Author: Wonderbread

What To Do If You’re Falling Behind Mid-Semester

It’s the middle of the semester, you’ve made a lot of friends by this point, joined some clubs, found a sweet little part-time gig at a coffee shop but amidst all that, classes got lost a bit in the shuffle. You haven’t had to turn in any assignments yet but you’ve missed some lectures and some of the reading. Suddenly, you’re not sure if you’re going to pass. This may very well be the case and if you’ve fallen behind, it’s quite a bit harder to catch up in college than in high school but by no means impossible.  Mid-terms will give you a good indication whether your instincts are correct or not.

If they are, what are your options?

Talk to your dean immediately. Let them know what’s going on, which classes you’re struggling in, and why you’re having trouble. They can organize things like getting you a tutor or work with a professor about extra credit or possibly expunging the mid-term grade if you get a certain grade on the final. If you try to plead your case after the final exam that you had a rough first half, it will never fly.  Talk to your dean as soon as you feel you’re floundering in the class.

Go to class. Before you think I think you’re dumb, I made this mistake my freshman year.  I would ask people I knew about the lectures and if they found them helpful.  A lot of the time, the answer was ‘no, you really don’t need to go to lecture for that class.’  Well, they were dead wrong.  If you think the lectures might be worthless, let’s say for an introductory psych class, don’t take someone’s word for it.  Go to class.  If you’re on the fence about it, go to class.  Getting a feel for the professor and his opinions will give you insight into what he’s looking for.

I also recommend finding a fresh study location.  It’s the same concept as cutting your hair after breaking up with your boyfriend.  Okay, not really.  But turning a new leaf can be easier if you shake things up to break bad habits of missing class and not spending enough time studying.

There’s still plenty of time, believe it or not!  Rally and finish those classes up strong.



I’m reading Operations Management

3 Ways to Go from “Good” to “Great” Papers

Ask any one of my friends.  When I have to write a paper, I want to literally shoot myself in the face & end it all.  I’m dramatic and whiny but I always get it done, correctly and on time.  I can’t make the process any more enjoyable but hopefully these tips can take your paper to the next level.3 Ways to Go From "Good" to "Great" Papers

#1 Don’t worry about filling up pages.  This is the number one way to get a C or lower on a paper.  It leads to rambling repeated ideas rephrased and a lack of coherent structure.

#2 A great way to avoid #1, determine the scope of your paper.   Scope means the size of the question you want to answer.

I’ll give you an example of a prompt I received in an ethics and public policy paper.

“Which is more important: maximizing happiness or minimizing rights violations?”  The reading for the paper was 200 pages and the scope of the original question is HUGE.  A doctoral thesis could be written on that question alone and I only have 3-5 pages to work with.  So I change the question.  Instead of addressing everything, I answer ‘maximizing happiness is more important that minimizing rights violation when conditions A, B and C exist.  Boom, thesis and scope knocked out in one fell swoop.

Which naturally leads to step…

#3 unpack your ideas.  Focus on two or three points for a paper of 3-5 pages and then thoroughly argue them.  How do you achieve this?  Think of every objection you can think of to the point you are trying to make and address those weaknesses and objections.  Addressing counterarguements makes your thesis stronger, not weaker and it builds up to that page limit constructively while leaving the writer with only a few points to address well. That is, in a nutshell, what unpacking is.

One last word of advice, it is such a rookie mistake we have all been guilty of at one point or another, and it will bite you in the butt every time.  The thesaurus is not a data mine for you to intellectualize your paper with more eloquence. The thesaurus is to tease out nuances for an idea you are trying to express (ex. I don’t just want to beat my opponent, I want to hammer him).  Use with caution!

Good luck, I hope this helps!  Questions are welcome in the comments section.



I’m reading Biology: Concepts and Connections

Choosing A Career: $$$ vs. Happiness

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will make, leaving an indelible mark on who you are as a person and carving out possible futures for you.   We don’t often think of it in terms of real numbers, but your career choice can cost you a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of a lifetime.  What is the cost of choosing passion over high profits and vice versa?

broke monopoly manFirst let’s agree that everything has a cost.  Waking up in the morning costs me $12 on average.  $2 for coffee, $5 on gas, $6 on lunch and a $2.50 energy drink to get me through the afternoon slump.   That’s before I even leave work, so it cost me $12 to work today.  Such is life, and life without a sufficient amount of cash flow is stressful.  Ask Obama’s hair.

Furthermore, we have all heard it 1,000 times, we college students, about how the humanities are “fluffy”, a waste of time, and unmarketable.  We’ve also heard the counterarguments.  Humanities majors can write and think critically and synthesize information.  But let’s get real, most majors that involve following a passion involve a pay cut.  As the education level increases, the less likely it is that it will pay off.  A graduate student of philosophy, for example… need I say more?


On the flip side,  having more money has a cost associated with it as well.  Sometimes it costs you a passion, it will always cost more time, energy and relaxation with your significant other and friends.

I think of the progression I followed from elementary school (obsession with fame, MUST be known by everyone) to high school (huge un-channeled ambition to be a high-powered something) to the money-hungry days of my freshman year in college.  I had to be rich, not filthy rich, I’d settle for something in the millions of dollars in salary a year.  Not too much to ask, right?

Well, it’s not realistic for one, and even middle class wealth isn’t guaranteed anymore by attending college.  A study conducted by Princeton University found that “Although income is widely assumed to be a good measure of well-being, researchers found that its role is less significant than predicted and that people with higher incomes do not necessarily spend more time in more enjoyable ways.”  I think it’s fair to say that some people genuinely enjoy being workaholics, 80 hour work weeks, and pouring their purpose into their work. “Success” and $$ coexist in a 1:1 ratio for some people.  What if you’re not one of them?  Are you paying attention to that little voice in your head?

Is the lap of luxury a fallacy?

For me, I’ve realized that mid-level income is by no means mediocrity.  There is nothing mediocre about my life.  I’m surrounded by family that I love, I go to work every day to a job I enjoy, I feel accomplished when I leave, and I have spare time to hang out with friends, read a book or catch up on my favorite TV shows.

I have time to slow down when I want, time to hear my own thoughts. I smell the roses.  College is a totally crappy time to slow down and think.  What are the things you associate with the word college?  Drinking?  Stress?  Being poor?  It’s not a great time to slow down and think, but determining what makes you happy might be the most important thing you do in your college career.



I’m reading Life-Span Development

7 Ways to Deal With Your New Roommate


Roommates are annoying, especially freshman year when they are randomly assigned to you.  Forced compatibility is rough no matter how social you are.  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

#1 Confess to your roommate that you’re confused, sexually and carnivorously.  Lament daily that you should be a vegetarian but just can’t quit eating bacon.

#2 Stock up on pungent foods like garlic and old cheese.  That way if you need them to vacate, you open up your stinky stash just long enough for them to hightail it to the library.  Blame it on the dining hall food you ate last night.

#3 Blare loud music so that all your hallmates will have to stop by at least once to tell you to turn it down.  Any publicity is good publicity.

#4 Start every story you tell him/her about high school with “We got so hammered and then ….” End every story with “hilarity ensued.”

#5 If your roommate tells you about someone they like, be VERY supportive of their opinions.  Tell them how smoking hot that person is, how you’d be all over them if they weren’t already into them, and then for good measure, flirt with that person at parties to prove you were not lying when you said they were attractive.

#6 Wait until the pile of dirty clothes is taking up 1/5 of your total floor space to do laundry, then brag about how “green” you are being by hanging your clothes around the room.  If they get pissy about your wet floor, lay some eco-guilt on her.

#7 Related to the last one, you can further impress them with your environmentally consciousness by only flushing after number 2.  If they complain, show them some stats about lack of clean water in developing countries.  They will roll their eyes at first, but just keep talking and they will totally get it.

Have any roommate horror stories from someone who did anything on this horrifying list?  Let us know in the comments section.



I’m reading Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach

I Miss Having a Gym in My (Campus) Backyard: A Smart Playlist for your Next Run

How are you staying in shape over the summer?  One thing I definitely miss about living on campus is a gym within walking distance with no monthly membership fees!  Fortunately, with your two feet, some tennis shoes and an .mp3 player (cool tips here if you have a smartphone as well) you can stay in shape on the cheap and get the most out of your workout time without fancy gym equipment.

A New York Times article reported that songs with a BPM between 120 & 140 were thetired running girl best motivators, enabling runners to fight through fatigue.  The numbers 120 -140 “roughly corresponds to the average person’s heart rate during a routine workout,” according to the article.

It’s really easy to detect the BPM of your music–the best application for this I could find as far as accuracy and ease of use was from  Download their BPM Analyzer and from there the  interface is extremely easy to use.  Just go to “File” “Open” and locate the music file you want to analyze.  It will keep a playlist (you’ll need to go into iTunes or Windows Media Player to actually play the file) for you that allows you to see the songs you’ve analyzed and the BPM count.

If you have a smartphone, there’s an awesome app for interval runs called RecordBeater that automatically detects the cadence of your steps as you hit the working and resting phases of your intervals and plays songs at corresponding BPM rates.  How cool is that?

We’ve already done the work for you if you want to do neither of those things, we’ve analyzed some songs that fall into the BPM sweet spot.

Summer Running Music Playlist


Miike Snow – Silvia (Felix Da Housecat Remix)

Chemical Brothers – It Began in Africa

smartphone application for runningAphrodite – Blue Mystique

Christopher Lawrence – Renegade

Far East Movement – 2gether

Kanye West feat. Lykki Li, Santigold – Gifted

George Acosta – Tubular Bells

Avicii & Sebastian Drums – My Feelings for You

Sponge – Wax Ecstatic

Prodigy – Climbatize

Pendulum – Blood Sugar

Feed Me – Blood Red

Prodigy – Warriors Dance (Slof Man dubstep remix)

Sander van Dam ft. Carol van Lee – Love is Darkness



I’m reading Legal Environment of Business

Surviving College 101: What to Expect in Your First Semester of College

Surviving College 101: A Student's Guide to College Life
It’s tough to make generalizations about college, as much as the film industry propagandizes the opposite.  Not all colleges are Animal House or Old School stereotypes. There is a huge difference between the experience you will have at a state school versus a small privatized liberal arts college. Sporting events will be a lot rowdier at a state school; students emphasize socializing over class time; even the “dress code” tends to be different.  The state school uniform will most likely be college tees and jeans.  Since class sizes are drastically tinier, students at smaller colleges tend to dress nicer.  Relationships with professors will be different–large schools emphasize research and their graduate program rather than focusing on their undergraduate students.  That being said, there are a few certainties that EVERY college freshman should expect:
  • You and everyone else will be completely overwhelmed and stressing out about not being/looking overwhelmed.  It is great to meet a lot of new people and be a part of the college community, but on the flip side you’re living amongst complete strangers in an unfamiliar spot.  Stress.
  • Unless you’re coming from a prep school like Exeter, expect a lot more work for a lot less pay-off.  An hour or two of work in high school meant an “A.”  In college, 10-15 hours of work might earn a “B.”
  • A lot of people drinking themselves stupid every night.  It’s really important to remember that the kids you see out every night are not doing well in school with rare exceptions, and the rest of them are picking one or two nights a week.  It just looks like everyone is out all the time, when in reality it’s a rotation.  The same goes for studying.  It may seem like everyone’s goofing off constantly but a lot of students are closet studiers.
  • A lot more diversity that you’re ready for.  I don’t mean skin color or nationality, I mean value systems.  I assumed when I walked on to campus that a lot of young, liberal people would think the way I did but there was actually a lot of diversity of thought.
  • Probably some loneliness and a lot of people scrambling to find friendships.  Everyone is scared and nervous, so that should give you something to bond over!

Thanks for reading, and best wishes to a successful first semester.



I’m reading Human Resource Management


A College Student’s Schedule

Most college students like to start our day at the latest point possible. After 3 years of college I have found some golden rules to follow when it comes toto-do list for a college student scheduling for classes.

1st- Never schedule a Friday class if at all possible!

2nd- Try not to schedule a class before 11am. This has a couple positives. You have enough time to wake up before a test after studying all night and get that last couple hour cram session in. You don’t have to worry as much about the angel on your right shoulder telling you it’s a bad idea to go out during the week.

3rd- For those of you trying to get a job make sure you clump your classes together so you have time to work after/before.

4th- try and live as close to the building that the majority of your classes will be as possible. This is clutch for that extra 10 minutes of sleep!

5th- if you know you are going to have a really hard class. Try and give yourself an hour or so before it. This will give you time for homework and hopefully you wont want to shoot yourself after having already sat through lecture all day.

My day:

7:30 – dreaming about… wouldn’t you like to know

10:40- snooze….

10:50- class is in ten minutes, jump out of bed throw on a hat and some clothes (for some reason they don’t like when you show up in your birthday suit)

11:00- walk in to class as it starts; I try to sit towards the front to help my already dwindling attention rate.

12:00- some other class

1:00- lunch

2:30 – last class

I have taken one or two night classes these aren’t bad depending on the teacher and your willingness to sit in a classroom for 2 and a half hours.

5:00- usually head into work to be a server. I get to hear a lot of people complain for the next 4 hours.



I’m reading Chemistry: The Central Science

Considering Changing Your Major?

College is a time of change, discovery and exploration so it naturally follows that 6 out of every 9 students changes their major at least once.  For some it is easier than others.  For example, if you start out as a psychology major and switch to mechanical engineering mid-way through junior year, you will effectively be starting over.  Changing a major can be expensive and time-consuming so it’s worth weighing carefully but for some it is absolutely the right choice. Struggling through two years of coursework to get to a great career is one thing, but grinning and bearing it through poorly suited coursework to get to a mediocre career is a whole other ball game.  I tortured my upper-class friends in the months before I had to choose my major, ensnaring them with promises of Goldfish crackers and  Red Bull in my room, then plying them for advice on classes and majors.  Some gems that came out of my mouth during this period:

Maybe I should major in politics!  I hate politics and I can figure out exactly why it annoys me so much!

Who wants to sit around and think all day?  How is that useful?  I’d bet philosophy sucks.  You’re a phi major—does it suck?

I know, queen of tact over here.  Luckily my friends are not easily offended. I latched onto Art History early in the semester before I had to decide, sophomore fall.  One calendar week before declaring I saw a movie, Exit Through a Gift Shop that confirmed a nagging feeling in my stomach that I don’t really ‘believe’ in the value of learning to interpret art enough to devote two years of my time to it.  A similar experience can happen with almost any major, whether you realize a year into your pre-med courses that you’re going to be doing A LOT of unexciting memorization of the composition of things you can’t see, to discovering that pre-law comes with a lot of tedious reading and cutthroat competition at every stage in the game.  As much homework as I had put into researching my major, at the last minute I changed.  I consider myself lucky.  What if you don’t realize in time?  What facts should you consider?

  • Change in financial aid: There are specific scholarships and grants offered by colleges and universities for students who are enrolled in specific programs. If students are receiving one of these scholarships and change their major, they run the risk of losing the financial aid or receiving a smaller award.
  • Added time (read: expense) in school, costing in both credit hours and lost earning potential.
  • Unmatched skill set.  Are you struggling to pass the requirements for your major?  Many universities will give you an overall GPA and a departmental GPA that can hurt your resume in your field of choice.
  • Wasted credits.  Can you put those credits not applicable to the major you want to change to towards a minor?
  • Passion for the subject.  Warning flags you should be on the watch for: dreading classes that fulfill your major’s requirements, continually researching other majors, a nagging feeling that you’re not doing what you really want to do.
  • You fell into your major.  Did you pick the major because it was the path of least resistance?  i.e., your English classes came easily to you so you concluded that it would be good to be an English major.  This might not necessarily be the case, and the cause of that nagging feeling that you’re in the wrong major.
  • Career choices.  Are they too narrow?  Are you worried that your major isn’t what your future employers won’t be looking for? Consider that your choice in  major might not have as big an effect on future careers as you think, as the blurb below from Suite101 addresses.

“Before changing your major to increase your career potential,  find out if your major actually is incompatible with your career goals. . . instead of changing your major, you might just need to get someinternships in your field of interest. ” – Suite 101

It may mean some extra work at a busy time in your life, but considering your options carefully and doing some ‘homework’ on the topic can be a real game-changer (thank you election cycle of 2000 for making that a buzz word).  Best of luck and thanks for reading.

I’m reading Hole’s Human Anatomy and Physiology



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Approaching Your Professor

Talking to professors can be hard.  You probably feel that you don’t know enough about the subject, haven’t done all of the reading assignment, and they will think you are dumb.  Well, you don’t, they know you haven’t, and they expect you to be dumb.  Undergrads know a little about a lot and that’s okay.  So if you feel intimidated just read the following correspondence below (lifted from Chelsea Lately).  If you know why it’s funny then you’re probably good 🙂

Transcribed from "Chelsea Lately." Graphic by Elizabeth Lovejoy.


I’m reading Cost Accounting

Never Pull an All-Nighter Again (unless you want to)

The All-Nighter:  a panic and caffeine-fueled attempt to cobble together an acceptable academic document such as an essay, lab report, or problem set.  Usually directly followed by The Mad Dash to wherever said document is due.

If you are entering freshman year or are a chronic procrastinator, this post is for you.  You cannot write a quality paper in one night.  It’s just not going to happen. If you were here in person I would grab your face and squeeze your cheeks together like that aunt you avoid at family gatherings, look deeply into your wonderfully naive eyes and tell you not to sell yourself short like that.  OK?  They sound romantic and so…college, I hear you.  But it’s like trying to lose ten pounds in a day.  You’re not going to reach your goal and you’ll feel like crap the next day.  Shaky anxiety from too much caffeine and falling behind on everything else in life does not have to be part of your college experience, nor do you have to spend all your time in the library.  Here’s how:

If you have time to get schoolwork done during the day, use it.  Nighttime is full of distractions.  All your friends are out of class, meal times run long, better TV shows are on.  You get the point, the list is endless.

When it comes to writing a paper, give yourself ten hours for a 3-5 pager, double that for a 10-pager, and so on.  If you use a calendar like Google or Ical (which I highly recommend), use those time guidelines as a rule of thumb and give yourself a day as a cushion.  Any more than that is unrealistic if you’re a procrastinator.

One thing I try to avoid is scheduling huge blocks of time devoted to writing.  It sets you up for dread and procrastination.  Everyone operates differently, though.  Pay attention to how you are most productive and use that to your advantage on your next big project.  Also key is working out the finer points of your paper while doing mundane tasks.  Whether that’s making your drive/walk to class every morning, or cleaning your Superhero figurine collection (I’m not judging, I swear).  Keeping your paper on the backburner of your brain will keep you from pulling an all-nighter.

One last thing, and I realize this is oddly specific and personal but it took me a while to figure out and might help you, too.  I find that sometimes a cup of calming tea is better than coffee or energy drinks to write.  It gets you out of “HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO GET SOMETHING ON PAPER OR I’M GOING TO FAIL” mode to an “okay, let’s take this one step at a time” mindset.

Still having problems writing that “A” paper?  Coming soon…. How To Write a Paper So Wickedly Fantastic Your Professor Will Try to Pass it Off As His Own Kids’.  The length of that title was completely necessary, thanks for asking.



I’m reading Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function