12 Things I Learned From Taking Summer Classes at My University

12 Things I Learned From Taking Summer Classes at My University

Advice from one Mass Comm. Major to another
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College is a time for growth, and much like the plants outside, we don't stop during the summer! I am of course talking about your summer sessions. If you want to be more efficient, maintain mental health, and reach an academic sweet spot, take these tips as a gift from me to you.

1. Use the stairs, if you have extra time

It is a common occurrence that we find ourselves rushing toward the elevator in a large building to be on time for class. As a busy college student, rushing is beyond understandable. But I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that many of us are trying to reach a healthier physical status. Don’t guilt yourself if you can’t afford the time to use the stairs. However, if you do obtain extra time (which is a fantastic habit to form) I would urge you to take the stairs.

Over time, you will feel a difference in your leg strength. By the way, if no one’s watching, it can’t hurt to move your arms a bit if it pleases you to exercise those, too. Boost your confidence any way you can! Fast-paced summer classes can be tough.

2. Only miss class in dire circumstances

If you are mildly sick, try to avoid giving others your illness. Take care to use hand sanitizer before going into class, and keep your distance if possible. Bring tissues. Your classmates will thank you. Besides, you may just learn something new that day, or teach a peer something they may not have fully grasped before. If you’re like me, you may have a ton of ambition and therefore hold some guilt for missing class.

Recently, my grandma passed away. It was so hard, but despite others drilling me into fearing absences from condensed classes, I got the nerve to ask for a blessing from my professor to skip class the day after she died. I survived, and I studied that night with Duolingo. It wasn't so bad. I even invited a friend over to help me do some homework. Bringing me to my next point…

3. Invite friends to visit when you aren't feeling the college life

Sometimes, it can help to surround yourself with good company. If you are feeling severely unmotivated, it can be a lifesaver. Bonus points if they are familiar with the subject(s) you are studying.

4. Having a room to yourself is a blessing

Try, if you can, to get your own room within a suite and make it your own. (Ideally, others will help you move into your temporary new home, and you can accomplish finishing your room in one day.) You can do it—I did it with the help of my parents and S.O. Being in a comfortable environment can be a nice option for working on assignments or studying.

5. Moving up class levels is okay!

Don’t be afraid to learn more about a subject that interests you. Or, if it’s a significant course to your major, (like Foreign Language for Mass Communications is for me) go full speed ahead for those credit hours! Chances are, professors who teach summer classes will have a slightly different approach than those who teach during fall/spring. This may give you a new appreciation for the subject.

6. Look up professor ratings

If there are no decent professors with more room for students, talk to your academic advisor about the possibility of requesting an override from your ideal professor. This way, you can fit in the class. It is very easy to accomplish an override if it’s for an online class, by the way. Sometimes, the advisor may even recommend it before you have a chance to ask for a requested override. If you can’t get in contact with your advisor, try e-mailing the professor on your own accord.

7. Ask all questions possible

When the courses are fairly challenging, that is. Summer is a great time to leave your comfort zone during the transition into a new school year. Raise your hand until your arm hurts. It will not only benefit you but also other students (who should for the most part gain respect for you for your bold determination and curiosity). If the course is in a foreign language, try speaking it while asking questions. It is fantastic practice. Also, the professor will often show more fondness toward you.

8. Always have your textbook

I’m talking about when you’re doing work outside of class, especially. Even when you think there’s no way you will need it, have it handy and open to the respective chapter you have been studying in class. This can save you the stress of frantic searching for the exact content that your professor may want you to reference in papers/assignments when you're in a rush.

9. Take advantage of any breaks

I do not mean for studying, by the way; unless that’s entirely necessary for you. As odd as this may sound, it is very beneficial to maintain communication with loved ones during this hectic time in your life… through short class breaks, too. FaceTime your S.O. Call your mom to see how she is. Text your brother/sister. You may thank me later.

10. Know the new hours of campus locations

This way, you can know ahead of time what options are actually available for certain meals or academic tasks. Take note of opening/closing times. There may be an option you were unaware of, and it may save you money if it’s a free-dining location.

11. Placement Tests are often suggestions that can give us (too much?) confidence

Maybe I make it sound too gimmicky, considering college officials can’t help the effects that their placement tests may have. This situation is not true for everyone, of course. You may find yourself in a class that does not offer enough leeway for boosting your GPA. If you’re a freshman or senior, this may be something you need, a boost. My advice to you would be to start with a more basic level of the subject you are familiar with.

For example, I was placed in Spanish 201 (the third level) however I chose to take Spanish 101 (the first level) last semester. It helps to know what you are really getting into. It may seem like the easy way out, but here’s why it’s not: No one is forcing you to review so much of this content. You are doing this on your own accord, when you could potentially be moving up more quickly. One plus: you will likely have an edge over students in those higher-level courses once you decide to join them. I certainly did in Spanish 102 for summer school—and no, it was not just because I had already placed higher than that on the initial test.

12. Find ways to enjoy your summer “break”

This task is likely more or less as challenging as it would seem. But that’s for you to figure out for yourself. Have fun this summer!

Comment how you guys manage summer school. Has it been easy? Difficult? Are you still enjoying your summer?

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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To All High Schoolers Getting Ready for College

These are the 10 things I learned and wish I had known before freshman year.
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Going to college is super exciting, but for upcoming freshmen, it's something completely new. To everyone who is about to enter college, I can assure you, you will have a blast! You are going to make new friends, learn so many different things, and grow tremendously. Although it has been amazing so far, there are a couple of things I wish I would have known before entering college as a vulnerable freshman.

1. Not everyone Is going to like you

I have always been a people pleaser and didn't have much drama in high school. I came into college thinking my first college roommate was going to be my best friend and everyone was going to love me. Boy, was I wrong. From day one, my roommate was not particularly fond of me. We had two completely different ideas of how our year would go and she actually ended up moving out. I just want to make it clear, roommate disagreements are going to happen and it is totally okay! When you're living with someone full time, you are sometimes going to do things that get on your roommate's nerves and they are bound to do the same to you.

We are humans and we're not perfect! It's also okay if you can't stand your roommate and need a switch like me and my first roommate. Hopefully, it won't happen to you, but it does happen and no one really prepared me for it!

So how did I deal with it? Well now that my roommate is gone, I have a single room to myself, but my friends basically live in here with me and I wouldn't have it any other way. My advice for picking your roommate is to really get to know them before you seal the deal. You might appear to look like you would get along on the outside, but just because you both have monogram everything doesn't mean you guys are perfect roommate material.

Talk about your social life, when you go to bed, whether you're a neat freak or a slob, and things that would be a deal breaker for you. Those are the important things that really matter when you're choosing a roommate.

2. College IS NOT a full time party

Okay, so we've all seen those movies where college is portrayed as an endless party and you don't really see much but friends laughing and having a good time. Yeah, college is very fun and my friends and I are constantly laughing, but we're also constantly studying for huge exams, writing 10 page essays, and trying to figure out impossible math problems.

I really struggled trying to figure out how to keep a balance between my social life and my academics first semester. FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a real thing, but your friends aren't going to abruptly disappear because you were in the library all night. Keep your grades up, after all that is the real reason why we're in college, right?

3. It is okay to make mistakes!!

Not a lot of people really talk about this one, but we are young and it is okay to goof up sometimes. The important part is to learn from our mistakes! If you thought Jimmy seemed like the perfect guy and you found out apparently he was perfect to Helen and Susie too, it's okay!

You, my friend, have just learned that not all boys are men in college and you should probably keep your guard up and not fall for every boy who seems charming. You are probably going to accidentally sleep in and skip a class at some point, you might be wasting your time messing around with guys and all of a sudden you realize that is not the life you want to live, it's all okay, college is where you become intelligent not only in the classroom but in the real world also.

We're all finding out about ourselves and it's fine to experiment and do things out of our comfort zone sometimes. Just be safe, smart and have a good time!

4. You are going to miss your family

It is so different living away from your family. I truly took for granted all those home cooked meals, birthday celebrations, and just good 'ole family time. I call my parents everyday walking to classes just because I miss them. It is so nice to receive a care package from them, but just calling them or writing them a handwritten letter can mean so much to them.

You are definitely going to miss your family, but remember this is a big milestone for not only you, but them too and you have no idea how much they are really going to miss you. Don't forget about your siblings either! Even if they will never admit it, they are going to miss you also. My little sisters text me all the time and tell me to come back home. Spend time with them on breaks and let them know how much you appreciate them.

5. Save money

A lot of universities do not allow freshman to have cars on campus. Not having my car on campus has put a huge hole in my pocket, simply because of Uber.

I'm pretty sure I have spent $250 this entire year on Uber, but hey if you're okay with walking everywhere and sticking to campus dining, you do you. You're going to need to budget and find a way to make your money last throughout the year, but you're also going to want to be able to go out with your friends and splurge a little.

As my dad says, college is the one time in your life where you can and should be selfish. Live a little and make some memories!! I have a job at a local donut shop 10 minutes from my dorm that I work at only on weekends so I still have time to do schoolwork.

Having this job allows me to be able to put money in my savings account and have a little money to throw around sometimes. Another suggestion is a Summer job, because what else are we going to do for 3 months without school work? My lifeguard job has been a tremendous help for buying dorm decor and college necessities.

Pro tip: Start buying all of your dorm decor and supplies as soon as possible, but get the big items you want first and gradually get everything else you need.

6. Keep yourself healthy

Oh my, this one is serious. The freshman 15 is REAL and almost unavoidable. I have some tips that can help you, but seriously prepare and get ready for this one. Never, ever take elevators, always take the stairs.

At my university, people drive around on golf carts and ask if you need rides. ALWAYS say no. Do the extra walking, you'll thank me later. Oh and beware of the campus dining hall. Those ice cream machines will stare you down and trick you into thinking you really need that ice cream cone to cope with the stress of all your assignments, but that is not true!

Exercise really helps with stress, go to the gym! There is a campus gym for a reason. If you really don't feel like going to the gym, go for a walk.

Call your parents and just walk and talk! Also, remember to drink plenty of water. You only get one body so treat it right! Another thing you need to remember is make time for yourself and do things for you. I really take pride in having a clean room and as strange as it sounds, it makes me feel so good to have my room spick and span.

Your mental health is so important to keep healthy, if you are stressed, take a sticky note and write down everything you need to do. It will feel so good to cross things off. Another suggestion is a notebook. Sometimes it just feels good to write down your feelings or go to that friend that you will make and talk to them about whatever is bugging you.

Remember your parents, sometimes I just call my parents to tell them my agenda for the day and it feels so relieving to have my thoughts in order. Always put your health first!

7. Get some sleep!

I've got to be honest, this one I'm still working on. If you are not a morning person like me and struggle to wake up even with an alarm set, try to refrain from taking 8ams. Or just go to bed at a reasonable time and don't procrastinate by starting your essays at 12am! I am really speaking from experience here. Last semester I would stay up watching horror movies with my friends until 4am when I knew I had to wake up early the next day.

Don't do this, I learned the consequences the hard way. Set a bed time goal for yourself and make sure you aren't starting all of your assignments at that time. Power naps are also a necessity in college. You are going to want to take as many of them as possible, just make sure you aren't taking them in class!

8. This is where you are most likely going to meet your life-long fiends

After being in college for 8 months, I can honestly say I know I have already met some of my life-long friends here. The best thing about this one is there's no preparing for it. In high school, it was so different. Everyone was trying to fit in, but in college you have the ability to be yourself and people are going to love you for it.

Think about all of the adults who say "college is the best years of your life." Do you think they say this because of those endless lab reports you have to do every week? No, its because of the people and the memories you are going to make. College is cool because your college friends are all right there struggling with you and you can all relate and understand what you guys are going through.

Those days when you really miss your parents, when you fail a bio test and are really down about it, when you're upset because you think of the time you wasted with Jimmy, your friends can relate so hard because they are all feeling the same things. They're really going to be there for you just like you will be there for them. Don't worry, high school is almost over and college, the best years of your life, is about to start.

9. Be the teacher's pet

Guess what. In college its not weird to actually want to do well in school! So be a teacher's pet. If you know you are not going to make it to class, e-mail your professors and ask what you missed. Visit office hours, pay attention in class and be active in participation! Oddly enough, not many people do these things and professors love to see this happen.

There's a myth that college professors don't care if you succeed or not. If you show them you are trying and really want to do well in their class, they will try their best to help you succeed. Be organized and keep a calendar at your desk that has all of your assignments on it that you can visibly see. Print out all of your syllabuses and make sure you are on top of all of your assignments. In college, you are not reminded about big assignments that are coming up like in high school.

I accidentally learned this the hard way in my french class. I totally skipped over a part on the syllabus that talked about an assignment that was worth 10% of my grade. Do not do this!! Be prepared and know your due dates and assignments. If you have any questions, e-mail your professors or make friends in your classes and start a study group. Find what works best for you and keep up the good work because it will all be worth it in the long run!

10. Time flies fast!

It feels as if move in day was just yesterday. Here I am approaching my last couple weeks of school and I am not ready for it to be over. Make memories, take lots of pictures, grab dinner with your friends, and just enjoy your time because before you know it, it will be over. Do the things you have always wanted to do. If you love to sing, join an a capella group, if you really like basketball, join the club team or even try out for the varsity team. The worst type of regret is not doing something you love, so go for it and have fun!!

Cover Image Credit: Waverly Atkinson

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If You Wanna Be A Humanities Major, Know Your Worth

A call to arms or a sinking ship? How we should feel about being Humanities majors.
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In the wake of the tragic blows Stony Brook University has made against the Humanities departments, the overall sense of self and self-preservation within has been oceanic and more Byronic than ever. At moments it can feel like an opportunity for protest and community bonding, in others its reminiscent of being on a sinking ship.

We as Humanities majors can recognize our utility to society, that we are not all aspiring solely to be poets or artists, that there are myriad other career paths for us to follow and be just as successful as the deified STEMs, but with the stigma surrounding liberal arts, there is becoming less room for us in academia. The Modern Language Association (MLA) has reported that the full-time jobs in teaching English and foreign language has been steadily withering for the past five years with the number of job ads for tenure-track assistant professor of English positions declining from 879 in the 2007-08 year to 320 in 2016-17.

See also: Dear Stony Brook University, Stop Cutting Back Programs That Aren't 'STEM' Enough

The knee-jerk reaction to these numbers is the claim that society just isn’t valuing the critical thinking skills that the Humanities teach as much as they once did. It’s no question that it certainly feels this way. Most college-related websites are guilty of focusing their sights on increasing the volume of STEM majors. High school students bombard themselves with articles and lists stating the "The 10 Best College Majors For The Future" (which to no surprise at all does not list any Humanities field) to facilitate the responsibility of choosing a major that will supposedly "guarantee" a job or a high salary.

Sure, in modern society the amount of money needed for a comfortable lifestyle is increasing, and median salary numbers can be informative, but the more important variable for an individual’s future is the individual: their interest in the field, their success in it, their hard work, and their drive to reach the top and earn the salary they deserve.

In fear of becoming preachy, I’ll leave you with this. For all of my peers, predecessors, colleagues, and prospectives, we must hold down the fort. We are important for more than just learning how to write and communicate clearly.

Almost every question we ask ourselves is a question for the Humanities. When you want to know something more deeply, past empirical reasoning, that is a question for the Humanities. Politics, ethics, sociology, history, art, literature—these are the questions of the Humanities and they are all inherently valuable.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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