Category Archives: Falling into Autumn – 2013

Winter Break To-Dos for College Kids of All Ages

By Lauren Privette

Picture of a snowy day on the JMU campus

You’ve just come back from a weeklong Fall Break that was just as unproductive as you were worried it would be, only to be thrown into two weeks of stressful studying and due-dates. As miserable as the next two weeks will be, you have a nice, month-long Winter Break to look forward to! The problem arising with such a long winter break, however, is what to do. You don’t have tests to prepare for, lab reports to complete, or projects to finish. Below are a list of things to do, depending on your year, followed by an overall list for all years.

Freshmen: You made it through your first semester! Congratulations, only 7 more semesters to go. Here’s a list of possible things to do during your first Winter Break:
• Research different majors! Even if you’re not undeclared, now is the time to make sure you are selecting the best major for you.
• Check e-Campus to see if any of the classes you want, but didn’t get, have a seat open! We all know you guys get the scraps, but conflicts arise in schedules, and people end up having to drop a class. So, keep a look out for those opportunities.

Sophomores: One more semester till your halfway done with your college career! Here are some options for you sophomores:
• Start looking at internships! Even if it’s not for this summer, but one for during the next school year or next summer. It’s always a good idea to get a head start on these as they can be competitive and deadlines creep up faster than you think.
• Read a book! You probably haven’t read a book since the required reading before your freshman orientation week. Reading stimulates your brain and expands your vocabulary—both will help you if you intend on taking the GRE’s for graduate school.

Juniors: You’ve passed the halfway point! Hang in there. Here are some possible things for you to do:
• Apply for an internship! The summer after your junior year is the perfect time for an internship.
• Plan out your next three semesters! You’ll lessen the stress in the long run if you begin planning out the classes you’ll need to take in order to graduate when you want to.

Seniors: The bittersweet graduation is almost upon you! You’re most likely freaking out about what you’ll be doing after graduation; keep yourself occupied with these productive tasks to accomplish over your last Winter Break:
• If you haven’t found a job, start looking. Spending just 15 minutes a day looking at possible jobs is a simple way to ease that particular stress. And, if you see one you like, apply for it!
• Order your graduation announcements! You’ll be doing yourself and your family a favor the sooner you get these out of the way

Last but not least, some overall Winter Break ideas for all years and majors:
• Find a job! Shops, especially around the Holidays, are looking for extra people to hire. Simply call the shop and inquire whether they need extra help during the holidays. This works more often than you’d think.
• Read a book! You probably haven’t read a book since the required reading before your freshman orientation week. It’ll aid your overall intellect, and they can be as entertaining as your favorite movies!
• Explore a nearby city! It’s always fun to do this around the holiday season.
• Learn to read Tarot cards! Random, but I worked on this one last Winter Break, and it’s a fun skill or great party trick.

Where Is Your Tuition Really Going?

By Lauren Privette

If you are a student here at JMU, according to USA Today: , approximately 28.4% of your tuition went to JMU Athletics for the 2010-2011 academic year. That’s $2,228.00 for the year and, if the tuition stayed at $15,880, that would be $8,912.00 throughout your four years. On top of that, some alumni donate millions of dollars that fund athletic scholarships and monthly allowances given to the best of the best athletes. In fact, a university with “Division I sports spend[s] three to six times as much on each athlete as they do to educate each of their students” (Lewin, NY Times, 2013).

Everything from the addition to Bridgeforth Stadium to the $500 reimbursements all student-athletes receive every year for sport and non-sport related provisions—like clothing and linens is paid for by our tuition. If a student-athlete sees a nice pair of jeans at Lucky Brand Jeans, they can buy it and be paid back in full. The money is really meant for covering necessities like winter clothing for a student-athlete from a warmer climate, or bed sheets and towels for a student-athlete living on their own for the first time. Chiefly, it is meant for people who are in serious need of the money; however, it’s open to all.

Buying winter clothing is a viable use of that money, but there are no restrictions. People who don’t need the money are able to spend and be reimbursed the same amount as people who do. I don’t have a problem helping out a person who literally does not have the money to buy a winter jacket, but paying for a $100 pair of Lucky jeans seems out of reason. Multiply the $500 by 415 (the number of Varsity athletes) and that’s $207,500, if all student athletes take advantage of this offer and turn in their receipts.

College is about getting an education, obtaining a degree, and contributing to society. Scholarships are good, when given financially or academically. Instead, we’re giving them to many academically unqualified athletes—brushing aside the qualified person because we need the room for the athlete. I’m not saying that all athletes are stupid or unqualified, but many of them have tunnel vision regarding their sports; they concentrated on sports in high school and most will concentrate on the same in college; academics is put on the back burner.

Sports are a fundamental part of our society, and therein, lies the problem. Guess who the highest paid public employee is in your state? There’s a 78% chance that it’s a university coach.

Check how this info-graphic to find out about your state:
Also, if you’re curious, check out this website to see all public university salaries:

University basketball and football coaches are getting paid (some in the millions of dollars), while non-student athletes struggle to pay for a tuition that is only rising. It’s a problem with its roots set deep in U.S American culture.

We grow up in a country where sports are a part of college, and college is a part of sports—they come hand in hand. But in reality, we’re one of the only places in the world that does this—Europe and developed Asian countries have some of the best universities and they don’t have intercollegiate sports. The idea that sports are a fundamental part of the college experience doesn’t exist. Instead, they have clubs and teams organized outside of academic institutions. There, much like our club teams here at JMU, participants must raise the money through fundraisers to pay for their travel costs and such.

However, there are positives in offering athletic scholarships. One positive is that athletes contribute to more diversity at the university. And by offering scholarships to athletes in lower income areas who have been at a disadvantage from the start and, therefore, had less of a chance at getting in, we are facilitating admission to people who wouldn’t have had a shot at college otherwise.

In pre-college schooling, U.S Americans are continually falling behind in the world rankings of reading and math scores. Along with a revamping and realignment of our education system, we could shift sports over to clubs and maintain universities as a place for higher learning.

However, it isn’t feasible to seperate sports and college in the US. It would be like pulling a baby away from its mother. Some people live for college sports events, like March Madness. Not to mention that college sports DO generate a ton of revenue, though it might not help the average student directly, it does help the schools’ and country’s economies (and those wealthy coaches…).

I maintain that the system of varsity university sports needs to revevaluated. Attending college is about your education, not athletics.

The College Balance: On Taking off More than You Can Chew

by Molly Robinson

With over 300 clubs to choose from, lots of cool people to hang out with, and tons of interesting majors and minors to pour yourself into, how do you narrow down what is manageable for you too do well? As a senior at JMU, I can tell you that I’m still figuring it out, but getting closer to what I believe to be a good balance. Below are some guidelines I’ve come up with to help maintain a good balance between succeeding in academics and enjoying extracurriculars in college.

Academics come first. There will always be something you are “missing out on” while studying. Who cares? You will feel better relaxing after your test knowing that you put your all in and did your best.

Pick a major you like. If you are choosing a major for the possible monetary gain in a future career and have no interest in the subject topic, you will hate every class and struggle to have any motivation.

Devote yourself to a few organizations and get really involved. There may be tons of clubs you are interested in; that’s great. In reality, though, you will find it more fulfilling to devote yourself to a couple clubs then to spread yourself thin between five. When you are really involved with a couple clubs, you have more time to give to what you care about with the organization, and you’ll have a better chance at developing meaningful friendships with people who have similar interests to you.

“Rate my professor” is your friend. A professor can make or break your experience in a class, especially if the class is for a general education requirement. Do your research, and make sure you get professor that wants you to do well. *This is more important than getting all Tuesday and Thursday classes.

Challenge yourself, but be reasonable. For the love of Pete, drop a class if you are failing. It’s hard to learn a whole subject area in three months time, and if you are struggling, save your GPA and not your pride. Choose course loads that will allow you to do well; you know yourself better than anyone else does.

Stick with the people who really care about you. College is four years long. Make an effort to find genuine friends who will support you, regardless of what obstacle you come upon. There will always be a large quantity of fun people around, but those aren’t necessarily the friends who will have your back when times get rough—and at some point, times will get rough.

Enjoy. Take it all in. Do the most you can with these years and take opportunity you can to do new things.

Appropriate Places to Snapchat: Is There Such a Thing?

by Molly Robinson

There are certain moments where it is perfectly okay to whip out your phone and take a Snapchat of a notable moment, such as your friend getting pied in the face or a dog doing a ridiculous body movement. But what about those “reply” selfies? Is it okay to Snapchat in the hallway? What about at lunch?

In all actuality, people use Snapchat for different reasons, and I totally agree with BuzzFeed’s 12 stereotypes of friends on Snapchat:

Regardless of your Snapchat use in college, I have compiled a few do’s and don’ts for the appropriate use Snapchat:

1. DO send selfies when now one is watching.
2. DON’T take or send snaps when in class.
3. DON’T take or send snaps while walking; trust me, you will run in to something.
4. DO take group snaps in a public setting—only when you’re in a group. Nothing looks weirder than you making a demented face at your phone while sitting in the corner of TDU by yourself.
5. DON’T open a snap in a public setting, such as class, if you have reasonable cause to believe it will make you burst out laughing.

Happy snapping!

Tackling the Daunting Résumé

By Taylor Hudson

“Graduation” is a four-letter word around here.

Yeah, sure—it’s supposed to be a proud moment, signifying four years of hard work and good times with life-long friends. But let’s be honest, graduation is more terrifying than it is exciting. Most seniors are somewhere between a mild-panic-attack and a quarter-life-crisis when it comes to actually planning this unknown, yet not so far away, concept called “the future.”

As a soon-to-be graduate myself, I have attempted to prepare and have spent a lot of time during the past few weeks knee-deep in “grown-up” documents, such as my résumé, portfolio, and job applications. And I only have one thought about the entire process—It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Lesson One: Avoid the Microsoft Office résumé templates at all costs.
That was my first mistake in this entire process. I thought it would be the most efficient to just click on one of the templates and fill in the blanks. No, I was wrong.

First of all, those templates are extremely generic, so they most likely will not include the best or most effective sections for your particular goal or job search. For example, most of them do not include a relevant course work section. Another problem I had was a lack of space to include the hyperlink to my online portfolio, and, as a media arts and design major, that is really important.

Second of all, it’s near impossible to condense your résumé into one, convenient page using those templates. They are unnecessarily fluffed up with images, chunky boxes, and 12-point font. Any attempt to make the font smaller just messes up the entire layout and will have you screaming at your computer in a matter of minutes—and yes, I speak from experience. It’s much more simple to just create your own résumé layout from scratch.

Don’t get me wrong; those templates are good to use as a reference or basis. But, overall, just make our final résumé an original.

Lesson Two: Don’t compare your résumé with your friends. It never hurts to get feedback and criticisms to improve your résumé. However, I suggest receiving professional feedback, such as from a professor, mentor, or employer—not a friend or roommate.

If you are like me, I am the only one in a house of four people pursuing a career in my particular field. I am pursuing a journalism career, one is pursuing a dietetics career, one is pursuing education, and the final one is pursuing theater. Four clearly different fields. It didn’t seem like much of a barrier at first, because at first I thought, “How different could our résumés be?” Again, I was wrong.

Theater-focused résumés look like Mars compared to my journalism-focused one. In theater, for example, a clear and definitive objective is of higher priority in order to state your artistic goals as an actor. Meanwhile, in journalism, an objective statement could be included, but if you need more room for your internship experience and skills sets, then those take higher priority. In my case, I completely deleted it, but my roommate believed that I needed to write an objective statement. She wasn’t wrong.; objective statements aren’t bad. On the other hand, they aren’t good for everyone. The moral of the story is simple: don’t argue with your roommate for twenty minutes about what to include in résumés, when in reality, you are both right.

Lesson Three: Sometimes you just have to hit the “Submit” button. Pushing the “Submit” button after you have completed an online job application is terrifying. Don’t worry, I completely understand. Nevertheless, at some point, you just have to stop re-reading, editing, and revising your application, and click the button. Let go. Just do it.

I decided to apply to Teach for America, and I completed my application about a week and a half ago. Yet, I just submitted it three days ago. I was so paranoid that I misspelled something, or that I awkwardly worded a sentence in my responses. So, instead of actually sending the application, I just let it sit. My stress just exponentially grew every time I looked at. I probably rewrote the application about three times.

Eventually, I realized I just needed to send it because my acceptance into the program has no direct correlation to the amount of times I edited the application. Once I hit the “Submit” button—regardless of how initially terrifying it was—I felt infinitely better. So, if you currently have an application just waiting in limbo like I did—please, do yourself a favor, and go send it.

Last but not least—believe in the power of drafting! I realize it is only October, and graduation is over six months away. But it is never too early to start thinking about post-grad life. So, don’t be afraid to tackle those “grown-up” tasks—just remember to take it slow and learn as you go through the process. Your resume and portfolio will not be perfect the first time. You will have to re-write and re-organize, but it will all be worth it in the long run. But don’t just take my word for it.

If you are looking for professional help, and not just the advice from a fellow stressed out senior, I suggest looking into an appointment with Career and Academic Planning. They are awesome with this sort of thing—from resumes to cover letters to personal statements. You could even browse Recruit-a-Duke, a convenient one stop location for JMU students to search for current job or internship openings.

Top Chef: Camping Edition

By Lauren Privette

University Park’s pavilion served as a makeshift kitchen for the UREC sponsored event “Top Chef at University Park,” on Wednesday, the 19th. A judge walked around monitoring students who manned their cooking stations complete with ingredients, utensils, and grills provided by UREC.

The UREC sponsored event also included the UREC Nutritional Analysis Service—a service provided for students, faculty, and staff to analyze and learn about their specific nutritional status. The service includes a unique package with a computer analysis on your diet and a consultation with a nutritionist with additional information about your nutrition and diet. You can sign up by clicking this link for the JMU main page. Jackie Ferretti, a dietetics senior and UREC nutritional analyst, was excited about the “Top Chef” event. “We (Nutritional Analysis Service) do different programs for Health 101 classes, so this can count towards a wellness passport event,” said Ferretti.

Ingredients included spinach herb tortillas, black beans, extra virgin olive oil, brown rice, mangoes (the main ingredient), avocados, and peppers. Like the show, competitors had 40 minutes to complete their cooking creations.
Contestants were set up with camping- specific gear: a two-burner propane grill, metal cooking pots, and a mini-cast iron skillet—all available for rental at UREC. Styrofoam bowls and plates along with plastic utensils made this competition a challenge.

While not as many people as expected took advantage of the unique and engaging passport event, the competitors that did attend enjoyed the experience, and, they got their passports stamped. For the procrastinating health 101 students, an opportunity for a unique and passport event was lost. “It’s only our second year doing this event,” said Ferretti, “and we’re happy people showed up and had a good time.”

Tasty Autumn Treats Make Early Appearance in the Arboretum

By Taylor Hudson

On any given day, JMU’s Edith J. Carrier arboretum boasts picturesque landscape, a calming atmosphere, and a plethora of prosperous and beautifully tended plants. Although, on Friday, August 30th, the arboretum offered more than just a beautiful stroll; it gave JMU students, faculty, and local residents a chance to indulge in locally created refreshments.

“Wine and Cheese in the Trees” is an event hosted by the arboretum staff twice a year—once in the spring, and then again in the fall. The treats offered are typically centered around seasonal foods.

As the title suggests, the event offered many types of wine and cheese. But, at this autumn inspired event, apples were the true stars of the show. Tables of locally brewed hard-ciders along with homemade apple cider doughnuts gave this event a unique twist.

Misty Newman, Assistant Director in the Office of Community Service Learning, claims that she was excited to learn about the introduction of ciders at this typically wine-centered event. “It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the first week of classes,” Newman says. “You hear a lot about a lot of wine and beer pairings, but you don’t often hear of cider pairings. It’s nice to enjoy something different.”

Approximately seventy-five people attended the event, which included JMU students, faculty, and local residents—all obviously over the age of twenty-one. Each guest was given two tickets upon entry, and then, could exchange a ticket for beverage. The beverage menu included wines from Stone Mountain Vineyards and Barboursville Vineyards—both Virginia-native wineries. The hard cider was from a relatively new cidery in Timbersville, Virginia called Old Hill Cider, owned by Showalter Farms.

The owners of the cidery, Shannon and Sarah Showalter, attended the event as well. They stood up in front of the crowd and discussed the history of their farm, the process of creating a hard cider, and the different types of cider created. This family-owned cider business is still in its beginning stages, but, according to the Showalters, its progress has leaped beyond their expectations—the revenue has already tripled from what was expected in their business plan.

Laura Williams, a Ph.D. student in the JMU Assessment and Measurement program, tried both ciders—Cidermaker’s Barrel and Yesteryear. “The Cidermaker’s Barrel Cider has more depth of flavor, almost a multi-flavor. It’s much richer,” she explained.

In addition to a beverage menu, there was an abundance of sweet treats. To compliment the hard ciders, homemade apple doughnuts were offered. Elizabeth Forsland, former JMU E-Hall pastry chef and current manager of Festival, put on a cooking demonstration. She walked guests through the process of making three different glazes—chocolate, white chocolate, and white chocolate maple. Each time she completed a glaze, guests could indulge in a taste-test of the warm, freshly made doughnuts.

All in all, the event was relaxed, enjoyable, and merely gave guests an opportunity to enjoy good company and great food, under the trees, on a warm August evening. What more could you ask for in a visit to the arboretum?

For more information on upcoming events in the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, visit their website at