Friday, October 31, 2014

Etiquette: Theater Edition

I am a lover of theater. Performing, watching, working behind the scenes, I adore it all. What I do not like however, is those who do not know how to behave in the theater and disrupt the entire experience. So that you do not become one of those people, here are my top theater etiquette tips.

image source; modified by Alyssa J Freitas

  • Be on time. Coming to a performance late is rude for both the performers and audience. Climbing over people to get to your seat after the show has begun is simply not acceptable.
  • Go to the restroom before the show starts. Once again, you don't want to climb over people while the performance is going on.
  • When the lights dim, your mouth should close. Absolute silence in the audience is the best way to ensure that everyone can fully enjoy the performance so when the show is about to begin you should not be talking.
  • Cellphones off. This is an obvious one, but so many people disregard it!
  • No whispering. We can all hear you no matter how quiet you think you're being.
  • If your child is making noise, step outside. It is so frustrating to be a performer who is trying to be heard over a crying child or an audience member who is attempting to hear despite a disruption like this.
  • Don't leave until the final bow is taken. I know you want to beat the crowd and think you're clever, but in actuality you are being rude to the performers who have just worked hard to give you a great experience.
Not so hard, right? These guidelines go for any type of performance and can also be applied to the movie theater. Did I miss anything?

-Alyssa J Freitas

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A New Look At College Rankings: SMI

Let's talk college rankings! So many people (formally myself included) put a ton of weight on college rankings. With lists like USNews and Princeton Review, which have always promoted ivy league schools as the very best, we can sometimes lose view of what is truly important when it comes to choosing a school: the potential and likelihood of growth. This is where the SMI Ranking comes in.

image source; modified by Alyssa J Freitas

Currently, the United States has the lowest economic mobility and greatest gap between rich and poor among wealthy democratic countries (source). We are getting to a point that is eerily similar to Europe before the Great Depression with wide wealth gaps and limited opportunity for mobility.

SMI (which is short for social mobility index) accounts for economic mobility which is what the United States is known for as "the land of opportunity." Unfortunately, higher education has become more and more focused on raising tuition without providing any additional benefit. This perpetuation of going to a school for its prestige rather than looking for its ability to better you economically is dangerous.

The SMI Ranking (which can be found here) takes into account tuition, percentage of student body whose families are below the US median income, graduation rate, median salary 0-5 years after graduation, and endowment. All of these factors are important because you go to college to make a better life for yourself, so your school should support this!

The College of New Jersey (which I've already bragged about here) comes in at #45 on the SMI Ranking while schools like Princeton (#360), Harvard (#438), and Yale (#440) are much, much lower down on the list.

What do you make of this? Do you support traditional rankings? Why?

-Alyssa J Freitas    

Monday, October 27, 2014

How To: Get Involved

I have a problem. A serious problem. I agree to do too much. For example, I went to the activities fair with some of the freshmen I mentor in the business school. When we got there I said to myself 'Don't join anything else. You already have too much on your plate.' Of course by the time I was able to pull myself away I had already signed up for four new activities.

There are so many awesome things to do when you're in college that it is hard to narrow it down if you're like me. But how does one get to be so thoroughly involved that you can't walk anywhere without seeing friends from all different clubs?

  • Sign up. This is pretty self evident but the most effective way to go about getting involved. Although it can be intimidating to walk up to a table at the activities fair, just remember that they want new members! If you're looking to get more involved later in the semester then check out the list of organizations on your school's site and shoot an email over to the contact person asking when meetings are and what you need to do to become a member.
  • Be consistent. It is totally fine to go to a few meetings and see if the organization is right for you, but if you want to be an active and involved member you need to be consistent. 
  • Take on a leadership role. Once you feel comfortable with the clubs that you are in think about taking on greater responsibility. Volunteer to lead a project or run for an executive position. The more you give to a club, the more you will get out of it. 
  • Quality over quantity. This is something I struggle with SO MUCH! But be better than me and realize that it is impossible to do your best work if you are doing too many things. 
How else do you get involved? What are your top tips?

-Alyssa J Freitas

Friday, October 24, 2014

Etiquette: Office Hours Edition

One of the most important actions a college student can take to make the most of her classes is to attend the professor's office hours. This time that a professor sets aside to be available to students is the perfect opportunity to make a connection while getting help. Here is the etiquette you need to know when going to office hours.

  • Schedule, schedule, schedule! If you are going for extra help it is best to make sure that the professor has enough time to fully tend to your concerns. While it's great to just drop by for a conversation, make sure that if you need the time you ask.
  • And make sure you show up. This may be fairly obvious but if you make an appointment be respectful of it. Be there on time (or even early) and if you must cancel, do so in advance. 
  • Be courteous. The professor is there to help you so be mindful and thankful. If you are coming in with a complaint about a grade make sure you have really looked over the material and have valid concerns. Do not go in on the attack because that will only serve to make the professor defensive and less likely to help you.
  • Have specific questions. If you are struggling in a class try and pick out some problems you had particular trouble with so you can address them. If you are planing on just winging it when you go in you most likely will not end up truly having your confusion cleared up.
  • Don't be selfish. Now I know that the other rules are about how you can get the most out of your office hours appointment but try and bring something of value to the professor. If you read an interesting article in her subject or have some knowledge of the research she is conducting, bring it up! Try and connect with the professor so he can look forward to helping you and being the best resource possible. Remember one of the fundamental rules for interacting with others: everyone loves to talk about themselves.
If you remember to be as respectful of the professor and his time as possible you will be fine! You will do better in class, learn a little more, and have made a connection that may benefit you in the future. What other recommendations do you have for office hours?

-Alyssa J Freitas  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekend Recap

Fall weekends are kind of the best. Not only is the weather beautiful but there are so many fun things going on!

This past Friday night there was a Garba celebration at TCNJ. Garba is a type of dance from Gujarat and it is done in a circle with an idol at the center. The god Durga was being venerated at this dance and it was a very beautiful and energetic ceremony (click here for a video of the dancing).

Luckily Ashna was able to loan me a lengha which made me so happy! Matt and I had a good time observing (because the dancing was a bit too complicated for us to actually participate) and mingling with other party-goers. I actually really enjoyed the food that was served and we both cleaned our plates.

On Saturday I went pumpkin picking with PSE. We went to Terhune Orchards (where I went with Ally and the Catholic Campus Ministry) for everything fall.

First we walked quite casually to the corn maze.

There were four markers that we had to find so of course I made it my mission to get to every one. Let the record show that I did so with very little confusion!

Next we took a ride on the tractor...

and then we picked our pumpkins. My mentor Coleen found a good one!

It really was a great weekend! What were you up to?

-Alyssa J Freitas

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