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

May 3, 2013

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?

May 21, 2013

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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Easy Health and Fitness Plans for the Semester

September 14, 2012

Easy Health and Fitness Plans for the Semester

by Radha Jhatakia

Everyone struggles with keeping up a healthy diet and fitness schedule in college, especially if you work part time or are involved in organization on campus in addition to taking classes. Here are some simple tips that could help you squeeze in some time to work on your fitness.

  • It’s all about scheduling the time and making the commitment. I know at the end of a long day, we just want to get those extra 20 minutes of shut-eye but most likely, that time isn't going to make you feel more rested. (It’s like hitting snooze every five minutes in the morning – it won’t do anything but make you late!) Instead of crawling into bed, head over to the rec center or embark on a walk or run around campus for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • There are websites that have amazing and healthy recipes. Womenshealthmag.com and eatthis.menshealth.com are just a few sites that offer quick and easy work-out routines and meal plans you can follow. The latter website also has restaurant guides so you can enjoy a meal outside your own kitchen or dining hall and still maintain a balanced diet.
  • When you buy your groceries, plan out meals for the week before you go. Also, don't hit the store when you're hungry because you'll end up buying a lot of junk food and other items you don't really need. It’s alright to indulge in that one pack of cookies while you’re studying – trust me, we all get the late-night studying munchies – but don’t overdo it.
  • And last but not least, get a work-out buddy! Having a friend with you every step of the way is a great motivator for both parties involved. Find a buddy who has similar goals and plan gym days or grocery shopping trips so you can help each other stay on track. I’ve started doing that this semester and it’s going great: We haven’t missed a day at the gym yet...though we may get a little carried away with our shopping lists!

Getting fit shouldn’t be a chore – have fun with it and you will enjoy the results even more!

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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Your College Application Guide

October 9, 2012

Your College Application Guide

by Radha Jhatakia

For seniors in high school, it’s about that time to dive into your college applications. The process is rather involved and has the potential to become very stressful but here’s how you can go about it while retaining your sanity.

First, you likely already have a list of colleges you are considering but start narrowing down your top contenders. Look at the majors they offer and see if they have the programs you’re interested in. Check the cost – financial aid may play a key role in what college you attend – and also see if they have activities that interest you (a sport you want to play, a specific student organization, a Greek system, an honors program, etc.). What’s the on-campus housing situation and could you see yourself living in the dorms? Consider these questions and more when deciding whether or not to apply to a college.

Second, check all the application deadlines. Remember, besides the actual application, you must submit test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters and personal statements and you need adequate time to procure all of these items. Also, review the fees associated with each application; some schools let you apply for free or a discounted rate online but you should also consider requesting application fee waivers if money is tight.

Third, the personal statement is the biggest part of the college application because it represents your personality. You may have a high GPA, AP classes and extracurricular activities but so do many other students – what will set you apart from the rest of the application pool is how you present yourself in the personal statement. Have a teacher or parent review your personal statement and edit it for you before submitting it to your college of choice.

Fourth – and although this is fourth on this list, you still want to get it done early – request recommendation letters. Ask teachers you’ve worked with and trust well in advance if they can write on your behalf. Have two or three for each college that requires one. Along with your personal information/resume/school involvement list, give the teacher an envelope that is stamped and addressed to the college(s) to which you’re applying so they can submit their letters directly.

Last but not least, take all your tests on time. If you haven’t taken the ACT, SAT or SAT II tests, register for the next available date; check which tests your colleges require and sign up for those ASAP!

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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The Accidental Career

August 30, 2012

The Accidental Career

by Radha Jhatakia

Accidental careers occur so often now-a-days that they hardly seem accidental at all. Some people start jobs assuming that they’re only temporary or a springboard into other jobs and they become unintended careers. This could be anything from a high school after-school job to an internship gone right – we often don’t realize that we’ve developed the career until we’re already in it, hence the "accidental" moniker.

Finding or even choosing a career that you had never intended on going into isn’t wrong. When it comes to choosing a career, there is no right or wrong as long as you are doing something you enjoy. On average, a person changes their career seven times over their lifespan. This can happen because the major you chose isn’t something you enjoy, because you want to advance in or change your field, or because you are trying something new. With such a diverse variety of options for different careers, the opportunities are endless.

Who knows, one day you might stumble upon a career without noticing and enjoy it! Recently, I found my potential career this way. This summer, I had an internship with a company I hadn’t pictured myself working at before but positive experience and in-depth exposure I received changed my mind. Throughout the course of the internship, I began to see it as less of a temporary job and more as a future career. Now when I graduate in December, I will have my own accidental career – something different than what I pictured myself doing and different than what I majored in. It just goes to show you can find your career anywhere...even when you’re not looking!

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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How to Make the Most of Your Last Year in College

August 16, 2012

How to Make the Most of Your Last Year in College

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s already mid-August and I know for many of us, it feels like summer break just started yesterday. For the students entering their last year in college, however, this was the last true summer off they’ll have – if this sounds like you, how are you going to make the most of your final undergraduate year? What will you do differently? Here are my suggestions:

  • Live it up. I kept wondering why people would say enjoy your college years because all I could imagine was midterms, finals and 20-page research papers but after entering the full-time working world through my internship this summer, I can say I’m definitely going to be making the most of my last year (semester, rather, as I graduate in December) in college! I propose that we all “carpe diem” to the fullest.
  • Keep in touch. Being able to see friends and familiar faces every day is something that’s often taken for granted by college students. When you graduate and everyone’s schedules become more hectic, it’s difficult to catch up. Yes, right now many of us are on budgets but at least we have the time to do things that are fun. Whether it’s a campus event or just hanging out in your dorm with your roommates, cherish these times and foster your connections now before it’s too late.
  • Step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never done something before and want to try it out, now is the time! If there’s a class you’ve always wanted to take, sign up for it. If there’s an event or club that you haven’t explored, get involved! Do everything that you couldn’t do before so that when you graduate, you'll do so with no regrets.

Take the extra time to appreciate your surrounding and that college atmosphere because once you’re done with college, you will only have the memories – do everything in your power to ensure they’re the best ones!

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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LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

August 9, 2012

LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

by Radha Jhatakia

From Twitter and Tumblr to Facebook and Google+, there are a variety of social media sites that one can use these days. Although these websites serve different purposes, there is one that everyone should have: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media site specifically created for professional networking. You create a profile, upload a picture and enter some information about yourself and then you can search for others who work in your desired field. You can also be searched for based on any number of criteria and the connections you make here could lead to recruitment and employment opportunities. If you think you can use LinkedIn the same way you use other sites, however, you’ve got another thing coming. Here are a few tips for LinkedIn success.

Since you are essentially selling yourself to potential employers on LinkedIn, put the very best version of yourself out there. Start with a decent and professional picture – you don’t have to be in a suit or tie but no snapshots of you at a party or dressed provocatively should EVER be used. Also, be mindful of how you describe yourself: For example, in the hobbies and interest section, don’t list “partying” – try “socializing” or “networking” instead. LinkedIn is very different from Facebook and to be taken seriously, you must promote yourself as such. Keep in mind that if you are questioning whether or not to include something on your profile, it probably doesn’t belong there!

You can also upload a resume to LinkedIn so make sure it’s top-notch and that the information in your resume matches your profile information. (No embellishing!) Another benefit of LinkedIn is that you can upload recommendation letters from your professors or employers to give those viewing your profile a bit more insight into who you are and what you’re capable of; you can ask your LinkedIn contacts to recommend you as well...just be ready to return the favor when asked. Professionals are increasingly putting their LinkedIn URLs on their business cards; it’s certainly a creative way to get exposure – is YOUR LinkedIn page worthy of such publicity?

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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Dealing with Negative Feedback

July 31, 2012

Dealing with Negative Feedback

by Radha Jhatakia

We all love to hear good things about ourselves, no matter how humble we are. However, when things take a turn – and they often do – how do we handle it? Even if this (often true) feedback is for our benefit, it is usually not welcome so here are some suggestions on how to handle negative feedback.

More often than not, the person tasked with giving the negative feedback – often euphemistically called “constructive criticism” – will feel some level of discomfort but you should remember that what they are saying is for your benefit. Allow them to say what they need to without interruption so that you show respect and remember that your body language can also represent your emotions: Even if you are upset, keep your composure by sitting or standing straight up, refraining from clenching your fists and teeth, and employing your best poker face. Pay attention, nod at main points and take everything to heart; if you don’t, you will come off as imprudent and these actions could make for a very different kind of feedback next time around.

When your review is complete, thank the person for giving you the feedback because they took time out of their day to do something that will ultimately benefit you and they cared enough to be honest about it. Ask them questions about how you can improve and what actions you need to take to make the work or internship situation better for all involved. More than likely, your employer will be thrilled that you want to improve and will be impressed with your level of maturity.

Remember one thing: Feedback – whether it’s positive or negative – is for your benefit. Feedback helps you correct yourself so that you can improve your career growth and development. No matter how well you can do something, there is no such thing as perfect: Always allow some room for improvement and you’ll go far at any task at hand.

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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Necessary Documentation for Employment

July 2, 2012

Necessary Documentation for Employment

by Radha Jhatakia

As we get older, one of the necessities of life is to always have legal identification with us – a piece of paper or plastic card that confirms who we are. A most basic form that many of us have is a driver’s license but if you want to work or intern, you’ll have to provide specific identification depending on where you’ll be employed.

When applying for a job or internship, you’ll need legal documentation to prove citizenship status within the U.S. and/or eligibility to work in the U.S. The most common forms of identification that you are allowed to use are a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, state identification card, social security card, school ID and military ID, though there are others. Unless the document you have has both your picture and social security information, which proves citizenship such as a passport, you will need two documents. (One of these documents must have your full name, state of residence, picture, and/or SSN if the other document provides the rest.) This is the bare minimum for jobs and internships in the United States.

If you are looking to work abroad or even study abroad, you will need some additional documents. Students wishing to study abroad will need a visa but the type of visa depends on the length of the time you will be traveling and the country you are going go. The most common type of visa for students is the F-1, which allows the students a small period of time after their education period is over to stay in the country. If one wishes to work abroad, a different type of visa is required; however, it also depends on if it's a U.S. company with a location in another country or if it is a foreign company. Most likely, you will need an international work visa...but don’t wait until the last minute to procure what you need: There is a process that should be started a minimum of six to eight months prior to traveling in order to have the documents on time.

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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Have Some Fun This Summer...for Free!

July 11, 2012

Have Some Fun This Summer...for Free!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s finally summertime and most college students are taking a break from school with the exception of those of you who are taking summer courses. But even with work and school, all college students can find some time to enjoy the summer! Fun activities can often cost money but there are plenty of enjoyable things you can do over the summer that a student-friendly budget can accommodate.

For those of you who enjoy outdoor activities, there are plenty of options available. You can plan picnics in a park close to you or have barbecues in someone’s backyard – you can have everyone pitch in a certain amount for food and supplies or turn it into a potluck where every guest brings one prepared dish. Hiking and camping are also excellent (and generally free) activities; recreational parks have hiking trails and campgrounds open for all to use so take advantage of them this summer.

If the outdoorsy scene isn’t your preference but the beach is, there are plenty more activities you can do there. Swimming, surfing and paddleboarding are all options but remember to be safe in the water! If the water isn’t your forte, you can always play beach volleyball, have a bonfire with some s’mores or soak up the sun and tan.

Prefer to stay indoors over the summer? There are plenty of arts and crafts projects you can do around the house such as making decorative items. You can also take the time to catch up on things you couldn't do during the academic year, like take a class at the YMCA, go to the gym, read some books, catch up on movies and TV shows, and spend time with family and friends.

Once you graduate from college, you won’t have three months of vacation (unless you become a teacher) – right now, summer is yours so take advantage of it!

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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