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Opinion

Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)

Are Cars Still Made in America?

2011-Ford-Explorer-Redesigned-PictureMade in America. With the amount of trade we do with countries like China, Japan and some European nations, that's a slogan we seldom hear nowadays. From t-shirts to electronics, most everything Americans use is imported.

The New York International Auto Show finishing up this past weekend got me thinking that while there are still certain cars that are built in the U.S, the auto industry here is a little bit backwards from what it used to be 40 years ago.

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, brands like Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Chrysler and Dodge were all quintessentially American nameplates and they were all produced in the aptly named "Motor City."

But today, many of these brands are built overseas rather than here in the states. Yes, General Motors builds the Corvette in Bowling Green, K.Y, but it also produces the new Chevy SS in Australia, the Chevy Sonic is built in Korea on the same chassis as its sister, the Daewoo Aveo and Buick is now one of the top selling car brands in China.

Meanwhile, Chrysler is now owned by Fiat, with the company producing the 2015 Jeep Renegade in Italy on the Fiat 500L platform and the Dodge Dart on the same chassis as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and while Ford still boasts different plants in Michigan, Ohio and upstate New York, they have always built their popular Fusion model in Mexico. They only added another assembly facility in Flat Rock, MI in August of 2013 to keep up with demand.

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MU Welcomes Rush Holt

HOLTPresident Paul Brown announced on April 25 that Congressman Rush D. Holt, Jr. of New Jersey's 12th District will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Spring Commencement. More than 1,000 graduating students will participate in the ceremony which will be held on Wednesday, May 21, at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ.

Congressman Holt, a five-time "Jeopardy" champion who holds a Ph.D. in Physics and a patent for a solar energy device, has represented central New Jersey since 1999. Representative Holt serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources developing long-term strategies to decrease dependence on fossil fuels.

"Representative Holt is an ideal choice to receive an honorary doctorate of Science from Monmouth University," President Brown said. "He has consistently pushed for more money for scientific research and better science education," he added. Dr. Brown also noted that Monmouth has made a strong commitment to strengthen the University's science programs and facilities, including a significant $40 million renovation of the School of Science buildings.

The New York Times describes Holt as Congress's chief advocate for scientific research over his eight terms. He has been honored as the Biotech Legislator of the Year and with The Science Coalition's Champion of Science award. Scientific-American magazine has also named Holt one of the 50 national "visionaries" contributing to "a brighter technological future."

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The Benefits of Stressful Times

The end of the semester is approaching fast. I have essay upon essay due, group project after group project coming to a close and the stress is almost becoming unbearable.

As I sit here in self-loathing for all the procrastinating I have done, I wanted to remind myself why the stress of school is not that bad.

First off, being stressed over college assignments means that I am in school. There are plenty of people who cannot afford to go to school.

If I were to so much as complain to them that I have a paper to write they might laugh in my face. I try to breath each stressful breath deep and know that somewhere out there, someone is jealous of the paper I have due on consumerism in America.

Not only are people jealous that I am stressed from school because I can afford to attend, there are also graduates who lust for the days when the most stressful aspect of their life was a group project.

Right now all the finals looming in the back of my mind seem to be the end of the world, but in reality when I am sitting in some am to 5 pm job, I will be wishing for these days. I have to remember to enjoy the easy stress that comes with college.

I also like to try to remind myself how boring my life would be without all this stress. Think about it; if you take college out, and the stress of papers, tests, and assignments due, life becomes pretty blasé.

Yes, it's enjoyable for a couple months (i.e. why we need summer vacation) but by the end of the summer I am always itching to get back to school. Stress at times can feel daunting, but I'd much rather have this stress then go through a very simple, boring life.

I tried to find one more reason to revel in the stress as I watched the clock tick closer and closer to my group project's due date. So I took to the internet and found that stress can actually help boost our immune systems. The more stress we incur the better we are able to cope with stress.

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A Letter from Vice President Nagy

Dear Monmouth Students,

On Sunday, May 4, 2014 from 12 pm to 6 pm the Student Government Association and the Student Activities Board will host the annual program Springfest on the Shadow Lawn (rain site: the MAC). We would also like to recognize the Greek Senate, the Residence Hall Association and the Student Alumni Association respectively for their generous contributions this year. The day will include live music, carnival food, Aramark BBQ, festival games and giveaways.

Springfest 2014 will have everything you need and it should be a great way for us all to celebrate the end of another year at Monmouth University. While your attendance at Springfest is a key part of what continues to make this event so popular, it is also important that you remember to practice common sense and good decision making before, during, and after the festival. Your respect for the rules and regulations of the University and your willingness to take care of one another are all essential elements to the success of this day. Therefore, I ask that you spend a few moments reviewing the following guidelines that will be in effect for Springfest 2014.

1. Alcohol, pets/animals, open-containers, squeeze bottles, bags, backpacks, and/or similar items WILL NOT BE PERMITTED. Any student/guest that attempts to bring the above listed items to the event will be asked to leave the festival area.

2. Springfest is a closed event for only Monmouth students and their immediate guests. Monmouth students/their guests must have valid University/photo ID on their person and be prepared to show to event security or MUPD upon request.

3. Students living in any of the on-campus housing units are not permitted to host a social gathering during or after Springfest, which occurs on Sunday, May 4. Students that wish to hold a party on Saturday, May 3 must complete the Office of Residential Life's Social Affairs/Policy Application by Thursday, May 1, 2014 by 3 pm.

4. Parking in the Great Lawn and Garden Apartment Lots will be strictly enforced on May 4. If you plan to drive to campus for the festival and do not have a valid parking sticker for the Garden or Great Lawn parking lots, you MUST park in the Commuter parking lot by the Student Center. No exceptions permitted. Students should enter the campus from the Larchwood Avenue entrance.

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Speak Up Against Violence

Everyone has a voice, everyone has the ability to speak up, and absolutely everyone has the right to yell for help, but how many actually do either one?

Once upon a time, female abuse was in all types of media and headlines. It was an issue no one refused to be quiet about. However, as time has gone by, awareness on abuse against women has decreased.

When was the last time you heard about a domestic violence incident or read an article on trying to bring awareness to the issue?

That's exactly my point. I would like to take a moment to remind us all of one of the major crimes that unfortunately takes place daily. The mere fact that we are blindfolded and cannot see it does not stop the abuse from occurring.

As I began to write this article, I was thinking to myself, "maybe the reason female abuse is not spoken or heard of as often anymore is because it does not happen as often," but as I did my research I quickly confirmed I was wrong.

According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Can you imagine that?

I personally have three younger sisters, so we are a total of four women. Statistically, one of us is bound to experience domestic violence. When I think of it that way, I cannot help but freak out a bit.

When we relate statistics to our everyday lives, it hits harder and the crime no longer seems like such a stranger.

The National Coalition against Domestic Violence also reports that 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.

That means women are the target of more than three-fourths of all domestic violence cases ever reported (we can only imagine how much larger that number is if unreported cases were taken into consideration).

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The Shock Value of Cursing

If I was to begin this article with curse word after curse word, I'm not sure it would phase a lot of people. Cursing has almost become the norm on television shows, especially reality shows, and with that, it has become the norm in our society. Curse words are practically used as adjectives in today's vocabulary.

Most people know where it is inappropriate to curse, but the lines have been blurred for the rest. People curse all the time, anywhere that they deem to be appropriate now. I'm not sure why this has happened, but in everyday settings, the shock value of cursing is basically gone.

Even though reality television is all scripted, there is some reality in what people say on those shows. The dialogue between characters on reality television is one curse word after the next. From that, we are learning to see curse words being freely used, making cursing seem like it is the norm.

Not everyone curses, there are people that don't utter a curse ever.

Today people do not even bat an eyelash at someone having a sailor mouth. When people curse now in public and in general, no one really turns their head in disgust and shock anymore. For a lot of people certain curse words have become adjectives, verbs, and nouns all in one. They keep them at disposal for putting emphasis on any emotion.

At this point, curse words can help describe someone being angry, happy, sad, and excited. They can accompany any emotion someone is talking about and typically do.

I've heard people drop every curse word in the book and honestly, none of them surprise me anymore. Even the worst ones aren't even a big deal to say anymore in everyday conversations.

I think that's really sad. I curse too, I'm also at fault for making this the norm and I'm trying to stop. I've been cursing less lately and for a while I had to stop myself from cursing, but lately it's been much easier.

It's not hard to stop cursing, and I'm probably not going to make an impact on other people, but now I probably won't drop a bad word in an inappropriate setting. It will be easier for me now to conduct myself like an adult in a work environment and other places that are inappropriate to use that language in.

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The Struggles of Internships

I hate internships. There I said it. That being said I have one.

It wasn't really a voluntary choice, unfortunately though, it has been drilled into everyone's head that goes to an institution of higher learning that interning will either make you or break you.

"You won't even stand a chance of getting a job without any internship experience," they say. "You'll be stuck at McDonalds with a bachelor's degree all because you just didn't take the time to get some field experience in your job," they hiss. Legend even has it that internships might even be more important than your college degree...just kidding. But the way that some people adamantly vouch for it makes me believe that it is.

It seems like a lot to ask full time students who have jobs, extracurricular activities, family responsibilities, papers, tests, allergies, romances, one night stands, a partridge and a pear tree to deal with, but somehow through the magic of the universe students are able to squeeze 120 hours of their time into completing an, often, unpaid internship.

That is unless you're a psychology major, then it's all just a mere 60 hours, or if you made the choice of criminal justice then it's a nice relaxing 80 hours.

Now I do not have anything bad to say about my current internship, in fact the people I work with, or rather for, are very nice and pleasant to be around.

However, I don't see why in eyes of the University, the job market and prospective employers, how an internship should be the end all, be all in foretelling my success in an entry-level position once I graduate.

Even more so, you cannot ignore the fact that interning is seen as the norm and required by most majors as an "EX ED" requirement in order to graduate.

I mean that is unless you decide to study abroad, but again you're going to be spending a lot of cash money just to satisfy a requirement which, in a very confusing turn of events, is a required course that is zero credits on your academic audit. Don't ask me why, I don't know.

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A Letter to the Editor

I wanted to take the time to acknowledge the assistance of a group of "Good Samaritan" students who came to the assistance of a motorcyclist who was struck by an automobile last week. On April 17, 2014 at 8:07 PM, a motorcyclist had stopped at the red light just outside the entrance to the North campus. The vehicle behind the cyclist was unable to stop and struck the back of the motorcycle injuring the cyclist.

Upon hearing the crash, a group of MU students, some of them volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's), immediately came to the aid of the injured party. They began to render first aid and secure the scene until the University Police, West Long Branch Police and First Aid responded and took over. The individuals involved were Bradley Rubin, Christopher Tappan and Andrew Ruckriegel.

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There’s No Room for Fair-Weather Fans in Baseball

1986-ws-celebrationBaseball has long been known as "America's pastime." While football is arguably the most popular sport in the country today, there is still a certain romantic aspect of baseball that other sports can't match.

There's something special about showing up to watch a game, smelling the fresh cut grass and hearing the crack of the bat and the pop when the ball hits the catcher's mitt.

The other great thing about baseball is that come opening day, hope springs eternal for every fan that their team will make it to the World Series.

There simply isn't any room for fair-weather fans in baseball. Speaking as a fan of the lowly New York Mets, whose last playoff appearance was in the 2006 National League Championship Series, you need to stick with your team because you never know what can happen.

The hope is there for bigger and better things because, like Mets pitcher Tug McGraw shouted in a team meeting back in 1973, "Ya gotta believe!" Those three words have been a rallying cry for the team ever since.

Being only 23-years-old, I wasn't around to see the Mets in their glory days.

I've only heard about and seen highlights of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

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Striving For the Perfect Grades

perfect_gradesWhy is it that a simple letter from the alphabet determines our whole future? Why is it that a single letter has the power to make us or break us within the split of a second?

Always having been a straight A student, I never realized how much of an impact grades have on a person's life. My whole life, it was just the normal thing to receive A's because of how I was raised.

When I was a young girl, receiving 80s were bad in my mom's book and a 95 on an exam triggered the question, "What happened to the other 5 points?"

Looking back at my childhood, yes grades have always meant a great deal to my mom, but because it was drilled into me at such a young age, I never gave it much thought until I reached college.

I came into college and immediately proclaimed myself a chemistry major and soon enough began to feel the pressure. I thought college would be like high school.

I would be able to keep doing exactly what I always had and would get the A's I have always been used to getting. You can guess that is not what happened at all.

Growing up I never had to study or try too hard. Whatever I learned at a lesson just stuck and when the exam came I just knew it.

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A Line Should Be Drawn Where it’s Totes Not a Good Idea to Use this Cray Lingo Anymore

"That's cray!" "No way, that's totes ridic!" Any of this sound familiar? Unless you live under a huge rock, you have probably heard every single one of these phrases, or at least one out of the two.

These slang terms are what our daily communication consists of. Our generation has reached the point where the difference between slang and proper English grammar is often confused and forgotten.

Certain slang words, such as twerking, thank Miley Cyrus who actually did not even create the word, for that one has even reached the Merram Webster dictionary

So what is it exactly about these words and phrases that make them so catchy? Where did they even originate from? When is it no longer okay to keep them in our vocabulary?

Is society really that lazy and laid back that full words are no longer acceptable when holding face-to-face conversation?

Today slang is often viewed negatively. Although throughout the years slang words have flip flopped between being used by criminals and poets.

The first "slang" first emerged during the 18th century when any word not used in Britain was considered slang, and for a while, until the 1900s when writers began to incorporate slang into their art, it was considered the language of foreigners and criminals.

Each decade has its own set of slang words that emerge and eventually they become part of the following generations normal language.

For instance, did you know that gross which is constantly used today as a synonym for disgusting, was first introduced to the English language as slang in the 1970s?

Did you also know that the term bread, often used by today's generation when referring to money, has been around since the 1960s? How about the word bad; I have to admit, I still get confused when someone means it positively and when they use it for its true meaning.

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Cell Phones in Class?

Remember the days when cell phones were rare and "technology" was only a word used in fancy presentations? Remember the days when going to computer class was the coolest thing because at home there was no such thing?

At least I do and it still shocks me how within a decade all that changed. I still remember when I was eight years old and my mom got her first cell phone, never in a million years would I have thought that I'd have my own before the age of 16.

Now, my phone is my best friend (well not really, but I do rely on it more than I'd like to). My cell phone is constantly being put to use with anything that goes on in my daily life from Googling places to eat, fun things to do, or looking up the questions to last night's homework.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who relies so much on an object to run their lives; hence the good old "no cell phones in class" rule.

Apparently, however, high schools are now thinking of lifting that rule and allowing kids to use cell phones in class to surf the web for discussions in class, use the calculator and so forth. Is this really a good idea though?

In my opinion it isn't. We all know that kids cannot multitask. At a high school level, kids are still immature and developing. Being allowed to use a cellphone in class would take away from the little attention span teachers are already struggling to receive from their students.

If I was in a high school where it was allowed to take my phone out to "research" you can be sure that's the last thing I'll be doing. Don't get me wrong, I was a good student, top of my class and all, but electronic devices are just too distracting, especially the smart phones they keep coming out with.

Just the other day I pulled out my phone to read an e-text in class and within a few minutes I found myself reading my friends' captions on Instagram totally not what I was supposed to be doing. If I did that as a junior in college, just imagine a junior in high school.

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Summer Travels

The semester is almost over and summer is right around the corner. Soon we will all have three whole months to ourselves, and what we choose to do with all of that time is in our hands.

The average student's college schedule is jam-packed. A typical day is usually filled with responsibilities from the time their alarm goes off until the time their head hits the pillow many hours later. So three months away from the college lifestyle can truly seem like an eternity.

For some, it may even by somewhat hard to adjust to the endless possibilities regarding what to do their time. So this summer, why not make the most of the precious few months we are given and try something new?

Sleeping in every day, relaxing, and lounging around the pool all day sounds good (and very appealing) however traveling, learning something new or trying things you have never done before may turn out to be even better.

For some of us, this may be the last summer we have left of college, and for the rest, they are still limited. Soon enough summer may lose its magic; many will be forced to trade fun week nights with friends for early bed times and sitting on a beach with their toes in the sand each day for an office and computer screen.

I believe we should make the best of summer while we still can. Now is the time to be spontaneous, daring or adventurous. Have you always wanted to take a road trip to a desirable destination, join that weekly yoga class and develop a new hobby, or maybe volunteer your time to do something you love? Use the summer as your opportunity to do so.

I think that summer is a time to reward yourself for all of the hard work you do the rest of the year, there is plenty of time to be serious, responsible and reserved then; the summer is for you.

Just because you are having fun and trying new things does not mean you can't still be doing things your future self will thank you for. By taking the plunge this summer, you would be expanding your horizons as well as broadening your experience and knowledge.

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“Apple Only Please!”

Before-AppleIPhone vs. Android, iPad vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Mac vs. PC: the modern technology battles. These competitions between technology brands and users will always exist. I am sure each of us has our personal preference and is bound to be extremely loyal to one brand or the other.

It seems that there isn't a person in the universe who is not taking a side. Some prefer PCs, the Microsoft operating system and everything that goes along with them.

On the other hand, there are die hard Apple fans who will never use anything ,but I happen to be someone who is very pro-Apple.

While all technological products are significant today, for students, the most important is probably a laptop or computer.

Computers are serious business; we use them to watch movies, store music and photos, network with friends and family, research, write an endless amount of papers; create portfolios, power points and other projects. Let's admit it, we would probably all be a little lost without them.

That is why the decision to purchase a certain brand computer or laptop has become a very important investment.

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Don’t Forget Your College Firsts (the Good and the Bad)

In life you come across a lot of firsts. There's your first kiss; your first car; your first day of preschool. They are influential moments that happen all the time.

Usually in the moment when you know it's the first time for something, you catalog the feelings of that first in your memory. But along with the obvious firsts you are aware of, there are also a lot of firsts that happen and you may not even realize it.

This is especially true in the love department. There is your first relationship; your first college hook-up and your first serious break up.

These significant moments happen to all of us and when it happens, you may not realize it but it could be the last first of its kind.

As we rush through these four years of college and head toward the mystery of the unknown that is the real world, it is important to take into account some of the less obvious firsts that you experience on the turbulent road to accepting that college degree.

Such as the first time you realize love should come freely without trying. There comes a point in one's adulthood where you just become fed up with the games, lies and unanswered texts. You like him or her and you just want it to be that simple.

We are all aware that we are considered the hook-up generation and honestly it is just exhausting.

So at one point, after that fifth unanswered text or constant feeling of disappointment, for the first time, we realize we should stop trying to find love.

There is no need to rush or settle for anyone just to have someone in your life. When the timing is right, you will find that other person you are meant to be with.

In the mean time, there are more important things to worry about and focus on than finding that special someone.

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Commission On Higher Education Honors University EOF Seniors

Every year The New Jersey Commission on Higher Education honors Educational Opportunity Fund Program graduating seniors for their academic achievement.

This year 19 Monmouth University Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) seniors will be recognized. EOF is a state funded program which awards scholarships to NJ students who fit financial and academic criteria. Graduating EOF students from New Jersey Colleges and Universities were chosen according to their high cumulative grade point average and overall academic perseverance.

The three categories the students were honored in are the following: Outstanding Academic Achievement 3.5-3.99 cumulative grade point average, Academic Achievement Award 3.2-3.4 cumulative grade point average and Outstanding Achievement awarded to the senior who best exemplifies the spirit and intent of the EOF Program. A Recognition Ceremony to honor the EOF graduates will be held on Friday April 25, 2014 at Georgian Court University.

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The Obsession with Bumper Stickers

Bumper-Sticker-Charlottesville-VA-stick-figure-familyBumper stickers: simple adhesive strips that can be easily attached to any car and enable people to express their opinions on a variety of topics, from religion to politics to sports in just a few sentences.

These days we can determine whether someone loves or hates President Obama, whether someone's child is an honor student, or whether someone else believes their dog is smarter than that honor student. But where did this simple invention get its start? How did something this simple rise to such prominence?

An article from the University of Kansas' website features an interview with Whitney Baker, the associate librarian at the university's libraries. "It's generally accepted that they were developed in the late '40s and early '50s," she said. "Most people attribute the creation of the bumper sticker to a man named Forest P. Gill, who was a screen printer from Kansas City, KS. So I think we can claim the bumper sticker as a Kansas invention."

Through the years, bumper stickers have become much more commonplace in popular culture. They can make us laugh, make us think, make us angry, or make us wonder what the person in front of us was thinking when they put that sticker on his/her car.

These simple strips of vinyl have also spawned several new trends in automotive decals. I think the chief of all bumper stickers has to be the stick figure family.

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Are We Really Listening or Just Hearing?

Whether it is during class, at home, or during an argument, as young adults we are constantly being told to listen and pay attention.

Most of us will automatically respond that we are already listening. However, how many actually realize what is being said to us? Not too many have the ability to acknowledge the difference between hearing and listening.

Hearing is defined as "the faculty or perceiving sound." Listening, on the other hand, is defined as "to give one's attention to a sound." Google could not be any more accurate at describing the two.

As human beings, we do not have the choice of hearing. If we were lucky enough to be born with healthy hearing, we cannot control what sounds make it to our ear drums and which don't. Nevertheless, we do control which of those sounds we recognize and which we do not.

The art of listening is a wonderful one that not all are privileged to have, and those who do, do not always appreciate it. Take listening to music for instance. How many of us can have our day completely flipped because of the lyrics of a song?

Listening gives us the opportunity to relate to life in a sense that is unexplainable even to us. It gives us a chance to express our emotions when words are not enough. Listening also allows us to communicate with one another.

Yes, speech is what gets our point across, but listening is what allows us to communicate and come to an agreement with a second and even third person.

How many times have you had an unresolved argument and walked way angry? Even in the steamiest of arguments, if you just open your ears and listen to the words being spoken to you, an unnecessary nasty confrontation can be avoided.

I must admit, I am quite a stubborn person and I often tend to not listen to what I am being told because I feel like I am always right. Yet, as much as I hate to admit it, when I stop and actually listen, I grasp on to the reality of being wrong.

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Positive Minds Live Positive Lives

In a place where one is constantly stressed, it's hard to maintain a positive outlook, but it's not impossible. Maintaining a positive attitude, even when you're not happy, is key.

It's easy to have something not go your way and just feel like your world is falling apart. In reality what we are stressing over is typically minor and we are just being overly dramatic. It might sound cliché to say, but laughing things off is a genuine method of feeling better about a bad situation. Try to find something funny about whatever you're stressing over.

Take pride in the little things in life. It's the little things in life that have an impact on us without realizing it. Someone holding the door for you isn't always a big deal to some, but when it does happen, be appreciative.

If a stranger smiles at you or says hi or you drive through all the traffic lights without any of them turning red, use it as a boost. Things like that may put a small smile on your face, but those things can turn your day around, even if it's one of your worst days.

If you feel like you don't have a clue what you want to do in your future, have hope. If you have hope that something is going to happen the way you want it to, you have a better chance for it to be that way.

In life, optimism is key. Remaining optimistic is essential to success. If you build your life around your happiness and joy, chances are things will all fall into place.

Life isn't all about feeling sorry for yourself, instead it's about being proud of who you are and what your future holds.

You may hit some rough patches, but just remember that none of it is permanent. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and out of every bad situation comes good.

If you believe you deserve a happy ending, or something good to happen to you, you will get that happy ending; you will get the good news you deserve to hear.

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“All is Fair in Love and War”

An Older Sibling Perspective on Sibling Rivalries

There is nothing in the world that compares to family. For many of us, no one knows, understands or loves us like our siblings and other family members.

However, no matter how much we love them, sometimes there is no one who gets under our skin more than our own family.

Sibling rivalries are a tale as old as time; sisters battling over clothes and shoes, brothers duking it out over a girl or constantly trying to one-up another, and it seems like there's always the annoying elder sibling being way too protective or a younger sibling hiding in a shadow.

As the oldest in a family of three younger brothers, I can relate to many of these struggles. As hard as it may be to admit, sometimes we may just need to cut our siblings some slack.

When we are young, we fight over toys or silly games; who gets to ride shotgun in the car; who wants to watch which channel on television or what type of breakfast everyone wants mom to cook.

Then we grow older and fights occur over more adult issues; someone owes money, someone said something hurtful or does not agree with life decisions that are being made.

As the older sibling especially, it is easy to become very over protective over our younger siblings and develop the mentality of "I know best." However, we may not necessarily always have the answer.

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The Parking Lot is Not Always Greener on the Other Campus

Parking-lotYes, we are all relieved that midterms are over and that means we are just that much closer to summer vacation.

However, that doesn't mean that the rest of the spring semester will be without its aggravating moments. I am speaking of the parking lot situation at MU, that I think I can speak for all of the student body how aggravating and frustrating it truly is.

I know for a fact that one of the biggest annoyances for MU students in recent years has been the poorly orchestrated parking situation on campus.

Finding a spot was always a hassle at this campus. However, now with the current construction of Pozycki Hall, the parking lot is crazier than ever, at all times of the day. With the ongoing construction, several of the parking spots in front of Bey Hall are fenced off and inaccessible.

This means available spaces are even fewer and farther between which, speaking as a commuter who has to show up 30 minutes early for a 1 pm class to fight for an open spot, can get very old, very fast.

Not only are cars following students back to their cars, people are challenging one another on who can pull into the spot first.

This issue has made me very curious to wonder how other schools orchestrate their student parking lots and if the asphalt is any greener on the other campus.

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Is America an Unfriendly Place?

With the world increasing and advancing rapidly, human interaction is constantly a concern.

How humans treat one another is often discussed because it has changed so much from what it used to be and we have become so technologically dependent.

What is at risk is the ability to develop a conversation and have face-to-face communication with another person.

But is this change in interaction, friendliness, and conversation starting a change for everyone or just the citizens of America?

It's hard to call America an acclaimed society for friendliness when there are constant polls being put out for America's most unfriendly places.

Papers like The New York Times, Huffington Post, and the Washington Times have all published polls and articles for the unfriendliest places in America.

But, we have all fallen victim to being badgered for our technology dependence and how it is affecting our daily lives. I would confidently say most people use their preferred technology like tablets, cell phones, or laptops to avoid human interaction. But is this just in America, or everywhere?

One of the most common phrases I hear when discussing this topic is "Europe is so much more friendly, the people there are so nice." Is that really true though?

Europe and the friendliness there is such an assumed topic. For instance, most of the people saying this have never visited Europe.

I myself have had the pleasure to visit multiple European countries, including Greece, Spain, Italy and Switzerland and I have developed my opinions on personal experience.

When it came to the people, they were just as friendly as people I have come across in America. When I said hi they said hello back. When they said hello I said hi back.

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Summer Classes at the Jersey Shore

Isn't it every student's aspiration to get in and out of college with their degree in hand within the standard four or five year time frame? Unfortunately though, many college students struggle with completing their education and required amount of credits in time.

As a student, it is easy for life to get in the way sometimes; with internships, part-time jobs, sports, clubs and organizations, and maybe even a social life (if you are lucky). It is easy to understand why many graduates end up completing their education a little later than expected.

Luckily, there are actions you can take to ensure you graduate on time and even make your life a little easier along the way. One of the feasible steps is to take a summer course at the University.

There are three important reasons that make summer classes at MU worth considering; the flexibility, the price and the location.

MU offers a very flexible schedule for summer courses with a wide array of classes you could choose from.

The perk of taking a summer class is that pesky three credit requirement you simply want to get out of the way can potentially be completed in only four to six weeks rather than in over three months during the fall or spring.

MU offers different sessions with various time spans and months for different courses, making it easy for you to earn those three credits in a shorter period of time and still have the rest of the summer to enjoy. So you can complete the same three credit classes you would during the regular term, with the same professors, but in far less time.

Now if you are wondering "how am I going to pay for it?" you are in luck; MU offers a 15 percent discount on all summer classes. In addition, many students can even use their standard financial aid to cover summer sessions without ever having to pay out of pocket or seek loans from private lenders, which can be a hassle.

The last reason you should consider summer courses as MU is the location of the campus. Summer at the beautiful Jersey Shore; need I say more?

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Alumnus Looks Back on Years at MU

You have good days and you have bad days in life. How many times have you heard that one? Things had been very hectic for me so the mood at the office was frazzled and bleak.

Jarring me from my possible despair, my cell phone rings and it's Chad Dell, the Chair of the Department of Communication. He explained to me the new Alumni Academy and goes on to inform me that I am being inducted. I think my first reaction was shock but then a sense of pride started to seep in.

Dell explained we would have a dinner in which Paul Brown, the new President of the University would be in attendance. Dell informed me I could invite a friend, I immediately called my wife Kerry.

I had the great honor to be inducted with two old friends from the communication department, Alitia Falcone '86 and Haskell Berman '86. I also had the pleasure to meet Mr. Peter Miller '71, an inductee who's known in the Literary Industry as a "Literary Lion."

It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new friends. Dell had tasked each of us to prepare a speech for the attendees. Here I thought it would be a relaxing evening with no pressure. Well we are communication majors and it shouldn't be a surprise that all of the inductees were great. Sorry a bit of bias in that review.

We heard some great stories and fond memories like; Alitia Faccone's story of her first week at the University walking down the steps of Wilson Hall and Peter's audition for "Woody," aka Lauren Woods with a propeller prop in hand.

I shared some of my memories which seemed to have come alive that night as I recalled the great professors who inspired us and my favorite College Center Staff member, Blanche who was the mother of us all on the third floor. She would often visit the radio station or my yearbook office, to make sure we weren't getting into trouble. Blanche would love to say; "I am going to tell John Martin on you!"

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There’s No Such Thing as a Girl’s Sport or a Boy’s Sport

pilaro"Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you." These famous Irving Berlin lyrics are very applicable outside of the musical, "Annie, Get Your Gun" they were written for.

To that point, women's sports have always struggled to garner the same amount of media coverage as men. Whether its women's tennis, golf, soccer or basketball, female athletes have always played second fiddle to their male counterparts.

What about the rare instances where women have entered male sports and vice versa? These situations are few and far in between, but there is an obvious double standard depending on which sex crosses over into which sport.

Take Keeling Pilaro for example. In 2012, he became the second boy to play field hockey at a varsity level. This is because Pilaro was raised in Ireland where field hockey is predominately a men's sport.

A story from 2013 in Newsday said that when he returned to Long Island, Pilaro was allowed to play on the Southampton High School junior varsity team because of Title IX, a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that states, in part, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in...any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance..."

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Everyone Should Leave Barbie Alone

In 1959, Mattel introduced a new toy at the NYC American Toy Fair, Barbie. With blonde hair, red lips, dark eyeliner, and a tiny waist, she was the "it" toy. Barbie has had a 55 year long successful career.

Barbie was first introduced to inspire young girls to be successful in careers of their choice, and not being a housewife. If Barbie could do it, so could you. Barbie had it all; a career, sisters, a hunky boyfriend and friends. When I was growing up, that is what Barbie stood for.

As young girls, we spent hours dressing up Barbie in her bikini, placing her in her hot pink convertible, pretending she was driving to the beaches of Malibu. As a young girl I did not pay attention to the thin body Barbie had, I just wanted to play with her.

Unfortunately, today in our image driven society, people have started to look beyond the true purpose of Barbie. People are associating young girls' body image issues with the infamous doll. Recently, there have been numerous "normal Barbie" campaigns appearing everywhere.

Animator Nickolay Lamm has so much disdain for Barbie that he has created a new doll, named Lammily, to market to young girls as more image friendly. Nickolay claims that girls' expectations of what their bodies look like are severely altered due to the unnatural proportions of Barbie. Although, hundreds upon hundreds of stick thin women are shoved into little girls faces everyday. Clearly Barbie, with her plastic torso and rubber legs is what is giving young girls body issues. Okay Nickolay.

When I read the article "The New Barbie: Meet the Doll with an Average Woman's Proportions" in Time about Nickolay Lamm and his new doll Lammily, I was so angry. First off I would like to ask Nickolay, did he ever play with a Barbie? I cannot once remember playing with my Barbies and thinking, "Wow, I wish I had the same body that Barbie does."

Girls do not look at Barbie as inspiration for how they should look, girls look at real women for inspiration in what they hope to look like. I wonder if anyone has actually asked little girls what they think about Barbie's body.

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Paparazzi, Please No Photos in the Playroom

There's no question that tabloids and gossip magazines cross the line from time to time. Lately, celebrities are fed up and finally beginning to stand up to these magazines in regards to the exploitation of children.

Celebrities are making these tabloids and blogs realize that reporting on and photographing their children is wrong and unethical.

New parents Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have openly discussed their indifferences toward entertainment news sites and their use of children as subjects of stories.

Paparazzi get into lawsuits with celebrities all the time. In today's society it seems it is part of the norm for photographers to harass and swarm around celebs and their children.

It is to the point that if a celebrity steps outside with their child, they are not only putting themselves in danger, but the child as well.

Yes, the celebrity chose to be in the spotlight, but the child didn't. The parents should not have to worry about even taking their children to the grocery store just because they're in the limelight.

Why should I know the name of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter and exactly what she looks like, let alone what she is wearing?

The little girl is less than 10 years old, yet there are websites and magazines reporting on what where she is going to school and which ice cream flavor she likes. I cannot be the only person that thinks that's creepy.

It is even worse that there are people who pay for these pictures. There are people that make a living out of taking a picture of Suri or Blue Ivy.

It is unethical for a random person to photograph an unknown child, and there could be serious charges pressed. So why doesn't the same go for celebrities and their offspring?

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Time to Re-evaluate the Current Majors

When you were young and thought of what you "wanted to be when you grew up" your ideas for a future career may have included a police officer, actress, astronaut or zookeeper. However, as we become adults and pursue higher education, those career paths may change into something not quite as exciting, but just as important and relevant.

As the years go by, times change along with job industries and demands. Consequently, when choosing to attend college, the deciding factor for today's students comes down to whether or not they offer a competitive program that appeals to them.

Some more modern jobs that may not have existed 10 years ago, include mobile or internet marketing, app developers, data scientists, cloud computing and cloud service specialists, and the list goes on.

So how does the University stack up with unique programs? According to MU's website, some of our 48 undergraduate programs include Art, Communication, Fine Arts, Criminal Justice, Math, Business and Sociology to name a few.

MU offers seven programs relating to music or the arts, but on the other hand, only four in business. Here at the University we have over ten programs relating to the sciences, compared to three relating to computer sciences or technology.

The University undoubtedly offers a wide array of programs in many different fields, but are each of the programs necessary or truly beneficial to current and prospective students? I believe there is room to improve.

While every major and area of study is equally important, in the current job market, some may be more competitive and in turn more attractive to students.

Additionally, technology advances rapidly everyday, and it could be extremely beneficial for students to maybe have more IT or computer courses offered to them.

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World News is Important too...

world_news_screenshotTraditional media seems to be slowly fading away as people, especially students, are turning away from the news all together. It would not be surprising today's generation to be turning to social media as a source of information.

It is very obvious that the dynamics of news and media are drastically changing. Unreliable, inaccurate and biased news can be found anywhere nowadays, and it is not always easy to distinguish between the two. I feel as students it is our responsibility to become informed consumers of media.

Globalization makes it imperative that students pay more attention to the news. We are a global society in many ways, with communication, international affairs, economic markets and even now with jobs. As a result, it is important for us to know what is occurring across the globe. It is just as important for students to know what is going on here in the US, because ultimately we are the future of the country.

Most of us are concerned with hot topics: the environment, the safety of the foods we eat, our health, the economy and job market. Significant decisions and changes are made and occur each day relating to these topics, and majority go by without us even being aware of them.

Why? Because for the average college student, a typical day usually does not involve sitting down reading through articles, watching a news segment or listening to NPR. I believe that it should.

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Now is the Time to Get Involved During College

Freshman year anxiety overwhelms you. You think that joining some clubs would be a fun and easy way to get involved and make friends. Yet, sometimes, that anxiety gets in the way of everything.

You're too worried about going to meetings alone, or you tell yourself that you're a freshman so no one is going to care about your opinion anyway. You tell yourself you can wait a year.

Don't sell yourself short. Getting involved is important, and the amount of ways you can at Monmouth is a blessing.

The importance of getting involved is something I cannot stress enough. For me, it changed my entire experience at school. It changed my entire outlook on my future and the life I can build for myself during and after college.

Not only does getting involved in school help build up your resume, but it more importantly can build up your self-esteem and your happiness.

Last year, as a freshman, I was stressed beyond belief with all of my classes. I was scared to get involved, fearing that I would have no time on my hands.

Getting involved with clubs and other activities really doesn't take that much time away from you. Giving up maybe an hour or two of your life to do something you really enjoy, as well as build relationships with new people, helps you more than you realize.

More importantly, I was afraid to put myself out there. Due to my fear and anxiety, I was not happy. I got over that anxiety this year, and I became a happier, more positive person right away. Looking back on my experiences, I wish I had gotten involved sooner.

I had no clue that my experiences from freshman to sophomore year would change immensely, but they have.

Sophomore year, I decided I would step up, I would join at least one club. I was already a member of the first-year honors society, Phi Eta Sigma, but since the induction was last year, I decided I would join something different.

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Cable TV vs. Network TV

Everyone has their favorite show that they cannot miss. My personal favorite, along with many other 20-year-old women, is the show Girls. The show follows four girls in their twenties trying to navigate their life in NYC. Issues ranging from relationships, money, and career paths. Think of a more edgy "Sex and The City".

Airing Sunday nights, "Girls" is in its third season on the cable channel HBO. The show's creator and star Lena Dunham states that she wrote the show because there was no representation of her or her friends on television. There was not a single sitcom show that she felt paralleled her life. So she took her idea to HBO and with the help of Judd Apatow, who is famous for movies like "Knocked Up" and "Superbad", she created an instant hit.

So why did Dunham pitch her idea to HBO and not NBC? The answer is because she could produce her show and present it anyway she felt. She wanted 100 percent creative freedom for her show on cable television. That is what you get with cable television, a major difference between cable and network productions.

Cable programs are a choice that many consumers choose to pay extra for, while network stations such as NBC and CBS give access to everyone. This means more people are exposed to network stations, so the subject matter must be more conservative or viewer conscious. On cable you can pertain to any subject matter you would like. Foulwords are usually banned by on network television. There is usually more violence as well.

Think of a show like the "Sopranos", this show was extremely raunchy. Ranging from the subject matter to the language it would have never been able to broadcast on network television. Yet, viewers truly ate it up and made it extremely successful.

Shows see this trend of success sometimes on cable rather than network. Cable has a bigger budget so it can produce better quality shows. These shows can bring in star power usually not seen on network shows. Cable shows take a look at something different. They have more interesting story lines because unlike network shows they have more to work with.

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The Frightening Dangers of Drunkorexia

Eating disorders are diseases that truly fall under the radar to the public. Many people are unaware of how dangerous they really are to the body. Although all eating disorders are serious and should be known knowledge to everyone, drunkorexia is a recent epidemic that has hit the younger population as a way to dangerously and drastically lose weight.

Explained by medical doctor Dale Archer, "Drunkorexia is the act of restricting food intake or calories by day so one can party and get drunk at night without fear of gaining weight from the extra calories of the alcohol."

This new eating habit is mainly common in young women. At the younger ages of 21 to 24, drinking is a common social event.

Drunkorexia is extremely popular in the drinking crowd because women want to be able to drink without gaining weight.

Women also find drunkorexia has two very desirable side effects, such as getting drunk much faster because of the lack of food in the stomach, as well as vomiting, which victims find comforting because they think they are getting rid of calories.

With such a serious outbreak of drunkorexia, much research has been done in order to find out why someone would want to do this to his or her body. 30 percent of women between 18 and 23 have skipped a meal in order to drink more. 16 percent do it on a regular basis.

Just reading these facts myself as I write them, make me realize how popular such an unfortunate route women are taking to become "thin."

MTV's "True Life" series aired a new episode called "True Life: I'm Drunkorexic" on Jan. 6. The episode follows a man and a woman who suffer from Drunkorexia and shows the viewers the daily struggles they face.

Not only would you find it shocking how many people suffer from Drunkorexia, but what the victims think about it is even scarier.

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The Detrimental Effects of List Articles

buzzfeedLists are a great thing; useful in so many way. Great when you need to remember what to get while grocery shopping or to remind yourself what needs to get done. However, lists are not ideal when it comes to expressing your thoughts.

There has been a recent trend in the past year of people becoming obsessed with "listicles" (articles + lists). They're short, to the point, and sometimes come with a cute little moving picture. Maybe it is our generation's attention span, where the thought of reading a well thought-out article seems more like a daunting task than an enjoyable experience.

The New Yorker actually did a study that showed people's minds prefer lists because they take the hard work out of reading, proving they could have detrimental effects on people's ability to write.

If we keep reading these listicles, your brain may no longer want to do the heavy lifting when it comes to writing essays of your own.

We scroll through our Twitter feeds with news, jokes, and people's activities in snippets of no more than 140 characters. Our generation is becoming more and more inclined to think in the short term, with undeveloped, under-explained thoughts.

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Keep Calm and Just Graduate ...Whenever You Can

Graduation_2-26May 2015 - the long anticipated date that I have been waiting for since the first day of freshman year.

This is the date that I have been writing for almost three whole years on every job, internship, and summer program application.

May 2015 is my expected graduation date. The word, "expected" scares me because expected does not mean definite, it is more like your graduation date is an estimate of when you'll finally complete all of the credits the school requires you to fulfill. What if May 2015 comes along and I'm not walking across that long stage with the rest of my classmates?

When I entered the University as a freshman, I never gave second guessed when I would be graduating, it was always May 2015. But now with being only a little over a year away from the actual date, I find myself stressing out more than I ever have.

My major never changed, so luckily my sequence chart is successfully being filled, but my life plans have changed and unfortunately there is no sequence chart for that.

When I started off as a chemistry major I wanted to graduate, go onto obtaining my master's degree, and eventually work for a big cosmetics company, working my way up to making five-digit figures. Is that my plan now? Not so much.

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Spring Break Body Ready?

The countdown is on - three weeks to spring break. If you are lucky enough to be leaving snowy, dreadfully cold weather, you probably have several pictures of Victoria's Secret models taped all over your refrigerators for body motivation just in time for that exotic vacation. I am guilty of it too and I'm not even going to be in a bikini anytime soon.

Most girls on a college campus have been extreme dieting and hitting those late night gym sessions after class to look their best when hitting the beach.

Now let's be realistic for a minute. No fad or crash diet is going to get you to look like Miranda Kerr in three short weeks. Honestly, you should really be embracing whatever size or shape you are and love yourself for who you are.

However, if you really want to be serious and take up a healthier lifestyle, it does require weeks and even months in advance of hard work and will power. If you already planned ahead and have been diligently drinking your green smoothies and eating salads, you are on the right track.

So what do you do when you have been pigging out on Chipotle every day for lunch and hitting up Taco Bell for a midnight snack and your vacation is creeping up? For starters, put down that quesadilla you're munching on and listen up.

If you want to be a healthier version of yourself by the time you board that plane for spring break, or just in general, there are a few healthy remedies that I personally am a fan of and swear by.

A few tricks to lose that bloated feeling and get you feeling lighter is by drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. According to womenshealth.com, "A mug of hot lemon water in the morning wakes up your digestive system and helps get things moving. You can also drink green tea with lemon if you don't like the taste of warm lemon water on its own."

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The Super Bowl Of NASCAR: Daytona 500

130226124353-danica-patrick-daytona-500-1-single-image-cutOn Feb. 23, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will kick off with the 56 running of the Daytona 500. This race is often referred to as the "Superbowl of stock car racing" despite the fact that, on its face, it appears to be more like traffic on the Garden State Parkway at 200 m.p.h than something like Russell Wilson leading the Seahawks down the field at MetLife Stadium.

But while football remains, arguably the most popular sport in America, a few comparisons can be drawn between NASCAR's biggest race and football's biggest game.

While Daytona International Speedway did not release any official attendance figures for last year's Daytona 500 (as is often the case with many NASCAR venues), in 2012 the track sold 140,000 of its 167,000 seats.

By comparison, the 2013 Super Bowl at New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome, sold 71,024 of the stadium's 73,208 seats. Yes, this was much closer to being a sellout crowd, but when you bear in mind that the Superdome's seating can be expanded to accommodate a little more than 76,400 fans, and factor in the millions of other fans who were watching on television, it is clear that while NASCAR may never pass football, NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in the country.

That's right. I called NASCAR a sport. For almost as long as man has tried to ration the idea, we have been debating if athleticism indicated drving a racecar.

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Does Age Matter When it Comes to Love?

Valentine's Day has just ended, and whether you were cozied up to someone special, venturing out with someone new or drowning your sorrows in chocolate, you were thinking about relationships on Feb. 14.

Relationships are tricky, for two people to decide to become exclusive requires a lot of elements to align. So does age factor into one of those elements? Are we confined to dating the people born within the same year as us, or can we venture out of that scope by two, five or 20 years?

As John Mayer and Katy Perry recently sang on their duet song "You Love Who You Love", sometimes that's a person 20 years older or a couple years younger. Age doesn't matter, what matters is the chemistry between people. All's fair in love and war.

When it comes to relationships it should matter more about who the person is, not what their age on a piece of paper is. Recently my sister stopped seeing a guy because she believed he was too young. She would say it's a shame he is too young, he's a great guy. I could not wrap my head around why she would let something as small as age get in the way of her having a potentially beautiful relationship.

On the other hand, I have a friend in a relationship with a guy two and a half years younger than her and she does not think she could find a better guy if she tried. She says that sometimes she sees the age difference, but in the end they are in love and age doesn't matter one bit.

So how can my sister find it weird to date a guy one year younger, yet my friend finds she has never been happier?

It comes down to a matter of chemistry. If you click with someone, you click with them. Age is not a determining factor in any relationship. It all matters if the people in the relationship fit together.

Sometimes it comes down to a matter of chemistry, but it also matters where the two people are in life. In my friends case she is in college and her boyfriend is still in high school, their chemistry is strong enough that even though they are at different places in life, their love is stronger.

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Honest Hearts Produce Honest Actions

There are many morals that people hold close to them. Respect. Loyalty. Trust. Honesty. Today, I am here to talk about the gray area of honesty. Is it really the best policy? Or are white lies worth it in the long run? Most people will tell you to be honest because every lie catches up with you eventually. It makes sense. Think about it.

For example, remember that time you told your mother that she looked nice in her new dress and then your father came home and told your mother she looked like a grandma?

All you had to do was tell your mother the dress was hideous and that she is so beautiful you wouldn't want her to be caught wearing such an abomination.

However, you lied and now your mother is giving you the evil eye because you almost let her walk out of the house wearing a dress from 1953.

So, point of the story is not to lie, right? Well some people will argue that little lies are okay every once in a while. That those little lies are meant to avoid something bigger.

For example, you friend asks you to hang out but you want to hang out with your significant other so you tell your friend you can't because you don't feel good.

Then you and your partner go out to dinner and BAM there's your friend with his/her mother. Now, not only do you look like a big fat liar to your friend but his/her mother as well.

This can be argued from another angle as well and that is that sometimes people just cannot handle the truth. I will give you an example that all girls are inevitable for.

Don't you deny it either ladies because we all know you'll be lying. For example, one of your girl friends is dating this guy that you absolutely can't stand, for whatever reason.

Maybe he was a past cheater, maybe he hangs out with a bad crowd or maybe you had a secret crush on him in elementary school and never got over it. Regardless, you don't like the kid.

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The Effect Award Shows Have on Social Media

award_showsAs a college student who is active on social media, it may be common knowledge that Pharrell Williams wore a hat that resembles Smokey Bear's famous headgear on the Grammy's this past month. Or even that Jennifer Lawrence fell up the stairs when going to accept her Oscar last year.

But the real question is, do you even have to watch these award shows to know about what's going on live at the show? Do you need to watch the Grammy's or the CMA's to know that Taylor Swift sang a sappy or angry love song about one of her ex-boyfriends?

If you have Twitter or Facebook, you probably don't.

It drives my family and friends insane when I force them to watch these award shows, but no matter what they say, they sit through the show just to appease me.

This past month I was tasked with making the most difficult decision of my entire life: Do I watch The Bachelor Wedding Special, or do I watch the Grammy Awards?

As a reality TV junkie, I was at a crossroads being that both specials were on at the same time. Knowing that the Grammy's would be live streamed through the people I follow on Twitter, I chose to watch the wedding.

It wasn't really the most difficult decision of my life, but my twitter followers made this somewhat hard decision a much easier one.

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The Special Significance of Valentine’s Day

valentines_significanceWhen it comes to holidays, people tend to think of the major ones, like Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. Even smaller ones like Halloween or St. Patrick's Day might even make the list.

While all of these holidays all have some sort of cultural or religious significance behind them, one comes to mind that can raise a few eyebrows as to whether or not it has any meaning behind it.

Valentine's Day has always been viewed as a romantic holiday; a day to spend time with that special someone.

Yes every holiday has been commercialized to a certain degree. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the obvious ones.

On its face, Valentine's Day almost seems like a Hallmark creation invented to sell cards and candy.

Last Feb. 14, CNN.com released some statistics about Valentine's Day. The news outlet projected that the average person would spend around $130 in total on that day. In addition, they anticipated that, across the country, $1.6 billion would be spent on candy, $1.9 billion on flowers and $4.4 billion on jewelry. The article also forecasted that 145 million cards would be sold and there were a whopping 1,400 different varieties of Hallmark cards available to choose from.

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“It Ain’t Hip to Sing About Tractors or Trucks”

The Traditional Sound of Country is Beginning to Transform More into Pop Music

country_to_popThere has always been a certain stigma attached to country music, that it's uncool because of its twangy sound and subject matter. To quote country singer Brad Paisley's hit single "This is Country Music," "It ain't hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, or mama. Yea that might be true."

However, in the next line Paisley makes no apologies. "But this is country music, and we do."

Despite the pride for the genre that Paisley expresses in this tune, there has been movement in Nashville recently.

Record labels are now signing acts that are willing to stray from the traditional country sound and record songs that could best be described as a hodgepodge of elements taken from other genres.

Many artists now utilize an electric guitar sound, which is not always bad. But many have also adopted the same generic, computerized cadences used in rap songs, and some even use hip hop elements like AutoTune.

Because of this shift, the line between pop and country is now more blurred than it has ever been before.

Current country artist and judge on NBC's The Voice, Blake Shelton, angered fans of traditional country.

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The Constant Desire for Tanned Skin

Ninety plus weather, bright sunrays peeping through the palm trees' shades, warm sand hugging our toes. The ocean water singing to us waiting for us to dive in for a refreshing swim. Oh summer, how we miss you.

But what is it about summer, other than the warm welcoming weather and all that time off from school that we love so much? The sun-bathed skin color everyone achieves of course.

That natural glow we all get during the summer months is a glow many strive for all year long. What exactly is it about this tanned color skin that has people doing crazy things over the winter months?

Thousands of people are constantly spending money throughout the frigid winter to achieve or maintain that summer tan that comes out once a year. Of course without the sun's strong rays, people go to extreme, dangerous measures. Tanning beds and self-tanning lotions and sprays is the alternate to sun bathing.

What is it about this orange-like color that has people either deep frying themselves or bathing in chemicals that I'm pretty sure do not belong on their bodies?

Tanning salons make tons of money thanks to these color-obsessed individuals, which is awesome for the economy, but not so awesome for the human body.

If standing outside under the sun's natural UV light is extremely dangerous, what makes people think that lying in, what feels like a human over, being hit by rays all around is any healthier?

I personally have never been in a tanning bed or used self- tanning products; I'm more of a natural look kind of gal, but I do find myself surrounded by people who are into the tanning life.

Although I do not agree with it, I am not one to judge. I understand appearance, unfortunately is everything nowadays. It is normal to be resembling Casper the ghost in the winter.

We obviously aren't exposed to the same sun rays we are in the summer months. Indoor tanning is just as dangerous as lying on the beach, yet it is ever so popular, along with being a costly investment if one goes often.

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Let The New Semester Anxiety Begin

stessed_students"The things that have been most valuable to me, I did not learn in school," said Will Smith.

Society has brainwashed our generation into believing that school is the only doorway to success, that attending school is the best option we have as young adults.

What if I said society was wrong? Now don't misinterpret my words, I am not talking about education, I am specifically referring to school. As Will Smith agrees, the most important things in life are not learned between four cement walls in an hour long lecture.

We have recently started our spring semester at the University and I can bet my money that the majority would agree this by far has been the best start to a spring semester because of Mother Nature's wonderful touch.

Let's be honest now. The only reason we have not yet complained about our new classes and the dreading assignments is because most of us have not really had class all week.

Nonetheless, I would not place the spring semester top in my list of things I am excited for, especially not after the long, relaxing winter break we just had.

Compared to high school and younger students, I guess we are lucky in the sense that we get an entire month of a break while they only have a single pathetic week and half off.

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14 Things You Should Stop Doing in 2014

Take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feeds and tell me what you see. If you don't mention links to popular websites such as "BuzzFeed" or "Elite Daily" with posts about the hundreds of things you should be doing in your teens, twenties, thirties, then I'd call your bluff.

The millennial generation has grown accustomed to mainly consuming media in list form and relying on this practice to spoon-feed the guidelines to life. With that being said, here are 14 things that young adults should stop doing in 2014:

1) Having Regrets:

Have you ever wanted to try something but held back because of uncertainty or fear of what others may think? Newsflash! The best moments of your life typically begin one step outside of your comfort zone.

For example, many students that did not study abroad because of fear or doubt wish they did when they had the chance.

Be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities that are at your disposal while you can and not look back years from now with what-ifs.

2) What Others Think:

If you allow others' thoughts and comments dictate how you live your life, then you will waste all of your time scrambling to please everyone, which is merely impossible. All of that wasted time could have been spent on engaging in something that you truly enjoy and that makes you happy.

Remember what Dr. Seuss taught us when we were little, "we're all a little bit weird," so embrace it and just be yourself.

3) Freaking About Grades:

Doing well in school is certainly important. In all honesty, we all are paying an arm and a leg for an education so we should be working hard and caring about our academic standing. But college should not be all work and no play.

When you're feeling stressed, go do something like exercising or talking to a friend to relive stress and clear your mind. Go out every once in a while and do not lock yourself in your room with a large amount of work or studying that can wait a day or two.

4) Sweating Small Stuff:

Chances are there is someone out there going through a heck of a lot more than you are and is holding their head high through it all. We all have our moments of success and we all have our moments of failure.

Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we should take each defeat as a new challenge, a lesson learned and move forward. It is not easy to do, but remember life is short and is not worth stressing over minor things.

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The Key Word is Professional

When kids begin to play Pop Warner football, their parents try to teach them to be good sports. They tell them to always congratulate the other team, be gracious in defeat and that there is no "I" in team. Most of the kids who hear these speeches are around the age of nine. So one would think professional athletes would have good sportmanship. Well, someone forgot to tell Richard Sherman.

In the NFC Championship game a few weeks ago, Sherman tipped the potential game winning pass from Colin Kaepernick to receiver Michael Crabtree. This forced an interception that guaranteed Sherman's Seattle Seahawks a 23-17 victory over Kaepernick's San Francisco 49ers.

After the game was over, Sherman was interviewed by Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews and he was not shy about sharing his opinions about himself and Crabtree.

"Well, I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman shouted into Andrews' microphone. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get! Don't you ever talk about me!" When Andrews asked who had been talking about him, Sherman simply responded "Crabtree," telling the receiver not to talk about him and not to "open [his] mouth about the best or I'm going to shut it for you real quick!"

This interview has been the root of a lot of controversy over the last few weeks, morphing from a simple case of bad sportsmanship to the basis for accusations of racism because some fans took to calling Sherman a "thug" because of his actions. Some even went as far as to use the N-word in reference to the 25-year-old cornerback.

Sherman tweeted back to his detractors this past Monday, saying "Last night shows that racism is still alive and well... And that's so sad... At least some people respect MLKs dream." Sherman has since apologized for his actions, saying he was sorry "for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates "That was not my intent," he said in a text to ESPN reporter Ed Werder.

This incident has simply been blown way out of proportion. Sherman was interviewed right after he was involved in a key play that led his team to their second Super Bowl berth in franchise history. He should not be made out as a villain and called a "thug" because he flew off the handle while being interviewed only minutes after a big win by his team.

However, his actions should not be condoned either. The overall reason why Sherman has caused such a firestorm of controversy is because American s hate a sore winner.

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Struggle and Sacrifice in the Land of Opportunity

A Call to Arms to Prevent Veteran Homelessness in the U.S.

vet2As fall transitions into winter, the mornings start to grow colder. The once verdant green leaves dwindle away and the light of day quickly descends into darkness. For thousands of people living on the east coast, nature's most beautiful moments are captured during this season.

For former Private Lenny Johnson, however, winter means combing the streets for a warmer jacket, a heavier sleeping bag or blanket to sleep with and a safer, quieter place to rest his head,

While we find the first frost to be quite the inconvenience when we go to start our cars on early December mornings, Johnson sees frost as a vivid reminder of winters spent shivering under the Route 80 overpass in Paterson, NJ, a place he has called home for over 12 years.

Instead of waking up in a warm, comfortable bed each morning, Johnson wakes up at dawn to the sound of cars and trucks whirring above his head while he struggles to regain warmth and solace in the confines of his torn and tattered blanket.

At any moment, the sound of screeching tires, the backfire of an engine, could send the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagle" veteran into a flashback.

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Why do People Take Such Pride in a Team?

We cry, we cheer, we invest so much interest and receive nothing in return but a mixture of pride or disappointment. Why do we, as fans, put so much effort into a team that may never even notice us?

This can be explained for many reasons, but in summary, it is because we need to be a part of a greater element which in most opinions, is intangible by all means.

This thought first came to me while watching "Fever Pitch," a movie based off a novel written about a die hard baseball fan. In the movie, Jimmy Fallon's character says, "I like being part of something that's bigger than me. It's good for your soul to invest in something you can't control." To which his leading lady, Drew Barrymoore, replies, "You're a romantic."

Barrymoore does not realize that Fallon's character is not a romantic; he is, plainly put, just a fan. To those who are fans, their team is untouchable; nothing, and I mean nothing, can ruin your love for that team. This is reflected in Fallon's character as he explains that no matter what, they are there for you every day.

I believe strongly that this is one of the main reasons fans take such pride in their teams. I consider myself a die hard Phillies fan and big time baseball fan. Knowing that they will be there for me every night, I feel the need to watch them play from April through September.

As corny as it sounds, friends come and go, but baseball is always there. Then there is also the element of youth that sports bring to the table.

If you are a fan and look back on your life, you can say that you still have the same interest you had when you were 10 years old, maybe even five years old. In some sense, loving a team is a way to keep you young.

In this life, the years go by quicker and quicker with age. When I was younger, my junior year in high school felt like a century and now my junior year in college is already slipping away. Sports in a sense can keep us young and make sure those raw emotions we discovered as a kid never fade.

When I think of that notion, my grandfather comes to mind. He grew up as a Red Sox fan living in Richmond, VA.

Fortunately, he was able to see Ted Williams' last at bat in which he hit a home run in the usual Splendid Splinter style. To this day, when you mention that game, his face lights up and you can find the child lying within.

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Contemporary News Programs: A Critique

The increasing competition amongst various television networks has led to the emergence of programs that discuss more soft news, which is defined as lifestyle and appealing gossip stories instead of legitimate societal problems.

The increased prevalence of soft news shows is an alarming feature of the modern news telecasts, which tend to be slightly informative and biased.

Topics such as the latest fashion trends and celebrities' personal lives are discussed on popular news networks such as ABC and NBC. to further reel the viewers in.

I have noticed that typically morning news shows, such as "Good Morning America" and "The Today Show" have become more focused on entertaining the audience rather than informing them of important issues across the globe.

This entertainment is derived from discussion about Congress members' controversial personal lives, dressing styles, and even how their facial expressions may reveal their political inclinations.

Also, many news programs now have exclusive Twitter or Facebook pages where viewers can post comments and ask questions.

The tweets of a few extremely fortunate individuals will then be broadcasted during the program to be commented on.

This is clearly an effective participation technique meant to attract viewers. To me, this is analogous to a lottery system where one buys a ticket in the form of a tweet, and then follows the program for the sake of a reward—the recitation of that tweet.

Apparently, CNN.com deems it appropriate (and frankly, necessary) to post the following "top stories" on their main page, "World's Ugliest Dog Dies," "Mom: Get 'yes' text before sex," and "Hunter nabs 772 lb. bear."

While these stories may be humorous, they do not inform the American public of any kind of legitimate domestic or international occurrences that can affect our lives significantly.

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What's In a Name? NFL Washington Redskins Name Controversy

redskins-logo"Hail to the Redskins! Hail victory! Braves on the warpath!" Fans of the Washington Redskins will recognize these words as the lyrics to their team's fight song, which is played at FedEx Field whenever their team wins a game.

But to people who are not fans of the team, or the NFL for that matter, this song may appear to perpetuate a negative stereotype about Native Americans.

With a record of 3-8, the Redskins have not had a good season on the field by any stretch. Off the field, this season has also seen the team embroiled in a furious debate as to whether or not the franchise needs to change its name to something more politically correct.

The latest chapter in this controversy was written when Latino and African American groups rallied outside of FedEx Field Monday night before the team's 21-point loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The issue has even drawn comments from President Obama, who said that Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, should change the name of his storied franchise.

However, Snyder wrote an open letter to fans of his organization back in October which gives the origins of the team's name and how it is not as offensive as it appears on its face.

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Are Students Prepared Enough for Finals?

Dont-Let-Stress-and-Anxiety-Get-the-Best-of-You-200x300We are back from Thanksgiving break and left with less than two weeks of classes before exams. Panic comes over us as we quickly realize all of the work we have left to complete.

Let's face it, it's crunch time. Are we really prepared for finals?

Let's start off by saying the last two weeks of classes should not have professors trying to cram in tests, papers and projects on top of your final exam that is quickly approaching.

Sometimes professors do not realize that students are taking four other classes besides theirs. Then again, some students don't take their classes seriously, so you get what you put in.

I love when professors hand me a bulleted list that structures the final exam right before my eyes and go as far as to give me extra hints about what is going to be really important.

Unfortunately though, not everything is handed to us on a silver platter. Some professors barely give reviews and fail to mention the final exam as the days continue to diminish.

I do not consider a professor telling you to review all 500 slides from the semester to help with preparation; if you are in this situation I wish you luck.

Having a professor who does not put in as much time and effort as the students do, can be incredibly frustrating, especially for those of us who do put in a conscious effort to do well.

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The Media’s Ongoing Influence Over Body Image

Beyonce, top-chart multi-millionaire singer and actress, and wife to well-known rapper, Jay-Z, once stated, "I wrote 'Bootylicious' because, at the time, I'd gained some weight and the pressure that people put you under- the pressure to be thin, is unbelievable. I was just 18 and you shouldn't be thinking about that."

At 18 years of age, teenage Beyonce was already feeling the pressure and obsession with body image that Hollywood tends to mount on all celebrities.

"Bootylicious" is a song from Beyonce's Destiny's Child days, and although the song wasn't one of their greatest hits, it did not fail to send a message.

The singer is clearly not worried about her personal body image. She realizes that her body does not hold the perfect hour-glass shape that society expects every woman to have.

Yes, there is "jelly" that moves from side to side when she shakes, but she could care less. Through their lyrics, Destiny's Child enforces female empowerment and embracing your body. Being "Bootylicious" is just as perfect.

The influence paparazzi, magazines and media have on celebrities and regular people based on their appearances, is unbelievable.

Twenty-one year old singer, actress, and "X-Factor" judge, Demi Lovato, is another example of Hollywood's crucial influence on body image. Demi Lovato has always suffered with low self-esteem due to appearance insecurities.

In fact, not too long ago she took a break from her career to herself check herself into a rehabilitation center. When she was done with her time off, she came back stronger and more powerful than ever.

In one of her most recent interviews, she told Vogue magazine, "My main thing about being in the spotlight with my fans is, I want to be real to them. I have my problem areas, but I'm happy in my skin right now. I'm not going to sacrifice my mental health to have the perfect body."

Having the "perfect body" is not what life is about and even Demi can testify to that. What truly matters is to be happy and comfortable in your own skin.

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Goodbye Black Friday, Hello Cyber Monday

laptoplMy fellow online shopping addicts, it's that time of year again. No, I am not talking about eating Thanksgiving dinner or waiting on ridiculously long lines at 3 am waiting for the best Black Friday deals.

I am talking about Cyber Monday. Just the name of it makes me warm inside. This day is when online shoppers set mental countdowns for and mark their calendars. If you're a little new to the online shopping realm, I'll explain the pure magic called Cyber Monday.

The term "Cyber Monday" was coined in 2005 after retailers were noticing their online sales were particularly high the Monday after Thanksgiving, according to cybermonday2013.io.

About 77 percent of online retailers saw their sales increase. Obviously, they wanted to take advantage of this so they decided to make it an actual event. In 2006, it was held on Nov. 27 and it made $608 million in online sales.

In 2010, Cyber Monday made just over $1 billion, according to cybermonday2013.io. As each year passes, more and more money is being made. So why would online retailers stop?

Cyber Monday is not only featured on online based stores like amazon.com and overstock.com. Stores all over take advantage of Cyber Monday.

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The Forgotten Thanksgiving

If you've turned on the television over the last couple of weeks, you have definitely noticed that every other commercial seems to have a Christmas theme to it.

Whether it's an ad for Hershey Kisses in red and green wrappers set to "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" or one for the latest editions of the Hess toy truck, the commercialization of Christmas has definitely diluted the true meaning of the season that Linus spoke about in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

But there is also another side effect of all of this merchandising that many people do not often think about: What happened to Thanksgiving?

That line about Christmas coming sooner every year has become something of a running joke. But in recent years, whether people have noticed it or not, Thanksgiving has become less of a holiday and is now probably best known as just the day before Black Friday.

Over the last few years, more and more stores have been taking away turkey day as a day off for their employees in the name of turning a profit and 2013 will be no different.

Walmart recently announced that, in addition to giving employees who work on Thanksgiving extra holiday pay, the retail giant will also be providing workers with a 25 percent discount off a future purchase and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

NBC News online also reported that stores like Best Buy, Kmart, Toys-R-Us and Target will also be offering employees additional holiday pay.

Despite these stores remaining open to try and stay competitive, people have started Facebook groups and made their opinions known that they will not be doing any shopping on Thanksgiving.

Contrary to this, NBC also reported that the value of Black Friday weekend reached $59.1 billion.

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The Satisfying Feeling of Conquering Fears

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure," Paulo Coelho, "The Alchemist."

What exactly is fear, the inability to move forward because of the unknown, or is it actually the extra strength needed to keep on?

The fears people face on a daily basis vary all over the spectrum. Fears vary from the common fear of spiders and heights, to the fear of failure, unhappiness, and even love.

I don't think anyone truly knows where fears come from or what triggers them, but what people have come to learn, is how to live with them.

We have our ways of conquering each of our fears. I, for instance, have overcome quite a couple in my short twenty-year-old life.

When I was much younger, I was terribly afraid of heights. My fear was grand, I never even learned how to climb monkey bars and have failed to do so to this day. My fear of heights also triggered a fear of rollercoasters.

However, one day I simply got tired of sitting on the sidelines while the rest of my sisters had a blast flying through the air that I finally decided to ride the Six Flags rollercoaster, Nitro, for the first time ever.

Riding that rollercoaster was one of the best experiences of my life and definitely one I will never forget.

As I grew older, my fears became a bit more serious than a ride at an amusement park. When I was sixteen, I met the one who would become my first love.

Now I was no longer afraid of heights-this time I was afraid of falling in love. I was nervous of becoming attached to someone who could walk away any minute. I was avoiding having to trust someone who could hurt me as easily as they could make me happy.

I was afraid to let someone in. I overcame that fear and what I was most afraid of happened, as I am no longer with that person. But at the end of the day, I had overcome a fear as well.

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“I’m Friends With More Animals than People”

pets-plug-in-photo1My phone buzzed and the little Facebook icon popped up in the corner of my screen that means "you have a new friend request!" I assumed it was someone I knew from class, or a distant relative who I met at a family barbeque. I opened the Facebook app on my smartphone to see who it was.

The name attached to the friend request was familiar, but I had to wonder how my high school acquaintance's long haired Chihuahua managed to set up a Facebook page with such tiny paws. Her profile picture was so darn cute that I had to accept Cupcake's friend request.

Soon enough, I was friends with two dogs, three cats and a ferret on Facebook. I accepted a friend request from Stan the corn snake shortly after he wished me a very "sssspecial" day on my timeline when my birthday came around.

It was then that I realized, I think I'm friends with more pets than humans on Facebook. My newsfeed was flooded by cuddly creatures and comments about how precious they looked dressed up as a pumpkin for Halloween.

Instagram is no different. I posted one picture of my golden retriever on my personal account and suddenly I have a whole cult of kittens and puppies "following" me.

I'll admit, most pet selfies will make my heart melt in an instant, but it feels like the internet has become "Planet of the Apes;" if the apes were fluffy domestic mammals with big eyes and wet noses, that is.

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The Electronic Dance Music Lifestyle

djsetElectronic Dance Music, or EDM as it is more commonly known, seems to be more popular than ever. This music is made by DJs with typically loud and continuous beats. It has been on the rise recently and has been integrated into mainstream radio and television.

The popular music festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival saw crowds of about 320,000 people over three days, all there to enjoy the music. Although EDM has only recently become popular, it has actually been around for years, as it started as an underground movement in the 1980s.

Many young people believe EDM is more than a music genre for some it has become a lifestyle. Hardcore EDM fans revolve their lives around the music, shows, and artists. There are numerous blogs dedicated to this genre where fans communicate and bond over the DJs, new music and their experiences at the festivals.

The reason why EDM is so important and life changing is because of the different things you experience and learn from the music and the festivals.

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Time for a Pep Talk: The Truth about Energy Drinks

In today's busy world, there aren't enough hours in the day to finish everything that needs to get done. Between writing papers, completing internships and maintaining some semblance of a social life, it can be exhausting being a college student. Thankfully there are ways to try and regain that alert feeling.

While coffee and soda have always been the caffeinated beverages of choice for anyone looking for some quick energy, there has been a rise in the popularity of energy drinks in recent years.

Names like Red Bull, Amp, Monster, 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar are all over store shelves and are very popular amongst high school and college students.

Yes, energy drinks are a quick, easy source of caffeine, but what's really in them that makes them that way? Are they any worse for your health than a twelve ounce can of Coke?

According to the Mayo Clinic's website, that can of Coca-Cola contains between 30 to 35 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, a twelve ounce can of Mountain Dew contains a whopping 46 to 55 milligrams.

This may sound like more than enough caffeine to keep the average person awake long enough to get through the day. However, these numbers fall far short of the caffeine amount contained in energy drinks.

An eight-ounce can of Amp contains around 73 milligrams of caffeine, while Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar all contain around 80 milligrams.

Yet, 5-Hour Energy packs the biggest punch; cramming a whopping 207 milligrams of the caffeine into every two ounce, shrink wrapped bottle.

The Brown University health education website also mentions that, in addition to caffeine, these drinks also contain stimulants like guarana and ginseng.

These are typically thrown in place of sugar so that the manufacturer can advertise that their beverage will not lead to a crash later on in the day. It is because of these high levels of caffeine and stimulants that energy drinks have the potential to do more harm to the body than good.

In addition to simply causing sleep deprivation, the Brown University website also states that these drinks can cause dehydration and increase a person's heart rate to the point of palpitations.

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Is The Need for Coffee Really Necessary?

coffeeFor many of us, coffee is the single most motivating thing that gets us up in the morning. We're all more than familiar with the feelings of increased alertness and motivation that follow a cup of joe.

That is because caffeine is the most common psychoactive drug found in the market today. The biochemical structure of caffeine is similar to that of adenosine, a substance that is naturally found within our bodies. Adenosine binds to the receptor cells in our brain that make us feel relaxed, calm and even sleepy (on particularly rainy days).

However, because caffeine's chemical structure resembles that of adenosine, it can successfully bind to the adenosine-specific receptors in the brain and thus stop adenosine from binding to those receptors. It also promotes the release of calcium ions from the nerves, resulting in the increased feeling of alertness.

Contrary to common perception, caffeine itself does not actually have special properties that cause the brain to feel more alert; rather, it just blocks from making us feel drowsy.

Moreover, caffeine has numerous other benefits. It has been recently found that caffeine improves memory. I'm sure many of us have personal experience with this property of caffeine, especially during finals week.

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The Dangers of Texting and Driving

Let's face it, most of us are probably guilty of receiving a text message behind the wheel and fighting off the urge to pick up the phone and see what Earth-shattering update awaits our response. After all, what's the harm in just glancing down for a few seconds to at least see who the message is from? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, Distraction.gov, there is plenty that can happen when you take your eyes off the road for just a few moments. The site says that "sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds." At 55 mph, that's equivalent to "driving the length of an entire football field, blind." While people of all ages are guilty of this particular brand of multitasking behind the wheel, teenagers are predominately who are associated with texting and driving.

Distraction.gov also says that of the 15 to 19 year old drivers who are involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of them were on their phones when the accident occurred. The Los Angeles Times also recently reported on a study conducted by two professors at Pennsylvania's Kings College, which found "four out of five college students texted while driving, and that males in particular were more likely to downplay the dangers of distracted driving, because they believed they were skilled drivers." Garold Lantz and Sandra Loeb, the professors behind the study, also told the Huffington Post that students feel if something bad does happen because of texting behind the wheel, it will simply happen to somebody else and not to them.

This mentality that is getting more and more younger drivers into trouble. They believe that they're Mario Andretti behind the wheel of a car and that this gives them the driving prowess to avoid any number of dangerous situations.

Making it down an empty football field blindfolded may sound simple enough, but when you throw in variables like traffic and pedestrians, the levels of difficulty and danger rapidly increase.

However, in recent months there has been a major push by most major cell phone carriers to attempt to eliminate this problem.

AT&T has a television spot featuring country music superstar Tim McGraw talking about taking the cellular provider's "It Can Wait" pledge to never text and drive, a program that Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile also support.

In addition, Sprint, which also happens to be the title sponsor of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, has a commercial featuring driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. to promote the carrier's "Drive First" mobile application. This handy feature will automatically reply to text messages that you can't because you're driving.

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Pure Barre Red Bank Hosting College Night for Local Students

Pure Barre Red Bank is hosting a college night for local students Wednesday, November 13 and Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:45 pm at the studio located at 127 Broad Street.

College students will transform their bodies in the one-hour, low-intensity high-impact workout that incorporates all of the common problem areas for women, including their seat, thighs, abs, and arms.

Classes are a combination of yoga, ballet, and Pilates and no dance experience is necessary. Students pay a reduced price of $20 for a single class or $100 for a month of unlimited classes. To reserve your spot go online to http://purebarre.com/NJ-redbank/ or call 732-842-7873.

Students are encouraged to sign-up with other friends and classmates and enjoy the total body workout to current and up-beat music in Pure Barre's fun atmosphere.

Jessica Ketchel, a current college student and Pure Barre client stated, "Being a senior in college I know first-hand how difficult it can be to maintain a healthy body weight. It has been a relief to find Pure Barre because it is not only effective, but it fun and addictive and I always leave class feeling accomplished. It definitely beats going to the packed gym at school and the results are much more noticeable."

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The Importance of Internships

Many colleges and universities, including Monmouth University, require many undergraduates to participate in internships to fulfill certain graduation requirements. While some students may view the experience as nothing more than an inconvenient task, internships can undoubtedly turn out to be one of the most valuable aspects graduates take away from their college experience.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 57 percent of employers prefer applicants that have internship experience. That means that the pesky internship requirement you are required to fill, will give you a serious edge over other applicants who lack that experience.

Internships are significant because they give students an insight to the field they are looking to go into, as well as valuable hands on experience.

The most obvious skills students will gain are those that require them to be hands on, such as learning how to use media equipment in broadcasting or performing medical procedures as a nurse.

However, an internship will also expose students to an actual job setting and get a feel for how to interact with bosses or supervisors, as well as how to carry themselves professionally and how to be an efficient employee over all.

Many students have held part- time jobs while attending school, but the majority of college students usually lack that experience of an actual professional full time job or setting.

Participating in an internship teaches students how to dress professionally, to work for extended hours, and to take on more responsibilities.

There are certain things that just cannot be learned in a classroom. For me personally, completing an internship was one of the smartest decisions I have made as a college student.

No matter how prepared I believed that I was for the real world, ultimately, there was so much I still needed to learn that my textbooks did not prepare me for.

Some of these things include how to present myself professionally to those in higher positions, how to be a good team member and contribute helpful ideas, and how to take on and be held accountable for various tasks or projects that required major responsibility. I could go on and on, but those are just a few key aspects.

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The Current Addiction with Online Shopping

Is it Just a Phase or Will Online Shopping Always be Popular?

Shoes_1COLOROnline shopping is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me and my wallet. There are so many products that can be purchased with just the click of a mouse. It is hard to not get caught up in the moment and spend all of your money in a matter of hours. Avid online shoppers can most certainly agree with me on this though, online shopping is not meant for the weak.

My online shopping obsession came forth this summer. I was interning at Redbook magazine; that was mistake number one. The mistake wasn't because I was interning at Redbook, interning at Redbook was a truly amazing experience that I wish I could relive every day. The mistake was that I was interning at a women's magazine that focuses on many different topics, one big topic being fashion. Every day I would walk into that office and be mesmerized by someone's outfit or the clothes picked out for photo shoots. My eyes were constantly being opened to new shirt and pant combinations, new summer heels, and new accessories to perfect your look. Basically, my eyes were opened to every fashionable item I did not have. So, I made it my mission to buy everything.

When I say everything, I don't mean literally everything, but close to it. My weakness was shoes. Well, my weakness has always been shoes but as for online shopping, shoes became my hottest item to buy. Every woman knows that shoes can make or break an outfit. Once I ordered one pair, I couldn't control myself.

Some people may think online shopping is difficult because of sizes and then returning items if they do not fit. I am the person to tell you to trust your instinct and your judgment when it comes to sizing. I know that in boots and closed-toe shoes I am a size eight but in open-toe shoes I am usually a size smaller. Therefore, going by this led me to selecting the perfect size for each shoe I had purchased.

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How Accurate are Biographical Films?

CrazySexyCool_The_TLC_StoryBiographical films and documentaries about the lives of famous figures have been made for years. The biographical movie "CrazySexyCool" which was about the music group TLC premiered on October 21 on the television station VH1 and was a huge hit.

Many people enjoyed the movie and were pleasantly surprised at the amount of unheard information that was never spoke about nor seen in the group's lives while they were in the spotlight, yet was featured in the film.

So this makes me wonder, how accurate are biographical movies? If a filmmaker decides to make a movie that is based on a true story, they must first retrieve accurate facts.

The screenwriter helps with this process. They must change the movie in accordance to time and they choose to leave out any parts of the story that may be deemed as boring or confusing. The filmmaker wants to tell a story but they also wants the film to be successful and enjoyable to the audience.

Some inaccuracies are small and trivial such as in the movie "Braveheart" made in 1995. The Scottish people in this movie are wearing belted plaid on their dresses but that style was inaccurate for that time period.

Some differences are bigger, for example, the star of "Braveheart" is William Wallace. He is in a relationship with the princess of France yet in actuality this never happened.

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Managing Money as a College Student

It is clear that college is definitely a new experience and while many students would like to have a steady income, most are not sure if they can keep up.

Whether you're looking for money to put on the side or you need to contribute to college bills; money needs to come from somewhere.

The life of a broke college student is often a sad road, especially if you have no idea how to budget your money!

Let's first take a basic economic lesson-don't spend money you don't have. Budgeting becomes a lifestyle while you are a college student however, there are a few ways to manage your money.

During college, all your necessities are already paid for. Your food, room, bathroom, and furniture are all paid for, so a huge income is not completely necessary because you have all the essentials.

Any money you have or earn would be for extras such as eating off campus or maybe a shopping or a movie day, which is often nice but not always do-able.

To budget, one must learn how to be a savvy shopper. I am not saying to never treat yourself to indulgences like shopping or a night on the town with friends.

I am referring more to looking for sales when shopping and even if it comes down to it, using coupons when going out. I know this sounds so cliche mom like, but coupons are distributed for pretty much everything, including restaurants and frozen yogurt places, so don't be embarrassed. If anything, your friends will appreciate saving a few dollars.

Depending on what kind of person you are and how well you manage your money, college budgeting could go a few ways.

If you are a very impulsive buyer, like myself, and you want to have the ability to be able to buy things when you please, whether you really need the item or not; you're going to need a little extra cash.

Getting this extra cash could go two ways. You could earn, save, then budget your money or you could work and receive an income. Many students will take up a summer job before college or work throughout their senior year of high school to save up for college.

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Reality Television and Teen Pregnancy

An Opinion on how Reality Television Glorifies Young, Teen Pregnancies

teen_momReality television became popular not too long ago, but popular for all of the wrong reasons.

In June of 2009, "16 and Pregnant" first aired, and had such success that "Teen Mom" followed after. Documenting teenage girls through fights with their babies' father, tears and changing of the diapers, makes these issues all seem okay. These type of reality shows solely glorify and misconstrue teen pregnancy.

"16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" are my least favorite reality shows. If I catch even an episode of these shows, I usually turn the TV off and feel like I just wasted my time on watching something that made part of my brain die off.

Some of the moms on this show do a great job taking care of their children, such as Maci and that is why they are the favorite teen mom amongst all the viewers.

I do think that they deserve a nice pat on the back for their performance, because all moms, regardless of age should strive to be responsible mothers.

On the contrary, other teen moms hand their baby off to be their family's responsibility and go out to live an irresponsible teenage life, and this is where I get lost.

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The Importance of Young Adult Voters

When it comes to politics, many of us shy away from the subject. Whether it is because we are uninformed or misinformed, the entire matter can carry a looming and almost portending sort of sense with it. Understandably, it's intimidating.

As a key target audience for political front-runners in all parties, college students and young adults in general are bombarded with very mixed and confusing messages from networks on television.

Matters concerning us are often the center of contentious debates. Such topics include student loans, the housing and job markets and the environment.

Since we are viewed as a demographic that can swing either way politically, candidates want our vote. And believe me, they will work for it.

These facts make it all the more important for us to do just that, vote. We are an educated, opinionated, large and important group of people.

We are the future of America. But unfortunately. a large percentage of young adults are not voting.

As a consequence of not voting as much as we should be, we are only putting ourselves and our futures at a major disadvantage.

Many of the important issues today, are unique to us or are very crucial in how they will affect us later in life.

I hate to admit it, but we will be the ones left to face these mounting troubles that have previously never even existed.

Issues concerning the social security crisis, a depleting environment and resources with a record high national debt, are all topics that may not have been looked at twice in the past.

All too often we see scenarios where we, as young adults, are not involved and do not vote because we think "my vote will not really make a difference" or "I do not like any of the candidates".

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Scary Thought: Schools Close on Halloween

As Halloween is quickly approaching and is right around the corner, many people start to wonder if schools should be closed on Halloween.

Although Halloween is a holiday welcome to everyone, it is mainly a children's holiday, which leaves many feeling that school should be cancelled that day for the children.

It is one of the few national holidays where school is open. Debates go on and on every year at this time because some people feel Halloween is one of the only holidays that goes unrecognized from schools.

The children shouldn't have to be in school that day. I however, feel that Halloween is a good day to be in school.

We should be in school on this festive day because it's much more fun to be in school all dressed up than at home alone!

Many holidays that result in school cancellation are usually for specific reasons. Most holidays where students have off, and even workers, are days meant to spend with family or time to spend at Church.

Although Halloween is a national holiday, it's not necessary to cancel school for the day.

An argument could be said that children will get the entire day to trick-or-treat, rather than going out when it is dark out. Aside from that, there is really nothing you are doing on this day where you wouldn't have time for anything else.

Most schools are only in session for no more than 6 hours a day, so there will be plenty of time for the children to do whatever they want after school.

Halloween is a great day to be in school because children and teenagers can go to school wearing and show off their costumes to their friends.

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College Athletes Should Get Paid Too

An Opinion in Favor of NCAA Athletes Receiving Pay Checks for their Hard Work

football3You wake up at 5 am, go to a two or three hour practice, depending on the coach's mood this morning. Then you shower and rush to make it to class just as the professor is about to close the door in your face.

You have class all morning like the rest of the students, and when noon comes around, instead of relaxing and enjoying a nice meal like everyone else on campus, you head back to the weight room for lifting or to the track for a second session of crucial practice.

The afternoon flies by and before you know it, night has creeped in and taken over. It is midnight already and you still find yourself at the library trying to cram in last minute studying for your 8:30 am exam.

By the time you meet your bed once again, the night is half over and the clock reads 2:30 am. Three hours disappear and you find yourself restarting the cycle all over again.

For those athletes on campus, I'm sure this sounds absolutely normal, but for those non-athletes, welcome to your classmates' never-ending torture.

College athletes work harder than most of us realize and the sad part is, that aside from the few fans on the sidelines, they don't get much recognition for their dedication.

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The Lowdown with the Government Shutdown

16,740,493,583,418.19: A colossal number separated by a bunch of commas and one period, a disgusting perplexity that grows exponentially each day while the majority of those who should pay attention to it barely bat an eyelash, and an estimate that can only create real mortification when accompanied with the mighty, mighty dollar sign.

The daunting tick of the National Debt Clock permeates the air in Washington like a distant hum gone unnoticed. That ticking time bomb of a number grows at an estimated $1.84 billion per day while the elephant and the donkey duel in an argument that is remarkably similar to a sandbox dilemma between toddlers.

As party politics continue to bring Washington well on its way to an untimely grave, the U.S. government officially shut down earlier this month, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling to make ends meet and even more questioning the validity of their government and those who run it.

While Congress plays the blame game, Americans lose. As former President Harry S. Truman put it so eloquently, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." What if for once, our elected officials and so-called "representatives" actually represented us, the American public?

What if for once, they considered the "We the people" our forefathers intended to serve? Instead, Democrats and Republicans alike are more concerned with who's who in politics than the issues at hand.

At its moment of supreme dysfunction, an ultimate inability to play nice in order to come to an agreement which would benefit all Americans, regardless of party affiliations, has left countless "nonessential" government workers with holes in their wallets for what could be days, weeks, or even months and a national debt that is never-ending.

Throughout the country, closed signs will cover once open doors and neon open signs will flicker and die out as government offices, national parks, famous monuments and essential agencies turn off their lights and close their doors.

As unpaid workers pack their bags to go home and figure out how to pay their bills, Congress is protected from the same harsh realities. It figures that it just so happens to be engraved into our Constitution that Congress can never adjust their own congressional pay.

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Is a College Degree Still Necessary?

College has long been regarded as a safe way to ensure success in the future. Yet in this struggling economy, that does not seem to be true. How many friends or family members do you know that have a college degree but no job? Most of us know at least one person in this predicament.

College is very expensive and spending all that money with no reward has proven very frustrating for post graduates. According to collegeboard.com, college tuition costs three to four times more than it did just 20 years ago.

Nowadays, college students finish school with an average of $25,250 in student loans. Without a well-paying job, it is quite challenging for the average student to pay off his or her loans.

All these factors have people second guessing the idea of going to college. People are beginning to question if college is still worth it. This decision is made even harder when students see numerous successful people who did not attend college or finish it.

These names include Rachael Ray, the celebrity chef who never attended college or culinary school; Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook; and Ryan Seacrest, the celebrity personality. These people set an example showing they are not only successful, but also famous and extremely wealthy, without ever attending college or finishing their degrees.

Many of these celebrities are seen as the exception rather than the rule. Most of them had a special talent in a specific field or an exceptional personality that allowed them to excel. Not every person can rely on becoming rich and famous in place of going to college.

Although it is possible to find success, people without college degrees struggle to find jobs more than people with a college degree. Not getting your college degree and landing a well-paying job is kind of like playing the lottery; your chances of winning are very slim but if you do win, the reward could be high.

For every successful college dropout, there are a hundred more who struggle every day to make ends meet. Minimum wage is the only option for most people without a degree, but with a college degree and becoming specialized in a specific field, landing a job is much more likely.

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“Hold On, I Wanna Instagram This”

instagram3With all the hype and attention that social media has brought to the world in the past few years, as well as its importance in the media, Instagram has become an extremely popular social media device.

Following in the footsteps of its top competitors such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, Instagram is becoming immensely popular.

Most people assume that it is just the younger generations that consume this photo-sharing app, Instagram attracts all different groups of people.

While Instagram continues to grow, more age groups become victim to the Instagram life. Many adults, parents, and even senior citizens are a part of this social media craze.

Instagram has become a great way to keep a sense of contact with people. Including myself, many people don't exactly need to be in direct contact with every person at all times.

Sometimes we just want to see what everyone is doing on a day-to-day basis and we are able to achieve this by viewing the pictures people continuously upload. Users upload everything from pictures of their pancakes, to their cute puppy taking a nap.

It creates a sense of communication without going too far. You are able to see what's going on without having to talk to anyone.

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Being Involved In Reality Television

dancingwiththestarsvotingReality TV shows have become extremely popular in recent years. "American Idol," "The Voice" and "Dancing With the Stars" are often the subjects of many conversations amongst young Americans.

What exactly is it about such reality television shows that we inevitably find ourselves attracted to?

The answer is a simple one: we find ourselves attracted to such TV shows because we are directly participating in the competition.

We often vote for our favorite contestants and doing so makes that competition a personal one for us. From a psychological perspective, our minds automatically give more importance to the things that are directly related to us.

By voting for a contestant, we are giving our personal support. So, they automatically become an elevated priority in our minds.

Such a trend has caused other types of TV shows to offer audience interaction. For example, many news channels now have Twitter and Facebook pages where viewers can leave comments and sometimes, the most intriguing ones are displayed on the show.

Another reason why people are attracted to reality TV shows is because, somehow, it makes them feel better about their own problems.

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The Struggle Of Joining Multiple Clubs

One of the reasons I was looking forward to coming to Monmouth University was the wide array of clubs and other extracurricular activities the campus had to offer.

I was excited to get involved on campus as soon as possible. I wanted to join every club or group that I was interested in.

Yes, there's only one time block in the week where clubs are guaranteed the chance to meet (2:30 to 3:30 on Wednesdays), but I figured I could do it since not every club meets during that particular hour.

Some groups I have already joined, such as Hawk TV and even RHA, which meet at night, so I thought I was getting more time in the day to attend other meetings.

Imagine my horror when I attended the Involvement Fair and discovered that not one, two, three, but four groups I wanted to join were all scheduled to meet at the exact same time! Not cool. I can't be in four places at once. This is why we need more club hours (or a cloning machine).

Each time I toured the Universities' campus as a prospective student, I discovered even more ways for me to get involved in my major which made me fall in love with the school even more. This of course evidently led to my decision to enroll at Monmouth.

I was looking forward to arriving on campus and joining each of these groups, such as The Monmouth Review or The Verge because I enjoy writing. I was interested in joining Shadows Yearbook because I have always wanted to work on a yearbook, or even Boom Roasted Productions because I have a passion for theater.

I never expected to be forced to choose between any of them, which probably intensified the shock of the situation. As much as I want to be a part of all of these organizations, it just won't work if they all occupy a single club hour.

I can't even overextend myself, because again, I can't be in four places at once. I was ready to do it all, but now I see that isn't entirely possible nor realistic.

It's great that we have a set time in place to give clubs the chance to meet regularly, but when students looking to get involved and pursue interests are forced to choose between two equally fun clubs they love, that's not a good situation.

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Too Many Legal Ages?

Should There Be One Legal Age For Everything?

The party-planning, the celebrations with friends, the gifts, and more importantly, the rights. What more could you possibly ask for from your 18th birthday?

It's no secret we all spend our entire teen years looking forward to the big 18, but why exactly do we, though? Is it because technically, we're finally considered legal? Is it because we can finally get our adult license?

I remember looking forward to my 18th birthday like it was the greatest thing in the world and I'm not going to lie, I had an awesome time celebrating it.

However, once the weekend was over, it was back to business and being 18 didn't feel any different from 17. It's not even like I registered to vote or anything.

According to the government, after turning 18, I had the options to join the army and legally play the lottery, two things I had never cared for.

The following birthday was even worse. At 19, Uncle Sam gives you his blessing to go ahead and contaminate your lungs. At 19 I was now able to go into any corner store and buy my mom her cigarettes.

I recently turned 20 this past May. Of course the partying was great, but the fact that I was no longer a teenager and still not treated as a full adult really annoyed me. I still can't get into clubs and bars which is depressing.

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The Confusion with Public Relations and Journalism

Does this Communication Concentration Limit Students?

Journalism_PRPublic relations specialists are often referred to as “spin doctors” by journalists. Journalists are often referred to as “blood suckers and liars” by public relations specialists.

If the two do not bring out the best in one other, then why does Monmouth University pair them under one concentration for a Bachelor of Arts in Communication?

Albright College in Reading, PA, has a degree in public relations and advertising, a tactic used in marketing. The college has made a separate degree for those who wish to major in journalism.

Similar is the case of schools out west such as Utah State University who pairs public relations and marketing.

The University of Tennessee instead has public relations mixed with advertising/marketing for a degree option and journalism is paired with electronic media.

If this trend is being seen nationwide, why is Monmouth University an exception?

“The crucial 'publish and be damned' culture of journalism is the very antithesis of the carefully controlled messaging of the PR world,” journalist Steve Loynes wrote in a Huffington Post article which was published last year.

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Disconnecting from Technology

One Student Tells His Story About His Phone-less Experience

The answer is yourself, as I recently learned how splendid the effects of distancing yourself from the inundation of technology can be while I was half a world away from home.

My wife Vicki and I took a trip across the pond to England this summer. We crammed our itinerary with tourists’ stops: Stonehenge, Big Ben, Windsor Castle and plenty of pints at the pub.

But a week before we left, Vicki noticed we forgot to buy an international cell phone plan. When she enlightened me of this oversight, I instinctively reached for my phone, akin to a parent covering their child’s ears to protect them from an offensive epithet.

I could see my entire social networking life—everything from AIM away messages to Miley Cyrus tweets—flashing before my eyes.

What self-respecting tourist would dare travel without the capacity to Instagram their experience?

If I couldn’t share my trip in real-time with my friends and run-of-the-mill internet stalkers, what was the point in even going?

After some deliberation, we decided to forsake the extra cost of an international phone plan and take the plunge into the world without electronic contact.

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The Debate Over Minimum Wage

I would go out on a limb and say that most of us work pretty hard for our well-earned cash. Now, would you work even harder if you were offered more cash? Of course you would.

Money is not everything and no, money does not buy happiness. Let’s be realistic; it does buy gas, food, clothes and other important things that are basically necessities.

Many young adults and college students are just starting out on their own two feet, struggling with having to pay their own bills and supporting themselves all while balancing a job with their education.

So understandably, more money is an incentive to work even harder. The point is that it’s time minimum wage is increased. 

Many basic or entry level jobs are the ones paying minimum wage; a measly $7.25 per hour.

However, the biggest dilemma we are faced with is the current economic hardship and an even more competitive job market where you must have the skills and experience to get a decent job while earning big bucks.

That however, puts many young, educated but frankly inexperienced individuals at a serious disadvantage. Young adults step out of college and are often left with a huge amount of debt in loans.

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To Live With An Old Friend...Or Not?

live_with_an_old_friend_or_notAlthough Monmouth University is only an hour and a half drive from my home in north New Jersey, as a freshman, I was scared.                

As an only child, I was attached to my parents, my pets and my own bed. Moving into a cement walled dorm was the furthest thing away from what I wanted to do, but I had a dream of going to college and getting a degree.

As we began to unload the pick-up truck, bringing tubs and boxes filled with clothes and memories, I only had one saving grace. I would be living in a room with my childhood best friend.

In my experience, living with a friend that I had prior to coming to college was a huge benefit. My friend and I already knew so much about each other that we didn’t have to break the ice.

Any awkward feelings I would have had with a stranger weren’t present with my friend in the room, which was a huge plus for me.

She knew my weird habits and I knew hers and we could talk about any new worries or frustrations we had about school. Not only was it comforting living with someone I knew, but she was also a constant reminder of home.

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What’s With The New iPhone Update?

iOS7The new iOS7 is a trippy update with florescent new features but maybe bringing in the new is not for everyone. It’s seems to be all the talk around campus whether you’ve updated your iPhone or not. Some people don’t want to update because they don’t like the new features, but others don’t want to update because they don’t like change. Come on now, it’s just a phone update.

Like everything in life, change takes some getting used to, but I don’t think this change is necessarily a bad one; I think it’s actually pretty cool. Then again my phone did not crash and it did update fairly quickly.

The iOS7 has a lot of beneficial touches to offer all of us. The update seems very futuristic because everything opens and closes right in front of your eyes.

There are some very cool tools when it comes to the new update; for example it gives you the option to tap out your very own custom vibration patterns for text messages. You can get to your calendar, flashlight, alarm, calculator, camera screen and adjust your brightness all without unlocking your phone.

There are a bunch of new ringtones, even the option to block numbers from texting and calling you for all of you who are still annoyed by that certain someone.

The camera updates are pretty cool too. It’s nice that your albums are separated into panoramas and videos. Rather than having to search through your whole album to find them individually, they are now conveniently grouped together.

 If you hold down the camera button it takes multiple pictures which is convenient for action shots. There are also filters for photos at your disposal, they may not be the best, but there’s an app for that.

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The Communication Behind Facebook

Since Facebook’s launch in 2004, it has been one of the most controversial means of communication.

Modern teens are specifically targeted as being especially technologically evolved in the sense that they are unable to communicate in any other way.

I can personally cite many examples where people have advised me to not mention “u” or “r” in an email meant for a professor. Personal annoyances aside, I do feel that social networking sites such as Facebook have united our society in an interesting way.

 Hitting “like” or typing the letters “lol” have become our new way of revealing our affection. I bet most of us have had moments where we want to share something—an emotion, a fleeting moment, a certain incident and no one seems to be available.

Such situations are becoming increasingly common as our “To Do” lists keep expanding. Amidst such a busy life, social sites such as Facebook allow us to share our thoughts with our close friends, family members and essentially all of those people whom we interact with on a daily basis.

If anything, posting a status update on Facebook at least makes us feel satisfied that we attempted to share our thoughts with someone. The more “likes” and comments our statuses and photographs receive, the more content we feel.

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Juggling A Part Time Job While Being A Student

Tuesday: A few months ago, this relatively unsuspecting, always unexceptional day of the week became  the most hectic.

Tuesdays are very chaotic, as well as a lesson learned about balancing a part-time job while being a full-time student.

Every Tuesday for the past two semesters, I have woken up in the wee hours of the morning to start my full shift at work, commuted from my hometown to campus in the afternoon and stayed in class until late night hours.

It seems like an impossible schedule considering the workload from my classes, including assignments to complete and tests to study for.

In addition, there’s work shifts, extracurricular activities, events to attend, friends to meet up with and sheep to count.

As daunting a responsibility as simultaneously juggling work, school and a social life can be, it turned out to be surprisingly worth it. I am so glad that I took it on because the grueling schedule revealed so much about myself and my capabilities that I may not have known I was able to do.

Of course, concern over whether or not you will become overwhelmed with work and school is not ill-placed and I know firsthand that it can become stressful if you bite off more than you can chew.

The secret is to honestly ask yourself what you can realistically handle with your established schedule or personal routine, while taking into consideration your sleeping patterns and when you are most productive.

If you prefer to stay out late and sleep in for example, avoid jobs with morning shifts. If you live on the residential side of campus, an on-campus job between classes would most likely be the most convenient option for you.

 If sports practice dominates your Monday through Friday, you could try looking for a job with weekend availability.

Wherever and whenever you secure a position, make sure to communicate openly with your manager or supervisor so they understand your situation and adjust their expectations accordingly.

Whether you are a commuter like me or an on-campus resident, I still definitely recommend getting a job if you are considering it.

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The Scam With Textbook Prices

“Here go all of my summer savings,” I thought as I swiped my credit card to pay for my required textbooks. According to a recent USA Today study, textbook prices have increased more than 82 percent in the past decade.

What seems to drive up the cost of textbooks nowadays is typically supplemental instructional materials, such as online access codes or practice quizzes. Students in the generations before us had to rely simply on their professor’s notes and the printed text for learning a subject.

How necessary are these supplemental items in the sense that they truly aid the students’ studies? Online practice quizzes may be helpful, they are not an absolute necessity. Study guides can temporarily serve as a revision tool, but they can’t replace the note taking process that is essential for any student to master. 

While the availability of such supplements may be helpful, it should not be mandatory for students to buy along with the textbooks. They unnecessarily increase the overall price and force students to spend extra money.

Another manner in which the publishers victimize students is by releasing new editions of textbooks every year. They justify doing so by stating that they are including new material that has been researched in the previous years in which keeps the students updated with the latest information.

As a student myself, I cannot help but think of the inconvenience of such a system. If I was to buy an older edition of a textbook rather than the latest one with a (more) glamorous cover, what groundbreaking research could the new textbook possibly include that would be absolutely necessary for say, an intro class?

The newer book may only contain a few more images and perhaps even increase the length of some of the chapters, other than that, the basic information will be the exact same. Also price of the newer edition will at least be $50 to $100 higher than the older edition. As a student, I personally do not see why buying the newer edition may be all that beneficial, solely for the sake of a few new pictures. 

The Huffington Post reports that college textbook prices have increased at a faster rate than tuition, inflation and healthcare costs in recent years. Due to this, many students are now opting to buy online editions of textbooks, affectionately called eBooks which are cheaper and only include the actual text, without all the unnecessary supplements.

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On Campus Living vs. Off Campus Living

Many college students cooped up in dorm rooms are ready to escape to luxurious off campus living, and some of upperclassman living off campus are just wishing they could go back to their freshman dorm that they once called home.

 I guess sometimes we want what we don’t have, but it isn’t until one experiences it themselves that we learn what works for us. As with anything, there are both pros and cons from dining hall food to your very own privacy when living on and off campus.

One thing to know when moving off campus is that there are a bunch of separate costs that must be taken into consideration when trying to find housing that works for your budget.

My monthly rent does not include utilities; so cable, internet, electric, gas, and water is paid for separately. If you have to do your own landscaping and snow removal then that is another chunk of change to be handed over.

When living off campus, commuting can be such an inconvenience, and that is what I found to be a huge positive about living on campus. Living on campus allows students to avoid the massive struggle of finding a parking spot and getting to class on time.

Mounds amounts of gas money are also not spent on a weekly basis when living on campus.         

Living on campus is very convenient for those of you who enjoy getting those last minutes of shut eye and rolling out of bed just minutes before that sprint to class.

When living on campus there are many other things at your convenience. If you are trying to avoid the freshman fifteen like the plague, or just trying to stay fit, Boylan gym is only a quick walk away.

Also a little secret for those living on campus, so you don’t find out as late as I did; The Hawks Den is a gym in Oakwood open late for all you night owls. It makes it pretty convenient to go to the gym when it’s on the residential side of campus, especially at late hours.

I was not crazy about the food at the dining hall, (besides for the mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers,) but I can’t deny the fact that it was a social experience after every time Diamond scanned my meal card. Moving off campus made me realize how dull my social experiences were on campus when having my home cooked meals.

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Is Vlogging The New Reality Television?

While taking a study break this week, I logged on to YouTube to listen to some music. As I scrolled through my subscriptions on my main page, I found myself watching the channel “Watch Us Live and Stuff.” The channel stars Anthony Padilla, better known as Anthony from the popular YouTube channel Smosh, and his fiancée Kalel.

On this specific vlog, the couple was tasting foreign candy bars that they had found at a local food market. After watching the twelve-minute review, I thought to myself: ‘Why did I just watch that?’ Then I looked down and saw that the video already received roughly two hundred thousand views in two days. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought this video was somewhat interesting.

With the popularity of reality TV, it can be assumed that people enjoy viewing pretty much anything that others are doing and seeing what the result is going to be. YouTubers have taken their own approach with this idea by creating weekly or even daily videos about little tidbits of their lives.

It is easy to see why this has become very popular. These YouTube celebrities are giving their audience a look into their daily lives, which is an effective way to gain more viewers. However, these videos are not just about them going to a new restaurant or trying new makeup. Some of these vlogs include the YouTubers answering questions their fans ask on social media, or opening up mail and thanking their entire fan base.

These types of videos on YouTube have created a personable atmosphere and the lines of communication are constantly open between the entertainer and the audience. That could be the reason why it has become so popular among the masses, and why these YouTubers have gained millions of subscribers.

These entertainers, writers, and actors, create a casual, friendly, and down to earth virtual relationship with their fan base. Granted, their fans are the only reason they get paid through Google, but fans are also the reason why several celebrities have acquired so much success.

However, do not forget that there are extreme differences between YouTubers and other celebrities.Think about it, do you think we will ever see movie stars like Johnny Depp or Jennifer Aniston casually sitting in front of a computer, recording themselves answering fan mail?

Or would we see them conducting a live video web chat so they can interact and take suggestions from their audience? Would these celebs ever make a “Draw My Life” video talking about their struggles and achievements?

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The Hype Over All Things Healthy

The organic food craze has undoubtedly swept the nation in recent years and its popularity is only growing. But despite the huge trend organic foods has become, it still faces criticism Not being able to afford the high price tag of organic foods; and not trusting how organic foods are processed are just a few complaints typically heard from people.

  In today’s society, our focus is on quickness, convenience and instant gratification at the snap of a finger. Most of the time, we can do just that. Fast food chains and artificially processed rubbish are everywhere. But do we know what are we compromising ourselves to eat just for the convenience of faster, cheaper, and easier?

Sadly, even the big name supermarkets’ shelves are stocked with foods containing pesticides and chemicals that many (including myself) would argue are harmful to our health. While the switch may seem strange to many, having to spend those few extra dollars is worth it.

With organic foods it comes down to how the animals are nurtured and how plants are grown.  Organic means that the products are clean of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or genetically engineered seeds. Many people believe that because of these aspects, organic foods are safer and healthier over all.

You do not have to be a health freak to go organic. Organic products are tremendously beneficial to any lifestyle, and the changes necessary to make the switch are truly miniscule in perspective.

The high demand for organic products has it much more accessible to the general public by being available in supermarkets such as Shoprite, Stop & Shop, and even Wal-Mart. The reality is organic foods are usually only a couple of dollars more than their non-organic counterparts.

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Enough Backlash With Young Stars

backlash_with_young_starsLet’s face it - it is hard to deny that those in the public light live extravagant, glamorous lives. I am sure most of us would not have a difficult time accepting the offer to become famous overnight. Al­though, remembering that living in the public eye entails constant pa­parazzi stalking, harsh public scru­tiny and the spreading of ridiculous rumors might make us think twice before trading in our ordinary, non-famous lives.

As college students, these are the years where we are expected to make mistakes and grow as in­dividuals. Fortunately for any slip­ups made on our part, we are able to shrug them off and learn from them. Nowadays, what seems to be the main focus is young stars who are desperately trying to grow and mature while in the spotlight. Stars such as Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber are constantly having their every move analyzed and criticized by the public. In today’s society, it seems that audiences are more en­gaged and some may even call it ob­sessed, with the daily lives of stars.

Let’s rewind to three weeks ago at MTV’s “Video Music Awards.” What seems to continue to be the topic of conversation is Miley Cyrus’ risqué performance during the awards show. Some may say the media is fixating way too much on Miley’s recent image and inappro­priateness. As a “Hannah Montana” fan, I was also in shock at what took place during that awards show, but I moved on. I feel the media is spending too much time focusing on the shocking performance. At the end of the day, Miley Cyrus is a young twenty-year old woman who is trying to shed her Disney image and mature as an artist. I am not a fan of the direction she is going in, but those are her choices. In an interview clip a few days after the VMA’s, Miley said it best herself, “What’s amazing is, we’re three days later and people are still talk­ing about.”

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The Anticipated Transition from Summer To Fall

transition_from_summer_to_fallAs a person gets older, it feels as if their summers become shorter. Before they know it, the dogwood tree fades from white to red and their closet changes from tee shirts to sweaters. Many tend to look at this transformation as glum and dreary, but I simply adore it.

Nearly everyone likes a good party and changing from summer to fall is the ignition of the party season. While it can be argued that summer has fun holidays, such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, fall signals the long awaited festivi­ties involving lights.

Heading back to college is the most obvious reason why party season begins, but fall also is the catalyst to the holiday party sea­son. Starting off in October, we are blessed with Mischief Night and Halloween. Then comes No­vember, we have Thanksgiving where everyone in America fol­lows the feasting stereotype given to our country.

Included in the fall’s busy sched­ule is one of the most beloved American traditions: football. Ev­ery Sunday, family and friends gather around a television screen no matter the size to watch their fa­vorite team. When that team scores a touchdown, the wings begin to taste better, the air begins to smell fresher, and the tailgate becomes bigger.

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Increased Facebook Advertisements

As with most college students, Facebook has become a staple of socialization for me. Since it was created, the site has gained hun­dreds of millions of users. How­ever, over the past few months it seems that Facebook has been trying to increase revenue with more adver­tisements on the main news feed page. Originally, they used to just appear on the side bar of the site, but now the format has completely changed. Ad­vertising is the main way for online sites and companies to gain most of their income if they are not a business with a tangible product.

Normally, it never bothered me when I saw ads on the side for different stores, brands, and movies. Even if sometimes it felt a bit creepy that it was tailoring what advertisements were shown based on my likes and interac­tions with others.

Since the change, there are ads interwoven into my news feed in between the pictures and statuses of my Facebook friends. The ads themselves look like regular sta­tuses with like and comment sec­tions for people to use and share the advertisement. They do say that word of mouth is the best form of advertising; companies are just taking a more modern ap­proach on the idea. I do not nec­essarily disagree with the idea of Facebook increasing the amount of ads they present on their news feed. To me it is just an unim­portant annoyance I can live with or without. It is not like they are those annoying pop-up ads that you used to have to block on cer­tain sites.

What is truly aggravating is the site constantly advertising for revenue through their differ­ent features. For example, when­ever I write on a friend’s wall for their birthday, a little notification pops up asking if I would like to send them a Starbucks or Target e-gift card. As you can probably guess, I do not send these at all. Facebook knows enough of my information that it does not need to know my credit card number as well. Also, if I am going to give them a present, it is not going to be in a passive aggressive manner through some social media site.

Facebook is not the only guilty one in this. I have been on so many sites where ads are pop­ping up ev­e r ywhe r e , or ads are playing at the bottom of pages. It is extremely d i s t r a c t ­ing and can turn away users from that specific sight. I know that in the past I have ceased vis­iting certain sites due to the fact that their material was not often updated and riddled with so many ads that they consumed the page.

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication 
and Instructional Technology (CCIT) Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey 07764

Phone:(732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu