The time has come for Studio Tours! It’s hard to believe how fast this semester has gone and how much time and effort I have put into my final semester at Bemidji State University. I will attempt to make these virtual studio tours as quick as possible. There is a lot of great material that my three subjects have created the last four weeks, so let’s take a look at some of their work. I had the privilege to dissect Joe Stusynski, Leah Fleming, and Eric Christenson this week. Hopefully I didn’t spell your names wrong. Sorry if I did.
Let’s begin with Joe’s college guide for recent high school graduates. His blog is titled, “So You Want To Go To College, Eh?” He has been helping you survive since 2013. There is so much information to digest in such a short period of time, but I will do my best. How does the Professor do it? Alright, we should probably start with Joe’s first post where he talks about packing for college WELL in advance, not the day before. He also recommends finding a job and attempting getting to know your roommate. Sound advice, especially the whole job fiasco. In this post, Joe talks about being active at school and especially in the dorms–to participate and explore (not sexually). He also shares a story to steer incoming freshman from starting relationships with fellow floor-mates. He has a great quote about the first week of classes:
The first week of classes will be the most interesting, terrifying, yet most fun of your life when it comes to classes at college.
In the same post he talks about the awkwardness and scary first day of school:
I can remember my first time trying to find the room. I was going to Spanish. I must have walked past the classroom 4 times. I literally walked in circles trying to find the room but I knew it was nearby. Good thing I left 30 minutes early. Once I found the room I checked the number like four times, making sure that it was the right room. I was so nervous.
One great piece of advice was about taking advantage of seating in the classrooms. Look, if you want to blend in, it’s not hard. But if you want to stand out, it takes skill. By placing yourself in the front rows, as Joe points out, it attracts conversation and recognition from your professors.
A funnier post about underage drinking also caught my attention. This post is right on the money on so many levels. Joe says, “please don’t.” Agreed, please don’t.
Joe’s goal coming in was to give tips, strategies, and helpful hints for college through stories in hope for an incoming freshman to gain knowledge. He wanted it to serve as a sort of handbook for high school seniors in search of college information. As I have illustrated, it does just that. I do wish, and this is not Joe’s fault, that the site template broke the posts up better. When accessing the page everything appears all mashed together. You can access the individual posts by clicking on the headlines, but in order for this blog to serve as a “handbook” for seniors than it needs to read like one. Separate posts, separate topics. He used his own photography, for the most part, which is also a high point. I could use more, though, to make this handbook more colorful because of the dark background.
Next up, Leah’s chronological recorded search for graduate school. Her plan was to document the process of researching and choosing a school in hope to gain enough knowledge to eventually make a rationale graduate school decision. She set out to make a better decision overall, and to possibly network out to some potential school and faculty members.
She started her research by looking into M.A. and M.A.F.’s. She used Google to search the topic, and some articles helped her grasp it. The most important thing she discovered in her research was:
From what I gathered with my research on M.A.’s, the most important factor to consider when looking for an M.A. degree (besides the appeal that the school and program has) is funding.
Her next post listed the 15 schools in contention for her money, participation, knowledge, and future. She indicated that this was the FINALIZED list, so she will in fact attend one of these 15 schools (if accepted). A very wide-ranged list it is. She looks to be focusing on Minnesota/mid-west and Louisiana schools. So far, Leah has covered Bemidji State, Minnesota, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State (they don’t like to be called Mankato State), and Winona State.
Now that you have links to the posts for each school, we can move forward. Early in the B.S.U. post Leah gave a clear explanation of what she is looking for and covering:
So a couple of things that I look for when researching graduate schools: requirements, funding and rank. There are many other things to factor in: the location of the school, the size of the school, the number of students in the program, and etc.
This helps us see the process through her eyes, and get a better feeling for each school in question. Her B.S.U. research was “disappointing” due to lack of information of the website. She talked about the rank, requirements, funding aspects of the University, as well as the location and population just like she said she would.
She liked the Yelp feature on Minnesota‘s website and their high rank of English schools, but the school is extremely difficult to get into.
The acceptance percentage of 17% is daunting.
Her post on S.C.S.U. is well-linked and researched strongly. Despite a sour outlook heading into the research, her interests were piqued. She talked about their easy-accessible website and ideal location. M.S.U. was very vague on their requirements, so that was a turnoff for Leah, although she did like the amount of graduate assistantships. Some nice quotes highlight her post on Winona State. She talked about Winona being underrated and highly ranked. The site was unfortunately difficult to navigate which, speaking from experience, is frustrating.
After spending some time sick, and obviously searching for graduate schools, Leah is starting to find her groove with posts on two consecutive days. I like the easy accessibility of her blog. If you need to find something on her page it is never difficult. The posts are strong, fair, and well drawn. I personally would like to see more raw talk from her, though. Her commentary of each school seems tamed, for obvious reasons. But graduate school research and admissions is a pain, time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive. I know this oh too well. I would like to see some of those emotions splatter onto her page. It makes the good stuff that more recognizable and important. She set out to document and to gain knowledge, that much has been accomplished.
Lastly, Eric’s real-time zombie apocalypse blog. He set out to write a narrative spanning five weeks about a survivor of a zombie apocalypse. This survivor will then blog about his treacherous and dangerous adventures. This is a type of experimental fiction, through blogging. Very interesting stuff. It will also be quite difficult to discuss what Eric has created. This world he has created is well-developed, structurally sound, descriptive, inventive, and precisely written. He writes often, just as he promised.
I’ll start at the beginning. His first post gives us a taste of how these zombies act, and what they started out as. A biting epidemic then starts, and of course, there must be something in the water! The character survives a scare, but still doesn’t believe zombies have begun to sprout up left and right. This post showcases some dialogue, as he is still in denial about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. He ducks town and heads to Duluth for a party. He returns a few days later to a “shit storm.” The realization of zombies ruling the earth is now setting in after a dead man attacks him.
From there Eric perfectly blends the story with his own life. His “no post, been busy” reflects not only the character, but himself. Not only has Eric been busy with other stuff, so has the character. He incorporates this into the blog. Can’t post for a couple days? Make up a reason in the fictional world for this absence. It works.
Obviously the fictional world he has created is still in progress, but there is still a lot to admire. Eric has accomplished what he has set out to do: create a zombie apocalypse. The blog serves as a diary. The real-time feel works great. He also mapped out the weekly developments before the projects began and stuck to them: outbreak, complications, and perspectives. He accomplished making a fake world seem real by using actual landmarks, like Hagg-Sauer and Bangsberg. By using the town of Bemidji and surrounding areas as the location, we can now picture every scene in our mind, which makes this story that much better. The blog is great.
The blogs were fantastic, everyone! Keep up the good work. Be gentle on me.