Big Girl Rants: Why can’t there be a BYE in college classes?

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Although some school policy forbids professors to mark a student down for attendance, some of those professors have found a loophole in requiring in-class participation and smaller classwork assignments. Other schools, mainly small ones, let professors keep attendance as a percentage of the student’s overall grade.

I am all for going to class and doing what I have to do to get this degree, but at some point, it seems like college is holding people back. Throughout my academic career, I have taken courses at Ramapo College, Florence University of the Arts and California State University of Monterey Bay. As I graduate from Ramapo, I ensure my courses relate to courses I would have taken there, but I seem to be repeating a lot of material.

A prime example is taking a course this semester that is a student newspaper workshop course. I am all for working on the student newspaper, interviewing faculty and writing up articles, because no matter how much writing experience you have, you can always have more and writing for different platforms, for different audiences is something I have made it a point to expand. The problem is the lectures. I understand if a student has no journalism experience they need some explanation, but if I understand the material and continue to make deadline, why can’t I leave?

I mean don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of myself as high and mighty and I’ll reiterate the fact that I enjoy working on the paper, but why can’t college classes have a BYE just like sports?

We had to take AP tests to have our high school AP classes count for college credit. Why can’t that logic follow into college? Shouldn’t we be able to take a test before the course or do the classwork and pass the midterm and final for a grade? It gets frustrating to know that I am taking four hours out of my week on top of the time spent writing the articles to listen to a lecture I have heard before. Instead, I could be working on my other internships.

Anyone else feel like this? Sometimes getting to the end of a degree, you realize more and more how ready you are for the next step, a step into your Big Girl Pants.

Raise The Bar

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The beginning of the new school year should come with an entirely revamped set of expectations. No, I’m not talking about mundane academic topics or crushing parental pressure. I’m referring to the standards you (should) set for yourself with each passing year. Did you happen to get a little out of shape this past exam period? This tends to happen, to some degree, to everyone when their diet is reduced to copious amounts of coffee, overpriced scones, and the vending machine’s baffling selection of candy bars. Feeling completely sapped of energy after your daily exertions in the classroom or “don’t have time” for the gym? When stress enters the equation, all else is left behind. The positives become easy to overlook and dwelling on failure is intuitive. Don’t fall into the trap! Recognize the signs and click into a healthy routine that will do wonders for your confidence.

From a male perspective, particularly in college, being in good physical shape becomes really important. Why, you ask? Didn’t we leave the superficiality safely stowed away in a high school locker? The answer is – sort of.  We certainly left behind the immature wisecracks based on people’s appearance, but I don’t believe we have completely left behind the judgment. You’ve heard the saying – “First impressions are hard to erase.” Appearance is an inevitable part of every first impression. You may be an extraordinarily accomplished person, but give off an antipathetic vibe. Paying due attention to your looks has benefits that go beyond the superficial. The science behind the claim is common knowledge. Exercising on a regular basis not only optimizes physical attractiveness but also literally “clears your mind.” Increased blood flow throughout the body livens you up and clears up any signs of the foggy malaise that usually has you stapled to the couch.

More often than not, getting into a regular exercise routine has nothing to do with capability. Even the busiest individual has thirty minutes to an hour of free time to devote to miscellaneous activities each and every day. The biggest issue for most is motivation. Admittedly, the thought of adding another “duty” to your schedule is taxing. This is precisely the negative mindset you must try to avoid. Working out shouldn’t be thought of as a difficult and annoying responsibility. If you’re a beginner, hitting the gym will seem challenging initially. Escaping your lazy streak will seem like a nightmare. You sit there and think about it – the muscle soreness, breathlessness, and intimidating sight of those who got the memo a little ahead of time. This is one of the only times I will advise you to stop thinking. Contemplating these sorts of things only delays progress. Dive right in and get a taste of what regular exercise is actually like. Your program will become more and more structured as your enthusiasm increases.

The college environment encourages self-improvement. We are told that these are the years in which we are “shaped.” Take this both figuratively and literally. With intellectual growth must come social awareness and that requires greater effort. When you’re satisfied with one aspect of your being, begin molding the next. Always strive to be well rounded and you will gain respect.

Graduation Bucket List: How Your Final Year in College SHOULD Be

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You’ve made it this far.  You’re one year away from graduation, and aside from feeling anxious and excited, you’ve also got that bittersweet feeling that won’t go away.  Where will your friends be next year?  Where will you be?

Well, don’t think about that right now.  Make your senior year something memorable, something you will value for years to come.  You don’t want to remember your senior year as the year you worried about everything coming after it.  Consider these three points to make your final year the best it can be:

1.     Commit a moderate amount of time to studying

Whether you’re under-loading on classes your final semesters, writing a thesis, or taking a normal class load, you still can’t forget that your last set of grades are just as important as the rest.  Spend a considerable amount of time making sure you get your work in by your deadlines (no Senioritis, thank you!), and if you happen to slip up a couple times, just don’t make a habit of it.  It’s important to keep up your grades and sense of commitment to your courses.  After all, you’re going to need that same type of discipline after you graduate.

2.     Be sure to get out and have fun

Sometimes people focus too much on work, and don’t get out with their friends to have a good time once in a while.  Don’t overdo it (partying all nights of the weekend every weekend is a bit excessive for any year of college).  Find a good balance between work and play.  That is true for your college experience in general.  By senior year you should have a good grasp of that—however, most seniors are newly 21 and might go out more often than before due to less drinking restrictions.  Just have good sense and judgment.  You know how much work has been required in your last three years.  Be sure to go off of that so you can gauge how much time you’ll need to commit to everything else.

3.     Stay in your extracurricular activities

If you start to feel burnt out of everything you’re involved in after class, think hard about what you still want to be involved in.  Being in a club or other campus organization for multiple years is a great way to gain experience in that field and also looks good on a resume.  But don’t stay just for the resume boost.  Unless you realize the groups you’re involved with are no longer of interest to you, I highly recommend retaining your level of commitment to them.  Don’t get too lazy your senior year, otherwise you could end up quite bored.  It’s all about maintaining a sense of consistency across your four years.

You want your senior year to stand out, but you also don’t.  Find that equilibrium.  Be sure to study hard, but also to play hard, and graduate from your school with a bang.  Your last year should be the pinnacle, representative of the most recent and lasting memories you have of your undergraduate career.  Make this one count!

Out With the Old, In With the New

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While there may not be real school bells ringing, or yellow buses picking you up, it’s obvious that school has once again started. For many, it’s their first time at college. And for others, it’s the start of their last year, and final few semesters. Even though everyone is at a different starting point, we can all learn from some simple “start of the semester” advice.

Whatever happened last semester—whether in college or high school—it doesn’t have to happen again. If you were less than pleased with your performance, or really want to strive for something different, you still can.

Each semester marks a new slate, a chance to do and be something different. Maybe you got all A’s, or maybe you never even went to class. Either way, you call the shots. The beginning of the semester marks a special moment when you get a choice—you get to decide who you want to be and how you want to act.

I’ve had friends go all through college not applying themselves—not going to class, partying all the time, pretending they didn’t care about their future or their GPA. But then something changed. All of the sudden we came back from summer and they were setting goals, and really working hard. When I asked them about it, it was simple. It took a while to focus, to figure out what was next for them, but with graduation looming in the not too distant future a plan of action was necessary. Lucky for them, the new semester and the new year allowed for the change. With new classes, new professors, and a clean GPA slate—hey we all start with a 4.0—they were able to paint a different picture for themselves, one that didn’t involve not going to class.

The saying “out with the old, in with new” has never held truer. You can forget your bad final, or your slacker high school days and start fresh. Make a plan of attack for this fall semester and set some goals. And maybe you aren’t concerned with the type of student you are, and instead you need goals for something else. Take involvement for example. Have you be less than a social butterfly for the last few years? Ready to get outside your dorm room and mingle on campus? It’s not too late. Nothing is set in stone in college; you have time to do whatever your heart desires. Juniors and seniors join clubs, not just freshmen. Don’t think that because you didn’t do it before, you can’t do it now. The start of the semester is a great time for change as long as you take advantage of it—it won’t be as easy later.

Some Tips For Successful Study In College

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People have been debating about successful study tactics for a long time. Recently, several scientific studies have emerged that challenge traditional wisdom about the best places, times, and ways to study. Let’s take a look at some of these different tips:

· Vary your studying location – Contrary to popular wisdom, evidence suggests that studying in different places at different times can help you memorize things faster, because the different locations can stimulate your brain in different ways. Try different areas in and around campus for more benefits!

· Take advantage of group work – Utilize the strategy of dividing and conquering by asking people from your classes, your roommates or people you know if they are interested in studying or working with you.

· Flash Cards – In some cases, however, the old strategies remain excellent options, and there is a reason they have been used forever. Flash cards help to visually impart their information directly to your brain (most people are visual learners), and they also help you with other techniques such as memory association.

· Get a good night’s rest – Another piece of old advice that turns out to be wholeheartedly true; if you are tired, your brain synapses just aren’t going to fire as quickly and cleanly as they would if you were well rested. If your mind is tired and slow, so is your thinking!

· Attend class regularly – This adage is at the top of every parent’s list (and everyone who pays their own way through college!), but it’s there for a good reason. Regular repetition and discussion of subject material helps you to review and solidify the material in your mind.

· Avoid subject immersion – Here we are; one of the counterintuitive points. Recent studies report that avoiding immersion in one subject, and spreading your attention between a varied group of categories, is the best way to retain information. Not to mention it’s less boring!

Following tips like these can help make studying less of a chore, and hopefully something more interactive and palatable to experience (Note: we didn’t say pleasurable!). Make sure to apply yourself in college, so that you can develop into a well-trained and well paid professional in your field.


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