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When Choosing College Extracurriculars, Remember Your Passions

by Katie Askew

It’s the last few weeks of high school and you’re already feeling nostalgic. Your final band concert has been performed, your final basketball game has been played, your last student council meeting has been attended and you may be feeling sentimental because your intended major doesn’t fit the things you were passionate about in high school. Fear not: You don’t need to leave your extracurricular activities behind just because you’re heading to college!

I was in the same place you were last year. My final decision to major in journalism and English felt like an abrupt end to my music career...but boy, was I wrong. It’s important to keep involved in your passions through extracurriculars while also pursuing your major, especially if your passions span a wide range of interests. For example, I attended the Society of Professional Journalists meetings through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication while also performing with the University Concert Band (a performance group for non-music majors) and working as a drumline instructor at a suburban high school. I made time for the things I love outside of my major and I can honestly say that my music groups kept me sane during stressful school times.

The most important lesson is to not feel defined by your major. Simply because you are a biomedical engineering major doesn’t mean you can’t be an ambitious thespian or star volleyball player. Student groups are just the place to meet your needs – the University of Minnesota has over 700 student groups to choose from! – and if you can’t find a group that matches your passions, you can join another interesting one (like the Campus People Watchers) or create your own!

So in terms of extracurricular activities in college, the sky is the limit...unless you join the skydiving club.

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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The Learning Curve: Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes

by Jessica Seals

College classes, whether taken online or in person, may all seem to be the same. Both types require you to read, write papers, take tests and participate in some way but there is a big difference in the lifestyle that you can lead when you take online classes instead of taking traditional classes on campus.

I have personally taken both online and traditional classes, experienced the differences between the two and quickly learned that my learning style needed to be adjusted on a class-by-class basis. With traditional classes, you have a set time to go to class, turn in work and take tests. Your other daily activities have to be planned around your class schedule. Online classes allow you to be more flexible with your time – the ones I’ve taken allowed me to base my school activities on my daily schedule and do the work when it was convenient for me – while still studying and adhering to deadlines set by the instructor. But with this increased flexibility comes more responsibility, as you have to learn how to make a schedule you can stick to. This schedule should list all of your assignments along with their due dates so that you don’t miss turning anything in. (When I first started taking online classes, I missed two assignments because I hadn’t adjusted to this new type of learning. Ouch!)

Online classes are very convenient for those who have busy schedules that don’t allow them to sit in traditional classes. Taking classes online makes it easier to push your work to the side until the last minute, so be prepared to manage your time more closely if you want to stay on track.

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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Cars on Campus: Are They Necessary?

by Katie Askew

Public transportation: Some fear it, some embrace it. Ten months ago, I was the former but I’m now proud to say I am the latter.

Cars are the main mode of transport where I’m from in South Dakota – even 14-year-olds can have their licenses here! – but moving to the “big city” to attend the University of Minnesota meant giving up my car. I left it dead and dust-covered for nine months and, in a way, also left a piece of me back home. I was petrified at the thought of climbing onto a...a...public bus. Yuck, but I had no other option if I wanted to go to Target or to downtown Minneapolis for concerts and clubs. I even rode the light rail during a shopping spree with friends at the Mall of America (it goes right to the basement of the mall!).

I will never regret learning the bus and light rail routes of Minneapolis because it saves me tons of time, money and public transportation really wasn’t as creepy or dirty as I thought it was going to be. As time passed, the more thankful I became for not having to pay expensive parking fees, car insurance and all the parking tickets I surely would have received. I won’t even mention the loads of money I saved on gas...$4 a gallon, anyone?

The University of Minnesota has extremely discounted bus and light rail passes for students. Your school probably does, too, but if you REALLY can’t bring yourself to take public transportation and are contemplating bringing your car to campus, consider bicycles, rollerblades, longboards and good old-fashioned walking – all of which are cheaper for you and better for the environment. Things may be different if you attend college in a more rural setting but going to a metropolitan school without a car is possible!

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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Where to Buy and Sell Textbooks

by Kara Coleman

It’s important to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your money as far as it will go when putting yourself through college and one way to do this is by exploring your options for buying and selling textbooks.

Your campus bookstore is the most obvious option but it's also the most expensive. One good thing about campus bookstores is that some will allow books and other school-related items like notebooks and calculators to be covered by grants and scholarships. Some bookstores sell both new and used textbooks and allow students to sell their books back to the store for cash at the end of each semester...but you only get back a fraction of the amount you actually paid.

Since your fellow students are in the same boat you’re in, ask around for a specific book that you need. One guy sold his $200 Spanish book to me for $100 and a girl I know let me have her $70 math book for $30. It’s also a good idea to swap books with friends if they are taking a class that you took last semester and vice versa. That way, everyone saves money.

The Internet is your friend so check around online to see what sites have the best prices on what you need. I have friends who routinely order their textbooks from Amazon.com, Half.com and Betterworld.com. (These are great places to sell your used textbooks as well.)

If you don’t want to buy, consider renting your textbooks for a semester from Chegg.com. I did this last year and I think it’s a great idea. At the end of the semester, Chegg emailed return address labels to me and there was no charge to ship my books back to them.

Kara Coleman lives in Gadsden, Alabama, where she attends Gadsden State Community College. She received the school’s Outstanding English Student Award two years in a row and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University in August 2011 to study communications with concentration in print journalism. Kara’s writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children’s book author through Big Dif Books. In her spare time, Kara enjoys reading, painting, participating in community theater and pretty much any other form of art.


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Save Your Standardized Test Scores!

by Jacquelene Bennett

Here is a bit of advice for all you graduating high school seniors: Save your test scores!

All that time and money you spent on the SATs, ACTs and APs and all those other acronymonous tests are not for naught! Besides being a tool for college admittance, these tests will actually benefit you later on in your college career. I know...crazy, right? All that time spent studying vocabulary, major historical dates and algebraic equations was actually worth it in the long run!

I know from personal experience: My SAT I scores on the writing and reading comprehension sections (good but not great scores, mind you) exempted me from a general requirement writing class. While your SAT scores are generally used for assessing your placement within a university, these scores can sometimes aid your college in placing you in the proper introductory classes or can waive your gen eds entirely (though every school is different so check with the registrar).

For those of you who took AP classes and did well on the final AP tests, scores of three or higher usually exempt you from certain college courses. I have a friend who didn’t have to take any history, science or foreign language gen eds because her AP scores were accepted in lieu of taking these classes. Pretty cool!

So, like I said before, save those scores! And for those you who are still undergoing this standardized testing process, do your best on them – they could save you from the headache of having to take a 100-level English class later on.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising 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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Orientation: The Survival Guide

by Anna Meskishvili

For the short time you’ll be at orientation, you’ll come away with one million impressions. Here are some things I wish I knew before my orientation:

  • Don’t over pack. Most orientations are only a few days so there is no need to bring anything more than a backpack with shorts and a few t-shirts. You’ll probably be snagging some school attire, too, so save room!
  • Don’t expect to meet your best friend, roommate or significant other. You’ll likely only meet 10 percent of your class during orientation, which is only 25 percent of your school’s population. I met some awesome people during my BU orientation – I still meet up with a few for lunch! Try to make the most of everyone you meet...and don’t leave orientation engaged.
  • Come with questions. Most schools do their freshman class registration during orientation so have a rough idea about which gen eds and electives you would be interested in. For example, if a science is required, you can either take a challenging biology course or a fun, easy geology course for non-majors. (We call it “Rocks for Jocks.”)
  • Sleep when you can. I don’t remember one minute of my orientation weekend where I was not scheduled to be somewhere but do yourself the favor and sleep when you can. Although it’s fun to stay up all night gossiping, keep in mind you have four more years of this! Orientation is exhausting, overwhelming and awesome...make sure you have enough energy to take it all in, unlike my friend who stayed up all night and ended up missing registration and ID pictures.

All schools take great pride in their orientation programs so be ready to be entertained. As long as you take it all in stride, make the best of it and come prepared, you’ll leave orientation counting down the minutes until move-in day!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Books on the House!

National Academies Press Puts All 4,000 Books Online for Free

June 3, 2011

Books on the House!

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a college student on a budget, everything’s coming up roses for you today. Not only is it National Doughnut Day, where you can snag a complimentary tasty treat at Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme (I did!) but the National Academies Press announced it will offer its entire PDF catalog of books for free. You read that right! The press, which is the publishing arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, will offer files that can be downloaded by anyone absolutely free of charge.

Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for the press, said it had previously offered 65 percent of its titles – ones that were narrow in scope – for free. “The 35 percent that we are adding today will reach a wider audience, and we are doing it because it’s central to our mission to get this information to everyone,” she said. What can students, educators or anyone for that matter look forward to? A wide array of titles including “Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards,” which costs $99.95 in hardcover. (Woah!)

“Eight years ago, if we did this, we would have lost substantial amounts of money,” Pope said. “But our costs have come down a lot, and our institution says they will stand behind us even if we do lose money.” Let’s hope this trend catches on and others jump on the freebie bandwagon!


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Prepping for a Summer Abroad: Logistics Edition

by Mariah Proctor

Experience has taught me things that the people whose excitement I share as our departure date rapidly approaches have yet to learn. Luckily, I can split my study abroad knowledge into three categories of preparation: what you’ve got ahead, what you’re leaving behind and what to bring along.

What you’ve got ahead: Being overwhelmed by the stuff you have to do before you leave can block your ability to be excited and grateful for the coming opportunity. Prevent this by finding out everything you can about your destination. Research the city where you’ll be staying and look up all the oddball entertainment in whatever genre entices you to get a real picture of what’s in store for you. If there’s a prep course, don’t miss a single moment of it.

What you’re leaving behind: Sit down a make a list of the things you need to do while you’re still weeks out and then carry it with you so you can add items like a new journal or travel-size deodorant as soon as you think of them. Studying abroad (particularly in summer) often means missing family reunions, weddings and road trips; don’t be an absent friend or relative and keep people updated on you so you don’t just fall off the map. You will get homesick – be prepared for it.

What to bring along: Give the clothes you’re bringing a trial run at home to be sure you really enjoy wearing them. Whatever you bring will be worn a lot; don’t let eight outfits become three because they’re not fun or functional to wear. Bring entertainment with you (books, movies etc.); you’d think that three months abroad would be constant exotic experience, but there will be downtime and you will want to unwind in a way that’s familiar.

Remember that no matter how well you prepare, there will be surprises. Just find joy in that journey and you will have a brilliant experience.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.


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First Contact of the Roommate Kind

by Jacquelene Bennett

Starting college can be exciting and intimidating all at the same time for myriad reasons but one thing that doesn’t have to be stressful is getting to know your future roommate. Schools generally reveal room assignments a couple of weeks before the start of the term, giving you plenty of time to get acquainted and prevent any possible problems.

As a freshman, I lived in a room with three other girls. Yes, you read that right: There were four of us in one room. Luckily, we all got along really well and respected each other’s lifestyles and schedules but there was still an adjustment period – this will always happen when living with someone new.

One way to help ease the shock is to make contact before school starts. My roommates and I called each before freshman orientation and though it was a bit awkward, talking to a stranger it was helpful. We discussed each other’s cleaning habits, sleep schedules, class schedules and music preferences so when we finally moved in, we already knew what to expect.

Not only does calling, emailing or Facebooking your new roommate ease the awkwardness of living with an unfamiliar person and setting standards for your room but it gives you a chance to cut costs as well. You can plan ahead of time which person is going to bring the mini-fridge and who is going to bring the television so you don’t need to buy both. The same should go for all shared items: My freshman roommates and I would take turns buying water bottles for everyone.

Living with someone you never met before is going to be awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning but you can help the situation by simply picking up the phone and calling them. Who knows, they could end up being your best friend!

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising 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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Staying Safe Online

June 7, 2011

Staying Safe Online

by Radha Jhatakia

We’ve all heard that we should be careful of the information we put on the Internet but how many of us actually listen to this advice? There are news stories and movies made about what can happen when we put our personal information online, yet many people believe that nothing bad will happen. The truth is that it can be quite dangerous to share private information in any setting; the Internet just makes it easier.

Social networking sites have changed the modern generation. We put up tweets and Facebook statuses about every minute thing we do. Every picture taken at a party goes up on the web (whether the subjects are mentally stable or not) and every gripe about a job or professor is tweeted or turned into a status message. These things can affect you in many ways...if not now, then in the future: They can prevent you from getting a job or getting into school and people who post their addresses, phone numbers and emails are not only at risk of identity theft but could be stalked...or worse.

If you have not adjusted the privacy settings on your personal profiles, change them immediately. When someone friends you and you’re not sure you know them, decline the request or message them to get more information. Don’t volunteer private information about where you live or work to anyone, including using “check in” applications like those on Facebook and foursquare. Sure, it’s fun to let your friends know you’re using your hard-earned work-study dollars to treat yourself to a meal outside the dining hall but if your privacy settings are too low, everyone with access to your pages will know where you are at any given time. You could return to your dorm to find your laptop missing.

In the most basic of terms, when it comes to sharing information online, be cautious and trust your gut.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s 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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