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Once a Party School, Always a Party School?

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Top Party School in USA

College is the time in every student’s life when the sudden lack of supervision opens up a whole new world of possibilities. In most cases, the cherry on top of this new found freedom is the notorious college party scene.

But some universities are known to go a little crazier than others and have made names for themselves across the country as designated party schools. Reputation carries a heavy weight when it comes to choice of college and, in some cases, might even overshadow the actual standard of education at a university.

Being a school prone to parties and wild nights does majorly factor into how a student will experience college, but it also affects the way those same students are seen by the rest of the world, whether or not that’s fair.

Party school status has become such a hot topic that each year colleges across America are ranked on a Top 20 list by the Princeton Review.

The top spot belongs to Syracuse University in New York, which also landed high numbered spots in several Princeton Review categories such as “Lots of Beer,” “Lots of Hard Liquor,” and “Reefer Madness.” After spending the past eight years landing in the Top 10–and climbing higher every year–SU finally landed the coveted title in the 2019 edition of PR’s list.

But is the party scene all Syracuse has to offer? Absolutely not.

The same site that names Syracuse the number one party school also reports that they produce the number one college newspaper, and have some of the most politically active students and one of the most active student governments in the country.

In fact, a side-by-side breakdown of every school on the PR list and their academic standards for admissions says differently.

Colleges with bigger reputations for partying show no trend at all towards lower SAT or ACT scores. Some of the higher-ups on the party scale are even among the top universities in America.

Ranked as the #6 party school, the University of California at Santa Barbara has cultivated a stellar academic standing in the public university system for its research. Regardless, UCSB is more widely known for its reputation for unbridled drinking and partying.

Isla Vista Welcome Sign - A Small Town With a Huge Party Scene

The small college town just off campus, Isla Vista, has become a notorious party scene with dangerous expectations. Inhabited almost entirely by undergraduate students, Isla Vista attracts youth from up and down the California coast, with its nightlife, nearly every day of the week.

Large scale events, like Halloween or the annual neighborhood-wide Deltopia (previously called Floatopia), have proved out of control in the past, but measures are continually put in place to keep the festivities safe and sane. In one case, the UCSB torch was passed down from one sister to the next, and along with it, the evolution of the party school stigma.

Isla Vista Neighborhood-Wide Deltopia Halloween Party

“They started shutting things down because all these outsiders came in and started making it unsafe,” said student Annabell Walker, reflecting on the time she spent seven years ago visiting her older sister in Isla Vista. “The more people heard about [Floatopia]… it was like a UCSB coachella.”

UC Santa Barbara may have an active Greek life and the sunny beach setting to incentivize parties, but students don’t use their school to make excuses for studying.

Several UC Santa Barbara students cited the “work hard play hard” motto when asked how the constant party temptation factors into academics. Saturdays are for debauchery, Sundays are for serious studying.

“UCSB is where you went if you wanted to party but you were smart too,” added Walker. “Yeah, there’s always the option [to party], but it’s still academically a really high ranking school.”

Just because academics are serious on campus, however, doesn’t mean that outside opinions can change.

“My dad used to tell me horror stories about [Isla Vista] parties, and all the drinking and drugs and crazy stuff that went on here,” said UCSB senior Joey Maxwell. “I’ve been here for four years, and I’ve never seen anything like what he’s described.”

Maxwell remembers that the reactions of a UCSB acceptance letter quickly dampened the excitement of getting into college:

“I heard things from friend’s parents like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to see you end up in a place like that, you’re a good student.’ Why can’t I be a good student wherever I go?”

The times really are changing. Although whether or not UCSB has toned it down cannot really be proven with any one statistic; it seems an outdated vision of the party school refuses to be changed.

But a turn-around act is not unheard of. Arizona State University used to be synonymous with college partying but has been dropping in the party school lists for the past several years and, in 2019, didn’t make Princeton Review’s Top 20.

The reputation of party schools doesn’t only follow the colleges through the years, it follows students as well. What can become dangerous is allowing those reputations to overshadow the work and academic strides being achieved inside the classroom walls. 

Universities are ever-changing, and so are the young people who attend them. It stands to reason that the perception of education should grow along with them.

By: Jordan Curiel

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4 Tips on Making the Most Out of Remote Learning

Katherine Feinstein

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As the current COVID-19 pandemic persists, schools continue to grapple with how to approach the future. Many universities have opted to make classes and curriculum completely online, leaving students worried about the quality of their education. However, though this is an unprecedented situation for many of us, there are ways to optimize remote learning.

For many college students, having a busy schedule and in-person classes keeps them on track with their academics. Many students rely heavily on actively listening to lectures in person instead of half-paying attention to pre-recorded classes, while access to libraries and study spaces is also essential for productivity.

On the contrary, it can be extremely difficult to focus while in a student apartment or dorm. Having roommates, being surrounded by distractions, and even having the option to stay in pajamas and doze off, hinder students from getting work done from home.

With the recent universal implementation of either completely online curriculum or hybrid–half in person and half online–classes, students are scrambling to find ways to make sure they get the most out of this Fall semester.

These are some strategies you can use to stay on top of your work and get the most out of remote learning this semester:

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1. Create an ‘in-person’ study and class schedule for yourself.

More often than not, watching a lecture in bed or in the middle of a busy apartment full of distractions isn’t very productive. If you’re worried about keeping up with work and motivating yourself to attend remote classes, create an alternative ‘in-person’ schedule for yourself.

In other words, ‘schedule’ certain classes to be at certain places. If you know you won’t pay attention in your Monday 10 am lecture from home, ‘schedule’ that class to be ‘taken’ from a specific library or quiet coffee shop. Be consistent with this.

Treat this plan as if you were required to go to class at that place and time every week. If you’re uncomfortable/unable to go to a public space such as a library or cafe, pick a quiet, clean spot that is not your bed or couch in your apartment or home.

Associate this spot with that specific class, and make sure you stay off of your phone and avoid any other distractions when you sit down to do the classwork or attend the online lecture.

2. Don’t do your work or attend online classes while in bed or in pajamas.

There’s one thing most college students love the most, and that’s their bed. Many students have trouble sustaining a consistent sleep schedule, yet use their bed as a sanctuary and place of relaxation. Mixing this safe and comfortable space with work or class will not help increase productivity or focus.

Even if you’re planning on staying in your apartment or home to take classes and don’t have alternative study spots available, try to change your clothes in the morning and get ready for the day. Avoid taking your classes in bed or on the couch, and schedule your day away from your bedroom as if you had a ‘normal,’ pre-COVID school day planned.

3. Set designated times for social media.

Be strict with yourself about how often you use your phone and when you are on social media. Just like in a classroom setting, keep your phone away from your designated study area or leave it home if you choose to go to an alternative location.

Similarly, if you’re attending remote lectures, try to stay off social media, Netflix, or other non-school-related websites during class. Treat your phone and social media during class and study time as you would in person!

4. Set up online study groups and group chats.

Know that everyone is going through this together: every single American student will have at least one course that is remote this Fall semester. Lean on your classmates, share study resources, and schedule extra online discussion groups to make sure you’re absorbing the material as you would in person.

If possible, you could also consider meeting up with classmates in person–distanced and following COVID social guidelines–once a week to take a class or complete assignments together. In today’s world, know that this is an unprecedented situation for everyone, and it’s okay to reach out for help! 

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How to Come Together to Cope With Grief and Loss During the COVID-19 Crisis

Katherine Feinstein

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Mural of a little girl letting go of a red heart-shaped balloon.

Our current society is riddled with triggers of grief and sadness, and many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the constant negativity and pain posted across social media and news outlets.

However, for many young people, these feelings of grief and loss are unprecedented. Many have found that leaning on our community and finding common ground through grief may be the most effective way to cope.

This year has proven to be the most difficult year ever for many Americans. Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19, the Black community has been fighting the culmination of centuries of racism and loss including the murders of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd, and the continuation of the COVID pandemic has stripped many Americans of social freedoms and the ability to work.

Additionally, young people are dealing with feelings of grief and loss that they have never been confronted with before. In the face of these unprecedented emotions, maintaining good mental health and finding ways to cope can seem almost impossible. 

The world around us is mourning their losses and finding ways to cope with persisting negativity and unrest. In finding peace with our grief from losing loved ones, and coping with emotions towards the ongoing obstacles in our current lives, it is important to establish these support systems and coping strategies.

Organize a socially distanced memorial to commemorate losses with others.

When we lose someone or are feeling a sense of loss about something that has happened, we must find a way to come together with others who are going through the same thing.

A socially distanced memorial may seem like a small act, but in the present moment, it can be meaningful. Even if you have not lost someone but are feeling grief about something else, you can still memorialize whatever it is you have lost.

For example, many may find solace in protesting, organizing support groups for Black Lives Matter(BLM) to discuss these emotions of grief, as well as painting murals to commemorate the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd. It may be painful, but memorializing loss can ultimately be healing, as well as strengthen the bond between the participants. 

Find ways to honor the person you’ve lost.

In addition to memorializing someone, celebrating the person you’ve lost can be extremely healing as well. Grief stems from a feeling of emptiness left by the loss of someone or something you care deeply for.

In order to fill this void and find comfort, it can be therapeutic to integrate the legacy of this person or thing into your life.

This type of coping strategy isn’t meant to remind you of your sadness, but is rather meant to help you remember them and your memories with them for years to come.

Another way to honor someone and celebrate their life may be to start a fundraiser in their honor, which has actually been a huge building block of the current momentum of BLM efforts.

You could also plan an outdoor, socially distanced dinner with members of your community where you share the favorite foods of the person you have lost and go around the table telling stories about happy memories made with that person.

Honoring a loss is all about remembering someone and celebrating the positivity they brought to your life. 

Remind yourself of a “silver lining.”

Although dealing with grief and loss can be extremely devastating and detrimental to your mental health, it is especially important to try to find positive things that you can take away from the situation.

Remind yourself of how lucky you are to have loved the person you have lost, as well as of all of the things that they taught you that you can take with you for the rest of your life.

The bonds that you form with other people who are also grieving the loss of that person will become stronger than ever, and you can find meaning in forming this new support system. Further, feeling grief and loss often pushes us to reach out to and hold close the people we love.

Though the current world is in a state of unrest and aggression, many have seen how negativity in our lives can bring people together and bring clarity to the things we care about the most. As we focus on that “silver lining,” we can begin to heal together. 

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Why Am I Going Crazy During Quarantine?

Eunice Park

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Most of us have long ago entered that stage of quarantine where we feel like we’ve lost our minds. Now, nothing better can happen than everything going back to normal, especially social gatherings and activities. But why exactly do we all feel like we are going crazy?

There is a pretty high chance that the cause of this so-called “craziness” of ours has more to do with deeper psychological reasons rather than boredom alone.

If you’ve ever thought, “Geez, why do I feel like I’m going crazy during quarantine?” You can be assured that there’s definitely some real science going on behind this sense of estranged madness.

Isolation goes against human nature.

First, a key lesson that any social psychology expert would most likely impart to you is that humans are social animals. That’s right—we literally feed off of social interaction to survive. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

We are inclined to pay attention to what other people are doing and feeling, which can have a direct effect on our own thoughts and actions. Oftentimes in what is known as the “Bystander Effect,” the very presence of other people can affect what we do because we are an interrelational species.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are part of a daily cycle of codependency and interdependency. For that to suddenly be stripped away would leave the average person a bit disoriented. People affect people; social psychology proves that we do not, and cannot, live in isolation. This is especially evident in the well-known “bystander effect” theory.

Studies have shown that when somebody is alone, they tend to trust their instincts and react immediately, but as soon as there is another person, there is an obvious delay in their decision-making.

For example, if a man cries for help and you are the only one in sight, you would be more than likely to assist him. However, if there are two others with you, there would be notable hesitation. You and they depend on each other, and you are essentially trusting others’ instincts more than your own.

This just proves that being in isolation during quarantine and practicing social distancing are literally going against our human nature. Yes, boredom strikes, and loneliness strikes, but the next time you seriously begin to wonder, “Why am I going crazy?” just remember that by being alone, we are defying our genetic coding, and ultimately can’t help but feel subjugated.

Cutting out social interaction can also trigger a loss of reality, decreased sense of empathy, shorter life span, increased risk of dementia, and more, all just from being deprived of company.

Old habits have fallen apart.

Second, your routine has most likely been upended since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This triggers the human brain in more ways than we know. 

Another amazing function of the human body that we often forget about is our “fight or flight” response. When you regulate your daily actions, you deactivate your “fight or flight” instincts because you’re no longer confronting the unknown.

Simply put, this means that the human body puts its guard down once it feels safe to do so. Its fear instincts are temporarily shut off so that the person can fully enjoy what they are doing. This is where the beauty of routine kicks in.

Interestingly enough, because routine is seen as a safety belt, we allow fear and impulse to make decisions when it is taken away, versus our own conscience. If this is kept up for long enough, stress and uneasiness are irrefutably bound to follow.

Habits are powerful tools. As people used to say, old habits are hard to change. However, good habits are also just as hard to change. Habits, routines, and the ways in which we programmed ourselves to go about our daily chores are what likely kept you afloat until COVID-19. But now, you’ve been forced to uproot your own system and create a new and less desirable one.

The power of repetition and routine on both physiological and psychological responses is consequential. So, the next time you think that you’re going crazy during quarantine, take a step back, grab some paper and a pencil, and try rebranding yourself.

Health issues may arise with less physical activity.

Lastly, drastically reducing or eliminating physical activity can lead to muscle atrophy. This is essentially when muscles waste away from lack of use or activity, which in turn can greatly impact mental health, too.

Many of us are already tired and lazy, to begin with, but when we had obligations such as school, work, the gym, or going out with friends, it gave us more motivation to stay on our feet.

Quarantine has not only prevented all of these activities from taking place, but it has also locked us up in our rooms, and, well, it takes a lot of motivation to leave the safe confinements of a bedroom to go on a run outside. Why not snack on a bag of chips, right? 

Keep in mind that cardiac dysfunction would greatly affect your mental health. Patients afflicted with muscular dystrophy tend to display signs of cognitive impairment, severe depression, sadness, and anxiety.

However, it has been scientifically proven that anxiety or acute daily psychological stress can result in muscle atrophy. Now we’ve really put ourselves into a vicious and unhealthy cycle: the results of anxiety are also the causes of it.

Keeping your muscles intact during quarantine by working out or simply going on a morning stroll would be doing your future self a massive service. Next time somebody asks you during quarantine, “Why am I going crazy?” you might want to check up on their physical activity levels. Staying active is about more than just physical health or losing weight; it’s about preserving mental health as well.

Of course, how severe the effects of quarantine are, depends on one’s situation, personality, and history. Arguably, an extrovert may feel more suffocated from this social loss than an introvert who can thrive while curled up on the sofa with a book. Nonetheless, we are all human, and we are all social animals.

As lockdowns ease up, let’s continue to do ourselves favors, be mindful, and not Google “Why am I going crazy during quarantine?” anymore.

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