Involvement Part 2

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Hi everyone,

So quite some time ago I wrote a blog on why to get involved. In light of my graduating in 2 weeks and 3 days (who's counting?!) and reflecting back on my college experience I wanted to reitterate that message. I can honestly say, getting involved has made my college experience.

Through the community service organization I was able to travel to Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans for the week of spring break for only 300 dollars. In addition to the position looking good on a resume as I was one of one five resident service leaders, the position also allowed me to travel on this past springs trip to Nashville for free! What can be better than a free trip to what happens to by my country music obsessed self's favorite city? Had I not got involved I would have missed out on three life changing experiences.

I have met several of my friends through clubs and organizations and still talk to several students and faculty that went to Mississippi with me back in March 2009. They say the friends you meet in college will be your friends for life, so why not get involved and meet lots of people at the same time in a fun environment?

On top of involvement, take advantage of random trips to bond with friends, relieve stress, and maybe even learn something. For example, this weekend the Lion Entertainment Board is hosting a trip to NYC. I paid 20$ for a coach bus to take me to NYC. We also hold annual Cedar Point Trips and a leadership conference were you get to spend the night in a hotel and gain valuable leadership skills  (and in my case, make a business contact). 

I am sure other schools do similar activities and random, fun trips so don't fret if you have not selected to attend Behrend. Just take my word that getting involved and those experiences are the things that you will remember from college and make great support and anecdotes for grad school interviews


Break time?!

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As I sit here on Thanksgiving Break, what better time than now to write a blog? It's been a while because I have been busy with research, work, homework, and graduate school visits and interviews. Which I am proud to announce I have selected a graduate school and will be starting in January.

This blog is how to make the most of your break when you want to visit old friends and work when you were more than likely assigned enough homework to keep you busy the entire time.

Behrend's Thanksgiving Break is a little different than most colleges. We get the entire week off because we do not get a fall break in October as most other schools. Personally I'd rather have the entire week off, so the lack of fall break doesn't bother me too much. As eluded to earlier, at least in my experience professors give homework for break. I even know of a few students who have a test upon our return next week because it is the last week we can have a test. My homework over break consists of writing a ten-twelve minute powerpoint presentation, reading a chapter from my clinical psychology textbook, making notecards of old exam questions for my clinical final and finding a journal article and writing a summary for English class. The question I posed earlier was how to accomplish all of that school work, maybe even work, and still be able to relax and catch up with old friends?

This task could be easier for Behrend students because we receive an entire week off, however that might mean we may receive a greater amount of homework, so it may in fact not be different. One of the things you can do, which I encouraged in an earlier blog, is to map out your study schedule. List your assignments and estimate how much time you think they'll take and plan out your week. Some people may get intimated by this list but usually I find that once you have it in writing, you'll realize that you have ample time to visit old friends, relax, enjoy some of your break, and even work a little if you cannot afford to receive only half a pay check.

Along with that is to plan your schedule according to your study habits. If you know you won't be able to relax until all of your work is done, then try to get it finished as early in the week as you can. On the opposite hand, if you need the pressure of a deadline, maybe you want to wait until Wednesday to start your assignments, not that I am in any way advocating procrastinating, but some people need that pressure.

Lastly is to stay motivated. I know that it is break and a holiday and if you eat a big Thanksgiving Dinner that you are not going to want to do anything. But look at it this way, the more you get done over break, the easier these last two weeks of classes will be when you aren't playing catch up.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


I have to study?!

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So as I sit here at work preparing for my first presentation tomorrow (in photo class!) and preparing for a probable quiz in clinical psychology tomorrow, I decided to write a blog about studying in college.

This may come as a shock to new freshman upon their arrival. After receiving a syllabus that has every reading and homework assignment, presentation, exam etc for the semester your eyes will probably get very large and you'll immediately wonder how you could possibly get all that work done. It's a little intimidating, but it is never as bad as it seems.

One of the first things I do is create a master syllabus that lists out all the assignments and exams. This was I can see which weeks are going to be a little more hectic and can try to get ahead on a slower week. See my earlier blog on time management here :)

One of the things that may come as a surprise to you, as it did with me, is the amount of studying you have to do, and the number of ways that you have to study. In high school, I rarely "studied". So coming to college and having to study was a shocker and I basically had to learn how to study. This took some trial and error because I didn't know whether I was te type of person who needed flashcards, to repeated work out problems, or if I would read nad be able to remember the reading.

Adding to that is the slight complication that you have to study differently for each class. For example, studying for a science class you may spend the time making flash cards of vocab words and drawing diagrams of processes whereas in a math or physics class your "studying" consists of solving problems in your text and such. Humanities classes have a substantial amount of reading involved so your studying may involve taking notes as you read, outlining the chapter, which I have also applied to some science classes. However you choose to study, the general rule of thumb is that you should spend 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour in class. As you will notice, some classes require more or less time depending on their difficulty and required assignments.

Another aspect to studying is yor location and who you study with. Some people need absolute silence which is why our library has a few rooms downstairs where you can shut the door to block out the noise. This is obviously for people who study alone, however, there are also rooms with a chalkboard for a group of a few people to study in so that they can make a little more noise in the library. This is a handy feature because one of the best ways to learn is being active, which can include explaining something to another person. That will also help you get used to speaking out loud, fluently, when you have to do in class presentations or take public speaking class :)



Don't Blink

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Recently, because of my job in admissions, I have been offered the opportunity to accompany one of our admisisons counselors back to my high school alma mater to tell the students about Behrend and college. This got me reflecting back over my college, as is the fact that I graduate in three short months.

With that being said, this blog is going to be offering some admissions advice and how to make the most out of your college visits and the representatives that come to your school.

One of the main things that I have noticed while giving tours is that students do not like to ask questions when they are getting a tour, especially when their parents are with them. If this is you, I strongly encourage you to break out of your shell and start asking questions because it is important you pick the write college for you. Some colleges are more science technology focused, some are liberal arts, some have 4,000 students, some have 40,000 students, some are down town, some are more secluded in the country. You get it. College is most likely your biggest decision to date, and since you will be spending four years of your life there, it is important that you really do your homework and ask questions, no matter how stupid you think they might be. That goes for when you have a representative visit as opposed to visiting the college.

Along with doing your homework, make sure you investigate the surrounding area. Look at things like if there is a bus system to go places in case you don't have a car, if there are grocery stores, restaurants, and fun places around the area. Ask the students who accompany representatives or that give you the campus tour what they like to do for fun and what kind of events the school puts on for you. The student will be honest with you and they will be able to give you the student perspective as opposed to an admissions rep.

Not to sound like a broken record, but surf the schools website and see what specific programs the college offers, any fun traditions they may brag about, and learn as much as you can about it. Some colleges offer nights where you can spend a night with a student to see what it's like on campus, which are a wonderful activity and I have actually hosted a prospective student for one of those. 

Bottom line is do your research and if you do that I promise you will love you college, make loads or friends, and it will be the best four years of your life.



What Should I Pack?!

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As promised here is my blog on what to pack. As mentioned in my blog yesterday, Behrend should have a list of what to bring, so let's start there.

Here is the list of Stuff on Behrend's Welcome Week Page - I will comment on each item.

·         Address book, stamps, stationery - only if you want. You can buy stamps and envelopes

·         Alarm clock -if you want. If you have a cell phone, it usually has an alarm clock on it.

·         Backpack - doesn't even need explaining J

·         Baskets for toiletries and storage - I would suggest a bathroom tote to carry stuff to the shower if you live in a traditional hall and little baskets for your desk drawers so you don't have pens, push pins and such all over the place.

·         Bed Linen: sheets (extra-long twin), bedspread/blanket, and pillow - I might also suggest a second set of sheets. That way if you spill a drink all over your bed at 9 PM and you don't feel like doing laundry right than you don't have to.

·         Bike

·         Cleaning supplies (cleaner, paper towels) - Your bathroom is cleaned for you. But if you want to but wipes to wipe down your desk occasionally, or a dollar bottle of store brand windex to keep your mirror clean if you would like to put one in your room.

·         Clothing (bathrobe) - this is optional, obviously.  I personally don't have one but it's your personal comfort and what's going to make you feel at home.

·         Computer, printer, and cables - Don't' forget an Ethernet cord for your computer. Right now there is no charge to print from a computer lab so there is no need to buy a printer for your room if you don't want to. However, it is nice to not have to walk to a lab to print a three page paper or wait for a computer to print it right before class as you will see happen a lot. Save the larger papers and power points for the computer lab printer.

·         Desk items (lamp, pens/pencils/highlighters, calendar, calculator, tape, scissors, stapler, paperclips) - You do have a lamp on your desk, but to be honest sometimes they can get noisy. I recommend a little lamp, maybe even a second one for by your bed. (My roommate and I commonly sat in bed reading until we basically fell asleep). A calendar is your life - yes get one! There are so many assignments so have to write them in a planner of you'll forget at least one. I also might add push pins for the bulletin board on your desk and sticky tack to hang up a poster or papers on your wall - although I think this can be done with pins.

·         Fan (portable) - the traditional freshman halls are not air conditioned.

·         Financial items (checking/savings account, credit/debit card, health insurance card, Social Security card, driver's license or photo ID) - these are all must haves. If you don't feel safe with them, you can purchase a small box that locks, or your top dresser drawer (at least in Senat) can be locked with a pad lock.

·         First Aid items (band aids, cotton balls, cotton swabs, cold/cough medicine, first-aid kit, aspirin) - I also would suggest maybe buying a travel bottle of headache medicine so that you can take it to class because in college it's really important to not miss a class. Then you can just refill it from the big bottle in your room.

·         Food items (can opener, bottled beverages, coffee maker with automatic shutoff, one set of silverware/plates/bowls/glasses, condiments, napkins, snacks, dish detergent/
- don't forget you have a limited number of freezer and fridge space. You also only have a microwave so you are limited in options of food you can make in your room and you also have a meal plan (use sparing so don't go too crazy with food for the room. Mainly soda and water and such, snacks such as chips, and then some microwave food like easy mac, ramen, chef Boyardee, etc.

·         Games (cards, board games) - I wouldn't go overboard but if you want to bring a game or two go ahead. You will get busy with reading for class and homework one top of possibly working or joining clubs your free time will be limited.

·         Hangers - you do have some closet space so yes bring these. Use your drawers for hoodies and sweats that can get wrinkled and if you want maybe buy one of those plastic three drawer units for beside your bed. Good to put a lamp and your cell phone on.

·         Laundry basket/bag, detergent, iron - freshman cannot have an ironing board in your room but there is one if the laundry room so you can bring an iron.

·         Padlocks (desk, laptop, and bike) Also dryer sheets aren't on here.

·         Room decorations* - posters mainly.

·         Sewing kit/safety pins - I have a cute, little, hand-sewing kit, but thankfully I haven't really had to use it although it might be a good idea.

·         Snow shovel to store in your car - it will get snowed into its spot and you will have to spend twenty minutes shoveling it out, so plan going places accordingly.

·         Stereo system (CD player, radio, mini disc player, headphones, CDs, etc.) - you can play music off your computer and space is limited so a full out stereo is a little much. Also, if your roommate wants to study, you may not want to blast music so it's easier to just put headphones into your laptop. Also, if you have an IPOD or something like it, get used to sleeping with it in.

·         Television - if you aren't really a big television person, you probably can get by without one as you can watch shows online the next day and play movies on your laptop. However, if you are big into TV or videogames, it's a must have. Talk to your roommate about sharing one.

·         Toiletry Items - shampoo/conditioner, body wash, shaving gel, razors.

·         Towels - bath towels, hand towels, and wash clothes.

·         Umbrella - I would suggest a golf umbrella, the little ones don't hold up well in the wind.

·         Vacuum Cleaner (although vacuums are available in each residence area, it is suggested that you bring a small one with you, such as a "stick" vacuum, if your room is carpeted) - I have a little stick vacuum and it works nice. It's little so it doesn't hurt the limited storage.

·         VCR or DVD player (with cables) - yes. Even though your laptop plays them, that won't work well for having a movie night with friends.

* Posters and photos must be hung with plastic tack.

 I am not sure there is anything else that is not on this list after scanning through some of my college stuff, but I am sure that you will unpack and realize you forgot something. That is why I suggest unpacking and then going to Wal Mart to buy your refrigerated food and then you can look around that store to see if your forgot anything.


Summer - where did you go?

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Incoming freshman,

There is only four weeks until you move in - let the countdown begin! With that being said, I think that it is time for my all important tips for packing and making move in day as smooth as possible.

First tip is to consult the Behrend website. There is a welcome week with suggeted items to bring as well as items that are not allowed in freshman dorms such as toasters and ironing boards. This is a good place to come up with an initial list. (I will give more specifics later).

I would probably begin buying your list now, a little at a time so that each and everything is not coming out of the same paycheck (although this may be a little late now, as it will probably only be from two pay periods)

Put your name on all items!! When you move in as a freshman you may have upperclassman there to help carry all of your stuff in. You tell them your room number and send them with your stuff. If you name is on it, it's easier to locate if it gets taken to the wrong room or gets mixed in with your new roommates stuff.

Talk to your roommate beforehand to see if you want to share a television or stereo or even if one of you has little welcome mat/rug for your door.

When packing up your stuff pack strategically. Do not place things you might want like your internet or television cord in the bottom of a box so they're inaccessable.

Have mom or dad get the internet set up while your are unpacking as there should be restech people there if you are having trouble.

I may also talk about the bed time routine so that if one of you wants to sleep at 11 for your 8 AM and the other one doesn't get blindsided when you just lay down and try to sleep with no warning. 

Once you and your roommate get to talking, you may feel like bunking beds and putting a folding camping style chair, which are allowed in your room, where the bed was.

These tips are getting a little long, so I will save the what to bring for tomorrow's blog :)

Why Choose Behrend?

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So as I give tours to prospective freshman I often hear tell of other college visits. Mainly this consists of parent's saying well this is nicer than that and so on. Last week the prospective student and her daughter had visited Slippery Rock, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Edinboro, my three top prospective graduate schools. I have visited Slippery Rock and Edinboro and researched IUP extensively so I know about their schools. This led me to the task of selling Behrend without trashing the other schools and looking like a jerk, snob, etc.

With that being said I have created what I considered are some major selling points for Behrend for your undergraduate education.

One is the size of Behrend. It is a smaller-medium size campus. What that means is that it is not so tiny you know the one-hundred people on campus and their families yet it isn't so large that your professors don't know you by name. Some people who come from the city are used to the big world and may not mind a 20,000 student campus but this means you have to make an effort to visit your professors outside of class, because they will not learn your name in a 300 student general education course.

Research opportunities is a huge bonus is you attend Behrend. Because we only have two masters degrees the research positions are not being filled by graduate assistants. This means that undergraduates have the opportunity to assist faculty with their research and as is the case with the psychology major, even create and carry out your own research study. This research participation is a rarity for undergraduates on campuses and therefore it gives Behrend graduates a unique set of skills and experiences to set them apart from fellow job and graduate school applicants.

Third is related to location. We are a suburban campus (if you ask me). So if you like the country, trees, wildlife, and hills you will feel right at home. However, if you feel more inclined for city life we are a ten minute trip on the highway from downtown Erie, the mall, and several other stores including Target, Best Buy, Kohls, etc. We are also only a few minutes from a Wal Mart, K Mart, Dollar General, and several restaurants.

All of that stuff sound interesting? Well, if you don't have a car, which even freshman can have on our campus, you can still access it. We have a bus that runs all week and weekends that takes you to the mall, Wal Mart, etc.

If that hasn't sold you on Behrend, plan a visit. Once you see the campus you will be hooked. Plus, who doesn't want a Penn State Education?! The name carries some weight.

Making The Most of the First Weekend

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So today's blog was inspired by the young lady transferring from Geneva whom I gave a tour to on Monday as well as the fact that incoming freshman and transfers should have recently received your roommates and official room assignments. She was worried about finding her way around campus come August and move in day. So today's blog is going to be how to make the most of that first weekend on campus.

As a freshman you move in Friday and be met upperclassmen volunteers called orientation leaders. They will help you move your stuff in and attend the mandatory events with you all weekend and ensure that you get where you are supposed to be.

Friday night is low key with just a mandatory event or two. It is mainly for getting moved in, meeting your roommate and suitemates, other people on your floor, and your Resident Assistant.  My advice to you here is take advantage of this time and get to know your roommates, suitemates but also the other people on your floor. After all, you have to spend an entire year with these students and you will probably have at least one class together, especially if you live in the Freshman Interest Group. Some of the best friends I have made in college were students I met freshman year because they lived in my hall

Saturday mandatory events start bright and early, including the upperclassman moving in. There are events all day until very late as there is usually the Price is Right going on in McGarvey Commons until 11PM or Midnight. The sessions throughout the day include speakers, academic information, and some other fun events. I'll be honest, I don't think most students go to every single event, but all I can say to that is that you get out of it what you put into it. I mean, who wants to sit in a building listening to people talk all day when you just arrived at college and would rather be doing anything else. The speakers know it too, but they volunteered to come and the orientation staff took the time to plan all of this so please attend some of the events. There will be plenty of time to explore and such during your hopefully four years at Behrend.

Sunday is a day that has been given to you to essentially explore college. There is just a mandatory event or two, and I believe this is when the academic convocation is, which is where you are officially welcomed as a member of the class of 2015. One of the things I suggest you do is print out your schedule and find your exact classrooms. This will help to prevent being late or walking into the wrong classroom when you're already nervous about your first day of college classes. There will be upperclassman wondering around and events going on so don't be afraid to ask where a building is. They were freshman too and will point you in the right direction.

Enjoy the weekend. You may get homesick, but talk to the other students on your floor. The more at home you feel at Behrend, the quicker that will go away. Look for my what to bring to college blog later this summer



Staying Motivated

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As I am sitting here working on writing the informed consent form to send in with the rest of my research to get approved I am finding out just how important it is to stay motivated and keep on top of things, especially in the summer.

As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, it is extremely important to stay on top of things and not procrastinate too much during the school year, and summer is the same deal when you are taking classes, performing research, etc.

During the summer, motivation is usually in short supply. You have the sunshine, friends, no homework, bon fires, need I say more?!  However, as is the case with the school year, assignments have deadlines and you need to find that motivation, but how to do that?! I have thought of a few ways to keep your motivation going when you would rather be doing anything else over the summer.

Way number one is to think of the end goal and potential benefits from the work and what those really mean. For example, by doing my summer research over the summer it eases my course load in the fall as I will not be doing my IRB Approval when everyone in the class is. That may not seem like a huge deal, but once you experience a college work load, and you have a class that the teacher says will be the work of two any less work makes all the difference.

A second way is to create a sort of rewards system as that has been proven quite effective by psychologists. So for example, for working diligently for an hour or so, you can have a half hour to enjoy the sunshine, etc. If you are feeling really motivated, take advantage and do extra work at that time. When I am in one of those work modes I can finish an assignment in half the time.

A third, and final, way could be to work for shorter times and limit your distractions. Not many people can sit there and work on an assignment for hours on an end. Take little ten minute breaks once an hour or whenever you feel that you really need to refocus and that your concentration is gone for the minute.

There are plenty of other things that you can do to stay motivated and because every person is different some will work better for you than others. This can certainly be applied during the school year as you are learning to time manage, which I will cover at a later date, but I wanted to cover it now as summer is a huge time for lack of motivation.

Have a great Memorial Day Tomorrow!


Summer Time??

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As I sit here in my room at home on a Sunday night for the first time since January I think it has finally hit me that it is summer vacation.

I use the term vacation lightly though as for most of us college students, summer is filled with work or in my case, undergraduate research. That being said, this blog will be dedicated to explaining my research project that is a requirement for psychology majors so that you have an example of the kind of undergraduate research performed at Behrend.

As a psychology major, instead of having a thesis paper as most humanities majors do, you design and carry out your own research project over the course of two semesters in Psych 301W and 406W. When it is all said and done, you present your findings at an undergraduate research conference to show off your year of hard work!

The cool thing about these projects is that you can apply for grants (which is a very simple process, and not have to spend a dime). I received a summer grant so that I can be paid this summer for the time I spend programming the experiment and running pilot subjects and completing some additional ethics training my grant requires since I am using human subjects. This grant also pays for supplies needed and we even received some to pay the volunteer participants of our summer test trial. We run the actual participants this fall in 406W and cannot be paid to do so, but the fall grant we received will pay for copies of the informed consent forms, flash drives to back up our data, and poster supplies for our research conference presentations.

Even if you are in a major that does not require you to participate in research, and a lot of them are Behrend do not, I strongly encourage you to do it. This is one of the things that is unique to Behrend. Most schools are not as willing to let undergraduates participate in research as they have graduate students to do that, or they are too small to host labs, etc. Research looks really good on the resume and the skills learned are certainly transferable to other activities.

With that being said, here is my project, an example of what is expected for the undergraduate psychology major at Behrend.

My project is dealing with the brain and cognitive psychology. It is known that the left side of the brain is better at processing language tasks and the more fine details whereas the right hemisphere is better as spatial tasks and seeing the big picture. My research partner and I wanted to see if activating one side of the brain over the other does create a difference in visual task performance.

We will have participants squeeze a stress ball to activate one side of the brain and then show them a bunch of one little letter, shaped into a single, large letter (called a Navon Letter).  We will ask them to identify either the large or small letter and measure their reaction time. Those with their right-hemisphere primed should identify the large letter more quickly which those with the left-side activated should be faster with the small letter.




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