Tag Archives: student

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

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TBT – Disclosing WHAT?!

I landed my first full time job when I was just eighteen. It was only for the summer, but still, I thought I was pretty cool…until the night before my first day when I remembered that I DO NOT eat like a normal human being. I have all sorts of health issues that make the “traditional” three meals a day life impractical. Suddenly, the simple idea of only being able to eat one large meal in the middle of the day at a cafeteria became this giant obstacle. But, I decided to suck it up and even thought that I would be able to “train” my body.

The first day, I  didn’t eat breakfast. Why? I can’t. If I put ANYTHING into my body in the morning, I get sick within an hour. But Author, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Surely there must be something you can eat! Nope, sorry, I know my body better than you do. I seriously cannot eat anything. So on that very first day, I shoved a granola bar in my bag and ate it during a bathroom break around 10:30. After that, I was STARVING and barely made it to my lunch break. Okay, so clearly THAT wasn’t going to work.

The second day, I decided to make myself the blandest breakfast ever. I had one scrambled egg (no milk, no cheese) and a piece of toast (no butter) with a glass of water. I ate about twenty minutes before I left my apartment. Everything seemed fine…until I got to work. I wasn’t even able to log into my computer before I ran to the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, I slunk back to my desk, only to have to return to the bathroom ten minutes after that. My boss came to check on me and I told her I wasn’t feeling well, so she sent me home. MY SECOND DAY.

The third day, I decided to pack some snacks and ask my boss to make some accommodations for me (and my digestive tract). Awhile back I posted about disclosing disability-related issues. I don’t know if it was just because this was the first time I was telling somebody that wasn’t a relative or friend or because it was a “bathroom” issue, but I was so embarrassed to have to ask my boss for an accommodation!

I went to work and went to my boss’ office when she arrived. The first thing she did was ask if I was feeling better. Why yes actually, about an hour or two after you sent me home, I was able to leave the confines of my bathroom, much to my roommate’s joy. Thanks for asking! (Note – I did not actually say that.) I explained the reason that I had gotten sick at work was because I had eaten before coming in. “Oh, did you eat something that didn’t agree with you?” No, I just ate. Period. That’s all it takes. I explained that if I ate early in the morning, I get really sick to my stomach but I can’t wait until my lunch break to eat. The only options were for me to either wake up at  4 am so by the time 7:30 rolls around, my stomach feels like accepting gifts of bagels and juice OR for me to be able to bring something and eat at my desk while working. As I was explaining this, I went into crazy girl babble mode and swore to never bring anything that smelled or could make a mess. My boss looked at me like I had eight heads (because I had all my crazy out there) and then said that would be fine. End of conversation.

For the rest of the summer, I brought both my breakfast AND lunch to work. I ate breakfast at my desk around 10:30. It usually consisted of a bagel or some fruit. This made it much easier to wait for lunch and I was happier and more productive person now that I wasn’t starving or dying.

Recently I’ve been watching the show Pramface on Hulu. It’s a British sitcom about teen parents. In one episode, the young mom gets a job at an office and has to sit at the front desk. Since she JUST had her baby, she needed to go pump at some point during the day, but was afraid to do so because she had not told her supervisor that she was a mom and didn’t want to be caught. It turns into a funny, although totally embarrassing situation, but she becomes MUCH closer with her supervisor after her supervisor finds out that she is a young mother.

What does that have to do with anything? It brings me to the main point of this post. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask! Most people are nice and accommodating and will understand simple requests due to some sort of life circumstance.

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So You’re In Grad School: June

If you’re about to start your first year…

Slow down, sailor! Enjoy your last remaining days of freedom. Come back next month and I’ll have some stuff for you.

If you’ve just finished your first year…

Congratulations on finishing your first year! Hopefully you are getting settled in at whatever internship you have for the summer. As in previous months, it’s time to think about the upcoming year. Many programs require that you take a comprehensive exam or complete some sort of major project (or both!) during your second year. The timing and due dates for these vary from program to program. You might take your exam during or right after the first semester. Other schools wait until spring. The same goes with any reports or projects. I was one of the unlucky souls that had to do both. I didn’t know much about the report I was going to have to do, but I did know about the exam and decided to take advantage of NOT having classes to start getting my materials together and studying.

Some things you want to ask yourself right now might be: What materials will you need? Do any notes need to be rewritten or copied from a classmate? Which textbooks do you need? Do you only need certain sections? Is there any way to condense any of your notes? What material will you need to focus on the most? How often will you be able to study once the semester starts?

Since I didn’t know much about the project, I focused on preparing for the exam. I knew when it was and what material it covered. The first thing I did was to create a folder for each class. In it, I made a checklist. I wanted all old exams, chapter outlines, and notes from each class in the folder before I began going through everything. It took me a few days to sort through everything and put it in some sort of order, but I did it! (I also got to throw things away that I no longer needed…that felt good!) Once I did that, I made a very broad “study” outline. I wanted to use the summer to narrow the materials down and make a final outline for each class. I also wanted to prioritize my classes…there were some classes that I did not remember the material from at all and I had taken them less than a year before! Before the summer ended, I also wanted to make a study schedule for the semester so I would be prepared for my exam at the end. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s much better to be over-prepared than to be panicking mid-semester!

If you’ve just finished your second year…

Some of you may have job offers already. Some of you may be working already! Keep on reading, I only direct posts specifically at grad students once a month.

Some of you don’t have job offers yet. That’s okay! Keep looking! Like I mentioned last month, things will open up as other people take jobs elsewhere. That’s definitely happening in my office. The fiscal year started on June 1st, so some departments are JUST beginning their candidate searches.

Not everybody that I graduated with got jobs right away. In fact, some people just got their first professional jobs this year even though we graduated last year. What did they do in the meantime? A lot found temporary student affairs positions so at least they were in the field. One of my friends stayed at the same institution and worked as a temp in MANY different departments…eventually they hired him! Others have left the profession. They are still working in some sort of helping profession…we have a few high school counselors among our group! Basically, we’re all a bunch of people who chose to do something because it made us happy…if you chose student affairs for the money, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been living under the past two years. Now that school’s over, do what makes you happy, even if that means working at some hip coffee shop while job searching. I won’t judge you for it, but your mother most likely will. Just kidding!!

 

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My First Formal Recruitment

Truth: the first time I experienced formal sorority recruitment was as a working professional. Undergrad U had a small Greek system and did not have formal recruitment. I had certainly heard of it but was positive it only existed in the large, Southern schools until I started grad school. Grad School State DEFINITELY had formal recruitment (it seemed to last forever!) and one of my friends there had an internship in Greek Life so I got to hear all about it.

Now, while some schools have their formal recruitment in the fall (well technically summer since some schools do it before move in), both GSS and PDFM U hold formal recruitment in the spring and don’t allow first year students to go through until spring. I can see both sides to this argument. It’s super easy for freshmen to sign up for recruitment before they know of anything else on campus. However, I had to see a lot of my friends and sisters that went through as a freshmen be placed on academic probation by the organization and sometimes even by the school because they couldn’t handle the heavy workload AND being a new member their very first semester. Forcing students to wait means that they might get involved with other activities on campus, but it also means they will be more prepared to balance everything and less likely to “grow out of” the organization.

For those of you who weren’t or aren’t involved with Greek Life, formal recruitment is a style of sorority recruitment put in place by the National Panhellenic Council – the governing body over 26 national sororities (or women’s fraternities). Recruitment isn’t just as easy as Sally Sorority inviting Nancy NewMember over for cookies at the sorority house. Actually, there’s rules against that. Sally would be accused of Dirty Rushing (ooooooohhh) and have to meet with her campus Panhellenic association and would receive a sanction and her entire organization might receive a sanction.

BACK TO THE POINT. Formal recruitment is a set period of time where sororities hold different recruitment events and women who are interested (Potential New Members – PNMs) register and are given a schedule of “parties” to attend. During the process, the PNMs rank the organizations they like and the organizations rank the PNMs. In theory, it works great because people can tell which organization they feel comfortable with and nobody has their heart set on an organization that hates them unless they are completely delusional, right? Wrong. In reality, PNMs wind up disappointed when they get cut from their “favorite” organizations and NOTHING sucks more than when a PNM is on the bottom list for all the sororities on campus and gets released from recruitment. If you want to know more about how recruitment works or hear different recruitment stories, head over to greekchat.com and be prepared to lose several hours of your day (WARNING: I went to greekchat.com just for the link and wound up getting distracted).

We had a lot of women that expressed interest in going through recruitment back in the fall. I was so excited to have huge classes and started dreaming of raising total and expanding. Unfortunately, not all of those women were interested when it finally came time to sign up for recruitment. We lost some to grades. Some transfered to other schools. Others were just not interested. One lied to my recruitment director and told her she transfered to another college…only for me to see her ALL OVER CAMPUS the following week. Not cool.

At first I was upset that there were so few women going through recruitment. I felt like I had somehow failed. Except. I didn’t. The current sorority women were the ones responsible for recruiting women. And I saw plenty of things that they were doing wrong. This made me feel a little better (does that make me a bad person?) but it wasn’t until my Panhellenic President pointed out that having a small recruitment with myself and so many members of our executive board being new was a good thing that I was truly okay with it.

I definitely learned a lot during formal recruitment. It was interesting to see the process, both because I hadn’t before but it was also my first time seeing recruitment as a professional. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s time to sit down and review how things went and try to think of improvements for next year. I definitely want to use the computer system more and update some of our older materials. I am also really excited to start working with my new Panhellenic executive board!

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Side Projects

I’m the sort of person that does better when I’m busy. I’ve always been that way. My first semester at school, I took a normal class load and took on a small part time job. My grades weren’t all that great, so the next semester I cut down on hours and took the minimum amount of credits to be considered full time. I had tons and tons of free time! But somehow, my grades were worse at the end of that semester.

It turned out that more free time did not mean more time spent studying and doing homework. I compared it to how my mom sets the clocks fast but it doesn’t make her rush out of the house. While both of us gave ourselves more time, we kept that extra time in the front of our minds. I used my extra time to hang out with friends. She used it to squeeze more chores in before leaving for work. I did horribly in school, she was late for work.

By my junior year, I was crazy involved in campus activities, working over 35 hours per week, and taking classes that were incredibly challenging. At the end of what seemed like my hardest quarter, I had a 4.0. How could that be possible? With less free time, I had to spend all my free time doing work that needed to be done. If I had a two hour break during the day and had work or club meetings after class, those two hours were all I was going to have to get my homework due the next day done.

Recently work has been very busy and I’ve been getting tons done. Minus hitting the dislike button on Pandora occasionally, I’ve been staying on task. Part of this is due to me not answering every single email as it comes in, but it’s also due to the fact that I just have more to do, just like my junior year of college.

I’ve also found that this applies to my personal life. If I know I have nothing to do after work other than laundry or dishes, I do NOTHING. On weeks that I have lots to do, like cooking for an event or going to Junior League stuff, I play out my after work time so I stay on top of household chores.

Before I got involved in things in my new city to keep me busy after work, I needed to invent projects for me to do. Not projects like rearranging my closets (although I have done that) but longer term projects like crafting and this blog. I’m not the best at sticking with projects so sometimes I surprise myself I’ve kept the blog going this long. If only I could stick with a diet or going to the gym that long…

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How to Dress Yourself in the Morning

Recently, the northeast had some really cold weather. The forecasters on TV tried to freak us out by saying it was the coldest we’ve had in “years” but let’s be serious, last winter was practically considered a heat wave. So yes, it is the coldest weather in “years”. Technically.

Anywho. One thing that completely baffles me is that my students – my fully grown, legal adult college students – do not know how to properly dress for the weather. Seriously. The temperature was below zero one morning and I saw students walking to class wearing hoodies. HOODIES. I wear hoodies on chilly summer nights!

Now I am no stranger to the cold. Undergrad U was located somewhere that was rather well known for its snow. I quickly learned that there were days that it was just too cold to look cute. That sometimes you have to give up on your hair because its just going to get squashed under a hood or hat. More often than not, I looked like the little kid from “A Christmas Story” when walking to class.

During those Undergrad U days, I had a pledge sister that without fail would instant message me each morning asking what she should wear. It wasn’t like she was from some place warm and didn’t know how to handle cold weather. Fro some reason she couldn’t make the connection between the temperature and what that would feel like. Like the older and wiser pledge sister I was, I made sure she was always appropriately dressed for the weather.

Some cold weather tricks I’ve learned…ALWAYS cover your head or at the very least, your ears. The first time I walked across campus in the cold without my ears covered and then sat inside for a few minutes, I honestly thought I had suddenly come down with a double ear infection it hurt so bad. Sweatpants over your normal pants is a much better choice that wearing something warm under your normal pants. Why? Well, for starters you won’t need to go to the bathroom to remove the extra layer. Also, if its snowing or raining, the top layer will be what gets wet, not the bottom layer. Don’t forget to think of your shoes! I have found it is much more important for my feet to be dry than to be warm. If you can do both, great, but if you have to choose one, go with dry. There is nothing worse than stepping in a slushy puddle and feeling the water soak all the way through your nice warm Ugg boots and into your socks.

One last thing! I know may of you have smart phones – make sure you have a great weather app, one that lets you see radar maps and hourly forecasts. These are a lifesaver year round. My personal favorite is Weatherbug.

What are some weather tips you abide by?

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