My Unsolicited Advice to the Class of 2020

Three years ago I sat down and reminisced about my time in college, specifically my involvement in campus life and how that experience came to shape my life and career. This time of reflection resulted in my wildly popular blog entry “My Unsolicited Advice to the Class of 2017.

As I’m been working on my book You’re Doing it Wrong (available soon!) I’ve been looking back on a lot of different moments in my life in reflection and drawing out the lessons I learned from them. A big part of my life was spent at Salem State University and there’s a lot I wish I had known going into it all.

So I’ve decided to help out the class of 2020 by offering up some of pearls of wisdom. Here are some things I wish I knew as a college freshman.

Get Involved!

I know I stressed this a lot of my original “Unsolicited Advice” entry but I want to make sure the point is driven home (especially if you did read it). By immersing yourself in the campus community you are not only going to have a stro

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The office of the Program Council was all business except when it was a whole lot of fun (which was always)

nger sense of belonging but a healthy social life to boot! Some of my best friends were met through my involvement on campus and many of the skills that I use in my job today were developed while working with groups and clubs on campus.

Take Advantage of Campus Offerings

Just because you don’t follow through with being a member of a club doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the amazing offerings. Our campus’ Program Council (I was their Publicist my senior year) was responsible for many amazing events happening on campus and a good number of them were free including movie nights, poetry readings, comedians, magicians and so much more. The Student Theatre Ensemble hosted theatrical events every semester. There were dances, improv troupes, and so much more. Like I said, many of these events were incredibly cheap or even free. At one point our Program Council bought a chunk of tickets to a Red Sox game and sold them for $10 each.

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin               

College is tough. It may not too so right away with your introductory courses but it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Make sure to budget your time wisely especially when involved on campus on top of taking a full-time course load. By all means check everything out when it comes to extra-curricular but try to quickly narrow it down to what you’re most passionate about and what fits well with your schedule. Same goes for choosing classes, put together a schedule that makes sense and doesn’t have you sprinting all over campus.

Get To Know Your Professors

When it comes to the educator/student relationship forget everything you knew in high
school. Take the time to get to know your professors outside of the classroom. Visit them

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Professor Peter Zachari (Pictured here performing in a production of Shake It Up!) was one of my biggest influences in college and taught me so much outside of the classroom. Today I credit much of my success to him.

during office hours and take advantage of lunch offers. Each semester our dining hall actually offered free lunch to student dining with their professor. I can’t even begin to describe some of the amazing conversations and insights I receive during these lunches and chats, especially when it came to classes I was struggling with. It also helps later on down the career line if you’re looking for a letter of recommendation or the scoop on an internship.

Don’t Be Shy

Be sure to branch out in that first year and strike up conversations with strangers. This is how I made many of the friends I had during my first semester. Some didn’t stick around beyond that first half of the year but the experience of chatting up that one stranger gave me the confidence to chat up and meet others. One of the best things I would do, and this is something I highly encourage, would pick a couple people in class and exchange contact information. This way I had someone to reach out to if I missed a class and needed notes and offered them the same. I can see this idea changing a bit with the wake of social networking (Facebook didn’t show up until my second semester of college and it was a difference animal back then). Get to know the people in classes and out. It’s a lifesaver!

Sleep

Had I known about the ‘3 by 5’ rule when I was in college I would have been sure to follow it. The rule states that you should study three hours a day, five days a week. Now, that sounds like a lot but when I consider the little bits of time I would waste between classes, I could have been studying. Try to find those random chunks of time during your day to get in your reading or studying to help limit the all-nighters. Cramming to all hours and not getting any sleep is super counter-productive.  Try your best to study those three hours a day and see how much it helps balance your social life and sleep schedule!

Get Off Campus and Explore

I went to college in historic Salem, MA (home of the witch trials!). There was so much to explore and experience outside of the halls of academia. I encourage you to explore the area where you are receiving your education and learn more about it. Even if you feel like you o to school in the middle of nowhere, get to know your new home! Salem was a short train ride away from Boston which offered even more exploration. Take advantage and have fun!

Don’t Buy All Your Books Right Away

Okay, this is gonna raise some eyebrows but I’m gonna go ahead and say it. Don’t buy your books right away. Wait until you get to class, check out the syllabus and go from there. I took a lot of literature classes which required hundreds of dollars for books. It was enough to make one cry. The first thing I would do is take a look at the workload the professor was requiring and whether or not I could make it work with everything else I had going on that semester. If I was sticking with the class I would then look for the book online rather than in the bookstore in an effort to save money. If I ended up dropping the class or switching to another, I wasn’t stuck with books I wouldn’t need. Also check out Studentrate.com to compare textbook prices.

Discounts! Discounts everywhere!

Carry your school ID everywhere, especially if you live in a “college town.” So many different restaurants and shops offered student discounts but didn’t advertise them. Don’t ever be afraid to ask about student discounts for food, movies even museum admissions. You’d be surprised where you can save a few dollars here and there if you just ask. Be sure to have your ID for when they say ‘yes’!

Have Fun

I’m sure there are many more things I could mention but for now I’ll leave it with what I have above. As I think of more I’ll certainly write up new blog posts. All said and done g out there and discover the new you. This is a whole new chapter of your life and a time to discover who you truly are. Get out there and do it!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

SnapChat Seems a bit Fruity Lately

It would seem that security is once again an issue on popular social app SnapChat.( You might remember the App from my entry this past summer highlighting what parents should know.) Once again the users of the App have found their security compromised.

Back in December the App was hacked and millions (4.6 million to be exact) of users phone numbers were exposed by a group wanting to call attention to security flaws within SnapChat.run-by-fruiting-mrs-doubtfire

SnapChat, in turn, responded with “Snap-chas” a security test similar to “Captchas” we’ve become so used to seeing on almost every website. The security tests involve spotting Snapchat’s ghost mascot in a group of nine different images before tapping on the images with the ghost in. The puzzles will attempt to prevent hackers from stealing phone numbers of users.

It’s not worth getting excited about- hackers broke through that security feature in a matter of hours.

This latest security breach involves run-by fruitings. Some friends e-mailed me saying that they have been receiving Snaps of Smoothies with a fishy-looking URL. A quick search has revealed that theirs and friends accounts have been hacked. The link takes you to a weight-loss suppliment site (if your curiosity is burning).

I would advise changing your password (and like with all passwords, change it regularly).

In addition it’s important to remember that using the same username and password for multiple social networking sites (while easy to remember) can put our information at risk. Once a hacker has one, they have everything.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

My Unsolicited Advice to the Class of 2017

It’s hard to believe that it was ten years ago that I stepped onto the Salem State College (now Salem State University)  campus as a freshmen. I honestly went into that first year with no idea who I was, what I was doing, or where I was going. It took that entire year to being to put the pieces together and it was the end of the year I learned the secret to success in college and beyond:

Get involved!

My first real involvement on campus was when I auditioned for Human Action Theatre. Being an English major it was a bit of a long-shot but the director took a chance on me and sure enough I found myself on stage for the 2004 orientation. It was a thrill.humanaction09

From there I joined the, now disbanded, Students’ Works Theatre Project, an independent theatre group that gave opportunities to students to write, direct and perform 10-minute plays. It was a chance to stretch my wings and get to know people on campus.

I had found myself a niche in the theatre world and even began taking classes in the department. This lead to my applying to direct the 2005 Human Action Theatre (a position I held until my last summer at Salem State in 2009) while serving as assistant director for Summer Theatre’s Return to the Forbidden Planet.

From one simple audition, my entire world was changed.

Following my summer being immersed in the theatrical world I added on a second major- theatre. This found me in a whole new world and soon I was the publicist for the Student Theatre Ensemble.

At this point I must also caution against limiting yourself to just one area of involvement. While the theatre world at SSC was great, there was a world beyond that. Thankfully, because of my involvement with orientation and Human Action Theatre, I had made a lot of connections in the Student Government,  Student Commuter Association, and more.

These connections lead me into a new world with the residence halls as I signed on to become and academic mentor in the freshmen hall and a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary. My position in the hall gave me the unique opportunity to get the underclassmen involved as I was constantly chatting with them and letting them know about events on campus.

My final year at Salem State proved to be one of the busiest as a was elected into the Public Relations position for Program Council, a group responsible for some of the biggest events on campus. It was a crazy and amazing time and though there were a lot of long nights, close calls on getting assignments in and very little free time, I regret none of it. My schedule was always full but for all the right reasons.

I am deeply indebted to Bruce Perry and Becky Jimenez in the campus center for all the opportunities they gave me. If you are looking to get involved and don’t know where to start, these are certainly the people to talk to. They believed in me, helped me learn to push beyond my limits, and turned me into a leader. I can’t leave out Jeff Smith and Helene Collins who put up with so much from me and were great shoulders to lean on.

I can’t promise that your college experience will be the same as mine but I can promise that if you go through the next four years without checking out what is going on beyond the classroom, you will regret it. During my time at Salem State my professors taught me a lot about the world, getting involved on campus taught me a lot about life.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Pictured Above: The 2009 Cast of Human Action Theatre. Photo Courtesy of Stu Grieve.

What Parents Should Know About Instagram (Now With Video)

This week continues my regular series “What Parents Should Know.” This week’s entry stems from an update about Instagram which I talked about a couple weeks ago. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

With the purchase of my new phone (I went with a new Droid for those that took interest in my ridiculous struggle to pick a phone) came a bunch of shiny new features to a lot of my apps. I was thrilled to discover that my banking app now allows me to make mobile deposits (more on that later), my camera is amazingly awesome, and Instagram now has video!

With that discovery under my belt, I realized that people more than likely have questions about how this new addition affects the Instagram experience and what parents should know about it.Instagram-video-1

If you read my entry about Instagram last month, then you are pretty caught up in the ins and outs of the program. Take pictures, filter as desired and share with the world.

Following in the footsteps of Twitter with Vine, Instagram (read: Facebook) decided to add in their own video feature. Unlike Vine, Instagram’s videos can be up to 15 seconds in length and can be filtered (much like photos).

CHECK OUT: What Parents Should Know About Vine

Privacy
If your Instagram is private, your videos will be as well. Profiles on Instagram are still public even though your content is not so it is important to be sure that your kid’s full name or other revealing information isn’t posted on the site. Remember, a lot of people are posting their Kik Usernames as part of their profiles which allows strangers to message them on their phones.

Content
As Instagram is owned by Facebook, the restrictions on mature content are securely in place. It’s even mentioned in their Terms of Service: “While we respect the artistic integrity of photos and videos, we have to keep our product and the content within it in line with our App Store’s rating for nudity and mature content. In other words, please do not post nudity or mature content of any kind.”

In addition to this warning about mature content, users can report anything they deem inappropriate to Instagram and the offending user will be investigated.

Josh, You’re On Instagram?
Oh yeah! I joined Instagram about a year ago and have had a great time with it. My username is TheJoshGunderson if you care to follow. I will warn you, there are a lot of cat pictures. And Disney pictures. You’ve been warned.

If you’re struggling with the idea of letting you child use Instagram (now with video), I don’t blame you. Even though it’s a photo sharing app, issues like bullying and sexting can come up. I suggest having a conversation with your child about appropriate use of the app and let them know you’ll be keeping an eye on their activity (make being a friend a requirement). Let them know what is and isn’t acceptable to be posting on the app- cat sleeping in the bathroom sink, okay. Your front yard, including your home address, maybe not so okay.

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Vine

This week continues my regular series “What Parents Should Know.” This week’s question comes from a parent in Melbourne, Australia. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

I have really had no interest in the Vine app, though I am often asked if I have a Vine Account. Until I sat down to write this post, I didn’t.  I’m a hands-on learner so I have downloaded and began using the app to get a better idea of what it’s all about.vine

Vine was created in June of 2012 and acquired by Twitter in October of the same year. Vine is a mobile app which allows users to create and share short video clips with other users. Since its inception, the app has been used in many ways including coverage of important news events and advertising.

Many of the “vines” I have seen come from friends in the comedy world and are a lot of fun to watch. Friend and TV personality Justin Willman often posts behinds the scenes vines from Cupcake Wars which can be a lot of fun to watch.

That being said, to the question, is Vine safe for children? Should parents be concerned about Vine?

Maybe.

Privacy
Privacy does exist on Vine (at least in the Android version that I have). Under settings, select “Your Content.” This will being you to a screen which gives you the option of setting your Vines to private. Which this setting in place, your Vines can only be viewed by users that you have approved (much like privacy on twitter, those you approve are able to follow your content feed).

While there is this option, it doesn’t stop content from leaking out into the online world. There are web sites out there dedicated to showing recent vines from users, bringing videos from the app to the web. These sites even allow for viewers to record the content onto their computer. Don’t believe me? Check this site out.

User Interactions
If you know Instagram at all, you already have an idea of how to interact with others on Vine. You are able to follow users to create a feed of content for you to view.

When users post or comment they can use hash tags which allow others to search for similar content.

Users have the ability to “like” and comment on content.

Vine also gives me the opportunity to throw back to an earlier post about Kik Messenger. A lot of the mature content I found on Vine had the posters also revealing their Kik Username and encouraging users to get in touch with them if they like that they see.

 

Speaking Of Content
It really didn’t take long for me to find inappropriate posts on the app. Pornography isn’t against Twitters guidelines so those posting graphic content do so without fear of punishment. Because pornographic content violates Apple’s terms of service, on February 5, 2013 Twitter raised the minimum age limit to download the Vine app from 12 to 17 following a request by Apple. Unless you have set restrictions for content on your child’s phone, they are going to still be able to download the app.

Who is on Vine?
The site allows you to follow just about anyone from friends to celebrities. Though there is no set age restriction, the site does comply with COPPA in that users under 13 are not allowed (though it doesn’t nothing to check the age of its users despite the plethora of inappropriate content).

Josh, You’re On Vine?
For now. I created an account to learn more about the app. I plan on playing around with it to get a good feel for it. I may end up keeping it! Who knows!

I suggest parents use their better judgment which it comes to their kids using the app. It’s important to keep in mind that while kids over 13 may join up, the app is rated for users 17 and over. The site does offer a creative outlet for those interested in video and animation, though the availability of pornographic content is cause for concern. If users under the age of 18 are creating this content it can lead to some pretty serious charges against the creators and those looking on.

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Twitter

Over the past two week’s I’ve been introducing ideas for how to integrate social networking in the classroom. This week we’ll continue the discussion with the micro-blogging site- Twitter!

When it comes to social networks, Twitter is probably one of the least complex. Created and launched in 2006, Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows users to send and read text-based updates limited to 140 characters.

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When it comes to uses in the educational setting there are many possibilities. One of the perks of twitter is that people do not need an account to access someone’s twitter feed (the exception being if the feed was only available to followers). If you wanted to create a classroom twitter account to post announcements, links to supplemental materials, or reminders the process is quick and simple.

From there, you have the world at your fingertips! I’ve compiled a list of some ideas I’ve found around the web and heard from others about using Twitter in the classroom!

Like I mentioned last week with Facebook, don’t require students to follow you on Twitter as many may not have accounts or may not be allowed to by their parents. Find other ways to share information with them if this is the case.

Keep The Conversation Going: Use a classroom hash tag to facilitate continuing discussions after class has ended. Use hash tags to create a specialized Tweet feeds to share information and discussions. I’ve been to many conferences where a specialized hash tag was used by attendees and presenters to share what they were experiencing. It’s a lot of fun! I even use the tag #JoshOnTour when I’m on the road so family and friends can keep tabs on what I’m up to! Students and educators will also use this tag to share their experiences during my programs! Tweetdeck is a great tool to help keep you organized!

Follow and Share: Use a classroom twitter to follow and share ideas with other teachers at school and all over the world! Maybe another classroom is learning about the same topics and a you can tweet ideas to one another. Stay in touch with other educators to discuss teaching trends, classroom ideas, or upcoming events and conferences.

Real-World Updates: Big news event going on? Follow hash tags and buzzwords to get a real time stream of news coming in from all over the world! (Again Tweetdeck is a great tool in these situations to help filter in content surrounding what you want to be tracking)

Share Links And Videos: Find an interesting article or YouTube video that goes along with a class discussion? Use the “Share on Twitter” option to instantly send the information out to your students. Discuss what you found the next day in class.

Classroom Tweeting: Watching a video in class? How about taking a field trip? Encourage students to tweet during these events to share ideas and thoughts about what they are experiencing. This can be helpful in creating discussions and sharing ideas. You might also find some of the shy students standing out in these discussions! Remember to create a hash tag to easily follow the proper discussion! You never know who might be watching! I’ve heard great stories of authors, filmmakers and even myself jumping into classroom discussions via Twitter!

These are just a few of many ideas out there. I also recommend checking out Edudemic’s blog post “100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, By Degree of Difficulty

Have you used Twitter to enhance the classroom experience? I’d love to hear about it!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

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