Five Tips for an Epic First Year
Originally posted at: https://www.alma.edu/live/profiles/8705-five-tips-for-an-epic-first-year
From taking notes to living away from home, your first year of college will go smoother if you know what to expect. Rely on current and recent students to offer the best advice.
Every college student has concerns or challenges during their first year. While some end up being no big deal, others may require some major changes. Liney Figueroa of Muskegon, now a senior at Alma College, offered these tips to students who are just starting out:
Try to have perfect attendance in your classes
There may be things that come up that make this impossible. But as far as a goal goes: go big or go home, right? Studies show that students who go to class and take notes do the best, regardless of how “smart” they might be. Plan your class schedule in a way that works best for you and pay attention to yourself more than anyone else. Liney uses a planner and charts every day out the night before, to make sure she’s prepared for whatever comes.
Take notes the old-fashioned way
I’m not going to tell you to never use your phone. More than likely, you know there’s a time and a place when it’s appropriate to use it and when it’s inappropriate — like, during a lecture. Consider using a pen and paper to write notes in class, instead of a laptop. Studies show you’ll remember more that way. You can always copy your notes to your laptop after class.
Meet with each of your professors for office hours at least once every term
Professors are required to set aside office hours, which are special days and times to meet with students in a 1-on-1 setting. You can usually find this information in the course syllabus you received at the start of the term. Your professors can help in all kinds of ways, in and out of the classroom — from going over coursework in a private environment, to discussing college life, to figuring out life after college. More importantly, your professors WANT to help — so help them, and take that first step toward getting to know them better.
Ask for help when you need it
The difference between “high school you” and “college you” is that you’ll be the main person in your life who deals with your problems. Even as a high achiever in high school, Liney found that college was more challenging. She wasn’t used to asking for help for her classwork, but eventually came around to the idea that she couldn’t deal with everything by herself. Ask around and seek out the BEST person to help you with your individual problem. For example: a resident assistant can help with issues in your residence hall, an academic advisor can help choose your major and a health professional can help with anxiety.
Join at least one extracurricular activity
So far, we’ve mostly focused on academics — with good reason, because doing well in your courses is the best way to have success after you graduate. But using your time away from class in constructive ways is also important. Joining an extracurricular activity gives you an easy way to meet other college students who are going through the same things you are. Liney said coming to college seemed intimidating at first, until she started getting more involved in student affairs. There, she said, she found fun things to do in her free time and made friends for life.
Michigan Colleges Alliance Bonus Tip: Be Different.
Consider Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges and universities, where students forge success by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds.
Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Aquinas College, the University of Detroit Mercy, Alma College and Olivet College among the nation’s top military-friendly schools
Originally posted at https://www.aquinas.edu/life-aq/posts/aquinas-college-named-one-nation’s-top-military-friendly-schools?fbclid=IwAR1xOvj_xPA0nMVZczsQoHRjQ4bk_6MrMCne3nSR-Alei64K8QmZ8i8bSXc
Aquinas College, the University of Detroit Mercy, Alma College, and Olivet College have each earned the 2021-2022 Military Friendly® School designation by Viqtory for their support of active-duty military members and veterans attending school.
The 2021-2022 Military Friendly Schools list is the longest-running and most comprehensive review of college and university commitment to serving military and veteran students. It helps service members and their families select schools that will provide education and training necessary to pursue a successful civilian career.
The list is published by Viqtory, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities through its G.I. Jobs and Military Friendly brands. The list will appear in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com.
“Military Friendly is committed to transparency and providing consistent data-driven standards in our designation process,” said Kayla Lopez, National Director of Military Partnerships at Military Friendly. “This creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages colleges to consistently evolve and invest in their programs. Schools who achieve designation show true commitment and dedication in their efforts. Our standards assist schools by providing a benchmark that promotes positive educational outcomes, resources, and support services that better the educational landscape and provide opportunity for the Military Community.”
Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-2022 survey with 747 earning the designation.
Methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined by Viqtory with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey response set and government/agency public data sources, within a logic based scoring assessment. We measure the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for Student Retention, Graduation, Job Placement, Loan Repayment, Persistence (Degree Advancement or Transfer) and Loan Default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.
Michigan’s independents recognize the importance of the sacrifices made by veterans, and make accommodations from mentoring programs and support services to ease the transition.
The colleges are purposefully small. Smaller class sizes allow passionate faculty to form bonds with students that just aren’t possible at larger universities. Instead of crowds, the colleges emphasize community. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Alma College iGEM team Examines Soil Cleanup at Local Superfund Site
Originally posted at https://www.alma.edu/live/news/2600-alma-college-igem-team-examines-soil-cleanup-at.
The Alma College iGEM team, competing at an international synthetic biology competition for only the second time, won a gold medal in November for a project being developed to break down the chemical compounds in contaminated soil at the Velsicol Superfund site in St. Louis, Michigan.
The nonprofit International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation brings together more than 6,000 participants from across the world every year for its annual Giant Jamboree, which they deem “the largest synthetic biology innovation event in the world.” Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities.
The Alma College 2019 team won a silver medal at the Giant Jamboree last year for their project, the development of a counteracting bacterium to degrade Trimethylamine, or TMA, which promotes plaque formation in arteries. Devin Camenares, assistant professor of biochemistry and IGEM coordinator, said this year’s team improved to win a gold medal, despite restrictions put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There were definitely challenges in terms of organizing the team and getting the work done, but the students rose to the challenge,” said Camenares. “They did a really job good of preparing themselves, communicating over the summer and completing their projects. I’m excited to see what they come up with next year and beyond.”
Abbey Killian, a junior from Traverse City and vice president of the Alma College team, said the team focused on two aspects of the ongoing soil cleanup project: one that made the project less expensive and another that made it less harmful to the environment.
Velsicol Chemical Corporation, and its predecessor Michigan Chemical Corporation, produced various chemical compounds from 1936 until 1978, when the plant shut down. The chemicals polluted the groundwater, soil and Pine River that bordered the plant. In the early 1980s, the factory was demolished, but pollution remains to this day. Federal and state agencies, as well as local groups and volunteer organizations, have for many years committed to cleaning up and rehabilitating the site.
Killian said the Alma College team is working to develop a bacterium that, when applied to soil and water samples from the Velsicol site, would be able to determine the severity of toxicity in those samples. Such a measuring stick would enable groups like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better focus their resources on impacted areas.
“We did a cost-benefit analysis and determined that this biosensor could save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars annually,” said Killian. “When we made contact with the EPA and told them about our findings, they were very interested. We think our biosensor could not only save money, but also time.”
In addition to the “biosensor,” the iGEM team is also working to develop a new way to break down the chemical compound dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its derivatives, which are some of the most common contaminants at the Velsicol site. By capitalizing on the fact that full or partial pathways to degrade DDT already exist in nature, Killian said, the team is showcasing how synthetic biology can be used in a practical way.
“We want to take this chemical that exists in nature and change it in a way that is environmentally friendly,” Killian said. “It’s an ambitious goal, but if we succeed, we’ll be able to revive an ecosystem that has been damaged by problems from the past, while minimizing the risk to the future.”
The Alma College team created content for a number of media platforms to discuss the raw science it was producing in college laboratories, including a podcast, a website and a web video that mimicked a 1980s TV broadcast. iGEM teams typically present their findings in person at the Jamboree, but Camenares said that this year’s event was entirely virtual due to the pandemic.
“One of the aspects of iGEM that I really appreciate is that it forces students to not only do the research, but to communicate their findings in a way that is accessible to the public. That makes your circle wider, which means your project is more influential,” Camenares said. “The students really took advantage of the restrictions brought upon by the pandemic and produced some clever media to disseminate their message.”
Creating the “TV broadcast” led to collaborations with the student-run production company Bitworks, as well as the Alma College Theatre Department. With student “reporters” carrying large microphones on-screen, and distortion that resembled a video cassette recording, Killian said the video was an especially memorable way to get their message across.
“We decided to do an ’80s-themed video because the contamination primarily took place in the 1970s and ’80s,” she said. “It ended up being a really cool, fun collaboration with different groups across campus.”
While the results are encouraging thus far, Killian and Camenares said, the team is not finished looking into the Velsicol site. They intend to return to the competition next year — which is tentatively scheduled to be held in Paris, France — and repeat their gold medal effort.
“It felt great to improve on last year’s result and win a gold,” Killian said. “We want to keep on improving, by adding new members to our team and having the same success, on a truly international stage.”
Team members included:
Connor Arens ’22, White Lake
Gary Carter ’23, Niles
Elizabeth Elliott-Redlin ’23, Kalamazoo
Paul Fischer ’23, Bloomfield Hills
Pedro Granja ’21, Juigalpa, Nicaragua
Rhianna Haynes ’22, Lake Isabella
Madison Hibbs ’22, Whitmore Lake
Kaissidy Homolka ’23, Petersburg
Abbey Killian ’22, Traverse City
Paige Lamoreaux ’24, Benzonia
Ruby Lovasz ’22, Clio
Marleigh Matthews ’21, Davison
Aryaan Misra ’23, Noida, India
Izzy Oakley ’22, Trenton
Tatym Plath ’21, Perrinton
Kaleb Ramon ’21, Mount Pleasant
Gavin Swiecicki ’23, Bay City
Kelsey Taylor ’21, Plymouth
Commitment to education beyond the classroom is a hallmark of Alma College and Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities. Purposefully smaller, the colleges and universities pride themselves on helping students follow their own path, engage in the world around them, and find their passion. They emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Aquinas freshman named esports All-American
Real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility, split-second decision-making – these are some of the skills it takes to succeed in one of the fastest growing athletic programs in the country – esports.
Esports is a massive, global series of video game competitions, that is making serious inroads in the college sports arena.
The Aquinas College esports team just completed its first season and already one team member is making waves. Jon Schneck, an AQ freshman, was named an All-American by the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECD)—one of only eight in the country.
“It was a little bit of a surprise that I would be an All-American because I don’t think of myself that highly,” Schneck said. “But it is great that I got recognized.”
Jon may have been caught off guard by the recognition, but head coach Adam Antor says it is well deserved because of his hard work and knowledge.
“He is kind of like the master knowledge base for the game,” Antor said of Schneck. “He knows more about the game than most other competitors in our program and across the country so he brings the brains and the work ethic.”
Jon competes in League of Legends. It’s a game he said he’s been playing since before he got to Aquinas. Next season, Jon plans to continue his streak. “I am looking forward to just winning in any league I’m going into,” Schneck said. “Building a better team and making sure that we can compete at the highest level against all the other teams.”
The Aquinas College team joins other Michigan private colleges and universities in offering esports. Alma College and Siena Heights University also field excellent competitive esports programs.
Aquinas, Alma and Siena Heights – and all of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities – share a commitment to helping students succeed by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Alma Venture Program
Experience is everything. And Alma College is committed to making sure you have an opportunity to put what you learn in the classroom to work in a meaningful way. The College’s Center for Student Opportunity is committed to providing support services and access to practical experiences that enhance your education. In fact, the Alma Venture gives you the financial support to not just study your field, but experience it firsthand. As part of the Alma Commitment, the Alma Venture program provides up to $2,500 to offset the cost of your personalized experience.
Where will you Venture?
Your Alma Venture could take place on campus, or on the other side of the world. It could be credit-bearing—or not. The opportunities are endless!
You could travel abroad for an off-campus study program, see what it’s really like to work in your field through an internship, delve deep into a research project or, get hands-on clinical experience. Alma offers other experiential learning possibilities for students interested in leadership and service.
- See examples of the types of Alma Venture experiences you can pursue.
- View an overview of past experiences by academic area.
- Consider which type of experience is right for you and find YOUR Alma Venture.
The Alma Venture is another example of Alma College’s unwavering commitment to the success of their students and graduates. It’s the reason that Plaid Works!
Make Your College Campus Visits, Virtually
While in-person admissions visits at Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, prospective students can still explore these beautiful campuses with the click of a button!
With virtual tours available, you can still get the chance to “walk” the campus, see and feel what life could be like for the next four years. The online tours not only give you a peak into each campus, but many schools even allow you to schedule an online information session with a live admissions counselor! Get your questions answered and make an informed choice now from the comfort of your home.
Get more information in the links below:
Alma College Virtual Tour | Schedule a Virtual Visit
Andrews University Virtual Tour | Sign up for a Virtual Preview
Aquinas College Virtual Tour | Schedule a Virtual Personal Visit
Calvin University Virtual Tour | Schedule a Virtual Visit
Hillsdale College Schedule a Virtual Visit
Hope College Virtual Tour | Schedule a Virtual Visit
Kalamazoo College Virtual Tour | Schedule a Virtual Visit
Madonna University Campus Tour Video | Schedule a Virtual Visit
Siena Heights University Virtual Tour
Spring Arbor University Virtual Tour | Schedule a Virtual Visit
University of Detroit Mercy Virtual Tour | Sign up for a Virtual Information Session
When is the best time to visit colleges?
(Albion College, voted 12th Most Beautiful College in Winter)
It’s winter, and the tundra is setting in – at least it is here in Michigan. The last thing you are thinking about is planning a trip to visit campuses. Those long walks across snow-covered quads are certainly less appealing when the temperatures are teetering at the same level as the number of layers you’ll be wearing to stay warm. Or maybe you are a freshman or sophomore, and it’s just “not time yet.”
So, “When is the best time to visit?” The answer may not be what you expect. Here are some tips for getting the most out of campus visits:
Time of year:
As summer strolls in and the school year winds down, families across the country are gearing with plans to visit college campuses. Tours are crowded, staff is minimal, and quads are relatively barren. Although the summer months are more convenient for your time, ideally you should try to plan your visits when classes are in session and the campuses are full of life. Think of it like trying on a pair of new shoes: do you get the proper assessment while sitting? No, you get up, walk around, and perhaps jog in them… as it should also be done visiting campuses. Simulate the day-to-day as if you are attending the school. It doesn’t necessarily mean go in the dead of winter, but consider this: it may be cold, but it’ll also be cold while you attend, won’t it?
Age of student:
It can be very rewarding to visit colleges and universities before your junior and senior year (read: before it’s decision time). You are less concerned about choosing and “buying” when you are simply “window shopping” and more interested in checking out the inventory. Expose yourself to as many different kinds of places—big schools, small schools, research universities, liberal arts colleges, urban campuses, places way out in the country—to develop a broad perspective of all the different options. Then, when it is time to make a decision, you’ll have a better foundation on which to choose.
Before stepping foot on the first campus (and each one after that…):
Your new mantra: Relax, enjoy, decide later. Resist the impulse to judge immediately, good or bad. Your first reaction is bound to be emotional, and usually overly positive—college is really cool! Sleep on it. Weigh your impressions against the other schools you visit and try to remain as objective as possible so your rose-colored glasses don’t allow you to overlook things.
How to choose:
As you visit the campuses, allow your senses to guide you. Really like something? Take note of it. Feel like something’s missing? Take note of it. Gut instinct is usually pretty accurate. Additionally, the perceptions from your visits will come in handy when completing your college applications. Remember this: tying personal experience to the campus environment will blow the minds of the admissions department!
What to look for:
Focus on fit. We perform at our best when we have a level of comfort, belonging, and value. Questions to ask yourself: How does the college meet my academic needs? Will I be challenged appropriately? Is the style of instruction a good match for how I learn? Does the college offer a community that makes me feel “at home?” Does the college offer extracurricular activities that interest me?
After the visit, before you leave:
Connect with the recruiter. Colleges and universities typically assign admissions personnel to different areas of the country for recruiting efficiency. If your area’s recruiter is available, definitely introduce yourself. Either way, get that person’s contact information. Consider him/her as your “go to” person when you have important questions later in the admissions process. And remember this: there is nothing insignificant nor too embarrassing to ask. The admissions staff is there to help!
What to do next:
Record your visit. Make notes as soon as you are able. The more campuses you visit, the more they will begin to blend together, especially from memory. Take pictures to give yourself a visual index of what you’ve seen to avoid confusion later.
Enjoy the process. It can be easy to get lost in the excitement and have that energy turn into anxiety. Relax. Start the search early. Visit during the school year to witness the campus’s true environment. Trust your senses and take notes.
As you map your college visit road trip, include a few of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities on your list. These schools are purposefully smaller and emphasize “community over crowds.” Often comparable in cost to Michigan’s public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates, outstanding faculty who help students forge their own paths, and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and personal experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Your One-Stop, College Admissions Connection: Virtual College Fair
We’ve said it before. The best way to choose your own path is to visit a college campus… or three. Breathe the air. Wander the student center. Sit in on a lecture. Chat up a few professors. Grab a meal in the dining hall. Stroll through the quad.
But the college search doesn’t usually start with a visit to campus. You might begin by looking at websites or admissions booklets, or attending a college fair to learn more. Pixels and pages are a start, but nothing beats talking to a person, and college fairs can be time consuming to attend. Now, there’s a solution!
Enter the Virtual College Fair. It’s never been easier to connect with a college admissions office and get your big questions answered.
The Virtual College Fair offers free access to video recordings and live streams from Michigan’s top private colleges and universities. Watch the recordings, pick your favorites (or pick them all!), and then register – individually or with your family – to attend a live and interactive web-based Q&A session with admissions and other college representatives. Learn more here.
Like what you hear? Reach out to the college to continue the conversation and maybe even schedule a visit!
Upcoming Live Q&A Sessions
December 4, 2018 at 7 PM: Alma College
December 4, 2018 at 8 PM: Aquinas College
December 5 , 2018 at 7 PM: Madonna University
December 6, 2018 at 7 PM: University of Detroit Mercy
December 6, 2018 at 8 PM: Calvin College
December 11, 2018 at 7 PM: Albion College
December 12, 2018 at 7 PM: Spring Arbor University
December 13, 2018 at 7 PM: Hillsdale College
Alma College Alternative Fall Breaks Include Local Service Options
Students learn about the impact of genocide, interact with special needs youth, remove invasive shrubs and participate in wildlife rehabilitation during Alma College’s Alternative Fall Break.
Alma College’s mission is to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations. Students of Alma College strive to take this mission statement and transform it into a way of living. One example of these efforts is the nearly 200 students who participate in the Alma College Alternative Break Program.
This program began in 2003 as a single service trip with 20 participants. Students now participate in 10 or more volunteer opportunities throughout the course of the academic year.
Alma College had the third highest percentage of alternative breakers last year according to the Break Away national survey. A total of 193 schools responded to this survey hosted by the national organization supporting the development of alternative break experiences.
Alternative Fall Breaks offer several one- or two-day trips across the State of Michigan. Meanwhile, the holiday and spring service options allow students to serve throughout the nation for an entire week. More information on fall service and upcoming trip options can be found at https://www.alma.edu/academics/experiential-learning/leadership-programs/alternative-breaks.php.
“I went on my first Alternative Break in the spring of 2017. The destination was Mammoth Caves National Park and the experience was wonderful,” says program student co-leader Erin Goggins of Hastings. “Learning about the environment, making new friends and serving others have made this program extremely important to me.”
“Helping others become active citizens in the community is something else that I find especially great about organizing these trips,” says Goggins. “I am thankful that Alma College has provided me with the opportunity to do this.”
Alma College Cheer Team Wins National Championship
The Alma College Cheerleading team won its second consecutive National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) championship this April. Being at the top is a way of life for the Alma Scots cheerleaders. Alma’s cheer program is in its sixth year of existence and has finished second or better in each of its last five appearances at the NCA College Nationals. Way to go Scots!