddenly going to be free; therefore, possibly, requiring student loans.

Graduating in 2020?


Graduating during a pandemic is not at all how I imagined starting my life as an adult. When I was a student at the University of Central Florida, I spent years fantasizing about how my life would be after graduation. I would travel for a few months before jumpstarting my dream career, making a lot of friends along the way. Instead of what I was daydreaming, I got the exact opposite. I couldn’t even finish my senior year of college in person. As soon as I left campus to go home for Spring Break, I never went back. I never got the chance to say celebrate downtown one last time, take my senior pictures, or say goodbye to my very best friends.

Grad School Housing is More Grown Up


Housing for graduate students is quite different than when they were freshmen. Many students switch schools for their graduate studies and that means new housing options. Graduate students generally no longer want to live in party central. Therefore, the usual places students live may be off-limits. There are a few things to consider. Graduate students generally want to live by the health center, law school, or wherever their classes will be. Many prefer to live in a house with roommates as it can more cost-efficient. Mostly, they do not want to live amongst undergraduate students and prefer quiet study-friendly atmospheres.

Deals and Coupons for Savvy Students and Parents


HaveUHeard provides the inside scoop from current students and parents; a been there, done that approach from trusted sources… A place to get information right at your fingertips instead of having to go searching on many other websites. We do an extensive amount of research in answering every question. But, we go the extra mile, bringing our own personal experience and provide practical real-life advice.

Chegg -A Smarter Way to Student®


From textbooks to tutoring, from writing papers to crushing exams, Chegg is A Smarter Way to Student®. This web-based education tech company provides digital and physical textbook rentals, online tutoring, and other student services. As a subscriber, you get access to step-by-step guides, 24/7 homework help, and more. With classes starting out predominantly virtual, it becomes even more important to make sure you have all the tools you need in place to succeed.

More Veggies Please


It seems to me that more people are becoming vegetarians or vegans. I recently tried vegan cheese and am delighted to report that I liked it! HaveUHeard that 1 in every 10 college students follow a vegetarian or vegan diet? It seems college students are more likely than the general public to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, so we wanted to be sure they knew where to locate their options. Veggies are good and good for you. Sometimes the choices on or around campus just aren’t that healthy. So more veggies, please! Whichever way works for your student; the good news there is plenty of veggies around the campuses. 

What is  – FAFSA?


For high school seniors who will not know what school they are attending, you can submit a FAFSA application for schools you are planning on attending and then update your application down the road. If your financial situation has changed since filing a tax return, do not hold off and starting the application process. You can discuss the change in finances with the financial affairs office once you know your student's school.

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Beer, You Don’t Beersay


For college students over the age of 21 and parents visiting their students, many of the college towns have some great breweries. HaveUHeard that the craft beer boom in the United States is growing, with nearly 7500 craft and macro breweries in the U.S. alone? According to this history of craft beers, many of the brews we enjoy today started in a basement or garage of a homebrewer.

Hotels…A Nice Place to Stay


When planning a trip to visit our kids at college one of the first things to get out of the way is making those hotel reservations. If it is a popular weekend, Homecoming, Parent’s weekend, or graduation, booking far in advance is pretty important. However, don’t be surprised if the prices are higher on those weekends. Be sure to ask for the price at your college. There are also other things to take into consideration when booking.

Safest Places to Visit Your Student This Semester


In all likelihood, the spring semester will look similar to the fall semester. Some may accuse me of being a negative Nellie; I prefer to just think of it as being prepared. Are you going to go a whole semester without seeing your student or are you going to strap on your face covering and go? Chances are you are going to visit your student, but truly there is no judgment if you choose not to. I, myself, am still struggling with the decision. If you do go, we got ahead of you and found some of the best and safest places to visit while you’re there. Of course, they are mostly outdoors, but we think that is a bonus. 

Ways to Combat College Loneliness


It’s not new information that college students are entering college with the highest rates of mental health issues in history. Issues related to anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse are plaguing our students at alarming rates. To add insult to injury, these same students are now having to navigate all of this while isolated and physically alone, due to precautions related to COVID-19. 

Best Coffee Shops at College


There is nothing like a good coffee shop. I’m not talking about the one pictured in countless Seinfeld episodes. I much prefer the one frequented on Friends. In real life, though coffee places have come to be so much more than a place to grab a cup of coffee. Need a place to study alone or with a small group; there are plenty of places around that will make you feel like you are hanging in your living room – without the distraction of your actual living room. Get cozy on the couches, or find one with a big farm table for your study group to gather around.

Top Ways for Students to Connect


The consistent message from students, parents, and many of us during this pandemic is we miss human contact. We are a social society as supported by the number of restaurants, bars, sporting arenas, shopping centers, movie theatres, and other large venues where the masses gather. So, when the pandemic started and we were on lockdown, that human contact came to an abrupt halt. 

Registering to Vote while at College


Students in a new city adapting to a busy college schedule, the voting process can seem daunting. As an 18-year-old freshman, most don’t even know where or how to register or where to go to vote! With an election year coming up, taking the time to go to the polls and vote is more important than ever. So, how can you do it? Each college has places to go for all things voting-related. They offer a variety of information from registering to vote to where to vote on election day, including information for students who are residents of Florida, as well as those from out of state.

Flu Season Ahead 


Nothing makes succeeding at school even harder than when our student gets sick. Forget coronavirus which we know is a possibility. Before this pandemic, the biggest concern was the Flu Season. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, vaccination rates on US college campuses fall well short of the target recommendation. Many colleges offer the flu shot for free with the Florida universities waging a Flu Shot competition last year in the first 4 U’s Fight the Flu- btw UCF won. 

Birthdays, Pick Me Up, Exams… Sweet!


Sweet, we love getting a treat! Is your student heading off to school for the Fall semester, or are you celebrating a special occasion, or do they need a pick me up from time to time as they transition to virtual learning? What’s better than a sweet treat that you can have delivered directly to them to curb that sugar craving and leave them with a smile on their face?

Places of Worship


When students leave for college, many of us wonder how, and if, our students will keep up the tradition of worship. Being able to continue to worship, pray, and adhere to their religious beliefs can be extremely important for several reasons. Having a place to worship on or near campus allows them to meet other students and have a spiritual mentor to turn to should they need guidance. Whether it is their first year away or even their last year, there are many religious challenges students face in college from observing the holidays and traditions that they typically celebrated with their families to finding the time outside of academics to incorporate religion into even losing their faith.

Nature vs Nurture – Great Natural Attractions


In the four years, your student will be at college, you will undoubtedly visit a few times. Often visits center around Parents Weekend or a football game, but HaveUHeard that there is far more to do at each college that may be just as much fun? And a great deal of it can be found outdoors. So the next time you visit, or perhaps your student just needs a little time off-campus, you might want to check out some of the parks, neighboring towns, or sports that aren’t college teams.

A Virtual Career Fair Is Well Worth Your Time


We have all had to get used to a lot of fundamental changes in the past few months in our work, school, and home lives. As we head into the fall semester with so many unknowns, one thing we do know is that the job and internship search for our students is going to be markedly different – indefinitely. And I believe that many of these changes are here to stay well after COVID-19 is in our rearview mirrors.

How to Interview Successfully


Few things are more exciting than being granted an interview with a company you are seeking a job with, but few things are also more nerve-wracking than that actual process. What follows is some overall advice to pass along to your children regarding successful interviewing strategies. Think about how you connect the skill you are illustrating to experience with specific examples. 

How To Ask For A Reference Letter


We are all guilty of procrastination from time to time, but what students often forget is how very busy professors, research advisors, and employers actually are in terms of their ability to provide a quick turnaround reference for a last-minute opportunity. I think students also fail to realize how incredibly long it can take to write a valuable reference that might make the difference between getting a job, scholarship, or graduate school position and not getting one. On average, I’d say these can take me anywhere from 1-3 hours. That is a big ask for already-stretched-thin people with multiple time commitments in any given day. 

How To Negotiate Your Salary


How exactly do you learn to negotiate? Negotiating anything does not come naturally to most of us, least of all recent graduates from college who are ecstatic just to have a job offer in hand. What follows is some overall advice to pass along to your children regarding how best to negotiate salary offers they receive from employers: First, make a budget for your overall expenses. Then, ask yourself, “What are my value-statements to pose to an employer?

Branding – Why It’s Like A Tattoo For College Students


Tattoo’s you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. They are a symbol, a representation of a generation, of experience, personal expression. College students usually have a few, right? I’m a branding mentor and I think the best way to explain branding to college students is to explain why it’s like a tattoo. Here we go, as a kid, this generation has grown up with the internet, social media, and all the positives and negatives that brings. They aren’t bothered by it and certainly are not afraid of it. They have been working at getting into college, studying and worrying about where this earth is going.

Dress For Success


As they get closer to graduation, one of the greatest changes our students are about to experience is abandoning their shorts, t-shirts and yoga pants, as they begin to dress for success in their new roles, or as my older daughter stated, for adulting. Dressing for success can be daunting in different ways, but the one that stands out most may very well be its cost.

Sorority Girl


Congratulations! Your daughter has found a place to call home even with recruitment being done virtually. And, while their social activities may be limited, being in a sorority opens the door to so many wonderful experiences. I made some of my greatest friends when I was in a sorority at UF. They continue to be a part of my life through all of my ups and downs, good times, and bad. To this day, some of them are among my closest friends. With Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with so many more. We have a tradition of meeting up in Gainesville for football games and sorority reunions and even gather locally to keep the fun and friendship alive.

Is There a Class on Money Budgeting?


The money call came in the fourth week of school when my freshman year roommate got a call from her dad saying that she spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars ever since school started. Trust me that was not a fun conversation to listen to especially since our beds were five feet apart and I literally had no option but too awkwardly listen to the conversation. Let’s just say, she learned how to budget really fast, maybe because her dad threatened to cut off her allowance but I guess we will never know for sure. 

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