Blogger, Out.

May 25, 2013

This blog hasn’t seen a new post in ages. Okay, more like a few months, but it feels like ages. It’d be a wonder if anyone’s still paying any mind to it. But I do owe it–or at the very least, its spirit–one last post. A goodbye, of sorts.

I graduated! I spent the recommended 4 years here at Coastal and will look back on the time fondly. But I move on to greener (or at least more mountainous) pastures in the form of graduate school. So I took a moment to reflect. I run a personal blog elsewhere and was inspired by what I saw someone post…the result? A letter to a prior self. It’s a little specific to my own circumstances, but the gist is this: in college, you’re gonna learn way more about yourself than whatever it is you’re studying. You don’t have to take notes, but you really should pay attention.

To my freshman year self:

This isn’t a warning letter, so don’t widen your eyes yet. It’s more of a pat on the back…a reassurance that it’s going to be alright.

 

You’re going to have to live at home for a bit. In the moment, you’ll be fine with it. So fine, in fact, that you don’t see why you ought to leave. But leave. It will be the best thing you’ve done for yourself, up to that point. You’re not trying to get away from the parental units (they’re still grand), but you are trying to get closer to yourself.

 

Your hair? It grows back. And that one paper you decided to skip for Ivanova’s class because you had a solid A? Do it. That sucker is the only thing wedged between you and that shiny 4.0. But I know that it’ll also be due at a very difficult moment in your life. And the B+ is character building. So don’t fret.

 

Illegally downloading all of that music? Totally worth it. Your conscience kicks in later when you find yourself weirdly emotionally attached to artists, so you’ll pay your dues at some point. But you’ll be really glad you got that entire Zutons zip file. The Zeppelin’s not bad either. It makes you way cooler.

 

The bed-in-a-bag is your wisest purchase. The sticky wall notes are useless, but the comforter is quite comforting and the yellow/gray/blue combo grows on you. Make more than one friend. She will leave you, rather abruptly. You will understand, but it will hurt and having other friends for support will help.

 

Speaking of friends: they will come and go. They really will go. It doesn’t make them less of a friend in any way. You’ll go too, trust me. It’s just how life happens. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or that you don’t like them. It means that even the greatest rivers in the world eventually split to get to the ocean.

 

As for dudes. First of all, your taste changes pretty drastically. Start looking for beards early. Later, it gets trendy, and you can’t tell the habitual bearders from the bandwagoners. What’s more, your preconceived notion of what they’re going to be like in college is really wrong. That’s okay, it’s good to be a little overly optimistic. It’s called hope, or whatever. But if you realize that you’re wrong now, you can get out of your blissful state of unawares with more time to spare. Nobody’s really going to strike your fancy. Two kind of will, but you were super wrong about the first and a little off about the second. The library will be a great source of good-looking but fruitless prospects in this category, but so many of your greatest friendships will root themselves there. Spend time there.

 

Cherish being alone. Your roommates will suck until your last year, so you need to learn how to do that. But the final year is when you learn and come to appreciate what it means to live with someone else. You learn how to share dishes and appliances and movies and fears and quirks.

 

Cook more and buy less fast food. Embrace the love of tea, it will provide warmth any time you need it. Embrace that you’re just an overly educated nerd and that you have no idea what you’re doing.

 

Start on grad school applications earlier. Fill out more of them. Make friends with your professors. Some of them will change your life forever. Don’t read everything on the syllabus—but at least read its Wikipedia page. Don’t get too cocky, but trust that your knowledge (what little of it you may have) is worth just as much as anyone else’s. Stop trying to pretend that you’re not in a wheelchair, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. And that just makes reminders hurt more. But that hurt is good too, because from it comes a rare thing that you didn’t even recognize until you were crying in the library—passion.

 

Oh, and for the love of God, skip as many of those ethical theory lectures as you want. The professor is just as useless as you suspected during the first class.

 

You do okay for yourself.

At noon.

So a little less than three hours…

Are you ready? Are you prepared? Because the earlier you can get your application in the running, the better your living arrangements will be.

First of all, click here to apply.

Keep in mind that this year, there will be junior and senior spaces available, so don’t think that just because you’re not a freshman you shouldn’t think about applying. Also remember that there’s a 2-year on-campus living requirement unless you are:

  • Married
  • A parent
  • In the military
  • Living locally with your parents

Rising second-year students who apply on time will be able to pick their own apartments, rooms, and roommates through the room selection process March 19 – 21 at the Coastal Science Center. You must apply for housing by 11:59pm on March 10 in order to participate in the room selection process. All housing applications are date and time stamped when received, and group selection times will be based on the time stamp of the last person in your group who successfully applied. (Roommates: encourage your roommates to apply as early as possible!). If you have a potential roommate who fails to successfully complete the application they will not be able to be included when you select your apartment.

If you’re looking for more information, it’s likely been emailed to you. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was definitely emailed to you.

  • Sell your books back as soon as possible. You can sell books to the bookstore that you didn’t buy from the bookstore. I made a $20 profit once…as in, I bought my books off of Amazon for $130 and sold them back to the bookstore for $150. And if you can’t sell them back this semester, set them aside and try selling them in the spring. A lot of classes are offered every other semester, so they’ll need the books then.
  • Buy your books for the spring right now. Everyone will be trying to sell them online (eBay, Amazon, Half.com), so prices will be more competitive which works out better for you. Also, don’t bother buying the books that are “recommended” for your class…total waste of money, so far as experience has taught me.
  • Take a quick look at your financial aid and make sure you won’t be coming back to any nasty surprises (class cancellations because someone forgot to sign some kind of paperwork) in January. If something looks funky, you’ll have the whole break to fix it.
  • Take a quick look at your classes too. Sometimes they get cancelled last minute and you don’t get notified. The earlier you can straighten everything out, the better.
  • If you’re taking any lit heavy classes and you get your books early, it really doesn’t hurt to at least read the dust jackets. Better yet, get a whole book read. I know it’s break and all, but you’ll be really thankful you were ahead of the game when February rolls around, you’re swamped with other work, and your professor gives a surprise quiz.
  • Can you fill out your FAFSA yet? FILL IT OUT.
  • Watch some movies, do some traveling, read some books, pick up a hobby, eat until you’re fat and happy, etc.

The hills are alive with the sound of music...

Hang in there, folks. It’s almost over. You’ll be fine.

As the end of the semester is approaching, I keep hearing some of the same concerns. Here, I’ve addressed them. Do you have others? Don’t be afraid to ask.

I’ve spent a semester as one major, but I don’t think I want to do it for the rest of my career. Is it okay to change?

Absolutely. Centuries ago, the sole purpose of college may have been to perfect an art or a skill, but the days of Dante are over. Nowadays, the first order of business is figuring out what you want to do. If that means spending a semester or two (or hell, maybe 3) without an absolutely clear direction, that’s okay. You may have to make up some time and take a few summer classes or possibly even an extra semester, but I’m of the opinion that it’s more important that you do what you love. It’ll be much more valuable in the end.

I’ve got a class that I’m not doing very well in. Do you think I can hack it in the long run?

Again, absolutely. So college isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. But just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re not capable. Keep in mind that you are not your grade. After all, a grade only tells you how well you performed in that specific class, per that instructor’s standards. Some professors are impossible to please and some subjects just don’t click. Don’t panic. I’m a perfectionist, so I realize how hard it is to actually internalize that idea, but do as I say…not as I do.

I see that Greek life is a big thing around here. Should I get in on it?

That’s totally up to you. Just know that not being involved in Greek life does not mean that you’ll suffer from some underdeveloped social life. I know a lot of people that love their sorority or fraternity and I see a really genuine sense of community and support in a lot of cases. I also get the sense that being involved in Greek life provides convenient access to events and networking opportunities. I was never inclined to join a sorority, partly because I never had the due money laying around, but mostly because I found my community elsewhere. I also just never liked the dressing alike thing. Don’t tell me what to wear.

I blew money this semester…what’s the best way to save it next semester?

  1. Cut back on the booze. The stuff’s expensive.
  2. Use your meal plan, if you have one. Not your declining balance…that stuff runs out really quickly. If you’re at CINO, learn what a “meal” consists of.
  3. Stop buying unnecessary things? When you don’t have to drag your purchases back to your parents’ house to be subjected to their scrutiny, it’s much easier to pick up a new present for yourself here and there. But let’s be honest…do you really need it?
  4. Take the shuttle as often as you can to avoid spending money on gas. Or better yet, buy or rent a bike.
  5. Get an on-campus job to bring in a little extra cash.

Any more questions? Keep ‘em coming.

Ode to the Library

November 9, 2012

So I’m not going to label this “last ditch effort” time. I mean, it’s pretty late in the game, but we’re not talking anything past the two minute warning.

We’re definitely in the fourth quarter though, and it would be better to start panicking at 50% capacity now instead of 95% capacity in a few weeks. 

I’m already in this state. I’ve spent upwards of 8 hours in the library every day for the past two weeks and I’ve started people watching as a leisurely sport…which brings me to the point of this post.

The library is your best friend.

I realize that some of you may study better if you’re in a comfortable environment–like your room. But personally, I can’t get anything done without someone sitting near me, reminding me of why I’m there. And there are other perks as well:

  • You can rent computers. You probably already know this, but I ran into someone recently that didn’t, so I’m just covering my bases. This is especially useful if you have a Dropbox. Don’t have one? Ask me about it. It’s like a beautiful, virtual flash-drive for everything you’ve ever done. ALSO, the wifi is really reliable, all the time.
  • You can get coffee. You probably will need coffee, and lots of it, this time of year. The ladies in Java City are sweethearts, so even if you don’t drink coffee, grab a hot cocoa and have a snarky convo with them.
  • There are still actually shelves of books that you can use and read and it’s a lovely thing. Moreover, if you find a great book that you don’t want to tote around, you can scan pages of it and send them to your email for free.
  • Everyone that works there is kind and helpful. Like, really helpful. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere.
  • When you’re brain is fried from studying, take a break to people watch. Library people are the most interesting people on campus, I’m almost ready to guarantee it.

You need to acquaint yourself with Klub Kimbel. Just let the magic happen.

6 o’Clock Shoes

October 19, 2012

Two of my friends and I went shopping for a very special occasion yesterday. We were on a mission to find a) amazing dresses and b) some kickass shoes. When the floor assistant asked what we were getting so dressed up for, my friend nonchalantly said, “dinner.”

The dinner is with a professor…my favorite professor of all time. Ask anyone that knows me–I want to grow up to be this woman. Her sense of fashion is impeccable, as is her taste in books and movies, and she’s just really good at teaching people. These are my goals in life.

The dinner was her idea. My friends and I helped her with a project for the department and as a thank you, she invited us out to eat. Immediately, we knew we had work to do. It’s not that we want to compete with her–such a thing is impossible. But we would like to at least keep up, y’know? The festivities will start at 6pm and we needed 6 o’clock shoes.

I’ve told some other friends about the outing, and they think it’s strange. I guess there’s something taboo about it because…it’s a professor. I mean, right now, you might not have a professor that you adore. Chances are, you can’t stand most of them. They’re professors–they’re a weird kind of authority figure and they’re the source of a lot of your stress. If you saw them at Wal-Mart, you’d probably turn the other way.

But here’s what’s even weirder. They might have a few years on you and a degree or too, but some of them are in your same age bracket. We’re all just a bunch of adults. And sometimes, that’s a good thing to keep in mind, because eventually, you might find a professor that you really like. And if you do, reminding yourself that they’re regular people too might persuade you to stop by their office. I have one friend who joins his Buddhism professor for tea every once in a while to talk about life. And this professor that we’re going to dinner with? She might be meeting up with us in Atlanta to see a Shakespeare play.

You never know who’s going to change your life. It could be your roommate or your classmate or someone you see on the bus every day. But it could also be your professor. Some (if not most) are quirky and eccentric. Some have so many degrees that they’re totally intolerable. But others are truly great people. Vats of knowledge. Invaluable networking contacts. Perhaps friends.

If you’re reading this and you’re not a freshman, this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve registered for classes before. But even so, there are things about the process that I didn’t learn until this and last year. But I need you slightly more experienced folks to hold tight…

First Time Registration- A Lingo Rundown

  • core classes/curriculum: these are the classes that everyone at CCU has to take. Your department doesn’t matter, your major doesn’t matter, your minor doesn’t matter. You have to get English credit, you have to get a science credit, etc. There’s no way around it. You usually want to get these out of the way early, because if your change your major later, they still count.
  • prerequisite: a class that you have to take before you can take another class…pretty straightforward. They’re not going to let you take an advanced accounting class before you’ve learned some basic statistics.
  • survey: these are general, usually first or second year classes. They cover long periods of time and often large regions or concepts. But they’re really helpful in narrowing down your interests. You may know that you like history, but an Early Western Civilization survey might introduce you to the Holy Roman Empire or a love of Charlemagne that you didn’t know you had.
  • lab: this doesn’t just concern the applied sciences. A lab is a (usually) single credit course that serves as a supplement to what you’re taking. I’ve seen these required for science, math, and the fine arts.
  • capstone: you shouldn’t have to worry about this yet. But it’s essentially that class that you’re working towards. It will be the culmination of all of your studies and you usually take it your senior year. Not every program requires it, but I’ve found that most do.

To some of you, registration will be exciting. If you’re really passionate about your program and your looking forward to getting into the meat of your courses, this is the time to prepare for it. You have the power now. You still need to get core classes and prerequisites out of the way, but maybe you can sneak a survey into your schedule. But whatever you do, make sure that you meet with your advisors and get there prepared. This is all you, now. If you want to graduate, you have to make sure you’re taking the right things.

As for all of you non-freshman, I encourage you to really take control. Your advisor is there to help and advise, but everything is ultimately up to you. Embrace it though…there will be few instances in life where you have this much say.

A Few Tips

  • Meet with your advisor as early as possible. At this point, they probably know the course catalog better than you. But if they’re a first year advisor, they’re SUPER busy and having to cover a lot of disciplines. The earlier you go, the less likely something will fall through the cracks.
  • Acquaint yourself with WebAdvisor’s registration process. At this point, there’s no way that you can register for a class, even accidentally, so don’t be afraid to click around. Create a preferred sections list and add all possible back up classes on it. Just make sure you don’t drop anything you’re taking right now…..
  • Be ready to register as soon as you possibly can. Your registration time is at 6am? Set an alarm. Classes fill up fast and when you’re a freshman, you get last pick. But that’s also why you have back-ups in your preferred sections list….
  • Use ratemyprofessors.com. It’s surprisingly accurate. There are some professors out there that write positive reviews of themselves. There are others that write negative reviews about themselves…(those are generally really great ones because they have twisted senses of humor.) But for the most part, it’s a reliable source. I find the “clarity” and “helpfulness” categories to be the most useful.
  • Double and triple check your course evaluation. Requirements for degrees change often, but no matter what, you’re required to do whatever the catalog said the year that you enrolled, so don’t let the changes freak you out. It just means that the freshman next year might be doing something differently than you did.
  • Don’t be afraid to switch advisors. When you become a sophomore, you’re usually paired with a permanent, program-specific advisor. But even so, it might not work. Take the English department for example. You might be interested in literature, but your advisor–a creative writing professor–keeps pushing you toward writing workshop classes. Get a handle on who the professors are in your department and which ones you like. You can usually talk to the chair of the department and ask if the professor you like is taking on advisees. I rarely hear of anyone being denied.
  • Make sure everything with your financial aid is copacetic. If you dropped a class this fall but your financial aid requires 30 credit hours a year, make sure you make up any lost ground when you register. And keep in mind that a “full-time” schedule is anything from 12-18 credit hours.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for favors. The biggest key is communicating with your advisor. If you start a good relationship now, they’ll become an irreplaceable resource later. You never know when you might need a recommendation letter.

I think that’s the gist of things. But if you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or, better yet go ask your advisor.

Freshman Tips

October 5, 2012

Freshman Tips

I just found an excellent blog on Tumblr dedicated to answering all of your questions and concerns. Some personal favorites:

  • Don’t just love what you study. Study what you love.
  • Talk to your professors and TAs outside of class.
  • You don’t crash as hard from sugar-free Red Bull.
  • This is not high school. Getting good grades is the new cool.
  • Your roommate might not be your new best friend. That’s okay.
  • Lock your door.
  • If you’re struggling, ask for help.
  • Learn to cook something other than Ramen noodles.
  • There are plenty of activities on campus that don’t involve sex, drugs, or alcohol.

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Or can you…..?

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