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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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PreK-12Higher EducationProfessional

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    A Major in Sustainability Will Save Our Planet

    Victoria Bankowski

    I am currently seeking a degree in General Studies, which allows me to focus on more than one area.  I am pursuing a career in Environmental Sustainability.

    When asked “What is Sustainability”, a lot of people will attempt to provide an answer, but when giving their definition they get lost in their explanation.  The problem is because there is not an universally agreed definition on what sustainability means.  I would define sustainability as, the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. 

    I am currently working on a project that explains how I feel about sustainability.  I found that because I was not formerly educated in sustainability, I live a very unsustainable life.   I am enrolled in a “Sustainability on Campus” course at the University of Michigan and I am learning what I must change to live in a sustainable world.  Due to the major implications of the human population using up the Earth’s natural resources, I am determined to change my lifestyle and act as a steward of sustainability, teaching the behavioral changes needed to save our planet.

    Not all communities are as serious about sustainability as the University of Michigan. It is a known fact that a failure to incorporate sustainable practices in education, and in business, happen frequently across the United States because sustainability is deemed a complicated process.

    It is for this reason that a change must take place.  It will require a lifelong lifestyle commitment of learning, research, and commitment to increase the best sustainable practices, to ensure our grandchildren’s children will have a planet that can sustain the punishment that so many people have inflicted.

    As a transfer student coming to the University of Michigan, I am hopeful, that I have found a suitable career path in which to pursue.   I have chosen to pursue a career as a steward of Sustainability.  I have strategized, over what it would take for me gain the necessary skills and background required to pursue a career in sustainability, and have discovered that I would like to work with young children as a steward of sustainability.  My attention was brought to the University and I have determined that every year the University of Michigan, brings in a fresh group of students.  However, not all of these students have been formerly educated in sustainability.   I discovered this problem because of the lack of knowledge I had when asked “what is sustainability”. I was left with my mouth open unable to answer. This is a problem that must be addressed to save our planet.

    All children in the United States deserve equal educational opportunities, and to save the planet, sustainability must be incorporated at all levels of education.

    My philosophy is, to maximize growth and understanding of sustainability.  To do this we must start with our roots, our children.  By teaching our children about sustainability, in elementary school, those children will go home, and act as sustainable stewards with their parents.  As our children mature, they will grow with the ever-changing protocol, that surrounds sustainability.  When ready for their next phases in middle school and high school, they will have developed a foundation on which to grow further in educational sustainability issues.

    To educate all our children in sustainability, we must focus on our state and federal legislatures.  All children in the United States must have an equal representation in education, and by failing to provide our children with the basic tools to become sustainable, we are preventing our country from becoming sustainable.  Encouraging a statewide initiative to provide the children of all communities, education in sustainability is a must. I believe all students should be required to learn about Sustainability, just like English, History, and Mathematics at all levels of education.  Educating our children in sustainability is the necessary tool, I feel that will save our planet.


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    Talk to Someone; We'll Get Through Together

    Ebony Ellis

    It was in my African American Literature class, when I realized I wasn’t alone. I looked around at my peers and noticed that the majority of the class was not present, mentally. After my professor took attendance, the class began to engage in small conversation. She stated with concern in her voice “It seems like everyone this semester is going through something. I just hope that you all get through alright” (Amaris Howard). It made me realize that I was not the only one who seemed to be in some indescribable mood that involved unproductiveness and hopelessness. Thankfully, I found my way and want to share with you my story and advice.

    As a community, the students of Harold Washington College should start utilizing the resources that can assist with our mental health and emotional well-being. We receive email notifications about “reboot sessions” and newsletters that draw attention to the wellness center located on the tenth floor, but the thing is most of us never took advantage of them. There are flyers all over the school and each elevator has a weekly schedule of events around Harold Washington, many involve the wellness center.

    The wellness center has monthly events planned for students, covering a variety of topics. Whether it be self-defense classes or counseling, I encourage you to check out your wellness center for help, regardless of what you issue is. Those things are planned so we can use them.

    Each of us has something going on in our lives that was affecting us and possibly our performance in our classes. Some of us came from poor families, others are grieving death, and some maybe going through an illness or breakup. There are many people who are under stress about the current political climate. Not to mention, some of people who are self-inflicted with the doubts and stigmas that come from attending community college as opposed to a regular university. We are all to indulged in the luxuries of our phones and being isolated individuals. Do not be the one to keep all of your emotions bottled in, it can cause more harm than good.

    Whether, you are dealing with depression, stress from classes, or mourning the death of a family member or friend, understand that you owe it to yourself to have someone to listen to you, so you can feel better, and continue to progress in your life. Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath! If you feel like you can’t talk to family, friends or even your favorite professor, do yourself a favor and schedule a confidential appointment inside of the wellness center. Understand that whatever you may be going through, you are not alone; and more importantly your feelings and opinions matter.


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    5 Subjects You Had No Idea You Could Study Online

    Dan Ketchum, Blog Contributor

    Online learning offers plenty of forward-thinking flexibility, and it’s that same creative spirit that inspires universities to use the virtual classroom as a scholarly playground, a place to offer classes that might be a little more experimental than those you’d find on a physical campus. When it comes to online courses, learn to expect the unexpected—from comic books to feng shui, these programs deliver the novelty factor, but they also pack plenty of real-world utility. Because sometimes, it pays to try something new.

    Comic Books and Graphic Novels

    In 2013, comic books and graphic novels raked in $870 million in sales—and that staggering figure does not include money made from comic-derived films, which grossed in excess of $4.7 billion the following year. Everything about comics is big: big muscles, big stakes, and big business.

    Industries that span the spectrum of film, TV, video games, print, merchandising, and more are bound to come in contact with some superhero spandex, a fact that makes comic book studies a surprisingly versatile subject. Emerson College’s Graphic Novel Writing and Illustration online program includes an entire web-focused class dedicated to exploring e-book distribution and cultivating online audiences, bringing a traditional American pop-cultural staple into an online-savvy age. For a broader lens, there’s the Smithsonian Institution’s online course, The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture. The Internet hosts more online comic-book classes than Bruce Wayne has bat-themed gadgets, and for good reason: high-def e-readers and multimedia-friendly computers make the virtual classroom an ideal format for this highly visual medium.

    Animal Behavior

    If Batman-oriented studies aren’t enough, online learners can delve into the bats themselves—virtual animal behavior courses like Colorado State University’s Introduction to Animal Behavior aren’t just for veterinarians and lab researchers. Studying animal behavior enlightens students on animal rights and welfare issues, but they’ll also learn why social scientists and psychologists have long used animal behavior as an interpretive lens for human society. Understanding animal behavior helps both students and educators deepen their understanding of human behavior, and you’d be hard pressed to find a professional field or area of study where human behavior doesn’t enter the equation.


    Studying aromatherapy is a lot more nuanced than sniffing candles. This essential oil therapy traces its history back more than 6,000 years, with roots in pioneering Greek, Chinese, and Indian healing. When French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse applied lavender oil to a laboratory burn in 1928, he began to discover medicinal properties in these all-natural fragrances, which have been used to combat everything from alopecia to insomnia.

    For both hobbyists and budding healthcare professionals, expanding educational horizons into alternative medicine lends a fresh (and fresh-smelling) perspective—the American College of Healthcare Sciences’ Certificate in Aromatherapy is just one program to explore. Nationally accredited courses like this one present a succinct example of precisely what makes the virtual classroom so effective. It creates a classroom experience that combines the strengths of both online and hands-on, real-world learning. In this case, learners have the opportunity to blend essential oils at home, while being guided by plentiful online feedback and virtual learning resources that adhere to their own individual schedules.

    The Zombie Apocalypse

    Just like animals, zombies (yes, zombies) help us better understand human behavior in a way that applies to a surprising range of disciplines. And we’re not just making that one up—Michigan State University has our back with an online course called “Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse—Disasters, Catastrophes and Human Behavior”. MSU’s course could only happen in the virtual classroom—it’s a group simulation of a survival scenario presented through custom-made videos of a fictional zombie apocalypse. Students react, cooperate, explore, and make decisions in real-time as part of what the university calls a Multimedia Online Learning Immersive Experience (MOLIE).

    Does your curriculum cover law enforcement? The military? Everyone from future police officers to aspiring emergency managers benefits from immersing themselves in a theoretical apocalypse, which brings to light issues including class systems, gender politics, and disaster management.

    Feng Shui

    It’s no surprise that the New York Institute of Art + Design offers an online Feng Shui Interior Design Course. The ancient Chinese practice, which marries spatial planning and philosophy, is a natural part of almost any interior design program, but its principles aren’t limited to one field. Like the most effective online learning experiences, the virtual feng shui classroom combines audiovisual instruction with tactile learning, tasking students with placing items in the real world and sharing photos and videos of their arrangements in online forums. Think of it as a macro version of a social network with an exclusive focus on feng shui education.

    Everyone from architects to graphic artists and style consultants to industrial designers can learn something from the yin, the yang, and the Five Room Elements of feng shui—and an online feng shui intro could easily spice up a run-of-the-mill philosophy curriculum. But even if you don’t fall into any of those categories, brushing up on this ancient practice ensures that you’ll have the most zen-friendly workspace, classroom, or home on the block.


    • Business Insider: The Comic Book Industry Is On Fire, and It’s About More Than Just the Movies
    • CNBC: Why Comic Books Are Big Business
    • University of Maryland Medical Center: Aromatherapy
    • California State University, Northridge: Significance of Animal Behavior Research
    • Business Insider: Even Military and Police Want to Take This College Zombie Survival Course