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Pomp and Circumstance

Early Graduation and the Road Ahead

January 4, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

by Jessica Seals

After experiencing another Thanksgiving filled with laughter, tons of delicious food and family gatherings, I realized that graduation was right around the corner. Each morning, I hoped that the date would magically jump to December 17th so that I could walk across the stage and receive my bachelor’s degree; with all of my wishing, that day did arrive and all of my emotions hit me full blast.

I was excited to be done with my undergraduate work, I was nervous about potentially falling as I accepted my diploma in front of thousands of people, I was anxious to see what the future held for me and I was sad when I realized that I would no longer get to experience campus life anymore. Despite the fact that I was overcome with emotion, I sported the biggest smile as I proudly stood in line waiting for the graduation ceremony to begin.

Leading up to the commencement exercises, all of the soon-to-be graduates lined up backstage and I saw just how many students were aboard the same emotional rollercoaster as me. Some were so excited they could not stand still, some appeared sick to their stomachs and some tried to remain calm while clearly fighting back tears. When my name was called and I headed toward Memphis’ president to receive my diploma, my goal of obtaining a degree in less than four years – with several different honors, too! – became a reality. It was everything I’d imagined, plus so much more.

What happened next? I walked down the stairs (without falling!) and breathed a big sigh of relief. As I passed my seat, I felt extremely accomplished and wanted to keep the success I had as an undergraduate going for the rest of my life. With law school and internships on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time before the world sees just what I am capable of.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Cyber Monday Could Be a College Student’s Best Friend

by Jessica Seals

Waking up at 2 a.m. to stand outside in the freezing cold waiting for a store to open is a holiday tradition for some people. On the other hand, there are thousands of others who refuse to give up sleep to stand in a long line for an item that will sell out before they even get inside the store. That’s right: I’m talking about Black Friday and for those of you who are on tight budgets – aka almost all college students! – it may seem like this day is your only chance to get holiday presents at affordable prices...but it’s not.

After experiencing the fights over the most-sought after items every year on Black Friday, I decided to stop giving in to this “holiday” in favor of participating in Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). Retailers have noticed that the number of online purchases is steadily increasing; therefore, they put some of the same sale prices that can be found in stores online. This is great for college students because they can spend the day after Thanksgiving with their families instead of arguing with strangers. Win-win!

I have become a Cyber Monday proponent because I prefer to do all of my shopping from the comforts of my own home – far away from angry shoppers who try to snatch items from my cart while I am not looking. As store lines continue to grow longer and the televisions and game systems sell out even faster, Cyber Monday is becoming a more attractive option. I can almost hear sighs of relief from college students everywhere who are trying to juggle countless end-of-semester commitments!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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The Importance of Letters of Recommendation

by Jessica Seals

When I first began attending college, my agenda included getting good grades and making new friends. No one told me how important it is to establish relationships with my professors and up until my junior year, I did not put a great deal of effort toward creating and maintaining these connections. It was only when I began looking into law school admissions requirements that I noticed I would need multiple letters of recommendation from professors to complete my applications.

So what did I do? I began by taking more challenging classes with professors I already had so they could get to know me, my work ethic and future goals. Now that the law school application process is in full swing, I am fortunate enough to say that I have already designated which teachers will write my letters of recommendation. Though our relationships are now quite strong, I am also providing my resume so they can easily reference my past accomplishments as they write.

I have seen classmates struggle to get good letters of recommendation because they only did what they had to do to get by. If you plan on going to graduate or professional school, you will need letters of recommendation and it’s never too early to begin the process. Believe me, the law school application process is taxing but my stress level was cut down significantly because I made the right connections with my professors.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Graduation: A Time of Celebration or Stress?

by Jessica Seals

As I type this blog entry, I have less than two months of college left before I get my bachelor’s degree...and I am on an emotional rollercoaster.

When I first found out that I would be able to graduate a semester early, I was overcome with joy and during the summer, I could not wait to begin the fall semester and kept having visions of walking across the stage and smiling proudly as I realized all of my hard work had paid off. Although my excitement grows more and more each day, so does my stress level. Graduation is a wonderful time because family and friends gather to watch you close one chapter of your life and hear your plans of starting a new one. I am elated to know that everyone I care about will soon get to see how hard I have been working in school when they see all of the honors I’ve earned but since that day isn’t here just yet, there’s still much work to be done.

Although I am graduating, my workload has actually increased. I have to take the LSAT to get into law school and put together things such as my letters of recommendation and personal statements for my law school applications. I am very satisfied with the grades that I have made so far but the law school admissions process is pretty daunting and I often find myself frazzled when I think about how close the application deadlines are! I kind of wish I could hop in a time machine and go to May 2012 see how things worked out.

Behind all the stress, however, I know one thing is certain: I will make it through and when I do, the smile on my face will be even bigger and wider than it was at my high school graduation because of everything I’ve accomplished. Soon-to-be graduates, what are you looking forward to the most?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Go Out With a Bang This Semester

by Jessica Seals

By now, you’ve probably taken your midterms and realized that the semester is halfway over. The excitement from the thought of being even closer to a break from school and the holiday season can make any student decrease their work ethic. I have seen several instances where fellow classmates started off making near perfect scores on every assignment only to hit the halfway mark and watch their grades slip. It’s very common for a college student to let stress and other factors affect their performance during the second half of the semester; however, there are ways for students to end the semester just as strong as they started it.

The best piece of advice that I can give any college student is to relax. As simple as it may sound, taking a few minutes for yourself can be difficult with the fast-paced lives we live today but I noticed that when I did not overbook myself and set aside time to do something that put my mind at ease, I felt more relaxed when it came time to do my assignments.

Another way to end the semester strongly is to take my fellow virtual intern Radha Jhatakia’s advice and invest in a planner to use on a daily basis. Planners help you keep track of when everything is due and by knowing how much time you have left for each assignment, you can spend the rest of the semester planning out what days you will work on certain assignments. You’ll allow yourself time to make sure your assignment is perfect and avoid the stress and headaches that come from writing a 10-page paper the night before it is due.

The adrenaline rush that comes with beginning a new semester does taper off but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to slack off! Finding ways to ease your mind and giving yourself plenty of time to complete assignments can help you end the semester on a good note and keep your grades from dropping in the end.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

by Jessica Seals

Spending $500-plus on books every semester is enough to make any college student dread a new class schedule. After two semesters of spending that much on my books, I became determined to find a way to keep as much money in my bank account as possible. Of course, I made the decision to start buying my books from discount places online such as Amazon and eBay but I also wanted to see if there were other ways to keep from paying anything at all without having to rent books. I started reading blogs started by people who were once in my same position and found a bunch of helpful tips for earning extra money online.

It probably sounds crazy to say that I spend a great deal of time taking online surveys...but I do. After doing my research, I discovered sites such as Swagbucks, MyPoints, E-Poll surveys and Valued Opinions, which have users search the web and complete other activities in return for virtual currency and gift cards. I’ll admit I was skeptical until my first gift cards started arriving – and they actually worked when I went to redeem them! It took me a while but once I got the hang of it, I was able to redeem my points for Amazon cards that I use to pay for all of my books. I no longer dread the beginning of the semester because no money comes out of my pockets for school-related costs and beyond: I’ve also earned gift cards to restaurants and retail stores so I can eat and shop for free as well!

Interested? Give it a try...but understand that you’ll need to put forth some effort to reap the benefits. At times, I have spent all day on these sites (days when I don’t have class, of course!) and because of this extra effort, I’ve had more success. You may not have the same results but I still think it’s worth it to pass along this information and help other college students save money.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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The Death of the Library As We Know It

by Jessica Seals

Years ago, most college students did not have personal computers and they had to go to the library if they wanted to access information in an old periodical or journal. That’s not the case today: The majority of students own computers that allow them to write papers, put presentations together and do research on the Internet. All of this can be done in the comfort of one’s own dorm room, apartment or home, making the library a less utilized resource on campuses.

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to the library every month so that I could check out new books to read. Now that I am in college, I am ashamed to say that when I enter my school’s library, I am sometimes unaware of where I need to go. I am in my senior year and I have only visited the library a handful of times; however, I have encountered students who have been here longer than I have but have never been to the library or can count on one hand the number of times they have been there. I’ve had several professors encourage us to do our research in the library but most of us still prefer to research periodicals and journals in the databases that have been set up when and where it is convenient for us.

Whenever I do go to the library, I notice just how much the availability of personal computers has changed the usage of the facility. Very few students are in the library and I rarely see many looking through hard copies of books or periodicals. Most of the students in the library are using the computers to type papers that are due that day or using the computers because they do not have one or do not have Internet access at home. The library does have areas where people can form study groups and meet but this does not entice more people to stop in – after all, dorms have common areas that serve the same purpose.

With the declining popularity of libraries, I have to wonder how many of them we will start to see close their doors because people are not visiting them like they used to. Do you think this is a possibility as well or will libraries withstand the test of time...and technology?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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R.I.P (Almost) Laptops

October 5, 2011

R.I.P (Almost) Laptops

by Jessica Seals

Once upon a time, college students spent hours in the library researching information for their papers before sitting down to handwrite (or manually type out) their findings. Fast forward to the ‘90s, when computers appeared in classrooms everywhere and the Internet gained popularity as a research tool. Students have since opted for laptops to take with them to class and to study but although new models with better features are introduced each year, tablets may soon take laptops’ places on campus.

While doing group work in class recently, I noticed I was the only person in my group using a laptop while the other members were comparing the features of their tablets. After that day, I started paying more attention to the technologies people were using and I became aware of the fact that more and more college students are choosing tablets over laptops – or at least to supplement them.

Although many of the tablets currently on the market are expensive, people – even college students on limited budgets – are buying them. HP TouchPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Motorola Xooms, the brand new Kindle Fire and, of course, iPads, are flying off of shelves and into the hands of college students. Why? They are smaller and weigh less than traditional laptops, can serve as eReaders for digital textbooks and are far more discreet when being transported in a backpack (or on your person).

Like all technology, the price of these tablets will go down with time once more tablets are competing in the market but do you think they will eventually replace laptops completely?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Ways to Decrease Your Fear of Public Speaking

by Jessica Seals

Public speaking is one fear that gets the best of many college students. Students cringe at the thought of having to give a presentation alone in front of their peers or at the thought of having to take a speech-centric course, despite the fact that some universities require such classes for graduation. A fear of public speaking can put a damper on a college experience – students may shy away from classes they really want to take because they are too afraid to speak in front of the class – and while not everyone will become the world’s greatest public speaker, there are ways to ease your mind and become better at speaking in front of a crowd.

Shift your focus. If making eye contact with people is your problem, find an inanimate object to focus on. I’ve found looking at the wall or space in between two people helps a lot because it makes it seem like you are making eye contact when you really are not. The crowd will be none the wiser and you will be far less flustered.

Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your speech or presentation in front of a mirror before it is time to speak in front of your classmates. Practicing will make you more confident in what you have to say and instead of fumbling with your note cards, the words will just flow right out of your mouth.

Perform for friends and family. Once you’re comfortable delivering your speech or presentation to your reflection, try it out on family, friends or roommates. This will ease you into presenting in front of a live audience like the one you’ll speak to in class.

Some people never get rid of their public speaking phobia no matter how often they have to perform in front of a crowd. Once you realize that you are not the only one afraid to speak in public and the most effective ways to practice, your nerves will calm and you’ll ace that presentation.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Have a Question? Ask It!

September 20, 2011

Have a Question? Ask It!

by Jessica Seals

Most college students are afraid to ask questions in class because they are afraid other students will judge them. They are also afraid to query a professor outside of class because they’re nervous the instructor will get angry if they deem the question’s answer as obvious based on the course material covered. My advice: GET OVER IT!

The material a professor will teach at the beginning of a course serves as the foundation for the rest of the semester. If something puzzles you early on, you run the risk of not understanding the rest of the material that is related to it. If you do not ask for clarification, you will not score as well on exams and papers that reflect your knowledge of the topic and your final grade for the class will be lower than what you wanted because you spent the entire semester in a state of confusion.

I have seen students flourish after they have asked for help because they finally understand the material but I have also seen students give up after a few topics did not make sense to them. I personally do not care if other students feel a question I ask is obvious – if I’m not understanding something, I’m going to figure it out any way I can! – and after the professor has answered, I feel like I can do better in the course. An added bonus is that the professor (a.k.a. the person who calculates my final grade) has a favorable opinion of me because I expressed a genuine interest in what he or she was teaching.

In the long run, asking questions and getting help will get you much further than remaining silent and confused all semester. You can either ask questions in class or get help from the professor privately but you should never be too intimidated to ask for help.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. She is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. Jessica also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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