junior at Washington College sharing my triumphs, adventures, and derps of college life. ~ written by me, Emma Way
Advice to Future Elm Reporters
As a rising junior I have been selected as the new Student Life editor for next fall! Unfortunately I can’t remain an editor for the following spring because I’ll be studying abroad in Italy. From my two years as being a report for The Elm, I’ve learned a lot. Not just about AP Style, but also about getting a story to be a fair, informative, and catching brief of what happened. Here are some tips I have for any aspiring reporter for The Elm (and beyond):
- Be honest - I tend to write a lot of the crime pieces for The Elm, which requires a writer that is trustworthy. My sources know me as an honest writer that is not going to blow the story out of proportion and this is key. Over the two years I’ve been on staff I’ve developed a list of people I can always go to for griping quotes and accurate information and in turn they come to me with the stories. Jerry Roderick, director of Public Safety, is always emailing me ideas for what the Elm should cover and I have a close working relationship with the Chief of Chestertown Police Department, because he knows I won’t butcher the story.
- There is no such thing as using the word “alleged” too much. In these crime pieces I often feel as though I overuse the word alleged, but in reality there’s no such thing. With the sensitive topic of all of these pieces it’s important that you never ever accuse someone when they haven’t been formally charged. It’s not fair to assume that the person reporting the crime is always telling the truth. All of this comes back to making sure that you’re just telling the hard facts, not adding any of your own bias.
- Make yourself known as a reporter. When your friends know you write for the Elm they will tell you all the woes and joys about WC and in turn you’ll find some awesome stories. Always keep your ears and eyes open.
- Do not piss off Melissa. The Elm advisor, Melissa, is a little scary when she’s mad. Although she’s never been mad at me, I’ve seen her get quite furious at other writers and let me tell you, you don’t want to be in their shoes. That being said, follow the rules and you’ll be fine.
- Follow “the rules”. I say this, but yet there’s not a lot of rules. Basically honesty is key. This and turn in your article on time. Don’t make up stuff and submit it to your editors on time. Do this and you will be ok.
- Always say yes! Sometimes I end up writing three stories in one week, but that’s ok because I am getting the experience I need to be successful one day. When some one asks me to do a really high-profile piece (for WAC’s standards) about mold making people sick, of course I said yes! If you do need a week off, however, give your editors at least one weeks notice.
Questions to ask on your college tour!
- Where is the best place to study on campus? - You are here to learn so there’s gotta be a good place to study… duh! My favorite place to study is kind of boring.. it’s my room. I actually love my desk. When it’s warm outside though, I love hanging out and doing my work on the Green.
- What does a typical weekend look like? - In addition to classwork you have to know how to have fun on the weekends. My typical weekend usually starts with an episode of Scandal or the Office and then slowly transitions to a night of dancing with my good friend
- What is your least favorite thing about WAC? - This one is important because nothing is perfect and in order to effectively balance your pros and cons this is necessary. My least favorite thing about WAC is that there’s a lot of people who don’t go to any of the events. I do wish that campus was more involved, for example we bring awesome bands to campus and only 100 (or less) people will go.
- What’s your major? - Get to know your tour guide and the students around you! The best way to get a grasp of whatever school you’re touring is to figure out what students are like. Do they have similar interests than you and can you see yourself fitting in on campus? My major is political science as I’ve mentioned many times before (I have a concentration in African Studies and a minor in Anthropology and English).
- What’s your favorite thing about WAC? - This kind of goes along with the one above. My favorite thing at WAC are my friends and the people. I have made such great friends and there’s never a dull moment.
- What’s your favorite place downtown? - When going to college it’s not just about the campus, the downtown is also vitally important. Check out Chestertown downtown because it has so much to offer than you would ever imagine in such a small town. My personal favorite is Empty Hangers, a thrift shop on Cannon St.
- Who’s your favorite professor and why? - It’s always good to know that professors don’t suck to be blunt. It’s also important to know which professors to take and which not to take. My favorite is probably Dr. Shad or Dr. Lampman, but Dr. Schindler, Dale, and Dubrow are also awesome.
- What are you involved in? - Ask this question not so much because you’re super interested in what your tour guide does, but to know what is offered on campus. Odds are your tour guide is very involved because it kind of comes with the job. My answer to that question? - What am I not involved in?!
- How can I write for a school newspaper and get paid? - Shameless plug to check out the campus newspaper, The Elm.
Beautiful day on campus yesterday :). I was finally able to do my work outside on the green. I also took a nice walk down to the water :). I wish the weather could stay like this forever, but it’s already back to being gross and rainy!
Andy Grammer concert was amazing! Had such a great time with my friends. Cheers to an amazing night! :)
Sophomore Year Bucket List
With only one more month of school it’s really hit me that I’m almost halfway through my college career. This time next year I’ll be in Italy and be a rising senior. That’s just crazy talk.. To really enjoy this end of the year fully I’ve created a bucket list of things I want to do before the end of my sophomore year (I’m making it a little flexible to include somethings in the summer).
- Layout my very own section in the Elm
- Go kayaking
- Take a trip to DC
- Donate my hair to Relay for Life
- Have a picnic down by the water
- Do all my homework for the week the weekend before and just enjoy a stress-free week
- Study for all my finals starting at least a week in advance
- Give someone a tour around campus (I’m not a tour guide so I don’t know how this would work, but I’ve always wanted to give someone a tour!)
- Recruit new writers to my section on the newspaper
- Talk to a prospective student and help them with their college search
- Hold an event for the Anti-Human Trafficking Club, which I am now in charge of.
- Get a 4.0 this semester
- Secure a summer job in California
- Write three times a week for my travel blog
- May day
- Go to more SEB events because they’re free and awesome, but for some reason I don’t make it to the majority of them
- The Office Marathon
- Read a pleasure book
- Find the time to relax
- Sing and dance in front of a large audience during my solo of “Happy” at our WACappella concert.
- Not get locked out of my room anymore
- Do my homework on the green at least once a week
- Spend lots of quality time with my friends who are graduating :’(
- Have my work published in Smart Girls Group magazine
- Travel out of the country
- Eat sushi
- Enjoy every second!
I hope you enjoyed my random list as much as I’ve enjoyed my sophomore year :).
So excited for tomorrow! First off, Saturdays are always awesome no matter what the weekend because I can actually get a break. Although my definition of a break is getting time to catch up on homework… but hey it does relieve stress for me to actually sit down and get caught up on all my work and maybe even get ahead!
Secondly, all the admitted students are coming tomorrow which is super exciting! I’m not just saying that because I work for admissions, I am genuinely excited to see all the new faces that I could be in classes or clubs with next year! Also I’m ready to recruit some writers for the student newspaper, The Elm, so be ready! I’ve heard that the class of 2018 has the potential to be one of the largest classes yet, which makes me really excited for a multitude of reasons. One, because budgets got seriously slashed and tuition got seriously increased this year primarily because of the low enrollment. There was simply too many empty rooms and not enough income. Two, because I love Washington College and this new class, because of how big it’s expected to be, is the future driving force in maintaining this place that I call my second home.
The third reason I’m so excited for this weekend is the Andy Grammer concert! I love Andy Grammer and I even convinced my friend from home to come down and see it with me. I went out and bought an air mattress even! I’m so excited to see my good friend and Andy Grammer. The concert is going to be awesome because they’re doing everything in their power to pack the audience, which is great because a lot of times concerts are disappointingly empty. It sucks when our school spends so much money on a concert that no one goes to. So this year they’re giving admitted students free tickets to see the concert along with whatever student is hosting them. What a great idea - it’s going to make the concert that much better. Plus I can’t wait to party with all the new students! Yay!
Ok overly-energetic rant over. :)
15 College Tips
- Don’t be afraid to go to the dining hall even if you’re not going with someone. Make new friends! It’s really easy at WAC :).
- Get to know your professors. They are experts in their field and they know A LOT of people. People that could possibly get you internships or jobs in the future. Or flat out money…
- Don’t half ass your work. I don’t we’re all pressed for time, but you will get so much more out of your college experience if you really put 100% into every assignment. Ok maybe not every assignment, but the big ones. Be proud of the work you put out.
- Skipping a reading here and there is ok. When it comes down to you want to make memories in college not just get to know the library. Although you may be thinking #3 and 4 contradict, they don’t. I’m talking about little reading assignments here, which yes are great if you have the time to read them, but sometimes professors’ expectations are a little ridiculous so you shouldn’t stress yourself out over a chapter here or there.
- Never settle for anything less than you deserve. This can be applied to some many parts of the college experience, so I’m just going to leave this up for interpretation.
- Limit how often you go home. For some this isn’t a problem because you live so far away, but for me at least I really had to be careful with how much I went home. If you go home every weekend you’re really missing a huge chunk of college - in fact you’re missing the fun part!
- Take advantage of free stuff - WAC has so much free stuff to offer whether it’s kayaking on the Chester River or a shuttle to the Annapolis mall or just a concert! Participate in these things so that the college will continue offering them.
- Go downtown. Washington College is not all that Chestertown has to offer. There’s some great shops and restaurants, not to mention the waterfront. Whenever I go downtown I’m instantly in a better mood - I highly recommend it.
- Finish your distribution classes first. Learn from my mistakes and get those out of the way. I’m struggling to get into some honor societies, like Cater Society, now because I’m still finishing up my distribution. Your major classes can wait, get those horrible math classes out of the way first.
- Travel abroad. At least once, preferably more. Experiences abroad have changed my life for the better and now I just never want to stop traveling.
- Reach out to younger students or even prospective students. It feels really great to help my residents in whatever they may need around campus as well as reaching out prospective students and helping them guide their college search. It’s just a great way to help WAC stay wonderful.
- Do your homework in Hodson instead of the library. As long as you have nothing pressing try doing your homework in a more public place! I’ve found that it’s a great way to just say a quick hello to passing by people and you’ll be more involved with your friends’ lives by doing this. For example if you were hiding away in a library cubicle you probably wouldn’t see anyone, but if you’re in Hodson someone walks by and sees you and then invites you to come to a party that weekend or to DC. It’s just a great way to be more involved with minimal effort. Plus it’s a great location - near all the food.
- Go to sports games! I wish a did this more because a lot of the teams have being doing really well and it’s a great way to hang out with people. Plus it’s free!
- Join a gazillion clubs.
- Have fun and make your own list of rules to live by. These are just my experiences but everyone is going to feel different so remember that.
On Saturday I went to DC to go to the Newseum, which is definitely the best (and my favorite) museum I’ve ever gone to. It’s all about journalism and media’s influence on the world. So cool. There’s still so much I didn’t get to see so I want to go back like next weekend.
I love how close WAC is to DC! The closest metro is only an hour away (90 minutes with traffic) and then from there you can get to the national mall in 30 minutes - plus metros are more fun than driving! You can read books and not worry about horrible city drivers, etc etc. The best part about WAC’s location is that they offer a shuttle to the metro station every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! And get ready for the best part about that ——- it’s free! Yup, it’s free. Future students pay attention to this! The shuttle goes to Annapolis Mall, the DC metro, and BWI airport (before and after breaks). It’s great and there’s usually not too much hassle reserving seats.
I had a great time in DC because truly I’m a city girl at heart so I get restless in rural Chestertown. I can’t wait to go back.
Just a tip…
For me having a campus job was one of those necessities, because of my finances and travel plans, but I consider myself lucky for having the opportunity to work so many jobs. I presently have six campus jobs - this, Safe Ride, RA, Phonathon, tour guide at Customs House and writing for The Elm plus my off-campus job as an assistant manager at A Storage Depot.
What’s great about having so many jobs is that’s six times the connections. I have gotten to know so many people and they have gotten to know me - they’ve all seen my excellent work ethic and now I have at least six new references. Having seven part time jobs (six on campus), although, takes a lot of planning and it’s pretty much impossible if you’re disorganized. The first thing to remember is that with more jobs means the less involved you can be in clubs so that is a downside. The second thing to remember is not to stretch yourself too thin, make sure you still have one day to relax a week because you’ll need that time to get caught up. Finally chose your jobs wisely. Say one job requires you more or less to sit there waiting for customers that rarely come - DO THAT. That provides you a paid study hall where you gain connections and get your homework done at the same time.
I’ve really enjoyed most of my jobs, but remember to quit if they’re really not working out. People are really understanding about college student’s crazy schedule with homework, clubs, eating, sleeping, other jobs, etc. They know it can be a lot and they are understanding.
Something I highly recommend is becoming an RA and/or working for Safe Ride because both of them the work you do on the weekends at night. Although it means I have to give up a couple nights a month of when I could be going to a party, it’s worth it. Safe Ride pays $10 an hour and it’s a generally fun job! With my RA position it doesn’t pay spectacularly, but I have made some of the most awesome friends through it.
Even if you really don’t have to work, work anyway! You’ll make awesome connections, have some nice spending money, and maybe even get paid to do your homework!
Getting Back Into The Swing of Things
Coming back after a long break is a struggle. My brain feels like silly putty after a day of classes - four in a row as a matter of fact. I walked into my class of the day, Statistics, and usually I nail it in there thanks to high school AP Stat, but today I instantly wanted to run back out.
It could also have to do with the fact that my other blog - my travel blog that I’m developing to hopefully have an income through by the time I study abroad in a year - is really taking off. It feels like a full-time job with all the things I’m doing for it: creating a twitter, a different tumblr, a new gmail email address, Facebook page, everything… it’s a lot to handle on a full class schedule.
Anyways back to math. It sucks. Although statistics is my favorite math thus far it’s still rough especially when I haven’t done it in so long. Usually I’m one to raise my hand often and confidently for all the answers, today I was raising it for all the questions. Derp.