Self-Reflect to Self Direct

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Reflection is the key to growth. I find value in reflecting on past experiences because it helps me realize how far I’ve actually come. Right now, as I wrap up my third week of my first fall semester of grad school, I am able to reflect on how much I’ve grown since last fall.

A year ago, I was in my third week of my senior year, brainstorming post grad plans. I was torn between taking a gap year, going straight into grad school, going to Denver, CO; staying in Albany, NY; or going back home, to Queens, NY. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. This was odd for me, as someone who loves to plan and know what my next steps are. But for some reason, when it came to post-graduate plans, I just could not figure it out. I put too much pressure on myself to make decisions on things that I needed time to think about. I knew my ultimate career goal was to become a special education teacher, but I was unsure of which path I should take to get there. I was so worried about making the “wrong” decision and choosing a path I would not be happy with.

I talked through my ideas as much as possible with friends and family, however, there is one resource on campus I wish I had taken more advantage of during my senior year. I wish I went to Career and Professional Development to talk to a Peer Career Advisor, who could have helped me narrow my choices. I think I became too overwhelmed because I had too many options. I bet you’re wondering, “How can having too many options be a bad thing?” It is when you are indecisive like myself. I am indecisive in almost every aspect of my life: when it comes to figuring out what I should eat, what to wear, what to do for post grad—you name it. I was given so many options from people I knew in the teaching profession; from Teach for America, Blue Engine Teaching Apprentice, Relay Graduate School for Education, Denver Literacy Fellow, City Year, UAlbany Special Education & Literacy II Program (ding ding ding…we have a winner), Queens College, St. John’s University, NYU, and the list goes on.

I was also torn between going straight into a job that would give me teaching experience right away, versus going into a teacher preparation, graduate school program that would teach me about things like classroom management so I would be better prepared. I was always told, “Experience is your best teacher.” I was also told, “It’s best to feel as prepared as possible before jumping into anything in life.”

I think a year ago, I had enough research done to figure out what my next steps should have been but I did not take the right steps to eliminate options that were not best fit for me. I was able to see myself in every environment that I was considering. It is important to consider getting rid of ideas and options that are not the best fit for your personality, values, needs, etc. It takes a lot of self-reflection to do this and I did not get to this point until March of my senior year. I went all those months, from September to March, not sure what environment was the best fit for me.

If there is any senior who is unsure about what they want to do, or where they want to go, first realize there is no “wrong” path when you are deciding between two or more options. Then realize what your needs and desires are, and truly look into all options to see which one is best fit for you. You just have to take it a step at a time. Process of elimination and weighing pros and cons never hurt. Don’t be afraid to be selfish with your decision. This is your life you are planning for!


Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Advisement Services Center. These are their stories  – their voices.
Resources:
About the Author:
kerry-debruce
Kerry D.
Class of 2017
Major: Psychology
Minors: English and Education
Blog Theme:
Pulled Back to Move Forward
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My Path is Bright

 

path-bannerThis last week I found myself making slow but deliberate steps towards my future, and it feels great to know that I am finally on a path.  In my last post I wrote about the impact of  meeting my favorite poet this week.  He inspired me to dig a little deeper and go for the things I want out of life, even if it is only for just now.  So this past weekend, not only have I have finally started my application to graduate school at the University at Albany, but I have decided what program and field of work I want to get into as well, though it may not be what you think.

Many of you may be thinking, “Oh you definitely applied to continue with your English students”, or “maybe she’ll start working on her MFA since she loves creative writing so much”. But nope, while these were all, definitely, real options that I have mulled over in my mind, I actually decided something completely out of the norm of what I ever thought I would be doing after graduation.  Continue reading “My Path is Bright”

Advice From Aunt Phoebe

The deadline to apply for Spring 2017 Graduation is THIS FRIDAY!
Will you be ready, when your time comes?

It is time for your dear Aunt Phoebe to offer some words of advice gentle readers. I offer it as a Senior just a few weeks from graduation. As I look back I see that there are some things I should have done differently.

I needed to ask many, many more questions. I have been a relatively passive student. I knew what I wanted my major to be, and to that end I simply found out what I needed to do in order to get the necessary classes that would lead to graduation. I never asked questions beyond that. I just floated along through the semesters doing only what was needed to pass my classes. Continue reading “Advice From Aunt Phoebe”

Doing Too Much: A Thick Black Line

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Time to refocus your focus. Next stop, the 

This post is dedicated to the over dedicated, spread thin, hand-in-every-pot, yes-people. I feel your pain. I know what it is like to want to do everything and be everywhere. I know what it is like to have so many conflicting things that you want to do you wish you could clone yourself and be everywhere at once. I know what it is like to miss a bus and have it throw off your whole day. This post is for you all.

One major lesson I learned this semester was quality over quantity. It is much better to be awesome at a few things than be mediocre at a lot of things. Continue reading “Doing Too Much: A Thick Black Line”

The Minor Problem with Picking a Major

So here’s the deal. You graduate high school and go to college for 4 years, studying so that you can get the degree of your choice, so that you can get a job with that degree, so that you can provide for yourself and the family you’ll eventually have and so that one day you can send your kids to college. It’s the circle of life, how beautiful. Not. Not for me at least. You see I unfortunately wasn’t blessed with knowing exactly what I want to do with my life. There are some people, actually many people who come into college fully aware of what path they want to take in. This benefits them in many ways, the biggest being that they are able to plan. Plan what classes to take, what grad schools to look into, what internships to apply for. Continue reading “The Minor Problem with Picking a Major”

Are you ready to meet with your advisor?

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Choosing classes can be stressful for students but it doesn’t have to be!

block-1512119_960_720.jpgThere are several steps you can take to make your transition from first semester, to second semester more fluid, stress free and exciting!

1) Surf the UAlbany Site for Intel
Whether you have a direction or not, it is helpful it look at the major descriptions and check out their requirements. Click Here for a list of our majors and if you want more information, just type the major into the search box on the page. You could look at the schedule of classes to find classes that you find interesting and check out their course descriptions. The link to the schedule of classes is located under the academic’s tab of your MyUAlbany student account, specifically under Enrollment Tools. This can help give you an idea of classes that you would potentially like to take. Bring your findings to your advisement appointment. They will help to give your advisor a better idea of your interests.

2) Meet Your MAP
The second path you can take to become more aware of your pathway through a potential major, is to take a look at a “MAP“, or Major Academic Pathway. The MAPs can be extremely helpful in seeing what a semester by semester schedule would look like in each major.

3) Self-assess and Reflect
The third way any you can help prepare yourself for your appointment is to reflect on the classes that you are either taking this semester, or have taken before. Think about the classes that you truly enjoyed, or ones that were not for you! This can help narrow interests to what you enjoy, and in turn, can help you and your advisor pick classes that will suit your specific needs and academic interests.

Being prepared for your Advisement appointment will help both you and your advisor in narrowing your interests, and will give you more options and opportunities to go forward with in the future! Be open and honest about your likes and dislikes, for this will make your next semester even more productive than the last!

Written by Elizabeth Petroski


P.S. from Rachel Moody, Academic Advisor:

Some additional resources that you may find helpful:

Major Changes

A lot of students come to college not knowing what they want to major in, but I did…or I least I thought I did. When I applied to UAlbany I wanted to be an accountant, so when I came as a freshman in the fall, I was an Intended-Accounting major. I was also very interested in math, so I planned on minoring in mathematics. Once at the University, I started taking courses directed toward my major. I was enrolled in Macroeconomics and Business Law which both are required for an Accounting major. These classes bored me and if a class does not excite me I will not pay attention. They ultimately turned me off from accounting.

Second semester, I changed to being a Mathematics major with a double minor in communications and education. I still loved math, and even though my Calculus professor’s teaching did not engage me, it came easy to me. When I started Calculus 2, I was excited. Not many people are really excited to take a math course, but I was. I had a great professor, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not grasp any of the concepts. I went to office hours and the library all the time, nothing helped.  I had such a hard time and tried every way possible to learn the material. Calculus 2 made me start to question if I really wanted to major in math anymore.

Another thing that made me realize math was not for me was when my friends asked me for help with their work. I would often get frustrated when they would not understand my explanation of a problem. My minor was education and I wanted to be a math teacher. If I got so easily frustrated with my friends how would I handle rowdy students? I am glad my friends asked me for help because it helped me too, It made me realize that I wouldn’t be happy being a teacher. I was not patient which is a key trait for a teacher. I knew I could not give the same help and understanding my professors have given me in the past.

“Don’t let the fear of change stop you from realizing a new skill or interest.”

One good thing that did happen that semester was taking a communications course. I was enrolled in Speech Composition and Presentation, a course based on public speaking and speech writing. I love public speaking, so I was eager to start. We learned about some of the greatest speeches ever given, such as the Gettysburg Address and the “I Have a Dream” speech. We learned about the content as well as why the speeches were so powerful. It amazed me how someone’s words could impact another in an emotional way and how they could even change laws or opinions. I also had a very outgoing class and an amazing professor that helped me enjoy the curriculum and feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience larger than just a few friends. This course finally made me realize what I want to do, I wanted to major in Communications. I wanted to know all about how people interact and how they change depending on their environment. I also researched on what types of jobs there are for communications majors. There are hundreds of options for a career in Communications and although I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet I know I want it to do with Communication.

Changing my major was one of the hardest changes I think I had to go through so far at college. Picking a major is picking your future career path and I want to enjoy my career. While picking a major I was stressed out, I felt I wasn’t smart and that I learn anything, that I reached full capacity. However, maybe my problem was that I was not in the right classes for myself and once I figured that out I became more confident in my work and started doing better overall. The most important thing is to remember that changing your major is okay and a normal thing, so don’t let the fear of change stop you from realizing a new skill or interest.


 

About the Author:

Kate EKate E. 
Class of 2018 
Major: Communication 
Minor: Journalism and Philosophy
Spring 2016 Blog Theme: Metamorphosis

 


 

Meet Alexandria Malfitano

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Alexandria Malfitano
Class of 2015
Major: Linguistics Minors: Korean Studies and Education 


I decided on my career path after incorporating what I had a passion for doing with the things I loved learning.  A love for learning languages and about new cultures paired with a drive to work with students led me to pursue a path that would allow me to share my love of languages by teaching English in another country.

I overcame most obstacles thrown my way by networking and talking to people.  If I was stuck, there were always people around who were happy to give advice and help get me on the right path.

If you as a student are struggling, branch out.  Go and talk to different professors, students, and other university workers.  The more people I told my story to, the more I found outlets and support to help me get through tough and trying times.  Talking to people is more helpful than you might think.

Getting involved with student life helped open up a lot of doors academically and socially which are both important.  Going to different UAlbany events helped me connect with other students and some staff members in a constructive environment.  Being able to make connections while also having a good time took off a lot of pressure that comes with being in a new place, and definitely got me kick started with involvement.

All incoming students should know that they are not alone, and that just because you’re new to the school does not mean that there are less open doors.  There are so many different resources and groups at this school, finding your niche is just a matter of putting yourself out there and daring to try something new.


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Meet Nicholle Gregor

Nicholle Gregor
Nicholle Gregor
Class of 2016

Major: Informatics
Concentration: Interactive User Experience
Minors: Art and Sustainability

Upon entering the University, I came in completely undecided. I knew that I was interested in Art but wasn’t sure where a degree in that would lead me. I was interested in learning more about computer science but coding and creating programs frightened me. After taking several classes and changing my major a few times I finally found my perfect fit with the Informatics Department. With the introduction of their new concentrations and the exposure to Human Interactive Design I organization-chart-817363_640learned that I can incorporate art into the technology world and make a career out of it. Not knowing what career path you want to follow in your life is scary, especially when you’re entering college and it seems like everyone already knows what medical school they’re applying too. I was extremely overwhelmed and became incredibly thankful for having such an amazing academic advisor my first year here. Rachel Moody really understood that I was lost and helped guide me onto the right path, without her I would probably still be just as confused as I was the first day I walked into her office.

My advice for students that are struggling is to focus on you. Figure out what it is that you love to do, find something that is interesting to you and stick to it. Do some research on the subject because there are so many opportunities out there that as a young college students we are unaware of. Aside from being a full time student I work a part-time job as well as maintaining the position of Marketing Director at a local start-up company called Twill.

Recycling IconI found my home at UAlbany with the University’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. Though that may seem off as I’m an Informatics Major, I got extremely involved with the on-campus student group UAlbany Students for Sustainability my freshman year. I have always had a passion for helping the environment but knew that I wasn’t strong science student so rather than making Environmental Science my major, I went on the path to make it a minor as well as a hobby. Now after being involved with the student group for three years I have held the position of Vice President for two of them, now as a senior I finally get the chance to be President of the group. I also currently hold the position of Community Co-Chair on the Sustainability Council, Vice President for UAlbany Outdoors, Treasurer for UAlbany Grow Green, and the Community Assistant for the World of Environmental Sustainability LLC. I have taken part in so many incredible opportunities while working with these groups. Finding a home with the people that work in that office and on the Sustainability council really helped shaped me into the person I am today.

I think it is so important for new students to get involved. Sure you’re away at college for the first time, you want to party, go out, and meet new people but being involved with a group NIcholle G in Treesbenefits you so much. Don’t just get involved your last year of college because that’s when you suddenly realize you have nothing to put on your resume. Join a group you like! And if you can’t find one, find a professor and a few friends to help you start one up! I’ve seen so many new groups and ideas develop into realities while being here that ANYTHING is possible. Don’t limit yourself because you’re afraid of what others are going to think of you. Strive to be a better you, be someone that you want to look up to. College isn’t about just getting by; it’s about getting the most out of your four years here.


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Dreams Deferred: What are You Going to Do with that Major?

 By Project MyStory Ambassador, Tiffany Araya


child writingI was the young girl who wrote stories in her bedroom to share with my teachers during recess while all the other kids ran around on the playground. I was the young girl who received Barnes & Noble gift cards and book series box sets for Christmas (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, and Twilight). I had known through all of my high school years that I was going to be an English major in college. It was my favorite subject simply because it required the two things that I loved to do: reading and writing. In my sophomore year when I was preparing to take the English regents I would cry at the impossibility of writing 4 WHOLE PARAGRAPHS in one night and my teacher would laugh at me and say that I could do it, but that moment of suffering was a small price to pay so that I wouldn’t have to pretend that I like math or science. The reason I say “pretend” is because usually people believe that any kind of major involving math or science, such as Business or Biology, will be more rewarding after graduation than something artsy like English. I almost fell victim to this pressure my freshman year of college. I was worried about committing to the English major because people were psyching me out with that age-old question, “What are you going to do with that?” It seemed like the standard line of questioning for anyone who was an English major. “So, you want to be a teacher?” “But isn’t English the language you already speak?” (That’s the hardest one to answer for my Puerto Rican family members).

People have given me funny looks and have even discouraged me from pursuing a degree in English, politely explaining to me that if I do something like business instead, I might actually get a job. So one day, I told my advisor, Kristen Swaney, that I was having doubts about being an English major. I worried about wasting 4 years (and thousands of dollars) on something that would yield no reward. Thankfully, she didn’t jump to change my major without imparting some guidance. She brought in another advisor who told me about all of his friends who majored in English and were currently working cool and interesting jobs that weren’t just teaching an English class (which is totally cool if that’s what you want to do!) I decided to trust my own feelings and stick with my major.

My sophomore year, I tried doing a double major in English and Business because the doubts were still nagging at me but I didn’t want to give up the major I truly wanted (English). I took Financial Accounting, Microeconomics and a psychology course, in addition to my English courses. I did a lot better than I expected, receiving a B in my business courses. But I wasn’t happy. So I finally accepted that even if the job offerings might be more plentiful in the business sector (which isn’t necessarily true), it wouldn’t matter to me because I wouldn’t be doing what I really wanted to do.

fence-266094_640The truth is that your major is not a cage. There is a whole world of opportunities; a whole world of careers that maybe haven’t even been created yet and you could be the one who makes it a reality. I know a person who majors in Art and wants to build a career in art therapy. When I first heard this from her, I didn’t know what art therapy was and she seemed weary of explaining it to me (most likely because as an art major, she probably experiences the same dubious expressions from other people that I do). But I encouraged her to tell me more and she was more excited about the prospect of her aspirations. Art Therapy is a relatively new field that is easier to understand when you think about how music therapy (a field people may be more familiar with) works. But instead of music, the therapist employs art activities to work through someone’s emotions or challenges. When my friend graduates and enters the work force, she may be one of the first people forging a new path for people who major in art. She will be building a foundation for others to stand on in the future. It may seem intimidating to pursue a career that isn’t fully formed yet or that most people have no clue about but it’s also really exciting to be part of something new and innovative.

girl leapingDo not feel weighed down by your major. Be inspired by it. When people ask me what I want to do with my English major, I feel genuinely confused because I do not feel defined (or confined) by my major. I can do anything I want to do. I could even one day decide that I want to go into business! I have used majors in the humanities as examples of who gets the most slack but all of this applies to any major. As a business major, you might think that maybe you’ll get trapped working an office job for the next 10 years before you make any headway into something more lucrative. I encourage you to consider becoming an entrepreneur. Build your own brand, your own company, your own business. It can be anything you want it to be! You might have to start off working in somebody’s office but you don’t have to stay there if you don’t want to. Most of us have more than one dream that follows one solid path and you’d be surprised how you can accomplish all of them by making them blend in together! To most people, I might be just a silly English major who is going to end up teaching an English class somewhere, but to me, I’m the future president and owner of my own media empire, a publisher of empowering novels, the director of influential films and television shows, the editor-in-chief of a powerful women’s magazine, anything and everything that I want to be. My personal mantra is this: Live the life you have imagined for yourself, not the one that others have set out for you.