Recently, I was accepted as part of the first cohort of fifty students for the Road to Communication and Media Mentoring Program. It is a new initiative led by Career Services’ Stacey Kohler that pairs a student with a Rutgers alumnus who is working in a communication field. This includes Content Creation and Editing, Digital Marketing (Social Media), Media and Advertising Sales, Media Production, Public and Corporate Relations, and Web and Graphic Design. I am very interested in content creation, or the production and contribution of information to media, and so I was paired up with an awesome mentor, who I will refer to as M. for confidentiality reasons, in that sub-field.
As a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program, this is the first time that I’m in the shoes of a mentee, which is exciting in and of itself! Even more exciting is the journey that I have ahead with M. in this mentoring relationship. Just this past weekend, we had our first ever meeting (of course at Hidden Grounds because why not?!), and I have to admit, I was definitely a little nervous about it, but that quickly changed into a mix of emotions–excitement, happiness, and thankfulness. So here’s just a short list of three reasons why everyone should have a mentor!
I honestly believe that one of the biggest advantages of having a mentor, especially during college, is the support and encouragement that they give you. Treat support like a gift–it’s incredibly precious–because as human beings, that’s a basic necessity. As college students, many of us are at the point where we’re unsure about the future, the steps to take, the path going forward. It’s when we’re overwhelmed by this sense of uncertainty that we need some form of support from others, and a mentor is a perfect source for this. They are there for you.
Support and advice are closely related yet still a bit different. Supporting someone doesn’t necessarily mean giving them advice. Advice, on the other hand, has vital advantages of its own. Words of wisdom from your mentor can primarily provide you with a sense of reassurance. Whether it be on career choices, internships, school projects, time management, friend issues, chances are that your mentor has them covered because they’ve experienced similar obstacles.
Mentors are very valuable people who influence and augment your personal and professional growth. They push you to do your best, but at the same time, urge you to give yourself enough credit for your achievements. Your mentor will give you great feedback on both your successes and failures. Feedback is something that we don’t always get, but your mentor will give you honest suggestions to improve as a person as well as a professional.
Even during my initial meeting with M., I definitely felt supported, got tons of insightful advice, and even grew a little as a result. Mentors like M. have your back on a range of issues and concerns. Most importantly, they’re rooting for YOU. I highly suggest forming relationships like this one at one point in your lives as it is incredibly advantageous. To connect with someone on this level is beautiful, and that relationship is everlasting.
College is a completely new experience and for us students who have freshly graduated from twelve years of schooling, it’s a huge transition. After a few rough weeks of figuring things out, I’m pretty much in sync with the grading system in college. I know that as a high school senior, it seems pretty terrifying to say goodbye to regular assignments and routine chapter-by-chapter tests. Fear not, I’m here to help you out!
This is the biggest difference between high school and college. You no longer have year-long classes that are slow paced and in-depth. College courses are fast-paced, extremely well planned out and comprehensive. Time flies in college. Why? Because classes end within a semester — that’s 15 weeks. If you take away holidays and breaks in between, a semester is pretty much finished in 3 months.
Because colleges offer so many courses at different levels and concentrations, it makes sense for them to be split into semester-long courses. In high school, you gain an overview and a general introduction of history, biology, chemistry, and math. Once you get to college, you choose what you want to focus on depending on your interests, and for each topic that you indulge in, a semester is more than enough.
Because everything is compressed into a semester, college courses have fixed syllabi with little flexibility, but it’s nice being able to visualize exactly how the course is organized and which assignments are due every week. Even your dates for midterms and finals are announced early on! This is a blessing to everyone who loves calendars.
MIDTERMS AND FINALS
Ah, thinking about having only two exams for an entire course was my biggest fear coming into college. But, trust me, it’s not that bad. You have to remember that courses are only one semester long, so having two to three exams in that time span is entirely appropriate. It is stressful to imagine that the majority of your grade depends on these exams, but keep in mind that there will be other assignments to boost up your grade. Extra credit is rare, but attendance, participation, and/or weekly assignments can each account for about 10% of your grade.
Midterms and finals take preparation and work, so do not bring along your procrastination tendencies from high school to college. They will not work here. There is no way you can prepare for exams in one night. Give yourself a week or at least an entire weekend to prepare for exams. They’re really not that bad, even if they are cumulative.
Letter grades are all that matter in college. In high school, everyone is caught up in their percent and number grades, but in college, as long as it’s an A, no one cares if it’s a 90 or 98. Another huge difference is that some classes won’t regularly post grades on assignments. There might not always be a portal to view all of your grades, so a lot of your time is spent keeping track of your grades and making estimations of where it may lie.
A lot of classes in college use curves. So basically, your grade is dependent on how others perform in the class. At times, this is great because even when your average is a B (or even a C!), you can still end up with an A. But other times, this is a huge drawback because your grade can be lower than what you expect depending on the class grade distribution.
College homework is a lot easier than high school homework. Even though the work may take longer, it is definitely easy. Most of my work is comprised of readings, online assignments, and preparing for exams. It’s nice to not have loads of busy work and daily assignments anymore. Also, classes don’t meet every day, so this gives me time to space out work and keep stress levels down.
NUMBER OF CLASSES
Whereas taking around 8 classes was the norm in high school, that’s a lot in college. In college, most students take around 15-18 credits per semester which adds up to about 5-6 classes. Also, you no longer have relaxer classes like P.E. and study hall! Each class you take will have a purpose- either for your major, minor or core requirements. You might throw in a few for personal interest, but you have to be wise in time management and organization. Each class is about an hour and 20 minutes (labs are 3 hours), so create your schedule wisely.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR BLACK PANTHER.
I feel like the title doesn’t really convey what it really means when I say that it’s a Good Movie. It requires Capital Letters and italics and bold, maybe even underlining, which really can’t be shown in the title for this post so I’m going to do it here: Black Panther is a Good Movie.
A friend and I went to see it last Friday at the Rutgers Cinema, which is a really good movie theater, actually. It’s not huge and it doesn’t show all of the movies that are currently out, but it always has the movies I want to see. It also doesn’t hurt that the matinees cost $5.00 instead of the $13.29 that my local movie theater charges. As I’m a broke college student, things being cheap is really the only thing I need to make me happy.
As a disclaimer, I’m not what some people would call a “movie buff”. First of all, I have no muscles so the word “buff” should never be applied to me in any way, shape, or form. Second, I’ve never taken a film class, I’m not a professional reviewer of anything (not that I wouldn’t mind having that job), and I haven’t even watched all of the Marvel movies. But you don’t need to be a professional food critic to know if something tastes like garbage or tastes amazing, so without further ado let’s get on with my completely unqualified movie “review.”
Let’s get this out of the way: the movie is gorgeous, the cast is amazing, the music is incredible. It’s action-packed and funny and heart-wrenching, and it’s incredibly poignant and resonant with the current political atmosphere.
(There has been a lot of talk lately about people like celebrities, athletes and people in the entertainment industry in general should stay out of politics. They should leave that talk to the politicians and experts. But, the thing is, a world in which only politicians and “experts” have the ability to talk about politics is not the kind of world I want to live in.)
If you somehow haven’t heard, Black Panther takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe following King T’Challa, who had recently ascended to the throne of the fictional African country of Wakanda after the death of his father, King T’Chaka, during the events Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa, the titular Black Panther, has returned to Wakanda and finds himself embroiled in a conflict that could be described as one between tradition and innovation. The entire movie, in fact, could be thought of as a conflict between tradition and innovation, as said by the film’s director, Ryan Coogler.
And again, I’m not an expert, but it is pretty cool to see a movie with a primarily Black cast that doesn’t involve slavery, the Civil Rights era, or gang violence. In my opinion, not that movies about those things are bad movies, but it can often be stereotyped to be the only settings where pre-dominantly Black actors are cast for.
That is not to say that the movie doesn’t touch upon these ideas. The film constantly mentions that Wakanda is a country that was never colonized and it never experienced the slave trade. It’s a thriving technological utopia on a continent the some people still think is populated by zebras and people living in huts. The movie even plays with that idea by using the image of hut-dwelling zebra (or rhino, in this case) herders to hide their true nature from the outside world.
That’s another thing about Black Panther that was really interesting. Wakanda is an incredibly isolationist country. Much of the tradition vs. innovation conflict is driven by the Wakandans’ intense desire to preserve their way of life and their fear of being exploited by foreign powers. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you haven’t been paying attention to the news nor have you opened a history book in your entire life.
Wakanda may not have been touched by the slave trade, but they saw it happen and they saw its effects on African people. You can see why they’re not too eager to mix with the rest of the world. However, Wakanda is a powerful nation with advanced technology that people can only dream of at this point. Nothing short of an alien invasion could destroy Wakanda and its way of life. As seen in the movie, it’s a country that’s strong enough to welcome the outside world and maintain its traditions and way of life.
It’s passivity and isolation is another driving force in the movie’s conflict and its fear of outsiders can be seen as a reflection of U.S. politics and the ongoing debate on foreign aid and immigration. Ultimately, this movie is about compassion for other people and leaves you with this final message: If you have the power to help people, you should.
(If you want the movie’s actual final message, not including the final after-credits scene, it’s this: “The wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.”)
Swamped with school work, club meetings, sports meets, social outings–the list goes on–it can be really hard to just sit down and relax. For those of you who are bookworms, do you find it sort of impossible to do what you love? Read? When’s the last time you’ve honestly opened up a glorious book that wasn’t for your courses?
Speaking from my own experiences as a current junior, I can say that yes, it’s incredibly difficult to find time to read for relaxation, especially during the semester. However, it’s not impossible! In fact, I’m doing it right now. Even as the spring semester is kicking in hard as we enter our third week, I’m reading a couple of fiction books! (If you’re interested, I’m reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson; The Name of the Star also by Maureen Johnson, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.) How am I doing it? Well, do what you do best and read on to find out!
1. In Between
You might be surprised with how much time we can find in between classes, meetings, or particularly, when you’re just waiting. Don’t let the wait time for getting your Hidden Grounds Nutella Mocha go to waste: whip out your book and start reading! Considering you carry around a book at all times, like I do (don’t laugh at me). During these times, we may become aimless and restless, so what better way to quench our boredom than read?! The minutes add up, you know.
2. Before Sleeping
Reading before you go to sleep can be quite a calming activity. It helps you de-stress from your hectic day. It may even help you sleep better! There are several scientific benefits of reading, actually. Find out more about them here. Don’t underestimate the reading you can get in before your eyes start to droop!
3. Keep Motivated
You were so busy that you didn’t even have time to breathe? Well, guess what? You’re in luck. Why? Because you can attempt to read–even if it’s just a few paragraphs for just a few minutes–the next day, or the day after that! Don’t lose hope, fellow avid reader. I aim for at least fifteen minutes of reading per day, and I have to admit, that doesn’t sound like much time at all, but 1) Even that is a challenge but 2) It’s doable. Try to not set a goal to read for an amount of time that will be difficult to achieve. It’s all about setting goals that are attainable, anyway! And of course, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Rejoice in those precious moments you are able to feast your eyes on the intricate words of a story. Take pride in the fact that you read for even a minute while waiting for your coffee amidst your busy schedule. Remember, it’s not about finding time to read; it’s making it!
So, my fellow readers, carry around a book, stay calm, and READ!
A new year and a new semester has begun, so you know what that means. A new you! Just kidding. As someone who doesn’t believe in temporary new year resolutions, I try my best to set long-term goals for myself. Specifically, I like taking tangible and practical steps to improve myself, rather than creating fluffy and whimsical hopes like “I will work hard this year!” for myself.
Keeping a clear goal of getting working done efficiently and without distraction in mind, I have come up with six ways that are actually effective when it’s time to be productive. These are things I’ve picked up after years of experimenting which conditions work best for me. Keep in mind that they may not apply to everyone. Without further ado, I present to you ways to actually get work done.
1. Self Control
The biggest hindrance to being productive is all the distractions that are present around us. Especially if the work involves using a computer or the Internet, social media, YouTube and texts are just waiting to interrupt your work ethic. I know it’s hard, but do yourself a favor and keep your phone on Airplane Mode or your Mac on Do Not Disturb when there’s a big assignment due. Your notifications can wait. Also, resist the urge to keep checking your email or Facebook so often. Just attempt to not click on those websites for a certain period of time. Not working? That’s okay.
Possible solutions include:
- Delete bookmarks of distracting website so it is not so easy to reach them
- Do not have them open in other tabs. Just close them.
- If you still cannot control yourself, then the most effective solution is getting a website blocker. If you have a Mac, you can download Self-Control. It is one of the best ones I’ve ever used. Once you block the websites for x amount of time, you cannot undo that action. You have to wait it out. Instead of crying out of regret, might as well use that time to work!
It is so important to keep your life organized to get work done. This includes everything. Keep your work environment clean: a clean desk, a desktop with minimal apps and a clear state of mind. Most importantly, having a schedule and to-do list is a must. I never understood the point of planning out my day and writing down what assignments I have to complete in one place. I’d think it’s too tedious and extra. But, trust me- it helps so much. Instead of trying to memorize your tasks or logging them in ten different places on your phone, have a homework or reminder app that keeps it all in one place. I recommend iStudiez, myHomework Student Planner, and The Homework App. You can upload your entire schedule and class times on it. It’s a great way to mark your due dates and set priority for your assignments.
No matter how distraction-free and organized you become, it’s all useless if you don’t like what you are doing. And I get it, sometimes the task is mundane and uninteresting. So, if you have a list of tasks to complete, save the one you are most excited about until the end. This way, you have something to look forward to. Most often, the boring assignments are the ones that are the most time-consuming and take the most effort. Get them done first when you have the most energy. Leave the fun stuff for later.
If you are doing something that takes a long time to complete, break it down into sections. For example, if you have to read 50 pages, reward yourself after every 10-15 pages with a YouTube video. If you have been working for 2 hours at a stretch, watch an episode of Parks and Rec on Netflix. If you have a lot of tasks to complete, take a break after finishing two. Try to manage your time well by either giving complete focus to your work or truly relaxing during your break time. Do not attempt to do both because it just slows everything down.
5. Be Excited
Time flies when you have fun, doesn’t it? Well, guess what? Work can actually be fun when you like what you are doing. Just think about. Say you are really passionate about biology. Anytime you do biology homework, you give it your complete attention and finish quickly. So, even if you are doing work that doesn’t excite you, try to find things that are exciting about it. For example, if you have to write a research paper to complete, and you hate finding sources, but love writing, look forward to that. If you are reading a history textbook and find it boring, try to formulate it as a story in your head to connect ideas and events. If you don’t understand a concept and are more of a visual learner, find videos and graphics online to clear your doubts. Even the dullest things become exciting when you understand them well!
6. Just do it.
Nike’s slogan “Just Do It.” is pretty motivational. The best way to stop stressing about a task is to just do it and get it over with. Procrastination makes things worse. Instead of worrying about your workload and complaining about how much you are not looking forward to doing work, actually being productive is much more efficient. Once you start working, it becomes easy and you feel a burden lifted off of your shoulder.
Remember kids, it’s all about your motivation and prioritization. With just a little bit of self-control and a few rewards along the way, nothing can stop you from hustling hard.
It’s 2018, and although some of us are sick of hearing it, many of us believe in a “New Year, New Me”. We all have goals to achieve or things that we want to change in our lives, and the new year is the perfect time to be inspired to do something different. But most of the time, we have a surge of inspiration at the beginning of the year, and then that quickly dies down and we fall into the same habits that we had the previous year. I am personally tired of watching my years go by without making changes in my life, so I am trying a new method to achieving my goals this year.
This year, one of my goals is to consistently bullet journal. Last year, when I started bullet journaling, I made too much of an effort to make it fancy, and I quickly grew exhausted and dreaded making spreads. So this year, I am going with simple but colorful spreads that do not require too much effort, and get the job done. Bullet journaling helps me keep track of what I do each day, and helps me make sure that I am keeping on top of my goals. One of the tools that I use to keep track of what I do each day is a habit tracker.
This is an example of someone else’s tracker that I used as a reference for my own. In my January habit tracker, I have activities like: exercise, drink green tea, read, draw/color, and Bible reading. Each night, I reflect on my day, and color in the little box that corresponds to what activity I did that day. Of course, each day I do not accomplish every goal/activity, so there are some gaps in my spread, but nobody’s perfect! Making a habit tracker, whether in a journal, or on a loose-leaf sheet of paper, is helpful, because it helps me to keep in mind what my resolutions are, and then I don’t forget about them.
Another way that I am keeping track of my goals, is by using my phone/laptop reminders. I am one of those people who cannot survive without reminders. I use reminders for due dates, for events, for homework, anything and everything you can think of! I have also started using my reminders to help me with daily activities. For example, I have a reminder that pops up every day and tells me to take my vitamins (I always forget about them!). You can also set a reminder in the night to tell you to floss, or you can set one in the morning to remind you to do yoga before you officially start your day. These are really helpful, because although it is possible to forget about a journal, our phones are constantly with us. So why not use them in a way that will help us achieve our goals!
This year, we can all be successful in achieving goals. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you can’t keep on top of every goal. Even keeping up with one resolution will make a change in your life, and that’s a huge accomplishment!