Thursday, December 17, 2015

Final Post of the Term

Applied Journalism has been one of my favorite classes this term. Every week, I got the opportunity to write down my thoughts on college, and put them out there for the world to see. I liked that each week I was given the time to think about my experiences as a college student. It gave me the chance to explore my own thoughts, and made me consider the positive and negative aspects of a variety of  common issues that college students face. I believe that this class helped me to develop a more balanced viewpoint on college life.

In addition to the personal gains that I got from taking Applied Journalism, I also learned about journalistic writing. I practiced staying on topic, being honest in my writing, and writing for a specific audience. After taking this course, I feel a lot more confident about my writing abilities. Tina Walker (the instructor) was complementary, yet also provided criticism when necessary. She was great to work with, and I enjoyed being a student in her class! Hopefully, I’ll take other classes under her tutelage in the future.

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How to Make Homework Easier

Homework is never easy. Even when you’re taking a class that’s fun and interesting, homework can be a pain.  Maybe you have a lot to do. Or you have something else you want to be doing other than homework. Perhaps the assignments are boring or difficult. Whatever the reason, there are things that college students can do to make homework easier.

First of all, create a well-organized space for yourself. For me, a well-organized space can look immaculate, a place for everything and everything in its place. Or it can look like chaos, with teetering piles of books all over and papers spread out on the floor. Depending on the project, I need different types and levels of organization. It’s up to you to decide how to organize your space; sometimes it takes a bit of a learning curve to figure out what your ideal workspace looks like. A well-organized space will help you think, and eliminate the need to go looking for things for a homework assignment. Overall, organization significantly reduces the amount of time that it takes to finish assignments, and makes homework a lot less stressful.

Next, make a prioritized to-do list. Write down what you have to do for the week on a sheet of paper or in a Word document. After that, decide which projects are going to be the easiest and which ones are going to take the most time. Then, come up with a plan for getting the to-do list done. Depending on what I have to do, I sometimes start with the most difficult project, other times, I knock off the easy tasks. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what method would work best for you (it’s a matter of trial and error), but writing down a list of things to do is a good start, and sometimes just enough to get your thoughts straightened out.

If the class you’re taking has a textbook, read it cover-to-cover if you can. Use a pen to underline the parts of the text that you think are interesting or important or take notes, if you’re renting the book. Develop your own opinion of the subject material while you’re reading. If you have thoughts about the subject, and know what you thought was interesting from the text, it’ll be a lot easier to write papers, have discussions in class, and get good grades on tests. Plus, you’ll really be learning.

So, in conclusion, Homework doesn’t have to be a major stressor. Even when the going gets rough with homework assignments, you can make things easier by organizing your work area, making a prioritized to-do list, and reading textbooks. Doing these things will make homework a lot less difficult and time-consuming, which will make college in general a lot less stressful. In the end, it’ll all pay off.  

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Lack of Motivation

Winter has never been a good time of year for me. Everything I do feels like drudgery. The cold makes me more lethargic and sleepy and life can seem purposeless. Schoolwork I might have enjoyed earlier in the term is reduced to a need-to-do status, and any hobbies that I have take a backseat to all the other responsibilities that arise. My days’ work seems to consist mostly of miscellaneous tasks, homework, and self-care activities like going for a jog or making dinner. My motivation to do anything more than what needs to be done is gone.

By the end of the term I’ve generally developed a certain level of disinterest in my classes. Perhaps I’m still interested in the subject material, but I’ve become annoyed with the schedule or bored with the homework assignments. At the beginning of the term I can look past disinteresting or frustrating aspects of a class, but by the end of the term they become unbearably obvious. So, at this point in the term my life revolves mostly around finishing my homework as quickly and efficiently as possible, and then using the left over time to clear off the rest of my to do list. My days are monotonous and uninspiring for the most part, and most mornings it’s difficult to find a reason to want to work on my homework. I do it only because I have to.

The cold weather outside this time of year only makes things worse.

To get past my lack of motivation, I try to come up with a personal project that I can look forward to working on at the end of the day. Having something like a project that I want to work on helps me feel more motivated to finish my homework, and knock off my other to-do list items. I have something I’m working towards, and the sooner I get things done, the more time I have to work on my project.

However, coming up with a personal project as a method of motivating myself to finish my homework has backfired on me in the past. If I’m really excited about working on my project, I sometimes end up staring at my homework assignment, daydreaming about my project rather than finishing my homework. To eliminate this problem, I now set a designated time to work toward or a set of tasks to complete before I can work on my project. The whole point of having a personal project is to motivate me to finish my homework, not to make homework more difficult.

With the end of the term approaching, my lack of motivation remains a constant in my life, as does my case of wintertime blues. But the end of the term is nearly over, which means a new beginning; the next term is right ahead. I just have to make it through a few more weeks. During those weeks I can take small steps on a project of my choosing, something that I’ll really enjoy doing. So even when the sky is dark at five o’clock, or the weather outside is frightful, I can continue working on my projects; both school and non-school related. And I can enjoy the fact that I’m doing something that I want to do and that I have the chance to follow my interests.

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Cost of College

The United States is infamous for its exorbitant college tuition fees. According to a 2014/15 report, the average tuition at an American four-year college can cost up to $31,000 per year. Going by this amount, an American college student can spend well over $100,000 dollars just in tuition, not counting textbooks and housing, among other basic living expenses. For young adults (and really, all adults for that matter), this is an impossible sum of money to rake together over a four-year time span. Most students get loans, which means there’s an additional cost in terms of interest. And that’s just the monetary cost of college.

On top of the high dollar amount it costs to get a degree, college also has high emotional and mental costs. Students spend a lot of their time doing homework and going to class, precariously balancing their various other life responsibilities with their school related commitments. While in college, extracurricular educational pursuits and hobbies take a back seat to class assignments. College often becomes an all-consuming life style choice motivated by the pursuit of financial rewards, rather than a meaningful scholarly journey to reach an intellectual goal.

But I’m going to start first by looking at the monetary cost of college. Before anything else, I want to say that there are a number of options (other than loans) that allow students to spend less money on a college degree. One less expensive way to earn a degree is to go to a community college (like Mid-Plains) before enrolling at a four-year college. The 2014/15 report mentioned above shows that community colleges charge an average of $3,347 per year in tuition, which is significantly less than the average tuition at a four-year university. By getting a two-year degree first, students can bypass one or two years of high priced tuition at a four-year university, meaning lower overall costs.

However, despite the fact that the average college in the U.S. charges high tuition rates, there are exceptions to the rule. In today’s day and age, students can go to school wherever they want by enrolling in a college far from home or even going to school online. There are a ton of options for earning a college degree in the United States. With some research, students looking for affordable degree programs can find colleges with cheaper tuition across the country, and online.

However, for the more adventurous types, there is a way to get a college education entirely for free. Many northern European countries, like Germany, Norway, and Finland offer free tuition to their college students, both international and domestic. A lot of universities require a small enrollment fee, but after that, college is free of charge. At the end of this article is a link to a website with some additional information on countries that offer free college tuition. And yes, quite a few of these free college degrees are taught entirely in English.

So ultimately, the high monetary cost of college can be solved with some research and resourcefulness, and a little bit of imagination. But how does one deal with the emotional cost of college?

Honestly, I think the answer is different for everyone. Different people do different things to ease emotional stress. For example, whenever I feel myself starting to freak out about an assignment, I listen to some music while I work to calm my thoughts down. If I have a lot of stress about an upcoming week, I go for a jog or take a relaxing bath to figure out what exactly is stressing me out, and then tackle the problem head on. These are just a few of the things that I do to cope with the emotional stress caused by going to college. Sometimes I need a break from an intense homework session, so I go fill my water bottle and spend a minute or two staring off into space. Or I take the time to set a schedule that factors in hobbies and fun activities to keep my life balanced.

For most people, college isn’t the only thing going on in their lives; they have commitments to family and friends, responsibilities at work, and relationships to tend to in their off-time. Having a life and getting a degree is often a delicate balancing act that can be tilted one way or another at any moment, resulting in some sort of stress or emotional chaos.

The costs of college, both emotional and financial, although difficult to deal with are opportunities for learning. College has given me the chance to explore stress and emotional chaos, and figure it out how to handle them for myself. The high monetary cost of college in the United States has opened up other possibilities that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, like getting a college degree overseas or entirely online. Although I’ve learned a lot from my college classes, I’ve found so far that the real learning in college isn’t at all about book subjects; it’s about oneself.


Bridgestock, Laura. (1/30/2015) Top Universities. How Much Does it Cost to Study in the US? Retrieved on 11/18/2015 from:

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Struggles of Full-Term Classes

The beginning of each new term is a fresh start, and new classes have immense potential. Even if I’m not initially interested in a particular class, I might find out by the end of the term that I want to pursue that particular subject even further. At the same time, classes I’d thought would be interesting can be disappointing. The anticipation is often hard to deal with, especially in the week leading up to the beginning of the new term. I wait on pins and needles for my textbooks, and then I wait some more until the syllabus shows up on Blackboard. And then finally the new term is in session, and I start down the 16-week long path toward finishing my newest batch of classes.

My hopeful, optimistic attitude toward my new classes usually lasts for the first five weeks of the term. I like to call this period of time the “Honeymoon Phase.” During the Honeymoon Phase, my assignment completion behaviors are radically different from the rest of the term. I work ahead in my classes, tirelessly completing assignment after assignment, and imbibing homework with my own personal touch and an extra amount of effort. I call this period of time the Honeymoon Phase mostly because of the fact that nothing can destroy my optimism, not even a heavy assignment load or a teacher that lacks communication skills. I dismiss any problems with the teacher as unintentional miscommunication, and I welcome the idea of challenging, time-consuming assignments. But at five weeks, everything changes.

At week five, homework becomes less fun, and more work. I start spending extra amounts of time on things like brushing my teeth and making breakfast to avoid the inevitable fact that I will have to do my homework at some point. And when I do start on my assignments, my focus is on getting things done rather than making them the best I can. However, five weeks into my classes, the positive attitude that I had at the beginning of the term lingers in my consciousness. Between five and nine weeks, things aren’t so bad. I procrastinate, but not a lot, and despite the fact that I don’t really want to do my homework, I still find the class material relatively interesting. At this time, I wonder if I’ll be able to keep up a positive outlook on my classes until the end of the term, and end the term without any negative feelings whatsoever.

I haven’t had this experience yet.

By the middle of term, sometime around week nine, I’ve had enough. I wake up in the morning, and instead of looking forward to sitting down at my computer to do my homework, all I feel is dread. I still work to make sure my homework fulfills the criteria, but all in all, I’m really working to just “get it done.” Sometimes I have some fun doing certain assignments, and wish I could spend more time on them, but this doesn’t happen very often. I have to really like the class and the homework, or honestly, I just don’t care and I want the term to be over with. By the middle of the term, I’ve usually started counting down the days until the end of the term.

After the mid-point of the term passes, my perspective on the term doesn’t change much. I continue feeling dread toward doing my homework, I try to get things done as fast as possible without skipping over any important criteria, and I check my calendar daily to see how many days are left until the end of the term. And though I know at the beginning of the term that I will reach a point when I’m not interested in my classes anymore, I still start off being excited. I really enjoy the first five weeks of my classes, and have a lot of fun with my assignments. After five weeks though, I feel disenchanted, and usually would much rather explore the subject material without homework hanging over my head. Or I just feel disenchanted because I’m not interested in the class material, and never was.

Ultimately though, I look back on all the classes I’ve taken, and I’m glad that I took them, even if they were difficult to get through. After I get some distance from that term’s classes, I realize that I learned a lot more that I thought that I did, and that actually, I had fun. Instead of being annoyed by the heavy assignment load in one class, or the teacher that was hard to deal with, I feel proud of myself for finishing the class. I know that taking difficult classes that have frustrating “I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this” moments isn’t exactly a traditional definition of fun, but they are interesting, and definitely keep my attention occupied. So even when I become uninterested, and I don’t wanna do my homework anymore, I try to remember that at some point I’ll look back and be amazed at what I learned. So when the going gets rough, I’ve just got to keep going, because it will pay off in the end.

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member