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Princeton University, Freshman
After the week long fall break, I came back to Princeton and the ball started rolling again. I continued to work on the essay I started before break and started some research in the university archive library for a paper about after-the-fact opposition to coeducation at Princeton in the early 1970s. It is so amazing that we have access to the university’s primary artifacts from its history!
This week has been relatively manageable in terms of school work; however, the spring course offerings are now released! While this is very exciting, it is difficult to choose courses that will create a reasonable schedule and the question always seems to be whether or not I am choosing the right classes and really taking advantage of the “exploration” process. Currently, though, I am considering taking an introductory Computer Science course, Psychology, and American Studies. Luckily, before anything becomes official, I have a meeting scheduled with my academic adviser next week to discuss my schedule and plans.
On another note, it snowed on campus last week! There was a good 3-4 inches, enough for people to have snowball fights, make snow angels, and even create life-size snowmen! The campus looked beautiful; it was definitely an exciting time for everyone as it was the first snow of the year!
I have gradually gotten closer to the members in my CSA family and have even begun to talk to my classmates outside of class. I agree this is a slow process, but I am happy my friend circle is expanding. Additionally, I applied to become a tutor at a community tutoring company. The manager verified that I was qualified to be a member of their team, so as of now, I am waiting for them to process my paperwork and match me with a client. I can’t wait! Again, I feel so grateful to be going to this school; yesterday, I went to see “The Lion King” on Broadway, which turned out to be a spectacular show as we got superb seats near the stage! There is such a great balance between academic and social life. We have a lot of work to do, but we have many opportunities to relax as well. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, friends, teachers, CDI counselors, and the Princeton community for allowing me the chance to learn at such a fantastic institution in all respects.
Princeton University, freshman
Since my last weekly check-in, I have been preparing myself for the mid-terms which took place on October 26. I had mid-terms in both Spanish and Introduction to Architectural Thinking on that day. While I should have started studying for it earlier, I dedicated an adequate amount of time for each class 2-3 nights before to prepare study guides for myself leading up to the exam. Luckily, my Introduction to Architectural Thinking exam was open note, and on the day of the exam, I felt confident because I had prepared a comprehensive guide to all of the concepts we had learned in that class. After taking those exams, I realized that every assignment and every discussion in class is related to the ultimate exam. The practice we get in homework and classwork assignments as well as the topics and pictures displayed in the readings all will help with the exam. I will definitely keep this in mind over the next four years. After the exams, we had a fall break for a week from Oct 26 through Nov 4. Hurricane Sandy had a huge impact on the Princeton community. I heard that a lot of surrounding neighborhoods lost power for many days as well as experienced severe damage due to the storm. The Princeton campus lost several trees and closed its campus for a few days. I am glad I was home with my family during this big storm and have enjoyed a great week with friends. I will be coming back home for Thanksgiving Break! The school will be providing a bus at a low cost to take us back home for the short, but important break. I have really grown attached to my Princeton home, though, and can’t wait to return!
Gettysburg College, junior
The last two weeks haven’t been as eventful as the beginning, but of course a break from college craziness is always good. Classes are the same, with still more reading that I care for but no tests or anything (the benefits of being an English major). The real fun was when the hurricane arrived and we all prepared for the apocalypse. During lunchtime the Saturday it came, everyone went to the dining center and took as much food as they could to make sure no one had to come out mid-storm to eat. Although we weren’t hit as hard as other places (condolences out to those who were badly hit and their families), one of the transformers across the street caught fire and set the trees around it on fire as well, which consequently took out our power. We spent the night in the dark house, but the next day we were told that because there were no generators connected to life safety devices, our house (along with 2 other fraternity houses) had to be moved to the Gettysburg Hotel until the power came back. It was probably the greatest room I have ever slept in in my life. I did not mind having to spend multiple nights away from my own bed, as we were told we would be. But then, the power was fixed that night. The most heartbreaking moment in my life was looking at the super comfy bed, the clean bathroom and towels I didn’t have to clean myself, and luxury I could very well never see again, and leaving them all behind. Excuse me while I go cry in a corner now…
Princeton University, freshman
These past few weeks have been hectic in terms of course work but, as this week came to a close, I started to feel more in control of time and my schedule.
I have to say that it is really stressful here in college. Midterms are this week; I have one in Spanish and one in Architecture this Friday. I have a long essay to finish by this Friday and need to start thinking about my two research papers due in early December. There’s a lot going on and never a moment where I can truly say I am finished with everything. But this is exactly what I like. I enjoy being occupied and being encouraged to use every free second to learn something new in an assigned reading.
This past week, my assignments eased up a little bit and I took advantage of the time to finish my readings early for Freshmen Seminar, so that for once I can be a leading member of our discussions instead of speaking very infrequently like I have been doing for the past month. I’m different in the classroom here than I was in high school; the standards are higher and the students are more participative. I do all of the readings and want to desperately show that I have thoughts on them, but I have not yet been able to make my voice heard in class.
This week, I hope to change that. I have made a list of things I want to mention during discussion as well as several questions I want to bring up. I’ve started to read a bit faster and managed to be less distracted during the readings, saving time and staying focused. I’m ready to take on the challenge. On the other hand, I am really enjoying my Writing Seminar and Spanish classes. I have already watched and analyzed two films (Julie & Julia, The Help) for the writing seminar! It is so interesting to identify the ways in which food plays an important role in a movie, and the readings especially are fascinating. Although we have back-to-back essays, I really enjoy seeing this everyday item in a totally new light. My Spanish class as well is engaging, and in this class, I really have the opportunity to interact with the other students, even if it just means saying ‘hello’ when we see each other on campus. The readings and discussions we do as well as the concepts we cover are fun. My Intro to Architecture class is definitely an intriguing course, but I get confused often in the readings because I have no prior background knowledge on the subject. The precept or discussion section of this class definitely helps clear up some concepts discussed in the lecture by our professor, who is a professional in the field and very entertaining!
Overall, I am starting to get the hang of how to juggle social and academic life. This past weekend, I attended our homecoming events (dance and football game) and still managed to stay on top of my work. I don’t plan on going out to The Street too often anymore because I waste a lot of time there. It was difficult for me to say no to my friends, but once I did, I could really see the difference in how much work I got done and how much time I had left to get ahead.
Gettysburg College, junior
The last few weeks have been filled with many exciting things. I’m still working hard at my schoolwork and volunteer things, but at times I lose focus on my schoolwork from putting in so much time with the volunteering. I guess after 2+ years I still have trouble with my time management skills, but I’m working on it.
Recently, my fraternity held a big philanthropy event on campus for the LIU Migrant Education Program that I volunteer for. We titled the event Rocky SevSN. The event was a night of inflatables, which included inflatable boxing, sumo wrestling, 3D twister, and human foosball. We ended up raising $400 in donations, and we are going to donate $500. It was a great success and possibly will become a new, annual philanthropy event for our fraternity. As philanthropy chair for our fraternity, I felt really good at the end of the event.
There was also a showcase of photos of migrant workers here in the Adams County community. The event was led by a prominent member of the LIU Migrant Ed program who was once a migrant worker himself. It was great to see how beautifully a usually ignored community is portrayed, and how many people came out to indulge in the art as well.
That’s all I have for this check-in, but I’ll keep everyone posted on any other exciting things that come up!
Princeton University, freshman
These past two weeks have been filled with times of joy and fear. Fear, you may be asking. Well, I enrolled myself into four courses in the beginning of the semester, which included a writing seminar, Spanish, Math, and a class of 19th century poetry. I had switched myself out of the recommended calculus class into a much more proof-based math course that all math majors are required to take. Because I was already a day behind and the content of the course was time-consuming to understand, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I sat in the lectures in confusion, desperately trying to compare the instructor’s writing with the textbook. I would find myself rushing to my dorm to study and attempt to at least comprehend the basics of the concept. This I did for a few days until I finally convinced myself that, one, I cannot major in Math, and two, that I should drop the course now before it is too late.
Unfortunately, I am slightly a step behind the others in my new classes, but I am so glad I made the move early! The first semester of freshman year should be a time of exploration, not a time to immerse yourself in classes that you don’t find interesting and that are, to be honest, well above your head and overwhelming. I do not mind being overwhelmed by the amount of work in a class; in fact, if it is a fascinating topic I don’t mind stressing over reading hundreds of pages. There’s a lot to do, but at least I enjoy it and can follow the class and the assignments. On the bright side, my new classes are fantastic! I dropped the math course and the 19th century course (I realized that I was not very fond of this subject as well) and switched into a Freshman Seminar on Coeducation and an Introduction to Architectural Thinking. The professors in both these classes are great, and while there is a lot of reading and writing in all, I am learning a lot of fascinating information. So far, I have completed my first college essay (currently a draft, but very close to a final), and have found that compared to high school, homework and readings are heavily referred to in class.
Since I enrolled in the Freshman Seminar a week into the course, I was expected to read 200 pages of a book as well as a couple of articles in one day. I pushed through and I’m glad I did, because the entire class was a student-led discussion on the book. College is definitely different than high school. I attended a session on time management and the instructor said something that will always stick with me: “Work early and play later. There is more free time than you think.” Saving Facebook, Internet surfing, and e-mail for the end of the day allows me to take advantage of the daylight hours for homework and studying. If I carefully plan my day and take advantage of my time, really, the work is not as stressful. And, there’s a lot of time to have fun too.
In terms of extracurricular activities, I auditioned for two acapella groups just for the experience. Surprisingly, I got called back to one of the groups! While I didn’t end up making the cut, I am very glad I took the opportunity to try something new. In addition, my hallmate and I have grown close and we have been eating meals together as well as playing badminton to work out! It is definitely important to have some physical activity at least three times a week and I am so happy that I am making exercise a part of my weekly routine. Lastly, I interviewed for a position on the freshman council of our university’s Chinese Student Association (CSA) and found out yesterday I made it! I am excited to be a part of this group and to feel a part of an organization on campus.
I am having a great time here at Princeton! Move-in day was a success and I had my family and relatives there to help the process move smoothly and comfortably. I live in Buyers Hall in Rockefeller (Rocky) College, possibly the most convenient location to live because of its accessibility to the street of convenience stores and restaurants and the campus’s main centers. I arrived and spent the first night camping, on campus, with my Outdoor Action (OA) group in preparation for what was to come in the next week. I have made many new friends through the camping trip and they are all so friendly and supportive as well. I have to say that the camping trip was the greatest thing ever! We went to Shenandoah Valley in VA, which was about a 5-hour bus ride from Princeton.
Although at times it was difficult to hike for hours on end, I felt so wonderful in the end knowing that I had accomplished the trail/goal. We hiked about 4-5 miles per day, set up tents in the woods, and spent a lot of time getting to know each other and just enjoyed the environment and new experience. I was really challenged on the trip since I am not athletic at all. But here I am today, proud to say that I hiked a total of at least 20 miles last week! I feel so great and have made friends that I know I will keep for a long time. I broke out of my shell a bit, too, as I participated in games that I normally wouldn’t find interesting (because they are humiliating and a bit embarrassing). We all shared innumerable laughs, learned a lot about how to live in the outdoors, and picked up some new games.
Specifically, I learned to play a little bit of the ukulele and really bonded with the other students as we cooked, ate, slept, and did everything else together! On one of the nights, we even decided to squeeze all seven of us into a tent that is only meant for five! We were that comfortable and close with each other! In addition, the leaders were so open and fun. Things could only get better! The trip was awesome and I wish I could go back and do it again! After the trip, we came back to a lot of orientation events on campus, ranging from art performances to lectures on public safety. All of these sessions were extremely informative and helpful and I met a lot of people who gave me advice on how to choose classes and how to balance academics with social life. I also went to the eating clubs with my friends, which host parties that serve alcohol at night. However, I didn’t enjoy them because all the people did was stand around getting drunk. My camp leader told us that the parties will be much more fun during the year.
This Sunday there is going to be a lawn party (concert) with the band Third Eye Blind! I am excited to attend my very first concert! I have met some great people in my hall as well and our RCA is so nice, fun, and extremely helpful with everything! I have no idea how everything is working out in my favor. I feel extremely grateful! In addition, I feel pretty certain on pursuing a Math major since it is such a versatile field. If I wanted to go into finance, I could, or even become a math teacher like I have always wanted! I could also get a certificate in education as well as in finance. But for now, as many upperclassmen have suggested, I am going to fulfill my general education requirements by choosing courses I am interested in learning more about, not necessarily choosing courses to fulfill particular certificates. I enrolled in classes yesterday and am signed up for classes between 11a.m. to about 3p.m., which includes Spanish, Math, Writing Seminar, and an English poetry course. I am excited to see what is to come and experience the real college academic life.
On another note, the campus is absolutely gorgeous! I constantly find myself staring at the buildings and snapping shots of random landscapes. There is still so much more to see and learn here, making this the most perfect educational environment for me. Not to mention, the food in the dining halls is so delicious and presents a lot of variety! The next four years here will no doubt be four years to remember for the rest of my life!
CDI welcomes new Executive Vice President Rachel Mazyck to the fold. She joins CDI after spending two years on the Chief Academic Officer’s team in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Among other duties, she oversaw strategic planning and teacher professional development across the schools in the district. Dr. Mazyck graduated with Highest Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar. After spending two years as a Teach for America teacher in Indianola, Mississippi, she earned a Masters in Education from Harvard. She then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a D.Phil. in Education and serving as a Junior Dean at Oxford’s Harris Manchester College. With her distinguished background, Dr. Mazyck is an excellent fit for CDI and will no doubt be an inspiration for our Scholars. Today, her first at CDI, she answers a few questions for blog readers.
CDI has been helping Scholars successfully find their way since 2005. What is your vision for CDI’s future?
I am excited to join the CDI team; so much good work has been done already! My vision includes making sure that we have codified all the good practices that make CDI successful. I look forward to supporting the expansion of CDI to reach a broader group of students, with our systematized approach captured in a clear and concise way.
What are some of the challenges you foresee with that vision?
One of the things that makes CDI so special is the individualized approach that the counselors and tutors take with each student. It can be a challenge to maintain that quality of tailored support as a program expands, but that individualized attention is essential to making CDI work. I am committed to working with the team to maintain the core values that make CDI great.
Now that CDI has been around long enough to see Scholars graduate from college, we will have an ever-expanding alumni network each year. How do you hope to harness the energy and enthusiasm of our graduates?
I am so excited about the CDI alumni! I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several CDI college graduates, and I look forward to bringing them together and hearing their thoughts on how CDI can continue to support them. I have been dreaming about an alumni network where CDI graduates can get advice, discover job opportunities, connect current Scholars with internships, serve as mentors for current Scholars, and help us refine our model so that each year our Scholars are better prepared for success in college. Those are my dreams, but I would love to hear from both current CDI Scholars and graduates about what their vision for an alumni network might entail. If you have some ideas, please get in touch!
In the second installment of our year-long series of college Scholar check-ins, Mauricio Novoa (CDI Class of ’10; Gettysburg College Class of ’14) discusses his workload and some of his extracurricular activities.
The start of the school year went pretty well: reuniting with my friends after the summer, getting mass amounts of readings the first week, and giving my word to volunteer at 20,000 different things before getting used to my course load. I’m currently enrolled in 17th Century English Drama, Literary Foundations of Western Culture, Critical Methods for English, and a Poetry class. My grades may not look so hot this semester, since reading isn’t really my strongest attribute and these classes are basically all reading. But who knows, I might pull off some miracles.
For volunteer work, I’ve been asked to help out with the Migrant Education after school program again, which helps children of migrant families bridge the education gap with help on homework, English, and anything else they might need. This time, though, instead of just being a tutor, I’ve been asked to take on more of a staff role and be on hand to help the tutors if need be. I’m not quite sure exactly how this will work, but I’m helping to train the new tutors. I’m also helping with adult ESL classes for Migrant Ed, which I did over the summer during my internship in Gettysburg. I’m really excited to get back to working with the families, especially the Lopez-Espinozas, who sort of adopted me while I stayed in town over the summer. I’m hoping they invite me over to their house again for some nice home-cooked Hispanic food, as I am severely lacking it in school. In addition, I have a work-study job at Vida Charter School as a classroom aid, which is an amazing experience. Working with the little kids is so much fun, and how can it not be when they’re so adorable and trying to learn Spanish. This group of kids looks to be a bit more challenging behavior-wise than my group last year, but I’m sure Mr. Victor (the head teacher) and I can handle it.
With my fraternity, we’re working on getting a big philanthropy event set up for October. The event will essentially be a night of inflatables; people will come and play on them for 4 hours. They will then purchase raffle tickets for prizes and that would be where we get money to donate. This would be a collaboration between the Latin American Student Association (I’m Vice President) and the Campus Activities Board. Since I’m the philanthropy chair for the fraternity, I have to run around talking to people to try and get this going, but other people have been handling the bulk of that so far, so now I’m just trying to tie up the loose ends.
Read Scholar Julie Kwong’s first check-in from Princeton.