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Monday, September 15, 2014

Where It’s At

Before coming to Young Harris College, I went to a boarding school where my day was pretty much scheduled from the beginning until the end. I learned about time management but there wasn’t much freedom. I was forced to focus on my education, which of course is why we go to school. Once I came to YHC, I was surprised by the amount of freedom I had. There were so many events put on by the College and I was able to attend them all because I had no curfew or people to tell me what I should do and at what time I should do it. Not only were there fun activities but the classes were on a schedule of either Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday; and then some classes were only one day a week. I was in love. I had so much free time. I just had to figure out what to do with that time.

A week or two into my new world of leisure time, the College hosted the annual Student Organization and Local Business Fair. At the fair, there were more than thirty different tables, each representing a different group. I went to each and decided to sign my name—I thought I would learn something from all of them because I’d never know if I’d like them until I tried. I’m so glad that I did. I went to the first meeting of all the organizations that I signed up for and I enjoyed many of them. The ones I didn’t enjoy as much I decided not to go to the second time. I even got to learn about Greek life and what “rushing” was and what a “bid” was!

I’m now entering my second year at YHC and serve as vice president of the Campus Activities Board. I’m able to help plan the amazing events for freshman that changed my life. I’m involved heavily on campus and am glad that I am because I don’t ever have to miss out on a thing. I always know when an event is and I get to help plan fun experiences for everyone on campus.

Though I like to think I’m a well-organized person and I keep a pretty good schedule, sometimes it’s challenging to balance my commitments to organizations, especially when they meet at the same time. Though the struggle is real, I’m perfectly okay with it because it teaches me how to handle a difficult workload, be more organized and better manage my time.

YHC is where it’s at and never forget that! #yhcwhereitsat


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Preparing for Graduation

So, how do you prepare for graduation, or commencement, which seems to be a synonym for graduation? It’s actually quite easy at Young Harris College. You don’t have to turn in a 20-page packet in triplicate to this office and that office at this particular time or else. I have received emails from the registrar asking me to come pick up some paperwork. They give you several weeks’ notice, and all you need to do is get one sheet of paper and a couple of signatures. If you want a clarification on anything, you just shoot them an email and they’ll get back to you that same day. Easy peasy. I also ordered everything I needed for graduation (robes, class ring, announcements) online. It’s super convenient, and they have plenty of options.

I will miss this place. There’s always going to be that class I wanted to take but didn’t get a chance to. Dr. Matthew Byron is teaching a course on the history of video games next semester and he’s teamed up with some of the computer science professors and ITECH staff members to make it happen. They’re getting together old game consoles, and I’m going to miss that!

However, what I’ll miss most about YHC is the people. Everyone here is incredible. That is the only way I can describe it. Dr. Mark Brunner gives all of his students his cell number in case we need it. Dr. Steve Harvey says he would prefer to discuss literature around a campfire but is okay with the classroom. Moreover, everyone remembers my name. Early last semester I had a very brief conversation with Career Mentoring Specialist Jenny Pate. When I came by months later, she still remembered my name.

I think the best way to illustrate how caring these people are is with a story. When I came over for the career fair, I forgot to bring a tie. I ran over to the bookstore to get one, but something was wrong with my card and the purchase couldn’t be made. The store manager, Jonathan Brock, let me have the tie anyway under the condition that I come back and buy it in a day or two. I came back that afternoon and paid him.

Something else I want you to know about is the senior capstone class. Since my major is history, I wrote a paper on the British soldier Banastre Tarleton. If you’ve seen the movie The Patriot, Tarleton was the villain in that. My argument is that he has been vilified due to being on the losing side of a war.

This was one of my favorite courses in my entire career. We came to class two times a week. Dr. Byron would very rarely lecture. Almost all of the class consisted of discussion over our readings. Everyone was required to say at least something each day, and it was very easy for everyone to get a chance to discuss because there were only nine students in this class.

When I cross the stage at Commencement in a couple of weeks, I will think about my time at YHC and remember the people I met here that have made my four years very special. I think every other student will be doing the same.

 

--John


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Young Harris Culture

There are many things you have to learn from experience that people just don’t think to tell you about. What’s popular and what’s not? What useful resources are at your fingertips and often forgotten? What do I wish I knew when I was a freshman?

“Late Night” in the dining hall is something many students go to. It’s like the Taco Bell “fourth meal.” It happens between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and often includes themed celebrations and events hosted by the Campus Activities Board. Right before finals, faculty and staff serve us at a special Late Night called “Cram Jam” where they wish us luck and raffle off prizes.

When the weather gets warm, you can probably convince your teacher to have class outside (except Dr. Steve Harvey who does not like bugs). Don’t be surprised to see tons of people having class on the grassy lawn or at the gazebo at the beginning and end of the year.

The library rents out laptops so you don't have to use a desktop. They stay open as late as 11 p.m. on most nights and have a 24-hour study room with access to computers, comfy couches and a vending machine. Next year, students will get to enjoy the new three-story Zell and Shirley Miller Library and I can only imagine how amazing it will be.

The Academic Success Center has free printing and tutoring. Rhetorica is a tutoring building by the Campus Gate Art Gallery with students that will help you practice a speech, write or edit a paper—basically anything related to speaking and writing. Many classes even require you to visit Rhetorica at least twice a semester. Trust me, it is worth your while.

There are many little things that come together to build the culture at Young Harris. We now also have to take into consideration that there is a huge and fancy new building that is going to be ready in the fall—the Rollins Campus Center. It will have the library, dining hall, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and so much more all in one place.

Many things are going to change next year, so I would like to challenge upcoming freshmen to make Young Harris culture represent you and the student body. This campus will never lose its history, but it’s always striving to make a new future.


Friday, April 25, 2014

The Benefits of Internships

Internships are an amazing opportunity to further your career, and I know they have helped me out tremendously. They give you real-world experience that only increases your chance of finding a job. Nowadays, employers look at more than just grades. They are just one factor in letting the recruiters get to know you and your work ethic, but they also assess you on other factors, such as having demonstrable experience. I’ve had two internships this semester. One is for Young Harris College, and another is for a local business, which I found out about on the College’s job boards. Both of these internships have something to do with copywriting, which is a career I’m considering that entails writing for marketing or advertising.

As a prospective copywriter, I need a portfolio. A couple online job postings I have seen do accept school papers, but most do not. They want to see that I can write copy. Yes, there are similarities between arguing a point in an academic paper and convincing someone in an ad, but there are also differences. Employers want evidence that I know those differences and can adapt my writing style accordingly. For example, professors love it when you outline the position that you are disagreeing with it, but in copywriting it would be confusing and potentially make the ad ineffective. I can demonstrate I know that with my portfolio.

One of the major benefits of my Young Harris internship is having a collection of press releases I’ve written. I’m also going to add the entries from this blog. For the internship with the local company, I’ve written blogs and even a print ad. Both are going into my portfolio. If that’s not a benefit, I don’t know what is.

An advantage that goes along with that benefit is not only learning how to adapt to writing copy, but also writing copy for different clients. My two internships could not be more different. The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to Young Harris, to what the College can do for its students, and what students are doing. It is supposed to be a window into a student’s life. The blog for my other internship is the exact opposite. In that blog, I routinely direct people to links that sell the product. Does this mean my two internships contradict? I don’t think so. It means I have further learned how to adapt my writing skills to fit the voices of different people. This skill is invaluable to copywriters.

If I decide that copywriting is not the path for me, these opportunities were still well worth it. Recruiters want people with work experience, and now I have that. Many of the skills I’ve obtained can be applied to other career fields. I mentioned considering going to into real estate in my last blog. The skills are still applicable. Instead of convincing someone through the written word like a copywriter, I would do so through the spoken word.

These internships have been nothing but an advantage for me, and YHC has plenty of them. I encourage any incoming students to start the process of finding work experience early, and the Office of Mentor and Career Leadership is a great place to start.

-John


Friday, April 25, 2014

Teaching Moments

Yesterday I was able to represent YHC’s chapter of SPAGE (Student Professional Association of Georgia Educators) in a Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) meeting. The Education Department at YHC got together with principals, administrators, and teachers from Towns and Union counties schools.

We discussed goals to continuously improve the program to produce competitively qualified teachers. I was able to give a unique perspective that the teachers and administrators valued. Plus, it was an awesome opportunity to network! In a year, I may be sitting down to an interview with one of these council members.

Just as I have these opportunities in my own field, Young Harris College has a variety of opportunities like this in every area of study. It is a way to show your professors and possible future employers your competitive edge and get ahead of the game. 

There are many ways to prepare yourself for the professional world outside of the classroom. I am so thankful that I attend a school that can give individual students such unique opportunities to succeed in their goals.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

This weekend was a blast! On Friday, the Alpha Omega fraternity hosted their annual Holy Water Luau, where they barbecue a pig, make some delicious “holy water” (which is basically a juice concoction) and announce their new officers. They even make T-shirts each year with funny themes. This year: Jurassic Pork.

It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the sunshine on the plaza as the school day is winding down and everyone can kick off the start of the weekend on a great note. I had a great time relaxing with my friends at this event we have come to look forward to that really signifies the start of spring on campus.

The annual Spring Fest followed on Saturday and it was great as always. The weather was perfect and there was so much to do. The Campus Activities Board hosts the event, and organizations set up booths with games and fundraisers. We also had a big dinner on the lawn. There were also several concerts throughout the afternoon and evening, and this year we even had a magic show! It is always so much fun to spend all day on the lawn with so many students and faculty.

The tulips are in full bloom all across campus, and it’s hard to believe finals will be here before we know it, but for now I am just enjoying our time in the beautiful mountains.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

I attended a career fair in Marietta yesterday, which made me think about the first one I attended last semester. What I remember most was the contrast between the bus ride to and from the event. I’d bought a book with me that I was going to read for a paper I was writing. I don’t think I read a single page of it. I don’t think many of us did anything very productive on the way there. Conversely, everyone was completely relaxed on the way back.

We talked about what we had done right and wrong at the fair, upcoming assignments in the classes we shared, and pretty much anything under the sun. It was at this point that I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had been nervous about the fair. All 10 of us had been worried, and now it was over.

I definitely learned from the experience. One time, I forgot my questions for the recruiter after I got in front of them. I had all of the questions on my cell, but I felt it rude pulling out my phone in the middle of a conversation in order to consult it. This time around, I had an official Young Harris College notepad with a page for each company I was really interested in that had at least five questions to ask the recruiter. In the ones I did do well on in the fall, my questions sprung conversations with the recruiters. Good rapport with the recruiter is the key of going to these events.

These types of fairs are important because now you know someone on the inside, and this can give you an advantage over the person who just applied online that no one at the company knows. For example, I had a really good interaction with a recruiter from a real estate company. When I sent follow-up emails, she replied to me.

I never would have considered a career in real estate but my conversation with the recruiter made me think I could do it. They even have a course that trains you. If I hadn’t gone, I would never have even considered that opportunity. That’s another great advantage of going to fairs like this—you get exposed to a variety of careers and new doors can open for you.

John


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Liberal Arts Life

Every time I go to the dentist or eye doctor, they, of course, try to start up a conversation. I tell them I’m going to Young Harris College. They ask for my major, and I tell them it’s history. The next question is always the same: So, you want to teach? I’m not a fan of this question. Yes, I was in the College’s Teacher Preparation Program for several semesters. It was an awesome experience, but I ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. However, a liberal arts degree like history does have value outside of teaching and creates many potential career paths.

What do I want to be? I would love to be a copywriter, and potentially focus on advertising. I am currently completing an internship that’s teaching me how to write concisely, research and use analytical skills. This experience on my résumé will help me get a job after graduation.

I’ve also obtained research, analytical and writing skills through my coursework. Most of the papers I write for history require 10 sources. This does not mean the first sources a search engine in one academic database brings up because these can be hilariously irrelevant. You need to find a source, read it and determine if you want to use it. You could use the method I used as a sophomore and freshman, which is read the whole article and then make a value judgment. This is arduous and time-consuming. Now, I read the abstract, the first couple of pages and the last page. That’s where the argument is. The rest is where the author attempts to prove the validity of this argument. If those pages engage me, I will read the whole article. If not, I move on to the next source.

Analysis also plays a role in writing. For example, I was doing a paper on the British officer Banastre Tarleton, and I knew what my argument was but I couldn’t figure how to organize my paper. I eventually settled on an overview of what happened to Tarleton during the American Revolution and then focused in on his involvement in the Battle of Waxhaws.  Moreover, my major has also taught me to write concisely. I’ve looked over my old papers and seen just how much fluff was in them. More recent papers have no fluff. Everything is there to argue a point.

Many employers want these skills. I find it shocking how many employers want people with basic writing skills—something my major has taught me how to do well. That’s one of the many perks of having a major grounded in the liberal arts—you can be anything.

John


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Little Friendly Competition

Last week was Greek Week, where fraternities and sororities compete to win bragging rights and a pretty nice trophy. Last year, the sorority I am the president of, Sigma Beta Sigma (also known as “Susan Bs”), placed last. It was a good effort that was poorly executed. But this year was different. This year, we won alongside the Alpha Xi fraternity!

It was really fun to get together with other Greeks, even though it can get heated. We started off the week on Sunday with a kickball tournament where the Susan Bs were paired with Kappa Tau Omega. It was an intense battle and we came out on top!

The next night, we gathered to play our own version of Family Feud. We all sat around eating dinner and talking, and the game was really fun. On Tuesday we had a scavenger hunt-type game called the “Amazing Race” and then there was the vespers chapel service on Wednesday.

Thursday was my favorite day because we had the talent show and the week’s winners were announced. The Susan Bs did a very creative “out-of-water synchronized swimming routine” and placed third.

When we found out we won the overall competition, I was so proud that I can now brag on my sorority—but I’m even more proud of the family atmosphere among our College’s Greek community. We are all friends an enjoy getting together for dances, fundraisers and especially friendly competitions like Greek Week.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More Than Meets the Eye

There is something to be said for the scenery at Young Harris College. Actually, something has been said for a long, long time. The Enchanted Valley lives up to its name. 

Surrounded by peaks such as Bell Mountain and Brasstown Bald, we have beautiful sunrises and sunsets every day. The fall bursts with so much color it almost hurts your eyes, and the mountain roads make for a fun drive. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of the potential of the north Georgia mountains.

The areas surrounding us have hiking trails that lead you to breathtaking waterfalls. Lake Chatuge has a beach just down the road towards Hiawassee, with grills and swings. When the weather gets hot, that is the place to be. Also, the Recreation and Fitness Center will let you rent out canoes and kayaks, and the beach is the perfect place to get out on the water.
 

There is even tubing in all directions, including Blue Ridge, Helen and Clayton. There is even rafting not far off at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina.  There are an innumerable number of campsites around the College—just off the lake or up in the mountains—great places to hike, rock climb, kayak, or just lay on the beach. 

There is truly much more to the Enchanted Valley than what firsts meets the eye.

-Alex

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