Poem, Honorable Mention, 2014 Neon Literary Magazine
He said I should not go— the snow was strong
and falling heavy now. The roads were dark
and covered, treacherous to ride my horse.
But staying here with him was just as bad.
I saw his eyes when I cut my hand. They
were red and shining. Demons,Father said.
He warned us in church, they live among us
and blend with humans, charm then lure us in.
I should have known, even the moon was dark
tonight. It lay behind the clouds. He looked
at me, his eyes now dark obsidian.
He held his hand towards me. Please sit down,
the hearth is warm. I felt his breath along
my neck. He brushed his lips across my jaw.
They were cold. I closed my eyes and waited.
What follows are articles I wrote for a college planning website called collegenquirer.com. The website is no longer active but I have included the texts of some of the articles. For more please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Higher Education and Societal Strains
Published February 2013, Collegenquirer.com
I came across a particularly troubling article on our forum. Since one of our members was interested in it I thought it would be a great topic to discuss.
The article, “My View: Should Everyone go to College?”, written by Mike Rose from CNN, draws the correlation between higher education and higher pay in the workforce but asks, is it worth it anymore? “But this wisdom is being challenged as tuition skyrockets, as certain white-collar occupations have become prey to computerization and outsourcing, and as the Great Recession has made so many kinds of employment vulnerable. We all know the stories of recent grads who are saddled with college debt and are working part time at jobs that do not require a college degree.” He explains that while, over time, a college degree is beneficial, some students do not fit into the traditional classroom role. Rose brings up both sides to the argument by telling his own story of how college changed his social status, and how he was able to grow as a person. He questions, do you need a traditional university to achieve this? He ends with: “I do believe in the individual and social benefit of all people having the opportunity to experience what college – broadly defined – can provide: the chance to focus on learning, to spread one’s intellectual wings and test one’s limits. We certainly can learn new things in the workplace, but both the bucolic college on a hill and the urban occupational program operate without the production pressure of a job and with systematic feedback on performance – which increases the possibility of discovering new areas of talent and interest.”
The question here is: which side to take? How is our youth able to look past the recession, lacking job market, and impending college debt and not want to give up the dream of higher education? As a current student in college I will admit that I often fear these societal strains. However, I strongly believe that if you can attend college, do it without question. Having a degree is always going to help in the job market, it puts you ahead of those who don’t. Also, if you attain a job that might not require a traditional four-year degree you will be paid more because you have one. I have always been a firm believer in the importance of education; it can’t only be measured in how much money you make. Education is invaluable. It curbs problems caused by ignorance and makes you a better person overall. There are things that I have learned in college, not only educationally, but about myself, that have changed in my life.
Although we all fear debt and deficiency of jobs I can assure current and prospective students that it will be worth it in the end. A traditional college program may not be for everyone and that is understandable. For those who are interested in pursuing higher education it is important not to give up and not to let those societal strains stop you from pursuing your dreams.
The full article can be found here:
How to Pay for College
Published January 2013, Collegenquirer.com
Going to college is an exciting time, but with the increasing tuition prices it can become stressful and overwhelming. Many students turn away from their dream schools because of the fear of debt. However, there are certainly some ways to help pay for college and get you to your dream school.
A great way to save money is with scholarships. Your guidance counselor will have information and applications for local scholarships. Many times businesses in the area will offer small amounts of money to promising high school students. Even just asking around, you may find one. There are also very specific scholarships tailored to different groups. Examples of these are heritage based, children of parents in certain fields, and for people with disabilities. Some are aimed for students who want to go into a film, and for the application you have to make a short movie. The list is endless. National scholarships are harder to win, but still a viable option. Websites like Fastweb will help you find these. Once you type up an application it can usually be used for many different scholarships so you can apply to as many as you want. The last type of scholarship is through your college. This is why it is important to keep up your GPA in high school, because this will most likely determine how much of a scholarship you will receive. For these you don’t have to apply to, the school will inform you in your acceptance letter.
Once you get to college, there are different ways to save money there. When you become acclimated to the campus and your schedule, it is a good idea to start looking for on-campus or nearby part-time jobs. The most beneficial on-campus position is Resident Assistant. As an RA your room, and sometimes board, will be covered. The average dorm cost at my college is $3,500 per semester, so being an RA saves me $7,000 a year, plus I am given a $1,000 stipend that can be used towards tuition or given back in a refund check. It is also a great leadership position, so between saving money and resume building, you can’t go wrong. Another option for saving money on campus, is to find ways to cut back on spending. You’ll realize quickly that the bookstore may not be the best place to buy your books, so hunting around on sites like Chegg or Amazon for the best deal is a must. If you have a meal plan, you are sure to get sick of eating on campus every night. Instead of ordering out every week it’s a good idea to keep some soup, fruit, or frozen meals on hand. The last on-campus method to keep your wallet full is to decide whether or not a car is a necessity. This is something you will know in the first few weeks. If your college is located in an urban area with reliable transportation, then you won’t need one. Between the insurance, oil changes, and gas, a car can become very expensive.
The most common resource for funding college is through governmental aid, and loans. If you are a dependent of your parents then your FAFSA (financial aid) will go by your parent’s income. It is important to fill this out with your parents as soon as possible so you know what kind of aid you will be rewarded, and whether or not you need a backup method. If you do not get much governmental aid, then there are many loans you can apply for. Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to get into debt, especially with the high interest rates. It is imperative that you pay the loan payments monthly to help avoid this.
The best advice I can give you is to start saving now. Plan ahead and figure out what your price range will be, then start looking for scholarships and grants. Brushing up on your money saving strategies and thinking economically will help in the long run.
Helpful Tips for Incoming Freshman
Published March 2013, Collegenquirer.com
1. Don’t over pack.
This is one mistake that many freshmen make. Dorm rooms are much smaller than you think they are. Wait until you get there to gauge the weather so you know exactly what clothing to bring. If you’re going to school in a year-round warm climate, you might want to leave the Uggs and bulky sweaters behind. If you live close to the school you will be able to go home and exchange clothes when the seasons change. To save room in your suitcase hold off on buying items such as detergent, towels, bedding, etc. until you get there.
2. Eat Well.
Studies show that eating healthier actually promotes brain activity. Eating well will improve your mood and your ability to concentrate in class. You’re going to want to indulge in the pizza and dessert in the cafeteria, which is completely understandable, but be sure not to overdo it. Let yourself indulge sometimes, but not all the time. Also, take advantage of the gym. It is included in your tuition so it would be a waste not to make use of it. The fitness classes are a great way to try out new types of workouts and meet people.
3. Go to campus events!
Orientation week is extremely important, and university staff work really hard planning events for incoming freshmen. Everyone is new so you will find that people are willing to chat and tend to be very outgoing. This is a great way to make some new friends. You can also go to the hall/floor programs that your RA hosts. All of these social events will help assimilate you into the college environment.
4. Don’t overwork yourself.
I can assure you that when you first get to college and start reading your syllabi you are going to be overwhelmed. There is a huge difference in the workload from high school to college. One of the seminars I went to during my orientation was: learn how to speed read. This may have been the best advice I received. If you read every word assigned you will not have time to do anything else (and professors don’t expect you to know every detail). Learning to skim over the important parts is definitely an acquired skill but it’s one you need to acquire. Lastly, don’t get over-involved. Many people think that joining every club and getting multiple jobs is a good thing. But, it will only burn you out. Wait until you get acclimated to college and your new schedule until you start joining new activities.
5. Don’t learn the hard way.
You’re in college now and of course, you are going to want to enjoy the night life. Pay attention to alcohol EDU, this is valid and important information. The most imperative thing is to learn your limits. Don’t overdo it. I’ve seen students who party every weekend end up losing their housing or dropping out their first year. Find a good group of friends that you trust and stay together when you go out. Also, don’t be afraid to stay in. There are certainly other ways to have a good time. Check out what else your college town has to offer: beaches, museums, movies, bowling, restaurants, etc.
Follow these simple tips and you will have no problem adjusting to college life, good luck!