Things to do in the Mesa Area and Arizona

You know how people say there is nothing to do in Mesa, well sometimes it can feel that way, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do in Mesa or around Mesa. Here are some of the fun things I have done and you can do as well if you find yourself bored with time

Golfland/ Sunsplash –  Cool off at Sunsplash Waterpark with 30 different attractions, or play year-round at Golfland with mini golf, race-cars, laser tag, bumper boats, pizza and arcade! Five minutes from campus, and you are there!

Stratum Laser Tag –  Mesa features a huge 13,000 square foot laser tag arena, that also includes an arcade and a snack bar. It’s only ten minutes from campus.

Salt River Tubing –  You park your vehicle, take a bus to a higher elevation of the river, rent inner tubes, and float down the river. Families, adventure groups, college students–all kinds of people from all walks of life join this floating party. Only 30 minutes away from Benedictine at Mesa.

Go to Saguaro Lake –  About 45 minutes away from Mesa, you can go cliff diving, boating or just relax under the sun.

Bowl at Brunswick:  $10 gets you two hours of Cosmic Bowling (Be aware of times as they do varies), shoe rental, great contests with prizes and more.

Skateland –  High-energy spot for roller skaters to skate and have a fun time while doing it with a snack bar, arcade as well.

Jumpstreet in Chandler – no not the movie, it’s an indoor trampoline park; unique and fun activity center

Riverview Park – Only ten minutes from campus, check out the brand-new Chicago Cubs Spring Training Facility. Take a walk, ride your bike, or have a picnic at the park where you can climb the 60 Foot Genesis Climbing Tower, 60 foot long caterpillar mesh rope climbing structure.

Tempe Town Lake – right across from ASU Sun Devil Stadium, you can walk the park, ride your bike, row a boat, or rent a paddle boat.  Great scenery

Hike one of the many mountains in the valley!! Camelback Mountain, Squaw Peak, South Moutain or the Superstition Mountains are all about 20 minutes away from campus. Just make sure to take water!

Now if you want to get out of town and drive a few hours into cooler temperatures there are options…

Slide Rock  in Sedona  – It gets its name from a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek, a must during your college experience be sure to bring lots of water, swimming shoes and be prepared for freezing, yet refreshing water.

Day Trip to Payson/ Flagstaff  Winter Time for snow:) – It’s hot here a lot of the time, and sometimes it’s great to get up to the mountains and see the green surroundings and explore what other Arizona cities or towns have to offer.

Any of these options should be fun ways to take up some time and learn more about Mesa, the East Valley and Arizona.




What to do Before College Begins

Going to college is an exciting new chapter in your life, but it can be frightening as well but as the rush of college life creeps up it’s easy to overlook a few things. here are a few things that should be done before starting your freshman year here at Benedictine University at Mesa.

The first thing to realize is that YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT! There is much more independence given to you as a college freshman that you may not have had in high school.  But you should understand that the professors don’t lose sleep on whether or not you attend class, do the homework, or you had to “use the restroom.” As a student, you’re there to learn and it is your decisions that affect how successful you are as a student. This summer, you will want to prepare for your newfound freedom. There are many things parents will do for their children they won’t be able to do while you’re gone at Benedictine. For example, if you don’t know how to cook mom’s favorite dinner you better get in the kitchen and learn how to, especially if you’re living in the dorms at the Marriott.  You can show off your amazing chef skills! Some other “Growing Up” chores would include setting up a bank account if you haven’t already done so; learning how to do laundry; or even getting a part-time job.

Connect with your BenU community. Your social life is a big part of the college experience. There will be multiple opportunities this summer to connect with other students and get involved. You won’t want to miss them! These events will help you meet new people and develop friendships for the upcoming year. College is what you make of it and it is said to be that the friends you meet in college will be lifelong friends. These are opportunities to help you start your freshman year off right. It’s scary enough as it is, don’t go through it alone!

The last thing you should do is just have fun!! Although it may be hard to say goodbye to your high school days as well as your high school friends, make the most of these few months before classes start this fall. A few things I did during the summer before school started include having a HUGE water fight with 50 or more friends! Water balloons, super soakers and Slip N Slides! Anything water! Guarantee you it’s the best time of your life. We also took random road trips, without any destination in mind, just be sure you have extra gas if you go too far out! We also enjoyed Sunsplash, went camping, took a trip to Six Flags, and attended sports games (Baseball/Football). These are a few fun things to do with a good size group of friends.  For the days the budget isn’t always on your side – AKA when the struggle gets real –  there’s still plenty of fun activities for you! For example we made a chorizo con huevos pizza! Come up with your own crazy ideas for pizza, hike the mountains of the valley, or volunteer at different charities and fundraisers.

This is the last summer the world will still allow you to be a “kid” before your life begins. Enjoy it but still finish what you need to get done to have a great freshman year. Enjoy your time you spend with family, get organized for the upcoming year and congratulate yourself for completing high school and entering a new/rewarding chapter of your life.

The Importance of your GPA and your Volunteer Experience

Maybe you’ve heard this somewhere before, “You have to get good grades or no…,” you fill in the blank. No phone? No Facebook? Perhaps, more chores??? What do your parents usually say to you? Whatever it may be, they’re saying it (and enforcing it) because they love you. They want you to be successful; graduate, go to college, get a career and have an awesome life! But, we know that it’s not all fun and games. It’s more than getting an “A.”

Grades are highly important, especially for those who are planning to continue their education and need significant financial assistance to pay for college expenses. I knew, since 8th grade, that if I wanted to go to college I was going to have to work hard for the next four years of high school so that I could get scholarships! I gave myself the goal of obtaining no less than a 3.5 GPA (I wanted to graduate with Academic Honors). My hard work payed off because I did graduate with Honors, plus I had been offered full ride scholarships to some universities that I applied to. But, it wasn’t just because of my excellent GPA. I received scholarships because not only did I have exceptional grades, but I was involved in the community as well. Being active and volunteering are just as important as getting good grades.

It is more than getting a 4.0. There are some things to keep in mind as you begin to apply for scholarships and universities. One, is to volunteer at places that are truly of your interest and that may relate to an area in your career interest. For example, if you want to be a doctor, volunteer at the children’s hospitals or something of the sort. And if you don’t know what career path you want to take, then try volunteering at different places and maybe that will help you have a more clear idea of what it is that you want to do– and even what you don’t want to do– for a living. Two, is get involved in extracurricular activities, whether that be school clubs or sports, music/drama, or something else. Try reaching for the leadership positions in those things because that will make you stand out among other students that apply to certain scholarships and/or universities. The more prestigious scholarships and universities look for uniqueness, so let them know about the most unique things that you are involved in or that you have done.

There can be a big difference between a 3.7 GPA and a 3.8. A college has specific guidelines for the admissions office for scholarship awards; they could offer different scholarships based upon one decimal point. It’s a bummer when a student has a 3.75 but not quite that 3.8, they were close but not close enough to getting a higher scholarship award. Volunteer experience works the same way as your GPA. Sometimes because a student has been involved in more things for longer periods of time, the scholarship board or the university admissions office will choose them over another student who has perfect grades but little or no service. So you see, it is equally important to have a great academic standing and to provide service to your community. You have to balance the two. Plan accordingly, don’t wait until senior year to do everything, starting as a freshman or earlier looks great to colleges and scholarship committees.

“Never settle for less than your best.”

Move In Day– 5 Things You Should Know!

Unbelievable! The summer is almost over and classes will be starting soon! Plus, some of you can say “Marriott, here I come!” because you will be living there for the academic year while attending BenU at Mesa. Everything seems to be going by so fast and sometimes the panic attacks kick in. What do I need to take? I wonder how my roommate is going to be! What about the meal plans? A ton of questions arise when “Move In Day” is around the corner. Here are five things/tips you should know to help you get rolling (and help you avoid the moments of panic):

  1. Pack the “Bare Necessities” as quoted from Zinch (a scholarship engine). In a dorm, the space is limited and eventually a ton of things will accumulate, for now pack the things that are absolutely needed; you do not want to overpack! What do I mean by “bare necessities?” Well, this includes items for shower/bath (hygiene), laundry, sleep, storage, a microwave and some entertainment. Here is a great website to utilize so that you learn “How to Not Look like a Freshman,” check it out! It includes– with more detail– what you should pack when moving into the dorms.
  2. Inform yourself about what is already being provided. Read the housing agreement and even the manuals. Go online and see what the expectations are, too. There are certain items that you may not be able to take with you. Also, don’t be afraid to email and ask questions about move-in day; you don’t want to regret not having known something. The Phoenix Marriott Mesa will be providing its student residents with the following:
    • Full-size bed
    • Desk and chair
    • Dresser
    • A 20 percent discount at Phoenix Marriott Mesa’s Café Azul restaurant and room service
    • A 20 percent discount at the coffee bar inside the Phoenix Marriott Mesa
    • Private bathroom
    • Mini-fridge
    • Free high-speed Internet
    • Flat screen and cable television

    You can also view this list and more on Benedictine University at Mesa’s Student Life web page at

  3. Make a list! Make that a ton of lists.  At this point in time, you are so overwhelmed about all the to-do items that making a list wouldn’t hurt, that way you don’t forget something (especially if you are moving far from home). Making various lists will help, too, because there are certain items you cannot leave behind from home and there are other items you don’t want to forget to buy at the store.
  4. Contact your roommate! It’s important to contact them not only because you will be living together in the same space for the next year or more, but also because you can share certain items to save space in the dorm. For example, two mini-fridges are not needed and neither are two microwaves. Decide on who can bring what and share!
  5. Have fun! I know that this is probably an obvious one, but sometimes with all the stress of moving out and moving in, we forget to smile or have a laugh every once in awhile. You want to make the best of your life transition to college, that includes move-in day. Yes, it is probably the most exhausting day of college life, but it is all worth the sweat in the end! Also, have fun by going to the events that are planned for the students for that day. Meet new people! Who knows, maybe you’ll find your soon-to-be best friend while you’re at it!

Deciding on a Major

“Nevermind, I want to major in Nutrition” that’s the last time I will change my mind, I told everyone. Well, after a million “neverminds” I finally figured out what my major would be. I am a Nutrition major and I am so excited to embark on to this new journey in life.

Now you might be wondering, how I came about my decision. Let me tell you, when it comes to big decisions like choosing a major aka what you’ll do the rest of your life; one might feel like the pressure is on. However, this is a time in your life where pressure should not take over, this is meant to be a phase in life where the student has an opportunity to analyze and visualize his or her future. In my case, I had “pick” about six majors before I enrolled at Benedictine University at Mesa and declared my major in Nutrition. Although I was not pushed to chose a major right away, as soon as I discovered that BenU at Mesa offered a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, I followed my heart and said “my major of choice will be Nutrition”. As you can see I was able to decide on my major right away, but that is something you don’t have to do. “Undecided” can be your decision for now, it isn’t a bad thing to be undecided regarding a major. If anything it is a better decision for you to hold off on the process, giving a precipitated decision to a college in regards to your major can be hurtful in the long run.

Some words of advice for all of you “undecided” majors; ask questions, explore your options and GOOGLE ON!!! While google, will not give you an automatic answer when you type onto the search bar “what should my major be?”, this can be a good place to start. Brainstorm about the goals you want to accomplish within the next few years of your life. Also make sure to jot down your long term goals, and find out about your options that will best lead you to your future success. Most importantly, during the times where you might be debating between an English major or an Art major, make sure that the choice you make, fulfills your passion for the career you chose. In the end, it all comes down to the same thing; everyone wanting to have a satisfying career, one that allows each graduate to enjoy their life as a professional individual.

Ultimately, follow your heart, let it be your guide, think smart and don’t let your concerns consume you. Instead, come into the office and ask about what each major here at Benedictine University at Mesa, has to offer. You want to make sure that four years from now when you walk on graduation night, your name will match with the major that your heart led you to!!!

-Best of luck, may your search for a major be a success!

YMCA Partnership

What if I told you that the student body here at Benedictine University at Mesa will be able to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle? Well you better believe it! Benedictine University at Mesa has started a partnership with the Mesa Family YMCA center. Yes, you heard that right; YMCA. I know, most of you automatically think: machines and weights and endless cardio. Except YMCA isn’t just a regular gym; with an extensive variety of group classes and activities to get involved in, Benedictine University at Mesa along with the YMCA are making it possible for all of our students to enjoy a place that is dedicated to variety of recreational events, as well as the sports programs being offered by BenU at Mesa. With a partnership like this one, students who attend Benedictine University at Mesa will be able to enjoy the opportunity to begin or continue with a healthy lifestyle; feel stronger and become the energetic student everyone wants to be.

From climbing a rock wall to strength training, the YMCA has it all. Don’t miss the great opportunities that BenU at Mesa offers you through the YMCA center. The minute you walk into the facility, you will find a friendly environment, and of course something interesting to explore and get involved with. As a current student at Benedictine University at Mesa, you will have full access to the amenities offered at the YMCA, and worrying about the cost for attending the YMCA is actually something that is already checked off from your “to-do list” or should I say your “to-pay list”. Benedictine University at Mesa, understands that as a college students, times can be difficult and budgeting might not allow you to afford a gym membership. For that reason, BenU at Mesa will pay the cost for students to attend the Mesa Family YMCA. What a deal!!! Right? on top of all the amazing benefits students are already getting, BenU at Mesa is also providing you with a gym membership.

Once again Benedictine University at Mesa is showing its commitment to enhancing the students’ life-experience, by adding the YMCA Recreation Center as an option for students to have a dynamic and well balanced life in “Mind. Body. Spirit.”





How to: File the FAFSA

FAFSA, there are multiple things you may be thinking of, and to answer your first question, no, it is not too late to file your FAFSA. Or, maybe your first question was, what in the world is FAFSA? FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid; it provides you with great financial support, whether that be by giving you grants (money that you do not have to pay back) or loans. However, having the FAFSA completed and submitted to colleges and universities also helps them determine how much financial aid they will be giving you. If you have not filed your FAFSA and are still stumped on how you are going to pay for college then what are you waiting for? It’s not too late!

But wait you say! I know, I may be going too fast and you are probably sitting there with a puzzled look on your face. Before you go and Google how to get started with the FAFSA, either click on this link to watch a video about the FAFSA and its process or watch it below; it will explain with more detail how to fill out the FAFSA and what documents are needed in order to complete the application. Also, in this link you will find that there are a total of five videos that are approximately three minutes long (or less) which all provide information about the process– before filing the FAFSA and after. Keep in mind that filing this application will take time and preparation. One of the first things that you will need to do is apply for a PIN that you will later use to log in and sign your FAFSA. (Please, never share this pin with anyone!)

There are a ton of facts about the FAFSA that if I were to tell you all, I would bore you. Plus, the FAFSA can be a little different for everyone, so I will list the basics. Here are a few of the basic requirements/needed items for the FAFSA:

  • Must be a U.S citizen or eligible non-citizen

  • Must have filed the most recent year’s federal tax returns and W2 forms from both parent and student (if student worked)

  • Bank information

  • Social Security

  • PIN (the one that you apply for prior to filling out the FAFSA)

This is very broad, hopefully the videos will provide you with a little more knowledge of how the FAFSA works. If you continue to have questions, you can either check out the Benedictine University at Mesa’s Office of Financial Aid website, contact a counselor, or post a comment here and we can help you.  Again, there is so much of information about the FAFSA that I would need to make a three day workshop to cram it all in. Yet, the resources mentioned above should help you get started and should help you feel more confident about the FAFSA process.

Please, please, please, if you have any questions just contact us. We are more than willing to help! We wish you the best of luck throughout the FAFSA process!