Thursday, September 22, 2011

#5 Debate

Photo courtesy of

Coming from a conservative family and a private Catholic high school, I had a distinct impression that college campuses were brimming with liberals waiting to fill my head with a lot of "garbage," as my dad liked to call it.  Upon arrival on campus, I found that my conservative viewpoints were often challenged and that many of my professors were opinionated in a way that made me uncomfortable.

So how does this make college awesome?  Because I wasn't the only individual who felt their core beliefs were challenged.  Everyone felt that way!  There are liberal-minded leaders on campus just as there are conservative-minded leaders on campus.  Sure, you can choose to gravitate towards people that feel the same way as you.  Community helps to strengthen our beliefs and values.  But as part of the growing process, many students find themselves in impassioned debates in class, in clubs, or in the midst of a campus protest.

College is a very formative time for students.  If you go in with an open mind, you may find that many of your beliefs change through the debate process.  The college experience brings students back to their three-year-old selves in encouraging them to always ask, "Why?"  Sometimes students ask this question of themselves, but it is often easier and more exciting to ask this question of others.  It's how people learn about one another and about the diversity of beliefs that actually do exist.

College is certainly not the only place that debate occurs, but it does create a safe, intellectual environment in which students can learn more about the world around them and develop their own unique belief systems.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#4: Free Writing Assistance

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Reading and writing are integral to a student's success at the university level.  Writing is arguably the more difficult of the two as it calls upon students to express themselves.  Since beginning work for the university, I was impressed to find the amount of writing assistance available that I had failed to take advantage of.  Don't make the same mistake as me!  If you're at a college, chances are they offer some kind of writing assistance, whether it is course specific, or open for all kinds of writing; in person, or online.

Photo courtesy of The Purdue Online Writing Lab

Indiana's Purdue University runs "OWL" (Online Writing Lab) as well as the physical "Writing Lab at Purdue" for students to go to in person.  The Purdue OWL provides students and community members with downloadable resources to peruse at one's leisure.  At the Writing Lab at Purdue, students can receive anything from one-on-one assistance to conversation groups for ESL students to course-specific writing workshops and more, all of which are free of charge!
Photo courtesy of MSU Writing Center

The Writing Center at Michigan State University takes their mission a step further by increasing writing assistance as it pertains to new technology.  In addition to regular writing assistance, they also offer digital media consulting, which assists students as they endeavor to improve their writing "outside [of] the traditional paper/pen format" in projects involving website content development, audio visual projects, and the like.  They also provide podcasts on several writing topics. 

Photo courtesy of Syracuse Writing Center
The Writing Center at Syracuse University provide students the opportunity to set up Instant Messaging/Online Chat appointments with consultants in addition to the more traditional "Face-to-face" appointments and "eWC" e-mail assistance.

Whether writing is your strong suit or your greatest challenge, there is writing assistance for you in college!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#3: Free Condoms

Photo courtesy of

Alright, I know they're not that expensive, but I'm not just talking about condoms here.  Going away to college is a time when many people are exposed to new and sometimes dangerous things like alcohol, drugs, and sex.  Colleges know this and many have health education programs to promote awareness, safety, and cessation of unsafe behaviors.

Not to be confused with student health centers, which provide medical treatment to students, health education centers are hubs of resources.  Boston College University Health Services offers several anonymous online surveys to determine if you would benefit from a professional consultation.  In many health education offices, like that of Boston College, there is a close relationship with the student health center as well as counseling centers and other community services to offer professional consultations on a number of matters, from alcohol abuse to depression to eating disorders and more.

So why free condoms?  Health Education programs use many methods to promote safe sexual behaviors.  They provide pamphlets of information on safe sex and abstinence, as well as healthy relationships.  As part of an active promotion of safe sex, they often provide free condoms and lubricant.  Ball State University's Health Education office is even available to present on topics like "Sexual Health Bingo" and "SOS: Safer Oral Sex" for groups of students.

Stress is another hot button topic on college campuses that is addressed by health education programs.  Brown University Health Education offers "burp" (Brown University Relaxation Program) which offers 6-8 minute stress-relieving shoulder rubs to students, no strings attached!  The University of California, Irvine's Health Education Center houses a "wellness room" complete with a massage chair and a Nintendo Wii for burning off that finals stress!

Students, health education centers provide tons of services, usually free of charge.  Stop by, grab some pamphlets, and maybe a condom or two.  Don't be embarrassed to use these services - you're paying for them with your tuition, and they're designed just for you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

#2: Recreation Centers

24 Hour Fitness: $70 to start & $30/month ongoing for access to one facility
Your college rec. center: Free (included in tuition!)

In high school, I had never dreamed of getting a gym membership.  After all, only health nuts go to the gym...right?  College helped me reverse that stereotype as the on-campus rec. center made fitness equipment and classes so accessible to me, the novice, at such low cost. 

Recreation centers are booming on college campuses and often undergo drastic renovations to stay on the cutting edge of fitness comfort and technology.  Typically in these facilities you can find cardio and strength training exercise equipment, a running track, a dance studio, tennis courts, raquetball courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and a swimming pool. However, some of the amenities students have come to expect from their rec. centers would turn Gold's Gym green with envy:

While many rec. centers have a rock climbing wall, the Evergreen State College Rec Center has a full climbing gym.

Carleton College's Recreation Center has it's own indoor putting green!

UC Irvine's Anteater Recreation Center recently added a Test Kitchen and Classroom to the facility.


In addition to some amazing facilities, many colleges provide fitness classes in their recreation centers, ranging from dance to martial arts to spinning to yoga, and more.  Some of these classes cost money and others are free, so check the schedule at the start of each term so you know what is coming!

I am by no means a fitness guru and I don't know that a gym membership is anywhere in my future, but there was something about the recreation center on my college campus that made me want to go and get fit.  Maybe it's the social aspect of working out, maybe it's the convenient location, or maybe it's the fact that I didn't have to fork out any additional dough to use the facility.  There's something at the rec center for everyone.  What kind of rec center amenities would you like to see at your college?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#1: Free Career Counseling

As any college graduate can tell you, it can be quite difficult to find dependable career advice or legitimate job listings out in the "real world."  Considering that doesn't really vet it's job listings and craigslist is a hotbed for scamming, you almost have to be a detective to uncover the real listings among the many dead ends.  Career assessments can cost upwards of $100 and just an hour of professional career counseling can set you back $200 or more!
For you college students out there, the good news is that most colleges have a "career center" which provides a number of these resources to students for free, or at deep discounts.  UC Irvine's Career Center is one example, providing a comprehensive center of online and in-person resources.  Some of the center's services include an online job-listing database (Zotlink), an online library of career information (VAULT), video "web shops" on topics ranging from resumes to interview techniques, walk-in career counseling appointments, free resume reviewing, quarterly career fairs, help with grad school applications, and listings of alumni for networking opportunites. 

The UC Irvine's Career Center "Zotlink" service is an online job-listing database that is reviewed and carefully monitored to provide students with listings for on-campus jobs, local internships, and even full time positions in the "real world".  Use of this service is free as a student and allows students to upload a resume for employers to browse, just like any of your better known private job listing services, but with a bit more security.

Most college career centers list designated walk-in times when students are welcome to drop by without an appointment and see a college counselor.  These walk-in counseling sessions can be used to have your cover letter or resume reviewed, ask any career-related questions, or get a referral to take a career assessment.  Many times, career centers will offer career assessments at discounted rates to students.

Obtaining a bachelor's degree is often seen as a means to an end - a way to better your career opportunities for the future.  While a bachelor's degree can help with meeting qualifications for job positions, it is absolutely necessary for students to go beyond their classroom experiences and gain actual applicable experience in the field.  The career center on your college campus gives you the tools to progress in your career planning while working towards a degree, and is usually payed for by your tuition or fees.  Make the most of it!