By: Solsiree Skarlinsky
I’m a senior at Florida International University studying Journalism with a minor in English. I interned at NBC6 Miami during the summer and have been published in The Miami Herald. Some of my interests are poetry, art, and yoga. I would like to write stories on finding inexpensive ways to go out as a college student, how to discover if your major is right for you before committing, time management, and how to deal with stressful schedules.
Several students have the opportunity to stay at home while commuting to their local university or college. There are several reasons students do this. I did. FIU was just a drive away and I knew I could save a ton of money and grief by staying home. Although I have no formal complaints, a few things can be a little challenging. Here were some of my challenges and tips for coping with them and hopefully bettering your college experience.
1 - Independence. This is a big one. You’re now a college student and have the mindset of a blooming young adult. You see all the other students living on their own, no rules (maybe some debt), and a free lifestyle. You live with your parents, and your college experience may seem like the exact opposite. Friction may occur with your parents in terms of your grades, finances, curfews and responsibilities.
The best advice I can give is to become a reliable dependent. What I mean by that is to live a life outside of your home that contributes to your education and social life. Talk to your parents about your scheduling, and free time. Make them want to have you there and understand that you are now a college student. Trust me, there will be problems, and it will happen whether you’re at home or not. Know that those problems probably won’t outweigh the positives. They’re your family after all.
2 - Social Life. Most commuters go straight to class and back home and rarely deviate from that. When you join a sport or club, your social life can extend virtually anywhere through out school. Like bugs? Join the entymological club and make friends with other bug lovers. Want to workout? There’s probably an awesome gym on campus with classes or sports clubs. Do homework in the library. See someone eating solo? Join them. And if you feel daring or spirited, there are fraternities and spirit clubs that are just the ticket.
3 - Finance. This is also a great tip in establishing your independence. My best advice is to get a job and pay for your things. Contribute to your household. You’re their child but you don’t want to come off as a free loader. Your parents may not be able to help pay for school. You also need gas money for commuting. You need money for food.
The economy shouldn’t hold you back. You can freelance, tutor, work retail, make websites or sell paintings. Use your talents and earn extra cash. Also, save money where you can. There are ton of websites that offer great deals for social events like Groupon. Miami has a really great website where students can find tickets for plays or concerts for five dollars. There may be something similar in your area. Oh, and always, always, always ask about student discounts.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Writing your way into college: Essay writing tips
Writing scholarship or college acceptance essays can be tricky sometimes. The topics of the essays could easily fall into the mundane and has a huge potential to reflect in your writing. It can be intimidating, and some people won’t even try because of these essays.
Essays should never hold you back from applying for universities and scholarship (free money!!). Did I mention free money? Write your essay, have fun with it. You should make your essays an extension of you and here are some tips that I hope will help you get accepted into school or awarded a scholarship. Free money. There, I said it again.
1. Like my writing professor always said in class, forget about clichés and overused essay ideas. You really want to make yourself standout by actually showing who you are creatively yet always remaining professional.
Play with time frames or concepts that are related to the prompt can make your essays memorable in small ways. For example, writing a past event that made you decide to study your major in present tense can be a nice twist to your essays, and can really show who you are. As far as concepts go, creativity is key. One of my scholarship essays was about my name and how it’s easily ignored since it’s hard to pronounce. I thought it was a terrible combination in the journalism world.
2. Make sure your essay has personal development. These essays are about showing who you are. Don’t think of scholarship or admission essays in terms of “This is why I deserve it” but “This is why you deserve me”.
Make sure you show what makes you an individual and how you can better the school with your talents if you were accepted or better yourself if you won that scholarship. My essay developed through my explanation of how my perspective on my name had changed during the past two years in the journalism department.
3. Reference someone who has helped you, even in the smallest way. Gratitude is always a positive reflection in your essays. Don’t underestimate it.
4. Triple-check grammar. I know creativity sets you apart but never choose that over a well written paper. Don’t be afraid to ask professors, friends or colleagues to take a look. Your essay needs to look like you took your time. Boards aren’t going to take their time to consider you if you didn’t take yours.
5. Whether or not you get accepted, always send a quick email or note afterwards. I know it doesn’t have anything to do on essay writing, but it’s really important and I had to mention it.
Bring up a topic you spoke about in your essay or interview, and say you appreciated the time and plan on applying next year. You don’t want to burn bridges (I know…. cliché). But, it’s true. You never know where it may lead, maybe you didn’t win the scholarship from an organization but through networking you may land an internship instead.
By the way, there are tons of scholarships out there and only few actually apply. So apply! Don’t ignore my discrete (free money) subliminal messages. And of course, good luck!
The Major Problem: Is your major for you?
A few months ago, I had to tell my parents I would be graduating a little later then I had anticipated because I wanted to double major. It was difficult to do, but worth it. I had become an aspiring journalist with a thirst for medieval and renaissance poetry. I liked my major but English just clicked, and I knew I couldn’t leave it behind. So my journey into combining both Journalism and English had begun in the midst of my senior year.
If I could hop into a time machine and go back in time and figure out if my major was truly for me, these would be the steps I would have taken earlier on as a freshmen:
1. Take risks and enroll in courses you believe you may have some interest in, even if it’s the smallest interest. Take the courses, even if they aren’t part of your plan of study. If I had taken a Chaucer course during my freshmen year, I would definitely have decided to double major then. Don’t be scared of taking senior classes as a freshmen, especially in subjects you’re interested in. Put yourself out there if it’s something you might love.
2. Do an internship or two that involve your major early on. When I first took a journalism class, I wasn’t sure it was for me. But through internships you can expand the scope of your major. There are several paths you can take with your major, some you wouldn’t have imagined without some research and experience. You can find your niche or place of interest through internships. If that doesn’t work, try an internship outside of your major. If those “click” than make the switch.
3. Shadow someone who has your dream job. By doing this during your first year, you can really see what your dream job is actually like. Do not shadow a television show. I emulated Rory Gilmore, who studied journalism, from the show Gilmore Girls. Don’t do this. Shadow a real person, see what their day is like and ask questions. Immerse yourself in your dream job for a bit. Is it still your dream job afterwards? If not, I’d reconsider your major.
4. You can always double major or turn your newly found passion into a masters degree (if you can, unfortunately some graduate programs have strict admission requirements). If you equally like two majors or want some diversity, this is the plan for you. Go for it! Don’t be scared of the extra years, just work hard and enjoy all the knowledge you’re gaining.
5. Breathe. If you’re on the verge of graduation and are still undecided on your major or haven’t found a passion, don’t worry. You will still have a degree. A degree isn’t a life sentence. You can gain experience in other fields and grow. You can go back to school. You are young. Don’t stress it, and just enjoy it.