Leaving the Nest by Stephanie Schoppe, Graduating Senior

Stephanie Schoppe, Communication Studies major, will graduate from TCNJ at the end of this Fall semester. We thank Stephanie for sharing advice, her experiences, and her study abroad trip to South Africa with us! Please read her farewell post for The School of the Arts & Communication blog. Congratulations to Stephanie and all TCNJ students graduating this December!

“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” This is a quote that my generation is very familiar with. It invokes a feeling that, even when you leave a place that holds so many memories for you, when you come back it feels like you never left. Leaving that place may be a little bit scary, of course. But while you’re gone, it’ll be there, filled with people ready to hug you and say, “Welcome back.”

This feeling is all too real for me at the moment. This is my final semester as a TCNJ student. I didn’t feel the despair and dread that comes with the registration period. I won’t be here to experience coming back from winter break in January and catching up on how everyone’s break was. Next semester someone else will be living in my room at my house. These things and more, whether I like it or not, are happening, and they’re happening faster than I really want them too.

I’m currently in the process of applying to grad schools. Whenever I work on my applications, I’m taken back to four years ago when I was applying to undergrad schools. The process was so exciting then. “I get to go to college and meet people from all over the state and I get to experience the typical college life and I’ll be away from my parents and it’ll be great!” And it was. It absolutely was. Fast-forward to today, and I still feel that way about applying to grad schools. Only now it’s a teensy bit bittersweet.

These four and a half years, I’ve done things I never thought I’d get to do. I got to act in plays. I got to sit front row to see some of my favorite comedians perform. I got to study in another country not once but twice; I’m going to London in January, which I’ve neglected to mention in my posts until now (sorry). I got to sing with people from Japan. I made a difference in the world just by baking really cool-looking cupcakes. And I got to witness the initial outrage over our now beloved, shiny, and colorful balls.

Do I have advice for my friends who are graduating in May? I do. Don’t worry about it. I have to tell myself that at least once every single day. The more you panic about getting a good grade on the GREs or the LSATs or getting a job right out of school, the more you’ll stress and burn yourself out, and trust me, you don’t want to do that. Don’t overstress yourself so much that you forget to enjoy your final semester as a TCNJ Lion. Go to the C-Store, buy a lot of ice cream, and watch a bad movie with your friends. Listen to your iPod and take a walk by the lakes. Then go sit by the lakes and just be in that moment. Do something as simple as taking a nice, two-hour nap one day. You’ve worked so hard the last four years, and you deserve to enjoy every moment before you leave here.

To the freshmen coming up on completing their first semester of college, you don’t need to have anything figured out now. I’ve heard some of my friends who are freshmen worry about graduating in four years and about what they want to do with your life. It’s okay to not have that figured out now. If you worry about what’s after college, you won’t enjoy what’s going on in college now. Explore a little. Join a club you’d never think to join. Take classes in a variety of departments if you can. Don’t spend all your time worrying about what to do after graduation. You’ve got four years to do that. Also, not graduating on time isn’t as bad as it sounds. Speaking from personal experience, it’s really, totally fine.

To conclude my final blog post as a TCNJ student, TCNJ has been my second home for 4 1/2 years. It feels weird to leave; you’re not supposed to leave your home, right? Some of my best friends are here, and will still be here when I leave. I’m not ready to leave now, and I probably won’t be ready to leave in December. But I know if I need to, I can always come back to TCNJ, where there will be students and professors here ready to welcome me home.

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A farewell and reflection from Allison Gibbons, graduating Music major

Allison Gibbons, senior Music major, gives TCNJ her final farewell before graduation. See what Allison’s future plans are, as well as her meaningful advice as she reflects back on her experiences as an undergraduate student. It has certainly been a pleasure to feature Allison as a student blogger!!

Wow, what an incredible whirlwind of a semester it has been! Since writing my February blog post I have taught elementary and middle school music, auditioned at four graduate schools, earned my Kappa Delta Pi honor cord, interviewed for a teaching job, sung at Lincoln Center, performed in Lyric Theatre’s opera scenes program, sung in my final concert with the chorale, attended numerous recitals and ensemble performances, and turned twenty-two. As you may recall, I have become accustomed to living with a busy schedule (in fact, I would have it no other way), but this semester turned my life upside down. I am feeling exhausted, burnt out, ready to graduate, and ready for summer.

I came into this semester thinking that I would be attending graduate school next year pursuing a master’s degree in voice performance. I prepared as best I could for my auditions (see my February blog post), but it just wasn’t enough. Student teaching affected the way I was using my voice and the amount of practice time I had, and I got sick three times between the last week of January and the first week of March. None of my auditions went particularly badly, but none were the best singing I’ve done this year. The week of April first was a disheartening one as I was rejected from each and every school that I had auditioned for.

It happens to most people at some point, I suppose: you think you know exactly what your plan is and how your life will play out, but you get taken by surprise. What do you do? What is your next move? What is your Plan B?

No matter how hard it is to do, we need to cope with whatever bizarre circumstances life tosses our way. It can be stressful and upsetting, but it’s very important to be able to deal with these circumstances (and the emotions that may come with them) in a healthy way. Fortunately, I have a wonderful support system of friends, family, and even a few professors who helped me to make it through what would have been an otherwise extremely difficult time. I happen to be a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I am excited to take the next step in my journey; it just happens to be a different step than the one I had originally anticipated.

I am currently applying to quite a few teaching jobs, and I am hoping that I will find a position for the new school year this coming fall; In the meantime, I am looking forward to teaching at the performing and visual arts day camp at my high school this summer, which I attended not too many years ago. I know that wherever my life takes me after graduation, I plan to do what I have always done: work hard, do my best, and do whatever I do with passion, enthusiasm, and vigor.

My four years at TCNJ have taught me so much and have helped shape me into the person I am today, and I am so grateful for the experiences I have had and the relationships that have developed because four years ago I chose The College of New Jersey. I am proud of my achievements and how far I’ve come as a student, teacher, musician, and person. Farewell, TCNJ, and to everyone who helped make my undergraduate experience what it was: thank you!

Allison Gibbons gives advice on how to prepare for an audition…and how to handle a busy semester, too!

Allison Gibbons is a pro at juggling a hectic schedule. As she gets ready for graduation and graduate school auditions, Allison gives some advice on how to prepare yourself for an upcoming audition. Her helpful tips also apply to anyone trying to handle a busy semester! (Hey, that’s all of us!)

EDIT: The Lyric Theatre opera scenes performance will be on April 24th at 7 P.M. in the concert hall.

Welcome to Spring 2013, TCNJ! This semester is an exciting one for me; I am now several weeks into student teaching, which I am absolutely loving! It definitely keeps me busy, but if you have read anything I blogged last semester, youʼve probably figured out that no matter how busy I am, there are certain activities I just canʼt stay away from. Thus, this semester youʼll still find me at the TCNJ Chorale concerts (the most important being our Hand in Hand concert at Lincoln Center on March 22) as well as Lyric Theatreʼs opera scenes performance, which is EDIT: scheduled for April 24 at 7:00 PM in the concert hall). Before I know it, May will be upon us and Iʼll be donning my cap and gown (but shhh–donʼt say “the g word;” I might cry)! But before any of this happens, I do have something else to worry about, something that will ultimately decide the outcome of my post-collegiate life: graduate school auditions.

Preparing for auditions can be overwhelming; every school wants different materials prepared and has different policies regarding accompanists and placement tests; itʼs definitely stressful, but there are ways to make the experience less stressful than it has the potential to be. Here are just several actions that Iʼve been taking to make sure I donʼt lose my mind in the final days leading up to my four auditions:

1. Prioritize. If you have a lot of different repertoire to prepare, make yourself a list or chart of everything you need to practice; keep a record of the pieces youʼve worked on every day. Obviously some pieces may need more attention than others, but this will help you ensure that none of your rep is being neglected!

2. Stay organized. I applied to five schools and am auditioning at four of them, so it was important that I made sure to request different audition dates for each school whenever possible, especially when more than one school had dates that overlapped. Additionally, my planner is my saving grace; I know that writing things on my calendar keeps me in check and helps me make sure Iʼm getting things done efficiently and on time. Iʼm also the queen of to-do lists, which are a major source of stress relief for me. I find that writing down everything that I have to get done helps me to organize my thoughts so I can focus on one task at a time instead of getting flustered thinking about everything I need to accomplish.

3. Set aside time to relax. Itʼs easy to be super stressed when you are going crazy trying to balance a zillion different things (school, work, clubs, your personal life, etc.) in conjunction with practicing and audition preparation. One way to prevent yourself from having a complete breakdown (besides staying physically healthy, which is another blog topic for another day) is to designate some downtime each day. Do something you enjoy before you go to bed each night; try reading a book or watching television for thirty minutes (I personally enjoy number puzzles such as KenKen). Calm down and give  yourself some time to relax before your next day of insanity and chaos.

These are just a few of the things Iʼm doing to protect what little sanity I have left during my last semester here at The College. Many of these are things I do all the time (for example, I did all of these things last semester when I was preparing for Orfeo and my recital simultaneously), not just when auditions are approaching! Best of luck to everyone, whether youʼre preparing for an upcoming audition or just trying to make the best of a busy semester.

BLOGGER BONUS! We also asked our bloggers the following question. Check out Alli’s response below!

What was the best or most exciting part of your winter break?

Over winter break, I enjoyed spending time with my family and friends and relaxing after a hectic semester. It was also exciting to receive notification about passing prescreening at MSM, Mannes, and Peabody!