College Life

Meet the Greek by Caroline Mosley

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CarolineMosleyAs a TORCH alumna, I never knew how much my experience in TORCH would affect my college years. The hands on experience and dynamic projects TORCH students work on led me to seek something more out of my experience at the University of Miami. At many colleges, you can find any club and organization you can imagine, but, in my personal experience, the best decision I made was to join Greek life at “The U” and become a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.

Being a member of a Greek organization exposes you to several facets of the professional world: marketing, recruitment, event planning, finance management, administrative duties, fundraising and networking. You can choose to be as involved as you want either by holding a position on the Executive Board or by participating as a general member. As a TORCH member, I visited several advertising agencies in New York, learned from many communications professionals and worked with high school students from different parts of the city. Those experiences helped build my confidence, and before I knew it I was applying to be on the Executive Board my first year in Alpha Delta Pi.

Each position taught me something different. I started off as Panhellenic Delegate, the liaison between Alpha Delta Pi and the rest of the sorority community at Miami. It is essential to network and collaborate with other sorority members in order to grow and learn different approaches to chapter operations. The following year brought new challenges. Recruitment Vice President dealt with marketing to several audiences in order to build a strong Alpha Delta Pi brand and ensure the successful recruitment of a new class. On the recruitment team is Philanthropy Chair, and as a Political Science major and Entrepreneurship minor I wanted to explore a field related to my career interest in social entrepreneurship. I had the opportunity, as Philanthropy Chair, to coordinate three fundraising initiatives and raise money for the families at Ronald McDonald House Charities.

             In my Senior year I knew that there was still so much more I could learn from Alpha Delta Pi and Greek life. I applied to be a Leadership Consultant for Alpha Delta Pi and was jet setting around the United States a few months later. Leadership Consultants travel to Alpha Delta Pi collegiate chapters all across the U.S. and Canada helping them with officer training, chapter operations, and leadership development. Traveling from California to Mississippi has opened my eyes to a huge network of sisters I can not only support, but also learn from.

This network will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I realize now that so will the TORCH alumni network. It is important to stay connected to the organizations we become a part of, like TORCH, by staying up to date on how the organization is developing and building personal connections with other alumni. I look forward to learning from and sharing stories with many more TORCH alumni!

Relearning the Value of a Dollar

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Check out this article on “Relearning the value of your Dollar,” written by Janel Martinez, Producer of Digital Media at Black Enterprise.

It’ll make you think twice about opening your wallet to swipe your card!

Click here to find out more!
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Click here to find out more!

Relearning the Value of a Dollar

Making a habit of using credit and debit cards over cash can lead to a financial pitfall

by Janel Martinez Posted: September 1, 2011
Don’t let increased plastic use desensitize you to the value of a dollar (Image: Thinkstock)

Like any other day, I moved about without a single bill in my wallet. It’s an unfortunate habit I developed during my college years when nearly all necessities—my bookstore account, meal plan, library card, etc.—were reduced to a piece of plastic: my college ID. (For added cushioning, I made sure to throw my debit and credit cards somewhere in my oversized bag.)

I stopped into a store to pick up one or two items. Oblivious to the card minimum sign, I began placing the items onto the counter. When I moved to hand the cashier my debit card, he nonchalantly waved it off, pointing to the small sign plastered in front of the register—“…$10 minimum.” I could have just picked up one more item to meet the mark as I sometimes do, but instead I went for the more financially responsible move (if that’s even possible in this situation) and left the two items in the store. Since I didn’t need them, I opted not to run to the nearest ATM.

A few hours later, I dropped into a local restaurant to order a plate of food. When I approached the register, it was like déjà vu.

“Our machines are down. We’re only accepting cash right now,” said the young cashier. Not again, I thought.

This food looked too good to let go, so I walked three blocks to the nearest Chase to make a withdrawal. Then, I backtracked to the restaurant to pay. Although the whole endeavor took less than 15 minutes, I was fed up with myself at this point. What happened to my mother’s age-old policy that I should have at least a [Andrew] Jackson in my possession? After realizing I’ve become comfortable adding items onto my checkout and questioning storeowners why they have a cash-only policy or card minimum, I’m publicly admitting I’m addicted to the swipe (the first step is admission, right?) and have slowly started working to curb my plastic dependency.

Apparently, I’m not alone. According to First Data Corporation, debit now ranks as consumers number one method of payment, accounting for 42% of all purchases last year.

Its convenience and accessibility makes it appealing, while its intangible monetary connection makes it so easy to continue spending beyond your budget. When not monitored, credit and debit card use can result in a vicious and pricey cycle.

I’ve heard both the pros (i.e. you can keep better track of your spending habits) and cons (such as, if you run into a problem with your card, how will you access your funds?) argument for using plastic, but I think it’s fair to say it’s okay in moderation. It’s not necessarily the act of swiping your card that’s bad, but that coupled with poor spending habits will have you tumbling into a financial pitfall.

Post-graduation was when I really began paying close attention to my spending habits; although I’ve had a slip-up here and there, I’m steadily working towards financial fitness (thanks in part to working at Black Enterprise).

Recent graduates, share your stories on the  financial habits you picked up in college at http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/09/01/relearning-the-value-of-a-dollar/

Hot 97 Offers High School Seniors and College Freshman $2,500 Community Service Award!

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Calling all Future Movers, Shakers, and Money Makers! Are you a driven high school senior or college freshman with your eye on the prize? Well, print this application, fill it out, and mail it back to HOT 97 along with HOT 97 Community Service Award Mission Statement for a chance to be awarded this year’s HOT97/Hip Hop Has Heart HOT 97 Community Service Award and get $2,500 to use toward your tuition!

  • Applicant must reside in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.
  • Must be between the ages of 15-19 years old
  • Must have completed 20 hours of community service and provide evidence of community service from the institution.
  • Must have a GPA equivalent to 80 or higher.

The deadline for this scholarship is August 31st, 2011. To Apply for the scholarship go to: http://www.hot97.com/Community/

TORCH Tales from the Campus IX College Fair on Wednesday, July 27th!

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As TORCH Alumni we’d love to have you participate in our TORCH Tales from the Campus IX and represent your college/university!  Tales from the Campus is an amazing opportunity for students from TORCH and other students in the NYC area to get an insiders view of what college life is really like. Last year, over 40 MAIP’ers & TORCH Alumni representing more than 35 institutions participated, giving honest answers about the application, financial aid, and college life. If you are available to join us or if you know any NYC high school students who are interested in attending email francis@thetorchprogram.org.

TORCH TIP of the Week: Study Smartly!

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I hated studying all throughout high school & college. I’m not the kind of person that can retain the information I learned in August for the finals in December, which is why it’s crucial for me to study. This is probably the case for many students.

Studying is essential to learning and in order for you to pass your classes, you need to learn and understand the material. When you study you should go into it with a positive mindset because it will help you study smarter and may even engage your interest in a particular topic. Studying doesn’t have to be something stressful or something you’re forced to do. When you study smartly, you can cut down on the cramming, the all nighters and the distractions.

Below I have put together a few tips that I know will be helpful to you and you may even adopt as your study habits.

1. Learn Your Studying Style. TORCH Intern, Alejandrina Riggins, a graduate student at Columbia University, advises that the most useful thing you can do to study is know what your studying style is. You should experiment with different ways of studying and see which is more effective for you. You may even find that different styles of studying are effective for different classes. For example, you might use index cards for your French course, or make up a song to memorize the different types of rocks for Earth Science.

2. Don’t Procrastinate! Procrastination will be the reason why you’re stuck pulling all nighters and cramming for tests. You need to beware of procrastination because it can creep up on you in many ways. According to the University at Buffalo’s Student Affairs: Procrastination masquerades in a million disguises. Among the more common of these are:

  • “One more day won’t make any difference; I’ll just put that off until tomorrow.”
  • “I can’t start on this paper until I know just how I want the first paragraph to read.”
  • “I work best under pressure.”
  • “I’ll watch just 15 more minutes of TV.”

Keep in mind that if you do your work ahead of time you won’t even have the option of procrastinating.

3. Learn and Understand, Don’t Just Memorize. When you learn and understand the course material it is easier for you to study and retain information for tests. Keep in mind that most times your course work is cumulative which means you won’t be able to understand one thing without knowing the other.

4. Learn and Study Actively! Studying actively is a good way for you to learn and understand the work.

  • During class make sure you pay attention and answer and ask questions.
  • Make sure you review and keep up with your syllabus so that you can keep a schedule of your course work and you know when things are due.
  • Take notes that you can clearly understand. Keep in mind that while taking notes during your reading, highlighting is much more effective than underlining.
  • While working in a group make sure you engage yourself, even if you’re not to fond of your group members. Engaging yourself is a big part of your learning experience.
  • When studying for a language course its helpful for you to practice that language constantly. For example: watching and discussing movies in that particular language.

5. Review Your Work. Reviewing your work regularly throughout the semester is the key to understanding and learning the material. Read your textbook and review your notes prior to the class so that you know what’s going on while the professor is teaching. After class and in between classes review your previous and new notes so that they stay fresh in your mind.

6. No Distractions Allowed. Don’t get too comfortable when studying because this can increase the chances of you dozing off or not fully engaging yourself. Try to study in a place where you can completely focus on your work. This means staying away from a location where there maybe a bed or television. While studying, stay away from going on social networking sites and using your phone, unless its an emergency.

7. Study the Hardest Material First. Believe it or not, its better to study the material you find the most difficult first. The most difficult assignments are the ones that require the most efforts. If you start on those first you’ll have time to actually learn the material. Then you can review what you already know.

8. Stay Healthy and Reward Yourself! Making sure you eat healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising all enhance the way your brain works and how much information you retain and understand. When you study make sure you take breaks in between so you can give your brain time to process the information and retain it. Finally, reward yourself! After studying and understanding the material and/or passing the test treat yourself to some new shoes or a new video game. Ok, maybe not every time, but you should definitely reward yourself, even if its just by catching up on your favorite shows.

Take these tips into consideration before you begin studying! If you have other tips on smart studying post them below!

Sources: Cod.edu Dartmouth.edu, PyschCentral.com, University at Buffalo Student Affairs

TORCH TIP THURSDAY: Manage Your Time Wisely & Effectively!

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“Whoa! How Time Flies!” — I’m sure this is a phrase that we all hear everyday! There never seems to be enough time in a day to accomplish everything we’d like. Even though we can’t catch time (like the woman in the picture above) there are many ways in which we can manage it.

While there are only 24 hours a day there is actually a lot that you can get accomplished in a few hours. However, while you go about your day and attempt to accomplish all your tasks, make sure you prioritize and are reasonable with the amount of work you can actually get done. Below are some helpful tips on helping you manage your time wisely and effectively.

1. Organize & Prioritize. The first step into managing your time is to organize yourself and your tasks.  Take sometime out of your day and make a list of your long and short-term goals and tasks.  Then, decide which are most important and on a piece of paper or computer list them in order of importance. It’s also helpful to break the bigger tasks into smaller ones.

2. Create a Schedule & To Do List. Once you’ve prioritized your goals and tasks create a schedule or reminders for yourself in your planners or smart phones. Begin by writing down any reoccurring activities you’re engaged in. (For example: Mon.– Fri.: Work 9am- 3pm) Then write down other daily or weekly appointments, courses, meetings etc. Finally, use a monthly chart to plan ahead for your long-term goals. It is also extremely helpful to make a to do list, during the beginning of your day, for all the things you wish to accomplish on that day. Make sure to list them in order of importance. Creating a to do list is also a way you can physically see your accomplishments.

3. Procrastination is NOT Your Friend! One of the biggest ways many people waste their time is by procrastinating! According to the University at Buffalo’s student affairs, procrastination is a serious issue that may lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression, self – doubting and it interferes with academic, career related and personal success. You can overcome procrastination by:

  • Recognizing self-defeating problems such as fear and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor time management, indecisiveness, and perfectionism.
  • If you’re a student, study in small blocks instead of long time periods. Also try to study in small groups so that others keep you motivated.
  • Motivate yourself and concentrate on success and not failure!
  • Set realistic goals for your self to accomplish.
  • Work in an environment that is neat, has minimal noise and distractions and adequate lighting, but isn’t too comfortable. (When doing work in extremely comfortable environments the chances of procrastinating, daydreaming and even falling asleep become higher)

4. Sometimes You Just Have to Say No! You can’t always do everything! Sometimes you just need to know how to say no to things you can’t fit in your schedule. If you’re already having trouble with time management, don’t commit to extra work (ie: organizations, committees or events) When you have extra time, use it wisely, which means finishing up the things that are a priority instead of going out or watching a new episode of Law & Order or Basketball Wives Remember there will be more opportunities for you to go out and in today’s technology you can always watch the show online.

5. Beware of Technology! With all the technology out there, it’s hard not to go on Facebook/Twitter while you’re at the desk, or text your friend back while you’re doing your schoolwork. According to the Nielsen Wire Americans spend more than half of their time on social networking, emailing, and browsing the web. This does not include time spent watching television or hanging out. Imagine how much more you could do if you cut down on the time you spent on social networking.

6. Health and Yourself. One of the most important things that you can do in order to make sure you accomplish all of your tasks and manage time successfully and effectively is to take care of yourself! This means eating breakfast, exercising, sleeping and taking time out of your week for you.

  • Even though it may be hard to eat breakfast because you’re in a rush it is important that you do because it helps you sustain energy through out your day. Plus, you will definitely burn those calories throughout the day! You can also make your to do list for the day during breakfast.
  • Exercising is essential to your time management and life in general because it contributes to how alert you are mentally.  If you’re not alert there is but so much that you can actually accomplish successfully.
  • If you don’t sleep, you can’t function properly! According to the Sleep Foundation, teens and adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep for optimum performance. Though this may not always be possible because of your busy schedules, keep in mind that lack of sleep can cause depression, anxiety, heart disease, irritability, slower reactions and other symptoms.
  • You need time to yourself and time to simply relax. By taking time out for yourself you will be sure to keep your sanity.

Make sure to leave us a comment on any tips you have for effective time management!

Sources: Dartmouth.edu, Ehow.com, Lack of Sleeping.comNielsen Wire, Sleep Foundation, Studygs.net, University at Buffalo Student Affairs , University Learning Centers

TORCH TIP THURSDAY: Buy Your Books for a Bargain!

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As an undergrad I remember spending up to $160 on a textbook for 1 course out of 5. To make matters worse, when it came to selling it back, it was only worth $50 (I actually kept that book). Purchasing books for school can be one of the most expensive parts of obtaining a higher education. What a Shame!

Most school bookstores are extremely and unnecessarily over priced! However, there are many ways that you can save money while purchasing books. Whether you’re purchasing books for school or for pleasure, from past experiences I can assure you that these tips are the most helpful in buying your books for a bargain!

1. Compare It! As soon as you receive your syllabus or know the books that you need to purchase, do a little research and compare their prices in different stores and on different websites. When comparing online to in store books make sure to factor in the shipping and handling costs of the books you find online.

2. Buy It! You can buy new and used books online for great bargain prices! Websites like Amazon.com, Half.com, and AbeBooks.com offer big discounts on books/textbooks, some books are even sold for as little as $.50! Half.com and AbeBooks.com are also good sources to get rare or out of print books. When purchasing books online make sure you order them as soon as possible so they arrive in time for your courses. Keep in mind that used books are cheaper than new ones! These are also great websites to sell any books you may no longer want.

3. Rent It! You can go on www.chegg.com and rent your textbooks! It’s so much cheaper than buying them and every time you rent a book from chegg.com they plant a tree for you! Chegg.com also gives you the option of selling any textbooks you no longer want. Again, if you’re renting a textbook online make sure you do it in advance so that your books can arrive in time for your classes!

4. Borrow It! If you don’t have the budget to purchase your books, you can always borrow them. Go to your school or public library and borrow the books as long as you return them on time to avoid late fees. The library usually gives about 3 weeks to have the books, but you always have the option of renewing it as long as it’s available. Finally, ask around (post it on Facebook or Twitter) and see if you can find someone who has the book you need so you can borrow it from them.

Good luck with your courses and reading adventures! Make sure to leave us a comment on how you Buy Your Books for a Bargain!