Maximizing learning opportunities

One of my favorite aspects about college is being in charge of my learning. I found that staying on top of my credits and requirements for my majors allowed me to have some wiggle room to explore Northwestern’s elective courses and take classes in other majors that interest me.

Some of my interests are in the political science area. However, these topics are not heavily discussed in the courses required for my majors, marketing and public relations. With the help of my adviser, I was able to incorporate some of these into my schedule. Many of the general education requirements for students have several options of classes to choose from. For example, the self & society general education requirement gave me the option to take American government, which I enrolled in as fast as I could.

Another core class Northwestern requires is a cross-cultural credit. I fulfilled the requirement with a class called comparative politics, where we explored political developments and issues around the globe.

Senior year, I had some room in my schedule to add an elective of my choice. I looked through the course offerings and saw that a political science class called Christians and the political order fit right in my schedule. The class description, which explained how the course discussed Christian engagement in the political sphere, had me hooked and I was able to take that class for fun last semester.

Even within my majors, I’m able to pick and choose some of the elective courses I take. I love writing, so I picked up a feature writing class this spring, despite already having fulfilled all the requirements for my majors. I was pleasantly surprised with myself—choosing to take more credits than needed in order to maximize my learning—and I thank Northwestern for instilling in me a love for learning that spans all disciplines.

Extra, extra! (Notes about the Beacon)

One of the highlights of my week is reading our campus newspaper, the Beacon. Every Friday morning, stacks of newspapers–hot off the press–are placed all over campus. Written by students and for students, the Beacon is a source for campus news.

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Features, sports, arts and culture, opinions, reviews, and news– it’s all in the crisp pages. From upcoming senior art shows to the latest box office hit, you can read about it in the Beacon.

The Beacon is a great way to get involved on campus. The student editors gather on Monday nights in the basement of North Suites to discuss the story options for the upcoming issues. Stories and photos for the week are turned in by Thursday of the following week.

There’s something about seeing your name in print that is super exciting. I take pictures for the Beacon, and love picking it up and seeing photos in print that I took. Some of my wingmates write for the Beacon, and I know people who save every issue of the Beacon that they were published in. Some even tack their stories or pictures up on the walls of their dorm room.

Not only is writing or taking pictures for the Beacon a great experience, but it also pays! You get paid per story and per picture that gets published. It’s great to put on a resume!

So, whether you love writing, taking pictures, designing, or simply reading about it in the comfort of your dorm room, The Beacon has something for everyone.

Utilizing the Peer Learning Center

Every year, new students tour Northwestern’s campus, both on Raider Days and RED101 Days (something I HIGHLY encourage all prospective students to do!). Each student meets one of the Northwestern’s admissions ambassadors for a tour of campus. The ambassadors show and describe the ins and outs of what to expect in each building. Students are introduced to facilities such as the cafeteria, dorms, music hall, gymnasium and more. While every building on campus is an important asset to NW, one that holds a special place for me is the Learning Commons, and more specifically, the Peer Learning Center inside.

When I visited as a freshman, the ambassador showing me and my family around brought us to the Peer Learning Center (a center for students to receive feedback or assistance in certain subjects from their peers). This place is better known as the PLC and is found in a corner of the library. As I was introduced to the PLC, the ambassador mentioned it was a place for students to come and be tutored in all subjects by other students. There are sections for science, writing, math, foreign language, computer science, accounting and many more. Within each field of study, there are multiple students ready to tutor who have taken many courses within their assigned section. These students are typically majoring or minoring in the field they tutor.

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I remember thinking, “I will never be a tutor. No way will I be qualified enough to tutor, nor will I need to be tutored.” That statement became very wrong my first semester on campus. I found myself visiting the center quite often for help on papers, journals, essays, scholarship essays, and more. I went to the center each night seeking help in my English courses, and there was always a tutor waiting with a smile, excited to take a look at what I was working on. Something I came to appreciate about the PLC tutors is that a good majority of them are willing to meet outside of the PLC hours. When I met with a tutor, I would always walk into a session thinking there wouldn’t be too much for me to fix but would leave with a couple pages worth of very helpful notes that later ended up helping me receive the grades I was looking to see. After a semester of visiting the center, I ended up taking a writing course the second semester of my freshman year. In order to complete the class, I had to tutor for one semester.  

Working in the PLC for one semester, while terrifying at first, brought me so much joy. Not only did I learn a lot about editing different styles of papers, but I also met so many students. It was a good experience and allowed me to connect with others from outside my major who I might have never met. Being a tutor taught me how excited I truly am about being a writing major as well as helped shed light on my newest passion of editing.

At first glance, the PLC can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid of using it. The ambassadors here at NW are always telling visitors that even the brightest students with all As in their classes still utilize the PLC because there’s always room for academic growth. Many qualified students are chosen to help enhance their peers’ college education. Utilize the PLC as much as possible during your time here at NW.  Who knows, maybe you’ll end up tutoring others by your second semester of freshman year and find it to be a comfy niche the remainder of your time here on campus.

 

Experiencing Spain with the Symphonic Band

One of the great things about Northwestern is that there are many options for things to do over spring break. Not only are there Spring Service Partnerships to places like Mexico, Amsterdam, Kansas City, and Texas, but every year either the Symphonic Band or A cappella Choir goes on tour. Usually the tour is within the United States, and the groups travel as far as New York or Montana, but every three years, one of the groups goes on an international tour.

This year I was able to with the band to Spain. We traveled around Spain to Seville, Madrid, Cáceres, Cádiz, and Segovia. It was a wonderful trip and an amazing experience that I was only able to have because of Northwestern.

Here are my top three highlights of the tour:

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History of the country: One of the coolest parts about being in Spain was experiencing all of the history. We got to see so many old buildings that have so many stories behind them. For me, going on this trip added more to the history I knew about the country because I was able to see where all of that history had taken place. We also went on tours in all the cities and it was so amazing learning more about the history of Spain.

Performing in amazing spaces: Another great part of the trip was being able to perform in amazing places. Our very first concert was in Cáceres, and we performed outside within the Old Town of Cáceres. It was awesome to be playing the marimba and look up to see buildings that are hundreds, even thousands, of years old. It was definitely a performance I will never forget.

Making new friends: Above all, I think the greatest part of my trip was getting to know people either better or for the first time. Whether it was the woman I sat next to on the plane; our tour guide who we got to know throughout the ten days; or the person who sits across the room from me every day in band, there were so many interactions that I had on this trip that I will remember forever.

Going to Spain was a wonderful experience that I never would have had if I hadn’t chosen to go to Northwestern three years ago, and it will always be one of the highlights of my time here.

One Flock

As a high school senior at this time of year, you have probably started to think about committing to a college. If that college is Northwestern, then I know you have a few selections for dorm options to stay in. The dorms on campus consist of Colenbrander, Hospers, North Suites, Stegenga, Fern Smith, and the apartments for upperclassmen. As you’re thinking about which dorm you want to stay in, you may be thinking of the location, the environment in each dorm, or even the different styles each dorm holds. I’ll hit on each of those aspects for the dorm that I live in, called North Suites.

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Obviously, I have some bias with living in North Suites, however, I can definitely tell you that it’s an awesome dorm to live in and a unique environment to be around. If you love creating meaningful relationships that will last well into the future, then this is a dorm for you. You will tell immediately that we are all about relationships in North by our motto, “One Flock.” This means that anyone who has lived or currently lives in North will always remain in the family. If you’re an introvert like me, trust me and don’t get overwhelmed, because I know you will have no trouble finding new friends. So, if that’s a big fear for next year, don’t fret, because with some time, North Suites and the rest of the campus will feel just like home.

North Suites isn’t like the typical dorm styles. North is a bit different in which each dorm is either set up in a U-style or an H-style. What this means is that you have two dorms that are connected by a bathroom. I absolutely love this style because it allows for so much community. With this style of dorm rooms, you will see in North that a lot of students will put all the beds in one side of the dorm duo and have the other side set up as a living room with couches. This gives more opportunities to have lots of people in one dorm room for movie or game nights. It’s a unique style of dorm that I love to live in.

The location of North Suites is near the corner of the campus, and like the other dorms, walks to class and the caf are very manageable.

North Suites is an awesome place to live on campus. I also want to mention that all the dorms on campus have amazing people in them and each hold their own unique experiences. Whatever dorm you may choose, I pray and hope that you will have a very great freshman experience. (Also, if you want more details about the residence life here on campus, you can visit nwciowa.edu/campus-life)