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Archive for September, 2011

Learning to Adjust

ASK’s last blog submission, by Kathy Snow, concerned itself with getting a good start in college. Part of that good start means learning to adjust to college life – after all, life here at Keuka is certainly different than high school life! And because it IS SO DIFFERENT, here are a few suggestions:

Cope with Change

*It is okay to be nervous about leaving friends and family from your old life. Stay in touch with them, but don’t spend too much time texting or facebook messaging

*Don’t be afraid to talk to your resident hall person, academic advisor, or those at the counseling center

Make New Friends and Become Part of your New Community

*Talk to people you don’t know right now so that you DO GET TO KNOW THEM, such as students who may sit next to you in a class

*If you see someone in the Geiser eating alone, join them

*People love to talk about themselves, so that is a good way to begin a conversation with someone you don’t know yet – ask them something

*Join in campus or community activities and clubs! You will meet some of your best friends there!

Take Care of Yourself

*There is nothing like being sick while in college, especially during the first semester of your first year and germs are now prevalent on campus, so wash your hands – get your sleep – say no to late night television or facebooking and eat well!!!!!!!

Don’t Give up

*Things aren’t always easy in college, such as the amount of reading and writing, not to mention the number of professors and staff you must come to know! Stay tough! Keuka’s small campus is to your advantage because the professors and staff are very accessible!

Make Informed Decisions That Keep you Successful and Safe

*It’s all about choices, isn’t it? Make sure you have as much information as you can get before you choose what to do. Think of all the different CHOICES you can make in any given situation and all of the CONSEQUENCES.

Don’t Rush Things

*Give yourself time to get comfortable with your new life at Keuka! Ask for help and make new friends.

Submitted by Pam Jennings  Academic Skills Counselor / Writing Tutor ASK Office

Prepositionally Speaking

Speakers and writers of English use thousands and thousands of words.  About 150 of those words are Prepositions-but some of those (in, to, of, from, and a few others) are the words we use the most.

The word “preposition” itself describes how we use them.   Pre-positions are “positioned” in front of (“pre”)  nouns and pronouns to indicate location in time (before 9 o’clock, until later), location in space (to the gym, from the carton), or in relationship to an idea or concept (in a tizzy, of libertarian philosophy).

In some ways, these little words are difficult to discuss because their use is governed largely by custom.  We don’t say “a situation they currently live within,” choosing, according to custom, “live in.”  If we wrote, “That has played an important part of our cohort,” we’d replace the “of” with “in”.

The preposition we choose, though, does make a difference.  To illustrate, here are a few examples that I’ve come across recently:

” . . . A must-read to guitar collectors” should be ” . . . a must-read for guitar collectors”.

” . . . Would result in harm of the residents” should be ” . . . would result in harm to the residents”.

” . . . Many effects on the elderly concerning nursing” should be ” . . . many effects on the elderly from nursing”.

” . . . With months of hearings, a compromise was reached” should be ” . . . after months of hearings, a compromise was reached”.

Many people in our part of the world (Central and Western New York State) use the phrase “on accident” routinely in conversation.  In formal writing, of course, it should be “by accident”.

Finally, it used to be held that a writer could not end a sentence with a preposition, and sometimes (as a matter of clarity) it’s still better not to.

But, for the most part, that proscription has gone away.  Which would you choose?

“There are some things I will not put up with.”


“There are some things up with which I will not put.”

What’s the Good Word?”

The more you read and write, the more pleasurable it is to come across new words.  These words please us for any number of reasons:  they mean things we rarely have the need to express; they remind us of certain special people, places, or experiences; or they just sound nice.

The words below are the ones you submitted, plus a few of my personal favorites.  See if you can match the word to its meaning.  The answers are at the bottom of the page.  Have fun!

1.  verisimilitude                                       a.  a stone fruit

2.  logodaedalist                                        b.  the study of the end of the world

3.  catawampus                                          c.   a mixture of unrelated styles

4.  drupe                                                      d.  alignment of 3 celestial bodies

5.  sesquipedalian                                      e.  the property of resembling reality

6.  eschatology                                            f.  one skilled in word use

7.  eleemosynary                                         g.  a fierce imaginary animal

8.  eclectic                                                     h.  using long words

9.  conundrum                                              i.  having to do with charity

10.  syzygy                                                     j.  riddle


Answers: 1. e.; 2. f.; 3. g.; 4. a.; 5. h.; 6. b.; 7. i.; 8. c.; 9. j.; 10. d.

Freshmen year at Keuka will most likely be the first time you have ever been on your own

Your freshman year at Keuka will most likely be the first time you have ever been on your own. You are considered an adult now and need to be proactive toward your education and in preparing for your future.  The good news is there are people/places on campus where you can go for help.

If you have questions about coursework, your instructor is the best person to see.  Become familiar with his/her office hours before a problem arises.  You may be able to get extra study materials or the names of current or former students who have had success in the class and who may be able to tutor you.  There may even be a study group run by the professor.

Faculty members work with several students on campus, ideally within their academic field, to counsel them on curriculum requirements for core courses and for those necessary to complete an academic major, minor or field of concentration.  But don’t wait until the spring semester to meet this person; he/she can also help you with the paperwork for your Field Period.

If you have any questions about your financial status at Keuka, these are the people to see.  If a problem comes up with your academic standing due to financial reasons, see them immediately.

By all means, if you are not feeling well, make use of this service.  If you are contagious, you do not want to spread your germs and if you need urgent care, they can get you to a local hospital.  They can also help with your emotional well-being.  Your good health is a key to your success in college.

These individuals coordinate activities in your residence hall and can help you to adjust to campus life.  They are a good source of information for college policies, too.

Your fellow students can help to sort out roommate/residence hall problems or just be a buddy to join in campus activities, sign up for a sports team or, most importantly, help you with academics.  With classmates, you can form a study group or work on assignments.  He/She can fill you in on notes/assignments if you miss a class.  Good friends can be the best part of life at Keuka.

Not only does ASK offer individual writing help with peer tutors or skills counselors, but they also have content area tutors for most courses offered at Keuka.  ASK offers help with time management and study skills.  Test taking and note taking accommodations are available for students who have the appropriate documentation on file in the office.

Seek out these individuals if you need help.

By: Kathy Snow, Academic Skills Counselor (ASK Office)

Picture this . . .

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet XLIII

It’s useful to remember the difference between public and private writing.  Certainly, private writing (diaries, journals, love letters, etc.) is hugely important to us as human beings.  But it is public writing–writing intended to be read by people who are not us and who don’t necessarily know us–that we’re talking about here.

Browning’s famous poem is a wonderful example of abstract language.  And, in a love poem written to and for a specific individual, it doesn’t much matter that we can have no clue about exactly what her words mean.

But when we write for more pedestrian purposes (getting work done, reporting research results, arguing about economics, etc.) it’s pretty important that our readers know exactly what we mean.  So we need to avoid abstract language and look for the most concrete way we can find to make our points.

In this sentence, for example:

“When addressing management issues it is important to find sufficient driving forces behind the motivation to follow through with the plans outlined in this project.”

Because the language is so abstract, we wonder, among other things:

–What management issues?

–Why is this important only when addressing management issues?

–What constitutes “sufficient”?

– What does “behind the motivation” mean?

Perhaps the writer meant something like this:

“If the team leader is to follow through with the staffing changes advocated in this report, we will need to convince him or her that the forces driving those changes are potent enough to outweigh the obstacles to the changes.”

One way to make writing more concrete is to take a second look at nouns:

–Names and/or titles are always more concrete and clear than pronouns.

So:  instead of “They completed the revisions in record time.”  “Sally Jones and Robert Smith completed the revisions in record time.” Or  “The audit team completed the revisions in record time.”

–Nouns that the reader can “picture” are always preferable.  But watch out for  ”generic” nouns.  Words like “boat”, “artist”, “manager”, and “dog” seem at first to stand for actual things, but they really don’t; they are generic.

You can be much surer of the “picture” in your reader’s mind if you use more concrete nouns.  So:  Hobie Cat, Eric Clapton, Leo Durocher, and Marmaduke.

(Of course there are degrees of “concreteness.”  So: canoe, sculptor, CEO, and bichon frise.)

P.O.V. Revisited

As writers, we have our choice of which “person” to use, i.e., from which Point of View we wish to direct our message.  There are three:  First, Second, and Third.

When we speak of writing in the First Person, we mean that the voice of the writing is that of the writer.  The pronouns “I”, “me”, “my”, “we”, etc. appear frequently in First Person point of view.

Lots of novels, remembrances, and autobiographies are written in the First Person.

The voice in Second Person writing speaks TO the reader and uses the pronoun “You” a lot.  Second Person is the least used Point of View of the three.

(It does have its uses, however.  I would argue, for example, that a construction like:

“No matter what you think about her talent, you have to give her credit for trying.”

is considerably more elegant than the alternative:

“No matter what one thinks about her talent, one has to give her credit for trying.”)

The Third Person is (supposedly, at least) the most objective point of view.  The Third Person comments on the world as distinct from both the speaker and the reader.  The third person pronouns are “he”, “she”, “it”, “they”, etc.

We are told that, when writing a research paper, we should avoid the First Person, opting for the more objective Third.

And that advice can cause a common writing problem:  avoiding “I” or “me” by substituting “the writer” or “the researcher”.

APA style guidelines** and good writing practice agree:

DO NOT DO THIS, for the very simple reason that it can be unclear and ambiguous.

1.   When reporting your opinion or recommendations, simply declare, treat your opinion as fact:

NOT:  “This writer sees no promise for that technology.”

INSTEAD:  “That technology shows no promise.”

NOT:  “The researcher believes the data to be conclusive.”

INSTEAD:  “The data are conclusive.”

2.   When reporting facts, just use the first person.

NOT:  “This researcher will distribute 150 surveys.”

INSTEAD:  “I will distribute 150 surveys.”

NOT:  “The researcher interviewed eight Executive Directors.”

INSTEAD:  “I interviewed eight Executive Directors.”

(By the way, the Passive Voice-”Eight Executive Directors were interviewed.”-is also a less than desirable choice.)


**American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed., p. 69). Washington, DC: Author.