Thanks, College

Thanks, College.

Common real-world skills we learned at college, in or out of the classroom.

 

  1. Parallel parking: If you’re from the city this might not apply to you, or if you don’t have a car. For those of us from the suburbs or country with a car on campus, we learned to parallel park soon after arriving to college.  This skill comes in handy often when travelling home, to the city, or on vacation.  It also widens your parking possibilities in any situation.
  2. Tolerance for extreme temperatures: As the weather gets colder, we adapt to walking across campus in the cold, with the wind blowing through our layers of jackets and long-johns. We learn in our first semesters to bundle up and forget about being cute.
  3. Independence: Whether you were looking forward to this or not, you become more independent in college. You have to if you go to college more than about an hour away from home.  You (hopefully) learn how to do your laundry, budget your money, clean your room without being prompted, and study and do homework on your own free will.
  4. Time management: Sometimes, it takes people their whole college careers to get this down, but everyone learns throughout their college life how important time management is. Some people know the importance of it and still choose to manage their time badly.  You have to balance classes, studying, work, friends, sleep, eating, and mental health.  Usually this “balance” involves giving up one or more of these things, which one depends on your priorities.
  5. Multi-tasking: You may have been good at this before college, but you’ll be a master by the time you graduate. Multitasking can look like many things: eating while you work, study, or walk to class, taking homework to work, or considering meeting with a study group to be hanging out with friends.

We learn a lot in college that may have nothing to do with our degrees, but these skills or pieces of knowledge are just as important as the information we learn in class.  What are some skills you’ve learned in college that have become useful in real life?  What are you most thankful for?

Anxious Thoughts Everyone has on the First Day of the Semester

Whether it’s your first day of college or your second year of graduate school, the first day of a new semester is always nerve-wracking. There are so many thoughts running through your head – with trying to memorize your new schedule and making sure you at least have a pen to write with. While walking through the hall, it may seem that other students have everything together, but trust me – they don’t. Everyone gets anxious – especially on the first day of the new semester. Here are a few thoughts that I had on my first day.

“Hopefully none of my professors changed their already-assigned classroom…”
This seems to happen every semester. You have already checked your online schedule to see what building and room all of your classes are in. You make sure to park near said building, get to the classroom and there’s a note on the door. The note reads something along the lines of, “MEDA 111 Thurs 11:20-2:15 will now meet in MH Room 211”. Now you find yourself walking to Main Hall from a completely different building and are late for your first day…thanks, professor.

“I wonder if I’ll have enough time in-between classes.”
So, you’ve scheduled some classes back-to-back. Your first ends at 2:30PM and your next starts at 2:50PM. It seems like a wonderful idea on paper but sometimes, when it comes down to the actual day, it just isn’t enough time to get from class to class. Sometimes the classes are in different buildings (which you could never know at the time of registration) or sometimes you’re starving and need to grab a quick snack before your afternoon class. Suddenly you don’t have enough time. While there are other times that scheduling back to back works perfectly. It’s a luck-of-the-draw type of situation and you won’t know until that very first day.

“What if there’s no parking?”
As a commuter who attends a small, overcrowded college – I know this pain all too well. There’s no way that you can arrive 10 minutes before class starts because you spend at least 20 minutes trying to find a parking space. And this anxiety is heightened on the first day because there’s no way you want to be late. You cannot be labeled as the “late kid” for the rest of the semester. So, while you leave your house way too early, you think about this on your drive to school.

“Imagine we start Chapter 1 instead of just going over the syllabus…”
It is safe to say that it’s a college wide consensus that this is the worst way to start the semester. You are all prepared to do introductions and go over the syllabus, hoping to have an easy day, and then the professor puts Chapter 1 up on the projector. You aren’t prepared mentally or physically because you planned on taking a nap after class ended early. It may be the beginning of the semester, but you need all the sleep you can get.

“I hope I have enough time to get coffee before class.”
Like most college students – caffeine runs through my veins, all day every day. While making your schedule you think “Okay, a 10:30AM isn’t that bad. That way I get out in the afternoon and have the rest of the day to myself.” This again, looks good on paper, until you wake up at 10:15AM and don’t have enough time to get your daily latte without being late to class. It’s important to have enough time to get coffee, especially during midterms and finals season. However, with coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts offering free apps, you can easily order and pay on-the-go and partially eliminate this uneasy thought.

“I have no idea what ‘fun fact’ about myself I’m going to tell the class.”
Let’s just be honest, introductions are both awkward and dreadful. The professor starts off with giving their introduction and then has everyone go around the room to tell the entire class what their name is, their major and a “fun fact” about themselves. Personally, there are few things that I hate more than this because I never ever know what to say. No matter how much I think about it on my way to school, I can never come up with anything worth saying. And it’s not because I’m bland, it’s just because I don’t want to share anything personal with strangers. This makes even the most carefree students anxious. Since ice-breakers are pretty common, ease this anxiety by picking one good fact and using it in all your classes! But most important – don’t overthink it. Use up that brain space for something that actually matters, like how you’ll fit a 15-minute nap in that 30 minutes before the next class.

You may think you’re the only person who still gets nervous at the beginning of the semester, but we are all in the same boat. If you have any of these thoughts, you are not alone. Share some of your first day thoughts with me in the comments section below!

What to do With a Bad Academic Advisor

Academic Advisor

Finally, you’ve chosen the perfect college. After all of the college tours and all of the pro/con lists – you found the right fit for you. What a relief, right? Now you get to school and you meet with your academic advisor for the first time – and you are just not on the same page. There’s nothing worse than having a not-so-great academic advisor, considering that their soul job is to guide you through your college career. If you’re having trouble with your advisor, here are a few tips to help you through these challenges.

Request a New Advisor

While this may be uncomfortable for incoming freshmen, or even for college students on different levels – it is possible. You can easily and politely ask your current advisor who their supervisor is and then schedule a meeting with them. Simply explain to their supervisor how your existing advisor is not meeting your needs and ask if they will assign you to someone else in the department. If they can’t change your advisor right away, at least you’ve made them aware of your feelings. They may even talk to your advisor about your needs. Regardless, it never hurts to try!

Approach a Professor

More often than not, one of your professors either sits on the board or on the committee for your major/minor. This makes them a great asset when it comes to the success of your college career. Since they are involved in your area of study, they will know exactly what courses you need to take and what requirements you need to meet. Even professors outside your major will know what general education courses you need to complete. So, if you’re not happy with how you’re being advised, grab a professor you feel comfortable approaching and start asking questions. Any advisement is worth it.

Ask Your Peers

A great benefit of college is the sense of community it brings to everyone – especially for students within the same major. You all have the same thing in common – the stress of college. Someone else in your major is an excellent person to turn to if you’re having trouble with your advisor. They know exactly what you’re going through and can help you with making the correct class schedule. You can even meet with their advisor if you need. Making friends in your major is very beneficial! Check out this article from U.S. News about getting involved in your college!

College can be stressful, but there’s nothing more stressful than landing a bad academic advisor. With these few tips – you can still receive excellent advising.

Easy Ways to Invest in Your Future

Invest in Your Future

Life, especially in early adulthood, is hectic. With having to manage school, social activities and working life – it is easy to forget about the most vital part of this equation – you. As the saying goes, to invest in yourself is the best investment of all. Here are a few ways to invest in your future – and the best part? They’re easy and not-so time consuming.

Create Healthy Habits

Your physical health is key to maintaining a healthy well-being. When you look good, you feel even better – and that phrase is entirely true. Eating well, getting enough rest, and doing some form of exercise each day will help create a healthier lifestyle. Rest directly affects your ability to focus, and eating better in combination with daily exercise boosts your metabolism. All of these will create a happier and healthier you in the future. Having trouble getting started? Check out this article from Creating True Happiness. The sooner you invest in your future, the easier it will be to create a routine.

Build Your Knowledge

Whether you are graduating high school, undergraduate university, or even graduate school – keep learning. Continuing your education is one of the best ways to invest in your future. In particular, higher education opens many doors beneficial to your future self. It will help you make vital connections and ultimately you will become a well-rounded person. Even more, higher education is pleasing to potential employers. They understand graduating requires good time management skills and a greater ability to think through a problem. They also know education is a personal choice to invest in your future, demonstrating you’re business savvy.

Begin Saving

I understand saving is difficult to do while going to school and having to pay bills, but it’s important for a successful future. Even if it’s as little as fifty dollars a month from your paycheck, any small sum will make a difference. It’s vital to have some savings before you are completely submerged in adult life. This way, it will be easier to transition from college life to your own apartment because you will have some money for potential emergencies. Trust me, your future self will thank you later for saving – so start now!

With these tips, you will soon be on the way to a brighter future. Having healthy habits, continuing your education and savings some money are great ways to invest in yourself – so step back from your jam-packed schedule and focus on you.

 

 

Creating a Gratitude Journal

Journal

Through the hustle and bustle of everyday life – between work, school, internships, and trying to have an amazing summer – it’s easy to lose focus and take the little things for granted. With creating a gratitude journal, anyone can easily add a little positiveness to each day. Having trouble getting started? Here are a few tips.

Find a Notebook You Love

This may sound silly, but it is vital. Search for a notebook that shows off your style; one that generates happy thoughts. You can also buy a blank notebook and create your own cover similar to an inspiration board. This is something you can be creative with because it’s all about you. It’s important to have a notebook that you won’t mind carrying around with you or having on your bedside table. You will encounter it a lot – so make sure you like it.

How Much Time to Spend

Writing in your journal everyday is ideal for beginners. This will help kick-off your positive lifestyle and make it easier to adjust to writing about yourself in a journal. Most people advise to write 5-10 things you’re grateful for a day – which is a great guideline – but if some days you have less than five and others you have more than 10, that’s perfectly fine. No two days are the same, therefore you shouldn’t restrict your amount of grateful moments.

Be Specific

When it comes to writing down your ideas, it’s easiest to use bullet points. This breaks up your thoughts and makes them easier to comprehend when you go back and read your entries. However, be specific with your bullet points. Don’t just say that you’re grateful for your job – provide a detailed example. Like that you’re grateful for your job because it’s payday, or you’re grateful for it because it’s brought you great coworkers that cheered you up today. Being specific will pay off when you reminisce on your memories.

Nothing is Unimportant and Keep the Negative Out

If you are grateful for the amazing sandwich you had for lunch, or for the lady who held the door for you at the local coffee shop – write it down. This helps you find positive moments in every situation. And of course, any negative thoughts you have throughout the day do not belong in this journal. This is specifically for happy and grateful thoughts or memories!

If you’re looking for a new way to find joy in every situation, try a gratitude journal. It helps you focus on the little things that make every day great, and it’s a creative way to keep track of your thoughts.

Learning an Instrument in College

I think at some point in their lives, most people hear a piece of music and think “wow… I wish I could play that.” For most of us, that idea remains an unfulfilled wish. It’s often hard to find the time or energy to learn, especially as an adult. But fear not, because I’m here with some tips on how to learn a new instrument in college! I’ve been playing the guitar for a while, but now I’m also learning to play piano. These tips proved useful to me, and hopefully they will be for you too!

budget time for your instrument

Budget Your Time- And be Realistic

Let’s be real; you might not have much time as a young adult to learn an instrument. The question is can you find just 15 minutes a day to practice? If so, then you can learn an instrument. The real difficulty is developing the habit of practicing. An old music teacher once told me practicing isn’t about having the willpower to practice – it’s about having discipline. Willpower is fickle, and relying on feelings to practice every day simply won’t work. Instead, find a consistent time to practice every day. Convince yourself there is no better use for that time other than practicing. Turn it into an ultimatum – It’s either practice, or stare at the wall. Then follow through and practice when the time comes. If you can only do 15 minutes a day, that’s fine. It’s enough to progress!

instrument

Make Sure Practice Time isn’t Wasted

Further pushing the idea of efficient time usage, make sure when you do practice, you aren’t spinning your wheels by dwelling on your past success. Ok, you finally learned that one piece you struggled with. Instead of playing it over and over, why not move on to the next piece? It’s imperative you keep learning every single day when you only have a limited amount of time to practice. I have made the mistake of dwelling on past success too long by “practicing” nothing at all for hours at a time.

Have some fun with your instrument

Have Fun With Your Instrument

The point of playing an instrument as an adult is to have fun, plain and simple. I probably don’t have to say it’s not likely to become your career. Also, your parents aren’t forcing you to play in a boring orchestra anymore. Have fun with your instrument! Learn some bluegrass fiddle parts for your violin. Learn to play your favorite TV theme song on your instrument and play along when it comes on. Practice music theory by writing a cover of Seinfeld two octaves higher than the original. If you’re not having fun playing music, why are you doing it at all? So go wild!

How to Easily Volunteer – and Enjoy It

 

Volunteering

With summer now in full swing, there’s no better way to spend some of that extra time than to spend it volunteering! Volunteering not only gives back to the community, it’s also a great resume builder. If you’re having trouble find your start, here are a few tips to help you find the perfect opportunity.

Choose a Cause You’re Passionate About

This is the most important thing – you’ll enjoy going to volunteer simply because it’s something interesting to you. When you surround yourself with individuals who share your interests, it’s also easier to interact and create vital relationships. If you’re a marketing major, volunteer at your local community center and help manage their website/social media accounts.  If you’re a veterinary medicine major, volunteer at your local animal shelter/hospital. Volunteering is a great opportunity to get involved in your future field. Whatever your major or field of interest, you can always find something that will add a vital component to your resume.

Check Around Your Community

This is the easiest way to volunteer. Go and take a stroll to your local library or community center and ask about events/projects they have going on. You can look at the community board for flyers or ads as well. It’s a great way to give back to your community and form new relationships in town. More great ideas include: Visiting the local animal shelter (if you like animals), stopping over at a food bank, or finding time to volunteer at a senior center/retirement community. These are all easy and great ways to get out and make a difference.

Online Tools for Volunteering

If you’re not yet comfortable venturing into your community, try looking on the Internet for some ideas instead. There are websites that can help find the right opportunity for you – such as VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, and AllforGood.org. All of these websites are easy to navigate; simply type in your zip code, what you care about or your interests, and then it will create a list of volunteer prospects in your area. This is a great way to start, especially if you’re stuck on where to begin.

Volunteering is not as difficult as some may think! Reach out to your local community or use online outlets to find something your passionate about and you can easily start participating.

A Day in the Life of a Journalism Major

Journalism

As I sit back and write this, I realize how busy my life actually is. I am constantly thinking and I am constantly writing. Whether it’s on the back of a placemat at the diner or in my bed at three in the morning; my brain is always working on my next piece. And you know what? I love it! Here’s what my typical day is like…

Reviewing My Planner

As I said before, my days are full of writing. They’re full of writing stories, articles, and random ideas… everywhere. I usually begin by looking over my day planner, which is supposed to help organize my life. As a journalism major, that’s not quite true. My day planner is full of little blurbs and keywords from thoughts I had throughout the year. I’m already running out of room and it’s only June. The ideas are constantly flowing, like a stream after a huge rain storm. Reviewing my planner keeps me on top of my writing assignments and functions as a refresher for my ideas.

Becoming Inspired 

When I’m ready to leave the house, I walk out into a world full of possibilities. To me, everyone’s a story. No matter who it is, people I encounter at the local supermarket or the drive-thru girl at Dunkin Donuts, I wonder where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. I am constantly thinking, “I wonder what their story is?” I imagine who they met and how it affected them. I strongly believe there’s a story within everyone – you simply need to find it. 

Exercising My Mind

Aside from wondering how the elderly cashier at the food store got to where she is, I also frequently practice writing exercises. Whether they’re from a workbook about sentence structure or some online courses, writing exercises are valuable for personal growth. If you’ve never tried one, check out Writer’s Digest for an example. I do at least one exercise every day to help me master my craft. As one of my favorite professors said on our very first day of class, “Becoming a great writer is no secret – write, edit, repeat.” There’s no need to write a complete story every time. Throughout the day, I simply write a few sentences and see how I can improve them. It’s that simple!

Journalism isn’t only about writing. It may sound cliché, but I read the newspaper every day. Some days it’s my local online news paper and other days I use the New York Times app. Occasionally, I’ll even go retro and read a physical paper. Whatever the platform, I keep up with the news constantly. Not only is it entertaining, but reading helps develop your writing skillet. It’s good to compare how different newspapers report on the same issues or events, helping young writers create their own style.

Long story short, my entire life revolves around journalism and writing. Some people might think that sounds boring, but I’m perfectly okay with that. There’s nothing more satisfying than thinking of a great story, writing it down, then doing a self edit to create a perfect product.  

 

Getting Into Bluegrass

Can you remember the last time you heard a great Bluegrass song? Bluegrass music is one of the least understood genres of music in my opinion. From its roots in African traditions to its codification by Bill Monroe, the history of bluegrass is fascinating. Most people don’t realize how much some bluegrass resembles music they already like. However, telling people about bluegrass tends to result in them nodding off. So instead of writing about all that boring stuff, I’ve decided to recommend some songs! I’ve based my recommendations on genres you might already be into, starting with…

Classic Rock

Connoisseurs of this genre will accuse me of generalization when I lump all classic rock together, and truly they’re right. But this is a bluegrass list, not a classic rock list. Therefore, I think it’s appropriate to group it into one category.

Bluegrass

Me and my Guitar by Tony Rice

Besides the album art, this record is nearly perfect. Me and my Guitar really steals the show! Tony Rice, widely considered the father of modern bluegrass guitar, opens with a gorgeous guitar solo. The song format is instantly familiar to any rock fan. Rice’s voice resembles rock legends like Elvis more than I’d like to admit. Lyrically, this song isn’t about the country, economic woes, or a woman. Instead, also like many rock legends, Tony spends a full three minutes singing about his love for his guitar.

Melodic Pop

Are you a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift fan? Well, according to the internet you can’t like both of them. But if you at least like one of the two, then I have the song for you.

Bluegrass

Rye Whiskey by The Punch Brothers

Rye Whiskey is an old bluegrass standard drinking song. For me, it hits all the notes of a Black Eyed Peas song. If that comparison seems dated, you can tell how long it’s been since I’ve had an interest in pop. This song is instantly familiar to anyone who’s recently listened to the billboard top 40. Rye Whiskey follows the traditional 4 chords of pop, but it also has a gorgeous 3 part harmony vaguely reminiscent of the chorus for Twenty Two by Taylor Swift.

R&B

If you love R&B, you probably love it for the gorgeous singing and that funky, rhythmic beat. This song might not be Beyonce, but it’ll probably scratch that same musical itch

Bluegrass

Nashville Highrollers by Owen Campbell

Owen Campbell had his 15 minutes of fame after a video of him taunting the judges on Australia’s got Talent went viral. Since then, he’s fallen back into relative obscurity but his music career is still thriving. An incredible slide guitarist, Campbell creates a cacophony of rhythm akin to R&B’s funk and blues roots. Campbell’s mastered voice and instrument create a wall of sound much in the same way R&B artists do with their voices. With only 25,000 monthly listeners on spotify, does Campbell deserves many more? I think so. Give this song a listen and decide for yourself.

After checking these out, are you interested in bluegrass? Do you disagree with my assessment of any of these songs? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

 

Summer Classes Made Easy

Summer Classes

Like many college students, I’m currently enrolled in a summer class. Adding a summer course is a good way to earn a few extra credits if you are falling behind. If you didn’t do well in a course during the regular semester, consider taking it over the summer. The reduced course-load is perfect for succeeding in any challenging class. However, taking summer classes isn’t always fun. Here are a few tips on how to manage summer classes and still have a great summer.

Online Courses

A variety of classes are available online, especially during the summer semester. Online courses are not for everyone, but they are a great alternative to being stuck inside a classroom during the summer. Online courses offer flexibility. It’s easy to go on vacation because all you need is a few hours and some Wi-Fi to complete the necessary coursework. With many online classes not taking attendance, you can work ahead and then miss a day without having to worry. No more, “Sorry, I have class.” Go out and enjoy the summer! However, don’t let all that freedom corrupt your work ethic. Make sure you submit assignments by the deadlines and participate in online discussion boards with other classmates.

Favorite Teachers

Let’s be honest, everyone has a favorite professor. At the least, they have a professor they’re more fond of compared to others. For an easy way to deal with summer classes, check if that certain professor is teaching any sections you need. As long as it fits within your schedule, take it! By selecting a professor you’re familiar with, you’ll already have an idea of what you’re walking into on the first day. Even better, you’re potentially already on their good side. It is less stressful to have a summer course with a professor you know and like. You may even have a few laughs along the way!

Shorter Term Classes

Many schools offer various course lengths during the summer. Some courses last the entire summer (from June to August), while others are only a few months.  The most intense courses can be as short as five weeks. Instead of being in class all summer, a good alternative is to take one of the shorter, more intense classes. It will be more work, but it only last a few weeks. Then once it’s over, you can have the rest of the summer to do what you please. What’s the greatest part? They’re all worth the same amount of credits, which means it’s a full class even though it’s shortened.

Deciding to take a summer course is never easy. You don’t want it to ruin your summer, but you also want to get ahead on your course load. Before you decide, consider these tips to make taking summer classes a little easier!