Conquering an Online Class

For me, my very first online class was extremely stressful. Taking an online class pretty much forces you to become best friends with Engage, UC’s online learning platform, and follow every single discussion post posted by your peers. Personally, I was getting more and more discouraged by the day. It was difficult for me, but now, I’d be happy to take more online classes.

At first, it’s extremely difficult to figure out what you are supposed to be doing. Discussions are confusing, the syllabus can be confusing, and even Engage can be confusing. However, little did I know, Engage actually simplifies your life in regards to what you should be doing and when you should be doing it by. The next time you log into Engage, check out the “upcoming events” section on your main page. This houses all events coming up for your courses listed on your Engage page. This portion of your Engage page includes dates and times for when things are due, and you can even set it to include reminders! Personally, this saved me while taking my first online class because it simplified things in a way that was easier for me to understand and pay attention to.Blog Post 6 - Conquering an Online Class!-2

Not only is it hard to comprehend what is due and when it is due by, it is also extremely difficult, in my opinion, to stay motivated in the class. For online classes versus on-ground classes, it can be hard to stay motivated and focused on the material. There isn’t a professor available that is lecturing at the front of a classroom. Rather, there are PowerPoints and class discussions in regards to a textbook chapter with the occasional video that reinforces what you were supposed to have read. However, I found that no matter how much you may not want to read the book nor look over the notes, just like in a typical on-ground class, you have to in order to pass the class! Reading is crucial for an online class to be effective and also for you to pass. It was difficult for me to understand at first, but now it’s much easier to grasp certain concepts, and if I don’t understand something, there’s a section to ask questions to the professor.

And lastly, stay organized! Take the notes from your “upcoming events” section on Engage and add them to your planner, calendar, or whatever else you use to stay organized. It’s easy to get ahead of the work for online classes if you read ahead, and pay attention the “upcoming events.”

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Freshman Year

Before coming to college, there are quite a few things I wish I knew sooner. As a first-semester freshman, I never really thought about a lot of things in regards to my college experience including living on campus, taking college classes, and maintaining a social life. But I soon began to think that I had it all under control, when I, in fact, did not.

If I knew freshman year what I know now, I would have done things much differently. My grades were pretty good, but my study habits and things like that were horrendous. All I wanted to do with my free time was nap and that actually leads to a lot of sleepless nights and stressful mornings. So, while thinking about what I could do differently, I compiled a list:

  1. Go to the library between classes

The more free time I have, the better. I now go to the library more to get work done in the daytime. It keeps me from napping and I get more work done so I have less to do when I get home at night.

  1. Work, but save your money

It’s extremely tempting to go shopping and such when you have a campus job. Finally, you have an income while in school.. but don’t let it fool you! Save the money you make because sometimes things pop up and you have to have money for them right on the spot. You may have an unexpected textbook that you need or a computer program and unfortunately they’re super expensive in most cases.

  1. Research your professors

There are websites out there that students can rate professors and write reviews on them. Use them! Not that any singular professor is “bad,” rather, everyone learns differently and students frequently talk about learning styles and such on these websites. Choose your professors according to your learning style and preference. You’ll be much happier and more successful!

  1. If you have anxiety over office hours, email for a private meeting

I used to despise going to office hours because I never really liked asking questions in front of others. It wasn’t until my second semester that I had figured out that it was possible to ask for private meetings with professors simply by emailing them.

  1. The writing center in the library is a real thing

I honestly had no idea what the writing center was in the library. I’m usually pretty good at writing papers, but I never really liked having my friends read them over for me and correcting them. The writing center is always available for that reason, to help you with your papers! Who knew?!

These are just a few tips that I wish I had known about in the beginning of my freshman year at UC. I’m sure there are plenty more to add to this list, but these are the main ones that I could think of that would have helped me be a better student overall.

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You Can’t Spell Success without ‘UC’

Three years into my college career, I finally decided to become a peer tutor after not even beginning to utilize the resource when I should have in my previous two years here. After seeing the opposite side of the same coin, I now see how rewarding the FREE service is to our students!

Believe me, I’ve experienced it, I’m sure your thoughts running through your mind when you are told you should get a tutor are, “Tutor?! I don’t need a tutor!” I’ve been there and have frequently said the exact same things. However, it’s the wrong mindset to have when something like your academics could be in jeopardy, or in need of the slightest little boost. Having a tutor is NOT a bad thing, even if peers make it seem that way!

After becoming a tutor, I’ve realized a few key things:

1. The library is always available as a quiet space (if you’re upstairs).

2. If you do not prefer to go to the library, many of the academic buildings have open classrooms that you can go into and study

3. Tutoring allows for an extremely flexible schedule and your tutor is generally pretty lenient with meeting times.

4. Tutoring gives you one-on-one attention on a specific subject that you might not otherwise get. It gives you the ability to ask questions on a specific topic and/or question that you may have.

However, there will be some people who still do not want to request a tutor and that’s completely fine. But UC provides services in the library learning commons that allow students to consult a tutor for one-on-one things such as help with writing, math, and science. Within the library, on the first floor, there is a writing center and a math center in which students can consult other students about those things for quick help.

You Know It's Finals Week When 2
One half of the learning commons, located on the first floor it the library

Therefore, for those of our students who need a little boost with their academics, remember, you can’t spell sUCcess without UC —and success is possible with the services that are available for our students.

 

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Last Semester To-Dos: Preparing for the PT Grad Program

Just a few weeks ago, I began my last semester as an undergraduate student—quite surprising, to say the least! Also, the thought of entering graduate school in June is quite nerve-racking. So, I will spend this semester preparing by doing a few things:

  1. Completing all necessary paperwork and requirements:

Before entering the graduate portion of the physical therapy program at UC, each student must complete a few key things. As a student set to enter the   DPT program, I am required to submit paperwork stating that I completed a minimum of 40 observation hours, update all health information including shots and physicals, as well as papers stating that I understand the basic layout of our program (the 3-year track).

  1. Meeting fellow classmates:

Though I am pretty sure that I know each of my PT classmates, it is important to ensure that feeling. These people will be people that I will spend the next 3 years of my life with. If I do not know them, especially on a personal level, it will be extremely awkward in class when we are all required to practice on one another.

  1. Researching the curriculum:

I am aware that our graduate work is roughly 3 years long, though I am not exactly sure how the courses are organized within the curriculum. Therefore, I plan to research the graduate curriculum in order to stay organized and determine what I will be completing each year.

  1. Staying involved, yet focused:

As an undergraduate student, I am involved in many, many things that take up a majority of my free time. However, as a graduate student, I may not always have that free time, so I will have to give up a few leisure activities in order to remain focused on my studies. Therefore, I will be spend a few moments this semester determining what I wish to stay involved in and what will have to stay in my undergraduate years in order to accommodate for the course load that I am going to be taking on in graduate school.

  1. Making plans for life after graduation:

Though it seems a little far-fetched, it’s always important to plan ahead! I have 3 years to truly decide on my post-graduate plans, but I want to explore all of my options and find what I like best. So, I plan to spend more time this semester exploring the large sector of physical therapy in medical practice in order to determine which route I would like to take after graduation.

Though I have a lot to do, I’m ready to enjoy my last semester as an undergrad all while preparing for grad school in June!

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It’s Not too Late to Motivate!

No, a squirrel didn’t knock out your power… You’ve just lost your motivation!

Blog Post 5 - It's Not too Late to Motivate 1With finals week upon us, it is extremely easy to lose your motivation and slowly, but surely, slip into the Winter Break mindset. Nope, it’s not break just yet, and the finals won’t be going anywhere until they are completed.

5 classes, 5 exams, 3 papers, 2 presentations, and finals week. Stressed is an understatement and to go in typical college-student fashion, I’ll be running on mass amounts of coffee and Red Bull. And it’s true; anything that could go wrong, will go wrong RIGHT NOW.

 

However, there are ways around all of that.

If you find yourself struggling to regain your motivation, here are some tips that I have found to extremely useful in my own experience:

  1. Focus on what will impact your life the most.
    • That’s why we’re all here, right? We aren’t here to have a glorified, expensive gathering; rather, we are here to further our education. Rank the 5 exams, 3 papers, 2 presentations and the rest of your finals in order of importance. Then, re-rank them in order of the time that they are due. Finally, only take necessary breaks and get your work done!
  2. Create a new challenge.
    • For me, I find that if I challenge myself I am more likely to remain interested in whatever I am doing. Changing how I view something, such as an assignment, forces me to think about the assignment in a different way. Different ways of thinking will keep you interested in the topics and that interest will be what keeps you going.
  3. If you’ve met your previous goals, establish new ones!
    • Goals are essential to keep your motivation strong. For me, if I am struggling with something, such as writing a huge term-paper, I break it into smaller sections. I will designate a certain section to be “due” on a certain day of the week and by “due,” I mean that I want to have that section done by that set day so I can complete another section as a later time. Therefore, the entire term-paper gets completed in little sections and does not overwhelm me nearly as much as it would if I sat down and tried to write the entire thing in one sitting. Projects, papers, and presentations become much more easy to handle if they are broken into smaller sections.
  4. If you find yourself struggling, don’t dwell on it!
    • There are quite a number of people on UC’s campus that are here to help you. I have found that I lose my motivation more and more if I become discouraged about something. Rather than getting discouraged all of the time, I find people to help me with something I may not understand or something I need an opinion on. Sometimes it’s necessary to just talk things out with others. So, don’t dwell on it, learn to deal with it in meaningful and useful ways.
  5. When you accomplish something, acknowledge it!
    • If you accomplish an assignment, a final exam, a presentation, those 3 papers that are due all at the same time, acknowledge your successes. If I complete an assignment early, I usually reward myself by relaxing that night and watching Netflix. Therefore, by getting ahead, I open up more time for myself, which is also necessary when my stress level is at an all-time high.

So when you think you’ve lost your mind and that you may have lost all of your motivation, just remember… it’s true that finals week can be extremely overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time going through finals week. However, with the right tips and tricks, it’s easy to overcome. Stay strong, stay motivated, and finals week will soon become a thing of the past.

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Life as a Business Major

So what’s it like to be a business major at Utica College? Well, for anyone who’s wondering, I’ll be happy to tell you: It’s great. To be entirely honest, I would say it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I am half way through my junior year here at UC, and I can honestly say that I have no regrets.

I grew up in New York Mills, a village right next to Utica, and my high school was a ten minute walk from Utica College. At first I chose UC for the convenience factor, but I soon realized how much I underestimated the potential of the school. After about a week and a half of classes, I quickly developed strong working relationships with all of the professors that I had.

In fact, I was lucky enough to have James Norrie, Dean of the Business School, as a Teacher’s Assistant in my Business Management 101 class; this turned out to be one of the best strokes of luck I had ever had. We got to know each other quite well in a short amount of time, and he has become a bit of a mentor to me. I can’t imagine that there are many other colleges in the country or even the world where the dean of your school is able to be a TA in one of your classes.

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With my classes going well, I chose to join one of the many different club and organizations on campus: the Utica College Investment Club. I was interested to learn more about finance and stock trading so I simply showed up to a meeting. Within weeks, I learned more about trading stocks than I could have ever imagined. What was truly fascinating about the club was that it was ran by students and they manage a $100,000+ portfolio of real money.

After my first semester, I began to take a far more active role in the club. At the end of the year, I was elected to vice president of the Investment Club; next semester, I’ll be taking over as president. We meet every Wednesday at 4:00 in the trading room (shown above). Meetings always begin with some type of food, as the club has decided that business should always be mixed with pleasure.

Thanks to the Investment Club, I was even able to secure my first financial internship after my freshman year. I learned so much over that summer that I came back to UC feeling ready to tackle anything my professors could throw at me.

The Investment Club aside, the faculty here at UC are just as great. Because of the small class sizes, you get to know them quickly and often have many of the same professors multiple times, which is actually quite nice because you know what to expect each year.

Just recently, we had a speaker come to the campus to talk about his career in management and how he started his own business. I was lucky enough to be invited to the cocktail hour and dinner held beforehand.

During that time, nearly the entire faculty of the business school was gathered together and having great discussions about the happenings on campus as well as the economic events transpiring around the world. To be able to be a part of these events on campus is amazing. UC has so much more to offer than meets the eye.

Personally, I’m extremely excited for all of the business and finance classes to be moved to downtown Utica in the fall. The new classrooms look sleek and modern and the new trading room will certainly make the Investment Club even better. It’s really an exciting time to be here at UC.

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You’ve Got to Have Nerve (HOMW 10)

Hi, everyone! My highlight this week happened on Thursday and Friday, and once again relates to my awesome poetry workshop course, ENG 407.

HOMW 10: YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE NERVE

One of my favorite things about Utica College is that there are many excellent guest speakers who present at the college each semester. I have been to cyber security presentations, poetry readings, etiquette dinners, biology seminars, and musical recitals, just to name a few!

This past Thursday evening, I attended a poetry reading by Suzanne Cleary. She was awarded the 2014 Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize, and when she read excerpts from her book Beauty Mark, it was clear why she was chosen for this award! Cleary’s writing was hilariously entertaining, and her energetic delivery of her work added to its charm. Every person in the Carbone Auditorium (which was so full that extra chairs had to be brought in!) found themselves laughing out loud during the reading. Cleary was by far one of the most entertaining and fun speakers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, and I was surprised by how quickly the hour presentation flew by.

After the reading, copies of Beauty Mark were available for purchase, and many people had their copies signed by Ms. Cleary herself. My friend Nicole, who is also in my poetry workshop class, loves her personalized copy of the book!

Nicole and her autographed book!
The beautiful Nicole showing off her autographed book!

 

As if this experience wasn’t awesome enough already, the next day, Suzanne Cleary was our guest poet in our advanced poetry workshop class. We read our poems to the class and discussed them with one another as usual, except this class, Cleary was there to add in her own feedback and help us with the creative process. I learned so much from her, and was really grateful to have a different perspective. One of the things Cleary said that really stuck with me involved a poem I had written that was humorous and had a surprise twist at the end- similar to many of Cleary’s own poems. She said, “In order to embrace the pure silliness of poetry, you’ve got to have nerve. And you definitely have it here in this poem!”  She was extremely supportive of every student in the class’ writing and made for a very fun class.

Another shot of Nicole's personalized copy of Beauty Mark.
Another shot of Nicole’s personalized copy of Beauty Mark.

 

ENG 407 is always a highlight of my week (in fact, I’ve chosen it as the HOMW twice- here and here), but the guest poet this week made the class exceptionally wonderful!

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Dr. Hutton Takes on Senior Sem

This semester I’m taking a senior seminar course as a junior. For biology majors, it is required to take a senior seminar, senior research, or a practicum in biology. So, I decided to get a jump on it and added the class to my schedule this semester.

The cool thing about the biology senior seminar is that the topic changes every semester! Two semesters ago it was focused on conservation biology and the class was so well received that they decided to make it an actual course, which I took (and literally loved) last semester. This semester the senior seminar is focused on urban ecology.

The first few weeks of class we went over various case studies and developed a working definition for what urban ecology means to us. Now we’re in the midst of planning a green initiative yard sale for the end of the semester (so people don’t have to throw away things at move out!)  Another aspect to the class now is that we have various guest speakers come in and talk to us about the different facets and multitudes to urban ecology.

This past week President Hutton came in to speak to our class. As all Utica College students, faculty, and staff are aware, our president is actively involved in many campus activities. He is also actively involved with the city of Utica. He is currently a member of the city board and gives input on various issues. (He has been a member of several city planning communities throughout the country!)

He also told our (enraptured) class about the various conservation efforts he and various other Utica College officials have taken to ensure our campus is staying up to date in the world of sustainability.

Did you know Utica College (along with the hospital) was the first school to produce its own energy? I had no clue! That building back behind Burrstone Hall is actually a microgrid that produces energy that is used by the hospital and our campus. During the day the micrgrid produces about 80% of our energy and the other 20% is supplemented from National Grid. At night, all of the energy being used on the campus is produced by the microgrid.

The campus is also looking into other sustainable options. Unfortunately full solar power for the campus is simply not a feasible option as of now. However, they are looking to put solar panels in above the pool in the athletic center so it can be heated that way! Little steps add up!

It was definitely a really cool experience to have the president of Utica College come in and talk to my senior seminar class. We’re only a class of 7, yet he still treated us as if we were a larger class. He asked us our opinions and seemed genuinely interested in our thoughts. I got to talk about my favorite issues, and felt like my opinions were actually being heard. It was probably my favorite class hour that I’ll ever have at Utica College! 11160059_1103963916285608_7854584658554039119_o

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The Science of Awesome

In order to fulfill my core requirements I’m currently enrolled in Chem 105, Chemistry of Everyday Things.  This is a non-major lab science class, so it’s perfect for someone who, like me, has little to no background knowledge in science.  Over the course of this semester we’ve done a lot of really interesting and fun experiments.  We’ve made tie-dye shirts that won’t fade, we’ve mixed scents to come up with different fragrances (with admittedly mixed results as mine was voted to smell like awful death by the class), and we did a CSI investigation lab.

These were all really cool, but this past week we did my favorite by far.  To quote my friend and fellow blogger Elaine, it was definitely Highlight of My Week worthy. We were testing the pH of various household objects using only cabbage juice! First we put 11 buffer solutions with pH 2-12 in different test tubes, and then 5 household items in other test tubes. Then, after boiling the cabbage (the smell was really the only downside, but all magic comes with a price!), we put a little in each of the test tubes and watched the magic happen!

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Each of the liquids turned a different color based on their pH and we compared the unknowns to the buffers in order to determine their pH.  I loved the colors so much, it was like a rainbow.  One of the best parts was coming up with the descriptions of each color for our lab report.  We had everything from neon lilac to emerald mermaid and jalapeno green.  Definitely a highlight of my week.

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Registering for Classes

Registration for fall classes is soon approaching! Here are a few tips to help you create the best schedule possible for next semester:

  • Run a degree evaluation on BannerWeb (listed under “Logins” at the top of the Utica College web page). The easiest way I have found to do this is to search “Eval” in the search box, and click the option “Generate New Evaluation.” This evaluation will tell you exactly what classes you need in order to complete your degree requirements, and it will also tell you what classes you have already completed.
  • BannerWeb also has a Course Catalog which explains what each course means. If you have options between PSY 321 and PSY 322, for example, the Course Catalog shows that 321 is Infancy and Childhood, while 322 is Adolescence Psychology. The Course Catalog also tells you how many credits a class counts as and if it is offered as a lecture course, online course, or both.
  • After you have checked out what courses you need for your degree and what those courses are, you can go to the Class Schedule option in BannerWeb to see what times and days the classes will be offered in the upcoming semester. This allows you to plan potential schedules for next semester. It is helpful to know if two classes you need are at overlapping times, or if a lab is only offered once a week, or if your favorite professor is teaching an elective that you could fit into your schedule.
  • Meet with your advisor. Bring your degree evaluation and several potential schedules with you to show to your advisor. Your advisor might be able to help you decide which classes will be the most beneficial for you to take in the upcoming semester and which classes you should wait to take when you are further in your academic career.
  • Have backup plans! The day of registration, plan on logging on and completing your registration as soon as you are able to. If a class is closed out before you are able to secure a spot in it, have a list of several other classes you can take in its place that can still fit into your degree requirements, count as an elective, or are interesting to you. Don’t fret if you don’t get into every class you want, because sometimes the classes you don’t originally plan on taking end up being the most memorable!
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