Tag Archives: College Life

Welcome to the Information Age

Snip20150702_40The internet is the most wonderful thing that has happened for college students in many decades as it allows us to have an infinite amount of information at our fingertips.  Gone are the days of debate about who won the 1998 World Series (New York Yankees) or who won the Best Actress in 2005 (Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby).  Anything we want to know is only a moment away.  Seems great right?

The unfortunate side of the information age is the quality of information our students use in their research.  High school and college students today are so used to using Google and Wikipedia in their personal lives that they transfer that into their studies.  And while technology literacy is a wonderful attribute for them, understanding the pros and cons of the internet when writing and researching is essential to success.

In this blog piece, I’ve decided to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the internet when it comes to certain aspects of the writing process.  Hopefully, this will make students aware of some of these pitfalls before doing their next paper. Continue reading

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Four Tips for Developing Successful Blog Content

by Paul Miller

As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.blogging

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.

I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.

Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

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About the author.

Paul Miller, paulmiller@centralpenn.edu, teaches courses in communications, business, and writing at Central Penn College.  He has blogged for The Pen before about How To Blog Effectively in Today’s Landscape and teaching courses on writing for social media and business.  You can find Professor Miller at his LinkedIn page.

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The Central Pen Rocks the Mic at Common Hour

1st Place Derrick "Muff" Johnson

1st Place Derrick “Muff” Johnson at the 2013 Poetry Slam

At the SGA’s common hour on August 7, 2014, The Central Pen rocked the mic with performances by our own Maria James Thiaw, faculty advisor, Jade Harper, 2013 Poetry Contest Winner, and Derrick “Muff” Johnson, 2013 Poetry Slam Winner.

Professor Maria Thiaw hit off the presentation with her ‘Wordaholic’ spoken word piece to an enthusiastic applause.

Thiaw was followed by Jade Harper who read her award winning poem, ‘I Am.’  Harper’s self-affirming poem won her the Academy of American Poets University Prize back in April.

The presentation was rounded out with Derrick “Muff” Johnson delivering his winning poetry slam piece from last year.

The crowd was also invited to join us for our 2nd Annual Poetry slam where Johnson will defend his title against all challengers.  The Slam will take place on August 28th at Scoozi’s cafe.  Performers should arrive by 7 pm to get their names on the list.  The slam will start at 7.30 sharp.  Prizes will be awarded and winners will be crowned!

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Writer Spotlight: Dezmyn Edmond Talks The Saving Grace of Creative Writing

DE

Edmond (far right) with TJ Blackwell (center) and Khaleef Fields (left)

Creative writing has actually saved my life.  Before creative writing my life was horrible, and I had unexpressed emotions that only manifested itself into tears. I soon developed depression in high school, but very few believed I actually had it, more specifically my family. The more they did not believe I had it, the worse it got. Creative writing, more specifically poetry, was my outlet so I would not cry myself to sleep at night. When I started writing poems I started feeling better about the events that have happened in the past by simply writing about them in my poems.

 Quotation-Fierce-Dolan-depression-best-Meetville-Quotes-18732From my family to the fake friends I made in high school, they are all written in poems so I can creatively express my feelings toward them without actually expressing those feelings toward them in reality. However, sometimes I feel like writing about these individuals in my poems just is not enough. I still don’t sleep at night at times because when I think I’ve gotten rid of those awful heart aching memories, they come crawling back when it is the least convenient, which is when I am trying to sleep. I would try to write my feelings out, but so much is going through my mind at once that I would develop writing anxiety and lie awake at night wishing the memories would just go away and never come back into my mind.

When I could sleep, nightmares occurred, making sleeping worse and worse as the nightmares felt more real with every passing night. Now that I have depression, writing anxiety, horrible memories, and on top of that the nightmares worsening, it is no wonder I cannot sleep. Soon I realized I was still harboring leftover feelings that never escaped from the prison that is my subconscious.


When I started attending Central Penn I started to develop a whole new perspective on my life.


By talking to the college’s counselor and various professors I came to the realization that I have to try and come to grips with my past and not let it control my life. Using the advice, the techniques provided by the counselor, and creative writing as an outlet for whatever mood I’m in, I have better control over my pain from my past than I used to, though I still struggle with it from time to time, but I have control over it a majority of the time. To this day I still struggle with it, but I’m managing it the best I can and hopefully soon, with the support of the people that have helped me before, I can overcome my anxieties, depression and various nightmares so that I can have a good night’s sleep I really need. Until that time comes, however, I will continue to seek help from those same people, but not so much I become dependent on them.


 All in all, believe it or not, I’m happier than ever and living life the only way I can.


[image from the author and from meetville.com]

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DELiving in New Jersey, I spend most of my time out with my girlfriend. I enjoy doing Sudoku puzzles and word searches in my spare time. I also like bowling and I’ve gotten quite good at it, but I still aim to be better than my best. Poetry’s been my main focus, but when not doing those activities I’m playing fighting and adventure video games, like Pokémon; unlike some I’m not ashamed to say it. I like listening to real hip-hop music unlike the rap music nowadays that’s only about sex, drugs, violence, and money; everyone’s entitles to an opinion.

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City Centered: A History

nmp5500If you are a new student at Central Pennsylvania College, I bet you have been told that the original campus was in downtown Harrisburg.  If you’ve been with Central Penn for a while now, that little tidbit of information has probably drilled itself into your skull through repetition and from retelling it to every person who has asked you about the college.  Have you had classes or meetings in the old room of Milano Hall that looks like it came from straight out of a 1920’s crime noire?  Maybe you’ve passed by it so many times now that you don’t even remember what side of Milano it is on.  Or maybe you are on the other end of the fulcrum and you have spent days digging up the history of the college and you practically live in old newsprint.  Wherever you fall on the issue, we are part of the same story.

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