College Life

Stress In The Information Age Is Grinding Up The Millennial Generation

The internet and social media have revolutionized the way in which we communicate, conduct business, and learn.

For students especially, such a rapidly changing environment has had an equally pronounced effect on student life and culture.

Opportunities are endless, and pursuing those unlimited opportunities seems to be pushed harder and harder with each new wave of prospective students.

As a recent graduate friend of mine reflected, by sophomore year, incoming freshmen will be overseeing at least five on campus organizations, conducting graduate level research, working two jobs, applying for 30+ internships, and getting published all at the same time.

While a bit of an exaggeration, it isn’t too far from the norm, and reflects a growing trend among college students leading increasingly fast paced lives.

None of this would be possible without the internet, but there may be a dark side.

Several studies have come out recently highlighting an increase in levels of stress and anxiety among both college level and high school students.

Academic institutions are increasingly having to expand care for mental health as the demand continues to exceed capacity across the nation.

According to the American Psychological Association, the percentage of students seeking counseling has skyrocketed from 37% in 2007, to around 50% by 2014.

Anxiety ranks as the most common reason students seek help.

As a rather involved university student myself, I’ve grown accustomed to the occasional fits of anxiety and have seen it become more and more commonplace among friends and peers.

The problem may be that technology has opened up so many doors that students are having trouble deciding which ones to close.

Photo Credit: hyunjoongie/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This goes back to the increased level of involvement of students mentioned earlier.

We as humans are naturally risk averse, and for far too many, not pursuing an opportunity is seen as a risk.

At the same time, social media exposes us to what everyone else is doing, causing us to judge our actions more harshly against a larger pool.

Instead of applying for five colleges for example, some high school grads report applying to a minimum of 15 as the norm.

All too often we find ourselves pursuing opportunities either because we saw that someone else had success and wonder if we can mimic it, or because we don’t know what we want to do so we apply for everything.

If we don’t, we feel we may miss out.

Thus, students end up increasingly overburdened with work they may not even enjoy, and more and more confused about their futures.

Among those students who don’t favor such a fast paced life, they too are finding themselves questioning their decisions and lifestyles against their other more involved peers, ignoring what may be best for themselves.

At the end of the day, that is where all this anxiety and stress is coming from.

It is a product of doing something that is not in line with one’s personal ethos, and the increased uncertainty of an environment dominated by technology.

By that I mean, the internet has no set focus.

It bounces around from one thing to the next with no attention span whatsoever.

If we are to give any credit to the idea that humans mimic their environment, the internet is making it increasingly apparent that we do.

Photo Credit: Jessie Jacobson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We can see this on every level, from the CDC’s tracking of increased rates of ADHD in kids, to college students who report less and less meaning in their relationships.

The way many millennials behave and interact with each other draws stark parallels to the way we consume information.

Facebook, for example, is overloaded with short flashy videoclips that bounce around form one topic to another.

These videos are quickly becoming the average millennial’s go to for news and updates, and while they may look nice on the surface, in actuality, they convey very little.

This makes the problem of stress even worse because normally our best counters to those feelings are our personal relationships, friends and family that keep us grounded.

Instead, millennials are turning to their phones and computers for their security, but very little of it provides any genuine long term comfort.

The internet has changed the environment at such a sharp pace it may be that the mind has not had enough time to adapt.

The best medicine may simply be to slow down.

As someone who once went into a cardiologist’s office mistaking anxiety for heart problems, if there’s any advice I can offer my fellow peers who feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the world around them, it would be to learn how to say no instead of maybe.

Remind yourself that you don’t have to constantly be in motion.

That sometimes a moment of solitude on the shores of a lake offers more value than a night out. And to do what you want to do, not what you feel pressured into.

Because at the end of the day, you will never do as good a job at something you don’t like as opposed to someone who enjoys it.

College is a difficult time for everyone, but the most important lessons you learn won’t come in the form of your classes.

You’ll forget most of that stuff anyway, and most the experience you’ll need will come from work or post-grad.

Instead, the most important lessons that college teaches you are how to handle people, how to handle time, and most importantly, how to handle yourself.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Sodanie Chea/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

South Carolina Student Governments Stand Up To Governor Over Bond Bill

Three Student Governments in South Carolina have united to beg their Governor to change his mind regarding a bill that would raise taxes in order to pay for infrastructure improvements at universities in the state.

In a press release, the SGA presidents for Clemson University, University of South Carolina and College of Charleston asked Gov. Henry McMaster to change his opposition to House Bill 3722, which is better known as the “bond bill”.

The bill would raise around $250 million that could be spent by state universities to keep up with crumbling infrastructure and physical campus improvements.

McMaster has said that he opposes the bill and would rather spend the money on fixing roads in the state.

SGA presidents Ross Lordo (South Carolina), Killian McDonald (Clemson) and Michael Faikes (College of Charleston) issued a joint statement that tried to explain why they believe the bond is important to the state.

From the joint statement:

“The $250 million in funding that would be authorized by HB.3722 would allow fifteen public colleges and universities across the state to make critical renovations and repairs to facilities that simply cannot keep up with South Carolina’s rapid population growth. The last bond bill was passed over sixteen years ago. That timespan has allowed our state’s current students to graduate from their elementary schools and make it all the way to the colleges they attend today. Yet these past sixteen years have also taken a toll on the classrooms and buildings that have educated sixteen classes of graduates. Failing to make improvements to our schools now will only lead to larger, more extensive, and ultimately more expensive costs farther down the road. As governor, you have pointed out our state’s roads have suffered similar neglect and disregard, bringing the need for road repairs “from important to critical to urgent.” We should not allow the facilities at our state’s institutions of higher learning to suffer the same fate as our roads.”

Read the whole letter below:

Bond Bill Letter by Andrea Lashay on Scribd

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Henry McMaster/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Looking Back At All Those “First Days Of School” And The Anxiety That Came With Them

Everyone has had some sort of “First Day of School” experience in their lifetime.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle school, high school, or college years; some form of anxiety kicked in when it was the final hours of the night before and you climb into bed thinking about new beginnings.

For high school kids, that anxiety isn’t focused too much on the amount of effort that you will need to front to get through a new year of school; but instead, energy is channeled into setting up that fresh outfit and brand new pair of sneakers you will rock on the first day.

I can still hear my teenage self, “I’m going to kill ‘em tomorrow with these Jay’s!”

Growing up in Baltimore, high school was a fashion and popularity contest.

Who could pimp out their school uniform the best with the hottest accessories or freshest pair of sneakers.

Who could get all the girls to wave and give hugs when you walked down the hall.

First days are all the same man. Photo Credit: tiffany terry/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Having clout in high school was just as important as it was to get good grades and graduate.

Well, maybe not that serious; but close.

Who am I kidding? For some, the school work didn’t matter at all!

I was one of those cool nerds who could balance a 3.5 GPA as well as a couple of honeys under my arms. If you read that and judged me just now, don’t hate the player, hate the game!

College is…well, college.

It’s high school but a grown-up spinoff of your favorite high school reality show.

Fashion and popularity contests still exist but aren’t the main focuses.

Graduating in a timely fashion and getting a J-O-B is what’s important.

In college, first day jitters are centered around the anxiety of getting a new chance to be a better you.

A better scholar, athlete, test taker, note taker, homework doer, studier or what have you.

A clean slate.

Frankly, it’s an opportunity to look at past mistakes, evaluate, and evolve.

After all, when you’re paying thousands of dollars to get a higher education you tend to take your studies a little bit more seriously.

For me, I am going into the second to last semester of my undergraduate career at The University of Baltimore and I am excited to get back and strive for a better GPA than the previous semester.

Of course, I’m ready to get back to campus and see friends and socialize but above all, I am anxious to get back to lectures, learn something new, and prove to myself that I can achieve the highest.

I am definitely ready to graduate and see where this road called “life” is going to take me.

From today until graduation in December, first days are no longer hurdles.

It’s all about last days.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Andrew Subiela/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Just Being In A Fraternity Doesn’t Guarantee Career Network Advantages

I am a member of The Sigma Chi Fraternity. I have been out of college for 3 years going on 4 and I still say “I am” a member of my fraternity.

Too often we hear about joining Greek Lettered organizations and the so called “benefits” of networking and career advancement that comes along with membership.

As an individual who pledged myself to a fraternal organization I can say that is true, but with a caveat.

The member has to put in the effort to take advantage of the network available to him.

Do you know the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?”

That 100% applies to your undergraduate career.

I have encountered numerous brothers who have the resources at their fingertips but forget the crucial step of TRYING.

Call it entitlement, call it laziness, call it sheer stupidity or ignorance, but unless you put in the effort, the rewards and benefits are not going to be given to you.

During my 2.5 years as an undergraduate member of my local fraternity chapter, it was up to me to make the most of my membership and expand upon it.

I knew that I would be held to a higher standard academically and as a member of the college community.

I pushed myself to do better in my classes and I also pushed myself into taking on responsibilities I probably would have laughed at had I not joined a fraternity.

Student Government, Homecoming, Greek Council, Pre-Law Society, Hillel, and the list goes on and on of the places I spent my time volunteering, taking leadership positions not only to gain valuable life skills, but to network with those who shared similar goals, values and ambitions with me.

There were plenty of positions and opportunities I did not get because there were more qualified candidates and that was okay as well. It taught me to work harder and it also showed me to be an example to the other guys in my chapter.

The opportunities at my feet were presented to me because of my work ethic.

When I spoke to new potential members as they came through recruitment every semester, I proudly talked about the benefits of joining and the career advancement and network of brothers across this nation who would be willing to help them, as long as they helped themselves.

I know in my fraternity alone, there are bountiful opportunities for networking and job placements on the numerous Facebook career pages that have been set up by older alumni looking to hire from within, the within being the fraternal order we all took an oath for, that bonds us together for life.

The Delta Gamma House on the University of Oregon campus. Photo Credit: Rick Obst/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Delta Gamma House on the University of Oregon campus. Photo Credit: Rick Obst/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The brothers both old and young who are looking for new careers, entry level jobs in fields they are trying to break into, it is all their at their fingertips.

I cringe every time I hear someone say that their Greek Lettered organization didn’t do anything for them in terms of their career because it means they did not try hard enough.

I recently was featured on the television show “Tomi” and when I was done and the clip became available to me to share, one of my fraternity brothers, not from my own chapter, but one who had been almost a mentor to me, asked if he could share my video with the larger brotherhood in the international page.

I was so blessed by the responses, both good and bad because I knew that would open up even more doors for me to further my job and career prospects.

The Greek Lettered organizations that are on college campuses across the country are regularly under fire for a small sample of people behaving poorly, and those members who are making positive strides on campus often get overshadowed.

Members of fraternities and sororities are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, they are Presidents of the United States of America, they are doctors and lawyers, activists and hometown heroes.

The only thing that separates them from their peers is that they took advantage of their connections and the networking skills that were afforded to them and made something of themselves.

I am so grateful that I decided to join a fraternity because it taught me to work for what I wanted and that hard work brings great reward contrary to popular belief.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Evan Guest/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Top Things To Avoid Your First Year On Alabama’s Campus

By Michael Smith

Going into my first week at the University of Alabama, I was nervous, excited, and ready for a fresh start after high school.

I not only wanted to meet as many new people as possible, but I wanted to join as many friend groups as possible to expand my horizons.

The first year of college, especially at the University of Alabama, was a time for me and countless other current students to grab independent life by the horns.

While I classify my first year as a success, there are a few things I wish someone told me beforehand.

So, going into my sophomore year, I thought I would share with the incoming class a few warnings about life on Alabama’s campus.

This is not an advice column, but rather an (incomplete) list of things to avoid.

1) Don’t Label People Immediately

This is the single biggest trap I and many other new-to-college students fell into our first week being on campus.

In college, especially at one as large and tightly knit as Alabama, the first few weeks of freshman year are filled to the brim with new names and faces.

The only comparable situation is being a high school student who moved to a new school, having to restart with a whole new group of peers.

Typically, the new student is labeled quickly as “the girl from California” or “the quiet boy.” Now imagine this scenario, but everyone is the new kid.

Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

Naturally, with so many people and so much information to process, the good-ole brain likes to just assign people one or two characteristics by whatever the first impression of them was.

Don’t let this stick.

Sure, it might be easy to write people off as the guy who is always late or that girl that made brownies.

But in reality, people in college are just as complex and dynamic as they were back in high school, if not more so.

Putting people immediately into a box is unfair and limits potential opportunities and friendships.

2) Don’t Get Involved In The Machine

This is strictly an issue at the University of Alabama.

The Machine, also known as Theta Nu Epsilon, is an underground group of fraternity and sorority members that work to control the Student Government Association, or SGA.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with the way The Machine is designed.

Theta Nu Epsilon had the potential to just be a political caucus meant to keep Greek issues in mind of the student government, which is actually admirable.

However, there is a BIG but.

While the structure of The Machine is perfectly legitimate, the way it operates is horrifying. The Machine uses voter intimidation, bribes, and, in some cases, death threats to accomplish its goals.

Theta Nu Epsilon works to keep black and non-Greek students out of the SGA and does whatever it takes to win.

I am not saying don’t join Greek life.

Fraternities and sororities provide invaluable bonds through brotherhood and sisterhood and give back to our community in so many ways.

However, if you are in a Machine-controlled house, don’t let someone intimidate you to voting a certain way, don’t ignore racist, sexist, or homophobic sentiment from Machine candidates, and dear god don’t go into the “basement.”

If that doesn’t apply to you, don’t fall into an even worse trap: apathy.

Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

Sadly, many on our campus have given up on and have stopped voting entirely.

A common sentiment on campus is that SGA elections don’t matter.

Don’t fall for it.

The Machine wouldn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars, countless of hours of labor, and months of meticulous planning if the SGA didn’t matter.

3)Don’t Sit In The Back Of Class

Moving onto academics, one of the most unexpected features of my freshman year was how much my GPA changed from high school.

While applying to colleges, I barely hung onto a 3.0 GPA, which was mostly padded by good grades at the beginning of high school.

Senior year, I was lazy, barely turned in work, and played games on my iPad during class.

I knew I needed to change going into college, so I made myself to sit in the front row of every class I took.


Because sitting in the front forces you to pay attention.

The professor is right there, almost hovering over you.

You can’t play games, you can’t take a nap, and you have to turn in every assignment out of fear that your professor will scold you.

This may have not been an issue in high school, but in lecture classes of 200, you can get away with a lot hiding in the back.

Sometimes fear is a good motivator.

Now, of course, when I was tired, already knew the material, or needed to leave early, I would sit in the last row and try not to disturb those around me.

Overall, the system works.

I went from barely scrapping by in high school with a 3.0 to finishing freshman year with a 4.3 out of a possible 4.33 at Alabama.

4)Don’t Forget The Necessities

One of the dumbest mistakes I made my freshman year was believing that I would get by with some clothes, some sheets, a computer, and a printer.

I under-packed so much that I’m surprised that I even survived dorm life last year.

It is a common and simple mistake.

Little knick-knacks that are only used sparingly are easily forgettable.

I even made a conscious decision not to bring them.

However, they are quite essential when living independently.

For examples, you really can’t get away with not having a pizza cutter, or nail clippers, or oven mitts, or an umbrella.

You might think you can, but you can’t.

I know, I tried life without all of these things last year.

I failed.

Photo Credit: The University of Alabama

Photo Credit: The University of Alabama

Now, don’t take this cautionary tale as an excuse to pack everything and the kitchen sink.

Pack what you are going to pack and buy all the little things at Tuscaloosa’s SuperTarget the first week of class.

Also, share with your roommates.

Don’t buy four pizza cutters when you only need one.

For the rest of the year, simply keep a list of things you need from the store and take Alabama’s shopping bus route on Sunday every week or two.

Then, you won’t be asking your neighbors for a printer cable constantly like I did.

In conclusion, I know that it is stressful uprooting your entire life in the matter days.

But, even when you miss your old life, always remember to take in the fact that our campus is filled with brilliant educators, kind people, and extraordinary football.

My freshman year at the University of Alabama was the best year of my life, only to be matched by the next three.

I know the incoming freshman class is going to be even better than the last.

Be excited, because you are attending the best university in the world.

Roll Tide.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in life. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: The University of Alabama/ Facebook.

Hot For Teacher: How Your Professor’s Looks May Determine Your Success In Class

By Taylor Neuman

By human nature, we like to make judgements on other humans based on their appearance. This takes place anywhere and everywhere you go, and it turns out it happens in the classroom as well.

Do you ever find yourself in class thinking, “my professor is pretty good looking?”

Students from all over the country have taken the time to use Rate My Professor to rate their professor’s in various areas from overall quality, curriculum used in the course, fairness, quantity of assignments and yes, even their looks.

This function is a chili pepper icon that is displayed on all of the professor’s individual pages. If the chili pepper is red that means students consider that professor to be attractive. If the chili pepper is red with flames that means that a bunch of students think that the teacher is incredibly attractive. Not exactly rocket science, although there are probably some hot rocket scientists out there.

Don’t get me wrong, people mainly use this website as a tool when it comes to selecting classes based off of the professor teaching it, but that doesn’t stop students from giving their teachers a little boost in their egos.

But how important is it to students that they have an attractive professor?

“The chill pepper isn’t important for me but it’s a bonus if the teacher happens to not be bad looking,” Cory Diamond, a student at The University of Alabama said.  “It helps me pay attention more and actually be more involved in the class.”

According to two researchers at the University of North Carolina Pembroke who conducted a study on the topic found that, “students reported believing they would learn the most from the attractive teacher.”

“If I had an attractive teacher I would be like a model student,” Morgan Hearns a student at University of Central Florida said in a interview. “I wouldn’t miss a class, would sit front row, and take good notes.”

That isn’t the case for all students, however.

Bennett Kobos is a student at UNC Charlotte.

“I don’t feel like it would change my attention too much, I’m typically very focused,”  Kobos said.

“When selecting a teacher the main things I look for are a high score on easiness and read the reviews to make sure attendance isn’t mandatory,” Diamond said. “I also check to see if any of the reviews say anything about hard tests or tricky questions on the tests.”

Many college students would agree that they mostly use Rate My Professor as a tool to find the best professor, but they would also agree that they wouldn’t mind an attractive professor.

“I am glad to know students enjoy my classes and am sure their reviews are based solely on the course content,” Steven Davis, a professor in the business department at Florida International University said.

Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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