Tips for Finals

Tips for Finals

As we leave Thanksgiving behind, finals season creeps in. We are now at the end of the semester and finals are about to start on December 14th! As work starts to pile up, students wind up spending an unfortunate amount of time in the library. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help students get through finals with some ease.

First, find your niche in the library. We are lucky to have a big library with many study spaces. Some students study well sitting at the big tables in the middle of the library. Others find it easier to focus at the cubbies. The library gets progressively quieter the higher up you go. Level 3 is a silent level, while people on levels A and B are free to talk. However, the quietest place in the library is level C, which many people don’t know about. Even further underground than level B, level C is a silent level where students can go to do their work in complete silence. Another feature of the library that should be explored is the study rooms. If there is a group project that requires input by multiple people, or a topic that is easier to understand if it is talked about out loud, students can book the study rooms. These are rooms on each level of the library that have white board walls, where students can collaborate, study and learn together.

Another feature to take advantage of is the office hours and student TA sessions. Professors are always willing to help students with material that they didn’t understand, whether by answering questions, or reiterating part of a lecture. They are also often willing to tell students the format of their exams so that students know how to prepare for their particular test. TAs, or Teacher’s Assistants, are a huge resource for students. The TA for each class has already taken the course, so they know exactly what the exam is going to look like. While they are always willing to help students with homework and with concepts from class, they are especially helpful when exams roll around. They will usually help students by advising them on how to study for the exam, telling them what kind of questions (the format and concepts) they are likely to see on the test. They also often have old exams from their class, or they prepare mock exams for the students to take to gage their preparedness.

Some students, especially English majors, face many more papers during the finals period then written exams. Trinity has a writing center, where students can have their work peer-reviewed. Professors nominate students who have outstanding writing ability to work at the center. Students can make appointments and have a fellow student help them with their papers. The reason this is such an awesome resource is because a student can walk in with as much of the paper as they want – an entire draft, or even just a prompt – and ask for help with whatever they need. Some students have their grammar checked, while others need help starting the paper and organizing their ideas. Whatever the request, the writing associates will help.

My last tip would be to take full advantage of the student run cafes on campus. The Underground Cafe is located right next to the post office, in the basement of Mather. It has a nice, usually quiet, space, with tables where students can grab a coffee or a milkshake and do their work. The other cafe is called Peter B’s and is located on the ground floor of the library. In the morning, Peter B’s serves pastries from First and Last, an outstanding bakery near campus. Their house blend is also extra caffeinated, which provides that extra push to get through finals. Both places are great spaces to study on your own, with friends, or meet with a TA or Professor.

Finals season is never pleasant but these few tips will hopefully make it a little more bearable as we count down to Winter break!!

Being a First-Year Seminar Mentor at Trinity

Being a First-Year Seminar Mentor at Trinity

I believe a very strong piece of Trinity is our First-Year Seminars and First-Year Programs. I remember mine well. I interviewed my roommate, Chandler Solimine ’19, on what it is like being a First-Year Seminar Mentor.

What is a First-Year Seminar Mentor?

-A mentor is an upperclassmen who assists a professor in running their first-year seminar. My role is to help the students with their work for the seminar as well as their work for other classes, but more importantly, to guide them through their first semester at Trinity and answer any questions they have about all aspects of life on campus.

What is your seminar about? Who teaches it?

-My seminar is titled “Mind, Body, and the Concept of Mindfulness,” taught by Dr. Randy Lee. Over the semester we have and will continue to look at a number of different aspects of the relationship between mind and body, and understanding the difference (or lack thereof) between them. We look at some interesting questions and issues about mind and body and their interrelationship such as: exactly where in the “body” does the “mind” reside? What are hallucinations? Is depression physical or psychological? What really happens in hypnosis? Is meditation an effective way to stay physically healthy? How does stress affect us? Can the brain really rewire itself throughout our lives? Can stress cause cancer and other health issues? We also examine different practices of mindfulness and experiment with them ourselves to learn how we as individuals can be more mindful in our everyday lives.

How did you get this position?

– I was in this exact seminar with Professor Lee when I was a freshman, and I continued to have a great relationship with him after the class was over and into my sophomore year. Last winter he reached out to me and asked if I was interested in the mentor position and I didn’t hesitate for a second to accept.

What kind of responsibilities does it entail?

-My main responsibilities are to take part and facilitate class discussions, meet with students outside the class to help them prepare their classwork, talk to them about how they are assimilating onto a campus and Trinity’s culture, etc.

What is your favorite part about being a First-Year Seminar Mentor?

-My favorite part is being about to meet so many new students and build relationships with freshmen that I probably never would’ve met otherwise. I enjoy being in a mentor sort of role and taking what I struggled with as a freshmen and turning it into advice for them.

What is most challenging about being a First-Year Seminar Mentor?

-Sometimes it is challenging to help the students find answers to questions I am unsure of because it is out of my realm of knowledge.

How is your seminar unique from the others?

-I would consider my seminar to have a very relaxed and friendly environment because the topic we are studying itself as well as the open environment that Professor Lee creates. There is a never a lecture, but always a group discussion where everyone chimes in with whatever is on their mind. While I am sure most first-year seminars foster this sort of environment, I feel that the lack of “black and whiteness” of the topic we are focused on allows for even more back and forth discussions to flow.


Designing Your Own Major or Minor

Designing Your Own Major or Minor

One of the best things about Trinity College is the wide variety of majors and minors that students can choose from. Trinity offers 41 pre-existing majors from Engineering to Women, Gender, and Sexuality. There are also almost as many minors in 11 different departments.

Students have until their second semester sophomore year to declare a major (and a minor, if they so desire). When a student begins this process, they choose an advisor in that particular department, and that professor becomes their academic guide for the next two or three years. They will help the student navigate through course selections and completing all the requirements that constitute the major.

However, Trinity’s academic opportunities are not limited to the 41 department majors, nor are they limited to the minors listed within those departments. Trinity offers an opportunity for students that is relatively unique to the liberal arts education. Among the majors and minors available, there is also the option of designing your own Interdisciplinary Major or declaring one of the Interdisciplinary Minors, separate from a specific department.

The process of designing your own major, especially as a sophomore, might appear daunting. But in reality, though the process is involved and requires a fair amount of research, it is not too difficult to accomplish. In addition, the benefits of this interdisciplinary opportunity are worth it.

When designing your own Interdisciplinary Major, you must have an idea that combines multiple areas of study into one cohesive educational objective. The difficult or tedious part of this process is deliberately choosing the 12-14 courses that constitute the major. You must be able to argue why these courses in combination allow you to fulfill the academic objective of your major. Though it is time-consuming to go through the entirety of the college’s academic catalog, it does offer students the benefit of learning about courses that Trinity offers that they might have never known about otherwise.

In addition to Interdisciplinary Majors, students can also choose from over 20 Interdisciplinary Minors. These minors have a little bit more of a structure to them, however, the ultimate objective is controlled by the student. For these minors, students can choose up to 5-6 courses from a list of department courses offered at Trinity. This way, the student can build the perfect combination of courses that enable them to fulfill their educational aspirations.

Ultimately, these opportunities that Trinity offers allow for fully interdisciplinary areas of study. They allow students to take full control of their academic and educational objectives and graduate from Trinity having accomplished exactly what they desired during their undergraduate years. The interdisciplinary areas of study inspire students to be motivated, to be creative, and to push themselves to their full potential. They are just another example of how Trinity fosters an environment where students can Engage, Connect and Transform.

Clichés for Days: What I Take for Granted

Clichés for Days: What I Take for Granted

Despite the recent heat wave that has decided to hit Hartford, fall is in full swing on Trinity’s campus. Maybe it’s the change in season, the halfway point of my second-to-last fall semester, or perhaps a combination of these two factors that has me feeling a type of pensive nostalgia. Whatever the case, there have been a series of events presented to me recently which have made me realize the various clichéd ways that I take my Trinity experience for granted.

This week, I attended my Contemporary American Prose class. I arrived ten minutes early because not only is it one of my favorite classes, but also because there is always banter back and forth between us students prior to when the professor arrives. We talked about the unusual weather, then someone made the observation that the drastic temperature change between this week and next would cause people to become ill. As we were laughing and talking about bad experiences at the doctor’s office, how an individual can tell if they have a-typical mono, or the appropriate length of a dentist appointment, I looked around the room at these individuals, and Trinity’s small size suddenly hit me. There was a student who had been in two other classes with me, one my freshman year, and the second during the summer semester I spent on campus prior to my sophomore fall. Another student I had met through mutual friends, and is living in the same room that I lived in last year within the same dorm. A third individual is also an English and film major, such as I am, and we had attended a variety of English and film-related events on campus this past semester. A fourth was my freshman roommate, a close friend who I had not known prior to coming to Trinity, sitting right beside me. Regardless of the commonality that we are all enrolled in the same class this semester, I had experienced a multitude of interactions with all of these people outside of this classroom. And then it hit me: this isn’t everyone’s college experience. This scenario must be relatively unfamiliar for students who do not attend a small liberal arts school. Upon this realization, it came to my attention that I take this facet of Trinity completely for granted.

The professor eventually arrived, and then broke the news to us that she would be handing back graded copies of the first big paper that we had turned in this semester. As a class, we spent the large majority of our time discussing writing techniques, and how we could each enhance our pieces to make them more clear and concise. She then mentioned her office hours, and claimed that she would be willing to accommodate our schedules, and meet with us as often as we desire in order to bring these works to fruition in their second drafts. Being a student here at Trinity, I knew that she meant what she was saying, especially because I’ve met individually with every professor that I’ve had here. There would be no TA or graduate student to review our papers, and even though she is attempting to render her own works while balancing her personal busy calendar, I did not doubt her statement in the slightest, and I realized how blessed I am to attend a school where the professors genuinely care to carve out time for their students.

Once our class got out of session, I left the English Department building and stood at the top of the stairs briefly. Not only could I see my roommate from my sophomore year, but I could also see two of my freshman mentees, a student in the class that I TA for, and one of my bosses. In addition to this compilation of individuals, I also saw quite a few people whom I did not know. As the people began waving at me and saying “hi,” this experience made me recognize a third feature of Trinity that I take for granted: the fact that even though I know quite a few students on this campus, there are always more people to meet. As a student here at Trinity, you will always have consistent opportunities to grow your Bantam network.

Things I Learned After My First Semester

Things I Learned After My First Semester

Even though this is only my second semester here at Trinity, I can confidently say that I have learned a lot, in and out of class. For most, going to college for the first time is a major transition, so there is a lot to learn.

Lesson #1- Learn how to manage your time wisely:

My first couple weeks at school, I was amazed at all of the free time I had. I wasn’t really used to having only a couple hours of class everyday and was overwhelmed by my free time. That being said, if you feel that you have a lot of ‘free time’, realize that it is never ‘free’- take advantage of that time and get ahead on work before everything starts piling up.

Lesson #2- Befriend your professors 

One of the major perks about this school is the size. Some of my classes consisted of only ten people which may seem intimidating, but you will soon realize and appreciate how close you can get with your professors. Every professor has office hours which you should really take advantage of. Even if you don’t have a question about the class, go in and have a conversation with them about anything! They will appreciate your efforts to reach out and it will benefit you in the long run. It is also nice to know a little background about your teachers, know where they came from, why they started teaching, and they will always have tips and suggestions for you!

Lesson #3- Try new things

It is really easy to continue your old ways because that is what makes many people feel comfortable, especially when in a new environment. It is important that you branch out, do something you would never have done. Join a club, try out for a sports team (even if its just at the club level), try foods you have never tried, take a class you never thought you would take before, and most importantly- meet new people. It is important to expand your horizons and  be open-minded because you will find out a lot about yourself that you had not previously known.

Lesson #4- Find your place of relaxation

I am not going to lie, college can be very stressful and it is important to learn how to cope with that stress and anxiety. Find that little niche at the Underground Cafe where you can listen to music, find a bench on the quad where you can sit outside and enjoy the environment around you, or find that cozy spot in your room where you can take a nice nap, and relax.

Lesson #5- Have fun!

For many, college will be the best four years of their life. It is a time to explore yourself, have fun, experience new things, and of course, learn. Be social, go out, and enjoy yourself from time to time. Make the most of your four years.

To Write or Not to Write: Senior Thesis

To Write or Not to Write: Senior Thesis

Some of you reading this may be sophomores or juniors who are considering writing a thesis for your major, but are unsure as to whether or not you are ready to take on the time commitment and dedication to a single topic that will occupy your lives for an entire year. Others reading this are probably first years or prospective students who have no idea what to declare a major in, let alone what you would write about for 50-100 pages. There are a number of reasons why someone might write a thesis: it is required of their major, it is required to receive honors in the major, there is a topic they have studied at some point during their first three years in college and want to go further in depth with that topic, or they want to study something entirely new!

Senior thesis writers can reserve their own carrels on the 3rd floor of the library.
Senior thesis writers can reserve their own carrels on the 3rd floor of the library.

I knew I wanted to write a thesis in American Studies since my sophomore year. Even though I am a double major in English as well, I was so interested in the vast array of topics American Studies offered. I loved studying the 20th century (especially the 1950s), gender roles, and representations of women in the mass media. However, those were still extremely broad themes and I didn’t know how I would find a unique topic that hadn’t really been studied before.

I made a list of topics I was interested in writing my thesis on: family based television shows from the 1950s to the present day (think Leave It to Beaver, Full House, and Modern Family), commercialized female cultural icons (Rosie the Riveter, Betty Crocker), comparing Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and the shaping of gender roles among youth, and American Girl dolls as symbols of girlhood and companionship (this is the topic I ultimately ended up deciding on)!

My four pieces of advice for whether or not to write a thesis would be:

  • Find a topic you are really passionate about. I mean, really REALLY passionate about. Something that you could work on all day, everyday and not get sick of. (I wish I could only research and write my thesis and not have to take any other classes).
  • Choose an advisor who not only will be able to help with your research and outlining your chapters, but will also be your personal cheerleader. (I am so lucky to have the MOST positive thesis advisor I could possibly imagine!)
  • Listen to your gut. It seems stupid but you will absolutely know if a thesis is the right thing for you. If you have any doubt that you’re not up to the task, think about a one semester thesis or independent study!

Once you find a passion or an interest that you can’t let go of, committing to write a thesis will be an easy decision!

P.S.: If you decide to write a thesis, do as much research as possible over the summer. This was a huge time saver when the fall semester started and I was able to start writing my chapters right away!

Overnight Visit at Trinity

Overnight Visit at Trinity

While I was applying to colleges, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted my school to look like. I already knew that I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college in an urban area. Therefore, my search was narrowed to many schools in the northeast. For this reason, I decided to schedule overnight visits to some of my favorites. Amongst these schools, Trinity College in Hartford, CT had a program specifically tailored for prospective students, and I decided to apply.

While visiting Trinity, I immediately fell in love with the campus. Despite being in the middle of a city, Trinity contains many green areas and having a quad full of elms did not harm the image. Trinity also boasts beautiful architecture around every corner. The Long Walk has old brick buildings with artistic engravings on it. I cannot forget to mention the beautiful chapel located in the middle of campus, which many people enjoy taking photos of during winter or summer.

Unlike other overnight visits, Trinity actually made me feel welcomed. The people I met during my overnight stay were very friendly. They actually made me feel part of the community, even if they knew that I might not be coming here. Everyone I met that day made a good impression on me, and I still say hello to them when I see them going to their classes. The people made me realize that Trinity is made up of a vibrant and friendly community. In addition, the small campus size allows more interactions with people. You will meet many people in your classes, and you will be able to say hi to them around campus or at the dining hall. I knew that I wanted my college experience to be filled with people I knew, not random strangers every day.

In addition to a friendly community, I enjoyed visiting a class during my overnight stay. I could choose which classes I wanted to walk into. I decided to enter a psychology class out of curiosity, and saw that students were engaged and eloquently contributing to the discussion. The professor was friendly and willing to help. Now, as a current student I can say that by far the professors at Trinity are the best part of coming here. They are always approachable. The professors at Trinity made my experience far better compared to other schools.

Consider coming to Trinity and visiting. This is the only way that you can experience how it feels to come here. After my visit, I loved the experience so much that I decided that I wanted to experience it far more than just one day. The people are friendly. The location inside and outside of campus can only be described as perfect. Furthermore, the professors are among some of the best people you will ever meet on campus. I suggest considering Trinity as a serious option for your next four years of your academic career.

Schedule an overnight visit to Trinity here

Gateway Programs

Gateway Programs

During senior year I quickly got used to receiving up to ten promotional mailings from various colleges and universities every day. Many were generic letters, some including visually striking postcards, and a few schools even sent full-color view books. However, the college mailing that had the greatest impact on my life after graduation was a packet from Trinity with brochures for each of their Gateway programs. Each Gateway program consists of several thematically linked courses taken with a small group of passionate students in the first (and sometimes second) year. I was intrigued by the broad spectrum of these programs at Trinity and the availability of such unique learning communities within the larger liberal arts college lead me to apply to Trinity. Here’s a brief run down of each of Trinity’s Gateway Programs:

  • InterArts Program: This program is perfect for artists of all kinds, and spans two semesters. Each year culminates in a big InterArts showcase where students display their work for the entire campus.
  • Interdisciplinary Science Program (ISP): The ISP allows driven science students to begin research in their first year. The program prepares students for successful careers in the sciences.
  • Cities Program: This program involves four courses over two semesters that take advantage of Trinity’s Urban Studies department and unique location in Hartford.
  • Humanities Gateway Program: European Cultures: This three-semester program invites students to explore European culture through an interdisciplinary study of classics, philosophy, religion, history, and literature.
  • The Community Action Gateway: This two-semester program allows students to get involved in Hartford and learn about mechanisms of social change.

Each Gateway Program appeals to a unique set of students and provides a small learning community. I loved being a part of one, and think that they offer a unique start to the Trinity experience. Learn more about applying to one of them here!

Double Major, Double Trouble?

Double Major, Double Trouble?

Like most sophomores at Trinity, I am in the midst of deciding on a major to declare. Or in my case, majors. Many people are a little shocked when I tell them I’m planning on double majoring in both English and Psychology. The top responses I get are “I guess you aren’t going abroad,” “Don’t you want to leave room for other classes?,” and the classic “WHY?”.

From the moment I left high school I knew I was interested in English and psych. Many schools I looked at had minors in both but I just couldn’t see myself devoting less time to one of my passions. Psychology fascinates me, especially developmental and social psych, particularly the psychology of schools. English is a subject I’ve thrived in, passionately loved, and can’t imagine not focusing my life around it. I couldn’t choose just one. So I decided, when entering Trinity as a first year, to double major.

At Trinity, students cannot declare their major until sophomore year. This gives them time to explore their options of majors by taking a variety of classes. Of course if students know exactly what they want as a major, or majors, like me, they can get started on their major classes right away. This is especially essential for double majors, because they will end up with twice the required classes. And if students kind of know they might want to double major but aren’t entirely sure, taking foundation classes is always a smart move.

When students are considering double majoring, many are deterred from the thought because they think they might not have time to go abroad, due to the influx of requirements. But as I said, getting started as early as possible is one of the best things a potential double major can do. This allows for some wiggle room to go abroad. Plus, depending on the department and where you want to go, you might be able to fulfill requirements while away.

You don’t just have to take classes focused around your majors. I’ve taken an Arabic class every semester in addition others like music and film while still taking psych and English classes. Chances are not every required class will fit into your schedule so there’s always opportunities to take classes that just sounds interesting. And who knows? Maybe that class will end up counting towards your major. I took a class my first semester in college just because it sounded really cool, and it ended up fulfilling a major requirement. And the class was really fun!

So if there’s anything to take away from this is if you really, truly want to major in more than one area, start planning right away. If down the line, you decide you want to focus on just one major, that’s totally fine. But above all find a major you’re happy with and want to study and stick with it. You never know where it’s going to take you.

Trinity Days @ Trinity

Trinity Days @ Trinity

Trinity Days are approaching fast, to the relief of the student body. We all cherish the two-day reading break each semester, and many students use it as an opportunity to get off campus for a mini-vacation. Although this sounds great, sometimes you just need to stay in Hartford and get work done, and if you don’t live in New England it can be difficult to make it home. This is also an excellent way to spend the long weekend! There are lots of perks to staying on campus.

A view of the main quad, Cinestudio, and Clement Chemistry Building.
  • Actually getting all of your reading and writing done!: I’ve had lots of professors assign deadlines over Trinity Days, and I’m never as productive as I would hope when I’m at home. Trin Days were designed for studying, so take advantage of the quiet campus and get ahead on your work!
  • Enjoying the beautiful urban campus: I tend to lose sight of how stunning Trinity is as I go about my busy day-to-day life. Use Trinity Days to pause and appreciate the school at a slower pace.
  • Getting out into Hartford: I think a lot of Trinity students get so caught up in classes and on-campus life that it can be hard to engage with the city we’re a part of. I want to make it to the Mark Twain House, hit the Wadsworth Atheneum again, and see another show at the Hartford Stage. A few days without classes means that I can take advantage of all that Hartford has to offer.
  • Catching up on sleep: After a few weeks where my 7:30am alarm was going strong, I find myself snoozing for a few minutes longer every day. A long weekend on a quiet campus is the perfect time to catch up on sleep and refresh yourself for the rest of the semester.