Friday, October 17, 2008


As you may have already found out, the friends that you have in high school are not necessarily the friends you will have later in college. Any friendship is something you have to work at, you need to nurture it.

People change and sometimes they change into people you don't want to be around. When you enter college, you're surrounded by new people - some that you click with, some that you don't. Be open to meeting new people. Understand that your old high school friends will be changing, just like you will be changed by being in college too.

Take the initiative to call or text old friends and ask about their college. If they aren't too far away, invite them to visit you at your college or make a point to visit them at their campus. Shared experiences are what cement a friendship.

Make a point of making new friends at college. You have to open up to new people, let them get to know you, and find some common interest.

Often, girls or guys will get so involved with their boyfriend/girlfriend, that they drop all other friendships. Often these college romances don't last. You get dumped. Then, just when you really need a friend to hang with, to vent with, you realize you have no one because you dropped all your friends when Mr./Ms. Special came along. College romances are fantastic, but keep your other friendships alive too.

Join clubs and organizations where you have a common interest. Or get out of your comfort zone and at least try a club that you feel is different from your views or interests, but be respectful.

The easiest way to make new friends is by having a ready smile, look people in the eye, and maintain your sense of humor when all else fails.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


My second year in college I took Anatomy and Physiology. It was a very difficult class for me, taught by the best professor I have ever had (but that is a whole different story). One of our assignments was to form a group of four, make a presentation with Power Point, on a disease. This assignment gave me an abundance of material about Spina Bifida which I turned into numerous assignments for other classes, collecting "A's" and "A+'s" along the way.

I collected and kept all the research my group did on Spina Bifida on my computer, including the Power Point presentation and the research citations. My group got the maximum number of points on our presentation so I knew I had great research on the topic.

Soon after I finished Anatomy and Physiology, I took a class in Epidemiology. The tests in this class were rough and the entire class was not doing well so the professor made an offer for extra credit. Anyone in the class who wanted extra credit needed to create a Power Point presentation and discuss in front of the class the incidence and prevalence of a disease. Well with very little effort on my part, I dusted off my Spina Bifida research, added in some additional statistics required by my professor and collected 45 extra credit points which zoomed my grade in the class up to an A+.

The next year, in a Health class, the professor wanted us to create a display of information on any health care concern. Once again, I immediately thought of Spina Bifida and simply had to print out my Power Point slides onto colored paper and paste them on the big display board, add a little decoration to liven it up and I was done. Because by now I was able to fluently discuss my topic of Spina Bifida, I easily was able to talk about my topic in front of the class and got an "A" on my project.

You too can parlay one research project into great grades in several different classes. Always save any research projects you do, you never know when you will have an opportunity to reformulate it into another project in another class. Why reinvent the wheel when you have 90% of it completed right in front of you? Plus, you will become an expert on the topic chosen thereby giving you an extra edge when you need to speak in front of your class about the topic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It is so much more fun to socialize than to sit down and disciple ourselves to study. We want to do well in school, we want a great GPA, we want to be successful but we also want to party. So how do we decide what to do?

There is no reason why you can't have a decent social life and a great GPA. Grab a daily planner and schedule BOTH your time to party and your time to study and classes. Let's face it, most of our time is spent doing nothing productive. Maybe you are watching TV, napping, listening to music. Then we get stressed because our projects or homework aren't done and the test is coming up and our projects are due. Friends want us to go out and we are stuck trying to decide between doing homework or having fun.

By scheduling our work and our fun, we don't have to make a choice between school work and fun, it will already be scheduled for us. Pull out your daily planner and let friends know, "I'm busy until 8 PM but I'm free after that."

Be aware when you schedule your study sessions when are you at your best to study. For me, my best time to study is early in the day, afternoons I like to nap, and I like to socialize any time after 8 PM. I never schedule late afternoon or evening classes. I make the most of my time between classes by re-reading my notes and writing my index cards. Get your school work done early in the day, then the rest of the day belongs to you. Stressfree, you are ready to socialize with no guilt.

This post may be of interest:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Have you ever considered the real power our words have upon other people and have on ourselves? You may be like me, I forget myself and will say something without thinking. I don't mean to be insensitive or thoughtless, but I am at times. My words affect others and ultimately myself as well.

Let me give you an example of this. This goes way back, but this further proves how powerful our words are, that I still to this day think of this example often. Right before Halloween when I was in 6th grade (I told you this goes way back!), my neighbor and best friend who was a boy, Billy, was diagnosed with cancer. Billy and I, plus his brothers and sisters and my sister, would walk to school everyday and played together often. We all had been inseparable since 1st grade.
Now at that age, I knew nothing about cancer; all I knew was that Billy wasn't going to school with us anymore. Late in January, on a mild day, I saw Billy out riding bikes with another boy from school. I was mad that Billy hadn't been at school lately so I blurted out at him, "You don't look too sick to go to school to me!"

Those were the last words I ever spoke to Billy as he died February 20th. All these years later and I still haven't forgiven myself for that awful comment.

Conversely, sometimes we don't realize how a small but positive comment and smile of friendship or encouragement can help a friend, acquaintance, or stranger. You can make a difference in a person's life by diffusing potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable situations with a few well chosen words. And it costs you nothing! Try to make it a practice to be aware of the power of your words and make them positive.

Monday, October 13, 2008


One area that I spent a lot of time to figure out was how to schedule my classes to benefit me. In college, some people always seem to end up with the best class schedule. That was me. The time you spend ahead of time figuring out the best schedule for you, will benefit you all quarter/semester long.

Begin your search for the perfect schedule by getting the catalog listing the classes offered by your college for the upcoming quarter/semester as soon as it is available. Some colleges make this catalog available before listing the classes in their online registration program. You want to have this information as early as possible so you can begin to sort out what will be your most favorable schedule. Think of your class scheduling process as working a giant jigsaw puzzle where you need to pull all the pieces together.

What makes for a favorable schedule? One that more or less balances your work load. Don't overload your schedule with classes that all require you to write papers or have all classes that require heavy reading. You also don't want to take all your hardest classes at the same time, mix in at least one of the "easy A" classes. Review the requirements of your major and determine what mix of classes will give you the best schedule.

Next, find out how many sections each class has that you want to register for. If there is a class that you must get into that only has one section available, begin planning your schedule around that particular class. Then add the classes with more sections to chose from to your schedule.

The key here is to find a schedule that will benefit YOU and works for your strengths. If you absolutely cannot get up in the morning, don't schedule a class for 8:00 AM, likewise, skip on late afternoon or evening classes if your energy level dips at that time of day. Figure out what time of day you are best able to consistently show up for class, pay attention, take notes, and retain what is taught. Know how many classes you can manage successfully without negatively impacting your grades. It doesn't make sense to register for 22 credit hours and then fail several of those classes when you can't keep up with such a large workload.

Decide if it is better for you to bunch your classes to get large blocks of free time or scatter your classes to have small slices of time throughout your day. Also, would you rather be free Tuesday and Thursday, but be heavily scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, Friday? If you need to hold a job, that schedule may be best for you.

On registration day be at your computer, logged in, and ready to hit the keys at the moment you are first allowed to register. By the way, most colleges allow students who have verifiable learning disabilities or special needs to have priority registration. If this is you, make sure you have turned in the paperwork to entitle you to register first.

If any of your classes are full by the time you are allowed to register, consider "pink slipping" into those classes. I recommend registering for a less desired schedule for safety, but go to those full classes you can't get into and make a direct appeal to the professor on the first day of classes. Some colleges are real good about letting students into a class this way because they know a fair percentage of students will drop the class within a few weeks.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008


Enjoy your weekend but don't forget to check back with us come Monday! We will have interesting posts to help you get the most out of your college years. Thanks to all you readers out there. Now get your studying done early on Saturday so you can relax, kick back and enjoy your weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Yesterday we talked about how to recover from a poor test grade. Today let's talk about what to do after getting a fantastic grade on an exam. You may think, what's there to talk about if I got a great grade? There is plenty to think about.

If any of you are soccer fans, you may be aware of the general belief that the time a soccer team is most likely to give up a goal to the opposing team is right after the soccer team scores a goal themselves. In other words, soccer team A will reduce their defensive efforts after scoring a goal, therefore letting soccer team B score a goal. Don't let this happen to you.

Psychologically, are you more inclined to slack off or reduce your study efforts once you have received a good or great grade on an exam? This is something we must all face and fight. After getting a great grade, you need to reflect back, what did I do this time that made a difference in my grade? Build on the positive results by repeating those things that worked, and eliminate the time wasters and ineffective study habits.

What can you carry over to help improve your grades in other subjects you are taking? Did a study guide help or having a study group or re-reading your notes and writing up index cards? Whatever you determine to the reason for your success, try to duplicate on your next exam and in your other classes.

Resist the urge to slack off and continue to reach for each and every point available in your classes. Carry that "A" or "B" grade all the way through to the end of the quarter/semester.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


You have just gotten back that big exam and your grade is awful. Now what can you do to get back on track before the next exam?

First, take a look back and examine what did you do to study and prepare for this exam. You must do a thorough review of exactly what you did right and what you did wrong because, to paraphrase a familiar quote, if we don't understand what has happened in the past, we are doomed to repeat it. That is, if we don't change the way we prepare for an exam, we will get the same sad result.

Second, re-read my post, What To Do After the Test, and follow up on the points listed. Specifically, argue close calls, ask for curve points, privately ask for special projects, and don't let any points go.

Third, come up with a new strategy for studying. You should have figured out what you did that didn't work, now begin to do what does work. Try index cards and re-reading your notes daily. Ask for and completely review any test study guides.

Start a study group with carefully selected members of your class. Make sure the people you study with will actually study and not just sit around and talk. A study group I knew spent so much time goofing off, almost all of them flunked the exam they were supposed to be studying for! If your study group doesn't help you to understand and grasp the material, don't waste your time meeting with them. In that case you are better off studying by yourself.

Remember that if you received a 60% on this exam, you need to get a 100% on the next to just average out to 80%. So this is the time to redouble your efforts to improve your grades.

Please come back tomorrow to read my take on what do you do after you ace an exam!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


When it's time to schedule next quarter's classes are you and your friends on the prowl for that sterotypical "easy A" class? Does the "easy A" class really exist and how do you find it?

Let me start by saying, registering for the "easy A" class is a great strategy for those quarters/semesters that you have a heavy load or particularly difficult class to take. There is nothing to be ashamed about looking for the "easy A" class as long as it fulfills some requirement towards graduating with your college degree. An interesting article was published recently in the Washington Post, "Relax the Mind, Repair Your GPA". This article promotes the "easy A" class as a way to help the college student spend more time on difficult classes without sacrificing their GPA.

In the college I went to, Criminal Justice classes were known as "easy A's". These classes were crowded and hard to get into unless you were one of the first to register for classes. I took Intro to Criminal Justice and sure enough, it was an "easy A". The professor never took attendance, the homework was negligible, and the tests were cotton candy. I became so interested in Criminal Justice that I ended up a minor in it.

Another way of finding the "easy A" is to discover what you are truly interested in. If you are truly interested in music, take a music class. You are much more likely to do well in a class that captures your interest. You will want to read the material and will retain it because it is interesting to you.

Then there are the "easy A" professors. Don't we all love these guys? The key here is to give them a reason to give you that "A". Don't skip class and turn in low effort papers and expect to get that "A". Talk to your friends and classmates to figure out early which professors are the most generous with their grading and then register early for your classes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Everyone needs to take at least a couple English classes in order to graduate. You also will be writing papers for various classes. I've got several ideas to share with you to increase your writing skills and improve your grades. I will add weekly to these ideas to help you improve your writing skills.

Most of the papers that you will write in college will involve getting information from other sources and rewriting it in your own words. All your teachers will give you speeches on plagerism. Please do not copy large passages without giving credit to the author. However, get as many sources on your topic as possible, read what your sources have to say and then put it in your own words. Or, make sure you properly credit the source.

English professors do not like when you use trite and overused sayings in your papers. Also avoid using statements like, "Let me tell you . . ." or "I want to say . . ." As my professor use to say, "Just say it, don't tell me you are going to say it."

Know the difference between:

  • "to", "two", and "too"
  • "there", "they're", and "their"
  • "its" and it's"

Proofread your papers thoroughly before handing them in. And if you can't do a good job proofreading your own paper, ask someone to proof it for you and you can proof theirs. Many colleges have help for this, you drop by and a knowledgable student will review your paper. As hard as it can be to hear someone critique your work after you slaved over it for hours, listen to what they say, get your punctuation and spelling cleaned up. One tip I learned about proofreading your own work is to isolate each sentence and begin from the end of your paper reading each sentence. This will force you to view each word on its own instead of skipping over and missing a potential misspelling or punctuation error.

Make your opening and closing paragraphs as strong and interesting as possible. This is where you either grab your audience (the professor) or lose them. Your middle paragraphs can be boring but you better have an interesting start and finish. Always give your paper a catchy title. Professors love that and it will pique their interest in your paper.

Monday, October 6, 2008


If you have more money than you know what to do with, then you can skip this day's blog (but please come back tomorrow!), but if you are like most college students, you need to read this. The art of being able to live within your means is one that many people never learn. Now here is the interesting part, if you are able to learn this now, while you are in college, you will save yourself from a lot of emotional turmoil and set yourself up to have much more fulfilling life.

Money affects how we view ourselves and others. We judge people as successful or failures at times due to the amount of money we believe they have. But the truth is sometimes hidden. We all know people who constantly show off the newest gadget, purse, clothes. You think to yourself, "She must be made of money" or "Wow, her parents really spoil her". The truth may be so different.

Due to their own insecurities or their need to impress others, they may be spending money they don't have. Someone who is spending a lot of money may also be sitting on a pile of credit card debt. Start growing credit card debt while in college and you are looking at a financial disaster by the time you are 25.

Now there is bad credit card debt and there is good credit card debt. The bad is when you can't pay your balance off each month, it keeps growing and you're paying a huge interest rate on your balance. Good credit card debt is when you CAN PAY IT OFF each month. It's good because it helps raise your credit score (which you will need when you buy a car or home in the future) and you aren't paying interest (an expense you don't need).

When you spend more than you can afford, who are you really kidding? Do you really need that $245 Coach purse? And if you can't pay off your credit card at the end of the month, how much is that Coach purse really costing you? Not having money for basic necessities or financial insecurity is stressful so it is important that you make good decisions with the money you do have. Being able to PLAN AHEAD will make your financial decisions easier and smarter.

Start by writing down how much money you have coming in for the month, then write down all your known expenses. Like this:

Net Pay from Job for October $360

Less: Gas for my car (100)

Less: My share of electric/cable (80)

Less: Groceries/eating out (150)

Less: Manicure (30)

Those are my known expenses. I have spent every penny I made for the month, therefore, I can not go buy a tanning package or get my hair cut unless I cut my spending somewhere else. For example, cut out the manicure and get my hair cut instead or don't eat out during the month and squeeze in that tanning package.

Begin to think outside the box to save money. Could you carpool and share gas? Talk to your roommates about making homemade pizza instead of calling for carryout or delivery. Purchase clothes from a consignment shop instead of an expensive department store. In future blog posts I will give you lots of ways to save on your living expenses and begin an emergency fund. Feel free to comment back to me any ways you save money that you want to pass on.

Begin to live within your means and you will thank me later.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I hope you have a fun filled weekend and will come back here on Monday. I have some interesting posts set for next week. We will be talking about your money and ways to live within your budget, great ideas on passing English and writing better papers, and the power of our words.

Don't forget to review your notes and write up some index cards this weekend. You will feel better about yourself when you work ahead.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Now I'm going to assume that you really want to graduate in four years, that you don't want to waste a fifth year's time and tuition. If so, here are some ideas on how to get that done.

First, get on your college's website and look up your major. Most majors will have their own page where you can learn exactly what classes you need to take in order to graduate. They will also list the requirements for getting into that major. Obviously some majors are more difficult to get into than others, with special grade requirements, or interviews, or other subjective criteria that will need to be fulfilled. THE EARLIER YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET INTO YOUR MAJOR, THE BETTER OFF YOU ARE.

Now you need to be realistic. Don't get your heart set on a journalism major that requires a 3.0 GPA when you have never achieved a 3.0 GPA in your life unless you know you are about to have a major life changing event take place that will suddenly turn you into a dean's list student. This next point is important. This does not mean you can't have a career in journalism, it just means you won't be able to graduate with a major in journalism. Don't let your major restrict what you can achieve with the rest of your life.

Second, list all the courses you need in order to graduate. Now let's say that you are a Sophmore that recently changed major so you have several courses that don't apply any longer to your new major. You also have several Freshman level classes that are required for your new major that you haven't taken yet. Changing majors more than once is fairly common and it is one of the main reasons that students to take five years or longer to graduate.

Third, take the list of classes you made above to an advisor at your college that is familar with your major. Make sure you haven't misunderstood any of the requirements or forgot anything. Once you are sure you have listed all the classes needed to complete your degree, you are ready for the last step.

Fourth, look in your college catalog of classes to determine when each of these classes is offered. Some classes are only taught every other year, or just in the Fall. You need to know this so you don't miss scheduling the class during the limited time it is offered.

Now you are ready to make your master schedule of classes over the rest of your college years. List what you will take quarter by quarter or semester by semester, balance your classes by those that require heavy reading vs. writing papers vs. math vs. easy vs. difficult vs. lecture vs. lab, etc. You need to mix and match your classes so that you aren't too heavy in one quarter/semester and too easy in another.

At this point it will become clear to you whether you need to take classes over the summer or not. Taking summer classes can get you right back on track to graduate in four years.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


When you meet someone new, boy or girl, do you judge by character or by appearance? If we are honest, we must admit that more often than not, our judgements on people are based on appearance.

When I was a senior in high school, I had my own clique I hung out with. I shared several classes with two girls that I never gave the time of day. They were brainy, goody-goody types. I judged these two girls to be not my type, didn't bother to get to know them, they weren't like the others in my social clique.

I sat directly behind one and to the side of the other. From time to time we had to work together, in a group. By the time the school year was coming to a close, it finally dawned on me, both of these girls had a terrific sense of humor. They were smart, funny girls. They were not the most stylish or trendiest girls but I could tell they were headed for success. So as my last days of high school sped by, I had a mature thought, quit looking at appearances and look at a person's character. By the end of May that year, I told both of them that I wished I had gotten to know them better. And I meant it. I felt like I had missed out by not getting to know these girls earlier in the year and I vowed to try to not let that happen again.

How many people do you disregard right off the bat before you even know anything about them? Do you ever look at a person's character? What do your friends look like? Are they all carbon copies of you?

One thing I realized about most of us, we want everyone to be JUST LIKE US. We want people to agree with our opinions. We feel most comfortable with people who look just like us, think like us, act like us. But it is worth it to look beyond our own little group to get to know people who are different from us.

Different religions, different nationalities, different political parties, different races, different languages, different cultures, even different sexual orientation can widen our horizons and help us to understand new ways of thinking. Sometimes when we look beyond the surface appearance, we can learn to appreciate the differences and at the same time recognize similar character traits that all humans share.

So today, try this experiment. Pick an interesting person out of one of your classes that you would never have spoken to in the past and start a conversation. Smile, be friendly, be natural, but don't be judgemental. You may be surprised at what you find.