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Overcoming A “Fear” of the Texas State Round Rock Writing Center

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By Chris Muse, Writing Center Coordinator

What is the Writing Center?  To summarize, it is a service of trained tutors that provide individual counseling in writing for Texas State students at any level of study.

This includes help with: essays, technical writing, research papers, formal letters, in-class essay exams, MLA/APA documentation, professional writing, and resumes. We also tutor for the GSP.  Overall, the Writing Center is a beneficial place to learn how to improve and even sharpen writing skills. However, there are students that still have reservations about the Writing Center.  Typically, there is the false impression that students will be judged for their writing and tutors will single out any or all “mistakes” in an insensitive manner.  But this perception could not be further from the truth.

In the Writing Center, tutors realize that students are reluctant to share their written work.  For example, I had a session last week with a student who was experiencing her first semester of college after taking a twenty-eight year break from pursuing a degree in nursing.  At first, I noticed she was nervous about letting me read her paper.  I told my client that I would not ridicule her in any way and am only here to provide support.  Also, I informed her on how the Writing Center is a safe place because we offer a service that specializes in developing writing skills without judgment.  After our brief counseling session, she opened a folder and handed me her paper.  Moreover, students will find that tutors are not abrasive in their teaching styles and take the time to calmly address any issue.

To conclude, the purpose of the Writing Center is not to emotionally scar students.  Rather, it is a resource on campus that is available to use if a student is interested in learning how to strengthen aspects of his/her writing.  Tutors will instruct students on how to brainstorm for a topic, form an outline, implement sources, and organize the paper effectively.  Of course, any major concerns the student has will be addressed first.  Quite simply, we are here to help.

The Writing Center is located in Avery 203. Spring 2012 hours are Monday-Wednesday from 1-8 p.m. and  Thursday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. E-mail cm1913@txstate.edu or stop by to make an appointment.

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QR Codes on campus

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Round Rock homepage QR Code. Scan to go to our website.

By Jael Perales and Kristen McLaughlin

Social media has been a major topic of interest in the Austin/Round Rock area, especially with the annual South By Southwest Interactive Conference being held in Austin during Spring Break. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and QR Codes are among the many outlets being used and discussed.  As a university in one of the fastest growing areas with a tech savvy customer base, we are striving to implement new social media outlets at Texas State University Round Rock Campus.

This past week, we began using QR codes on the plasma screens that you see around campus. If you have a moment, please scan the QR codes to link to our social media.

QR codes are bar codes redesigned to increase the amount of information that can be stored on them. Whereas your standard bar code is 1D (i.e. it can only store information from left to right), a QR code is considered to be 2D because it stores information and can be scanned both from left to right and from top to bottom.

QR codes were first created to be used by Japanese auto makers to keep track of vehicles as they were being manufactured. However, the potential use of the codes made them ideal for marketing and promotion, and since the individuals holding the patents on QR codes agreed to allow people to create and use them free of charge, they have quickly been put to use all over the world. QR codes are like hyperlinks for the physical world, removing the need to have a computer in front of you in order to use a hyperlink. In fact, QR codes don’t have to be digital. You can print them out or even iron one onto a t-shirt and become a walking hyperlink! And no more grabbing a pen and paper to write down hyperlinks either, because QR scanner apps have been developed and can be downloaded for free to your mobile device. QRafter is a popular choice for iPhones, QR Pal and QR Droid are good choices for Android devices, and Kaywa Reader is useful for many phone varieties as well.

The QR codes you can now see on the Social Media slide displayed on the plasma screens throughout the Avery Building were developed through Microsoft Tag. They are simple and easy to make, and Microsoft Tag will allow you to make both QR codes and their own brand of codes called Tags. Tags are more customizable than QR codes as far as visual design, but the way they function is essentially the same. Microsoft Tag also provides a scanner that can read QR codes and Tags.

You can try making QR codes yourself. Create an account with Microsoft Tag or, if you just want to make one now without setting up an account, try QR Stuff. You can use them to promote your Facebook page by creating a code with the link to your page, or you can even create a hidden word scavenger hunt by using QR codes to store text instead of hyperlinks. The uses for QR codes are many, and the only limitation currently is your own imagination.

Since you are reading this post, you are obviously aware that we have recently started a blog. The blog is produced using WordPress, but there are other websites available (e.g. blogger) for those who are interested in starting a blog. Through the blog, we hope to keep students, faculty and staff updated about the university and also attract the attention of prospective students.

Students are definitely not strangers to social media. This past week, Texas State students had the chance to cover South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin through various media outlets. Shannon Delaney wrote a blog two weeks ago about this amazing opportunity.

Social media has been impacting universities and, many times, it is not even the employees who are starting the conversation. While reading a CNN article, I found a perfect example of college students driving social media about the university. The story was about Lucie Fink, a prospective student who was accepted to John Hopkins University. Wanting to get a student perspective about the university, she looked to social media. After reading the comments, she started her own social media site, Hopkins Interactive.

This is just one example of social media success at a university. Texas State University-San Marcos recently won a social media award from the Austin American-Statesman. They also have a blog, Twitter and Facebook as well as other outlets. We would like to get your input about our social media efforts and ideas you would like to see implemented. Please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our blog. E-mail km1745@txstate.edu or jp1642@txstate.edu for more information.

Bobcat Day: Find out what it means to be a “Round Rock Bobcat”

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By Kristen McLaughlinBoko

What is the Texas State University Round Rock Campus and why should you attend? These are questions prospective students can find answers to at Bobcat Day on March 31 from 10 a.m. – noon.

Whether you are a student in graduate school, community college, high school or a full-time professional, Bobcat Day is an event you can attend for more information to consider about the campus.  A major purpose of Bobcat Day is to clarify what the Texas State University Round Rock Campus is and what programs are offered.

“A lot of people don’t understand we are an extension of Texas State and we have full service here,” Transfer and Graduate Coordinator Karen Ripley said.

Texas State University Round Rock offers junior and senior level courses within 10 bachelor’s degree programs as well as 11 master’s programs. The campus offers primarily night classes, but also has some daytime offerings. Students who complete their degree requirements at Texas State University Round Rock Campus receive their degree from Texas State University-San Marcos.

A large focus is placed on the transfer student, whether they are transferring from the San Marcos campus for location purposes or from a community college. In an effort to make it an easy transition, the Round Rock Campus is partners with Austin Community College. Staff members work with the students to ensure that they are taking all of the right classes. Bobcat Day is tailored to the transfer student and students who are returning to school after a break, although Ripley said high school is not too early to start planning and attend Bobcat Day.

What else is offered at Bobcat Day? The main objective for Bobcat Day is to assist prospective students. The prospective Bobcats will be able to meet with financial aid representatives, discuss degree plans, speak with financial aid, and preview the resources on campus.

“All of the Texas State Representatives I met were extremely helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. You can see their passion in helping students succeed. It’s refreshing,” said Alysia Sanchez, a prospective student who has attended Bobcat Day.

In addition to getting some helpful information, students have the option of touring the beautiful campus. Although it is free, you must RSVP for Bobcat Day.

“From my point of view, Bobcat Day is such a great opportunity to meet prospective Bobcats and formulate a lasting relationship that follows through application, admittance, orientation, and eventually graduation,” Ripley said.

SXSW Interactive for Free: One Texas State Class gets the Opportunity of a Lifetime

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SXSW Interactive 2011 - Austin, TX

SXSW Interactive 2011 - Austin, TX (Photo credit: kk+)

By Shannon Delaney

Getting the chance to attend SXSW for free is almost unimaginable, right?  This may be true for most, but Cindy Royal’s Advanced Online Media graduate class has gotten the opportunity to attend SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) for free.

For the past five years, Royal has taken hands-on learning to a whole new level, as students have been able to cover SXSWi for the class blog, sxtxstate.com.  For those who don’t know, SXSWi is an amazing learning and networking opportunity, as it unites journalism, technology and social media professionals at the top of their various fields.  People come to Austin from all over the world to present on panels, and registrants get to choose from over 5,000 panels and events covering topics from data visualization in journalism to sports media.  There is literally something for everyone.  Interested in fashion?  Music?  Film?  There are panels and events for you.

The 19th SXSWi will be held March 9-13 in and around the convention center in downtown Austin.  Not only is the festival an opportunity to see cutting edge presentations, but there are also various events showcasing the latest in new media, journalism and tech, as well as hands-on trainings and networking parties.  These Texas State students get to experience these events alongside these professionals. Each student in Royal’s class will attend SXSWi for two days.  During their time at the festival, students will post blogs about each panel they attend, video interviews with panelists and attendees, photos of various events and so much more.  The goal is to capture the essence and breadth of SXSWi.

This project requires quite a bit of prep work.  Students have been conducting previews of panels for several months in preparation for the event.  Previews allow readers more insight into a panel, including short interviews with the panelists themselves.  In completing my previews for the blog, I have interviewed some interesting professionals in the world of sports media, fashion and journalism, including talking with The New York Times Interactive Editor Aron Pilhofer.  Additionally, the blog also gives weekly news updates of companies who will be at SXSWi and top five panels from various SXSWi tracks, including sports, gaming and non-profits.

Speaking of Aron Pilhofer, he will be at Texas State University-San Marcos on Thursday, March 8, where he will conduct a workshop with graduate students during the day. That evening, Pilhofer will speak about the state of data journalism from 6:30-8 p.m. in Old Main, room 232.  This event is open to all students.  For more information, visit the Advanced Online Media website.

The following day, the craziness really begins, as the Advanced Online Media students will begin covering the full SXSWi experience.  Stay tuned to the class blog throughout SXSWi for updated Interactive coverage, including panel posts, video interviews and photos.

While most events require a pass to attend, the festival includes a few free events, including Screenburn, a video game arcade at the Palmer Events Center.  For a list of all free interactive events, please click here.

Shannon Delaney is a graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Judy Oskam at the Texas State University Round Rock Campus. She has taken classes at both Texas State campuses and will graduate in May.

Mid-terms, projects and papers, oh my!

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English: Students need sleep in order to study.

Image via Wikipedia

How to alleviate stress during midterms

By Kristen McLaughlin

For all of the diligent students stressing out over the challenges that the middle of the semester presents, there is hope.

Resources are available at Texas State University Round Rock Campus to help students make it through with success. Some of these include the Writing Center, the RRC library, the Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC) and activities to take a break from the stress of it all.

SLAC is offering a test preparation and test taking strategy session today (March 1) from 5:15-6:15 p.m. in Avery, 419. If you want to take a break from academic writing and learn how to write creatively, the Writing Center  is also hosting a Creative Writing Workshop March 6, April 10, and April 12 from 5:15-6:15 p.m. in Avery, 419. The Writing Center is located in Avery, room 202, and offers a variety of resources to students at Texas State RRC.

Overall, this type of writing can be a stress reliever, as the writer has the freedom to write about anything rather than on a specified topic,” Writing Center Coordinator Chris Muse said.

When it comes to midterms and getting through the semester, Muse said the key is to relieve stress as much as possible.

“Midterms can be rather stressful and the best advice I can give to students is to remember that these mid-year assignments are only as stressful as we make them,” Muse said. “The reason why this time of the year can be so overwhelming is usually a result from how we allow the stress to take control.  Mainly, this originates from having to cut study time in half as students are required to devote their focus to more than one subject.”

Muse has two key tips that can help students get through midterms:

  • Tip #1-Don’t Procrastinate. One effective method that helps alleviate stress is to organize the amount of work the students have for each midterm.  Here’s how to do that: try not to wait until the last minute.  Procrastination is a key factor of stress and only intensifies as time expires.  Make note cards NOW, review class notes NOW, and begin research for a paper NOW!  The information the professor adds in lecture from this point on should be implemented into daily study sessions that lead up to the exam. Students who wait to study ALL of their notes instead of breaking it in 1-2 hour review sessions every day result in “all night cram sessions.”  This type of “studying” is more harmful than it is beneficial, as students tend to rely on this method more often than they should.
  • Tip #2-Take care of yourself and make time to do what you enjoy. Another piece of advice I have for students is to remember to take time off from studying.  Make time for exercise, community events, sleep and nutrition!  Junk food and caffeinated drinks are wise to avoid a few days prior to the exam day.  This type of eating will take a physical toll on your mental stamina. Remember, if the body is deprived, then the mind will be less focused and alert.

And don’t forget Spring Break is just around the corner! Spring break is March 10-18, a nice deserving break for students! It is also a good time to catch up on school work without the stress of class. For more information about Texas State RRC and resources available, visit http://www.rrc.txstate.edu.