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Archive for the 'College Life' Category

How to Form a Successful Study Group in College

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Study Group. Going to college and getting good grades is a challenge. The level of education you are receiving is much more advanced, more intensive, and more difficult than in high school. Often, professors give students assignments or papers due that can require a larger amount of studying. It can be hard to find the time to study, let alone do so effectively. A study group is an excellent way for students to come together and help brainstorm and learn as a group, which can increase classroom retention and productivity. In addition, study groups can help students form strong bonds and friendships.

Getting Started

If you are interested in starting your own study group, there are several important things to know before you do so. Ask fellow students if there is a group already formed, and if not, ask them if they’d be interested in starting one up. Remember, whether you have three people or twelve, any group is a study group, so don’t be discouraged if not all members of the class agree to participate. Once you have a few people who’d like to form the group, you will need to come up with a set day of the week and time to meet. You can meet once per week, several times per week, or on the weekends, depending on the agreed upon schedule. Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to attend every meeting, and that each person’s schedule will be different.

Staying Focused to Maximize Productivity

During the study group, it is important that everyone stay focused. The group is meant to be a time of learning where you can all share notes, ideas, and what you’ve learned, as well as help others who may be having a difficult time with certain aspects of the class. Ordering pizza or Chinese is fine, and it’s important to get to know one another, but during the study group period everyone should be on the same page and serious about the discussion. After study group, if you all want to get together and spend some time as friends separately, that’s fine, but all participants should be serious when it’s time to buckle down.

Shortcuts & Dealing With Deadlines

If you find that you’re having a hard time getting a group together, talk to your professor and ask if he or she would like to propose a group for everyone to be a part of. Often, teachers can have more influence on college students than their peers. See if they will help you ask the class about doing this, and you can even make some kind of flyer or handout if you choose to do so. During group, there are some tools you can use to help everyone learn more. Practice exam questions, flash cards, and just good old fashioned questions and answers with everyone in the group is an excellent way to become more effective. If there is a big paper due, have everyone bring their copies in before you turn them in and edit them. Each member of the group can exchange papers with another, and then critiques as well as praise can be doled out. This can go a long way towards getting a great grade on your paper.

Sorting Out Disagreements

If there happen to be any disagreements within your group, remember that you’re all working towards a common goal: passing the class and doing well. Be sure to discuss any concerns or problems openly with one another. You will be surprised at the bond you will all develop with one another over time. If a member of the group is having difficulties understanding certain things, work together as a team to try and help them out. Your contributions to each other are crucial when it comes to learning and understanding the contents of the class you’re taking. Week by week, you will notice improvements in your abilities, your knowledge, and the new things you learn. By the end of the course, you should all feel proud of your achievements as well as confident that you will get a passing grade. In addition, you will notice better note taking and listening skills as well as improvements on your writing abilities. Study groups can help you to become not only a better student, but a better person all around.

More Helpful Resources

For more information on college study groups and how you can create one, please refer to the following websites:

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Benefits of Working While Attending College

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

To fast track a career, consider getting a job while attending college. Besides providing extra spending money, a job while in college teaches time management skills, helps pay off student loans quicker and teaches students how to balance work, life and school. Undergraduate students also have the opportunity to take on paid internships, which helps students get a job after graduation. Many internship opportunities turn into full-time jobs after college, saving on the need to hunt for a job. Many successful careers have begun for students who work while going to school.

Balancing Your Life Waitress.

When looking for work as a college student, consider employers that offer flexible scheduling or understand the need to attend classes at specific times. Build the work schedule around the need to study, attend class and get plenty of sleep. Many colleges have programs to employ students on campus. A campus job can help save on transportation costs and still help meet schooling needs. Remember to prioritize what’s important when working while attending college and make sure the work will fit within school scheduling needs.

Balancing work, college, family and a social life can be complicated, but it teaches students how to manage time effectively. Time management skills are some of the most important skills to learn, especially before getting a full-time job. These skills will help students throughout their lives as they mature. Learning how to prioritize what’s important is a part of the soft skill set that cannot be taught. Employers look for recruits that have the ability to manage time effectively and prioritize.

Besides learning important prioritization and time-management skills, a job while in college teaches students how to manage finances. Getting a handle on finances in the early stages of a career teaches students how to save for the future. A job while in school not only provides needed spendable cash, it can help defray expensive loan costs by paying down on loan fees while in college. Developing financial skills while still in college will pay dividends for years to come.

To manage student activities and a job, consider a balanced plan to help manage all that has to be done. Make time for recreational activities or exercise to prevent burnout. Choose a job with ties to a school major to help gain field experience before graduation. Some colleges provide work credits that can help toward a finished degree. Many internships and co-operative work/school programs are available to students attending college full or part time.

Build Up Real-Word Experience

Working while attending college also provides real-world experience, which is beneficial after graduation. Employers prefer hiring college students that also have on-the-job experience, as this demonstrates responsibility and a sound work ethic. Job experience establishes credibility as an employee; it shows strength of character and the ability to juggle the work-life balance.

Student work-experience programs are available at many colleges. Students gain needed job experience, and college credits while working up the ladder. Students in these programs can receive promotions that result in higher wages by participating in work/school programs. Working while attending college helps defray costs that might have ended up as part of a larger school debt. A job while attending college also teaches students how to set goals and objectives, communicate with co-workers or supervisors and prepares students for a career.

Setting Your Priorities

Students must remember that schoolwork and schedules are the first priority when working while attending college. Take advantage of school and summer breaks to work a full-time schedule when studies are not a priority. Save as much money during these periods to lessen the need to work more while school is in session. Put money away for college needs, books, meal plans or to put on loan fees. Learning to manage finances prepares students for the ebb and flow of life. Students that develop sound financial practices in college, including developing savings plans, stand a better chance of being financially successful throughout working life.

While it takes a greater commitment and ability to balance school and working, getting a job while in college gives students an edge over students who just attend college without working. Besides instilling a strong work ethic, working while in college makes a graduate more attractive to an employer. If given two graduates to choose from, employers will generally pick the student with the job experience over the one who does not have it. Though it’s not always easy, working while in college puts working students ahead in the game of life.

Internship & Student Employment Resources

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College Information for Students with Disabilities

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Heading to college is both an exciting and frightening time for all students. This is a time when students cross the threshold from teen to independent adult. One’s success and failures during this time can directly affect his or her future. When a student has a disability, there are additional concerns that must be confronted and addressed. Where parents may have played a large part in a person’s education through high school, the student must take on that responsibility for his or herself while in college. A person with disabilities will have different needs than students without disabilities. Meeting these needs is necessary in order to receive an equal educational experience. To do this, the student must take the right steps before and during his or her time in college.

Know Your Rights

Students with disabilities are protected by certain laws. These laws are meant to ensure that a student is not discriminated against because of his or her disability. It is important that students understand these laws so that they may ensure they are receiving the education that they deserve. One of these laws is section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law states that colleges and universities that receive federal funds must make modifications within reason to their regular procedures in order to accommodate qualified persons with disabilities. Another law that students with disabilities must be aware of is The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s disability, regardless of whether the school receives federal funds or not. This applies to public institutions, however, private institutions with the exception of fully owned religious organizations, must also comply with The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If a student feels he or she is a victim of discrimination, the disability services office should be contacted. If the school fails to resolve the issue, a complaint may also be filed by the student with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Preparing for College

Prior to college, preparation is fundamental to future success in college. A student must be prepared for the basic differences in study habits, teaching style and atmosphere. In addition, a student must also be ready for the changes that he or she will face as a person with disabilities. The student should take a closer look at his or her disability and how it has affected school performance. Understanding both one’s weaknesses and strengths will help prepare the student to confront them while attending college. Because the student will experience more independence while in college, he or she should be comfortable discussing their disability and any concerns. While in high school, learning how to self-advocate and express one’s needs is crucial.

When choosing a college, families should thoroughly research their options. Most schools have some form of disability services office. This office can help explain how the specific school meets the student’s disability needs. They will also help arrange for special accommodations and services if needed. Touring college campuses and meeting with a member of the disability services office will help determine if the school fits the student’s needs. Students must also provide paperwork that verifies their disability. When taking college placement tests, check to see what disability services are available, such as extended time or special accommodations, and if there are any eligibility requirements that must be met. Prior to starting college, the student must apply for financial assistance if needed. In addition to federal financial aid, students should research options from private sources. Different colleges or universities may also have scholarships available for students with disabilities.

Keys to Success in College

Once in college a student will want to make the right moves to ensure academic success. Working with the college’s disability services office is critical. Another way to do this is to meet with the instructors. This allows the instructor to get to know the student, and helps him or her better understand the student’s disability and what is needed to aid the learning process. It will also give the student insight on each of the instructors, their teaching style, what can be expected of the class, and the opportunity to request special accommodations if necessary. Making use of assistive technology, if needed, is also an important factor in ensuring one’s success while in college. Even after all of the disability needs have been met, the student will still need to adjust to the college lifestyle. Learning and practicing good time management, study, and listening skills are also mandatory for success.

Helpful Organizations

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Are you following your university on Twitter?

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Following your university on Twitter

As more and more universities discover the benefits of using Twitter as a communicational platform for their students, following your university on Twitter could help you stay up to date on official announcements, news, and events.

Every institution on the U.S. News & World Report’s “Top 100” list has at least one Twitter account, and in a recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, it was revealed that 41 percent of universities in America are using social media as a “recruitment tool.”

Because primary university accounts are going to have a high concentration of student followers, universities have started creating separate accounts so they can direct important messages to a specific target audience:

Admissions offices are creating their own Twitter accounts to attract new students to their campuses, such as Louisiana State University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions & Student Aid, (@LSUAdmissions).

Some institutions may even use Twitter to promote their alumni networks, such as New York University’s @NYUAlumni account.

Even departments within colleges and universities, such as business schools or law schools, have been operating their own Twitter accounts, as well as campus newspapers or research/student service organizations like athletic facilities and libraries.

The University of Florida has the most Twitter accounts out of any other university in the country. There are accounts for official campus news (@InsideUF), the UF Office of Technology Licensing (@UFOTL), the Career Resource Center (@UF_CRC), the UF College of Journalism and Communications (@UFJSchool), and even UF student housing (@UFhousing).

The following universities have the highest number of accounts on Twitter:

1. University of Florida – 24

2.  University of Georgia – 22

3. Carnegie Mellon University – 17

4. George Washington University – 17

5. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor – 16

Find and follow your university on Twitter:

MyCollegeGuide.org has put together a “master list” of all the universities on Twitter, which is constantly being updated thanks to input from readers. (If you notice that your school is missing from one of the lists, be sure to post a comment and let the authors know).

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Facebook’s RoomBug application matches students with their future roommates

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Incoming freshmen at five different American universities are using a Facebook application to send roommate requests to other students. The application helps students find a roommate through “online scouting,” and matches each student according to political or religious views, study habits, and even cleanliness.

The creators of RoomBug describe the application as one that allows students to “do their own roommate matching at on-campus residences and off-campus student properties across the nation.”  They explain that their mission is to “empower residents in the roommate selection process.”

As of right now, students at Emory University, the University of Florida, Temple University, Wichita State University and William Paterson University can use the application to fill out a form and describe their living preferences. If they find a “match” on the application which fits their description, the student can then send a request to other users.

Approximately 25 percent of the 5,179 incoming freshmen at the University of Florida are using the application.

“We decided that rather than continue to fight against the social media that is so much a part of our students’ lives, we need to get engaged in that social media,” explained TJ Logan, who works as the associate director of housing at the University of Florida.

The application allows students to fill out a 5-point questionnaire, so rather than providing a “yes or no response,” users can rate their answers on a scale of 1 to 5. All of the users are asked questions based on their:

  • Neatness level
  • Preferred bedtime
  • Visitor frequency
  • Activity level
  • Academic vs. social focus

Once they have completed their own questionnaire, users answer the same five questions to describe their “ideal roommate.” For the final question, students must then select whether they would like to live with a smoker or a non-smoker.

Users can choose whether they would like their “lifestyle filter” to be turned on or off. If the lifestyle filter is turned on, all of the answers they have provided about their “ideal roommate” will be applied, and the number of roommate matches will be limited to only those who fit their preferences.

But the RoomBug application isn’t the first of its kind: Over 83,000 students at 775 American institutions are already using URoomSurf, and students can create their own profiles, complete surveys, and then view their online matches. And two years ago Tulane University announced their partnership with a similar application called RoommateClick.

But not everyone is praising the use of social media as a roommate-matcher, as some feel this gives rise to racial, religious, or sexual profiling.

“As you leave behind high school to redefine and even reinvent yourself as adult, you need exposure to an array of different ideas, backgrounds and perspectives — not a cordon of clones,” writes Maureen Dowd, a reporter for The New York Times. “College is not only where you hit the books. It also should be where you learn not to judge a book by its cover.”

“The Science of Roommates”

RoombugPicking your future roommate is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly: Studies show that your roommate’s lifestyle could not only have a positive or negative impact on your education, it could also affect your state of mind as well.

According to a University of Michigan survey of 1,600 freshmen at two different universities, college students are more likely to fall into a state of depression if they live with a depressed roommate. Another group of researchers at Harvard found that non-drinkers who live with a partying roommate actually receive lower grades, and this is especially the case if two partying roommates, specifically males, live and drink together.

Also,  if a student lives with a roommate who has a video game addiction, studies show that their grade point average is 0.2 lower than students who don’t live with video game addicts.

In another study conducted with freshmen at Marquette University, it was discovered that females who live with heavier roommates are less likely to gain weight as opposed to those who live with thinner roommates. Margo D. Maine, who is a psychologist and specialist in eating disorders, explained that women between the ages of 17 and 19 are more at risk of developing eating disorders if they live with a “calorie-counting roommate.”

“Peer pressure is intense in that first year of college, probably more intense than in any other year of life,” states Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a research psychologist at Clark University and author of ‘Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From Late Teens Through the 20s.’ “Everyone around you is a stranger and you want to fit in…One way to find that place is to go along with what other people seem to be doing and what they seem to want you to do.”

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Lincoln University Drops Obesity Requirement – Fitness for Life

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Inside Higher Ed suggested that ‘Fitness for Life’ may well have been “the most discussed college course around” in recent weeks. But almost as soon as the course made national news, it has become a footnote in internet lore.

iStock_000007842986XSmallAdopted in 2006 by Lincoln University, the course was to be a graduation requirement for a select group of students: those seniors with a body mass index score of above 30. This year’s seniors were the first to be affected by the requirement: either lose weight or complete the Fitness for Life course by the time they graduated.

Amidst Outrage, Other Colleges Express Interest

According to newspaper sources, Lincoln faculty, concerned with the negative publicity surrounding the requirement, met on Friday and made the course voluntary in a near-unanimous vote. The policy will be one that encourages students who are obese to take the course, but the school has ended “the stipulation that these students enroll in the class as a graduation requirement if they don’t lose weight.”

Interestingly, according to school administration, once the story hit the national news, phone calls began coming in from other colleges seeking information about how to set up programs to help obese students. While those inquiring might have had a different idea about making course requirements, apparently many schools are concerned with the issue.

Still, many staff at Lincoln, the first historically black college created in the United States, were reportedly upset by the school’s sudden, new-found fame. Instead of the university with “the fat class,” Lincoln’s faculty and alumni preferred a return to the days when the school was known for the likes of Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes.

Though the faculty chose to end the requirement, James L. DeBoy, chair of Lincoln’s health, physical education and recreation department, continuously held fast to the idea. Prior to the meeting, DeBoy published a document urging staff to ‘stay the course’ and not dwell on the outside criticism:

“As educators we must be honest with our students and inform them when behavior, attitude, knowledge bases, or habits of mind are not what we, the faculty, deem as acceptable,” wrote DeBoy. “Any factor/trait/characteristic that we believe will hinder students’ maximum development and full realization of life goals must be: (1) brought to their attention; (2) substantiated as being detrimental; and (3) adequately redressed.”

After the vote, Inside Higher Ed noted DeBoy “was not distressed because of the continued commitment to the course and to raising the issues involved.”

Though Legality Unanswered, Students Pleased

The vote left the legality of the requirement up in the air. Many had called the initial requirement discriminatory since it required only certain students complete the course. But school officials insisted that legal concerns were not a critical component of the decision.

Students however, seemed pleased with the results. They also seemingly had an impact on the final vote since several were in attendance at the meeting.

One of the students present at the meeting, junior Sharifa Riley, was unequivocal in her pronouncement when discussing the topic with Philly.com. “It’s discrimination if they tell one group, ‘You’re too fat, you have to take this course,’ and they tell another group, ‘You’re OK, you don’t have to take it,'” Riley was quoted. “If everyone had to take the course, that would have been better.”

And fellow junior Lakeishia Fleet, 20, called the new policy “a good idea; it gives us a choice. Now we can get back to worrying about finals, not a weight class.”

According to reports Lincoln University had been the only college outside the nation’s military academies to invoke some form of physical fitness requirement for graduation.

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Obesity – Lincoln University Seeks to Address Specific Health Care Concern

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

It was about two weeks ago we saw the alarming headline:

Report says 75 percent of Americans unfit to serve in military.

Calling it another threat to our national-security, the report, Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve (pdf) , indicated that 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 do not qualify for military service because they are either physically unfit, they failed to finish high school or they have a criminal record.

On the education front, about one in four in the 17-to-24 age group lacks a high school diploma. That statistic has Education Secretary Arne Duncan pressing Congress to approve the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a 10-year initiative to improve childhood development programs.

Übergewicht / OverweightAccording to MercuryNews.com, roughly one third of all Americans in the age range would be disqualified for a wide variety of health related issues including asthma or for taking pills for depression or attention disorders. And another 27 percent of all young Americans would be disqualified by obesity alone.

New College Requirement

With that as a backdrop, we turn to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where the school has enacted a physical fitness course requirement. The graduation condition is causing a major fuss because the course is not necessarily a requirement for all students.

Instead, the mandate exists for students with a body mass index of 30 and above, a BMI deemed as obese. Those students in that category must take and pass a fitness course that meets three times a week.

And if they are assigned to the class but do not pass, there is no diploma.

The requirement went into effect in the fall of 2006 but is only now making national waves as the time approaches for the first set of graduating students to be affected by the policy. And one should not be too surprised to learn that the school is now facing criticism from both students and the greater public.

Most articulate that the unfairness comes from the fact that not all students are being held to the same standard. James DeBoy, chairman of the school’s Department of Health and Physical Education, offers quite a strong rebuttal to that assertion.

He likens the requirement to other remedial courses that some students need to take to improve their reading or math proficiency levels. He also went so far as to offer this rather candid assessment:

“We, as educators, must tell students when we believe, in our heart of hearts, when certain factors, certain behaviors, attitudes, whatever, are going to hinder that student from achieving and maximizing their life goals.

“Obesity is going to rob you of your quality and quantity of life,” he went on to add. “We believe that this is unconscionable.”

Lincoln, an historically black college named after the “Great Emancipator,” might be a bit more cognizant of the general issue, since roughly four out of five African-American women over the age of 20 are overweight or obese according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When summarizing the situation, the folks at CNN added: “Obesity increases a person’s risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers and other ailments.”

But the same report offers this assessment from the legal perspective:

iStock_000001461930XSmall“The school’s requirement seems ‘paternalistic’ and ‘intrusive,’ David Kairys, professor of law at Temple University Law School in Philadelphia, Pa., offered. ‘The part that seems excessive is forcing them to take this course, or to exercise three hours a week, which isn’t a bad idea for them, but should be their choice.’”

Addressing a Problem

We began by reminding folks of the recent military assessment of Americans ages 17-24 and noted the push for early childhood education to potentially address the 25% of this age group that did not graduate from high school. Of course, while no one questions the overall goal, many will question whether the funding of early childhood will be the answer.

Likewise, with 27% of that age group deemed obese, there should be a call to action to address this alarming trend. It of course has long term ramifications that transcend the military concerns and gets to one critical element of the healthcare debate, the idea of taking personal responsibility for one’s physical well-being.

And there will no doubt be those who insist that the Lincoln requirement, or any such similar expectation at the collegiate or high school level, will do nothing to address the issue.

But then again, there is little doubt that the first step to solving a major issue is to educate the public on that issue. Lincoln appears to be doing just that.

The school even goes one step further. It takes those bright and hard-working students nearing graduation that are most in need of addressing this specific concern and mandates they be educated on the issue.

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Six Steps to Making the Dean’s List

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

When asked as to how you did last semester, nothing can top the sound of that simple four-word explanation:

Made the Dean’s List.

iStock_000010938758XSmallIt certainly has a positive connotation to it. It also carries a special sense of pride, whether you are talking to your parents, grandparents, or one of your former high school teachers. And most importantly, it is a great thing to be able to place on your resume.

When you say “I made the dean’s list” it means one simple thing – you can handle the expectations associated with the rigors of college.

We know you want to be part of the select group that is able to make that claim and here is our six step method to making it happen.

1. Be Organized

Almost all college courses follow a troubling pattern – front loading information and back loading assignments. Too many courses begin with lots of reading and little in the way of written work only to end with major projects and papers due just as semester exams approach.

The most important step for academic success is to create a master schedule/calendar of your courses and the assignments due for the semester. It does not matter which format you use, digital or traditional, you just need to create a master with all pertinent information.

That means taking the entire syllabus for each course and plotting all written assignments, projects, papers and exams on one master calendar. Be sure and highlight any extra credit work options that are noted or add them to the calendar when the professor makes them known.

Once complete, to ensure you have a complete sense of the demands ahead, spend 30 minutes each Sunday evening reviewing the upcoming week and the two weeks that follow. Look carefully at that work and then plan your study time for the week. In the early going, when less written work is required, make a commitment to doing more than the required reading. A good goal is to work towards being at least a week ahead at the end of the first five weeks of the semester.

Second, organize all materials into folders and notebooks. There are way too many expectations to have you wasting time searching for some paper or papers you have misplaced. Such materials include all the original class handouts, the additional materials provided by the professor during the semester and your returned assignments, quizzes and tests. Don’t forget, those returned papers can be extremely helpful when it comes time for final exam preparation.

2. Find a Quiet Place to Study

One of the most critical aspects of college success is to be able to place the social scene on hold so as to be able to focus on the task at hand. While most think of the need to limit such time to the weekend, the reality is that the dormitory is often a social scene, one that can be a constant source of disruption. Limiting the time you spend in your dorm room is the only way to eliminate those distractions.

Girl in a LibraryIt is imperative that whenever you are reading challenging materials or preparing for an exam you have a quiet place where you can truly disappear. It might be the back stacks at the library, the basement lounge at your dorm or a study area in one of your campus classroom buildings. Ultimately, you must utilize this place whenever you need to find some real quiet time.

3. Attend and Participate in All Classes

It goes without saying that it is extremely important that you go to all of your classes every week. Your professor will not only spend class time on the subject matter, he or she will also help you identify how class projects and homework assignments will be graded and what you will need to know for tests.

In addition, some college professors make class participation a component of the overall grade. In such instances, they expect the students to be more than just present, they want to see you ask questions and contribute your thoughts to class discussions.

Obviously you cannot participate if you are not present. And you cannot participate in a meaningful way if you are not prepared.

And even if there is no grade for attending or participating, your presence and your participation can be extremely helpful. Your presence and participation will indicate to your professor that you are interested in the material and that you are committed to your responsibilities.

Such a step cannot hurt when that prof is about to provide that final grade for the semester and you are right on the line between a B+ and an A-.

Lastly, remember – taking notes is also a form of participation. Jot down everything that appears relevant, especially the information presented in overheads, in power points or written on the board. And if you are not good at note taking, get a tape recorder and record the class.

4. Implement the 15-Minute Review

To ensure you make the most of each class, arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled starting time and implement the 15-Minute Review.

At that point, instead of seeking out others to socialize, take the time to review two items briefly but as thoroughly as you can. First, review your notes from the prior class to remind yourself of what was being discussed and where the class ended. Then, quickly glance through the required reading in your text so as to have a sense as to where the professor will go during the class.

Doing these two tasks in a focused manner will not only ensure that you are in a proper mindset for the class when the professor begins, it means you will have a much better sense as to how the material the professor is presenting connects to the prior learning. Those two things will ensure your class is extremely productive.

To maximize the benefit of this concept, begin by implementing the review the evening before. If you have three classes the following day, take 45 minutes and break that time into three segments where you review your notes from the prior class and the reading material. Doing so the night before, then repeating just prior to class will again make class attendance far more productive. It will also greatly reduce your need for last minute study time when exams loom.

5. Limit the Social Scene

College offers enormous academic and social opportunities. It goes without saying that the social opps are far more enjoyable.

iStock_000003511925XSmallAt the same time, all experts concur, that taking some time from studies is critical to maintain an emotional balance. But there is a difference between an occasional recharging of batteries on the weekend and shortchanging your responsibilities during the week. If you do not remind yourself of the task at hand, it is all too easy to get pulled away by your classmates at times when you really should be focused on completing some critical assignments.

Ultimately, you must remember why it is that you are attending college – that the academics must come first. The failure to do so is the undoing of far too many students – in some cases it is the difference between that A or B grade and a C. Sadly, in other instances, it is the basis for why so many are forced to drop out, their C’s having fallen to F’s.

There will be people around you who are taking a less rigorous academic program and thus can spend more time socializing/partying. There will be even more people around you who have forgotten why they are attending college.

You cannot forget, not if you want your name on that magic list.

6. Study

Yes, it does come down to the fact that you will need to study. But when it comes to studying, forget those stories about the all-night cram sessions, the weekend in a motel room with nothing but your books, some Ramen noodles and your hot water pot.

Simply stated, cramming sucks, from an emotional standpoint and from an academic preparation standpoint.

In college it is truly the story of the tortoise and the hare. You need to be a turtle, slow and steady with an emphasis on the word steady. The key is to do a small amount of work every day.

Unlike high school, when you are not in class, your time will be yours. There are no study halls and no required places to be. If you have a one hour class at eight, another at eleven and a third at three, it can be very easy to waste away the time from nine to eleven, or from one to three.

iStock_000003967948XSmallThis is where your calendar comes in – you need to schedule that time, assigning a specific chapter to read or constructing an aspect of a paper or writing up those math problems. If you are not careful, you will find ways to fill that time with other things that seem more enjoyable yet do not match up with the reason you are actually attending college, the idea of earning a diploma.

And scheduling that time means time and location – where are you going to go so as to ensure you do the work you set out to do.

Making the Dean’s List

We must add that taking care of your physical health is also critical. You need to eat right, get to bed at a decent hour and find some way to exercise consistently. Such steps are critical to remain physically and mentally healthy.

In addition, select the right courses, those that you have the required prerequisites and background for, and be sure not to overload yourself with too many reading-based courses, too many lab based courses, etc. Five classes can be too many if each course expects hundreds of pages of reading between each class. Think through your schedule carefully to ensure you have a reasonable and balanced workload.

All in all, getting good grades in college is not beyond the realm of the serious student who displays the proper attitude.  If you attend class, work hard, and stay on top of the expectations, at the end of the semester you will be one of the select few, the proud, the student who can offer a humble shrug as you answer that question as to how you did last semester.

Made the Dean’s List.

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Seven Steps to Surviving a Lousy Roommate

Monday, October 19th, 2009

You went off to college with great expectations yet now the excitement is definitely waning.

Perhaps you were barely ten days into the school year when the pile of dirty clothes began resembling the dormitory equivalent of Mt. Olympus? Another ten days later, not only did you note an odor beginning to emerge from the pile but you soon noticed other not so rich smells?

iStockThat each time your roomie entered the room you recalled the smell you generally associate with a large dumpster? Was it at that point that you realized he seemed completely unaware of where the shower was located?

Or was the issue less stomach-churning yet equally troubling. The constant stream of visitors or the CD player burning incredibly hot as it unceasingly blared rap music that would even cause Eminem to want to find some quiet time?

Perhaps it was even less insidious but just as onerous; as in the loudest snoring you have ever witnessed? That last snort always sounding as if your roomie might actually be drawing his very last breath.

Did your first call home to express your outrageous horror only result in Dad being, well…, Dad? The usual minimizing of the negatives and the suggestion that this could be a good thing, that it will help you get out of the room more and develop other friendships? Not to mention help you develop greater resiliency and even teach you to take a look at your own actions?

Surviving the Roommate from Hell

Rooming with another person is a great challenge, especially when two people have very different tastes and personal practices. Living in a very small space such as a dorm room involves compromise from both parties.

While it is easy to place heaps of blame on the person in the other bed, it could well be that you might just be getting on your roommate’s nerves just as much as he or she is getting on your’s. Still, just what is a person to do when, well, they seem to have been assigned the roommate from hell?

Dealing with Serious Concerns

DO: If you have concerns, it is imperative that you begin by discussing the specific issues directly with your roommate. In doing so, you must confront each issue head on but you also must do everything in your power to remove all emotion from the discussion. Politely note what you are witnessing, and why this is an issue for you. As you do so, to keep the emotions down, be sure to focus on the behavior and not the person. It is imperative that you not be seen as rendering personal judgment. Therefore, it is very helpful to begin the process by noting that you will let him or her express any possible concerns they might have with your actions!

DON’T: Whatever you do, don’t wimp out and leave a note. They never work and most times, they usually backfire. Also remember that bringing in outsiders generally only adds fuel to minor issues, especially if it begins with you making sarcastic comments that somehow manage to get back to your roomie. So don’t bring in the Resident Assistant before you have at least made a minimal level of effort to confront this particular issue yourself first.

Dealing with the Odor Queen or King

DO: This is a legitimate issue that falls under the first step noted above. You must confront your roomie with the specific issue. Most importantly, to help them make progress you must be ready to offer concrete suggestions and even some much-needed help. iStock_000006409009XSmallIf the issue is a monstrous pile of smelly clothes, it just might mean that you will need to explain the concept of a laundry bag. Maybe even offer to have him or her accompany you on your next excursion to the laundry area. If it is about BO, it may be helpful to offer access to specific body products like shampoo and deodorant, perhaps even purchasing a few extra items and make them available.

DON’T: Whatever you do, don’t belittle him or her in the process. If you make your roommate feel too small, your words will fall on deaf ears. They will be angry and see you as simply being hypercritical. The magic words most definitely include, “I am telling you this for your own good – as your roommate I feel I must make you aware of this issue so that it does not interfere with your ability to make friends. I just know that if you knew this was a problem you would want to take care of the issue.”

Dealing with the Aspiring MTV DJ

DO: Again, take this issue into your own hands. The bottom line is your room must provide you with a place to sleep and to store your personal items. Be sure to create a schedule with your roommate’s input that preserves these basic elements. That said, in an effort to fight battles worth fighting, it must be noted that your dorm room does not necessarily need to be your place to study. If your roomie insists on music blaring and you need solitude to work your academic magic, you must find a quiet place on-campus to study and do your related work.

DON’T: While it is easy to give in on the study time schedule, don’t let the issue interfere with your sleep needs. While you can let him or her blare that rap music afternoon and early evening, there comes a point when it must be turned off so that you can sleep. As part of the negotiations process, let your roomie know you will allow him to get his music fix as much as you can reasonably manage but come 9:00 P.M. (9:30 or 10:00, whatever makes sense for you) you need the room to be quiet.

Dealing with the 24/7 Hostess

DO: As with the DJ, this is an issue that can be minimized to a certain extent. It begins with a discussion of a reasonable schedule, when it is appropriate for visitors to stop by. It then also involves requesting the common courtesy of knowing when someone is stopping over. That way you can plan accordingly and make your way to your study sanctuary if need be.

DON’T: Whatever you do, don’t waver in your expectations regarding having a quiet room for those moments you want it quiet. That means no visitors after a specific time. And don’t be afraid to declare specific items off base, as in no visitors plopping down on your bed or somehow managing to paw through your personal items. Offer your desk chair as one place to sit but otherwise you would expect visitors to be parked on your roomie’s bed, in their desk chair or seated on the floor.

Dealing with Rip-Snorting Snorer

DO:This actually may be the toughest to deal with – such issues represent breathing problems often brought on by weight or other physical ailments. It could be that your roomie is not aware that his nighttime breathing is so contorted it is causing the blinds to rustle. Noting this behavior just might be the impetus to his getting the issue examined. After all, he may not even be aware of what is taking place. A set of earplugs could be helpful if your roommate is not ferociously loud. But of course with such items in your ears it might prove tough to hear that alarm clock come morning.

DON’T: Don’t ignore this issue if it is keeping you awake at night. To be productive, you must get your sleep on a regular basis. Again, this can be one of the most challenging of issues to actually solve and could well be the one where you quickly enlist the help of the RA or HR.

Dealing with Candidates for the University of San Quentin

iStockDO: When in high school, we develop a sort of notion that we must not rat out the behavior of classmates. But when it comes to such behavior occurring in your dorm room, it is imperative that you challenge illegal activity and emphatically insist you will not tolerate it in your room. If it involves drugs or other related behaviors that can result in a criminal record, it cannot be ignored. In too many instances, the failure to confront this problem results in you being painted with the same brush that your roommate is painted with. That may not be too disconcerting with certain peer groups but it certainly is when the persons addressing the issue represent law enforcement.

DON’T: Don’t waiver – once you are witness to such behavior, give your warning that you will not tolerate illegal activities in your room, that if they occur again you will report them to the Resident Assistant and/or Head Resident. Then if he or she calls your bluff, you must act.

Moving Out

Of course, one method for dealing with the roommate from hell is to move out. This of course requires an option that may or may not be available, another place to move to. But when it comes to making the decision that you simply cannot get along with the person you have been assigned, you must understand the room is half his or hers. So if there is to be a separation and that separation is your choice, then you will be the one moving.

To be able to make such a request to your RA or HR, you must be able to communicate why your moving out is the needed solution. Their willingness to help you find new digs (if there are any available) will be predicated on your being able to explain the steps you have taken to try to make things work. If after discussing schedules and talking about basic personal needs, you still are not managing, then you might have some ammunition to request a change.

Just remember, the grass always tends to look a whole lot greener on your neighbor’s lawn. Be sure that roommate you are struggling with is beyond making it work – because, ultimately, you may not have really seen anything yet, you may be simply switching one set of issues for another.

Because, Hell is a truly relevant term.

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Obama Unwelcome Choice as Commencement Speaker at Notre Dame

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Top honoree rejects recognition based on choice of Obama as graduation speaker.

It is not often that someone turns down a prestigious award from a college like Notre Dame.

But then again, it is equally unusual that the presence of a newly-elected, highly-popular president, would be the catalyst for rejecting such an honor.

But that is precisely what Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon has done. Citing the school’s invitation to Barack Obama to deliver the 2009 commencement address and plan to award the president an honorary degree, Glendon has politely said thanks, but no thanks to the university.

Initial Acceptance

The issue centers upon the conflicting position of Catholics and the president on the issue of abortion.

In December, Glendon, a former ambassador to the Vatican and a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had been selected to receive the 2009 Laetare Medal. Described by the university as the “most prestigious award given to Catholics” yearly, the medal recognizes those “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

Glendon, chosen as commencement speaker and given an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, was at first pleased to learn of her selection last December. However, when she became aware that Obama was selected to receive an honorary doctorate and given the opportunity to give the commencement address, she found herself extremely dismayed.

From Critic to Absentee

Still, it appears that Glendon was set to attend, at least initially. Reports had the Harvard Law professor attending the ceremony and accepting her award so that she could take advantage of her opportunity to provide public remarks to criticize the president’s position.

But later, when it appeared that Notre Dame might utilize her presence at graduation as a step towards defending the school’s choice of Obama as commencement speaker, Glendon decided to reject the prestigious honor.

Directly citing the abortion issue, Glendon wrote in her university rejection letter that the choice demonstrated “disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions ‘should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles’ and that such persons ‘should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.'”

Moreover, in her letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, she noted that the university appeared to be seeking to use her to balance off the more recent, unpopular selection of Obama.

She first cited one of the Notre Dame talking points regarding the matter:

“We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

Then soundly rejected the idea that commencement was a place for dissenting views to be aired. She wrote:

“A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.”

Tough Position for the President

Given Obama’s ability to see the large picture, the rejection by Glendon, a professor at the president’s alma mater, has to be upsetting to him personally. In addition, the fact that such a prestigious honor, awarded prior to his being chosen to speak, would be summarily rejected on account of his being selected definitely puts the president in a very difficult position.

It is perhaps too late for either Notre Dame or the president to rescind. Most notably, if he does preside at commencement as expected, Obama will need all of his rhetorical skills and speech writing talents to ensure his presence does not undermine the spirit of the day for those graduating.

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