Tag Archives: School

Should Mental Health Days Be A Thing?

stressed
“The option to take a mental health day is something that has been occasionally suggested to help alleviate stress.” Photo from: http://tmhome.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/stressed-students-meditate-03.jpg

Lots of people in high school and in college can get overwhelmed. We tend to have a lot of schoolwork, homework, and projects to do, as well as activities outside of class. People get stressed and this stress can build up quickly. Too much stress can cause a lot of issues for people. We tend to forget to eat, and we forget about other tasks that we need to do; things just start falling apart on us. The option to take a mental health day is something that has been occasionally suggested to help alleviate stress. These are days that students can take off without a penalty to rest and recuperate and just take a breather.

We have all had those times when we got overwhelmed with our work and wished we could just take a break and relax, but we knew we could not do that because we could not afford to get behind, lose points on an assignment, or miss an in-class assignment. The whole point of a mental health day is to take that much-needed break without suffering a penalty and to relax on that day off without worrying about getting behind. However, there are also concerns that these days off could be abused, so we would only get a few of them each semester. These are not meant to be used frivolously but saved until you really need them. You would not use them just because you do not feel like going but because you are reaching a breaking point and likely could not handle class that day. Also, if mental health days are put into place, professors would not excuse you from work but simply postpone it until next class.

This idea is meant to be something that instructors could work with, hence the reason why you would not be excused from the work. Mental health days would be a good way to meet in the middle for students and instructors; it gives students a helping hand when they need it and it does not really throw off an instructor’s teaching plan. This is an idea that could work out well as long as people worked together and did not abuse it.

Real or Virtual Classrooms?

The world is constantly evolving and growing as the level of technology increases and new technology becomes readily available. It seems like every day there is a new technological development that helps us in our daily lives. One of these developments is the rise of online classrooms.

It is becoming more popular to make college or high school courses available online, removing the need for students to be present inside of a classroom. The main reasons for these (relatively) new online classes are their accessibility and convenience. Some students are stay at home parents, some cannot afford both the tuition and campus housing, and some have jobs that prevent them from having a normal class schedule. There are many reasons for people to make use of online courses; they are helpful and they allow many people who could not otherwise manage to get a college degree to do so. But people can also miss out on the experience and knowledge that comes with having an actual class that isn’t just an assignment on a screen.

computer
“There are many reasons for people to make use of online courses; they are helpful and they allow many people who could not otherwise manage to get a college degree to do so.” Photo from: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/sites/default/files/images/students-looking-at-computer.jpg

In traditional classrooms, there is a greater opportunity for discussion among the students. People can ask questions and ask for further explanation if they do not understand the material. With most online classes, you get an assigned reading, a worksheet and/or assignment, and maybe a video explaining what you need to do. The issue is that this method does not provide many, if any, actual teaching moments. If learning was as simple as opening up a textbook and reading it, then we wouldn’t need teachers, or even actual classes. Learning isn’t as simple as reading the material and then taking a test on it.

None of this is to say that online classes are bad or that we should do away with them, but they certainly shouldn’t become the primary method of teaching. We should stick primarily with traditional classrooms and supplement education with online classes. Keep online classrooms, improve them, encourage them, but don’t let them become the main method of teaching.

How To Use Lessons From Sports In Everyday Life

Growing up as an athlete, I learned a lot of things  differently than other kids. I played soccer with a team and my teammates were like my family. I thought of them all as my sisters and was very close with each of them. We traveled away every weekend together to go play 3 or 4 games in a weekend and be exhausted by Sunday but it was worth all the effort.

We had the same group of coaches throughout our years playing together as well. They instilled certain values in us in different ways than most kids learn these values. For example, leadership was the biggest value I took away from my soccer experience. I was captain for 6 years straight and with that came a lot of responsibility and decision making. I had to tell my teammates what we were going to wear every night for practice, traveling outfits for driving to games and jersey colors for games.

Incorporate sport lessons in other aspects of your life. Graphic from Scroll Online
Incorporate sport lessons in other aspects of your life. Graphic from Scroll Online

I also was very vocal on the field with my teammates letting them know when they were doing a good job and what we needed to improve on as a team. One year, when my team wasn’t doing as well as we had all hoped, I started to become very negative and I didn’t realize it until my coaches told me to lighten up and stay positive and optimistic. That was another lesson I learned–to stay positive, even when things aren’t going your way.

Staying positive has gotten me through so many things in my life that I didn’t think I would be able to get over or to see something turning out for the better for myself. Whenever I’m having a terrible day or struggling with schoolwork or something else in my life, I just think back to all of those times I was on the soccer field with my teammates, my family, and my coaches on the sidelines watching me and expecting me to be positive like they had shown me and taught me.

I’m so thankful I learned not just these two but many valuable lessons from playing soccer and other sports as well. I think it helped me grow up quicker and become a better and more positive person and equipped me to deal with hard times in my life.

Increasing School Spirit

As a university without a football team it can be difficult to find school spirit.  We don’t have football games or a traditional homecoming weekend so the next biggest sport is basketball.  Unfortunately, the basketball courts are somewhat far from campus and student housing.  This prevents people from wanting to go support the team because they either don’t have cars or simply don’t want to travel or walk that far to go to the games.

Another problem is the advertising of our sports teams.  As a previous student athlete I remember our coaches handing us tiny flyers and asking us to hand them out to people on campus, in our dorms, and our classes.  We did so but most people ended up throwing them away or forgetting about them.  No one was really interested in women’s soccer either so that was the negative side of handing out flyers.

basketball
“As a previous student athlete I remember our coaches handing us tiny flyers and asking us to hand them out to people on campus, in our dorms, and our classes.”

The university also sends out emails about upcoming athletic events but they do it as a bulk email not individual emails for each game or sport.  Most students see that header and automatically delete it because they think it’s another basic email informing them about something that doesn’t necessarily pertain to them.  If individual emails were sent out and a little more effort put into them maybe it would motivate students to want to attend the games.

Basically, the one problem that can’t be fixed about our school spirit is having football games, which do generate the most school spirit.  However, if we put more effort into advertising the events and getting the information and option of attending athletic events out there to more students more frequently and efficiently, maybe we can increase attendance rates and hopefully that will increase school spirit.

Our student athletes put in a lot of time and effort into their sport including practices, rehab, and study hall hours so when they don’t get a good turn out for the games it can be a little discouraging and frustrating.  Nonetheless, they continue working hard for their university as a student and an athlete so hopefully there will be a rise in school spirit soon.

How To Handle an 18 Credit Hour Semester

This semester I’m taking on the difficult challenge of an 18 credit hour workload. It didn’t start out this way and I certainly didn’t plan to do it on purpose. I started out with a normal 15 credit hour semester, similar to the majority of students in college. I then added a second minor to my graduation track and as a result, I had to add another class which was three credits. I thought it would be similar to a 15 credit hour semester like I had taken in the past semesters but my expectation was very far off.

18 credit hours a semester is no joke. You have to be dedicated and not just study a couple hours for each test and write your papers the night before they’re due. You need to be dedicated as in studying four to six hours for each test and start your paper two weeks before it’s due, not to mention the projects, presentations, quizzes, and not missing more than three classes in every class you’re taking. It starts to pile up on you without you really even noticing until it’s sitting on your chest and you feel like you can barely breath.

 

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“18 credit hours a semester is no joke.” Photo by: Sydney Crawson

A way to get through a chaotic semester such as this is to take everything not just week-by-week but day-by-day. If you take it week-by-week you’re bound to get frustrated and overwhelmed by everything that you see on your calendar.

However, taking it day-by-day really helps because you only focus on what you need to get done for that day. Obviously still be aware of any test, paper, project due dates in the future you will need to plan for in advance, but for the most part day by day will slowly but surely get you through the semester.

If you’re taking on this challenging task like I am just know I feel your pain, struggle, and perseverance. Keep taking everything day-by-day and you will reach your goal in no time, remember to breathe along the way!

 

How To Stay Focused During The Canceled School Days

Just another snow day on campus. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Just another snow day on campus. Graphic by Katie Gibson

During the snow days, when classes get canceled, it can be hard to still think about school. Everyone wants to go crazy and enjoy their snow days, almost a little too much. You have to keep in mind that school is right around the corner and fast approaching while everyone has thrown their textbooks and assignments to the side and focused on the snow. Obviously you should enjoy your day or days off but it doesn’t hurt to do a little schoolwork over the extended break as well. This way you don’t feel completely separated from your schoolwork when you have to return after the snow is cleared.

Peer pressure is a huge part of why so many students get behind during snow days and canceled classes. It sounds very cliche but it’s still a very true phenomena that I’ve witnessed  in many of my friends around me. When you don’t look at anything school related from Thursday-Tuesday you tend to notice you become sidetracked and start to care less about your work. Try to finish whatever little task or assignment it is you think you need done when school comes back around shortly. This way, you can still enjoy your snow day but you also know that you’ve done some work, you don’t feel as detached from your schoolwork, and you’ve been somewhat productive on your day off.

Others just feel groggy and don’t see the point in doing work during the canceled class days, they figure it’s their day off why waste their time doing schoolwork. This is an understandable mindset but your teachers won’t care that you didn’t have actual class and may expect you to still turn in assignments online or still be keeping up with the reading for your class.

Don’t get distracted by the fun and the snow completely, still stay intact and in touch with your classes and due dates.

Eating Healthy While At School

When everyone is home for summer or winter break it can be easier to find yourself eating healthier than you did while away at school. When you return to school you want to continue your healthy habits and buy fruits and vegetables and only make healthy meals. There are a few problems with that goal including expenses, expirations, and expectations.

Healthy foods are significantly more expensive than junk food or fast food. It’s sad to say but it’s the undeniable truth. Whenever you go to the store to get gluten free bread it’s 3-5 more dollars than regular white bread. When you choose to buy fruits and vegetables at the store instead of chips and salsa, it’s more money than you planned on spending. You want to eat healthy and keep up with your diet from home but it can be a difficult task to follow through on when you have to spend all of your money on these meals and snacks just to lead a healthy lifestyle.

fruit and vegetable
“Healthy foods are significantly more expensive than junk food or fast food.”

Another problem is the expiration dates of healthy foods. If you buy strawberries, blueberries, spinach, etc it can be difficult to get your money’s worth because they are going bad after just one short week. You are only buying for one person so it can be hard to consume all of those fruits and vegetables in just one week to get what you paid for. A good alternative to buying fruit is opting for the frozen fruits. They will last you a very long time and you are sure to get your money’s worth.

The last problem is the unrealistic expectations. When I am home, I’ll go to the grocery store with my mom and get all of the foods that I want or need. I don’t have to spend any money on them, I don’t have to worry about them expiring because the rest of my family will also be eating them, and I can replenish them whenever I need to because I’m not having to budget my money like when I’m at school. It’s good to remember that it won’t be as easy eating healthy at school as it was at home for you. There are always alternative options such as the frozen fruit example and many more that can improve the chances of you constantly eating healthy!

Back to Routines and Due Dates

After the holidays it’s hard to get back into your normal routine, especially when you’re in college and go from doing almost nothing to having a bunch of papers, exam dates, and homework assignments. Everyone is still relaxed and enjoying their winter break in the mindset of tranquility and ease, until they are thrown back into school, where it can be hard to find how to start up all of your old routines again. Going to the gym, having 100 page readings, and all the other homework assignments and online quizzes can be overwhelming. The winter weather doesn’t help much either. Because when it is cold, dark, and snowy outside, nobody wants to leave the comfort of their warm bed for the cold harsh wind outside on the trek to classes filled with cold metal seats and desks. The cold weather keeps everyone a little sleepier and a little less motivated because it makes you want to stay in where it’s warm and not below freezing and icy.

upset boy against a wall
“After the holidays it’s hard to get back into your normal routine”

Luckily there are ways to get you back on track and stay there going full speed until the end of the school year in the spring. Getting a new planner or agenda is a great way to make sure you are back on track and stay organized instead of forgetting your due dates and test days. Another way of making sure you’re ready for all the work coming your way is to manage your time well and efficiently. Make sure you aren’t putting too much work on your plate for one day and make sure you do not procrastinate.  Procrastination is a big reason of why people aren’t able to get back into routines because they set you farther and farther behind your goals and deadlines.

It will be easy if you stay organized and meet your deadlines every day to eventually work towards that test day or paper due date. This will also start to become a habit for you so it will only be challenging for a couple weeks at the most. After you practice these good habits it will be easier to make them a daily ritual and part of your life.

 

Six things communications majors hear too often

 

1.)  Wow, you’re lucky! Your major must be so easy!

Why does everyone assume communications majors have it easier than any other major? Our major is just as hard. It’s just hard in a different way. We have more projects, more group work, and more papers to write. It’s a different kind of difficult.

2.) That’s a broad major, do you not know what you want to do after college yet?

Yes, that is somewhat true.  Communications is a broad major. However, I know exactly what I want to do and how I want to do it. I have a goal and I’m determined to reach it. I also have backup plans and they are all pretty specific as well. It’s a broad major but that doesn’t mean I picked it because I don’t know what I want to do.

3.) What’s that?

Sigh. Describing what your classes are like and how you get graded without written work is sometimes difficult. Often people find it odd if you don’t have a test or quiz every week. Oh well, you tried.

COMS majors are tired of all the comments. Graphic by Katie Gibson
COMS majors are tired of all the comments. Graphic by Katie Gibson

4.) That sounds so fun!

Yes, I love my major. Yes, it’s fun sometimes. No, it’s not all fun and games. When you tell people you don’t have desks in some of your classes and just cameras and audio boards, for some reason they think that you get to goof around all class and get a good grade no matter what. Being in front of cameras and performing over and over in front of your classmates is hard. So yes, my major is fun, but very difficult and sometimes nerve-racking as well.

5.) That doesn’t sound too stressful!

You’re right, standing in front of my classmates and teacher and reciting a script over and over while also being recorded isn’t stressful. Piece of cake! It becomes something you get used to, but that doesn’t mean it won’t shake you up a little every time you have to get in front of a camera and classroom full of people. Not to mention all of the preparing and speaking to your reflection in a mirror over and over for days before it’s your turn to speak in class.

6.) If it’s very hands on, you probably don’t have a lot of work outside the classroom at least.

I spend about 5-6 hours in an audio lab per week, not including studying for the tests and turning in scripts. It can be frustrating to hear someone say something that’s so off from the actual truth, but the best thing to do is either to explain or just take a deep breath and move on from the subject. You know how hard you work, and that’s all that matters!

Hang in there communications majors; you have to just keep on keeping on!

 

 

Why the hamburger bun writing style will stick with you

In elementary school, I’m sure everyone learned about the hamburger writing style. Your teacher had you, and the rest of your class, draw the outline of a hamburger. The burger consisted of a top bun, lettuce, cheese, a patty, and a bottom bun. It was fun and it made the class more interested in whatever they were about to learn. The teacher then proceeds to tell you that you must now right an opening to a paper in the top bun, 3 middle sections where the lettuce, cheese, and patty reside, and a closing paragraph in the bottom bun to end the paper.

Remember the hamburger writing method? Graphic from Hamburger Me
Remember the hamburger writing method? Graphic from Hamburger Me

Now, whenever I write a paper I am struggling with, or one I am having trouble separating the paragraphs or putting in order, I resort back to my hamburger bun. It seems silly, drawing a hamburger and writing inside of it. Especially for a college kid, if anyone else saw you doing that they would think you were a little off, but it really does help. It helps you focus more on one section of the paper at a time than the entire overwhelming 4-5 paragraphs or 4-5 pages. I also draw out my hamburger outline and focus on my top bun first, my opener. Then I move onto the detail and examples in my paper, which is the middle of my burger, and I draw that out too. It seems excessive to draw it all out but I feel this writing technique really improves my writing.

Another way this tool from my elementary school days helps me is that it lets me think of a topic to write down for each paragraph. I think of a few key points for an introduction paragraph and then give more detail and explain what I mean. Next, I move on to my examples within my paper and I write down examples but don’t do anything with them until I start to write the entire paper. The hamburger bun writing outline seems silly but it is something I will use and go to for help for the rest of my life.

Why A Planner Will Help You More Thank You Think

Most people probably think having a planner is useless. Something that is a waste of money and only grade school kids would need. We have phones and notebooks; why not just use those instead of a whole separate thing to keep track of? Let me tell you why a planner is something you should invest in.

I never really used a planner until last year. I would always buy one but would only write big test dates in it, or never write in it, or lose it. Yes, sad to admit, I was a planner neglecter. I’ve never been the most organized but not messy and chaotic either. I got my stuff done and missed a few deadlines here and there, nothing serious or detrimental to my grades.

Photo courtesy of http://theendinmind.net/i-am-a-planner/
Photo courtesy of http://theendinmind.net/i-am-a-planner/

When I was shopping for my back to school supplies, yes even college kids need to go back to school shopping, of course I grabbed a planner instinctively. What I didn’t know was that this year my planner would be my savior. After my freshman year, I started to get into my classes I had to complete for my major. I was swimming in deadlines, test dates, and drop box submissions. Early that semester I knew my year was about to be hectic and disorganized like I have never experienced before. I decided to whip out my planner and put it to use, at least for the first week or so until I get used to my new and busy schedule.

It’s been over a year and I still have my planner. Except now it is covered in hundreds of different colored inks and scribbles all throughout the pages. I have used my planner every day I have had school for over a year. If I didn’t have my planner I would be lost and have no idea when certain assignments are due or when I have that next big test coming up. I am thankful I became a planner lover and will never go another day of college without one.

Taylor Office and Art Supply: A cheaper place to buy school supplies

Taylor Office and Art Supply is one of the more inexpensive places where you can get office and art supplies in Radford. Taylor Office and Art Supply is located just off Main Street, right across from New River Grill – conveniently located near campus. It’s a bit of a walk, but driving isn’t necessary, and the amount of money you save is definitely well worth it.

Continue reading Taylor Office and Art Supply: A cheaper place to buy school supplies

Five great things about Radford University

Some students complain about Radford University, but the truth of the matter is RU’s got good qualities too. Here are five reasons why you should love RU.

1.) The class sizes are small, especially for a public college.

library
McConnell Library is one of the great resources available to students at Radford. Photo by Samantha Rorke.

Yes, we all know this. RU touts it on its Incoming Students page. But still, it’s worth remembering. Small class sizes are nice because you don’t have to compete with 800 other students in order to get one-on-one help from a professor. Continue reading Five great things about Radford University

Radford printing: Some things you should know

Radford University provides $5 in printing every year. Unfortunately, many students don’t find out how little this is until they’re in the middle of their first semester and halfway through their budget.

It’s not just that college students are irresponsible. If printing cost is five cents a page, the average student would only be able to print off ten papers a year. That’s one paper per class per semester (assuming the student in question has a course-load of 15 credits).

Deskjet F4583 Unboxing Pics - 09
Make sure you have time to run to Young hall or Walker hall to print just incase your printer fails. Photo from Creative Commons.

As you can imagine, this isn’t feasible for anyone.

This is particularly troubling for transfer students, many of whom are used to unlimited printing policies set by community colleges and the like. (Central Virginia Community College has an unlimited printing policy, for instance.) Here are some tips to help offset printing costs when you come to RU. Continue reading Radford printing: Some things you should know

Why I don’t have a Facebook

During my senior year of high school I made the decision to delete my Facebook. I rarely used it, and I was tired of the constant barrage of social drama, spamming, fishing for compliments and crudely articulated arguments about “current events.” Two years later, I could not be happier with my decision. I don’t feel the need to monitor the exploits of my friends and family via social media. Continue reading Why I don’t have a Facebook

Optimism: The common sense killer

Graphic by: Alex MorganNever before in my life have I bothered to notice that there is a quiet battle going on between friends and foes alike. The optimists, realists and pessimists drive each other bananas.

This realization slowly began to trickle into my brain in my first semester at Radford University. I was forced to work in a group of three for a six credit class that I didn’t want to take. The problem here is that groups of three are dangerous. There will almost always be the person who wants to work hard, the person who is moderate about everything and the lazy person.

There was a power struggle for the entire semester between the one who wanted to work hard and the one who didn’t. The moderate took whatever side was most convenient at the time. When the less motivated member was winning the battle, the hard worker was teased when they thought things wouldn’t work. The general insult was being called a “negative Nancy.”

Through this, I saw the battle that rages in almost any group setting. The main problem being that realism is often misinterpreted as pessimism by those who don’t like to hear the truth.

When working in a group situation there will always be a mixed bag of attitudes. The important thing to remember is that the group needs to stick together in order to survive. If it doesn’t, then in a college setting the hard workers will always talk to the teacher and will always get the grade they deserve.

Optimists are the troubled ones. They will often believe things always work out in the end, even if they don’t put 100 percent of their effort into it. They drag down group work with all their weight, causing everyone else to carry their load.

The realists are usually a healthy mix of optimism and pessimism to the point where they can make rational decisions that will keep the group afloat, even if it means taking on all of the work. When the realist becomes incensed over being taken for granted, they become mistaken for being pessimistic. In a way, they become the pack mule.

Pessimists can go either way in group work. Either they think everything will fall to pieces anyway, or they work extra hard because they don’t think small flaws will be forgiven. They can either drag a group down by not doing enough, or their drive for perfection will run the group right into a wall.

Of course, everyone can vary between which category they fall into. I’ve been known to be optimistic, realistic and pessimistic all in the same day. It’s no different for anyone else, unless they are hellbent on being one thing.

Just remember these personality traits can make or break a group situation. The solution is to come to some conclusion of how the group can be themselves and still work together, even if it means threatening to talk to the teacher. It might seem petty, but people should learn how to not drag each other down.

A week in the life of a Radford student

Every week is a challenge for all of us at Radford. To give you some chuckles, or maybe to make you feel better, I’m going to talk about my past week.

Monday was as difficult as ever, especially since no one likes Mondays. I tend to want to get all of my work done for the week within the first two days, so I was rather discouraged when I came back from the library to find my roommate still there. Apparently the snow from the weekend prevented her from going to work, and I knew there was no way in hell I would be able to quietly get through all of my work with her there all afternoon. Oddly enough, she decided to go do laundry that afternoon instead of sitting around, which gave me enough time to do my Media Performance project, read more Walt Whitman, highlight Information Technology words and write a journal. Fun, isn’t it?

Tuesday was dreadful as usual. I made the silly mistake of taking classes from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. During my second class, it began to snow, again. I was convinced the “Snow Gods” were out to get me this semester. I just found out I had twice as much Information Technology homework as I had originally thought, and some of the work I did was pointless. Miraculously, my roommate decided to go to work anyway, and I managed to get work done and have two meetings canceled that night. As perfect as that may seem, I still despise snow, and I still wonder what possessed me to go to college in the mountains.

Wednesday I went to Muse Hall for lunch for the first time ever. It was amazing, and I suggest it to anyone who hasn’t tried it. However, that night I thought it was a good idea to get nachos from Salsaritas since I wasn’t that hungry. Big mistake. I’m not sure if I’ll ever eat there again. The cherry on top of everything on Wednesday was the world trying to prevent me from sleeping. I kept trying to say, “I’m going to bed now,” only to be distracted by my roommate insisting that she needed to listen to music. I finally went to sleep sometime after midnight only to wake up at 2 a.m. to my suite mates blasting Titanic on their television with both their bathroom and front door open. To my despair, they didn’t get the message when I shut their bathroom door, so I suffered through it until sometime after 3 a.m., when I was finally able to drift off to sleep again.

Thursday started at 7 a.m. for me when I woke up to find that my throat was sore and dry. All day I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t getting sick, and that maybe the electric heat bothered my throat. On top of having classes all morning, I had a 15 minute break to walk from class to Heth Hall in order to attend a speech for my News Reporting class. It would have been great if I wasn’t hungry, delusional from lack of sleep and getting sick. On top of that, I was supposed to have a repair man come look at the water damage in my room that day and he never came. As soon as I heard that classes were canceled the next day I booked it to Whim, got production done, and went to Blacksburg in order to wait out the storm in my boyfriend’s comfortable apartment. Hopefully my room won’t leak too badly from all the extra snow.

Every week is a challenge, but there is always a silver lining, and that would be the weekend. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t get just as screwy as the school week. Also, here’s to one last week without tests! It only goes downhill from here.

Cover photo by Rochelle Taguba

Story photo by Erin Foley