Lost Among the Trees

Lost Among the Trees

Posted by: on April 6, 2015   |Comments (0)|Tutoring Center

christina-perri-blogGUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI
Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New York. I am a biology and psychology double major with a minor in neuroscience, and a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. I work in the OAS Tutoring Center primarily as a CIV tutor, and I dabble in other subjects as needed. When I’m not in class, lab, or OAS, I can be found singing with Schola Cantorum, playing the flute with Symphonic Winds, arguing with the Debate Society or writing articles for the psychology newsletter, Analyze This. Check in with me at PC Smartypants for tips and tricks for college success!

 

I am an analytical thinker. It is something that I have accepted about myself: I like to break down material into its component parts, understand how it fits together, and I tend to compartmentalize it. I can tell you individual quotes from my favorite television shows or books, but ask me to follow a map and I am more than useless (seriously—do the opposite of what I tell you if you want to get to your destination in a timely manner). If you have read my posts before, you know that I am in love with schedules because they help me look at the individual tasks I have for the day, week, or month and plan out the best way to tackle them.

That is not to say that I am just a math and science person, although those academic areas are dear to my heart. I also have a soft spot for literature and music, and while I cannot draw much more than a (granted, supremely awesome) stick figure, I appreciate the visual arts. Each of these areas of learning has a distinct place in my day and in my mind.

But is that the beginning and end of it? My dad asked me today, talking about next year, how it will feel to be “the big cheese” (i.e. a college senior). I was not sure what to say to him. I knew what I planned to do over the next year—apply to medical school, finish the Providence College core curriculum, continue working in Academic Services as a tutor, and (gulp) graduate—but somehow that did not seem to answer the question. The discrete activities of my day-to-day life somehow did not encompass the feeling of being a rising senior. It did not encompass the journey I had taken over the last five-and-a-half semesters at PC or the direction in which I was going. I could see individual points of interest, but in that moment I could not draw the map of my college experience.

spring8In the often high-stress environment of college, particularly for people already prone to this style of thinking, it can be easy to lose the forest for the trees. We get caught up in the papers, the exams, the homework assignments, and we forget what the point of it actually is. Why are we here, taking eighteen credits a semester? Why do I have my to-do list for Easter break laid out, with due dates and assignment priority color coded? I personally get very wrapped up in the tasks I need to do throughout the day. Often, it serves me well—assignments are completed in a timely manner, and usually with good results. But how does that fit into the larger narrative of life? Is stating the goal—to get a job, or into graduate school, or into professional school—the same as seeing it?

I want to challenge myself and my fellow analytic thinkers to look for the forest when we are lost among the trees. Take a moment, especially when you are stressed out, to step back and draw a map of your life as you see it right now. Understand how everything we do, from that cup of coffee at 7:30 in the morning to shutting off the light before bed, and all the steps in between, not only fit into the larger narrative of life, but create it. Those individual experiences shape the story of our lives. Look for the story that you want to tell.

GUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New... MORE

What it Means to be a Friar Family

Posted by: on March 2, 2015   |Comments (0)|Tutoring Center

christina-perri-blogGUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI
Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New York. I am a biology and psychology double major with a minor in neuroscience, and a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. I work in the OAS Tutoring Center primarily as a CIV tutor, and I dabble in other subjects as needed. When I’m not in class, lab, or OAS, I can be found singing with Schola Cantorum, playing the flute with Symphonic Winds, arguing with the Debate Society or writing articles for the psychology newsletter, Analyze This. Check in with me at PC Smartypants for tips and tricks for college success!

 

Forever a Friar. Friar Family. Veritas. These words permeate campus, whether through signs and flyers hanging in residence halls or from the mouths of friars and professors. But what does it mean for our school to be a family?

The answer we often hear is one that links us back to our Catholic and Dominican identity, and I absolutely believe that it plays a role. To be “catholic” is to be universal and wide-reaching, and that is exactly what the Friar Family is meant to be: an all-inclusive, all-embracing unit that encompasses each and every one of us at Providence College. But I think there has to be something more grounded than that. Where is the Friar Family in our everyday lives? Particularly, as students, where is the Friar Family in the classroom?

To be a member of the Friar Family is to recognize our common experiences. We may have different career aspirations—to be doctors, or lawyers, or professors, or accountants, or writers—but we are all here at PC for the same reason. We are all seeking knowledge. None of us know everything in our chosen fields, but we all pick up some sliver of information. And this is where the Friar Family comes in.

To be a member of the Friar Family is to work cooperatively, not competitively. In my experience at PC, my fellow students have worked to build me up, not tear me down. We exchange knowledge reciprocally, clarifying concepts for one another. Last semester I spent many a night with friends in an apartment in Mal Brown, studying biochemistry over tea and cheesy biscuits. None of us had the complete picture of metabolism on our own, but when we put our minds together we were able to create a cohesive whole. We bettered each other. As a tutor, I seek to do the same thing: to build my tutees up to a clearer understanding of the material, and to learn things along the way. I can safely say that I have begun to look at DWC in ways I never did before after helping students organize outlines for their papers. They see connections I never would have dreamt of as a freshman, and sometimes I give voice to ideas they are struggling to put into words. As I explain concepts in chemistry and biology appointments, I find myself understanding them better. When we, tutor and tutee, put our heads together, we both come out better. There is reciprocity in the tutor–tutee relationship.

Understanding, cooperativeness, and reciprocity are what characterize the Friar Family. And in the classroom, the Friar Family is what leads us to veritas.

GUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New... MORE

Spring Semester – Now What?

Posted by: on February 3, 2015   |Comments (0)|Study Skills

christina-perri-blogGUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI
Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New York. I am a biology and psychology double major with a minor in neuroscience, and a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. I work in the OAS Tutoring Center primarily as a CIV tutor, and I dabble in other subjects as needed. When I’m not in class, lab, or OAS, I can be found singing with Schola Cantorum, playing the flute with Symphonic Winds, arguing with the Debate Society or writing articles for the psychology newsletter, Analyze This. Check in with me at PC Smartypants for tips and tricks for college success!

I’d like to offer a huge “Congratulations!” to all the first years. Way to go—you survived your first semester of college! You survived your first semester of DWC! You came, saw, and conquered, and now you’re ready for another semester at PC.

Now what?

The jump from fall semester to spring semester can be especially rough for first years. Many of you have transitioned from taking four classes to taking five. While it may not seem like a huge difference, the extra three hours of class and consequent extra six hours of homework (as per Undergraduate Catalog recommendations) quickly eat into the free time you enjoyed last semester—or worse, the time you used doing homework for those other four classes. Many of you may also have transitioned out of introductory classes into higher level work. It can very easy to coast by in some first semester classes if you have a background in AP classes—the material is a review, so the homework moves faster and there is less investment in studying before exams. But when you are suddenly confronted with new material in a college setting, it can be overwhelming.

This is the point in your life where, if it hasn’t already, time management becomes really important. With more of your time beholden to a schedule and more things you need to do in your unscheduled time, it becomes harder to send your homework into the impenetrable ether of “later.” I don’t mean to say you need to have every second of every day accounted for, but for those of you who are not accustomed to planning ahead, there’s no time like the present to start. Get a calendar. Get a planner. Write a To-Do list. Having even a general sense of what you need to have accomplished and when puts you in a better position to tackle the extra work—or the new work—you have taken on.

Finally, include something “for you” every day. I know that I’m tempted to stay locked in my apartment all day if I have a lot of work to do, but it’s just as important to have some fun too. Balance is key—use this spring to figure out what balance works for you.

GUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New... MORE

Why I’m Thankful for Thanksgiving Break

Posted by: on November 19, 2014   |Comments (0)|Tutoring Center

christina-perri-blogGUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI
Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New York. I am a biology and psychology double major with a minor in neuroscience, and a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. I work in the OAS Tutoring Center primarily as a CIV tutor, and I dabble in other subjects as needed. When I’m not in class, lab, or OAS, I can be found singing with Schola Cantorum, playing the flute with Symphonic Winds, arguing with the Debate Society or writing articles for the psychology newsletter, Analyze This. Check in with me at PC Smartypants for tips and tricks for college success!

 

It’s that time of year.

You’ve just gotten back your midterm grades, work has really started to pile up, that last round of exams, papers, and projects is on the horizon, and your Thanksgiving looks like it’s going to be a lot more work than play. This is the time of year when I hear (and I admit, engage in) a lot of complaining—we don’t get a break, we have so much work, and it’s not fair.

It’s true—we do have a lot of work. No one can contest that. I know I will have more homework over Thanksgiving at the age of twenty than my mother did. She also did not have the opportunity go to college. With seven children in a working-class household, there just was not money to send her or her siblings to school. Now a mother of two and a former florist, Mom listens to my stories about classes, exams, papers, and tries to imagine herself in my shoes. If she had my professors, would she understand math and biology more? Or would she have gone the same route as my sister and been a history major? She loves to read—English, perhaps?

When I take the time to step back and think about it, I realize just how thankful I really am for my college education. I have opportunities that my mother can only dream about. I have the privilege of homework over Thanksgiving. Needing to review glycolysis between turkey and apple pie means that I had the opportunity to learn it in the first place. Is it work? Yes. Is it stressful? Also yes. But the stress that comes along with college is an opportunity over a third of high school graduates today do not have, for one reason or another.

That’s not to say that you need a college education to have a happy, fulfilling life. A plumber can be just as happy as a PhD if he is pursuing his passion. I am thankful, though, that I had the ability to choose higher education, to pursue my passion for neuroscience, to take the MCAT exam next spring, to go to lab and lecture and seminar.

I am thankful, in other words, for my Thanksgiving homework.

GUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New... MORE

Why It’s Good to Struggle in a Class

Posted by: on October 20, 2014   |Comments (0)|Study Skills

christina-perri-blogGUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI
Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New York. I am a biology and psychology double major with a minor in neuroscience, and a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. I work in the OAS Tutoring Center primarily as a CIV tutor, and I dabble in other subjects as needed. When I’m not in class, lab, or OAS, I can be found singing with Schola Cantorum, playing the flute with Symphonic Winds, arguing with the Debate Society or writing articles for the psychology newsletter, Analyze This. Check in with me at PC Smartypants for tips and tricks for college success!

Organic chemistry.

Those two words send a shiver down the spines of most biology, biochemistry and chemistry majors. This class is the testing ground of who will survive a science major, and who will not. It’s the class that medical schools use to gauge whether a student will be able to handle the pressures of their curricula. It’s also the class that taught me that struggling academically is necessary for growth as a student.

Organic Chemistry, or as I call it Orgo, was the first class I ever took that I genuinely struggled with. Over the two semesters the sequence took, I failed numerous quizzes, obtained my lowest test grade to date, and spent hours staring at homework that I just did not understand. It was frustrating, it was annoying, and it was demoralizing as I put hours of work in and felt like I was getting no results. Hexagons haunted my dreams as I tried to draw chemical structures and learn the mechanisms of how they react.

But even though it was frustrating, I think the experience of Orgo was the most valuable one of my college career. I spent my early academic years succeeding with little effort. Facts came naturally to me. Words flowed from pen to paper effortlessly. I was told in high school that college would force me to learn how to study, and to some extent I believed it, but I doubted that it could be that hard. Orgo proved me wrong.

Orgo, and any class that we may struggle in, provides a lesson that is often much more valuable than what the professor outlines in the syllabus. Struggling in a class teaches us humility. It teaches us to prioritize. It teaches us the value of dedication, and the need for practice. It teaches us that sometimes, no matter what we do, we will fail, and that it’s okay. The world did not collapse any time I failed a quiz, even though I genuinely thought it would. Finally, it teaches us that rising to the challenge and persevering even though it is difficult is the most admirable thing a student can do. No success will ever fill you with as much pride as the one that follows the longest struggle.

For those of you struggling through the Orgo of your academic career, I salute you. Push through, persevere, and remember – this is a defining moment for you. Rise to the challenge. You’ll be a better person for it.

GUEST BLOGGER: CHRISTINA PERRI Hello Friartown! My name is Christina Perri, and I am a junior from Long Island, New... MORE