Final Exams and Semester Projects – You’ve Got This!

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 1.41.59 PM Final exam week creeps up on all of us (students and teachers alike). Before we know it, all of those projects, presentations, and tests are due and we head into a frenzy of work to round out the semester. We’ll all get through it, though it may not seem like it during the crush.

To make your survival seem more likely, there are some sensible and easy steps you can take to get through this period of intense work with a healthy body, mind, and (hopefully) transcript.

Take care of your physical self. Don’t neglect the life of the body for the life of the mind. It’s tempting to survive the week on Cheetos, Red Bull, and M&Ms while studying or working in the studio every minute that you don’t have a class meeting. All of your faculty probably did it a time or to as well, but it’s not a good idea. Research has shown clearly that our minds work best when our bodies are functioning well.  So, try eat on a regular schedule and work on having a healthy diet that feeds your brain and your body. Don’t skip the protein and live on carbs for a week.  While you are planning that eating schedule, be sure to put in enough time to sleep.  Studies suggest that we actually lose IQ points when we don’t get enough sleep. Do you really want to go into exams with a lower IQ? I don’t think so. Pulling an all-nighter to study for that exam is less likely to result in a good grade than studying over a few days and then getting at least 6-7 hours of sleep before the exam. Finally, don’t forget to get some exercise.  Even if you can’t find time to go to the gym or take a run, a brisk walk with a friend or classmate or a session of yoga can help clear the mind and calm anxiety.

When studying, focus on understanding, not memorization. Memorizing can be a successful strategy – sometimes – but it doesn’t result in real long-term learning and the slightest glitch in the process can cause a brain dump that leaves you staring at the test sheet in horror. How many times have you memorized a list of terms  using an acronym only to arrive at the test to find that you remember the acronym, but not what the letters represent? I know I have graded exams that have little acronyms in the margins, but the student couldn’t come up with the actual terms. Reread the material and your notes. Think about what the concepts are about and how they relate to other things in your life. Do practice exams or problems and think about why the answers are what they are and how you reached them. Write out your understandings of the concepts/ideas to help reinforce what you know. Do this over the course of several days, not in one night, and you gradually begin to add the material to your own body of knowledge, rather than just placing a series of memorized factoids in your short term memory, where they will disappear right after the exam. A final study strategy is to talk to others about the material. There is little as helpful to learning as teaching. As you teach someone else how to calculate the first derivative, you will really “get it” yourself.

Give yourself a break before the exam/presentation. Don’t study right up until the instant the test starts (or practice until seconds before the presentation, or work on your painting until the moment of the critique). This will only create additional stress and you’ll remember words or ideas you crammed in those last moments, but they won’t be well associated with your other knowledge and may actually get in the way. Instead, stop preparing an hour or so before the test/presentation and take some down time. Go for a walk, have a cup of tea, play with your dog. Do something that clears your mind and puts you in a relaxed state to begin the work.

Stay in the moment. Before an exam, don’t start worrying in advance about how you will do on it. Focus on learning the material in each moment and when you are taking a break, really take a break and let it go.  Worrying beforehand will not help you in your studying. Similarly, while you are taking the test, don’t focus on the grade you will get on the exam or your final course grade (or how happy or mad your parents will be or how it will affect your GPA). Read the questions carefully and think about the material and providing the best answer you can in that moment. Once the test is over, let it go.  Don’t head for the hallway and immediately start parsing your performance with your peers, or berate yourself for not doing as well as you could have, or check the answers and try to calculate your score.  Just go ahead to the next thing on your schedule and do that with full focus (whether it’s planning for the holidays or studying for another exam).

By following these tips, you’ll help yourself academically, mentally, and physically during exam week.  Good luck and good health!


Finding an Internship is Not Easy, But Possible – A Student Story

~~ Guest post by Delroy Coke, Senior Advertising Major and Member of Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society ~~

On July 5, 2012 ,I was interning at Prudential Fox and Roach as a marketing associate. During my second week of the summer internship, I did not feel any passion towards my job assignment. Therefore, the next day I resigned from the marketing associate internship.

At the same time, I dedicated the next seven to eight weeks of summer to reach out to different advertising agencies, sports and entertainment organizations, and so forth. I looked for any internship openings in the advertising and communications industry. I went to every interview with confidence and maintained a professional poise. Every day, I constantly spent time on the computer checking my e-mail for results from the interviews. However, I was very disappointed that another person with more experience got the job. I had to keep my head high throughout the rejection process and regain my confidence for my next interview.

Throughout my difficult time of finding an internship, I had a strong support system of family and friends who encouraged me to keep researching different job search websites such as Career Builder, Monster, Rowan’s career management center website and so forth. On Monday August 20th, I was hired by Beasley Broadcast Group-Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania for the fall semester.

Currently, I am learning about the radio industry through promotions and production internship. I am receiving plenty of praise and respect from my employers and becoming very passionate about the field. I appreciate the internship opportunity I received. Still, I am determined to find another internship in the advertising and communication industry before I graduate in May 2013.

For any students looking for internships in the communication and creative arts field, take advantage of networking events, job fairs, online job search websites, and student conferences. The two greatest advantages you have during your time at Rowan University are talking to your professors/advisors, being involved in the award-winning communication clubs and organizations on campus, and attending the career management center to help with resumes, portfolios, and guidance.

The best advice I can give was summed up by legendary college basketball head coach Jim Valvano who said, “Don’t Give up, Don’t Ever Give Up!” If I can find an internship through persistence, everyone else can find their perfect internship, too.

Online Journalism I and II – Valuable Courses for Communication Majors

~~ A guest blog by Samantha Costa and Danielle Tamburilla, Lambda Pi Eta members and College of Communication students ~~

“In the digital age, journalists have to be willing to experiment, to try new things, and to adapt. And you have to do it because you are passionate about it,” says Online Journalism Professor Mark Berkey-Gerard.

It’s true.  The world in which we live now is far different than it was just a decade ago. The introduction of the Internet and social media sites has allowed us to get news faster and more easily.  With the click of a mouse, we can gain access to a world of information, causing the journalism world to shift uncomfortably under the pressure.

Journalism majors and minors have recently been required to take Online Journalism I, a class that introduces students to the world of practicing journalism online.  However, online journalism courses prove valuable to all students interested in communication.

In Online Journalism I, students set-up and maintain a blog about a chosen beat throughout the semester.  Two posts are required each week along with occasional specialty posts where students apply knowledge recently learned in class to their news gathering and reporting.

For students who are new to working online, this course is a great way to lay the foundation for a possible career.  Many techniques taught in Online Journalism I are slowly but surely becoming requirements for entry-level jobs in communication.  If a student has never handled a digital or video camera, edited audio captured with microphones and digital voice recorders, written simple HTML, or even produced a blog, Professor Berkey-Gerard has it covered.

Skills learned in Online Journalism I include “writing for the web, effective hyper-linking, basic multimedia reporting and production, use of a content management system, basic HTML and CSS, and an intro to SEO, and how social media can be used as a reporting tool,” says Professor Berkey-Gerard. In layman’s terms, Online Journalism I offers students a chance to employ powerful storytelling techniques using text, links, photos, maps, audio and video on their very own blog.  Not only do students learn how write and create multimedia content for the web, they also master how to garner and grow an audience and use social media effectively.  In addition, students come out of Online Journalism I with knowledge of web-related acronyms like SEO (Search Engine Optimization)!

Online Journalism I can be taken by a wide variety of students, because it doesn’t assume knowledge in the area.  According to Professor Berkey-Gerard, “Online Journalism I is an introductory course, so I try to expose students to a range of ideas and approaches.  In the beginning of the semester I try to emphasize effort and experimentation. I don’t expect students to do everything perfectly the first time. I want them to try new things and learn from the experience.”

Online Journalism II builds upon principles from the first course to create a class website comprised of original stories centered on a theme chosen by students at the beginning of the semester. Students branch off into four groups, dealing with different aspects of the site. The tech group works the back-end of the website, tackling more web development skills, as the social media group acts as PR for the website, posting information on Twitter and Facebook. The editorial group establishes the textual introduction and sets the key ideas in place for arranging stories to match the topics chosen. The design group is responsible for picking a theme for the site, how it looks, and what is viewable to visitors.

All in all, students who take both Online Journalism I and II can expect to learn a great deal about using the Internet that can be applied in any communications related situation.  In addition, students come out of these classes with a unique set of skills that could give them a leg up on the competition when searching for a job.