Month: April 2018

Having Fun During College

Do Lots of Research

One big mistake many college students make is not doing their due diligence before planning a trip abroad. There’s a lot you need to know about your destination that can actually help you to save money. For instance, you can look up different hotel and airline options with a simple Internet search. You can use sites like Hotwire and Trip Advisor to help find the best deals for your transportation and sleeping arrangements. You can also sign up for travel newsletters like Travelzoo and Travel-Ticker, which delivers exclusive deals to your inbox.

Look for Student Deals

You’ll find countless websites online that boast the lowest rates in town, but there are only a select few that are designed to offer deals to students. You should check out sites like Student Universe and STA Travel, which have package deals and discounts designed just for the traveling student. These are available to you as long as you’re able to prove your university enrollment. You’ll also find great money-saving tips given by other traveling students.

Consider All Forms of Transportation

There are more ways to travel than by airplane and car – you should also consider other modes of getting around, such as trains, subways and buses. The cost for these transportation options will vary depending on where you’re traveling to. If you can make it to your destination by land, then consider using the bus or train instead of an airplane. Even if you find a cheap flight ticket, airlines are known to nickel and dime you with additional fees, cutting your savings substantially. So if you have trouble finding something within your budget, consider your other options.

Travel with Your Friends

Exploring the world in groups is a lot cheaper than doing it on your own. You can split the costs of everything with everyone. If you can find three reliable buddies to travel with, you can go four ways on food, hotel rooms and transportation. The only thing you’ll have to fork up is your own plane, train or bus ticket. There are also tour and hotel discounts offered if you travel with even larger groups of 10 or more. So if you have an even bigger crowd to hang out with, consider bringing them along as well.

Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships don’t just pay for education; they sometimes also help with funding trips. You can obtain these from student-oriented travel websites like STATravel.com to find them. Some are a couple hundred and others a few thousand dollars, which can come in handy either way.

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Problem That Happens On Online Learning

In recent years, professors have become more skilled and accepting of online teaching, yet, there are still a few questions and comments that continue to echo in my ear among my colleagues: What can I do to show students that I care? What do I do to make sure students feel connected to me beyond the content? How do I help students to recognize my overall concern for their learning? How do I show my emotions in an online environment?

Having pondered the above-stated concerns, I’d like to share five ways that online educators can demonstrate caring and compassion to online students.

1. In the beginning weeks of class, respond to each student individually. I find that students need the special attention as they are feeling their way in a new learning environment; moreover, I have seen clear evidence that these personal responses lay the foundation for healthy student-teacher relationships.

2. Use appropriate “feelings” phrases when students are experiencing personal issues such as death of family members, personal illness, or financial crises. Students appreciate hearing phrases like “I’m sorry for your loss”, “I’m hoping for a positive change in your situation”, or “I care about your situation”. Upon using these kinds of phrases, students always express how much the words mean to them.

3. Reach out to students you haven’t heard from with words suggesting that they are missed. Often students go “MIA” without telling their professors. Once they return, I’ve been known to say things like “we’ve missed seeing you in class”, “so happy you’re back with us”, or “it hasn’t been the same without you”. Invariably, I will get a note back expressing their appreciation.

4. When students appear to be stressed or anxious, allow yourself to become transparent. I’ve discovered that the revelation of my own stressful situations serves as a source of encouragement to students. For example, on several occasions, single mothers have shared their difficulties in balancing responsibilities related to schoolwork, children, and parents. In each case, once I reveal my story of working on my dissertation as a single parent and taking care of my mother, I notice a remarkable difference in the students’ overall willingness to move forward.

5. Mix in humor with challenging concepts and assignments. Very often, higher education students carry an overarching expectation that everything associated with learning must always be rigid and serious; however, I often take the liberty of inserting humor to soften the intensity of some of the more challenging assignments. For example, when introducing students to concepts about APA rules, I post a silly song called the APA Blues. The students find themselves singing along laughing at the lyrics, and as a result, the humor works to dismantle some of the uneasiness that may exist around the topic.

The examples described above are a few strategies I’ve used to demonstrate caring and compassion with my students over the years. As college and university professors, we must always be mindful that part of our responsibility is to ensure that students feel that we care about them not only as students, but as human beings.

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Find The Job That You Want

Most colleges haven’t gotten the message. Students want and need good jobs when they graduate. However, to accomplish that goal, they need a lot of information and guidance along the way. Both students and their parents want colleges to step up and take a firm hold of that responsibility.

As long as students and parents remain relatively silent and docile on this issue, colleges will continue to only pay lip service to this critical need. These colleges will tell their students that they are doing what they can with the limited resources that are available. And yet, large amounts of money and manpower are not needed. Only a new way of thinking and a reallocation of resources would be necessary. That’s where you come in.

Students and parents can make their needs known by forwarding the following questions to The Chair of the Board of Trustees, The College or University President and the Vice President of Student Affairs.

1. There are things that I can be doing during each semester of college, between semesters and during the summers that will help me land a good job. What are they?

2. What yearly informational classes and training sessions are currently offered to students who want to become fully prepared to land good jobs when they graduate?

3. As a ___________ major with good grades, what 10+ job titles am I most likely to be offered when I graduate?

4. As a ___________ major with good grades, and knowing the job titles I am most likely to be offered, what salary offers can I realistically expect?

5. As a ___________ major with good grades, how many employers visited our campus to recruit students with my major last year?

6. As a ___________ major with good grades, how many students with my major received job offers from the employers that visited our campus last year?

7. As a ___________ major with good grades, what is the likelihood that I will land a job that pays $50,000 or more, so I can live on my own and pay back my college loans?

8. As a ___________ major with good grades, what internships and part-time jobs are available through the college to help me gain some solid work experience in my field?

9. To help me impress potential employers seeking students with my major, what campus clubs or activities should I consider joining, participating in or leading?

10. Besides the book titled A Successful Senior Year Job Search Begins In The Freshman Year, what books and articles should I read during my first two years of college?

11. How do I find out what the best employers in my field will expect me to accomplish before they will consider me for an interview?

12. How can I differentiate myself from other qualified students in my field?

13. How many alumni who graduated with my major can you put me in touch with?

14. What is the college currently doing to ensure that more students land good jobs when they graduate?

15. What new forms of employment assistance are being offered to students this year or will be offered next year?

Answers to these questions can be posted on the college’s web site with the specifics for each major available in the Career Services Office. Only when enough students and parents express their needs and concerns will more colleges begin to investigate and adopt approaches that will help more students find success in the job market.

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Benefit Tips For Educator

This election season has proven divisive among Americans, creating deep wounds from the words that have been used. The rift between groups in America are not going to heal just because the election is over with and it will take time for the nation to recover. Now consider how this election season has affected your students. They have surely felt the impact of the negative rhetoric. Have you addressed this in your classes? More importantly, have you considered how your words as an educator influences your students and their worldview?

What you say and what you do as an educator shapes how your students view the world, how they participate in the learning process, and more importantly, your words have a direct impact on their level of motivation, determination, and persistence. Do you know the power you have given to your words right now?

As you reflect upon your work in the classroom, along with interactions you have with your students, do your words reflect what you see in your class, what you believe as a person, or what you hope your students will accomplish? While it may not seem possible to make a distinction between these perspectives, there is a difference as we all hold one primary lens through which we view our students. And during a volatile time, especially when emotions are running high, it may be difficult to override personal feelings while interacting with our students.

Now more than ever is a time to reevaluate the words we use in higher education. We can either give those words the power of influence and inclusion, or we can leave them unfiltered and create division, separation, and feelings of discouragement. What I want to share with you are strategies you can use to self-assess how you communicate with students, which I have also utilized now during a time when so many students may be feeling uncertainty or fearful about the future of our country.

Words Create Worlds

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry coined a phrase, Words Creates Worlds, and this acknowledges the influence our words can have on us and others. How do we realize the impact of our words? When there is a large-scale event, such as an election, it shows us the multiple realities that exist as people share their view of candidates and our nation. In a college classroom, words create worlds during interactions with each other – especially during class discussions. Those words are felt and internalized within the spirit of our students. Regardless of where they begin academically, or where they are at now academically, every student can continue to grow and develop. Yet an instructor can cause that spirit to flourish or become diminished based upon the words that are used.

As an instructor, consider the impact of your own views. As you read or hear the news you are going to process that information through filters you’ve created, which includes biases and opinions. If something negative has been reported, you will process it through these filters; and it may influence your worldview. The challenge is preventing negativity from influencing how you see your students and remaining neutral regardless of the rhetoric used. While you are in the classroom it is vital to remain open-minded, see individuals as people rather than groups, and remain objective and rational (rather than subjective and emotional) – if you are going to create a welcoming atmosphere.

The Connection to Learning

Learning involves more than what goes on in the classroom. It is much more than the process of reading a textbook and memorizing information for an exam. Instead, the learning process centers on what occurs in the mind as it is a cognitive activity. Cognition involves the mind receiving input, processing it, and producing some form of output. The input is the subject matter, the context provided, the instructions or criteria stated for completing the required learning activities. Cognitive processing occurs when effort is applied, energy is expended, creativity is initiated, and the intellect is engaged. The output consists of thoughts, ideas, analyses, written papers, plans, etc.

However, it is important to consider that the mind is not a machine and is influenced by feelings and emotional reactions. As students are involved in the class, they may experience negative emotions or reactions. A common emotion that students experience while working on assignments is frustration. This in turn influences and often disrupts the cognitive process, and it may discourage their creativity or reduce the effort they put into an assignment. In contrast, if students experience positive emotions and feelings while interacting with the class and their instructor – they may feel encouraged to put in more effort and become more creative.

Here is an example: An instructor hears negative rhetoric about a particular group of people on the news and through internalization of words heard, this instructor develops negative feelings about that group of people. Once in the classroom the instructor sees students who are part of this group that they hold negative feelings about and are unable to remain unbiased as they interact with those students. It is very likely that the words used while communicating with those students will then reflect that negative view, which can cause those students to feel diminished in some manner.

The Power of Your Words

When students begin a class, they have varying degrees of academic preparedness, willingness to participate, and readiness to learn. Even while they are engaged in the learning process they may have varying levels of motivation. This is where an instructor’s words can have the greatest power by shaping the disposition of your students. What I am referring to are not just the words used while presenting a lecture or answering questions during class time. These are the words used to communicate and interact with your students. For example, I have seen the most academically under-prepared students excel in many ways when it is not seemingly possible – if they have been surrounded by powerful and encouraging words. The words of an instructor create the views and perspectives that our students have about learning and their school.

How to Self-Assess Your Words

Below are some questions that you can use to self-assess your disposition, attitude, and mindset as a means of discovering what influences the words you use.

Diversity, Equality: Do you view all students as being equal, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics used to classify individuals? Do you believe that every student has potential, or will only the academically prepared students succeed? What words do you use to describe the characteristics of your students?

Individuality: Do you see your class as one group of students or do you see individual students with unique characteristics? Here is an example: “I have Caucasians in my class” versus “John and Emily are in my class” – which one would you choose? In addition, how do you describe your students? For example, do you use words like “they” or do you refer to students individually (he/she)?

Request for Assistance: When you receive a request for assistance, what is your initial reaction? For example, do you feel happy that a student has asked for help or do you feel a sense of dread? Does the student who asked the question make a difference with regards to how you feel? You will find that how you perceive the request will influence the words you use when you respond.

Class Disposition: Do you see your class as being energized right now? Or do you see students as wanting to get through the class as quickly as they possibly can? Do your students have a positive or negative attitude about learning? In other words, do you believe that the class has a collective mood? How you see your class will have a definite impact on the words you choose when you interact with them.

These self-assessment questions will allow you to gauge what you experience and feel, which in turn will help you determine what influences the words you use while you are working and interacting with your students. Your disposition, attitude, and worldview all give power to your words, either in a positive or negative manner, and those words can either bolster or diminish the spirit of your students. I have learned that even the most seemingly casual conversation can have a direct impact on how students feel, perform, and respond to class conditions. You can cultivate words with a positive impact if you are willing to set aside your own biases and look for the best in each and every student. This disposition will help you choose words that sustain your students and encourage them to persist – even when they feel challenged.

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