First things first. I don’t subscribe to giving people advice, because honestly who am I? What may work for me/interest me may not be the same for you. Also, I typically end it with “But it’s up to you,” or “But do what works for you,” in case you ruin your life, or end up unhappy and frankly I want no parts of that…In other words I don’t want to be responsible.
The purpose of this lengthy post is about how to get you, a freshman, in and out of the University of the Virgin Islands without wasting time and money. This is, of course, if everything is going well–I.e. You have the finances, you’re passing your courses, life doesn’t throw a wrench in your plans, etc.
With that said, I attended the University of the Virgin Islands from August 2010 to May 2015 (4.5 years).
Had I actually done what I was supposed to–like go to class and take school seriously, because debt is no joke–I would have been out of there in three years. No one getting an undergraduate degree needs to be there for over 4 years especially if you’re funding it yourself or going into debt for it.
The University of the Virgin Islands does come with some hiccups that may hold you back, as does any university, but there are ways around this. To the people who solely blame UVI for not getting out in 4 years, cut it out, take some responsibility. Try evaluating what you did that held you back.
Now onto the show!
I cannot stress this enough. If you have intentions of attending UVI please plan accordingly. Visit the website, talk to a former student, talk to a current student, visit the school, something. Do not walk up in that place confused, because to be honest sometimes even the folks whose job it is to help you can’t help themselves. An informed student is a blessed student. If you don’t have any intentions of going to St. Thomas, pick a major that’s not going to require you to haul your butt over there. I’ve seen this happen. During my time, I saw biology students that did not want to go to St. Thomas end up over there and were confused. Is this still the same? I don’t know, that wasn’t my major.
Before even getting to that step, take your SATs seriously. A high SAT score saves you from having to deal with remedial courses. If you flop in math (like I did), there is a test UVI does that will allow you to test out of remedial courses. Please take this seriously. APPLY FOR ALL THE SCHOLARSHIPS YOU CAN. A little extra change never hurt anybody. Don’t waste your refund check either.
DO NOT TAKE REMEDIAL COURSES
If the name alone doesn’t speak for itself, let me break it down for you. UVI has these courses that are basically Math and English for dummies. I took math for dummies 2 because I tested out of math for dummies 1. Then I failed math for dummies 2 because I didn’t meet the requirements to pass and had to take it over. *These courses are actually called Math 23 & 24.
When I finally passed, I thought all was good with the world. WRONG BOO. I was 8 credits behind.
Now you’re probably wondering “how the hell are you 8 credits behind?” Well love, the math courses were 4 credits a piece, but remedial courses are ghost credits. Even if I passed the first time, I would have still been 4 credits behind because remedial course credits do not count on your transcript. They are worth Zero. Nada. Zilch.
I wrote an entire article about this once where professors said that 80 percent of students that enter UVI have to take remedial courses.
No one told me this when I got there so I’m telling you. Stay away from these. Save yourself the time and money, because even though they count for nothing, you still have to pay for them.
Your adviser is your friend
I’m not telling you to add your adviser as a friend on Facebook and plan brunches at the Bistro, however, you should form some kind of relationship with your adviser. Visit their office, talk about your courses, figure out where you’re going to intern if you’re certain with what you’re going to do in the future, etc. Your advisers are also amazing people for help when the registrar’s office and UVI’s online system is on some bullshit. Also, your adviser may just be the person to help you get your foot into your career. I received ample opportunities–that I did not get to pursue because life–thanks to my advisers and even my professors. They aren’t there for style. Make use of them.
TRACK YOUR CREDITS/COURSES
UVI’s system will often bring hateration and holleration into your dancerie. It’s in your best interest to keep track of what you’ve done yourself. Yes, your adviser will also be keeping track, but you should too. Things can go wrong. Things will go wrong. UVI will put your account on hold for a penny–see Penny for your rage–so please stay on your toes. For example, while I was attending I was suppose to graduate with 121 credits, but the system was trying to short me 3 credits and had my graduation date as a year after the real thing. Not to mention the paradigm for my major was changed to something entirely different in the middle of my junior year which caused unnecessary headaches. Thankfully, my advisers were on top of things and so I got out of there as originally scheduled. Do not fall prey to these glitches. Keep track. Also, while a D is a passing grade at the university, it’s in your best interest to pass with a C+ minimum.
Summer Courses are worth it.
I know you want to live up your summer and do hoodrat things with your hoodrat friends, but sometimes summer courses are worth it. My recipe for a worthwhile summer schedule was take one headache course, and one stress free elective that counts. For instance, I took photojournalism, which was an awesome elective, and a math course–head to the ache–one summer. I took all my real math courses in the summer. Statistics was the only course I ever dropped out of and taking it in the summer was the best thing I ever did. I substituted months of headache, for a few weeks.
If you couldn’t tell already, I cannot stand math. Math is one of those things that we’re paying for because of Adam and Eve. Lucifer’s middle name is Quantitative studies.
But I digress. Summer courses also ensure a quick exit from the University without piling on extra courses during the regular semester.
Get yourself a designated classmate
A what? Yessireebob, a designated classmate. I had about 15 of them. UVI is so small that you’re bound to see the same faces over and over again, but what I’m saying is get you someone reliable to help you out and you can help them out. It got to the point that we even scheduled our absences together. If I know I’m going to be missing Monday, then I can’t be missing on Friday, and we’re both present on Wednesday. Teamwork makes the dream work baby. Keyword though, “reliable.”
Internships and working
Now this isn’t so much about getting out on time, as much as it is about making the best of your time in UVI. You do not want to graduate and end up doing something so far off and menial than what you paid $30,000 to do. This is something that actually starts before you end up in college–I did an internship in highschool–but you should definitely focus on this while you’re in a university. Unpaid internships are common, but they still count as experience.
Get your name out there love. Sometimes you don’t even need the 5 years of experience once folks see you have an immaculate track record. The trick is for them to need you more than you want them–even though you really do need them but shhh they don’t have to know that.
What did I do? Repeating info over and over again, I already mentioned my previous internship. From there, I reported for the university’s paper, then I remodeled the site, after that I became editor. I did this for 2 years and then was offered an opportunity for paid reporting at the VI Source. I did that until graduation. I also did my internship at TV 2. I had an assignment for my self-study course that I submitted to both the VI Source and the VI Daily News and was published in both. So technically, I had about 3 and a half years of journalism experience before I ended up working at the Avis full time, and that’s not including all my broadcast experiences.
Long story short, make those unpaid experiences count for something.
You did not pay all that money for labs and library services to not use them
I think that bullet speaks for itself. There are math and writing labs, and the library is also there for you to use. USE THEM. You paid for it. Set some time aside and put them to good use. Don’t let a teacher have to blackmail you into using them. By the way, how nonsensical is that? When a professor has to tell you to use the labs you know something is wrong.
Talk to someone
Balancing everything is bound to drive you insane at some point, especially as you near graduation–see downside to graduation–and so it is important that you talk to someone. I’m not saying to give them the intimate details of your life, but give yourself a chance to vent. Or maybe take a notebook and write. Either way, you need to get all your frustrations out. Bottling up your troubles will interfere with your progress as a student and your life in general. At some point, all that pressure is going to find a way to get out, and if it has to force itself out, it’s not going to be pretty.
Make the best of your time there
Lasty, because I don’t feel like typing anymore, make the best of your time at the university. Attending a university is one of the moments when you discover who you are and who are you are meant to be. The discoveries are endless and you’ll leave with ample stories to tell. Also, here are some random tips that have less to do with graduating, but I feel you should know:
There is nothing to eat after 10 p.m. Stock up on food or be prepared to eat sleep and regret for dinner.
Life’s gonna be real annoying without a car. Learn the number for taxi services. Public transportation stops caring about you after 4:30 p.m. Folks with cars aren’t going to always be up to help you.
You’ll gain weight from stress, not the food. Use the Gym
This is the best time to join a sorority or fraternity. I didn’t and wish I did. If you’re interested in that of course.
High school teachers lied. Your professors aren’t as hard on you. In fact, some will tell you they didn’t come to class because they didn’t want to.
You can plagiarize from yourself. It’s a thing. Safe assign is the devil
Again, Safe assign is the devil
Do not let your classmates use you. Some are slick. They aren’t your friends, they just want your brain. They are Zombies.
You will meet professors that don’t sugar coat anything nor baby you, hell don’t care about you. These professors are the types that when you ask them to curve your grade, they just put it in italics.
You’ll also meet awesome professors who genuinely want you to make it out of there.
Some classes are only offered at a specific semester. Learn what they are.
Find out what your class requires. If you don’t need to buy the new version of a text book don’t. Get it from another student. Chances are the only difference between the new and old version is that they added the word “and” to paragraph 6 of chapter 15.
You’re never going to use an entire textbook. Ever.
Press all the buttons on the soda machines before paying. You never know what may fall out. (I got 6 drinks from a machine for free once).
PLS (personal life skills) is so much easier than P.E Courses, but P.E courses are great for exercise. I recommend Tennis and Archery.
Apply for on-campus employment. A little extra change goes a long way.
Network. You never know who you’re going to bump into and where that experience will take you.
Keep copies of your resume on you. Who knows when you’ll need it.
Abandon firstname.lastname@example.org for a proper email address.
Your social media presence matters. I don’t agree with it completely, but employers do watch it. Your character will come back to bite you.
Don’t pick a major thinking that you can avoid writing. You. Can. Never. Avoid. Writing. Ever.
But do what works for you.
I’m tired of writing now. Good luck.