Things I Did to Help Me Prepare for College as a Photo Major

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For me, college preparation started in middle school. By eighth grade, I knew I wanted to go into art for college. I just wasn’t sure what kind of art field I would be going into. I thought at the time perhaps fashion design so I started my hobby of sketching clothes. Then the hobby of sketching led me to take some drawing classes at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Taking Accredited Drawing Classes while in High School and Reading Fine Art Books

Every week during my sophomore year in high school my Mom and I went to a drawing class that was accredited so I would not have to take drawing classes when I arrived in college. At this time I started wanting to learn more about famous artists so I borrowed art books from the library and started to learn about famous artists like M.C. Escher, Monet, Picasso, Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and much more. This prepared me for my history of fine arts classes in college. In those classes, we had to identify famous works of art and who made them.

Going to Museums to See Famous  Works of Art

Another hobby of mine that prepared me for my art history classes was going to museums in New York City. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I saw famous paintings by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and many more artists. While in New York City I also visited the Guggenheim Museum and I got to learn about contemporary art. The works of art I saw in the New York City Museums left a lasting impression on me and left me hungry for more knowledge about these artists so I started buying art books and ripping out the pages and putting them on my wall so I could memorize them. I bought a book of Monet’s painting and tore out the pages and taped all of Monet’s paintings on my closet door.

Taking Accredited Photography Class

Once I realized taking courses at RIT was fun I decided to take a photography class the summer of my junior year in high school. I learned how to use a camera, develop black and white film, and print my images in the darkroom. This experience helped me decide I was going to RIT for photography.

Loading My Schedule During My Senior Year in High School with Art Classes

Once I decided I was going to school for photography I decided to take as many art classes in high school as possible. I also decided to take advanced placement art, which allowed me to hone my drawing, painting, and photography skills. I spent many hours in the darkroom at my high school and I got to make some interesting images that I entered in an art contest. I won gold for my photography and I got to showcase them at Bevier Gallery.

Reading Books About Photography

I began reading photography books when I took the photography class at RIT during the summer of my junior year. I used to go to the RIT library during my spare time and borrow many photography books most of them about famous photographers and some of them about photo techniques like how to take portraits. During my senior year in high school, I decided to write my English research paper on famous photographers, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Capa, and Weegee.

Taking college courses in drawing and photography, reading art books and photo books helped me prepare for college and I have my parents to thank. My Mom and Dad drove me to the library and bookstore and to my classes and bought my school supplies and books. I also have them to thank for taking me to the museums in New York City.

What I Wish I Had Done in Preparation for College

There a few things I wished I had done before arriving at college that some of my classmates did. I wished I had learned about graphic design and read through graphic design books because graphic design is a field within the realm of art that you can go into if you are an artist. There were computers in the art classroom at my high school that Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator installed in it and I did not bother to learn them while I was in high school. At the time I did not think I would ever be using Photoshop or Illustrator and I was very wrong.

I also wished I had learned how to use other camera formats besides 35 mm film cameras such as digital cameras, medium format, and 4×5 cameras. Some of my classmates had also used lighting equipment so they had a head start and I did not even once think about learning how to use lighting equipment before going into college and I really needed to have tried it at least so I would not be intimidated by lighting equipment. Overall though I think I was fairly prepared for college. I was very glad to have already taken the drawing classes because they were applied to my credits. The photo class was not, but the lessons learned were invaluable. If you are heading to college soon as a photography major and you are reading this make sure to follow what I have done and also do the things I wish I had so you are fully prepared.

I made a video version of my blog post. It is a video of me talking about what I did to prepare for college.

Living in the Dorms was a Great Experience

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A picture of me with my art in the background on my wall.

Living in the dorms at Rochester Institute of Technology was a once in a lifetime experience that I will always cherish so I’m glad I chose to live in the dorms my freshman year. RIT is located in Rochester, New York where I am from so I could have lived at home, but I decided it was too far to drive from home to RIT every day. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to drive from my house to RIT on days when the weather is nice, but when it is in the middle of winter and it’s snowing heavily it can take up to an hour to travel from home to school.

I did not get to pick which dormitory building I could live in. It was assigned to me according to how I answered a questionnaire about my lifestyle. The questionnaire asked me about whether I smoked cigarettes or not and do I, in general, prefer a quiet dorm room that would be suitable for someone who studies a lot. I said that I did not smoke cigarettes and that I was a quiet person that studied plenty so I was put in Sol Heumann and I was very happy about that. My roommate was awesome. She was a biology major and studied plenty which was perfect because I too loved to read my photo books in my dorm room and study.

When I first arrived at my dorm room I thought it seemed a little bit cramped so my roommate and I rearranged it so that our beds were both top bunks on each side of the wall and our desks underneath our beds. That arrangement made use of the little space that we had and we both each got our own separate little study corners. The bathroom was near my room so that was convenient. The staff cleaned the bathrooms frequently and vacuumed the hallway so our living conditions were excellent. We had a lounge on our floor where we could go to relax and watch TV. We also had a kitchen that had a microwave so we could boil ramen and instant noodle cups and eat pizza pockets.

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The RIT nature trail where I used to take leisurely walks or go for a jog. Many times it was also a great place to take photographs depending on the season.

What I loved most about living in my dorm room was I was near facilities the RIT campus had to offer like the gym, library, photo cage, photo studios, computer labs, and darkrooms. On my spare time, I used to exercise at the gym and go for a walk or a jog around the RIT nature trail. When I had to do a research paper I could easily walk to the library from my room and borrow as many books as I pleased and do my research at the library or bring it back to my room. I was a photography major so I needed to borrow photo equipment from the photo cage and then use the equipment in the studios at RIT’s 7B building. I also was able to develop and print my film in the darkrooms. Because I lived in the dorms I could stay in the darkrooms and do my homework and also experiment with printing techniques until the darkroom closed.

There were many computer labs I could use which was great for me because I did not have a computer my freshman year. The first time I visited a computer lab was to write a paper for homework. I went to the nearest one, which was located within another dormitory building adjacent to mine. Later on, I opted to use the library’s computers or the computer labs in the photo building. What was unique about some of the computer labs at RIT’s photo building was that you could buy inks for their Epson printers and print your photos from the Epson printers attached to the computer you are using once you were finished editing your images.

What I also loved about living in the dorms were the people I met. I met many people from my building and nearby buildings that were photography majors. We used to study together and do our photo projects together. I also met many graphic design majors and one of them would be my future roommate for sophomore, junior, and senior years at RIT. If I had not lived in the dorms I would not have made so many friends that had the same interests as me nor could I have had such easy access to photography facilities and equipment. That said, I highly suggest to anyone starting college to try living in the dorms for at least one year. You will get to know many interesting people and you will most importantly get to know your campus and what it has to offer you.

Here is a short video of me talking about my experience with living in the dorms at RIT.

 

Time Management for College Students

 

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This is the Calendar App on my Samsung tablet. It is very useful. As you can see I was able to set classes as an example for this blog post.

When you are in college you have many responsibilities. You have classes to go to, lectures, labs, group meetings, homework, study for tests, extracurricular activities, and jobs. Then you also have your social life to squeeze in. You have friends to meet, friends and family back home to call, you have emails to answer, and even Facebook messages to answer. How are you going to juggle all of this?

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This is the Memo App on my Samsung tablet. I use it often to create lists.

The answer is you have to make lists. You need to prioritize. You need to find out what is the most important thing you have to do and make sure that is finished first. You also need to put all of these to do lists on a calendar. When I first arrived at Rochester Institute of Technology it was 2001 and I was not technologically savvy so I used a small notebook to make lists. I also had a small pocket calendar to write my schedule in. Both notebook and pocket calendar fit in my purse so I always had it on hand.

Nowadays, I used iCal which is a Calendar application that comes on a Mac. What’s great about iCal or other calendar applications that come with your computer is that you have the ability to set alarms to remind you. Also, some applications allow you to sync to your smart phone, iPod, or tablet. In the past, I had an iPhone and an iPod Touch and both of them sync with iCal.

Right now I have a Samsung tablet which I do not sync with iCal, but I do use the Memo App to make lists and the Calendar to enter reminders of events and birthdays. My Samsung also has an Alarm Clock app I use to make sure I do my tasks on time. I also use it to wake for work along with an old fashioned alarm clock. The old fashioned alarm clock has come in handy many times because it is so loud it definitely wakes me up.

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This is a screen shot of my Asana account. This was my action research tasks from 2012 when I was attending Full Sail University for my Masters of Science in Education Media Design and Technology.

Another thing I have used in the past to help me do tasks is Asana. I learned about it when I was attending Full Sail University for grad school. I used Asana to help me complete tasks for my action research project. If you would like to try it out, visit Asana.com. What I love about Asana is that you can share it so if you are working with a team you can assign and manage tasks via Asana and manage it there.

I hope this blog post was helpful for you. Make sure not to stress out if you have many things to do. If you feel like you have too much homework make sure to split it up into chunks and take rests in between. Of course, if your class load is too much to handle, talk to your teacher or class advisor and see what your options are. If you have a side job make sure it does not interfere with school. If it does talk to your manager about your work schedule. Most importantly make sure to set aside time to have fun with friends.

Here’s a video of me talking about time management.

Healthy Choices for College Food

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When I started college I didn’t know what to eat. It was my first time being on my own essentially so for the first time I got to choose what to eat for all three meals so I spent the first few months of my college years mostly eating super sweet Lucky Charms cereal for breakfast, deep fried chicken strips and fries for lunch, and pizza for dinner. I figured with a diet like that I can’t go wrong. It’s delicious and full of calories so I definitely won’t starve to death in college.

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After a few months though I noticed I gained the freshman 15 pounds as some people call it. I was playing intramural volleyball and I noticed I lacked energy. When I went for a run I thought to myself I would rather just go back to my dorm room and watch TV and just veg out. During classes, I was always groggy and I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. I knew then some things had to change and that change was going to take place in my diet.

Changing your diet in college doesn’t mean you have to go on a diet. It just meant I needed to make little changes and those little changes could come in the form of me choosing the healthiest foods available at the dining hall at RIT called Gracies. Instead of picking ultra sweet cereal for breakfast, why not go for a healthier scrambled egg that had plenty of protein. Instead of chicken strips and fries that were filled with fat for lunch, why not switch to a healthier sandwich or wraps. For dinner instead of pizza, perhaps grilled chicken breasts.

Another thing I learned to do was eat on the go so my class schedule did not dictate when I ate. That meant going to the convenience store at RIT called The Corner Store to buy sandwiches, salads, yogurts, and drinks to go so during days when it seemed I would not have enough time to eat lunch because my classes were stacked on top of each other, I could quickly eat in between classes.

The other key thing I learned to do during college was learning to buy food I liked to eat that was healthy such as fruits like grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. I started researching different types of healthy foods from friends and online. I found new foods I liked pita bread with hummus for snacks. When I was a sophomore in college I moved to an apartment off campus so I had my own kitchen and I learned how to cook omelets that contained one whole egg, a few more eggs, but only the egg whites, spinach, and ham for breakfast.

I went to London to visit my aunt the summer of my sophomore year and I fell in love with chicken curry so I learned to make that on my own at home. The most important thing I learned about during my college years was the Foreman Grill. With the Foreman Grill, I could easily cook grilled chicken for dinner. Sometimes I would have a salad and then add the grilled chicken from the Foreman Grill.

An important thing to consider as a college student when eating is definitely curbing your intake of soda drinks. Often times during meals I drank my favorite drink, Coca Cola. During freshman year Coca Cola was a must have for lunch and dinner. Then I realized that Coca Cola and soda drinks, in general, had plenty of calories so I started to opt for juice or tea instead.

During college, I started to become addicted to coffee and energy drinks. In the mornings I used to go to Java Wally’s on campus at RIT and order a cup of coffee. Then during lunchtime go to a convenience store located on the RIT campus and buy a Red Bull, which is an energy drink. At first, this was the quick fix to being tired. It was a way for me to wake up for my classes. Then after awhile I started having a hard time sleeping then the next day I would even be more tired so I had to kick the caffeine and energy drink addiction and switch to tea.

Another great tip for college students is to make sure you drink lots of water. Drinking water will keep you hydrated during class or during workouts. Also, water is free, just buy a water bottle and there you have it, one of the best things for you to drink because it cleanses your system and it’s great for your skin. Drinking water will also circulate the nutrients in your body.

When you become tired of campus food or cooking your own food, don’t hesitate to try some of the best restaurants or fast-food places near your campus. Eating in restaurants or going to a fast food joint is a fun experience, but make sure to choose healthy foods when ordering. One of my favorite go to restaurants to go to when I was in college was Plum Garden, a Japanese restaurant located in the Pittsford Plaza. They had the best sushi and of course, sushi is good for you because it is high in protein and is low fat.

Another restaurant I loved going to in college when I wanted to treat myself was King and I in Henrietta. It is very close to RIT, right off of Jefferson. King and I is a Thai restaurant. I am a big fan of Thai food so I went to King and I often. They have the best calamari, deep fried egg rolls, and squid basil. They all have delicious pad thai, the perfect choice for people who are new to Thai food. For drinks, I used to order their mango shake, which was divine. The foods I ordered at King and I were not the healthiest, but they do have other healthier options you can order from.

I hope you learn plenty from this post. Here were my favorite places to eat at the Rochester Institute of Technology campus. There are more. Here is the link you can go to if you are attending RIT and are interested in finding out about all of the dining services: https://www.rit.edu/fa/diningservices/hours-and-locations

Gracies– I was on a meal plan freshman year so Gracies it was. Plus it was close to the dorms and had a wide selection of types of food to choose from. They even had sushi sometimes so of course, I loved going to Gracies.

The Corner Store– My dorm room was near The Corner Store so I often went there to buy salads and sandwiches that I could take with me to class and then eat in between classes when my schedule was jam packed. I also spent many hours at the darkrooms and computer labs in the photo building so I would buy food from The Corner Store that I could take with me to the photo building and take snack breaks or lunch breaks in between darkroom time and computer lab time.

The Commons– When I was a freshman I often went to the Commons because they have great food choices and it is located near the dorms so it was very convenient. In the fall of 2009, I decided to go back to RIT to get my Bachelor’s in American Sign Language Interpreting and my Sign Language classes were held at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf building which is located near The Commons. I often went to The Commons for lunch breaks because of its close proximity to the NTID building.

Java Wally’s– I went to Java Wally’s to spend time with friends before class. We used to go there and have coffee to wake us up. They also had great chocolate chip cookies, but once I became more conscious about my health I opted for green tea and oatmeal cookies.

Café and Market at Crossroads– During my sophomore year, I often had to print photos and other projects at the Hub which is located near Café and Market at Crossroads so I ended up going there for lunch. They had great chicken strips, fries, and pizza. Later on I decided to choose the healthier salads and sandwiches.

Ben and Jerry’s– Ben and Jerry’s is located at the SAU and have the best ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s has a wide selection of flavors and they have the best waffle cone. I went there to treat myself. My favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor was Phish Food; it is a mixture of chocolate ice cream, marshmallows, caramel, and fudge.

Global Village Catina and Grille– Located within Catina is Salsarita. They make the best Mexican food. I often went there when I attended RIT to buy soft shell beef tacos. Once I left RIT in 2011, I still went back to Salsarita to buy tacos for lunch.

The Market at Global Village– They have international and ethnic foods at The Market. RIT has many international students and in order to cater to them, The Market sells international food. I went there to buy mocha, aloe vera drink, green tea Kitkats, and many more international foods. The Market also sells special dietary foods for vegans.

Here’s a video of me talking about the places I ate at when I attended Rochester Institute of Technology.

Here is a video about places to eat in Rochester, New York that is outside of Rochester Institute of Technology.

Have Fun in College but Be Safe

 

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This is a painting I made while listening to music. Later on, I sketched this old school headphone. I scanned in the painting and sketch then collaged them together.

My undergraduate years at Rochester Institute of Technology was four years filled with classes, homework, work, then the next day it was more classes, more homework, and more work so often times it became stressful and sometimes I needed to just relax and have fun. I have looked back during my undergrad years and have made a list here for you of things to do that are fun, yet safe. I know it’s not your typical “have fun in college list” that might include drinking, going to parties, going to bars, and going to clubs which is what college is supposed to be about. At least you’ve seen in the movies that drinking and acting recklessly is what college is supposed to be about.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the truth is drinking, partying, bar and club hopping has no place in the life of a college student. You made it into college. You need to stay in college. You need to buckle down and be sober. You need to let loose and relax, but you can do that without alcohol or any reckless endangerment of one’s self and other college students. Here is my list and I hope you apply them in your college life.

  1. Listen to music and paint to music.

I learned how to do this freshman year. I had a class called 2D Design and our professor had us listen to music and paint. The goal was to have your painting express the music you were listening to. For example, if you were listening to classical music your painting might look smooth and more if flow just like the classical piece you are listening to. I ended up loving this project and continued to do it on my spare time. I spent many many hours listening to Nortec Collective and painting fluid lines that expressed the instrumental music of Nortec Collective.

  1. Go to the library or bookstore and find a good book or magazine.

I worked at the Brighton Memorial Library when I was in high school and after work, I would browse through the library and find art and photography books that inspired me. Once I became a college student my roommate and I often went to the library, Borders bookstore when it was still open, and Barnes and Nobles. We used to spend hours and hours looking at photography and graphic design books and magazines. It seems like a simple hobby, but really what we were doing was honing our eye for good photography and design.

I also loved finding a good fiction novel. I know it’s a little childish, but to tell you the truth I was obsessed with Harry Potter during my undergrad years. I started reading Harry Potter books during the summer of my freshman year in college when my friend from high school came back from Ireland where she was attending college and told me about Harry Potter and how fun they were to read. I borrowed her books and I then proceeded to read all the rest of the books as they came out. There are many good novels out there. Find one that you love and read it when you want to relax or even right before you go to bed.

  1. Go to art or photo galleries.

This was another fun hobby that inspired my art. RIT has the Bevier Gallery in the 7A building and a photography gallery in the 7B Building. I often went to both when there were events. Events consisted of students and faculty showing their work. The Bevier Gallery sometimes showcased high school students work. When I was in high school I entered my photography work in a contest and my photograph ended up winning gold and it was showcased at the Bevier Gallery. That was the first time I went to the Bevier.

Later on, in my undergrad years, I remember going to these events often dressed up in a nice summer dress and flip flops. I often went with my roommate and we would ooh and ah at the beautiful pieces displayed at the galleries. I looked forward to these gallery events. They got my creative juices going. Some of these events were RIT graduate students displaying their thesis work and I used to walk around and study them then one day I decided I would become a graduate student after I finished my undergraduate degree and so I did. I did my graduate studies online so there was no fancy gallery event for me, but nonetheless, I got my Masters of Fine Arts in Media Design and later my Masters of Science in Education Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University.

  1. Join a club.

There were many clubs at RIT and I wish I had joined many of them especially the art club, the photography club, and the graphic design club, but I did not. I did learn from other students that they learned lots from those clubs so if you are at RIT and you want to belong to clubs make sure to find one that is part of your major and join that club.

The club I joined was a Bible Study Club. We met once a week and then we would go to church together on Sundays at a Christian church called New Song, which was later renamed to Mosaic. During our club meetings, we would read the Bible and discuss the scriptures and enjoy good food. It was an all girls club and I felt very lucky to have formed close bonds with those girls. These Bible Study Club meetings strengthened my faith in God which was very important to me because I went to a Catholic school during middle school and I had a religion class and so this club was a way of continuing my studies from my Catholic school days.

  1. Play sports and exercise.

I’ve said this in a previous blog post, but I’ll say it again on this blog post because it is important. You have to play sports and exercise because when you exercise you release endorphins and endorphins will make you a happier human being. I joined a volleyball intramural team at RIT that was partially made up of my friends from my Bible Study club and church members from New Song that attended RIT. It was great to just let loose and play volleyball.

I also loved doing cardio workout and lifting weights. My favorite cardio workout was running or using the Elliptical machine at the RIT gym. I ran on the track while listening to my MP3 player, I also ran at RIT nature trail, or just ran on the treadmill in the gym and watched TV while running. During my senior year at RIT, the new gym with the gigantic pool with the diving boards was completed and I used to love going there to swim and show off my not so good diving skills. My diving sometimes ended up in a belly flop. I was not a belly flop expert so they weren’t even good belly flops.

  1. Do yoga.

I did not discover yoga until my junior year in college. My roommate had a yoga class and her teacher lets me join so I learned how to do the yoga breathing and the yoga poses. Later on, we got yoga mats, yoga videos, and yoga balls for our apartment so we could practice it at home in between doing our homework and studying.

  1. Go to the mall and shop and of course eat at the food court after shopping.

Going to the mall and shopping for clothes has always been fun. It’s been one of my favorite past times since my middle school days in Houston, Texas. When I was in Houston I went to the Galleria, Sharpstown, and the Sugarland Mall. During college, I often frequented the Marketplace Mall which was the closest to RIT and sometimes on good weather days my roommate and I used to go all the way to Eastview Mall. Eastview Mall was and is considered the fancier mall out of the two.

During college, I was on a tight budget so bargain hunting was a must. We used to scour the malls for the cheapest and most comfortable clothes. Often times I would find the most comfortable t-shirts at American Eagle in Marketplace Mall that were less than five dollars. After a successful day shopping and finding the perfect sale we would go to the food court and order tacos from Taco Bell. Those times were priceless and I will always cherish those memories.

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Take pictures for fun. You don’t have to use anything fancy. You can use your iPod Touch or Smart phone.

  1. Take photographs for fun.

Photography was my major so I had to takes photos for homework and the homework often came with criteria like I had to have a certain subject. I had to rent certain cameras. Make sure to take my photos with studio lighting, etcetera. When I had spare time though, I would break free from the constraints of my assignments and take photographs in the snow using car headlights for lighting or perhaps drag a tree branch into my apartment and use it as a backdrop or if it was nice weather out go to Mendon Ponds with my roommate and take pictures of nature at the Devil’s Bathtub trail.

  1. Watch movies.

Watching movies has always been my go to for fun. I used to watch romantic comedies with my girl friends from middle school and high school, but that all changed in college. During my spare time at the dorms, I was exposed to art films and foreign art films by my girlfriend so of course when we got a chance on the weekends we would make it our mission to go to the Little Theater in the heart of downtown Rochester and make sure to watch the most artsy movies.

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This is what Highland Park looks like in spring. Highland Park is about 15 minutes from RIT. Make sure to visit it.

  1. Go on a nature walk.

RIT’s nature trail was my go to for distressing. I went there to enjoy the leaves changing from green to red to orange then to yellow. It was quite a treat. RIT was also close to a park called Highland Park and my roommate and I often went there to see the flowers bloom. Highland Park has thousands of lilac bushes so it was quite a treat in the springtime to go to the park because the whole park would turn a light purple and smell of fragrant lilacs. Oh my! Those spring day nature walk days were quite fun!

There you have it. My list of ways to have fun that does not include drinking alcohol, partying, bar and club hopping. I hope you take these examples and try them. Most of them you might already do, but sometimes you stop doing these simple things that were so fun when you were in high school because when you get to college everyone is drinking.

You have to say to yourself. I will not join in on these reckless activities that could endanger me or others. You have to make sure to list out your priorities and get them straight. You need to remember you are in college to do well in college not to get drunk and not make it to class the next day because you are hung over. You have to remember your friends and family at home that you have to impress. Alcohol can impair you in many ways so you must remember to say no to alcohol and stay safe while having fun. I hope this was a great list for you to read and I hope you apply them when you arrive in college.

Here are two videos I made to go along with the blog post.

Here is the second part of the movie.