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We are now half way through the semester. Now is a good time to check in and see how things are going.  At the beginning of the semester we discussed short term and long term goals.  Now is a good time to assess your progress and how determine if any adjustments are needed. How are your short term goals shaping up?  Have you been successful in achieving those goals? Did you miss the mark? How about the long term goals, are you close to making the mark?  Did you under/overestimate your projected progress?

If you have achieved your short term goals and are on track to achieve your long term goals, you should reward yourself.  The reward doesn’t have to be big or anything major, it would be a simple treat to acknowledge your efforts and keep you on track to meet the next set of goals.  Think ice cream, favorite dinner, or a movie; a small token to reward your efforts.

If you have not achieved your short term goals and not on track to meet your long term goals, you should begin to evaluate what has happened (or not happened) to meet the marks you set.  Was there an event that prevented you from achieving the goal?  Did you underestimate the time, work, or commitment to achieve the goal? Assess the progress of the goals and determine if you have enough time to revamp the goals, reduce the goals, or increase attention to complete the job.

The same assessment of your goals, should be the same assessment of your studies.  Are you on track to pass your classes? Did you do well and feel confident during midterms?  Are you giving EACH subject the required attention?  Are you spending enough time in the library?  Are you going to your professor to ask for clarification?  Are you utilizing peers, campus resources, and time wisely?

With half of the semester under your belt you should consider how successful you will be in the course.  Asking yourself if you will pass the course, if you should drop the course, or if you have enough time to turn things around.  If you are passing, you want to continue utilizing the system you have in place and seek any ways you can improve in any area.  If you are considering dropping the class, you will need to examine the ramifications of withdrawing from the class. Will this affect your transcript, your grade point average, and length of your coursework completion? If you have enough time to turn things around, look at how you arrived to this point.  What are your study habits? Where can you pick things up?  What can you do differently? Are you utilizing your resources?

Midterms are a time to complete a self-check.  If things are going well, continue on the path and end the semester strong.  If things are not going well, change the course and dedicate more time effort and energy into ending the semester strongly.

The summer is winding down and it is almost time to head to school. You’re almost ready, but before you leave for school, you want to ensure you have all of the necessary “tools” to be successful.  As you embark the new chapter in your life titled college, do not become overwhelmed anxiety.  Small bouts of anxiety are normal and using the helpful tips below will hopefully allow you to ease the anxiety and transition smoothly. Below can assist you in creating your checklist regarding the things you need to complete prior to your arrival will help with the transition.

  1. Confirm your orientation.  You will need to know what day you will need to arrive.  Haven’t received orientation information? Giving the Admissions office a call and confirm date, time, and location.  You will also need to confirm is the orientation all day, overnight, and if there is anything you need to bring. Be ready as you could do everything from tor the campus, to selecting courses for the semester, to complete all financial aid documents.
  2. Confirm your housing. At this point you should know where you are living.  If you don’t know at this point, give Residence Life a call and see if your application was received, if you have a placement, and if they know your assigned roommate.
  3. Get to know your roommate.  Most institutions will send your housing assignment with contact information for your new roommate.  Utilize the information, reach out to them and start to build the relationship early.  Become friends on social media, determine a shopping list for your new space.  You don’t want to both show up with two microwaves, fridges, and vacuums.
  4. Start gathering your belongings.  In your housing welcome packet there should be a list of suggested items for you to consider. You can also find lists with a quick Google search. You will be surprised how many items you have when you begin to gather everything.  Start early and gather a small piece at a time, start with books, kitchen items, food, and end with your clothes. Believe it or not, you don’t have to take everything you own with you.  You will be back in 4 months (maybe sooner if your university offers a Fall Break) and you can exchange items and grab things you may need.
  5. Get supplies.  In addition to your usual notebooks and pens, you will need additional supplies as you prepare for school.  Consider laptops/tablets, what device will work best for you? You will have term papers to write, PowerPoint presentations to create, and research to complete. How will you accomplish these task and what tool will be the best to help you accomplish the task? Also, know the tools of your major are you an art student, are you an athlete, are you in theater? Consider the tools special to your trade.
  6. Save as much money as you can.  You will need money for many items such as textbooks that can range anywhere from $50-$200 each for your 6-8 classes. Although you will most likely have a meal plan, you will need food for after-hours meals. You will need to shop for essentials for your room; think shower caddy, lamp, bathrobe, and much more. In general, you will want money just to have in the event you and your new friends decide to go on a coffee run, grab a movie, or hit the popular diner down the street.
  7. Consider transportation.  How will you get to school? Once you arrive, will you need to get around? Some campuses are a brisk five-minute walk, while other require a more calculated transit. If you do bring your car, where will you park it? These are all things that you need to consider when considering if a car will be needed.
  8. Say your goodbyes.  There will never be enough time and this next chapter in your life will move at lightening speeds. Speed time with your grandparents, close friends going to other universities, little siblings, and most of all your parents.  Your transition to college not only affects you, but everyone that has regular contact with you. Do your best to spread your time among family, work, and friends before you leave.

Take time to create your “Off to School Checklist”. The checklist will keep you mindful of the items you need to complete prior to your departure.  Use your resources to ensure you are well-equipped and prepared for this next step in your life. Talk to older siblings, review information provided by the university, read the Freshmen Survival Guide, and use search the internet for other resources available. After you complete this checklist you WILL be ready!

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Summertime is the best time to complete service in the community.  There are a number of things that you can do to gain volunteer hours and help your community at the same time.  Below are 10 possible ides for ways you can give back this summer.

  1. Assist with a community garden. Gardening is a big trend and a lot of people and organizations are making the choice to grow their own and provide more organic options.
  2. Help at a local homeless shelter. There are a variety of options for families, just children, just women, and just men. Find a shelter that speaks to your desire to assist.
  3. Support a good cause.  Many organizations will host summer events such a races, carnivals, awards banquets, and more outreach events. Find a cause that is near to you and see what they have on the calendar.
  4. Donate time and supplies to a local camp.  Summer camps run throughout the entire summer and can be found everywhere from local churches to YMCAs.
  5. Clean a park/playground.  Find a park or playground that needs some attention.  Now find the organization responsible for the upkeep and find out how you can help. Even picking up trash could make the difference for the animals and children.
  6. Go abroad. Find a mission trip to be a part of and assist those in other countries.
  7. Build a house.  Habitat for Humanity and similar organizations will work to build or repair existing houses for those in need.
  8. Play with puppies.  Animal shelters need your special skills to play with animals awaiting adoption.
  9. Support a Food Bank. Lend a hand at a local bank to help organize and package items accordingly.
  10. Create your own project. Examine your passions, community, and issues affecting you or your family.

This list will hopefully jumpstart ideas within you that will stir some excitement in giving back. Once you have identified how you would like to give back, now you have to determine how to get involved.

There are a number of ways to research ways to get involved.  You can scour the internet using a variety of search terms based on your topic of choice. Get creative and don’t just search for volunteer opportunities in my city.  You may have to do some cold calling to organizations in your area of interest and let them know who you are, what you want to do, and how you could be of service to them.

You may have to step away from the computer and conduct your search in person. Smaller and start-up nonprofit organizations may not have big robust websites.  However, they usually have an office and you showing up in person could provide you with a better opportunity to landing the volunteer opportunity.

Lastly, get out into your community.  Look at local newspapers, go to local community centers, visit town hall meetings, reach out to local fraternity and sororities to find out how to get involved.  You can often see posters or ask local librarians or community center directors about upcoming opportunities, projects that organizations are working on, and ways you can get involved.

If you cannot find the project you are looking for, consider starting your own.  Develop a name, come up with a mission, and fundraise to help achieve your goals. Start off simple and small and allow the project to grow organically.

Be prepared that you may have to go through an interview process or you may just get thrown into the project.  Expect and be prepared for both. You should ace the interview by knowing a little bit about the organization, their mission, and how your skills, passion, and education can benefit the mission.  You should treat this experience like a real job; interview seriously, work hard, and be professional.  At the end of the experience, be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation or a document indicating how many hours you completed and your responsibilities.  Keep this information handy as it could be useful when you want to apply for scholarships, jobs, and future volunteer experiences.  It is important to get the information on paper right after the experience versus two years later, when people that were around when you volunteered are no longer able to assist.

Find some time this summer to give back in at least one way.  Use your social media to track the event and to hopefully inspire others to get involved.

The summer is here and it provides the greatest opportunity to complete an internship.  What better time of the year will you be able to take 20, 30, or 40 hours than the summer? This will allow you time to get some hands on experience in your future career field.  Some internships can be paid, while others are for the benefit of gaining new knowledge.  Some internships are for a short period of time (1 week) up to the entire summer (3 months). Some internships result in job offers, while others produce letters of recommendation.

How well you perform during an internship depends on your performance from day one. Below are 8 tips on how to be successful during your internship.

  1. Dress for success.  Each day you should come dressed for the position you hope they offer you full-time. Take time to give attention into your appearance:
    1. Press your clothes each day.
    2. Stay away from trends and pick more classic looks when making fashion choices.
    3. Stick to natural hair colors.
    4. Avoid bright nail colors and distracting nail lengths. Go to the salon for biab removal if you still have bright nail colors on.
  2. Arrive on time each day.  On time is to arrive 15 minutes early. Prepare for the unexpected during your commute.
  3. Do your research. Learn as much as you can before and during your research. If there is something you do not know, look it up. Ask questions and take notes on new information you obtain.
  4. Ask how you can help.  Part of you obtaining the internship is to learn, but the other part of you being there is to help out around the office.  You should be able to help with projects, clean-up around the office, and lighten the load for the staff.
  5. Be thorough in all that you do.  When working on projects, be sure to cross every “t” and dot every “i”.  Follow-up on projects and complete projects in their entirety.
  6. Leave the drama at home.  Do not bring drama to the office.  If you are having personal problems, you should try to not allow it spill out at the internship. Workers are filing a hostile workplace complaint when discrimination is present in the workplace. You want people to get to know you, your knowledge, and your skillset, but you do not want them to know about the fight you had last night with your partner.
  7. Avoid your cellphone and social media. You should avoid mobile devices unless directly associated the internship.
  8. Bring a positive confident attitude each day.  Come to the internship each day confident and positive about the experience, the day, and each task that is given to you.

ira moody

Part of being mature is being able to communicate with others effectively. You should be able to clearly and effectively communicate how you feel and what you are thinking. There may be times when you can’t pinpoint how you feel.  You could experience a shift in how you feel.  The key is to be able to identify that a shift has occurred and why the shift has occurred.  Did something trigger the shift? Did you hear something? Did someone say something? The shift doesn’t have to be major deep psychological reason.  It could simply be that you are tired or hungry.

When you discover there has been a shift in your attitude and energy, tell yourself to HALT.  HALT is an easy to remember acronym to help you assess your mood and identify what is going on with you internally.

H-Hungry

A-Angry

L-Lonely

T-Tired

When your mood begins to shift, be quick to identify it and label it. Ask yourself “am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?”.

There are easy fixes for being hungry and tired.  Try to keep snacks with you at all times. Store something in glove compartment, in your backpack, in your room.  Having something available will prove to beneficial to your mood when you are hungry.  When you become hungry and do not eat you can become irritable.  Irritability can cause you to say things you don’t mean, lash out, and create hostile exchanges with those around you.  Similar effects occur when you are tired. A simple power nap could do wonders for your mood.  Taking a few minutes to recharge your battery and lift your spirits will also help your mood stabilize and remain consistent.

Anger and loneliness are a little harder to resolve and may take more time to resolve.  When anger is the answer to your mood changing, you have to ask yourself what happened (or didn’t) or what was said (or wasn’t) that caused you to experience a change in your mood.  The quicker you can identify the cause the quicker you can resolve and get back to normal. If someone is the culprit, confront the issue head on.  Let the person know that you are angry, why you are angry, and what you would like to see happen to resolve the issue. You cannot expect that the person will react the why you would like, agree with how you feel, or resolve the issue the way you would.  The point of confronting the issue is so you can feel better about getting it out in the open.  Once you have spoken your mind on the issue, let it go and consider the issue resolved. If the anger is not towards a person, identify what the issue is and how you can resolve it.  If you cannot resolve recruit help to assist you with solving.  If you solve the problem, great! If you are not able to resolve the source of the anger, accept that you may not be able to resolve the issue and/or give it time to resolve on its own.

Loneliness is probably the hardest to identify.  Being in a new place, without friends, and away from family could make college a very lonely place.  You may not readily identify that you are lonely.  You may have feelings that you are not able to easily see and put a label on.  Once you do identify you are feeling lonely.  Try to engage with others around you; see what your roommate is up to, see if there are any events happening on campus, or call a friend or family member. When feeling lonely you want to avoid interacting with the “wrong” type of company.  You don’t want to hang around those that will cause you to engage in behaviors you would not normally engage in or those that will take advantage of your lonely state.  If the loneliness persists, consider using on-campus resources to help you identify the sources of your loneliness and healthy ways to cope with the loneliness.

When you feel a shift in your mood simply say HALT! Identifying how you feel and what caused you to feel that way is a big part of maturation.  Keep snacks readily available, address your source of anger, find things to do and people to engage with you, or take nap.  HALT will help you stay consistent in your mood.

Finals are looming and now is the time to buckle down and end the semester strong. Look at your grades and make and fair assessment of where you stand in the course.  It is important to know how you will end the semester, there should not be very many surprises when you receive your final grades.  Your grades should reflect the work and dedication you have put in all semester. So if you slacked all semester, failed to regularly attend class, and never reviewed your notes you cannot expect to do very well in the class.  These final few weeks are important and should be used to solidify your grades in the class.

Be sure to talk to your professors, ask them about any missing assignments you may be able to make-up, extra credit opportunities, or one-on-one sessions for further assistance on a particular subject. Your professor is just one of the many resources available to you especially during finals.  Take time to talk to your peers and find others looking to study together.  Having a peer that is strong in an area you may not be and vice versa makes for a great partnership, as you can both help each other and benefit from the arrangement.  You also have tutors available to assist.  Tutors can be organized by the department, could be someone you find on your own, or former students that did well in the course.  Do not be ashamed to reach out and discuss the areas that pose a problem for you.  Open communication about where you need help will only benefit you.  Teaching Assistants (TA) is another added resource available for your benefit.  The TA unlike your professor have more availability to assist and may be able to explain in way that is easier to understand.

If you have not reviewed your notes, now poses a good time to review.  Take time to take a second (third or fourth) look at the material.  Be sure you have a clear understanding of the material.  Any cloudy concepts should be reviewed in more detail; write a list of questions you have, create a list of things that require more attention, or focus on the things that you are not confident about.  Besides your notes, see what other resources are available. Did (you) your professor tape lectures? Are there online materials available; PowerPoints, web classes, or supplemental readings are possible options.  Is there a study guide or a list of areas to study on the syllabus?

You are in the final stretch and now is the time for you to pull together all of the resources you have accumulated over the semester.  This will be a combination of notes, relationship building, and asking for assistance. Take this time to reach out and use every resource possible.  Your final grade should not be a surprise, because you have been planning for this all semester. Good Luck!ira finishline

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Parenting comes with a certain level of expected hovering. How do you determine how much is too much?  Legally at the age of 18 you are an adult, but in the eyes of your parents you are still their little child that needs them to help solve problems and care from them.  This notion will not just cease, because you go off to college. Parents will have a certain level of involvement in your college career.  They want to ensure you are on track, completing the things you need to do, and ultimately are successful.  Getting to their definition of success may involve more of them than you would like, but you will have to learn how to balance showing your responsibility and respect for all your parents do with gratitude for all they have (and will) done. Below are some do’s and don’t’s for monitoring your parents’ involvement in your college life.

1.      Do let them know how you are doing in class.  Share hardships and successes; don’t let grades be a surprise.  If you are keeping them in the loop along the way, they will understand and celebrate your achievements.

2.      Do share when you face adversity; share it with your parents.  Use them as a sounding board, but don’t let them handle the situation.

3.      Do let your parent know when you have done ALL that you can to resolve a situation.  Don’t let them believe you have done ALL you can do when you have not.

4.      Do tell them the whole truth. Don’t send them to resolve an issue with only half truths.

5.      Do let your parents know you appreciate their support.  Don’t assume they know you care.

6.      Do find new ways of thinking and viewpoints on life.  Don’t let their antiquated ways of thinking blur your path.

7.      Do communicate regularly with your parents. Don’t disappear by not returning calls, changing plans without giving them an update, or not coming home as scheduled.

Having an engaged parent can be very helpful as you navigate through college.  However, having an overly engaged parent hoovering over issues, calling the staff for every minor issue, escalating issues out of the hierarchy order, and showing up to the university frequently.  You want to take on a certain level of responsibility for your success in school, you do not want your parents to resolve issues or guide you through college.  Part of college is leaving not being the same person as when you started.  So take some of the responsibility off of your parents and show your ability to resolve issues and succeed.

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Happy New Year!!!!

It is a new year, which means a new semester and a new set of goals.  Before you begin to form your list of new goals, you must reflect on the goals from last semester. Take a look at the short and long term goals you created last semester. How did you do?  Did you accomplish everything on your list?  Did you surpass what you set out to do? Let’s take stock of what you have accomplished (and did not accomplish).  Look at what you were able to do! Congratulate and reward yourself for a job well done.  Look at the factors that affected why you were able to accomplish the goals.  What formula did you have in place that allowed you to succeed? How can you apply that formula to the new set of goals for yourself? 

 

At the same time, reflect on the goals you were unable to achieve, hold yourself accountable for the goals that you did not obtain.  Now is not the time to beat yourself for not achieving your goals. This is where you evaluate the goal(s) you did not accomplish and discover why they were not achieved.  Were there factors within your control? Were there uncontrollable factors? Did you almost meet the goal?  Look at all of the factors associated with each missed goal.  A missed goal does not mean the goal is lost forever.  It could just be bad timing or the lack of balance.  Pinpointing the reason why the goal was not accomplished will help to decipher if the goal is lost or should be revisited.  If it is salvageable, add the goal to the list of goals for the new semester. If the goal is not salvageable, evaluate all of the reasons why you were unable to accomplish the goal and try to prevent those factors from reoccurring.

After evaluating your goals, reflect on how you would do things differently.  Did your goals challenge you, did they push you to the next level of your (personal, professional, academic, financial) life, did you accomplish your goals to fast? Ask yourself these things and gear up for the new semester.  Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish this semester. Divide the list into short term and long term goals; indicating items you would like to accomplish at the beginning of the semester, items by the midpoint, and items to complete by the end of the semester. Ensure there is variety within your goals and you take a holistic approach to your goal setting.  Becoming stronger and more competent in one area of your life will not help you most in the long run.  You want to ensure you are developing and balancing all aspects of your life. Focus on your personal growth (spiritual, social, physical, financial), as well as, your professional growth (academics, experience, and skillsets).

Goal setting can be challenging especially if you are coming off a semester where you did not accomplish all you hoped.  Try to look at goals as small pictures that will come together to achieve one big picture. Accomplishing the small goals, step-by-step will help you to tackle the bigger goals piece-by-piece.  Instead of saying you want to lose 50lbs; try saying you want to lose 4lbs a month.  Instead of saying you want to earn an “A” in Molecular Biology, try focusing on earning an “A” one assignment at a time. Instead of saying you want to make new friends, try one new activity a month. Each of the smaller goals are a part of the bigger picture and as you accomplish the smaller goals they will propel you towards the bigger goal.