186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Month: October 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Which came first: the passion or the job?

You sit in front of your computer screen and scroll through a column of white boxes with an academic discipline listed next to each one, from Accounting to Women’s Studies. Then, quickly and unceremoniously, you make a decision that, in theory, is supposed to define the rest of your life.

To this day, it still boggles my mind that as a rising freshman in college, this is how we are asked to select a major. It is a significant decision, monumental even, and yet it’s condensed into the checking of a box.

When I got to this step of college preparation the situation seemed hardly significant. It was like being asked what your favorite subject in school was, so I responded to the question in the same manner. With minimal thought and virtually no discussion, I scrolled through and decided what to click based on which major sounded most appealing. I saw “English,” decided I liked books and I liked to write, and without any further deliberation, clicked the corresponding square. I didn’t fully grasp I had just charted my academic path at UD.
When I actually set foot on campus I began to wonder if I had gone about that the wrong way. When my fellow students discussed their major they weren’t discussing what they enjoyed, they were talking about what would best set them up for a career. Degree-related conversations praised practicality and glossed over actual interest. A peer asked me -not entirely sarcastically- if I planned on living in a cardboard box after I told him the major I came in with. It seemed in picking my area of study based on what I truly liked, I had made a serious mistake.

But wait- aren’t you supposed to take classes that interest you? Aren’t you, as student, supposed to pursue what inspires you? Isn’t that what college is all about? Shouldn’t your profession be the product of passion instead of the other way around? Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. And because I didn’t have a clearly defined career path laid out before me -the way so many of my colleagues did- my future that had once appeared brimming with possibilities now looked entirely bleak.

However, I stuck with my decision for a while longer. I couldn’t help myself. The homework I was assigned in my major-specific courses I probably would have done on my own free time. I was emotionally invested in the discussions we had in class. I was passionate, truly passionate, about the material, so I continued to pour myself into my studies.
Then, something interesting occurred, and continued to occur. Opportunities started falling into my lap. I was offered a position editing this very blog. I got a research gig that was directly correlated to my interests. I became a tutor in the University Writing Center. My resume was steadily being strengthened and when I interviewed for positions I found I possessed skills employers valued and needed.

As it happened, I wasn’t destined for a life in a cardboard box. On the contrary, it seemed my future was actually fairly promising, (at least, I’d like to think so). But this isn’t about some accomplishment I made; this is me saying you don’t have to fit yourself into some ill-fitting, career-perfect mold to accomplish things at all. You don’t have to squeeze into that tiny square on the computer screen you clicked when you selected your major. What you can do instead is pursue your passions, and it is amazing to see where this can lead you.

What lies ahead of me is not pre-defined and it’s not entirely clear, but I now find this exciting rather than intimidating. Just because it’s not already mapped out based on a decision I made as a rising freshman, it doesn’t mean it’s not full of opportunities and possibilities and prospects. As I continue to pursue my passions, things continue to fall into place. I encourage anyone who will listen to do the same.

Bottom line: do what you love. Everything else will follow.

~Victoria Snare

Graduate Classes: A Brief Insight

This semester, I am in the unique position of taking a graduate class as an undergraduate.  Not only does this class count as an Honors class, but it is also giving me a great look into the future degree program that I hope to be accepted to.  I am sure that there are some of you who aspire to continue onto graduate school but are unsure of what to expect.  I hope that I may be of assistance with these observations.

For one thing, the class composition is different than that of the typical undergraduate class.  There are approximately 15 students in my class, far less than what you probably see in your giant lecture hall.  Also, my fellow classmates are different from my undergraduate classmates.  Many of them have full-time jobs, and yet still find time to come to class.  Many of them are also a lot older than I am.  I have on occasion been called the baby of the class because of my youthfulness and my undergraduate status.

The class meets much less frequently compare to an undergraduate class.  My particular class meets once a week from 6:30-9:30 at night.  It is very important to keep focused during those three long hours, as a lot of material is covered.  And just like undergraduate classes, it is important to stay on top of the work.  You may be lulled into a false sense of confidence because you’ve got 6 days in between classes to get your assignments done.  But, the magnitude of the work is a lot more difficult, so that assignment may end up taking a lot longer than you imagined.

Reading.  There is a lot of reading.  And you actually have to do it.  And the teacher actually checks.  So do the reading.

At this point, you probably think that graduate cases aren’t so fun.  But they are!

Because everyone in the class comes from different backgrounds, everybody has a different approach to answering a question.  I always find it fascinating to see this phenomenon in action.

A lot of times, the professor will bring in guest speakers to lecture on their areas of specialization.  Not only are you learning from some of the best in the business, but you also get the chance to network with them after class.

And, depending on the class, your graduate professor might plan field trips!  I personally am going to visit the Capitol in Washington D.C. this November with my class, and I cannot wait!

The bottom line is, graduate classes are a bit different than undergraduate classes.  Graduate school is definitely not for everyone, and you should do some serious planning and thinking to determine if this is something that you want to do.  But, if you determine that graduate school is right for you, and you find the right program, I can guarantee that it will be an awesome experience.  You will learn a ton, and you will undoubtedly prepare yourself for the next chapter in your life!

gradstudentbrain

~Scott Eisenhart

Life’s Many Moments

This past weekend I traveled to New York City with my family to see Aladdin on Broadway. The show was absolutely spectacular and the amount of money and work that was put into the production was astonishing. There were gorgeous costumes, and the way they portrayed the scenes from the movie like the Cave of Wonders and the Parade were so creative and imaginative. My siblings and I left the theater in love with the show and talking excitedly about all of our childhood memories.

Tokens of remembrance from a memorable night.

Tokens of remembrance from a memorable night.

The next day I went to see the REPS’s Angels in America. This show was completely the opposite of Aladdin. It was a serious play with hard themes and exquisitely talented actors. Even though these two plays were dramatically different, they both were an outlet of creativity used to tell a unique story.

I started thinking about my story, and how University of Delaware has helped shape that. Have you ever just stopped walking on the way to class and thought to yourself, what am I really doing here? How did I end up here and where am I going? (That is…after you step off the path to dodge the incoming bicycles and long boards.)

There have been so many times in my life when I’ve pondered that exact question. Our lives are defined by a string of entwined moments that make us who we are. From being a Writing Fellow to living with Honors Freshmen, I realized that the Honors Program in particular has played a huge part in these significant “moments” of my college experience.

I soon realized that the moments I remember about my college career have not been when I was sitting in a lecture, but rather when I was out in the community doing something meaningful. I have seen Honors Students volunteering, creating their own RSOs, going abroad, and planning incredible events for their communities.

I love being in Honors because each and every student pushes me to be a better version of myself. It is not so much a competitive environment, but rather a collaborative one where people work together to make new strides.

Seeing these two shows definitely stand out as “moments” during my semester. They were amazing afternoons where I got to reconnect with family and friends and think about life. They even inspired me to continue writing a musical of my own. The project was on the back-burner, but if other people can write a show, shouldn’t I give it a try?

The moments that shape us during our college experience can mold us into a new person, or they can solidify our passions. So my question is…what moments will define you?

~Amanda Abrom

Enhancing Your Fall Caloric Intake

I have a serious confession to make.

I am one of those extremely annoying, latte-sipping, oversized-sweater-wearing, noncreative geniuses who absolutely loves fall.

I like leaves. I like temperate weather. I like scarves. I like pretending that leggings are pants. I like being able to wear layers in an attempt to hide my pale and significantly less toned school year bod.

But most of all, during the fall season, I really, really, really, like to bake.

If you have never spent any time baking, you have no idea how rewarding it is. You don’t know how thrilling it is to crack an egg without getting any shells in the batter, how satisfying it is to secretly lick a spoon or bowl or pan, how amazing it is when some weirdly colored, seemingly random combination of ingredients comes out of the oven and immediately induces saliva production among observers.

Baking is amazing. And even though more Americans would prefer to watch other people bake, I am challenging you to combat that stereotype and bake something basic this fall. Because who doesn’t love a healthy combination of butter and sugar! Unless you are a vegan or a diabetic, what you really ought to be doing is enjoying the fatty-carbs this season has to offer. So this is me giving you a recipe (don’t worry, I made it an easy one) that is so hashtag fall and delicious, you won’t be able to resist the urge to bake. You’re welcome world.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies (adapted from Betty Crocker) 

For the Brownies:
1 box brownie mix
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg

For the swirl:
1 package cream cheese, softened
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. In a small bowl, beat all of the swirl ingredients together with an electric mixer (or a spoon if you’re super strong) until smooth. Set aside.

-Make brownie batter as directed on the box. Spread ¾ of the batter in your greased square pan. Then spoon the “swirl” mixture on top of the batter. Make sure it is dispersed evenly. Add the remaining brownie batter (again, disperse the batter evenly). At this point you should have a greased, square pan with an even layer of brownie batter, an even layer of “swirl” mixture, and a thin, even layer of brownie batter. Make random “cuts” in the batter to give your brownies a marbled look.

-Bake for 40-45 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick that emerges from the pan clean. Cool completely and store covered in the fridge if you don’t eat the entire pan in one night.

Erin's favorite Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, courtesy of Betty Crocker!

Erin’s favorite Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, courtesy of Betty Crocker!

~Erin Dugan

Embrace the Mistakes

“You’re going to college!”
“How exciting!”
“Make the most of these four years, they go fast!”
“Try new things, get involved!”
“But don’t over-extend yourself!”
“Remember, you’re there to learn, school comes first!”
“Be well-rounded though, don’t lock yourself up in the library!”
“Have fun!”
“But not too much fun!”

As soon as I committed to the University of Delaware, it seemed any conversation I had was centered on, or at least full of advice on how to make the most of my college experience. Aunts, uncles, family friends, friends-of-friends, even my dentist had a word or two of counsel on how to do college “right.” They were valuable pieces of information, wise words based on years of experience, and I knew they would be useful to keep in mind. However, by the time I was pulling up to my residence hall on move-in day, they had accumulated to the point that I felt more paralyzed than empowered.

As I began to try and make decisions, I found myself second-guessing everything. Was that actually the best use of my time? Should I go to bed early or stay up a little later and work ahead? Does hanging out with friends and being social tonight make the most sense, or should I hit the books? With all the guidance I had been provided, I felt I was equipped to have the ideal freshman year, so each day had to go exactly right. I didn’t just want to have the perfect year; I was supposed to have the perfect year. In my book of “how to do college,” there was no margin for error.

Well freshman year came and went, and it was far from perfect. I made plenty of mistakes, slept through my fair share of classes, and mixed up the deadline for more than one assignment. On the other hand, I also joined several organizations that further developed my interests, took classes that inspired me, and made friends that are still some of my closest today. Some exams went better than others, there were good days and bad days, but overall, I look back on that year as a success. I left more than prepared for my sophomore year, and with plenty of fond memories to take with me.

A freshman year memory: Trying desperately to form "B3" with our seating arrangement as a tribute to our freshman floor.

A freshman year memory: Trying desperately to form “B3” with our seating arrangement as a tribute to our freshman floor.

It didn’t matter that each day didn’t achieve a perfect balance of work and play. It wasn’t important that my every action was directly related to my college success story. It wasn’t a big deal that I hadn’t followed every piece of advice I had ever gotten to a tee. I had turned out more than fine, and so had my freshman year. It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfect in its imperfection.

The irony is that in trying to make your college experience perfect, in attempting to successfully implement all that advice you accumulate, you make the biggest mistake of all. You will come to expect perfection. As a result, you’ll be set up to face constant disappointment.
If I could go back to that first move-in day, as I stood in an empty dorm room that was as clean and bare as the freshman year that stretched out before me, I would have added one more piece of advice to the list: embrace the mistakes. It’s okay to strive for the ideal freshman year, to try your best to follow all the words of wisdom bestowed upon on you, but it’s equally okay to recognize that shortcomings are inevitable. In fact, it’s okay to anticipate them. Then, when you do encounter them, you don’t have to view them as failures, but rather something to accept and then put behind you. This is the mindset I try to maintain as I continue my college career.

Because chances are, you are going to have a great college experience, mistakes and all. It won’t be perfect, but it will be wonderful.

~Victoria Snare

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