Why Schools Should Get Rid of Grades

February 26, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus

GradesIn one of my previous articles, I wrote about why there should not be finals at the end of the semester and instead there should be a final project. This article is somewhat a continuation of that piece because I think that grades should be gotten rid of altogether and there are many reasons for why I think it would be beneficial to students if this ever were to happen.

I read an article in the Washington Post which said that, “Grades encourage students to focus on the external assessment of a single person — or a small group of people — rather than on true exploration and learning (Harris-Perry).” Now keeping this in mind isn’t that what school is supposed to be about? Learning? The Post also said, “What would happen if students were free to experience classes, retain information and build connections without fear that their futures hung in the balance of a single imperfect product? (Harris-Perry)” Now I don’t know about you, but I think that is an excellent question. What would classes be like if students were actually able to enjoy their classes without the fear of failing them? Wouldn’t they be more likely to engage in class? And I think that is something teachers and students everywhere need to consider. By considering this, they would come to realize that performance, motivation, interest, and even self-esteem would improve. For instance, the Post said that “students often feel deflated when their best efforts lead to only mediocre grades (Harris-Perry).” And I actually agree with this statement because there have been plenty of times when I have felt I deserved a higher grade on something I worked extremely hard on and did not get the grade I felt I deserved (and isn’t a grade based on opinion anyway—especially in the liberal arts?). Just think about it.

Because of this, grades restrict students from actually trying something challenging. If a student is focused on their future and knows that the only way to have a good future is through the act of getting good grades, then they will be less likely to try something out of their comfort zone and do something that challenges them, which isn’t that the whole point of learning—to try something new and challenge yourself? And, unfortunately, grades hinder that.

Going along with this idea since grades don’t allow much room for experimentation, what are grades good predictors of? What do they predict? Is there really anything that they tell us, because in all actuality they “are not good predictors of accomplishment, curiosity, or success (Harris-Perry).” Take for example, George Bernard Shaw, a successful playwright, critic, and political activist who did not do well in school. Did that make him any less successful? He even said, “Schools and schoolmasters—are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys. (Wikipedia)” He also, “considered the standardized curricula useless, deadening to the spirit and stifling to the intellect. (Wikipedia)” Which is similar to what I had mentioned earlier with regards to not being able to try something out of your comfort zone due to fear of getting a bad grade.

So some of you may be thinking what would take the place of grades and what would be the incentive to come to class? Well, the Post says, “Without grades, we would be forced to offer detailed, critical assessments of students’ strengths and weaknesses, both to them and to future schools and employers. We would need to pay closer attention to their process and their progress rather than just their final products (Harris-Perry).” Therefore, by being assessed on your level of strengths and weaknesses and the process you are learning in the class, it will be a better judge of what the student is good at and if that subject suits them. By taking that challenging class because there are no grades, the student may realize that during the learning process of this challenging class that it may not be what interests them or fits their learning style. Thus, “grades should be replaced by meaningful narrative feedback, which helps students understand what learning outcomes have or have not been mastered. Feedback also encourages learning, while grades only stifle it” (TED). The incentive, consequently, is learning because you want to and to find out what you want to do with your life. Learning should not be measured, but rather it should be discussed, shared, and evaluated because it is an ongoing process that should never end and some colleges agree with this notion and do not have a grading system (TED). For example, Evergreen College in Washington State doesn’t use grades, but instead uses an evaluation process that measures if they learned what was expected of them. So by the time they finish a course, they have a list of expectations that they are evaluated on in order to gauge their process, which varies according to the class. Evergreen says that, “The Expectations address skills, habits of intellect, and traits of character that are central to an active, productive life as an individual, as a citizen, and as a member of the many overlapping communities that constitute the context of an individual’s life in our society” (Marshall, etal.)

Therefore, school will still be school, but teachers would assess your strengths and weaknesses and the effort you put into their class thus creating a more stress free and learning-oriented atmosphere.

From Academics to Athletics at Florida State

February 25, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

While academics are the main focus throughout college, sports programs can be a key aspect as well, especially at large universities. Whether you’re playing on a competitive travel team, involved in an intramural team simply for fun, or an onlooker in the bleachers, any sporting event makes for an exciting day or night out. Florida State University has several competitive and intramural teams to offer both male and female students who enjoy partaking in any type of athletic programs. The teams range from soccer, basketball, football, bowling, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse, water polo, and the list goes on.

Throughout the fall semester at FSU, the football team is essentially the main focus almost every weekend. Football games are not just a 4-quarter game; they are an all day event, starting with tailgates and ending with celebrations at the bar. “Game days are the best days” is a common phrase several students will post as their caption under their gameday photos on social media, as they proudly show off their garnet and gold attire to support the Noles. Being that FSU held the title of the National Champions throughout the year of 2014, the home games progressively became popular; every home game of the year was completely sold out this past season. As you can imagine, this created an unbelievably exciting atmosphere in the stadium, especially for intense, nail-biting games, such as Notre Dame.

Doak Campbell Stadium

Doak Campbell Stadium

Since the students do not have to pay for tickets, seats are first-come, first-serve. In order to score a front seat, you should arrive at least two hours prior to kickoff. While it is most students’ goal to attend every home game, work or school can sometimes deter this, depending on schedules. However, the one football game that everyone should attend, including friends and family members, is the notorious rivalry game against the University of Florida, played at the end of November every year. Another exciting game is held during homecoming weekend, which is generally in late October. The intense energy from the fans literally makes the stadium vibrate, as students shout and stomp on the bleachers, cheering on the Noles to win. Or cursing them out for having the audacity to fall behind by a just few points. After all, we held the record of winning 29 games in a row, so we became just a tad bit spoiled by our undefeated football team.

While the basketball team is not as popular as the football team, attending at least one game throughout the semester is always a good pastime, especially if it’s a big game, such as Clemson or Duke. Beer, nachos, and time with friends is generally the excuse for people to set foot in the Civic Center to relax and watch the game on a Saturday afternoon or dull weeknight. I have been to one game myself and definitely would attend again. It’s relaxing compared to that of a football game, but sometimes, that’s just what you need since your ears may slowly be starting to go deaf from the noise in Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Civic Center

The Civic Center

The baseball games are popular to attend throughout the spring semester. While I have personally never attended a game, I have been told that they’re perfect to watch on a comfortable and sunny Florida day. The women’s soccer team is also big at FSU, as they recently just won the National Championship. Women’s volleyball is another very competitive sports team that can actually get extremely rowdy during a rivalry game.

And for those who enjoy partaking in athletics simply for the fun of it, there are several intramural sports teams offered here at FSU. Sometimes, it’s the perfect way to get your share of exercise, relieve stress, and meet a close group of friends without the commitments of constantly traveling to play against competitive teams. I have been told that the intramural soccer team is extremely fun! There’s also the dance and cheerleading teams for both guys and girls, which is extremely exciting since you get to travel with the football team for each away game, including the bowl games and championship.

Any sports event that an FSU student attends is completely free of charge with a valid ID. Students are highly encouraged to support their fellow Noles at these events, so points will be given to their FSU card card each time they swipe into an event. This is extremely beneficial to those who want first priority when claiming a ticket for big football games that sell limited amounts of tickets due to high demand. The higher amount of points you have from attending events, the better chance you have of scoring a ticket to a big game. So put the homework aside and go support your Noles! And of course, don’t forget to wear your garnet and gold!

Sayonara Senior Year

February 25, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Career, Colleges

Assumption College is a private catholic college, so yes there is a church on campus, campus ministry, and regular events revolved around religion and faith. Along with these events are weekend long retreats called “START” retreats (students talking about religious topics). When you’re a senior, they also have a specific senior retreat that only seniors can go on. Some of my friends went so I thought, why not? I am not a religious person by any means, so I never thought that I would ever find myself on a bus on its way to a retreat center in Connecticut -but hey, anything can happen.

So here I am on this cold bus, with a pounding headache, somewhat wishing that I hadn’t agreed to embark on this journey of faith and reflection. In my mind I kept going through the other things I could have been doing in the next 24 hours….netflix, homework, painting my nails – anything but this?

As I am sworn to secrecy about this retreat, all that I can say is that it was a little awkward at first, and my state of mind did not change until I started letting my guard down and actually enjoyed myself. Hearing other people talk about their own lives, troubles, worries, and hopes inspired me, and being without my phone for almost 24 hours was a breath of fresh air. I started to look at the people around me differently, and for the first time in a long time I felt like I was actually THERE in the moment.

Although I don’t consider myself to have a religion or necessarily believe in a higher power, I gained so much respect for others that do. Hearing other people my age explain their faith and why it is so important to them was very eye opening for me. I was also in awe by how many awesome people I had been missing out knowing for the past three years. It really made me think about how I just pass by others daily and don’t know an ounce about their life or what they are going through.

There is something calming and settling about being in a room with so many different people who are facing the same fears and worries. The specifics may be different, but we were all overwhelmed by our fast approaching graduation date, future plans, and life in general.

After this retreat, I thought of a lot of things that you may want to consider as a senior in college:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff; don’t let petty fights and disagreements between friends ruin your friendship. Will what they said or did matter from a year from now?

2. Don’t plan out every single thing; even if you are a planning extraordinaire, things happen, things change. Keep an open mind and let things fall into place. Worrying about your plan not working doesn’t help anything.

3. Let people in; You’ll be surprised at how many awesome people there are out there that you walk by every single day. Take time to know others and say hi.

4. Do what you love; if you’re deciding between a low paying career that you’ll love to wake up to everyday and a high paying job that makes you want to rip your hair out, choose the latter. Is the purpose of your entire existence on this Earth meant to be doing something you hate?

5.Take Risks; if you’re not scared or unsure, then you aren’t doing it right. Life is all about venturing into the unknown and seeing where it takes you.

Being a senior in college can be scary, but just remember that all of your peers are right there with you, even if they seem like they have everything planned to a “t”. Do something you would never usually do – you might just find what you’re looking for.

Senior Retreat

Senior Retreat

Movies College Students Should Watch

February 20, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Reviews

Every year many movies come out in the theater and people try to watch those movies that look fun, funny, and action filled. It is impossible to watch all of them and some people watch certain movies based on the reviews and its popularity. Here are some movies that should be watched by college students at least once in their lifetime. These movies are not in any specific order:

Popcorn Time!!

Popcorn Time!!

12 Years a Slave: Since this movie came out in theaters I have been hearing great reviews about it. I have heard it shows a true side of slavery that some people try to ignored (the horrible treatment towards slave). I have not watched this movie because I have not found it online in streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. Despite me having not watch them movie, I still recommend this movie to other college students. It can be difficulty to watch, especially since it’s a topic people try to stay away from, but it’s a real eye opener for those who want to know or do not want to see the horrors of slavery.

Spirited Away: To some people this movie can be seen as a movie for little kids since it’s an anime. Yet, Miyazaki Hayao’s movies has a deeper meaning behind them. Spirited Away tells a story of a little girl whose parents are turned into pigs and she ends being stuck in the spirit world. Her only option is to work at a Onsen, a hot spring, which according to Miyazaki represent how in the past little girls worked as prostitutes in these Onsen. There are many themes and motifs in this movie. If you are interesting in them check out a sparks notes analysis of the movie:http://www.sparknotes.com/film/spiritedaway/context.html

 Paranormal Activity: To some people this movie is scary and would stay away from it, but this movie is really funny. The story plot has potential, but the first half of the movie is boring, half way through the movie is funny, and the ending is a cliffhanger, but it can be funny to watch with some friends. If you have not watch this movie because it’s classify as a horror movie, then you are missing out on a comedy film.

The Godfather: Some people may have already watched this movie by now, but this movie is a classic and those who have not watch it yet should go watch it right now! It’s exciting and fun to watch. There is even a sequel and they are in Netflix, so there is not reason to not watch it.

 Gravity: I have not seen this movie yet, but it looks like a great movie to watch. I remember hearing and reading positive reviews, so why not give it a change!

These are some of the movies I believe should be watched by every college students. The movies mention above are fun to watch, funny, and some may even have a deeper meaning behind them. It’s winter time, and if you live in the Northeast, then you probably have piles of snow all around you, so why not stay home, if possible, and watch some movies! 

Review: Roommate Harmony

February 20, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Reviews

Roommate Harmony: Blog/Shop

Roommate Harmony: Blog/Shop

Roommates are a tricky subject; obtaining a decent roommate takes strategy, luck, or both. Some students are blessed with the “barely ever around roommate.” Some students are plagued with the roommate that, literally, lives in the dorm room—even worse, the kind that invites all of their friends over…all of the damn time. And then there are the unfortunate souls with the roommate that doesn’t understand boundaries or, to be blunt, the “socially inept roommate.” If only there were a way to ease the burden of living with someone new, or someone that doesn’t quite mesh well with your perceptions of harmonious roommate-hood, during your x-number of years in college.

Oh, but there is!

Roommate Harmony is both a Staples-esque online store and a blog whose “goal is to improve the shared living experience, strengthen human relationships, and promote inner peace.” RH is unique in its approach at:

  • Selling products that create a space conducive to better living and
  • Creating a virtual space to laugh and cringe at written experiences relevant or reminiscent of your own roommate experiences

The mixture of a blogging medium with an online store creates an interactive atmosphere that feels both business-like and homey. While trying out products such as Roommate Duty Boards or Weekly Planners, you can read about “How to Avoid Roommate Drama” and “Perspectives on Worst Roommates Ever.”

Even more interestingly, RH is a “responsible business” in that it makes efforts to:

  • Limit its carbon footprint and
  • Donate a portion of its profits to Project H.O.M.E.—a community whose mission is “to empower adults, children, and families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, to alleviate the underlying causes of poverty, and to enable all of us to attain our fullest potential as individuals and as members of the broader society.”

In a nutshell, RH is the best of all worlds!

Now that we’re discussing just how wonderful of a website RH truly is, let’s move on to the products. I was fortunate enough to receive a free sample package from the website’s wonderful owner, Chad Jarrah (Thanks Chad!):

  • Chore Chart: The magnetic, 11” by 16” dry-erase board comes equipped with a black dry-erase marker, a marker holder attached to the side of the board, a notes section for any random thoughts, objections, or demands that may come to mind, and four panels with lines and check boxes for various types of roommate chores. According to RH’s website, the board’s purpose is to ensure that everyone “is pulling their weight” and to “assign chores and rotate jobs by the time period agreed upon.”
  • Sticky Bulletin Board: A medium-sized bulletin board that comes in both brown and white. It’s a funky amalgam of brown bulletin board and wall sticker. It’s an 11” by 17” peel off board that’s adhesive (for all of the times that your post it notes or thumbtacks have mysteriously gone missing).
  • Weekly Planner: A 4” by 9” green and patterned planner that comes with a magnet attached to its back and seven boxes for daily notes. It’s simple, yet aesthetically pleasing. The rounded edges and slightly-transparent boxes make for delightful spots to jot down notes, and the post-it-esque weekly papers make it easy to rip off one week’s worth of random to-do lists and move onto another full week of work. Perfect and convenient for any college student.
  • Personalized Food Stickers: The “that’s my box of Fruity Pebbles Cereal” conversation is always an awkward conversation to have with a roommate. It makes you sound selfish, possessive, and stingy. The personalized food stickers offer a cute and efficient method of avoid this conversation and organizing your edible belongings. A single sheet comes with 20 stickers, each with a different picture symbolizing a type of food or beverage, and each with your name (very important) written above the image. Sticking it onto something in the room is the human/civilized equivalent of a dog peeing on a fence to mark its territory. So buy some stickers and start–humanely–marking your territory!

As I stated before, the website is organized into both a shop and a blog. I highly recommend purchasing one of the items from the shop as a means of avoiding the awkward roommate conversations. I highly recommend reading the blog posts as a means of getting a good laugh out of awkward roommate situations written by students like you.

Link to Roommate Harmony’s website: http://www.roommateharmony.com/

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