Category Archives: Student Section

A place for AC students to get the latest info on Campus Happenings.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Use the Power of the Point

We’ve all seen our share of bad Powerpoint presentations. They’re often filled with technical mishaps, poor timing, awkward speakers, and screens packed with far too much visual and informational clutter to process at once. However, this doesn’t mean that Powerpoint can’t be used as an effective tool in presenting information. We shouldn’t blame the technology for the user’s inadequacies.

So, here are some tips for being a savvy presenter and Powerpoint user:

Use a minimal amount of text. This means no chunky paragraphs, because nobody is going to want to read all of that nonsense. Stick to single sentences and phrases. The point of using Powerpoint is to provide an appealing visual aid to your presentation. It isn’t supposed to be your whole presentation slapped on a screen.

Avoid clip-art and cheesy animations/transitions. These are the bane of any presentation. Just because they are available, doesn’t mean that you should use them. They look cheap and tacky, and will not impress anybody who has used a computer before. If anything, they are distracting. Instead, use Google to find relevant images and if you feel the need to use animation, use the more subtle ones.

Rehearse your presentation in advance. Take some time to remember the order of the slides and get a sense of how long the presentation is going to be. Make sure that all of the equipment is working. Check for spelling errors and broken links.  Don’t spend too much time memorizing every single thing or you might end up sounding too artificial. Just keep the facts straight and let them come out naturally.

Don’t read off the screen. We can already see what’s up there and read it for ourselves. We can also (usually) read faster than you speak, so we will already know everything ahead of time. This often leads to a boring presentation.

Fill in the details verbally. The only thing that should be up on screen is the core, vital information. Anything else – including explanations, examples and finer points – should be spoken to them. This is your primary role as the speaker. You are supposed to be the audience’s guide to deciphering all of the knowledge within your presentation.

Make direct eye contact with the audience. Don’t constantly look down at a computer screen or the floor. This will make you seem flaky and uncertain. Instead, you want to be projecting confidence and intelligence. Isolate individuals for eye-contact and act as if they are the only other person in the room. Then move on to other neighboring people and try to get a broad sweep of the crowd. Make sure to be smooth and gradual with your eye movement, otherwise you might seem erratic.

Try not to drone on and on. Droning is the fastest way to lose an audience’s attention.  Put some flavor and emotion into your words. Use intonation and inflection to denote important points. Try to make the presentation feel personable. Feel free to throw in jokes, observations, and short anecdotes to make things lively.

Get the audience involved. Ask them questions to get them engaged with the topic. If they are unable to answer, give them the answers anyway. If there are any additional materials that you think would help with their understanding of the material, print them out in the form of a hand-out and pass them around. You can even create a little quiz at the end and reward them with prizes for paying attention.

Through the Grapevine – 2/23

From Godiva: I said ‘I love you’ to my boyfriend, but he didn’t say it back, nor did he freak out. Should I be worried?

Ben says: Maybe he’s just not ready to say it back. Some people develop feelings faster or are more comfortable with expressing them quicker. Just wait for now and see what happens.

Shannon says: I don’t think you should be. If it didn’t freak him out then it’s possible that he just isn’t there yet. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and say it to him all the time. I think that would freak him out and smother him. So just wait and in time he will get to be on the same level as you in the relationship.

 
From Granger: I’m having an end of college crisis, and just realized I have no idea what to do. How do I make a decision?

Ben says: Slow down, think and research. You’ll be ok. There are lots of job opportunities for people with liberal arts degrees. You are in a position where you have a lot of opportunites to move up in the world. Even if you have to get a little more training, a job shouldn’t be too hard to come by. Even if it’s only temporary, it will be a good start.

Shannon says: Well, you have to look at all of your choices and weigh the pros and cons. Unless you have a job already set up the best thing to do is set a minimum to how much you want to be paid, and look for a job. The great thing about having a degree is that you can mostly only go up from here. You may not get the job you have always dreamed of, but you just need a job to start paying bills back. There is no point in making solid plans for your future, because it changes every minute. Just be prepaped to jump on any jobs that come your way.

 
From Korin: I have a very passive-aggressive hostile roommate. How do I deal with it?

Ben says: You have to weight how much you want to be their roommate still. If it’s not worth dealing with anymore, you should consider getting a new roommate. While it may be too late to do so this semester, you don’t want to be stuck living with someone you don’t get along with next year.

Shannon says: Seeing that we are so close to the end of the year it would not do you much good to go through all the trouble of switching roommates. But the best thing would be to confront them, and you might find out it is not you that they are being hostile with. If that doesn’t work then it would be best to try and make the best of it, like I said we are very close to the end of the year. And spring break might be just what the doctor ordered, some time apart. Once you get back from break you may find that things have cooled down between the two of you, and you get along much better.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Find your inner social butterfly

If you let it be, college can be a lonely place. It’s easy to get so caught up in classes and schoolwork that you simply forget to have a social life. Then, when you finally have the time, you don’t know what to do with it. Most of the people around you have formed their own cliques, so it can feel even harder to find a place to fit in. However, the worst thing you can do about this is hide in your room all day and never talk to anybody.

Luckily, college is also a place of many opportunities. Around every corner there is something to do and new people to meet. Sometimes you just have to go out and find them yourself. If you find yourself clueless about how to do that, here’s a helpful list of suggestions:

Keep your door open. Not all the time, of course. We all need our privacy and alone time, and have moments when we need to be free from distraction. However, if you aren’t doing anything particularly important and would like to talk to someone, it isn’t a bad idea. Somebody walking by will see the open door as an invitation to peek inside and see what you’re up to.

Just talk to the people next to you. There isn’t any harm in a little small talk or some joking around. Try it sometime, whether you are waiting in line for food or have some extra time before or after class. Just relax and be yourself. Who knows, you might connect, have a discussion, and become friends. A good icebreaker can go a long way.

Wander around. You never know what you’ll find around campus. Try checking around your dorm building for starters. There’s sure to be a couple of posters on the wall regarding upcoming events and activities. There might even be something going on in the common room downstairs. Also, don’t forget to check the Caine Student Center. If there isn’t anything going on in there, you can always try to find somebody to play pool or air hockey with.

Join a club or organization. This is the best way to meet people who share similar interests with you. There are plenty of clubs on campus, too, so there’s bound to be one that appeals to you. If there isn’t, you can always try to make one yourself. Browse the Adrian website, look for fliers, or ask professors for information about meeting times and places.

Get a job on campus. You might as well try to earn a wage and get some work experience if you find yourself with a lot of free time. When you work long enough with other people, you might eventually form a bond and possibly a friendship. Also, your coworkers can also introduce you to their friends and invite you to their gatherings.

Use social networking. If you are on the computer a lot, there’s many productive ways to use that time. Send Facebook friend requests to a bunch of people. Somebody will eventually accept you. You can also look for and create your own groups and pages. There are so many benefits to amassing a network of friends and acquaintances. They can be an emotional outlet when you need somebody to talk to, give you advice, hook you up with connections, and introduce you to things you never knew existed before.

Just remember to always keep that door open. Don’t let the opportunities offered during these years pass you by. Otherwise, you may find yourself looking back on your years in college, and lamenting on all of the things you missed out on.

Through the Grapevine – 2/16

From Greg: How can people believe in anything?

 
Ben says: It’s something you feel, something you know is right. That’s how.

 
Shannon says: When it comes to believing in anything it is your own preference you should look to. Coming to college I was presented with a lot of new ideas about how people live their lives, how they make decisions, and whether or not there is a higher power working somewhere. It is hard to stick to your own beliefs when you are immersed in the thoughts of others, but all you have to do is know how you feel about things. Be open-minded; people who have beliefs that differ from your own might be able to give you a great insight on why they believe in what they do, and it could change what you believe in. But make sure you are not convinced or bullied into accepting new things just because that is your group norm.

 

 

From Belinda: On Valentine’s Day, I gave someone a valentine, but they have not responded. Should I approach them and ask why?

 
Ben says: Give them some time. Things don’t happen immediately. I’m sure they’ll say thank you, and if they don’t, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

 

 

Shannon says: I don’t think you should. They are either not interested or are too embarrassed to say what they feel. I think that if you gave this person a valentine and put yourself out there like that it is their turn to return the favor. I think people put too much thought and faith into things like valentines in determining how they deal with relationships. The best thing for anyone to do when confronted with something like a valentine or a confession that someone likes you is not to ignore it and hope it goes away, but go and talk to the person who confronted you. Even if you have to tell them you are not interested. When people don’t know if you accept their feelings or not they with always say the worst and hope for the best. It is best to just be honest.

 

 

From Helga: I keep trying to keep up my motivation to try and make it to the gym every day, but I’m really bad at it. How can I help myself?

 
Ben Says: Set a goal list, take a friend, or get a workout buddy. There are many websites out there that have excellent health advice and advice on staying motivated; I think you should check them out!

 
Shannon Says: I would make a schedule, which always works best for me. Make sure you are doing this for yourself and not for the people around you. Also, involving your friends and going as a group makes the gym less intimidating. Make sure that you are working out on your level; if you try to go really hard and get quick results and you don’t, then it is really disappointing. Work up to the level that you are at, and then push yourself. Remind yourself how great you feel afterward; once you get started it will be easier to keep it up.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – It’s teamwork, not ‘me’ work

“None of us is as good as all of us.”

This phrase has long been a rallying call for teamwork and unity. For the most part, the sentiment behind it is true. Team members can offer important suggestions, opinions, and feedback that can inspire newer and stronger approaches to ideas and concepts. A team can also provide moral support to help push people forward, and divide up tasks that would normally wear down an individual.  Nothing beats that sense of accomplishment from finally and successfully completing a project with a close-knit team.

Sadly, people often do not realize the benefits of good teamwork. In fact, many students are completely adverse to the idea of group work. This is usually due to experiences in which either the brunt of labor was put upon them or they felt left out of the process entirely. Sometimes they just don’t get along with their partners, finding them more of a hindrance than a help. They might then ask this question: “Why bother working with them when you can do it faster by yourself?”

The answer, however, is not to run away from the challenge. This is exactly the kind of problem group projects are made for. The truth is that many of us need to learn to work with other people. Only a small percentage of people work alone. The rest are surrounded by coworkers they will see day in and out. We might as well learn to work together as efficiently as possible to make it easier on everybody.

Here are just a few tips to build a stronger team:

If you have something to say, say it. Nobody can read your mind. Don’t sit in the back and get frustrated when things aren’t going in the direction that you want them to. Speak up and let your opinion be heard. Always strive to be an active participant and remember that communication is essential.

Never put down a person’s ideas. Even if you think it’s terrible, you should politely acknowledge the idea and then suggest alternatives. Don’t just be negative with your tone and demean the other person. You want to make sure that everybody feels like an important member of the team.

Make sure that everybody has something to do. If somebody is sitting around twiddling their thumbs, find a job for them. Idleness tends to lead to stupidity, stupidity leads to distraction, and distraction costs precious time. Reallocate their attention to a different objective to make a productive use of their free time.

Involve the whole team in important decisions. Have roll-call votes on major issues. If somebody opposes a decision, give them the chance to speak their mind. Then have a group discussion to brainstorm ideas to solve the problem. Try to reach an agreement or a compromise that everybody is fine with.

Be punctual. Show up on time to meetings outside of class. It looks bad if you show up while everybody is busy, as if you are trying to avoid work. This will cause resent amongst team members when they have to take up responsibilities that should have been yours. If possible, show up a few minutes early.

Keep in contact with others. An aloof team member is an untrustworthy one.  Even if something urgent comes up and you are going to be unavailable for awhile, it doesn’t take long to send out a tweet, an email, a Facebook message, or a phone call in order to inform others about the problem. This is a sign you care about the project.

Through the Grapevine – 2/9

From Brenda: My guy friends say that their ideal girl would be one who can take care of herself; yet I feel that being so independent repels guys, and they are intimidated when they find out I hunt or I’m not the girly girl type. What is the happy medium?

 

Ben says: It’s their loss. Have you seen any of the popular hunting shows? They love having girls who can gut a deer in less than five minutes. You just need to find the right one! And pink camouflage, it’s the hip new thing to do.

 

Shannon says: There is no happy medium when it comes to this kind of thing. Everyone has their own idea of what they want. It might be that the guys you have as friends are a lot like you and want an independent person in their life because that is what they are used to. The guys that you end up liking are just not your type. Trust me, it’s better to be independent. I think it is awesome you are able to do the things you do, and that one day there will be a guy in your life who will love and appreciate how independent and non-girly girl you are. He’s just probably not here in Adrian.

 

 

From Jeannie: I am really hoping for a surprise on Valentine’s Day, because this is the first year that I have had someone in my life to spend it with. Am I setting myself up for disappointment?

 

Ben says: Are you? Maybe you should answer this question, because I don’t know him/her as well as you do. And, if you’re constantly making all of his/her decisions, then you’re going to be disappointed sometimes. You have to take initiative and do things too! Relationships are a two-way street.

 

Shannon says: It depends on how new the relationship is, and also how responsive your man is to holidays like this one. If he is someone who doesn’t really think much about these kinds of holidays he probably won’t try too hard. I would not look too forward to it, unless you are going to do something if he doesn’t. He may need a little encouragement to let him know this is a day you would like to celebrate. You can even mention it this week so it won’t be a surprise, but if you two are still together next year around this time you won’t be setting yourself up for disappointment.

 

 

From Greg: What is a cheap way to spend Valentine’s Day?

 

Ben says: Don’t celebrate it…haha.

 

Shannon says: That’s easy! The school is having open skate next week and it is Valentine’s Day-themed. A night of cheesy movies, depending on you and your significant other’s taste, or you could grab a few things at the store and make dinner together. I think that as long as you two are spending the time together it doesn’t really matter what you are doing. As long as you take the time to make it special, flowers are always a good idea.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Don’t criticize; critique instead

One of the greatest things about college is that you are constantly surrounded by fellow educated minds. There aren’t too many places out there where a vast majority of its denizens are actively and willingly trying to learn and hone their skills. And soon enough, the growing minds of these institutions will be tasked with envisioning and forging the shape of the future.

In the meantime, we should focus on utilizing those minds in the present, while we are in the crucial stages of our development. During this time, receiving intelligent input can be invaluable. It can help turn an average idea into a great one, like a spark into a flame.

We often provide each other with input through constructive criticism. This is usually done through either group workshops or class critiques. There, we are expected to give opinions on weaknesses and strengths, with suggestions for possible improvement.

However, sometimes people have trouble with giving constructive criticism. Often they’ll say it’s “cool” or that they just “really like it.” While it’s nice to receive compliments, these are hardly specific enough to extract anything useful. It can be frustrating to those trying to pinpoint the problems in their work. That is why being able to give constructive criticism can be a vital skill.

The first thing you should do is make discussion plans ahead of time. Think of general questions you can ask about the work or project. Focus on what topics you want to bring up and turn into a dialogue. This includes asking about intent, motivation, and goals. Having a focused strategy beforehand can eliminate the time wasted on useless small talk.

Always begin with the positive aspects. This will make the person receiving the criticism more comfortable and willing to listen to you. Afterward, you can move into your concerns and dislikes with greater ease. Strive to keep your criticisms clear, concise, and straight to the point. Don’t beat around the bush and flip-flop on what you want to tell them. Also, try to bookend your critique with more compliments, which will help the person not feel like a failure.

Remember to be polite and unaggressive with your criticism. Negative or hostile emotions can make the criticism seem more like a personal attack. The whole point of constructive criticism is to be helpful, not combative, condescending, or mean. You don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Don’t badger them about issues you can’t come to an understanding on. Harping will only breed further resent. If you are any good with humor, try using it in a light-hearted manner to break any tension.

Make sure to consider your outward appearance and mannerisms. Listen to the tone of your voice. Is it too harsh? Too soft? Try to find a happy medium between the two that ranges between serious and conversational, depending on what ideas you want to get across. Maintain eye contact as you speak and listen to the other person. It will show confidence and that you actually care about what is going on.

Treating the other person like they are valuable will encourage them to work harder and improve, which we can all benefit from.

Through the Grapevine – 2/2

From Gary: My friend loves to drink and over the past year or so she has been drinking more and more at one time. Now, she is starting to get to the point where she gets sick. We try to give her a limit, but she never listens. How do we convince her that there is a problem?

Ben says: Good question, but I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. If getting sick is not enough of a reason to stop, then maybe she will just have to come to some conclusion on her own.

Shannon says: You have to sit her down and really tell her everything. Having a glass of wine or two a day is actually good for you, but binge drinking is a much different story. It sounds like she is trying too hard to have a good time. Look at the people she usually drinks with. If she is hanging out with people who drink a lot and have a higher tolerance she may be trying to prove that she can keep up. You just have to get her to sit down and really talk with you. Tell her your own concerns and make sure you are supportive. Don’t attack her because that will only make things worse. Ultimately, you have to put your foot down. If she won’t listen to you then you have to tell her you can’t hang out with her when she is drinking.

 

From Disgruntled Art Student: My senior show is coming up really soon, and I feel so unmotivated to work on it. How do I get back on track?

Ben says: I’m in the same boat you are. Just give yourself a goal to hit every day and try to keep making that goal. It’s working for me!

Shannon says: You have to put a schedule together, and with that you have two options. Either you can set goals for each day, or you can set higher goals that you can get to if time allows. If you don’t hit those goals right away, you’ll still be on track to finish on time. This is the most important part of your college career (other than walking across the stage) and it has to get done, so just push through and get working.

 

 
From Colin: I’m a smoker, and although I do everything I can to be as considerate to others as possible, there are still those around me who will pretend to choke and cough. How do I stop it from getting to me?

Ben says: If you don’t want to quit, just don’t let it get to you. If you know they are pretending, don’t let it bother you. Set them straight if you need to, but people are always going to be silly about some things.

Shannon says: This is something I have seen myself. Although there are smokers who do not care who is around when they are smoking and don’t try to keep the smell off of them, I know a lot of others who try really hard so people do not feel uncomfortable around them. People seem to think they should have a say about what you are doing, and it is none of their business. Those people are more rude than any smoker could ever be. I doubt they pretend to barf in front of people who drink, or anything else like that. It is your choice, and if they don’t understand that then they are not worth your time.

Neal’s Necessary Knowledge – Warning: Wikipedia is reliable

Last week Wikipedia held a blackout in order to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). All 20 million of the website’s articles were made unavailable for an entire day. This demonstration gained notoriety, and many people took this opportunity to jab at Wikipedia’s enormous stature and importance in the digital information age. “How will college students get any work done?” they jeered. “Now they’ll actually have to read books and go to the library to do real research!”

 
While students using Wikipedia as their one and only tool is disconcerting, I feel that much of this derision is misguided and woefully misinformed. It seems to me that many are making light of what is a truly revolutionary and important resource. The stigma it receives is unfounded.

 
One of the struggles facing Wikipedia’s credibility is that it is new, and new things simply aren’t as trusted as their older, more established counterparts. Our culture still views the printed word with a sense of reverence. Meanwhile, the Internet is put under a far harsher scrutiny. The information on it seems far more nebulous and anonymous, without the official grounding of proper authorship.

 
I remember in high school when I first found out about Wikipedia. It was amazing that so much free knowledge was available, open for anybody to use. However, my teachers raged against using Wikipedia as a source, because “anybody could log in and edit the information!”

 
It is this exact feature that turned out to be Wikipedia’s greatest strength. The sheer amount of users – many of them being specialists and scholars in the areas of their expertise – who visit the website put a quick stop to any blatant vandalism or wrong information. This staggering amount of peer-review makes Wikipedia statistically more accurate than its published counterparts, including the Encyclopedia Britannica. Once a printed encyclopedia is put out there, it doesn’t change until the next edition.

 
Wikipedia is in a perpetual stage of revision and improvement.

 
With this in mind, it becomes harder to rationalize an argument against using Wikipedia. But this does not mean it should be the only resource used for culling information.  There are ways of using it responsibly.

 
Students should always start by asking their professors how they feel about using Wikipedia. While some still refuse to acknowledge Wikipedia as a legitimate source, many others have become more accepting of it in recent years. Still, many professors will encourage you to also look elsewhere to broaden your pool of data. This is generally a good idea anyway, since it’ll keep you from regurgitating information from one source.

 
Another one of Wikipedia’s strengths is most of its articles are written in clear and concise language that helps ease a reader into topics they might not have an understanding of yet. This makes it a perfect starting point – a stepping stone that leads to further and deeper research. You can then look into finding and reading more scholarly research to enhance your knowledge.

 
Most articles include a list of sources at the bottom of the page. You should definitely look through these in order to confirm the legitimacy of the information, and to find additional facts that might have been skipped over in the article. Some of the sources might include books and articles you can find at the library.

 
It’s never a bad thing to seek out as much information as possible. We live in a time where technology is advancing at an exponential rate; we’re able to access knowledge from anywhere at a touch of a button, and it’d be a shame not to utilize it to the fullest.

Through the Grapevine – 1/26

From George: My boyfriend and I talk every night, but even though I try to set a time limit it is starting to take over my homework time, and I’m always getting to bed really late. How do I fix it?

Ben says: Just let him know, it’s really that simple. If he gets upset, then you probably have a problem with clinginess more than just being on the phone too long.

Shannon says: It seems as if you and him have a good time on the phone, and it’s great that you two can talk every night. But if it is starting to invade your homework  and sleep time you have to manage it better. You do have to tell him, even though you love talking to him. You also need to straighten out your priorities. Try to pick nights you don’t have a lot to do, or when you have already gotten the majority of things done. You might give yourself a time limit, but you also have to enforce it. Let him know at the beginning before you really get into the conversation. He should hold you to it.

 

From Hannah: I really like this guy, and he has made comments about wanting to see me more steadily. When we do go out we have an amazing time. But when I try to set something up to see him he hardly gets back to me. Am I misinterpreting him?

Ben says: He could be busy with school, he could be busy with work, or he could be very shy or scared to go on another date. Worst-case scenario is that he isn’t interested. Either way, let him know how you feel and see what he says.

Shannon says: I don’t think you are, but he is sending mixed signals. Since you two have gone out and had a great time, it would seem as if he is sincere in what he says about wanting to see you more. Both of you have your own lives. Guys are normally bad at getting back to people, and they have a habit of losing their phones. You just have to keep working on it. If there is an age or class difference, that might have something to do with it. We are also nearing the end of the school year, so that might play a part. Don’t get crazy clingy, or try to reach him every day. Just keep reminding him you are there and that you want to take him up on his offer of seeing each other more often.

 

 
From Shanandra: In the last month my plans have gone from moving to Hawaii with a promising job, to moving home and looking for a job. I am so disappointed, and I don’t even know where to start.

Ben says: Find something you want to do that doesn’t include Hawaii. It’s tough when plans like that fall through, but you have to keep trying. Don’t worry, you’ll find something. It might just be a little harder now, but you can do it.

Shannon says: You need to just take one thing at a time. If you live around here, you can start looking for a job now, but if not, there is only so much you can do. It stinks things didn’t turn out as you planned, but you can’t change the way the cards were dealt. Once you do get home after graduation you just have to start looking and not get discouraged. My sister recently graduated from college, and it took her months to find a decent job, so I know the trials faced after graduation. Her best advice to me was to apply for as many jobs as possible, set a limit to how low you will go for hourly pay, and promise yourself not to keep that job forever. Find an opening first and then you can be picky about what you are looking for.