Mary Margaret’s Musings on the end of the semester

As the semester comes to an end, plans are made for the rest of the year. Some students will be returning to school in the fall, some will be taking classes over the summer and others will start the search for a job. The job might be for the summer only or the rest of a career. Many choices must be looked over and decided on in order to get the rest of the year in order.

Huge amounts of thought and effort go into completing a degree; finding a job in the chosen career field is a measure of success. Unfortunately, the job market can dictate a choice of what major to pursue. What I chose to major in was not my “dream” degree. Art and design is my passion, and I started my college career focusing on that. I realized quickly that an art major would not offer me the job security I wanted. I am not unhappy with communications as a major, and I will have a good chance at landing a job after graduation.

I have heard stories from acquaintances who have majored in a “safe” degree only to graduate and land a job in their dream field. Maybe I’m just pessimistic but I don’t want to take the risk of being without a steady job right out of college. Life has enough stress as is. Sometimes to reach one goal, a different goal must be sacrificed.

Returning to school in the fall is in my plans, and prep work must be done this semester for returning to school at the end of the summer. Degree plans must be checked and credit hours calculated. I will be transferring to a four-year university, and that means meeting with advisers, working out finances and praying credits will transfer. While attending a community college was less expensive than a four-year school for the core curriculum, not all classes transfer over. That is annoying, to say the least.

Taking summer classes is a way to put a college education on the fast track. Short, intense semesters go by fast but are not for the faint-hearted. Long days and tests several times a week make keeping up with the class essential. Missing one day equals missing a week in a normal class. But for those wanting to knock out as many classes per year as possible, summer classes are the way to go.

A college career requires as much work and discipline as an actual job. You must show up on time, make an effort, and stick to a schedule. The main difference is you are paying to do the work instead of the other way around. I wish I could say with certainty that my college career will be worth the time and energy put into it, but nothing in life is certain. The best I can do is work hard and hope for the best. Making the choices now is better than waiting until tomorrow. The future is not certain but planning ahead eases some of the worry.

Mary Margaret’s Musings on priorities

One moment you are focused on studying and the next you can’t get the thought of checking your favorite website out of your head.

Chances are that favorite website is not a news website focused on world affairs.

Priorities can be difficult to sort out, and the importance of being well informed on serious news often take the back seat to social media and “fun” distractions.

Procrastination is a weakness of mine. Sitting and staring at the work is easier to do then starting to work. In the mean time, getting distracted by anything and everything is extremely easy.

World news, elections and serious events fall into this trap too. Often the soft celebrity news is easier to digest then the harsh reality happening in the world around us.

Just a few weeks after Russia hosted the Olympics; they invaded Ukraine. There was less coverage on the latter than the former. Why?

After the Olympics, attention was turned to the Oscars and fluffy, insignificant news rather than the potential for worldwide consequences. A quick look at the online news sites revealed three soft articles for every Ukraine news update.

The same public ignorance occurred when the issues surrounding the Syrian civil war was in the news a few months ago. The ignorance lead to misinformation and biased opinions being presented as facts on popular social media such as Facebook.

There is such a thing as fear mongering. An over-saturation of bad news can bring accusations of fear mongering and perhaps people are trying to avoid that.

The events are not taking place on our soil and don’t directly affect us. Why should we worry? But a little human decency goes a long way.

Knowing what is going on in other places of the world makes us better prepared to face issues at home.

There is a time and a place for soft, fun news. The Oscars are an important event in the film industry. Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave, and she looked beautiful in her gauzy, powder blue dress. Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win an Oscar, again. Ellen Degeneres bought pizza and took selfies.

However, willful ignorance of serious news should be avoided. I’m not doing myself any favors by avoiding the less-than-positive news, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

I work in it in to my routine in little bits, checking the news blurbs on my email homepage, looking at what is trending now and reading the old-fashioned newspaper as I eat breakfast. The news on television is another alternative for getting a daily dose of important information.
Knowing the score to last night’s game, who got booted from American Idol and which cats are currently being worshiped by the Internet is great, but being well informed on current events has its advantages too.

Interesting conversations can be had, opinions shared and intelligence spread. Looking smarter is a win all around.

Mary Margaret’s Musings on writing

If you had asked me two years ago what I wanted to do for a career, I would have said I wanted to go into the social sciences field. I took a sociology class during my first semester of college and it captured my interest in studying people and society. I still had an interest in fine art, my original degree plan, but I didn’t know what would be the best choice for the future. All I knew for sure is I didn’t want a career that was heavy on math or English. Fast forward two years and here I am studying to be a full-time writer.

English and I have a love-hate affair that started in elementary school. I was certainly a below average writer and my grades reflected this. By the time I was out of elementary school, I hated writing in any form or fashion. Essay writing made me feel like I was going to vomit and pass out. My fear of writing made it nearly impossible to improve what I did know. I could do fine on any kind of test other than writing.

Even though I loathed writing in a school setting, I enjoyed writing fictional stories. But even there my fear followed me. Everything I wrote went into the not-good-enough pile and was thrown away. Having people read my writing,even proof reading, was a nerve wracking experience.

When I got to college and took my placement test, I barely passed the writing section. I took English 1301 and made the conscious, though pessimistic, decision to improve. Much to my surprise, my writing improved. In that class and the classes after it I continued to get good grades on my essays. I still didn’t like writing and avoided editing when possible.

I was happy that I could make good grades if I tried, but that didn’t mean I was going to rush out and become an English major. I regarded writing like making my bed: I’m good at it and it looks pretty,but I don’t enjoy the task. My life-changing moment came when I got my final paper back in philosophy class. The professor was impressed with my writing! That had never happened before; I was in shock.

Over the summer I did some evaluating and decided communications would be a better major for me than fine arts. At first I wondered if I was making a mistake majoring in something I had a love-hate relationship with, but the more I thought about it, I realized writing is like learning to ride a bike. Writing is a skill that has to be learned and not some innate ability some people just have. I still struggle to compose sentences and reach word counts, but I don’t panic at the mention of an essay anymore. When I write fiction now, no matter how bad I think it is, I put it in a folder and come back later to read it.Nine times out of ten, it’s not as bad as I thought.

Mary Margaret’s Musings on voting

With the last election in Midland in November, I fully intended to vote. In every class I attended, I was reminded of the importance of voting. News articles bemoaned the fact young people don’t vote, and I was reminded daily of my right to exercise the powers of a democracy and the dangers of apathy towards picking new leaders.

As luck would have it, I came down with the flu the week of early voting and didn’t make it out of the house except to go to school. By Election Day, I was feeling better— not perfect, but I still planned to go to the polling place and vote. My brother came back from his classes and told me that there was no polling place on the Midland College campus.

During past elections, MC had a polling place set up in the Scharbaurer Student Center. The polling place had been moved to the Centennial branch of the Midland County Library. According to my brother, the polling place was in a meeting room, the lines were long and it was crowded.

At that point, I decided everyone was better off without my germs and I would give up my right to complain about the officials elected since I didn’t vote.

Moving the polling place from MC made voting for people on campus less convenient. Students with all-day class schedules, teachers and staff that may not have time during a break to leave campus all benefited from the polling place at MC. The set up at MC was always easy, convenient and fast.

I definitely won’t deny that my generation is apathetic towards matters of the government. Matters of the government rarely show up on the radar of young people unless the issues will directly affect them. An effective way to combat this is make reaction to issues unavoidable.

The polling place on the MC campus accomplished such a goal. With voting a mere walk away, students who may not have taken the time to vote were able to take a few minutes and take a part in our democracy.