Mentoring Monday: Seeing the Value in Gen. Eds.

Seeing the Value in Gen. Eds
Angie Grau, School of Music Mentor

It’s finally here: the first day of classes! You are so excited you can barely sleep. Your “first day of college” outfit hangs neatly on the back of your closet door. You rise with the sun—since of course you have all 8AMs—and prepare for the day ahead. Glancing at your course schedule, you frown. Bold letters glare back: WRT 120. Ugh, you think, what a waste of a class.

We have all had that sinking feeling. Those classes in high school that we struggled with, or that we did not think would ever be relatable to our futures. Whether that is writing, math, science, whatever…you still had to take it. And because you were forced to, you immediately hated it and everything about it.

College General Education courses may just give you that same feeling at first. Why on earth do I have to take TWO science classes, I’m a MUSIC MAJOR!! This, and many similar exclamations, is heard very often throughout the Swope Music Building, regardless of how long they have attended college. Well, as much as I may sound like your parents, too bad. You still have to take them. But this time, I’m here to tell you that there it’s not a waste. There are a lot of reasons every student at West Chester University is required to take General Education Classes, and I’m here to shed some light on this seemingly horrible situation.

First and foremost, I know you’re a music major. I know you have other classes to worry about that are far more important than General Astronomy. I am too, and so do I. But, one must remember the logistics: that forever-looming GPA. Since General Education courses are three credits, they must take some priority. Getting a C or lower in a Gen Ed can do some real, irreversible damage to your academic reputation.

Now, I don’t want you to just suck it up and get good grades. I want you to actually enjoy these classes! Since your major is so concentrated, you will be spending the majority of your upperclassmen days in Swope. This may be your safe haven or your worst nightmare, but it is unavoidable. Take Gen Eds as an opportunity to branch out of the music building! One of my closest friends I have here I met in my MAT 103 course. We hit it off once we found out that we were both freshman whose favorite color was green. She is my rock, and reminds me that there is a world outside of music school. Trust me, you’re going to forget sometimes!

In addition to the people you can meet in Gen Eds and the academic impact they have, there is another thing to consider. You can choose which classes you take! I know that many high schools gave their students the ability to choose their courses, and the same is said for West Chester. In your Curriculum Guide, there is a chart that shows all of the courses that count towards our General Education requirement. You get to customize your own education based off of these choices!

Obtaining knowledge of these seemingly obvious things has helped me enrich my undergraduate experience here at WCU. Being a music major is a grueling endeavor, but you might find General Education courses to be a relief from the stress our lives endure. I hope that in your years here you remember them and that they come in use! 🙂

Group Advising Sessions

Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 1:28 PM
Subject: Group Advising Sessions- Copy

Music Students,

Tomorrow at 11:00am in place of Studio Hour is the Group Advising Session. Please attend the sessions per your majors as indicated below. Note that my previous announcements said that MUE pre-methods would be in MWAT but we have to move to the Main Stage in EO Bull Center.

Music Performance: Instrument – SMB 220
Music Performance: Keyboard – SMB 208
Music Performance: Voice – SMB 225
Music Performance: Jazz – SMB 210
Music Ed: pre-methods – Main Stage Theatre, EO Bull Center
Music Ed: entering methods I within next year – SMB 141
Music Ed: entering methods II or student teaching within next year – SMB 320
Theory and Composition: SMB 303
Elective Studies: SMB 304
Music Therapy: SMB 310

Nicole Kemp
Undergraduate Program Counselor
West Chester University │ College of Visual and Performing Arts
Swope Music Building │ 817 S. High Street │ West Chester, PA 19383 ││610.436.3261
Need an appointment with me? visit
Check out Sommy Advises, our new SOM Blog:

Mentoring Monday: Getting Yourself Up For Class

Getting Yourself Up for Class
Katie Cloud, School of Music Mentor

Welcome to freshman year of college, where 8AM classes are almost inevitable, and you end up awake twice as long as you would have been in high school. I’m pretty sure I should have had just an IV drip of coffee my freshman year – it would have been the equivalent of how much I consumed in that time. I never drank coffee before college, but due to my lack of sleep, I felt like I needed it. Since then, I have turned into a grandmother, try my best to go to bed before midnight, and try my best to wake up early every single day in order to be productive without completely exhausting myself. (Disclaimer: I do still drink coffee. It’s too delicious to give up.)

At this point you’re probably asking “How do you survive without that IV drip of coffee? That’s basically impossible!” So here are the things that you hear from everyone, but should stow in your back pocket and actively try to do – I swear it will help.

1. Go to Starbucks less.
I know, I know, it’s literally right there on your way to Swope and you can’t even handle not having your triple shot of espresso before every meal and before bed because you forgot to do your homework. I understand not being able to give up your favorite coffee; like I said, I still drink coffee. But here’s what you should do: have it once a day. You can have it with your breakfast in your dorm, you can stop at Starbucks before your 8am – 9:45am theory class you’ll absolutely fall asleep in without it (Starbucks opens at 7am – get there as early as possible, because being 20 minutes late with Starbucks isn’t going to get you on your professor’s good side), or if you know you have a long night ahead of you, wait until you’re falling asleep standing up to get it (but never past 8pm). I have faith that you can go without multiple Trente iced coffees in a day. Actually I really hope you stop doing that because if you don’t you’ll end up in the hospital.

2. Don’t get your gym on at night.
If you’re a person who exercises daily, first of all, GO YOU! Second of all, don’t do it at night! Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good and wake you up. Exercising in the morning or afternoon is probably a better option in the long run. You will be wide awake and motivated to do anything post-exercise, so why not do it during the day? Besides, just like nixing the coffee drinking at night, you should do the same with exercise. You don’t want to be stuck awake longer than necessary the night before a big test/assignment/performance, and these things come up more often than not in college.

3. Plan out your day.
As you were probably told during your freshman orientation, it’s important to plan out your days and schedule practice time like a class so you can’t find an excuse to skip it. You should do this with everything you need to do – homework, meals, practicing, and sleep. The more organized you are with everything, the more likely you are to stay on top of your stuff and stick to a set schedule. Sometimes it feels crazy following a busy schedule like that, but at least you know you have all your bases covered. And when I say schedule sleep, I mean schedule a bed time (try for before midnight – especially if you have an 8am!!) and plan out a full 7-8 hours. It sounds ridiculous, and you’ve heard it all before, but I know so many people who have felt calmer and more energized when they started getting the right amount of sleep and stuck to their schedule.

4. Set a million alarms.
Personally, I have to set a million alarms. If I only set one, with my luck I will shut it off instead of hitting snooze and wake up three hours later, missing like five classes, a lesson, and an exam. If you are like me, I highly suggest you do the same. I also set my alarm for at least a half an hour before I SHOULD wake up because I have to hit snooze several times before I wake up. It’s a weird mental thing that I can’t help, so I plan ahead for it. So again, if you are like me, if you have an 8am and need to shower, set an alarm for 6am so you can actually get up at 6:30 and not have to run around like a crazy person. Like I said before, it’s never good to be 20 mintues late to class with Starbucks in hand.

All of these things are important to do in preparation of getting up for class. It’s easy to fall into some bad habits when you’re new to living on your own. It’s extremely important to do everything you can to make sure you don’t fall into too many bad habits. Be responsible, follow these tips, and everything will come so much easier in the long run.

WCU Shadows

From the Career Development Center:

We are now accepting applications for WCU Shadows 2015! Space is limited; applications are due by Friday, October 3To get more information and apply, visit

ü  Who? Sophomores (30-59 credits) from all majors are encouraged to apply

ü  What? Spend one day shadowing an alumni host on the job to get an in-depth perspective about their career

ü  Where? We will match you with an alum working in a career that interests you, and you will meet at their organization

ü  When? You and your alumni host will select one day over winter break in January 2015 that is convenient for you both

ü  Why? Explore majors and careers by making connections and experiencing a “day in the life” of professionals through various conversations and activities

WCU Shadows is co-sponsored by the Career Development Center and the Office of Alumni Relations. Please contact Amanda Mitchell with any questions: or 610.436.2501.

Mentoring Monday: Time Management & Prioritizing Schedules

Time Management & Prioritizing Schedules
Theresa Whitehead, School of Music Mentor

Time management and prioritizing are important for everyone in many aspects of life. For us as music majors – it’s critical. With our busy schedules, it is essential to figure out how to fit everything within 24 hours of the day. So how do we do it? For some people, prioritizing & figuring out a solidly planned schedule comes naturally. For others, it takes time & practice. The key is to stick with a plan that works for you. Our music major life is insane (as I’m sure you already know & will constantly be reminded). Generally, our days are packed from 8am to at least 9pm. The hour breaks in between classes will fly by before you remember where you have to be for the next one.

My first tip is to not let time get away from you. Especially time where you need to grab food. Music majors have a habit of “forgetting” to eat. Don’t let not having enough time in your schedule be an excuse not to grab nourishment for your crazy day. You’ll be surprised how lenient professors are with allowing you to eat during class (as long as you’re not singing/playing an instrument at the same time!). Didn’t wake up in time to grab breakfast before you start your day? Set out cereal or a poptart/granola bar to grab on our way out the door the night before. Do you have back-to-back classes from 11-3? Keep snacks in your locker to munch on between or during your classes, or keep a packed lunch in the lounge fridge & grab it before you head off to your next class. Sleep is another habit music majors often skip out on. It may seem silly now, but sleep is absolutely a part of what you need to prioritize & keep as a part of your schedule. Always make time to keep yourself healthy & energized throughout your day. You will need it.

What about the rest of your day with classes and practicing? You will discover a natural flow of daily music major life. Utilize your breaks (however they occur) to practice and do homework. Also make sure you have time to breathe. Keep an open slot for your own personal downtime, whether that is reading a book, taking a nap, exercising, social time, etc. Taking time to let your brain absorb everything that’s happened during your hectic day will help you feel better about accomplishing your next task.

So how is it done? Some people know their schedules, & get through their day as it happens. If that works for you, great! Personally, I am quite the opposite. If you’re like me here’s a tip: write everything down. Look at your schedule and write in what you will be doing in the blank spaces (like eating lunch!). On my busiest days, I write out my schedule hour by hour with what I’m doing during that time. Having this list with me throughout the day keeps me on track. Plus, crossing out what I’ve done each hour feels awesome! If it’s easier, get a white board to help you plan your day. A planner or notebook is also a very handy tool for music majors. With a lot of tasks to accomplish daily, it’s hard to remember everything. It’s a good investment for those who will use it!

Whatever your strategy may be, stick to it. When you are overwhelmed about not having enough hours in the day, just remember that many of us have done this before & continue to be successful. Stick to whatever plan works best for you.