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Feel Good Summer Song List

15 May

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Turn up your speakers and get ready for a Feel Good Playlist from one of your ASA Peer Mentors. I have provided different genres for your music pleasure! Hopefully, you know and enjoy some of these songs, but also get to hear some new ones! Comment other fun songs for Summer 2017!

1. Closer (Cover) by Boyce Avenue ft. Sarah Hyland
I’m pretty sure that no one knew the Modern Family star had such a great voice! Her unknown talent has been revealed with Boyce Avenue with a cover of the Chainsmokers song, Closer. I love this acoustic version!

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2. Green Light by Lorde
Lorde is finally coming out with a new album titled Melodrama and I don’t know about you, but I am super excited. Her voice is very unique and this album is supposed to be brighter than we have ever seen her!

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3. Cold Cold Cold by Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant has many amazing hits, especially Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked. Cage the Elephant takes on a new sound in their new album titled Tell Me I’m Pretty. Their softer style will definitely make you feel good!

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4. Believer by Imagine Dragons
This is absolutely my favorite song right now! This song is so powerful, it pumps you up and you feel like you can take on the world! If you have not heard of this song, you need to listen to it ASAP!

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5. Highway by Bleeker
This is a perfect road trip song! Not only does it relate to the streets you take, but it hypes you up and makes you want to dance! Every time I hear it in my car, I can’t help, but singing and grooving a bit!
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6. Wanting you by Street Urchinz
This lovely song was suggested by Shannon and it has a reggae feel to it. It’s almost like a Bob Marley meets Red Hot Chili Peppers. I just got introduced to this band and I want to listen to them more after hearing this!

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7. Malibu by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus has once again changed her sound dramatically. I have to be honest, lately I haven’t been a huge fan of Miley’s but this song has made me think twice. This JUST came out and I have listened to it a ton of times! To see her happy and hear her bright lyrics, it’s hard not to smile.

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8. Sweet Disaster by Dreamers
This is one of my all time favorite songs right now. It is calming, relaxing, and the vocals of this group is fantastic. They are not that popular at the moment, but hopefully in the next few years they will become more well known for their AMAZING songs!

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9. Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
You definitely can not make a feel good playlist without putting this song on it. Every time I hear this song it is like I am riding a bike in a park or drinking the perfect cup of coffee and watching the sun rise. I know this song isn’t the newest, but it sure is a jam.

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10. Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
It is no doubt that this is one of the most popular songs right now and I am not surprised; Ed Sheeran’s voice is simply perfect! Enough said.

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11. Can’t Stop The Feeling! by Justin Timberlake
Of course, our playlist had to include the one and only JT! Since he was in NSYNC, this man has always caught the attention of music lovers and continues to come out with hits all of the time. There is no way that anyone can sit still when this song comes on.

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12. Stay by Zedd and Alessia Cara
This is one of the best duos. With Zedd’s incredible music and Alessia’s sweet, but powerful voice it’s hard not to like this song. It is one of those amazing summer songs that is played every time you’re with your friends!

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13. Blame by Bastille
I have been listening to Bastille since I was in high school and they never disappoint! Dan’s velvety, deep voice always pairs great with the intense emotions and melodies in all of their songs. Blame is just the same!

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14. Human by Rag’n’Bone Man
This song came out not too long ago and Rag’n’Bone Man is a powerhouse. He has such an intense voice that can captivate you in the first lyric. I hope he comes out with more amazing hits like this soon!!

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15. Something Just Like This by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay
I will leave you with another amazing collaboration! Come on, Chainsmokers and Coldplay?? Pretty amazing, if you ask me! This lovely song is perfect for one of your well deserved relaxing days on your summer off!
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I hope I have left you with some new music to listen to this summer that you can make memories with! For me, music is everything and I would not know what to do without it. Like I stated earlier, if you have any music suggestions for me on my summer adventures, I would love to hear any! Comment below if you do! 🙂

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Have a GREAT start to your summer!
-Courtney

 

#AdventurousApril: Pink Hair, Don’t Care

20 Apr
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Before

Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to dye my hair. Unfortunately, I never did it because my mom would always give me reasons of why I shouldn’t. She never wanted me to damage my long brown hair. At the beginning of this year, I took a very large step and got a blonde balayage in August. I loved this look at first but after having it for awhile, I knew I needed a change.

Recently, I have been looking online and have fallen in love with hair that has dramatic rainbow colors in it. I think it is super bold to do and up until now, I was always weary of changing my hair dramatically. My favorite color is purple and after a long time thinking about this change, I finally decided to do it.

When I scheduled my appointment, I was nervous and I had to wait a few days until they could get me in. During these few days, I kept going back and forth between what I actually wanted to dye my hair. I was debating between cutting it and going to a lighter blonde, adding purple, or going to a darker brown. After changing my mind for the 10th time, I decided to just go for it and add purple to it. I figured that this is the time of my life that I could change my hair dramatically before I have to worry about looking professional all of the time.

The day of my appointment, I was excited but nervous as well. I was nervous that I would not like it and regret changing my hair completely. My stylist’s name is Stephanie and when I told her what I wanted to do with my hair, she was super excited. She has worked with vibrant colors before and she assured me that it would turn out great, especially with a balayage. Unfortunately, it did not turn out exactly what I envisioned because my stylist did not have the purple that they usually use. Instead, she mixed colors together to try to get the purple what I was looking for. My hair turned out to be a pink/raspberry color, but I was not upset about it.

I love the color that it turned out to be and Stephanie made sure that I could go back in and get the purple that I originally wanted in my hair. She said that she could redo the entire thing, but I am just going to add some purple in and leave some of the wonderful raspberry color. I am so excited that I followed through with my plans of getting it dyed dramatically because I think it fits my personality perfectly.

I would suggest if you want to try to change your hair by cutting it, dying it a random color then to do it! There shouldn’t be anything holding your back because college is about finding yourself. It’s about expression and this is the best time to take risks and chances!

Best,
Courtney

Spring Break Creative Challenge!

10 Mar

I find that one of the best way to relax from anything is to do something creative to take your mind off of stress. Whether the stress is from school, family, or friends, it’s nice to take your mind off of things in a creative way especially though Spring Break. I have been trying to do my own creative challenge since the start of the year and am trying to continue it until the end. I have gotten inspiration from challenges that I have seen online as well as incorporated different medias than sticking to just one. I have listed a few that I have done and am currently still doing. I have also provided pictures of what I have created! Hopefully, as you read this, you will get inspired from the activities that I have done and will create your own to destress from your life!

1. Make a fort out of anything you have in your house
I did this with my boyfriend over the break. We got out a bunch of pillows and blanket and suspended them to make a little enclosure to camp out in!

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2. Make a portrait only using black and white paint
This was based on a photograph of Ellie Goulding and was one of the first portraits I tried to do.

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3. Make something out of play-doh
This was when I was babysitting over the break. The little girl I was watching and I made a bunch of little animals out of play-doh and played with them.

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4. Find something creative in an everyday object
I found a smiley face in my Oreo!! 🙂

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5. Use oil pastels to create a flower scene
This took a little bit of time to make but I just picked a few different flowers that were a lot different from one another and played with blending colors together.

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6. Make a painting that is not completely flat.
I stained the paper with tea, let it dry, and then laid joint compound on the paper. I made up a texture on the cups on the right with a pallet knife, let it dry again, and then painted with acrylic paint.

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7. Make a theme song for something or someone.
When I did this one, it was for my pet turtle. Imagine if they had a show about them, give them superpowers, whatever you can think of, and make lyrics about them (in mine, my pet turtle was an investigator). Then, make up a tune or sing in the tune of a song that is already out there and try to put them together. Sometimes it takes a few times to make it work, but in the process, I promise you will have some fun and it will make you laugh!

Some of these activities as you can see, range between the effort and time spent on each depending on what I had going on for the day or the week. Make a challenge that fits into your lifestyle; don’t try to make something every day if you are not able to actually do it. Good luck with your challenge if you decide to make one, it’s a lot of fun!

Best,
Courtney

#FearlessFebruary: Battling Bugs and Technology

27 Feb

This February, I took on a challenge that I never thought that I would ever have to do: Battle DISGUSTING cockroaches! Along with this, I also decided that I wanted to cut back on using technology because I use it way too often. Of courgiphy-1.gifse, it happened to be the same day that I promised myself that I would not use my phone nor computer that I was outside for 5 hours, bombing the house for cockroaches. Don’t get me wrong, I am not nomophobic or nervous when I do not have technology around me. I just like to use them for music and online shopping, which I do all of the time.

They day before my boyfriend and I were going to raid the house, we had to prep! I went on my computer (don’t worry I did not cheat, it was starting the next day) and because I am always nervous about using harsh giphy-3.gifchemicals around our cats and little turtle, I had to make sure we did everything to prevent them from being harmed. I went on the Raid website and it had a little quiz that found out what kind of bugs you wanted to get rid of, where they were located, how many you have seen and then showed a system that would get rid of the gross bugs. We made a trip to the store and bought what we needed and the nextgiphy-6.gif day, was the day: no phone/computer and bug killing. We were determined to get rid of the cockroaches that took over our kitchen!

The day of was a little difficult I must say. The moment I woke up, I wanted to reach over to my phone to make sure that no one texted/called me. I had to remind myself that I promised to stop checking my phone as often as I do. I decided the best thing to do was make Casey, my boyfriend, hold onto my phone the whole day so I would not be tempted to use it. Also, just in case my father called he could talk to my dad for me. We prepped the house and the giphy-5.gifanimals to be outside for the majority of the day by getting some blankets and putting them out in the backyard along with their food dishes and essentials. For our amusement, I brought out some playing cards and some toys that the cats could play with.

Casey went inside the house to set off the foggers and then ran out to the backyard, holding his breath. We set off 4 and then started to relax for the long haul. I kid you not, after 5 minutes, the cats wanted to go back inside! We started laughing and told the cats that if they are wanting to go in now, they have a long time ahead of them! They were very antsy, and then they started to get the hint that we were going to be outside for a long time, and started to settle in. Mr. Turtle, on the other hand, was in paradise! He was climbing on rocks, wedging his way through plants, and exploring boxes and tarps. He loves every time he is outside and he gets the biggest smile on his face! giphy-4.gif

At about the halfway point, we realized that we did not bring any snacks or any food outside. You would think that we would have thought about that before we set off the foggers but no, we were too busy taking care of the cats and Mr. Turtle. Casey decided to order pizza to our backyard over the phone and it was delivered super fast! Once the cats smelled our food, they went crazy! They were begging to go inside so I fed them some wet food and they were content for the rest of the time we were out there.

Once all 5 hours passed and we aired out the apartment, we were all, including Mr. Turtle, happy to be inside. We were also glad to see that there were no cockroaches that were hanging around still! I must admit, it was difficult being outside for a long period of time with no technology but we were prepared with playing cards. We actually spent a majority of the time playing war and talking with each other. It made time go by fast and for the rest of the day, I was not tempted to look at my phone or go online. I think that as long as I keep myself busy, it will be easier to limit the time that I spendgiphy-2.gif looking at a screen. You should try it too! You will realize you can accomplish much more and will have more fun if you do not constantly rely on your phone or computer for entertainment!

Best,
Courtney

 

7 Changes for Spring

31 Dec

Every student goes through trial-and-error phases at the beginning of their college education. I have tried a lot of new ideas this fall and the successes they brought have shown me some areas where I’ve been doing things the hard way. Here are a few of the changes I’m bringing to my Spring semester to make my life easier. Try them out to save yourself the trouble and avoid unnecessary struggle!

1. Wait to see if I need the book for a class before buying it
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In previous semesters, I have always felt pressured to buy all of the required textbooks for my courses. I end up spending hundreds of dollars for all of my classes together and some, I hardly use and end up returning them. I have decided to wait until the professor clarifies if we need a book or if I could buy a different edition of the book. This way, I won’t spend unnecessary money if I am able to buy the cheaper version or if I do not have to buy the book at all.

2. Do not pull all-nighters
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There was a few time this semester that I lacked on sleep. It was mostly caused by procrastinating and it ended up with me getting a lower grade on the assignment. I have realized from this semester that I need to start my assignments earlier or work on them a little each day in order to prevent pulling an all nighter. This semester I am going to set a deadlines. If my assignment is due at 11:59pm, I am going to have it done before 8pm (at the absolute latest) to make sure that I get an ample amount of sleep.

3. Talk to my advisor moreadvisor

As it becomes closer to my graduation, I have realized that my advisor is the best person to talk to if I have questions. This semester, she has really helped me get into classes that I have need in order to graduate. She also informed me about internships and independent studies. I want to continue to have this close relationship with her because she has told me about classes and options that I didn’t know before as well as help me stay on track with graduation.

4. Go to office hours
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Since I have been at the university, everyone has told me to visit my professor during office hours. Honestly, I had never visited them until this semester. This semester I made an appointment because I was worried about a grade and I was really glad I did. My instructor let me know that one bad grade is not the end of the world and I would still finish the semester with a good grade. After the way that this went, I realized that it was not as scary or as intimidating that I made myself believe it would be. She really cared about my performance in her class and she had great feedback of how I can improve. Next semester, I plan to utilize office hours of my professors to get to know them and to ask questions if I am struggling on a project or in the class.

5. Make my lunch the night before I go to classlunch

When hunger strikes between classes you have no choice but to stop and feed your brain. But what you feed your brain makes a big difference! Instead of grabbing a greasy burger or tasty wrap that will add up to more than my food budget, I’ve learned that packing my lunch is worth its weight in financial aid. Taking a few minutes to pack it before bed lets me grab and go in the morning.

6. Use checklists more often
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In the past I’ve tried keeping mental notes on homework and assignments each day with plans of getting things done as soon as I get home. I think we all know how that works out. Even if you do remember that day, Netflix and a nap on the couch come calling and all the details fade into a cloud of “I’ll do it later.” Instead of letting my memory turn into a hot mess this semester, I began to use checklists in my planner to organize ideas. Not only does it keep things in order, but it’s satisfying to cross things off as you accomplish them.

7. Utilize Writing Workshops
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I am not the strongest writer. I have improved over the years, but the time it takes me to write a paper is ridiculous. It’s hard for me to organize my thoughts and get a good solid idea that goes along with the prompt. By using the Writing Skills Improvement Program workshops, I was able to improve my writing skills free of charge.

Overall, changing a few things here and there make a big difference in the amount of time, money and effort it takes to meet your goals each semester. Try out a few of these tips and tricks to simplify your academic life so you can focus on the things that matter.

Good Luck in Spring Semester!
Courtney

#DreadedDecember: My First Exhibition

20 Dec

As long as I have been producing art, I have always done it for myself. I usually refrain from showing my work off because I like to simply enjoy it for myself and I am critical of it. Earlier this semester in my sculpture class, my instructor informed us that our final project includes our entire class putting on a show. When I heard this, I instantly got terrified. I have never had my work put on display before and I wasn’t excited when I heard that it was a mandatory event.

IMG_5054.jpgOur final project was based on any issue that we felt passionate about and to create a project around it. I am very interested in sustainability and the environment, so I decided to take the horrible act of poaching my favorite animal elephants and put in into a project. My goal was to remind the viewers about this issue and hopefully encourage them to look deeper into the issue. I decided to sculpt two four-foot tusks out of basswood and place them on a gun rack that I made out of plywood. On the tusks, I decided to place bludgeoned watermelons on the top of each tusk. All of these components relate to the horrific and brutal ways that poachers kill elephants and take their tusks.

As time was starting to approach the December 3rd deadline, pressure slowly came along with it. I wanted to make sure my project was absolutely perfect, so I would work through the entire class period and would go in after class to make sure that I was on track and prepared to show my tusks. After a long, stressful month of working on this project, the show was coming up and I was completely stressed out. I was worried that no one would understand or like the piece that I had been working on for months. It also didn’t help that everyone in my class has amazing sculpted pieces that I kept comparing my work to.

It was the night of the show and I was on my way to the gallery for set-up. On the ride over, I had butterflies in my stomach and as I was setting up my gun rack on the wall, my hands were shaking. I stepped back after my set up complete to look at my work and all of my shakes and fear went away. Having my piece finally finished after a ton of hours sculpting sanding, all of the blisters, and hand massages, I felt good and proud about it. It also helped that my colleagues were amazed by how the piece turned out and the fleshy, gross aspect of the watermelons.

At the beginning of the show, my boyfriend Casey showed up and was in awe of the work and effort that I put into my work. Soon after that, my entire family showed up and also showed the same pride I did towards my work. Throughout the night I had people come up to me and ask about my work. To my surprise, they were so interested in my process and everything I had to say. I even got the compliment of, “stay in sculpture, that’s where you belong.” This was a chaotic moment for me because I like to be in the background. I never knew that my work would be praised and loved by anyone other than my family and friends. It was an amazing night that I will remember because I put myself and my work on display for the first time. It made me realize that I am in the right place and maybe one day I’ll put on one of my own shows.

-Courtney

#OutrageousOctober: Homemade Pizza!

1 Nov

Everything these days is super accessible and is always prepared, especially pizza. There are COUNTLESS options in the frozen food section at the grocery stores, great restaurants specifically for pizza, and my personal favorite, delivery. All of these options for pizza make it easier for the customer if they want to get something quick, but it takes the fun out of it. I decided this month that I would try to make pizza from scratch with my boyfriend, Casey and his little brother, Riley.

Casey’s first job was at Little Caesar’s Pizza. Since I have been with him, I have always heard about the unique creations of pizza that he would make and bring home to share with his family. Some of his personal pizzas include: a breakfast pizza, a nacho cheese pizza, as well as leftover pizzas where he would bring in leftovers from home and make a concoction based on what he brings in. He would always mention that he could still make the dough from scratch and that he could make homemade pizza whenever we wanted to. I never took him up on it until last weekend when we watched Riley.

I was so excited that he agreed to make homemade pizza and to actually teach me how to do so. I have only made brownies from scratch one time and with this under my belt, I thought that making dough would be just as easy. Obviously, I was wrong! It was definitely not as easy because we had IMG_5003.jpgto wedge the dough with our hands and we had to get the right consistency. With brownies, I followed a recipe, not just go for it as Casey did with this dough.

The dough we made, took a long time to mix. It started out as a mess of yeast, flour and oil that just got everywhere. There was flour everywhere and the dough kept sticking to our hands, making it impossible to get it together. We had to keep rotating between adding more oil and flour to try to get the dough to come together. When it was easier to handle, Casey let his brother, Riley, and I try to mix it ourselves. With our combined effort, we got it to a great consistency and then let it sit for about an hour in the freezer so it could rise.

Before we decided to make pizza, I didn’t realize why we had to let the dough rise before rolling it out. I learned that it keeps the shape of the IMG_5005.jpgpizza and it prevents it from shrinking back into the little dough ball! We WAY over estimated how much dough our amount of yeast would make. Instead of making enough dough for 3 medium sized pizzas, we ended up making the dough of 4 large pizzas! Casey and I decided to let all of us pick our own set of toppings to put on our own pizzas and then make a standard pepperoni pizza.

Casey and Riley were both very creative with their pizzas, while I stayed more on the safe side. Casey encouraged us to use a sauce other than the standard marinara. Riley decided to use a BBQ sauce and Casey and I used a ranch and marinara sauce as a base. We all put different toppings including jalapeños, pineapple, steak, and tomato. Riley decided to use mostly chilies and spicy things on his BBQ pizza, Casey went the more veggie route with olives, jalapeños, and mushroom, and I stuck with pepperonis, steak, tomato, and pineapple. Deciding our own toppings made it a lot of fun and it was interesting to see how everyone went about making their own pizzas. After we added the toppings, we were all starting to get hungry and could not wait for them to get done cooking!

IMG_5006.jpgThe longest, and most boring part was letting them sit in the oven and wait until they were completely cooked through. Because we were putting two pizzas in the oven at the same time, it took awhile for each of them to cook. Once the first two came out of the oven, we were antsy to get the others to cook so we could all sit down and enjoy eating them together! After a few hours for cook time, they were all ready to eat. We all sat down together and tasted each other’s pizza. Obviously all of our favorites were the ones that we constructed but all in all, the pizzas turned out to be amazing and way better than storeIMG_5007.jpg bought or delivered. Casey and I decided from here on out, we would try to make our own pizzas more often!

If you have not, try to make something you would normally go out and buy and try to make it at home. You can do so much more by playing with different ingredients and adding things that you usually couldn’t
if you buy it already made. It is always a cheaper, healthier option, as well as you can be proud of what you have made!!

Best,
Courtney

 

ASA Peer Mentor Workshops and Discussion Groups

14 Oct

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We invite you to come and experience one of our workshops or discussion groups! Both of these activities are a great way for you to get more comfortable on campus, meet new people, and get advice from current UA students who have been in your shoes before. All of the workshops and discussions groups are voluntary and you are able to select which weeks will help you benefit more in your journey through college. We want to make sure before you decide to attend, you understand which structure and topics you will enjoy most. Below is a quick overview of what to expect at each as well as what topics will be covered when you attend!

What to Expect at a Workshop:

Workshops are facilitated by an ASA Peer Mentor and are structured with a series of helpful worksheets and an agenda that pertains to the selected topic.

Workshop Topics:

  • Week 2-Support: With large classes, new experiences, and an ample amount of stress, we understand you can’t do it alone. This workshop is all about identifying the people and resources that are available you need support.
    • Monday, October 17 at 2pm
    • Wednesday, October 19 at 10am
    • Thursday, October 20 at 1pm
  • Week 3-Public Speaking and Presentations: The presentations that you have done in high school don’t compare to the ones you have in college. There is a bigger audience and some final projects require a presentation, which adds more stress to a challenging situation. This workshop is geared towards getting you more comfortable with presenting and public speaking.
    • Monday, October 31 at 2pm
    • Wednesday, November 2 at 10am
    • Thursday, November 3 at 1pm
  • Week 4-Finances and Money Management: Budgeting for an entire semester or school year is often one of the most difficult challenges students face. This workshop is designed to help you navigate tough financial and money management issues that can weigh you down throughout the year.
    • Monday, November 14 at 2pm
    • Wednesday, November 16 at 10am
    • Thursday, November 17 at 1pm
  • Week 5-Involvement: Getting connected or involved in campus life can look very different for each individual student. Some of you may have been super involved in high school and others not so much. This workshop will help you determine your course of involvement while here at the U of A.
    • Monday, November 28 at 2pm
    • Wednesday, November 30 at 10am
    • Thursday, December 1 at 1pm

What to Expect at a Discussion Group:

Discussion groups are facilitated by an ASA Peer Mentor but open to group conversation that will be driven by your peers in the room. This is a great opportunity to meet other students and talk about your experiences.

Discussion Topics:

  • Week 2-Social Media: There are a number of social media options out there so everyone can find a community and method that fits them best – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, the list goes on. In fact, most of us have multiple social media accounts. This discussion group is about improving awareness of the stories that our digital selves tell the world and how to cultivate an online identity.
    • Monday, October 17 at 1pm
    • Tuesday, October 18 at 10am
    • Wednesday, October 19 at 11am
  • Week 3-Communication: Many students feel unprepared to communicate effectively or may not know the right way to approach a certain situation. This discussion group is meant to get you thinking about the ways you communicate so you can feel confident moving forward in your college and professional careers.
    • Monday, October 31 at 1pm
    • Tuesday, November 1 at 10am
    • Wednesday, November 2 at 11am
  • Week 4-Networking & Mentorships: Finding a mentor, whether it be a professor, faculty member, staff member, or another student, is crucial to getting connected to campus resources that will help you achieve your long-term goals. This discussion group will discuss the different challenges and successes of finding and working with mentors on campus.
    • Monday, November 14 at 1pm
    • Tuesday, November 15 at 10am
    • Wednesday, November 16 at 11am
  • Week 5-Identity: College can easily become overwhelming – it’s four long years and a whole lot of pressure for many students. Successful students are able to stay motivated as pressure and stress set in. During this discussion group, you will engage in dialogue to assess your values (both educational and personal) and share experiences in maintaining motivation throughout the semester and beyond.
    • Monday, November 28 at 1pm
    • Tuesday, November 15 at 10am
    • Wednesday, November 16 at 11am

 

#StudiousSeptember: A Guide for the Dreaded Online Class

27 Sep

Everyone has a stigma that online courses are very difficult and people are warned to stay away from them, especially when you are a freshman. This idea makes sense because when you have an online course, there is limited contact with the instructor. This means that there are fewer reminders of when tests and quizzes are approaching as well as not having face-to-face contact to ask questions. It is inconvenient to meet your instructors in person. I have been in an online class every semester since I have been in college and I have learned a few things since I have been in them. Here is simple, helpful a list of things that you should prepare for and know if you are currently in an online course or thinking about taking one while you are in college!

1. Read your syllabus
Unlike standard courses offered at the U of A, there is usually no designated and beloved syllabus day in an online course. A good rule of thumb when you decide to take one, check to see if the D2L course page is up and if the syllabus is uploaded. Before the start date of the course, make sure you read it because there can be times that something will be due the first week you start. It is a good idea to write all of the dates down in a physical or an online planner/calendar so you can refer back to when tests and assignments are due. You can also plan out a specific timeframe during the week that you dedicate time to your online course. Even though you do not meet in person, you still need to dedicate around the same time you would to a class that you meet in person for.

2. Know how to use D2L and check it regularly
D2L is your classroom. Make sure that before you decide to take an online course, you are familiar with D2L. Don’t be embarrassed if you have to look at the D2L tutorials because you need to be an expert on navigating D2L. UITS has a fantastic tutorial for D2L that is easy to understand and I have linked it here. You should know how to add/reply/delete a discussion post, upload a big and small file, as well as know how to take a quiz. This may seem simple enough, but if for some reason you are short on time, you need to know how to do these tasks quickly.

Another thing that you need to know about D2L is that the syllabus is always subject to change. The professor may change a deadline and rather updating the syllabus, they may post it in the news section or content section. Know where to locate these objects when you review D2L and check it daily. When I have been in online courses, I make a habit to check it once or twice every day so I know what is going on and if anything has changed.

3. Do NOT procrastinate
It is very easy to forget about your online classes especially if you have many in-person classes. Unlike classes that meet in person, you usually do not have lectures and you have to rely on a lot of readings. Don’t wait to buy the book or to start reading your online coursework because you will fall behind. If the class is exam-based or essay-based, all of the material you will need to know is in those readings. If you wait until the last minute to read, you will scramble to get your essay done with little insight and it could result in a bad grade. If you fall behind in an online class, it is very hard to get caught up because the material is very dense and you have to rely on yourself to get it done on time.

Another thing that you should keep in mind when taking online classes is that technology is not always reliable. There are always random, unannounced updates on D2L that make it so you are not able to access your course. With this in mind, it is always good to give yourself at least 5 hours ahead of when a discussion post, a quiz/exam, or a dropbox closes just in case something goes wrong with D2L or your internet access. This also gives you more opportunity to email your professor with questions. The more time you give yourself to turn in an assignment, the longer you have time to fix a problem if (and, as is the case with technology, when) it arises.

 4. Screenshot! Screenshot! Screenshot!

If you run into any problems, especially in a quiz or exam, take screenshots of what is happening on your screen. These screenshots are not only great to send as you look for support, but also you can send them to your instructor. In the past, in one of my classes, all of the exams were online. My instructor always told us if D2L acts weird to send in screenshots and depending on the issue, she would be able to reopen your exam to fix it. This gave her validation that something did actually go wrong because we had physical proof rather than just sending an email explaining what happened.

5. Be proactive
In an online course, you do not have the luxury to get the number of the person who is sitting next to you just in case you miss a class or if you have questions on your assignments. You also are not able to get questions answered from your instructors immediately. You have to be proactive. Reach out to your professors by sending an email or possibly visiting office hours if they have any. I have noticed that online professors are very quick to get back to you within a few hours or the same day that you asked your questions, so take advantage of it. Professors want you to succeed in their classes so ask specific, clear questions.

Another way to make sure your questions are answered or if  you need help, there is a class list that visible on D2L. This gives you contact to other students that are enrolled in your class. With this, you could possibly set up study groups or bounce ideas off of one another. When I took an online fashion course, we were assigned groups and we always would ask each other questions about assignments. They were always very helpful and we all did very well in the class.

I hope that you take these tips with you as you go along in college. I remember when I was going to college, I didn’t think that I would ever have to take an online class. When I had to for a required class in my major, I second guessed it especially when UAccess asked me, “Are you ready for online learning”?  I was unsure if I could handle it, but now looking at online classes, I love taking them. I can get ahead of the class, do it when I have time, as well as do my readings wherever I want. It’s nice having freedom without going to a specific class at a certain time. The only thing that you need to keep in mind is with freedom comes responsibility, but it is definitely worth it in the end!

Best,
Courtney

 

 

Preparation for Fall 2016

22 Jul

Time goes by fast, doesn’t it? You have made it through your first year of college and are currently enjoying a relaxing summer with little stress (hopefully!).  Unfortunately, summer doesn’t last forever (even if we wish it did) and it is time to focus on your sophomore year!! I made this list to hopefully help you prepare for a successful sophomore year and I hope it helps you start to think about school starting back up!

  1. Start making your sophomore year goals!
    • You have one year of college under your belt and it’s time to use all you have learned from study habits to coursework and to plan your next year. Do you want to bring your GPA up, get involved in a club, or get an internship? Make sure you review how to make SMART goals and set a goal or two for Fall 2016 to ensure your success!
  2. Make a list of school supplies and shop early!
    • It is never too early to start shopping for school supplies and if you start collecting them early, you can get the deals. Try to shop on Amazon to get exactly what you want or even at stores like Target, Walmart, or Staples.
  3. Double check your schedule before school starts
    • Even if you were absolutely certain what your school schedule will look like before summer started, it doesn’t hurt to double check if you are happy with your schedule. Make sure that the time you decided to have your first class is something that you can manage and if you have any questions about your schedule or if you are meeting all of your requirements for sophomore year, ask your advisor. Most advisors are working over the summer and if you are concerned about anything before school starts, send them an email or set up an appointment.
  4. Check your finances and scholarships
    • UAccess is one of your best friends when school is about to start because it has all of your finances pertaining to the U of A. This week, your first bill of 2016 went through and is published. Take time to look at this, your financial aid, and scholarships to make sure that you are ready to pay tuition on time.
  5. Start checking your U of A email regularly again
    • I’m sure some of you were happy to get away from all of those emails over the summer, but trust me, you need to get back into the habit again. The U of A sends emails regularly to inform you on what is going on with UAccess, parking permits, and deadlines. Make sure that you do not miss anything by going through your U of A emails. Another thing that you can do before school starts is to clean out the junk in your email. If you are really ambitious, try to organize it to have an easier year!
  6. Start waking up at the time you would for your classes
    • Summer is the time to sleep in and you may have gotten used to waking up in the late afternoon. I know this is very easy to adapt to over the summer and it’s hard to change. Try to set an alarm for a little earlier than you are used to currently waking up and keep setting it earlier as the days go by. If you already have your final class schedule or know what time you want to start your first class, try to make it your goal to get to the time that you need for the week before school starts. This will make your first day of classes very easy!
  7. If you are not living at home for the school year, make sure you have EVERYTHING
    • If you are going to be in the dorms or an apartment this school year, do NOT procrastinate on getting yourself organized with all you need. Create a list that contains what you need to bring (toiletries, computer, clothes, bedding, etc.) and go around your room to check off what you have. The things you were not able to check off the list, you need to manage to get before the school year starts. Try not to do this last minute to ensure you have all the things you need and do not need to go all the way back home because you realized you left something.

Now that you have some ideas on how to transition between the lazy summer days to the productive school days, I hope that you start your sophomore year strong!

Good Luck (:
Courtney