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 The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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3 Things i learned at pride in NYC

The people, the flags, and the glitter are even more magical in person.

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On Sunday, June 24th, my girlfriend, my best friend and I, all hopped on a train to the World Trade Center in New York City. After a short subway ride, we arrived at 16th Street, where the parade festivities began. Dressed in our decked out rainbow attire, we entered a vibrant crowd of flag wielding, self-loving having, beautiful people. Pride is something the LGBTQIA+ community knows how to celebrate well. Lesbihonest, I think its safe to say that the LGBTQ+ community essentially created loving yourself, along with embracing those around you, whether you know them or not. While at Pride, I learned a few things about myself, about how to love others, and what it means to be apart of a community.

1. Love thy neighbor

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Because pride is such an important event to the LGBTQIA+ community, the number of people that attend each year is increasing by the thousands. There were an expected 48,000 people this year and when you're amerced in such a large crowd keeping your cool is super important. I learned that in most cases, giving love will result in receiving it, especially in 84-degree weather. So when I was making my way through energetic crowds, I used my p's and q's and was met with the same energy from strangers.

2. At pride, the dress code is no dress code

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If you're in the mood to wear your birthday suit, glitter, or witty t-shirt and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community as a member or as an ally, pride is the place to be! The extravagant outfits and expression of self-pride through clothes and even lack of clothes made me feel extremely comfortable in my own outfit. I think we all have had our share of being uncomfortable in our skin or clothes, but being around thousands of people dressed in whatever made them most comfortable that day was a beautiful experience.

3. Pride is not solely about the LGBTIA+ community

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Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that organizes New York City's LGBT pride events each year, strives to work towards creating a future that consists of equal rights for all under the law. The march is an annual civil rights demonstration that brings awareness to the fight against aids, the Black Lives Matter movement and memorializes those who have lost their lives to illness, violence and neglect. This year over 450 different organizations participated in the march and about 110 floats were shown, each float bringing awareness to different organizations.

As an Afro-Latina, lesbian, I felt very represented and extremely grateful to participate in a civil rights event such as pride. The opportunity to educate myself and even feel more comfortable in my own skin, and enjoy myself with the people I love most, is something I will truly cherish. Hopefully, my experiences and knowledge will expand next year at the 2019 NYC pride!

Cover Image Credit:

Em Goss

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