The Bright Side

smiling sun

Doc Seidman Says….

….Going away to college can bring about a whole litany of emotions. It can be fun. It can be scary. It can be enjoyable. It can be depressing. It can be life-changing. It can be anxiety-riddled. It can be many things. Most important, however, it should be productive. If the college did its job, you should leave a much better person than when you started.

More people than ever are now attending college. That is the good news. The bad news is that more people than ever are struggling with the experience.  Mental health concerns are on the rise as college leaders scramble to put systems in place to address this. Whereas this is certainly a growing concern, lest not forget that for most students, the college experience is favorable. It is positive. It is memorable. And most important, the years spent there are productive. The experience not only leads to better opportunities in life, it leads to a better life.

Whereas data show that graduates of a four-year program earn more money over their lifetime than their counterparts who do not graduate (over $1,000,000), there are other, less tangible benefits the experience brings. I classify these as the “FFO” benefits: Friends, Freedom, and Opportunity. They represent the bright side; experiences that will make going away to college a positive one. But don’t just take my word, take the word of recent graduates. When asked, they were all too happy to share the positive experiences college gave them. And almost in lockstep, they all said the same thing.

 Friends:

You may not know it when you are in college, but the people in your orbit, be it near or far, may become lifelong friends. It could be someone as obvious as your buddy who you hang around with regularly, or, it could be someone much less obvious such as the person you see occasionally in the dining hall. You just never know. It could be someone who lives in your dorm, or someone sitting in the same literature class. It could be someone you regularly run into at the campus Starbucks, or even someone who exercises on the same elliptical machine you do.

In today’s techno-driven world, it’s easy to stay connected. You can casually stay in touch after college via social media and deepen that relationship over time. After all, you have that commonality built in; you all attend the same school and share the same experiences, for better or worse.

Friends become like family. Sociologists will probably tell you that good friends replace your family over time. They are there for you. They’ll be at your wedding and celebrate special occasions with you. They’ll be there for you during good times and bad times. That’s what friends do. And that’s what college does. It creates friends.

Freedom:

Almost everyone would agree that the freedom going away to college brings is a double-edged sword. Nobody is now forcing you to attend that 9:00 AM class. That’s the good news. The bad news is nobody is forcing you to attend that 9:00 AM class. But putting aside the issues all that newfound freedom brings, freedom, if managed correctly, can be a great thing. It can help you grow and learn. It can open the door for your curiosities and bring you new experiences. Being away in college gets you out of the bubble of the world your parents provided for you and allows you to pursue your curiosities. Whether it’s meeting new people or exploring newfound sexual freedoms, simply feeling free is something to be cherished. Going away to college provides that. (Don’t let your parents lecture you about this. More than likely they enjoyed their freedoms too, back in the day.)

Opportunities:

No matter where you attend college, opportunities abound. You have an opportunity to study new things, travel to new places, and explore new cultures. You can have your resume spruced up at a career service office and find an internship or cool job at an exciting company. While you’re at it, apply for many jobs. You’re a college student. You are in demand.  Get to know your professors. They’re not all old and crusty. And besides, they may very well serve as a lifelong reference. You can learn a new language, a new musical instrument, or even a new sport. (My freshman year roommate was from the deep south. First thing he wanted to do in our upstate New York university was learn how to ski.) You can find a new hobby or discover a new passion. Opportunities are everywhere; you just need to go after them. Many graduates look back on their experience and regret they did not take advantage of everything college provided them. Whereas it’s rare to find the person who does everything, don’t be regretful. Take advantage. Learn new things.

 

True, the college experience can certainly have a dark side. That’s normal. (Life does too, as a matter of point.) It is o.k. to acknowledge this. If the experience leaves you sad and anxious, seek the help you need, but try and look at the bright side. There are so many great experiences out there for you to discover and enjoy. Find them and jump in. Take advantage of all that college has to offer. And if the college does its job, you will leave a better person. Students must do their part too. If you do, there is no doubt that you will leave a better person.

Yes, college does have a bright side.

*Special thanks to the outstanding staff at Affordable College Prep for their guidance with this post

The Dark Side

sad face

Doc Seidman Says…

….You might breakup with your boyfriend/girlfriend. There could be a challenge with a roommate. Certain academic classes are leaving you anxious. You feel the professor is out to get you. The weather might be gloomy. Your part time job sucks. You miss your family.

There’s no doubt about it; college can get even the most upbeat student down. What should be a positive, enlightening experience can turn into something glum and stressful. When that happens, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone.

Don’t be discouraged. You are not alone. A 2013 survey by the American College Health Association found that 40% of male students and 57% of female students experienced overwhelming anxiety in the past year. More recently, a 2016 study by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute found that 12% of college freshmen have admitted to being frequently depressed. Despite the data, researchers feel that most mental health issues go unreported. Depression, anxiety, frustration, and despair are quite common amongst the college student population.

College life can have as many “downs” as it does “ups.” Being away from home can be trying for many people. Easy access to drugs and alcohol can lead to anxiety and depression. Moreover, academic demands don’t help either. Forget to turn a paper in on time? How about that test you didn’t study for all that well? Suppose you’re sick and miss more classes than you thought? Those incidents are common and do very little to help your state of mind.

Whereas mental health treatment for their student population won’t be showcased on campus tours, colleges are becoming more aware of the mental health challenges their students face. More schools are now putting resources in place to help. They are expanding mental health facilities, hiring more counselors, and encouraging students to seek assistance. Florida state universities alone are seeking to hire over 100 new mental health counselors during the next several years. Many schools are teaching faculty and staff how to identify troubling signs and encouraging us (faculty) to be more attentive.

It’s all a good start, however, students need to do their part as well. College students should not be reluctant to seek mental health assistance. Basic services are usually covered under the college’s health insurance requirement so there should be no extra cost. Moreover, counselors make their presence known on campus and present themselves as empathetic resources. The stigma of obtaining mental health assistance is declining.

Additionally, many schools now offer mental health related workshops or activities under the guise of general wellness as another means of addressing this growing issue. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation are becoming popular activities on campus. Stress relief workshops and general wellness clinics are also becoming more common.

As a veteran college professor, I can say that the subject of mental health is something not enough of us pay as close attention to as we should. We get wrapped up in the nuances of our class and often fail to take a step back and recognize the challenges outside the classroom students are facing. The blinders we so often wear keep us from realizing that some students might be troubled. Perhaps there is a bad breakup with a friend or partner? Or, perhaps a family member is going through a serious health concern or life changing event? The student might even be going through a serious issue with his or her own health. Most of us just carry on, going through business as usual, just trying to get through our workday. We may or may not make an exception to our students for missed work. The paper you may be struggling to complete at all, let alone on time…. too bad. The deadline is what is. See the syllabus.

Ironically, most of us have good hearts and are sympathetic to the frailties of our students. We just don’t know they exist. Rare is the student who self-identifies as having a mental health issue. We are often made aware there is a learning disability, or even a physical disability, but a diagnosed mental affliction such as depression or anxiety almost always remains unknown to us.

If you are a parent who’s about to send your son or daughter to college, take the time to speak with a school representative about how the campus manages the mental health of their students. This can be done privately during a campus tour, or if you cannot visit the campus, you can telephone or email the dean of students. Even if you feel your child doesn’t need these services it is important to know they are there “just in case.”

If you are a student struggling with the stresses of being in the college environment, there are things you can do as well. Try to maintain a heathy lifestyle, something that can be tricky in college. This would involve eating well, sleeping well, and getting regular exercise. A healthy sex life can also be helpful. Be mindful of overindulging in drugs and alcohol. And most important, don’t hesitate to speak to an on-campus mental health counselor. The counselors I’ve gotten to know over the years are nice people who genuinely want to listen and help. All visits are private, too.

Whereas mental health woes such as depression anxiety are common, keep in mind that college experience can also be positive and highly rewarding. There are many great benefits college provides.  Finding happiness in the journey is critical to making the most of these years. Great things are all around. You just have to know where to find them.

 

 

The Campus Tour: Know Before They Go

college tour

Doc Seidman Says….

….Touring a college campus can be a valuable experience. A formal campus tour will give prospective students and their families an idea of what the college experience will be like. In a previous post I had some fun with the campus tour pointing out areas that you probably won’t see but should. Whereas there is some truth to that (who doesn’t want to see where the best pizza is?), it was largely written with a tongue in cheek approach. There is a serious side to the campus tour, however, and parents need to prepare accordingly. Sending a family member to college is a big investment, and like any other big purchase, important facts need to be presented and questions need to be asked before the purchase is made.

The tour usually begins with an orientation given in a small to medium sized auditorium, depending on the size of the group. Here, an admissions office representative will greet the students, present the campus strengths and review the admissions requirements.  This can last anywhere from a half an hour to an hour depending on the amount of information the college chooses to present. Afterwards, a current student will take smaller groups on a tour of the campus. Common sites include viewing a sample dorm room, the student dining center(s), a classroom building, the main library, the recreation and fitness center, as well as any other important areas the college wants you to see.

Tour guides will stop throughout the tour and discuss important subjects such as campus clubs and organizations, the athletic events offered, and the various facts about student technology needs (Wi-Fi and printing services, for example).  Whereas this is a valuable information, most colleges will only showcase the areas they want you to see. They will present the topics they want you to know. The college, after all, is trying to sell itself. They are putting their best foot forward.

If you are a parent about to send your son or daughter away to college, there are things you should also know. They might not be as sexy as the new recreation center but they are critical to your son or daughter’s success nonetheless. A campus tour guide may or may not point them out. You need to ask. More important, your tour guide or admissions representative should know the answers.

Here are five important questions:

  1. What systems are in place for advising first-year students?

The first year of college is the most critical for your son or daughter. If students aren’t happy or don’t feel comfortable, they are more prone to leave than students who are content. Colleges don’t want to lose these students. They want them there. Almost every college has systems in place to keep the freshmen students engaged and happy. Nowhere is this more important than through a robust freshman advising system. Students should receive regular advising from a full-time faculty member as well as other campus support staff. If this information is not shared with you during the tour, ask about it. A smart move would be to ask the student tour guide about the advising he or she received during their freshman year. You will most likely receive an honest, candid reply.

  1. What are the on-campus tutoring options? How is the tutoring center staffed and how many students utilize it?

Just about every college offers some type of on campus, complimentary tutoring for students. You may get to see the outside of this academic support building somewhere during the tour. This office can be an integral part of your son or daughter’s academic support as many students need some help with academics at some point.  Many students who need academic support avoid getting help from the on-campus facility. There are many reasons for this, the most notable being ego. Students feel too proud to be seen struggling in something. Try and get a peek at the inside of this building. Is it busy? Ask questions about the tutoring services students can receive. Meet some of the staff if you can. It is important that anyone needing academic help not only receives the support, but feels comfortable doing so.

  1. What are the drug and alcohol policies on campus, particularly in the dormitories?

I have yet to hear this subject come up during a campus tour. Each campus’s policy will vary so it is good to know what the policies are for each campus you visit. Some schools have strict policies while others are laxer. Will your son or daughter get in trouble if drugs and or alcohol are found in his or her dorm room? If it is a strict campus, he or she might be innocent but guilty by association. It is good to know this in advance.

  1. What happens if your son or daughter gets sick and needs to see a doctor?

Some tour guides are happy to point out the campus infirmary and the great services it provides. That’s generally all they know unless they have had a personal experience with it. For services that require care beyond the campus infirmary, details are sketchy. They shouldn’t be. This is important. Don’t let your tour guide gloss over this. Sadly, students do get sick and need care beyond what the campus infirmary provides. Parents should ask how this is handled. What are the related costs of receiving extra medical attention? Also, if a sickness forces a student to miss many classes, how does it get handled? Don’t wait until it is too late to find out.

  1. What does the college have in place to respond to the mental health needs of the students?

The subject of mental health, whereby extremely critical, never comes up. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are all too common in college and need to be properly diagnosed and treated. This should best be discussed privately with an admissions representative after the tour. How common are these issues and how do colleges respond? Students and parents need to know.

Internship: Learn How to Make Coffee

coffee

Doc Seidman Says….

………Internships can an important step in launching your career. My colleague, Lucy Capul, has some advice on maximizing the internship experience.

Internship. According to Merriam-Webster, it is “a period of undergoing practical instruction in one’s job or career.” A lot of people are opposed to internships as many are unpaid or feel they are waste of time. Many would prefer to get entry level jobs to get “a foot in the door.” A lot of people think an internship is just a position to make coffee for the office. One will ask, “How do coffee runs benefit my career?”

Some colleges have incorporated internships into their curriculum as a graduation requirement. In order to graduate, students must undergo an internship based on their industry. This might even include having to give a presentation at the end of their experience.

For many of you who are in the beginning stages of your college degree, or even near the end, I am sure you have stumbled upon the word “Internship” from conversations with your adviser, browsing your curriculum, or hearing about it in career fairs. Many neglect to prepare for this experience and just pick any internship so they can graduate on time. An internship is an important stepping stone in your career. Paid or unpaid. Making coffee or not, it is essential to get that experience.

When I was in college, my university required an internship to graduate. In looking back upon my career, I always tell this to every young individual I meet: I would not be who I am if it was not for my internship. At that time, I had no real-world work experience. I was only working on campus at the tutoring center but had no prior experience of working in a corporate environment, going into interviews, and how to even prepare for one. I had three interviews set up for me in three different companies. At the end, I got all three and had to choose one by the end of the day. I had to work with my adviser on what to pick as I felt pressured to give an answer without even having time to process that I got all three internship opportunities. Which company and program would be the best for me?

I did not have a car at the time so I had to pick the one that was closest for me to travel conveniently to and from my internship. I also loved how flexible the company was with my work schedule as I had class in the middle of the week. I was happy I had my adviser help me pick the right one. In the long run, I got the best internship I could ever ask for. The company had a huge internship program and was skilled in placing interns in programs that will help them grow in their career. At the beginning of the internship, I had to sit down with human resources to discuss my interests and which department would be best for me. I was placed in the sales and marketing department. At first, my mind went “huh?”. What am I going to do in sales and marketing? I hated accounting and math in general. I told them I wanted to do event management. What was I doing here?

During my time there, I worked under the sales manager who oversaw the groups and events for the company. Little did I know that she would be my mentor, and now my friend. I learned so much in my time there. She took me to all her sales meetings and taught me all the ins and outs. She taught me how to set up a show room, how to interact with each client, how to do manage the sales and event systems, and how to answer the phone and take messages. I learned how to talk in that environment, how to dress and how to work with all different types of people. Although my internship did not consist of making coffee daily, I still was doing a lot of the “dirty” work and learned from the ground up. She was such a great mentor and I felt inspired every day to do my best. Every day, I was so happy to be there. I would come home and share stories with my classmates and dorm mates about my experiences. We were all just excited as this was our stepping stone out of college. I treated my internship like it was a paid job. I respected my job, my mentor, the company, I fell in love with that company.

There was a mandatory company staff meeting one week and they even had an orientation for new hires and interns. During these meetings, the general manager would make a presentation highlighting the mission and vision of the company. He had encouraged all of us to feel EMPOWERED. Just because we are interns or have an entry level position, he encouraged us to take initiative to do what is right. If a client or guest was not feeling well, he told us to take the initiative to send a complimentary bowl of chicken noodle soup to the room. If it was someone’s birthday, take the initiative to send a slice of cake or a birthday greeting. There are many companies who like to micromanage every single task an employee is doing. The general manager made an impression in all of us, that we all have the power to make a difference. Besides the warm bite-sized pretzels they served at all the meetings, that presentation will always stand out. I learned so much from that company. I was inspired to take initiative in my internship program, in my travel abroad program as I grew into my career. From that experience, I was offered an entry level position in a different department. They even invited me back to interview for a new position, even after I left the company.

Because of that unpaid internship that I had for three months, I could set the foundation for my career and my professional goals. It also molded me into the worker that I am today. I always look for an environment that allows me to be empowered in my role. I even am empowered in my own life to make risky decisions like moving to New York city solo the past year. I made lifelong friends, lessons and most importantly it molded me into the person I am today.

Because the internship was unpaid, many of the interns struggled to find the motivation to come to “work” every single day. There was no incentive or a paycheck at the end of the week to look forward to. But I found myself looking forward to coming in every single day. Because of this, I knew that I loved what I was doing and that I was in the right industry. I worked because I was passionate about it and inspired every single day by my work, my mentor and the company.

If I never had that internship and only had my first entry level position out of college, I honestly do not think I would be the person I am today. It would have either take me longer to get to where I am or I would just not have the same vision I have for my own career path. I would not be an empowered employee as I am today. I would not take pride in my work, find ways to be inspired or even feel motivated by my purpose.

So, to those of you who are pondering if you should do an internship, the answer is yes. There should be no self-doubt. Work with your adviser in picking the right program, the right company and program. Explore the company’s mission and vision and take advantage of the opportunities the company offers. Look for companies or programs where there is chance for growth. Select a company that you feel proud to be at, even if it means making coffee for the CEO. That CEO could be your next mentor and the person who sees the fire in you who can teach you how to grow into the best that you can be. Even if it is unpaid, and maybe you needed extra cash to save for a spring break trip with your friends, consider the lifelong benefits you receive when working without a monetary incentive. Not only is it a humbling experience, it would be the ultimate challenge for you to know if you are in the right industry and for you to find ways to be motivated. This is a way for you to test if your passion meets your purpose.

It’s 9 am. Coffee. Cream and Sugar?

Lucy is the social media coordinator and career adviser for Affordable College Prep. She blogs about the challenges recent college graduates face during the job search process. You can follow her blog, Nine A.M., Coffee, Tea. or Snooze on Wix. Look for her book on career development tips in late spring/early summer.

 

Our Cheating Hearts

cheating

Doc Seidman Says…….

….Quick. What percent of college students admit to cheating? 30%? 40%? 50%? Higher? Of those that admit to cheating, what percent admit to being caught? 30%? 20%? 10%? Lower?

According to a 2015 study by the Center for Academic Integrity, 71,000 students were surveyed and 68% admitted to some type of academic cheating. Another recent study by Kessler International, a forensic accounting and digital forensic investigative firm, found that a whopping 86% of students admitted to cheating.  Some form of academic cheating is apparently quite popular. And why not? Researchers claim that 97% of self-admitted cheaters have never been caught.

Academic cheating is loosely defined as using someone else’s work as your own. Students provide many justifications for cheating. Some are obvious, such as the pressure to get good grades or even pass a class. Cheating can also save a lot of time. Why write that paper when you can download it? Since cheating is common and goes relatively unpunished, students see others cheat and get rewarded so they feel they can do the same. Other rationales are less obvious. Many students claim it can be inadvertent (your eyes accidentally see the exam in front of you). Also, technology now makes it so easy to cheat. It blurs the line between honesty and dishonesty. That quick cut and paste from a website might not seem dishonest, but as every teacher knows, it’s cheating.

Academic cheating researchers claim technology hasn’t necessarily made cheating more common.  It’s always been popular. Technology has simply given rise to more types of cheating. Smart phones are great enablers. Students can take photos of tests and post them online. Text messages with answers can fly around the room during a test. Phones can easily browse the Internet, searching for answers during exams. Also- students might save notes on their phones which can be viewed or shared during exams.

Smart professors try and stay ahead of this by introducing more innovative testing techniques and less memorization requirements. This is a smart way forward. In the age of Google, why memorize the atomic makeup of boron when you can simply Google it on your hand-held device? I don’t think having the atomic makeup of boron memorized makes you more popular at parties these days. Memorizing the atomic makeup of boron is out. Having a cool phone to look it up without even looking, is in.

In my college professor days, catching cheaters, and proving they were cheating, was always a struggle. Restroom usage was a great example. If a student asked to use the restroom during a test, I always consented. I just didn’t have it in my heart to say no. I would like to think it was an actual biological emergency and not an excuse to look up Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points for Management. I could never have lived with myself if I denied the student a bathroom visit and he or she had an uber-embarrassing gastrointestinal incident- or any other type of biological woe-  right there in the classroom. I certainly wasn’t going to follow anyone into the bathroom. There was no way I wanted “bathroom spy” prominently featured on my Rate My Professor profile. I don’t think I could have lived with that, either. Right or wrong, I just gave everyone the benefit of the doubt when it came time to a restroom visit.

A big issue with cheating surrounds the online classroom. Like many other professors, I taught online classes in addition to the more traditional face to face classes.  In the online classroom you get to know the students somewhat, but don’t really get to know them well enough to know if the paper they turned in on the 14 Points of Management was in fact their paper. While there are “checkers” you can use, such as Google or TurnitIn.com, there is no way of knowing if the paper was written by Tom Jones the student or Tom Jones the entertainer. It’s not unusual. Additionally, I had to wonder if the student in the actual online class was the student who was actually registered to be in the class. It might have been someone for hire. Registered student Delilah can easily pay nerdy entrepreneur Samson to pretend he is her for the entire class. Why, why, why, Delilah?  Easy. Delilah can now pass a difficult class and move one step closer to obtaining her degree. Who knows about this act of deceit? The average teacher probably doesn’t.

One of the more interesting rationales comes from the students who justify cheating by saying their professors cheat. Students have shared stories of faculty members requesting sexual favors for better grades. There are also tales of faculty accepting bribes. A common complaint is how faculty members often pressure students to purchase the textbook, authored by the said faculty member. Students who don’t buy the textbook say they get penalized through difficult exams or less than preferential treatment. If there are any professors reading this who do that, know that your students consider that cheating. Take that! Switch to writing fiction.

The purpose of this post isn’t to solve the issue of college cheating, or make anyone feel guilty that they do cheat (although you should). I am simply pointing out it is an issue; and a rather large and complicated one at that. I cringe to think that my colleagues in the professorial world are having sex on the beach with vulnerable students. Or, vice versa for that matter. Students might in fact be having sex on the beach with vulnerable teachers. That creates a whole new wave of potential problems.

Fortunately, there is some hope, even if it’s a glimmer of hope. Twelve percent of students said they wouldn’t cheat because of their own personal ethics. Whereas that number isn’t particularly high, it’s a start. For the sake of keeping our profession honorable, I’d also like to think the vast majority of professors are enjoying sexy relationships with their spouses, or good friends (with benefits), and not their students. After all, college teaching is such a cool job. Why screw it up?

The Real College Tour

pizza

Doc Seidman Says….

…..As the director of the college resource website, Affordable College Prep, I get to go on many college campus tours. Visiting different campuses enables me to remain informed on college trends to better educate our advisees and students. Besides the speed walking requirement most tours mandate (A Visit to the College Why), touring a college campus is quite informative. One thing I have noticed, however, is that the college is going to send you to places they want you to see. That makes a lot of sense since the tour is a great opportunity to market, or create value for their campus. As such, you don’t get to see the worst public bathrooms or the long lines in front of the financial services office. You pretty much stick to designated campus highlights such as the glistening new students center, a sample freshmen dorm, the main library, the dining hall, and a typical college classroom.

There are other sites that I feel are worth seeing, but sadly, we never do. And no, I’m not talking about the dirty bathrooms or the long financial services line. I’m talking about other important places that the curiously savvy students and their parents should know.

Here is my list:

  • The broken vending machine:

We all know it is around somewhere. This is the vending machine that, due to whatever flaw, doesn’t charge full price for certain items. Those in the know can get that $2.00 bottle of Powerade for $1. That small bag of BBQ Fritos that lists for $1.25 is your for 50ȼ. This machine is there somewhere. Perhaps it’s tucked away in the basement of the Chemical Engineering building? Wherever it is, I think it would be great to know. After all, a bargain is a bargain.

  • The dumpster behind the dining hall:

Parents pay a lot of money toward their child’s campus dining options. Many schools require the purchase of a food plan to accompany living in a dormitory. This can cost over $5,000 per student over a typical school year. Despite the cost, most parents are happy to pay for this dining option. It is important to know that their son or daughter has ready access to nutritious dining.  However, almost every restaurant and/or food service facility is notorious for being wasteful. Tons of non-eaten food gets thrown out every year in this country. How much is getting wasted at your local campus dining hall will shock you. It’s a lot. Whereas not a very sexy site, the dumpster behind the dining hall would give us a peek into this wastefulness. This may make the dining halls more cautious about the food they are preparing and wasting. After all, wasted food is wasted money. Most families try and save money any way they can throughout the college journey. It shouldn’t be wasted on food.

  • Where’s the pizza?

Since we are discussing food, the college tour should point out the place on or around campus that has the best pizza. In poll after poll, pizza continues to be identified that the most preferred food among college students. The library, freshman dorm, and classroom buildings are all important, but let’s give the future students and their families something they can really use. Show us where the best pizza is. A free sample would be nice too. We promise we won’t throw it out. Nobody wastes good pizza; especially in college.

  • Best place for a first date:

Dating and romance are important components of the college experience.  It would be nice if the tour could point a spot that “gets party started,” so to speak. And no, I’m not talking about “The Point” or “The Field” or that special place guys like to bring their dates for special get-to-know -you banter (wink, wink). I’m talking about the place you can go to have a good time and some nice conversation. A place that is fun and somewhat lively. More important, it should not be populated by your “buddies” or “gal pals.” Leave them out of this. It should be slightly off the beaten track but close enough to the campus to feel comfortable. I think future students- and their parents- would like to know, and should know, that spot. For more about sex and romance in college, read Sex and College. 

  • The faculty offices:

A typical college classroom is usually a designated stop on the campus tour. Whereas it is an important stop, it really does not tell us much about the faculty. Since college faculty will be deciding the fate and future of their students: our sons, daughters, and advisees, we should learn more about them. Granted, we can all read about their achievements on their online bios, but that still doesn’t give us the whole picture. Have the tour visit some of the faculty offices. I always like to see what is on their bookshelf. Do they have the last three volumes of Multivariate Data Analysis, the most recent edition of Physics: A Textbook for Advanced Level Students, or are they proudly displaying, The Best Joke Book Ever and Hilarious One Liners? Personally, that would be the professor I would want to teach my son, daughter, or advisee. Nothing against the Multi Variate Data Analysis and Advanced Physics folks, I’m sure they are nice people, but give me the professor with jokes. Humor and learning go together like……. college and pizza!

  • The best bathroom

Nobody wants to see the worst bathroom, but it would sure be nice to see the best bathroom. Like the broken vending machine, we know it is around somewhere. We shouldn’t have to go to Reddit or the online discussion board to know where it is. It should be pointed out to us during the campus tour. Besides, if we are consuming bran muffins and guzzling a lot of coffee for breakfast, and shortly thereafter walking around the campus at a breakneck speed, not only would it be good to know where that bathroom is, it will also be needed.

 

Sex on the Beach

beach

Sex on the Beach is a popular cocktail containing vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and cranberry juice. It is generally served over ice, in a highball glass, with an orange slice garnish. One cocktail has around 325 calories.

Sex on the beach is a ‘boasted-about’ activity popular during the college spring break season. As the name states, it involves having sex on the beach. It generally burns around 200 calories if partaken during the daytime, and 100-150 calories if performed at night when the weather is cooler.

As spring break approaches, college students from all over the United States start thinking about sex on the beach; the cocktail and the activity. It’s the time of the year to cast aside the history and poetry textbooks and descend on the beach for fun and revelry. If the stars align, it might even be possible to have a Sex on the Beach cocktail while actually having sex on the beach. Who needs history and poetry when those two things are possible?

According to Forbes Magazine, the best spring break U.S. beaches this year include: Manhattan Beach, California, Clearwater Beach, Florida, Laguna Beach, California, and The Florida Keys. Beach communities in the United States tend to be safer and relatively easy to get to. Even better, there is no disruption in cell phone service. The only real downside is that the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21, and from what I’ve been told, drinking and spring break seem to go together.

International beaches can be more popular. Foreign countries have a lower drinking age and/or a general apathy as to what the drinking age is. Mexico is a popular destination.  Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallerta are well known beach spots ready and willing to host thousands of gringos and gringas. Other popular international destinations include the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, where drinking the tap water can be almost as dangerous as drinking too many Sex on the Beach cocktails.

So, the question is, are spring breakers really having sex on the beach? Not so much, say self-proclaimed sex on the beach experts. The sex part may be fun but brushing all the sand out of various body parts can be unpleasant, to say the least. Sharp rocks, glass, or even various creepy crawlies found on the beach can also make the experience treacherous.  Furthermore, various types of bacteria commonly found in the sand and ocean can cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The bacteria can also cause urinary tract infections. Even the cranberry juice found in the Sex on the Beach cocktail probably can’t help that!

Beach sex veterans say that if you are willing to throw caution aside and go for the calorie-burn daytime deed, beware of the closed-circuit cameras that may line the beach. Also- that inconspicuous older couple just down the sand from you might be filming you. Unless you are looking to be the next viral video sensation, you may be better served sticking with the lower calorie night-time beach sex, or abandoning the act altogether.

What about the cocktail? Are spring breakers chugging down countless quantities of Sex on the Beach? While I couldn’t find any scholarly research on the subject, anecdotally, it’s apparently right up there with the margarita in terms of its beachy popularity. No word as to whether it is more popular than beer, although spring break revelers have told me over the years that beer is something you can always drink in school (providing you’re over 21, of course). Beachy cocktails mean you are on vacation. I would guess they tend to be popular at first, but once the money supply diminishes, it’s off to Walgreens for cheap beer.

Spring break experts go on to say that the Sex on the Beach cocktail can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than actually having sex on the beach. Too much alcohol around strangers can be something many often regret. It can lead to relationships not worth having and the consequences there-of. Spring break experts insist on reminding everyone they need to be mindful of what they are consuming- and doing- on spring break. Consuming too much alcohol can lead to all kinds of trouble. Nobody wants that; not your friends, relatives, or even the local bartender. The idea is to have a fun time on the beach and not a miserable time in the local police station.

Wherever you go, have fun out there spring breakers. A word to the wise is to keep your revelry and frolic off social media. Your future employer may be watching. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t be your future employer. And if you must have Sex on the Beach, and/or sex on the beach, be careful! There are people that want you to return home safely. Not just your parents, but all your professors, including the ones that teach history and poetry. They, and every college employee wants you back on campus, safe and sound.

When it is all said and done, sex in the dorm is probably a much better option than sex on the beach.