See ya spring break ’16!

Last week was such a tease for what summer ’16 is about to be! Sunshine, warm weather, friends, no homework – I mean, it honestly can’t get much better, right?! Spending a week in Florida, on the beach, with friends, with temperatures at 80* or above – it was honestly heaven! I was in no way ready to come back here and get back into a routine of classes and homework. Let’s be thankful for those of us who are not graduating that we get to have at least one more spring break! 🙂

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With five weeks left of classes and a week of final exams, many of us are not sure how we will ever reach the end after a full week of leisure! For many of us, there are still numerous homework assignments, a few exams, and probably a few pop-quizzes left to complete before we can be on our way to summer break – so let’s hope for the best and hope that we will get through it!

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Here are some thoughts that many college students have when spring break is coming to a close:

  • The weekend before school starts back up – “is this really happening?!”
  • While traveling back to school – “I’d much rather stay home with my pets and never move for the rest of my life”
  • First opening your planner/schedule – “so about that assignment that I was supposed to do over break…”
  • The first Monday morning class – “I can go back to sleep in roughly 3 hours and 27 minutes.”

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Getting back into the swing of things can be hard and definitely emotionally taxing. However, we’re only a few short weeks from summer and you can consider that an extended, fun-filled, and awesome spring break!

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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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Is it too late now to say…um, I have homework?!

I’m sure it’s probably pretty easy to assume that many of us college students procrastinate. You’d think that by the time I reached the Spring semester of my Junior year that I would have that figured out by now. I mean, I do use a planner and I am extremely organized with my school work, I just can never seem to get ahead of my work because I always wait until the last minute – BAD IDEA, I KNOW.

The cliché, “I always do my best work while under pressure” used to be my motto for so long that it’s honestly kind of ridiculous. It’s not true, but was easier to say than, “well, that assignment was terrible.” That’s probably why it’s so important to not procrastinate, Tyler!

Procrastinating frequently causes more stress on a college student than what they already have. So why do I continue to do it to myself? I’m not totally sure. When the clock reads 11:25 pm and I’m furiously typing an assignment that’s due a midnight, I rack my mind to find out WHY!

        So is it too late to say I have homework at 11:25pm? Probably!

So, I’m currently learning how to avoid this constant rut that I have been stuck in for most of my college career, and here are some tips that have worked for me so far:

  1. Be mindful that there’s always more to be done than what you have already completed. You’ll be further ahead that way.
  2. Tune out distracting items. If you find yourself constantly distracted by your phone/tablet/computer, leave it in another room while you’re doing homework.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. If you fail to complete something when you want it to be done, eliminate one of your favorite activities that day until the task gets completed.
  4. Break the task down into smaller tasks so you are less likely to become stressed and overwhelmed.

Thus far, these few things have worked for me. I have changed the way in which I write my tasks in planner. For instance, if I have a paper due next week, I will frequently begin the paper on a Sunday and break up the page limit into a do-able amount each day. It’s prolonged, but easier that way! And by simply changing these few things, I am starting to see more work completed ahead of time and less procrastinating. In turn, I get to bed earlier and find myself to be much happier in the mornings!

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5 Things to Get Excited About Post-Spring Break

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So the semester isn’t over yet? I could’ve sworn it was based on my exhaustion. I totally understand why 93% of the campus is dragging their feet to class this week, but here are some reasons you shouldn’t:

1. It isn’t freezing anymore

Yes, you were so annoyed to be back to the hustle and bustle of the college life after a week of sweet nothings that you completely forgot to notice that the freezing air was no longer hurting your face as you walked to class. Yes, it is pouring rain, but hey, all the more reason to not get ready in the morning am I right?

2. You’re almost there

You’ve managed to survive 10 whole weeks of classes and you only have a measly five more to go. It is the home stretch!

3. Warm weather makes people nicer/happier

People are evidently nicer when the weather is nice. Just a couple more weeks and people will go from darting from building to building, buried in their parkas, avoiding human interaction, mumbling swear words to themselves as icy show whips them in the face to taking leisurely walks, socializing and smiling again. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not.

4. RELAY FOR LIFE

The most fun all-nighter you will ever attempt to pull is less than a month away! On April 8 in the Dome, the UC community is in for a night of music, games and some serious cancer fighting. Last year, Relay For Life raised over $22,000 for the American Cancer Society and it’s looking like we are going raise even more money this year! You really don’t want to miss out on this. Join the fight at relayforlife.org/uticacollegeNY.

5. Moose Madness Weekend

Assuming you’re all going to push-off studying for finals until the night before, you have an amazing Moose Madness weekend to look forward to! Moose Madness begins on the last day of classes and features an annual spring concert, sporting events and other activities. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?

Hang in there, folks. It ain’t over till it’s over.

 

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America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk

Every single year, Utica College hosts America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk to benefit the American Heart Association.

I’ve lived in Utica my whole life and the weekend of the heart walk is always a huge event.  The local news stations cover it from start to finish and if you aren’t walking, believe me you are hearing about it all day.

Friday night is the heart expo in UC’s gym. Saturday is the walk. The streets are blocked off for miles, and for good reason, considering they’re flooded with people. As I’m walking I always think, “wow, what about the people that live in these houses? They aren’t going anywhere today.”

I’m weird in this way, but I take on other people’s pain. In seeing how many people come out to support this cause, I know there has been a lot of pain and a lot of loss. And in the same breath, I know there is a lot of love and a lot of passion at the walk.

I’ve heard stories of both survival and loss. I’ve walked beside friends, acquaintances and strangers. I’ve seen my own mother struggle with the passing of her father, who passed of a massive heart attack at 46. All of these things make me appreciate the event and the people that work to make it happen all the more.

In the past, I walked with Sarah’s Angels, as did my entire high school. And this year, I got the pleasure to walk with team Maneen.

But, it really doesn’t matter what team you’re on because we are all walking to support the same cause. We are all walking to promote healthy lifestyles and raise money to fight against cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

This year, almost $770,000 was raised and I’m so happy that I was able to be a part of it.

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Me & my boyfriend, Eric all bundled up at the walk on Saturday, March 5.

 

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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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If Your Favorite Disney Princesses Went to Utica College

Growing up watching and idolizing Disney Princesses, I recently decided to revisit my fascination.

Being that the past few weeks have been filled with rain and snow, it was the perfect opportunity to binge on movies like The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, and my new favorite, Frozen. Yes, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands paired with a slight self-diagnosis of insomnia. After a few hours of watching, I thought to myself – my life is far from the standards of those of the Disney Princesses. But what if they lived my life? This 3 a.m. ponder lead to some interesting scenarios.

Ariel:

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Upon her enrollment as a full time student at Utica College, Ariel finds comfort in becoming a Pioneer while joining the Women’s Swim and Dive team. Breaking records and owning the lanes, she never looks back – her happily every after will culminate on her senior night when she breaks the school’s longest standing record.

 

Cinderella:

Cinderella PicAfter declaring her independence from her evil step-mother, Cinderella spends most of her time in the Womyn’s Resource Center where she is surrounded by faculty, staff, and other students who share her same passions and ideas of equality. She has since ditched the glass-slipper look because, let’s face it, glass slippers are not ideal for getting across campus in a hurry!

 

Jasmine:

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Always going to be beat of her own drum, Jasmine spends most of her time working in the robotics lab trying to build her own flying carpet. Unfortunately, her whole new world here at Utica College does not allow for her pet tiger Rajah. However, she keeps her passion for wild life alive by majoring in Animal Behavior.

 

Elsa:

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Deciding to leave her castle was one of Elsa’s hardest decisions. But like most people, Elsa decided to move on to the next chapter in her life. Her fascination with weather has landed Elsa as president of Asa Gray Biological Society (Asa Gray). While Elsa has made tons of friends, some do blame her for the lake effect winter we experience here in Utica.

 

Belle:

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As scholarly as she is, Belle’s transition into college was a breeze! Spending most of her time reading, she has almost made her way through half of the books in the library. Since Belle is so adoring of literature and the atmosphere the library brings, she has just become the latest work-study at the circulation desk and has taken part in peer tutoring.

 

Aurora:

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Catching naps in between classes is a must for our sleeping beauty. Luckily, she has had the freedom to schedule all her classes for later in the day. That being said, her favorite place to hang out is in the Residence Halls. After getting five other friends together, Aurora formed a club on campus called “Sleepers Anonymous.” The club works together to help raise money and donate things like blankets and pillows to the local homeless community.

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Saranac Brewery Tour

Last weekend my friends and I found ourselves looking for another adventure and wanting to experience something Utica has to offer! I then remembered a tour of the Saranac Brewery was something I’ve been wanting to do since freshman year but never got around to doing it. We looked up the Matt Brewing Co. online and decided to do it!

When we got there, we walked into the gift shop and checked in for the next tour. The tour only cost $5 a person and included two free beverages in the tavern at the end of the tour! While we were waiting for our tour to get called we walked around the gift shop. Decorated with some vintage Saranac gear, the whole place had a long-standing feel.

 

Saranac Pic 1Before we knew it our tour was about to begin. We were walked through the entire brewery and the tour took a little under an hour. The hallways leading up to the production room was beautifully decorated with authentic Victorian décor with many original aspects from when the brewery opened in the 1800s by FX Matt. We were able to get up close and personal with every aspect of the brewing process from the hops and grains used to brewing, bottling, and packaging.

Saranac Pic 4 Saranac Pic 3 Saranac Pic 2The tour was very informational and interesting. It was cool to learn that Utica Club, a beer made at the Matt Brewery, was the first beer sold in the United States after prohibition.

We then made our way to the tavern to try our two full-sized free drinks. They had their seasonal and craft beers on tap along with their assortment of sodas and hard sodas. I tired their famous root beer and it was – AMAZING! We ended up sitting in the tavern for two hours drinking and talking. This is something I recommend for everyone to do – in fact, I can’t wait to go back and do it again! A fun day for only $5, it’s a win-win!

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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.

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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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My Spring Break Checklist

In the near future lies the middle of the semester, and most importantly, Spring Break! Needless to say, I, like many other students, cannot wait! The sun, the beach, warmth, friends and family await me in Daytona Beach, Florida, in just one short week. Until I leave, I have quite a few things to complete so I can have a relaxing week in the sunshine.

Homework, completing an online class, a biology exam, and two papers are between me and break.

 

Blog Post 3 - Pic 1 Blog Post 3 - Pic 2Daytona Beach, Florida, taken May 2015

Currently, my to-do list before leaving for break looks like this:

  1. Complete final project for AGE 218 online and submit it.
  2. Post final discussion for AGE 218 online and comment on other’s projects.
  3. Take second Biology exam.
  4. Complete and submit next research paper for HLS 113 online.
  5. Finalize discussion forums for AGE 411.
  6. Post discussion questions for HLS 113 online and respond to four people.

Though it does not seem like that much, I’m trying to complete it all before leaving so I don’t have to do anything other than relax!

Most of my to-do list covers the first few days back from Spring Break, as well. By planning to get ahead and not procrastinate, I am hoping to make the best of this vacation!

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