Back to School Resolutions

By Aisha Jiles

Classes are going to start within the next two weeks and with the summer winding down, this can be a really stressful time for new and returning students. One way I choose to deal with the stress is making my list of back to school resolutions.

I do have the typical New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, learn to swim, or get over some irrational fear but as we all know, by February those resolutions end up in the closet between the Christmas lights and that gift you’ve been meaning to return. I find back to school resolutions are easier to maintain and accomplish because they are short term. You are at school, so you have a whole support system and an abundance of resources, and without the distractions of living at home, you can manage your resolutions to fit your time and your schedule. The best thing about back to school resolutions is that you have three times to make them since we have three semesters as opposed to the one blanket resolution we all make at the beginning of the year.                  

I think the best way to go about back to school resolutions is to first make sure you have the time. If you are one of those students who are taking six major classes and have two jobs, maybe you can only get one resolution accomplished this semester, which is fine because you don’t want to overload yourself.

Next I would make the resolutions list. The list should be between one and five things that you want to accomplish by the end of the semester. If you are a busy student like I mentioned before, then you should make only one or two resolutions. However, if you’re a student with a lot of free time then I would go for the five resolutions.

Finally, the last thing to remember when making back to school resolutions is to make them reasonable. You probably shouldn’t make a resolution to go skydiving at the end of the semester knowing that you have to study for finals and write papers.

Whether you choose one resolution or five, there is no grade for life experience, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t complete them all, just save it for next semester. Above all, your resolutions should be fun and you should be proud of yourself by the end of the semester, especially if your resolution is to make it to the end of the semester. 

Priorities

By Kantrice Hodges

When you first come to college, it is so easy to get distracted by the fluff of it all. You have this sense of newfound freedom and you don’t know how to control yourself at first. You can eat what you want, hang out as late as you want, go to as many parties as you want, and date who you want. It seems like the perfect situation, especially fresh out of your parent’s house. Although college is about new experiences and having fun, it is primarily about school. That should be your first priority over anything else.

I know, I know, where’s the fun in that, right? Well at the time it may seem like a better idea to go to that party instead of study for that test, but in the long run, preparation for the test is best. It may seem like I sound like one of your parent’s rants, but I’m just a girl speaking from experience. After four years of college, you learn a thing or two about how to do well, and make it to the end.

My freshman year at Armstrong I got caught up in the fun of the parties, hanging out at friend’s dorms real late, and skipping class when I felt too tired to get up. This landed me two F’s my second semester and then I realized how serious going to class and studying actually was. In high school I got A’s and B’s so easily, but college was a whole new challenge. I knew I needed to put forth more effort. That summer, I took those classes over and earned better grades. From then on I would put school first.

If there was a party the weekend before a big test in one of my classes, I wouldn’t go. If my friends invited me to do something when I had to write a paper, I would decline. They weren’t the easiest decisions to make, but they were the right ones. By the end of my sophomore year most of my friends had dropped out because they didn’t have their priorities straight when it came to college. They were falling behind, not passing classes and they eventually gave up. I was determined to not follow in their footsteps.

Now I only have one semester left; three classes and an internship that starts in the fall. This experience at Armsstrong showed me what hard work and dedication can do. It also showed me what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it. It’s a great feeling when you finish something as important as high school or college. It is worth missing out on a few good times to walk across that stage in the end. Of coarse, it doesn’t have to be all pins and needles. There will be those times when you are able to indulge in the good life of fun and freedom, just remember to keep your priorities in the proper order.

Be Bigger Than Your Dorm Room

By Aisha Jiles

Armstrong makes it pretty well known that Savannah is very big on community service. Doing community service gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, builds character and leadership skills, encourages teamwork, is an excellent source for networking, and it keeps Armstrong and Savannah beautiful.

 Almost every club, team, sorority, and fraternity on campus is involved in some type of community service. So if you are a new freshman or transfer student then I would highly recommend community service as a way to make your mark and connect with the Armstrong community. Community service can be a bit difficult to begin since Armstrong has a growing list of over 30 volunteer opportunities within the city of Savannah. If you’re like me and you’re not sure about volunteering, or just plain indecisive, you should first make sure that you have the time to commit to a community service project. This means evaluating your class and work schedule to make sure you have the time for that project.

Next, you should figure out what you like to do. You already know that any community service project you choose to do will benefit someone or something but you must take into account whether or not you will be happy doing it and how will it benefit you.

After that, you should go on Armstrong’s volunteer page and make a list of four or five charities that you’re interested in and give them a call to see if they’re a right fit for you.

Finally, you should schedule and interview or a meet and greet and get started!

Community service can be so rewarding, and there are so many out there. You can do anything from feeding the homeless to working with dolphins and sea turtles. The possibilities are endless. So get out there and become a part of something bigger than your dorm room.

Make sure to also check out the 2013 Volunteer Fair Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

In the Armstrong Student Union Savannah Ballroom.

The New Commons

By Kantrice Hodges

In my last few years at Armstrong they have been doing some major upgrading with the buildings on campus. First, they built on to the Student Union and created a new cafeteria, bookstore, convenient store, and more. Then, they remodeled the inside of Gamble Hall, which is the building I spend the most time in as an English communications major being that it is the Language building. Now, they have finished yet another project known as the new commons.

On the outside of the building, located right behind the Student Union, the architects used silver embellishments to bring a modernized feel to the traditional, historic buildings this campus has maintained for years. But it is nothing compared to the modern vibe on the inside. It is as if you’ve entered into a world of technology. There are desks with computers, study rooms, clear dry erase boards, conference rooms, and printing centers.

The largest conference room houses the big screen that looks like a television but functions like a computer. It can be operated by a detached keyboard and mouse, which you have to check out from the commons overseer, or by hand as a touch screen. It is perfect for groups working on a presentation because all members can follow from one central computer. Also, the touch screen makes it convenient for the presenters because they won’t have to worry about dealing with the keyboard to move the presentation along.

ImageMe trying out the touch-screen.

They furnished Armstrong’s newest edition with futuristic looking furniture as well. There are tables and chairs with silver bars, glass doors with metal lining, and desks with computer screens built into them coinciding with screens that sit above those stations. Most of the table and chairs are mobile giving students free range to readjust furniture to suit their group or study time.  Chairs that stand-alone come with attached lap tables. The layout was clearly designed with the comfort and convenience of the students in mind.

The new commons seems like the perfect addition to Armstrong’s campus. The tools provided for the students are mind blowing. It will motivate students to do more interacting with classmates and spend more time on schoolwork. I know it has already motivated me. I will want to get my work done just so I can hang out in there. From now on, when a student needs to work on a group project, sit down with a tutor, or study with a friend, they can just say, “meet me in the commons.”

Core or confusing curriculum?

By Aisha Jiles

College has been set up in a way that requires all students to take two years of core curriculum classes in order to make them better and more “well-rounded students”, whatever that means.

I believe that areas a – d are unnecessary and are too general to be actually useful towards a student’s overall degree. College degrees are broken down into a few areas: Math, science, social sciences/studies, business and technology, healthcare/health services, and art. So why is it that as a psychology major I am forced to take an art or theater appreciation class when that has nothing to do with my degree or future career plans. Ultimately it’s hindering me because I could be taking a science class better suited for my degree but instead I’m learning about ancient Greek art, which is never going to help me in the long run.

University was originally designed to allow students to distance themselves from the pressures of society for four years to focus on themselves and their career by developing their own philosophies, getting world experience through travel, and then deciding their career. In all actuality it should only take two years to finish college unless you’re going to be a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or politician.

So here’s what I think: I think that English 1101, math 1101, and philosophy 1101 should be the only classes required from a core curriculum. The rest of the core should be catered to your specific degree. Meaning if I’m a psychology major I shouldn’t have to take an art or theater class I should be focusing on science, social studies, and psychology. Even though colleges are getting smaller and trying to focus more on teacher student interaction the core curriculum contradicts that because it’s generalizing the knowledge and experiences of all college students which is unfair. My major, my knowledge, my experiences, and my goals are completely different from the other students so why should we as students be all grouped together and generalized when the only thing we have in common is a school.

Finding a J-O-B

By Kantrice Hodges

My first year at Armstrong four years ago, I was living off money I had been saving up throughout high school for my college years. Christmas money, birthdays, and money from the little summer job I had right before my senior year. Being that I didn’t have a car or bills, I didn’t have much responsibility to handle with said money. Therefore I spent most of it up on the frivolous things like outfits to wear to parties, dinners with friends, and the occasional tattoo or piercing I didn’t need. After a while my cushion of cash was gone.

It showed me right away how fast money could go. It takes longer to earn it than to spend it, which isn’t fair, but it’s life. The summer after my freshman year I stayed in Savannah and took summer classes. I searched for months for a job, mostly at the malls. They never come easy. It takes applying, calling, and showing up to check on the applications. Finally, at the beginning of July right when my summer classes were ending, I got hired at a shoe store. It was perfect timing.

Being that it was my first job in about two years however, it had me doing some readjusting. I had to learn customer service again, had to tolerate waiting on people, and cleaning up after them. It was less than desirable but it was money. I got great hours there and my checks were nice, especially while I was still out of school. I continued to work there until December of that year when my great uncle got sick. The doctors were telling us he didn’t have much time left and I wanted to see him. I had Christmas day off but not the day following when my mom was going to Florida to see him, so I asked one of my managers if I could be off.

She approved but didn’t tell the district manager and he took it as a “no call no show,” and I was fired. I had saved up money when I was working there yet again, but I wanted a car and knew that money would be gone soon. That summer I bought a hooptie (very old, very run down car) for $500 and it lasted me three months before it broke down. I went back to school with no car and no money.

November of that year I finally got a new job at a clothing store in the mall, but only as seasonal. I couldn’t complain being that I had been out of work for ten months. In February, my seasonal time was up and I was out in search of another job, again. Looking for a job was harder work than actually having one. Eventually, Spencer’s the same clothing store I had been working at called me that May and I’ve been working there ever since.

Now I am at the point in my life where I have a car and bills and I’m finally growing up. It’s time to get a real job and step away from retail. I don’t want to get stuck there because minimum wage is no real way to live. Now I am looking for an office job or a job in my field of interest. I’m on my path of stepping-stones to my future and where I go now will direct where I end up. No matter how difficult it is to get out there and build a resume’, it is something I have to work through. The transition from college student to career woman will be rocky, scary, but completely necessary.

Old Friends

By Aisha Jiles

College is an exciting time because you’re constantly meeting new people and making new friends, which is great, but what happens when you begin to outgrow your old friends? This is my story.

My best friend and I had been friends since the seventh grade. We never argued or stole each other’s boyfriends, and we were more like sisters than friends. But the semester before I attended Armstrong, we began having issues. At first it was small things like disagreements over hypothetical situations such as who was cuter: Taylor Lautner or Robert Pattinson? However, then it got more serious. She thought I was changing because I was going away to college and I thought she was changing because she didn’t seem to have any motivation to do anything other than graduate high school. We tried to talk it out but needless to say, I went off to Armstrong in the spring and I haven’t heard from her since.

Friendships can be tricky, especially old ones. Our friendship didn’t mature, but we did and eventually we out grew it. I miss her sometimes, but I have new friends now and they’re amazing. My only advice to someone who has a problem with old friends is this: It may hurt now but if you guys are no longer beneficial to each other’s lives, then let it go. You have bigger goals to achieve than that friendship. 

Growing up . . . Sort of.

By Kantrice Hodges

This summer is the first time I have attended Armstrong and lived off campus. There will come a point in most of your college careers when you decide that it would be better to shack up somewhere on your own. It took me four years to get there, but I finally did. I don’t know if it’s because I’m almost finished, or because I turned 21 and I’m feeling grown, but the itch for my own space hit me like a plague of the chicken pocks.

 Even through all the benefits of living on campus, the cost was getting to be too much for me. Every year I get about the same amount of grant money, but the cost of housing was rising. This summer, they increased the price of summer housing because they added summer meal plans. For those who must live on campus, it was a great change. However, for someone like me who is just trying to find cheap board, it was not so great.

 There was no way I would make enough money working at Spencer’s in the mall to get my own apartment right away, so I asked my friend Christina if I could squat in her living room for the summer and pay a piece of her rent and light bill. She graciously agreed, and I was so pleased to learn I wouldn’t have to be homeless.

 Having to worry about bills and groceries was a new thing for me. Although my bills are hardly anything like the bills of people really living on their own, it was a drastic change that definitely made its mark on my bank account. Despite the challenge, it was still a stepping-stone in the right direction.

 Although moving off campus isn’t always necessary, it may eventually turn out that it is. If so, moving in with someone else may be the best option because splitting bills is quite easy and you’re not in over your head. It will also begin to get you prepared for life. I didn’t realize how expensive going to the laundry mat could be until I was no longer washing my clothes for free on campus. Little pebbles like that can make a big splash, but you learn from them. College can only take you so far, but when it’s time to grow up, you got to do what you got to do.

Summer break blues . . .

By Aisha Jiles

There will come a time in every student’s college career when they may have to take a semester off. There are a multitude of reasons as to why this may occur. You could havefamily problems, finances, plain laziness, or so much more. But regardless of the reasons, it can throw off your educational plans for the future and even your future career. I’m currently taking this summer semester off because I simply could not afford to attend summer classes. My first semester at Armstrong was in the spring and I definitely planned to attend for the summer until my finances told me otherwise. Before the first day I even stepped foot on to campus, I had my first three semesters planned. I knew which housing I wanted, what classes I was going to take even which books to order.

When I found out that I could not afford to attend classes for the summer semester, it was a huge disappointment. I went home on May 9 like everyone else, except unlike everyone else (mainly my friends) I wasn’t returning for summer classes. My first week back at home went quickly and I enjoyed being with my family again and eating my mother’s baked ziti. However, after a while, I became bored. I was so depressed about not being able to be at school that I literally laid in bed all day. I did this for a while until I had sudden realization. I realized that I’m wasting a perfectly good summer doing nothing when I should be keeping my brain juices flowing.

Right then and there I decided I would combat my boredom and self-loathing like this. First, I ordered my books for my fall semester and began reading the first three chapters in each book. I set a goal to a have completed study guide by the end of June. Second, I decided to do an activity that I’ve never done before every weekend, and so far I have gone horseback riding, zip lining, and I took a tour of the Coca-Cola Factory. Finally, I promised myself that I would not sleep past 10 a.m. every day and I would do something that will positively stimulate my mind, body or spirit.

It’s easy to get caught up in the summer break blues, especially if you’re like me and you didn’t see it coming. My advice would be to set small obtainable goals, Skype your friends that you can’t see, and always do something to keep your mind active. After all, summer doesn’t last forever.

Savannah . . . Love at First Sight.

By Kantrice Hodges

The first time I visited Savannah was to see Armstrong back in 2009 when I was due to soon graduate from high school. I remembered thinking that it was like no other place I’d ever been before, and that says a lot considering I fly for free because my dad works for an airline. Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of places, but Savannah seemed like a place all its own.

Once I moved here, it was time to explore. My new friends and I took a bus downtown and were amazed by the scene. It was filled with artistic vibes, interesting and diverse people, and plenty of places to eat. It was exciting being in a new place, but being that that place was Savannah, it made it ten times more exciting. People say you either love this city, or you hate it. For me, it was love at first sight.

Not only was Savannah unique, fun and edgy, but also it was educational. There were many times when my teachers took us on field trips my freshman year to relate Savannah life to our studies. The first trip I took was to some museums downtown for an English class. My teacher at the time wanted to show us some of the ancient art that matched with some of the stories we were reading in class. While we were downtown she gave us a tour that was better than the ones they give for the tourists because she knew all about the fun places for “locals” that those tours seemed to leave out.

Another field trip I took consisted of my environmental biology class going out to the woods by some marshes. Not only was it beautiful, but we also got to see the nature we were studying first hand. It introduced me to the unique wildlife that Savannah held. Being a photographer, it inspired me to make a mental note to go back to an area like that and take some amazing photos.

Speaking of photography, my most favorite trip I took was with my first photography class. We were shooting with film cameras for the first time and we needed the practice, so my teacher took us to some docks out by her house and we had a blast. I usually like shooting people, but the area was so gorgeous I felt inspired just from shooting trees, boats and houses.

If the beach doesn’t draw you to Savannah, the people, places, and culture should. There are so many opportunities here and places to be explored. From museums, to ghost tours, to St. Patrick’s Day downtown, there is so much history and so many traditions that make you appreciate what Savannah is all about. It is a place of acceptance of differences. Even if you’re not an artistic person you can appreciate the creativity that seems to ooze from the Spanish moss trees. It is the place where I found myself and discovered what the world has to offer.