Friday, February 22, 2013

College Blog: Blogging as a steppingstone

Posted by on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 10:22 AM

I used to be skeptical about blogging. Having lived in Southeast Asia for most of my life, many people would blog to whine about their petty misfortunes or as a way to earn free endorsements from beauty companies. So it’s not surprising to treat blogging as a mindless entertainment. Think “Perez Hilton” and the first few things that come to our mind are celebrity gossips and bad writing.

Up until last fall, I had never invested enough time to maintain a blog. Some of my challenges came from the misconception that I had to satisfy the readers other than myself. Another problem is finding the time to write. Given the hectic schedule from studying and working in school for 40 hours a week, it’s even challenging to find some free time to myself.

While the idea of blogging started out as a digital medium to replace the traditional diaries and notebooks, its nature has changed over the years. What used to be the work of a single person has now developed into collaboration with many authors.

With journalism transitioning to the digital world, blogging has now become an important requirement for every professional journalist. The content is no longer restricted to mundane personal entries, but also professionally edited to cater the mainstream readers.

Michael Roppolo, a third year journalism student at RIT, shared his view on the importance of writing and maintaining a blog.

“Blogs are worth reading when they are interesting, factual and have a specific voice – a storytelling style that is unlike anything you've ever heard,” Roppolo said.

The 20-year-old also stressed the use of social media to engage more readers. “You can have the best, most interesting blog in the world, but without social media, your blog will not get readers,” Roppolo said.

For Tianna Manon, 19, a second year journalism student, blogging has been an essential tool in news reporting. “Because I'm learning photo and video, I use my blog posts to debut the work,” Mannon said. “I often flit from one thing to the next and having a blog has kept me grounded and working/developing one thing.”

If there’s one thing I learned about blogging so far, it gives me more input to my writing skills and at the same time, helps me build more credibility in developing my career. There is no doubt that the endless opportunity from making my presence known in the digital world will be tremendous.

There may be others out there who don’t believe in relying on technology, but I know that engaging myself with other writers and readers will give me new ideas and inspire me to write more consistently. The world, after all, is full of fascinating and intellectual people.

College Blog: The issues with online learning

Posted by on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 10:10 AM

This spring I am going to be taking my first online course. I was a little wary when I signed up because I have always enjoyed the traditional classroom setting. I like getting to know my classmates and being able to ask the professor questions in person if I am confused about something.

At RIT students have a wide variety of online classes to choose from, with the opportunity to complete their entire degree online if they wish. And even though popular concerns, like how to get help from a professor, are addressed by the institution some students are still hesitant to enroll in an online class.

The sentiment I received from a lot of RIT students was that they had never taken a class online because they were worried about the experience. Some thought that it would be a challenge to get work done since there often are no set class times. Others were worried that having to learn a lot of material on their own would make an online class more difficult.

Joanie McDonough, a second year journalism major, said that she can certainly see why students take online classes. For instance, there’s the viewpoint that it is less time consuming than traditional courses. But online learning isn’t a likely option for her. McDonough said she prefers smaller classes where she can develop relationships with her teachers and classmates. “I feel like it would be very impersonal and I don’t know if I would like that,” McDonough said.

Tom Mordovancey, a fifth year mechanical engineering technology major, echoed McDonough’s sentiment. During his time at RIT he has taken two online classes. He said that he often felt alone in the class because of the lack of interaction with other students. Mordovancey added, however, that online classes were convenient for him.

“I was already overloading my courses so I figured it might make my course load a little easier,” Mordovancey said.

After these experiences with online classes Mordovancey said that he would not be inclined to take more online classes. He found these classes to be harder than traditional classes for a few reasons, including the difficulty of contacting the professor and the amount of effort required to get clarification on topics he didn’t understand.

After hearing all of this I felt even more nervous that an online class would be really difficult for me compared to my previous classes. I looked online and found a few tips for succeeding in online classes. Some of these include creating an ideal study environment, being proactive and practicing strong time management skills.

So when spring quarter starts in a few weeks I am going to try out some of these tips and hope that they will help my first online learning experience be a success.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

College Blog: Major Changes

Posted by on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

What you intend to major in is an important factor when deciding on a college.

You wouldn't go to an art school to major in mechanical engineering. Nor would a tech school be your first choice for a degree in art and architecture of the early to mid-French Revolution.

That said, many students pick their major, go to their school of choice, and discover that they've made a terrible mistake and regret ever thinking they could base their life around that choice. And I was one of these students.

When I first came to RIT, I was majoring in physics. Bright-eyed and innocent, I was just coming off of high school algebra-based physics with a teacher who made science fun. I had no idea what was coming. That was when I looked at my first quarter classes, among which was “Introduction to Special Relativity,” a look at how physics gets all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey around the speed of light.

A little red light should have gone off in my head at that point, but I stuck it out. In fact, that sentence pretty much sums up my entire first year at RIT. I continuously forced myself to try to adapt, but I just never fit into physics the way I would have liked. So in the spring, I finally folded and switched into the journalism program. And I've never looked back.

When it comes down to it, it's not right to expect high school students to know exactly what they want to do with their lives, and that's why the possibility to switch majors exists. Now, this does have its drawbacks. If you switch too late in your academic career, you may need to spend more time at school to meet all the requirements of your new major, which translates into more loans and more crippling debt.

On top of that, your school might not offer a program you really want to switch into. If an engineering major decides they'd really rather pursue their longing to be a writer, their school might have a poor or non-existent liberal arts department. It might require transferring to another university entirely, which is its own flavor of headache. There are a number of perils, and not everyone can consider switching majors a back-up plan, nor should they. But it's nice to know that the option exists in some form or another for those who really need it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Finding college art in the big city

Posted by on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 3:26 PM

The Rochester Institute of Technology has a very large art population. The school features majors such as Photography, Graphic Design, Illustration, Glass work, Metal Crafting, Ceramics, Film and Animation, and even Furniture design, amongst many others. So how are student artists preparing to enter the “real-world?”

Many students are doing their best to get involved in the Rochester community. This means gallery showings. Students like myself yearn for support from local galleries, but also from the citizens of Rochester.

Local galleries, such as Gallery r, and Visual Studies Workshop, amongst many others, have greatly helped these students show and/or sell work, giving them their first career boost.

As I am rounding the end of my college career, I have found myself overwhelmed by how little exposure my photography has gotten in the community in which I’ve lived for four years. Disappointed in my feat, I began looking into local public showings. As a photographer, this is a large part of career building. I was able to find two photographic upcoming shows that are open to the public.

One show is for the seniors of the Fine Art Photography program at RIT. The show, titled F.L.O.A.T., is set to open on Thursday, March 14, from 5-8 p.m. in the SPAS Gallery at RIT. The gallery is located on the third floor of Gannett Hall (building 7a).

Kristin Asche, project manager of F.L.O.A.T., has been working diligently on the show’s preparations. She has prepared a website displaying the work of all the featured students, to be made public one week before the show’s opening reception. Asche said she’s excitedly awaiting public exposure for her own work and the work of her classmates.

The second show is the 10th annual Draft Magazine showing, also featuring the work of RIT’s students. This show accepts submissions from all RIT School of Photographic Arts and Sciences students. The show will take place at Community Darkroom Galleries on Monroe Avenue. The opening will take place on April 19 from 7-9 p.m. According to DRAFT 10’s website, their purpose is “is to break photography down to its simplest elements.”

Margaret Stockman, an RIT student and submissions judge of DRAFT 10, is eagerly sorting through hundreds of submissions to prepare the best show possible.

Rochester also features an event called First Fridays. This event often features the work of locals, students included. First Fridays take place every month at various locations.

Shows such as these have helped to shape many artistic careers, and the students of RIT are lucky to have such an art-appreciating and welcoming community of galleries and citizens.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Posted by on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 3:02 PM

In a busy day full of classes, the last thing on my mind is figuring out what to cook for dinner. Sometimes, the furthest thing from my mind is eating healthy when fending for myself. I try to shop for $20 or less by sticking to buying frozen veggies and generic brand products.

Jacob Deboer, a third year Motion Picture Science major at RIT, tends to eat at home whenever possible. Sometimes on campus, he decides to pick up a quick sandwich or soup but never anything besides that. Deboer explicitly warns against the temptation of vending machines.

“Never, ever use vending machines on campus,” Deboer said. “I fall short of this advice myself, but the truth is simple: For what you pay for a Snicker’s bar at the vending machine, you can get a whole box of granola bars at Wegmans. If you need to keep your energy up during the day, carry some granola bars from home in your backpack.”

Audrey Perkins, a fourth year Nutrition Management student, tends to keep her shopping bill at $50 or less by simply evaluating the worth of what she buys.

“I pay attention to individual item prices, and gauge whether I think the item is worth the value to me,” Perkins said. “It could be real cheap, or slightly expensive. It just depends how I value the product.”

Erin Supinka, a third year Journalism student, stresses the importance of portioning your food to your advantage. “Portion control is a huge part of it too,” Supinka said. “Milk, eggs and bread can last me two weeks if I eat the right portions. If I make a six-egg omelet every morning ‘just because’ I am basically eating my money inefficiently.”

To save more, Supinka recommends that people put thought into what they want to cook during the week. “Try to plan meals. If you can, figure out how you can make a meal last for more than one or two meals,” Supinka said. “This keeps me from spending money on campus when I'm hungry and in a time crunch and also keeps me away from grabbing quick, unhealthy snacks too.”

Perkins said healthy eating is necessary for reducing the everyday distress of life. “Being healthy is an all-around benefit. You feel better, you look better, and your mood is improved,” Perkins said. “It's a great thing to feel this way, especially when you tend to be more stressed out than the typical person.”

According to Deboer, eating healthy is also the best way to prevent becoming a zombie. “Some people will tell me ‘I don't have time to take care of myself.’ RIT is intense, and it wears you down. As I understand it, you don't have time not to take care of yourself.”

Readers, what ways do you budget and stay healthy? Let us know in the comments below.

The truth about Greek life

Not quite your parent's "Animal House"

Posted by on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 2:30 PM

The first fraternity in the United States to adopt Greek letters, Phi Beta Kappa, was started in 1776. A couple hundred years later, there are more than 150 different fraternities and sororities throughout the U.S. Some are socially-oriented, while others are service and career-oriented. At RIT there are 30 different Greek organizations, and those are just the nationally-recognized social fraternities and sororities. There are plenty more service and career fraternities on campus as well.

I knew that I wanted to be in a sorority long before I came to college. I always loved the idea of having this whole sisterhood that will always be there for you. And I thought it would be a great way to be involved in college. My freshman year of college, I rushed Zeta Tau Alpha. Eight weeks into my first fall quarter, I became an initiated sister.

My friends and family from home were very hesitant about my decision and tried not to reign on my parade of happiness. Again and again they kept telling me that I was “going to get hazed” or stereotypical things like that. Some of them still refuse to believe me when I told them I have never been hazed.

There has always been this stigma thrust upon anyone who joins a Greek organization.

Oh, he joined a fraternity? He must be a beer-guzzling, “Animal House,” hoodlum.

She rushed a sorority? She must be a trashy, party girl.

I’m not going to lie to you, there definitely are those people. They’re the reason why the stereotype Greek student exist. But those are absolutely not the only type of people that join Greek organizations, especially at RIT.

At a school that is known for its ‘grade A’ academics, Greek life has become more of an afterthought to students that come here. The vast majority of students here came to RIT for the academics first, and then realized later on that they wanted to go Greek.

Now, I could go on forever about how RIT’s Greek life breaks the norm of the stereotypical Greek life (in fact I wrote an entire 10-page paper on the matter). But I’m not going to. All I’m going to say is that people should take another look, a deeper look, at Greek life here before assuming the worst.

I may get a lot of crap for being a member of a Greek organization, but I know – and anyone else involved in Greek life knows – the truth. That college is what you make it out to be, from the classes you take, down to the groups you associate yourself with.

College Students and Caffeine

Tripping on the C

Posted by on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 2:23 PM

For me, a day without coffee is like a sky without the sun. Considering we don’t actually get a lot of sun in Rochester, maybe that’s a bad metaphor and something you’re used to. Scratch that.

If I don’t have coffee, I’m miserable. Not in the cliché, “Oh-my-gosh-where’s-my-iced-latte” kind of way but more like the I-literally-can’t–function-because-my-hands-are-shaking way.

I like it black. Sometimes I’ll have an affair with a soy latte or add a hint of cream, but all I really need is one key ingredient – caffeine.

For most college students an obsession with caffeine is pretty common.

Why? We work pretty damn hard and are often up into the wee hours of the morning. We are also newly independent, free to make our own schedules, and fond of “meeting new people.” How else are we supposed to stay awake, when sleep is clearly not an option? I mean c’mon!

Picture this: It’s Friday. I’m done with classes for the week. I just worked my butt off and I just turned 21. We can all do the math. In case you can’t, I’m hinting at the fact that I probably won’t be starting any homework until Sunday night.

“On Friday and Saturday nights, I’m usually out until 3 a.m.,” Chris Cahill, a senior at RIT said. “I work on the weekends, so there isn’t really any catching up on sleep or sleeping in,” Cahill said.

His quick fix for excessive tiredness?

“Red Bull … because it gives me wings,” Cahill said. “No, but really, it keeps me awake.”

According to Bruce Goldberger, a toxicologist at The University of Florida, caffeine can stay in the body anywhere from two and a half hours to 12 hours. He has found that the typical half-life of caffeine is around five hours, which means it is usually present in our bodies for at least 10 hours.

The problem? While in college, our bodies are already over stimulated. Adding caffeine to the mix not only messes with our body’s natural sleep cycle but also our metabolism. Goldberger says if you hope to be asleep by midnight, you shouldn’t consume caffeine past 2 p.m.

I know at 2 p.m., I’m most likely just coming down from the caffeine high I’ve had all morning. It is pretty much exactly the same time I’m going to Javas or Artesano’s on campus, to grab my second fix. While I’m usually able to fall asleep, there have been times I’ve laid awake until 3 a.m. You can only imagine what the next day is like.

Others have had a similar experience.

“I had two jobs, was studying engineering, and basically just wasn’t sleeping,” Michelle Lafica, a recent graduate of The University at Buffalo from Fairport, who also became a coffee addict while in school, said.

However, coffee wasn’t the only thing keeping her from sleep.

“Even when I didn’t have things to do, I couldn’t sleep because I was so stressed out,” Lafica said.

So what can be done to ease stress and increase sleep for college students?

Good question.

At this point, I don’t see myself giving up caffeine anytime soon. My co-workers and I have even begun to beg our boss to buy a Keurig for our office. If all goes my way, I’ll soon be drinking more coffee than ever. Who needs sleep when you have books to read, definitions to memorize, and papers to write? They always say you can sleep when you’re dead.

But hopefully there’s an endless supply of coffee in the “real world.”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

College Blog: A stranger in my own hometown

Posted by on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

“So where is your hometown?”

This is the most common question people ask me. While it sounds like a simple question for most people, my response can be lengthy. Even though I was born in Indonesia, I’ve always seen Singapore as my home. The 16 years spent growing up in the red dot island (aside from travelling to 15 other countries and more than 50 cities) somehow turned me into a third culture kid. This is probably why I’m always quick in adapting to the local culture.

Just two weeks ago, I went to Mary’s Place Outreach to work on a photo essay for class. During my time there I met student volunteers from the Malaysian Student Association at RIT. It began as a simple interview with two students, inquiring about their involvement in volunteer work. When I started speaking in Malay, it turned into a friendly networking session with the rest of the Malaysian students.

One of the interesting things I found from our conversation was how we overcome misunderstandings from our faraway hometown.

“There’s a common perception that Asian students who study abroad will abandon their heritage just because we live in a liberal country,” Sofiah Nor Wirah, 22, a third year molecular bioscience and biotechnology student at RIT, said.

Having been thrust into various cultures, the ensuing years brought a roller coaster of emotions and events. While I’ve lost touch with the festivities back at home, the past two years of living in the United States encouraged me to embrace new cultures from various communities. And the new opportunities and new friendships that I gained over the last 18 months have taught me to be more open-minded and compassionate. For instance, people here still make an effort to give back to their community despite the economic downturn. This is something that’s rarely seen back at home, and it serves as an important reminder that life is more than having a successful career and marriage.

Maizatul Mahmud, 23, a fourth year molecular bioscience and biotechnology major, highlighted the amorphous nature of education.

“People need to understand that education is not just confined within the classrooms, but [it] also teaches you to be more independent,” Mahmud said. “Meeting new people also opened up my mind that life over here isn’t as simple as it seems.”

I can relate to Nor Wirah and Mahmud’s accounts because I’ve lost quite a number of friends back at home over this issue. But do I feel any regrets? Nope. I know that I still have a long way to go in life and I’m nowhere ready to give up on exploring the world outside my own home, or comfort zone.

College Blog: Learning to use social media

Posted by on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Each Sunday morning, almost without fail, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with updates about my friends’ weekends. As I view pictures of them holding their red Solo Cups, I can’t help but wonder if they had given any thought as to who might see this photo before they uploaded it.

When I was a student at a community college we never spoke about social media in my classes, yet during my first class at RIT I learned that we would be graded on how we used Twitter throughout the quarter. Since then, I have taken several classes where the importance of creating a professional online presence has been drilled into my head.

Admittedly, I was skeptical when I first learned I would be graded on my tweets. I felt like I had to censor my posts to present the best version of myself online. I didn’t feel like I could use Twitter to connect with my friends or to talk about my opinions on the newest reality show anymore.

But I’m not alone. Nikole DeBell, a third year journalism student at RIT, said her social media habits have certainly changed since having to tweet for class. Before she was graded on her tweets she would post more light-hearted content, like a funny meme or pictures from Pinterest. And while she sometimes has a hard time coming up with something to tweet for class, she realizes that what she posts on social media sites can impact how people perceive her.

“I need to present myself in a more professional manner through social media,” DeBell said.

Not all RIT students have to take classs where they are graded on their tweets, but the topic still comes up in other classes. Hayley Strauss, a third year advertising and public relations major, took a class where the professor spoke about being cautious on social media sites.

“I am now more aware of what I post on social media,” Strauss said. “I try to limit complaining, bashing, profanity and stupidity.”

There is no doubt that the way you present yourself online could play a role in your job hunt or the connections you are able to make with people in your industry. There are many tips on how to use social media to help you get a job, including maintaining both a personal and a professional account.

DeBell is already a step ahead as she currently maintains both a personal and professional account. I haven’t taken this step yet, but I am learning how to balance the personal content I post with the professional content. Part of this means that I text my friends instead of replying to all of their tweets, and that I refrain from posting about how my roommates are driving me nuts. Refraining from those posts seems like a small price to pay if it could help me get a better job in the future. But, my opinions on the latest reality shows can still be found on my Twitter feed; it just may require scrolling past a few professional posts to find them.

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