Julia Shappert | Official Blog


At College

Babysitting Basics

Babysitting is not just for teenagers. As a busy college student seeking an easy way to make quick cash, babysitting can serve as a wonderful part-time job. If you have a love for kids, a dose of responsibility, and exploration for the inner child in you, babysitting is right up your alley.

What is your criteria?

What is your pay rate? Are you going to babysit at other people’s homes or your own? How far are you willing to drive to someone’s house? What days and times are you planning to babysit? Are you offering to tutor, drive, prepare meals, clean the house, or bathe the children?  What ages do you specialize in? Figure out your babysitting plan. This way, you’ll know exactly what to say to parents who want to find out more information about you.

How do I get started?

Advertise that you are a sitter looking to be hired. Figure out what days and times you’d be available to work, skills and experiences that make you a qualified candidate, references, and contact information. A resume or outline works to organize your portfolio. Flyers, Facebook, and also work wonderfully.

Search around and find parents in need of a sitter. Ask nearby neighborhoods, churches, daycares, and schools if they know anyone with younger children that need to be cared for .

Become certified in CPR and First-Aid. You never know if an emergency will arise when you’re on the spot. Showing that you have credentials such as CPR and first-aid will give you the upper hand in landing a sitting job. Children’s safety is of upmost importance and parents care that you’ll be qualified to keep them safe. Red Cross offers an informative day-long certification program that is easy to complete.

Interviewing Tips

  • Remain calm and confident. Meeting the family can be intimidating initially if you don’t know what they are like, but demonstrate kindness and professionalism when you meet them. Show them that you are a responsible, caring adult and feel capable to care for their young ones.
  • Come prepared with questions to ask the parents. What does a typical day-in-the-life look like for the kids? What things do they enjoy? Are they allergic to any foods? Asking good questions will show the parents that you want to be prepared for the job.
  • Show up on time and dress appropriately.  If you were  interviewing for a new sitter to care for your children, would you hire someone who arrived 10 minutes late in unkempt clothing? Or, would you feel more confident in a person who showed up on time and dressed nicely? First impressions can definitely influence whether you get the job or not.

     Typical Interview Questions from Parents

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What previous babysitting experience do you have?
  • Have you worked with difficult children?
  • How do you handle conflict? Misbehavior?
  • Are you good with pets?
  • Will you be available to drive my kids to (school, sports, church, etc.)?
  • What does your schedule look like?

     The Babysitter’s Ultimate Packing List

Kids love new toys, food, movies, games, and activities. It gives them something exciting and different to do for a change.  With that being said, make sure you ask for the parents’ approval for anything you anticipate on bringing. Here are some key suggestions that I would recommend as a general guide.

  • Puzzles
  • Paper and crayons
  • Beanie Babies, dolls, or action figures
  • Stickers
  • Children’s books
  • Snacks
  • First-aid kit
  • Pen and paper
  • Cell phone (for emergencies)
  • Copy of child’s daily routine/schedule

      Key Points to Being a Great Babysitter

Keep them safe. This is your number one priority. Make sure everything is baby-proofed, all doors are locked, and any potential hazards are out of site.  Never leave children unattended.

Stay off your cell phone and laptop. You are being paid to give your full attention and energy to these kids – not by texting your boyfriend or browsing YouTube. Be there for them and have fun!

Stick to the schedule. Believe it or not, kids are built into a routine if their parents implement it. You don’t want to mess it up. They are programmed to eat and sleep at certain times. Throwing off their daily habits can be detrimental to their eating and sleeping patterns.

You must demonstrate tough love. As a babysitter, you are a temporary parent. You are there to love, play, and care for the children. But, you are also there to abide by the rules and let them know when they are misbehaving. Saying “No” can be hard. Yes, the kids might cry or throw a tantrum if they can’t stay up late or eating ice cream for dinner. But, you must do what is right and necessary.

Babysitting can be hard work, but it is definitely worth it.

Take care!




Questions to Ask a Potential College Roommate.

For my freshman year of college, I was so nervous about whom I would room with and whether we’d get along. Luckily, I was blessed with an amazing young lady to room with! We met each other during a spring welcome bash for high school seniors, communicated with each other via Facebook during the summer, and signed paperwork to be freshman roommates before the fall semester.

Your dorm is basically your home-away-from-home. It should be livable, comfortable, and welcoming. Part of that equation is having an awesome roommate to accompany you (unless, of course, you are one of the lucky few who gets a dorm all to yourself). So, a roommate can truly make or break your college-living experience. Whether you’re looking for a compatible roommate or already have someone in mind, these vital questions will give you both insight about whether rooming together is a good idea. The more you have in common, the easier living together will be.

1.) Are you a morning person or night owl? It won’t do anyone much good if one of you is trying to sleep and the other is watching Netflix at 2AM.

2.) How organized or messy would you consider yourself? If you consider yourself a  neat freak, a sloppy roommate will give you a heart attack. 

3.) Do you plan on studying mostly in the dorm? If so, your dorm should be a sanctuary of silence and concentration.

4.) What music do you like listening to? Classical and punk rock don’t really jive together.

5.) Do you see the dorm as a social space or a private place? Unless you set specific days and times for socialization in your room, it will be hard to find that middle ground.

6.) Do you like to party? This one is pretty straight-forward.

7.) Do you smoke? Technically, smoking isn’t allowed period in the dorms or at all on smoke-free campuses. Just saying.

8.) Outgoing or introverted? You don’t want a roommate who talks your head off if you want peace and quiet; or one who would rather not talk at all when you must converse with someone. It gets awkward and frustrating.

9.) Does music or silence help you study? Keeping in mind that both of your do homework in your dorm, having similar study habits will be extremely helpful.

10.) Do you snore? There’s nothing wrong about snoring if you can both sleep through it. If not, this could be an issue.

11.) What time do you see yourself waking up and going to bed around? Being on a similar schedule with your roommate keeps away any early-morning or late-evening surprises. 

12.) What larger appliances are you intending on bringing (TV, refrigerator, vacuum, etc.)? There is no need to bring two of everything. You can learn to share. Plus, your dorm room only has so much floor space.

13.) What are some of your pet peeves? It’s good to cover what gets on their nerves and how to prevent those things from happening.

14.) How often will you go home on the weekends? This isn’t a deal-breaker question, but it can give you insight about how often you’ll have the dorm to yourself…which could  either be reliving or depressing for you.

15.) What are your likes, interests, passions, concerns, etc.? Like I’ve mentioned several times before, having many commonalities will help you two keep the peace and get along well.

16.) Do you have a boyfriend? If so, how often and how long will he visit? Am I going to be kicked out of the dorm during those times?

17.) What student life organizations to do you see yourself participating in? It would just be nice to know if you’re interested in the same activities.

18.) How do you feeling about sharing things? Yes, you may share my fridge. No, you may not eat my ice cream.

19.) What are some ground rules we need to set as roommates? Forming rules creates boundaries and routine for both parties to follow. What chores is each person responsible for? What time is “lights out”? When can friends come over?

20.) Is there anything else I should know about you that would be important for me to know as a roommate? Are you scared of the dark? Allergic to any foods or medications? Do you own a car? Any health conditions?

21.) What classes are you taking? Roommates that study together, stay together.

This list will be your best friend for selecting an awesome roommate! Best of luck.


Top Tips for a Stress-Free School Year: College Edition

Summer is breezing by, which means there are a couple months left before school is in session. Vacation and free time are great, but you can also make the most of your summer by preparing for the upcoming school year. Here are my top tips for an awesome, stress-free back-to-school experience.

Excel1.) Create a schedule with all your classes, work hours, and extracurricular activities. I use Excel spreadsheets to form my weekly schedule. CollegeRuled, myEdu, and GradeTracker also offer free class scheduling tools. This will give you an at-a-glance view of what a fixed week looks like. You’ll also be able to spot any free periods in your day for socializing or studying.

2.) Make a list of everything you need to buy prior to moving back to college. My biggest piece of advice is this: Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping for school! Getting as much as you can in advance will save you time and stress. I know it sounds simple in theory, but putting it into practice is harder than it seems. The list piles up quickly when considering school supplies, dorm needs, clothing, etc. Shop early so the chances of you forgetting something down the road are slim.

3.) Figure out the books you’ll need for your courses! Assuming you know what courses you’ll be taking next semester, you should contact your teachers/professors or look up your college’s bookstore website and complete an in-depth search of the textbooks you’ll need. I try at all costs not to buy my textbooks from the bookstore since they tend to be more expensive. Go to to compare different carriers that have the textbooks you need. It really helps with finding the best bang for your buck when it comes to books!

4.) Know your dorm and your roommate(s) ahead of time. If you’re in college and living with roommates, brainstorm together ahead of time about your future living quarters. You’re probably not going to need two refrigerators, two TVs, or two vacuum cleaners. Make a plan on who is going to bring what. Decide who is sleeping where. Get to know each other so move-in day isn’t awkward.

5.) Look for scholarships NOW! Free money is truly glorious – especially when it comes to hefty college payments. It’s never too late to start perusing various scholarship search engines. See what scholarships are offered through your school, community, or state. Keep in mind that you have a better shot at winning a scholarship in your local area than a $1,000 no-essay, no-GPA required web-based one that hundreds of applicants enter.

6.) Update your resume! If you’ve had any recent summer jobs, internships, leadership trainings, summer classes, or volunteering opportunities, don’t forget to add these experiences to your resume.

7.) Review over any course material that you might struggle with. For example, if you are scared about taking College Algebra, master the basic concepts now. Look over past notes in high school, watch lessons on YouTube or Khan Academy, or (if you’re lucky enough to get textbooks in advance) skim over books you’ll be using for the upcoming class to familiarize yourself with the content.

Don’t dread school. Learning is a wonderful gift! Hopefully, some of these tips will put your mind at ease for a more prepared educational experience. Take care!


Overcoming Homesickness

If there is anything sadder in college than tuition costs, it’s saying goodbye to your loving  family for months on end. Homesickness seemed to be a talent of mine for several years. I was never one to be excited about leaving my parents and sisters for camp or college. Somehow, though, I managed to wipe away the tears and turn my frown upside-down during these tearful farewells.

Leaving loved ones for an extended period of time is never easy, but there are a number of ways to make the living transition manageable. All of these tips helped me overcome homesickness at camps, college, and other prolonged experiences away from home.

1.) Stay busy. You’ll be prone to feeling down in the dumps if you are moping around with nothing to do. Keep your mind and body energized. Give 100% effort and enthusiasm in all your activities.

2.) Meet new friends. An unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people can make anyone feel uncomfortable. These new surroundings can leave us feeling like we’re lost on a foreign planet away from the comfort of our homes. This means it’s time to extend your hand and introduce yourself to other people. I’m sure there are students or campers experiencing the same anxiety and sadness that you’re feeling. Meeting new people can be very rewarding because once you have friends, you have new family. 

3.) Get involved on campus. If you are at college, you can’t expect to spend four years of your life on campus without doing something productive (besides getting an education, of course). Go Greek. Play a sport. Sing in the choir. Try out for cheerleading or work for the school newspaper. I have three reasons right off the top of my head why involvement is crucial. 1) Meet people with similar interests. 2) Develop your leadership skills. 3) Stand out on your resumes. BOOM.

4.) Talk with a friend or counselor. If your are feeling blue, talk with someone! Share how you are feeling. Releasing your immediate emotions can clear your mind and heavy heart. Whether it’s another camper, close friend, or counselor, all of these people will be there to listen.

5.) Bring a few special keepsakes from home along with you. This might sound silly, but I literally made a crayon drawing of the outside of my house and took it with me to 4-H camp when I was nine years old. Even to this day, I’ll bring some stuffed animals and photo albums to college to help me make it through the first couple weeks of classes. These all made home feeling closer to me and calmed my nerves down.

5.) Communicate with loved ones back at home. Hearing my family’s voices over the phone or Skype hits the soft spot of my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I tear up when I hear or see them. Daily communication with them seems to dissolve the physical distance between us when I’m at school.

6.) Kindly ask for care packages or mail. Goodies mailed with love and delivered from loving people is just lovely. I felt like a little child at Christmastime when I received one from my parents! Letters, comfort food, and little odds and ends to get you by the semester are all awesome. Even more awesome are the people who sent them to you. It’s all awesomeness. All the more to feel connected to your folks.

All of these methods of madness have helped me cope with missing my Ohio home. Hopefully, they work for you, too!


Make Straight “A”s in School!

grade-32015385563_xlargeWho doesn’t like getting “A” grades in school? Academics has always been a priority to me and it’s a wonderful feeling when my grades reflect the hard work I’ve put into studying. I cannot suggest that every single one of these tips will guarantee straight “A”s. However, with a little patience, hard work, and smart studying, you’ll be on your way to more efficient learning and hopefully better grades.These are techniques I use on a daily basis.

  • Keep a clean desk. How are you going to study with a mess piled onto your studying space? Desk organizers and shelves are great ways to stash school supplies in easy-to-access places without cluttering your desk.
  • Don’t multitask between assignments.You’ll just give yourself a headache by bouncing between assignments. I’ve tried doing this all too often and end up finding myself on Facebook each time. Give your full attention to one assignment at a time.
  • Take periodic breaks. We can only work on something for so long before losing concentration and daydreaming. Step away from your studying every once in a while and take a breather…..but not for an hour.


  • Take notes in class. Keep a separate notebook for each class and label the course name on the cover page so you don’t get confused. Write down vocabulary terms, quantitative problems, and important pages numbers to refer back to when reviewing for exams.
  • Sit in the front of the class. You get the best seat in the house! You can see and hear everything that is going on during the lecture without having to peep over people’s heads or deal with the rowdy bunch that talks to each other.


  • Keep away from distractions. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, phone, TV, IPod, snacks, etc. You get the drift. Anything that doesn’t keep your full attention on the project at hand should be turned off and stashed out of sight. If your dorm room or bedroom is too distracting as it is, go to the library or some other quiet place that allows you to give full attention to homework.
  • Look at your syllabus and mark due dates somewhere visible. Know when assignments are due and write down these dates in a planner, Post-It note, or anywhere visible for you not to forget. The last thing you want to have happen is to start writing a 10-page paper the night before it’s due. Plus, knowing the dates ahead of time will give you a mental timeline on how long you have to work on a project.
  • Become friends with your professors. Ask them questions after class when you’re confused. Attend their office hours. Email them. You will make an impression by taking the initiative to do well in a course and you will feel 10x better grasping problems you once had trouble with. Plus, professors want to see you succeed. It’s truly not their goal to fail you.


  • Study with other students. Unless it’s hard for you to separate socializing from studying, working with others can help you solve answers to questions you have and to teach others what you know about a topic. Working in groups can be productive if you find studious friends that are willing to meet up!
  • Create your own study guides or outlines. If you are preparing for an exam, look over all the chapters and important notes you’ve taken to compile a review sheet that you’d expect to cover most material on the test.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Yes, this one can be hard, but I recommend doing your least-favorite assignment(s) first. This way, the smaller, easier stuff feels less daunting and more manageable to complete. It’s like ripping off a bandage. It might be painful, but then it’s over.
  • Work on the hard, time-consuming assignments when you are most productive. Do you think best in the morning or evening? When do you usually accomplish most of your work? We all have a time of day when we feel most productive. Use this time to your advance. FYI, your most productive time does not include 3AM. You should be sleeping.
  • Get enough sleep. If you complete daily homework during your most productive time of the day, and don’t procrastinate on large assignments, you have absolutely no excuse for pulling an all nighter. College students should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night for better concentration and alertness the next day. Zzzz……

I know that was a mouthful of information, but I really hope these tips are useful! Take care.


Online Schooling was Right for Me

Unlike most students, my formal education growing up was not in a traditional brick-and-mortar school. That’s right! I didn’t experience school bus rides, study hall sessions, cafeteria lines, recess, or snow days. In fact, I never really encountered what most students went through growing up academically. Instead, I was traditionally homeschooled from preschool through 3rd grade. Then, my family enrolled me in an online public school called the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) for 10 years after that.


Online education is definitely not for everyone, but it was the perfect fit for me and my family. I’ve had plenty of friends, family, and strangers who were solid advocates for traditional schooling methods question this alternative. Nevertheless, I still graduated with a cumulative 4.0 GPA and ranked 5th from my senior class of over 800 other virtually-educated students. There were (and still are) a number of lies I’ve faced about online schooling that I can disprove from my personal experience.

Lie #1: You are antisocial. I may be quiet at times, but I am far from antisocial. In OHVA, there were a number of face-to-face events (dances, picnics, bowling outings, etc.) that I could easily befriend other students. I formed a good circle of friends during my high school years that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. Don’t let my quite nature fool you. I am very approachable and personable. 🙂

Lie #2 : Online school is a joke. Actually, I learned and experienced more about independence, responsibility, integrity, and self motivation being virtually educated than I would have otherwise. I didn’t have my parents or teachers right by my side telling me to complete my work. So, if I wanted to make good grades, I had to read the material, reach out to teachers with questions via email or phone, and promptly turn in assignments electronically. Even at college, I still apply the study skills I’ve acquired through OHVA, which seem to be serving me well.

Lie #3: You are not well-rounded. Outside of my academics, I was involved with 4-H, choir, pageantry, youth group, ballet, jazz, swim lessons, and art classes. Within OHVA, I was in the National Honor Society, math club, student council, and the school newspaper*. You’d be surprised about how much you can do when you’re virtually educated!

Lie #4: You are not ready for the “real world”. The skills I’ve formed through my studies combined with my involvement in extracurricular activities has made me very well-rounded and enthusiastic about learning. When beginning freshman year of college, I made an effort to jump right into student life and meet other people. To this day, I have excelled academically, formed friendships that will last a lifetime, and continue to grow as a leader in several student organizations.

Really, online education is what you make of it. If you are going to be a couch potato, and not turn in assignments, the fault is yours. This is one reason online education is not for everyone because some people need the motivation and structure from traditional school systems to do well academically.

Signing off,


*DISCLAIMER: Not all online schools are as well-established as the Ohio Virtual Academy. I was fortunate to be enrolled through a school that provided extracurricular activities and honor societies, but I cannot guarantee those opportunities for all other virtual systems.

“Major” Changes as a College Student

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Inc.)

Oh, the joys of being an indecisive college student. Trust me, I have gotten better at decision making, but it has taken some time. As of the date I’m publishing this blog, I will be entering my junior year of college. Gosh, am I seriously already an upperclassman?

The journal entry below is about me reflecting over my freshman year of college and how changing my major is not a sign of defeat but an opportunity to discover what my calling in a career truly is.

May 5, 2014
As I wrap up my freshman year of college, I can easily say that I am not the same person I started out. I’ve learned to adapt to my surroundings and live in a vibrant southern culture different from my own Buckeye state. I have gained such independence living 800 miles away from home and forming a second family at Huntingdon. Turning in homework has been no match for me and having to wake up at 6:30AM every other morning has become manageable. I am a Dean’s List of High Honors student, sorority sister, choir member, Campus Ministries singer and musician, and Miss Huntingdon 2014.
Something has taken a turn in my life, though. I have met with a reality that brought me to a brick wall: I don’t have my life figured out. I made a decision that thousands of college students do – switch majors. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve heard me correctly. I came head on with the realization that neither teaching nor mathematics is what I was meant to do as a career. 
From my experiences observing in schools, I’ve gained insight that there is a huge difference between teaching students and presenting information to a group of people. I loved the communication aspect, but guiding and nurturing a classroom of students was not what I desired. My mom and other friends have always told me that having a passion for teaching comes naturally and something someone is born with. I never had a gut feeling telling me a teaching career was my thing. So, I switched majors to Communication Studies. 
My thought process was simple. If I wasn’t going to be happy with a career choice, then why should I be majoring in it? Thinking outside of my two-year fixed mindset of being a secondary teacher, I decided that this question was valid and contained a whole lot of truth to it. I only seek happiness in life and whatever God is calling me to do. The fact that I figured this change out now instead of my junior or senior year is a blessing. 
So, I present you with a profound, yet simple question: Are you going to be happy with the life you wish to live? I thought for the longest of time that teaching was for me. However, it was though experience and observations that proved me wrong. I do not currently know what I will be doing in life, and that scares me to the bone. However, knowing what I plan on doing in life is only as important as know what I am NOT going to do in life, and I’ve figured out that much so far. 
Since then, I changed my major a couple more times before finally deciding on Business Administration. Do what you love because if you don’t stick with something that you enjoy, you are going to be unhappy at your work. That’s never fun.
Until next time,

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