Writing and Class Reflections

Well, we have reached the end of classes for this semester, and I can’t say that I’m not glad they’re over. It’s not something I really would have thought about at the beginning of, or even throughout the semester, but after reflecting on it now, I definitely have growth as a writer, a student and even a person. After taking classes such as this one, after presenting research, after writing papers I have definitely changed in way that I can recognize within myself. All of these things have allowed me to better realize my strengths, and especially my faults. I’m well on my way to fulfilling learning outcomes prescribed by the GLOBE, fulfilling the colleges vision and adhering to its values, as well as adhering to my own. In some ways I have become a better writer, and a better critical thinker; in other ways not so much. But what is most important to realize, what I have realized, is that like writing, becoming a better person is a process. It’s not something that’s quick, and it’s not something that’s easy, it takes hard work and dedication, but it does happen, and it is achievable. If there is anything I will take away from this class, or from college at all, it’s that I always have the potential to be a better version of myself, I just have to put in the effort.

Gen Ed’s

As part of every college students curriculum are general education requirements. These usually take the forms of history, english, science, maths, a language, arts, and humanities. Many students tend to see these as obstacles preventing them from learning what they came to go to school for. For example, last semester I had to take both creative writing and film studies to fulfill fine art requirements. Neither of those classes were ones that I would have chosen to take had I any real choice. They were also not classes that I really enjoyed. I would have much rather taken classes relevant to my career path, like astronomy or anthropology. Why then do we take these classes? To fulfill the outlines of the GLOBE and row as students. There is a reason Geneseo is known as a liberal arts college, because all of its students must be versed in a variety of topics. By taking these classes, learning a variety of topics, and meeting and interacting with a variety of other students, we can only hope to grow as students and people.

From High School to College

Something that I heard a lot about college during high school was how much different classes are. Upon entering college I had come to expect to be furiously writing down everything my professors said, and reading textbooks for hours on end. Luckily, that has turned out not to be true, by and large classes are still very similar to that of high school. Granted, there are still a lot of notes to take, and there’s much less in class socializing, but most class periods feel very much the same. Although, I will say that having classes scattered throughout the day, unevenly throughout the week has taken a while to get used to. Instead of having just seven straight hours of class, classes may sometimes have hours in between. The one thing that stands out in my mind as living up to the ‘hype’ is that no one cares what you do or if you even go to class. That, combined with being expected to manage your time and homework effectively on your own is very different. Sure, in high school we were expected to do our homework and manage time effectively, but that was usually for only a few days in advance. Now, there is less homework, but we’re still expected to understand the material as well as if there was. I’m currently enrolled in art history, a class that has no homework, and no textbook reading. Final grades are only determined by three tests throughout the semester and that’s it. If we as students had that kind of schedule in high school, I  believe that many of us would be unable to handle it. As it goes know, this added responsibility is something else we have to deal with, weather we want to or not. In that sense, that sounds like very good practice for the real world, sometimes we have to deal with things we’d rather not. Other times (all the time) we’re expected to manage time effectively, because failure to do so can have grave consequences. 

The Chipman/Urstein Article

A significant portion of our class recently has been  the discussion of the Chipman/Urstein article and the revision of the academic probation letter. While revising the letter I have noticed a change from group to group of the overall psychology of the letter. Because everyone has their own way to phase things, and this letter is largely concerned with word choice, it can be hard to revise. That said, I believe that sometimes we get too caught up in the psychology of word choice; sometimes is simply doesn’t matter, or it doesn’t carry as much weight as we expect it to. After having spent significant time with multiple versions of the letter I believe that the changes we made were in our own benefit rather than anyone else. I suspect that if everyone individually were given slightly different iterations of the letter their revisions would all turn out slightly different. If we redistributed those revised letters throughout the class and had to re revise those, I suspect that by and large the newly revised letters would be very similar in word choice and overall psychology to everyone’s original revision. I also suspect that this exercise is done every year and that every group comes up with their own unique letter. Soon we have hundreds of letters that all attempt to share the same message with slightly different word choice. Which letters are right? Which are wrong and need further revising? It’s hard to tell, and everyone is likely biased in their own way. In that way, as Urstein makes an argument for changing the psychology of the letter, I believe that everyone will interpret it slightly different, regardless of how its phrased. In that way, the revision process is never actually finished. It just stops moving.

The Collaborative Writing Process

Much of in class discussion over the past several weeks has been the Chipman/Urstein article and the academic probation letter. Until we began revising our own versions of the letter I did not realize how much thought goes into important official statements like that of the probation letter. As we have been working on the collaborative writing with different groups it has occurred to me the importance of this diligence. Something I have noticed from group to group is that everyone has their own writing style and method of revision. This is not inherently surprising, as everyone thinks differently, but with something as detailed as this letter, those differences have become very apparent to me.  As the groups have slowly changed in composition from week to week I have noticed small, but notable shifts in the psychology of the group and the written pieces. Withholding names, in some instances I have noticed certain people -including myself- stepping back, and stepping up depending on who their working with, and how big the group is. I myself am rather comfortable in small groups and contribute significantly to them in general. When groups become larger, and eventually class sized I tend to hold back, allowing those who like to speak do so. In many ways this can be a problem, as it can lead to disassociation or disinterest, however the desire to contribute is always there. 


Higher Education

For many high school students the process of choosing a direction to take their lives after high school can be a difficult challenge. Military? Workforce? Trade school? College? In today’s society, students are told at a young age that college is the only way to make a living in the world. In many ways that’s true, just having a high school diploma doesn’t cut it any more. However, I believe that the current education system doesn’t do enough for students to help them realize what they want to do with their lives. It seems that in many ways the current system pushes students to fall into two groups. The first, being those who know what they want to become from an early(er) age, and the second who don’t really know. I would consider myself in the later group. During my senior year of high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to go to college for. I knew I wanted to go into a science field but I didn’t really know which one; I find all major branches to be appealing. I could just have easily chosen physics or biology instead of geology. I imagine for other students this is the same way, they have several things they enjoy, but none they are convincingly passionate about. In that way, the education system doesn’t do enough to help students discover themselves as most high school classes have few options. It can be argued that college is a place meant for students to discover themselves, and I would agree with that. However, if college is the place where young adults are meant to discover themselves, perhaps less pressure should be put on them to have a strong academic drive. Surely, it’s impossible to treat college as just a way to self grow, academics are important too. Surely going to college has immense benefits, but what do students as individuals lose throughout that process?

Study Abroad

For many students, he prospect of going to college may be that of a financial nightmare. Unfortunately, many people are unable to afford a quality college education, and most who can are faced with crippling debt. Of those who can go to college, fewer still are able to study abroad, weather it be financially related or not. Recently, a similarly related opportunity has been given to me, and I intend to take it. Every other year the geology department goes on a field trip of juniors and seniors to see geology not seen here in New York.  Having lived here my entire life, and not traveling a significant amount, I have not seen seen firsthand geology that much different than anything in this area. Next year, I will be a junior and there will be a field trip to Death Valley and the Mojave desert. I will be lucky enough to go on this trip and view some impressive geology only found in that area of the globe. While I’m not entirely sure on all of the details yet, I believe that a portion of the trip will involve research necessary for my degree. In that way, I aim to stimulate my learning and grow as a student even more than I normally would. Hopefully, this trip will provide me with that opportunity.


A hot news topic in the last several months has been that of cryptocurrencies. Their recent rise (and now fall) in shareholder value has been the subject of discussion of economists and investors alike. While the average person remains in the dark about how they actually work, (I only understand the basics my self) what most people do seem to understand is how volatile they are.  For a lone time crypto’s (notably Bitcoin) were relatively stable; during that time they were also worth much less than they are today. In recent months, their value has gone off the rails, peaking at over $19000 per coin. That alone has encouraged many people to invest into Bitcoin and similar crypto’s because of the money involved. However, cryto is very volatile, its price fluctuating massively. At its peak, this volatility has spawned such jokes as “My son asked me for $12365 in bitcoin, so I gave him his $8592.” The reason I bring all of this up is because of the risks and rewards involved with investing, especially with volatile currencies. A significant number of people who have invested into the crypto market have done so without any prior hand research, simply trying to profit off of the volatility. And herein lies the risks and rewards. On one hand, it’s possible to make thousands of dollars easily, on the other, one may be stuck with worthless internet money. Usually, it’s hard to be successful in this field without lots of research into its ideas and concepts. In that way, a full and complete understanding of the topic can provide ample rewards. Failure to understand the crypto market -or financial markets at all- can lead to serious financial risks. (#HODLGANG)


In my last blog post I discussed the impact of GREAT Day and its meaning towards growth as described by the GLOBE. Something I left out of that post is that I too presented at GREAT day. All semester long I have been working on a group project about the stresses of college students.  A quick summery of the project is that the number of college students who report anxiety, stress, and depression as affecting their academic success has been rising for the past decade.  These factors cause many students, especially those who are high achievers, to turn to substance abuse as a way of coping. Additionally, on campus chemistry related majors and juniors are the most stressed demographics.  Also, Geneseo’s Student Health and Counseling Center Lauderdale is both overbooked and understaffed, yet it only sees 14% of the student body. Because the number of counseling staff is regulated by state funding (which is unlikely to change anytime soon) our group has suggested hiring and implementing a special librarian to help students -particularly juniors- to deal with their work load, as that that is most likely the main cause of their stress. This would be indented to work in the same way as the Math and Writing Learning Centers. We have also proposed that RA’s receive training to help students with their mental health problems, to at least be more understanding of them. This would improve the councilor-student ratio, which currently sits at approximately 80:1. In my previous post I mentioned how presenting at GREAT Day fulfilled the learning outcomes at described by the GLOBE. In this post I would like to take that thought and aim it towards my own research process. Beyond presenting whose outcomes I outlined in the previous post, by working on this group research I have fulfilled other requirements of the GLOBE as well. First is Quantitative, Computational, and Symbolic Reasoning.  Much of my individual work for this project was the extrapolation and interpretation of data sets. I had to compile over ten years off data (taken semesterly) on various factors regarding college student health. I then had to compile the data into graphs and analyze what they meant. From there, the group worked to symbolically reason what could be causing those changes. I would also like to highlight Leadership and Collaboration. As I have mentioned, this was a group project, one that I conducted with four other students. Contrary to my actions in this class, I was (arguably) the group leader for this project. While all of us communicated immensely throughout the semester, I took a particular lead in determining what information was relevant to the project, especially as we put our poster together. As a whole, after reflecting on it, I can clearly see that working on collaborative research projects such as this one have allowed me to grow as a student.


A few weeks ago Geneseo celebrated GREAT Day. After thinking about some of the discussions we’ve had in class I have realized that GREAT Day is more than just a day off from school, or a chance to learn about peer research. It’s an opportunity for students to show off how much they have grown, and what they have learned throughout the semester. One thing that I believe GREAT Day does a very good job of is demonstrating to faculty and students alike the learning outcomes outlined by the GLOBE. As students in college we are expected to grow as people and continuously learn throughout our entire college experience and lives. Geneseo has outlined ways to do this in the GLOBE, and GREAT Day is a great way to demonstrate that growth. Take critical thinking for example, by working on a semester long research project students have to think critically to make claims and test their hypotheses. Critical thinking is at the core of research, something it can not succeed without.  Another example is communication, in which to paraphrase from the GLOBE “to compose written texts that effectively inform or persuade… to engage in discussion, debate and public speaking in a manner suitable to the listener(s) and the discourse.” This is what GREAT Day is all about, sharing and presenting research to others, in order to inform them of new ideas and persuade them to take action, in a way that they the listeners will understand. I believe that in this way GREAT Day fulfills all of the learning outcomes of the GLOBE in that it provides students will the opportunity to grow.