The Best and Busiest Time of Year

Hello readers, and welcome back to campus! Spring Break was fabulous, but now we must all return to real life and responsibilities. Somehow, it is almost April, which is frankly crazy to believe. Between insane piles of work and even more insane piles of snow, this semester has absolutely flown by. (Apparently not having a full week of school for five weeks straight really messes with your perception of time.) We have essentially one month left of actual classes, and then what I like to call the Two Weeks of Torment and Despair, also known as finals. Basically, we’re in the home stretch, and there’s a ton of stuff that’s going to happen between now and the finish line.

First of all, there’s classwork. I have so many projects due within the next two weeks, and then so many papers due the two weeks after that. My weekends are going to lose all of their fun, and just become an interminable series of meetings with my group partners and endless stretches of homework. As we get closer to finals, the work really accumulates. Protip for freshmen: get stuff done as early as possible. Trust me, you’ll hate your life while you’re doing work, but afterwards you’ll feel pretty good.

Then there are the numerous events which occur during the month of April. I’m co-chair of Entertainment Board, which is under the umbrella of Programming Board. For those not in the know, Programming Board encompasses Entertainment Board, Film Series, Concert Board, Senior Class Council, Junior Class Council, Sophomore Class Council, and Freshman Class Council. So while my particular group within PBoard has finished all of its events for the most part, we still have a lot to do. PBoard has to prepare for Spring Fling (OMG Kesha), Tuftonia’s Day, all the big end of the year events. I certainly hope to see you at some of these events!

April is when all of the dance teams, orchestras, bands, troupes, and other performance groups have their events. It’s when the prospective students come check Tufts out for Jumbo Days, which is one of my favorite times because I get to sell Tufts. Everything happens in April, including hopefully warm weather. It’s a very stressful time, but also a kind of lovely time because students have the opportunity to see all of the fantastic events that their peers have organized. I know that as much as I approach April with trepidation, I’m also full of excitement to see what happens next at Tufts.

Also, April is one month closer to summer, which is unequivocally the best time of year. I live in New Jersey now, so that means I’m going to be going to Six Flags more than once, which is definitely some summer fun to look forward to.

I hope that everyone enjoys their end of March days, and I wish to all a very happy April and spring!

Upcoming Opportunities for All Students

I often hear stories from underclassmen who are interested in the Experimental College, but aren’t aware of what opportunities there are beyond taking classes. Then I hear from junior and seniors who would have liked to be more involved with the ExCollege earlier, but just didn’t know everything that was available. In an attempt to rectify this trend, I’m going to let you know about the upcoming super cool opportunities the ExCollege is offering for the next year.

(I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about next semester, but to be honest I’d rather think about that than my numerous upcoming midterms, and I suspect I’m not alone in this productive form of procrastination.)

If you’re a rising junior or senior and you want the opportunity to create your own course to co-teach with a friend, you should apply to teach a first year seminar next fall. The ExCollege sponsors the Perspectives and Explorations programs, which allow upperclassmen to mentor first-semester freshmen while lecturing on a subject they’re passionate about. When I was a freshman, I took the Perspectives course “Superheroes in the Media,” and it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had at Tufts. My co-leaders, Becca and Jehan, acted not only as teachers, but as mentors for me and my peers. They helped me to pick out classes and figure out which activities I wanted to do. I still get dinner with Becca around once a week, and meet Jehan at least once a month. My Perspectives leaders made Tufts seem inviting and fun on that scary first day, and I’ll always be grateful for their warmth and intelligence. The Perspectives program influenced me so heavily that I already am planning to apply in my senior year, with a partner and course subject in mind. (“Feminist Narratives in Science Fiction Television,” coming to you in Fall 2016.) If you want the opportunity to help freshmen while having a genuinely great teaching experience, you should apply for either of these programs. Also, you get 1.5 credits. The application for teaching an Explorations or Perspectives course is due March 11.

If you’re a freshman and want to be involved in the ExCollege next year, fear not: there’s opportunities for you as well! You can apply to be a member of the Board, which is an overall phenomenal experience that I would recommend to everyone. I’ve written extensively on why I love the Experimental College Board, but I’ll take the time to advertise it even more. On the Board, you have the opportunity to work alongside other students and faculty members to organize events and choose which courses will be taught in the next semester. The Board is great not only because you get to be on the ground floor of decision making, but also because of the relationships you forge with your peers and the professors. The application for becoming a member of the ExCollege Board is due February 27.

The ExCollege is such a fantastic place to learn, lead, and grow, and I really hope that students take advantage of the opportunities presented for next semester. For more information on becoming more involved with the ExCollege, visit excollege.tufts.edu.

External Reviews and Student News

The Experimental College is currently undergoing an external review, which is an exciting opportunity to explore the department’s strengths and weaknesses. This also allows students and faculty to reminisce on the ways in which the ExCollege has enhanced their lives. As a student Board member and active participant in all things ExCollege, I was asked to participate in a lunch which took place earlier this afternoon with the reviewers and fellow student leaders of ExCollege programs. Not only did I get free food, I also got the chance to learn more about my peers.

At the lunch, I got to hear Board members, peer teachers, and Explorations and Perspectives leaders speak. As a sophomore, I was the youngest participant in the lunch, so it was really interesting to hear from older students about how they were so positively impacted by the ExCollege. I know that the ExCollege has made my collegiate life better and more interesting, so it was fun to hear from others who had similar experiences. I intend to teach a Perspectives class when I am a senior, and I got to hear former Perspectives leaders talk about what the application and teaching process entailed. To be honest, it made me even more excited for my future here at the ExCollege.

It was also interesting to hear the opinions of the external reviewers, who seemed to be truly interested and engaged with what each student had to say about the ExCollege. One of the things that I’ve always loved about the ExCollege is how much student input is valued, so it was nice to have that tradition continued in the external review. I liked hearing the accounts of other students, but I also really enjoyed talking about my own experiences with the ExCollege. I love to talk, and I love the ExCollege, and I love sandwiches, so this was basically the perfect lunch opportunity for me.

It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in my own little world, unaware of what’s happening beyond my own commitments and ambitions. This lunch was a nice reminder of the breadth of the ExCollege’s influence; it hasn’t just shaped my experiences, but the experiences of countless Tufts students before me and will continue to affect countless of students after I am gone. It was good to remember in a group what makes the ExCollege so great: its focus on students and student opinion. That aspect is what enticed me to take a Perspectives class my first semester freshman year, what drew me to apply to a position as an office assistant. I have been involved with the ExCollege in numerous capacities: as a student, as an employee, and as a Board member. In every position that I have held, my perspective has been appreciated and taken into account. It was nice to learn that the ExCollege has been such a positive influence on other students as well by hearing the accounts of my peers during this lunch.

I believe that the external review is crucial, not only because it gives the ExCollege the opportunity to reevaluate and revisit its purpose, but also because it is an opportunity to further inform outsiders of what the ExCollege is and the importance of its mission. The ExCollege is a large part of what makes Tufts unique, and I think that its strengths should be broadcast to the academic world. Hopefully what was said at this lunch, and during the external review in general, will be taken into account not only by those active within the ExCollege but also by those who may wish to emulate its tenets.

How the ExCollege Slowly Took Over My Life (In a Good Way)

Hi there blog-readers, my name is Grace and I’m the new student author of ExChange. I’m a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Mass Communications and Media Studies, with the vague goal of someday using these skills to become a writer. (Don’t ask me what kind of writer. I haven’t gotten that far yet.)

This is me. You can totally friend me on facebook or add me on twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won't think you're creepy.

This is me. You can totally friend me on Facebook or add me on Twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won’t think you’re creepy.

The ExCollege is probably my home away from home within the Tufts campus. I’ve been working here as an office assistant since I was but a wee first-semester freshman. When I first got to Tufts, I didn’t think I was going to get a good work study job on campus. But then I interviewed for a position at the ExCollege, and the rest is history. My little back office is a haven, and I have access to the Keurig Coffee Maker, which is nice.

I also took two ExCollege classes last year; a Perspectives course called “Superheroes in the Media” and a course taught by a visiting lecturer called “On the Record: Communicating for the Government.” I adored both of these classes, as I got to learn more about what I am passionate about (politics and fictional characters in spandex).

At the same time, the ExCollege was preparing for its 50th Anniversary Gala. I got to compile old documents, articles, and pictures regarding the ExCollege, send out invitations, speak with alumni about the event on the phone. When I attended the Gala in April 2014, I got to see how the ExCollege has helped and shaped the experiences of alumni across decades.

So I was working for the ExCollege, taking its courses, and attending its events. But that wasn’t enough for me! I decided to apply to become a member of the Experimental College Board, and was accepted. Now I get to plan the cool events and help pick out classes, a great power that comes with great responsibility and fills me with great glee.

I’m now taking another ExCollege course, “Gender, Sexuality, and Comics,” which is super fun and conveniently also counts for my minor. I spend half of my week working and attending meetings in the little brown house that the ExCollege calls home. I like to be here, and I like the people, and I want to be involved in any way that I can. If I could do more for the ExCollege, I would.

In addition to being a Board Member/office assistant/student at the ExCollege, I am also an Arts and Multimedia editor for the Tufts Daily and Co-Chair for the Entertainment Board. I’m also the secretary for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society at Tufts, because if you hadn’t gathered this already, I’m a gigantic over-achieving nerd.

I firmly believe that college is what you make of it, and the experiences you have here can and will shape your life in the future. I know that deciding to apply for the office assistant position at the ExCollege was a wonderful idea with unforeseeably amazing consequences, and I know that my time here has and will continue to make my time at Tufts fantastic.

Power of e: spruce

Power-of-e-Logo

Power of e, Logo by M. Regalado, 2014

“Power of e” is a series of my exploration of student innovative ventures and creations by Tufts students. Tufts students flex their passion through skills they’ve acquired in and out of the classroom and this is the stage to highlight these amazing students. “Power of e” will be featured on the blog at least once a month. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on these features and if there is anything you are working on, contact me :)

In my first feature, seniority takes hold. This week I’m featuring spruce created by current Tufts seniors Angus Schaefer, Bernita Ling, and Misako Ono. spruce heightens individuals visibility through  stylish resumés, elaborative logos, chic business cards, and eye-catching posters to gather a creative design edge against their competitors. But it doesn’t stop there! If you need a stylish design boost in any capacity you can run your idea by spruce.

All great ideas stem from a problem that an entrepreneur wants to solve with their product or service being a unique solution. I contacted Bernita Ling, a fellow Engineering Psychology major and design wiz who is one of the founders, to uncover spruce. Bernita explains: “Image matters. [The problem we] saw was many people here at Tufts who are incapable of generating the image they wanted for themselves, and we saw an opportunity for ourselves to help them.” 

spruce founders

Spruce founders from left: Angus, Bernita, and Misako

Once a great idea has been cultivated and formulated, an A-team is essential to generate this idea to life. This creative trio have been friends since freshmen year and approach their creative work together with immense passion, “which is one of the most important traits to have in a venture like this,” Bernita stresses. All of the founders had been doing creative work on their own before spruce: Angus – poster and logo design, Misako – photography and design, and Bernita – photography and design. Combining talent and centralizing skill set into one service, spruce was born. From the first glance at their website, the design layout is flat, straightforward, minimal, and clean. Bernita expresses the look and feel of the website maximizes the impact, while maintaining their own personal aesthetics without distracting from the content.

spruce has been showing great traction and the founders have been busy! Hopeful, the founders should see growth based on the positive reviews from their early clientele. “We aren’t positive what the future holds, which only makes it more exciting. Whatever happens, we are sure that spruce will remain as an essential starting point for all three of us in our future careers.” From one entrepreneur and designer to another, best of luck my friends! Excited to see what else is in store for you! If you would like to get in contact with spruce, you can use their contact form here on their website.

#PowerOfe #Entrepeurneurship #TuftsIdeas #Seniors

 

 

What I Learned From The Rugby Field

November… The month that is consisted of lingering midterms, the ending of sports seasons, preparing for final papers/projects, and Thanksgiving. The most surreal and bittersweet moment is when something you’ve been a part of is coming to a close. I am talk to all of you student athletes out there. Regardless of whether you’re on intramural, club, or varsity, it’s a groups of students who come together on their athletic interest and skill. A unity consisting of any and all types of people coming together to play the one sport you all love equally.

This is something I’m experiencing at this very moment. Tufts Women’s Rugby ended our season with a loss against a regional championship game against Stonehill College. On the pitch, I looked around the 25+ other women who I’ve been playing side by side either for just this season up to my entire college athletic career. This sport has given me the ability to learn something new, master a skill, and then mentor and teach others joining. I look back and remember when I was the confused freshman. The transitions of skill and identity shifting throughout my career. I had the pleasure of getting to know other women outside of their academic interest and see a side of people that a classroom just doesn’t set the stage for: camaraderie.

Of the million other extra curricular activities I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, Rugby has been one of the few that I carried through all four years here at Tufts and where I can find community and friendship. I’m curious, what has your experience been with your sports team? What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned on or off the field? If there is one thing I could say I took away from rugby, it would have to be learning to mentor others. Mentorship has been a large part of my career regardless of I was the mentor or the mentee. Cheers to a great final season!

#TuftsSports #TWRFC #StudentLife

Course selections: Already!?!

It’s that time in the semester where soon after your blood has slightly cooled off from a hectic midterm season, it’s time to focus on the new set of courses you will endeavor for the following semester. Depending on the amount of course preparation you’ve done for your next installment of courses, this can be a breeze. However, for those of us preoccupied with our current work load, the list of our new course work could have easily been missed.

By the time this post is published, a quarter of the school will have already selected their courses for their final semester of their undergraduate career: the seniors. It’s a bittersweet moment for this round of course selections. It’s the last time we’ll be able to have the free range of course selection that Tufts has to offer, but at the same time finishing off our assigned rigorous course work. Seniors be sure not to waste your last semester and think critically of what you want to challenge yourself with or what else you will want to learn!

I’m not going to lie, picking courses for this last semester was a bit of a challenge. I could do the whole “seniorities” schedule and minor in yoga during my final semester to begin to unwind from the tight-winded course schedule I needed to follow that past three and a half years. But instead, I looked at my final semester as a chance to explore and add more toward my major and personal interest. After needing to complete my sign up for my thesis and capstone project, I had the liberty of taking an course I desired. So, the curious 7 year old me had me enroll in ENP 166: Computer Interface Design with Michael Wiklund, REL 145: Tibetan Buddhism with Professor Joseph Walser, and finally COMP 20: Web Programming with Professor Ming Chow.

This is far from the notorious spring semester senior schedule, but I rather put my young brain to use. Give my toolbox a few each tools to apply in the real world. Continue to meet other curious Tufts students because all I have left is one. One semester. So I’m going to make it count.

#SeniorYear #Scheduling #SIS

 

Maintaining Motivation During Mid-Terms

As a senior, a lot is required from you. Not only are you finalizing your courses for your major(s) and minors and applying for graduation, but due to competitive acceptance rates in the work force, you have to juggle job applications, current internships, senior swag (rings, portraits, etc.) at the same time. Hopefully, if you’ve mapped out your entire Tufts academic career just right, you may be in better shape of giving you leeway to juggle.

The juggle may be difficult, but the courses you are taking now and in the future may be a key factor in keeping you motivate during the entire semester. The biggest advice I always give to students is find courses that intellectually stimulate you, while giving you a breadth of knowledge that can be applied outside the classroom into other facets of your interests, work, activities, and even sports. The most interesting courses I’ve taken here at Tufts, are the ones that compliment my major, yet are not part of the list of required courses needed for my major. These courses assist in your critical thinking skills while encouraging an application of what you are learning to a different audience–truly supporting the interdisciplinary education an elite university like Tufts can provide to its students.

Many friends and colleagues of mine will do just this as well. These are the courses that keep you motivated during midterms and finals because you are applying knowledge and skill in a different manner. Courses offered here at the ExCollege can do just that! They can provide these intellectual stimulus or application of your skill set in a different manner, or even bring your perspective into the class which others benefit from. Keep up the great work! Tufts is a difficult school, but it’s here to teach you to critically think, critically analyze, and formulate opinions and ideas that will benefit you in life after your undergraduate career.

#Midterms #Motivation #Tufts #EngineeringPsychology #HumanFactors

Has Our Creativity and Curiosity Decreased?

In an interesting article I read recently called “What is Creativity?–Cultivating Creativity”, it argues that there has been a steady decline in creativity since in the late 1990s. If we look around to our mobile devices, computers, films, art, design, science, etc., one can argue this may not be the case entirely. Well… with the majority of Hollywood films being adapted from novels and/or comic books, one can say film is one place where creativity has declined in the past two decades… Even if you look at the courses the ExCollege has offered to date have always been considered current, exploratory, innovative, and well received by the student body for decades.

In the article, the author discusses a time when he was in the supermarket with his son. His son asks him either do bananas grow on the trees from top to bottom, or bottom to top. The father pulls out his phone, Google’s the answers and in 30 seconds they knew all about how bananas grew, where, and when. Yet, the father stops himself and is upset to realized he did not give his son room to question and explore his thoughts before finding the answer. This is where I agree with the article, in many facets because we have the privilege of readily information at our finger tips, there is less room for exploration.

Exploration entices your curiosity and fuels your creativity. I’ve always been a very curious person about the things in our world and constantly think and question my surroundings. Growing up I was encouraged to do so by my mother, teachers, mentors, and sports coaches, and I’ve carried that into my early adulthood and will continue to do so. But let’s turn the mic around, do you think curiosity assist creativity? Is the readily available information more to our benefit than this article leads us to believe?

I always urge people to hold on to their imagination, just like when you were younger, careless, and bubbled with imagination. Hold on to seven year old you! Who knows, they might surprise you and help you configurate your paper or presentation in a manner that is innovative and more approachable to your audience. Or lend a hand in looking at your world with a new set of eyes. A fresh perspective. Give it a try! Here at the ExCollege, that’s what they’re all about. Exploration in an academic scope. See how much more you can learn when you start asking questions and ponder solutions before you come to the answer.

For more information on the article, please click HERE.

#Creativity #Curiosity #Exploration

Selecting ExCollege Courses

Over 100 proposals were submitted by candidates eager for the opportunity to teach in the fall semester. In just a few short days, the ExCollege Board will be meeting to determine which 22 of those courses will be offered to Tufts students. But how exactly do we go from the 100+ proposals down to 22?

The Life of a Proposal