5 Financial Tips For College Students

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Recently, I have taken the Personal Financial Management class here at Union, and as I am about to graduate in the spring, I have begun to think more and more about more and more of my own finances. Here are 5 tips in personal finance:

1. Pay in cash.

If you can, try to pay for things up front and in cash. Whether it is a new phone or a new car, try to use cash. As college students, we probably already have thousands of dollars of debt anyways. We really don’t need more.

2. Pay off your student debt ASAP.

Becoming a college student is one of the best decisions you can make in your life. It can also be one of the most expensive. Once you graduate, it is important that you live meagerly and attempt to pay off your debt in a timely manner. The longer you wait, the more debt will accrue.

3. Save, save, save.

Once you start paying off your debts, you can start allocating your money to other things. One important tip I have learned is that you can just start saving the money that you were already using to pay off your debts. You already know how to live without that money, so maybe you can keep living that way.

4. Start investing early.

One of the classic and most important financial tips is investing early. Putting money into a 401K or mutual funds is critical. Money you invest now will grow exponentially, and being financially aware now can legitimately help you to become a millionaire by the time you retire.

5. Give to charity and to the Church.

This is something you should already be doing. God has told us that we should give a portion of our earnings to God. This is the most important tip I can give you. Give, not only because God will reward you, but because we are called to.

 

There are many other tips out there! Learning how to create a budget, creating an emergency fund, treating yourself every now and then, having small side jobs, and writing down your goals are just a few others. More than anything, the most important thing is to be responsible with the resources given to you!

 

*written by Donny Turner

What Is Being An Intern Really Like?

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Last semester, I wrote a blog post on how to get an internship. Over the summer, I was given a chance to work as an intern at The General Insurance in Nashville, TN. While there I learned how insurance companies determine how much insurance should actually cost for different people in different areas across the country. This was my experience:

Working as an intern in a formal office was both very similar to and extremely different from what I expected. There is a LOT of sitting. I had to be extremely intentional about getting up and walking around after work and during breaks. You definitely have to be careful about exercise when working at an office job.

I learned that the expectations were high. I hit the ground running at this internship; they immediately gave me multiple big assignments that would actually impact the team I was working for. This was one of the first times I felt like I was doing work that was genuinely fulfilling. This work was also genuinely terrifying. I had to present the work I did to the heads of our department and get critiqued on the work I had done. I loved getting to present and have positive feedback loops, but this part of the job was one of the more stressful aspects. I definitely learned more public speaking and explanation skills.

There is also significantly more downtime than I expected. Sure, there was plenty of work for me to be done, but quite a bit of it was work that I finished well ahead of deadlines, and once that is finished, you are mostly waiting for another work assignment. This aspect of the job was both wonderful and awful. On one hand it was great to get paid while doing minimal work, but also the downtime was excruciating.

One of my favorite parts of the internship was getting to meet the people. I was able to meet people from all different backgrounds from all across the country. During our internship, some of the other interns and I were given the opportunity to take a week and go to Madison, Wisconsin, the place where the main headquarters of the company are located. We were able to give a presentation on our experience on the internship and pitch an opportunity for a charity. Over the course of this week, I was able to grow extremely close with my fellow interns. We still keep up even now. I am really hoping we get to cross paths again in the future.

I think one of the best parts of an internship, besides gaining excellent experience and the people you get to meet, is getting to learn if this is something you actually want to be doing for the rest of your life. You get the opportunity to work alongside people that have been doing their job for years. You get to learn their insights and passions. Learning about a specific job and actually doing the work are two entirely different things. I went into this summer trying to decide if this was something I would want to do or if I should go to grad school. I am eternally thankful for this internship, and now I know that this kind of job is something that I would love to do after my college career has ended.

Getting an internship is a fantastic opportunity, and if you ever get the chance, you should absolutely take it!

 

*written by Donny Turner

5 Steps To Study Abroad

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So you want to study abroad? You’ve fantasized about traveling to far off places, experiencing the culture, speaking a new language, and tasting foreign cuisine. However, despite the concept of living abroad making you starry-eyed, you may not know the best way to start planning such a trip. I recently returned from a six-month study abroad in Tokyo, and I am going to explain the steps I took to get there.

Step One: Deciding Where to Go

For some people, deciding where they want to travel is a no-brainer. For me, I had been interested in Japan for about as long as I could remember, so it had been my travel goal from the start. For some, the decision is not so easy. It can be daunting to pick one place out of the entire world to choose. To help you pick, making a list of your interests and expectations can weed out some options. Love soccer? Check out places in Europe or South America where the sport is popular. Noodles are your favorite food? Italy or a country in Asia might be your best bet. Even your dislikes can help you choose a place. Afraid of tsunamis? Avoid beachfront locations. Don’t want to learn a new language? Go somewhere that you already know the preferred tongue. After you’ve compiled your list, then you can work on the next step.

Step Two: Finding an Academic Program

If you’re lucky, your school will have a program available in the country you want to visit. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. If you don’t want academic credit, you don’t have to worry about finding American accredited programs, but you may also have difficulty finding scholarships. If you need academic credits, find programs that are either accredited or have connections to an American institution that can transfer those credits for you. You’ll want to contact that particular institution at this point and ask if they allow students at other institutions to concurrently enroll. This is what I did when I studied in Tokyo. I attended an international language school called KCP International but had my course credits transferred through Western Washington University. It may cost an extra fee to do this, but it shouldn’t cost a fortune, and it will open up the opportunity for a variety of academic scholarships.

Feel free to communicate with your study abroad advisor during this process. They are a wealth of information about a number of options you can choose regarding the international study. Once you’ve chosen an institution, bring it up to your advisor so that they can clear it.

Step Three: Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy

This is the part that will wear you out if you’re not careful. Between your school, the U.S. Government, and the government of the country you are visiting, you will have plenty of paperwork and requirements you will have to figure out. I cannot stress enough that you need to GET STARTED EARLY! It took me around two full years between initially talking with my study abroad advisor to actually departing for Japan.

Depending on your stay, your steps will be different. Is your country on good terms with the United States? What kind of travel insurance is the ideal one for you? Will you be flying or using some other mode of transportation? Will you have to apply for and receive an international visa? Where is the nearest consulate for your destination country? Can you bring prescription medications and, if so, how much? Will you live in dorm housing, a homestay, or will you have to arrange housing for yourself? Will you need to research and request for disability accessible amenities? Do you have to make down payments on anything for your trip? When is the best time to book travel tickets? All these and many more are questions you are going to have to figure out during the prep stage.

Use government web resources, your university staff, and your international contact to address unexpected questions. You may need to get a physical or vaccines depending on the country or program you attend, so be sure to get that done well before your trip. If this step is done well, it can save you a lot of headache down the road.

 

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Step Four: Raise Money

While you shouldn’t wait to start building your savings, you’ll probably need to apply to a program first in order to apply for some scholarships. As boring and annoying as applications can be, it can make or break your finances. I was able to receive several thousand dollars in funds from outside organizations and federal and university scholarships. Your advisor can probably recommend some scholarships for you, but a quick internet search can provide country, language, or field-specific scholarships to apply for.

Keep good track of what you’ve applied for and received, as well as application and disbursement deadlines. For many scholarships, you’ll probably need a transcript as well as letters of recommendation. I recommend getting these one time and then saving the copies to send off to however many scholarships you apply for. Many scholarships have other requirements such as writing papers after the study abroad, completing service projects, or even working for a specific entity for a specified amount of time, so please read the fine print of whatever you want to apply for. For extra liquid funds, some students get help from family members, start crowdfunding campaigns, or work to build up savings. Between my savings from two summers and winters of interning and delivery driving, as well as a generous gift from my grandparents, I had enough cash to pay for my program fees and live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities on earth while only taking out a small safety net loan. As long as you’re willing to set realistic expectations and work hard, you likely won’t have too much difficulty getting the funds you need.

Step Five: Getting Ready To Go

You’ve gotten your passport and visa, you bought your plane tickets months ago, you’ve made mental lists of everything you want to see and eat once you arrive, and you’ve even been studying your target language with renewed vigor. Now you just have to make sure your affairs are in order.

If you have a long layover before you reach your target country, I highly recommend getting a hotel room near the airport. I made the mistake of booking a sixteen-hour layover in Shanghai Pudong Airport after my fifteen-hour long-haul flight betting that the in-airport hotel would have a room available. Upon fumbling my way through Chinese customs and immigration, I hoisted my luggage on a cart and made the incredibly long trek to the hotel only to find that they were completely booked. None of the seats in the airport recline, so I was reduced to lying on the floor of the very cold international terminal, using my jacket as a blanket and maneuvering my travel pillow into a very uncomfortable headrest. All and all it was miserable, and the few hours of sleep I did get left me sore, stiff, and cranky just in time for my flight to Narita Airport.

Also, don’t forget to go to your preferred local bank and request currency for your target country as well as any countries you stop at in between. You don’t want a delayed flight to make you choose between the unfortunate airport exchange rate or starving to death in terminal C. Always remember to weigh your baggage in both pounds and kilograms before you leave and to pack only what you need. Don’t be like me and pay an extra hundred dollars on overweight charges because of a pair of ice skates I only used once.

Make sure to read up on your airline carry-on policy and to pack your carry-on bag in such a way that you can easily access its contents. You’ll also want to check the country safety rating provided by the state department for your target country and all countries you’ll stop in. The rating for China went down just a few days before I was going to leave the country. This allowed me to decide against my plans to visit the city during my layover. Look up the country’s emergency numbers before you leave and research sim card options online. I purchased a data-only sim card for my time in Japan and it was a more cost-effective tool than buying a sim card with data and a cell plan. Ultimately you’ll have to choose which option best fits your location and budget. Once all your incidentals are in order you are ready to go! However, no matter how prepared you think you are, life will still find a way to bring in odd, confusing complications to your trip. Just remember to remain flexible, and that this will probably become a funny story in a month or two.

Wherever you decide to go, I wish you the best of luck and happy travels. Studying abroad can provide a rich experience that you can learn so many things you’ll never find in a book. I know I enjoyed my experience more than words can say. If you found this useful, don’t forget to share this post and check out what else we have on the Union University Library Blog.

Bon Voyage!

 

*written by Ruth Duncan

Tips For Incoming Freshmen (From A Sophomore)!

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Brennan Kress reflects on his freshman year so that he can pass on some tips to new freshmen!

When I came to Union University in the fall of 2018, I can say that I felt a little out of my element. I struggled in certain areas of academic and social life. But now as a sophomore I look back, and with the benefit of better vision, I can see where I went wrong and what I could have done better. So, here are a few tips for freshmen as you start your journey at Union University.

 

  1. Don’t Be Intimidated By A PhD: Every professor at Union University cares for your academic career. They are also all well-versed in their area of study. As a freshman, I was impressed and sometimes intimidated with the vast knowledge that my professors held. Many times the feeling of inferiority on a knowledge level made me feel disconnected from my professors. Instead, I should have used their knowledge and gotten to know them better. So get to know your professors, and don’t let their wealth of knowledge intimidate you!
  2. Be Free To Change Your Mind: Many times I found myself in conversation doubling down on ideas I had little knowledge to support. I reverted back to what I had always been taught and failed many times to ask the right questions. College is, at a very basic level, about learning. You will be presented with ideas you have never heard before on topics you didn’t know existed. So, first, be open to new ideas even if they sound strange, bizarre, or at the outset, heretical. Take time to form your opinion and then once you have, feel free to change your mind! We are all learning and growing in multiple facets at college so don’t expect to think the same at the end of the year as you do now. And if somehow you do, I would argue you didn’t learn like you should!
  3. Take A Sabbath: One of the hardest parts about college is finding good time to rest. Many people struggle from a common inability to rest well. Some of us rest too much, sleeping in and missing classes, and some of us rest too little, staying up late grinding away on projects and homework. Thankfully, we all have a very Biblical mandate to rest, and one of the best ways to rest is to take a Sabbath. Every weekend my freshman year of college I chose either Saturday or Sunday (depending on which day made sense) and I would do no school work on that day. I would not study, read, or do any homework. Surprisingly, this practice actually made me a better student as I would prepare better in the days leading up to my rest. I would take that Sabbath as a day to sleep in, hang out with friends, and occasionally play a few video games. And the best part was that my grades never suffered. I have told countless people about my Sabbath and many thought it would be impossible to get all the work done and take a Sabbath. I don’t say this to brag, but I still managed a 4.0. All that to say, taking a Sabbath is doable and shows faith and trust in God. Pick a weekend day and take the day off! You won’t fall behind. In fact, it will keep you ahead!
  4. Be Willing To Sacrifice The Good For The Great: College is filled with many amazing opportunities for growth and learning. There are endless clubs and organizations on campus and one of the greatest challenges can be finding out what you feel most inclined to do. This can lead some people to try to do everything. A good skill to learn, especially as a freshman, is the ability to say “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to others. Don’t fill your plate to the brim. Find the things which you consider to be most valuable and pursue those.

 

Featured Book: “Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise” by Justin Wainscott

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Justin Wainscott, a member of Union’s Board of Trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, recently released a new book. Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise is divided into 2 sections: hymns and poems. The hymns section draws heavily from Scripture; Wainscott adds recommendations of familiar tunes for each hymn to be sung to. The poems section focuses on different themes such as God’s grace, dealing with anxiety, and family.

One poem that particularly stands out is “Shared Wonder,” which is about our relationships to art:

The art we most enjoy-

whether stories or sketches,

paintings or poems,

music or movies,

sermons or songs-

is the fruit of private wonder

being made public.

Wainscott goes on to write about the joy of shared wonder, which he concludes is the end result of art.

Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise is a great resource for worship leaders, pastors, and laymen alike. Whether you’re looking for a new hymn to sing or a poem to resonate with, this book is here to help you worship God. You can check out Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise from the library.

Spotlight On “Volunteer Voices”

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Are you interested in learning about Tennessee history? The Volunteer Voices project is a collection of documents, artifacts, photos, and other facets of local culture. The library provides access to Volunteer Voices as a database in our Databases, E-Books, and Media tab. You can also access Volunteer Voices via the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

So, what can you read about in Volunteer Voices? The project has many broad topics to choose from, including the following [click the links to access Volunteer Voices]:

Broad Topics
African-Americans
Architecture
Arts and Literature
Children and Childhood
Civil and Human Rights
Education
Family Life and Gender Relations
Farming and Agriculture
Frontier Settlement and Migration
Government and Politics
Health and Medicine
Immigrants and Immigration
Law and Legal Documents
Music and Performing Arts
Native Americans
Nature and the Environment
Popular Culture and Folklife
Religion
Science and Technology
Social Reform
Sports and Recreation
Trade, Business and Industry
Transportation and Internal Improvements
Wars and Military
Women

You can also choose to search the collection for specific terms, or you can simply browse the collection and see what the project has to offer. You’ll find documents like personal letters, campaign advertisements, pamphlets, photographs, and more. The collection allows you to narrow your search down by choosing subjects, genres, and the historical era of your topic.

The next time you’re searching for Tennessee history, head to Volunteer Voices and get started. You can also tour our library’s online archives, search our catalog here, visit the Tennesee Room at the Jackson Madison County Library, or visit the Madison County Archives.

 

 

How To Find Books By Union Authors

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Did you know that many Union faculty and staff members are also published authors? The library has a sizeable collection of books that were written or edited by Union authors. There are 4 major ways that you can see these books:

  1. We have a “Union Authors” list online! Just click the link to view the list. You can also find this list by using the drop down menu that says “Find Materials” on the library’s home page.
  2. If you know the author or the title of the book by name, you can search for them via our library website. The website will tell you the book’s location in the library and its availability status.
  3. If you just want to browse the collection, you can walk around the book stacks and find Union Authors by noticing books with “Union Authors” stickers. These stickers are red and attached to the spine of the books. Hint: a large amount of books by Union Authors are in our theology section.
  4. One final way to see books by Union Authors is by viewing the “Union Book Project” via www.uu.edu. You can search for specific authors or by year to see the books that were released in a particular time period. It’s a great resource!

 

Pick up a book by your favorite professor today! Chances are it’s on our shelves.

Book Signing Event With Karen Kingsbury

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Tonight’s the night! We are excited to host Christian novelist Karen Kingsbury on campus. You can visit with Karen Kingsbury in the library from 5-5:40pm before her special dinner event, hosted by the Union Auxiliary. Kingsbury will be selling signed copies of her new book and can also sign your personal books for free if you bring them to the library.

For more information about Karen Kingsbury, visit her website.

For more information about “An Evening With Karen Kingsbury,” click here.

Library FAQs

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We’re here to answer all of your questions at the library! Here are some of our most popular questions from our students and guest patrons.

Student FAQs

  1. How can I apply to work in the library as a student assistant?

Students can go online through the Vocatio Center to submit their resume. The Circulation Manager will review their resume and may invite them to an interview. If approved, the students will need to submit paperwork to the Vocatio Center and sign up for hours on the Circulation schedule.

 

  1. I need more prints. Can I buy them?

Yes, we have print cards for $1 and $5, it just depends on how many prints you need. If you need to do a print refund, though, that falls under IT- you can request one here.

 

  1. I need to request transcripts. Where can I do that?

The library does not handle transcripts. We can transfer you to the registrar’s office instead, or you can request them online via the registrar’s page.

 

4. I need to keep this book for a little longer than the due date for a project, but I’ve reached my renewal limit. Can you help?

Yes, generally we can extend the due date of a book when a student needs it for school-related purposes.

 

5. Can the library schedule appointments for the Writing Center?

No, the library and the Writing Center are separate entities (that do work together, though)! You can schedule an appointment with the Writing Center through their website here.

 

6. What are the library’s hours?

You can view the library’s hours 24/7 on our website!

 

7. I need help with APA/MLA/Turabian citations. Can the library help me?

Yes, you can schedule an appointment with a Research Coach for help with citations. You can also check out the APA manual, the MLA manual, and the Turabian manual from the library.

 

Guest FAQs

 

  1. Does the library offer tutoring services?

No. The library does have research help for Union students, but not for high schoolers, children, or adults who do not attend Union.

 

  1. Does the library partner with any local home school or education programs?

No, but families with children are welcome to visit the library.

 

  1. I’m a college student at Jackson State. Can I check out books from Union?

Yes, through a local university & college agreement, higher education students at other nearby institutions can check out a limited number of Union library items. See our website for more information.

 

  1. Can I look at eBooks and articles on the library website as a guest?

Yes and no. If you are on Union’s campus, you can view eBooks and articles on our library website. If you are not on campus, you will not be able to view them without a Union login.

 

  1. I’m a Union alumnus. What can I do in the library?

As an alumnus, you qualify for a free guest card, which allows you to check out up to 3 books. You can also be logged onto a computer as a guest and print for $.10 a page.

 

  1. Can I pay with a credit card?

No, we can only accept cash or checks at Circulation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips For Surviving Severe Weather

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Chances are that if you’re a student at Union University, you’ve had the unpleasant experience of dealing with the threats posed by severe weather. Union’s unique location near what is now coined “Dixie Alley” or “The New Tornado Alley” puts it in the threat zone for strong storms more frequently than most other places in America. Each year a variety of weather hazards impact campus, none more dangerous, however, than those that include the threat for tornadoes. Knowing how to properly respond to these threats is an important part of living at Union, and one that every student should take seriously. In order to help you know more about these threats and make your life less stressful when they occur, I have compiled a list of helpful weather tips for next time stormy weather impacts campus.

 

Know what to expect, but don’t freak out –

Most severe weather at Union is advertised at least a day or so in advance. Have a method for being informed on these matters. Follow a local meteorologist on social media, be friends with Union’s own weather geek (that’s me), or have some other way to check into local/reliable sources. Weather apps can be great products for day to day weather forecasts but are not well suited for detailing severe weather threats. Also remember that a forecast is just that, a prediction. It is not designed to cause fear, but to provide you with the opportunity to plan ahead and make informed decisions.

 

Know the terminology –

What is the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch? This is one of the severe weather questions I get asked the most. A tornado watch is issued to alert people to the possibility of a tornado developing in your area. At this point, a tornado has not been seen but the conditions are very favorable for tornadoes to occur at any moment. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states, and is often in effect for many hours.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.

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Know what to do –

As Union students, this has been drilled into our brains from day one. In the event of a tornado warning, we are told to take shelter in the bathrooms of a lower floor dorm. If you are in the library, the first floor bathrooms are where you take shelter.

However, there are situations where this is obviously not an option. One of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado is on the road. If a tornado warning is issued while you are driving, the best option is to pull into the nearest public building and seek shelter in a restroom. Small interior rooms in sturdy buildings are ideal, but don’t spend too long trying to find the perfect location and risk being caught outside.

 

Don’t become complacent –

It’s easy to do. Union experiences an average of two tornado warnings per year, a large majority of which are never actually accompanied by a tornado. This is complicated even further by an alert system that is initiated by warnings which may not even affect campus (but simply clip a portion of Madison county). Despite attempts by the NWS to move away from county based warnings through the use of polygons, this has yet to become incorporated into many local warning systems (such as tornado sirens or UU alerts). Such a situation took place earlier this year when a tornado warning more than 14 miles south of campus initiated UU and city alert systems, despite the storm never posing a threat to the University (see image).

 

As a result of such inconsistencies, I have observed the tendency of Union students to react nonchalantly to many warnings. While it may seem that most are unwarranted, playing the odds is a very dangerous game. There may be times when a tornado warning is issued and you have very little time to respond. Unless you have access to information indicating otherwise, it is wise to treat every warning as though a tornado is imminent.

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Get a good radar app –

I believe everyone has the capacity to understand detailed radar data. Unfortunately the radar imagery provided to you by most weather apps is low quality data that often lags and is highly misleading. Being able to observe storms ahead of time on radar, along with accompanying warnings can be a huge help as you anticipate severe weather. One of the best sources of detailed radar and storm information is the user friendly RadarScope™ application. I highly recommend this product to anyone who wants access to high resolution radar data and warnings. This product is available on the the iOS and Android app stores. You can also check out their website here: www.radarscope.app.

*written by Grant Wise. You can follow his Union weather updates on his Facebook page!