so long, #repSummer

Summer is a time we can balance relaxing with being productive. Thank you for helping us #repSummer by preparing for the upcoming year - from getting to know your campus to keeping in touch with connections you have made, both old and new. This preparation lays the foundation for the experiences and transition that lie ahead of you. “Tomorrow’s world is [truly] yours to build” when you can look forward and be intentional about your choices and behaviors, especially in the face of transitions and change.

Importance of Working During College

By Sana Hussein, APIASF Scholar

One of the biggest mistakes college students make is not finding work during college. You are not only generating steady income (well, hopefully), but you are also gaining experience and creditability that you are a reliable employee. You can usually find jobs on campus by going to your schools website or going directly to your campus faculty members. The most important thing when looking for a job on campus is to apply early. This is critical because jobs on campus fill up quickly. 

Another great option is finding a paid internship. I have recently found a paid internship at a hot new startup. Not only did they promise that they would be flexible with my schedule since I am a college student but there is a chance that they will hire me in the future. Internships, especially paid internships, are great because they build-up your resume. 

Here are a four valuable tips when looking for a job on/off campus: 

  1. Apply to everything that you are qualified for, from jobs on campus to internships. Google will be your best friend, but remember, many jobs are not listed on the internet and you must go directly to them whether by email or in-person. 
  2. Do not overdo things. If you’re taking on a heavy course load, do not take on a job that is too demanding. You will regret it. Your health and grades will suffer. And yes, two hours of sleep is not sufficient. 
  3. When you do become employed, do not forget about volunteering and your extracurricular activities. These are very important. You must have a balance between work, grades, volunteering, and club meetings. This is where your planner comes in. Always organize your schedule, from work to study sessions. Develop the this habit, it will save you time and stress. 
  4. Make time to relax. Humans need a bit of time off or they will burn out. Read a book, sleep until the PM, or go to the movies. Have fun! You don’t want to work this hard and not have anytime for you. 

As long as you are able to handle and balance everything on your plate, with a great attitude, you will do fantastic. Getting a job during college will give you a leg up once you graduate. You are already climbing up the ladder in the workforce once you start. You’ll do great!

Finding A Job On Campus

Finding a job on campus is one of the things you can work on over the summer. Many schools have online systems to help you find a job so you can start once you get to campus. Have you considered the options listed below?

  • Work-Study: Some campus departments or community organizations work specifically with students who have been granted a Federal Work Study award as part of their financial aid package. Employers will typically specify if they require potential employees to have this award (and sometimes at specific levels).
  • Research Assistant: If you’re in a field where conducting research is highly recommended during your undergraduate years, many research labs have some funding to support undergraduate research assistants. Connecting with your favorite professors and asking to be a part of their research lab is a great way to make some pocket money AND continuing to develop your portfolio of experiences.
  • Campus Recreation: Whether checking students in, coaching someone on personal fitness, being a lifeguard, or serving as a referee in any of the intramural competitions, your campus recreation (or local gym) always has a need for help - either ongoing or on a short term basis.
  • Library: From being a peer helper or to re-shelving books,the library is another awesome source for potential employment - you’ll get to learn how the library system works and what resources are available to students. 
  • Participate in research studies: If you don’t have a lot of free time to devote to part-time employment, some schools have vibrant psychology, business, engineering, sociology, etc. departments who are consistently conducting research and needs your input. Better funded studies have small cash compensation for participants (from $5-$20/study) while other studies will provide you with course credit.

What are some employment or income-generating activities you are interested in? How will you go about balancing this employment with the school demands, extracurricular activities, and other items on your plate?

Coffee, Tears, and New Friends: Summit Reflection and Campus Engagement

By Betty Tran, APIASF Scholar

imageD.C. swept me off my feet! Although the divine craftsmanship of the historic monuments that lined the streets impressed me, it was the wildly inspiring depth of care of my fellow scholars that truly left me in awe. As a USC student in Los Angeles, I am used to the bustle of a big city. However, keeping up with fast-paced D.C. is a challenge for any non-native to the city. Being an APIASF Higher Education Summit 2014 Scholar meant starting off a 4-day routine with steaming, dark coffee daily (with several other much-needed coffee breaks throughout the days!).  

A series of workshops lead by the APIASF staff and guest presenters lead us scholars through a journey of reflection, bonding, and debate, all over head nodding, laughter, hugs, and even some tears. The conversations were personal, raw, and reassuring. One guest speaker posed the question, “You are destined for greatness. But are you ready to accept the challenge of being great?” Our next step is to take this authenticity, trust, and care, and translate this open dialogue into a lifetime commitment to educational equity. How do we fill the education gap with our “greatness”? We do so by fostering a moral obligation for justice, sharing opportunity, resources and support, and contributing our ideas, love, and labor.

As we transition into this coming school year, I hope we will all feel free, open-minded, unrestrained and brave! Creating positive change for the AAPI community does not limit us to only working with AAPI cultural centers or student organizations. Collaborating with other cultural groups is an innovative way to educate others about our struggle and find support from the community at-large. Do something that makes you scared! Sit in another cultural community’s student organization meeting once. The worst thing that could happen is leaving the meeting with new friends, perspective, understanding, and alliances. Overcome any fears you have about getting out of your comfort zone. That’s what it is going to take to make tangible and long-lasting progress.

College Survival Guide 101: Talk to your upperclassmen friends

By Shanawaj (Roy) Khair, APIASF/GMS Scholar

I have realized that talking to upperclassmen friends is one of the best ways to learn the inner secrets on how to succeed in that challenging class. Upperclassmen are your resources. They been through that class. Many times, they become teaching assistants for that class. So, maintain a good relationship with them. They may surprise you with offering to help you out beyond their office hours for free. That’s what helped me succeed in my organic chemistry class last semester. 

Financial Fitness as a First Gen Student – What’s that? (Part II)

By Sara Furr, Director, Center for Intercultural Programs at DePaul University

« back to Part I

Luckily, for my first two years of college, the most important financial items were automated. I had a full scholarship to the University of North Carolina. My scholarship went directly to the university and each semester was disbursed appropriately for tuition, housing and meal plan. Then, I would get a refund check for whatever what left after all of that was paid. Easy peasy. The great thing about this is that I always knew I had a place to sleep and food to eat. The bad part was that for the first time, I had a substantive amount of money disbursed to me all at once and I had no clue what to do with it. For my first two years, I would deposit the check in my bank account, pay for books, and then, just use the money for random things until it ran out. My second year, I got a part-time job, which added additional income but did nothing to evaluate or address my spending.

My junior year, I decided to move off campus with a few friends and get an apartment. This forced me to learn a bit more about managing my finances but it was still very minimal, and every month I found myself worried about whether or not I would have enough money for rent and utilities and groceries. Looking back, it seems absurd that I would have any of these issues because once I moved off campus, my refund check got larger! At this point, my scholarship would pay my tuition and then refund the rest to me, in addition to picking up another job. I had more than enough money to cover all of my expenses; but, because I wasn’t budgeting I’d find myself precariously close to $0 at least once per month.

Now that you know what you shouldn’t do, here are a few tips to enhance your financial literacy:

  1. Reflect on your values regarding money. Are you a saver? Do you tend to spend money once you get it? And dig deeper, where did you learn those ideas about money? Parents? Family members? Community members? My mom came from a very low income background and most often worried about having enough which was why savings was very important to her since it was finally an option. It’s really important to spend time reflecting because without doing so, you’ll make decisions about money without being very conscious to the reasons why and then if you decide you want to change something, it makes it a bit more challenging. 
  2. Make a list of all your expenses. E.g. tuition, housing, food, books, cell phone, etc. Anything you need to spend money on, write it down. Even those items that are automated like described above. 
  3. Make a list of all your income sources. E.g. refund check, part time job, summer savings, parent/family assistance. Again write down everything, you should know what you have so you can decide what to do with it. 
  4. Set some goals. What do you want to do with your money? I was almost 30 years old by the first time I went to see a financial advisor. In the meeting I said, “I know I need to save more.” The advisor responded “why?” and I replied “because I should” and her response was “you should do what matches your goals. You need to know what you’re saving for in order to stick with it. Set your goals and let your behavior match it.” This really put savings in perspective for me. I started setting both short term and long term goals in regards to money and it helped me stick with the savings plans that matched my goals. 
  5. Ask for help. Money is one of those topics that we have been socialized is only discussed behind closed doors. And while I would suggest chatting up any old stranger about your finances, find ways to talk about it with your friends, family, or advisors. Find out about the resources on your campus to help with financial fitness and utilize them!

my mind on my money & money on my mind

Money can sometimes be a difficult and confusing thing to talk about. However, the sooner you begin talking about it, the better off you’ll be. Some questions you would want to ask, especially if you are going away for school:

  • What banks are nearby?
  • How do you pay for things, such as books, toiletries, meal plans, printing, etc?
  • Is your student ID card connected to a bank account provided by your school?
  • How do you add money to your ID card or to your student account?
  • Are there resources to further learn about how to manage your money?

What system does your school have? How might you go about transitioning to this new responsibility?

Financial Fitness as a First Gen Student – What’s that? (Part I)

By Sara Furr, Director, Center for Intercultural Programs at DePaul University

When I went to college, I didn’t know anything about financial fitness, financial literacy, managing a budget…or whatever you want to call it. I never really had an allowance in the traditional sense. If I needed something or wanted something, my mom would either get it for me, or decide that I didn’t really need it and then I didn’t get it. But overall, I didn’t know about managing money because I didn’t have my own money to manage and, therefore, I never learned how to do so. As a first generation college student, money management was just one more thing I had no clue about.

Before I get too far into the “how-to’s” and sharing all the mistakes I made, let me tell you a bit more about myself. I am mixed race Asian American, Filipino and German. Both of my parents are first generation American. I was born in the Philippines and grew up all over the world but spending most of my childhood in Japan. My parents were very much working class and, while we didn’t necessarily struggle to make ends meet, we did not have much more beyond our basic needs met. My two older sisters did not pursue college and if it were not for my high school counselor and a few helpful teachers, I am not sure I would have maneuvered the admissions process myself.

Growing up I learned two things about money: 1) my mom managed the finances in our family and 2) every month, she subtracted $100 from the check register so when my dad looked at the checkbook, he would think we had less money that we actually had and wouldn’t spend frivolously. (This was back in the day when you had to balance your checkbook and only had monthly statements to know what was in your account; online banking was a concept of the future.) My parents had very different values when it came to managing money. My dad felt that any money left after bills were paid could be used on anything and my mom was more sensible and understood the importance of saving for a rainy day. Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mom’s thoughtfulness. Add this to my lack of experience previously mentioned and you’ve got a recipe for poor financial management. Or more accurately, NO financial management. I barely knew what money I had and I definitely didn’t know what I needed.

community on campus

Meeting new people or making friends in a new environment can be intimidating. But chances are, there are many student organizations your school has to help make acclimate you to campus. When you arrive on campus, see if your college hosts a student activities fair. You may be interested in joining any of the following groups:

  • club sports
  • students of color groups
  • religious affiliated groups
  • service-learning/civic engagement opportunities
  • leadership programming
  • student government
  • Greek life
  • dance groups
  • academic groups

What campus organization are you interested in joining in the fall? Is this different from the clubs or activities your participated in in high school?

Welcome to re/present, Sara Furr!

This July, we are so excited to welcome Sara Furr to the re/present family as guest blogger for #repSummer!

Be sure to check back Wednesday and Friday of this week (July 23, 2014 and July 25, 2014) to read Sara’s experiences as a first-generation college student and financial literacy.

Sara Furr has served as the Director of the Center for Intercultural Programs at DePaul University since November 2013. In this role, she is responsible for creating and facilitating diversity and social justice education initiatives for students, faculty, staff, and community partners. Prior to becoming the Director, Sara served as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Success at DePaul. Prior to her work at DePaul University, Sara served as the director of Intercultural Development at Mount St. Mary’s University. Additional experiences include work at Fordham University in New York City and Loyola College in Maryland. Sara is also currently working on her PhD in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago.

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preparing yourself academically

For many of us, college is completely different than high school. All of the responsibility to do well academically relies solely on you. Don’t fear! There are many resources on campus that exist for the sole purpose of supporting you - you just have to reach out and ask. Below are some tips:

  • Know Your Professors: Ask questions about the material you’re learning. Share your interest to deepening your studies in a particular subject. Sign up for a research team they are leading.  Don’t be afraid to go to office hours.  As you progress in your studies, building a deep relationship with one or two faculty members can help you stay the course, and potentially support your application for further studies.

  • Teaching Assistant: Many of your classes might have a Teaching Assistant who supports the main faculty member in teaching the course. This person is typically someone who is knowledgeable in the course material and is likely a graduate student. Your TA might facilitate a weekly discussion, grade papers, and hold office hours. They are a great resource to go to when you need help understanding material.

  • Visit the Library: The library has many resources from short seminars on how to write academic papers to librarians who will help you on your citations to peers who will edit your term papers. It is also likely that your library is part of a larger consortium - which means you can borrow resources from other libraries without ever having to leave campus.

  • Meet the Academic Support Services Team: These folks provide study skill workshops, advise you on time and stress management, and authorize academic accommodations for your coursework and exams.  This office sometimes provide peer to peer tutoring as well on a variety of subjects.

What is a resource or strategy that is helping you prepare academically for college? What practices do you have from high school that will help you transition to college?