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Taking Your Own Senior Portraits

by Jacquelene Bennett

Whether you are a college or high school senior, you are undoubtedly starting to prepare for graduation and all the pomp and circumstance it entails. One of the many elements to graduation is senior portraits. While these pictures can be elegant and traditional, they can also be boring and unmemorable...or unflattering and downright horrible if they’re not done well.

Unfortunately, my roommate had the latter experience with her senior portraits. Her photos with the university-sanctioned photographer featured poor lighting, unnatural and uncomfortable looking poses and overall bad image quality. Did she want these images in the yearbook? Of course not, so we’re exploring an alternative course of action: taking our own senior portraits.

My roommate, some friends and I are going to take our digital cameras and go around campus taking pictures of ourselves. We plan on taking pictures on the school quad, in the library and at the admin building, among many other places. While these photos may not be traditional, taking our own pictures allows us to get creative and capture fun memories and places that influenced our time at college.

Wouldn’t YOU want your senior portraits to be taken in a place on campus that holds meaning for you, rather than in front of an ugly backdrop in a room that you’ve never been to before? Taking your own senior portraits allows you to do just that. Plus, it’s a great way to have fun and spend time with friends – something you may not get to do much of as graduation draws closer!

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


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Communal Living Illness Etiquette

by Jacquelene Bennett

Ah, October: Not only is it the beginning of the fall season but it’s the beginning of cold and flu season as well. No matter how amazing you think your immune system is, everybody gets sick and if you live a dorm room and have a roommate, illnesses get a little more complicated.

When I get sick, all I want to do is lie in bed all day with the lights off and sleep but you can’t do that when living with a roommate or with roommates. Here are some tips on how to behave when you’re sick and sharing a living space:

  • If you think you are getting sick, tell your roommate. This information allows your roommate to take preventative measures against getting sick themselves and if you do actually come down with something, it won’t be a complete surprise.
  • Despite how bad you are feeling, your roommate still has a schedule and shouldn’t have to tip-toe around you. Set rules about noise levels and if it’s okay to turn the lights on when they come in and out of the room, if you are bedridden.
  • Your roommate isn’t your mother so don’t expect him or her to take care of you. Though some will offer to help you out, don’t depend on them to get your food, make you take your medicine or to talk to your professors if you are absent from class. That’s all on you – handle your responsibilities like an adult.
  • Grab the Lysol and disinfect like there is no tomorrow. Open the window, wash your sheets and wipe down all surfaces you and your roommate both come in contact with (doorknobs, light switches, mini-fridge handles, etc.) to limit the spread of germs.

It may be more work than you’re used to but your actions will not go unnoticed: If your roommate falls ill, they will remember your courtesy and return the favor.

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


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Admitted Students Groups on Facebook Foster Connections, Put Freshmen at Ease

by Jacquelene Bennett

Starting college, meeting new people and living on your own for the first time can be both an exciting and terrifying experience for freshmen. Universities are trying to help quell concerns and ease the transition through the use of social media – specifically, colleges create Facebook groups for newly-admitted students that allow incoming freshmen and transfer students to join and interact with one another.

Every year, my school starts a group for in the incoming fall class and allows RAs, freshmen orientation leaders and current college students to join as well so that fall freshmen can get to know each other and current students before the academic year starts. New students ask current students about what kind of classes they should take, get advice on professors and find out what they should and shouldn’t bring with them for their dorm rooms.

Unlike your average campus tour, these groups allow students to ask questions about anything and everything. Students can use these groups to find out who will be living in their dorm hall, what to expect during freshmen orientation week, find people who have similar interests (intramural sports, dance company, etc.), voice concerns about class registration and ask questions that they can’t get answered anywhere else.

So if you are a newly-admitted college freshman, I suggest you join one of these groups and take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Use this medium to meet people, ask questions and to try to get a feel for how student life is going to be at the school.

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


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Plagiarism - Avoid it Like the Plague!

by Jessica Seals

After giving up a night out with your roommates so that you can write a research paper worth one-third of your grade, you would probably be devastated if your teacher flagged your work for plagiarism. Punishment for plagiarism ranges from a warning or receiving a 0 on the paper to failing the course or being expelled from the college. Your chances at graduating from college should never be put in jeopardy because of plagiarism and here are a few tips to help you avoid it.

  • 1. Make sure to cite all phrases and sentences that do not belong to you. Even the smallest phrase can get you into trouble if you do not provide a proper citation for it. Make sure to check with your teacher on what format they prefer their students to use (APA, MLA, etc.) for citations so there is no confusion.
  • 2. Ask questions if you do not know how to properly cite something. You can also get reprimanded if you cite your work incorrectly. There are several resources available online that give you step-by-step instructions on how to make citations in different formats.
  • 3. Always make sure that your citations are accurate. I learned this lesson the hard way: I was in a rush to finish a paper and mixed up two of my sources. While I did not get into trouble for plagiarizing, I did lose several points because my teacher discovered that I had improperly labeled some of my information when she checked the citations.
  • 4.Never put off an important paper until the last minute. A few hours before your paper is due, you realize that there is no way that you will finish in time so you decide to “borrow” the work of another person that you found online. Bad idea: Today, teachers have access to plagiarism software that will highlight any information that came from another paper and give the teacher access to that work. If you give yourself enough time to complete your assignment, you won’t be tempted to copy.

I have seen fellow classmates get into trouble because of plagiarism – depending on the severity of it, even one instance of plagiarism can potentially ruin an otherwise stellar academic career – and they realized it is never worth the risk to cheat when you can easily be caught.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. Jessica will be back at Memphis this fall to begin working toward her master’s degree in political science this fall; she ultimately hopes to attend law school.


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The Death of the Library As We Know It

by Jessica Seals

Years ago, most college students did not have personal computers and they had to go to the library if they wanted to access information in an old periodical or journal. That’s not the case today: The majority of students own computers that allow them to write papers, put presentations together and do research on the Internet. All of this can be done in the comfort of one’s own dorm room, apartment or home, making the library a less utilized resource on campuses.

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to the library every month so that I could check out new books to read. Now that I am in college, I am ashamed to say that when I enter my school’s library, I am sometimes unaware of where I need to go. I am in my senior year and I have only visited the library a handful of times; however, I have encountered students who have been here longer than I have but have never been to the library or can count on one hand the number of times they have been there. I’ve had several professors encourage us to do our research in the library but most of us still prefer to research periodicals and journals in the databases that have been set up when and where it is convenient for us.

Whenever I do go to the library, I notice just how much the availability of personal computers has changed the usage of the facility. Very few students are in the library and I rarely see many looking through hard copies of books or periodicals. Most of the students in the library are using the computers to type papers that are due that day or using the computers because they do not have one or do not have Internet access at home. The library does have areas where people can form study groups and meet but this does not entice more people to stop in – after all, dorms have common areas that serve the same purpose.

With the declining popularity of libraries, I have to wonder how many of them we will start to see close their doors because people are not visiting them like they used to. Do you think this is a possibility as well or will libraries withstand the test of time...and technology?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Ways to Decrease Your Fear of Public Speaking

by Jessica Seals

Public speaking is one fear that gets the best of many college students. Students cringe at the thought of having to give a presentation alone in front of their peers or at the thought of having to take a speech-centric course, despite the fact that some universities require such classes for graduation. A fear of public speaking can put a damper on a college experience – students may shy away from classes they really want to take because they are too afraid to speak in front of the class – and while not everyone will become the world’s greatest public speaker, there are ways to ease your mind and become better at speaking in front of a crowd.

Shift your focus. If making eye contact with people is your problem, find an inanimate object to focus on. I’ve found looking at the wall or space in between two people helps a lot because it makes it seem like you are making eye contact when you really are not. The crowd will be none the wiser and you will be far less flustered.

Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your speech or presentation in front of a mirror before it is time to speak in front of your classmates. Practicing will make you more confident in what you have to say and instead of fumbling with your note cards, the words will just flow right out of your mouth.

Perform for friends and family. Once you’re comfortable delivering your speech or presentation to your reflection, try it out on family, friends or roommates. This will ease you into presenting in front of a live audience like the one you’ll speak to in class.

Some people never get rid of their public speaking phobia no matter how often they have to perform in front of a crowd. Once you realize that you are not the only one afraid to speak in public and the most effective ways to practice, your nerves will calm and you’ll ace that presentation.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Keep Your Wallet Happy Without Sacrificing Style, Technology or Fun

by Jessica Seals

The pressure of always wearing the trendiest clothes, owning the newest cell phone and having an active social life can leave a deep hole in any college student's wallet. However, there are ways to avoid throwing money away every week.

Don’t spend $200 on jeans. Most cities have stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls that sell designer clothes for less. So many students put themselves in debt only to say they are wearing True Religion jeans but you can get more for your money while looking just as good, if not better!

Don’t buy electronics as soon as they are released. Although you may be dying to have the latest smartphone, waiting a few months will guarantee you a lower price. Also, there are cheaper smartphones that work just as well as an iPhone; check with your wireless provider to see if you’re eligible for a free or discounted upgrade as well.

Don’t make a habit out of eating at restaurants all of the time. Bills from Olive Garden and Red Lobster can add up quickly so many students become best friends with fast food dollar menus or decide to only dine out at nicer places on special occasions like birthdays. If you have a meal plan, figure out what dining halls serve the best food and if your dorm has a kitchen, it can be cheaper (and healthier!) to make your own meals. It can be fun cooking with friends and trying each other's recipes, too!

College tuition and fees are enough to put a student in debt. By cutting down on expenses for your social life, you'll still have a great college experience but without a great deal of financial stress.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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All-Nighters Are Not for Everyone

by Jessica Seals

We’ve all done it - waited until the night before a test or paper due date to do any work. I have heard several classmates say they wait until the last minute because that is when they do their best work – I can honestly say I’ve waited until the eleventh hour and have gotten an excellent grade on a test or assignment – but unfortunately, this study method doesn’t work for everyone. The problem in this situation is that some people do not know their own learning style.

Not everyone can read a passage for the first time and be able to remember all its important details. For those that can, staying up all night to study or write a paper does not seem to be a problem because of how quickly they can retain information. For others, focus is lost halfway through the study guide or they’ve run out of things to write about on page three of an eight-page paper. These are the people who should avoid all-nighters and start assignments or test prep early. Early preparation will help them remember the material because they are looking over it each day and do not have to rush and put unnecessary information in a paper because they ran out of time to do proper research.

Just because your roommates or classmates can pull all-nighters and get good grades does not mean that you can, too. If you try an all-nighter and do not succeed, know you’ll need to begin your work earlier next time because you have a different learning style. You will not feel rushed to do several assignments at once and you might notice better grades because you had the time to put in more effort!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Off-Campus Housing Advice for College Freshmen

by Jessica Seals

College freshmen have several things to be excited about. They have finally gotten out of high school and now have the chance to go off to college where they will feel more independent. One of the most exciting things about going off to college is getting to live in the dorms. Living in the dorms is somewhat similar to having your own apartment but most dorms still have rules that you must live by. Although dorm life excludes parental supervision, some freshmen still opt for an off-campus apartment. They feel as though they cannot share a tiny space with a stranger or that a dorm still has just as many restrictions as living at home. While there can be perks to having your own apartment (more personal space and not having to worry about sharing your belongings, for example), there are still issues you may encounter.

While living on campus, it’s much easier to be on time to class because the only travelling you have to do is walking. When living off campus, you will have to wake up and leave your apartment much earlier in order to beat traffic, find a parking space and walk to class. This can be overwhelming to someone who is not used to going to college classes and has limited time management experience.

Another problem that freshmen who have to pay their own rent run into is working obsessively to pay for their apartments. If you do this, your grades will begin to slip and you run the risk of being too tired to go to class because you have to work long hours – not a great way to begin your college career!

Although living off campus can help you become more independent, some freshmen enter the situation without a good plan. If you’ll be living off campus as a freshman, make sure your plan includes ways to manage time so that you are not constantly late to or absent from class, and can balance your work and school schedules. You can be successful in having your own apartment during your freshman year if you are mentally prepared for the challenge!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Keeping First Day Jitters in Check

by Jessica Seals

On my first day back at school, I dreaded having to get up early and go to class despite the fact that I took online classes all summer. I was, however, quite confident: This is my senior year and being nervous never crossed my mind but I did encounter several freshmen who were suffering from first day jitters.

On Monday morning, I noticed several freshmen who relied on maps or help from fellow freshmen in order to find their way around campus. I was even stopped and asked for directions by timid students who seemed very overwhelmed. I even talked to my roommate, who is a freshmen, the night before classes started about the differences between high school and I could tell just how nervous she was about starting school through the concerns she had.

One piece of advice that I would love to give all freshmen is realize you are not alone. I can say with certainty that most other freshmen are just as nervous about starting college as you are. There are probably even sophomores, juniors and seniors who have first day jitters despite the fact that they already have college experience. Once you realize that most students share your feelings, the butterflies in your stomach will not be as active as before.

Another minor piece of advice is to find out where all of your classes are before the first day of classes. Most freshmen have first day jitters because they are afraid that they will get lost or be late. Knowing where you are going beforehand will make finding your class one less thing to worry about.

Being nervous about your first day at college is natural but don’t let it consume you. Prepare at home, ask questions and lean on your fellow students – sharing this experience will bring you closer and help form bonds that will last a lifetime!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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