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college life advice

In Academics on
May 16, 2016

Why You Should Join An Academic Organization

If you are an upperclassman with a relatively good GPA you have probably been approached at some point by an honor society on your campus. Today on the blog I am going to talk about the various kinds of academic organizations that are out there and give you a few reasons to join them.

Why You Should Join An Academic Organization | If your a student with a GPA over a 3.0 chances are you have been approached by an honor society or other academic organization. Click through to read my opinions about academic organizations and to listen to a podcast all about the importance of doing your research when you want to join an academic organization.

I am currently a member of two organizations in the sociological world–Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology’s honor society) and the American Sociological Association. There are many different types of academic organizations but I feel like it’s best to focus on honor societies and associations.

Honor Societies

Honor societies are really tied to your academic prowess. If you are in school and have a GPA over a 3.0 you have probably been asked to join one of these organizations. There is usually a price tag associated with joining an honor society and they offer some perks (which we will talk about later.)

For Alpha Kappa Delta I had to be a sociology major (or show interest in sociology), I had to be to be at least a junior in college, I had to have a total GPA of at least a 3.3 and a sociology GPA of 3.0, and I had to have taken at least 4 sociology courses at the institution I was initiated at. I joined Alpha Kappa Delta in the second semester of my junior year. The fee for Alpha Kappa Delta was $40 for a lifetime membership

Associations

These are usually less to do with grades and more to do with just being a part of your academic world. They can offer a plethora of great resources to you though. I decided to join the American Sociological Association earlier this year. The American Sociological Association is a yearly membership and they have all sorts of tiers to the cost of membership. Since I was a student I got the membership for $50, but the most you have to pay per year is $360 (it’s tiered based on income and those paying $360 make $150,000+ a year.)

Now I am going to move into the perks of joining these academic organizations.

they look great on your resume

To a point, they are almost necessary for your resume in some fields. These academic organizations showcase something special about you and can really make your resume shine (and sometimes keep up) with the other top applicants for a job in your field. So many of my professors were also members of Alpha Kappa Delta or they are members of the American Sociological Association. Finding those big important organizations in your field so that you can become a part of them is crucial. Paying a little bit of money now so that you can say that you are a part of these great and influential organizations later in your career is so worth it.

Networking

On a larger scale, they are great for just networking in general. For instance, the American Sociological Association keeps a job bank on their website that is just open to members. Universities with sociology departments often post their open positions on the website, and these are the kind of jobs you don’t just find while searching your academic field on Indeed. These are great jobs and it gives you a leg up on networking and finding job opportunities just because you are a member of the association the job bank is listed on.

Not only that, but there are often other ways to network too. The American Sociological Association keeps up a LinkedIn group and they also have sections dedicated to various parts of sociology.

Lastly, the American Sociological Association also has yearly meetings in various places that you can attend as a member of the organization. These meetings are fun, you get to network and meet other sociologists, and you also get the chance to present research if you apply to. Associations and honor’s societies have all sorts of different conferences and networking events. There are all sorts of regional societies and associations too so don’t forget about those for even more fun networking events.

Funding

So we just talked about fun conferences and networking events, but let’s be honest, those cost money. These organizations often offer a plethora of funding opportunities, scholarships, and paper competitions for members to partake in. These opportunities can really add up for a student. If you can make $300 for travel just by applying and paying the $50 yearly fee, wouldn’t that be awesome? A lot of groups have all sorts of fun things just like that constantly happening in their societies if only the member apply to them. If possible try to find smaller associations and societies though, because obviously the bigger the organization the bigger the applicant pool.

These organizations can offer a ton in the way of scholarships and fellowships as you begin searching for money to fund your graduate program. Scholarships can be hard to come by so it is nice that these groups are able to provide that for their students.

Freebies/Resources/Discounts

Lastly, a big part of the reason for joining an academic organization is for the resources, freebies, and discounts you get as a member. In my honor society Alpha Kappa Delta we got a journal called Sociological Inquiry which was a journal that featured all sorts of work from sociology students across the country. There are also all sorts of other freebies and resources for members like a mentorship program. Not to mention being in an active chapter on your campus may be able to bring you resources as your honor society club on campus probably does a lot of fun events.

The American Sociological Association offers quite a few freebies and resources for members. We have a job board, we get a one year hard copy subscription to one of their many journals, we get all of the journals digitally, we get discounts on publications on their website, and more. A membership with the American Sociological Association has so many benefits and as I stated earlier I only pay $50 a year for a plethora of amazing freebies and resources. Sounds like a good deal to me! One cool book I recently got a discount on because I was a student member was a book featuring basically all of the Sociology graduate programs in the country that the American Sociological Association puts out. It’s normally $50, but since I was a student member I got it for $20.

Academic organizations often offer freebies and discounts on things like journals, merchandise, books, and more. These can be so beneficial to you as you begin to start your collection of journals and books in your field.

The Happy Arkansan Podcast

Today’s blog post has a special extra component for all you lovelies out there. I recorded an 8 minute podcast just for you. On this podcast I talk about all sorts of fun stuff like general academic organizations and why I don’t like them as much as the specific organizations I talked about on the blog. I also talk about how to do your research on the organizations that ask you to join so you can make sure that it will be a worthwhile effort.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast. Let me know in the comments if this is something you want to see more of, because recording it was so fun and low stress!

 Final thoughts

Academic organizations are definitely not cheap! They can cost a lot of money, but the affiliation with people in your academic field can be invaluable. You can gain so much by making these quick associations and it can turn into a great experience and resume builder for you. I encourage you to take a look at the academic organizations who recruit you, especially if they are related to your major so that you can create those important connections.

In Academics on
April 22, 2016

The Ultimate Finals Survival Guide

Finals are quickly approaching for college students across the country. I have survived many finals weeks with great success and I am here to day to share with your the finals survival guide that I have been using to help me manage five finals at once during my undergraduate career.

 The Ultimate Finals Survival Guide | Do you want to survive finals this year? Click through to find out tips from a college alumna and graduate student on surviving finals week and the finals countdown easily!

Having a plan of action is very important during finals week. You want to make sure that you are prepared for the uptick in assignments, tests, and papers. I am hopeful that these tips will help you come up with your own finals survival plan.

Calculate Your Grades For Each Class

At this point in the semester I like to gather all of my grades and do some grade calculations. In my opinion this helps me to determine which of my classes that I really need to focus on, as well as what I can actually accomplish in the semester. For example, if I have an 84 or something like that I know that all I really need to do is maintain that B. Sometimes you know that there is no way to get to the next level, because it’s just not possible. So instead of trying to accomplish everything, I just stick with what I know I can accomplish. I love when professors have easy to calculate grade systems, but in case they don’t I love using this grade calculator to see what I need to get in a class. It makes the whole process easy.

Figure Out What You Have Left To Do

Also, during this point in the semester I love to make a new to-do list featuring all of the things I have left to do for the semester, their due dates, and the percentage of the grade or points they are worth. This is really helpful when it comes to doing the work for the year so I make sure nothing slips out of my mind. I make sure to check back with this list every few days or every week so I don’t miss anything. Now that I only have class once a week I usually check it weekly, but when I was in undergrad I checked it a lot more often.

Figure Out Your Probable Test Scores

It’s really easy to figure out your probably test scores. First and foremost, figure out your average test score that you have gotten thus far in the class. This is really helpful if you have had a few tests under your belt, but if you haven’t you may have to do some guessing. In that situation use a similar class if this is your major and you have taken tests in other major classes. For example if I haven’t had any tests in Sociology Class A, I would see what my test scores have been like in Sociology Class B. I would assume that those test scores would be pretty similar, assuming I know the topic pretty well and I work just as hard in both classes.

Make sure you determine what the test will be like. Is it comprehensive or just like any other test? That will definitely change how you decide to study for this test and might change your probable test scores.

Fill Out Any Study Guides

If your professors are kind enough to do an in class review or give you a study guide–USE THE STUDY GUIDE/REVIEW. I cannot state this louder, honestly. They can give you so many good clues and tips on what will be on the test. As a graduate assistant this semester I have had the privilege of seeing a class from a different perspective, and I promise that if you listen you will begin to see just how many clues your professor will give you about the tests in class. Listen to the things they constantly repeat, the things they put on the board, and of course anything that’s on a study guide.

Finish Assignments ASAP

The sooner you finish your assignments, the better. When you can focus less on random assignments, you can focus more on the tests that you have coming up in your courses. So my tip to you is to actually focus on getting your assignments done as soon as you can and don’t wait until the last minute. You should know all of the assignments that you have left thanks to the assignment to-do list you wrote earlier, so try to get some of those things checked off your list now.

Figure Out Your Finals Week Schedule

Next, make sure you know your finals week schedule. During finals week everything is topsy-turvy. Most colleges don’t have finals during your class period, but at random times during the semester. Make sure you go through every class and figure out when your final is compared to the week and your other finals. With this information you can determine which classes you need to study for first based on where they are during finals week and where they are on your class ranking that you made earlier based on your probable test scores.

Don’t Forget To Get Sleep and Destress

Last, but not least, don’t forget to take sometime to yourself during finals week. Yes, this is a stressful time of the year, you want to make sure everything gets done, and you want to make sure you don’t fail any class–but you also need to make sure that you are giving yourself time to relax, sleep, eat, and have a little fun. Don’t go crazy, but you definitely need to take breaks and get a good amount of sleep. You won’t function on all-nighters, and the work you get done won’t make much sense if you are sleep deprived while writing it.

I hope these tips help you during finals week. I know that you will crush it and show finals who’s boss!

In Academics, Guest Posts on
April 21, 2016

Why It’s Okay To Be Undecided/Undeclared In College

You’ve been asked the question a million times- what are you going to major in? Or scarier- what is your major? Being undeclared can be a little intimidating. From them moment we enter high school, we are conditioned to figure out what we want to do the second we set foot onto our future college campuses. Announcing to the world that we are entering college undeclared with no idea what we want to do or worse being a solid year into school without a major is terrifying. Feelings of worry, guilt, and sometimes even failure can arise in us as we tell friends and family. But have no fear- there is absolutely nothing wrong with being undeclared when entering college or even in the first few semesters of college. As a peer advisor and orientation leader for my school, I have seen it all. Trust me when I say that being undeclared can even sometimes be a good thing.

 Why It's Okay To Be Undecided/Undeclared In College | Often times we hear from our families when we go home for breaks,

If you honestly do not know what you want to study while in college, being undeclared will help you keep from being roped into something you aren’t interested in. When you enter into a major you aren’t sure about or don’t like, when advising comes along you’re advisor will most likely continue to advise you into courses which follow that major’s requirements. When you do decide what you’re interested in, you may find that you’ve taken a bunch of classes which haven’t gotten you anywhere. Instead take your time being undeclared to knock out general education requirements and to take a class here or there to try out some new stuff.

Entering college undeclared will give you the opportunity to create a more diverse schedule throughout your first year to two years of college. There are few majors where this would be a negative (nursing, education, English) but, for the most part, this is a huge benefit that more students should be taking advantage of. Major related classes are great but taking a bunch of major courses right of the bat is sort of like getting tied down to something too early. You aren’t able to properly explore what is out there.

Having the ability to create a diverse schedule leads to the possibility of finding a new passion which you may have never known of otherwise. For me, I knew I liked anthropology in high school but I had kind of forgotten about it come the time for college. I took an intro class to fill a random requirement and everything I had loved and forgotten about came rushing back. Now two years later, I’m writing my honors thesis in medical anthropology, a subfield I never would have learned about if it weren’t for that random class at the beginning of my sophomore year.

Being undeclared is nothing to worry about. Don’t let well meaning friends or family let you feel as though being undeclared is something bad or that needs fixing ASAP. I promise that even the students who appear to have their whole life planned out don’t know what they’re doing. You aren’t alone. Take your time, figure out what you love, and everything else will fall into place.

Regan Gearhart is a senior anthropology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She blogs about college and millennial life over at regangearhart.com.

In Academics on
February 12, 2014

Asking for Help In College

Asking for help can be a difficult thing when you are attending classes on a day to day basis. Realizing when you need that help can be a big pain as well, especially when you are a new student and you are not quite sure what to do. Today I am going to give you all some advice on how to recognize when you need help and then how to go about asking for it.

Asking For Help In College: Your Guide To Knowing When And How To Ask For Help #CollegeLife #CollegeAdvice #University #College

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