Welcome to Fall 2010!

Dear students, faculty, staff, and alumni,

Welcome to the new semester! We are quite excited to have our full complement of college members back on campus and looking forward to the new semester. We will do our best to keep in touch this year, so that we can celebrate our successes together. In addition to this blog, look for college colloquia to be held several times per semester, and a college newsletter that will come out in fall and spring. In addition, you can also join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Glassboro-NJ/College-of-Communication-Rowan-University/136400764960 and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RowanCoC.
Finally, the College of Communication annual report for 2009-2010 is now online at http://www.rowan.edu/colleges/communication/documents/CommunicationAnnualReport2009-10.pdf . Check it out and see what your peers, colleagues, and friends have accomplished in the last year!


Another new year…

Most of us look forward to New Years Day, in part for the fun of the eve or the Mummer’s parade on New  Years morning, but in part because if feels like a new start.  It’s a chance to think through what you accomplished (or struggled with) in the past year and plan ahead to reach new goals for the upcoming months.  We set resolutions, like exercising or eating right, to give ourselves a sense of a new start and a new commitment to such goals.  They don’t always work out, but sometimes they do.

Those of us in the academic world, whether as teachers, students, or administrators, get a second “new year” in the late summer.  The start of the new academic year, like the start of the calendar year, teems with new possibilities.  We think about how we might organize our school work this time around to be more efficient or more enjoyable.  We head out to our favorite stores to buy new pens, folders, notebooks, and reams of printer paper (it doesn’t really matter how old you are, there is something nice about a brand new notebook with pristine covers and pages waiting to be filled).  We get out the day planner that may have gone unused over the summer months and start to plot out the semester ahead.  And, we make resolutions for our new academic year.  We promise ourselves that we’ll study harder, or grade those papers in a more timely fashion.  We say that we’ll plan ahead to avoid all-nighters, schedule in time to eat right and exercise, and avoid procrastinating the readings we need to do for class (whether as the instructor or the student).

It’s easy to make the promises to yourself and others at the start of the new year, calendar or academic.  It’s much harder to keep them.  But, scientific studies tend to suggest that behaviors completed on a consistent basis over several weeks become habitual and are more resistant to breakage.  So, start now on those new behaviors that you have planned for the semester ahead.  Begin reading for an hour or two in the evening instead of surfing the net.   Go to bed at a reasonable time and get up around the time you’ll  need to be up for your classes.  Start that exercise class and eating plan now instead of later.  Label and organize all of your materials to set yourself up to succeed in the goals you have for this new year.  Make a list of your resolutions and post it somewhere in your room, or on your facebook page, or your blog… feeling responsible to someone besides self is often a good motivator for getting things done.

The new academic year brings opportunities and challenges.  Some of the challenges, you just have to wait until the classes start and then attempt to address them (meeting new people, learning new names, working on the required assignments, developing a good relationship with your office/dorm/suite mates).  But, if you make some of the others a habit now, you may find that spacing out the challenges ahead makes them somewhat easier to meet and turns them into opportunities for positive change and a true chance to reach your New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year!


Planning for the fall semester

Summer is off to a fine (if wet) start, and it’s already almost July.  It won’t be that long until September 1st is upon us and we are into the fall semester.  So, what can you do now to start getting ready and make that last burst of summer a little more fun and a little less stressful?

1. Check your course schedule – Are you registered for everything you need?  Have any of your courses been canceled or moved?  Do you need to retake or finish any spring courses and thus the fall schedule  needs to be adjusted?

2. Check your financing – Have you applied for or accepted all of the aid for which you are eligible?  Have you thought through how to pay for the remainder and set up any transfers between accounts that might be needed to do so?

3.  Start buying books and supplies – Many classes will have the texts listed with the college bookstore, and that’s a great option for convenience.  But, you also may find that it suits your needs more to buy/borrow them elsewhere; however that takes more time, so don’t wait until the last minute.  Some supplies will have to wait until the term starts, but the general items you can get now.  What do you need (notebooks, pens, paper, highlighters, etc.)?  What changes should you make in your supplies from last year to help you organize better (a day planner page in each notebook, color coordination for classes, etc.)?

4.  Sort through your dorm/apartment supplies to see what you need to purchase for this year.  If you start now, it’s easier to find sales on things like towels, blankets, fans, toiletries, etc.  At the last minute, the prices may be higher and the selection more sparse.

5. Once you figure out what you need, buy some big plastic bins and start packing!  Think how much easier it will be if you aren’t shoving stuff into garbage bags on August 31st.

6. Organize your contact list and back it up somewhere.  Be sure it includes the name and number of your academic advisor, a friend or two that you can call on for an emergency ride to/from campus, your housing office, the registrar and bursar’s office, your doctor, etc.

7. Sort your computer files, delete the old or unused items to make more space, back up everything else (having it on discs and a flash drive or your university drive is a good idea), and perform routine system maintenance (defragment your drive, empty the recycle/trash bin, etc.).

8. Plot out your schedule for each week so that you have a sense of when  you will have time for things like exercise, meals, grocery trips, library work, etc.  If you plan in time for exercise and meals, you are more likely to have healthy habits when the semester starts and less likely to be shoveling a Snickers bar and a bag of Fritos into your mouth between classes.

9. Brush up on the skills that you know you find difficult.  Are you a poor note taker?  Do some reading about note taking strategies.  Is math your downfall, and you have an accounting course scheduled for fall?  Pick up/borrow a “learn at home” math text and work through some of it.  Do you find it difficult to read scholarly work?  Download a couple of articles from the library site and work through them slowly, coming up with some strategies about what might work for you (e.g. I find it easiest to read the intro, methods, discussion, and then go back to the findings).  Is writing your challenge?  There are plenty of great online tutorials about writing that can help you brush up on your skills and use of formatting and styles before the semester starts.

10.   Relax, enjoy the weather, see some live music, go to the beach, take a walk!  Don’t let your summer pass in front of a computer screen reading exciting blogs like this one.  Get out there and have a nice time and get yourself in a good frame of mind to start the new year.