Dear Freshmen

Dear Freshmen,
Well, it’s almost over. Your first semester of college will be coming to an end in a month. I thought you could use some wisdom and advice that can help you get through finals and make a good start to the start of your second semester.

First off, it gets better. It’s stressful starting something new that you are not used to, but it truly gets better. You won’t be scared to speak up in classes anymore and you definitely won’t get lost. You will be used to the buildings and the professors by the time you finish this semester.
Second, you got this. Don’t you ever give up on something if it’s something hard. As my high school band director said, “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be good.” The road to your future isn’t going to be easy, there are going to be rough patches and bumps along the way, but you can do it. If anything, I believe in you. I don’t have to know you personally. I just know you can do it and I will believe in you.
Finally, here’s some advice about managing your stress. Now some of you may stress out just thinking about it, but seriously, you need to do this. Take time to relax and just take care of you. If you want to take a nap, take it. Your body will thank you later, and so will your brain. If it’s an hour a day of less, take time for yourself. You deserve it after a long day of classes and homework and test and so on.
So, my dear freshmen, that ends our time for now. Take this advice and encouragement with you. Good luck everyone and I will be rooting for you from the side.

Yours truly,
Supportive Sophomore

-Ashley, student blogger

Web Programming Apps

Writing what appears to be a bunch of nonsense, and watching it turn into a website or program, is something that has amazed me ever since I discovered what it was. While the professors are fantastic; this major requires quite a bit of outside reading, learning, and practice.

There are a couple of apps and platforms that I use to help me learn more. One of these is Encode, an app that teaches you the basics of JavaScript through interactive exercises and lessons. You can participate in challenges with other people to test yourself, and submit sample code for others to rate and offer tips.

Another app I use is called SoloLearn, and all of their apps are available on both iPhone and Android. You can also access it through their website. This app has many more options for programming languages, although you can download separate apps for each language if you wish. There are many quizzes to test your knowledge, and you can also bypass sections that you already know.

CodeCademy is a web-based learning platform that I have used for years. It’s very good for learning the basics of building websites, but it offers a lot more than just website building lessons. It’s extremely interactive, and you can’t move on to the next lesson until you follow the instructions for code you have to write.

In my opinion, actually doing things is the best way to learn them. Just sitting in a classroom or reading a textbook isn’t going to do as much for me. The tools above have helped me gain a better understanding of things that have been shown in class, as well as things outside that help me to enhance my projects and learning experience.

-Rachel, student blogger

Look At Her Now

Earlier today, I scrolled through my news feed as I do every now and then during moments of boredom. However, this time, the name of my old high school caught my eye. How could anybody scroll past a news article about their good old high school? I tapped it open, and found myself pretty happy, and a little touched, by the news.

The Times Online article written by Marsha Keefer (See link below) described a girl I remember seeing myself from my time in Hopewell not too long ago. Alana is an extremely sweet, bright girl that has Down syndrome. The article goes into great detail about Alana and her school life, but also displayed a strong message: everybody deserves happiness, and even the harshest of expectations can be surpassed. Unfortunately, Alana was given such an unfair expectation before she even had a chance to hear it in person.

Keefer’s interview with Alana’s mother revealed a heartbreakingly unfair prognosis: “Expect her to be limp like a rag doll and behind the eight ball”. Such an unfair assumption against someone who isn’t even born yet to defend herself. However, as the article highlights, Alana has been proving the doctor’s words wrong at every single step of the way. Alana is anything but “limp” and is certainly not “behind the eight ball”. In fact, from what I’ve seen, she is full of energy and ready to take the world by storm.

I truly wish that doctor would take a look at her now, and re-evaluate his original diagnosis. As Alana enjoys her countless friendships, volunteers at a daycare (which she loves to do), and walks down the auditorium with the few other students elected to the homecoming court, I just want to tell that doctor one simple thing: look at her now.

The article is touching, and definitely worth a read:


– Zackary, student blogger

Study Tips

Students anywhere, whether it be high school or college, tend to become overwhelmed the week of an exam. There will be students, as I have been guilty myself, studying for hours upon hours. Once those hours are over, students will still feel anxious and unprepared for the exam. Some may become so overwhelmed, they cry, as I have been guilty of that also.

BREATHE. As I have said before in another one of my blogs, take short ten to fifteen minute breaks. Hours of studying does not do you any good, especially once your brain feels like mush for the rest of the day. Cramming all the information into your head the night before a test does not benefit you in any way, especially when you try to take an exam on two hours of sleep. Professors always stress the need to study periodically and keep up with the material because they have all most likely experienced the night-before cramming and the excessive hours of studying. Even with the frequent study sessions after class, some of us may feel the need to cram the night before because it feels like we did nothing to prepare for the test.

Meanwhile, you did the best thing for yourself and spaced out the study sessions. This is when you have to trust yourself and your knowledge, as you resist that overwhelming feeling of unpreparedness. You are prepared and you know the material, a whole lot more than you think you do. Go through the notes as a review, talk with the professor, ask any last minute questions the day before the exam, and just focus on the areas that you are still unsure on. Listen to the professors, when they say keep up with the material, it is best to keep up with the material, it helps you avoid so much stress.

Review the notes the day before the test, go through the flashcards, or just talk about it with your friends. You know the material, do not second guess yourself on the test. Believe in yourself and all the time you took to learn the material, you will do great.

-Emma, student blogger

Edifying Narrative

Education is simply defined by Mariam-Webster as “the knowledge, skill, and understanding that you get from attending a school, college, or university”. However, the very concept of education is not as simply seen or stated as it’s definition. Education is a beast, and taming it is often seen as a timely, expensive, and stressful affair. Some regard it as a key to a successful future, and some regard it as a nuisance. Unfortunately, there are many people who see it as the latter and are turned away from attaining higher knowledge, uttering the infamous “school isn’t for me”.

Now, it is true and proven that a formal education is not absolutely required to succeed in the world. In fact, many people find a successful solace in a particular skill they mold themselves, as well as various trades. Such people are among the best I have met throughout my life, and society itself would not be able to function without such roles  filled. This post is directed towards those who are seemingly lost as to what they should do next. Those who want to pursue a higher education, but are turned off by the stresses and seemingly “unnecessary” workload that are associated with such a task. These same people have the same creeping fears that everybody has as life progresses: what will I be doing, where will I be, and will I be happy. There is no doubt that many people go to school simply because they fear whatever position they will end up in had they not. How we respond to these fears is up to us, but the simple truth is that at some point we will have to face them and answer the questions ourselves. There is no doubt that education is a key to a successful future when placed in the right hands, but what if those hands don’t accept the key?

Let’s imagine that at some point in the far future, you arrive home from a late night at work. relieved to be able to relax after a long day of hard work, the seventeenth straight. The car door creaks as you open it, before pulling yourself out and thudding it shut. Your body aches as you make your way to the front door, shielding your eyes from the downpour which hasn’t stopped since this morning. The ice-cold rain feels piercing, and you wish you would have brought your umbrella, but it slipped your mind as you shambled out of the house to your first job of the day after a mere four hours of sleep. You approach the door, and reach into the tattered box on the wall beside it, carrying the damp envelopes inside with you. You breach a  wall of coldness that always greets you when you return home at this time of the year, and hazily make your way through the darkness. Your jacket is discarded on the table before you kick off your boots and slump back onto the couch, ignoring the distant, gnarled hunger you always seem to feel. You know you should eat, but you just can’t pull the energy to get back up. There probably isn’t food in the kitchen anyways, as you can’t recall whether or not you actually made it to a grocery store this week. However, the hunger can’t remotely overcome the sensation of laying back. The relief of just simply being able to enjoy a moment to yourself is overcoming. You begin to clear your head of the day’s stress, letting go of the disgruntled thoughts that you just may not have been compensated fairly for the time you are losing. You exhale as the ache from moving begins to fade away. You realize you are still clutching the handful of envelopes, and toss them to the small table beside you, already littered with similar letters.

“The remote is around here somewhere”, you think as you feel around the couch. You haven’t bothered to turn on any of the lights. The television flicks on as you look forward to unwinding, to forget the day and not think about tomorrow. The screen is blank, however, but you don’t seem to notice. Your eyes are fixated on the dim outline of the envelopes resting on the table. The relaxing haze that once fell over you is slowly replaced by a dull anxiety you often feel. An anxiety that convinces you that you are lost, and a realization that life may have just moved on at a pace faster than you’ve kept up with. You feel confused and lost in your goals, and ultimately, you do not feel happy. No time was spent relaxing that night, and yet, you still only managed a few meager hours of sleep.

Now I ask you, when compared to all alternatives, is education really that stressful?

-Zackary, student blogger