Tag Archives: students

Are Summer Jobs Realistic Anymore?

With the school year winding down and summer break almost upon us, a lot of students are starting to make plans for their summers. Some have vacations, some will simply be going home for the summer, and many will be looking for a summer job. College and life, in general, are expensive and we could all use a little extra cash in our pocket. People have been doing this for years, so it is no big deal, right? Not exactly.

starbucks worker
“Most businesses are not looking for part-time summer help anymore; most places want someone who is willing to work part-time year-round.” Photo from: http://cdn.thesimpledollar.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/starbucks-barista.jpg

The world is changing and progressing rapidly and things aren’t the same as they were 20, 10, or even five years ago. Most businesses are not looking for part-time summer help anymore; most places want someone who is willing to work part-time year-round, at the very least. And working year-round is not a very plausible option for most college students. First of all, most college students go home for the summer which is usually not very close to college. It can be two hours away, four hours away, or six or eight hours away. So even if a college student wanted to, the idea of having a year round job is not a possibility. And with that option gone, the job opportunities dwindle. Most places of business do not want to hire someone only to replace them after three months; that is just bad business.

If a college student lives near their college campus and does stay in the same area year-round, they will still run into similar problems. While it is not impossible to keep a job and go to college at the same time (plenty of college students do exactly that), it is difficult and not something that everyone can do. Any college student can tell you that college is hard and that it takes a lot of time and effort; many have to spend the vast majority of their time working on school work. It is not uncommon for them to have very little spare time left and it’s hard to work at a job when you only have a few spare hours. College is intensive, and the whole point of summer break is to give you an actual break, not spend it begging for a job that you’ll likely have to quit in a few months.

Students’ Say On: Smoke-Free Campus

We’ve all walked through a cloud of smoke on our way to class at one time or another. As most students already know, Radford University is not a smoke-free campus. Students are allowed to smoke outside on campus as long as they are 25 feet away from buildings. However, some students still smoke relatively close to buildings.

cigarettes
“The majority of students we talked to expressed annoyance at being forced to walk through others’ smoke clouds.” Photo from: http://media.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem_impact/photo/pack-of-cigarettes-b0e864c515496a00.jpg

This week, we asked students whether they knew what a smoke-free campus was (a campus where the use of all tobacco products is prohibited) and whether they thought Radford should be a smoke-free campus. The majority of students we talked to expressed annoyance at being forced to walk through others’ smoke clouds while on campus. However, they also viewed the issue as something that doesn’t have much of an effect on them otherwise and said they were fine with Radford not banning smoking on campus completely. But other students believed that Radford should be a smoke-free campus or there should be designated areas where smoking is allowed. When asked how the university would enforce this smoke-free policy, some students were unsure. But others had ideas: some said the rules or restrictions could be implemented at Quest so students would know from the start what the policies were. Some said the university should treat cigarettes the same way as alcohol—that is, taking tobacco products from students if they are seen using them or charging them a fine.

If Radford does ever become a smoke-free campus, it will be interesting to see how they try and keep it that way. Perhaps they would use some of the tactics that the students we talked to thought of; it would be interesting to see if the ideas work. But one student had a point: “People are going to do what they want to do no matter what, so it doesn’t really matter [what the policies are].”

Taking a Break with a Gap Year

The idea of taking a break either between high school and college or just after college isn’t a very popular or well-known one here in the U.S., but it is common practice in places like Europe and Australia. There it is known as taking a gap year, though it isn’t always an actual year. Students will take a break between high school and college to travel around, usually for about a semester.

travel gap year
“Very few people have the financial means to take a semester or a year off and travel around.” Photo from: https://az616578.vo.msecnd.net

The whole idea behind taking a gap year is to give students a chance to relax after all those years of schooling and to increase their maturity and self-awareness. There have actually been studies that have shown an increase in these factors, along with a fluency in a foreign language, greater self-confidence, and an overall increase in G.P.A.’s (1). Overall, it’s considered a pretty great idea, so why don’t we do it here in the U.S.?

The biggest issue is, obviously, money. Very few people have the financial means to take a semester or a year off and travel around. In fact, most people can barely afford to go to college, much less put it off for several months of soul searching. You have to consider the cost of basic necessities like food and water and places to stay, especially when you do not have any source of personal income. If someone does decide to travel then they usually have to rely on money given to them by relatives for their gap year.

Another issue is simply the timing of it. Many people get acceptance letters in the summer between the end of high school and the following fall semester of college and most cannot really afford to turn them down for fear they might not get in again. Not to mention the fast pace and ever-changing nature of the U.S. education system and economy. A semester off can ruin a person’s chances for a college education or a stable job or career.

While a gap year may be a good idea with several great benefits, it is not yet a feasible option for students in America. It is something we will have to work towards if we want it to happen.

  1. http://www.americangap.org/benefits.php

Respectful Communication is Key

For most of us in college, we tend to avoid talking with our professors and instructors for one reason or another. And they don’t usually have conversations with us unless we directly approach them. For some, talking to an instructor is no big deal, but for others, it can be frightening, anxiety inducing or anywhere in between. Whatever the case, it’s important for both the instructor and the student to maintain a respectful manner.

If either the student or the instructor becomes disrespectful toward one another then major issues can arise. There does not always need to be blatant disrespect or animosity to cause problems in the classroom. Passive aggressive remarks or responses can create

Teacher talking with young student in the classroom
“For some, talking to an instructor is no big deal, but for others, it can be frightening, anxiety inducing or anywhere in between.” Photo from: http://cdn.hercampus.com/s3fs-public/2014/09/28/Student-Professor-Talking-Office-Hours.jpg

bigger problems than direct hostility. Passive aggressiveness is just pettiness; it shows a flippant attitude and a complete disregard for the other person. A student shouldn’t treat an instructor this way, and an instructor shouldn’t treat a student that way either. Doing so opens up hostility between the two people involved and the situation can, and often does, dissolve from there.

If an instructor is disrespectful toward a student then they have failed as a teacher; it is their job to be patient, and they should be willing to work with students to help them understand the material. It does not benefit anyone if an instructor disregards a student’s questions or concerns. And it’s just the same for the student; they have to be willing to meet the instructor halfway. They should make sure they try to resolve their problem or misunderstanding before approaching the instructor, so they don’t waste their time. However, they also run the risk of being seen as lazy for not approaching the instructor early on. Both the instructor and the student should do their best to maintain a professional and respectful relationship. Otherwise, the entire classroom environment falls apart.

Stress Levels and Mental Health in College Students

College students usually get stressed when they have major tests in their classes. And it seems that stress levels spike when midterms and finals are approaching. However, most students feel stressed almost all of the time. It is said that one out of five students say they feel stressed most of the time (1). Stress can cause other mental health issues like anxiety disorders and depression. Stress, along with these other mental health disorders, has major effects on students’ day to day lives, and even their future.

It is said that stress is a precursor to anxiety or depression disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness, almost two-thirds of students drop out of school due to mental health reasons (1). Suicidal thoughts may be involved with these disorders. And 95 percent of suicides committed by students are related to anxiety and depression (1).

stressed student
“Stress, along with these other mental health disorders, has major effects on students’ day to day lives, and even their future.” Photo from: http://www.autismafter16.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/article_large/article-images/iStock_000010063963Small_0.jpg

Stress, anxiety and depression levels in students have risen dramatically since the 1980s (2). This means that there is also an increase in those going to their university’s mental health centers, if they are provided. According to Boston University statistics, in the 2014-2015 school year, students seeking psychiatric evaluation went from 120 students to 134, and those coming in because of a crisis increased from 647 students to 906 students (3). It’s happening all over the country. The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that 73.1 percent of counseling center directors reported an increase in the severity of student mental health concerns (3).

Radford University has a Student Counseling Services office located in the basement of Tyler Hall. They offer individual, couple and group psychotherapy, medication evaluations and management, professional consultations and other services (4). Their offices are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and their phone number is (540)-831-5226.

Mental health is one of the things that college students should take care of, especially in times of great stress. So, if you or someone you know is going through a rough patch, definitely try to make an appointment with the Counseling services; it could help you before things get too bad.

1 – http://stress.lovetoknow.com/Statistics_on_College_Student_Stress 2 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201402/the-college-student-mental-health-crisis  3 – http://www.bu.edu/today/2016/mental-health-college-students/  4 – http://www.radford.edu/content/student-counseling/home.html

Spring in the Alumni Gardens

The below photos were taken by Radford’s own Patricia Forehand. Patricia collects a variety of plants and enjoys photography. Walking through the Alumni Gardens near McConnell library in the spring of 2016, Patricia noticed a variety of beautiful garden trees in bloom. She took the amazing following photos of the foliage around campus.

Muse Flowers

Muse-EU

Parking On and Around Campus

Any student at Radford University can have a car while they are away at college. Unlike most universities or colleges, Radford does not have a policy that doesn’t allow freshman students to bring their own car to college with them (provided they pay for their parking pass, of course). As such, Radford has a fairly high number of students who bring their cars with them, not to mention there are various commuter students. But as any student who drives and has a parking pass can tell you, the amount of convenient parking space for non-commuter students at Radford is almost non-existent.

parking lot
“The amount of convenient parking space for non-commuter students at Radford is almost non-existent.” Photo from: media.graytvinc.com

The most convenient space to park for students who live on campus is parking lot CC, located off campus, on the other side of a short bridge, and down a somewhat steep hill. For most students this is a fairly long walk, especially for students who live in Moffett quad. It would make the lives of many students much easier if they had closer, more convenient parking, particularly when you consider that parking lot CC does not have enough space for all of the student drivers and that the next closest parking area is parking lot Z. It is a small hike to get to and from parking lot Z, and this lot is often in danger of flooding when it rains.

However, it is also understandable that Radford University has not made more parking spaces, as there is limited space available in the area, much less space that would be convenient for on-campus students to park. It is also worth noting that students can park on campus during the weekend, something that can help ease the trouble with parking.

Nonetheless, I am sure if there was a reasonable and effective way to provide more convenient parking, then most students would encourage the university to make that happen. While this is admittedly not a top priority for the university, it would be interesting to see if Radford’s administration does anything to provide better parking in the near future.

Campus Safety Walk Sheds Light on Radford’s Darkest Places

On Wednesday, October 26th, the members of the Radford community, including the Student Government Association, Radford City and University police departments, university administrators, along with other students came together for the university’s bi-annual Campus Safety Walk. This event, taking place once each semester for the past four years, allows for these groups to meet together and identify safety concerns on campus and in the surrounding communities. Through their collaboration, this group identifies areas with improper lighting, emergency phones, and sidewalks that need updating in order to ensure that students are comfortable walking after sundown.

While it seems like a small effort, the impact of this event can be seen throughout the community. Over the last four years,

SONY DSC
“Through their collaboration, this group identifies areas with improper lighting, emergency phones, and sidewalks that need updating.”

Radford has seen an increase in the amount of safety measures taken, such as brighter, more numerous street lamps and the installation of new emergency phones on campus. Many of these improvements can be attributed to the Walk, which allows for direct communication between students and administrators and helps them find the greatest areas for concern.

This year, the team was able to identify several areas that needed to be addressed, however, the total number of unsafe areas has decreased because of the year-to-year improvements that are being made.

All in all, these walks are a great time for people to come together for the greater good of our community; the more frequent interactions students and leaders can have with one another, the safer Radford University and our city will be.

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.

Keep calm and wait three minutes

I’m sitting in my 8 am class, anxiously waiting for my professor to finish her lecture. The clock strikes 8:47, when all of the sudden I hear rustling from all over the classroom, along with zippers being opened and books being slammed closed. I finally look around to investigate what’s happening and I realize everyone is packing up. My professor is still talking, yet here everyone is, putting all their things away while being extremely loud and rude.

There are only three minutes left, can’t you wait? People who enjoy the class or maybe respect their teacher can’t hear what she’s saying because you can’t wait three single solitary minutes.

Seriously. It's all gonna be okay. Just chill out and wait. Photo from keepcalmandposters
Seriously. It’s all gonna be okay. Just chill out and wait. Photo from keepcalmandposters

This has always been a pet peeve of mine. Not only because it’s annoying, but also because I feel bad for the professors who are still trying to get the material in with the small time they have left. It’s disrespectful not only to the professors, but also to the other students who crave to hear what’s being said in the last three minutes of class.

I understand that, maybe you hate this class and you can’t wait to leave it, you have a class right after this one and need to be quick, or that you simply don’t care about other people, but what’s the true difference between packing up three minutes before class ends or right when class ends? It takes you 15 seconds to put all of your things away. 15 seconds that could be spent after the teacher says we can go. I don’t care if you are dying to get out of class. It’s a matter of respect, to the other students as well as the professor, and if you want the professor to respect you and then you should show respect in return.

Bottom line friends, just wait until class is over. I promise, it won’t kill you or make you late. It’ll probably help you in the long run if you need help with an assignment or desperately need an extension. Respect goes a long way, in every endeavor you wish to achieve, so you might as well start now. You never know how many events you’ll have to suffer through in the future, so learning how to respectfully get through them now will only help you down the line.

Now you get an “F”!

You crane your neck around to track the movements of the stack of papers. You wait anxiously until the sheet of paper lands on your desk, your fate scrawled across its top in red ink. Such is the life of a student; whether that ink is on paper or a neat script online, it stings the same when you see a low grade. For your whole career as a student, there’s nothing you can do except give your all to avoid a devastating blow like that.

 

Now the teacher gets the F. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Now the F is on you. Graphic by Katie Gibson

That’s what we all used to think, but there’s more that we can do now to save others from that cruelty– the internet. We use it everyday without realizing how much power we have at our fingertips. I don’t mean that we should be using the internet to cheat, but rather, to life-hack. A life hack is “a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.” The adaptation is the key in this definition.

Now we are capable of communicating with our peers through ratemyprofessors.com. Most people have heard of this, but are you doing your part? Are you taking the time and effort to write a thoughtful review of your professors so that you can inform your peers of what’s to come? You’ve got a responsibility here. If you access ratemyprofessor, it’s your duty to write reviews of your professors too!

If you’re unfamiliar with ratemyprofessors, it’s a very easy to use website. The home page lets you chose either “Find a Professor,” “Find a School,” or “Rate a Professor.” Students use this website to give their opinions on a professor that they’ve had and see what others have also had to say about them.

They’re rated on overall quality, helpfulness, and clarity. Some of the categories don’t add to the total score of the professor, but give some additional helpful feedback on how a class with that professor would be. Those categories are: easiness, interest level, textbook use, average grade, and even professor hotness! The professor’s hotness is shown with a little chili pepper icon.

 

Students going global: It takes a crowd

The first question most study abroad candidates have is how to fund their overseas excursion. Most college students don’t have a bottomless pit of money to dig into when they want to pursue such grand and advantageous trips. However, thanks to the same technology that is making wealthy men out of making a potato salad, students are now raising money through crowdfunding.

Students should take advantage of global technology. Graphic by Jilletta Becker
Students should take advantage of global technology. Graphic by Jilletta Becker

Crowdfunding has been a known to help many businesses, individuals, and charities over the year by allowing contributors from all over the world to give funds to worthy investments via Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and other hosting sites. This in turn can be taken advantage of in many ways, which RU students have been discovering as they search for ways to enhance their college experience.

There are, of course, both advantages and risks to such an innovative way to raising money.

The benefits include the customization of a personal profile for the candidate, much like a more intimate application. Feedback, however, is more immediate than a scholarship application.

Risks involve the reputation of the user — such a public display does mean that everyone has access to your progress. And of course, there is always the risk of failure due to the public fear of abuse for such modes of fundraising. However, with a smaller goal and the marketing vehicle of friends and family, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for students.

Those of you who have been in search of just such a replacement or supplement to financial aid, scholarships, and loans can now look at websites specifically created to host such campaigns, like Fund My Travel. Already these attempts have had some success, such as RU’s own Jodie McKaughan who used crowdfunding to finance two study abroad internships this past summer.

With the use of global technology, it only makes sense that students should take advantage of the global advantages.

The dangers of anonymity in a small community

Radford isn’t the first university to incorporate a “crushes” page onto their online community. Much like the meme page and confessions page, universities seem to have their own special brand of Facebook fads that sweep through and keep people entertained for a few weeks before they lose interest and move on to the next fad. However, RU Crushes seems to have hit RU particularly hard, pulling in well over 2,200 fans in its first week. Continue reading The dangers of anonymity in a small community

Balanced body, balanced you: Tips to a happier and healthier lifestyle

Like many students at Radford University, I took a vow for the new year to improve my body. I decided instead of losing that gut or those thunder thighs, I would instead work on my thumbs. I don’t know how to explain this, but ever since I upgraded to a iPhone, my thumbs have also gained some extra pounds. I can no longer just hit the “b” key; I end up hitting the “lyuf” key. Whenever I text someone “want to hang out,” I always end up sending “eant yo hang oup?” These mistakes I blame upon my overweight thumbs.

A thumb that does not stay on just one button. Image from Creative Commons.
A thumb that does not stay on just one button. Image from Creative Commons.

In all seriousness, many students have started the trek of losing weight or trying to improve themselves. In my opinion, one must follow five easy rules in order to succeed into looking like a less-hot Megan Fox. Continue reading Balanced body, balanced you: Tips to a happier and healthier lifestyle

Mr. RU helps out local animal shelter

The Mr. Radford University pageant started the holiday season right by donating its proceeds to the local animal shelter. On Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m., Robert Worley, Aaron Ciarrocchi, Chris Grigsby and Owen Wise all brought their best talents to the table to fight for the title of Mr. RU, and boy did they deliver. Continue reading Mr. RU helps out local animal shelter