College costs

$56,340. That is the comprehensive tuition fee for Elizabethtown College for the 2017-2018 academic year. Tuition will be about $2,000 more than it was this year, and $4,000 more than the 2015-2016 academic year. Tuition increases happen naturally across every college throughout the U.S. and there are not any practical means for generally avoiding the increase, but the way the increases are being implemented at Etown is particularly frustrating to students and families.

To many students, they may see the $2,000 increase per year as negligible. Even though math is far from one of my favorite leisurely hobbies, it is important to calculate the totals to fully understand the significance of the numbers. Currents sophomores came in as first year students paying about $52,000. This year, they are paying about $54,000, and their junior year they will be paying about $56,000. Presumably, the $2,000 increase will continue, making their senior year’s comprehensive fee about $58,000. That is $6,000 more in tuition than the original financial aid package suggested to incoming students. When I was making my college decision, money was a major factor, along with getting a quality education. I compared schools based on the financial aid packages they offered me. When I came in as a first-year student at Etown, I was expecting my grand total after four years to be about $208,000 which is shocking in itself. Now, according to the projected increases, the grand total comes to about $220,000. That is $12,000 more than I expected to pay.

Needless to say, I was unsettled by this news, but I tried to remain optimistic, hoping I would gain some scholarship money from somewhere to help offset the costs. My mom, a single parent doing everything she possibly can to help me pay for my education, immediately began suggesting that I transfer to a more affordable school with a similar academic program. Then the college announced another major change. They would be launching a $50 million campaign to improve the college, and a large portion of the money would be spent on building a “Sports, Fitness, and Wellness Center.” This news in itself would not be so disappointing. The funds for the center are being raised privately, so the tuition increase is not being put toward its construction. Of course everyone would love some more recreation space, but announcing it in combination with the tuition increase did not sit well with me. I was not inspired counter to what the campaign suggested. The money they are spending could be better spent. The campaign promotions themselves included inspiring stories about our students and faculty, encouraging donors to contribute money to the good works that the members of our campus community complete. The center does not exactly correspond to this message of academia and service.

As if these two pieces of news were not disheartening enough, Etown gave its students a third piece of major news in an email just one day after announcing the launch of the campaign. Students received an email from the Financial Aid Office describing a change in their merit-based scholarship policy. Originally, the requirement was for students to maintain a 2.75 GPA to keep a merit-based scholarship. This standard plummeted to a requirement of just a 2.0 GPA.

“A 2.75 was a B average while 2.0 is a D average and students received these merit scholarships for being a strong academic,” sophomore Alison Parsons said. “If they cannot stay a strong academic they shouldn’t receive it.”

For a college seemingly struggling with finances and launching an expensive campaign, it is absolutely absurd for them to be throwing out money to students who should not have even been accepted to the college let alone given a huge merit-based scholarship. If they can indeed afford to handout this money to undeserving students, then they should be able to help balance the increases in our financial aid packages. The college should use the merit scholarships as incentives to do well academically.

The decisions of the college were not individually inherently bad, but the timing and the manner in which they were announced were extremely disheartening to students. Etown should have planned ahead and spaced out these major policy changes, so that students and families would have more time to process the decisions. The scholarship GPA requirement decrease is sending a message that Etown is lowering its high standards of achievement. Etown should be more selective with the students they admit to the college, so that we maintain our high academic standards. Our motto is “Educate for Service,” but Etown is doing a disservice to its high achieving students.

“Hacksaw Ridge” Movie Review

“Hacksaw Ridge” is a true story during the struggles of World War II, directed by Mel Gibson. The first half of the movie is the story of Desmond Doss, played by actor Andrew Garfield and his lover Dorothy Schutte, played by actress Teresa Palmer. The second half of the movie shows Desmond Doss in the military and his struggle to become the first conscientious objector to go to war for the United states. The movie is gripping and will rip your heart out with its love story, family conflict, its intense battle scenes.

The thing which were brilliant about the movie was it really represented the time well. The American people were not only getting drafted to go to war, but many, like Desmond signed up to defend their country. It also gave a good feel of the culture in the 1940s, how people acted, and what life was like. Things which could have been better is the viewer is so immersed into the life of Desmond how he is this religious guy who is in love, who protects his mother, who would never hurt another human, but then decides he is going to go to war. The movie never gives the conflict in his eyes whether he should go or not, and it made it seem like it was a very rash decision to serve his country.

It starts when Desmond is a young boy and gives you the background of how and why he has such strong religious views. He was a person of powerful religious beliefs who believes the greatest sin of all is to take another man’s life. He is tested throughout the beginning of the movie sometimes failing to uphold his beliefs, but as he grows older he learns there is no other path for him than to uphold the laws of God. Desmond falls in love with Dorothy and they quickly become engaged, but before he exchanges his vows with her, he plans to serve his country.Hacksaw-Ridge

He decides to join the armed forces and not fight, but help the United States succeed in their time of struggle. He wants to become a medic, but never hold a gun while in battle. Throughout his training, he is tested to break his promise to God and be aggressive. His fellow soldiers and superiors try to break him and tell him to either fight, or go home. Desmond refuses, saying it is not what God wants of him. He refuses to take another man’s life. He is strictly there to be a medic and help the people in need. He is brought to the military court saying he was not willing to comply with his officers, but he still will not give up his chance to serve his country. While watching the movie the viewer is torn whether Desmond is doing the right thing by sticking to his word or is he being a coward by not fighting. It is hard to tell what to think of him and the movie does a great job of making you wonder what to think.

Abruptly, we are brought to Japan and thrown into the horrors of war. The bravery of the men who would march into the fire of battle and do everything it takes to gain victory shows what humans are capable of, both appallingly and courageously. The movie also shows what horrible things people can do to others, but with these horrors comes the acts of helping. “Hacksaw Ridge” showed two things; first it showed the atrocities of how people can kill others and second it showed how people will risk everything and then some more to help save one of their fellow man. Such sacrifices of these brave men who fought, suffered, died, and survived such horrifying battles gave us the freedoms we have today.

“The Danish Girl” Review

Director Tom Hooper did a beautiful job in “The Danish Girl” in telling the story of Lili Elbe, a woman trapped inside of Danish artist Einer Wenger’s (Eddie Redmayne) body, and his transformation to become the first woman to undergo a gender-change surgery.

            The story follows Lili Elbe, the woman hidden inside Einer who was finally brought to life when Einer’s wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) puts him in stockings and heels to help pose for one of her paintings. The film shows the heartbreaking struggle Gerda and Lili face as Lili becomes more and more real.

            The film does an excellent job in showing the cultural differences of acceptance in the LGBT community during the 1920s. When Gerda and, at the time, Einer went to doctors when Lili first became present, the diagnosis was that Einer was insane and that they would use radiation to “get the bad out of him,” and was once told, “It’s not good news, you’re homosexual.” These parts were very emotional and made it a little difficult to watch because of the reality that this is what most likely happened to people in that time period if they were LGBT.

            Redmayne and Vikander were perfect together, showing the hard struggle a married couple would go through during this kind of change. And the pure emotion shown in some of the hardest scenes will impact an audience no matter who is watching.

            This film is an emotional rollercoaster. It is filled with heartbreak during the dark times, and also filled with hope in times where you see that Lili is finally freed from the “disguise” she was born into.

Organization Tips for College and Life

             College is different than high school in many aspects. Mainly, college requires students to plan and budget their time with the increase in academic rigor.  In high school, students are in school and classes for a set amount of time each day.  The expectations for work completion are communicated to the students and their parents through various means of communication.  Parents are often involved in determining the amount of time allotted for school assignments, activities, and jobs. They provide guidance on managing time.  Once a student reaches college level, they solely are responsible for managing their time.  Time management is one of the key components of success.

            At college, students have twenty-four hours a day in which to accomplish all tasks.  Often, students do not have a lot of experience scheduling their time.  Suddenly, they have a lot of time but do not always use it well.  A full time college student takes at least twelve credits per semester. With this full academic schedule, and the probability that a student is involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs, jobs, and internships, balancing time is critical to help students reach their goals. It is important to plan time for every aspect of college life. Desk calendars, planners, and sticky notes are some helpful tools for students to use in an effort to stay organized. Each product serves the purpose of helping students stay organized. There are strengths and weaknesses for each. Some students may prefer one product, a combination, or all these products may work best for others.

            One tip that can help college students is using a desk calendar.  Calendar use allows students to plan long term goals at the beginning of the semester when professors hand out the syllabus on the first day. A way to use this resource well is to set up the long-term goals first and then add short-term goals as the semester progresses and new items are assigned. The advantage to a desk calendar is that it displays an entire month on one page. It allows for easy long term planning. One down side to desk calendars is that they can get a litte crowded if you have a large workload or are taking a lot of classes.  They have a limited amount of room for recording information. Another down side to the desk calendar is that they are not portable due to their size. So, if you are a student who likes to do work outside your room then a desk calendar may not be as useful as a prime resource for staying organized and prepared. Instead, a portable planner with a month overview may be an additional option.

A planner may be a better resource for students whose presence and work ethics require them to travel to various places both on and off campus.  Planners come in different sizes and styles to suit a variety of preferences. Some are just a small monthly calendar booklet while others include a day-by-day schedule and a monthly or weekly breakdown. This breakdown and overview on the go can help students with organizing short-term work and long-term work. Another nice benefit to using a planner is that students can write down assignments as they find out about them during class or on the run. This is also important in staying organized because it will reduce the risk of forgetting what assignments and exams are coming up.  Once something is announced, it can be written in the planner.

To-do lists and sticky notes are another good resource to help stay organized.  Students can write to-do lists on sticky notes and place them in helpful locations. These lists allow students to see their progress on completing tasks.  As they finish an item, it can be crossed off or highlighted on the list.  This visual provides a sense of accomplishment for the student. Sticky notes are also good to use while studying for tests because they allow students to mark information that is important in books or notes.  Reactions to information can also be included on the notes. They make it easy to go back later and review the material for a test. Students will not have to struggle at exam time to find things that are important.

There are a few different things that I do to stay organized.  I use a desk calendar for long-term items on the syllabus so I can see them clearly.  I also use a planner because I like to have all my assignments written down no matter where I am when I do work. The planner I use has both a monthly calendar but also a day by day.  This way, I can stay on top of future assignments while still staying on top of that are short term and long term. Another thing that I do to stay organized is to use a to-do list.  When I have a lot of work to do, I will make myself a to-do list of all the things that I need to get done. This will help me see everything to be completed and plan.  When I use a to-do list, I know how much time I will need to set aside to get all my work done. It also allows me to see how much I have gotten done so I can feel like I am making progress. Some thing that I could do better is remembering to move items from the desk calendar to the planner.  I tend to forget to move things from my desk calendar to my planner in a timely manner.  In the future, I will try to mark my calendar and then add those items to the planner right away.  This will ensure that I stay on top of everything.  Organization is important to success.


Robinson, Madeon and A-1 Pictures release music video for “Shelter”

Music video for “Shelter” from Porter Robsinon’s YouTube channel.


Earlier this season, the music video for the song “Shelter” began creating waves online, especially within the anime community. “Shelter” is a song produced by Porter Robinson and features vocals from Madeon. The anime-styled music video was created in partner with esteemed Japanese animation studio A-1 Pictures.

Robinson and Madeon are young prolific electronic dance music (EDM) producers from America and France respectively.  Robinson’s interest and admiration for Japanese pop-culture and animation are clearly reflected through this colorful project.

While the song alone was released on Madeon’s YouTube channel on Aug. 11, the completed music video was released a month later on Robinson’s YouTube channel and Crunchyroll. Within a month, the video gained over 6.7 million views on YouTube alone.

The music video tells the story of a young adult named Rin. She lives alone in a virtual reality she composes herself by drawing on a digital tablet. Rin constantly recreates her environment through her drawings. Rin proves to be a relatable character as she lazes around in her bed and continuously checks her inbox despite knowing it is empty. With “Shelter”, viewers are able to explore the concept of loneliness and the role technology plays in human connectivity.

Undeniably, Robinson chooses a heavy topic to examine in six minutes. However, A-1 Pictures makes use of every frame to craft a story for the viewer.  The video’s colors, angles and pacing prove A-1 Pictures is great at what they do. The level of detail and coordination found in “Shelter” reflects the high amount of planning that went into this year-long project.  The song and video go hand-in-hand, making it hard to imagine one without the other.  “Shelter” is not a collection of stand-alone electronic sounds that is stereotypical of the EDM genre.

EDM is evolving through the creation of projects such as this. EDM is a genre that is commonly associated with cold technology, clubs, raves, and illegal substances. However, “Shelter” is an example of electronic music that possesses earnest warmth and humanity. Online comments for this video feature personal anecdotes, admittance to crying and praise from thousands of viewers.

With heartfelt but vague lyrics, the song seamlessly aligns itself with Rin’s life, but is still capable of aligning with the lives of its viewers. It expresses a solemn desire to grow alongside someone in a familiar but dynamic space. Despite the beauty of the project’s visuals, there is a dark and bittersweet reality for Rin to accept. The sharp turn the video takes near its conclusion leaves viewers reeling.

Ultimately, “Shelter” is a traditionally unlikely project between an American producer, a French producer and a Japanese animation studio. It is a collaboration between visual and audible art. Because the song is so emotionally charged there is a dimension of it that may not be possible to convey in words. Viewing it is an experience that speaks volumes towards the electronic world we live in and how simple words such as “loneliness” and “shelter” are being constantly redefined by its technologically savvy users.

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania Citizen Journalism