I think it’s safe to say that no two people have identical goals when attending college. Sure, you and several hundred other people may go with the intent to find a job in the same field, but each individual has their own experiences that shape the direction of their careers. Regardless of which path you choose it is the general expectation that at the end you will have something to show for it– and I don’t just mean the degree to hang in your fancy CEO/doctor/movie star office.
Yes, movie stars totally have offices.
Nearly all of the majors that one can undertake in college will have some sort of final project that all of your previous work is meant to lead to. This can come in the form of the Education department’s student teaching, some sort of field-related internship, a capstone project or, in my case, a final English Portfolio.
The portfolio is meant to exhibit my development as a student, display my contributions to the ongoing literary scholarship and highlight what I consider to be my biggest accomplishments within the major. Basically, I’m expected to compile around 15 examples of our writing that satisfy a number of curriculum goals. It’s a staggering amount of work and requires an entire class devoted to its compilation. It’s also vital that we had the foresight to keep copies of everything we’ve written since we were freshmen. If you get to portfolio class and don’t have any of your papers from previous years… well let’s just say it’s not a fun situation.
Though obviously not all of you will be dealing with this exact scenario (though I hope some will be, whoop whoop English majors!) I think the idea behind it is an important one. Keeping evidence that you actually worked your butt off in college only has upsides. You never know when a new job will want a writing sample and, instead of coming up with something on the fly, you’ll be able to pull a piece from your English gen ed. Or maybe if you’re writing code for a website somewhere down the line and realize that you did something similar in your computer science class and you can cut your work in half by seeing how you did it then. It’s easy to think that some of the courses you’re going to take are just means to an end, but it’s impossible to guess if and when they’ll come into play in the future.
It may seem like a hassle to keep track of all the work you’ve done during your time here, but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. And as a laptop university it’s incredibly simple to back up your work in an instant. The program I’ve been recommending to all my classmates in portfolio, Dropbox, is incredibly helpful for any college student. With a quick registration (for free!) you can get 2 gigs of cloud storage which means that whatever you put in your Dropbox folder will be accessible from any computer at any time. If you’re an incoming freshman (or any year really) I would recommend signing up and backing up your work regularly during your time here. Keeping a record of your time at WSU is a great way to build up the foundations for a resume, a thesis project or a portfolio.
Also, on a less responsible note it’s just incredibly fun to look back on the work you did as a freshman when you’re a senior.
Some of those documents are now officially for my eyes only.
To begin, I’m going to toss out a little piece of common knowledge: College costs a lot of money—and people don’t usually have a spare $15K lying around the house.
Maybe you’re lucky enough not to need any financial aid, but you’re probably more like me and the other 88% of WSU students who receive some form of financial aid. And the first step to receiving that financial aid is submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
Actually, filing your FAFSA is the only step to apply for financial aid at WSU. To get started, go to the FAFSA website and click the link to “Start a New FAFSA.” You’ll then have to create an account using your name, Social Security number and date of birth. Then, there will be a series of questions about things like your family’s income, the size of your family, how many children will be in college next year and your personal income (if you had to file taxes). You will also need to know Winona State’s Title IV school code which is 002394.
But before all the numbers start to freak you out, know that there are directions and explanations next to the each question to help if you get confused as well as an entire FAFSA help site.
Once you finish the questions and hit “submit,” you’re done. I’ve never understood why people complain that the FAFSA is so hard to fill out. Honestly, the hardest part about filing the FAFSA is finding the various necessary documents which, depending on your family circumstances and financial situation, might include:
(This list was adapted from a more detailed list that can be found here)
The FAFSA doesn’t actually award you any financial aid; it simply calculates the amount of money your family is reasonably responsible for providing towards your education. This is called your expected family contribution, or EFC. The WSU Financial Aid Office uses your EFC to determine the amount of need-based and non-need-based aid you can receive. The federal and Minnesota governments also use your EFC and other FAFSA information in determining your eligibility for grants and student loans. So, by filing out the FAFSA, you’ve gotten an automatic 3 for 1 deal for financial aid applications!
Now that I’ve explained it to you, it doesn’t seem so intimidating or difficult does it?
So get on over to the FAFSA site and apply now. WSU strongly recommends filing your FAFSA by May 15 if you plan to attend the university for the fall semester. Keep in mind that most federal and state aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you should get your application processed as soon as possible. If you wait until after May 15, you might not get as large a financial aid offer as you would have otherwise received.
I promise you, it’s worth the effort.
We’ve all been there. It’s the beginning of a new semester, and you’re anxious to see what it has in store. Your first class goes pretty well; you already know the professor and aren’t worried because you know she always gives study guides. Your next class goes even better than your first. The professor seems really cool and the material interests you. Then comes your third class. You leave feeling a little sick to your stomach and almost angry. Maybe the course seems boring or difficult, maybe the professor seemed overbearing, or maybe the syllabus has a test scheduled every other week.
As the semester goes on, you realize your instincts were right. You feel like you’re drowning in homework that you don’t understand, and you really dislike the professor’s teaching style. For a while you pretend to smile during class, but scowl the moment you leave. You start thinking things like, Should I drop this class? Do I really have to tough it out?
Here’s the reality.
You’re not going to make it through four (give or take) years of college without disliking a class or two. Some classes will be harder for you than others, and every professor has a different teaching style. That’s just the reality of it.
When you are confronted with a class that you really just don’t like, there’s a choice you have to make. You can continue to feel angry and pessimistic, or instead, there are a few strategies you can use to make what seems like an unbearable class a little more tolerable– maybe even enjoyable.
My first piece of advice is to go to your professor’s office hours. Even if you don’t like their teaching style, that doesn’t mean they won’t be helpful if you talk to them one-on-one. Office hours are the perfect time to chat with your professor about struggles you are having, not to mention scoring a few brownie points and showing your professor that you’re invested in the class.
Don’t skip class just because you don’t like it. In the long run, this will make the class worse because you’ll feel uninformed and behind with coursework. Even if it seems pointless, get yourself to class and it’ll reward you in the end.
Also, a shift in attitude can mean a world of difference when it comes to disliking a class. Changing your thoughts from “I just hate this class” to “This is a learning experience to work through” can make classes more interesting, homework easier to start and relationships with your professors much better.
Lastly, make the class work for you. Make a schedule of when to study and when to do assignments. Do research on your own if that makes the material more interesting to you. Get together with classmates and see what strategies they’re using. All of these things can make dealing with the class a little easier.
So, next time you dislike a class, just remember that it happens to everyone and that it really is a learning experience. Look at the silver lining…it will teach you to reach out to staff and peers, and work through difficulties—skills that will be valuable in your future career.
Lately, you might be thinking that Spring will never come. But, if you’re reading this, you’re probably surviving another winter in Winona.
1. You felt a cold breeze in the air and knew what was coming.
2. You took a tumble, or saw someone take a tumble, on the stairs of Somsen or Phelps.
3. You jumped for joy upon reading that classes were canceled on January 27th…
…then proceeded to pout on the 28th when they weren’t.
4, You and your roommates have blown (literally) through approximately 2,314 tissues.
5. You’ve grabbed a coffee from Mugby just to keep warm on the way to class.
6. Your Ugg boots are so thoroughly covered in salt that the original color is unclear even to you.
7. You’ve worn two layers of pants to class and feel no shame about it.
8. You’ve sweat through your t-shirt walking up to the third floor of Minné while wearing your 50-degrees-below-zero-approved attire.
9. There have been days you’ve simply refused to leave the house and instead sit on the couch and eat a full bag of Doritos.
10. And when you do have to go outside, you dress more like a marshmallow than a human being.
11. You’ve used the Wellness Center as a short-cut to class…And feel pretty clever for it, too.
12. The wind has done some pretty terrible things to you.
13. You received your heating bill for January and looked at your roommates like…
14. Some days were so cold that by the time you arrived at class your face was so frozen you were unable to smile.
15. When the temperature finally hit above thirty, you officially packed away the winter coats into a dark hiding spot, thinking that Spring was finally here!
16. But the next day five inches of snow covers the sidewalks once more.
17. And finally, you looked outside and, possibly just for a moment, realized how beautiful a snow-covered Winona can be.
Hang in there Warriors! Winter can’t last forever!
- Leah Dobihal
A little over a year ago, a small group of college students gathered inside Mugby Junction. We opened our laptops, pulled up our emails and double clicked on something our friend and peer, Conlan Carter, had written– a play called “The Fractal Pattern.” Since that first gathering, “The Fractal Pattern” has gone through many drafts and stages, including a staged reading at the end of last semester. Each of these was an achievement for Carter’s script and, this week, Carter’s play will finally be publicly performed before the university community. The WSU Theater and Dance Department will host an official production complete with sets, costumes, lights and actors.
Putting together the production has been a whirlwind process, one that Carter finds extremely rewarding. When asked what he thought was most enjoyable about the process, Carter said, “It has been wonderful to see how one artistic idea can grow. That’s one of my favorite things about theatre– it’s all collaborative.” Although the script began as Carter’s personal project, it’s grown into a multi-person production with people reading, interpreting and working with his words.
As exciting as the process can be, however, Carter also said it was also a little frightening. The script has changed since that initial draft we read through at Mugby Junction, and Carter told me the editorial process was full of self-doubt. “You hear the words you have written so many times,” he said, “You wonder whether or not that was a good line, beat, character choice, et cetera.” He mentioned that, though the show will be staged this week, he’s still not finished revising. Carter likes to save all of his old drafts, just in case he changes his mind about an idea and decides to revisit it later on.
Carter’s current version of this production opens in the PAC black box theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and runs through Saturday evening. Although the tickets are free to Winona students, they can still be “purchased” at the PAC black box. Seats in the theater are limited in number, and the department recommends that audience members should be at least thirteen years old because of strong language and content.
Though staging “The Fractal Pattern” has required enormous amounts of time, love and coffee, Carter believes that’s what makes it so special. The show has developed and grown exponentially over the past year and, this weekend, it will finally have its turn in the limelight.
After living in Winona for almost four years, nothing irks me more than complaints like, “There’s nothing to do in this town,” or “I wish there were fun places to go in Winona.” Although I know little ol’ Winona may not have a raging night life like the Cities, and it may not have a Caribou Coffee like La Crosse, I like to think our island city has plenty of things to do. Even in the winter. Even for us poor college students.
Here are a few handy tips for each night of the week, all under $10, to help when Winona feels just a little too small:
Did you know that Monday is Movie Night at the Winona 7? For only $6, you can take in that Oscar nominee you’ve been dying to see, or the Judy Dench film your mom recommended, or whatever else may tickle your fancy. And with only six dollars for tickets, you’ve still got four leftover for popcorn or candy.
For all of you art enthusiasts, Tuesday is the perfect day to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Not only is it free for students on Tuesday, it also hosts paintings from all kinds of famous artists including Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe. If you haven’t visited this Winona landmark just yet, set aside an hour or two after class and, when you’re finished, treat your artistically cultured self to a ten-dollar dinner downtown.
When school is just too overwhelming, it’s sometimes best to get out of the library and spend time outside. The Lake Lodge, located on Lake Winona offers services for summer and winter activities. It costs five dollars for a year round membership, and that membership allows folks to rent ice skates, go canoeing, try snowshoeing, and so much more. Afterward, warm up with hot chocolate and a muffin at Mugby Junction.
Before hitting the books or heading over to Mugshots on Thursday night, lace up some colorful shoes at the Winona Bowl. Their slogan–“Never rains at the lanes”– also applies to snow, and bowling is a great way to keep active and warm. With their reasonable prices, you should easily be able to afford a game and a shoe rental for ten dollars or less.
At the end of a stressful week, there’s nothing better than unwinding with some live music. The Acoustic Café hosts performers every Friday and Saturday night for no cover charge. With a deal like that, you’ll feel relaxed munching on a half hoagie and taking in some fun, free music.
Although the Winona Farmer’s Market is a downtown staple during the warmer months, it’s still alive and kicking in the winter. It doesn’t take place every Saturday, but throughout the winter, the Winona Mall hosts an indoor market from nine in the morning until noon. For ten dollars, just think of all the fresh baked bread and fruit you could bring home!
Sunday is the perfect day to get out and explore Winona’s bluffs. Though it may not be the best time of year to hike Garvin Heights, the drive to the top is lovely. The Woodlawn Cemetery also offers a beautiful view, and St. Mary’s has some picturesque bluff side trails worth exploring. With a camera and a few friends, you’ve got yourself an adventure.
So, fellow Winona residents, there’s no reason to complain about being bored, broke or blue. Winter in Winona is full of fun surprises, and most are waiting just outside your front door.
What is better than musical theater and desserts? Nothing. The middle of winter can be tough. Between the below zero temperatures and the never-ending snowstorms winter can be boring and depressing.
Not only is there a solution for those winter blues, but this solution includes a live theater performance AND desserts. On February 22, the WSU concert choir is putting on a live theater performance of Smokey Joe’s Café. This is a live theater performance that takes the audience back to the days of the 1950s and 1960s.
Not familiar with a lot of hits from those decades? Sure you are! The concert includes hits like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Stand by Me.” And anyway, who doesn’t love the classics?
WSU Choir member Garrett Bowling says that the performance is enjoyable, fun, and will be an overall great performance! The concert choir had pre-auditions last semester for solos and group ensembles. The rest of the choir has been working on this project all semester.
If the music aspect isn’t enough, there will be five different desserts served throughout the performance. The desserts are included in the ticket price.
The concert will take place at 7pm on February 22 in Somsen Hall. For more information stop by the PAC box office!
So take a night off from work and assignments and let the WSU concert choir entertain you with the performance of the year.
It seems there is nothing better in winter than to approach a fire, feel its warmth and become entranced watching its flames dance. Gretchen Cohenour, WSU dance professor and founder of Dancescape, gently tells me that Dancescape is like approaching a fire–it is warm and welcoming, but also entertaining and thrilling to watch. It’s an opportunity to “chase away the winter’s doldrums” and enjoy art and the language of movement. Dancescape’s 24th performance opens on Thursday, Feb 13 and features original choreography created by faculty, students and guest artists. There are 55 individuals involved in creating this annual production since the beginning of last semester. The auditions to participate in Dancescape were open to the entire WSU community, even those with no previous dance, theater or performance experience. The arduous process of many auditions, the time and energy spent in hours of rehearsals and the collaboration to create such a full-fledged production ensures an unforgettable experience for all. Veteran student choreographer/dancer/production assistant Sydney Swanson has participated in Dancescape since 2009, her freshman year at WSU. She says that the opportunity to participate in Dancescape is “a chance to perform and choreograph something of meaning. To me, it isn’t just about showcasing the moves, but telling and expressing something.” Indeed, Swanson has been able to express a lot of herself as this is the third time her choreography has been chosen for Dancescape:
“My experiences being a choreographer have been challenging at times. I go through waves of thoughts and feelings. I think about my movement/concepts too much and wonder if people will “get them” and then I get out of my own way and just create movement. I feel self-conscious and then I feel completely confident in what I’ve made. It comes and goes and there’s always something more I could have done. It’s extremely exciting to see the piece in it’s form in Dancescape though. Lights, costumes, movement. I could watch my piece this year over and over again.”
This year Swanson’s piece is titled “Building Sense.” Swanson will also be dancing in Cohenour’s “Keep These Animals Afloat.” Cohenour passionately relays to me that “dance is an art form that exists in time and space manifested through energy and weight and presence. The time aspect makes it unique, like music, but its also visual, like paintings. It engages all the senses.” Cohenour gets inspired by watching things move, appreciating how even the tiniest snowflake has a movement phase full of spirals, flutters, texture and timing. Certainly students and community members will be inspired and enthralled by the artistic excellence by very own community members. Dancescape is an opportunity for the WSU and Winona community to come together to appreciate art and the language of movement. Each person will take something different away from their experience, but will never regret witnessing the beauty and expression of dance. For first time attendees, Dancescape’s founder, Gretchen Cohenour, suggests:
Dancescape will be held at the Performing Arts Center on Winona State University’s campus.
Tickets are $12 for the public and $8 for students. Following Thursday’s performance, there will be an audience “talk back” session with the choreographers. Audience members can ask questions related to the performance, dance movements and their meaning.
– Courtney McCaw and Alyssa Sawinski
Just a few weeks ago, Somsen Hall and Phelps Hall were added to the National Register of Historic Places. This means that they are at least 50 years old, kept in much the same structure and appearance, and places of historical significance. The national recognition made me take a second look at these buildings that I enter every day. The normalcy of it made me think about how little I know about Winona State’s history, even though I’ve lived here for three years. Tour guides give you a little bit as your group wanders across campus: “And this to your right is Phelps Hall. It is the oldest building on campus and part of the original teachers’ college established in 1858.”
Today, I would like to fill in some of the gaps (I promise it won’t be boring!).
Once upon a time, there was a—just kidding…here we go:
Minnesota became a state in May 1858 and one of the first things the newly created legislature did was establish First State Normal School of Minnesota to train teachers. It was the first normal school west of the Mississippi and classes began in 1860 but were halted for three years during the Civil War.
Phelps Hall—then called the Model School Building—was built in 1915 and housed a “laboratory program” where elementary school kids were taught by the teachers-in-training. When College Hall, otherwise known as Somsen Hall, was finished in 1924, a similar laboratory program was offered for junior high students.
When the Normal School became Winona State Teachers College in 1921, it was then able to offer bachelor’s degrees and in 1926, four students graduated with four-year teaching degrees. For the next two decades, the college continued to educate teachers and added new courses, departments, athletic teams and social organizations for the expanding student population.
After WWII, the Winona State as we know it today started to form. In 1957, the word “Teachers” was dropped from the institution’s name and associate’s and master’s degree programs were now also available. By the end of the 1970s, all the major buildings that we see on campus today were constructed to accommodate the rapidly rising student enrollment which jumped from 643 students in 1948 to 5164 students in 1981, according to an article in the Winona Post.
In 1975, Winona State College was upgraded to Winona State University. Today WSU has 80 degree programs, about 8,800 students and over 8 million student clubs and organizations (ok, I made that last one up—though we do have A LOT of clubs.) That’s quite a journey from 4 graduates in 1926 to the 794 graduates in 2012-2013.
So next time you walk to class take a moment to remember that this place has stood here long before you and will likely go on long after you’ve gone. Someday, someone will be writing another piece about WSU’s history and they will be writing about you, too.
P.S. If you are interested in reading more about WSU’s history, check out a copy of WSU: a History of 125 Years by R.A. DuFresne (LD 6091.W77 D83) from the Darryl W. Kruegar Library.
Welcome to February readers! February is one of my favorite months, not just because it contains Groundhog’s Day (the inspiration for that fantastic Bill Murray film) or even because my birthday is this month (which, unfortunately, Bill Murray will not be attending). February is a fantastic month because… wait for it… it’s Library Lovers Month! Hooray!!
For college students the library is one of the greatest resources we have at our disposal, so now is the perfect time to pay it proper tribute. At some point in your college career you’ll likely find yourself holed up in a corner and simultaneously sinking into study-despair and a beanbag chair all at once. At times like this it’s important to realize that a library isn’t merely a big building with books in it; it’s really a hub of information tailored to our needs as academics in training.
A lot of what a student does boils down to research, whether it be by browsing through online literary databases, collecting statistics from old biology journals or the classic, wading through piles of books. Though many of your professors will likely give you a head-start on your inevitable research projects, sometimes you just have to figure out on your own where to find smoking statistics from Indiana in the mid 1960’s.
Seriously. It has happened.
Luckily for your sanity, we have one of the greatest possible resources available right on the first floor of our own Darrell W. Krueger library research librarians at your service.
Even if you have all the journals in the world available in an instant on your laptop, it’s still up to you to determine what’s relevant, recent and research worthy. The internet is an ocean of endless information and it’s easy to be swept along by its current. That’s where the reference librarians come in; they are specially trained in pointing you in the right direction. There is no appointment required (though you’re always welcome to set something up) but for almost eight hours a day there are librarians sitting at the reference desk prepared to lend you a boat and teach you to paddle.
Was that too many ocean metaphors? I digress.
I’ve been working at the WSU library since the start of last semester and I’ve seen firsthand how our reference librarians work hard to make sure each student is properly assisted. If you’re stuck getting a project started (or finished) they are prepared and endlessly willing to help you out.
Google is a great tool, but it can’t do everything a living, breathing librarian can. When the world of research starts looking a little too big, you can rely on them to help narrow your focus and get you to the next step.
The Reference desk’s schedule is as follows:
Happy Library Lovers Month and Happy February!