Kelly Bondra, rising commercial photographer takes on her dreams

Kelly Bondra

People always say, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, besides words, isn’t it worth so much more than that? Behind the model, behind the clothes, behind the words, there’s someone behind the lens. They are the only person who made that photograph worth anything at all, because without them, it wouldn’t exist.

Kelly Bondra is a 20-year-old photography student at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Her face is fairy-like, a smattering of freckles spread over her cheek bones and nose. Her fiery-red hair falls in curls that brush her shoulders. She looks dainty, but her personality reflects the opposite.

She walks up to the boxing arena, almost overcome with bags, most of which are filled with camera equipment. She plops them down, straightens up and puts her hands on her hips. The last of the day’s light is streaming through the windows, covering the room in gold.

Someone makes a comment about taking advantage of the natural lighting. Bondra nods and kneels down to pull her camera out. She attaches a lens and then begins to explore the place, looking for the best lighting.

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“I think she has always had a creative side,” says Bondra’s mother, Kathy. She explains that as a child Kelly always loved to draw and color. She enjoyed journaling to keep track of her many ideas and did well on writing assignments.

“I think she has always had a creative side.”

“Kelly was a quiet infant, didn’t like to sleep all that much,” Kathy says. “But what soothed her was music and colored lights.” Bondra’s love of music continues today. She often takes inspiration for her many shoots from music.

“It sounds really cheesy, but I get a lot of my inspiration for different shots from music,” Bondra explains. “Whether it’s a melody or a lyric, sometimes I just get this image that I want to create from that.”

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One of the models has on a mesh shirt over a little black dress and a pair of Nike sneakers. The boxing ring will serve as the set for a high fashion, boxing shoot. Bondra says she got the idea when she saw the mesh shirt in a store.

This shoot is for Thread magazine, an on-campus, student-run publication. It will premiere in the magazine’s final issue of the academic year. A team of student assistants in Thread help Bondra set up her shots. They move around huge umbrellas and board reflectors to manipulate the natural light, creating the perfect shadows on the model.

Bondra styles models in different poses in different places. One sits in a chair, wrapping her hand in tape, another is placed so she casts a shadow of herself taking up a boxing pose. Some of the assistants suggest other poses and Bondra tries to explain her vision for the shoot.

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As a fashion photographer, she also gets a lot of ideas from clothing.

“Sometimes I’ll see a cute dress or shirt or something and I just think, ‘I have to shoot that!'” Bondra says. “So I end up buying a lot of clothes. That’s how I thought of the shoot Maggie.” She explains that she saw the blue dress hanging in a local boutique and immediately thought of Maggie.

Maggie Heltzel, another student at Ohio University, regularly models for Bondra. She is featured in many shoots and Bondra says she has become a sort of muse as well as a good friend.

“Kelly puts herself into her work. It’s personal. I think that’s why we’ve grown so close while working together,” says Heltzel. “I’ve learned more about her through the creative process than I otherwise would have.

Maggie in her blue dress, photos by Kelly Bondra

After she finds the inspiration for a shoot, Bondra often turns to Pinterest to find photos that resemble shots that she may want to create herself. This leads to more concrete ideas for lighting, styling and even the models she chooses. Next is picking a location. Sometimes, the location is obvious, such as with the high fashion boxing shoot, other times it takes a while to figure it out. Bondra has shot at a mansion, in a parking garage, in a greenhouse, at little ponds and of course in the studio.

A sweater series by Kelly Bondra

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As the natural light dissipates, Bondra moves on to a few action shots. There’s a practice dummy that someone drags from the corner. The plan is to have one model pose next to it while the other model kicks it.

Over and over the model swings her leg up towards the dummy’s face as Bondra clicks away, snapping a photo during each kick. She adjusts her angle, crouching down, nearly sitting on the floor. She points her lens up and someone counts down. The model throws another kick. The lights flash and the countdown begins again.

The shot still isn’t perfect. The team adjusts the position of the lights and strengthens them. Bondra backs up a bit. Now she is crouched on the floor of the boxing ring, her arms reach though the ropes, camera in hands. Everyone prepares for the next shot. Another countdown starts.

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Bondra wasn’t always on the path to becoming a photographer. Initially she was a publication design major. Her love of photography started her junior year of high school in a photography class. She really loved the class and thought more and more about making it a career. At the same time, Bondra was heavily involved in editing her school paper.

She wasn’t really sure about going into photography after high school though. “I graduated in the top 25 percent of my class, so no one really expected me to go into a field like photography,” she explains. Bondra says she didn’t get much outside support aside from that of her parents.

“No one really expected me to go into a field like photography”

“As her parents, we were always encouraging all our children to try different things, and not to give up,” says Kathy. “I was initially surprised when she decided to pursue photography but I believe she was inspired by her art teachers in high school.  As she became more and more interested, I saw how this all fit her personality, it was becoming more than a hobby.”

Much like in high school, after Bondra took her first photography class in college, her interest grew even more. She worked with Gary Kirksey and Larry Hamel-Lambert, two photography professors in the School of Visual Communication to develop her interest. Hamel-Lambert encouraged Bondra to attend a workshop in Cleveland at BurkleHagen, a food photography studio.

“I never had an interest in food photography until I saw their studio,” says Bondra. “It was unbelievable. I really got involved and interested during that workshop, even though I was the youngest one there.”

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The action eventually moved into the ring. Two models posed in the center of the ring as if they were ready to fight. Bondra turned to the owner of the boxing studio and asked if the models were posed correctly. The owner jumped in the ring and adjusted the poses to reflect a real boxer’s stance.

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Bondra decided to trade out gloves so one model was wearing punching pads and the other was wearing practice gloves. She asked the model to actually punch the practice pads. Swing after swing and click after click, Bondra moved around them as they continued with the motion, eventually getting the shot she wanted.

The team decided it was time to move on to a few potential cover photo shots. The models changed outfits again and relaxed into more normal poses.

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As soon as Bondra returned to Athens, she switched her major to commercial photography. She wrote a thank you letter to BurkleHagen for the experience she gained and asked if they offered internships.

“She works really hard, and it shows in her images. Kelly is good at styling, lighting, finding interesting locations and adding a concept to her photographs,” says Hamel-Lambert. “Kelly has been an excellent student and a great role model for younger VisCom [Visual Communication] majors. She attends class regularly and actively participates in classroom camera and lighting demonstrations.” He explains how Bondra is not only involved in her classes, she also participates in student publications like Thread and is a part of the School of Visual Communication’s Ambassador Program.

A few weeks later she was asked to intern at BurkleHagen during the summer of 2016. She accepted and went on to enjoy a summer of photographing food in Cleveland, Ohio.

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After taking a few more images of the models by themselves, the team moved on to shooting images for the cover.

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For this issue of Thread, the editor-in-chief was looking for a cover photo with two people on it. This was the perfect opportunity for Bondra.

The two models posed, one sitting on a bench in front in front of the ring, the other leaning on the ropes behind her. They used a few boxing gloves as props and gave their best competitive faces. Bondra snapped some photo, again crouching on the floor. Everyone in the room was getting excited, this could be the perfect cover photo for this issue.

As soon as Bondra got the perfect shot, they moved on to the final few shots.

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“She was the youngest person to attend, but I only know that because Larry Hamel-Lambert told me. She was not only proficient, but had a good portfolio,” said Andrew Burkle, one of the owners of BurkleHangen Food Photography. “She sent us a thank you card after the event with one of her photos on it, then subsequently asked if we had summer internships available. It was an easy choice for us.”

During Bondra’s internship with BurkleHagen she did everything from taking out the trash, walking her boss’s dog, grabbing lunch for the crew and of course assisting on shoots including one for Burger King.

“Kelly enjoyed and embraced the opportunity to work in a studio everyday. She was often put in positions that were outside of her comfort zone and takes that she had never done before, but she asked the right questions and accomplished,” says Burkle. “She’s smart and she’s self sufficient. Also, on weekends or after work she would stay to work on her own projects. That showed us she was serious about this career.”

“She’s smart and self sufficient.”

He explains that Bondra was very advanced for a photographer her age. Her professor, Hamel-Lambert, agrees, adding, “Although she photographs mainly in a fashion and portrait style, Kelly is also a talented food photographer. She is a much better photographer, at her current age, than I ever was as a student.”

“I really enjoyed my internship at BurkleHagen. I liked learning about food photography, I’m still not sure that’s exactly what I want to do in the future though,” says Bondra.

Some of Kelly Bondra’s food photography

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As the shoot wrapped up, Bondra wanted to take one more photo of each of the models, separately. She put them towards the back of the ring, and lit only that area. Another member of the team pulled out a spray bottle. They sprayed the models so it looked like they were sweating.

Each model posed with the boxing gloves up at their face. Bondra, had to stand on a chair to keep her camera level with their faces while still getting the correct lighting.

They sprayed again and again, trying to get the perfect droplets of “sweat” streaking across the models’ faces.

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This summer, Bondra will be moving to New York City for an internship with Sarah Kehoe Productions, a fashion photography studio.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing first hand how fashion photography really works,” says Bondra, “as well as working with people in the industry and learning how to grow my composition, retouching and lighting skills.”

“I think once she settles on what it is she want to shoot and specialize in, she is going to be very good. I know she has an internship with a photographer in New York this summer,” says Burkle. “I really believe that will be a very decisive summer for her. I think this fall you will see more of a focus in her work and style one way or another.”

Bondra agrees, adding, “I think this will really help me decide what I want to do after I graduate.”

A Valentine’s Day project by Kelly Bondra

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The models step out of the ring and go to put their street clothes back on. Bondra takes a deep breath and releases it. She’s finished for the evening. The assistant start to pack up the umbrellas and lights. Bondra packs up her camera and lenses. She thanks the owner of the ring again and promises to send over the finished photos for them to see.

She seems relieved the shoot is over and is ready to head back home. It’s nearly 10 p.m. and everyone is tired. Bondra will now have to edit each of the photos and send them to the photo editor of Thread to be fitted for the magazine.

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Kelly describes her photography style as feminine, but with an edge. She loves to include dark tones and shadows in her photographs as well as adding blue to her images. She would say that right now her style can be seen as soft but moody, dark and vulnerable.

“I’m not afraid to do weird stuff, like the butt photo,” she says, laughing. “I like that extra sense of feeling, more emotion. I try to create a concept that isn’t necessarily obvious and I also use my own personal and real emotions.”

A few of Kelly Bondra’s “weirder” shots, including “the butt photo”

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When she’s ready to edit photos, Bondra looks through every single one she took at the shoot. Oftentimes this is upwards of 500 images. She narrows them down and narrows them down until only a few are left.

After picking her favorite unedited images, she goes in and retouches the skin and background for small blemishes. She corrects the tone to her personal preference.

With Thread however, this process is a little bit different. She simply sends her photos to the photo editor of the magazine and suggests some edits and makes a list of her favorite images. Sometimes she and editor make the same decision, but often they don’t.

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“I’m never happy at the end of a shoot,” Bondra says. “There’s always something that I wish I had done better or differently. I always find things to improve on and learn a lesson at the end of shoots.”

“Kelly needs to have more confidence in herself. While no one can hit a ‘home run’ photo every time, Kelly certainly can hit a double most all the time, and I hope that she realizes this,” says Hamel-Lambert. “She’s good now, and she is going to be a lot better in the future.”

When Bondra discusses her future, she hopes she will continue to grown in her work. She wants to create more cohesive work and have more successful shoots. She also would like to be someone that other photography students can look up to and admire.

“I’m really not worried about Kelly’s future. In my experience, a person who is as hard working, smart and talented as Kelly often go on to do great things,” says Burkle. “Whatever she decides to become, I’m confident she will go out and accomplish. Although, selfishly, I hope she graduates and wants to work for us in the future.” They’ve offered her a position at the studio for when she finishes school.

As for Bondra’s mom, she really just hopes her daughter continues to strive to be her best.

“We are proud of what Kelly‘s eyes see.  She has taught me much in these past 20 years.  She sees and listens with her heart.  I love the way she captures life and I can’t wait to see what comes next,” says Kathy. “I wish for her to try hard, be content, enjoy the people she meets along the way, develop an appreciation for the many things in life and become a great cook. And, GET A PUG!” Bondra has wanted to get a pug, her favorite dog, for several years and is hoping to get one after graduating.

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Thread considered one of Bondra’s pictures for the cover of their final issue.

“They didn’t pick it because they said it was took moody and dark for spring,” says Bondra as she rolls her eyes. Several of her images appeared in a spread designed by her in the middle of the book.

“I try to capture the beauty that I see in other people,” she says. Most of the time, she is overwhelmingly successful.

The high fashion boxing shoot, final photos by Kelly Bondra

Saying goodbye to Athens

In college towns like Athens, Ohio every spring is the end of an era. Seniors say goodbye to their home and head out into the real world. Many people consider their time in college as the greatest years of their lives. College is a time for figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life, but it is also a time for some fun.

The memories made in college are priceless. The lifestyle on campus is something almost impossible to duplicate. This lifestyle is far from perfect but typically the highs outweigh the lows. Whether your time is spent climbing trees or taking a snooze in a library nap pod, there are sure to be things that will be missed. Hear what these Ohio University students have to say as they bid farewell to Athens.

7 things to do when one of your back-to-back classes lets out early

You created your schedule so you’d have all of your classes in a row and be done for the day. But your 80-minute class was only 30 minutes long today. What do you do now? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Homework you’ve probably been putting off
Homework, via Flickr, by English106
Homework, via Flickr, by English106

Whether it’s something due in your next class or a research paper you haven’t even thought about starting yet, unexpected free time is the perfect opportunity to force yourself to get work done.

  1. Eat food or grab some coffee
Bagel & coffee, via Flickr, by Magnus D
Bagel & coffee, via Flickr, by Magnus D

College students forget to eat sometimes. It’s just a consequence of how ridiculously busy our schedules are. Use your free hour to grab some to-go pizza from the dining hall or even just a bagel from a cafe. Or maybe down an espresso or two.

  1. Read a book
IMG_3550.JPG, via Flickr, Jay Cross
IMG_3550.JPG, via Flickr, Jay Cross

It could be assigned reading for a class; it could also be a something you actually enjoy reading. Fifty minutes is more than enough time to make a dent in that literature you’ve been wanting to or are forced to read.

  1. Bond with your professors
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons, AlbertHerring

Look up the office hours of the professors you’ve been meaning to go see but haven’t. Even if you don’t need help with the subject matter in that class, it’s always a good idea to get to know the people you’re spending a semester with.

  1. Watch Netflix
Source: Youtube
Source: Youtube

If doing anything productive actually sounds like a nightmare, find a cozy spot near your next class and catch up on “Mad Men.” You only have a few episodes left in season four anyway. Just give in to the urge.

  1. Sleep
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons, D Sharon Pruitt

Were you up all night in the library working on that research paper you finished an hour before class started? Does the idea of facing the rest of your classes without getting any sleep make you want to curl up in a ball in a corner? Find a comfy couch. Take a nap. You deserve it.

  1. Write your listicle for Fundamentals of Online Journalism
Source: Pexels
Source: Pexels

What better homework to do during your free time than an upcoming project due in the class that granted you that magical hour? Grab a beverage loaded with caffeine to double your productivity and maybe even come up with some witty subheads.

Decoding the DARS: How I graduated a year early

The hardest part is over. You’ve applied, been accepted, and are ready to begin life as a Bobcat. Aside from all the excitement of giving your dorm room that personal touch, bonding with your roommate over  your newfound independence, and binge eating during that first trip to the dining hall, you suddenly realize that you’re here to obtain a degree. Enter the Degree Audit Reporting System, or DARS, and welcome to the Bible of your college career.

DARS Cheat Sheet. Use this to help decode what each symbol on the stars means.
DARS Cheat Sheet. Use this to help decode what each symbol on the stars means.

According to Ohio University, your DARS report is the official tool for tracking your academic progress, which analyzes degree requirements for a major, minor, or certificate according to the catalog year in which you entered the program. DARS reports are the printed results of the analysis. The DARS report displays the courses from which you must select in order to complete degree requirements, and it shows how the completed courses apply toward those requirements. In in simpler terms, the DARS is a report that tracks your progress to graduation based on the academic track you’ve chosen to embark on.

I’m going to explain the DARS step by step, because whether we like it or not, this little document full of random course titles and confusing phrases is the key to graduating. Uncover what those requirements mean, which options best fit you, and how to successfully turn each section from red to green.

  1. Locate the DARS 

 

2. University Requirements

 

3. Tiers

 

4. Course Requirements

 

5. In Progress Classes

 

6. Course Offerings

 

7. Free Electives 

 

8. Course Record

 

9. What-If DARS 

 

Go ahead and take a deep breath. You are now on your way to becoming a master of the DARS. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to your advisor, set up a time to meet, and relish in the comfort of knowing how to stay on track to graduation.

 

Recap: Advice From Advisors 

  1. Read your DARS carefully. Take time to sit down and read through your entire DARS.
  2. Plus (+) and minus (-) symbols appear next to each section on your DARS and provide a guide as to what you have completed and what you still need to complete before you can earn your degree.
  3. Also, pay attention under each area where it says NEEDS.  This is telling you exactly what you still need to complete, whether it’s a specific course or set of courses, or a certain number of credit hours.
  4. It’s always important to email your academic advisor if you have questions.  You can find your academic advisor in two places: 1) In your MyOhio Student Center portal and 2) on the left side of the first page of your DARS, located just beneath your GPA.
  5. If you need an appointment with your academic advisor, always be prepared for your appointment.  Print and bring a copy of your DARS if you can, come with a list of your questions and concerns and bring a paper and pen to write down the information your advisor gives you.
  6. Use the course catalog to look up required classes for every major, minor and certificate.  This is also a great way to check requisites for classes, so you can be sure you’re eligible to enroll in the class yourself.

 

Other Resources

Ohio University offers advising help in the Allen Center on the fourth floor of Baker Center Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m.–7 p.m and Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Other majors also offer walk-in advising during a specific block of time once a week, no appointment necessary. Check with your advisor for details.

 

 

The five free apps every OU freshman needs to get a 4.0.

So, you’re starting at Ohio University next year and you’re worried you won’t be able to get that GPA high enough. Look no further — with some hard work, determination and these five apps, you’ll be on the way to a 4.0 first semester.

Google Drive

Google Drive for iOS.
Google Drive for iOS.

You can’t get a 4.0 if you’ve lost all of your documents!

At the beginning of the semester, I wasn’t saving my work on Google Drive, and for a while I had no problems. But when disaster struck and my computer broke when my phone slid off of my lap into the screen, I was unable to access any of the work I was working on. It was toward the end of the semester, and I had to start several projects and papers over again. It wasn’t fun. At that point, I vowed to save everything I did on my Drive. And just a few weeks when my replacement computer also broke (it actually broke in half, see picture below), I was able to access my files from my phone and the computers at Alden Library. So, even though I was incredibly inconvenienced by my lack of computer, I was able to pick up right where I left off. I learned from my mistakes, and so should you.

Broken computer.
A sad boy and his broken computer.

I use Google Drive all of the time, because as a college student I need to be able to access my files all the time,” said Gaby Godinez, a sophomore studying Integrated Media. “ I like it because it’s easy to understand and it keeps me organized. It’s also so easy to share files and work together on projects when you aren’t together.”

Having all of your documents at your fingertips can be a lifesaver. Are the printers in Alden broken and is your paper due in mere minutes? No problem. Email the document from the Drive app to your professor, and let them know you will print it out as soon as the printers come back online.

While there are other cloud alternatives, Google Drive is great for collaboration, user-friendly and the first 15 GB of stored data is free (and you probably won’t need any more).

 

Download Google Drive here for iOS

Download Google Drive here for Android  

 

Amazon

Amazon app
Amazon for iOS.

Need something in a jiffy? The student six month free trial of Amazon Prime is your best bet. How will this help you get a 4.0? Textbooks, of course! Nearly all textbooks you will need your freshman year are available on Amazon, and with the Prime membership, you’ll get them with two days with free shipping.

“You can wait until after your first few classes and receive the textbooks in a matter of two days. So, it’s very convenient, it save you money, everything is discounted and the products are good quality and easily returnable,” said Libby Chidlow, a junior studying journalism and political science.

Chidlow hasn’t just ordered textbooks with her Prime membership. She orders her daily essentials, like soap, shampoo and face wash because she finds the prices tend to be cheaper on Amazon than at brick-and-mortar stores.

She says she ordered all of her Christmas presents for friends and family members using the app this past December, and when the weather turned warm last week, she ordered a hammock and had it in two days.

“I order from Amazon an unhealthy amount,” Chidlow admitted. “My mom told me I should be an Amazon ambassador.” That’s a thing, by the way.

 

Sign up here for your free Prime account.

Download Amazon here for iOS.

Download Amazon here for Android.  

 

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote for iOS.
OneNote for iOS.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft (to each his own), the OneNote application is an excellent app for taking notes and keeping organized in all classes your freshman year. It makes keeping the notes organized easier than with Microsoft Word or other standard text editing software. The mobile apps allow for easy syncing between devices and if you forget your laptop — no problem! Just pull out your phone or tablet and pick up where you left off.

“OneNote syncs all of my notes between all of my devices. It is very easy to set up outlines and bulleted lists,” said Nate Doughty, a freshman studying journalism. “I’m able to draw and highlight and on both phone and with with my laptop which doubles as a tablet. In the past I used Google Docs to take notes, and that was fine, but this is lightyears better for organizational purposes.”

The best part? The full-featured version of OneNote comes with a subscription to Office 365, which is free for all OU students through the Bobcat Depot. You can find a download link from your Catmail when you get your account next year.

Most professors permit computer use for note taking, although some forbid the use of computers, tablets and phones, so make sure you bring a notepad and pen!

 

Download OneNote here for iOS.

Download OneNote here for Android.

 

BB Student

BB Student for iOS.
BB Student for iOS.

If you’re unfamiliar with Blackboard, it’s time to change that. Most professors at Ohio University use Blackboard to post lectures, assignments, discussion questions and even grades. There’s no mobile website, and the full-featured site loses some functionality when viewing on a phone. Have no fear, though, BB Student here!

While it won’t let you do everything you can on the computer, it’s a great way to quickly view upcoming assignments, course syllabi or grades. It’s biggest flaw? It makes you login with your OUID and password every time you launch the app, but otherwise, it’s a great way login to the site when your computer is not in reach.

“I’ll admit, it’s not the best app, but it has definitely made my life a lot easier this year,” said Marianne Dodson, a freshman studying journalism and political science in the Honors Tutorial College.  “I hate that I have to login everytime I open it, but it’s still way more efficient than visiting the site through Safari, because Blackboard doesn’t usually work on there. I can quickly see the contents of my courses and really easily check my grades, which is usually why I open the app.”

 

Download BB Student here for iOS.

Download BB Student here for Android.

 

2048

2048 for iOS.
2048 for iOS.

 

You probably once enjoyed 2048, but have since deleted it to make room for some extra photos or a software update. Well, it’s time to bring it back.

While it’s certainly not the most important app to obtaining a 4.0, everyone needs a study break to clear their mind. And yes, 2048 is a game, but it’s math based and will definitely keep your mind sharp unlike a Netflix break (although those are nice sometimes,too).

Just be careful — it’s addictive!

 

Download 2048 here for iOS.

Download 2048 here for Android.

And here, for a bonus, play online on your computer.

How I finished my major in two years

Although college is set to be four years, more and more students are graduating late, often because of a lack of guidance. When I looked at my major requirements, I noticed the high amount of general education requirements (or gen eds if you will) needed to graduate. Additionally, a good number of the electives that I wanted to take required me to take prerequisites (pre-recs) that I had no use for.

The DARS system can be tricky to figure out, and it might be risky to take certain classes, but it’s not impossible to graduate early. By working the system, I was not only able to be on track to graduate a year early, but I was also able to finish my major sequence by the end of my Sophomore year, taking classes I wanted to on the side as well. I’ve found a few tips and tricks you can use to take the classes you want, ignore the ones you don’t, and possibly graduate a year early. But before you learn how to beat the system, you have several important steps to take:

 

  1. Set up a spreadsheet of your class requirements.

 

I know this seems like overkill, but by putting all the classes I needed in a spreadsheet, I was able to figure out what classes I needed to take when, and even if a class I needed was full, I was able to quickly figure out what I could substitute.

Now, it doesn’t need to be color-coded or filled with various tabs, but breaking down classes by categories (i.e. Ged-Eds, Electives, Major Requirements) helps create a balanced schedule, learn the pre-recs of each class, and help re-build semesters if you decide to add or drop a minor or certificate.

 

  1. Get Green Slips

 

The fastest way to get into any class is to get a green slip. Green slips are pieces of paper that an instructor can sign so you can attend their class. Professors at OU are willing to sign you into their class, if you can make a good case. For example, I wanted to take a 4000-Level Journalism class that had a pre-requisite. Since I had experience in journalism, I decided to contact the professor to explain to her how I had a good case. Even though it was a 4000-level class, I was still able to a pass.

 

  1. Talk to Upperclassmen

 

Other people in your major have probably figured out ways to work through classes, and they won’t be shy to share. Talking to upperclassmen not only helped me figure out which classes and professors to take, but also that I could test out of certain classes.

 

  1. Check which classes you can test out of or substitute

 

Besides Advanced Placement credits, there are possible ways students can get out of classes. For example, Scripps students that are required to take Principles of Reasoning (PHIL 1200) can waive that requirement with a math credit. There are also tests to exempt you from classes, such as the Composition Exemption Exams, which can waive your Freshman and Junior Composition requirement.

Some of your requirements can also be substituted. This is especially true with minors. For my Journalism minor, I was exempt from all but one class, so I could specialize in whichever classes I wanted. This just requires confronting advisors and department heads about the requirements for the degrees.

 

  1. Look at online classes

 

Online classes are the easiest way to schedule in classes, especially gen-eds. Almost every gen-ed requirement can be taken online, including your Tier III. This is a great way to take a class that seems like a burden, but beware – taking an online class can cause you to forget about the assignments. Otherwise, it’s a great way to finish some work during syllabus week.

 

How to pass your college classes

As Bobcat Student Orientation draws near, many high school seniors, as well as their families, begin to think about what their next four years are going to entail: roommates, dorm life, dining halls, parties, interviews, career fairs, apartments… It’s funny how college course are normally not what students look forward to when it comes to the college experience. It’s funny how very few students actually look forward to going to class.

Failing a class is a huge fear among incoming freshmen and their worrisome parents, but taking the right steps and avoiding a few bad habits will ensure success in your college academics. Here’s your crash course on how to pass all your classes.

 

What’s Considered Failing?

In high school, failing was normally denoted with a D or F. College is a little different, though. Some majors have certain grade requirements. For instance, at Ohio University, medical students need a B or higher to receive credit for a class. Students under the Scripps College of Communication, as well as the College of Business, need a C or higher.

 

How Do I Know Which Classes to Pick?

Let’s face it: some professors are better than others. In every university, you’ll find professors experiencing burnout, or you’ll stumble upon professors who seem to have no mercy on their students. That’s why it’s important to do a little research on prospective profs. For instance, ratemyprofessor.com is a great resource to use when you’re trying to decide between class sections: you can tear through many reviews on a variety of professors on campus; after all, a professor can make or break your experience with a certain class.

 

Failing Classes: What’s the Common Denominator?

In a nutshell, not going to class can kill your chances of passing it, and having a set routine of when and what you study will help you to remember assignments and tests.

 

Other Tips for Passing a Challenging Course

1. Send out a group email suggesting a study group.

This may sound cheesy, but it can prove to be very helpful. In most instances, if you’re really confused by a concept you’re going over in class, someone else is not getting it. Talking it out with someone could help you and your classmate(s) figure the subject out.

2. Hire a tutor.

Spending money to pay for a tutor isn’t ideal, but it will save you money in the long run (tuition, fees, and textbooks really do add up). Sometimes people put up flyers on campus offering tutoring services.

3. Talk to the professor during his or her office hours.

When in doubt, ask your professor. That’s what they’re in their office for. If you happen to have a professor who is incredibly busy or unapproachable, hit up your course TA. He or she may have office hours, too.

4. Talk to a person who participates in the class often.

Because he or she speaks up in class quite often, he or she must have some idea of what is happening in the course. *Caveat* Don’t ask for help from the class heckler: it’ll frustrate you more than it will help you. You want to get help from someone who spouts answers to questions, not his or her opinion on every topic related to your course.

5. Look up additional resources online.

When the professor, your classmates, and your textbook fail you, you always have thousands of digital sources to turn to. Schmoop is a solid place for literary and math help, for instance.

6. Check out one of the many academic centers or resources on campus.

If you need help writing a paper, book a tutor at the Writing Center on the 2nd floor of Alden Library. Their staff consists of English and Journalism students and staff trained to critique your paper and help answer your questions. Other course offer Supplemental Instruction, or SI. These sessions are packed with slow-paced information to help you work out the kinks in your understanding of the course content.

 

Now, what happens if you do fail a class? Let’s hear from a music student who admits to struggling in one of her college courses.

If It Happens to You

You’ll need to sit down with your adviser to weigh your options and hash out a plan, ASAP.

You’ll more likely than not have to retake the course; keep in mind, though, that if it was a class that fulfilled a certain requirement for your major, you might be able to take a different course. You may have needed the class for a college requirement, meaning a class you take for the school with which your major is classified. It could also be a general education requirement, or gen-ed. Depending on what requirement the class was fulfilling, you may be able to take another class instead of re-taking the one you failed.

Have no fear, future Bobcats. Freshman year is going to be epic: inside and outside the classroom. Do your part, and you’ll go far.