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College Test Prep Tips

March 5, 2013

College Test Prep Tips

by Mike Sheffey

So it’s about that time (at least in my semester) for the first slew of college tests and essays...and time for stress! But don’t let it get you down - here are some tips I like to consider when I feel overwhelmed in my studies:

Remember, this won’t be your last college exam, there will be room for improvement and it’s a learning experience either way. Good luck and feel free to use these tips for all tests and essays, not just the first one!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Explore Your Passions During Jan-Term

by Mike Sheffey

This week, I’d like to talk about something that your prospective college might have to offer. We at Wofford call it Interim but most schools refer to it as January Term (or “J-term” or “Jan-term”). Colleges, especially those focused on the liberal arts, like to give students the opportunity to explore whatever might pique their interest, regardless of their majors! Wofford’s lies between first and second semester and is a month-long class that lets students have fun, relax and dive into a hobby or passion that has yet to be discovered.

Colleges offer classes ranging from photography, hiking, trips within the U.S. and abroad, horseback riding or chess and can get as specific as a class entirely about The Beatles. I’d suggest looking into Interim options early on, especially if you have an idea and a class is not yet offered with that topic. Many colleges will allow you to propose an interim project all your own: Several of my friends developed an app for Android and iPhone this past January!

My favorite Interim class that I’ve taken in my three years here at WoCo has got to be American Punk, Hardcore and Emo. As I stated in my first post, music is a pretty big deal to me and this class allowed me to take my interest to a whole new level. We learned about the great bands and movements of the punk scene and for a month out of my stressful and hectic college career, I got to study the music I love. There’s always the option, however, of taking classes or internships related to your major. My roommates all took internships this past interim – one dentist shadowing and two relating to finance. They loved them and view the experience as invaluable.

So whether it’s traveling, music, writing, fishing, the intricacies of pro wrestling or a useful internship, I suggest looking into your school’s options and taking full advantage of every opportunity a Jan-term could bring!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Mike Sheffey

by Mike Sheffey

Hey readers! My name is Mike Sheffey and for this first post I figured I’d let you guys get to know me! I’m a junior at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina but grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. Music and technology interest me more than anything else so it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m a computer science major...but I’m also a Spanish major and recently spent a semester abroad in Chile – an experience I’ll never forget. I love writing music, skating, photography and all things computer.

At Wofford, I’m involved mainly in Spanish-related events and volunteering in the community at Arcadia Elementary’s afterschool program. I’ve considered teaching but right, now my focus is music and tech. And speaking of tech, I work at Terrier Vision at WoCo (a name for Wofford I’ll be throwing around a lot) filming sports events and streaming them online. I’m also involved in the alternative/punk/DIY music scene of Greensboro and I also work for the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. Music makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself and I love being able to be a voice in the punk community...and now the college community!

I chose to virtually intern for Scholarships.com because I know college can be a great experience but people occasionally need a reference point. It can be challenging yet super fun and the best years of your life. I plan to blog about common issues that come up throughout your college career: roommate problems, extracurricular activities, drama, sports, working/study habits, major choices and other key concerns – believe me, we’ve all been there! I’ll also be talking about some Wofford-specific events to give you all a glimpse onto this campus and into college life. In short, I promise to keep this blog fun yet informative and I cannot wait to get started!


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Keeping Up with Interests and Studies Over the Summer

by Mike Sheffey

The summer is a crazy time. For most, it means one thing – work – but it doesn’t have to: Aside from internships and summer classes, there are many ways to keep up with the things you are interested in over the summer.

  • Studies: You know you have those leftover flash cards or notes from your classes and some of you might even keep textbooks. USE THEM. I know a big issue with summer time is motivation but get motivated! Allocate an hour a day to review things from the previous semester – it will help you when you get back, I promise! For example, I know that Spanish (one of my majors) is something that needs to be practiced (and practiced and practiced). If you don’t keep up with it, you lose it and your future classes will only be more difficult. So find those books, notes, etc. and review; it never hurts and could help you ease back into the groove of classes when the new academic year begins.
  • Interests: This is a bit hazier of a topic. Because interests have such a vast range, there are thousands of ways to stay involved. Volunteer during the school year? Try help with a summer school. Work with music and the arts? Get more involved by interning, working or volunteering your time or just exploring art-related things in your area. But the list of benefits goes on: Keeping up with your interests helps you stay motivated in and out of the classroom, helps improve your focus and keeps you grounded in the free time-filled summer.

The point to take from all of this? Don’t waste your summer. There is always something you can be doing to better your resume, your passion, your focus, your knowledge or your wallet. Don’t let opportunities slip away and don’t let summer pass you by – it’s short enough as it is!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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The Digital Textbook Divide

by Mike Sheffey

Online and digital textbooks are a growing resource for college students. They can be cheap, interactive, fun and sometimes more useful than their traditional predecessors. And now there is a surge of technology for professors to use as well, including ways to digitally check if their students are reading the assigned material.

I personally have only used digital textbooks as accompaniments to hardcover books but the concept of an entirely digital book is enticing. Only having to carry around a tablet or laptop is a great thing for students burdened by long walks across campus with clunky book bags. But when I’m assigned a reading, I assume that the teacher trusts that I’ll do it – not that I necessarily have to but because it will benefit me in the long run. I think that checking via software forces students to do something that a good student would already do. And I think that most college students aren't attending college to NOT do their assignments; it’s not a cheap investment to just sit around!

Honor codes at most colleges deal with assignments, cheating, etc. The idea is great but its execution comes across a bit untrusting from professors. It may also not be the best way to keep tabs on student learning. For some, this kind of checking could benefit them but students have their own unique study methods and could do poorly on the online checks but still ace tests. Programs like CourseSmart (one of the online data collecting programs) could be useful to chart progress overall but to place grades or too much merit in the technology conveys a message to students that professors don’t trust their commitment to coursework. People learn different ways and should be given the opportunity to study, read and work the way that is best for them.

Overall, the idea of digital textbooks is a great one if used properly: as an additional resource and not a primary way of determining student learning. Other resources, quizzes and methods should be used as well to provide a balance in various learning styles. What has your experience with digital textbooks been?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Practical Majors, Passion Projects and Getting the Best of Both Worlds

by Mike Sheffey

Today I’d like to discuss something that I’m positive is constantly on the minds of underclassmen: “What should I major in?” There’s pressure from all ends to do something that makes money but your heart wants to do something you are passionate about. What's a college student to do? Aim for something that has potential to do both. For example, I love music, I love promoting bands, I love going to shows and I love being a part of the music scene in any way that I can. My majors, however, are computer science and Spanish. Those majors paired with my interests may not make sense at first but here’s how I came to this decision:

  • I determined what skills are considered valuable across the board. Spanish is practical in this time period for many reasons. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Chile and got to use my Spanish skills to interview leading punk bands for a research project. In this case, I was able to combine what I was studying with what I was passionate about.
  • I thought outside the box. I am learning computer science so that I may one day combine it with my passion for music. After all, technology, music sharing, music streaming services and apps are the way of the future....so why not use my skills and love for tech towards my passion?

There is no right answer to choosing a major and the idea of a “practical” major (as discussed by Haverford College's dean of academic affairs Phillip Bean in his recent post for The Choice) is subjective, based on personal passion, skills and desires. You just need to be able to say, “Even though I love this, I could still study that,” and get the best of both worlds. This is also a good reason to do thorough research beforehand on what majors your college offers, though most people change their majors a few times or wait a bit to declare.

How have you decided what to major in and did you take your personal passions into consideration?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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College Class Size: Does It Matter?

by Mike Sheffey

Large classes or small? As colleges look to save money per student, this has become a key discussion topic. Recent studies are now showing that redesigning the typical lecture-type lesson has proved successful in large class settings, boasting higher exam results than those on the old model...but I think it really depends on the institution.

I can only speak from experience about Wofford College: The largest class I’ve ever had had about 50 people in it (and the average class size here is 15), though I will soon find out how large classes work when I take a summer course at UNCG to fulfill a gen ed requirement in statistics. I can guarantee that in terms of building professor connections and having instructors as resources outside the classroom, small classes have the advantage but I could definitely see how this setting could be intimidating and that there could be students that flourish more in large-scale lectures.

Attendance policies also seem to be stricter at smaller schools and in smaller classrooms. In a class of 300, nobody bats an eye if somebody’s missing; in a class of 12, however, every absence is noticed. Those who are engaged and active in class will probably benefit more from smaller courses, with more direct contact with the professors. But these assumptions seem to be changing. Like I said, the lecture-style of teaching is being altered at bigger schools and being replaced by interactive and virtual courses supervised by professors or teachers. The computers seem to keep the larger classes focused and have directly contributed to better grades in the sciences and visual arts.

When determining what class size is best for you, the best thing to do is to talk to people that attend your prospective schools. How do they like the large classes? Would they recommend them? Do they take any small classes? Are their learning styles similar to yours? Results don’t lie but you know yourself better than a statistic. For me, the small classes at WoCo are where it’s at. What about you?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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You’re Accepted...for Next Semester

New Admissions Addresses Retention Concerns, Confuses Students

June 3, 2013

You’re Accepted...for Next Semester

by Mike Sheffey

Congratulations! Well...sort of. Many incoming college freshmen feel this bittersweet sensation when they read they’ve been accepted to college but not until a semester or two after their intended start date.

Colleges are adopting this practice more and more and it’s no surprise why: Retention rates drop after the first year and this decrease combine with the junior year “I want to study abroad” rush leaves colleges with gaps and vacancies in classes, resulting in less money for schools. This admissions approach is economically better for colleges and universities but is it better for students? Not when they want to take classes somewhere else before that requires full-time student status and not when the students need to get jobs in the semester before they start. This could also potentially disconnect them with the incoming freshman class in the fall and put them in awkward social positions once they arrive.

I personally don’t know anyone that this has happened to – the most I’ve encountered with friends is wait lists – but I know a few that applied to transfer to other colleges and weren’t accepted for the following semester, but the next one. It’s great news that the student gained admission but there’s the question of “Why then and not now?” In an almost B-list manor, colleges are glad to have you but not now – only after the first wave of freshmen.

I know the bottom line is money but in my opinion, this approach devalues all of one’s efforts and projects a message of self-doubt and questioning. If colleges plan to keep doing this, they need to figure a way to build the students up during that semester before entry and provide program options and support so that these kids don’t feel that sense of bittersweet victory and defeat. Deals with other colleges for transfer credits, extracurricular activities, ways for these students to get ahead and job options on or off campus would be an awesome start. What else do you think schools could (and should) do to bridge this gap?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Handy Phone Apps for College Students

by Radha Jhatakia

The majority of college students today own smartphones and use these devices more for apps, browsing the web, checking email and texting than actually making phone calls. Here are a few that will benefit most students...and most are available for both Android devices and iPhones.

My top most recommended apps are Amazon Student and Kindle for iPhone or Android. Amazon Student has deals for students on books, electronics and much more and if you are a member of Amazon Student, you only have to pay half price ($39) for Prime membership, which gives you access to movies, TV shows and music online plus free two-day shipping anytime. The Kindle app allows you to access e-textbooks on your phone for those few minutes before class when you remember you had a reading assignment to do.

Students also have schedules filled with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, jobs and more. How do they keep it all straight? Some apps to make things convenient include The Weather Channel, Wells Fargo, Discover and Evernote. A weather app allows you to check the weather outside so you can dress accordingly, a bank or credit card app will make it convenient for you to pay your bills on the go (some even have ways for you to make check deposits without setting a foot in the bank) and note apps allow you make to-do lists and take notes which you can sync with your calendar.

Other convenient apps include translators, dictionaries and games for stress relieving. As long as you don’t mind some ads, these apps are available for free (but you can purchase ad-free versions for about $.99). What are your favorite apps?

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Want to Learn Something New? Give Student-Run Seminars a Try!

by Radha Jhatakia

One of the best ways for a student to learn something is to teach it. This is an ideology that many professors use by assigning students projects in which they must demonstrate something to their classmates. When these projects expand to outside the classroom and become open for any students to attend, it becomes a seminar and an opportunity for other students to learn something.

Student-run seminars are growing in popularity because they allow students an access to knowledge and allow other students to hone their teaching and presenting abilities. At SJSU, the College of Social Sciences hosts “COMM Week” – five days devoted to projects presented by students in seminars that are open for all students to attend. Professors in the communications department give students guidelines and the students have the entire semester to conduct research for their presentations. An example of one project was to design and market an app for a smartphone. Students conducted research on what apps were profitable and how to sell their app and then proceeded to create interfaces, pamphlets and websites to promote their ideas. (A few students even turned their innovative ideas into career opportunities, as these projects were presented at a trade show with investors from different companies.) Another project included conducting a training workshop for students to assist them learning something such as presenting, networking and other skills valued by employers. Companies pay trainers to teach employees different procedures and policies within a company so really, the students who were successful with their seminars could continue to train as a form of work.

Whenever students ask when or how they will use something they learned in the classroom in the real world, they should know that what they learn in school gives them skills to use in life after college. Any of these or other school projects can even be used to jumpstart a career!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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