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Why You Should Include Office Hours in Your Schedule

June 28, 2011

Why You Should Include Office Hours in Your Schedule

by Jessica Seals

On the first day of class, professors usually pass out detailed syllabi that provide valuable information such as grading scales, what materials will be needed and what topics will be covered during the semester. There is one more piece of helpful information that most students overlook despite the fact that it’s normally displayed at the very top of the page: the location of the professor’s office and what days and times they will have office hours.

Although professors have office hours, most students do not take advantage of them. I just completed my third year of college and I have lost track of the number of emails that I have received from professors practically begging students to stop by during their office hours with any type of question. Most professors are also willing to accommodate students if their class and extracurricular schedules do not allow them to come during regular office hours but only a handful of students seize this opportunity by the end of the semester.

I have always taken advantage of office hours to make sure that I understand every assignment clearly. I have often noticed that professors tend to be more favorable towards students who come to their office hours because they seem to be the ones that care about their performance in class the most. I also get the one-on-one help I need and always do extremely well on assignments I ask questions about.

My advice to any college student is to take advantage of office hours. The professor gets to know you personally and notices that you care about your grade. Also, don’t wait until the end of the semester to show up with concerns; there’s not much that can be done by you or the professor if issues are being addressed this late in the game.

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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A High School Bucket List

July 5, 2011

A High School Bucket List

by Angela Andaloro

While newly-minted high school seniors across the country are already itching to walk across the stage and accept their diplomas next spring, there are a few things students must do before their high school experience comes to a close. I was there myself not too long ago and this was my official high school bucket list:

  • Go to one epic party. You know those huge house parties you see in every teen flick ever created? Believe it or not, they actually happen in real life. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, so go ahead and enjoy it! Just make sure to enjoy responsibly.
  • Pull an all-nighter. This may not sound like a whole lot of fun but it’s definitely an experience, especially when you do it with friends! My advice: Don’t stay up all night the night before the test! You need your sleep before a big exam so do it a few nights in advance if you can.
  • Go to prom. I realize prom isn’t something everyone gets totally into; that said, it’s something everyone could get a tiny bit into. It’s fun to get dressed up, have a sophisticated evening out and see your classmates truly trying to act like adults (which can be pretty funny). Most people only get one chance to go to prom...why not take it?
  • Start thinking about the future. Many high school seniors think they have plenty of time to worry about the future – majors, possible careers, even the colleges they’ll attend – but I can tell you from personal experience that the first two years of college whiz by and before you know it, it’s time to make those decisions. The earlier you start to think about what you want to do and where you want to go, the better prepared you’ll be.

What’s on YOUR high school bucket list?

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.

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Choosing Your Study Abroad Destination

July 6, 2011

Choosing Your Study Abroad Destination

by Mariah Proctor

Most peoples’ perfect study abroad destination is dictated by major. Should you find yourself studying English, you will likely want to go to the land of Shakespeare, Keats and Wordsworth. Ancient Near Eastern Studies will likely send you to the modern Near East. Music may see you joining me here in Vienna. But if you’re undecided, here are some helpful hints in choosing a study abroad destination.

If you want to remain comfortable, have frequent Internet access and see sights you’ve heard about your whole life, go to Europe. In doing so, know you’ll see thrilling sites and learn royal history but also know that the people accompanying you will probably be on their parents’ dime and may be inclined to constant shopping, checking items off their bucket lists and taking countless photos. If you are one of those people, perfect fit.

If you’re ok with a little sweat and dirt in your shoes, explore the Middle East. It will be full of things religiously significant to multiple sects so prepared to be bowled over by devotion and the drama of clashing beliefs. Desert heat is dry but desert dwellers know spices so be prepared for some incredible taste sensations. You’ll be joined by students with specific passions; people that travel to the Middle East aren’t just traveling for the sake of traveling so make sure you aren’t either.

If you want a daily helping of potentially incurable culture shock and an environment that is both stringent about formal propriety and laid back about everything else, head to Southeast Asia. Your travel companions will likely be humanitarians and adventurers. Just avoid getting stepped on by the elephants that will be lumbering down the street.

Every study abroad has a distinct student culture. Thoroughly research not only the place but the kind of people that choose that destination to ensure it is paradise for you. But rest assured, no matter where you choose to go, there will always be plenty of ice cream.

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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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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Confused in College? Contact a Counselor!

July 8, 2011

Confused in College? Contact a Counselor!

by Radha Jhatakia

You enter college with a major in mind and a plan to get a degree in it. You don’t let the fine print surrounding general education classes, major classes and GPA get in your way but you still may hit a snag or two. If this happens, seek out a counselor.

There is a difference between a general education (G.E.) counselor and a major counselor. A G.E. counselor is there to make sure you get your G.E.s done, have enough credits to graduate and have successfully completed all classes. A major counselor, on the other hand, will make sure you take all the classes you need to get your intended degree. Getting a degree and graduating are two very different things balancing on a fine line.

The assistance you get really depends on the counselor so meet with a few and select the one who “gets” you best. If you have a counselor who isn’t 100-percent sure of the university’s curriculum or graduation/degree requirements, switch as soon as you can; you don’t want to be filing your graduation petition only to realize you are missing a requirement! A good counselor will make it mandatory for you to meet with them a few times each semester to make sure you are on track. He or she will also help you with an education plan so that you know what is necessary to graduate. A great counselor will even recommend that you get a second opinion on his or her advice so don’t be afraid to do so.

You may have known what you wanted to major in forever but don’t let your pride get in the way of accepting some assistance. You’ll be better off for it even after you graduate...which you will, thanks to your counselor’s expertise!

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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The Best Financial Aid Policies in Higher Ed

July 13, 2011

The Best Financial Aid Policies in Higher Ed

by Alexis Mattera

Did you know that more than 70 colleges across the country have replaced loans with grants? That’s right: Schools are offering more free money to entice students to enter their hallowed halls, meaning they will not be saddled with the often-dreaded student loan payments after graduation. What institutions come out on top? Here are a few of the best aid policies, courtesy of the Washington Post’s Daniel de Vise:

For de Vise’s complete top 12, click here. If your school made the cut, are you reaping the financial benefits? If your school is not represented, how are you paying for your degree?

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Getting Along With Your Host Family

July 15, 2011

Getting Along With Your Host Family

by Mariah Proctor

A practical stranger just walked into my room in her underwear to tell me not to be so rough with the cold water handle of the kitchen faucet.

Yes, living with host families is an adventure but can also be one of the most rewarding parts of a study abroad. It’s an adjustment to suddenly be sharing personal space with people you hardly know but here are a few rules of thumb that can help make the whole experience a little smoother for all.

Follow their rules, not yours. One of the biggest adjustments of attending college in general is that not everyone grew up with the same sensibilities as you did and the things you thought everyone knew (i.e., obviously mustard should be kept in the fridge) might be a ‘just you’ thing. That gets compounded fourfold when you are in a different family and a different culture so when your host family sets up initial guidelines, follow them. Even if it’s not how you would ever do things, you are in their home and you should respect their rules.

Monkey see, monkey do. For all of those other things that just have a big question mark and for which those new strangers whose , two words: watch and learn. Try to be observant and aware of the way things are done and follow suit.

Communicating isn’t stepping on toes. Don’t assume, ask! If there’s a language barrier, use some clever props or charades; through giggles and victorious discovery, they’ll figure out what you mean. Don’t feel like you’re being silly or an imposition for communicating your issues. Solving those issues will make you a less imposing presence.

Show your gratitude. Most of all, remember to be gracious and courteous! Your host family has opened up their home to you; learn all that you can learn from them because you will have no better opportunity for cultural immersion. Maybe, just maybe, these complete strangers can become like family after all.

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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A Word of Caution: Don’t Be TOO Active in College

July 18, 2011

A Word of Caution: Don’t Be TOO Active in College

by Jessica Seals

When you first begin attending college, you may be overwhelmed by the need to participate in as many activities as possible. Doing so is a good idea because it allows you to make new connections throughout the campus and you will more than likely become more comfortable at your school. It is possible, however, to be too enthusiastic when it comes to participating in activities on campus. And that’s not good.

Most schools have an orientation for freshmen where they get tours of the campus while learning about the different organizations they can become members of. Freshmen are encouraged to become active on campus by joining different groups to meet new people. There will be several people, like your orientation leaders, telling you to become very active but there will be others, typically students with older siblings already in college, who will advise you not to be overzealous.

I have heard stories from my fellow classmates of how they joined every organization in which they met the qualifications for when they were freshmen and how that idea quickly backfired. They were so consumed with going to meetings, volunteering and going to events that they ended up pushing their schoolwork to the side. Each person saw an unfavorable drop in their GPA, which took twice as many semesters to bring back up as it did to bring it down.

My advice? Everyone should become active on campus instead of wasting four years alone inside their dorm rooms but I’d say not to become too involved until you are sure that you can handle it. A long list of extracurricular activities is impressive but a low GPA could hurt your chances at getting into graduate school or impressing any future employers.

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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Proper Planning Breeds College Success

July 19, 2011

Proper Planning Breeds College Success

by Radha Jhatakia

In life, keeping things in order, having a set schedule and planning ahead will truly save you time and keep you on track. In college, staying organized is even more important.

When making your shopping list for college, put a planner at the top. I have been using one since I was in elementary school and it has always helped me stay on top of my stuff. It came in handy most in college, though, and helped me to stay organized from the very beginning. The best kind to buy is one that has slots for individual days as well as a monthly calendar. This will allow you to keep track of all your classes, assignments, meetings, work schedules, extracurriculars and will prevent you from forgetting about something important. As soon as you get an assignment, write it down and remember to check your planner every day. You will have far fewer scheduling conflicts and will become adept at managing your time and keeping a healthy balance between work and play. You can also incorporate Post-its to keep track of tentative times and dates while keeping your schedule looking neat.

There are also other tools you can use like Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar, which help sync media from different sources to keep track of all appointments. If you have a cell phone – and these days, who doesn’t? – use its alarm feature and tack a calendar up on your bulletin board as a backup (maybe even share it with your roommate and color coordinate your to-dos). Whatever your choice, make sure it’s something you are comfortable using and will remember to continuously check so that you don’t forget anything.

By staying organized all throughout college, you’ll be well-prepared to enter graduate school or the job market. College professors and potential employers appreciate organization: You will be a perfect TA candidate or employee if your superiors know they can depend on you. Be smart, be organized, be successful. It’s as simple as that!

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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Students Who Care: Campus and Community Volunteering

July 19, 2011

Students Who Care: Campus and Community Volunteering

by Thomas Lee

One of the best ways to get involved on campus is to show you care by giving something back through student volunteering. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do this. What’s best for you?

One way is to get involved with organized campus projects such as campus clean-up or even landscaping. Many colleges have some kind of “Show You Care” day that allows students to help with minor projects. Another way is to plan your own project and present it to campus ministry, student government or another student body that would be willing to help. One group of students at Methodist and volunteered to go around to the dorms and take out other students’ trash. Another group fed pizza to the cafeteria workers. I was involved with “Show You Care” day by helping move rocks and dirt to fill in a ditch for a walkway bridge and also helped remove fallen trees and branches from a family’s yard that had been struck by a tornado.

Another way to show you care is fundraising. Several student organizations have fundraisers for charitable causes. My fraternity, Kappa Sigma, raised money for the Fallen Heroes Campaign, a donation network for the families of soldiers killed in combat. Members of student ministry on my campus became mentors for Young Life, evangelistic outreach for at-risk high school students. The international students conducted several fundraisers for global causes such as conflict relief and stopping hunger. They even had their own campus club devoted solely toward charitable causes called Economics Anonymous.

If you want to be involved in the community but not necessarily in ministry or charity, another way is campaign volunteering. Campaigning for local candidates combined with student volunteering is a great way to build your resume and social network, as well as maybe help you get a date!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.

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