April 25, 2011

The semester is nearly over. With only a week of classes left and about two finals (both on a Saturday), I finally see my first year of college nearing an end. It seemed like just yesterday I was nervous to embark on this new journey of the unknown in college. Would I make friends? Would people like me? Was I even going to like my classes and teachers? I had so many questions and looking back now it almost seemed naïve of me to worry quite so much. College had its good and bad, things I loved and things I loathed. It was everything and nothing like high school and it was an experience I could never forget.

Looking back on some of my journal entries online I could see how much I had learned, not only school book wise but also through common sense learned of things go on a “university” level. I can only hope to continue recording things like this about college so when I graduate I will have seen just how far I’ve really come along now.

To all of you still deciding, graduating from high school, or even attending in the Fall 2011 semester, I wish you the best of luck. I can’t say your experience will be exactly like my own. I only hope that you do not make some of the mistakes I made, however, if making mistakes is how you learn then by all means. College is something that, if not careful, can overwhelm you in a negative way, or it can challenge you to become a more mature person in this fast-paced world. Being at Riddle has helped me grow as a person, and please believe this is not a script writing, this is an honest opinion. You cannot always depend on your parents, academic advisor, or even financial advisor to tell you when you need to get things done or fix every single problem. You have to stand up for yourself, this doesn’t always mean alone, but this done mean speaking up when you realize a problem or even something you just don’t understand. The only dumb question is the one you never ask, it’s your first year in college, and no one expects you to know everything, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know anything. The same pride you have on your day of graduation, the “I finally made it out” mentality; hold on to that as you enter college.

Work hard to obtain the goals and ambitions you have for yourself and never back down from them. I myself will be a Sophomore Fall semester (even though I’ll be attending this summer as well), and my dreams of graduating from ERAU with a Baccalaureate in Communications and minors in psychology and International Studies are only one step closer, that’s something no one can take from me. And as you walk across the stage and onto your college campus, just realize you are one step closer to your dreams, and that is something no one can ever take away from you. Good luck to you all and keep your head up no matter what.

April 10, 2011

Due to recent events, I have decided to revisit the topic of making sure you check your finances and, more specifically, requirements and guidelines of your scholarships, grants and/or loans. I’ll tell a little bit of my own experience and in doing so I hope you will not make the same mistake and become greater informed. I wanted to take Summer A classes this 2011 because the course I wanted to take was available for the summer and during Fall/Spring semesters they were much harder to get into. So I filled out the registration form and took a trip to my advisor’s office. After getting my approval and academic advisor hold lifted (yes that is a requirement, one you will learn more about, promise), I took my signed sheet to the Records and Registration building to have everything finalized. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and I was told I had an “outstanding balance” on my account. Basically put, it meant I owed the school money for something and was an amount I didn’t have right on hand. I asked for the reasoning and was answered with something that shocked me more than having money to be paid. My own scholarship was charging me. Apparently my research was done incorrectly and in return presented me with a mighty dollar (more than a dollar) to be repaid.

So, why the charge you ask? It’s simple, I changed a class to auditing (before the school’s official drop/audit due date) but didn’t realize the scholarship’s requirements for auditing or dropping a class were different from that of the school’s dates. It’s important that if you have (or will) receive a scholarship, grant and/or loan that you find out the procedures for adding, dropping, auditing, or even failing a course. Unfortunately when given such academic awards you do not have a printed manual with every single circumstance that could happen and that results concerning your monetary state. This is something you have you find out for your own and if you don’t well you could end up like I did. Fortunately, mine did have a happy ending and after having paid back the scholarship promptly I was able to turn in my form and am now admitted into the Summer A term. It is sincerely my hope that from you reading this or sharing this information that it will prevent someone from making this same mistake.

I was even told by an advisor that when wanting to make any class changes go (such as dropping or auditing) go to financial aid prior to and find out if it will have any effect on the money you’re receiving. It is something that may make or break a final decision in your academic track and should always be taken seriously and with much consideration. I am happy that mine did not end up as badly as it could have but it’s is something I want to prevent from ever happening again.

February 28, 2011

Lately school has become busier than normal. I have classes five days a week and after school things to attend nearly every day (including a DJ show for WIKD-Eagles FM). But above all the managing of school work, activities, is taking out the time to rest or just breathe a little and relax finally.

It seems all my journals are having a common theme of relaxing, taking a breather, sleeping, money managing or something to the sort. Now don’t get me wrong, all those things are important, but when in college there is one thing you must remember no matter what happens: your first priority is school, an education. An obvious thing I’m sure, but sometimes you forget the fact that if you’re not careful you risk spending extra money to retake a class you failed, or find yourself under academic probation or even expulsion. It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything going on with your activities (though many require a certain GPA) or even the very freedom of college itself. But with much freedom comes responsibility.

No longer will you have mom or dad to wake you up for school each morning or the call of a friend (possibly) to remind you that you have a test or homework. The thing is you’re getting older and you have to get used to the idea of living a life that is no longer on your parent’s terms but based on your own choices that you make. Sure you can stay up till 4 a.m. but if you have a class at 8 a.m. will you be regretting your all-nighter, sleep-in and/or ultimately miss your class and regret it when you realize you missed out on vital information or an important assignment.

It’s the decisions you make today that will have a profound effect on your tomorrow. As long as you remember that you will never forget that your main goal in college is to walk across that stage with a diploma and big smile proclaiming your achievements for all to see.

March 22, 2009

Hey guys. I’m back from Spring Break! I had so much fun back home with friends and family in New York, I spent half the week relaxing with family and the other half out with friends. I did a program at my old high school for kids interested in aviation and I talked to them not only about Embry-Riddle but about the field of aviation and the jobs and careers that are associated with the field. It went really well, I got a few people that were interested in not only aviation, but Embry-Riddle! I also did a program on college prep, mainly focusing on the transition from high school to college. The day before I left New York, I went to a track meet and watched my old team compete. They got so much better since the last time I saw them run. I am so proud of them. I am happy to be back at school to complete the last month left in the Spring 09 semester.

Classes are great. Before the break, I took a test in Instrument Pilot Operations and got an 83%. It’s not exactly the score I wanted but I did my best and it is a really good grade. All my other classes are going well; I think my grades this semester will be better this semester than last!

In two weeks, I may be going to Jamaica for my cousin’s wedding. I am so excited and really hope I get the chance to attend. The main issue right now is booking a ticket, I will be traveling American Airlines but they do not offer flights that would get me there in time to attend the wedding. I am currently looking into other airlines and seeing if I can get a flight that suits my travel better.

Right now, of the many organizations on campus that I am a part of, I am focusing a lot on ERRSA and First Gen. I know each time I make a post it’s always a different combination. But when you get involved with a lot on campus, at times you have to pick and choose what you can do over a given period of time to fit your schedule. I am running for an Executive position in First Generation for next school year. I am planning on running for Secretary, it’s the only Exec position that I have ever run for and held and I really like the position. My plan B is to run for the Public Relations position, I think I am qualified for both positions and would do a very good job. In ERRSA, we are currently working on our bid to host SAACURH [South Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls]. If our bid wins, we will host the conference in the fall of the 2010. I am working on four of the ten bid sections, but very active on the Sponsorship section. I am currently working on writing up those bids and presenting them to our NCC [National Communications Coordinator] for approval. We also have our April outing and Spring Banquet coming up. Over the summer, we will be attending the NACURH [National Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls] conference hosted this year in Arizona. The conference should take place from May 22nd until the 24th.

Friday is Relay for Life. For those of you that do not know, it is an event done by the American Cancer Society in an effort to raise money for research and cure of cancer. The event is an all night event from 4 p.m. Friday night until 5 a.m. Saturday morning. There are going to be a lot of events going on that night to keep people occupied and also to fundraise. Also, Sunday is Adopt-A-Road which is a project put on by our SGA and what we do is we go to a specific road that the school has adopted and we clean it up! However long we stay out there counts as community service and we also have the opportunity of winning prizes. This week is Student Employment Week!! It’s just a week when Student Employment honors the student employees on campus. We get free food and prizes all week long! It’s also room selection week. This is when we get to choose who our roommates and actual rooms will be next semester.

I know it’s about that time when you guys not only have to select schools, but do financial aid. I know from experience that the FAFSA isn’t the most fun form to fill out, and that picking a school that is right for you is really tough. If you guys have ANY questions at all on any topic from housing to weekend life or even scholarships, send me an email. Those of you guys that have sent me emails, I enjoy reading them and I hope my responses have helped you. A lot of you guys have been asking a lot about financial aid and scholarships, remember to contact your admissions counselor or financial aid counselor if you have questions about aid.

Stay safe!
Andre’