Monday, June 1, 2009

Something happened this week that gave me an idea for my next post! My little sister has just finished her freshman year of college at a private Jesuit school out here in Chicago. Her semester was less than satisfactory in the grades department however, and when we spoke about it, she shot down any of the suggestions I made: organize a study group/make sure you understand mistakes on exams/meet with the professor outside of class to ask questions/ etc. She had in fact tried each of those ideas, but the classes were huge and impersonal, professors would not go over exams in class, and they wouldn't meet with her outside of scheduled office hours which were scarce and always during one of her other class's meeting times. I had flash of gratitude for my education at Wittenberg where my professors knew me by name and classmates were at least acquaintances if not already friends.

So here is my first big tip of advice: Get to know your professors at Wittenberg, and preserve contact with them as references after you are graduated! If you are still a student, you may not yet have realized how lucky you are to be in a learning atmosphere like the one at Wittenberg. The faculty and staff are active in their academic area and are engaged in sharing their knowledge with you. For me and I'm sure many other students, this often led to friendships and general comraderie. There are a few professors that I continue to communicate with to this day, one of which whom has written multiple letters of reference for me as I muscled through the grad school application process.

If you are still a student at Wittenberg, take advantage of your situation by making connections with your professors. Meet with them outside of class to ask questions, or seek out their expertise in their field when it comes to career advice or graduate schools or even just life experience. If you are graduated already, chances are there are professors in your major/department with whom you were quite close. Now is the time to email them and let them know how much they inspired and aided you in your acheivements. Let them know of your future plans, and ask if you can use them as a reference. If you plan to take a year off to work before attending grad school (as was my decision), keep them updated on your experiences (forward a resume) so that they can write a grade A reference letter, even a year after the fact.

I'm not sure how else to impress this on you, but seriously, just DO IT! You'll be happy you made the effort, because it will benefit you in the long run!
Thats all for now friends!
Happy June!