I’m Not Just “Surviving” As a Social Science Student At a Tech School, I Am Thriving.

When I tell people I’m studying Psychology at IIT, I get some people who look at me like I’ve got a third arm growing out of the top of my head. (Boy, would that drive phrenologists mad)

“WHY would you study Psychology at a tech school?” they ask, incredulously.

IIT offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, with a program based in the research/practitioner model. This means that as a psych student at IIT, you are instilled with a proficiency in the scientific methods for conducting research in academic institutions and private entities, in addition to setting you on track if you want to pursue rehabilitation services, becoming a clinician, or a counselor. This is a huge leg up that sets IIT students apart from their competition, especially when you are looking into graduate school. Research experience is a hot commodity.

Beyond that though, a degree in Psychology from IIT prepares you for the realities of the world we are about to enter into, one where almost every facet of human life intersects with technology. There is going to be immeasurable need for scientifically literate professionals in both the social sciences and humanities, who can help us understand the human condition, and how our advancements have changed our communities, our cultures, and ourselves both positively, and negatively.

In addition to majoring in Psychology, I am also minoring in Information Technology and Management. I hope to engage my knowledge of both of these fields in research, as I plan to pursue a Ph. D. in Neuroscience. As a fan of science fiction, I am excited, terrified, and intrigued all at once by the prospect that within my lifetime humans and technology may advance to the point where we are able to interface human biology with technological enhancements that will allow us to exceed the limitations of the human body. We may be able to craft the first artificially intelligent life forms. We may be even able to delay or reverse the aging process, for all intents and purposes achieving everlasting life.

Artist Neil Harbisson was born with total colorblindness, only able to see in black, grey, and white. With the help of a computer science student Adam Montandon from Plymouth University, they created a cybernetic camera on a headset that allows him to “hear” colors. He had the device surgically attached as an antenna protruding from the back of his skull in 2004, and has since gone on to be officially recognized by many as the world’s first cyborg. He remains active as an activist for cybernetics, and is the co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation, dedicated to helping interested people become cyborgs, and advocating for cyborg rights.

This is a short video about Neil’s work.

This is a TED Talk he gave on his implant, detailing how it has changed the way he lives his life on a day to day basis.

As time went on, his entire understanding of reality was shifted by the peripheral perceptions offered by the “eyeborg.” It even fundamentally changed the way his brain understood color, as he eventually began to experience the sensations of his device even in his dreams. His brain was extrapolating colors for him to “hear” even in his sleeping hours.

This is just one example of technology and humanity merging on new fronts. On the more conservative side, we may also be able to fully understand and find cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s. We may be able to encourage people to stop smoking or exercise more by developing new smart phone apps.

Dr. Arlen Moller is a member of the Psychology faculty, currently researching Behavioral Health and Wellness (coincidentally one of the newest majors for undergraduates within the Lewis College of Human Sciences). His most recent project is focusing on encouraging people to exercise more in ways that are more meaningful, more social, more fun, and resultantly, more sustainable. Participants wear step counters throughout the day tracking their level of exercise. The steps taken are then converted into points for a fantasy sports league, which increases interaction with peers, reaching for higher scores, and engaging from week to week to increase stats.

I plan to continue to be not just an advocate for science education, but the importance of the Social Sciences in the advancement of human progress. My hope is that as time passes, the handful of people who look at me like I have that arm growing out of my head, or rather a cybernetic antenna, will shrink to none as we advance into the future of the human sciences.

Jacob McCurry, 3rd year Psychology

Top 10 Study Habits

As a current junior studying Civil Engineering, I have found the following to be the top 10 study habits all students should have to succeed at IIT.

  1. Go to class

Professors did not get the title professor just because they thought it would sound cool.  They generally have at least one doctorate’s degree related to what they are teaching.  Even the most boring lecture professors can give one great example and help you learn the material better than you could on your own.  As an engineering student, I study very difficult material that has already been mastered by my professors, meaning that it is silly for me to not go to lecture and listen to their approach of the subject.  I enjoy most of my classes at IIT because the professors are passionate about what they teach.

  1. Read the book

When a textbook is assigned to a class, the professor is usually the one who picks the book and it relates to how they plan to teach the class.  Depending on how your professor lectures is how you should approach reading the book.  How you decide to read the book is up to you, but use it. While it is ideal to read every chapter of all of your textbooks, it is nearly impossible to do that.  Skimming is okay too and has helped me just the same!

  1. Take notes and review them

A perk of going to class is that you can write down side comments your professor makes about an example or concept (or the funny things they tend to say too). While good to write these things down, it is meaningless if you do not go back a review it. I have gotten into the habit of reviewing my notes for a few minutes before each lecture.  This helps me understand where we left off and what I should be expecting for the current lecture.

  1. Have a planner

IIT’s Office of Campus Life helps with this by handing out free planners at the beginning of the semester, but make sure you fill it out! A planner is great for due dates, but the way I use it is to plan when I will do the work.  There are numerous ways to organize your planner to accomplish this, but my way is to write my classes on the side and draw a line across the weekdays.  This way, even though I may not have an assignment due until Wednesday, I can plan to work on it on Monday and Tuesday. This helps me realize that my day on Monday and Tuesday is not empty and that there is work to be done. Succeeding in college is more about time management than being smart in my opinion.

  1. Ask questions

During my first year of school I was terrified to ask questions, fearing that the professor or my classmates would think I was stupid.  However, I quickly realized that asking questions is a part of learning and college is about learning, not a competition of who is already the smartest person there.  I have turned into the student who will ask a seemingly dumb question but have the professor respond in praise of “good question” instead.  If you already knew all the answers, you wouldn’t be a student.

  1. Find a study group

Within my department, I have found a group of about 10 students that I regularly do homework with.  We have become close friends who care about each other’s academic performance. Having this group has helped me to focus, distress, and learn material more efficiently.  Naturally, some of us are stronger in some classes than others, meaning we help out those who are struggling in our strong areas for their help in other areas in return.  As I mentioned before, engineering problems are difficult and solving them is like following a tangled map of equations with no compass.  Your study group is your compass and a funny tour guide all in one.

  1. Take active study breaks

Instead of browsing a social media site on my study breaks, I have found that some sort of physical activity is better and allows me to return to studying more focused.  For example, in the warmer months, I will go outside with a friend from my study group and toss a Frisbee or football for ten minutes.  If I am stuck inside, I will have a silly dance party to 2 or 3 songs, obnoxious singing encouraged.  I always feel much better after doing something active and it rids my mind of any grogginess.

  1. Drink more water, not coffee

I have pulled quite a few late nights studying and working on projects in my 3 years and from experience I have decided on a coffee water ratio of 1:2.  This means for every one cup of coffee, I will drink 2 cups of water before I can have another cup of coffee.  This helps me from feeling shaky or over caffeinated in general.  Both of those feelings are distracting to me and this ratio had allowed me to feel better and still power through a late night.

  1. Learn how you study best

For me, I need to read the book and take notes, then try example problems with a book open and notes spread out everywhere.  For other students, my study space may look too chaotic and impossible to focus in.  Learn how to set up your study space to match your learning style.  Creating a plan for how to study for a certain exam can make a difference.

  1. Sleep

I will not promise that you will get a full 8 hours every night, but a good amount most nights will make a huge difference.  To make sure I am maximizing my sleep, I tracked my REM cycles for a few months and now use that to determine how much sleep I need to feel refreshed.  To do this, I used an app on my smart phone that calculated the efficiency of my sleep every night.  I learned that going through 2 REM cycles, or about 3 hours, was enough for me to sleep as efficiently as I do on a night where I got a full 8 hours.

Part of the Study Crew in action! CAE’s for life!!

ddd

Leslie Lyons, 3rd year Civil Engineer

Robotics Club at Illinois Tech

As a high school student, I was a participant in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). FIRST was the best part of my high school career, and it solidified my choice to follow a path in a STEM career and inspired me to give back to the organization. Without my participation in FRC, I would not be at Illinois Tech, and definitely would not be on this career path.

In high school, I had the time of my life working with my fellow students on a team where our goal was to build a robot in six weeks. In addition to the engineering and science-related skills I gained as a part of my high school team, I also gained a lot of leadership, presentation, and public relations skills during the time I served as my team’s captain.

 

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My high school robotics team – FRC NeoBots 2903 from Arlington, Washington

 

When it was time for me to decide on a college, aside from finances and programs available, one of the defining factors of my decision to attend Illinois Tech had to do with the opportunity to pursue my passion for robotics during my collegiate career. While many universities have collegiate robotics teams, I was excited to learn that Illinois Tech’s team has a threefold purpose:

  • building awesome robotic projects
  • creating an exciting and hands-on learning environment for all students regardless of academic background
  • giving back to the local community through volunteer service and philanthropic projects benefiting FIRST Robotics, the very organization that had helped shaped me as a person

Illinois Tech Robotics is also a leader in local and national FIRST activities, and many of it’s members have achieved great things at IIT and beyond.

When I arrived at Illinois Tech, I was beyond excited to join the team, and was amazed to find out how much fun it would be. I’ve gotten to work alongside many very talented students, staff, and faculty at the university, and I’ve made some great friends along the way. Even though I chose to major in Physics Education instead of an engineering discipline, I’ve still been able to continue my learning in the field of robotics and get a ton of hands-on application to some of the things I’ve learned in class.  I’ve also been able to compete in robotics competitions in a ton of cool locations (I took a trip to California for a competition last year!), as well as volunteer at FIRST events around the Midwest. More important than the cool robots or service hours earned are the awesome people I’ve had the chance to work with. There’s nothing quite like scrambling to get a part of your robot working when you have a match in 10 minutes or going out to dinner with a bunch of your best friends after an exhausting 45 hours of volunteering over three days.

This year, I’m excited to continue my involvement in Illinois Tech Robotics. I’ve gotten the opportunity to help with major event planning for hundreds of students through the volunteer work we do with FIRST. I’ve also had the chance to coordinate volunteer efforts and social media for the state of Illinois with FIRST as well as help coach my own high school robotics team in a nearby neighborhood that allows students in the city to have the same great experiences with the program that I had as a high school student. If I hadn’t gone to Illinois Tech and gotten involved in our campus community, none of these awesome opportunities would have been available to me, and I wouldn’t have the experience I have now as an educator and leader that will benefit me greatly in my future.

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Illinois Tech Robotics at the 2012 Jerry Sanders Design Competition

-Kori Bowns, Illinois Tech Class of 2015

 

Check out IL FIRST here!

The Application Process…Oh Boy

Hi Everyone! This is the first post in a series by the admissions counselors here at Illinois Tech… we hope to give you a few insights from our end of things throughout the year 🙂

So. The application process. Most students tend to dread this part of looking at colleges… and I know. It can seem like a huge pain. But guys… this is your time to shine! I’m here to offer a few pieces of advice from the admission counselor stand point… so hopefully this helps you wade through that dreaded application.

1. The application: If you’re lucky enough to apply to schools that all use the Common App- that’s a win right there! Please take your time while filling this out.. the nice thing about the Common App is that you do not have to fill it out all in one go, you can save it and come back to edit later. (We’ll get to editing later)

a. You know that space where you can fill in your extracurricular activities? Don’t just list         them… tell us what you did! Were you the President? Did you start the club? Show off         a little, it’s ok.

2. Letter of Recommendation: Every counselor wants to know what you’re really like as a person. There are a few things you can do with a letter of rec… the first and foremost being, get a teacher to write at least one for you! We want to know about your academic abilities as well, and your teachers are our best source of information. This goes with a grain of salt… ask a teacher who you trust and have a relationship with. If they don’t know your name, it won’t be a great letter of rec. Then if you want to send in more (Illinois Tech accepts up to 3) you can ask a coach, a mentor, or another teacher!

3. The Essay: Why students dread this, I don’t know. As a counselor I enjoy reading the essays the most! I want to get to know you and this is where I can get a glimpse into who you are as a person. So, a few tips:

a. Make it real. Counselors read these all day long. We know what’s hokey and fake.              Just be yourself. Write about something that’s important or interesting to you. If you’re        really passionate about it, we’ll be able to tell and we will appreciate you for it.

b. Don’t turn in your first draft. I’m sure every English teacher out there has told his/her          students this and it’s true everyone… writing is a process. Take your time, have mom          or dad read it over and make some changes. You’ll be better off, I promise.

c. EDIT. Please, edit. Grammar and spelling are important, even if you’re never going to             write a paper about Shakespeare ever again.

Thanks for reading about the application process… as always feel free to reach out to your counselor if you ever have questions- We’re here to help!

-Rebecca Foley

http://admissions.iit.edu/undergraduate/apply