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Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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    Living History: Understanding the present by studying the past

    Patricia Skinner

    Why do I think history is the best major ever?  I know that history is not really the favorite subject of a lot of students, but there is one really good reason that everyone should at least appreciate history: to try to understand the importance of our past as we move forward in our lives. Through this blog, I hope to show you why you should be thankful for history and maybe even help you begin to learn to like it.

    What is history?

    To put it simply, history is the entirety of a series of past events that are connected with someone or something.  When you look at it this way, history is so much more than names, battles, or dates. You begin asking yourself, ‘what are we doing as a society right now if not living a future history’? Every single choice that we make and that our government follows through on changes the direction that we are going in.  Will future students look back on this period in history favorably or in disgust? While we are living our history, we are also learning from the mistakes of our ancestors and doing our best not to repeat those same mistakes.  

    History is fun?

    Studying history in high school and college can sometimes feel like you are stuck in an endless cycle of learning the same things over and over again. There is so much more to history than the same battles repeated through the endless loop of a broken record. History is like one big story that is enjoyable and teaches you about why the world is the way it is. For many of us, history has been taught with tests and projects that are just facts instead of being told in a way that interests us. As we get older we get to pick and choose what kind of history we study, whether that be through more classes or written in books we choose. You can learn about wars, government, or just everyday life. You may not enjoy all history, but I am sure there is some topic that you would like to learn more about.

    I challenge you to find a point in history that you find interesting and make an effort to really learn about it. It can teach you so much about your surroundings and keep you from repeating the past. Also, once you find something you really love reading about you won’t even realize you are learning, just that you are having fun.


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    Teacher appreciation series: History by flowers

    Patricia Skinner

    From my first day of school I hated history. It was just so boring; I felt like the teachers were just teaching the same exact thing every single year. But now I am majoring in history! How does this make sense? I owe it all to one college history professor.

    When I enrolled McClennan Community College I was annoyed to find out that I would have to take two U.S. history classes in order to earn my associate’s degree. I registered and resigned myself to relearning the same thing yet again. The first day of class in walks Melody Flowers, the first teacher I’d ever seen with a nose piercing. She set her coffee down and started teaching; to my surprise it was NOT the same information.

    One of my favorite parts of Ms. Flower’s class was when she had the whole class research a topic and choose a side from a list of options. She would then group us together based on which side we had picked. That is when it would get fun; she had us debate our side using our research to back it up. Her one rule was that whatever side we argued, we had to be respectful to each other.

    Ms. Flowers also restarted the History Student Association, the history club on our campus. Sometimes we would read historical books and sometimes we would watch historical movies. However, my favorite thing that we did was host a member of the Branch Davidians. Listening to the woman, who had lost almost her entire family in the raid of the Davidian Compound, talk about her experiences was heartbreaking. It made me realize that we are living future history right now; something that I never would have thought about or paid much attention to if I had taken a different teacher for history.

    This realization led me to spend hours talking to Ms. Flowers about everything from history and politics to which buildings on campus would be haunted if ghosts are real. If I ever had a question about what I should do next in my college career, I could go to Ms. Flowers because she would do everything in her power to help me find an answer. If I needed a simple letter of recommendation she would be willing to make my achievements shine above all others.

    Our bond as teacher and student became something more; a bond of friendship.

    Every student should find a way to make deeper connections with at least one of their teachers. Although I am now at a university pursuing my bachelor’s degree, Ms. Flowers remains my own personal cheerleader, advisor, and mentor all rolled into one. There is no better feeling in the world than to know that there is a teacher who thinks so highly of me.

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    Preparing for finals can be fun with the right techniques and tools

    Patricia Skinner

    Finals are coming! Believe it or not, preparing for finals can be fun with the right techniques and tools. Here are 5 exam prep tips that work well for me.

    First Things First

    Many instructors provide some type of study guide to help their students prepare for the final exam. Once you have your guide, look over it and write down any questions you have. Bring your list of questions to your instructor. Make sure that you can understand their answers and that you do not end up leaving with new questions. If you cannot understand and answer the review that you are given, you will not be able to study in a truly helpful way.

    Break it down

    If you have a large amount of reading to do as part of your review, try counting the number of pages that you have to get through. Once you have that number, divide it by ten. The answer will tell you how many pages you should read before you take a break. Once you have readxnumber of pages, set your timer and take a 10-minute break. Do something relaxing or fun, but remember to honor the timer and go back to studying when time’s up.

    Time it out

    You can also use a timer to break down longer sessions of problem solving into smaller chunks. Set your timer for thirty minutes and get to work. Once the timer goes off, stop for a 10-minute break. Remember to stand up and walk around for a moment during each break to boost your energy level and circulatory system.

    Have Fun

    I like to make my study guide into a game! If I have to learn vocabulary I will write the terms on one set of flash cards and the definitions on another set. I then shuffle the two sets of flash cards and place them face down in two separate groups; terms in one group and definitions in other. I then have to match the terms to the definitions. This is a really good way to get yourself to be able to quickly answer vocabulary questions. Consider going digital with Pearson Prep! One feature allows you to create your own digital flashcards and access additional ones created by experts.

    Partner Up

    A tried and true study technique is to teach the information to someone else. Then let your partner teach a concept to you. Collaborate with your classmates using Google Docs to work on your study guide. Doing this will enable you to pool your knowledge and finish the review faster so that you have longer to study.

    Studying for finals can actually be a fun adventure! Cramming doesn’t have to be your go-to study strategy. Break it down, time it out, collaborate with your classmates. Most of all, make the experience enjoyable!


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    Get up and get ready for a new semester

    Patricia Skinner

    School is starting soon; how are you getting ready? Are you going to put everything off until the last minute? Or have you already started getting everything set up? Whichever type of student you are, I have five tips to help you get ready for a new semester.

    Get moving

    When you wake up in the morning, make it a routine to walk and get your blood pumping! Start with five to ten minutes and work your way up to a point where you can walk for thirty minutes at a time without being out of breath. If you are going to have to use a backpack when you’re in school, use a backpack with a slowly increasing number of books when you walk.

    Make a plan

    Buy a planner or print out a blank calendar. Sit down and write out your full schedule for at least two weeks before and after school starts and ends. Include your work and class schedule, any doctor appointments, family obligations, and any other extracurricular activities that you know about. Always add new information to your schedule as soon as you learn about it.

    Read ahead

    Most professors post their required books and materials well ahead of the first day of classes. If you can get them early, skim through your textbooks and take some notes of questions you want to ask your teacher. This simple act will help you to build up a good foundation of knowledge of the subject.

    To-do lists are your friend!

    Create lists using headers such as ‘Books Needed’, ‘Supplies Needed’, and any other headers you think could be helpful. Then take that detailed ‘To Do List’ and pin it to your wall. This will help you see at a glance everything you need to do when you are ready to start preparing for school.

    Navigate campus

    If you are going to be starting at a new school go visit the campus a week or two before classes start and bring your class schedule. Use your schedule to find all of your classrooms and at least two ways to get to each room. I also highly recommend that you find the nearest restroom to each of your classes.

    Whether you are a procrastinator or overachiever, preparing for a new semester can be daunting! Just take a deep breath, follow these 5 tips, and you will be on your road to success. Just remember to start your morning with some exercise, make a plan and to-do list, get your textbooks earlier, and prepare yourself to navigate campus. Which of these tips do you find most beneficial to you?