Thursday, November 15, 2012

Have I told you how much I love my classes?

Well, I'll tell you again!

By now, you probably know that Nature and Outdoor Writing has been my favorite class this semester. One reason for this is simply that the content of the course matches my interests perfectly. It's an MJD (my journalism major) elective, as well as an elective for Environmental Studies and Creative Writing minors. We read works from all kinds of environmental authors, ranging from Leopold to Suburban Safari's Hannah Holmes. We also get to write our own pieces, including memoir-like accounts of our own experiences as well as creative natural history articles that incorporate research.

Basically, it's the perfect class for me because it's a crossroads of my major and minors. I'm always finding connections between my classes (for example, 3 out of my 4 classes this semsester have discussed the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone) but this one takes the cake!

It's also just a really fun course, and Professor Sultze organizes some really cool activities for us. At the beginning of the semester when it was warmer, we had class outside pretty often. This was also the class that had the field trip to Burlington's bike path where I rode a tandem bike for the first time. Yesterday's class was another awesome opportunity--we had a guest speaker from a local bird sanctuary come and show us some of the birds!

Here is an Eastern Screech Owl named Carson, after famous Environmental author Rachel Carson. She was a very "talkative" bird!

This is a Barred Owl, one of the most popular owls in many areas across the United States.

This is a red-tailed hawk, and the picture doesn't do her justice...her wing span was huge, and when she flapped her wings you could actually feel the wind from it on your face!

I just figured I would share that with you. This was definitely a highlight of my week! But, stay tuned for more MOVE news as well as other fun stuff to come!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

South Dakota, Here I Come!

Hello everyone, and Happy Veterans' Day!

Some of you may know that I have applied for another domestic extended service trip with MOVE. I had such an amazing time in Texas last year that I really wanted to go on another trip--I also love extended service because I take an entire week to devote to helping others, and focus on nothing else. These trips occur during school breaks, so it makes thema lot easier to schedule in.

Well, a few weeks ago I got the results from my application in my mailbox, and this past week we had our first set of meetings with the other MOVE groups.

Ladies and gentleman, *drumroll please...* I am going to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota from May 18th to the 25th! WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

You guys, I am SO EXCITED for this trip. My group is going to a Lakota reservation, where we will work with the non-profit group Simply Smiles, which is "dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children." While applying for the trip, it was noted that this was an extremely intense and emotional one.

The Cheyenne River Reservation has seen some harsh economic times, which affect the people in tons of ways. Many people don't stay in school, and Simply Smiles tries to keep that from happening as well as work to keep building the community and improve the quality of life. While we are there, we could be working on projects that would help the community in any way possible.

This year will be different because I'll be going with a much smaller group of people and we'll be focusing on working with people directly rather than on environmental issues. It's going to be a totally different experience than I've had on my last trip, and even though I loved Texas, I'm so happy about that because it'll be something completely new. The trips won't even be comparable--that's the awesome thing about extended service trips. You never know exactly what you're getting into!

As much as I just want it to be May, I shouldn't be rushing to get to this trip. It's going to take a lot of preparation, especially mentally and emotionally. I can't wait to have meetings with my group and learn more about what the trip will be like. Our student trip leader, Jenna, a friend of mine who I actually met on my Texas trip last year, sent us some links to the Simply Smiles website and their examples of past work with the reservation:

This is just one example of the various opportunities one can have with extended service and MOVE as a whole. Other trips I applied to included an animal sanctuary in Utah, a Habitat for Humanity trip to New Orleans, and one that focuses on helping the migrant worker community in Immokalee, Florida. There are also bus trips that go to homeless shelters or school districts in need in places like Buffalo, NY, Baltimore, Connecticut and New York City.

I really love being involved with MOVE, even though I don't get to do local events as often as I wish I could...but extended service offers the perfect opportunity to make a difference while seeing a new place. I know this trip is going to require a lot of dedication, but I am more excited than ever to take it on and have a brand new experience.

I hope that whatever you do, you remain passionate about it. Here's to MOVE 2013!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Help, I didn't get into all of my classes! What do I do now?"

Class registration is nerve-wracking--all students can agree to that! As much as Knightvision, our online registration program, is efficient, it has its faults. Students often don't get their first-choice classes on the first try...or the second. As a seasoned Knightvision failure, I can tell you that the worst thing to do at this point is panic. It gets you nowhere! Besides, most schedules are not set in stone--sometimes, it can be a really simple fix!

My personal experience with Knightvision has been comical at best. It all started the summer before my freshman year, when I visited Saint Mike's to learn about registration and sign up for classes. I had everything that I wanted to take chosen and ready, and then everyone in the computer lab had to press "submit" at the same time. Mostly everyone waited a few seconds for the program to load and then saw their successful registration pop up on the screen. My computer loaded and then...logged me out of the program.

You can imagine my initial shock! Thankfully, Will Marquess, my temporary advisor for the day, came to the rescue and showed me what to do. He helped me pick out different classes, since some of my first choices were closed. Then, he told me the dates when registration would open back up, and said that I could tweak my schedule as much as I wanted to during that time. I ended up with most of the classes I had wanted the first time around, or ones that would fulfill the same requirement.

Registration for the following semesters did not get any easier. I have been timed out of Knightvision, kicked out of classes that fill up, and computer-crashed. My friends began making jokes about how unlucky I am when it comes to Knightvision, and how I will never get the classes I want on the first try. To be honest, I'm starting to believe it--maybe I will never have an easy registration day! I think that my reaction time is too slow, so when I hit "submit" at 7am, it's not EXACTLY 7am.

Am I making this all sound like a horror story? No fear, people! The good thing about being such a registration day failure is that I've become an expert at getting the classes I want the second, third, or even fourth time around. It just takes some more effort!

Most importantly: BE ON TIME for regisration!
Here is some advice for those of you who have experienced Knightvision Failure:
1.) Know your stuff and be prepared. Make sure you know when your assigned registration day is. You'll get a letter in your mailbox and a follow-up email about it, so it should be easy to remember. All of the rules for undergraduate registration can also be found here, on the school website. Prior to registration day, log on to Knightvision and pick out the classes that you want to take. Put them on your "preferred" list. Also, make sure you meet with your academic advisor. This is extremely important because your advisor has to clear you for registration. Failing to set up a meeting will result in no access to registration because you were not given permission.

2.) Always, always, always have a back-up plan. You've picked your top four classes? Great, but you're not done yet. Choose your second top-four classes. And your third. Figure out each possible way you can work your schedule out so that you can pick and choose properly. For example, my priority class for this semester was Global Communications. It's required for my major, and it's only offered in the spring. However, I knew that it would be silly of me not to have a back-up for this class. It's wildly popular, and tons of other people were making it a priority too. When I didn't get into it, I immediately signed up for Media Law instead--it's another class required to complete my major, and one that I'm interested in taking as soon as possible.

3.) No matter what, try to fill your schedule. You only got into one out of your four preferred classes? Well, you can always try to get into the other three again--but before you log off to take the next steps with getting those classes, register for something else. Look at your academic profile and try to take some unfinished LSC requirements or elective courses for your major. You can always drop these if you add a new class. But you don't want to be scrambling around on the last registration day trying to get any old class just to fill up your schedule. That's only setting you up to either take something that you don't necessarily need or something that you're not interested in.

4.) If you don't get into a class, don't give up on it. There are several ways you can try to register again. We can use my experience as an example here. My initial registration date was Monday (Group 1). I got to register for classes with half of my class year. The second half went yesterday (Tuesday, Group 2). On this day, registration is closed to Group 1, just as Monday had been closed to Group 2. However, today was Open Registration for the entire sophomore class. So, I logged onto Knightvision this morning and tried again. There was one spot left for Global Communications, so I dropped Media Law and tried registering for it. When my registration loaded "unsuccessful", I registered back into Media Law and logged out.

But this step doesn't stop here. I immediately logged into my email and sent the professor a message explaining my situation and why I wanted to take the class so badly. A lot of times, professors will be willing to accomodate one or two extra students. This is how students are able to petition into a class. So, I told him that I'd like to take the class and asked when his office hours are so that I could meet him. This is an important thing to do: if a professor is going to let you into a class that is at its capacity, they want to make sure you're going to put in some effort, too.

5.) Petition. Before you meet with the professor, stop by Founders Hall (where the office of the Registrar is located) or go online and print out a petition form. When you meet with the instructor, he or she will sign it, and then you can bring it to the Registrar and they will process it for you. Then, you're in!

6.) Remember about open registration. Once everyone in the school has had their registration day, there are a few weeks of open registration for all classes. This semester, it's November 12th to December 7th. Things change around a lot during this time, so make it a priority to check at least once a day until you get your desired schedule.

7.) Attend a class. Still didn't get what you wanted? Or maybe you've changed your mind and want to take a different course? Try one more time. At the beginning of the next semester, sit in on the first class even though you're not enrolled. Before or after the class, talk to the professor and let him or her know that you're interested. This is especially important if you did not try to petition into the class. Simply e-mailing the professor will not show much dedication, and most likely will not result in their allowing you into the course. Besides, it's important to make sure this really is the class you want to switch into, and only knowing the title and description of the course won't give you a feel for what it's actually like. Visiting the class will give you the experience you need to make this decision.

So, there you have it! You can always try to turn a registration nightmare into a success story--nothing is set in stone. If you don't get the right classes the first time around, don't panic. Just try again! Make sure you've exhausted all of your options before settling with your schedule.

And if you still don't get the class, remember that if it's required it will always be there again. Spend your time getting the most out of the classes you do have rather than worrying about ones you don't have. I was very excited for Global Comm, but if I don't get into it, I'm just as pumped for Media Law. I've heard good things about the class, and the professor is my advisor! So, this would change my plans a little, but one thing that college has taught me is how to be flexible. No matter what, I love journalism courses, and I know it will be a productive and awesome semester.

Good luck registering, everyone!