At Because Arcadia, we want to show some of what’s possible as an Arcadia University student. To do that, we publish content that informs, entertains, and shows what distinguishes our University from others.
A team of undergraduate student contributors (you!) provides the material, sharing stories, photos, and videos about curricular experiences they have on campus to as far away as Australia. They talk about authentic experiences inside and outside of the classroom, the staff and professors who support and challenge them, and the different ways they put what they learn at Arcadia into practice. In short, they demonstrate the value of an Arcadia education.
- Offer a compelling glimpse into life at Arcadia for prospective students across the country.
- Extend the classroom, providing a rigorous applied learning experience for student bloggers.
- Raise awareness among internal audiences and the general public about what an Arcadia education offers students.
Here are some examples of the kind of work Because Arcadia editors want you to produce. We encourage you to read these blog posts and then refer to our synopses below to understand why these stories stand out.
Megan stays on course with her beat about studying art while abroad in a piece that takes readers straight into the streets of Florence. Notice as you read how you’re introduced to various characters who are a part of the Florence street art scene—not through a bland chronological listing of events (I saw this, and then I saw that) but through a rich account of Megan’s observations and interactions as she shares her knowledge and discovery of art. Megan doesn’t top there, though. She describes participating in the very activity she started out just observing. Her story was thoughtful, informative, and engaging enough to draw the attention of travelers who could relate to what she had seen and left comments on the blog. A final point: The photography that accompanies the story helps illustrate key ideas. Read the story.
‘Diary of a Young Reporter: How to Cope with Equipment Flub and Awkward Silence’
Frances does a great job of beginning in medias res. The reader is plunged into the middle of the story before Frances backs up to explain how she arrived at that point. Throughout, Frances does a wonderful job of sharing her personality and quirks, as well as some of her reporting about the Internet café phenomenon, while telling a larger story of a reporter learning the ropes of her profession, which prospective students considering studying journalism, radio, or digital media would find informative. She also weaves in details (Sophie “sat patiently, fiddling with a clip on the kitchen table”) and descriptive language (“hotshot journalist” and “like a conductor cuing a symphony”) to keep the reader interested. Read the story.
‘The Beauty of Math
Math, a thing of beauty? Jessica takes a risk and captures the reader’s attention with a novel idea and then uses a simple but effective literary device (juxtaposition) to tell her story. Thoughtful and particular to her experience (are you noticing a trend yet?), this piece also offers a glimpse into life at Arcadia by providing insight into common situations: interacting with a “favorite professor,” discovering a new academic program, declaring a major or minor, etc. Topped off with a clear, engaging headline, this piece not only exposes the beauty of math but also provides a great example of what Arcadia has to offer prospective students. Read the story.
‘Accidental Scholar Takes on Legendary Monster’
Janna brings us into her story with dialogue, which adds a different rhythm to her language and another perspective to the piece. Then the story takes us on a journey: We join her on the road, in Providence, in a classroom, in front of Frankenstein, and even at the podium! This post moves a lot, yet it’s united by a strong theme and a creative and accurate headline. Janna offers a view of the intellectual climate at Arcadia through her achievement, but the tone of the writing isn’t stuffy. It’s intelligent and accessible. This is achieved through the voice Janna has developed in her writing. The lead-in photo, a still from the 1931 Frankenstein movie, also demonstrates good usage of existing photography. You don’t always have to take your own original photos or schedule a student photographer when you need images. Sometimes a bit of research and intentionality is more than enough to outfit a post with compelling imagery. Read the story.
‘A Whole New Universe’
Speaking of imagery, well-chosen stock photography can do the trick, as we observe in “A Whole New Universe.” The mood and composition of the photo complement Casey’s story of finding her way socially and spiritually during her first semester at Arcadia. And then there’s the content and style of Casey’s writing. We don’t expect you to bare your soul in every piece, but we are looking for insight, authenticity, creativity, and your ability to recognize opportunities for growth outside of the classroom. Casey’s story shows all of that and then some. Incidentally, we are grateful to see Because Arcadia among other campus activities Casey credits with helping her to connect to the Arcadia community. Another thing we love about this piece is that it fills a void for us. Before this, we didn’t have any posts addressing the topic of socialization for first-years written with this level of maturity. We expect writers to research and explore what Because Arcadia bloggers have already written in order to provide a fresh perspective about something we may be missing. Read the story.
‘Keyword: Do Not Move’
“These streets tell stories.” And so does Marcella in this, her very first blog post for Because Arcadia. Even her headline tells a story. We cannot emphasize enough the power and importance of storytelling. The account is packed with so much detail, it’s as if Marcella went on the trip into Philly expecting to write about the experience. Notice the imagery and structure of the story. This can be accomplished by organizing your thoughts with an outline or summary paragraph prior to writing your first draft. You can also get these type of results by truly being present (paying attention) as you go about your business, and by jotting notes on your phone or in a notebook after you’ve experienced or witnessed something that set off your storyteller’s instinct. Observe people and places and let these “characters” become apart of your piece, too. What we really love is how Marcella was able to take the performance and apply it to her own Arcadia experience. She also highlights Glenside’s proximity and access to the city. Read the story.
Keywords for you, in conclusion: If you want to be a successful blogger, tell stories. Take your reader straight into the action. Interact with the material, organize your ideas, and allow your story take you somewhere, too.
Focus. Give yourself the time and space to do a solid job.
Complete your thoughts. Collect your thoughts and present them as coherently as you can, keeping in mind you’re writing for an audience, not just for yourself.
Write clear, engaging headlines. Give people a reason to read your story; clue them in to what’s in store.
Provide a short summary of your post. This will be handy when promoting your story on the web.
Tell a story. Do not submit a journal entry. Do not give a moment-by-moment recap of your day.
Say no to huge blocks of text. Remember, you’re writing for an online audience. People often skim posts before committing to reading them, so make your paragraphs palatable. When appropriate, use subheadings and images to break up longer stories visually and thematically.
Try not to overuse exclamation marks. The larger point here is this: If you want to create a sense of excitement about something, do it with compelling writing, photography, and multimedia—not an explosion of punctuation.
Avoid using famous quotations as headlines. Write a proper headline and then, if you must, add the quotation (epigraph) above your opening paragraph.
Ask for help. You have all the other contributors, a student curator, liaison, and four professional staff members to bounce ideas off of and consult with to help you get something done.
Images are important. Strong photography can help tell your story and draw viewers to your posts. It’s also vital to the look and feel of the website—especially the homepage and topical landing pages.
Strong visuals are vital to the success of Because Arcadia.
- Submit high-resolution images whenever possible. If the file size of the image you’re submitting is 1MB or greater, you’re good.
- Always include an image that’s landscape orientation (wider than it is tall) or that can be cropped to fit such a space.
- Send photos to your editor as attachments, not embedded in a document.
- Always write captions for your photos. Note the file name each caption belongs to.
Here are some resources to help you make the most of your posts.
The University archives event photography on Flickr. Most photos are taken by a team of student photographers trained and managed by University Relations. The site is a great source for images, especially if you intend to write about a recent event. Just remember to credit the photographer.
Many Flickr users make their photography available to use for free under a Creative Commons license. You can find images of just about anything under the sun.
- If the image info includes the phrase “All Rights Reserved,” don’t send it to us. It should say “Some Rights Reserved.”
- In addition to a caption, include the name of the photographer and a link to the page with the photo.
If you’ve got a simple idea in mind for a photo, Jessica Mallepalle (email@example.com) might be able to help you execute it if her schedule allows. Email her at least a week in advance.
Describe yourself and your interests in 50 words or less. This blurb will go on the authors page. Don’t fret; it doesn’t have to be super clever, and you’ll be able to revise it as things evolve. Just lay out some basic facts about yourself, including your major or what you’re studying, where you’re from, and what interests, ideas, and pursuits you’ll be blogging about. Oh, and write in the first-person.
Along with your profile, submit a headshot. If you don’t have a good one, email Purnell T. Cropper (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a time for you to have one taken.
Pick a beat. There will be plenty of experiences you’ll want to document in the coming weeks, but what’s going to tie things together? What topic, activity, or theme do you see yourself returning to throughout the semester? Four of your seven posts must relate to your beat.
The Beat Sheet will help you get a handle on your semester and bring coherence to your writing, and it will help editors make sure we don’t have a bunch of people writing about the same couple of things at the same time.
Follow this example.
Sample Beat Sheet
Primary beat: Participating in a play this semester
Why: I plan to work behind stage in one of Arcadia’s upcoming productions because I want a break from my academic work and it’s something I did in high school. I hope to gain some artistic skills and just have a good time with a new group of people. I think that prospective students would enjoy getting to know about the cultural aspects of Arcadia and how students can get involved in them.
Some ideas for posts:
- How I became prop manager/what the production is about
- How I bonded with the other people backstage
- A hilarious rehearsal
- Pictures from the set being designed
- What I’ve learned through the experience
- How exhilarating opening night was
- How this has complemented my academic work
Back-up beat: Internship search
Why: I know it’s crucial to get an internship to be competitive in professional writing, and I think students will relate to my search.
Some ideas for posts:
- Going to Career Education for some ideas/reworking my resume
- How I found internships through Career Education/my department
- The application process and/or an interview
- Landing an internship
- Why I’m interested in this internship and how I see it connecting to my experiences at Arcadia/my academic work
As you’ll see in Basecamp, the project management system we use for posting drafts and correspondence, we’ve scheduled time for you to submit multiple drafts of each story. This is not an excuse to turn in a sloppy first draft. This means that you have built-in time to really dig in and work at your re-writing.
Please return your completed contract to your editor as soon as possible.