June 2012

Prepare for your future! It’s crucial to use college as a time to build the necessary skills and experiences needed to perform exceptionally well throughout your future. The cool part is, if you constantly push yourself to remain actively involved academically, socially, and recreationally, you will build these skills without knowing it. In my opinion, these fundamental skills consist of: time management, financial management, goal setting-course correction, effective note taking, memory skills, effective test taking, and social-health awareness. Some students may not understand how these skills can actually transfer into real successes in the professional work environment, and I’d like to share with you how they do. There are obviously numerous other skills that could be discussed; however I chose these 7 because I believe it’s these 7 that draw the need for other skills to emerge and flourish. Although this is just my opinion, I feel these 7 skills are most important because throughout your entire life, they will differ per person and deserve your personalized attention.

  1. Social & Health Awareness: In my opinion, these skills are the most important! The benefits are endless and extremely rewarding. Physical activity gives you a natural boost of energy, increases oxygen to the front part of the brain which makes you more productive, and decreases pent up muscle tension due to stress. Social activity distracts you from the stress of the moment, helps you get out of your rut, forces a positive broader perspective about stress, immediately improves your mood, and allows you to bounce back quicker from distress. Of course, all of these benefits depend on finding the physical activities and social activities that best fit your body and personality. Typically, your professors won’t teach you how to do this, so you have to take the initiative for yourself! Once you find the right social and physical activities, it will diffuse built up tension, alleviate existing conflicts, build rapport, and help you bond with others. Having friends will teach you a positive way to deal with stressful things, a new sense of shared purpose and direction, and to take yourself lightly and have fun!
  2. Time Management: This is important because time it’s a constant resource constrained by our environment! You cannot make more, so you must respect it. Respecting time is partially about being accountable to others but also about being accountable to yourself. At the end of the day, regardless of your profession or age, how you spend your time will eventually determine who you are, how you feel, and what you’re able to accomplish. The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business–or almost anywhere else for that matter. Work with an advisor to discuss how you can leverage your time in a healthy and effective way. If you do this all throughout college, you won’t be sorry! These facts will hold true even after graduation and your time management skills will transfer over to your life after college.
  3. Financial Management: This is important because your financial situation is always in flux. Taking responsibility for how much money you have, how much you can potentially access, and how you spend money is extremely important. Everyone has a different financial situation but again, ultimately, college is a time for taking ownership of your life and practicing a new form of responsibility. Money, although a great resource, is increased or decreased by multiple factors and at times that differ for everyone. Talk with advisors to understand the reality of your financial situation and personalize your spending habits to your own financial portfolio, not someone else’s! These facts will hold true even after graduation and your financial management skills will transfer over to your life after college.
  4. Goal Setting & Course Correction: This is important because if you don’t set your own goals, whose goals are you living your life for? Yes, you can obviously base your goals off other people’s accomplishments and beliefs; but if you don’t take the time to consciously set goals, you will shuffle along life and wonder how you got to be where you are. In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. Sound harsh? Good. Where I see students most often struggling with this skill is thinking that their goal has to be the best, as in, better than everyone else’s and the best choice for them. That thought is almost constructive in that it has to be the best choice for you, but even then, students stress if it was the right choice. The truth is, while goal setting is important, you’re human and you’re ever evolving. If your true strengths and your heart is telling you something, do not fear course correction; that is, do not be afraid carefully modify your goals. These facts will hold true even after graduation and your goal setting & course correction skills will transfer over to your life after college.
  5. Effective Note Taking: Believe it or not, in the professional world, you will need to take detailed notes all day! Team ideas are constantly changing and progressing, you need to know how to capture this. Also, if you have multiple projects at your job, you will need to learn how to effectively note take for each projects chosen development process and special cases. Most students think that note taking is only used to help you remember things. Although this is true, and in college helps you study, in the professional world, studying is replaces with actions such as communication and idea sharing. Therefore to leverage your note taking the most, use them to teach others; thus, study in teams and practice conveying ideas to your peers with differing learning and communication styles. If you take notes and keep them to yourself, it’s only a memory tool and you’re cheating yourself. If you are hesitant about “teaching,” think of working with others as “discussing” and adjust your notes throughout the conversation as needed. This is what will take regular note taking to “effective” note taking.
  6. Memory Skills: Let’s be honest, you’re not always going to have a legal pad or laptop next to you for note taking, idea developing, and documenting your experiences. This is where your memory skills will come in handy! There are numerous ways to build and personalize your memory skills. Talk with an advisor and study in groups to find others with your learning style to harness your natural memory strengths. Once you discover and harness your natural memory skills, build new ones and continue to improve your ability to absorb, comprehend, and remember what you experience. If you do this all throughout college, you won’t be sorry!
  7. Effective Test Taking: Just because you graduate college doesn’t mean you’re done being tested! Spending time to become a good test-taker in college develops skills that transfer into your professional life. For example, being prepared, arriving early to take a moment to relax, listening attentively, watching for details, planning how you’ll use the allotted time, maintaining a positive attitude, relying on your first impressions, planning to finish early to have time for review, and analyzing your performance. These skills will directly transfer over to your ability to effectively host meeting and present data in an effective manner.

November 18, 2010

When you embark on this journey called college
it can be a mixture of emotions. Excitement for new beginnings, nervousness, and stress, trust as you end the first semester you will understand the frustration and stressfulness of the closing semester.  I can, however, tell you some simple things to remember to help alleviate the stress that may come along with this time of transition.

  1. Make sure you pay attention in Univ. 101 (I believe is required of all freshmen) especially when you do your four-year plan, this class in the end will be great benefit and you will find registration a skip in the park, or at least a brisk jog.
  2. Talk to your advisor as soon as possible. Do NOT and I stress not, wait till the very last moment to make an appointment with your academic advisor. Unlike high school where they somewhat held your hand, in college it is up to you, the student, to go after what you need including academically.Note: The last minute would be around late October and into the first few weeks of November. This is one of the busiest times for your academic advisor and quite frankly they are just as (if not somewhat more so) stressed as you are. Thankfully you don’t have to see every freshman and clarify that their schedule is correct and they can move on. So do them a BIG favor and see them earlier on and it will save you both a headache and time in the end.
  3. Speak to an RA, upperclassmen (that you trust and know) or any available professors if you are stuck on and/or need help in figuring out the process of making a schedule. Everyone already knows you are a freshmen and it is not always the easiest to figure out the ropes of college so make upperclassmen friends, talk to an RA, or even go to the Doolittle Annex where student staff can help you with most academic problems you may acquire.
  4. Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up. Sometimes not speaking up about your concerns (even if you think embarrassing) can be the worst thing you can do. Granted, sometimes your answers come when you wait and watch but at other times if you are seeing a problem speak up before it is too late.Note: This also includes if you are having problems with your academic advisor (such as lack of communication regardless of your many attempts). Some things are able to be changed if you speak up in time. If for some reason you and your academic advisor cannot see eye-to-eye then take the initiative to get another academic advisor or speaking with the head of academic advisors to resolve the problem in a mature manner.

Being in college means freedom and, of course, with it comes a load of responsibility. Although some adjust with no problems, others of us have a little more trouble and speaking up about it can make all the difference when you face a problem. Just remember high school and college are two completely different worlds and when trying to collide they may not mix so well. College teaches you a lot of life skills and as in life sometimes you must seek after that which you want……including the “perfect schedule” for your second semester.