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Keeping First Day Jitters in Check

August 30, 2011

Keeping First Day Jitters in Check

by Jessica Seals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Should You Take a Gap Year?

August 31, 2011

Should You Take a Gap Year?

by Katie Askew

After 13 years of school, are you thinking about postponing your college experience? Taking a gap year is a common post-grad option, so don’t feel alone! Even I considered taking a semester off to pursue missionary work but in the end decided staying in school was the best choice for me. Still weighing your options? Here's some info to help you make a decision.

The first step is attending a gap year fair in your area. These fairs can show the different options available to you instead of going directly to college. There are tons of options like student exchange or travel, volunteer and missionary trips, or even jobs or internships. Possibilities like these will keep you from just sitting around for a year...and will look much better on your resume than “channel surfing” or "loafing."

Taking a gap year isn’t all fun and games, though, and getting back into the swing of school could be the hardest change to make. Not only will taking the SAT or ACT after high school be hard (Ninth grade algebra anyone? I can’t remember any of that!) but it’s also harder to get letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors even a year or two after high school graduation.

The best option is to do the “normal” duties as a high school senior. Visit colleges, ask teachers for recommendations, write college essays, apply to schools, take the necessary standardized tests and get accepted to college. This is important because maybe after visiting and experiencing just a bit of college life, you will want to continue your education and be less likely to drop out shortly after enrolling. Also, most schools will allow you to defer your enrollment for one year so if you do want to take a gap year, you have a plan to follow when you return.

Katie Askew is a sophomore 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, teaching and performing 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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How to Make Friends in College

August 31, 2011

How to Make Friends in College

by Kara Coleman

After high school, you and your friends have to go your separate ways and now you’re faced with the challenge of making new friends. Where do you start?

Get on board. Joining a club or organization will allow you to meet and spend time with other students with whom you share common interests, especially if you live off campus. After I joined Phi Theta Kappa, I met friends that I sometimes hang out with outside of school activities and plan to keep in touch with for years to come. Colleges offer countless opportunities for you to get involved, from Circle K to Baptist Campus Ministries to Student Government Association; if your school has a get on board or recruitment day, go explore your options!

Find study buddies. Who’s your lab partner in biology? Who sits next to you in your favorite class? Sometimes, friendships actually form over homework! I met some of my best college friends after I started working as a tutor for Student Support Services. I got to know the other tutors and several of the students who came to be tutored. I was also able to get help with my Spanish homework from the Spanish tutor, who was a native of Bolivia. She introduced me to other international students and she even came to my pool party last summer and met my family. Even though we tend to gravitate toward people who are most like us, sometimes the best friendships can be with people who are most different.

Look to your roomies and floormates. If you are moving away to college, your roommate could end up being your best bud...but remember that other people live in your dorm, too! When one of my friends moved off to school, she actually became close friends with a girl who lived across the hall from her. My friend ended up transferring to a different school in a different state but she still keeps in touch with that girl!

How did you make friends in college? If you're not there yet, do you think you these tips will help when the time comes?

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. 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.

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What Teaching Style Works Best for You?

September 1, 2011

What Teaching Style Works Best for You?

by Jacquelene Bennett

We all know that good study habits can make or break your college career but how a professor teaches and conducts a class will also shape your college experience. Large lectures, small classroom discussions or workshop-like environments are all different types of teaching styles that professors employ in their classrooms.

I go to a very small school where there are never more than 25 people in a class so I am used to discussions being an integral part of almost every class I take. My sister, however, goes to Cal State San Bernardino; large lecture halls are the norm here and her classes have anywhere from 30 to 300 people depending on the subject and level.

Classroom discussions are intense: They ensure that every person has done the homework and reading because at any moment, your professor could call on you to discuss the assignment. Larger lecture halls allow for more leeway because there is often very little interaction between the professor and individual students so how hard you prepare for each class depends on your own motivation.

So, what type of teaching style works for you? For me at least, small classroom discussions help me learn best but for my trouble subjects (anything science or math related), lectures tend to be better. What I would recommend for any new college student is to test the educational waters; regardless of where you go to school, you can always find small classes with no more than 25 students that will allow for discussions or classes that are nothing but weekly lectures. Find what works for you and stick to it...your GPA will thank you!

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

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EcoKat: Kansas State University’s Eco-Friendly College Mascot

September 1, 2011

EcoKat: Kansas State University’s Eco-Friendly College Mascot

by Suada Kolovic

While the Going Green Initiative is catching on like wildfire among celebrities and the environmentally conscious, recycling doesn’t seem to be a top priority when it comes to the college lifestyle. Universities across the country have yet to seriously encourage eco-friendly habits but Kansas State University may have stumbled upon a quirky solution: EcoKat.

In an effort to teach students the importance of environmentalism, Kansas State has developed the mascot EcoKat, described as the “crusader of conservation and fanatic of fluorescents” here to “make sure K-State stays on the path to green.” Since their announcement, students haven’t really embraced the concept as much as they’ve openly mocked the super-hero type mascot on popular social networking sites such as Twitter. The Kansas City Star shared some of the tamer tweets: “#EcoKat makes me want to leave my porch light on 24hours and drive two blocks to the gas station for a pack of gum”; “In honor of #EcoKat, I will separate my plastics, glass and aluminum from one another... then put them in the trash anyways”; and “Pretty sure I have my halloween costume figured out this year. Thanks, #ecokat.”

You can’t really knock Kansas State for their attempt to get students to be more environmentally conscious but do you think EcoKat would make you go green? What do you think of the teased-haired, purple glove-wearing eco-enforcer?

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Decorating Your Dorm Room or Apartment Without Getting Charged

September 1, 2011

Decorating Your Dorm Room or Apartment Without Getting Charged

by Radha Jhatakia

Decorations make new places feel more like home and for college students living away at school, decorating is practically a necessity to adapting to this new environment. However, dorm and apartment restrictions like no holes in the walls or no tape to avoid chipping paint, you may think you’re doomed to bare cinderblock walls...but you’re not! These tips will help you create an amazing room without losing your security deposit or incurring any fees.

I think the best products out there right now are those from 3M. They make Post-its, Command Hooks and reusable tape. Command Hooks can be easily removed and will not peel any paint off the wall – I can personally attest to this! – and the reusable tape is double sided and excellent for hanging up posters. You can also use both products them to put up white boards, cork boards and pictures.

Perhaps you have broken blinds or a closet with no door. Want to hang a curtain up somewhere? Adjustable pressure rods don’t damage the wall and you will have some privacy, too!

If you want to put up stickers or wall decorations of some sort, make sure they’re made of silicone. The rubber material will prevent the sticker from peeling paint and will allow you to adjust the decorations as much as you want. I know thumbtacks are cheaper but you have to consider what you will benefit from in the long run. Would you rather use thumbtacks and lose your security deposit or would you rather spend a bit for the above products and get your deposit back. Just remember your new abode will only be as homey as you are willing to make it!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. 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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Sprint Sues Blackboard

September 2, 2011

Sprint Sues Blackboard

by Anna Meskishvili

If you haven’t heard of Blackboard yet, you soon will – whether it’s from your professor to check the due date for your first paper, or whether it’s because of Blackboard’s recent scandal with Sprint.

A background on Blackboard: It’s a software tool used by professors to upload documents and reading materials, lead discussions, post grades and much more. It’s easier than email or other look-alike programs because it keeps all correspondence and important information about the course in one place. It’s a program that makes organization a breeze for students and professors alike.

Sounds great, right? So what’s the problem? Well, Mobile Learn is an application of Blackboard, which was planned to be only accessed by Sprint customers. Sprint believed that this exclusivity would increase their appeal to millions of college students looking for a mobile application for the popular college tool. This premonition went awry when students were able to download the app on their iPhones and iPads through university Wi-Fi connections. Blackboard stands by that students using Wi-Fi to access Mobile Learn does not break their contractual agreement with Sprint. Whichever way this lawsuit unfolds, changes and regulations are bound to arise for Mobile Learn.

Although an avid fan of Blackboard and its Mobile Learn app, I do see Sprint’s side of the story; however, I do not believe their hopes for this application are realistic. Through this lawsuit, Sprint is trying to “enjoin Blackboard from making Mobile Learn available over Wi-Fi at no cost to schools.” Campuses run on Wi-Fi and many more applications are accessed that way, which makes policing apps by contracts virtually impossible. For example, one won’t switch to Sprint simply for the Mobile Learn app (although it may be appealing), especially after being able to access it through Wi-Fi in the past.

What do you think of Sprint's actions toward Blackboard and vice versa? Who's in the right and who's in the wrong?

Anna Meskishvili is a senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration 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 loves to travel, run and learn.

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Expecting the Unexpected in College

September 2, 2011

Expecting the Unexpected in College

by Angela Andaloro

We’re always reminded that we don’t know what will happen next in life. College is no exception; in fact, I’ve found that in college, I’ve probably dealt with more unexpected happenings than ever before. There are problems that arise without warning that will directly affect your education so here are a few unexpected issues I’ve found many college students have dealt with.

Financial aid snafus: If your school is anything like mine, you might find that many of those working in the financial aid office are students doing work-study. While I don’t doubt they've had training and know what they’re talking about on some level, they don’t have all the answers. Financial aid is super important so if you’ve received some information you’re unsure of, be sure to follow up with someone higher up in the ranks.

Technical meltdowns: Technology is as important as air to a college student and the security blankets of yesterday have been replaced with equally precious laptops and other gadgets. Still, we have to remember that they are machines and they do malfunction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a frantic call from a friend (or been frantic myself) about a computer breakdown. They usually occur at the worst possible times, like during midterms or finals week. My advice? Back up everything. Save that 10-page paper you’re writing every 10 words. Really. I’ve been there. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

While there are some issues that we can anticipate, others really do come from out of nowhere. It’s ok to freak out for a minute when one pops up – it’s only natural! – but then relax and use that level head of yours (and maybe that “emergencies only” credit card) to remedy the problem.

Angela Andaloro is a 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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Dorm Etiquette

September 6, 2011

Dorm Etiquette

by Darci Miller

A big deal is always made about being a good roommate in college. I’ve seen many a list on how not to drive the person you’re forced to live with up a wall but what about proper etiquette for living in a dorm? Being a good neighbor involves an entirely different set of rules than being a good roommate.

For example, try to keep your music down in a dorm room. It’s all well and good if both you and your roommate love heavy bass but unless you’ve cleared it with your entire floor – and sometimes your upstairs and downstairs neighbors as well – it’s good to be courteous and NOT turn it up to 11. I’ve been known to glare mutinously at the wall between my room and my neighbor's as their music is thumping away at 2 a.m.

You’ll also want to respect personal boundaries. Really, don’t use the toilet when your suitemate is using the sink, unless it’s previously agreed upon. It happens. I have personal experience on my side.

Don’t rip down decorations in the halls; someone (like your RA) worked really hard to put them up. Along the same lines, garbage belongs in a garbage can. As much as I love seeing a rotten apple smushed on the floor outside my room (sarcasm, of course), it shouldn’t be there. The same goes for hairballs: Throw yours in your trashcan instead of kicking them into the hall.

Don’t touch other people’s underwear – aka be courteous in the laundry room. It’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll have to move someone’s laundry so you can use their machine but only do so in desperate times. I hate knowing that a stranger was rooting around in my clothes.

It all comes down to being respectful. You don’t have to be Dorm Resident Extraordinaire but thinking about the people living around you is much appreciated by your neighbors and floormates. Unless, of course, you want the girl living next door to you groaning about how obnoxious your music is.

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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The Best Educational Apps

September 6, 2011

The Best Educational Apps

by Lisa Lowdermilk

We've all seen the iPhone commercials and heard the now-common phrase “There's an app for that.” It’s true, though: There's even an application to help you study — dozens in fact! Here are a few that can make your life as a student easier:

Grades 2. If you're like me, you spend a fair amount of time wondering what you need to score on an upcoming test in order to maintain your A. This app lets you do just that. It even lets you determine your new GPA will be based on what grades you expect to earn in your current classes.

Dictionary.com Flashcards. This app is great for English and science classes where you have to learn a wide variety of complicated terms. It even has multiple choice quizzes where you have to pick the right definition from a list of options. Plus, it's great having a dictionary in your pocket for whenever you need to look up words instead of lugging one around on top of all your other school books.

Star and Planet Finder. Astronomy buffs will love this one because it makes finding stars, planets, constellations and satellites a snap. Equipped with compass and GPS, this app lets you know whether or not you can see Orion from your current location – perfect for astronomy classes which ask you to chart the position of the constellations.

While not every college student can afford an iPhone or similar app-friendly device, all these educational apps make it a very tempting purchase indeed. And let's face it: You can't really put a price on something that makes a less-than-favorite activity less painful.

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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