Tag: College

How to Choose Your Classes for College

Ah, college. The one place you can study everything from Marketing and Mythology to Cooking and Creative Writing. But how do you choose your classes? There’s just so many!

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1) Consult your handbook- The college handbook is an excellent guide for when it comes to choosing classes. It details the classes necessary for your degree as well as information about the method of assessment. Knowing more about possible modules can help you decide whether they’re worth choosing.

2) Choose the purpose of your electives- Do you want something fun? Do you want something that complements your degree? For me, I chose a mixture of both.  After all when else would you have the opportunity to study the kind of subjects offered at college? My modules consisted of Media and English (my majors at that time) as well as Criminology and Human Resources (simply for fun).

4) Have a plan B (and maybe a plan C-just to be safe)- Sometimes you may not be able to register for the class you want. In this case it’s a good idea to have a list of back-up classes. And then a back-up of your back-up just in case those don’t work out either.

How do you choose your classes for college?

College Tips for English Majors

Ah, English. We speak it everyday and chances are you’re passionate about it if you’ve decided to major in it. Or in some cases you had nothing else to choose (that’s hurtful but hey it’s true).
For me I chose English because I loved it in school and thought it would be a breeze. It’s not. It’s actually pretty difficult. Here’s a few tips for coping as an English major.

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1) Get Your Reading List Early- I’ve heard other English majors tell me how they love reading but personally I’ve always struggled through my assigned readings. It’s a good idea to get the list of readings early so you know what to expect when it comes to your workload. Email your lecture or the administration to ask for a list. Worse case scenario you get a refusal. Best case scenario you know the books you’re expected to read and can start looking for them early.

2) Compare Book Prices- My campus bookstore is always ridiculously expensive. It works out easier to either buy the books secondhand, online (Takealot and Readers Warehouse usually have reasonable prices for their college books) or even to borrow a copy from your campus library.

3) Read the Book- I’ve seen so many people simply ignore the book they’re studying and it just irritates me. Those people chose English as an elective but their lack of interest was disappointing. How do you expect to write a test or exam when you know nothing about the material being tested? No matter how boring the book is, reading it on your own allows you to form your own opinions that you can include and support in your assignments.

4) Practice Your Writing- Start a blog, keep a diary, write extensive notes. Do something to help improve your writing. Practicing your writing in even a small way allows you to express yourself better and makes for better essays.

5) Proofread Essays- Always check your work before you hand them in. If there’s an option for a lecturer or tutor to read over your work, take it! They’ve been around longer than you have and who knows what is expected of you better than someone in the department?

6) Use Sparknotes- Most of my lecturers take their slides and notes from Sparknotes. I don’t know if they’re taking it directly from the site or if the site simply has the same work but reading Sparknotes makes understanding work so much easier.

7) Take Advantage of Office Hours- If there’s anything you don’t understand, make an appointment to visit your lecturer or tutor privately. I’ve seen students make silly errors simply because of a misunderstanding of the text that could have been cleared.

Are you an English major? What are your tips for a successful semester?

How to Never Miss a Date Again

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Few things irritate me more than having a deadline or appointment jump out at me from nowhere. It makes me feel like my whole world is upside-down and I need to take back control of my life. Here are a few tips to help you never miss an important event or date.

1) Buy a planner- I love Typo planners but they’re a bit too expensive for me. Instead I use an ordinary dated diary as well as my cellphone to keep track of dates.

2) Write down everything- First start with concrete events that you know won’t change such as birthdays or your weekly night out. Then enter in important dates such as deadlines for a project.

3) Plan a week in advance- I like to think of myself as pretty organised. Those dates that I miss are usually family events that for some reason my mother doesn’t tell me about (am I not family? Maybe not). To compensate for her serious error, I ask her well in advance if she/me/we has any plans for the week ahead. If she gives me an event we need to attend, I list it down. If not I simply plan my week around that.

4) Use your planner on a regular basis- You could have the most gorgeous (Typo) planner but it doesn’t matter if you’re not using it. Be sure to check your planner often to keep on track with dates and to add in new ones.

How do you keep track of everything? Have you ever forgotten an important date? (I forgot my parents’ anniversary once). Let me know below.

Why You Should Take Advantage of Office Hours

Does anyone even care about their lecturer’s office hours? I know I certainly didn’t..until I started my third year of college and my classes clashed. If it wasn’t for office hours, I probably would not have graduated. This is why you should take advantage of them (preferably before you realise that you’re failing your classes)

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1) Your lecturer gets to know you- personally I don’t like the idea of my lecturer getting to know me. But if you want a letter of recommendation or help on an assignment, it’s helpful to have a lecturer in your corner. Knowing your lecturer outside of the classroom also allows you to expand your professional circle which can help when it comes to job hunting. (*Sends LinkedIn request*)

2) You gain a greater understanding of the work- most of my meetings with my lecturers were to discuss assignments or concepts that I didn’t understand. One meeting that was especially valuable was when my lecturer ran through concepts quickly with me. It amazed me how easily he explained everything and how easily I was able to understand. The fifteen minutes in his office did more for my education than the entire semester of classses.

3) You can find out exactly what your lecturer expects of you- The day of my driver’s test, I missed my last Criminology lecture as well as the scope for my exam. My lecturer was more than willing to meet with me to give me the scope and tell me what she was looking for. Since it was my first year at college and I had no idea how to write an essay, that was a really productive session.

4) It’s the lecturer’s job- okay this is a stupid reason to attend office hours but hey lecturers are around to help you! If you can’t ask a question in class, pop in to visit your lecturer and ask them in private.

Some of my best and most effective learning has been done during office hours. Whether it’s learning to write an essay, revising assignments or going through concepts to make certain you understand it, office hours are a great tool for college students.
Do you make use of office hours? Let me know below.

7 Things I Wish I Knew in College

The “real world” is completely different from college. Which is odd considering that college is supposed to be your first taste of independence and the world out there. Here are 7 things I wish I knew when I was in college:

 

1) Your grades don’t matter: This part hit me the most when job-hunting. No one cared that I had great grades or was part of a honour society for students in the top 15% of their field of study. In fact no one seemed to care that I had a degree at all. People just wanted work experience which I didn’t have (and couldn’t get because I had no work experience). Which brings me to my next point:

2) The importance of work experience: No one wants to employ someone with no work experience. Which is ironic because how do you get work experience if no one wants to give you work without prior working experience. It baffles me that this has been going on for a while now and no one has done anything about it.

3) How to work in a team: It’s not that I don’t know how to work in a team. It’s just that I don’t want to. Group projects in college were a total nightmare and we basically divided the entire project into individual parts and then got together to present the entire project. While I may love the team that I work up, it took the introvert in me five months to finally feel comfortable around them. I definitely wish someone had taught me the importance of working in a team.

4) It’s who you know not what you know: Like number 1 on this list, this also hit me hard. Finding a job seems to be more about who you know than what you know. So network network network. You never know who could lead you to your next job. My cousin found her current job because someone saw her searching career websites on her phone and they knew someone who was hiring.

5) You can’t stay at home from work just because you want to: There are many reasons to miss class in college. It’s too cold, too hot, it’s a Friday, you’re hungover, etc. Unfortunately you can’t do this in the real world. Come rain or shine, you have a job to do. While slacking off in college was okay, that kind of behavior could get you fired.

6) Treasure your free time: My holidays and weekends in college were spent complaining about how bored I was. My holidays and weekends as an employed adult are spent running errands or completing chores that I couldn’t do during the week. Free time is no longer a thing.

7) It’s all going to be okay: I was a neurotic wreck in college. I always fretted over the smallest of things (I once printed out an assignment three times because the ridiculous tutor kept changing her mind about the format of the assignment). I would love to tell my past self to relax and breathe, everything will be fine. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want it to and that’s okay.

What do you wish you knew when you were in college?

5 Tips For Writing a Cover Letter

I posted this before but I’m sharing again for anyone who needs cover letter help for the new year.

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1) Personalize your letter for each application- even if you’re applying for the same position at different companies, it is important that your cover letter is tailored for each company. For example, your application for a fashion magazine and a newspaper should each mention what you could bring to the specific company and position.

2) Try to stand out- Standard introductions are boring. Remember that the person reading your letter goes through several other cover letters as well. Try to stand out in your letter to get their attention. For example, instead of starting with “my name is x and I am applying for y”, start with something out of the box like a quote or motto that you believe in.

3) Do not write an essay- a cover letter that is succinct is more successful that a three – page – essay.  Ideally a cover letter should say who you are, what you can bring to the table and briefly list your experience or qualifications for the job.

4) Show what you can bring to the job- I’ve stated this before. This is just to emphasis it. The company has hundreds of applicants. Obviously everyone wants the job. Obviously they have something to offer. But what do you have? Stellar social media skills? Writing experience? Show that you stand out from others with your unique skills.

5) Stick to the format- a cover letter is just that a letter. So stick to the usual format of a letter. Don’t know the format? Google it! And remember to ensure that you have no typos. Nothing spells unprofessional easier than a badly-formatted, typo – riddled cover letter.

How to Find Time for Reading in College

Since this is a college lifestyle and book blog, it just made sense to combine the two in a blog post. Making time to read in college is difficult especially if your classes requires tons of reading for them. However I am stubborn and nothing, not even my education will stand in the way of me and another fictional universe. Here are my tips on making time for reading in college:

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1) Use reading as a reward for your boring work- I hate some of the books we have to do for English so I balance it out with a chapter of a novel that is interesting. I usually read much faster when I know that there’s a book I’ll actually enjoy, waiting for me.

2) Read in between classes- Carry a book with you to read in your free time. I never read in high school because I had no time but carrying a book a day to campus made reading so easy for me.

3) Buy an eReader- Some people have really strong opinions about eBooks but I find them quicker and easier to read than print books. College is also when my ereading began.

4) Read a chapter before bed- When college gets really stressful and I’m unable to read on campus at all, I read for a while before bed. Just make certain that it’s only one chapter and you don’t end up staying awake until just before your 8AM class.

How do you find time for reading in college?

This is Where It Ends

I’m hours (five hours to be exact) away from writing my final paper as a college student. I know I should be focused on the paper but all I can think of is “How did three years pass so soon?”

It seems like only yesterday I was preparing for my matric finals and here I am hours away from my college finals. Time really does fly.

I’m dreading having to see family over the festive season and deal with the “What are your plans for next year?” questions but omg I can’t believe I’m here!

Also, once exams are over I hope to have proper blog posts lined up.

Should You Change Your Major?

As I plod through my last semester of college (how’d we get here so soon???), it occurs to me that I’m not studying what I had originally planned on studying. In fact I had already changed my majors thrice by the time I finished my first year in college. This made me wonder how many other people question their choice of major. How do you know if you should change your major or not? Here are my tips on deciding:


DO change your major if:

1) It no longer makes you happy- People change and sometimes your may find that you no longer enjoy your major. I was totally miserable when I majored in Media. Literally every study session and class was accompanied by me crying. Dropping Media was the best thing I ever did.

2) Your major isn’t necessary for the field that you wish to go into- I was originally majoring in Media and English. When it became obvious that Media wasn’t going anywhere (there was a lack of funding that made being a Media student very difficult), I chose to simply to continue with English since usually experience instead of qualifications is required in Media. Or so claimed an article I read online.

3) You want to change your major- Sometimes the reason behind you changing your major is simply that you want to change your major. Do it. It’s your life and you’re the one who’s going to be stressing over the assignments for your major.

DON’T change your major if:

1) You’re having trouble with just one class- if you’re having trouble with a class, speak to your tutor or lecturer before making any final decisions. I went through a really difficult semester in English and considered dropping the class. What I didn’t know was that everyone else was also struggling with the module. Our tutor sat us down and had one-to-one sessions where he helped us through our workload. With his help we passed the module and it’s now just a distant memory.

2) You’re changing for someone else- I’ve had people judge me for majoring in English throughout my entire college career. It pisses me off but at the end of the day my major makes me happy. Don’t change your major if you’re simply trying to impress someone else. Like I mentioned before you’re the one who would have to struggle with the assignments and tests.

3) You don’t know what you want to do- This is just a personal preference for me but I don’t think you should change your major if you’re completely uncertain about your future. You may change majors over and over again and this may come with a fee. However you WILL change as a person and therefore your career choices will change so this is up to you.

Did you change your major or did you always know what you wanted to study? I’d love to know below. 

Can We Please Stop Judging People’s Decisions?

It seems like everyone and their mother has an opinion on what I should do once I graduate. So far, none of those opinions have included or required any of my input. And all this unsolicited advice seems to go along the same route- basically everyone wants me to go do postgraduate studies.

Which would be great if a) it was something I wanted to do or even  if b) People would suggest postgraduate studies instead of simply telling me “you should go do Honours”.

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a journalist which is why I chose to major in Journalism. People just seem to ignore that and it is seriously pissing me off. Which brings me to my next issue with postgraduate studies. If I was to study further, I would prefer to do my Honours in English Studies. I would also prefer to study all the way until PhD so that I can lecture in a university-level English classroom. However that is more of a back-up plan than a goal. Like I’ve said so many times since I was twelve, journalism is the career I want. And like people have done so many times since I was twelve, my decision is being ignored.

My question is this, when did society decide what we can and cannot do? I am sick and tired of being considered odd simply because I don’t follow the stereotypes of what society expects us to do. I’ve seen friends complain about how people expect them to marry and have kids. Like postgraduate studies, starting a family is a great idea if it’s what you want. I remember being totally shocked when an old friend got married at the age of twenty. However my shock quickly melted away when I remembered that she always had been the mother of our friend group. Marriage would certainly suit her. However when other people found out (okay I couldn’t resist bragging that I had grown up with someone who was now getting married), I remember someone asking me if she was pregnant.

Last I checked, everyone had a life of their own. Why don’t we all focus on living our own lives instead of dictating how people live theirs? Some people want to get married, some people want to study, some people want to go start their own business. Unless their plans somehow seriously harm you, I really don’t see what the big deal is.

If we all followed the same life path, we would essentially be copies of each other and what would be the fun in that? People need to step back and allow others to do what makes them happy instead of what they think society would have wanted them to do.

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