Major Blues

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“Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life” – Buddha

by Natalie

When I started college a year and half ago here at Concordia, I was dead set on being a Music Major.  I wanted to study music and theatre and be become a talented musical theatre star because of it.

Then I started taking Music Theory. And I hated it.

After clawing my way through the first semester, dragging myself to that class every Monday and Wednesday at 8 am, and coercing my classmates to help me with the homework, I decided that I was no longer interested in studying music.

I called my dad, crying, the night before I was supposed to register for spring semester and he granted me wisdom I have since shared with many of my friends and classmates:  your major doesn’t matter.  What you do with your life is not predestined by what it says on your Bachelor’s degree.  So take a few classes in fields that have nothing to do with your major and see if you love something more than you love what you’re already doing.

So I signed up for a political science class, changed my major, and started making plans to go to law school and run for office.

I chose Political Science (“Poli-Sci”) because I knew I could make a living as a lawyer or politician. I knew politics were something I was passionate about (if you’re interested in reading some of my thoughts on politics, feel free to hit up my personal blog).

I figured it was a path that made sense for me.  I loved to read.  I loved to argue.  I was passionate about social and legal change and I was intent on making that change happen.  I decided that I would go forward and become a lawyer for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and go on to run for office someday.

I would marry my significant other, a man who wants to go into theatre, and provide for my future family.

I convinced myself to go all in.  I spent afternoons looking up law schools I would want to go to and could get in to.  I got ahead of myself by about twenty years and, by doing so, I freaked myself out about being a Poli-Sci major.

I went to International Politics a total of 8 times that semester; I spent the other class periods in my bed, panicking about how hard that path was.  I didn’t love it.  I was scared of it. Terrified that I wouldn’t be successful at this and that my future would crumble because of it, I let it consume my life for three months.  My fear of potential failure and a lack of confidence in my abilities pushed me into a downwards spiral that took months to remedy.

I am here today to tell you, dear readers, that you should never let it get that bad.

Remember what I didn’t in my time of major turmoil and future planning: it matters less than you think.  Take the classes that you love.  Take the classes that seem fascinating and worthwhile – not just the ones you think are “necessary.”  Don’t be afraid to drop a class or ask for help; your academic advisor is there just for that.  Don’t be afraid of changing your major; you can change it as many or as few times as you like – you’ll still be successful if you’re willing to work hard.

Every school is different in how they handle the semantics and logistics of changing majors.  But every school will help you do it.  Some schools might be less helpful than others, but your education is yours and yours alone.  If you decide to change your direction, don’t let academic advisors or administrators tell you that you can’t.

It is your money and your time that you are investing in this education and you get to decide what you want to do with it.

This year, I am an English Writing and Theatre Arts double major and I love it.  I’m taking classes that I’m passionate about and not worrying about how much money I’m going to make or whether or not my grades are good enough for me to go to Stanford.

I am focusing on being happy and healthy and being successful here and now.

Studying Abroad – The Process

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By Ariana

I think studying abroad is something almost every college student, if asked or surveyed, would say they would be interested in. Actually partaking in studying abroad is something only about 10 percent of college students do, depending on where you search on the web.

It is important to be active in your plans to study abroad.

In my case I knew I wanted to do it, I figured out a time when I could go (with my academics, and how long I wanted to go for) and then did some research on where to go. It doesn’t have to be as extensive as you would think, as along as you’ve narrowed down some countries, and chosen a time frame (year, semester, summer or winter program) it becomes possible to sit down and compare the ins and outs of programs.

My college has a study abroad website with a list of all the programs offered, as well as some affiliated programs, which is where I found my programs. As far as choosing the time frame, I worked with my academic counselor to formulate a plan for going abroad and still graduating on time.

I had a tough time deciding between two programs – one in Greece and another in Spain. I have always wanted to go to Greece, but the Greek programs that I looked at were more expensive and offered less within the program. When I looked at Spain they offered so many more excursions and it had a better price tag!

So now I am here!

The next step after deciding where you want to go is going through the application process. I would recommend applying early.

Learn from my experience – I waited till the last minute to apply,  even though I was well aware of the deadline, I just had a little self-doubt. In the end it worked out, but it added stress to the process.

I think having doubts or fear is a normal part of the process, traveling to new country by yourself and then living there for three months or maybe even longer is a scary thought, but I knew I was going to do it, even if it was the last day I could apply.

Side Note: You can’t ever let fear take over your life and it’s important to be aware of it, and not let it stand in your way of opportunity, knowledge and growth. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to take your life somewhere else for a bit, take advantage of it!

The reason why I also think you should apply early is because getting a visa is not exactly easy and the process can be long.

I would advise you to try to be as proactive as you can with filling out all your paper work or anything that’s needed from your program, getting letters of recommendation, filing out financial forms, getting your passport (if you don’t have one already, or getting an old one renewed) and getting classes reviewed by your college to ensure the credits will transfer (if they aren’t already in the system).

But I promise, all this work will pay off, because the world is waiting for you!

Until next time!

-Ariana

The Transfer Student Transition

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by Cara

Sometimes, I feel like I’m a freshman again.

I pronounce the names of campus buildings wrong. I panic when random people ask me for directions to the library. I almost walked into the wrong classroom during the second week of class.

Last month, I started my sophomore year of college and my first semester at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

As you may remember, I attended the University of St. Thomas during my freshman year and decided to transfer because it wasn’t the right fit for me. I hoped to have more academic and social opportunities at the U of M, and so far I am pleased with my experience!

I didn’t have transfer orientation until the end of June. Compared to my freshman year orientation, this year’s orientation was shorter and more focused on class selection. I researched and printed out two schedule options before my orientation, so when I finally met with my academic advisor it was easy to explain what classes I wanted to take.

Since I’m done with the majority the U of M’s general education requirements, every class I’m taking this semester was selected because I wanted to take it. I’m taking the first journalism course required for admission to the major, two political science courses, microeconomics, and a 1-credit, online public health course.

I was able to set up my schedule so that I’m done with class everyday by the early afternoon, and I don’t have any classes on Fridays! Back when I was researching colleges, I always checked if the school offered the majors I was interested in, but I didn’t look in depth at their class offerings.

If you are a student looking at colleges, think about more than just your major!

Does the school offer alternative class arrangements such as online classes or classes held only once a week? I love being able to take two of my classes online. It allows me to work at my own pace and re-watch the course lectures, if I don’t understand the content the first time. Are all students required to take the same general education courses such as Biology 101, or do you get to choose which science course you take? I enjoy having many course options to fulfill the U of M’s requirements.

Freshmen at the U of M have a whole week of activities to welcome them to campus, but transfer students have a smaller offering of events. I went to a few of the events such as one at the student union where there were different free foods to eat and activities to do on each floor.

The main way I’ve made new friends is by meeting friends of my friends! I attended business camp at the U of M’s Carlson School of Management the summer before my senior year of high school, so I already knew students on campus. Since they have already been at the U of M for year, they are able to show me around campus and tell me about the different student groups. I love to go to events held by the many cultural student clubs on campus. We learn something new about another culture and get free food! My favorite event I’ve attend so far is Wam-O-Ram! It was held in the U of M’s Weisman Art Museum. There were free screen printed t-shirts, free pizza, a mini concert, and of course viewing of the numerous art pieces.

As a transfer student it can take a little extra work to make new friends and get involved on campus, but I am pleased with my decision to transfer. I can’t wait to see what other experiences I’ll have during my first semester at the U of M, and I am excited to share them with all of you!

College vs. High School Schedules

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by Guanani

Ah, sweet freedom!

The amount of unstructured time you get in college is by far the biggest adjustment from high school. Instead of having six or seven back-to-back classes with sports or other activities after school, college is a big mishmash of vastly different time slots, four-hour labs, student group meetings, and awkward breaks between classes.

In some ways, this is liberating. No one expects you home by a certain hour, and some days you might only have a class or two. However, it’s much harder to discipline yourself and know where and when to do things.

Here’s where the dreaded Time Management comes in. There are more strategies for how to plan your time than will ever fit in a blog post, but the most important strategy of all is to have some kind of strategy. Here are some of mine:

  1. Whenever possible, try to schedule classes back to back (with enough time to walk between them) in order to maximize long stretches of time instead of chopping up your day.
  2. If you do have some time between classes, use it to get homework out of the way. Always carry something you can work on in short periods, like readings or worksheets.
  3. My RA, Brandon, gave me this advice: Treat schoolwork like a 9-5 job. During the day, work on homework and academics until 5 in the evening. Then do fun things to wind down, instead of waiting until late at night to start working.
  4. Set aside specific times for different things, for example: chemistry problems from 4:00 to 5:30, then start working on the next sociology paper from 5:45-7:00.
  5. Create your own study groups. It’s always helpful to talk through material with others, and chances are you’ll remember things better if you’ve explained and repeated them to each other.
  6. Work on things that are important before things that aren’t urgent.
  7. Review as much as you can, even daily. College classes move quickly!

Of course, college isn’t just schoolwork.

There are loads of fun things to do, including opportunities to hear guest speakers, going to parties, spending time with friends, and exploring. I have a personal goal of getting off campus once a day, even if it’s just for a short run. This helps me remember that the world does not revolve around Reed, and that there’s much more out there than the next biology test and cafeteria food. Include fun things in your schedule: plan events for yourself or with friends, look up cool things to do or see in your college town, or volunteer in something you find rewarding.

In college, you are free to do whatever, whenever, which makes the biggest challenge figuring out what to do when. If you find yourself overwhelmed and confused, bogged down by piles of work at one in the morning, you’re not alone. Once you do get a handle on how to best do your work, remember that the appeal of spending any extra free time scrolling through blogs or just hanging around wears off quickly. Do a couple things you could never do back in high school. Go exploring. Join teams and groups to find new friends. The only way to get time is to make it.

Your time is yours; make what you spend it on something worth telling people about.

Registration Nation

A brief history of how worried I was about signing up for classes

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by Natalie

A long time ago, at the very beginning of this summer, a mere 6 days after graduating from Southwest, I drove up to Moorhead, Minnesota with the ‘rents to register for classes at Concordia College.  I had been emailed a course catalogue a few weeks earlier that I scoured for five minutes, got stressed out about, and put away; never to be looked at again.  I started panicking a little.  Never a good idea.

When I arrived on campus, I was worried that the registration people would be mad at me for not knowing exactly what classes I wanted to take.

I was worried that I wouldn’t get into classes that I needed to take in order to get the degree I’m now working towards.

I was worried about getting all of my generals and a whole bunch of major-specific courses done in my first semester.

I was worried about signing up for a math, a science, a humanities, a language and all of the things I needed for my major.

I was just generally worried.

However, when I went into the Registrar’s Office to get signed up, all of my worry was washed away by the man helping me register.

This man was a theatre professor and I had met him before when I auditioned for a theatre scholarship that winter.  He told me, as I sat down hastily next to him in front of a computer, that I didn’t have to worry about anything at all.  He logged onto my account and looked at what I was already signed up for: a required speech course that I had automatically been assigned.

He signed me up for Intro to Theatre; Materials of Music 1, the music theory course that is currently kicking my butt; Cantabile (the freshman women’s choir); voice and piano lessons; and a history course that I picked out called, “Ancient Gender and Sexuality,” a course that has proven to be more interesting that any of the courses pertaining to my major.  But I digress…

The registration process was effortless and easy and I had to do very little.  I got into a lot of the courses I needed to take this semester and I’m really pleased with how things have been going.  My schedule is hectic, but I love it.  Here’s a snapshot of my schedule:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • 8:30-9:40: Materials of Music 1
  • 9:50-11:40: Work (I have a job as a Theatre Assistant in the scene shop of the theatre.  I build sets.  Or at least, I try to build sets.)
  • 11:50-1:00: Intro to Theatre
  • 1:20-2:30: Intro to Oral Communication
  • 2:30-4:00: Netflix.  Homework and study time
  • 4:00-5:00: Cantabile
  • 5:00-7:00 Dinner and a little down time
  • 7:00-10:00 Les Miserables Rehearsal

Tuesday, Thursday

  • 9:00-11:45: Work
  • 12:00-1:00: Piano and Voice Lessons
  • 1:20-2:30: Ancient Gender and Sexuality
  • 2:30-7:00: Time for Netflix homework and doing laundry and other productive things
  • 7:00-10:00: Les Miserables Rehearsal

It’s chaotic and there’s not a lot of down time but that’s what keeps me from spending hours and hours of my time on Buzzfeed or watching Netflix.  Here’s a little unsolicited advice for when you register for classes:

Don’t worry about getting every class you’ll need to take to graduate into your schedule first semester.  Most colleges sign you up for one semester and then, in four months, you have all new classes and all new credits to earn.  Don’t worry about fitting a math credit, a science credit, a language, three major specific classes, and a required English all into one semester.  You’ll get all of them done in good time.

College is a huge chunk of your life and the staff and faculty are there to help you get into the classes you need to take within that chunk of time.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t feel bad about changing your schedule first semester, either.

I personally didn’t change mine at all but a friend of mine, Rachel, did.  She was a pre-med major for a week and now she’s an English major and changing her classes and her major was, to quote her, “the smoothest process and the best decision.”

The people who work at the colleges are there to help you make it through.  They don’t want to see you fail and neither should you.

Signing Up for College Classes

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by Ariana

If you are undeclared I would highly recommend choosing a variety of classes for your first year of college. I am currently undeclared and I was able to choose many different classes that spiked my interest.

I chose to do public speaking because it is a Liberal Education requirement (classes that everyone must take before graduating) and I am interested in becoming a good public speaker, I also am taking Education in Modern Society. It is a very interesting class and it has taught me a lot. General Psychology is also a class that I was looking forward to taking to see if I wanted to go into that field. It has made me realize that I do want to major in Psychology and I have discovered the many of the different aspects of the field.

Overall taking different classes has really given me more perspective on different areas I would like to either explore more about or never take again. The classes that you take will be beneficial in some way, it will most likely be filling your degree requirements, plus you will learn some interesting things along the way!

The time frame that you choose your classes should also be realistic. Figure out (or you should know by now) if you are a morning or night person, essentially when you think you can be the most alert and productive while in class. I am not a morning person but I had to sign up for an 8 am class because it was the last available time slot for that class.

This leads to another point I want to emphasize; register for fall classes EARLY.

This is so important if you want to have options for different time slots. If you can register at the beginning of the summer then I would suggest taking advantage of that opportunity.

The last thing I would like to suggest to you all is to ASK your advisor questions about classes. Advisors do this all the time, ask them what they have heard from other students and if they might have prior knowledge about a given teacher.

Checking ratemyprofessors.com is also a good resource while reviewing your schedule, to see if your professor is compatible with you. Students go on this website and write reviews about their experiences with the teacher and the class. They usually are very helpful with advice or suggestions on how to go about doing well in the class as well.

I hope you have fun with this process and consider my advice when your time comes to register for your college classes!

Until next time!

-Ariana