Advice for the Class of 2014
What I have for everyone this week is a little advice about what to do after deciding on going to Case. I figure at this point, the majority, if not everyone has made up their mind on what they are doing next year and where they are going to school. My goal for this blog is to try and give some advice and insights from personal experience.
My first piece of advice is regarding what to do this summer. Assuming things haven't changed dramatically over the past year, every new student has to complete a new student checklist of sorts. In my opinion, it is very important to jump on doing that as soon as possible and not put it off. The reason I say this is a lot of the items on the list have deadlines, and if you wait too long you might not be happy with what you get. It also helped a ton that my dad motivated me by saying I could get my laptop for school as soon as I completed my part of the checklist. Obviously I did everything as fast as possible.
One of the more important ones to get out of the way early is signing up for your orientation session. For my class, there was a total of four orientation sessions. Three took place during the summer at separate times and the fourth takes place the three days before the official move-in. The fourth one usually fills up the fastest, as it is the most convenient for many of the people that do not live close to Cleveland. Therefore if you want a say in what session you get, I recommend signing up as soon as possible. Now a little bit about my orientation experience. I think of orientation as a great time to get to know Case Western Reserve University's campus and develop some navigation skills from Leutner to Fribley (the two dining halls on campus). My orientation experience did not start nearly as well as I was hoping. My family and I were late on getting here for check-in so I was late for meeting up with my assigned group. Therefore, they left without me and I had the pleasure of being placed in a group with 15 girls, no guys. Not what I was planning on at all, but it worked out okay. At this point now, I haven’t kept up with many of the people I've met during orientation. It's not that they are bad people;, we just went our separate ways with friends when we arrived on campus. My suggestions for orientation are try your best to build some friendships up for when you come to Case in the fall, but don’t be upset if things do not work out the way you planned. I didn’t have a very good orientation experience, and some of my friends here loved orientation. Now after being here for a year, I feel it hasn’t hindered my college experience at all. So what to take from this is, don’t worry about it if you don’t meet anyone you like during orientation, you only are interacting within a very small part of the incoming freshman class. You will find people you like at a later date.
The next big, and probably most important, freshman experience at Case is Welcome Days. I say this because it is the first big step in officially moving away from home and becoming independent. It's the first time you will probably meet your roommate face-to-face and get to know the people living around you. Case does a great job facilitating programs in order to allow all freshman to get to know each other and get used to living away from home. For me this was hard because I've never been overly outgoing, and it was hard not knowing anybody from the get go. But I was lucky and got an awesome roommate that I still get along with very well.He helped me expand my horizons and meet new people. I think one thing you should remember when your trying to meet people in an environment like that is that everyone is just as confused/lost/scared as you are. They want to meet new people and build relationships, so do not be afraid to take a risk and be outgoing. Coming to a new place allows you to start over completely and remake yourself in anyway you wish. All you have to do is take advantage of the opportunity.
Other than that, just do your best to make the most of these experiences to meet people before actual classes start. Once everything gets going, social time definitely gets reduced. If for some reason this doesn't work out, don't worry, you will meet somebody, or they will meet you. Most importantly, get excited for a life changing experience!!!
I love questions, so if anything is confusing about the whole transition process, comment and I can give you my email.
Have a good summer!
Posted by Alex at 11:17 PM
Honestly, thinking that tomorrow is the "last" day of school for the year is a hard thought for me to handle. When I say "last," I am not counting the two wonderful weeks of oncoming exams, but you get my point. And by “hard to handle,” I mean it’s hard to believe that I'm almost a sophomore. My freshman experience is nearly over and it’s a very sad thought.
One of the hardest and most meaningful things from the past couple weeks occurred tonight, at our chapters’ send-off to the graduating seniors. Essentially our seniors are remembered and honored and many stories and great times are shared with each other. Over the past year, all of these guys have become my role models; whether in the classroom, with leadership or in life. This year has made all the difference in the rest of my college career. If I was standing in the same spot I was at orientation last year, I couldn’t have imagined doing half the things I do now. I owe a lot to the friendships and bonds I've made through being a brother.
If you had known anything about me before college, you would know that I did what was asked of me and that was essentially it. Leadership in any form just wasn't my thing. Now it's something I strive for because these seniors helped me to realize I can do it. I owe a lot of it to coming to Case and a little to bravery on my part in joining an organization like SigEp.
Some things I have to look forward to coming up include: being here for the month of June. I'm continuing the same research job I've been doing all semester. Getting paid is going to make it even better! Next semester I am also going to be a SMARRT leader. This entails presenting to a Greek chapter different than your own about an important issue on campus. The topic I was assigned to was sexual assault where the victims are men. One of the perks of this program is that I finally am going to have a chance to improve my public speaking skills. More than anything else, however, I'm looking forward to getting to spend some time with my family and friends back home before I come back to Case. As much as I like it here at Case, I always love to get a chance to go home from time to time.
For now, it's time to get myself together and make it through exams. Especially considering I still have a paper to write tonight...whoops!
Posted by Alex at 02:04 AM
Lets Walk Around the Track for 18 Hours?
This past weekend I had the pleasure (and dismay) of captaining Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi's Relay for Life team. Prior to about three-four months ago, I had very little idea of what Relay for Life entailed; therefore, I will explain briefly.
Essentially, Relay for Life is a campus wide philanthropy event where teams raise money for the American Cancer Society. The donations "sponsor" a specific team to walk for 18 straight hours around the track. The idea is cancer never sleeps or takes a break; therefore, a team should not either for the entirety of the event.
Basically, with the help of the philanthropy chair of Alpha Phi, my job was to coordinate fundraising and other logistics in order to reach our goal of $1,500. Through hard work by both teams and a little extra stress, our team met our goal. Trust me, not easy. So obviously I was relieved by the time the event was underway.
Of course the event was not only a walk around the track, but rather it contained various events to keep participants occupied. These ranged from a cancer survivors lap to a "Miss Relay Pageant" where brave guy volunteers put on a dress in order to "impress" the crowd. And to answer your question, I did not participate in the pageant, way too much for me.
As great of an experience this event was for me, I am more than relieved that it is finally over. I tend to do this thing where I want everything to go "perfectly" and end up overworking myself. But thats just how I am about everything. I had a great time and I really learned alot from doing Relay. I had the opportunity to be in charge of over 100 people, in an event that requires team work and cooperation by all.
But to better show my experience, I included some pictures below:
This was our fundraising table at the actual Relay. We sold baked goods made by the sisters of Alpha Phi. Throughout the entire fundraiser we were battling the wind as it tried to destroy our entire set up (if you couldn’t notice by the disarray of the treats).
This was the view from walking the track. The small white bags that lined the track are "Luminarias." Each bag represents a donation made on behalf of someone who lost their life to cancer. They have a ceremony at 10 pm to honor every person remembered.
The view from our fundraising table (at 2 AM). The fundraising tables were set-up to the side of the track where participants could take a break and "shop" for various items such as baked goods, grilled cheese and root beer floats.
Posted by Alex at 11:46 PM
I'm Admitted...Now What?
It’s about the time of the year when the sun comes out, flowers begin to grow and prospective students begin to overrun the campus day in and day out. Their overall confusion and lack of direction can be quite entertaining to the regular student. I at least feel entertained by this because it reminds me that I’m only a year past that same situation.
When I decided to come here it was not an automatic decision, regardless of how much it should have been in hindsight. I’m sure if you’re a prospective student you’ve made at least one visit to Case to check out what you might be getting yourself into. Personally it took me more along the lines of three visits, maybe even four (At the age of 19 I’m getting old, my memory just isn’t what it used to be!). Two (or three) of those visits occurred before I was even admitted. Aside from just being proactive (I have my parents to thank for that) I really wanted to see if Case was the right fit for me.
Just like you, I got here and was immediately confused and a little overwhelmed. I think every single time I visited, the Cheese Club was mentioned 4 or 5 times. If you’re a current freshman at Case, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. I’m not sure if this is still in the recruitment strategy for admissions, but if it is you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. But Case does have a point with this; I mean it when I say there is an organization or club for every single type of person here at Case. If there is someone that contradicts this, I would like to meet them!
Personally, I feel like an expert when it comes to Case admission presentations; I first came only with my dad, then only with my mom, and of course we had to do one more presentation all together. The idea that Case has an open door admission policy is very true. If this terminology is new to you, in summary, once you’re admitted to Case, you are admitted to the School of Engineering, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing and School of Management. I can testify to say that students here do take advantage of this because one of my better friends at Case (also a freshman) is currently working towards a BME/Acting double major. Yes, this is possible.
Looking back at my open house experiences, I can’t really think of much admissions said or promised that didn’t come true after coming here. I really like that I got just what I was expecting. All I can think of for you as the reader is if you heard something at an open house and want reassurance that its everything they say it is, then leave me a comment, I will get back to you right away. Also if there is anything about Case that you didn’t hear that you want to know, I will also answer those questions. You should leave no question unasked before making your decision for college; because if you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s an important one.
Posted by Alex at 11:00 PM
A Visual Tour of a Week in My Life
Personally I don’t think my last week can be described without some type of visual aid... So here i go!
Last Wednesday was the kick-off of the actual Greek Week competitions. The first event we participated in was Greek Sing. Personally, I don’t take pride in having a serenading singing voice, neither does the majority of my chapter. So what better way to conquer that then to rewrite "Party in the USA," by Miley Cyrus, as "Party on the Quad Today." by us. We put forth our best efforts to keep in tune and keep the audience laughing. We at least succeeded in the latter. Unfortunately, I'm convinced the judges did not like the original version of the song or ours, so we just received our participation points and a good time.
Friday was the banner competition that took place in the middle of the Main Quad. The theme of this year's Greek Week was "Peace, Love and Greek Week." As a group we decided to build what you see above, a stage set-up representing our chapter's symbols and virtues upon the instruments. In the back, each fraternity and sorority on campus is represented in a rendition of a '60s or '70s album cover. If only I was particularly artistic enough to hand paint all the album covers. Thankfully, we have brothers who are creative and artistic enough to create the masterpiece this banner was.
Saturday's events were capped off with the annual pyramid competition...an event our fraternity has managed to dominate this event over the past 10 or so years. The link above takes you to the video of our performance. Our time was an easy 10 seconds faster then the next fastest group. The completion of this event capped off a 32-point comeback throughout the day to gain a tie for the lead in Greek Week scoring (We won by edging Sig Nu in rope pull the next day).
Later that night, I along with the help of 15 other SigEp's, volunteered as security for UPB's (University Program Board) winter concert of "HelloGoodbye." It’s easy to see we took the part of being security very seriously (see sunglasses, earplugs). It was a great time and we got to stand closest to the stage. Luckily there were no crowd goers that needed any security attention.
And that about wraps up the photos I have from this week. Personally, I'm very excited that with the onset of April. It is suddenly gorgeous weather outside! So gorgeous that I am constantly reminded by the sunburn I received while hanging outside today.
Another thing I've noticed is all the prospective students wandering the campus with their parents. If I can give one tip of advice when it comes to choosing where to go to school next year, don’t be afraid to go away from home. Yes, it is a life-changing experience, but if being away from home is the only thing holding you back, try it. If for some reason it isn’t for you, home will always take you back. Good luck with the entire experience!
Posted by Alex at 09:27 PM
Practice Makes Perfect
Ah Greek Week. To me it seems like practice, practice, and some more practice. Everyday there is a flurry of emails about the night practices…let’s see, we have pyramid, pull, variety show, sing and swim just to name a few. I, as a freshman, have never experienced Greek Week. Yet from stories and just the excitement of the older guys, I know it’s the real deal. They say it’s the most exciting week of your life (which is quite the statement). But I believe them; why else would they be trying so hard? Just watching the practices for rope pull and pyramid get me excited. If you’re bored I would definitely recommend going on YouTube and searching “Case Western Greek Week pyramid.” What’s better than watching 10 guys or girls throw themselves in the mud, crawl 10 yards and build a human pyramid? How creative and how exciting! Pyramid has been SigEps event for 10 years, so our guys take it very seriously. Unfortunately for me I was never much of a crawler, so I will stick to being a spectator. Rope pull is a 10-minute competition where two 10-person teams face off against each other, essentially an endurance test that comes down to inches. It comes down to team work. I’ve gotten the chance to practice and try out for the team, but for this year I’m an alternate, learning technique and strategy for years to come. I’m okay with that, I’ve yet to experience the real feeling of Greek Week, and I haven’t felt the same passion that all the older guys feel yet. But it’s something I look forward to; I mean it is supposed to be the most exciting week of my life.
Posted by Alex at 01:57 AM
Road Trip to Pittsburgh? I think so!
So at this point you’re probably wondering why a road trip to Pittsburgh could possibly have anything to do with Case Western Reserve University. I don’t blame you, but that’s what I’m here for! To sum things up for you, my fraternity, SigEp or Sigma Phi Epsilon (whatever is more convenient), has the opportunity to send a portion of our chapter to the regional Carlson Leadership Academy. Why would I want to spend my weekend in a conference setting; attending lectures, meetings and discussions instead of relaxing in my dorm room? That’s a very good question… But look at it this way, turning down a campus-subsidized trip where I could learn things from other SigEps, hailing from New York all the way down to Virginia, would be crazy. The goal of the conference is to recognize the specific chapters that are doing well (See Picture), while gathering the leaders of every group to compare what works well and what doesn’t work so well.
I started the night off right by choosing the “Importance of Volunteers” breakout session. I thought this would be a perfect choice for me considering I’m the service/philanthropy chair for my chapter. Of course me being the smart person I am, I didn’t read the description and the session was about the importance of volunteering alumni. Of course I didn’t know a single thing about the how alumni play a role in my chapter, I’m only a freshman. However I took a lot from this session, I learned a lot about how things work and I met a few alumni SigEps interested in being more involved with my chapter.
Saturday consisted of a tightly packed schedule starting with a well- equipped breakfast at 8AM, and ending at 930PM with the conclusion of dinner and the awards ceremony. Our chapter was awarded with the Excelsior Award for greatest improvement with recruitment. With the combination of the fall and spring classes, we had 24 new members sign SigEp. When they announced as winners, we were surprised and caught off guard…our group didn’t even realize in time enough to stand up and be recognized. The picture included with this entry is of the entire group from CWRU, with our president holding our award in the middle.
I think the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting guys just like me from chapters all across the northeastern United States. I took several useful ideas and programs I plan on incorporating into my work as service chair and hopefully an executive position in the future. As much as I would have wanted to go, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to go if the travel costs and registration fee had not been subsidized down by CWRU. I could’ve gone even if I had not held any position in my chapter. As many of the older guys and alums say, the skills and processes learn at SigEp translate to their everyday life in the working world.
Posted by Alex at 12:17 AM
The NUMBER ONE Way How to Make the Most Out of Your College Experience
Well my first seminar SAGEs teacher would be a little upset over the use of an “absolute” in my title but here I think it’s fitting. I’m sure someone you know has told you something along the lines of “When you go to college you should do this…” or “Make sure you try this…” As relevant or crazy as the idea or statement may have seemed it may have some merit. The point I’m trying to get at is to get the most out of college it’s absolutely necessary to travel outside of your own personal comfort zone. I may sound like a broken record, especially to someone that’s considering Case Western. But whether we are talking about academics or extracurricular you’re going to have to try something new. I actually refute that statement, you’re going to have to try something new if you’re going to enjoy yourself and/or be successful. I have four personal examples from my experience so far that really stick out when I look back on the last semester and a half.
The first one is quite basic. Coming into Case Western I can safely say I rarely or maybe never studied or prepared for anything outside of the classroom. And no, I’m not saying it even because I think I’m more intelligent than everyone else, far from that. The pace of high school and the recitation of concepts was enough for me to handle myself just fine. College is different. In order to be successful you either have to be an absolute genius (not me) or you have to really put in the effort to learn outside of lecture. I’m not trying to scare anybody; if you don’t plan on doing any extra work then you’re not planning on doing well. Therefore I taught/am teaching myself how to actually study.
The second example that I have done was deciding to take a chair position in SigEp. It didn’t take long for me to know I wanted to give back to the chapter in some way; it’s pretty natural when you really take a liking to something. I really wanted a position with visibility, and a position that involved a lot of work and planning. Throughout high school, I had never really held much of any position with responsibility. I’m not saying I have no responsibility; I just spent most of my time on school and sports. I thought taking the position of service chair was perfect for me. To sum things up, I’m responsible for getting our chapter out for at least a certain number of service hours for the year. That involves planning events with charities and documenting every member’s specific hour count. It’s not an easy job, especially when it comes to getting everyone out to events, but I have been enjoying it the whole way.
The third way I’ve ventured out of my basic comfort zone is funny to write about, especially here. About halfway through my fall semester I got an email asking if I was interested in blogging for undergraduate admissions. See the thing is I never ever, ever, enjoyed English class in high school. It just wasn’t my thing. Just writing for no reason was never appealing. But don’t take offense if you like it, I just never did! Anyway, this position just seemed different and something more I could enjoy. At the same time, I viewed it as expanding my horizons and taking advantage of another opportunity thrown my way. It’s been everything I thought it would be and just another example trying something I never would in high school.
Lastly, I stepped into something completely new to me last semester when I applied for a volunteer lab position in one of many of Case Western’s research labs. When I applied, I figured I would have little to no chance of ever getting chosen. Mostly because I’ve never worked in a real lab before; it was just something unheard of from where I came from. The only thing I had ever done was complete the labs for AP chemistry; which I figured didn’t translate very well under the category of “experience.” Long story short I must have interviewed well or something but I was chosen from a pool of 10 or so applicants. Naturally, I was very excited and quite nervous on what I had to actually do. I’m usually in the lab 10 or so hours a week, which may seem like a lot, but in lab time that’s nothing. I barely know what I’m doing yet; I’m pretty much learning everything on the fly, but I’m loving it. I feel like I could go on and on about this but I don’t know where to start. So as a prospective student, or just a curious reader, feel free to leave any questions or comments. I would love to answer them.
I feel like Case has opened up doors for me to try new things in all facets of life. The tour guides really mean it when they say there is a way to get involved in pretty much anything, even as a freshman. It only takes a little risk taking, and obviously a willingness to learn (something you should have if you’re coming to Case). And it all comes back to my original point; try something you’re not used to doing. The first one I did was chose to come here.
Posted by Alex at 12:06 AM
[HARLD] You've received a package!
One of the best email subjects I ever read. No that does not mean I live an uninteresting life nor does it mean I don’t get a lot of emails. I just really enjoy getting a package when I’m away at college. It doesn’t matter if it’s a surprise or not, nothing can clean up a long day of school like a care package from home.
I mean what’s not to like about it? It’s like opening up a present on Christmas. You have a general idea of what you’re going to get, but the specifics are uncertain. So as I fight through the well taped box I can’t help but get excited. Hmm, first there are two containers of Campbell’s Soup at Hand, not bad, not bad. Next, some half and half; I guess my parents were paying attention when I told them I was turning into an avid coffee drinker. Sports Illustrated; always a great package stuffer, if only I had more time to read it. Freeze and Eat tubes of fruit? Very interesting, but hey, I’ll give them a shot. Finally some Juicy Juice individual juice boxes; Mom you know me all too well.
And of course Mom and Dad or Grandma (My two prominent suppliers of packages) always include a note or card. Even without the enclosed card, the message is quite clear. Although I’m over a hundred miles away from home my family still hasn’t forgotten about me, not that they ever would. Whether it is a box full of useful things you love or stuff you don’t want, it reminds you of home.
I really like being away at school, even though I was very happy with everything in Buffalo. I just wanted to try something new for myself. And it’s things as simple as a package from home that remind me of the home I’m missing. And on an ending note, I don’t think anybody really knows who or what “HARLD” is.
Posted by Alex at 01:10 AM
5 Hours of Sleep…Again?
To say the least I’m having a long week. See the thing is I have this tendency to be interested in almost everything; I can’t help it, I like being busy. I’m trying to be as unconceited as possible when I say I pride myself at having halfway decent time management skills. It’s probably what helped me get into Case (It’s definitely not a prerequisite; I know a fair share of people here that show little to none at all). Regardless, the fact is simple, if you wake up early, fill your day with classes and extracurricular activities then stay up late doing homework, you’re going to get worn down. It’s a fact of life and part of what makes college what it is. This semester I tried my best to take advantage of everything Case has to offer. Between undergraduate research, SigEp, service opportunities, education (of course) and just trying to have a social life, it’s been a trying week and it’s only very, very early Wednesday morning. I’m not trying to intimidate you into thinking that Case or any other college is not fun, I’m just trying to say overextending yourself can catch up with you. It depends on what kind of person you are. If you’re student at Case or even someone considering Case, more often than not you’re a person that enjoys doing more than the bare minimum. Case accommodates that perfectly. They have something for just about everybody. There’s little merit to the statement that your 19-credit course load is weighing you down and you just don’t have time for anything else. You have the time; you just don’t know how to find it. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t plan on going to college two or three times in my life. This is my time here and I’m going to make the most of it, even if it involves a little lack of sleep and a few extra cups of coffee during the day. I can always sleep when I’m older.
Posted by Alex at 02:10 AM