College Life

Great Classes to Take for EVERY Major

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Looking to fill your elective slots? Or your general requirements? Here are some great and extremely useful courses to take, regardless of your degree, major, minor or concentration:

Intro to Computer Science

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As a journalism major, I was concerned about having to take this class, but it’s actually a really useful skill to have even at an introductory level. Knowing basic coding can help you in any field that might involve you using the internet (which in today’s world, is probably most).

American Government

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Assuming you are living in the US, knowing the basics about how your government works and (theoretically) functions is important for cultural literacy.

Religious Studies

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Specifically something you don’t believe in. Challenge yourself to understand another culture, religion or belief system. Seeing how others view the world can help you define more clearly how you see the world.

Foreign Language

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This can be really useful on a resume and in future jobs. Also helpful if you want to study abroad.

English Literature

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Read some books that you would have never picked up in a million years. Form some opinions about great authors. Make sure you can write a decent essay and argue your thesis coherently. These skills are important and having read some classic or just really good books will help you in life.

Astronomy

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With just a little math, learn about where we are in the universe and all the other incredible things we share space in the universe with. (Ok, as an astronomy minor, I might be slightly biased on this one.. but it’s still a great option!)

How to Make Free Time Productive

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Most of the time when we have free time to ourselves, we tend to use it to binge watch TV shows on Netflix or spend too much time aimlessly surfing the internet. So here are some productive ways to spend your leisure time.

1. Read a Book

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Usually reading is associated with school, but leisure reading is something that can be fun. Find a genre or author that you like and immerse yourself into that world. Make reading something you WANT to do. Need some suggestions to get you started? Create a free account at www.goodreads.com!

2. Exercise

Jogging

Not only is exercise necessary for a healthy life, but it also helps you relieve stress and can help you sleep better at night. If traditional exercise does not appeal to you, try a physical activity that interests you. Ask friends to exercise with you and make it fun. Need an app to get you motivated? Download MyFitnessPal for free!

3. Volunteer in your Community

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It is always a good feeling to give back to one’s community. It does not have to be a huge volunteer project, but anything that makes even a small difference matters.  Something small from picking up trash at your local beach to a bigger project like feeding the homeless really does make a difference. Find volunteer opportunities in your area at www.voluntermatch.org.

4. Make a List

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If you have more than one thing to do during your free time, make a list planning out the details.  Be specific about the importance level for each task, along with details about where and when it will be completed. You will feel more productive about your day when you see everything check off the list.

Tips to Stay Organized & Give You a Fresh Start!

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Another semester has started and you want to get a fresh start! Staying organized is the best way to ensure this happens. Here are some great tips to help you out!

1. Date Your Notes. Make sure to write the date at the beginning of each lecture to keep your notes organized. It also makes it a lot easier to find when notes are missing.

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2. Color Code Your Subjects. Color in your schedule and make sure your notebooks match, that way, it’s easy to grab the right notebooks for each class!

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3. Organize Your Computer. Instead of just adding papers and lecture notes to “Documents” create a college folder, with subjects or sub-folders for each semester to keep your hard-drive neat.

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4. Note Q&A’s in Lecture. When a teacher poses a question to the class, write your notes in the form of a question and answer (and highlight the question). It could be the same question appears later on in the semester…

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5. Keep Your Quarters in a Cup. Easy access for when you need to do laundry or need a midnight caffeine booster.

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6. Use a Pencil Pouch. This will keep all your writing utensils in one place, keep you from losing them and save you money on continuing to buy more pens and pencils!

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7. Clear Out Your Pack. Each time you get back to your dorm room, empty your backpack to keep important things like notes and study guides from getting lost in the mess.

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8. Keep Your Toiletries Together. That way you won’t lose anything and won’t pay for anything you already have.

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 9, Create an Inbox Folder. For discussions with professors, so that you don’t lose track of information or for easy reference back to it.

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10. KEEP YOUR ROOM CLEAN. Being organized isn’t helpful if you can’t ever find any of your things to begin with.

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I hope this tips help you get the fresh start you need! Have a great semester!

Your Professor’s Road Map To Success: The Syllabus

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Your TA or Professor will likely hand you a pretty long document on the first day of class, or maybe she’ll email it to you ahead of time. This document is your semester success checklist, and its called “The Syllabus.” Many students skip “syllabus week” (the first week of classes) or figure that they don’t really need to pay attention to the review of the syllabus. But, your teacher is handing you their road map to success this semester. The information you should pay close attention to?

              The Professor’s Contact Information.

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Office hours, a phone number, an email address- the professor is BEGGING you to ask them for help!

Guidelines For The Course.

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What the teacher is expecting from you is written out in (hopefully) plain and simple English. This usually also covers what to do if you get sick and miss and exam or how to handle missing class for a holiday, so keep this safe for future reference.

Exam Dates. 

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Helpful information, to be put on a calendar ASAP! This will ensure you don’t forget until the professor reminds you the class before.

Weekly Readings and Assignments.

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On some syllabi, this section is good to help you keep on track with what you need to be on top of. Think of it as the professor’s planner for you.

It’s really important to read the syllabus at the beginning of the school year so that you know how to conduct yourself for each course during the semester. It’s also important for you to KEEP the syllabus for each course, in readable condition (i.e. not at the bottom of your backpack) throughout the semester. Good luck with starting spring semester!

Tips For Planning An Affordable Spring Break

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If you’re planning a spring break trip with your friends, now is the time to crack down on your planning.  Finding an affordable trip is easier than you might think.  Here are a few tips to help you get started!

1. Do your research.

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Look into every deal you can find for the places you’re thinking about going.  Check Groupon, Airbnb, Expedia, Priceline, etc.  Make sure you find the best deal for the kind of trip you want.  Really explore your options so you can find the trip that’s right for you.

2. Set a budget and stick to it.

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Make sure you know how much you have to spend and plan accordingly.  Include any potential spending money you’ll need while you’re there.  If you’re not going to an all-inclusive resort, factor in your food and beverage expenses.  If you’re doing any non-free activities, make sure you’re prepared for the costs.

3. Read the fine print.

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Some hotels and getaway deals have extra and hidden fees.  Read everything before you book your stay/trip to make sure there are no surprises.  Be certain of the costs before you agree to anything.

4. Be open-minded.

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Don’t be too set on a specific place.  Just know the type of vacation you want to have (i.e. warm weather, beach resort, city, ski/snowboard trip, etc.)  Depending on the popularity of the place, the dates you’re going, and the amount of people you’re travelling with, some places/hotels will be more expensive.  Being open to different places can help you find a more affordable trip.

5. Split costs where you can.

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Find rooms that sleep more people.  Split the cost of the rental car or gas if one of you has your own car that you can take.  Go in as a group on snacks and/or groceries.  Anything that can be a shared cost, share it.

Road Trip Recipe

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If you have a long enough break, taking a road trip for a few days or even a week can be a great way to spend your time, see friends and experience new and different places! Here’s a few key ingredients to make a successful road trip:
Road Trip Blog Post
1. A Car- kind of a must have! Recruit a group of 4 – 5 friends and see if someone has a car. Make sure everyone is willing to chip in for gas. If none of your friends have a car, check out Zipcar and have everyone pitch in for that. If all else fails, bus it!
2. Friends- 3-5 is an ideal number for car fitting and driving rotations. Friends make every trip more fun and exciting!
3. 1 Pillow per Person- Necessary for the mid-drive nap and for the mid-drive fight! Also makes any car more comfortable.
4. Small Front Seat “Carry-On”- For phones, chargers, cameras and snacks. Maybe a book. Not larger than a small drawstring bag for most space and comfort of travel.
5. Sweatshirts- For differences in driver/passengers temperature preferences and for the quick run to the bathroom at the rest stop!
6. A Plan- Don’t just start to drive, know approximately where you are going to and about when you’ll get there (days-wise) in case of emergency, and so that you can research cool things to do once you get to where you are going!
Have fun and be safe!

Tips to Keep Warm During Winter Walks to Class

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Now that we’re in the middle of winter, walking to class can be pretty dreadful. If you go to school in a colder area, you’ll find that frigid temperatures doesn’t equal cancelled classes. Here are some tips on how to stay warm as you brave the winter weather to get to class.

1. Get a pair of thermal underwear.

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Wear thermal leggings or long johns under your jeans, sweatpants, etc. It will make a world of difference when you’re walking to class in frigid temperatures.

2. Pick up some wool socks.
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Invest in some good quality wool socks. Keeping your feet warm is extremely important during the colder months and a good pair of socks helps to ensure a warmer, more comfortable journey.

3. Wear snow boots.
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If you go to school somewhere where snow is likely in the winter, snow boots are essential. They’ll keep your feet warm and dry as you trek through campus. Snow boots are also great for extremely cold temperatures when it’s not snowing!

4. Don’t forget your hat, scarf, or gloves!
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Winter accessories are important and a good coat can only cover so much. Don’t forget to keeps your hands, neck, and head bundled up as well. It’s cold and flu season and the cold weather will only worsen your symptoms if you’re not careful!

5. Invest in a good coat.
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It might be worth it to spend a bit more money to ensure you’re getting a good quality, warm coat. Getting a good coat also means longevity, so you’ll get many years out of it, which is worth the investment!

Handling a Forgotten Assignment

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assignmentIt’s that point in the semester, when there’s too much to do and too little time. Also that time when some assignments just kind of slip through the cracks. Here are some guidelines to handling a forgotten assignment:

 Step 1: Apologize, without excuses. Saying, “I’m really sorry, but I had a ton of other work for this other class,” makes it just sound like this class isn’t that important to you. While you may feel this way, it’s not a great way to get any sympathy from the professor or TA. Instead say, “I’m sorry, this totally slipped my mind, but I take full responsibility for the lateness of this assignment.”

 Step 2: Get the assignment done and in as soon as possible. Show the professor that you really do care about this assignment, even if you know you won’t get full or any points on it. It shows that you care more about the information than the grade and tells the professor that you are really dedicated to understanding the material.

 Step 3: Don’t expect full credit, but do try for extra credit. In handing in your assignment late, you don’t deserve full credit. Likely, the professor explained the policy for late work in the syllabus. Consult it and then discuss with your professor how to make up the lost points through any sort of extra credit.

 Step 4: Remember this feeling. It will keep you writing up to do lists or updating your assignment notebook!

The Off the Beaten Path Holiday Buying List for the College Gentleman

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In honor of the upcoming holiday, I thought I would break my normal stream of consciousness to bring all of the girlfriends, mothers, aunties and sisters out there a little yule tide help in searching for a special something for their favorite male undergrad (or heck… grad student as well!).

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 Dave Brubeck Quartet- Jazz Goes To College

While the current generation may be stuck on Young Thug and Iggy, jazz was the controversial genre of your parent’s day; so much so that in 1954, universities across the country initially refused to let Dave and his quartet perform on their campuses. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and Brubeck embarked on a four month tour, playing at 90 universities and junior colleges across the country. While Wolverines should enjoy this pressing (five of the seven songs are from the University of Michigan show) this album is certainly an intro course for students looking for a little something more than what the radio is offering.

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Tweed Football from The Lodge Goods

Dorm football: a male, freshman sport played by bored first years in the dormitory hallway. Usually proceeded by the phrase “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Often followed by an impromptu trip to the emergency room and write ups of all participants. While wrapping a football in Harris Tweed won’t necessarily make taking a spiral to the face feel any better, at least it looks cool.

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 The Hunt Duffle Back from Hershel Co

Because you promised yourself you’d hit the campus gym on a regular basis in the new year. Because you promised your parents you would visit more next semester. Because mentally, you’re already on spring break. And because carrying your clothes in a backpack or a black trash bag isn’t sexy.

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 Hunter Original iPhone case

Recently, my overpriced Lifeproof Case proved that despite its name, it actually was susceptible to life. So the wife and I took a trip to the Apple Store in search of a new case to protect my fragile iPhone 5S. Our sells associate laid out a few options similar to my previous case, but my eyes couldn’t see past this hunter green case by Hunter Original (yes, the same Hunter Original that makes your rain boots). As I held what would be my new case, my wife remarked “Chose your case wisely. Its not always about fashion” to which I would respond “Dear wife. It is ALWAYS about fashion.”

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Duckboots by LL Bean or Sperry if you want them by the 25th

Marketed as the “original antidote to wet feet”, this boot is a multi-faceted piece of any man’s wardrobe. Whether marching through January snow on your way to your 9:00 class or sloshing through April rain puddles on your way to finals, these classic boots will keep those feet warm and dry from hustling on campus to hunting in the marsh. The only problem is that the LL Bean version of these boots are SO popular, they are currently on back order to about March. Sprerry however, makes a version that is just as tactical, fashionable and more available.

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 Gentlemen Only Intense by Givenchy

A man’s scent is like his calling card. I’ll never forget my first bottle of cologne; a bottle of Curve purchased with my meager McDonald’s paycheck in high school. As you mature, so does your palette. Soon you’ll have your clean, fresh and sometimes fruity scents for the spring and summer while you look to musky, woodsy scents for the fall and winter. Gentlemen Only Intense is the older brother of the original Gentlemen Only that will deliver masculine elegance right from your neck to your girlfriend’s nose.

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Archer Season 5

If you’re not watching Archer by now, all I can say is that you are missing some of the best television around. The Simpsons and Family Guy may have lost their bite a long time ago, but this spy comedy keeps its teeth sharp. Season 6 premieres in January so what better way to spend your holiday break by binge watching the world’s most inept spy agency become the world’s most inept drug cartel.

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Colligate needlepoint belt from Smathers and Branson

We are about nine months away from the next college football season which of course means, we’re about the length of a full term pregnancy from the next tailgate. In a sea of hoodies and fitted baseball caps, a needlepoint belt featuring your school’s logo is a discrete yet unique way to show your pride. Pair it with a tucked in Oxford and a gameday hat, and your ready for all of the barbecuing, co-ed flirting and carrying on the tailgate has to offer. Smather’s and Branson offers all conference belts for the ACC and SEC as well as a good listing of individual schools as well.

The Importance of Study Breaks!

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Once Thanksgiving comes and goes, the semester is practically over. And while that  signals the light at the end of the tunnel, a.k.a. Winter Break, it also means you’re hurtling straight into a vat of finals. Final papers, final projects and final exams are all around the corner, meaning you are probably spending more than your fair share of time with your nose stuck in a textbook or computer. To make sure you don’t go crazy, make sure to take a 10-15 minute study break every 2-3 hours you spend studying. You don’t have to do anything specific, just get up, take a walk around, watch a YouTube video, get a coffee, jump rope, call your parents to let them know you’re alive, etc. Giving yourself a few minutes to take a breath and recollect your thoughts can keep you from burning out. So study hard and don’t forget to take breaks!