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The Dos and Don’ts of the College Classroom

July 12, 2013

The Dos and Don’ts of the College Classroom

by Veronica Gonzalez

It’s very crucial that every college student studies but one thing to study in college is the physicality and the expectations of the college classroom. Every classroom varies so get to know how things are done in each and every one of them.

When walking into a classroom, the first thing that must be done is to observe the set up. Are the chairs/desks lecture style, chevron style, etc.? Also, know where the doors, emergency exits and windows are in case of a fire or other dangerous situations. Observing these things is both helpful and safe.

Next, paying attention in class is extremely important. Try sitting near or in the front row so that you don’t miss anything when note-taking. If the front row is full, however, find a seat near the lectern. If that fails, don’t be afraid to talk to your professor. (Remember: Professors are there to help you learn in any way possible!) Never sit in the back of the classroom because that gives the impression that you think the subject matter of their class is a waste of time.

Besides observation and listening, having the right materials in class is important. Always bring textbooks, pens/pencils, plenty of paper, laptops (or tablets, if applicable) and homework assignments. This lets professors know that you’re willing to participate in class; however, little distractions keep you from learning so avoid texting, social networking or Internet browsing in class, unless your professor gives the okay.

Finally, know your priorities and responsibilities as a student. Your main priority is to learn and interact with the professors and with fellow classmates. Also, study the syllabi so that you’ll know what to expect in the courses.

Knowing the dos and don’ts of the college classroom will help you in more ways than one – you’ll thank yourself later!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.

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Freshman Year Myths Explored

July 18, 2013

Freshman Year Myths Explored

by Veronica Gonzalez

Freshman year of college can be scary but falling for college myths can fuel the flame of this fear.

I remember myths about my school: It was haunted, college seniors were going to somehow prank the freshmen, and walking under the school’s clock tower would make you fail your classes. The rumors felt overwhelming at first but then I decided to put one of those myths to the test, starting with the clock tower. One day, I darted under it. The stained glass windows looked phenomenal from the inside and I thought, “How can something so beautiful be treated like a curse?” Days after my investigation, my grades were fine. As for the other myths that I heard about UIW, they were just the same: The school wasn’t haunted and the college seniors never did prank the freshmen. Even though I was high on guard, they were all false.

The sad part about all this is that many college students will scare freshmen with myths and completely omit the good things about college like events, socials, etc. So how can you tell what’s real or myth in college? First, if you hear about something and it concerns you, ask an advisor or professor about it. (Professors/advisors know more about the school than the student body.) Second, listen to how the subject is brought up and ask yourself, “Are they joking?” or “Do they sound serious?” Finally, listen to yourself. Do you take their word for it or yours? Only you can determine what’s real and what’s myth regarding your college.

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.

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The Importance of Student Email

August 12, 2013

The Importance of Student Email

by Veronica Gonzalez

In today’s age, professors and students are communicating with each other more than ever thanks to student email. Now, you may think that it’s pointless to have a school email if you already have a personal email; however, there will be some points that you must use this account, no matter how boring or extra it may seem.

As a college student, some of your priorities are to have a student email and to be up-to-date with that account. Teachers will expect you to communicate with them via student email throughout your time in college. (For example, a teacher will most likely have you email the homework to them via school email.)

Furthermore, remember the phrase “Don’t be a square”? The same rules apply to your student email because it keeps you in the loop of what’s going on at your school. It’s highly likely that student mentors and/or faculty members may contact you about certain events that are happening so if there’s a social, a spectacular celebration or pep rally for homecoming coming up, you’ll know about it via email. Plus, students/teachers may also contact you about stuff that needs public attention (ex. emergencies, deadlines, etc.). In a sense, knowing about important alerts can help you stay safe physically and academically.

So if your professor or school adviser introduces you to your student email, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Your email from school can help you in many ways, as it could be your greatest asset when it comes to communication and schoolwork in the ever-evolving world of college.

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.

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Managing New Experiences in College

July 26, 2013

Managing New Experiences in College

by Veronica Gonzalez

Attending college can be both fun and challenging. As a student, you’ll definitely have lot of new experiences but it’s best to know about the good and bad.

The good things about college experiences are that they constantly revolve around activities. In college, it wouldn’t hurt to get involved with a club or organization that interests you – this way, you can make new friends and give yourself a sense of school pride. Also, doing community service with your school can impact you socially because you’re reaching out to your own community and getting to know more people. Plus, joining an honor society or a club that associates with your favorite subject will sweeten your college experience by bringing out your smart and talented edge.

Even though new experiences can be exciting, it’s just as important to be very careful when having them. In college, there are many parties and socials and if one over-parties, their academic performance can easily suffer. Also, peer pressure is always present: People may try to lure you into dangerous addictions like smoking, drinking, etc. – this can also lead to academic failure so watch out.

Now knowing the pros and cons of college experiences, you can rest assured that there are ways to have a great time in school. First, academics always come first so make much of your time “study time” as to not lose sight of your academic goals. Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with going to socials but it’s best to do it in moderation. Finally, listen to yourself: Know what’s best for you and understand that what you do while attending college will stick with you...especially thanks to the Internet. Enjoy your time in college but remember not to lose sight of your goals!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.

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Prioritizing Your Study Time

September 10, 2013

Prioritizing Your Study Time

by Veronica Gonzalez

Exams lurk in college classrooms and quizzes have been known to (literally) pop out of nowhere! The question is: Will you be ready for them? Professors know that every student has time to study no matter what and as a college student, list-making, planner-investing and avoiding distractions has helped me improved my study skills when exams and quizzes draw near. Need help prioritizing your study time? Take note!

Homework will come at you like angry bees before you know it so take the time to determine what you need to work on, which papers are due when and what needs to be turned in. If you like going digital, make a list on your phone and/or tablet.

To-do lists are essential but what would make them easier to remember and complete is a planner. Planners aren’t hard to find – most retail stores sell them for between $3 and $20 depending on the brand and style – but if you want to save money, consider the fact that some mobile devices like tablets and cell phones have planners just by using the calendar feature.

Although we’re in the digital age, digital mobile devices can be both allies and adversaries. Try to limit the use of cell phones, social media and other distractions while catching up on homework or when studying for a test. If you cut out the distractions during study time, you’re more likely to focus more on the course content.

The main focus in college is supposed to be academics. By taking extra steps in prioritizing your study habits, you’ll be on the right path to success.

Veronica Gonzalez is a junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.

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Making Time Your Friend Instead of Your Enemy in College

August 7, 2013

Making Time Your Friend Instead of Your Enemy in College

by Mary Steffenhagen

Some days in college feel like a battle against the clock: We students are constantly at the beck and call of our class schedule, homework and the professors who assign it. Add a job on top of that or perhaps an internship, sprinkle a few friends in here and there, squeeze in a few meals and the day is already gone! Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be that way no matter how busy you may find yourself: It all depends on the way you organize and prioritize, and you’ll often find that it’s the little things that count most.

I’ve found that doing things the night before (and I don’t mean homework!) can save loads of time and worry. Try setting out your clothes, packing your meals (if you commute) or putting together your necessary class materials before you go to bed rather than in the morning before class. If you end up running late, you’ll still shave off crucial minutes; plus, it’s easier to make sure you won’t forget anything if you check it over twice.

Draw out your general weekly schedule and stick it somewhere obvious. I have found that being able to actually see where your time is being spent is incredibly helpful as opposed to just going day by day in a planner. Block off the times you know you’ll be in class, take advantage of the empty spaces and you’ll soon get into a groove that allows you control over your time.

I multitask...a lot. Say you’ve got a lot of reading to do – try finding it in an audio format and listen to it while you work out, do laundry or drive. All those obnoxious little activities that must be done can do double-duty if you need them to.

If you still feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to make time for yourself. Skip a class if you must, put aside the obligations and homework and just take some time to relax. All the planning in the world is no use if you’re simply too overworked. It’s OK to throw the schedule out the window every once in a while and do what makes you happy. Time is a precious thing – even more so in college, it can seem – so make the clock your friend rather than your enemy!

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.

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Making the Most of Your Spare Time

August 19, 2013

Making the Most of Your Spare Time

by Mary Steffenhagen

It’s agonizing to suddenly relinquish a free and easy summer schedule to the clutches of the college schedule...but what happens when your weeks in school are just as free they are over break?

You may end up with a situation a lot of college students dream of: a surplus of free time. This happened to me during my freshman year, as I had a pretty open class schedule, a weekends-only job and didn’t join any clubs. I ended up bored to death nearly every day! But I didn’t realize that the extra time was an advantage that not only gave me a chance for homework but time to focus on personal goals. If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few tips as to how to best spend your time:

However you choose to spend your extra time, make sure you enjoy yourself. Having time to yourself while in college is a rarity and you may not have such an opportunity in later semesters. College is about exploring and learning...not being bored because there’s nothing to do. So get out there and make use of your time – you won’t regret it!

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.

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Becoming a Commuter Student

September 5, 2013

Becoming a Commuter Student

by Mary Steffenhagen

Living on campus is almost a necessary rite of passage for the college freshman. “Don’t miss out on the full college experience!” you’re warned, enticed with stories of spacious dorms, fantastic parties and few rules. Sure, living in the dorms can be fun, exciting and new but it also has it downsides: expensive room and board fees, a mandatory meal plan with food usually not worth the cost, lack of privacy or the risk of a bad roommate. Being a commuter student, on the other hand, isn’t as difficult as it seems: Your school probably has commuter lockers if you have a lot of books, packing a lunch is cheap and quick and carpooling is an efficient way to travel with friends.

I lived on campus for my first two years of school and experienced all the downsides listed above to varying degrees so this year, I am living at home and commuting. In some cases, the pros and cons were obvious. Did I want to pay thousands for a meal plan rather than eat with my family for free? No. Would I rather share a small space with three girls instead of having my own familiar bedroom? No. But would I like to be closer to campus than have the 40-minute commute I now have each day? Yes. I was reluctant to commute at first but I found that the time spent would be made up for and then some by the money I would save. If living at home for a year or two is an option for you, consider it! You’ll save money that you can put toward paying off any student loan debt or – who are we kidding – buying stuff you actually want when you want it.

If a long commute doesn’t interest you but you’re still looking to live off campus, it’s not too late to begin the apartment search. It is possible to find a nice place with affordable rent: College towns often have complexes with student budgets in mind. Splitting rent is an easy way to keep costs down and this time you get to choose your own housemate!

When you live off campus and commute, your time feels more like your own and it doesn’t have to revolve around what’s going on at school. If you’re feeling the itch to leave campus, check out your options and see what’s best for you!

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.

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Research Papers? You Got This! Part 1

September 26, 2013

Research Papers? You Got This! Part 1

by Mary Steffenhagen

Leaves are changing hues, the nights are arriving sooner and the library is crowded into the wee hours. That’s right: We’ve officially entered paper writing season. Almost every college student finds himself or herself pulling an all-nighter at one point or another to chip away at the writer’s block a research paper inevitably brings. As an English major, I’ve probably written a few more papers than other students but nearly everyone encounters some such assignment in the common core no matter his or her major. If you’ve been staring at a mental brick wall for hours, never fear: There are plenty of resources and tricks to get around that writer’s block and make that research paper a reality.

First, know your databases. Your university most likely has access to too many scholarly journals to count but databases make them easy to find. I’ve made quite good friends with EBSCOhost, a database which encompasses more databases on topics from Mark Twain’s mystical view of the soul to current technological developments in the military. (ProQuest is equally useful.) Searching within such a broad database gives so many options that research is quite easy, even if you’re unsure of your topic. Most will give you online access to the source you need and your college library may have archived physical copies of a journal...or even ebooks. They may not be as easy to procure but don’t limit yourself to online only sources: Talk to a librarian and see what they'd suggest - you never know what's out there unless you ask!

Now that the database or librarian has given you a paper to use as a source, start picking it apart...from the ending. If you check the bibliography or works cited, you’ll avail yourself of even more sources by basically following the author’s bread crumb trail. Find the thesis – aka the driving point of the paper – within the first few paragraphs and build off of it. Whether you agree or disagree with the author, their sources and citations will lead you to more evidence supporting or debunking the viewpoint. I tend to start with my own idea and look for research related to it but if you’re short on time, picking apart your source’s sources will save a lot.

Next week, I’ll talk about some writing techniques that have aided me in my paper writing. In the meantime, good luck researching!

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.

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Mending Your Pockets: Suggestions for Saving in College

September 12, 2013

Mending Your Pockets: Suggestions for Saving in College

by Mary Steffenhagen

As a college student, it can sometimes feel like your pockets are riddled with holes. Most expenses are necessary but cutting the ones that aren’t isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Like most big projects, it's all about knowing how to use your resources to your advantage.

If you haven’t done so already, create a budget. Thankfully, you don’t have to do any of this manually – there are websites that do it for you. I use Mint.com, which is helpful because it links right to your checking account, sends weekly updates by email and, best of all, it’s FREE. There are options for adding budget and saving goals and the site breaks down your spending so you can see what’s going to entertainment, food, school and the like. Once you have your budget squared away, half the battle’s already won!

Despite your best efforts to prune expenses, perhaps you still feel like your university always has its hands in your pockets. The price of textbooks can be a shock once you get your syllabi and if your professors direct you to the university bookstore, you’ll almost certainly be spending more money than you need to. Amazon Student is always a useful option for textbooks and free shipping but there are also some great sites where you can get books used: I use BetterWorldBooks.com and HalfPriceBooks.com a lot. Think about renting books as well, perhaps for the core classes you would never use again. Half.com is a good resource because it links up to your university – sometimes even right down to your class – to help you find what you need for less.

Check around your college town to find out if any business offer deals for students who present their IDs. Restaurants, grocery stores and even locally-owned businesses often participate in such deals – it’s good PR, after all – and if you truly can’t curb your shopping urges, try visiting thrift shops and consignment stores.

Saving money won’t happen overnight – it’s an ongoing process. Starting tweaking in increments and you’ll have those pocket holes mended in no time!

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.

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