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College Classes: A Matter of Endurance, Not Skill

by Anthony Guzmán

Most can agree that high school was not too challenging. I know this because the standard procedure for me was to complete busy work, memorize stuff and regurgitate that information on test day, forgetting the material almost instantaneously. When I got to college, however, I abandoned that method...fast.

As you move through college, the memorization method fades away into REAL learning because college courses introduce you to the material and demand that you get familiar with the information through study and homework. You are then encouraged to make sense the material your own through personalized notes, diagrams, dialogues, etc. Higher-level courses will require application and synthesis, using what you know and applying it to a new situation or idea.

You will always get a million voices of advice but there isn’t always a set answer for it all. My response to your concerns about the academic part of college is simple: It all depends. There are plenty of factors that play into the difficulty of a college class including where you attend school, what your major is, who the professor is, what the grading is like and what the pre-requisites are. Here are my personal tips for a success in the classroom:

Before College

  • Take anything that can help you attain skills, work ethic and critical thinking (AP, honors, dual credit, etc.).
  • Experiment with new study methods to help you not only learn but retain information.

When You Get There

College is not just for smart people: It’s for people that want and try to learn. I’ve seen high school valedictorians fall and barely-admitted students rise, the latter of which proves that if you can get admitted, you have what it takes to undergo the academic rigor. Don’t let the saying “College is hard, impossible or not for you” prevent you from giving higher education the old college try!

Anthony Guzmán is currently a rising sophomore at Texas A&M University where he studies business management and Spanish. He hopes to use business to create positive change through non-profit organization. He devotes the majority of his time to Catholic ministry and he also enjoys dancing, being with friends and family, and traveling.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Anthony Guzmán

by Anthony Guzmán

Howdy, Scholarships.com readers! My name is Anthony Guzmán, a sophomore business major and Spanish minor from Austin but most importantly, I am the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Class of 2016!

That's my typical introduction as a student here at Texas A&M University in College Station. As for how I got to this point, choosing my school was cake after I experienced A&M's family feel, tradition and dedication to financial aid. (Yay!) I study business management because I love people and intend to use my major to help others through non-profit organizations. I am also the first in my family to attend college so I'm trailblazing and taking advantage of all the opportunities that have arisen right in front of me.

But I am not always doing the nerdy college thing! I love to dance, hang out and meet new friends. I call myself athletic because I casually knock the soccer ball around and I go out for a few long runs. Also, I participate in many organizations: For example, I am heavily involved in ministry at my school's parish, which reflects my deep love for my faith.

As you begin your journey toward college, you may be tempted into thinking, "Look at all these successful college kids...they make it sound so easy" or "I’m not as bright as them." Well don't fall into that: Just over a year ago, I had no idea what, where or if I would study after high school but I was fortunate enough to find resources to help prepare myself for what was to come! So think of this guy Anthony as your friend or big brother, a resource you can utilize. Feel free to pick my brain – that is what I am here for! You are already on your way to a bright future. Thanks and Gig'em!


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Planning Your Ideal Study Abroad Experience

by Anthony Guzmán

Maybe you grew up in a small town where everyone knows everyone and gossip spreads like wildfire. Or maybe you just want to experience something new. Whatever the case is, my advice to you is to see the world through studying abroad! Who am I to tell you what to do? My freshman year of college has been the best year of my life, partly because I studied abroad. For spring break, the Mays Business School sponsored 15 freshmen to travel to Paris; this trip gave me the travel bug so I started the process for my first study abroad trip.

Imagine the study abroad planning process like an upside-down pyramid: At the top you have, “I want to go somewhere!” but as you move down the pyramid, you narrow your search until you are left with the perfect trip for you. To get to that point, you need to answer these questions:

  • What kind of study abroad program (faculty lead, transfer credit, reciprocal exchange, internships, etc.) and where?
  • Can I receive academic credit for the courses?
  • What kind of courses will I take? (languages, major related, etc.)
  • For how long? (I recommend during the summer or when your degree plan allows it.)
  • What is your budget (ex. Latin America is cheaper than Europe) and is the financial aid you receive from your school applicable? (I was fortunate enough to have my study abroad experience paid for with scholarships, financial aid, donors and family; if you need additional aid, apply early.)

As you can see, study abroad encompasses many aspects but there are plenty of resources. The first place to begin your search is your school’s study abroad office: Set up an appointment, attend a seminar, review the study abroad website or just swing by and look for flyers for different programs. There is something out there for everyone whether you want to learn a language, teach English, dive deeper into your major or explore a different culture. For example, during May and June, I studied with Sol Education Abroad in Costa Rica, took classes at a local university, lived with a host family (my most cherished part) and went on excursions with a great group of students from different colleges.

Everyone’s study abroad is unique – I did it my freshman year and it helped me get ahead while I had the time of my life! – but it’s on you to make the experience a reality. Bon voyage!

Anthony Guzmán is currently a rising sophomore at Texas A&M University where he studies business management and Spanish. He hopes to use business to create positive change through non-profit organization. He devotes the majority of his time to Catholic ministry and he also enjoys dancing, being with friends and family, and traveling.


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Staying Stylish on a College Budget: It's Not Hard!

by Melissa Garrett

Whether you dread clothes shopping or can’t wait to go back to school in style, there’s no denying that new clothes can put a serious dent in your budget. Although college students can spend small fortunes on their new fall wardrobes, they definitely don’t have to: Clothing happens to be one of the easiest categories to cut back your spending if you know where to go.

While some people may turn up their noses at the thought of shopping at Goodwill or other second-hand stores, they can actually be great places to find brand names at very low prices. Just recently, I bought some clothes that included a Lip Service dress and tops from Express and Loft among other popular stores...and I walked out of the store having paid less than $20 for all of my new clothes, some of which didn’t even appear to have ever been worn. I am very picky about what I wear (I usually prefer black) and even I manage to find several items each time I visit a second-hand shop.

While shopping at thrift stores is fantastic, you must buy with skepticism as you would at any store. Don’t load up your shopping cart just because the items are cheap – prices add up and if you are careless, you may end up spending as much money as you would have at a department store! Remember that items have been owned before so check garments for any defects before purchasing. Also, don’t forget that a pair of fabric scissors can work wonders: Don’t be afraid to get a cheap, plain top and alter it yourself to make it an original.

All of this saved money can really benefit college students throughout the school year. More money in the bank means bigger budgets for textbooks, school supplies and fun...and who DOESN’T need a nice day out with friends after a hard week of studying? The better you learn to balance your budget, the more often you will be able to feel guilt-free treating yourself to a study-free weekend.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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All Faith Gathering Encourages Open-Minded Thinking

by Melissa Garrett

At Chatham University, the inclusion of all students is a top priority. One way this is accomplished is through a student organization in which people of various spiritual beliefs can gather to discuss their views. The All Faith Gathering has gained momentum in the past year and continues to positively impact the lives of Chatham students by encouraging diversity, acceptance and tolerance.

Each Thursday afternoon, students gather in a small room below the campus chapel. Meetings begin with a drum circle, with each guest listening to the sounds around them in order to sync up and create harmony. This is often followed by a discussion question that gets students’ minds flowing with spiritual thoughts and theories, making for interesting conversations throughout the gathering. The rest of the hour usually consists of either a spiritual discussion or a guest speaker who teaches the group about their religion or special belief system.

Although the average attendance to Chatham’s All Faith Gathering may be considered small, it is a tight-knit group that has formed close bonds of trust between its members. Most choose to live in the All Faith Living Learning Community in Woodland Hall, helping us to grow even closer together. As a living learning community, first-year students residing there with an interest in faith are encouraged to attend the gatherings.

Holding a gathering for students of various beliefs would be a good addition to any university campus: All it really takes is a few committed students, creativity and a sponsor. There are no set rules for how to hold a gathering and anything goes as long as respect is kept between members. By providing students with a place to be completely open, they can feel more comfortable being themselves regardless of their spirituality...or even their lack thereof.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Choose Your Student Organizations Wisely!

by Melissa Garrett

School clubs and organizations can be one of the best ways to meet people who share your interests. When you first begin college, the large amount of choices available can be both exciting and overwhelming: It may be tempting to join every group (believe me, I know) but it is best to commit to just one or two that you really enjoy.

When I first started at Chatham, the Student Activities Fair was the best thing ever to me. There was the Creative Writing Club, All Faith Gathering, newspaper and countless other organizations with booths set up and ready to give us information. Everything sounded so interesting that I attended initial meetings for nearly half of the organizations; not only did this prove to be very overwhelming but also I ended up realizing that there were only a few groups that actually lined up well with my genuine interests.

Once I had narrowed down what I would be most interested in, I started to only attend meetings for the Gay-Straight Alliance and Chatham’s All Faith Gathering. I went on to become the president of the GSA, which just goes to show that putting a lot of effort into a club you really love can be very beneficial to both yourself as well the club’s future! Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to lend a helping hand to an organization every once and a while – and by all means attend campus events if they sound like a fun way to support your fellow students! – but you shouldn’t overextend yourself.

Although a ton of student organizations can be exciting and the people may be friendly, it’s always a good idea to choose wisely and stay actively involved in the ones that most interest you. Remember, you are at school first and foremost to take classes, so don’t get so caught up in extracurricular activities that you run out of time to study.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Your College Dorm: Keeping It a Pleasant (and Clean!) Place

by Melissa Garrett

When many students begin college, they will be living away from home for the first time. If you are one of these students, it’s likely you have a lot of thoughts about living in a college residence hall. You’re probably wondering what your roommate will be like, how you will decorate your room and how you will adjust to a new environment but there is an area of residence hall living that is often overlooked: sharing kitchens, bathrooms and other common areas.

During my freshman year of college, I lived in Chatham’s Woodland Hall. Though it was a great place to live for the most part – all residents friendly and it is the only residence hall on campus with an elevator – there were some not-so-great qualities as well...the worst being the kitchen. Despite the number of posters that resident assistants hung up asking people to “Please stop dumping food in the sink” and “Please clean up after yourself”, no one seemed to listen. (I’m not even going into detail on the condition of the bathrooms.)

It might be easy to say that cleaning up after students is the job of university staff but they can’t possibly handle everything, especially when people are being careless and lazy. College students are young adults and learning responsibility is very important. This sort of problem in cleanliness really isn’t that difficult to fix and all it takes is a little pitching in from all of the residents. If you pick up after yourself and do your part to make sure things stay clean, chances are that others will follow.

Is there a problem with cleanliness at your school? If so, be sure to report it to your resident assistants so that they can hold a hall meeting. Also, be sure to take charge yourself by expressing your feelings about the place that you live. Tell your friends politely to be sure to clean up after themselves when they are done using a shared space. We are all neighbors in the residence halls and a clean environment is definitely much more pleasant to study in.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Reducing Chatham's Carbon Footprint with Green Transportation

by Melissa Garrett

With the environmental crisis being an important issue to many college students, an environmentally-efficient campus is definitely a plus for potential enrollments. Chatham University boasts environmental sustainability as one of its most important missions and the school has definitely tackled one issue: transportation.

Chatham has a number of common methods but some that are a bit more unique and uncommon. Like many universities, Chatham has embraced a shuttle system. These shuttles are referred to as “Green Machines” and run on biodiesel, a renewable and clean-burning alternative to diesel fuel. The shuttles run until 3 a.m. and not only take students to the nearby Eastside campus but also to the hotspot of Oakland. Students needing a break from studying and the everyday hustle and bustle of college life have an efficient way of getting to the restaurants, stores and museums that can be found in this popular area of town.

A student with a driver’s license who does not have a car on campus has the option of renting a Zipcar. Having a Zipcar available discourages individual car ownership, therefore resulting in less pollution. Of course, not all students have licenses to drive but fortunately, public transportation has been made extremely easy to access at Chatham: Students are permitted to use any Port Authority bus for free simply by displaying their Chatham ID. The university encourages public transportation as a way to conserve energy and offering free fares for college students is definitely a great convenience for students looking to get to different areas of Pittsburgh.

Chatham University has definitely lived up to its promise of encouraging environmental sustainability. With transportation being one of the leading causes of pollution, providing alternatives to students that are easy to access greatly helps to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint. What is your school doing to lessen its environmental impact?

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Lunchtime in College: Why It Shouldn’t Be High School All Over Again

by Melissa Garrett

We’ve all experienced lunchtime drama in some way: Where do I sit in a brand new place? Where will I be welcomed or shunned? Which people actually take the time to get to know and talk to me?

If you are new to college and haven’t exactly found your posse yet, going into the dining hall can be really stressful. What many first-year students don’t realize is that college students tend to put the concept of cliques and exclusion behind them once they graduate high school. Chances are that if you simply ask “May I please sit here?” you won’t be shot down.

But what if this does happen? What if someone still has that high school mentality and does exclude you? Although it is unlikely to happen unless you have a grumpy disposition or haven’t showered for a week, people who reject you aren’t worth you time. Brush it off, put on a smile and find somewhere else to sit. Although sitting alone may be your first instinct in a situation like this, doing it too often may make you seem like a loner so don’t resort to it every day. In college, it’s important to be social every once in a while in order to maintain good relationships and improve your overall experience.

If thinking about your next trip to the dining hall is still making you lose your appetite, just remember that college is one of the best places to make lifelong friends. You will also find that expanding your horizons little by little can be just as rewarding, as many other students are in the same boat as you are. Don’t stress: Just choose a seat and enjoy the experience...and of course, the mac and cheese!

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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What to Expect as a Resident Assistant

by Melissa Garrett

Resident assistants. So you’ve seen them around campus and you admire how much they help out their fellow students. You’ve seen how much everybody loves them and what a positive impact they have on your university. Are you thinking of becoming a resident assistant yourself? As a new RA, I honestly expected it to be a lot less challenging than it has already proven to be but rather than explaining every last detail, I can tell you that there are some major dos and don’ts for the job:

  • Do come up with some great ideas for your residents. Do you want to plan a fun event or activity? The power is in your hands!
  • Don’t dominate everything. It is important to work with your co-RAs when planning events or deciding on new residence hall policies.
  • Do get excited! Being an RA is not only a rewarding experience but it is also a great way to get to know a lot of people.
  • Don’t expect it to be easy. RAs have to go through a lot of training and come back to campus earlier than most students.
  • Do put your residents first. They will be coming to you with some pretty intense problems and you should be willing to help them out whenever they need it.
  • Don’t abuse your schoolwork. Although your job is a super important duty, learn to balance your time in such a way that your academic performance will not suffer.
  • Do be sure to alert your residents if things are getting out of hand. Nobody wants a messy kitchen or bathroom and chances are that your residents will blame you for not calling a hall meeting.
  • Don’t be bossy. Your residents won't feel comfortable coming to you for advice if they’re afraid that you will snap at them.

Most importantly, you should never get involved in something simply for the popularity aspect. If being an RA sounds like something you would be really dedicated to, go for it! It may be a lot of work but if you enjoy helping people, you will probably have a lot of fun being a resident assistant at your university!

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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