On to the Next One

I’m going to be completely honest here. I have no idea how to summarize my 1st year at Dartmouth College. But I guess I have to start somewhere (considering my post is already late). Depending on how you get there, Hanover, NH is 1000 miles form my front door, give or take a few. I didn’t know what to expect from this college in, very literally, the middle of nowhere. But when people ask me if I have second-thoughts about being so far from home, I can say with certainty that I’ve never had a doubt in my mind.

As a sort of orientation, I went on a camping trip, as I’ve mentioned before. On my trip, we had to write a letter to our older, wiser, end of 1st year selves, which I completely forgot about until I checked my mailbox. I’ve gleaned two bits of college wisdom from my letter, which I’ll share with you all now.

First, your messy handwriting, or lack thereof, will not improve just because you’re in college. Embrace the scribbles in the same way that you should embrace everything about who you are as a person. You are you; it’s an amazing thing. Second, “Do the new things that you want to do, and don’t feel like you need to stay the same.” If I hadn’t listened to my own advice, I wouldn’t have made the amazing decision to join the Dartmouth Women’s Rugby team in the spring. Without that, I know my first year experience would have been much different.

I took so many interesting classes this year and some that were not so fun, met so many new people, tried out as many things as I possibly could. More importantly, I made a home for myself up in New Hampshire. I know not everyone gets that from their college, but I’m so glad that I did. There’s not a minute of it that I regret: from staying out until a ridiculous hour to staying in to study until a ridiculous hour. Every minute I spent studying in my favorite spot in Sanborn library was worth just as much as every minute I spent with friends. My dorm room was very literally the size of a closet, my roommate continues to be rad, and she and our “honorary roommate” are all living together next year. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience; there’s not a thing I would change.

In my move in post, I said that there were so many things, that I didn’t know what I was most excited for. Now that I’ve seen a years worth of Dartmouth, I’m still excited about everything. I can’t get back there soon enough.

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It’s About Who You Know…

After high school, adults advise, “don’t miss an exam,” “you should probably study,” and “this is your time to explore.” Everyone claimed college will be the best four years of my life. I’m going to make so many friends. I’ll get to take classes that truly interest me. It’s going to be nonstop fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I had fun.

But I also struggled a lot this year.

I went to Iowa State for a degree in Animal Ecology but soon realized: not for me.  Keeping up with classes was difficult.  My grades tumbled and I kept a lot to myself, suddenly aware that I made the wrong choice.

I tolerated people more so than befriending them.  No one could replace people I loved already.  Besides, everyone was BFFs already and I didn’t want to intrude.  So I coexisted with my roommate and struggled academically, relying on the occasional care package and online shopping shipment to brighten my day.

By winter, I even considered transferring, my gut telling me to get out.  But that felt like quitting; I would change my major and see what happens.

During this time, what kept my spirits up was the Motion Sickness Dance Team, a hip hop club.  Fellow dancers brightened my spirits, I couldn’t bring myself to part with them.

To change my major, I had to fit an entire year’s worth of a core design program in just one semester.  Everyone said I was crazy.  Professors thought it shouldn’t be allowed, yet this spring of 2015 had a record amount of students doing that exact thing.

I got a job, too. Coworkers insisted I’d go insane if I stayed there.  But I stayed.

I wanted to prove I was capable.  Even though spring was way busier than fall, somehow, I knew it would be better.

My year developed into something positive; coworkers, classmates, and club members taking my mind off the negatives.

Unfortunately, during the last full week of school, something happened.

As the Motion Sickness club turned into family, we were blindsided with a tragedy.

My good friend, dance partner, and future roommate passed away.

She was amazing.  Practice was never dull when she was around.  A music major, I could relate to her creativity.  Though she would deny it, she was a talented dancer, too.  How someone so bubbly, talented, and unique could leave this world so suddenly will forever remain a mystery.  Sometimes I think about her and picture her playing her piccolo in the afterlife, grinning down at us.  The Motion Sickness family flocked together during such a difficult time.  We were there to console, to hug, to remember the good times.  Now, I’m sure, I can’t leave them.

This year, packed with ups and downs, was a blessing in disguise; it made me stronger.  I grew from this experience and developed friendships that I know will last.

I’m proud to say I’ve been accepted to the Integrated Studio Arts program at Iowa State University and could not have done it without massive support.

My take away?  Make good friends and good things will happen.

That’s my first year at college, how did yours go?

-Frankie :*

Three Things I Know

Let’s be honest, most people have a vision of what college is going to be like, whether that be raging parties every weekend or saying goodbye to sleep in place of homework.  I knew I would not be saying hello to parties and I would not be saying goodbye to sleep, but I didn’t know much else.  There wasn’t an ideal freshman year I had in my mind before starting and I think that really helped me not be disappointed with mine.

There were simple things I knew would happen:

1. I would make friends

2. I would learn things

3. College would be like nothing I’d ever experienced.

But there were also a lot of complicated things I never could have predicted:

1. School would be the easiest part of my life

2. I would sustain an injury that challenged me more than anything previously had, but which would also inspire me to change my life

3. My father would die

That’s not to say that classes were easy. First semester Logic kicked my butt (though I ended up getting a B).  Even the classes I liked were a lot of work.  College is nice because you’re in the classroom for less cumulative hours than in high school, but you get more homework, which is fine, just time consuming.  You’ve gotta know how to budget your time.  So what I’m trying to say is that classes weren’t easy, but everything else was harder. My dad died 3 days before I was supposed to have surgery, 9 days before Christmas.  I’m not trying to illicit sympathy, I’m just trying to say that it was a lot all at once.

But I made it through.  And I am better for it and stronger for it.  This year I learned that upside down A’s exist in math(so do backward E’s), that abstractions are a no-no in fiction writing, and that Martin Luther talked a lot of trash. but I also learned that I can do anything.

I was on the Dean’s list both semesters. I got a poem and a short story published in my University’s literary magazine.  I won 3rd place in a short story writing contest. I ran a 5k.  And those are only my quantifiable accomplishments.  Did freshman year go as smoothly as I hoped?  Not even close.  But it set me up to handle any bumps I’ll face in the future and, somehow, it has given me a more positive outlook.  This year was a blessing in disguise (a really good disguise).

Look Back At It

One word – parties. UW-Madison truly is the party school of America. I most definitely had a “life in the fast lane” phase throughout my freshman year; nonetheless, I managed to stay on the Dean’s List for each semester (so no need to worry about my priorities).

What sucked? Classes of course. I think that is a given, however. Freshmen aren’t at liberty to take as many interesting classes as they may want to – those pesky general college requirements are no joke. What I will say bombed the most is living so far away from my friends. Madison is a HUGE campus both physically and in terms of enrollment. While living on the Lakeshore side of campus was astoundingly serene and peaceful, I hated that seemingly long bus ride back to my dorm after a night out. Don’t get me wrong, the walks along Lakeshore Path (AKA “Rapeshore” Path after 8:00pm) were great. But walking gets boring – really fast.

There is hardly ever a dull moment on campus, which is why I loved it so much. The support and energy that my fellow Badgers had on game days was something that you have to see to believe. Even after we lost against Duke in the Final Four, we still managed to throw a huge block party on State Street where there was nothing but drunk college kids turning up because that’s what we do best.

Overall, I can say that college went as I thought it would. Classes got really hard, really fast. But aside from that, I made some lasting connections with people who are truly unforgettable. One of my small, but memorable accomplishments of the year would definitely be getting an A on a paper. Ya’ll, that has not happened since like 8th grade. DSHA’s English department was NO JOKE. The cherry on top was that not only did I get an A on a paper, I got an A on a SPANISH PAPER! One hiccup that I had along the way was deciding whether or not to change my major. I went through such a rough time of my life where nothing seemed like it would work out. Not only was I stressed about my classes, but I was also stressed about supporting myself financially (I’m sure many college kids know what this feels like). In the end, I worked it out like I always do. I ended up changing my majors from engineering and Spanish to nursing and Spanish, but now of course (because I’m Mia, the girl who loves to make things complicated) I’m changing my major back to engineering and Spanish. Hopefully this is the last of my confusion.

Needless to say, I absolutely cannot wait for what sophomore year brings. I’ll have another story to be told shortly . . .

Money on My Mind

Money makes the world go round. It also happens to be a hot commodity on any college campus. My first year of college consisted of studying, working, a little bit of socialization, and a lot of worrying about money. After first semester, it became apparent that although I thought a relative was helping me pay for school, I would now be paying for the remainder of my college. At first I was okay with this. My parents never claimed that they would be able to pay upfront. But soon the reality of how much money it really costs to go to college set in. My second semester was marked by a lot of stress: about classes, about money, and about a personal situation that came up halfway into the semester. 

It’s hard for me to write this post because right now, I don’t know what I’m doing for school next semester. I may stay at Marquette, but more likely than not I will be transferring to a community college. After this year, I’m tired of money consuming my thoughts and of every decision I make being made with money in mind.

While this may seem like a negative post, my freshwoman year was not all negative. It wasn’t what I expected, but things rarely are.  I met some awesome people and was lucky to participate in some awesome events, including meeting Laverne Cox! I learned a lot about myself, including that I need to be more disciplined with studying 😛 I also learned that no matter the distance, if you care about keeping friendships alive, you will. And that’s all.

Buying Books Blows

Even if you’re only a freshman in college, you know the pain of buying textbooks.  All that hard earned money out the window and then you can only sell them for what feels like pennies in comparison, if you can sell them at all.  It’s especially painful if a professor tells you a book is “required” and then you only use it once. Evil schemers.

I’m here to tell you how to save as much money as possible on your college textbooks.  I read my dear friend Megan’s post from a few days ago and I think $1000 a semester for books is blasphemy.  Blasphemy! Unless you’re in 8 or 9 classes (in which case I wish you good luck) your books SHOULD NOT be that much if you use the right venues.  I admit, sometimes it takes a smidge more effort to do it my way, but if it means saving a bunch of money I’ll put the time in.

To put it into perspective, I spent around $300 dollars on my books this semester and around the same last semester.  I’m only in 5 classes right now but I had to buy 18 books which is a pretty decent amount.  Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where you’ll have no other choice but to pay over $100 dollars for a book, but a lot of times that can be avoided.  This might happen to you if:

a. the book is rare or old-last semester the textbook my French teacher wanted us to have had been out of print since the 90’s so the only place I could find it was at my University’s bookstore.

b. the book is customized for a specific course at your school-all freshman at my school are required to take a Valparaiso University designed class we call CORE which doesn’t really fit into any subject category. As a result, if I were to transfer, there’s a large chance the credits from that course wouldn’t transfer over with me.  That also means my University designed the textbook so it literally does not exist anywhere else but here.

Besides these two cases, most books can be found in numerous online and offline locations.  Of course, your University will have all those books ready for you to order with one click, but looking somewhere else can mean the biggest difference.  At first I was skeptical to buy my books on any random website that claimed “We sell and buy new and used textbooks!” But to be honest, I’ve bought from at least 4 websites and haven’t run into any problems or scams.

I stumbled across this website: http://www.slugbooks.com and holy crap do I love it.  You enter the title or ISBN (I recommend the ISBN) of the book you want to buy and it will tell you the availability of that book as well as compare prices of it on 10 different websites! Awesome, right?  Every book is different, but with the majority of mine I found that http://www.chegg.com is always the most expensive and either http://www.amazon.com or http://www.valorebooks.com is your best bet.  Shipping can seem expensive, but I did the math and still came out on top.

I don’t know if I’ve said this yet but DO NOT buy your books from your University if you can help it! To put it into some more perspective, if I had bought/rented all my books at the cheapest prices my University was offering they would have cost me $600 without shipping. I cut my spending in half! To be fair, I know I won’t always be able to do that, but it’s worth it when you can.

So! I hope something I’ve said helps you out, even just a little.  And maybe in the future your book buying experience won’t blow so much.

Mich out.

College $$$

(OMG It’s already second semester!  Sorry the posts have been few and far in between but we’ve all been busy dealing with adjustments for spring and spending much time with loved ones before moving out again.  Here is a nice realistic post to go along with the college thing.)

So hello everyone!  I hope everyone who is in college had an awesome break, and that everyone who doesn’t have a month long break at least had a nice time celebrating the winter holidays!  I want to take some time today to talk about college finances, which I know for some may not be the most comfortable topic for everyone, but I’d like to share what I’ve experienced and some tips for everyone.

Going to a private high school that had a yearly tuition of over $10,000, I have some experience with trying to creatively pay for expensive education.  I was lucky enough to receive both academic scholarships and participate in a work-study program, which made it possible for me to attend DSHA for a much reduced price.

Now, both going to school and living on campus at Marquette come at a much higher price than high school.  To be exact, tuition for this year is $35,480, plus another $11,000 to live on campus, plus another $450 for ‘fees’, whatever the heck that means.  This doesn’t include paying for books (which could be easily be another $1,000 depending on your class load and if you buy or rent), paying for travel between college and home, and paying for the multiple miscellaneous expenses that come up in college.  Basically, college is freaking expensive if you want to go to a private university. (Or any University)

Over the summer, I was unsure if I was going to be able to go to Marquette.  I would have been okay with switching to another nursing program, but Marquette has one of the most respected nursing programs in the area and has an awesome reputation not only in Milwaukee, but in Wisconsin.  I was convinced though that I would have to give up my dream school and go somewhere else or take a semester off to save up money.  However, after getting another loan, my dad offered to pay for the first year.

Just a little breakdown of what I have to pay for before I go further, after everything, loans, grants, and scholarships, I have about $7,000 due for the year.  I decided to commute to save myself that extra $11,000 in fees.  Because we pay here per semester, it shapes up to be about $3,500 per semester plus books and other miscellaneous expenses.

This semester, my dad expressed to me that he does need help paying for school.  I’m totally okay with that, I never expected that either of my parents would just be able to straight up pay all of my tuition.  I have two jobs that both pay pretty decently, and I’m applying for a scholarship that if I get it, I would only have to come up with about $1,000 each semester.  Obviously everyone’s situation is different, I just wanted to share mine with everyone.

Now there are definitely some things I wish I would have done differently!  One of the biggest mistakes I made was not taking more advantage of private scholarship searches.  Now some of them were really involved scholarships that wouldn’t have been a lot of money for the application, but some of them I could have easily applied for!  I encourage everyone to look for scholarships; free money is always the best money.  I highly recommend exhausting your free money before you look for loans.

Another thing I learned about college finance: you can’t just go to a bank and get a loan like magic.  Because you most likely won’t have any credit, you need a cosigner.  I don’t have anyone in my family who would be willing to cosign for such a large loan.  This is why you exhaust your free money options, so you don’t have to get a loan!

I hope I didn’t scare anyone… Yes paying for college is a huge responsibility, but there are so many options!  There’s scholarships, grants, loans, work study!  Apply for everything, don’t write off any opportunity for free money, and try to have fun!  One of the perks of college is that there are so many free things going on, from free speakers to excursions to club sponsored activities, having fun doesn’t have to be expensive!  So have fun everyone, and Happy January!

#5 Dude, This Class I’m In…

really makes me reevaluate how I have been living my entire life. This class is the BOMB, literally, it blows my mind. The class is called African Diaspora and the World, but me and my fellow Spelmanites simply call it ADW. It’s a year-long course and for some, ADW sucks because readings are assigned every week and they range from videos to short reading excerpts from 4 different books we bought this semester. For me, though, this class comes quite easily since I already read so much as it is. My lecture class only meets once a week on Mondays for an hour and fifteen minutes, but everyone also has to take the lab for the class as well and mine meets on Wednesdays for the same amount of time. My teacher is really chill. He doesn’t try to be extra, he just gives us the assignment and basically let’s me live. I’m doing really well in the class because I actually do the homework and I haven’t missed all semester.

Oops, okay, so I still haven’t actually explained what the class is. Technically, in ADW, we’re supposed to learn about the migrations of Africans to all parts of the world and their effect on the modern world. We’re supposed to learn about different diasporas (which is basically people migrating and moving to different places whether by force or by choice).

Outside of the technicalities, I have learned so much about myself in ADW. Before I came to Spelman, I thought I had a good sense of myself and clear knowledge of my identity. But ADW forced me to learn not only about all of these people, but to question all the beliefs and ideas that I thought I knew all about. This semester, I have learned that being black, and being a black woman, COMPLETELY BLOWS! Now don’t get your panties in a bunch. I hold feminism and black pride dear to my heart, but ADW has forced me to view how women, and especially women of the minority races have been treated in different societies.

This semester I have been involved in lots of heated discussions with my classmates where I have to remember to breathe. I have learned that it is important to say exactly what you mean because there are at least 50 other girls who are ready to pounce at any moment. I tell you sometimes it gets so crazy that our teacher has to stop the discussion because people cannot get a word in. Lastly, I have learned how to hear; not just listen to people and have their words go completely over my head, but to actually try to comprehend what people are saying because everyone has a different opinion.

My favorite ADW moment this semester has to be our Performance Project. Our teacher assigned the class into groups at the beginning of the semester. They are small groups only 5 people. Basically, any group activity we do, we do it with our group. So when teachers started assigning the Performance Project after midterms, I started hearing really terrible stories about how groups weren’t working out and people weren’t pulling weight.

Sidenote: I got to witness this scary story first hand. So two of my roommates were in the same group: Let’s call them Player 1 and Player 2. I dislike Player 2, soooooooooooo much and she’s in a group with Player 1. Player 2 is rude and decides she does not want to go to the planning meetings even though Player 1 was the one to organize them. Instead she decided to sleep in the bed, while the rest of her group does all the work. Almost every day Player 1 came back to the room angry after she realized that Player 2 had skipped out on yet another meeting. So they get to the project deadline and Player 1 tells the teacher that Player 2 hardly did anything for the group. Player 2 then went to the teacher and lied and said that she was working all those times she was sleeping in the bed. *insert pissed face* So I was super angry for Player 1. The moral is, I didn’t want to be Player 1 and Player 2.

Back to the story: My group was really chill. We decided that we would do skits, and someone sang, and we read a poem. Even though everything was pretty last minute, we did really well in my opinion. Our teacher really liked it too.

But overall, ADW has been the best class I have ever enrolled in. It has so many interesting facets and I’m so excited for next semester.

Adieu,

Kennn 🙂

 

Also, I don’t know when this is getting posted, but Happy Birthdayy to my mommy!

……..oh and Happy Thanksgiving. *smooches*

#4 Dude This Class I’m In…

…makes me ponder about life choices.  I always thought I wanted to work with animals.  Ever since I was little, I’ve had a passion for all living creatures.  I still want to incorporate saving those critters but I might not do it the way I intended.  My biology courses—lecture and lab—are the most difficult courses I have ever taken.  I know that’s expected of a college level course but I find myself complaining about it the most and it’s a chore to actually learn the content.  That should not be the case for a subject you plan to work with for the rest of your life.  We do get homework in the lecture course but they aren’t worth much and they are graded on correctness.  If your answer is incorrect the first time, you get points deducted and five more tries to enter the correct answer (It’s completed online).  Since it’s difficult to stay awake while reading our 1, 100 plus paged textbook, I have a habit of diving right in and taking a few tries to answer the questions correctly.  My logic is, I’ve taken biology twice already (three times if you count 8th grade) so I should already know this.  The problem is each course had its own focus and every teacher has his or her version of what’s important so what I need to know is constantly evolving.  I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t quite figured out my professor or how to study or I really have lost interest in the topic.  I do, however, enjoy going to my introduction to renewable resources lecture.  I think maybe this is what I was meant to do: manage and conserve and create a sustainable world for animals.  I can always volunteer at humane societies and rescue centers for more hands on experiences.  Biology is the basis for understanding all forms of life but this course is more annoying than intriguing.  Questioning the sciences; I’m not sure quite how I feel about that.

Pros and Cons of Being a Commuter

Disclaimer: When I chose Marquette as the college I would be attending, I was intending to live on campus.  However, due to unforeseen financial circumstances, the only way I could still attend Marquette would be to commute.  Obviously, if I had chosen a college farther away, I wouldn’t have had any choice in staying at home.

“Oh, you live at home?”

“How do you make friends?”

“Why don’t you live on campus?”

“Are you still getting the college experience?”

These are all questions that I, as a commuter at Marquette University, get asked.  Sometimes I can hear a twinge of pity in the person’s voice, sometimes they really are just curious.  They are all valid questions, though, questions that I had to answer for myself before I made the decision to withdraw from my residence hall and commute.  So in this blog post, I’m going to clear up for everyone what it means to “commute” to college.

I’ll address the first question.  Yes, I live at home.  However, you don’t have to live at home with your parents in order to be considered a commuter.  If you live anywhere that isn’t university owned, you’re a commuter.  In a few years, this may mean that I live in an apartment only a few blocks away from campus, but for now, I live in West Allis with my Mom and adorable dog for roommates.

Just because I commute doesn’t mean that all I do is go to class and study all the time.  While some days I do go home right after class is over, there are some days I stay later, whether it be for a club meeting or just to hang out.  Marquette has a Commuters’ Lounge just for commuters to hang in, which is where I spend most of my time and where I’ve met most of my friends.  I also do have a few friends who live on campus, and I’ve actually spent time inside an actual dorm room!  So to everyone who asks me this question, just because I commute does not mean that I’m a hermit!

As for the college experience, I really think that the stereotypical college experience is just something that is sold way too hard by movies and television shows.  Even if I were living in the dorms, my ‘college experience’ would still be different from Anissa’s, which is different than Mia’s, which is different from Sabrina’s, and so on and so forth.  College is probably the most unique experience of your life.  You get to choose who you hang out with, where you go and at what times, and what you prioritize.  I’m still joining clubs, I’m taking classes that I want to take, and I’m making friends.  College is definitely an experience that will give you what you put into it, so just because I’m living at home doesn’t mean I’m any different than any other person attending.

That said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some drawbacks.  I don’t have a car, which means I either rely on public transportation or my family to drive me to and from school.  If I had my own car, I’d definitely be on campus more often, but since I don’t, I don’t have the luxury of being down at school as much as I would like to be.  But a perk to this is that my commuter friends who have cars and live close can pick me up when we decide to do stuff like go to the movies or other things around town.

Either way, I’m really happy that at the least, I get to attend Marquette, which is an awesome university! If you’re considering being a commuter, or maybe even dreading it, don’t because college is what you make it.

 

Megs and Freinds oct 2014

Me and my friends! (I’m the girl in the bottom right corner).  Photo cred to Joshua.