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Planning Your Final Semester

January 18, 2012

Planning Your Final Semester

by Jacquelene Bennett

It is a new year, which means new classes, new professors, new people and new adventures but for some of us, this January marks the beginning of the end: It is our last semester of college before we go out into the real world.

That day isn’t here quite yet, though, and we soon-to-be graduates still have classes, homework and the responsibilities of extracurricular activities on top of applying for jobs or grad schools and taking care of last minute graduation stuff. In addition to all the work, we still want to spend time with our friends, go on spring break, relax and just have fun. So how do you do it all without going crazy?

I'm not an expert but I am quickly learning that the key is to prioritize. Make a list of all the things that you need to do – think: class assignments, preparing for tests, etc.) – and schedule when to do those things. With this method, you will know when you have to be serious about your school work and when you have time to kick back a little.

I personally have come to adopt a "work hard, play hard" strategy: I work hard by getting all my school work and studying done before and after classes, applying for jobs and taking care of any administrative stuff during the week and then I have the weekend to hang out with friends and have fun.

Just because this method works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you - we all have different goals and there really is no “right way” to handle your last semester. Take the first few weeks to determine your path but I recommend organizing, prioritizing and scheduling your commitments and leisure activities. You may not have time to do every single thing you want to do exactly when you want to do it but you’ll come pretty close!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Starting a Class Discussion

November 30, 2011

Starting a Class Discussion

by Jacquelene Bennett

Few things are worse than sitting in a boring class with a professor droning on and on. The good news is that unless you are in a lecture hall with hundreds of other college students, you can almost always change a dull lecture into an informative and exciting class discussion.

How do you do this? First and foremost, be sure you've done the homework and assigned reading. If you are prepared, you can properly discuss topics covered in your assignments that are interesting to you but include information your professor might overlook. Some professors may not like that you are interrupting their planned lectures but others will welcome a fresh opinion that supplements the course material and engages a less-than-captive audience.

Next – and really this applies to any discussion you have in life – you have to ask questions. Again, you have to have done the homework in order to ask the right questions but asking questions WILL start a discussion. I am taking a class that I absolutely hate but I’ve discovered that it’s tolerable if I ask a lot of questions. It forces the professor to expand on certain topics and allows your classmates to think about the subject or reading in a way that they wouldn’t have on their own. The key is to not ask your question directly to your professor but to frame it in a way that allows anyone in class to answer.

Don’t want to jump right in during the lecture? Approach your professor before class, tell them that you found a certain aspect of the homework interesting and would like to get the whole class’s view or interpretation of it. Rarely will a professor say no so go for it!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Three Tips to Ease Your Mind on Test Day

March 13, 2012

Three Tips to Ease Your Mind on Test Day

by Jacquelene Bennett

SAT, ACT and AP these are all acronyms for the tests that many high school juniors and seniors are gearing up to take in the next few weeks. While these tests may not be fun, they are important because they help determine which universities and colleges you get into and whether or not you’ll receive credit for intro classes. So to help ease the pressure of taking these tests, I am here to offer a few helpful pieces of advice.

  • Go over the basics. This tip applies to any and all tests regardless of subject. There are always fundamental terms and concepts that will be part of any test, such as certain grammar and punctuation rules or simple math concepts. Reviewing these basic elements beforehand will help you on the test.
  • Practice your timing. These tests are timed and since you know about how many minutes you have for each section ahead of time, use that info to your advantage: If you are taking the SAT or AP English test, practice writing as essay in 25 minutes or fewer. Timing yourself when you are studying or taking practice tests will also help you when you are taking the real test.
  • Don’t freak out. I know that this isn’t an actual test prep strategy but being relaxed while you take the test will result in a higher score. Making sure you get a good night’s sleep and eating a substantial meal beforehand will also help you out when you go to take these tests. This may seem like common sense but so many students still pull all-nighters and skip breakfast on test day. Don’t be one of them.

In addition to these tips, don’t forget to be confident and easy on yourself. I know it may seem like these tests are be all and end all factors when you’re trying to get into college but they’re not. There are other factors that determine admission and you can always take some of these tests again for better scores!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Is an Independent Study Right for You?

December 8, 2011

Is an Independent Study Right for You?

by Jacquelene Bennett

Going to college means that you have the freedom to study whatever you want. Universities offer a variety of classes for students to take in a multitude of different subjects but what they will rarely tell you is that you can create your own class – it’s called independent study.

Independent studies allow college students to work one-on-one with professors and basically create their own classes for the semester. You decide what you study, what books to read and what sort of projects and papers you will do. I have a friend who created an independent study course around her study abroad experience. She wrote poems about the places she visited while abroad using pictures she took and the journal she kept while traveling. Her independent study course was not only four credits but it was applied towards her creative writing degree as well. I have another friend who created an independent study course that was basically just one big research project: She picked a topic in conference with a professor and spent the entire semester researching and writing a paper.

One huge positive about independent study courses is that if you have the right faculty support, you can create a class that will satisfy certain requirements and go towards your degree. The best part about an independent study course, though, is the fact that you get to choose what you study and how you spend your time – you don’t have to go to class every other day but instead you meet with a professor every other week. This is an excellent option for students taking more than the average course load to graduate early, satisfy double major requirements or work toward an individualized major.

Of course. there are down sides to independent study courses. You have to be able to manage your time and the projects you do for the course, as your final project will often determine your grade. If you can handle this responsibility, I would definitely recommend looking into designing an independent study course.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Missing Classes in College

November 4, 2011

Missing Classes in College

by Jacquelene Bennett

Being sick, waking up late, doctors’ appointments and myriad other reasons prevent us from going to class some days but I am here to tell you not to worry. That’s right: It’s okay to miss class...as long as you do so responsibly (aka not every day)!

One perk of being a college student is that unlike high school, you can miss class without a reason or consequence. Not to sound too harsh but professors don’t really care why you missed class but they will notice when you aren’t there, even more so in a smaller, discussion-style class. If you have to miss class for any reason, however, your professors do want you to be responsible about it so if you know that you are going to miss class on a day when an assignment is due, you have to let your instructor know, even if it means calling them the day of if you’re sick or if there’s an emergency.

Another way to be responsible when missing a class is to still get your assignments turned in even though you are absent. Ask one of your classmates to turn in your homework for you and grab any new handouts or see if your roommate has time to drop by your professor’s office hours. Just don’t take advantage: They aren’t going to hunt you down to give you your work – that’s your job.

Like most things in college, missing class is ok – sometimes getting some sleep after 20 straight hours of cramming IS more important! – but only in moderation. It’s tempting to opt out of a lecture, especially for underclassmen still getting acclimated to the college lifestyle, but your grades will reflect it. Choose wisely!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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What to Do When You Hate a College Class

November 10, 2011

What to Do When You Hate a College Class

by Jacquelene Bennett

When you are preparing to graduate high school and are excited that you’ll be attending college in the fall, no one really tells you that there are going to be aspects of college life that you are going to absolutely hate, like classes: Sometimes you are going to really enjoy the classes you are taking, most of the time you are going to be indifferent about the classes you have and occasionally you are going to absolutely loathe a class you are taking. I currently find myself in this predicament and am here to share some advice on how to handle these types of classes.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the class! I know I said missing class is ok in moderation in my last article but avoiding a class you’re already down on never helps. Some professors record attendance every day and factor it into your grade so your absence will be noted.

Talk to the professor. Send him or her an email with your concerns or go talk to them during their office hours; most of the time, they will take your concerns into consideration – particularly if these concerns are echoed by other students. This approach is most effective if you can have a two-way conversation without sounding like you are complaining.

Grin and bear it. The class isn’t going to last forever; sometimes the best thing you can do is get your work done while reminding yourself you just need to make it to the end of the semester.

If you really can’t imagine attending the class all semester, you can always drop it or withdraw and try to take it with another professor next semester. You can also talk to your adviser about your other options: If the class is a gen ed, there may be similar but more enjoyable class that would fill the same requirement.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Pick Your Classes Wisely

October 27, 2011

Pick Your Classes Wisely

by Jacquelene Bennett

Sometimes the most difficult part of a university class is not the homework or the tests but the process of picking out and registering for the class itself! Seeing as though this will be my last time registering for classes, I thought I would pass along some tips and tricks of the trade.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to overload your schedule with gen ed requirements early on in your college career; rather, you should aim for a nice balance between your gen eds and the classes you need to take for your major and/or minor. My rule has always been “half and half” – half of the classes I take are gen eds, while the other half is for my major or minor. This method not only keeps you from hating a semester because you were taking nothing but uninteresting classes but helps you in the long run by allowing you start on your degree requirements sooner.

Begin mapping out your course schedule with your adviser well before registration time. They can help you plan your classes semester by semester, give you insight on professors and create a list of back-up courses in case your first-choice classes are already filled by your registration date. You should also talk to friends or people who have taken the classes you’re interested in to get a feel for the material and workload.

Once you’ve registered for your next semester, make a list of classes that you want and need to take the following semesters as well. You’ll be able to see if you'll have time to pick up an internship, job or fun elective.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Should You Write an Honors Thesis?

September 23, 2011

Should You Write an Honors Thesis?

by Jacquelene Bennett

To write an honors thesis or to not write an honors thesis? That is the question. If you are a senior in college, you know the dilemma that I am talking about.

At the beginning of their last year as undergrads, college seniors are presented with the option of doing an honors thesis - typically a 25- to 30-page research paper or paper that concentrates on a single subject within your declared major; you must not only demonstrate what you have learned while attending school but you will have to defend your work to a committee. Being a senior in college comes with a lot of stress and pressure – finding a job, filling out grad school applications, and completing capstone projects and papers are just a few of the things on a college senior’s to-do list – so why would anyone think of taking on another anxiety-filled task?

The pros of undertaking this type of project is that you will not only have a substantial piece of writing to present to grad schools and future employers but the work you’ve done will be reflected on your university diploma and resume. The cons of this project are the massive amount of work and time you have to devote to it. Honors thesis requirements differ from school to school but you’d be hard pressed to find a college where the experience is an easy one.

So is writing an honors thesis right for you? Well, that is a decision that you (and your advisor) have to make. After much debate, I found I do not have the time or enthusiasm to write an honors thesis...but if you do, good luck!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Double Your Potential with a Double Major or Minor

July 15, 2011

Double Your Potential with a Double Major or Minor

by Jacquelene Bennett

With the soaring prices of college tuition, most college students are trying to get the biggest bang for their buck when paying for school. One way they’re doing this? Having more than one major or minor.

Now don’t be under any delusions: Having a double major or a double minor is a lot of work – and I mean A LOT – but it can be very rewarding. Not only do you get a leg up in the job market and grad school admissions but it makes your time in college more simulating.

I personally am a double major (government and creative writing) and I also minor in religious studies. It is stressful, yes, but it is very worthwhile. Not only am I studying things that I find important and interesting but I feel like I am preparing myself for a future career in journalism because all these fields of study seem to flow together.

That is the key to having more than one major or minor – they should complement each other. Crazy as it sounds, I have found that classes in religious studies and government are quite interconnected and I’m able to understand each subject more depth because I am studying the other. Analyzing what kind of career you want to have after college also helps: I know people majoring in psychology and religious studies, creative writing and business, or philosophy and anthropology because of their specific career goals.

Like I said before, having multiple majors or minors is stressful and balancing your coursework, a job and a social life can be a challenge. If you are curious or confused, talk to your advisor or other students undertaking this type of workload, as they can provide the insight you’ll need to make the right decision for you.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Building Lasting Relationships with Your Professors

August 24, 2011

Building Lasting Relationships with Your Professors

by Jacquelene Bennett

Lifelong friendships and connections are made in college but some of the most important relationships you will make while attending school are not just with your peers but with your professors, too. Aside from teaching you what you need to know, professors are excellent sources for advice, future job and internship recommendations, and insider information about the bureaucracy of the school; moreover, a professor can be a knowledgeable, sympathetic ear that can help guide you through your college years so forming a beyond-the-classroom relationship and repertoire with some of your professors is crucial. Here are some tips to help you form that bond with your professors.

Speak up in class. One of the quickest ways to grab a professor’s attention and have him or her learn your name is to raise your hand and ask a question. While other students may be going out of their way not to be noticed, your professor will appreciate your input.

Go to office hours. Professors have office hours for a reason but they are not just for answering questions about homework, tests or lectures. Office hours are designed to allow students and professors to interact beyond classroom walls; stop in to discuss an interesting article you read outside of class and go from there.

Say hi! For some reason, we students think professors are confined to their offices so it can be awkward when we see them walking around campus or eating in the dining hall...but it doesn’t have to be! When you see your prof, say hi and strike up a conversation. They’re people, too!

Doing these simple things everyday will create lasting personal relationships with your professors. Start making those connections as early as you can – that intro professor you reach out to freshman year could help you get a teaching assistant position with a notoriously difficult colleague when you’re a senior!

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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