Thursday, August 23, 2012

My experience with Rhythm of Hope at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

I wasn't able to say much beforehand, but now I'm so pumped to share with everyone what I was able to experience today. My good buddies at CAA landed me a spot as the August artist for Lollipop Theater Network's Rhythm of Hope!

I went to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and was able to share one of my songs with them. Then, we were all able to write a song together. It was absolutely one of the coolest things that I've ever been involved with. The kids were a part of the songwriting process, from giving our song a title to coming up with the lyrics.

I remember my two weeks in the pediatrics unit at ECM when I was eight. I really didn't get out of my room very much. I could see the look of relief on the parents' faces knowing they could let loose and watch their children laugh for the period of time that they were with us. I don't think I'll ever forget it. It breaks my heart to think that they aren't able to enjoy their childhood. I felt honored to have been a part of brightening their day.

They most certainly brightened mine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Take it from a grad: My advice to freshmen

I can't believe some of the people that are filling up my news feed with posts about starting school today. Not because they are already complaining, but because they are old enough to be in college! Anyway, I graduated this May and thought I would offer a bit of advice. Here are Ben's Ten Words Of Wisdom.
  1. Take school with a grain of salt- You're going to learn a lot. Some of the information will be useless and you'll never use it EVER. That being said, school teaches you much more than what you learn in the classroom. It's the 8:00 am classes that prove you have to be motivated to get up for class. Tests will sometimes stack up and hit you all at once on a Monday. You have to be disciplined enough to study over the weekend ... which brings me to the next point. 
  2. Studying- Yes, you actually have to study in college! I remember how easy high school was for me. I'm fairly self-motivated, so I breezed through high school. My first semester as a freshman at UNA was quite a stark contrast. For once in my life, I actually had to study intensively for tests. 
  3. R-E-A-D- Trust me on this one. Spend 15 minutes right after class to read the section in your textbook that your teacher discussed that day in class, especially when you get into your major. It will help you become familiar with the material and you will rarely have to cram for those exams like 99 percent of other college kids. 
  4. Bring lunch/snack- I went to UNA. The GUC food is overpriced as all get out. Think stadium food prices on a ramen noodle budget. It can suck more money out of your pocket than anything else. Packing a lunch can help you eat on your own time and also help you avoid the dreaded freshman 15. 
  5. Get involved- Try to find your niche on campus. There is no joke something for everyone on campus. You may be a bro, so you're into the fraternity lifestyle. You may be a jock. Well there are intramural sports for you. You can find something to be involved in, trust me. 
  6. Get to know your professors- This is one point that I cannot stress enough. You'll have good ones and you'll have bad ones. During the first week of class, I always made it a point to stay (even if there was a line) to talk to my professors after class. They'll get to know you, you'll find out they have lives beyond giving you a grade and, when you need them most, they'll remember you for who you are and not as a name in their grade book. 
  7. Go to football games- I always found them as very fun and I'm shocked mores students don't go to more games!
  8. Do not, I repeat, do not stress about your major- In most cases, you don't have to declare a major until you're in your second semester of your sophomore year. If you have a general idea of what you want to do, or are trying to decide between a few things, see which 100 level classes you can take as an elective with your basics. Then, when you do decide, you will already have something to put toward getting out on time. 
  9. Don't wait to speak until you're spoken to- College is great for making friends. Don't feel pressured to join a fraternity or sorority. I have heard every single reason in the books for joining one and never saw a personal benefit for doing so. However, my best friend joined one and he LOVED it. To each his own. Talk to anyone and everyone. That's the greatest thing about meeting new people. You never know how a random friendship can benefit you in the long run. 
  10. Enjoy it!- My first semester in college I had a 30 hour per week job, an 15 hour per week on campus job and was taking 18 hours of classes! I can't tell you how much I hated school. I didn't enjoy it at all. I'm not saying you should quit your job (I did), but there are almost always some small jobs/on-campus jobs that can help you pay your bills. Be sure you're doing something that keeps the off-campus job stress to a minimum. It will make your life a heck of a lot easier. 
Maybe you made it through all ten points and still have some worries. If you made it through all 10 and thought, "Man, Ben is an idiot." Well, in fact, I am. Just take the experiences from this idiot and get the most out of your college experience! Enjoy it!