Test Tips!

As a graduating senior, I am intimately familiar with finals week—the chaos that ensues, and the stress that plagues students at the end of each semester. So I’ve compiled a list of tips and techniques to (hopefully) see you safely to the other side of the semester’s end:

Prioritize. Some tests may be harder than others, some will be worth more of your grade, and some will be more difficult to study for. Make sure that you spend your time where it counts the most.

Create your own study guide. Even if your professor does provide one, it can be extremely helpful to outline the things that you think are import and make sure that you know the right answer. And some professors purposely ask a few questions on the test that weren’t on their study guide, so making your own can be especially important.

Study with a group. Sometimes having the accountability of other people in your class can help you focus on the most important aspects of the material, sometimes not. So, make sure you choose group members that want to actually study. And if you teach your group members, it will help you reinforce those concepts too.

Take breaks. Everyone’s brain gets overloaded sometimes—this is normal, but you don’t want it to get to that point. A good policy is to take a thirty-minute break every two hours or so. Take a walk, watch a video, or talk to a friend. Taking these breaks can also help your brain move your cram session into your long-term memory.

Rest up. I know it’s tempting to pull an all-nighter on Tuesday of finals week when you have two tests the next day, but don’t. While you may get in some extra study time, you’ll also forget most of it during the test because you’re sluggish and struggling to stay awake (and so is your brain). Trust me, I’ve been there.

Make it fun. Reward yourself with a sip of coffee or a piece of candy when you answer something right, or give yourself a quick study break after you tackle a difficult chapter. Studying can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to be.

Finals are a challenge, but that’s the point. College stretches us; it changes and grows us. And final exams are a big part of that. Prioritization, multitasking, organization, and more work together to help us both survive and thrive. You can do this!

Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa was born James Brown in Bogalusa, Louisiana on April 29, 1947, and raised during the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the South. Then, in 1969, he served a short stint in the U.S. Army before becoming the managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam War and earned a bronze star for his work there.

He lived a very full twenty-six years before he began writing poetry in 1973 and hit the ground running. He earned his first bachelor’s degree on the GI Bill from the University of Colorado Springs in 1975. Then, in 1977, his first book of poems, Dedications and Other Darkhorses, was published, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979. He also earned an MA from Colorado State University and MFA in creative writing from University of California, Irvine during this time.

Komunyakaa’s poetry plays with the inclusion of personal narrative, jazz rhythm, and vernacular language to summon forth images of life during both peace and war. The first major recognition of his poetry followed the publication of Copacetic in 1984, which was a collection of poetry using colloquial speech and incorporating jazz influences. Then I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986) won the San Francisco Poetry Center Award, and Dien Cai Dau (1988) won the Dark Room Poetry Prize and has been noted as being among the best writing of the Vietnam War.

Since then, Komunyakaa has published nine more collections including his most recent, The Emperor of Water Clocks (2015). He has also written a bit of prose over the years, and this work is collected in Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (2000). Komunyakaa has also taught at several universities, including University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University. He is currently the Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate Creative Writing program.

Komunyakaa’s work, and the images that it conjures, has been instrumental in the effort to help civilians understand what soldiers went through during the Vietnam War and how it affected all aspects of their lives. So in honor of soldiers and veterans on his birthday, let’s remember what our soldiers and veterans have sacrificed for our safety and freedom and that this sacrifice wasn’t simply physical.

My black face fades,

hiding inside the black granite.

I said I wouldn’t,

dammit: No tears.

I’m stone. I’m flesh.

My clouded reflection eyes me

like a bird of prey, the profile of night

slanted against morning. I turn

this way–the stone lets me go.

I turn that way–I’m inside

the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

again, depending on the light

to make a difference.

I go down the 58,022 names,

half-expecting to find

my own in letters like smoke.

I touch the name Andrew Johnson;

I see the booby trap’s white flash.

Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse

but when she walks away

the names stay on the wall.

Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s

wings cutting across my stare.

The sky. A plane in the sky.

A white vet’s image floats

closer to me, then his pale eyes

look through mine. I’m a window.

He’s lost his right arm

inside the stone. In the black mirror

a woman’s trying to erase names:

No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

—“Facing It”—Yusef Komunyakaa, from Dien Cai Dau (1988)

Financial Literacy Friday Week 4!

Financial Literacy Month is nearly over, and we come to you with our last Financial Literacy Fridays blog post. I know, I’m sad too. This last one is personal to me, as a soon-to-be college graduate in my early twenties. How can I build my future with a firm financial foundation? For those of you like me, or you who have nephews, granddaughters, or neighbors like me, I hope this helps. This week, we present Personal Finance in Your 20s for Dummies by Eric Tyson.

“When it comes to protecting your financial future, starting sooner rather than later is the smartest thing you can do. This hands-on guide provides you with the targeted financial advice you need to establish firm financial footing in your 20s and to secure your finances for years to come. Discover how to establish a financial foundation, navigate money issues in the real world, and maximize your income throughout your career. If you’re looking for sound, reliable advice on how to make smart financial choices in the real world, Personal Finance in Your 20s for Dummies has you covered.” (Amazon)

From Amazon

Personal Finance in Your 20s for Dummies includes such topics as

  • Budgeting and Saving
  • Everything Credit: Scores and Reports
  • Housing: Comparing Renting and Buying
  • Successful Investing Principles
  • The Lowdown on Health Insurance
  • Ten Ways to Save on a Car
  • Ten Things to Value More Than Your Money

We hope this encourages you to explore the world of personal finance and building new and wonderful habits from the very beginning, and we hope that this series has inspired you to grab the world of finance by the proverbial horns and start working to make your financial situation better.

Post Internship: A Reflection

The last time I wrote one of these self-reflective blogs was at the beginning of my internship. My first week was the middle of September; I was doing a lot of research and writing a lot of “fun blogs.” One of those blogs just so happens to be my “biography blog” on why I wanted to go into publishing that can be found here.

Seven months later I still do a lot of research, even some fun ones with 300+ rows in an Excel spreadsheet (haha). But I really got to see my skillset expand, see my supervisor, the wonderful Amy Beard, increasingly trust in my abilities. As my time here went on, I felt less like a college student playing adult dress up and more like a contributing member of the Press.

In the beginning, in my first blog, I discussed why I wanted to go into publishing. I talked about how I had an ardent belief that authors were the most powerful beings on this Earth. How they were the only ones that could build or level civilizations full of characters they crafted. How I wanted to be a sidekick to these authors I viewed as heroes; editing out their mistakes and helping them bring their worlds into being; how I hoped the Press would help me build the ideal skillset to be the helping hand they needed.

I want to formally thank the Press for doing just that; they truly expanded my publishing related abilities into realms I didn’t even know existed. I learned how to make marketing materials, copy and line edit, and even how to take part in simple inter-office communications. I didn’t realize how in-depth the publishing world went; how it wasn’t just a love for literature that makes you successful but also marketing, an intense attention to detail on multiple fronts, and more than a love for the written word—a respect for those who write them.

My supervisor lovingly enjoyed calling our experience interning at the Press a “trial by fire,” saying that she would rather us fall on our faces here than out in the professional world, so we can succeed when we’re working adults out on our own. She taught me more than I could imagine but also, by being hard on us, made me a self-starter and someone that can teach myself to do what is needed, whether that be making press kits, puzzling out the Adobe Creative Suite, or planning marketing schedules; Google
became a very dear friend.

I know as we grow up the world is supposed to become less shiny—less idealistic and more realistic. I’m sorry to say, even after this experience and experiencing the job application process, a career dealing in the written word still looks pretty shiny, almost magical, to me. If that never changes, if my job continues to seem like a mystical blessing, then I know I chose the right profession.

Thank you, University of North Georgia Press. I’m going to miss our time together! On the other hand, I am so thrilled to announce that my journey isn’t over yet. I’m positive there is more room to grow, and I am so excited to do just that this summer while I intern with Peachtree Publishers right here in Atlanta. Don’t worry; you haven’t heard the last of me yet.

My Time with the Press

This last year that I’ve had with the University of North Georgia Press is proof that things happen for a reason. There is a plan for the universe, and if something doesn’t work out it only means that there is something better just around the corner. When I first applied to work with the Press, I was excited to have this opportunity, especially since my dream is to work in the book publishing industry. However, I was filled with disappointment from finding out that I did not get another job that I had interviewed for just a few weeks previous. This is truly the best thing that could have happened.

Working with the Press has validated my chosen career path and allowed me to gain some of the experience that is so necessary for me to break through the competition. I’ve been able to jump into the industry at the end of my collegiate experience and begin to fully understand what it means to be an editor.

Before, I knew that the job would involve combing through manuscripts, searching for mistakes and ways that the writing could improve. What I didn’t understand is the huge amount of writing, marketing, and graphic design that would be included in the process of releasing a book to the public. I didn’t know about those important elements before, but their presence is not disappointing.

I love watching a book evolve, knowing that I was there to see its transformation. I edited, I marketed, and I designed. I love shaping the book, molding it into a better version of itself. I love knowing that readers will enjoy it that much more because of the time and effort that I put in. I love helping the author reach an audience in the most effective way.

As I approach the end of my time with the University of North Georgia Press, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time to work with a student who had too many things on her plate. Thank you for showing me the ropes, and showing me that there is more to love about publishing than just perfecting the words on the page. And thank you for shaping my childlike passion for the written word into something mature and concrete.