Thursday, February 16, 2017

Have you gone to the Tutoring Center?


It has been two weeks since I started to work as a math tutor on campus. For students who might not know, the Tutoring Center is a place where students can get free tutoring for a variety of subjects, ranging from statistics to chemistry. I have been teaching basic math to precalculus. 

"Welcome!" A coordinator of Tutoring Center, Ms. Pamela Gerstheimer 
(a.k.a. Pam) always welcomes students with a warm smile. 

My job at the Tutoring Center has been pleasing. Students are always vivacious and assiduous. I have always been inspired by energy and motivation each student has.

"How can I help you?" Picture of me as a math tutor

However, here is my concern. I have realized that so many people do not know the presence of the Tutoring Center. I strongly feel that students are "wasting school resources" especially for those who are taking courses that they are not confident with.
The greatest advantage of the Tutoring Center is, it is free; all you need is your ID card and you can get an individual tutoring session. All the tutors are helpful and have done well in whatever courses they are teaching so if you have trouble understanding the concepts of some subjects, the Tutoring Center is the best place to go.

My student and I, tackling math problems together

Sometimes, Tutoring Center holds tutoring sessions for specific subjects, such as statistics and accounting. Not only do they have these special sessions (check emails frequently, information about these sessions have constantly been sent to all the students!), but some of the tutors are actually "professional tutors," including faculty at RCC and professionals who come from other institutions.
Although walk-in is available, I would encourage you to make an appointment with a tutor. (Especially when you find your favorite tutor!) We always welcome your visit! The Tutoring Center is located on the third floor of the Technology Building.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Letters of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation can make or break your college application. While your GPA and extracurriculars might be the first thing a college looks at when considering you for admission, good and personable letters of recommendation help you stand apart from other applicants. Here are some tips on how to go about getting great letters of recommendation:
  1. First, decide who you want to write a letter of recommendation for you. Typically, this person would be a professor but this could also be a coach, advisor, or community leader. Whoever you choose, make sure that they know you well. A person that doesn’t know you well, won’t be able to write a letter that’s personal. 
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for a letter of recommendation. Give the person you ask an ample amount of time to write good, quality letters on your behalf. Asking the person a month or two before your applications deadline is standard.
  3. Give them a “brag sheet.” A brag sheet is a document, either typed or written, in which you explain or brag about your extracurricular activities, accomplishments, and community service projects. This helps a professor, or whoever you choose, to write a letter that highlights your best characteristics and achievements. It is also helpful to include your interests, the schools you're applying to, and the classes you’ve taken on your brag sheet. 
  4. Professors are usually busy grading papers and teaching classes, so periodically remind them about your letter to make sure that they don’t forget about it. This doesn’t mean to hassle them about it, but just politely email them about the due date or if you have classes with them, remind them after class of the due date.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Choosing the Right Major

     Is there anything more daunting then choosing a major? For some, choosing a major is an easy choice; from the moment they are able to walk and talk, they know that they want to become a doctor, or lawyer, or teacher one day. But for others like myself, deciding on the right major, and therefore career, can be rather complicated. 

     It’s okay to be unsure. I used to be very worried about not knowing exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but I’ve since realized that as a result of having so many different interests, the search for just the right major won’t be as simple for me as it is for other people. Don’t beat yourself up about not knowing what you want to major in because eventually you’ll figure it out and as cliche as it sounds, it really just takes time.

It's difficult when you have so many interests.
     The community college advantage. The great thing about Rockland Community College is that you’re given some time to decide on a major and career path, before transferring to your four-year school. You can take a variety of different classes and see which ones appeal to you the most. This way, by the time you matriculate at your four-year institution, you’ll be more confident in the major that you’ve chosen, and you’ll be less likely to switch to a different major, which would jeopardize your chances of graduating on time and make you spend even more money on tuition. 

     Your bachelors degree isn’t the be-all end-all. You’d be surprised at how many people end up in a career that has nothing or very little to do with their bachelors degree. In fact, i’d argue that it’s quite common, especially with the current job market that we’re in. Your bachelors is only the beginning and it doesn’t always foreshadow what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life, so don't put so much pressure on yourself.

     Whether you're a freshman, sophomore, or even junior, it’s completely okay to be unsure about choosing the right major. Now's the time to be unsure. Take different classes, experience new things, and eventually you’ll settle upon something that makes you smile. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Attending the Tu B'Shevat Seder

This week (Tuesday, February 7) I had the opportunity to attend the Tu B'Shevat Seder led by Akiva Gersh. Tu B'Shevat Seder is to celebrate the Jewish New Year of the Trees and Gersh explained and used foods, along with music, to talk about the different spiritual worlds as defined in the Jewish faith.

Students waiting patiently with their pizza at the end of the Seder. 
Gersh also talked a lot about eating with consciousness and used foods to represent the four worlds: Physical, Formation, Creation, and Absolute. The physical world was represented a fruit or food that you had to break through or peel, representing how people have to break through something to discover their spirituality. The second world, of Formation, was represented by a fruit that didn’t need to be peeled but had a pit. The third world, of Creation, was demonstrated by a fruit without a peel or pit and the final world, of Absolute, would normally be were an individual wouldn’t eat and would just smell something, usually incense, but at this Seder students enjoyed pizza, after using will-power to just wait and smell the food.

As someone outside of the Jewish faith, it was very interesting to see how the New Year was celebrated and the emphasis that was put on being conscious and aware of something as simple as eating. All the food represented some aspect of an individual’s faith and the world around them.

Weather on Campus

When I opened the window, I just wowed. It was the first snowstorm I have ever encountered in my whole life.
I was so surprised when I saw this view from the window.

Here is a frequently asked question, “Does it snow frequently in Japan?” The answer is “It really depends.” In the Northern part of Japan, such as Hokkaido, snow is crazily common but in the Southern part of Japan, it is ultra rare. Since I am from the prefecture next to Tokyo (literally the center of an archipelago of Japan but it is moderately warm somehow), snow was seldom.
So, as I have become more integrated to the community here in New York State, the weather is one of the numerous culture shocks I have ever confronted with. Starting with a severely foggy morning, dynamic rainfall and heavy snowstorms have always been a great astonishment. I have been strongly attracted to sceneries created by this “sublime and dynamic weather.”
It looks so fanciful for me.

I took this picture in one foggy morning. I was running to my Western Civilization class in the morning but this beautiful scene just captured my mind for a minute. A miracle happened and I arrived to class one minute before it starts. The memory is still intact in my brain; I thought I was in a world of fantasy.

I personally like this vivid color. 

I took a picture of the campus with snow. It was just amazing.

This is my suggestion but if you have a camera or a decent camera application in your phone, why don’t you take pictures of the campus, edit them, and post them to Instagram with a hashtag “OurRCC?” I have posted a number of photos of campus with the tag. Check them out!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Learning a New Language

     Learning a new language can be intimidating and if there's a phobia especially related to learning a new language, then I'm officially diagnosed.
     This semester I decided to take Spanish 101, partially because I like to challenge myself (but mostly because I need it to transfer). I took French back in high school and to be frank, I hated it. To be even more frank, now that I'm taking another language four years later, I still hate it. 
For some people, it doesn't come so naturally. 
     Spanish is a beautiful language and I have a wonderful professor but it's still extremely difficult to learn a new language, especially if you only speak one language, and especially if you've been speaking that one language for 20 years now. Having to learn how to speak all over again is overwhelming and sometimes even frustrating and it doesn't help that you're learning a new language in a classroom setting where you're constantly tested and graded on what you're learning (or very desperately trying to learn). Thankfully, I've discovered three ways to make learning a new language easier.
    First, I've decided to stop looking at learning a new language as such of a burden. To be bilingual, or even trilingual, is a privilege and to be given the opportunity to attain this privilege is a privilege within itself. 
     Secondly, I've concluded that learning a new language won't come easy to me. While I might get by in my other classes by listening to the professor lecture and taking notes on what's important, with Spanish I've begun to realize that not only must I listen and take notes but I also have to actively participate in class and regularly study on my own at home. And even with doing all of these things, I can't automatically expect perfect grades and then become despondent or unmotivated if I end up with B's or even C's. 
     Lastly, I have to ask for help. If it takes a village to raise a baby then it will probably take a village (or two) to help me learn a new language. In Spanish I have to be open to asking questions when I don't understand something. I have a professor who is more than willing to help me and I have classmates who are very friendly. I can set up an appointment at the tutoring center and get one-on-one help, also. I have many different resources available to me, I only have to utilize them.
     I'm hopeful that with these tips and a bit of motivation, I might have one less fear by the end of this semester. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Path to College Savvy

Happy Spring Semester!

I cannot believe that the break finished so quickly. The first few weeks of school are always refreshing – but once the classes progress, you will soon be bombarded with assignments and projects. In fact, my diary has already been filled with to-do lists, ranging from “call the admission office” to “do problems on page 411.” When you have countless things to do, what do you do? I would like to share how I sort out tasks and raise productivity.

A planner is always helpful.

I call my planner a "life saver” – although I don’t look at it very often. When you have thousands of tasks, you might feel that “I don’t have time to write everything down.” To be honest, I was like that before. Consequently, I failed to complete some of the tasks because I was simply not “smart” enough to remember all of the list and what was actually done. If you are super smart like a computer is, you probably don’t need anything. Nevertheless, a planner is always helpful to avoid "thought jams." Write three things in your planner: what has been done, what should be done, and priority of each item. A mobile app is fine too! I use OmniFocus daily. 
Pomodoro Timer

The Pomodoro Technique

Writing in a planner might be something that everybody does, but I bet not many of you know Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a method that raises your productivity immensely! Here is how it works:
   (1) 25 minutes allocated to concentration 
   (2) 5-minute breaks between "work" period
Basically, the Pomodoro Technique repeats (1) and (2) repeatedly. Usually, the Pomodoro timer is available on your phone, but you can still use this method without an app. 

These are just two examples that I'm actually doing and were effective. I hope everybody (including me) has a good start of the spring semester!