Friday, August 29, 2014

Getting on board

Before I came to Bloomsburg University, I mentally prepared myself for being constantly busy with studying and reading the thickest books I have ever seen in my life. High school made me honestly a little scared of all the work that would have to be put into college.

On top of being bombarded with school work, I was very shy and lacked a lot of self-confidence. Moving to somewhere new and bring surrounded by brand new people made me extremely nervous.

After my first couple of weeks of meeting everyone who lived on my floor and adjusting into the college life, I became much more relaxed and confident. I met an upperclassmen named Rob who happened to be a chair member of Program Board. He was the Special Events chair, which meant that he brought all of the mentalists, hypnotists, comedians, and magicians.

After days of Rob bugging me to go to one of their general meetings, I finally went. The students were very welcoming and seemed to really know their stuff. Now, I was still in the mindset of college being super busy and not having any free time, so I waited an entire semester before I actually started going to Program Board events.

The first event that I attended was "Midnight Came Early." When I first walked onto the quad I was handed a t-shirt and greeted with a warm smile and "Welcome! Thank you for coming to help us out today!" The night started out with four different inflatables from an obstacle course to a laser tag maze!

The entire quad was filled with students from the moment the event started until the event was over. Once it started to get dark, we had about 20 tables on the front half of the quad with candles and bingo chips on each table. Students could buy up to six bingo cards for 25 cents a card and win up to $350 in cash!

After Bingo was over, hundreds of students were lined up to get free pizza! I found out later that Program Board buys more than 100 pizzas from four different local pizza places downtown Bloomsburg once a month and every student with a BU student ID gets as much free pizza as they want.

The next day I talked to Rob and asked him why we do these sort of events for students. He responded with, "We do these events so students can have an alternative to underage drinking, and so students can feel welcome here at Bloomsburg University." The very next meeting, I signed up for every committee within Program Board and have been in love with it ever since.

As a marketing major, getting to know different people and networking is a huge part of being successful for the future. You never know who you are going to meet, that person might end up helping you gain a future job. Program Board has opened so many doors and created an infinite amount of opportunities for me.

For example, I met a student who encouraged me to come to a conference where people from different businesses come and talk about what they have to offer and about their company. After the conference I left with a part-time job offer as a sales trainee at Fastenal where I worked over the summer.

I have also made a lot of connections with people that are involved in marketing at conference where we go to watch entertainers try to convince us to bring them to our college. Those entertainers work with people that market them to students all over, and to experience something like that opened a new path of marketing for me.

Program Board is a very diverse organization, which in turn attracts a variety of students. We offer a little bit of something for everyone. You get to work with a lot of people who love their jobs and love working with other people. Program Board helps you learn how to work in a team in a relaxed and fun environment. Program Board plans and coordinates a lot of programs for students that require leadership and prioritization skills which you can learn and apply to school or to a future or current job.

At the end of each year, Program Board puts together a banquet to recognize the general members for their hard work. Many students have come forward during the banquets to talk about how Program Board really helped them come out of their shell. I remember one year, someone came up to me and said, "Before Program Board, I would sit in my room over the weekend while my roommates went out to party. Now, all of my weekends are full of fun and exciting events! My roommates are jealous of all of the fun I am having and want to start coming to the events with me."

Program Board has eight different committees: films, dance, travel, bingo and games, special events, hospitality, public relations, and sound stage. If you are interested in all things music, you can join the sound stage committee. If you organized every single dance in high school and that is your passion, dance committee is for you. If you are interested in marketing and love to travel places, you can join travel and public relations committee. If you just want to make friends and have a lot of free time on your hands, you can always sign-up for every single committee that we have.

— Chelsea Underhill, senior marketing major #HuskyLife

Friday, August 15, 2014

Best approach to buying textbooks?

Can you believe you’re a mere week away from classes starting? I’m sure it feels like you were making your college decision just yesterday. By the way, congrats on picking the best school!

You have gone through a stressful, yet exciting past couple of months. You’ve made decisions such as choosing your college, finding a roommate and attending summer orientation. You’re now a week away from college and besides moving in (that’s the fun stuff) you have one final stress: textbooks.

Welcome to a new world of buying your own textbooks!

... but don’t worry, they’re much nicer than those flimsy, torn up books in high school that date back to the early 90’s. As you anticipated, your textbooks come at an inevitable cost, sometimes higher than expected. You’re not alone. It seems like we all spend a little too much than we would like on books each semester but I promise it hurts your wallet a little less when they’re well worth it.

If you’re unsure of how you want to go about book buying for the semester, you can always attend the first week of classes to get a feel for which books you will definitely need. Professors are very honest and open about whether the book is an absolute necessity or not. My best advice would be to take it from there and decide based on your study habits.

You won’t be forced to have your book in hand on the first day or even in the first week, during which time students are still dropping and picking up classes. You will usually break them out by the second, sometimes third week of class. I personally bought every book the first semester in fear of what was to come and there were some I never opened, and I did just fine!

Most professors put a considerable amount of their exam material on their PowerPoint slides so make sure to attend all your classes, but that’s another story. If you would like to purchase all your books regardless, go for it, do whatever works best for you. You will all have a good grip on this after the first semester, guaranteed.

So after you decide what books you need, where do you get them?

I have bought my books from a variety of sources whether it was Amazon, Chegg or the University Store. Each has their ups and downs. Amazon and Chegg are great ways to get your textbooks and you can buy or rent from both. They are convenient and can be rush ordered, however you cannot forget to return rentals at the end of the semester. Chegg is even nice enough to call and leave an automated reminder on your cell phone. Depending on the book, you may have a little more difficulty finding it on this site as they are not related to Bloomsburg University, however I have gotten lucky so far!

The University Store is guaranteed to have all your textbook needs!

However, depending on how many books they have in stock and the number of students purchasing them, you can find yourself on a waiting list if you wait too long to purchase the book. I have been put on various waiting lists, and they are very efficient and the bookstore will email you as soon as your book is ready. In the meantime, meet a new classmate and ask to borrow theirs — making new friends is always great!

Also keep in mind that depending on your major and classes, some books will only be available to you at the University Store, such as a lab manual written by your professor. Like I said, don’t fear, you’ll get the hang of this pretty quickly.

The final aspect of buying textbooks — do you buy new, used or just rent it? 

This fully depends on what you’re trying to spend and what’s available. Buying new is almost always an option, but I promise those used books with a scratch or two have the same content inside. You can save up to half of the price by buying used and you can still sell it back at the end of the semester.

Rentals are a different story. These are even cheaper, however they must be returned at the end of the semester. I rent books if I’m running short on money at the textbook buying time, and it’s extremely helpful.

But how does returning those new and used books you bought work? 

When you buy a book from the University Store, you have the option of selling them to the bookstore or you can sell to a kiosk in town, such as Belltower. They are set up in various places that buy books back at competitive costs. It’s hard to say which is more profitable (for you) in the end, because it varies between books.

Unfortunately, sometimes a newer edition of your textbook comes out leaving yours worthless to these buyers. Always try multiple places to make sure you’re getting the best price possible. If you find you can’t get money at either store, you can always go on the Bloomsburg Class of 2018 Facebook page and see if any of your classmates need it. New editions usually don’t vary that much from the one before, and most professors won’t mind if you use it. I have also done this before, and it helps both you and your classmates out immensely.

Can you believe all these difficult decisions are almost over and you are soon finally going to be a college student? Enjoy this time in your life it goes too fast. I am embarking on my senior year and remember being in all of your shoes. Make smart decisions while you’re here, have fun and make the best of this life changing experience.

— Sierra Kern, Class of 2015 #HuskyLife