How to Suceed in College: In Hindsight

“How to succeed in college” seems like quite the overambitious statement, and truly it is. To say that there is a how-to guide that will successfully propel any student through the physically and mentally demanding emotional rollercoaster that is college is nonsense. Every student will have a totally different experience through their college years and this makes a one-fits-all guide to college success non-applicable. What success means to each student is also very different. One student may gauge success as a 4.0 GPA while to another it may be being able to find ones independent self. With all of this said, I am here to offer a different perspective. This perspective is one of hindsight in regards to my own recent college experience. This is what I truly learned in college, the things that you can only learn from reflecting back upon something that has already past.

After going through 13 years of “read and regurgitate” style schooling, learning can become more of a chore than something to be excited about. You go through the motions of high school because you have to, not because you want to. School work and education itself can become something that is simply imposed upon you and the true essence of why you are there can become . This method of “leaning” can become deeply ingrained in you and it can carry over to your college years and even past that. In hindsight, learn because it is an exciting opportunity not because you feel obliged. I allowed myself to hold too tightly to this ingrained stance towards school work and this hindered what I was able to take away from college. I should of saw what a great opportunity it was and got excited about the wealth of knowledge that was available to me, but instead I looked assignments not as a leaning opportunities but annoyance or a burden. Learn because you want to, because knowledge is an empowering and beautiful thing. If you cant find that excitement in your schoolwork then you will never be able to find it in your professional career and it is time to re-loevaluate your choice of majors. 575048_357968300927978_222483454476464_956333_1689278194_n

In hindsight; look between the grades. It is so easy to get caught up in requirements and grades that it is very easy to miss all of the learning opportunities in between. I learned more during the process of completing and in-between assignments than many of the assignments themselves taught me. Learning how to communicate more effectively, creating a schedule, networking, working effectively with others, interpreting requirements, learning new perspectives,  etc., etc., are just a few things that you can learn a lot about when you are not solely focus on the “black and white” task at hand.

In hindsight; professors are a resource not simply “grade enforcement”.  I did not take full advantage of the wealth of knowledge I had access to through my professors, and this may very well be my biggest regret in regards to my college career. I maintained a purely traditional teacher-student relationship with most of my professors and this was a mistake. Talking with professors is the closest you can get to the professional work world while still in college. Most of the professors in your area of study have been out and lived it, they have first hand experience in the field that you are interested in pursuing. A simple out of the classroom discussion with a professor could possibly teach you more than a weeks worth of their lectures. This also allows you to take the conversation deeper into the subjects you find interesting and would like to know more about even if it is not in-line with the information presented in that daily lecture. Creating a more personal relationship with my professors and being able to ask them any questions I had,regardless if it pertained to the subject matter or not, would of been able to prepare me for the professional world more than any test ever could.


It is well known that hindsight is 20/20. Even though it may be too late for me, hopefully some young student can learn from what I was too blind to see then but is ever so clear to me now.





Earthships : Radically Sustainable Design

                                                                  Earthships: Radically Sustainable Design                                                       Earthship1     When becoming a designer it is easy to become overly consumed with the aesthetics of a design while other aspects fall by the wayside. As this aesthetic driven design develops the price tag often sores while functionally and sustainability are neglected. These problems drove Architect Michael Reynolds to think differently. They drove him to find a better way to create, design, build, and as a result, live. The issues with current design and build practices run much deeper than summarized above. Instead of looking at this as issues needed to be solved, Mike wiped the board clean and sought to find new ways to prove people with a higher quality of living while having little to no negative impact to our earths natural systems.

Mike’s answer to this question? Earthships. Earthships are entirely “off the grid” homes that are naturally climate controlled, derive all electricity and water from natural systems, treat all sewage, and grow food for the residents. This may seem impossibly idealistic, however, many earthships have already been successfully constructed and are working as conceptualized. These structures are very low cost compared to traditional construction and a large proportion of the building materials are objects that are 100% re-used materials. This allows home owners to become independent and self-sufficient while cutting ties to electrical, water, fossil fuel, and sewage companies who’s unsustainable business practices are destroying this planet. This self-sufficiency allows for a higher quality of life by cutting financial costs, having access to fresh chemical free produce, proving peace of mind in case of disasters, and knowing that your lifestyle is not causing heavy strain on the earths fragile systems.
All this is possible due to great design backed by strong environmentally conscience principles. Earthships are a form of passive-solar design meaning they reject solar heat gain in the summer and utilize it in the winter. Building materials with high thermal mass (the ability to hold heat) are also used to store heat to be used after the sun sets. They combine this design technique with geothermal heat management techniques. Varying amongst regions, 5 feet below the earths surface a temperature of around 60 degrees is sustained constantly. By recessing the entire structure slightly into the ground and mounding up earth around one side of the structure, the earthship also keeps this 60 degree constant. 60 degrees is not in the human comfort zone, however, the solar heat gain is used to bring this temperature to a comfortable level.
Cost of construction is so low mostly because building materials and methods are far from standard. Many of the building materials are reused objects in their true form. As an example car tired are rammed with earth are laid like bricks to make many of the walls, aluminum cans are use to reinforce concrete, and glass bottles are placed in concrete to reinforce it while letting light into the space. This rethinking of building materials is an innovate way to sustainably build homes that can be afforded by most. These new methods can also but taught to under-developed nations as a way for their people to build a home for their own.
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This is a very sort summary of how an earthship works but to truly understand and appreciate Mike’s creation you must visit and see for yourself how earthships can change the way we operate in the most positive of ways. Mike works to spread his knowledge and offers internships to anyone wanting to work hands-on building an Earthship. He also organizes charitable projects, including Haiti disaster relief, where he teaches these easy to learn construction techniques to communities in need of a cost-efficient ways to construct homes. This is not only architecture but a new way of life. This is a way to become independent, self-sufficient, happier, healthier, and preserve our precious natural systems.


College Life: Roommates

After spending 18 years living in the comfort of the family home, there comes a time for many young adults where their comfort bubble will burst as they are paired up with an unknown student and stuffed into a parking space sized concrete block rectangle. This 10’x15’ white walled florescent lit abode comes equipped with 1 window, 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 dressers, and a next door neighbor who just had to have that new subwoofer for his sound system. Now i’m not much of a Picasso but I hope you get the picture, I call it “Freshman Dorm Days”.

College is stressful enough on its own so making your dorm a stress and drama free zone is essential. The first step in doing so is picking the right roommate. Some people already have a friend that is going to the same school, so that makes for an obvious roommate choice right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. You have to put aside the fact that you are friends for one second and think about your living compatibility. Do you have similar habits, temperaments, cleanliness level? Is this one of your friends that is amazing in small doses but gets a little overwhelming during an extended stay? Now do not get me wrong, I have seen great friends also be great roommates so this is definitely an option, but I have also seen friendships cease to exist after a bad rooming experience. “Look for a compatible roommate, not a new best friend” as stated the the Teen Vogue article “Should You Find Your Freshman Year College Roommate Online?”

If you decide the friend route may not be your best option, or if that was never an option to begin with, there are other ways to find a roommate so you are not stuck praying for the luck of the draw. Most schools have roommate search services that can be used to find your new roommate. At my previous university I saw a very high success rate with the service they offered which lead to some amazing friendships. The service was something like eHarmony for roommates. You build a profile where you inserted in your interests, habits, goals, etc., and they would match you up with students who share those same traits. Don’t be afraid of using one of these services and start the roommate search early, the good ones go fast. After meeting online you should talk in person to make sure they are online as they are in person, ”Meeting online can be constructive if you take real steps to get to know somebody,” says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out.

So you think you’ve done it, you think you’ve found your new roommate. Before you set anything in stone, some sort of a roommate agreement should be drawn up to set clear ground rules. The key phrase here is, “setting clear ground rules”. This is something that must be addressed early and both parties have to agree on these rules. If both parties cant agree or come to a compromise then it is back to find a new roommate. This also starts a dialog early about transparency and communication which are crucial in a mutual living situation. It may be difficult for some to be strait up and honest with others, but in this situation it is a must. If your roomie is doing something that makes your uncomfortable or irritated, then you should address the issues immediately and your roommate should feel comfortable being able to do the same with no one getting offended or angry. When I say address the issue I mean state the issue as clear as possible, I do not mean hint at it or passively aggressively say a few things about it, I mean lay it all out on the table so there is no room for confusion or misinterpretation.

Finally, the most important thing you can do is simply follow the golden rule, treat others as you would like to be treated. College is a stressful time so you must be understand that your roommate is going through a lot of the same struggles you are. Do not be quick to judge, they may be having a bad day. Do not act out of frustration, you may be having a bad day. Respect each others space, things, and ideals or beliefs. Leave the room and give your roommate space when they need it, and don’t be too shy to ask for that same space in return. Be patient, kind, respectful and most likely your new roommate will treat you the same way.

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Healthy Living : College Life

Maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul is critical to living a happy and fulfilling life. Maintaining only one of these aspects can be a chore for many, and at times maintaining all 3 seems impossible. I look at these components not as 3 separate entities acting independently, but rather 3 pieces of a whole. These 3 pieces are all intertwined. They push and pull on one another, each effecting the other two. Instead of trying to juggle these components, I have found that it is better instead to find a balance amongst them. With that being said, there is a time in many young adults lives where it seems all odds are against them in finding this balance: college.

College can be incredibly full of both emotional highs and emotional lows and can shift from one end of this spectrum to the other in an instant. This is part of the reason why balance can be so difficult to obtain. Even though the boundaries of the 3 categories listed above are very fluid and undefined, I find this issue falling under the “soul” category. When I say “soul” I do not mean it as it is defined by structured religions, but instead use it to describe a persons sense of well being. Out of the 3 components soul may be the most powerful. To obtain a balanced soul the conflicting thoughts and emotions that are constantly battling for your attention must be silenced. Doubt, envy, anxiety, paranoia, vanity, regrets, etc, etc, can sometimes eco so loudly in your head they can inhibit you from living at peace in present with a clear mind, balanced and happy.

A healthy mind is a major factor in obtaining a healthy soul and vice-versa. A healthy mind allows you to stay focused and on task as you take on all your university demands. Keeping a sharp and healthy mind requires the correct balance positive stimulation and rest while limiting negative stimulation. Positive stimulation includes absorbing new information that you are truly eager to learn and tasking and testing your mind in order to strengthen and expand it. This positive stimulation is best done with moments of rest between to prevent mental fatigue. The most important component of this rest would be getting the correct amount of sleep every night. Taking time out of your day to rest your brain between bouts of positive mental stimulation is also very important and can be achieved through simple meditation or any other means of clearing your mind. Negative mental stimulation can consist of substances or dwelling and obsessing over things in your past. Both of these can dull and fog your mind andean cause inhibit yourself from achieving balance.
I saved “body” for last because in typical health articles or blogs it is the first and possibly the only thing addressed. Maintaining a healthy body is however very crucial in order obtaining overall balance. What foods you consume is extremely achieve this. Food is a fuel source for our body and it seems that the pleasurable act of eating has somehow overshadowed that fact for many people. If you want your body to run at full capacity you must fuel it with nutritionally complete and balanced meals multiple times a day. This energy we consume must be put to work multiple times a day in the form of physical activity. There are many ways to put forth this physical activity so going to the gym is not your only option. Just as with the mind, rest is very crucial for healthy body. Sleeping required amounts every night is necessary and also breaking up your bouts of physical activity with rest is also important. By creating a healthy body your mind is able to function at a higher level and your soul becomes more satisfied and balanced.

I believe it is time to look at health in a new way, a way that allows us to truly become the greatest version of ourselves.