Why College Is Awesome: A Blog By Yours Truly

After one whole year of college, I think we can all agree that I am, indeed, an expert on all things higher education. And because I am so kind and generous, I will bestow my wealth of knowledge onto you, dear reader. You’re welcome. Let it never be said that I was unwilling to help my underlings. Let us proceed, henceforth and so on and such which and heretofore and what have you, etc., with a list of ten awesome things I’ve noticed about my DBU experience.

  1. Studying the subjects I want to study is so much fun. I’ve learned so much in my classes so far that I can’t even imagine what kind of knowledge I’ll have once I graduate. Sure, I have to take some general education classes that I’m not really interested in so I can complete my degree plan, but I find I learn useful information even in those classes.
  2. The freedom to do (almost) whatever I want is really cool. Even though I know I should probably go to all my classes so that I don’t risk falling behind on the information discussed that day, it’s fun to know that I can skip all my classes one morning and sleep in if I so choose.
  3. Having responsibility over my life rules. I hear all the time about how people my age don’t want to be adults or don’t think they can handle all the hard responsibilities that come along with adulthood, but I for one enjoy being an adult. I like knowing that I’m capable of going to my job every day, paying rent on my apartment, doing my own laundry, and going grocery shopping. It’s empowering to know that I’m growing up and maturing.
  4. My professors all give me a syllabus for class. I like knowing exactly what I’m getting myself into in terms of classwork, and having a detailed plan of assignments and their due dates given to me on the first day of a class allows me plenty of time to get intimidated and drop the class for an easier one. (Just kidding: no class has been that intimidating. Yet.)
  5. I feel prepared to do all of my assignments. Though some of them have seemed impossible, or maybe just super difficult, I know that I’ve already been taught what I need to know. And if I have questions, there is always someone to ask—like the DBU Writing Center! I never feel like I’m stuck, alone, drowning in work I have no idea how to do.
  6. Doing volunteer hours for my scholarships is rewarding. I spend a lot of my free time directing the lighting for my church. I thought at first that required volunteering would be a chore, but my church is honestly one of my favorite organizations I’ve ever had the opportunity to get involved with. Volunteering isn’t a chore for me because I’m passionate about the work I get to do, from programming and operating a bunch of fancy lighting fixtures to talking and planning with the awesome people I work with.
  7. The DBU community is close-knit. At such a small school, I can’t go anywhere on campus without running into someone I know. In fact, I’m often late to classes because I get caught up talking with a friend on the sidewalk. It’s nice to see friendly, familiar faces everywhere I look.
  8. I get to live with my friends. A lot of the time, I feel like I’m a little kid at a never-ending sleepover. My roommates and I all have fun together and we all love each other.
  9. The campus is beautiful. This summer, I had two friends from Oklahoma come spend the weekend with me here at DBU, and they marveled at the majesty of the magnificent masterpiece I get to see every day. I sometimes forget how beautiful my surroundings are, but taking pictures in all the different photo-op spots with those two friends was a neat reminder of this.
  10. The people here are super cool. The faculty and staff, students, and friends I’ve had the pleasure of meeting are some of the most positive, affirming, loving people I’ve met anywhere.

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Obviously, as a college expert, I could continue giving reasons why DBU is one grand university experience, but I’ll stop for now so that you readers aren’t overwhelmed. Seriously, though, be encouraged. College is fun. Have fun doing everything you do.

Written with all sarcastic seriousness by Becca

Image credits: DBU Entrance, smiley face

How to Become a Better Academic Reader

As a student, a large portion of my homework revolves around assigned, academic reading, and as an English major, that is increased tenfold. As much as I love reading, I don’t usually enjoy the topics I’m reading about in those assignments, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. However, over time, I have discovered a few tips and tricks that have helped me with academic reading and to make it slightly less painful to endure.

One lesson about reading that I have repeatedly learned the hard way is to avoid procrastination. I’m sure we are all familiar with the mad dash to finish two weeks’ worth of reading in the space of one evening and promising ourselves we won’t put it off this long next time, only to repeat the same process the following week. The best solution to the problem of procrastination is to schedule out the reading over the course of the assignment time. If you have fifty pages to do in five days, do ten pages per night instead of all at one time. For people like me who may have trouble sticking to this schedule, I’ve found the best thing to do is to block out a chunk of time in the day to do that specific assignment and to not do anything else until the reading is done.

Another common problem that comes with reading textbooks is getting bored easily. The temptation to check my phone or talk with my friends increases exponentially with my distaste for the particular topic I’m studying. I can spend hours reading my favorite novel but, after five minutes of reading a history book, I have checked out completely. To help combat the boredom, I try to make the assignment fun for me in some way. Either I will reward myself for reaching certain milestone in the assignment (i.e. eat a piece of chocolate every time I finish a page), or I will choose colored pens or highlighters and use them to mark and annotate in my book. It seems like such a silly, little thing, but using the various colors gives the task a fun element that makes it more enjoyable. Whatever way you can come up with to help you enjoy the assignment will take some of the edge off of the monotony.

When I find myself struggling to focus, I will also sometimes take notes to help focus myself and ensure that I don’t miss anything. While this method may not work for everyone, some people may find it helpful for keeping their concentration. Also, similar to the highlighter technique mentioned before, making your notes colorful or artistic can be another useful trick in having a more pleasant experience. However, be careful to not get too caught up in the note making and lose focus on the actual reading. Do what you need to do to stave off boredom while still getting work done efficiently.

Because textbooks and academic reading are just a fact of life when we’re a students, we have to learn how to use them in a way that will best work for us individually. Whether you’re super artistic and make the most colorful and decorative notes or you prefer to go in cold turkey and read the whole book in one sitting, it’s important to make the experience the best it can possibly be. So, next time you have a reading assignment get out the gel pens, grab a bar of chocolate and ready your notebook. Happy reading!

Written by Taylor

Image credit

Spring Renewal

It’s October as I write this blog post, so it’s strange to be thinking about the spring semester. The beginning of a new semester means that I have to start over at the beginning with a new set of classes, work, and a new schedule. I have to find my rhythm again and get back into the swing of things. After a long winter break, especially one spent lying around the house or on vacation with family, getting used to school and work again can seem unappealing at first glance. However, the spring semester can also be thrilling. Let me tell you why.

First, the new classes of the spring semester mean new subjects to learn. I usually find that the initial novelty and excitement I get from taking classes I want to take during fall semester wears off as the semester begins to close. I tend to get a little bored and weary of the material after all the assignments that are due around Thanksgiving break. However, after getting a chance to relax during winter break, I always feel thrilled all over again when spring semester rolls around. I’m excited by the prospect of new information and material I’ve been waiting to learn since registering for my spring classes in October. In this way, I never get too tired of my classes before I get the chance to take new ones.

Secondly, the spring semester comes with a chance to begin anew. Regardless of whether the fall semester was good, bad, or ugly for me, spring semester brings with it the chance to start fresh and be the excellent student I know I can be. I like to start the first few weeks of every new semester by putting all of my assignments in my planner and by attending my classes with a smile. Never mind that these aspirations to have a well-organized and positive attitude only seem to last for those first few weeks; it’s the thought that counts! Besides, making good impressions on my professors and classmates during the first class sessions reminds me of my ambition to excel in academics and helps me to endure, with a can-do spirit, the difficult assignments that come later in the semester.

Finally, the spring semester is different from the fall because it offers a light at the end of an academic tunnel. During the spring semester, I tend to feel that I have a concrete goal to work towards in my classes. Last spring, I was working to complete my freshman year, and this spring, I’ll be working to finish sophomore year. The specific and definite objective of completing one full year of school is motivational to me. I find I work in my classes more efficiently with the clear view of the end of my academic career that comes with the spring semester. I can only imagine how my class work will be affected by this burst of spring motivation when my last spring semester rolls around and I can envision my graduation.

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Spring is a season of renewal. Though the beginning of the spring semester means all new classes and schedules to adjust to, it also brings new opportunities to reinvigorate my excitement to learn, begin fresh with my organizational skills and a positive attitude, and have a concrete goal to look forward to and work toward. Spring is a wonderful season with a plethora of opportunities, and I intend to make the most out of each and every one.

Written by Becca

Image credits: Header image, Fluffy Duckling

He Met Me In St. Louis

I know who you are.

You were raised in the church. Your parents sent you to Sunday school fifty-two weeks out of the year, signed you up for every children’s and youth event, and prayed with and for you nearly every day of your life.

You’ve been baptized, probably before the age of nine. You don’t quite remember the details surrounding the day you prayed the ABC prayer because life after that prayer doesn’t feel much different than life before. You still go to church, read the Bible, and pray, but that has always been true.

You don’t really like to share your testimony. It’s not interesting. There was no drastic, world-rocking change. It feels incomplete sometimes, like it never really happened. Occasionally, although you don’t really admit it to anyone, you wish that God had come to you in another way. Other times you secretly wonder if he ever came to you at all. But you ignore those thoughts when they arise; you dismiss the strange, churning nag that something somewhere is a little off. Because why would it be? You aren’t just a Christian; you’re a called, dedicated Christian who, on most days tries to pursue Christ.

I know who you are because, until December of 2015, I was just like you.

I spent my last years of high school and the first years of college trying to reconcile the confusing pieces of my Christian life. On one hand, I doubted my relationship with God; on the other hand, there were moments that I couldn’t ascribe to anything apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. By the time I made my way to St. Louis for the Urbana 15 Mission Conference, I was at the breaking point of my spiritual chaos. In the most hidden part of my heart, I secretly delivered God an ultimatum for that week in St. Louis: Either you are everything I thought you were, or you do not exist at all. I no longer cared which one turned out to be true, but if God was really there, I needed him to meet me in St. Louis.

One morning, half-way through the week, David Platt got up in front of 16,000 conference attendees to talk about the impossible task of manufacturing a heart for missions, and delivered God’s response to my demand. “You can’t create yourself a heart for missions…and you can’t manufacture your own heart for Christ, either. Only He can do that.”

That was my problem and I knew it. I didn’t know how; I couldn’t explain it. My life in the church, my years of prayer, my countless hours of ministry, my sincere desire to follow Christ in life and in missions—it no longer seemed sufficient.

I spent the rest of the day arguing back and forth with the Lord, who whispered honest replies of Truth. The conversation went something like this:

“But God,” I reasoned, “I thought you called me into missions. Why would you do that if you are not already the Lord of my life?”

The Spirit gently reminded me, I never change my mind about anything. Your surrender cannot quiet my call. But I still want your surrender all the same.

“But God,” I asked later, “all these years I believed you were speaking to me, comforting me, convicting me. If that wasn’t really your hand at work, what was it?”

Everything I have ever done in your life was done for the purpose of drawing you to me, he explained. Everything I will ever do throughout the remainder of your life will be for the same purpose.

“But God,” I pleaded, exasperated from my failed justification, “I can’t even name what exactly I’m holding back from you.”

He answered leaving me no room for excuse: It doesn’t matter. I want every piece of you. Just give me everything.

So I did. It was then that I discovered that my ultimatum earlier in the week was altogether false. Of course God exists, but thankfully he is not everything I thought he was. The God I met in St. Louis is bigger and stronger and more loving than my self-made image of him ever could have been. Doubts no longer creep into my mind. My call to missions is clearer than ever before. My prayers are more frequent and sincere, my study of Scripture no longer brings empty results, and my shortcomings have ceased to define my status with the King.

So, like I said, I know who you are. And I know who you can become.

I write this because you need to know that you aren’t the only one asking the questions you’re asking or doubting the things you’re doubting. I write this because God wouldn’t let me write anything else until I let you know that you are not alone.

Throughout the conference, there was repeated emphasis on the truth that for Jesus to truly be Lord of your life, you must give all of yourself to him. Before December 30, Jesus wasn’t really Lord of my all. That night I gave Jesus the rest of me so that he could finally have all of me. If Jesus isn’t the reigning Monarch of every single aspect of your existence, no amount of lordship in any other area of your life will ever be enough to make up for that. He is either Lord of all or he is not Lord at all.

Written by Savanna

Image credit: Savanna Mertz

Fire Drill

Picture this:

It’s 5 o’clock on a Monday, and I just found out that I have three major assignments due before the end of the week. There’s no telling how long it’s been since my hair has been washed, laundry is piling up, and I’m teaching my very first lesson to a group of kindergarteners tomorrow morning. On top of all that, I’m taking 18 hours of classes, working 25 hours in the Writing Center, and I haven’t gone to bed before two-thirty a.m. on a single night in over a week and a half. To say that I’m stressed is an understatement and a huge one at that.

So, in all of my infinite wisdom, I decide to take things on one at a time. I decide to prioritize the tasks at hand and do the most important things first. I naturally decide to watch The Office.

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t the wisest decision, but hear me out before you judge. On that very cloudy, very crummy, completely overwhelming Monday, The Office taught me something I’ll never forget. But, before I get ahead of myself, let me set the scene.

office-stay-calm

Season Five, Episode Fourteen.

Dwight Schrute, Assistant to the Regional Manager, decides it’s time to have a fire drill. Since nobody paid attention to the fire safety presentation he gave last week, Dwight decides to make the drill a little more creative. What better way to do that than to jam all of the doors leading to the exterior of the building, to scorch the door handles with a torch, and to start an actual fire in the office? When his co-workers finally notice the smoke, havoc is wreaked, and they quickly try to evacuate the building. As they sprint around the room, screaming, pushing, and burning their hands on door handles, Dwight calmly announces fire safety procedures in the midst of all chaos. Ignoring his existence entirely, Dunder Mifflin’s finest staff completely lose their cool. Oscar climbs through the rafters to retrieve help, Angela fears for the life of the cat she’s hiding in the filing cabinet, and Jim attempts to bust down the door by slamming the copy machine against it. In the meantime, Michael throws a projector through his second-story window, and Kevin prepares for his last meal by shattering the glass of the vending machine. Commotion continues, and all the while, Dwight never ceases to provide safety instruction for his coworkers, yet, engulfed by the intensity of the stressful situation, his colleagues fail to utilize his guidance.

Now, let’s stop there.

I don’t know about you, but this scene, though I had seen it twenty times prior to this particular viewing, held more value to me on that day than it had ever before. There they were, my closest friends in Scranton, living through what might have been the most stressful experience of their lives; here I was, a poor and struggling college student still pining for her future husband, John Krasinski, living through what definitely is the most stressful chapter of her life. And yet, neither they nor I decided to look to the only One in charge of situations at hand that day. Instead we looked to people. We looked to our possessions and food and things of this earth. We looked to ourselves, hoping that we could conquer the stresses of our lives on our own. We did all of these things and chose to ignore the ones in charge. I failed to ignore the One in charge.

We, as Christians, tend to think that we have complete control of our lives. We exhaust ourselves daily by trying to keep up with the demands of the world on our own, and all the while, the Lord calls to us, yearning for us to submit our worries unto Him. Why is it that we are so slow to turn to Christ for guidance? The truth is, He already knew if those three major assignments were going to be completed, when they were going to be completed, and how well I was going to complete them. He already knew that a restful weekend would come at the end of the week, that my mom would help me do my laundry, and that my kindergarten lesson would be a success. He already knew the outcomes of every task I was stressing over, and all He was asking me to do was to turn to Him, having faith that He would give me the strength to make it though.

Today, I encourage you to look to Him. When finals start and presentations begin, turn to Him for the wisdom and strength. Don’t flounder in your own fire drill, but turn to Him.

Written by Haley

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Image credits: Header image, Everybody Stay Calm .gif