Senior Secrets

There’s a secret sort of wisdom you accumulate as you grow old at Christopher Newport University. You learn when the right time to get a buffalo chicken wrap on Wednesday, and what professor to avoid in economics. I’ve got eight little secrets to share that I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Print ahead of time
    • Do yourself a favor and just print the night before an assignment is due. Nothing is worse than getting stuck in a never-ending line in the library or DSU and having someone print a novel in front of you. Print ahead of time and thank me later.
  2. Bring your own (clean) coffee cup to Einstein’s
    • Love coffee? You’ll love it more when it’s a fraction of the price and in your own favorite mug. Bringing a clean personal mug not only allows you to sip from the comfort of your own mug but it makes your dinning dollars go further as it’s less expense and eco-friendly!
  3. Get to know your professors
    • Getting to know your professors not only comes in handy when you’re an old senior and need recommendation letters for graduate school or a job, it also helps to give you some slack in class. You’ll get sick, you’ll get stressed, and you’ll probably get behind on some readings. Having a professor that knows you better than just a kid in their two o’clock helps in all of these situations, don’t expect to slack but know that having personal relationships helps to make your college experience more enjoyable and a little easier in times of stress
  4. Media Center is your Friend
    • USE THE MEDIA CENTER! I was not very tech savvy coming into college, I could use a little digital camera but hand me a DSLR and I was a deer in headlights. I also have an HP Laptop and couldn’t use a Mac to save my life. The Media Center fixed both of my problems! They have cameras, camcorders, mac desktops, laptops, camera equipment all for rent and editing suites. Even better they have a whole DVD library, located on the second floor of the library this is a must visit at CNU
  5. If it’s Free it’s for Me
    • Nothing is better than free events on campus. Free food, free snacks, free pens, and the best of the best… free scantrons and blue books during finals and midterms
  6. Use Buildings as a cut through
    • It might seem obvious but this has been a soul warmer, hair saver, and dry oasis. When the weather starts to get chilly or a hurricane is passing though trek across campus a little less damp by using academic buildings as covered walk ways. As a student living on East Campus I cut through the Freeman, jumping to Christopher Newport Hall, sliding through the library, and hop to the David Student Union. I cut down exposure to wind and rain, and get to class a little dryer.
  7. Stop and enjoy Campus
    • I find myself doing this a lot in my second senior semester. As my final semester as a student I walk a little slower, smile a little more, take in the bricks a little longer, and hang out on the Great Lawn more often. Unless you decide to take a victory lap you only have four years here and the semesters will fly by. Start to enjoy everything CNU has to offer as soon as you can because you’ll be gone and off in the real world soon enough.
  8. Visit the Falk Gallery
    • Student art or a traveling show, the Falk Art Gallery in the Ferguson center allows for a quick break of math and science in CNU’s little world of the arts. As you venture to the gallery you might stumble upon aspiring actors running lines or classes sculpting in plaster.

Studying with Music

When you’re studying for an upcoming test or simply doing your homework during a free hour or two between classes, chances are that you’re listening to music. Eight out of ten students I recently asked said they listen to music while doing school-related work. If that’s accurate for the rest of the university, that means roughly 80 percent of the students here listen to music when they study.

In my College 150: The Intentional Learner class, my teacher says that listening to music while doing homework or studying can be distracting. If we are listening to it, she says, it should always be music that’s instrumental or has no legible words to it, as those are usually less distracting than “normal” music with clear vocals. On a logical scale, I would definitely agree with her. However, many of the students that I asked said that having any type of music on, with or without words, was “better than no music at all” and helpful with cancelling more distracting noises. After considering my studying methods, I have to agree with them.

If I’m studying in the library or a quiet part of the Crow’s Nest, I usually don’t have music on. If the silence is extremely deafening and I’m in an extremely easily distractible mindset, I’ll listen to generic Zen music from an Apple-generated playlist.

However, if I’m studying in an area with more people and less noise restrictions, like the Great Lawn (if the weather’s nice) or Einstein’s, “normal” music is a must. I’ll need it to distract from the louder background noise around me, or else I won’t be able to properly focus. In my book, it’s better to have music making noise in the background that doesn’t distract you than noise that does. Listening to music I’ve heard so many times that the words don’t snag my attention are extremely helpful and assist me in getting my work done faster (Britney Spears, Coldplay, and Avril Lavigne are frequently used).

Everyone’s situation differs on your study environment and the work they’re doing, though. If I’m just copying notes I missed from a professor’s PowerPoint in class, I can listen to any type of music in nearly any environment. However, if I’m working on something larger, like an essay or group PowerPoint, I’ll need no music or music with no legible words to help me focus. Again, this type of thing is different for everyone; there are students who need music and those who don’t, as everyone learns differently and one study plan (with or without music) does not fit all.

While studying, I’d advise my fellow students to try listening to music they’ve practically memorized by heart to help drown out background noise and concentrate more. If that’s too much to work with, try listening to instrumental or generic noise music (there are tons of options on most streaming platforms). With midterms behind us and finals looming ahead, it’s important to know what works for you when you’re studying so that you’re not overly distracted and are as proactive as possible. Hopefully this helps.

Beautiful CNU

I remember the first time I set foot onto Christopher Newport University—it was stunning. The architecture alone revealed none of the once commuter school from the 60s—but now a stunning redesigned campus. While the campus itself is impressive, as a student, I can’t help but praise the landscaping team!

Year round, Christopher Newport has a consistent manicuring of campus. My friends and I joke sometimes that Christopher Newport is like Disney World because it always looks so pristine.

The MVP of our beautiful campus is owed all to the landscaping team. Every morning on my walk to class, I am greeted with many different teams of landscapers making sure Christopher Newport is always best represented not only for visitors but for students, faculty and staff each day.

This post is dedicated to the landscaping teams who work hard all throughout the entire year, in all elements and environments. The work is not glamorous by any means but as a student I am so proud of how Christopher Newport represents itself daily.

It’s been said, stop and smell the roses — well, at Christopher Newport, we can, daily.

The Four Keys to Being a Successful Roommate

Having a roommate, especially if it’s your first, can be an intimidating experience. Social media can help to initially connect, but ultimately meeting and getting to know them in-person gives them the strongest impression of you. This is, after all, someone you’ll be sharing your personal space with for eight months; you want to have a healthy relationship with them and be your best self around them! Based on my own experiences and memories, these are the four essential keys that have made me a great roommate and have a great relationship with mine! Hopefully, they’ll help you become the best possible roommate at CNU.

1. Honesty – Honesty is, understandably, the best policy for any situation, but especially with your roommate. Mutual trust is important to have, so make sure that’s established as soon as possible. If some of their behaviors (or yours) are or might cause you to clash, let them know beforehand so any possible problems are ruled out before they start.

2. Communication – Let your roommate know about any boundaries or rules you have or want so you can meet halfway to avoid conflict! Communication is so important, and with so many ways to communicate nowadays (on and off social media) it’s mind-boggling why it’s even a problem for some people at all. If some habit of theirs is bothering you, let them know so you two can work out the problem.

3. Equality – Equality is an essential value for everyone to have, and roommates need to mutually respect each other’s space and time. Be respectful of their personal space, schedule and activities, and they will likely do the same! Share responsibilities like buying room supplies (paper towels, cleaning wipes, air freshener, etc) or cleaning your dorm sink or refrigerator.

4. Support – Finally, be supportive! Encouraging your roommate in their goals and opportunities, be they emotional or career-related, is what a good person would do! Encourage each other to reach your goals, and be there if they need someone to talk to. My roommate and I always encourage each other in our respective activities (boxing and internships, respectively) and it helps us have a more positive relationship. It’s so important to have someone who supports you and feels like they can be open with you about almost anything, so don’t count your roommate out of that.

Graduation is Coming

It’s coming….graduation.

For some seniors the dreaded life event is slowly approaching while other seniors are warmly welcoming the event. For myself it’s a bittersweet moment. Four years seems like a long time, especially when you are a bright-eyed freshman stepping on to Christopher Newport University for the first time. However, as a student you get caught up in project deadlines, joining different organizations, all while trying to juggle a social life and you first year flies by. Sophomore and junior year blend together and all of a sudden you’ve entered into your final fall semester at CNU. It wasn’t until my last semester started that I began to feel a little “old.” The fall felt like any other semester and it didn’t hit me that I was actually leaving until I bought my cap and gown.

Now that the senior class has passed our 100-day mark, ordered their senior week packages, caps and gowns things are starting to line up for us to cross the stage. As I’m getting close to completing my senior seminar and finish my last couple of projects things are really sinking in that graduation is a reality. With 54 days until graduation there is no denying its approach. All that is left to do is pass our classes and sing as much Brickhouse karaoke as we can!

Dear Upcoming Freshmen; How to Survive Your First Theme Meal

I’m going to be honest – old, ‘experienced’ freshman to incoming new freshmen – theme meals can be overwhelming. However, they can also be a total blast! You just have to learn the best way to approach them.

Scout the Menu Before You Go. Download the Navigator app. This app has a bunch of helpful information, like the layout of certain buildings, where to find printers and the menus for both dining halls every day. On top of this way of accessing the menu, you’ll see cards in the dining hall on tables during the weeks leading up to themed meals. These will also include the menu for the meal, so you have plenty of time to decide what you like best. Knowing what is available will make it easier for you to get through the crowds without as much trouble. It will save you huge amounts of time, especially if you happen to attend during the dinner rush.

Go Early. Arriving five minutes before the dining hall opens will grant you the serenity of a quiet dining room (for about five to 10 minutes) and the ability to make a round and compare your choices. You’ll be first in line, and get the seating you want (you want the booths, trust me). By the time the crowd arrives, you’ll be halfway through your three plates of varied food.

Or, Go REALLY Late. This is the other option that involves maintaining your sanity. Go 30 minutes before the dining hall closes, and the rush will be gone. You can get pretty good seating, and your wait won’t be too extensive. Don’t worry about whether or not the food choices you want will be gone by then – they won’t.

Get a Little Bit of Everything. Theme meals are not your average meal. There has to be something special about them considering the crowds they draw. Generally, I take a plate and fill it with the finger-foods I want. I’ll get my fruit, cheese, snacks and desserts all in one go. Small portions are key. Then, after comparing my options, I’ll go to each food station and ask for a little of my favorite dish (or dishes) that they’re serving there. Eating a little bit of everything makes you feel like you’re getting the most out of the themed meal. So no, don’t feel bad when you realize you’re eating cotton candy, candied apples, churros and corn dogs all at once.

May the themed-meal odds be ever in your f(l)avor!

A Guide to Manage Studying

Perhaps the hardest part about transitioning to college is learning how to manage your studying. The good news is, there are a lot of people who have dealt with the same exact transition and have lived to tell the tale! Without being able to manage studying, it won’t matter how great your study skills are. Learning to be efficient is key. Here are some steps on learning to become efficient at managing your time and studies!

  1. Find some sort of daily planning system that works for you. Throughout high school, I tried and failed and tried again to use a yearly planner. It never lasted for more than a week. In college, I tried again, and it lasted for about a month. However, I have kept trying various approaches, and what I have found to be best for me is drawing a mind-map with my whole day spread out! I’ve stuck to this all semester, and I find it both calming and effective, especially since I am a very visual person.
  2. Be aware of all the planning options out there! There’s a lot more available in this day and age other than the general yearly planner. If you want something quick and easy, try out to-do list pads. If you’re more artistic or visual, there are options ranging from mind-maps to bullet journals! More tech-savvy people may find various apps easily downloaded on their smartphone to be the simplest method. If you don’t feel like taking the time buying/creating/learning to use any of these methods, you can go down to the very basics and write your daily activities on a sticky note that you hang from your desk where you’ll see it first thing in the morning! Never think that there isn’t an option for you – chances are there are dozens more that you simply haven’t looked into!
  3. Incorporate studying into your planner. Using my mind-maps as an example, I make sure to include both studying and my classes while creating my layout. For me, this doesn’t mean just saying “study after lunch”. Instead, I box off specific times for each assignment I want to work on. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and having a time you’ve designated to accomplish it saves you a lot of time that could be spent saying you’ll “get to it later” or trying to decide what on earth you’ll actually work on that day!
  4. Use those spare hours. If you’re like me, you don’t feel like you can accomplish much in only an hour. If I have a class at 9, and then another 11, I’ll generally find myself lying in bed on my phone between the two, claiming there’s not enough time to get started on anything. The truth is, I could probably write a journal entry, make and study flashcards, outline an essay, or do a couple of class readings! When you write everything down with an assigned time, you’re more likely to schedule those spare hours that you have every single day for productive tasks. They seem like a little, but they sure add up.
  5. Consider studying/going to classes your job. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and it’s not a lie. Prep yourself for having to spend upwards of 5 hours a day on studying. It sounds like a lot, and in all honesty, it is. But it is also quite often necessary. The good news is, it’s easy to fit in 5 hours and still have plenty of time to relax or hang out with friends. Get in an hour or two between classes, and then come back for a three-hour chunk of time. It goes by quickly if you block it off into smaller sections for specific assignments.
  6. Find your ‘spot’. I’ve found that there’s a huge difference between how much I get done studying in my room vs. studying in my ‘spot’. If I’m writing an essay in my room, I’ll get it done in about 3 hours. If I’m writing it in my ‘spot’, it’ll take only 1 hour and a half, and I’ll get to spend the rest of the time getting ahead on other subjects. Your ‘spot’ can be anywhere! Mine happens to be at a specific Starbucks that has a dimmed study room with quiet music. I’m twice as productive there, and nobody bothers me for hours. It’s a dream. Your spot will come in handy on days when you have piles of work to do and really don’t feel like pulling an all-nighter.

Getting good grades and studying in college doesn’t have to be difficult. Be aware of the dedication involved, and then set yourself up to succeed!

When the Flu Hits


My roommates, my best friends, we share a lot of thing in life, our rooms, our food, our chargers. Yet one thing I don’t want to share is sicknesses. Flu season is officially upon us and in the past two weeks 3/3 of my roommates have shared in the sickness of the season. Here are a few tips and tricks to curb any illness while away at school:

When it comes to curbing illness while living in close community, here are a few tips to get though winter:

  • When symptoms begin—Go to the health services!
    • Christopher Newport has a well established on campus clinic. The health-care is exceptional and they really care for us.
  • When your roommate comes back from the clinic…
    • Bring them nice things–they are sick and want to be home, not at school!
    • Sanitize! You can never have too much sanitizer. Never.
  • Cover your cough
    • Once flu season hits, it becomes more and more important to be aware of where your germs are flying.
  • If you have to miss class…
    • Thankfully our professors are extremely accommodating in this season. Many of my own professors have policies that excuse you as long as a doctor’s note can be provided. You can even get doctor’s notes from our on campus clinic.

Being sick at school can be hard, but with the right knowledge of the clinic, friends and professors, it helps make recovery that much more attainable.