Archive for Grace Mathews

Appealing to Tired Eyes

Here’s a college tip: If you have the chance to work for a professor during your academic career, go for it. Professors are a great source of knowledge, professional contacts, and career help.

And you’ll also learn a big lesson about test-taking. Read more

Are Honor Societies Really Such an Honor?

What’s this in your mailbox? An embossed invitation to attend a meeting of Nu Xi Nu, the acclaimed honorary society for pre-vet majors. You know it’s acclaimed, because it says so on the invitation. You read on and see that you’re not only invited to attend, but have been elected a member of the group. Hot dang, Greek letters to put on your resume.

You dig further in the envelope and find an order form for Nu Xi Nu sportswear, letterhead, and even a slid 12 karat gold membership pin, emblazoned with a genuine simulated opal. Not bad for $68.50 plus postage and handling. Read more

Avoid the Dreaded Social Section

It’s not your fault, you’re only human. Humans are social creatures, naturally drawn to other humans for comfort, camaraderie, and amusement. So it’s only natural that you’re drawn to the social center of the library.

Every library has one. You know where it is. Everybody knows where it is, and that’s the problem. It’s the section of the library where you go to make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s the dreaded social section. Read more

The Real Cost of College Part 2

So you know how much you and/or your family can spend on college and you know about scholarship opportunities at the schools you are considering. That’s it…right? Wrong! The price of college is not tuition alone, and if you don’t plan accordingly, your dream school could end up discarded from your list like last night’s smelly left-overs.

Tuition ≠ cost of attending college. (For those of you having trouble recognizing that symbol, it is the does not equal sign). College costs far more than what the fliers advertise. So as you are researching where you would like to attend, don’t forget to look at the hidden costs of college. While many schools quote you a tuition that sounds reasonable, how much are the fees? Read more

The Real Cost of College Success Part 1

College success is not achieved overnight, and part of preparing is the college search itself. While you are looking at the college websites or maybe even making a few visits, sit down with your parents and talk about the cost of college.

You may be fortunate enough to have parents who will pay for college for you, or pay for much of the cost. Or you may know you will take on student loans to pay for your education. Whatever the case is, have a solid number in mind and direct your search accordingly. While an expensive private school in a far-away land may sound ideal, if there is another, equally great school closer by that fits in your price range, don’t even look at the one you know there is no way you will ever afford. You will just be miserable later when you are faced with the reality of a top-choice school on your list that you cannot attend. But be aware of scholarships and financial aid. Is the school you are researching known for being generous with the scholarship or aid dollars? Are they need based or need blind? Do you even know what merit verses need-based scholarships are? Well, now is the time to get ahead of the curve and discover the real cost of college.

Start the college search off on the right foot and you pave the way to college success!

Meet your Professor Face to Face

Yeah right. You’re going to give up a free hour to walk all the way across campus to talk to Professor Thickglasses during his office hours? Very funny.

If you could get students to be honest on this subject, you’d find that most fall somewhere between intimidated and afraid when it comes to attending office hours. And there are some reasonable explanations for these feelings. For starters, Professor Thickglasses is a national expert o the subject area and you know next to nothing about it.

Sure, it makes sense to be a bit intimidated, but it really makes a lot more sense to tromp across campus and take advantage of the opportunity that office hours presents. There are many good reasons to visit old Thickglasses. First of all, he can help you better understand the class material. Swing by, introduce yourself, and ask a couple questions, before you’re totally lost. Professors teach because they enjoy sharing their knowledge. A sincere question from you shows interest and initiative, not ignorance.

Beyond clearing up academic issues, you can also develop a positive relationship with your instructor. Yes, professors have been scientifically proven to be actual human beings. Even those who are not dynamic in the classroom can be pretty darn interesting on a face-to-face basis. Getting to know a prof can have other significant benefits. First off, you may earn yourself a bit of “benefit of the doubt.” Thickglasses might be more inclined to toss you an extra point or two if your grade is on the border between A and B.

Maybe more importantly, professors have great connections and contacts. Many act as as consultants in their off-time. Thickglasses may be able to steer you to a former student, client or colleague who could help you find a job, internship or research position. If nothing else, you can always use a solid letter of recommendation.

Go ahead. Go see Thickglasses.

Does College Choice Affect College Success?

Senior year of high school is supposed to be fun, and it will be, but you are probably thinking about college too. The decision is not looming yet, but it is on your radar. You know you have to get applications done before winter break, but you wonder if your choice of where to apply (and ultimately attend) will affect your success in college.

Of course, your college choice will affect your college success, but maybe not in the ways you would think. If you want to be a meteorologist and the school that you go to does not have one class in meteorology, then that is a problem. You set a goal as defining college success as setting up yourself for a career in meteorology, but no matter what your grades or extracurricular activities look like, you are hurting yourself in terms of your long-term career goals. But generally, it does not matter where you go, but rather what you do while you are there (and I would even add what you do with your degree when you get out).

I know it is easier said than done, but many who have gone before you have done it and so can you. Take some time to evaluate what you want out of college and make a list of those criteria. Don’t apply to schools that won’t allow you to meet those goals for a college environment, even if that means you and your boyfriend/girlfriend have to go to different schools. You may even have to sit down with your parents and explain that you cannot go to the school they would choose for you because it is your choice and you need to be happy with it.

If you work hard and follow the advice in “Making College Count” you can achieve college success wherever you choose to go. And there are successful graduates from every college in the nation. So the pressure is off—make your list and fill out your applications. No matter where you go, whether a big state school or a small private school, you can achieve college success!

Juggling

Whether you are in high school or college, a freshman or a senior, school involves a good amount of juggling. You have to manage your coursework, activities, friendships, etc. But each requires a different kind of commitment.

I heard an analogy recently that resonated with me. In life, each thing that takes up your time is like a juggler’s ball. But some of the balls you are juggling are glass and others are rubber. If you “drop the ball” and the ball is rubber, it just bounces right back. But if the ball is glass, it shatters and you may never get it back.

As you prioritize the many demands on your time, it is important to determine which of your activities are glass and which are rubber because very different outcomes occur when they are dropped. For example, if you miss dinner with your friends one night, they will still be there the next day, but if you go to dinner to the detriment of the test the next day, you can never get that test day back and that bad grade erased.

So to achieve college success, be sure you figure out which things in your life are rubber balls and which are glass balls. You don’t want to mix them up!

Life is a Sport

From intramural athletics to extracurricular activities to group case study classes and in-class team projects, it seems that everywhere you turn, you’re asked to interact with other students. The truth is, more than ever, life is a team sport. Whether it be in college or the world of work, teamwork is current trend. Given this, recruiters today are looking for candidates with Group Skills for their organizations. It’s one of the Winning Characteristics upon which interviewers make hiring decisions, so you’ll want to be able to prove to them that you are strong in this area.

Extracurriculars are an excellent way to develop and sharpen your Group Skills. They almost always involve teams of students working together over a number of months to complete large, complex projects. The key here is that if you’re going to develop and be able to demonstrate that you have Group Skills, you’ll need to go a step beyond just joining the organization. You’re going to have to actually get involved after you do.
Fortunately, if you pick an activity that you’re genuinely interested in, from theater to student government, you’ll enjoy the experience rather than considering it work. You’ll learn from the interaction with the more experienced members who will be managing the projects. And, if you do a good job, you’ll earn the respect of others in the group, giving yourself the opportunity to take a leadership role in the organization. Leadership is another of the Winning Characteristics.

So, get involved and get a head start toward getting the job you want.

A 4.0 Just Isn’t Enough

Wouldn’t life be great if you could just get a 4.0? You’d graduate with honors and find a long line of recruiters waiting to hire you for your dream job at a dream salary. A 4.0 is a ticket to Easy Street.

Or is it? Anyone who thinks that a 4.0 is enough to get a great job is in for a rude awakening in the interview process. Yes, academic achievement says a lot about intelligence, logic, effort, and organizational skills, all of which are attractive qualities. But recruiters are looking for much more. The best candidates for almost any job display broad range of “Winning Characteristics” including those above and Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Group Skills, and Communication skills. Candidates who have used their college years to build this critical skill set, in addition to getting good grades, have a significant advantage in the job market.

Even in more technical fields such as engineering, accounting, and architecture, employers look for well-rounded employees who can work well with clients and co-workers, take charge of complex projects and produce results. Let’s face it, you won’t see a job ad like this: “looking for a candidate who will sit quietly at a desk, take notes, and complete reading and written assignments, study alone, and correctly answer written questions every six weeks.”

Don’t miss the point here. Good grades are important in the job market. A consistent C student will have difficulty getting interviews while a 3.3 student with a 3.6 in his or her major will get quite a few. But once an interview starts, attention will quickly turn to extracurricular involvement, leadership, and work experiences. A 4.0 is a tremendous achievement, but slightly lower grades coupled with internship experience, a solid list of extracurricular activities and good communication skills will probably be more attractive to a manager with an important job opening.

So work hard to get good grades. But also put effort toward other activities and work experience to make the most of your college experience.