As I sat down to write out my spring semester schedule, I realized I only needed 10 credits to graduate. After the initial burst of joy, I remembered that I needed 12 credits in order to accomplish full-time student status. Oh the possibilities of 2 credits! I could take karate again, or snowboarding, or an art class, or a fun English or History class (yes I think those are fun), but then I remembered, I hadn’t signed up for band.
That is, MUS 241 with Dr. Lovejoy, Winona State’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Though this course is only 1 credit, it is way more work than anyone, except for members, realizes. We rehearse Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a weekly total of 4 and a half hours, and on top of that there are concert rehearsals, actual concert performances, pep band for football games, and volunteering at area elementary schools and Adopt-A-Block. Did I really want to take on that kind of commitment, again, for the last semester of my college career at Winona State?
The answer was yes. Yes, of course I did.
I have been in band for twelve years and it has been one of the most influential things in my life. It has taught me not just musical skills, but also discipline, responsibility, teamwork, how to listen, how to breath, how to sit evenly, how to decipher and decode things, how to be creative and structured, how to conquer challenges by trying over and over again, and how to be dedicated to something much bigger than myself.
Being in band also helps me to get away from other day to day activities and school stresses; I get to escape into the world of music for an hour and a half three times a week. And on top of that, I get to do it with great people. At least half of the band isn’t music majors or minors, so you get a great mix of people with a wide variety of experience intermingling in one setting with one goal. The friends I have made in band have lasted me throughout my entire academic career and, I have a feeling, will follow me into my adult life.
All in all, I encourage anyone who’s ever been in band and has an interest in picking up an instrument again, to add Winona State’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble to your schedule. You won’t regret it.
[Note: this is to be read in the voice of Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone]
You unlock this door with the click of a button. Beyond this portal in the shape of an “e,” a compass, a fox or a circle of primary colors, is another dimension. A dimension of information, a dimension of sound, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a world of both entertainment and ideas, an invisible world right at your fingertips. You have just crossed over into… The Internet.
Take, if you will, the case of a university in Winona, Minnesota. Where young minds go to grow and develop, a place where the students can finally experience freedom and independence. As we move forward in to this modern and constantly developing world, we will find that the world is rapidly shrinking. Through the laptop program offered by the school, every student on campus is provided with a computer on which all students move through the modern, digital society in which they live. The students are developing their own new, cyber identities within the increasingly connected world.
With a click of the mouse, they can find themselves connected to a community of people from around the world. Face to face interactions can be held with people from around the world, new, undiscovered information can be found easily and messages can be sent to even the most remote parts of the globe within seconds. Little did they know however, that their freedom would come at a price when they find themselves stumbling into … The Internet.
Threat of hackers and other cybercriminals, frauds and scams, identity theft and copyright infringement constantly plague these young students. The internet provides a wonderful opportunity for learning and developing, however it is important that these kids avoid the dangers and pitfalls commonly found.
How you say?
Here in this time, the internet is a community of people, just as the students are a part of the WSU community. Just as they do in their daily lives, students must protect themselves when surfing the internet.
They must keep an eye out for suspicious activities, be careful about sharing their personal information like credit card and social security numbers and be watchful of the people or organizations that they give this information to. They must also be cautious against clinking on suspicious links or downloading files, that may invite the installation of malware on their computers.
When the dangers and pitfalls are avoided, students like those of Winona State can find themselves successfully becoming apart of this new and expanding culture. This exciting, modern world continues to rapidly become more advanced with the passing of every day, more is yet to come as we continue to stumble deeper into… The Internet.
It’s almost the end of the semester.
My classes are wrapping up one by one and I am gleefully ticking off the days on my calendar.
This has been one of my toughest semesters due to the amount of coursework I had to do every evening. I was up until at least midnight every night including weekends and if I did make myself take a break, the feeling that I should be working on something remained scratching around in the back of my mind. Finally, the intense pace has relented and after a Thanksgiving Break—a true break, where very little homework was done in favor of family, friends and fun—I have returned to WSU with a coasting mentality and next to no motivation.
All I want to do is to go on Winter Break for four weeks of getting a decent night’s sleep, having weekends again, finishing sewing projects, reading novels and watching tv shows I didn’t have time for during the semester. Really, is that too much to ask??
There’s just one problem—it’s almost the end of the semester.
That means there are final exams to study for and final papers to write. I can’t afford to just float through these gray and dreary days, no matter how much I want to just shove all my textbooks and classroom handouts into a box hidden deep under my bed or better yet, hurled into the recesses of a dumpster. If I follow through on that delicious daydream, all of the hard work and long evenings I put in these last three and a half months will have been for nothing.
So this post is as much a pep talk for myself as it is for all of you. I’m sure that you are just as ready for Winter Break as I am, but I’m telling you—you need to stay focused so as not to jeopardize the grades you’ve worked so hard to earn. Keep doing your best work, putting in the diligent effort for just two more weeks.
If you can do it—and I know you can— then break will be all the more rewarding without the worry about your final results this semester.
All right, here’s to the end! Stay strong!
The picture above is easily the best picture I’ve seen in four years. Do you see that beautiful green pie graph? It illustrates the depth of my satisfaction knowing that in just one more semester I will be a college graduate. I’ll clarify now and say that I didn’t just write this post to brag (though the idea was tempting) but rather to express just how vitally important it is to keep an eye on your degree audit report (DAR). That little pie graph is so wonderfully green because I always kept close tabs on what classes I’d taken and what I still had left to worry about.
Over the last four years I’ve checked my DAR excessively. Sometimes, I’d even check it twice a day just to make extra sure that I was going to graduate someday. Now I’m not encouraging my level of obsession (it’s exhausting!), but knowing what’s on your DAR is incredibly important, especially as you get further along in your college career.
Basically, the DAR is your roadmap to graduation. It tells you your standing GPA, your completed classes, the general education requirements and the requirements for your majors and minors all in one place.
And here’s the kicker: it’s your job to be on top of it. Even though your advisor will always be willing to help you figure things out, they likely have dozens of other students to help as well so they will not be able to track all of your progress.
Having a grasp on what you’re expected to accomplish will not only make your college career smoother, it will make your advisor’s job easier. Rather than going into their office and asking “Which classes do I need to take?” you can ask questions like “Between these two classes that I’m required to take, which do you recommend for my focus?” This will help narrow the problem down significantly.
Considering all of this, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of being aware of your progress. I have a close friend who got to her last semester only to realize that she didn’t take a class that she needed to graduate. Though she still walked in the commencement, she had to come back over the summer and finish the last class in order to receive her diploma. She could have easily fit the class in much earlier in her college career; she just didn’t realize it was a requirement.
This problem could have been easily dealt with had she checked (and double-checked) her DAR before her last semester. Plus, I still give her a hard time about it even though she did eventually graduate. I’m a good friend that way.
So this is me being a good friend to you, readers. Don’t put off checking your DAR. Make lists of the classes you have left, or print off the report and highlight the classes you want to take, However you do it just make sure it gets done.
Besides, if you check it regularly you get the immense satisfaction of seeing that little pie-graph at the top turn all green. That almost makes the effort worth it in itself.
I have always been a planner. I know what I want and I take the steps to get it. Time-management is my forte; I plan my weekends to maximize studying, I plan my next semester’s classes over a month in advance of the registration window, I plan my long-term future– five, ten, fifteen years from now.
It’s funny to me how much my ideas about my future have changed from when I first arrived at WSU. Three years ago, I was a confident English major—no second-guessing or doubts about it—and thought that I was going to be an editor at a publishing house, reading books for the rest of my life in an office somewhere. That was my plan, and I thought that it would lay out before me as smooth and even as a newly paved road.
But in the last year, my one-lane English major road expanded a two-lane highway. Through a series of coincidences and opportunities, I discovered the field of web communications. And I’ve discovered that I’m good at it, that I enjoy writing content for webpages, making websites organized with their information easy to find, and managing social media. This excites me much more than the idea of reading manuscripts does. As a junior, though, I can almost see my destination beyond the bright neon “Graduation” sign and the web communication exit quickly approaches.
As of last week, I am officially double majoring in English-Writing and Public Relations. After several months of deliberation I finally made the decision and with the approval of my advisor, turned in my declaration of major form to the Warrior Hub (which as I explained in last week’s post is where the Registrar’s Office is located).
And just like that, my plan changed. My career GPS is now re-calculating….
Though it wasn’t my original plan, I know that it was the right thing to do. I want a career that is creative and engaging with potential for growth and continued learning—and for me, web communications offers exactly what I am looking for. Though it will take me an extra semester, having both the English degree and Public Relations degree will give me experience in all writing areas and knowledge of how mass communication works in the business world that will help me succeed as a web communications specialist.
Cliché road metaphor aside, what I am trying to say here is that people are pressured to have a plan when they go to college. But for everything a plan can give you—a starting place, a goal, and concrete steps along the way—it fails to take into account unforeseen opportunities, spontaneous change. Which is ironic, since life is change. We travel to new places, we learn new information, we make new friends and families, we grow older —all of this is change. The point is that that plans are great, but don’t let yourself become confined by them.
Look around, take your eyes off that road. Or you might find that you are passing your true destination by.
“Get all of your gen eds out of the way” they’d told me sternly that day (so long ago) when I sat next to the temporary advisor I’d been assigned, “it will be better to focus on your major later on, just get the requirements out of the way.”
It sounded logical to me so I shrugged and just like that my first college schedule was quickly filled with intro classes and 101s. The little submit button was clicked and I was sent on my way for the next freshman to take my seat.
It was a good idea in theory, but here I am taking chem 100 in my second to last semester. Every day I walk into a lecture hall full of 40 strangers and three or four acquaintances and think to myself, “actually, this is fine too.”
Like some other WSU students I have two majors and a minor; English Literature and Global Studies. After that first schedule of pure gen eds I elected to switch it up and I spent three years taking one or two gen eds at a time in between my major classes. Every time I did I found myself happy to have made the choice. Taking two majors at the same time has given somewhat unique opportunity to see, from the outside, that like-minded people are attracted to similar majors. My global studies major is filled with politically minded history buffs, while my Literature major is populated by creative philosophers that love to argue. My chemistry class however, has history majors, math majors, various types of scientists, law students, and more. Basically, a whole variety of people that without gen eds I would have likely never met.
It’s like they say; “variety is the spice of life” but instead it’s “new people are the spice of classes”
Once you get a few years in it’s always nice to introduce new people into your life, whether it be classmates or professors. Beyond the obvious motivation of new friends, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to hear new viewpoints on topics you previously may not have found interesting. Plus taking intro classes a little later down the line lets you apply knowledge you’ve accrued over the years to different topics; it’s a great way of expanding your skill sets.
There’s nothing wrong with getting classes not directly related to your career out of the way early on, but there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with spreading it out. Next semester I’ll be taking four 400 level literature courses and one 100 level philosophy course for my final semester. I gotta say that I’m perfectly happy with the arrangement. I’ll get the chance to experience a new group of people and a new professor in a (somewhat) relaxing atmosphere amidst the chaos of final portfolios and endless thesis papers.
It’s your college experience so whatever you choose should feel comfortable to you. Only you can make that decision.
The Warrior Hub is located in Maxwell Hall in two departments: Student Enrollment Services on the second floor and the Warrior Success Center on the third floor. Between the two, WSU offers a variety of important services from paying tuition to declaring a major to finding a job. In fact, the Warrior Hub is such a huge topic that it takes two talk about it properly. So we, Alex and Liz, are going to break down the Warrior Hub into its constituent parts and tell you exactly what they do.
There is Records and Registration Services, or as it’s more commonly known, the Registrar Office. This is where you will go if you want to blue card into a class that was already full by the time your registration window opened and if you decide to withdraw from a class (though hopefully not the one you blue-carded into). If you decide to change your major, as Alex and Liz both have once or twice, you’ll head here as well.
The Registrar Office also an extremely important part of the Warrior Hub because all of the hard work you did to earn those grades throughout your coursework here at WSU is recorded here.This office becomes very important as you near the end of your time here at Winona State because your transcripts are one of the most important parts of your background that employers and graduate schools will look at. If you change your name or your address, you’ll need to notify the Registrar Office in writing so that your transcripts are kept up to date.
Financial Aid Services knows everything about college finances. They disburse your financial aid from WSU and from any government loans and help you get more aid for summer classes or study abroad. If you are not sure about the different types of financial aid, they can help explain the FAFSA, the difference between a grant and a loan, and work-study versus student help jobs. They also provide information about personal money management to help keep you on track financially when you begin college.
Student Accounts Services is the office that processes all your tuition payments. If you choose not pay your tuition bills online, you will have to bring payment to the second floor of Maxwell at the beginning of every semester.
Student Employment and the Student Payroll Office are both located in the Warrior Hub. The Student Employment Department manages all work study and student help positions on campus and can help you figure out if you are eligible for on-campus work. If you do get hired for a student position, you will have to go to the Student Payroll Office to fill out several forms and set up direct deposit for your paychecks. I, Liz, was hired in the Web Communications Department just last year and I can tell you that the amount of processing and form signing necessary is totally outweighed by that first paycheck delivered to my bank account.
Advising Services is one of the most helpful services Winona State has to offer. I, Alex, went through many difficulties in adjusting to college courses and they were right there to give me a hand in making course decisions as well as eventually declaring my major. Whenever I have been asked by other students, what my favorite part of campus is, I oddly answer with Advising Services because they are that helpful.
Career Services is another great resource for WSU students to utilize. They can help you with a range of things from finding a part-time job or internship, to resume building, and eventually helping students to find jobs after college through the EZ-Link Job Search. We have both gone to Career Services: Alex, when he needed to explore career options for after school and to help see what course work is necessary for the next step on his path through school and work, and Liz, when she needed help with finding an off-campus job her freshman year and again more recently to get help with her resume.
Access Services is an office dedicated to helping student with disabilities succeed at Winona State. By registering with Access Services, you can request academic accommodations such as extended time on exams, quiet or low distraction test location, exams in auditory format, texts in alternate format, disability advising, sign language interpreters and note takers.
Whew–like we said, the Warrior Hub is a big topic and if you made it through all of that we applaud you! But in all seriousness, we hope that you did because the Warrior Hub has some really vital services and helpful resources that students will need throughout the academic careers here at WSU as we both know from our own experiences.
Well everyone, guess what today is!
I’m sure that most of you just thought “November 1,st of course” and moved on with your turkey preparation for later this month.
While that’s admirable, though a little startling that you’re already prepping turkeys, it’s also not entirely true. Today is November 1,st yes. But today is also the first day of NaNoWriMo. For you turkey-obsessed people who are scratching your heads right now let me let you in on a secret; for a surprisingly large number of people (last year there were officially 341,375 participants, and those were only the ones that joined the website) November is the craziest month of the year because it includes the 30 day challenge known as “National Novel Writing Month” (Or NaNoWriMo for short. Well, shorter.)
The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of thirty days, and yes, for my fellow computer hounds, that’s about 150 pages in a word document. Double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman. Knowing this I’m sure a fair amount of you are thinking “why would I ever want to do that?” so I’m here to give you a few reasons why it’s worth checking out.
First of all, the book doesn’t have to be good. This is important so I’m going to say it again. The book can completely and utterly suck. In fact, it doesn’t have to be anything other than 50,000 words. So you could write a 50,000 word collection of your favorite pie recipes, or a 50,000 word love letter to your dog. It can be fiction, non-fiction, biography, sci-fi, fan fiction, you name it –and you are allowed to write it.
Again, many of you readers must be wondering “Well fine, but what’s the point?”
The point is, first of all, you might write something genuinely good (or at least the framework for something good.) For instance, Sara Gruen took much of her popular novel-turned-movie Water For Elephants from her NaNoWriMo project. The potential to stumble upon something great is always a possibility.
Secondly, if you do it, then you have properly displayed the incredible and endlessly useful skill of realistic goal-setting. Sure, 50,000 words sounds tedious, endlessly difficult, and like a lot of work. And yeah, 50,000 words is definitely all of that. But you know what isn’t? 1,667 words. 1,667 is the magic number of NaNoWriMo. If you can get yourself to write a measly 1,667 words a day, by November 30th you’ll hit the goal. And who knows, maybe one of those days you’ll get a great idea and write a little extra, maybe double that 1,667 without even realizing, pretty soon that 50,000 words looks like a wuss when paired against your endless genius.
NaNoWriMo is one of the great events in life that you get recognition not for doing it well, but for doing it at all. This will be my forth year doing Nano and though I failed the first two times (both stories got to about 30k before I fizzled out) my last two years left me with two 50,000 word novels. They’re both absolutely terrible, but I wrote them both completely of my own ambition. And that in itself is reward enough (For now. Someday I want royalties.). Also who knows, maybe when I go back to them in a few years I’ll find something that I didn’t see the first time around.
If you’re interested in participating, you can sign-up on the NaNoWriMo website. Registering is not mandatory (if you wanna participate you just do it) but it’s nice to have support on the days where the words aren’t coming.
As a final note, anyone who is interested but needs a little help with their story should check out the WSU Writing Center on the 3rd floor of Minné in room 348. Make an appointment or stop by to check if they’re taking walk-ins. There are plenty of people willing to help, but you’ve got to take that first step yourself. Write 1,667 words today about something. Write about how you couldn’t find matching socks this morning. Write about that weird guy next door that only waters half his lawn. Write about someone you’ve always wanted to meet. Write something and see where it takes you.
And here’s the kicker: do it again tomorrow.
I believe in you guys! Now get out there and write some novels!
A few weeks ago, chain link fences started going up on the southwest side of campus, then a construction crew set up shop in the Minne parking lot, and just the other day an excavator was tearing up the grass around Baldwin Lounge. I had no idea what was going on, but I heard whispers that they were renovating Kryzsko Commons and Baldwin Lounge, a rumor that was confirmed in a WSU Update email. It seems that most of us students (unless you’re like my roommate who happened to catch this article in the Winona Daily News) are unaware of the details of this plan so I did a little digging of my own to unearth the answers to the questions you are probably asking.
What are the planned renovations?
Why are they renovating Kryzsko Commons?
How much does it cost and how did they get the money?
When will it be finished?
So there you have it; you now know what is going on beyond those fences and tell your friends, too. I think that it is important to share this information because it affects us students most. We are the ones who have to change our walking routes to class and find different study rooms but we are also the ones who will benefit from the all the additional space. I like the quiet of Baldwin Lounge to study between classes but I rarely spend time there because the tables are always full. So I am definitely looking forward to the transformation!
For updates on Kryzsko’s progress and construction photos, check the Kryzsko project website.
Last week, I said that the first step in getting you here on the Winona State campus is to take the ACT. Today, I am going to tell you about the second step–applying to WSU.
WSU has a rolling admissions, meaning that beginning September 1st, students can apply and be accepted for Fall 2015 enrollment. Though you have several months before the application window closes, you should apply sooner rather than later so you don’t miss out on any financial aid or housing opportunities.
The application costs $20 and is really quite simple: you only need to provide your basic identification information (name, address, phone number etc.), demographics, high school, high school classes you’ve taken, and intended major (don’t worry, undecided is an option!). There is no essay required! You also need to have ACT send a copy of your scores ask your high school guidance counselor to mail your transcripts to the WSU Admissions Office.
My sister, Laura, applied to WSU one Saturday morning a few weeks ago and she said the whole thing took about 20 minutes. For her, the most difficult part was remembering all the classes she has taken! She told me that it felt almost too easy, that applying to college is a big deal and shouldn’t be so casually completed between bites of French toast. But she certainly didn’t complain about the lack of an essay!
It typically takes 2-3 weeks for the application to be processed, so Laura should be getting her official acceptance/rejection letter soon. She is nervous about getting rejected but I’m pretty sure that she will open the letter that starts “We are pleased to inform you…” and ends with “Welcome to Winona State University!” The basic requirements for admission are passing grades in 16 high school classes and ACT score of at least 18 if you’re in the top half of your class. Even if you are in the top 2/3 of your class, you can still get in if you have an ACT score of 21 or higher.
Even though she has completed all the necessary steps—touring campuses, taking the ACT, applying to schools—she says that it still hasn’t sunk in that this time next year, she won’t be living in Marshfield any longer. Despite the fact that she is a self-proclaimed homebody, Laura is looking forward to living away from home and the increased responsibilities the transition will bring. I can verify that starting college will involve many transitions but the only thing you can do is take them all one step at a time, just like you did when you started the college search process.