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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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Text at Your Own Risk

July 13, 2011

Text at Your Own Risk

by Jessica Seals

It's happened to all of us. We feel the vibration of our phones in our pockets or notice them light up on our desks, informing us that we've just received text messages. We instantly feel inclined to read the message; while some students read and respond in a discreet way so that they appear to still be paying attention in class, others choose to reply while sitting on the front row or get up to answer a call that is not an emergency.

There are a select number of professors who do not care if you text in class. They figure if you want to miss out on something important to respond to a text that only read LOL then you will have to suffer the consequences alone. However, texting during class is a major pet peeve of many professors and they are taking note of how much you text even if they do not say anything about it to you personally. When it comes time to discuss your grade or any problems that you have been having in class, your professor may be unwilling to help if you spend most of their class texting than learning.

All professors understand that students have emergencies in which they must keep their phone on or even answer it during class but doing so excessively can earn you negative attention. You also run the risk of missing out on important facts that will only be mentioned once during the lecture. It is next to impossible to prevent texting 100 percent but students should try to cut back - you never know when you will run into a teacher who will ask you to leave the class because of excessive texting. Doubt that will make you ROTFL!

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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College is a Real (Political) Party

by Thomas Lee

As a day-to-day college student, the political arena may not be the first thing on your mind, unless you’re a political science major like me. But even if you aren’t, joining a college political group is a good way to get involved in the campus and local community.

I was a member of College Republicans and am also a registered Republican. My first foray into the political arena was putting in 20 hours of phone banking as required by my Electoral Process class. I went to the Fayetteville Republican Party office each weekend and spent a few hours making survey calls to find out who would vote for John McCain in 2008. It wasn’t glamorous (except for the Election Day party!) but it was a great way to network with other students and state and local candidates. The following year, our group focused on campaigning for NC Republican Senator Richard Burr and the NC State House of Representatives candidate Lou Huddleston. I frequently met at schools and other community outlets to hold signs, give out t-shirts and shake hands. I even had the opportunity to meet Senator Burr and many other state candidates in person.

If you’re considering joining a college political club, make sure it corresponds with your own beliefs and interests and doesn’t try to shape you into something you’re not. Although as far as mainstream campus groups go, your main choices are College Republicans and College Democrats and only one of those groups may have a presence at your campus. Just like voting, make an informed decision before you decide to commit to anything so your fellow members won’t see you as insincere or indecisive...like a politician.

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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Your Passion Has a Place in College

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Have you ever started an essay or research project and found you absolutely hate the topic you chose? I know I have so that’s why when I started college, I vowed I would choose personally relevant topics whenever possible to make my college assignments more enjoyable.

In my logic and rhetoric class, for example, I had to choose an issue I could argue about from multiple perspectives. Because I'm a passionate video gamer, I ended up choosing to debate the pros and cons of gameplay. We've all heard about the effects of gameplay on violent behavior, weight gain and myriad other social problems; while it's true some of these concerns aren't entirely unwarranted, I wanted to show how the media and other sources play a large role in exaggerating the negative effects.

My point here is that because I am passionate about video games, I can argue much more persuasively than I would if I was writing about a topic which I have no interest in. While my topic may not be meaningful to everyone in my class, I am confident my classmates will at least appreciate the combination of factual information and personal insight I bring to the table on the subject. After all, a persuasive essay isn’t really a persuasive essay if the author doesn’t believe his or her own words.

Of course, choosing a topic you like isn't always possible – if you hate learning about history in general, odds are you won't find many topics to your liking – so in these situations, just be thankful you don't have to marry the topic you settle for. You're sure to find plenty of topics personally relevant to you later on in your college career.

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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A Step Beyond Defriending

Saint Augustine's Sued by Student Barred from Commencement

July 12, 2011

A Step Beyond Defriending

by Alexis Mattera

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re unhappy and you know it, do not take to Facebook.

This is advice Roman Caple could have used a few months back when he was barred from commencement exercises because of something he posted on Saint Augustine’s wall. He’s still mad – suing mad, in fact: Caple is suing the North Carolina school for more than $10,000 in damages.

Caple’s legal complaint accuses Saint Augustine’s of breach of contract, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claims that he has incurred extreme mental anguish and distress, including bouts of uncontrollable crying, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of confidence and difficulty transitioning from a college student to a professional. Saint Augustine’s is standing by its decision for now.

Do you think Caple’s suit is justified or should he have just been more cognizant of what he was posting? Did Saint Augustine’s go too far in disciplining Caple or did its response fit the infraction?


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"See" It Their Way

Blind Students Sue FSU for Discrimination

July 12, 2011

"See" It Their Way

by Anna Meskishvili

Think of a modern classroom full of tech-savvy whiteboards and a plethora of electronic capabilities. Now think about being in that same classroom but not being able to see. Could you perform and interact like your vision-unimpaired classmates? Two Florida State University students, Christopher Toth and Jamie Principato, could not and are suing the institution for discrimination.

The two blind students were having extensive difficulties performing in the classroom because they were being denied the same resources as those students with vision. One of their complaints was the reliance on the “clicker” system in the classroom, which allows students to select answers to questions during lecture, which are displayed on a screen. Toth and Principato were also denied Braille copies of certain textbooks or accessible copies of lecture material. The students’ lawyer, Daniel Goldstein, comments that this case is very time-sensitive because of all the progressive advancements made in technology. Soon, there will be little for students with disabilities to relate to in a learning environment.

For students in wheelchairs, there are ramps. For students with learning disabilities, there are aides. For students without sight, however, it’s hard to simulate the experience of visual technology. Time and technology seem to be traveling at a supernatural speed but many learning institutions are slowly abandoning traditional, equal-opportunity learning.

It’s a difficult issue to formulate an opinion on since there are no equal-tiered technologically-advanced e-learning systems for the blind. What do you think would be a fair and progressive solution to Toth and Principato’s situation?

Anna Meskishvili is a rising 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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The Great eReader Debate

July 13, 2011

The Great eReader Debate

by Jacquelene Bennett

Kindles, eBooks and Nooks are all electronic alternatives to traditional paper bound books that are slowly becoming more and more popular. Though I prefer paper bound books, I must admit that I really want a Kindle but this gadget and others like it don’t really have a place in college classrooms (yet) for several reasons.

As anyone who has taken a college course can attest, the books and texts assigned to the class are the middle ground for students, professors and the course subject that is being taught. Professors often select certain editions of books for the class for a number of reasons and while the selection of books available for electronic download grows daily, these editions are oftentimes not available. For those courses that have lengthy book lists, another issue is that sometimes only a few books are available electronically while the rest aren’t (I’ve seen this while book shopping for classes on Amazon); this may not be an issue for one individual’s personal reading process but I can’t imagine being a professor and trying to conduct a class with that disruption of different media formats.

I think that one of the main reasons why these devices will have a hard time catching on in the classroom is the distraction they provide. Some devices just don’t store books but they allow people to surf the Internet as well. Professors already hate students bringing their laptops to class for this reason so I doubt they will approve of a Kindle or Nook that has the same capabilities.

The reality is that we do live in a technological world where even books aren’t safe from the oblivion caused by electronic innovations so I think it is just a matter of time before these electronic books become a staple in the classroom.

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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The Politics of Student Government and Greek Council

by Thomas Lee

In my last article, I mentioned some of my experiences with college political parties and gave a little advice on how to choose one. While the two main choices are College Democrats or College Republicans, there are other ways one can get politically motivated on campus.

One way is joining Student Government Association or SGA as it is called at many schools. SGA is a student-led body that usually has a president and senators who help make operational or financial decisions that affect student life. I was an SGA senator my sophomore and junior years and helped plan the budget on the financial committee. SGA was allotted a certain amount of money from the main budget every three-month grant period and the finance committee would then receive proposals from all the organizations and departments on campus requesting money for specific functions. SGA then usually granted money to campus functions and student events that would promote campus life. It wasn’t a perfect process, but when has politics ever been?

Although it might not seem political at first glance, campus Greek life also plays a large role in making decisions that impact non-Greek students. At Methodist University, we instituted a Greek Council my junior year, as there ended up being a total of two fraternities and two sororities by the time I graduated. Greek Council was a governing body made of members from all four groups. They helped promote SGA events and raised money for community causes, such as helping soldiers. Ultimately, Greek Council influenced the university board of directors to approve the construction of a four-house Greek village. Academic Greek clubs such as Alpha Chi also may help in campus and community service.

So just because you don’t identify as a donkey or an elephant doesn’t mean you still can’t rock the vote on your campus!

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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Dealing with College Stressors

by Katie Askew

Stress is unavoidable, especially in college. At times, it seems like there is a never-ending list of homework to complete, reading assignments to study and laundry to do – not to mention maintaining a healthy social life! It’s important to remember that although you can’t avoid stress, you can learn to manage it. Here are some ways how:

Make time for yourself, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Living in a residence hall can be stressful in itself because you are constantly surrounded by friends and roommates inviting you out and pulling you away from study time. Assignments pile up quickly and just like that, you’re behind in three classes. It’s sometimes hard to find alone time when living with a roommate – and 20 neighbors who also happen to be your best friends – but if you are feeling overwhelmed, chilling out by yourself helps to relax, revive and cross some things off your to-do list! Taking a nap, listening to music, reading a few pages from a non-required book or going on a short walk can help to clear your head and refocus your efforts.

Schedule time in your week for doing something you love – and stick to it as if it were a class. For me, music is my stress outlet. I make sure that I play marimba or piano regularly during the school week to not only keep me sane but also to keep me going through my homework. I always have my music time to look forward to and it helps to keep me focused on my assignments, not distracted from them. I know that the sooner I accomplish my work, the sooner I can pound out some music.

Whether it’s taking part in a favorite activity or just sitting quietly by yourself, make time for it in your week and you will feel much less stressed.

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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Staying Safe and Having Fun Are Not Mutually Exclusive

by Radha Jhatakia

Your school needn’t be a known party school for there to be one...or many. Just remember, whether you are throwing a party or attending one, safety should be your first priority.

For party attendees:

  • Keep your beverages in hand. If you put your drink down, get a new one; it’s one of the best defenses against being slipped a “roofie” (aka the date rape drug).
  • Employ the buddy system. Guest lists grow by word of mouth so if you don’t personally know the host, take some friends with you. This will ensure you all arrive at the party and return home safely.
  • Practice safe sex. When some people drink at parties, they have indiscriminate sex. To avoid unwanted pregnancies and STDs, use the above tips or take protection with you whenever you go to a party just in case.
  • Don't give in to peer pressure. Have fun the way you want to have fun. If you're uncomfortable with something going on, remove yourself from the situation.

For party hosts:

  • Card hard. It doesn’t matter if the person is your best friend or if you don’t want to seem lame: If you are caught with someone under 21 at your party, you will be charged with serving alcohol to minors.
  • Be aware. Minors and people in possession of drugs and other illegal items can enter your place of residence if you’re not paying attention. If they are caught, you will pay the price.
  • Manage damage. If something breaks or someone spills, make sure the mess is dealt with or you’ll most likely lose your security deposit.
  • Eliminate alcohol completely. You don't need to get drunk to have a good time. Game nights and movie marathons are just as entertaining!

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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