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In College, Attitude is Everything

by Darci Miller

In most every high school movie, the main character has a dream school. Most of the time, he or she has dreamed of attending said dream school since before he or she knew what college was. He or she goes through the trials and tribulations of applying to the dream school, but in the end, he or she goes skipping merrily off to Dream U. and lives happily ever after.

Hate to break it to you, folks, but life isn’t Hollywood.

Having a dream school isn’t necessary. I didn’t have one; actually, if someone had told me three years ago that I’d end up at the University of Miami, I would’ve laughed in their face. But keeping your options open is a great thing, and I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up.

If you did have a dream school and did get in, awesome! But don’t get complacent. Just because your school is your idea of perfect doesn’t mean that life there is charmed. You’ll still have to study hard, get involved and even then things may not go as planned. You could end up hating it. Who knows?

If you had a dream school and didn’t get in, DON’T WORRY! I know you’re probably crushed...and rightfully so. But don’t let your disappointment take away from what could still be an amazing time at college. Attitude is everything. EVERYTHING. If you go in assuming you’re going to be miserable, you will be. If you slap a smile on your face and dive into everything, you’ll have a good time, no matter if it’s Dream U. or not.

College is entirely what you make of it. Even if you’re not going where you really wanted to, you can make it great. Either way, keeping an open mind is key; college can (and will) surprise you!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Do AP Classes Really Prepare You for College?

by Darci Miller

I was ambitious in high school, taking nine Advanced Placement classes in three years (five during my senior year). And if I heard it from one teacher, I heard it from them all: “This is what college is like! So get used to this amount and caliber of work!”

In my APs, I never had a free second. I was always doing homework and had to cut back on other activities because I was always drowning in my studies for one class or another. My parents would tell me it was good preparation and that it’d make college seem easy. My response? “There’s no way it could be harder!”

And guess what? It’s not. Yes, there’s a lot of work (depending on the class), tests can be hard and require a lot of studying and honors classes require more of you than regular classes (let me tell you – college honors classes are no joke!) but you don’t have every class every day. You don’t come home with calculus, government, biology, Italian and art homework every night, only to complete it and repeat the cycle the next day.

Most of the time, college homework is due a week after it’s assigned; even when it’s not, you have at least 48 hours until you have that class again. It’s a glorious thing! It was a bit of a shock to my system to have chunks of my day left open for whatever but if I plan it well, I can finish all my work by Wednesday and (gasp!) coast a little bit at the end of the week.

The bottom line is that college is probably the same amount of work as a high school schedule full of AP classes – it’s just different. So if you’re in APs now, breathe easy: You won’t be drowning in homework forever!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Attending College Away vs. In-State

by Darci Miller

When I first began looking at colleges, I knew right away that I didn’t want to attend school locally. I wanted to forge my own way away from home and none of New York’s state schools really interested me. I did apply to one in-state school (Syracuse) that’s a multiple hour drive away from home but ended up not going there.

Starting at Miami was a bit of a culture shock. I went from seeing familiar faces everywhere in high school to being the one solitary Baldwinite at college. There are several others from my high school at Miami but they’re older than me and we’ve never interacted before. I was entirely on my own. My friends, on the other hand, moved on from high school in a very different way: Almost everybody I know attends college with at least one other person from high school and SUNY Binghamton is now the home of more than 20 members of my graduating class, many of whom now live together.

Sometimes, I’m a little bit jealous. If vacation days don’t line up, I’ll be sitting in my dorm room reading Facebook updates about how everyone’s getting together back at home – people can’t afford to fly down to Miami to visit one friend but they can afford to drive to Binghamton to visit dozens of them – but embarking on a college journey miles away from home does have its positives.

By going to school away, you’ll get to miss out on all the stupid high school drama inherent in high school friendships. You’ll be able to make an entirely new group of friends without worrying about what your old friends think of you or of them. You can reinvent yourself entirely if you want to, become your own person and return home new, improved and blissfully unaware of who kissed who and who now hates who. Trust me, you won’t miss it!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Making Connections in College

Campus Groups, Classes and Professional Organizations All Have Benefits

July 7, 2011

Making Connections in College

by Darci Miller

Once you hit college, you no longer have to build your resume to get into the school of your dreams but you do have to build your resume to get the career of your dreams. Trust me, the competition out there is tough and you’ll need any leg up than you can get. Luckily for you, college has a veritable goldmine of resources to help you.

First and foremost, take advantage of on-campus organizations related to your intended field. From clubs to fraternities, there will definitely be something for you to get involved with to make connections – both with professionals and with other students in your major. Older students can help you out with classes in future semesters and professionals can be great assets in securing internships.

Class assignments can be great opportunities to make connections as well. Last fall, my sport leadership professor assigned each student to interview a leader in the field they want to get into. As a U.S. Olympic Committee hopeful, I was able to interview Gary Hall, Sr., a former Olympic swimmer and current vice president of the U.S. Olympians Association. Not only was this insanely cool for me (I was so star struck!) but he wrote me a letter of recommendation that helped me get an interview with USA Swimming. And this all happened because of a homework assignment!

Professional organizations are significant assets as well. Many have chapters for college students to join and membership fees are fairly minimal. Joining one of these organizations gives you access to a vast network of connections. Though I’m not in one yet, I have a friend who’s a member of the Association of Women in Sports Media. She just graduated and credits the AWSM for helping her get a killer internship with MLB.com. (I think I need to join this, like, five minutes ago!) To find an organization that’s right for you, Google professional organizations for your major to start making connections. Happy hunting!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Recognizing Your Responsibilities

by Darci Miller

I grew up with parents who were very involved in my life. I don’t mean that in a bad way – they were as involved as any good parents should be – and was grateful they always made sure I finished my homework, was on top of my deadlines and didn’t forget an appointment.

I didn’t realize any of this on a conscious level until I began attending college. Suddenly, I had somewhere to be on a certain day and only I was responsible for staying organized and reminding myself about it. If any of you have applied for study abroad, I’m sure you know what I’m going through: During the last week of September, I realized that the October 1st deadline had crept up on me. This set off a week and a half of printing documents, scheduling appointments with the study abroad office as well as my academic advisor, getting my transcript, writing essays, etc.

It’s a little overwhelming figuring out what I needed and trying to schedule around classes and work and life. Luckily, I quickly learned that I need to write things down. I’ve become dependent on my planner, whiteboard and Post-it notes to help me manage my time and tasks. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve made dozens of lists of things I need to remember to do. This method works for me but if it doesn’t work for you, figure out what does before something falls through the cracks.

Sometimes I still wish I woke up to notes on the table scribbled by my dad – “get form signed” or “talk to your advisor” – but now I know I can handle life’s responsibilities by myself. To this day, sometimes keeping track of everything feels like a full-time job but I’m proud to report that my study abroad application was submitted (in full!) on time. I’d call that a success.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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by Emily

I remember sitting around in an English class one day, waiting for the professor to arrive, when one of my classmates mentioned the GRE (graduate record examination) test that we’d all recently taken to apply to graduate programs. She had been worried she wouldn’t even be able to get into English grad programs because of her abysmal standardized math test performance. Everyone chimed in with their GRE scores and application process anecdotes and I spoke up with, “I was surprised that I actually scored higher on the math than the verbal!” It was akin to announcing that I tortured small animals. The air went out of the room and I think some girls actually edged away from me.

 

This social stigma about math certainly doesn’t start with graduate students in English departments. Most students who excel at math, especially girls, have certainly felt it at one point or another. So while some previous research has suggested that girls just aren’t as good as boys at math, a new study published Friday in Notices of the American Mathematical Society suggests something different. Combining two of the facts of life of high school—popularity is important to many girls and math just isn’t cool—the study proposes that girls don’t do as well at math in middle school and high school and don’t pursue math-heavy degrees as undergraduate students because of social pressure.

 

This conclusion comes from looking at the cultural backgrounds of some of the highest-performing college and high school students who participate in math competitions. Most of these students, especially the girls, came from cultures where math is prized as an important and useful skill and a source of prestige. These students or their parents tended to be from Asian or Eastern European countries, either sparing them from or giving them a social counterpoint to American beliefs about math. These countries produce a higher proportion of mathematically gifted women, as well as higher numbers of math superstars overall, suggesting that it’s not that girls aren’t good at math, but that girls in the U.S. are socialized to not make math a priority.

 

So, if you’re a high school math nerd, hang in there. At least one research team believes that you are good at math and you’re not a weirdo for being good at math. If you can stick with math into college, you’ll likely encounter a different attitude. And if the article in Friday’s New York Times is any indication, top colleges want mathematically-inclined students. They might even pony up some scholarship money to woo you.


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by Emily

While the U.S. Presidential debates have wrapped up for 2008, voters interested in hearing more about each candidate's plans for education policy have an opportunity to watch a debate between the candidates' educational advisors on Tuesday.  The debate will take place at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City and will be webcast live by Education Week

Due to the worsening economic situation in the United States, more and more families are having trouble finding money for college.  Lenders leaving the Federal Family Education Loan Program and discontinuing private student loans have required some families to look elsewhere for financial aid, while lost income and tougher credit requirements have made it harder for other families to come up with the funds required to pay for school.  While industrious students certainly can find college scholarships and grants, many voters would like to see schools and the federal government find ways to increase these sources of funding.  Simplifying the financial aid application process and curbing the rising cost of tuition are other issues many would like to see the next administration tackle. 

The quality of public education at the K-12 level also remains a concern for many voters.  With more and more families viewing a college education as essential, adequate college preparation has become increasingly important.  Yet many students require remedial education upon entering college, minorities are still are less likely to go to or finish college, and many voters are disenchanted with standardized testing and No Child Left Behind

This debate will likely provide voters with more complete information on each campaign's education plans.  If education policy is a major issue for you this election, consider tuning in to the webcast at 7 PM on Tuesday, October 21.


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by Emily

Just in case you haven't heard enough reasons to kick your scholarship search into high gear, an article appearing last week in The Boston Globe reported that one third of parents have cut back on or altogether stopped saving for college.  According to a study by Fidelity Investments, the current economic situation has left many parents less equipped to help their children pay for school.

The study found that parents have fewer resources to devote to students' college expenses due to drops in values of investments and home equity. To help make up this difference, 35 percent of parents reported plans to delay retirement in order to better help their college-aged children pay bills.  Parents are also asking more of college students, with 55 percent expecting their kids to work part-time, 44 percent hoping their kids will live at home while attending college, and 37 percent encouraging their children to attend less expensive state colleges.  Additionally, 62 percent of parents expect their children to take out student loans--a figure that makes sense coupled with the 16 percent increase in FAFSA applications reported earlier this year.

When coupled with anecdotal evidence, such as another Boston Globe piece highlighting Massachusettes families' increased interest in public universities for 2009, this study stresses the need for students to ramp up their efforts to find money for college.  While federal student financial aid and private loans are being turned to more and more, college scholarships are still options for students industrious enough to find them.  If you're already attending college or currently in the midst of the college application process and haven't yet started searching for scholarships, now is a good time to begin.  Between now and February, a great number of scholarship opportunities will open up for applications, so the sooner you know what's out there, the better a chance you'll have of winning scholarships.


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by Emily

It's November 4th, and that means election day for everyone in the U.S. If you haven't already cast an early or an absentee ballot, here's yet another reminder to show up at the polls today.  Education has become a major concern due to economic instability, decreasing availability of student loans, and the rising costs of attending college.  Today you can make your opinion on education known, and not only in the Presidential and Congressional races.

Voters in eleven states will pick a new governor, and according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, new governors in five states will play an important role in setting educational policies in coming years.  Voters in Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington can check out coverage of what's at stake in terms of education here

State referenda in thirteen states also have the potential to affect educational policy on issues ranging from school funding to affirmative action.  The Chronicle of Higher Education provides info on these referenda here, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education also addresses them here

If you're just starting down the road to a college education, the people elected today and the measures passed today will have a direct influence on the shape of your academic journey.  Your ability to fund your education, your experience at college, your ability to meet your college goals, and even your chances of getting into the college of your choice could change based on what happens today.  So if you can, read up on the issues and get out there and vote.


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by Emily

U.S. News had an interesting piece in their education section last week about the monetary benefits of a college degree.  Citing government statistics and several recent studies, the author related that students who complete a bachelor's degree can expect to earn $300,000 more in today's dollars over the course of their working lives than students who just complete high school.  Students who earn a professional degree, go to law school, or complete business school can expect to earn even more.

A full-time worker with a bachelor's degree makes about $20,000 more a year than a student with a high school diploma, and a student with, say, an MBA can expect to make about $100,000 more than a high school grad each year.  While such annual income disparities add up to more than $300,000 over a lifetime of work, studies citing that figure also adjusted for inflation, the extra money high school grads earn in those first four or five years, and the average cost of attending college for four years.

Another benefit of a college degree is a better chance of landing and keeping a job: the unemployment rate for college grads is half what it is for those who don't go to college.  Students from low-income backgrounds also reap more benefits from receiving a degree, as they're able to land not only higher-paying, but also more stable jobs and better-benefited jobs, and to have opportunities that would not have been available to them otherwise. Going to college can also provide significant academic advantages for your future children.

So if college costs are daunting and you're considering whether your education is going to be worth the price you pay for school, do some research.  You're statistically more likely to live a better life in a lot of ways if you go ahead and earn that degree.  There are tons of reasons to go to college, and also tons of ways to help with funding your education.  Do a thorough college search to find the best and most affordable fit for your educational goals, and then search for available scholarships and other financial aid to help you pay the bill.


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