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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Involved Part II

Getting Involved in Clubs/Organizations at AU!

Despite the popular belief, there is more to AU than academics. AU’s campus provides you with numerous opportunities to get involved with various on-campus clubs and organizations. Specifically, AU has over 200 student-led organizations that offer knowledge and experience in just about any field/major/topic that students are passionate about. Below are several reasons why joining student organizations or clubs could be beneficial to you:

1)      It allows you to build a sense of community on AU’s campus. Joining student organizations and clubs allows you to meet and make new friends with the same/similar interests. In addition, those who join student organizations/clubs are less likely to miss their family & friends in comparison to those who don’t join any clubs.
2)      It allows you to connect with AU. Being involved in organizations on AU’s campus will help you seek out the various resources that AU has to offer.
3)      It’s a resume builder. Showing that you’re involved in clubs on campus looks great on resumes and applications when you apply for jobs/internships. Even as a freshman, it is never too early to begin thinking about how to position yourself for future employment.
4)      It allows you to explore your interests. Clubs and student organizations give you the opportunity to discover (in more depth) what fields of studies and majors you are interested in. It also allows you to discover what you don’t like as well.

There are various ways in which students can be informed about AU’s clubs and student organizations. The most convenient way to learn about campus clubs is by conversing with other students. By talking to other students in your classes and on campus, you will not only learn about the organizations and clubs they are a part of, but you will also get the opportunity to learn about the mission and goals of certain organizations. Another way to learn about campus organizations is by visiting the AU’s Student Activities Website. This website provides you with the list of clubs and organizations offered at AU. One other way to be informed is by attending club fairs (usually hosted at the beginning of the semester) and other events which allow students to get to know certain organizations on campus. Today@AU, American University's Washington DC publication for campus news, usually posts information about club events and fairs as well. Lastly, you can always ask one of your peer advisors about how to join certain clubs and organizations. We would be more than happy to help you get involved at AU!

Getting Involved with Volunteering!

American University has a big emphasis on internships and volunteering for supplementing academic work with real life experience. A volunteer position can often be somewhat less competitive to attain and can still give you the same, credible experience that graduate schools and future employers will look for. While it can be a time committment and is unpaid, volunteering in your field of study is worth your time.

  • Volunteering,  like internships are usually best to start once you have gotten your feet grounded at school with your classes and time management. Starting around your sophomore year is a good timeline unless you feel ready your second semester freshman year.
  • While time management is often a concern for any college student, volunteering can be a great option with flexible part time hours depending on your placement.
  • The AU Career Center is great with offering resume and cover letter revisions, interview practice, and helping you find a place you would like to volunteer.
  • Volunteering is somewhat unlike internships in that it can be valuable even if it is not directly in your field of study. For example, a Communications major volunteering at a need based school can still develop other skills that will be needed for future classes and beyond graduation - don't let "unrelated" opportunities deter you!
  • Volunteer positions are a great way to determine whether you like a certain field or not before committing any more time and energy to it.
  • Where to start looking? Contact your AU Career Center advisor, get in touch with professors and departments who may be in the field of your volunteer placement to get more networking information, or log on to AU Career Web to look for full time and part time opportunities.
And remember - it's never too early to start getting involved! Try to take advantage of all of the great opportunities that this city has to offer. You will be glad you did as you progress through college and apply to graduate programs or other full time jobs!

As always, if you have any questions you can contact your peer advisors at CASPeerAdvisors@american.edu or stop by their office Battelle 164.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Involved Part I

As your first semester here at American University is coming to an end, it may seem like an odd time to talk about getting involved, but really it is an ideal time! Seeing as you've gotten more settled into your classes and being away from home and on your own, it is a good time to start thinking about future semesters and how to make the most of them. This blog will discuss the best ways to going about securing an internship and studying abroad, when and if  the time is right for you.

Internships by Triana Tello Gerez

AU is ranked in the top schools for internships, which tells you a lot about this school, its location and its students. Throughout your years at AU you will learn how there is a big focus on the “learning by doing” idea, which is exactly what internships provide. It is for that reason, as well as our awesome location close to many very interesting places to intern, that many students here take their education beyond the classroom. However, sometimes we feel pressured into doing internships; there is a feel that internships are what we are here for, and that we need to have many on our resume. But that is not the case. Internships are great for many reasons, but peer pressure and resume building are not one of those.
        With internships (as the New Radicals say)  you will only get as much as you give (unless you are lucky enough to get one of those rare ones that pay, in which case, you will also get money).  Doing internships just for the sake of doing them, will only take your time and energy, and in college, those are precious (don’t waste them!). One of the most important things to remember about internships is that you have to be enthusiastic about them and be ready to give them your best. Internships can be great for networking, learning, figuring out what you like and dislike in terms of future careers, acquiring different skills, meeting people and figuring out how what you learn in class applies to the real world, but in order to get this, you have to be committed to them.
        So, with that in mind, here are a few pointers:
-When to intern: it is best to start once you have settled in to college and have some knowledge to apply to your internship. This is different for everyone, but first or second semester sophomore year would be good.
-How to look for internships: The career fair and the career center web page are good resources. However, don’t be afraid to branch out: ask your professors, check out idealist; talk to upper-classmen about their experiences, etc.
-How to make the best out of it: Be enthusiastic; get to know your supervisor and other people and interns in the office. Even if you realize you don’t love it, be a good worker, meet deadlines and if you have time, ask for new projects! Don’t be bored, and keep it interesting.
-Commuting: check out the buses, they can be faster than the metro (in some cases) and they are cheaper!
-Applying for them: Tailor your resume at the Carreer Center (they are great!); send in your best papers and reach out to AU professors for your recommendations (high school recommendations are good, but it is a good idea to start forming mentor relations here at AU)
-Learn a lot and enjoy! 

Study Abroad by Sofie Friedman
There are more than 850 students annually who study abroad from American University. AU Abroad  is the best resource to look up the best areas of study for your major, learning more about the application process, and finding out who your AU Abroad advisor will be for your corresponding program or country of study.

Studying abroad is available on a semester, year or even summer program basis but all specific questions, just like major specific questions should be targeted to your AU Abroad advisor. Studying abroad is an amazing experience that can enrich your college experience immensely. As someone who studied abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland last spring semester, I can't recommend it enough. While it can be scary being on your own in a new country, it's an experience that many students recommend taking advantage of during your time here at AU. Often many employers view your experience abroad as an advantage when being hired and consider it something that makes a person more well rounded.

Most students choose to study abroad during their Junior year for one semester, although this varies based on finances, how much of one's general education and major requirements have been fulfilled, and when the program is offered.

In order to study abroad, you must have already completed 8 out of the 10 general education courses that you must complete during your time here at AU. Keep in mind, these general education classes can only be completed at AU and can therefore not be classes you choose to take while abroad. Also, depending on your major, there may be some courses that you can only take here on campus. However, it is generally the case that many major elective courses can easily be fulfilled at your abroad university.

When choosing a place to study abroad, try to think about whether you want to immerse yourself in a new language, if you want to go to a school known for its focus in your specific area of interest, or if you want to go for more of a cultural experience. 

As always if you have specific questions about studying abroad ask your CAS Peer Advisor or contact AU Abroad directly!


Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Do's and Don'ts of Registration!

With registration just around the corner, we as peer advisors understand the stress and panic that may set in somewhere along in the process. So, we decided to put together some do's and don'ts for before, during, and after the registration process based on our personal advice. Hopefully some of these helpful tips will aid you in your process and give you some things to start thinking about and preparing for as your registration date approaches.

Before Registration:

  • DO clear any stops on your account before registering for next semester classes. For more details on which stops to clear on your account, view your myau.american.edu portal
  • DO remember to attend a pre-registration workshop and meet with your academic advisor to be cleared to register
  • DO know the course - Read the course descriptions of the classes
  • DO have a back up - If things change, it is totally okay. Allowing yourself the flexibility to change will help you be okay with whatever schedule you have at the end of registration
  • DO check out the professors – in your AU portal, go to academics and then click on Student Evaluation of Teaching to learn more about student’s past experiences with the professor and the class
  • DO NOT choose classes just based on times—It does not matter if the class is at the wonderful time of 11:35 or 2:35, if you are not interested in the topic or professor, it will be a dread to get up and go to class. Instead, choose classes based on your interests, even if it is an 8:55, you will be happy to wake up for that class
  • DO NOT visit a subjective professor evaluation website.  INSTEAD look at the Student Evaluation of Teaching on your portal-- Its a much more accurate evaluation system!!!!!
  • DO NOT prolong scheduling an appointment with your academic advisor for registration clearance.Remember that when it gets closer and closer to registration, your advisor’s schedule will be extremely busy!
During Registration:
  • DO remember that if you register for more than 17 credit hours, you will be charged for each additional credit.
  • DO know the section numbers—be sure that you know the number and section number; moreover, have other section numbers and times available in case the class you want is full or closed
  • DO email your academic advisor if you encounter problems or have questions about classes so that they can be addressed ASAP
  • DO NOT register for an Area 5 course if you have not completed your math requirement. You must have the math requirement fulfilled in order to take courses in that specific area
  • DO NOT waitlist first and then register – If you waitlist, say, LIT 101-001 and then register for LIT 101-002, the system will drop you off the LIT 101-001 waitlist. It is best to register for the open course first (say, LIT 101-002) and then put yourself on the other waitlist (LIT 101-001) Register and then waitlist!
  • DO NOT freak out! All will be well even if you encounter technical mishaps or realize that some classes are closed. Try your best and everything will work out.

After Registration
  • DO know that your schedule is flexible—If half way through your winter vacation, or once we hit 2013, you realize you want to take a different class instead of the one you signed up for (and you have checked that it fulfills your requirements, etc) go for it! You have from your registration date until two weeks into the semester to change your schedule
  • DO confirm your changes by checking your new schedule on the AU portal after registering for classes (or changing your schedule)
  • DO get excited! You just registered for your second semester as a college student, and all by yourself at that!
  • DO NOT drop an old class before adding a new when changing your schedule. This way, you will always have it as a fallback, if the new class is closed.
  • DO NOT panic! Even if things don't go exactly as planned, you will be okay. Email your advisor if you are feeling anxious. 
  • DO NOT neglect your email if you are on any waitlists – when a spot opens up in the course you waitlisted, you will receive an email (usually at 6 am) and then you have 24 hrs to register for the class. If you don’t check your AU email and fail to register for the class within those 24 hrs, then you will lose your spot in the class, so check your email!

As always, feel free to email your peer advisors at CASPeerAdvisors@american.edu or make an appointment to address any lingering questions about schedules, registration, or anything in between. We are always here to help! Good luck!