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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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Colleges to Extinguish Smoking on Campus

July 12, 2012

Colleges to Extinguish Smoking on Campus

by Kara Coleman

As many as one-half of America’s college campuses are preparing to become smoke-free. Though some schools currently ban indoor smoking or smoking within a certain number of feet from a dorm or academic building, new regulations would discourage students from lighting up even in open air on campus.

As would be expected, students are divided on the issue. Some feel that since college students are adults and smoking tobacco is legal, schools are overreaching their boundaries. Smoking is a stress reliever to many students, is less addictive than chewing tobacco and less dangerous than smoking spice or illegal drugs. Advocates of the no-smoking-on-campus rule cite secondhand smoke exposure as a big reason to bring about this change; they also say it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to encourage healthy habits.

As a non-smoker myself, I am very much in favor of not allowing students to light up on campus. I am not bothered so much by secondhand smoke at the university I attend now as I was at my community college, however: All the buildings were so close together on that campus that there really weren’t very many places to go outside and not inhale smoke. Some people (students AND faculty) would even light up as they walked down the sidewalk, leaving a trail of cigarette smoke wherever they went.

Some campuses are set to become smoke-free as soon as this fall, while other schools don’t plan to enact the rule until the 2013-2014 academic year. Is your school thinking about becoming smoke-free? If so, how do you feel about it? Do you think not permitting students to light up on campus will discourage them from doing it elsewhere...or are schools just blowing smoke?

This past summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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Movies and Books All Students Should Experience

July 17, 2012

Movies and Books All Students Should Experience

by Radha Jhatakia

Movies and books are constantly being produced and written but there are certain ones that everyone (especially college students) should see or read during their lifetime. What are they? Here are a few suggestions.

Although there are certain awful books that we have to read for school (and trust me, I’ve read my fair share), some are truly worth it because they make you think outside the box and stretch your imagination. A few recommendations of books to read are "The Catcher in the Rye," "To Kill a Mockingbird," the "Harry Potter" series and "The Taming of the Shrew." "The Catcher in the Rye" is an excellent tale about a boy facing the perils of growing up; this book and the "Harry Potter" series go to show that everyone faces tragedies as some point in their life but you must be strong and overcome them – "Harry Potter" especially is a great way for people to learn life lessons but also receive comfort in the fantasy world the books contain.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a contemporary classic about life before the civil rights movement. It is the story of a young girl who learns about right and wrong from her lawyer father who goes against the grain at the time by defending someone of color. Reading Shakespeare may seem like a drag, but once you get past the Elizabethan English, his works are enjoyable and humorous: If you like the movie “10 Things I Hate About You,” you’re already somewhat of a Shakespeare fan, as it’s based on his play, "The Taming of the Shrew."

As for movies, I’d recommend “A Time to Kill,” “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Sound of Music.” These movies represent discrimination, family values and the yearning to do what’s right. These films are based on books but I think both versions are excellent – if you have the time, I suggest experiencing both versions and comparing them!

So take a chance on a movie or book you normally wouldn’t opt for – you just might be surprised!

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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Taking Advantage of New Opportunities After a Semester Abroad

July 26, 2012

Taking Advantage of New Opportunities After a Semester Abroad

by Darci Miller

So you’re back from your semester abroad and you’re pumped to jump right back into your American life. Of course, you’d rather be gallivanting across Europe like you’ve been doing for the past few months but thinking about returning to your old activities makes you inexplicably happy...until you find that school is as different a place as you are a person.

Unfortunately, time didn’t stop and wait for you to return stateside. Your five months away changed you as much as it changed the place you’re returning to. Suddenly, your previous leadership positions are no longer available and you’re facing a bit of a crisis.

First of all, don’t panic! If you’re worried about what this gap in your resume will look like to an employer, don’t. The fact that you studied abroad has the potential to look just as valuable as any job experience. If marketed correctly, it can display your growth as a person, exposure to new cultures and whatever new skills you may have picked up.

While falling right back into your old routine might’ve been nice, life is always changing and this situation is no different. Now’s the time to reprioritize...and take advantage! I myself lost my editorial position on the school newspaper – kind of unfortunate, yes, but this gives me the chance to go back to being a writer and take on more responsibilities elsewhere. New internships, anyone?

This is, I think, the key: Don’t look at it as a loss but rather as the universe giving you a reminder that a trip abroad isn’t the only way to explore new things. It’s okay to miss your old job just like it’s okay to miss your old haunts and routines from your semester abroad. But if you look at this as an opportunity, it could bring tons of good things your way.

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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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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Will You Be a Perpetual Student?

August 1, 2012

Will You Be a Perpetual Student?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

When I first started attending college in 2009, there was nothing I wanted more than to graduate...fast. But now that I’m about to receive my B.A. in English Professional Writing in December, the idea of graduating terrifies me. What if I can’t find a job? What if the so-called “real world” isn’t as glorious as I imagined it? And what if I do find a job but I don’t get to use my writing skills?

But even in my darkest moments, I’ve never considered being a perpetual student like Michael Nicholson, a 71-year-old man from Michigan who is working on his 30th college degree – a master’s in criminal justice. While I admire his extreme dedication and patience, I personally don’t want to spend the rest of my life paying for college or facing the dreaded “Sorry, you’re overqualified for this job.”

With that said, I think that if going to school makes Michael happy, then he should continue to do just that. After working numerous menial jobs, going to college probably makes him feel more productive...and there’s no doubt that he’s more broadly educated than most of us will ever be. His degrees range from home economics to psychology, and an astounding 22 of them are master’s degrees! So, while I can understand why some people feel that perpetual students are determined to avoid responsibility, I think that as a retired septuagenarian who has worked his whole life, Michael has more than earned the right to do as he pleases. And having talked with classmates who are even more terrified of graduating than I am, I think that there are more people who would prefer to remain students than face the “real world” than we’d like to admit.

So, what’s the answer? Like everything in life, I think the key is balance. Most of us (due to financial and time constraints) can’t afford to pursue 30 degrees but we can make the most of our time in college by doing internships, maintaining high GPAs and going to graduate school if our dream job requires it. What path will YOU take?

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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Tips for Returning Students

August 8, 2012

Tips for Returning Students

by Kayla Herrera

As a returning college student myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about what tips every one of us should heed as we head into a new academic year. I’ve learned so much as an undergrad and grown in ways I never thought I could, but I’ve also come to realize that I am learning more every day. With that said, here are my thoughts on what returning students need for the upcoming year:

  • A budget plan. You may think you can keep all your spending straight in your head or that budgets are a waste of time (like I did), but I hooked myself on a Microsoft Excel document I found online that adjusts the numbers for me. There are tons of them online – just search “college budget worksheet excel” or something similar on Google.
  • A recreational reading book. I know this may seem silly considering you probably have so much other reading to do for class but while textbooks work your mind in one way, recreational books exercise it in another. Reading recreationally is a good way to get lost in another world for a while. It’s okay to take a break every now and then!
  • Camera. Whether it’s your iPhone, a small digital camera or a beefy Canon SLR, don’t forget to capture these years and the moments that count because you’ll want something to look back on when you’re getting ready to graduate and move on in your life. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have another means of memory.
  • A video game. Video games are scientifically shown to improve the brain’s critical thinking skills and reaction time...and even something as simple as The Sims Social or Farmville on Facebook counts. Pencil in a video game hour every day (or Facebook hour...if you aren’t already on it 24/7) and take the time to enjoy life – sans school work – for a moment.

As you enter this next school year, remember to make every moment count. Work hard and play hard, learn to better control your spending or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Study long nights but reward yourself with time with friends. Balancing your life benefits you in so many ways and will make your year a great (and manageable) one!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done and that is what she is here to do.

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See the World in the Summertime!

Exploring the Many Benefits of Summer Abroad Programs

August 10, 2012

See the World in the Summertime!

by Kara Coleman

Many universities across the country offer study abroad programs for students who wish to spend a semester in another country. Every student that I know of who has ever participated in one of these programs hails it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience...but what if you can’t afford to spend an entire semester overseas or you don’t want to interfere with your planned graduation date or schoolwork? Consider seeing the world on shorter-term trips during the summer! You’ll still get the experience of traveling and seeing what life is like in other countries without taking a lot of time off from work or school.

This past May, my university sent 10 students from its honors program to China for two weeks. Though they did do a few touristy things, they spent most of their time learning at Taizhou University. Because the Chinese academic year is different than ours in the U.S., the Chinese students were still in classes and the American students were able to jump in and study alongside them after their final exams had been completed at home. The best part? The trip was completely paid for by JSU!

You can also use the summer months to explore the world on a trip not associated with your college. Last month, I spent a week in Honduras on a mission trip, where I volunteered in a shelter for homeless children. I was able to experience firsthand what life is like in a third-world country and have plenty to tell my friends about when school starts back up later this month.

So where will you be at this time next year? Studying kung fu in a Chinese university? Playing soccer with kids in Central America? Or maybe something completely different? A whole world of opportunities awaits you – literally!

Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books; she is also the editor-in-chief of JSU's student newspaper, The Chanticleer.

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Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

One Million and Counting Sign Up for Free Virtual Courses

August 13, 2012

Are Students Interested in Online Classes? Of Course(ra)!

by Alexis Mattera

Since its launch earlier this year, Coursera has attracted its fair share of attention in the higher ed sector: Not only has the company formed partnerships with high-profile schools such as Stanford, Michigan, Princeton and UPenn, roughly one million students in 196 countries have registered for the startup’s free online courses.

Though the numbers reported by Coursera (and also its competitor Udacity, which has more than 739,000 registered users in 203 countries) are impressive, they don’t represent the amount of learning actually taking place. Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng explained in an email interview that the number of active students is significantly lower because many registrations are for courses that have not yet begun and many sign up but don’t end up following through with the coursework. So are students interested in free online classes? Yes, but time will tell whether or not the registered students actually stick with the program.

Have you considered enrolling in the online classes offered by Coursera, Udacity and others or do you prefer the traditional classroom experience?

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Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

Why Taking a Technology Time-Out Isn’t the Worst Idea

August 14, 2012

Put Your Hands in the Air and Step Away from the Smartphone!

by Jessica Seals

How many of you have ever sent a six-page text message when it would have been easier (and less time consuming) to just call the person or speak to them face-to-face? I’ll admit I have...and I’ll also own up to the fact that I’ve sent a text to someone who was in the same building that I was in. Guilty as charged, thanks to technology!

One might say that rapid advances in technology are bringing us closer because it allows us to communicate with people all over the world at any time. Of course, this argument does prove to be true because technology has permitted us to share memorable information with loved ones and friends that we had lost touch with; however, having the power to get in touch with people at any time right at our fingertips can cause more harm than good if you become too obsessed with technology.

When I walk around my college campus, it’s rare for me to encounter a person who is not either talking on their phone, texting, listening to music on an iPod or surfing the Internet on their laptop or tablet. I can remember several days where I walked right past a friend without speaking because technology distracted us and instead of meeting back up later, we had a long conversation via text message. I have heard people say they would rather text someone than have a phone conversation or visit someone’s home – the situation has even gotten so bad that I’ve seen people go ballistic when something prohibits them from getting on the Internet or texting their friends!

Although new technology does allow us to keep in touch, it does have several downfalls. When you post something on the Internet or send a text message, you are jeopardizing your privacy and inviting friends, family and even strangers into your life. Some people post all of their activities online, which allows anyone to invade their privacy. Also, the era of the post office is fading away due to the fact that we can now send and receive emails whenever we need to. My recommendation? As a precaution, I think we should all take regular breaks from technology and spend time doing other activities that do not involve computers or phones before we end up completely withdrawn from one another.

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; she ultimately hopes to attend law school.

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