Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Campus Visit: What to ask, what not to ask

When you choose a college, whether it's your first or a transfer college, you should be visiting them in person. You need to know the climate of the place, and we're not just talking temperature: What's it really like? When you visit their website or receive material in the mail, you are only seeing their best pictures. Visiting the campus in person really lets you see it for yourself.

More than likely, you will have a 'tour guide' of some sort who will lead you around to see some of the campus. This person is going to have you look at the more impressive spots, and that's fine. You want to know that they have a decent library, what a science lab looks like, how big a lecture hall is. You may be able to see some dorms. You may gather in an auditorium or in the cafeteria. You may even be given a lunch. Keep in mind that your tour guide's job is to get you to attend his or her college.

There will be a 'stock' monologue the tour guide will recite as you make your way around the campus. But, if you have a chance to ask questions, what are some good ones?

*What is the town like?
-Is it a small town atmosphere or is campus right in the middle of a large city? How do the townspeople treat the college students? This may be much better answered by a student who has no motivation to recruit you, however, it's worth asking.

*As to advising, how many advisors are there per student?
-You're actually asking: Is there one advisor for 5,000 students? If that's the case, you're going to have quite a time getting some help when you need it. Unless, of course, they have TRIO SSS.

*What kind of technology is available on campus?
-Naturally you want the most current tech available, and plenty of it. Most of you will have a laptop, but some colleges 'issue' one so that all students are using the same kind of software. They will then provide tech assistance on campus. Is it easy for all to use? Is tech available campus-wide? How is the Wi-Fi on campus?

*When is the cafeteria open/When is food available?
-If you have studied until midnight, is there anywhere you can go to get food?

*Is there health care available? What does that consist of? Where is it, and when is it open?
-The possibility of your getting sick during a school year is pretty high. Where could you go to get help? What about help with depression?

*How many of the classes are taught online? How many are hybrid (Part online, part in class in person)?
-Ideally this is a minimal number. Classes at a college should take place on campus, in the traditional way. It isn't possible to engage with other students when you are just staring at a computer screen. For the online classes offered, though, make sure they run smoothly. Frustration with online classes is usually pretty high---where do you go to get your situation sorted out?

*How many students graduate in 4 years? And, how many students will graduate at all?
-There are lots of students who don't because of heavy coursework, jobs getting in the way, or other exceptional situations, but most of them should be done in 4 years. The large majority of them should finish their degrees. A lower rate might mean the college is not the best.

*What is the student to faculty ratio?
-That is, how many instructors are there for the students? You'll need to decide what sounds best; you hoping for a maximum of 15 or less students to 1 faculty--and that does not mean class size of 15 students. Here's an explanation http://collegeapps.about.com/od/choosingacollege/ss/Choosing-The-Perfect-College_3.htm

*How many classes are in fact taught by Teaching Assistants? (TAs)
-This is common in large universities. In theory, the TA is under the guidance of the professor whose name is on the course catalog; they are generally seniors or graduate students (those working towards a masters or PhD) who are strong in the course. Some TAs are very good at teaching, some are not. Remember, they have no training in the profession of teaching. That said, some professors are not really that good at teaching, either. It is something to be aware of, however. When the first day of class arrives and you realize you aren't really being taught by a professor, you don't want this to be a surprise.

*What tutoring is available to students, and is it free of charge? Where are the tutors located?
-Tutoring is a valuable tool to use for you to understand your classes; it can make all the difference in your success. If you can use it for free, you'll likely go more often.

*What kind of career guidance does the college provide?
-Does it give you a realistic view of careers you can pursue with the major you are interested in? A degree is valuable, but if it doesn't help you get a job after graduation, is it worth it?
-Does the college promote internships while you are still in school, that will help you be decisive in your major or sorting out a specific career path?
-Does the college partner with local businesses to offer internships and perhaps employment?

*Things to remember:
You are the student, not your parent. You should be the one most engaged in asking questions and listening to the answers. Appreciate that your parents have given you the transportation to campus, and are likely paying for part of your college...be respectful, but remember, you are the one making this commitment.

*Be sure you visit at least two schools and hopefully more. Then you can compare how they felt: Is there one that just felt "right" from the beginning? Chances are this is the one that is your best fit.

How to have a more successful visit:

  • Go to campus with a parent, or even alone---but do not go with your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other, or with a group of 'besties'. This is about you. You don't want to be distracted and miss the whole point of the visit. It's also possible that your friends won't like the campus but you will. You don't want them convincing you not to go somewhere you really want to go. It's likely you're going to different colleges, anyway.

  • You can ask about parties and drinking on campus, but you are likely to get a non-committal response that downplays these things. All campuses have parties. All campuses have drinking and using. A tour guide will play it down, while a non-tour guide student might make you think it's one big kegger. It's really up to you how to handle the partying scene. You need to remember why you're there.

  • Try approaching a random student and ask him or her a couple of questions. Do this more than once. What was the reaction? Was the person friendly and helpful? This can be a good indicator of the 'mood' of the campus.
  • If you are allowed to wander, do so. Go into some buildings. See if you can look at a classroom, a lab, a dorm, the bookstore. What's your impression?
  • Be respectful, but be nosy and thorough. Ask questions: take notes if you want to. Record your feelings of the place. If you are visiting several campuses, you may get confused once you're home as to which ones had which qualities.

Enjoy the choosing process: This is where you'll spend the next few years, and it's going to be fantastic!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Time Travel The Easy Way

What would you put into a time capsule?

Why not make one that's just yours?

The idea is to capture what you're doing and thinking right now, put it in a container ("capsule"), hide it or bury it somewhere, and then bring it back out after some time has passed and see what you think of your 'old' self.

It's almost time travel....without the flux capacitors...

The DeLorean from "Back to the Future"

What kind of container can you come up with?

The container could be glass, plastic, or metal with a tight fitting lid-often people will seal it with tape as well so it's harder to open.

                     A metal container is a good idea, although subject to rust and corrosion. This one looks like it has a cap that fits securely on one end.

                                     A large glass jar will work, also.

Where do I store it?

We suggest you not bury it unless you remind yourself to unearth it if you should move away. If it's buried, it's likely nobody will ever find it--and then what's the point? Consider leaving it with a relative or a friend, and let them know it is not to be thrown out.

Whatever container you use, it must be something that can be fully enclosed. Then stash it out of sight: keeping it where you can look at it all the time defeats the purpose.

This is important: Be sure to label your container and note the date you sealed it.

     This school only has to wait 60 more years to retrieve its time capsule. Good thing it's location is clearly marked!

What can you put in your time capsule?
  • Pictures, pictures, pictures.  Pictures of you, your pet, your parents, your siblings. Pictures of things you like to do and places you've been or want to go. Pictures of treasured possessions.
  • Postcards from your friends or ones that you buy locally to show your city
  • Newspaper clippings, although they don't keep very well after several years, are great because they offer not only news but also advertising. Imagine what things will cost a few years from now. Consider getting some acid-free paper and photocopying the articles onto it. Acid-free paper will last longer.
  • Clippings from a magazine you like to read, or possibly the whole magazine
  • Lists: your homework assignment, a list of Christmas ideas, a list of places you want to visit, a list of your favorite books, a list of things you want to do by the time you're 30, for example.
  • Small tokens or toys that indicate your hobbies or interests
  • You could start a time capsule when you're about to leave for college that includes a description of how you think college will be, and what you'll do when you graduate--no peeking until you're done!
  • a piece of jewelry you have worn
  • be sure to include notes about these items and why they are significant to you
  • a page or more from a daily diary or journal: what did you do on January 3, 2014?
  • a CD you've recorded of favorite music
  • a description of what you think you will have done by a particular age
  • something that symbolizes your current school (mascot? pennant?)
  • something that signifies an activity you enjoy: video games, bowling, knitting
  • Make a list of predictions: what do you think will be happening 5, 10, or more years from now?

Your capsule can be kept anywhere that you will find it when you want to open it. Make a note on paper of where you have put your time capsule, and have the note somewhere secure, like where you keep other important documents, maybe even in a safe, so that you can't forget where you hid it. You are almost certain to have a new computer and phone within a few years of hiding it, so don't assume "it's on my computer and/or my phone"---computers and phones die and become out-of-date.

How long do you want to keep it hidden? At least one year, and maybe more than that: Do you want to see if you have achieved your goals in a year, after college, or do you want to look at the capsule 10 years from now?

           Contents of an old time capsule. Looks like maps, photos, and books that were important at that time.

Currently, four time capsules are "buried" in space. The two Pioneer Plaques and the two Voyager Golden Records have been attached to spacecraft for the possible benefit of space travelers  in the distant future. A fifth time capsule, the KEO satellite, which is scheduled to be launched in 2015,[7] carrying individual messages from Earth's inhabitants addressed to earthlings around the year 52,000, when it is due to return to Earth. The International Time Capsule Society was created to maintain a global database of all existing time capsules.

In the year 52,000????

This past December, a time capsule was found belonging to Paul Revere: Watch a video at http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/11/us/boston-time-capsule-paul-revere-sam-adams/index.html

Another video: http://miami.cbslocal.com/video/10672790-100-year-old-time-capsule-opened-in-new-york/

What will your time capsule hold???

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Clean Up!!! It's Always Earth Day!

Officially, 'Earth Day' and 'Earth Month' were over at the end of April. But......

What are you doing to make our environment better?

How are you cutting down on pollution?

What can you do in the future?

And here are some videos to make you think, and to appreciate this wonderful Earth we live in.

           A pelican covered in oil and then cleaned up...

                People in Kenya cleaned up this area, making a huge change in the landscape

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=earth%20day%20video&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=earth%20day%20video&sc=8-15&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=7F96F5A1EA8732A11FCB7F96F5A1EA8732A11FCB  small things

People make up this picture on the beach
Could you make a video to express how you feel about the Earth, Earth Day, or pollution? What would you want to say, and how would you say it?
Remember, we're not just trying to be kind to the environment for a week every April----it must be an ongoing commitment, and we all should do something. What will you do?

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Fawn By The Theatre

At last year's Upward Bound award event in the Performing Arts Center, there was a little fawn who had become separated from its mother. It was curled up in the foliage close to the building, trying to hide from the humans, waiting for its mother to return. The fawn was the inspiration for this piece.

You couldn't readily see him.
Where? Oh, right there. Yes.
Spots, white on brown. Outsized ears.
Long legs folded up tight
Fearful eyes
Humans on the other side of glass,
Looking out, captivated, by a baby animal
Who didn't belong there, but who wasn't going to move.

He waited for his mother to come and show him what to do.
Frightened, he stayed still
As still as a stone
While his heart beat fast, his eyes darted around, his legs trembled,
Fearful of the people and people noises:
Talking, laughter, doors shutting,
The calls of other animals,
The scratchy spreading yew beneath his belly,
The bright sky above
Rapidly turning to dusk...
Fearful of everything
Hungry, cold, needing attention,
Just waiting.
He didn't know what else to do.
He didn't know he could do anything.

How many of us are frozen in one place
Waiting for someone to show us the way
Waiting for an answer
Waiting for reassurance and comfort?
Do we stay where it's safe
Waiting for someone bigger or older to show us the way?
How will we know who this person is?
Who can we trust?
Or do we gather all our strength, plant our feet, get up, and walk into the unknown?

The next day, the fawn was gone.
When was the moment he decided to get up
On those wobbly little legs and start walking?
Did he follow his mother?
Did he remember his way out?
Or did he just start walking because he knew he didn't want to stay there
If there had been people around to see it happen
On the other side of glass
They would have watched it happen, quietly saying, Yes! You can do it!
Not wanting to scare the fawn
Wanting to stay in the background
But wanting to make sure he made it safely away.
Willing the fawn to get up, to try, to be brave.
The first few steps tentative and doubtful
But gaining strength and confidence as he went.

There are people on the other side of the glass in your world.
They know you can do it.
They are there cheering you on
Even when you can't hear them.
They are eager to see you stand up and walk out into the world.
You are ready.
You can do it.
Stand up.