Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Should You Be Doing Now?

Already it is the end of September! Time really does fly, now doesn't it? By this point, you should be a little over a month into your senior year of High School, and at this point, you should be doing a few things to get yourself ready for college. I have a few of them for you, but please note this list is NOT exhaustive.

#1. Taking the ACT and/or SAT

Most students take the ACT/SAT during the Spring of their junior year. But, many students like taking it again Fall of their senior year to try to boost their score up in order to increase their scholarships, likelihood of getting accepted, among other reasons. If you do take either of these tests now, make sure you send them our way right away! Remember, USA will take your highest score from one test date (i.e we do not super score). Our SAT school code is 1880. Our ACT school code is 0059.

#2. Preparing for AP (Advanced Placement) exams

Yes, I know AP testing isn't until May, but beginning basic preparations now, can mean the difference between a 2 and a 5. During High School, I took six AP exams (Chemistry, US History, Physics B, Spanish Language, US Government, and Calculus AB), and I did quite well on some (US History) and well, mediocre on others (Physics and Chemistry). But, starting your preparations for these tests now will make spending the money on the exam worth while and will make the exam go that much better. You can start making flash cards on material from early chapters, and you also can take practice tests, particularly if you have some knowledge on the subject before hand (for example, if you took a Government or Political Science course before AP US Government, you may be able to get through a practice test or two). You also can look at some old released exams to figure out the format of the test and get used to the way the questions are worded.

These books and flash cards are your friends as you prepare for the ACT, SAT, and AP exams.

#3. Passing your senior year classes

I'm not going to dwell on this one. Just do well in them, Avoid senioritis. Make the honor roll like you did the past three years. You'll be that much more prepared for college. I promise you it.

Have that good grade swag
#4. Preparing to apply for scholarships

While most outside scholarships for high school seniors are not open to application until later in the Fall. You can start searching now. Many national companies (e.g Dunkin Donuts, Lowes, Burger King, Pepsi, and more) often offer competitive scholarships worth quite a bit of money (some as much as $20,000), so it can never be too early to identify ones that you wish to apply for. Also look for scholarships from organizations in your prospective major (e.g American Meteorological Society for a Meteorology major, American Chemical Society for Chemistry majors, etc.) and from your high school. There are literally millions of dollars out there in FREE MONEY that you just got to research out and grab!

Apply for FREE MONEY!!!

#5. Figuring out the requirements for special programs

The University of South Alabama offers a plethora of special and competitive programs for entering freshman, such as the Honors Program, the College of Medicine Early Acceptance Program (COMEAP), the College of Nursing Early Acceptance Program (CONEAP), and many others. These programs typically require an ACT composite score of a 27 or higher, a GPA above a 3.5, and a strong resume. However, you cannot apply for any of these things until you...


The single most important thing you should be doing is applying to college, and specifically, The University of South Alabama. It's best to do your applying early, so you have the best opportunities to snag University scholarships, financial aid, housing options, orientation slots, and so much more! Apply today!
(pictured: Shelby Hall, College of Engineering and School of Computing)
These are just a few of the many things you should be doing right now while in High School.  As said before, this list is not exhaustive, but hopefully gave you a few reminders on things you should be doing!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Transitions, transitions, transitions!

During my high school volleyball practices, practice would conclude with a drill called "Transitions". This drill, simply, would commence with our coach sending a free ball of the net to the varsity side (the drill will varsity v. junior varsity), and they (varsity) would have to play the (now) live ball. The rally would continue until the play was dead. This drill would then be repeated until varsity scored 35-75 points, depending on the mood of the team and coaches. Part of this drill, for me, was not just the transitions occurring on the court, but the transition from the other portions of practice, where there was minimal free time, to this portion, where, as only 12 of about 30 players on the team would be on the floor, there was significantly more free time. College, if you can believe it, is the same way.

The first 80% of practice was composed of stretching, warm ups, jogging, drills, specific game prep, scouting other teams and more, and was long, mentally and physical arduous, and most of all, back to back to back, with little free time (outside getting water). The remaining 20% of practice was transitions, and there practice 'transitioned' to a time where there was more free time. That first 80% is high school, where you have so many different things going on, that free time is virtually absent. College is like that last 20% (and the way time flies, it feels like that's about much you're in college compared to high school), where you still have stuff to do, but you now have free time that you have the responsibility to manage.

When, I first got to South, I had no clue what to with free time. My freshman classes were rather easy to me (outside MET 140 and PH 201), and I spent most of my free time at the rec or sleeping. I'm fairly confident that I averaged 10-12 hours of sleep a night my freshman year. Now, as a Junior, my classes are incredibly difficult, plus I have a job, in a Fraternity, involved in multiple organizations, do research, and on a student meteorologist team, free time is rare, and in very few interspersed bits.

The best way to manage free time is to have a planner. In that planner, write EVERYTHING down, both academic and fun. Use this to make sure you aren't double booked, too overwhelmed in one week, etc. Another great way to manage free time is to have a wipe off board that you update weekly with every major assignment, event, or meeting you have that week. I currently do this, and my board has: MET 356 test M, LG 231 quiz M, Mortar Board meeting M 7:15, MET 410 paper due T, ATO Exec. Board Meeting 7:00 R (Thursday), MET 354 SI 7:30 R, LG 231 quiz F, Work MWR. Now, other than you viewing my incredibly busy schedule, this allows me to know when I have time to work in other smaller homework assignments, time with friends, service hours, etc. It is extraordinarily helpful to do this, and have been very helpful for me as well.

I never thought I'd compare volleyball to going to college... but, I did!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


So for those of who haven't heard... perhaps ignored the massive billboards in Mobile and the surrounding area, or just plain ole' don't follow USA Football yet...

South Alabama Jaguars v. Mississippi State Bulldogs. This Saturday. Three PM. Ladd-Peebles.

and guess what...


That's the truth. While there will be some State fans there, they will fail in comparison to likely over 35,00 Jaguar fans, rooting for the Jags in biggest game in program history, our first home game versus an SEC opponent. I think we're going to win. Vegas does not. But, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and that includes this nonsense of a 14 point spread against us.

If I were to write this a week from today, something that happens at this game would be my greatest memory of jaguar football. But, in preparation for South v. State, I thought I'd share a couple great memories I've had with our Jaguar football team.

Texas-San Antonio @ South Alabama. Saturday, September 1, 2012.

This was my first South Alabama sporting event. It was an incredible atmosphere. While the game was moved from the Thursday night prior due to the effects of Hurricane Issac on the northern gulf coast, the crowd will still quite large, and despite our loss, it was one of the most fun games I'd gone to. It was so fulfilling to cheer for our Jags and to go crazy in the student section.

Troy @ South Alabama. Saturday, September 29, 2012.

This was our first football matchup against our arch rival, the Troy Trojans. I painted my chest for this game with the letter "U" as part of spelling "South in yo mouth!", where mouth was a picture drawn on a friend's chest. It was pouring rain, and while we lost, there was no better moment than watch the Troy players, coaches, and fans groan whenever we did something good. As a USA student, you will learn that "We Hate Troy!" and our rivalry will be better than the school in Tuscaloosa v the school near Opelika.

Florida Atlantic @ South Alabama. Saturday, October 20, 2012.

Unlike these previous two games, WE WON! This was our first win over an FBS and Sun Belt opponent, and best of all, it was on our homecoming. Outside the Troy game, the atmosphere has never been better (at least until Saturday against State). The victory was sweet because many pundits were saying we were going to lose, and that we were destined to be 1-12 (we had a previous win against Nicholls State, one of my least favorite games that I've gone to). But, we did it . We won.

South Alabama @ Tulane. Saturday, September 7, 2013.

Moving into game two of this season, things were looking pretty bleak for us. We had lost the week prior to Southern Utah, and many pundits said we might go 2-10 or worse. But, I, along with many USA students, faculty, and alumni took the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by storm in New Orleans, to watch South play the improving Green Wave of Tulane. We led big early, get close in the 3rd quarter, and watched us hold on for the win. At the time, it was the biggest win in school history (first non-conference away FBS victory). Little did we know, there was more history to make.

Western Kentucky @ South Alabama. Saturday, September 14, 2013.

This was yet another game, where my chest was painted, this time an "S" for "USA Jaguars!" The game was easily one of my favorites I've been, too. The student section was wild and loud, and WKU couldn't handle us, most of the game. Stupid errors by our Jags kept it close, but in the end, the Jags held on. The students and fans went nuts. For the second time in two weeks, history was made. This time, we earned our first win against a team who was bowl bound the year prior. Not too shabby.

Louisiana-Monroe @ South Alabama. Saturday, November 23, 2013.

By this point, the Jags are 3-6: wins over Tulane, WKU, and Kent St, losses to Southern Utah, Tennessee, Arkansas St, Navy, Texas St, and Troy. Every pundit has us out again. But, no student nor fan nor coach nor player thought that.We were determined to be 6-6, and bowl eligible, in the first year we possibly can be. On the coldest day of the Fall, where attendance was light because the cold, the Jags played like they were on Lambeau Field in Green Bay in January, frozen and determined to win. I got the honor of kicking the promotional field goal between the first two quarters (I missed badly, and my foot hurt), but in the end, the Jags beat the very decent ULM Warhawks and moved to 4-6.

Louisiana-Lafayette @ South Alabama. Saturday, December 7, 2013.

We're 5-6. The week prior, a thumping of Georgia State, put us one win away from bowl eligibility. On the Saturday before finals, the student section was small, freezing, and passionate, on a frigid (somehow) gulf coast December day. The Jags were in control early and stayed in control the entire game, winning 30-8, defeating the co-Sun Belt champs, and putting a mark in the history books, becoming bowl eligible for the first time at 6-6.

So, there are some recaps of my top experiences of the past two years and I look forward to adding five more awesome experiences this year in the five games I plan to go to (I already have a pardon for Kicker Aleem Sunnanon, for missing USA v. Navy, for I'll be at a wedding). It all starts Saturday against Mississippi State. And, as a USA student, you will be able to get these experiences and plenty more! GO JAGS! #BEATSTATE #GOJAGS

Gameday at Ladd-Peebles during the 2012 season.
Imagine this place packed with 40,000 for South v. State.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A major life transition: High School to College

Today, I am going to talk about my transition from high school to college. As most know, transitions in life are never usually easy. Often times, these transitions, simple (or not so simple) life changes, often result in changes within you, as a person. I, for one, experiences a lot of change, as I began my career as a South Alabama student.

Definitely, the hardest part about transitioning from high school to college was living so far from my family. My closest family members live nowhere close to Mobile, so I learn to learn to cope with being far away from them and texting, along with e-mail, snail mail, and phone calls being enough to stay close. Luckily, my family didn't want to let me go so easy, so I stay in contact with my parents and grandparents on a weekly basis. But it is definitely difficult for short breaks, when many of my friends leave, and I am stuck alone.

Another difficult part of my transition was having to work part-time. Previously, I had only worked during the summer, as my mother wanted me to focus on getting good grades and being involved in sports and music in high school. Luckily, I found the awesome opportunity to help future jaguars find their homes at South Alabama, and have done so for two years now. But, it was definitely difficult at first to balance classwork, a social life, a part-time job, and sleep, without going absolutely insane.

One portion of my transition that was difficult, but recently was solved with the Mobile Area's (until October 2013) dearth of Dunkin' Donuts. Yes, yes... I know, Krispy Kreme is quite popular here, but their coffee, "bleh". I went through most of my junior year and all of my senior year of high school with a cup on Dunkin coffee in hand in the mornings. So, as one can imagine, my first year and a couple months were inordinately difficult with out my favorite coffee regularly available (thankfully, there was one in Biloxi, MS that I would stop at while traveling West). But, this difficultly all changed in October when a DD opened across the bay in Daphne, and I had my favorite coffee in Mobile. Better yet, my return to Mobile after Christmas break included  me seeing an open Dunkin Donuts on Airport Blvd! I am now a frequent guest there, and it my understanding that two more are being built here. So what was once a horrific and painful transition, is now just plain exciting.

One easy thing about my transition was the classwork. In high school I took accelerated, honors, and AP courses to prepare myself for college, and boy, they did prepare me.While college courses were different, I found that those high level courses prepared me for college level work, and more importantly (in some cases) helped put me ahead in my classes, allowing more time to relax and get used to living in the South. Overall, I found my freshman year classes to relatively easy (outside Calc-Based Physics I), and I owe it all to my high school coursework.

Perhaps the easiest (and most enjoyable) transition was getting used to having the beautiful beaches of gulf coast within a 90 minute drive. I have taken many beach trips and while occasionally, I come back a little redder than I'd like to be, there is still nothing better than knowing the vacation-esque relaxation is a short drive away.

So those were my trials and tribulations of transitioning from high school to college, along with some things that were easy to adjust to. You will find that transitioning to college is different for everyone, and each of us, individually takes it a different way.

The easiest part of my transition to college? How about having this 90 minutes away?
(Picture of Gulf Shores, AL)

Monday, August 25, 2014

A little about everybody's favorite yankee!

Hey Class of 2016!

You're reading the blog of Nick Grondin. I am a Junior, Meteorology major, from Newington, CT! I thought I'd use my first blog to tell you a little about myself.

First, I guess I'll talk about what I am involved in: I am involved in a variety of organizations including, Meteorology Club, Mortar Board, Honors Program Organization, and I am a founding father of the South Alabama colony of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. It is an honor to be involved in all of these organizations and all of them have helped round out my collegiate experience quite nicely. This Fall, I am also starting my involvement in Atmoscenter, a student-run weather show that appears daily on the USA website and on You Tube.

As I mentioned, I am a meteorology major here at USA. For those of you who do not know, meteorology is the study of weather and the atmosphere, and it is absolutely the best major out there! ;) Some courses I've had the opportunity to take or am taking now include, Climatology, Introduction to TV Weather, Meteorological Phenomenology, and Dynamic Meteorology. I am also a math minor, where I have taken a variety of math courses including Calculus III, Differential Equations I, and Linear Algebra. My course of study also has included additional coursework in Spanish and Communication, both helpful to future goal of being a television weathercaster.

A few more things: I am an extremely passionate South Alabama Jaguar sports fan, and I am one of not too many students who have been to at least one of each of these sport's game/match, Football, Men's and Women's Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, and Soccer. (The only one left that I need to see is Tennis). I am also passionate about professional sports, too, particularly the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. My other teams include the Boston Bruins, the Connecticut Sun (WNBA), and the New Orleans Pelicans. My favorite sport to play is volleyball, and basketball and football to watch. I am a Black Belt. My life goal, if you may ask, is to travel to all 50 states, 6 U.S territories, and go to 50 of the worlds 200+ countries (I am at 27, 3, and 8, respectively).

My goal is to be able to explain maps like this to the world. Gotta love Meteorology!!!