Category Archives: Student Section

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Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Thirteen hauntingly good films

I watch far too many movies for my own good, and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite films to watch during this creepy season:
“The Thing” (1982) – Forget about that quasi-prequel/remake that’s out in theaters right now masquerading under the same name. It’s only a pale imitation. Set in a remote Antarctic outpost under siege by an alien creature that assumes the form of its victims, John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is a master class in atmosphere and suspense.
“Trick ‘r Treat” (2009) – Simply put, there is no other film that has captured the spirit of Halloween as much as this one. It’s an anthology of four interconnected stories that celebrate the many myths that surround and personify the holiday.
“The Evil Dead” (1981), “Evil Dead II” (1987), “Army of Darkness” (1992) – With remarkable audacity, this cult classic trilogy begins as a horror story about a group of college students terrorized by demons in a cabin in the woods, turns into a gruesome slapstick comedy and eventually becomes a medieval epic about a man with a chainsaw for a hand fighting off an army of skeletons. Groovy.
“Drag Me to Hell” (2009) – From the same demented mind of previous sets of films, this spook-a-blast features a bank teller haunted by a demonic spirit after she denies a loan extension to a wicked old lady. It’s ferociously fun and frightening.
“Let the Right One In” (2008) – A chilling and understated story about a boy who befriends a vampire. The snowy landscape of Sweden stands out as the perfect atmosphere for this dark, coming-of-age fairytale. If only more vampire stories were this meaningful and elegantly told.
“Coraline” (2009) – A mesmerizing, beautiful, and often creepy stop-motion animated film about a young girl who finds a doorway to a weird, enchanting, and dangerous alternate reality. It’s rare to find a spooky family film like this that can satisfy both younger and older viewers.
“The Shining” (1980) – An undisputed classic about a family entrusted with caretaking a massive hotel with a long history of haunting and a penchant to drive its residents insane. Jack Nicholson’s unhinged performance is one for the record books.
“Slither” (2006) – Parasitic, mind-controlling slugs. A hivemind of zombies with a ravenous taste for meat. This is a gory, disgusting comedy-horror hybrid with a surprising amount of figurative brains and heart. What’s not to love?
“Creepshow” (1982) – Another anthology film, this time penned by the master of pop-horror Stephen King. It’s an affectionate tribute to 1950’s style comic books like “Tales from the Crypt,” filled with all sorts of monsters – both human and supernatural.
“The Descent” (2005) – Claustrophobic doesn’t even begin to describe this. Six friends decide to explore an uncharted cave system together, end up finding themselves lost, and it only gets worse from there. One of the most nerve-shattering horror films of the last decade.
“Alien” (1979) – A crew of a towing spaceship receives a distress signal from a nearby planet. When they go to investigate the disturbance, they end up with an unexpected stowaway passenger. It’s a carefully paced showcase of intensity and dread. The titular alien is still one of the scariest creatures ever imagined.
“The Devil’s Backbone” (2001) – Que es un fantasma? I am still unsure. But what I do know is that this ghost story set in an orphanage caught in the middle of the Spanish Civil War is absolutely breathtaking and poignant. Not to mention haunting, in a poetic sort of way.
“Shaun of the Dead” (2004) – A clever, lovable comedy about British slackers who face the zombie apocalypse by hiding out in a pub. The stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are like a modern-day reincarnation of Abbott and Costello. “How’s that for a slice of fried gold?”

Through the Grapevine – 10/27

From Justina: I feel like I need to censor myself not only with what I say but what I think to be a better person. Is that a good idea?

Ben says:  No! Can anyone say boring?! What you think and say makes you, well, you. Be yourself unless you really want to change; then change. If you always censor yourself, you’ll probably also develop some strange psychological disease that can never be fixed, just an FYI.

Shannon says: There needs to be a happy medium with what you say out loud and what’s in your head. But your mind is the last place you need to censor yourself. In your mind the only person who has to listen is you. But also make sure you say what you need to say. If you don’t stand up for yourself or you are always saying what you think people want to hear, you will lose yourself.

From Coloratura: I have known this guy for over a year. We talk on the phone all the time and then when we make plans to see each other he never shows. When I ask him about it he says that he is really unreliable. What should I do about it?

Ben says: I think you should try to work with him if you like him, but if you don’t care, then leave it. There’s not much you can do.

Shannon says: If he is taking the time to talk to you and get to know you, he probably does want to spend time with you. But there is something that is stopping him on his side. Maybe he just needs more time to think it through; he may not think he is ready to start anything. You just have to give him space and prove to him you are not going to force him into anything. Reassure him that you’ll go at his pace.

From Tobias: What should I be for Halloween?


Shannon says: Get all your friends together and be the little minions from “Despicable Me.”

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – ‘Most good writing is rewriting’

So, let’s say that you have an entire essay written out. It’s several pages long – filled with the blood, sweat, and tears from all your hard work – and worth a ridiculous percentage of your grade for a class. Let’s also venture to say that you’ve resisted the temptation to procrastinate and managed to finish writing the paper early, without waiting until the very night before it’s due. What do you do next with this enormous heap of words?
This is the time to revise and edit, of course. I know you’re probably tired of looking at it by now, but let’s try not to be too hasty and abandon the baby on a doorstep just yet.
The truth is that most good writing is rewriting. A first draft is rarely ever a pretty thing. Most of the time it’s filled with errors, spelling mistakes, logical fallacies, half-baked theories, incomplete ideas, turns of phrase that seemed clever at the time and sentences that lead nowhere. But this is precisely what a first draft should be.
The first draft is where you get all the ideas out of your head before you lose track of them. Then, in the following drafts, you take all this unshaped clay and make something out of it.
The first step is to ignore syntax, grammar, and spelling for now. Trust me when I say that I understand your sentiments; all of those little mistakes are sticking out and nagging at you like unsightly pimples.
Many inexperienced writers end up distracting themselves from dealing with the deeper issues by worrying over cosmetic problems. They get so caught up with it that they think all of their problems can be solved by rearranging and deleting words like a game of Jenga.
The real value in the editing and revision process is in restructuring ideas instead of words.
On a side note, please try to refrain from taking a thesaurus to your work. Replacing your words with longer, bloated ones will only make your paper harder to read. Just try to keep a natural voice to your writing.
Now, what you have to do is find your thesis statement and underline it. This is where you make a definitive statement or focused assessment about your topic. Make sure that you put it as close to the beginning as possible. This is so the reader understands what your paper is about. After that, read the rest of the paper and ask yourself the following questions:
Is my purpose clear? Does everything relate to my thesis in some way? Do my examples clearly support my central ideas? Are there any loose ends that either need to be tied back or snipped?
Try to find the main arguments beneath all of your rambling and bring them to the forefront.  Having a definite, clear, and cohesive structure and focus will give your essay its greatest strengths. You want the reader to see exactly what you see, without any confusion over intent.
It’s a lot like drawing with charcoals. You must look at the underlying form of the piece first, the basic shapes and patterns on which everything rests. Then you use your eraser to clear away the excess blocking the good stuff, and the charcoal pencil to darken and add more detail to highlight the strongest, most important parts. Also, you have to be willing to change the shape of certain parts in order to fit with the whole, even if the parts look good by themselves.

Through the Grapevine – 10/20

From Waldo: I’m looking into graduate schools. What do you think the most important things to pay attention to are?

Ben says: The school’s requirements for admission. Follow their requirements for letters of recommendation, résumés, transcripts and letters of intent perfectly. You don’t want to give them a quick reason to throw you out of the application pool. At the moment, I’m researching graduate schools too, and even though all their requirements are a bit overwhelming, it’s worth it to work through it all slowly to make sure you get in! Good luck!

Shannon says: Definitely know what the requirements are to apply. But there are also a number of other things to think about. You want to make sure that the school has the program that you are looking for. I know that in psychology not only do you have to choose a program, but you also have to choose one professor you want to work with for all of the research you do. Make sure the program you choose is one you are ready to commit to. You may also want to look at the costs. Some programs are paid in full and offer you a paid job; still others require you to pay and the money you make while working also goes toward the cost of tuition. Additionally, housing is another very important thing to look into. Some graduate schools will help you find a place to live, but for others, you’re on your own. Make sure you look into living conditions around the school, how easy it will be to find a place and how much will it cost to live there.

From Brihanda: For the past couple of years I have been pursuing a degree and now I’m thinking about changing my major, but I’m a junior now….what should I do?

Ben says: I’m a big believer in following what you love and doing what you love, so if you can afford the extra time in school and you really want it, go for it! Our world is changing and now it’s more acceptable to do what you love, even if you need another day job to support it. If you work your butt off and you really want it, you can be anything you want to be!

Shannon says: I think that you should do what you want to do, but at the same time if it’s going to take an extra year or so, you have to ready to commit to it. A friend of mine just changed his mind about what he wanted to do and is going to school for an extra year. You just have to make sure that it’s worth it. If you know you will be able to afford to go another year, or you figure out you can fit it in before you graduate, go for it. But I definitely think you should finish whatever degree you have already worked so hard on. You can add this new thing as a minor if you can’t finish all of the requirements for a major.

From Alexandria: What do you think about the recycle bins showing up around campus now?

Ben says: I think they are great! It’s about time we saw some more recycling going on around here! As an artist I go through a lot of supplies that can be recycled so I try to recycle as much as possible and buy recycled materials. I think everyone should be utilizing these recycle bins! It’s nice to see a bit of a change because I know how much paper and plastic college kids go through.

Shannon says: I think it’s a really great idea. I live in Pennsylvania and it was a big difference to come to school here and see the recycling places in Wal-Mart and Meijer stores. But I think it is really good that the school is trying to bring people to find recycling an everyday thing. This will help us get into a regular rhythm of recycling.

Through the Grapevine – 10/6

From Roselynn: School has completely burned me out and I’m ready for the working world, but people keep telling me that without graduate school I won’t go anywhere. Is that true?

Ben says: It really depends on what your major is. If you are an art major, you don’t necessarily need a graduate degree to become a professional artist. If you are a biology major or a pre-med student, you’ll really never be anywhere “great” in the professional world without more school. My best advice is to take a year off, and then try to go back to school if you want. If you find that you have a job you like and you don’t want to go back to school, don’t. It’s your life and your decision.

Shannon says: I agree that it really matters what your major is. I am a psychology major and what I always hear is that I have to go to grad school. I have talked with my professors and advisers and they’ve told me it’s possible to do things without the grad school degree, but I will be limited if I want to stay in the field of psychology. You may just have to take a break and work for a while. But in the end it is all up to you. You may find that you like working and you’re happy there, or you may decide that you would like to do something different and go back to school.

From Omri: At my work I agitated one of my co-workers and now she does everything she can to exclude me. I have already apologized and my boss has taken notice that she is acting this way. What should I do about it?

Ben says: I think the best route is to just let it go. It will eventually fade away and even if she tries to prolong it, the other office workers will get sick of it and ignore her. Not everyone will hate you for agitating her; eventually the other workers will see that she is bitter and quit paying attention to her. Just ignore her.

Shannon says: Since your boss has noticed that she is acting like this, I think it would be best for you to keep the waters calm. She sounds like she needs to mature a little and that has nothing to do with you. You may have agitated her, but you’ve already apologized to her and tried to fix it. It is now up to her to get over it. There is no reason for her to treat you differently than the other workers.

From Cassandra: I’m having a lot of trouble lately with paying tuition and I’m not sure what to do. I already have over $12,000 in private student loans and more than that in federal loans. What should I do?

Ben says: The best way to go about it is to see if your parents can help you in any way and find scholarships online you can apply to and apply to them all. I rarely get any outside scholarships because so many people apply for them that it’s almost impossible to win. Just buck up and get that student loan if you need it and do your best to pay it off when you can. Sometimes you just have to take the hard road.

Shannon says: When my older sister started college she applied for every scholarship she could get her hands on. I am not sure if she got any, but you won’t know until you try. Just search online and apply to every one that you are eligible for. Also, work-study is a good way to get tuition down. If your parents can give you some spending money, like an allowance, then all of the money you work for can go toward tuition. You could try just talking to your parents, too; they might be able to help you out more or help you take out another loan that they could pay the interest on until you are out of school. Just be open, and seek out every opportunity.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Start the day on a positive note

The alarm clock pierces the still morning air with its pitiless scream and your eyes jolt open. It takes a moment to adjust to the light of the new day. You sluggishly reach out to shut off the alarm, maybe knocking an object or two from your shelves in the process. Then, as you lie there in the comfort of your warm sheets, it slowly dawns on you that you have to get up and go do work.
This seems like a monumental task. Everything inside of you aches to go back to sleep, to just forget all of your responsibilities for once. But you can’t, because there is a quiz to do in one class, or a paper to turn in for another. There are things to accomplish and learn today.
The first step in waking up properly is sleeping properly. However, sometimes you just can’t get those eight recommended hours that you always hear about. This is fine. The thing you have to keep in mind is that the human body rests in cycles of precisely 90 minutes. If you are interrupted mid-cycle, it can throw you off balance and leave you feeling drowsier than before. To get a better idea of how to plan this out, look up this website: There you can input what time you need to wake up by and it will calculate the most advantageous times for you to go to sleep. Also, remember that it takes around fifteen minutes for the average person to fully fall asleep, which is when the cycle begins.
The next step is getting yourself out of bed as quickly as possible. This can be as easy as putting your alarm clock across the room. You will be forced out of bed to silence it, meaning that you won’t be able to just hit snooze, roll over, and fall back asleep. Try to keep on your feet from that moment on, because returning to bed will be awfully tempting. Get all of your class materials packed, head over to the bathroom to take care of business, and maybe make a mental schedule for the day ahead. Also, try to fill up your room with as much light as possible. Roll up the blinds and flick on the lights. Your eyes will hate you for this, but only momentarily as they acclimatize to the brightness.
Try to get some food in your stomach; preferably it’d be something healthy, but anything will do. While it’s not true that your metabolism “needs a jumpstart” per se, eating food in the morning can give your system a vital boost of energy. Your body has been fasting all night (hence the word break-fast) and feeding off of your reserves, so it could use something to pep itself up. Avoid caffeine if possible, though. Caffeine is a stimulant that might be too aggressive for your needs, like using a jackhammer to pound a nail. That’s also not to mention the severe crash once caffeine’s effects wear away. Those who rise up the quickest and the fastest tend to fall at the same rate.
I mean, I wouldn’t hold it against you for grabbing a coffee or a double mocha latte on the way to class, but let’s just say you’ve been warned.

Through the Grapevine – 9/29

From Princess: I have been following the story about Troy Davis, and my friends all thought it was right he was executed, but I feel it was wrong. What do you think about the use of eyewitnesses in cases determining the death penalty?

Ben says: I honestly haven’t heard this story at all, but usually if you have an eyewitness – especially three or more – it’s a pretty solid case. But then again, who knows. There are always ways to get around the justice system.

Shannon says: The use of eyewitnesses in any case is iffy. For one thing, if it was dark, or there was interference (like a weapon), the witness is less likely to focus on what the person really looked like. Also, there are countless studies done on the reliability of eyewitnesses and in many of those they talk about susceptibility to persuasion. An eyewitness can easily make themselves believe what they saw was really something else. Being questioned for long hours can also change what happened in the witnesses’ mind. Leading questions, telling the witnesses things that happened that they didn’t know and human error can all lead to fake memories. With all of the doubt that was surrounding Davis, the execution should have been canceled or postponed until they proved he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The amount of support that was acquired for him should have caused the case to be looked over again. I don’t think that eyewitnesses should be the only evidence used against anyone in any case, as was done here.

From Copper: I have a real problem with my friend’s PDA (public display of affection). How do I talk to them in a way that they won’t be angry with me?

Ben says: It’s okay to hold hands, give the person a kiss, or even lay on a couch together, but if you’re making out in public or groping one another, that’s a bit over the top. But I think it’s okay to show you love someone in public. Maybe just ask your friend to take things down a notch.

Shannon says: You really just need to talk to your friend. Let them know how you feel about it, and if they have a problem with toning it down, just let them know that you will not be hanging out with them when they are together. PDA is something that bothers me a bit, too. If you are getting to the point where you think if you don’t kiss that person every five minutes they will disappear, there’s something wrong. You have to be respectful of the people around you. There is plenty of time for you to do those kinds of things without an audience.

From Muerte: I have an embarrassing problem, but I want to go out with the guy I like who keeps asking me out and I keep saying no. What do I do?

Ben says: Go out with him! Once you get to know each other, explain your problem to him and if he doesn’t understand, he’s not worth it. But, if he does understand, you’re good. You’ll never know until you try!

Shannon says: If you like him you have to find a way around the problem. You can’t let this problem decide how you are going to live your life. Even if it’s a problem that won’t go away in a day, it is something you have to find ways to work with. After you are comfortable with this guy maybe you can tell them. Everyone has had to deal with this one time or another in their lives. You may think you’re alone in your problem, but trust me, you’re not.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Plunge into community service

As a college student, it’s easy to get lost in your own little world. Homework, class time, and work-study all eat up our time and attention and we always struggle to find time for ourselves. When we do get the extra time we desire, it’s usually not spent on productive activities. It’s awfully tempting to spend a free day vegging out in front of the computer or television. However, we tend to forget that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s why community service can be a great way of not only understanding and reminding ourselves about our place in the world, but also to spend that free time doing something rewarding. There are a number of worthwhile opportunities in the surrounding community:
HOPE Community Center – The HOPE Community Center is an organization created to provide aid for adults with disabilities in the Lenawee Country area. The center is a place where they can socialize and enjoy each other’s company, and become empowered members of their community. It is located near downtown Adrian at 431 Baker St., and programs and service opportunities are available Mon. thru Fri., between 8 a.m. and 2:30 pm. To find out more, visit their website at
The Boys and Girls Club – For those of you out there who love to work with children, the Boys and Girls Club of Lenawee County is a perfect opportunity to do just that.  The Boys and Girls Club focuses on giving children and teens – with a focus on those coming from disadvantaged circumstances – the support and guidance they need to make the right decisions. They often work with local schools in the area to set up fun after-school events for kids. More information can be found on their website at
Circle K – Circle K is a campus-based organization affiliated with the Kiwanis Club of Adrian. Its primary focus is to facilitate college students with the opportunity to take an active part in their communities, gain leadership skills, and have the opportunity to communicate with other college students on a global level. They work with a variety of organizations such as the Humane Society, UNICEF, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity.
Green Action Club – G.A.C. focuses on making Adrian College a more environmentally-conscious place by organizing recycling events on campus, raising awareness amongst students about environmental concerns and problems, and providing education for those who want to learn how to live a greener and healthier lifestyle.
Campus Crusade for Christ – Not only is Campus Crusade for Christ an organization for those who want to share and discuss their views on spirituality and faith with others, but it is also a place to share in helping out the community through volunteer service.
Rake ‘N Run – Rake ‘N Run is an annual event held here at AC that usually takes place on the first Sunday of November. Each year, students sign up to help rake leaves for the elderly and disabled residents of the local community. Not only do they get a chance to help those in need, but also get to bond with fellow students as they do so.
Community service is about going beyond the boundaries of one’s self to show compassion and charity. Those are two things that cost so little to give, but are worth so much to those who need it.
It’s also about learning about that larger world around you, which can give you a fresh perspective on how it works. And it is about giving and receiving love, a basic constant of human solidarity. It’s an investment that pays itself off in dividends.

Throught the Grapevine – 9/22

From Justice: I’m having a hard time staying motivated to do my homework and I don’t want to fall behind. What can I do to re-motivate myself?

Ben says: I think you really just need to find something in the class that you can love, something that makes you want to do your work. Say you’re taking an Art History class, but you don’t really like art; but maybe you like Greek Mythology or the Victorian Era in England. There is art that corresponds with those time periods and that might motivate you to do your work and learn more about the subject. You never know what you’ll find that will make you more interested in the class. Try to find something, and, if you can’t, have a talk with your professor. Most are more than willing to help you try to find something that interests you.

Shannon says: When I have trouble motivating myself I usually try to go to the library to do homework. Being around other people who are working on things makes me want to do my work. Also, if I have a lot of work to do over the weekend, I will try to plan something special to take time off to rest and hang out with friends. When you get really loaded down that is when you start to feel really tired and you start to fall behind. Make sure you’ve had enough rest and you take time to rejuvenate your mind.

From Beatrice: What do you think can be done about the national deficit?

Ben says: I really think Congress needs to stop voting party lines. It’s getting to the point where all liberals only vote for liberal policies and all conservatives only vote for conservative policies. The House will never pass anything if it can’t look past party lines for the greater good. It’s their job to prolong the common good and be responsible, but at the moment they are all being selfish and childish. We don’t pay taxes and vote so they can sit on their duffs and do nothing.

Shannon says: I don’t really pay attention to politics very much so I don’t really know what could be done to help relieve the deficit. From what I know I think Congress really just needs to pick one idea and get everyone on board. They need to stop trying to push all their ideas on each other. Once they all start working together and are not in competition they can start working on the problem.

From Peggy: Recently online gamers solved an AIDS protein problem that scientists have failed to solve for years. This could drastically affect AIDS research. What do you think about it?

Ben says: I find this story amazing. Apparently gamers deciphered the protein in three weeks and scientists had been working on it for years. None of the gamers had a background in biochemistry, they were just playing a game. The reason behind it is that humans have spatial reasoning skills computers still lack, which is why they figured it out. It also goes to show the power of people in numbers. I really think this could have a drastic effect on the population at large and also an effect on how scientific research is conducted. If we cured HIV/AIDS we could save thousands of people and cure many others who are in early stages or might contract the disease later. It’s a wonderful discovery and I hope future research with the new protein folds yield good results.

Shannon says: I think it’s really great. If we can work on this and eventually find a cure many people will be helped. But this story goes to show that everyone has something to offer the world. No one expected gamers to find the answer; we can see that computers don’t know everything. Some day hopefully we will be able to look at HIV/AIDS as we look at chicken pox now. Something that is preventable and avoidable.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Allow writing to thrive in your life

Writing has the power to alter human consciousness.
This is a bold statement – one famously made by author Walter Ong – but it has the evidence to back itself up. Think about how a person learns to write. It isn’t a natural process like learning to speak, which infants and small children can pick up without extensive instruction. First, we are taught to match letters to sounds, then sounds to words and the corresponding ideas behind them. Next, we take the words and their ideas and group them into sentences with larger meanings. We also learn about the many ways to form and punctuate a sentence to get our ideas across with the greatest effect. Then the sentences get organized into paragraphs, which become part of even larger bodies of text.
After this process takes a hold of our thoughts, the influence becomes irrevocable. We make lists to prioritize and organize. We leave notes to remind ourselves of our obligations. We write annotations to summarize and contextualize what we learn. We use brainstorming webs to connect ideas. Writing becomes a way that we learn to clarify and understand ourselves and the world around us.
It becomes important, then, to know how to use this skill to sharpen our minds. Think of it as adding an external hard drive to your brain.
Journal and diary writing can become an important and invaluable tool in self-improvement and organization. This doesn’t just mean a notebook where you write your thoughts and feelings after a long day; it can be a running log for all your thoughts throughout the entire course of the day. This is great for capturing those fleeting ideas and questions before they drift away. You can look back later and follow up on them. Some of them might actually lead to enlightening discoveries.
Also, you could use this skill to write down any facts that you learn, interesting phrases you overhear, names of people you meet, and important times and dates that you might forget later. Then when you reflect at the end of each day, you can try to tie these ideas together into cohesive thoughts by making unique connections between them.
Since computers, smartphones, and other internet-based electronics are shifting to the forefront of writing technology, consider starting a blog and/or Twitter account, if you haven’t already. A blog is a great place to flesh out your ideas and create polished self-reflections. For this I recommend websites like BlogSpot, Tumblr, or WordPress.
Twitter, which is used more for social networking, is a unique site in that it limits each post to 140 characters. This means that you have to be more concise, economical, and clear in your word choice, which can lead to an improvement in your writing skills.
Many of us already practice writing through these kinds of means without even being aware of it. We write notes in class and for work, and leave messages for each other to read. We send texts to each other, respond to our family and friends’ Facebook posts, retweet each other’s thoughts, and have lengthy conversations through instant messaging programs. With a greater awareness of potential and willingness towards meditation, perhaps we can find a larger purpose for writing in our lives.