Wisdom Wednesday: 11 Creative Strategies for Studying in College


Studying with a group is a well-known concept.

When it comes down to the last few weeks before the test, contact a couple of the other students in your course and create a day to do a group study. Try to keep the group generally small, no more than 8 people, or you will be fighting to stay on topic the whole night. Plan to meet up at a location on campus like the library and cram together!

Have someone quiz you: One of my favorite ways to study, especially when I’m cramming last minute, is to have a person who is not in my class and does not know the material quiz me. I give the other person my notes, note cards, textbook, or study guide and have them ask me questions from those materials in a random order. If they do not understand the material then I have them ask me more questions regarding it, which helps me learn the material better by teaching them!

For my history midterm I had to write an essay at home, memorize it, and then re-write it during class on the test. To study for this I highlighted the important points that I needed to cover, gave my friend the essay, and recited it over and over again to them. They were incredibly patient and helpful leading me through this. Reciting the essay back and forth with them definitely helped it stick in my memory and I got a 100% on that test because of it!

Beware of Caffeine

I know, it may seem like a God-send at first, but it could be killing your grade.

While there is no harm in having a little coffee to perk you up in the afternoon to study, drinking a lot of caffeine anytime in the evening could be harming you. According to the National Sleep Foundation it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine effects to be eliminated.

This falls under the category of “get sleep” when you’re studying for finals or doing school work. Sleep is mandatory for your brain to function well and, despite some preconceptions, pulling all nighters for studying is a bad thing that will more than likely make it more difficult to retain the information you studied.

Move Around!

This may just be me, but I don’t learn well while I’m sitting still. While I was reciting my essay back and forth with my friend, as I mentioned in the first tip, I was pacing around, jumping up and down, gesturing with my hands, and changing the volume of my voice constantly.

For me, test taking environments are hectic. Even in complete silence, where everyone is sitting down, in my head we are all jumping and screaming and pacing. So studying in this environment helps it to stick with me when I’m in that environment taking the test.

Moving around also helps my mind remember what I’m learning as it causes me to focus on multiple things at once.

Color Code & Highlight!

As I mentioned in the first tip, I highlighted the important points in my essay that I needed to memorize. I am very much a visual learner.

Colors help our brain and eyes pull out information to store. When I was studying that essay I would highlight the main points that I needed to memorize word for word in pink, the smaller points I needed to touch on in any words in orange, and other points that I would get extra credit to mention in yellow. When I was writing the essay in class my brain would instantly hop from color to color to remember the words I highlighted.

Even when I take notes in class I use different colored highlighters or pens to make things stand out: categories, key words, vocabulary, important pieces of information.

Finish Assignments First

When it comes to studying I will do anything to procrastinate, even if it means doing my other school work.

We all think ‘it’s not procrastinating if it’s productive! I’m still getting work done’ but you’re avoiding something else that you need to get done, that is procrastinating. When it’s time to buckle down and focus on studying for a test, make sure that your other assignments (projects, power points, papers, etc.) are complete before you start. This will eliminate some of the most distracting factors, even those that are still productive to procrastinate with!

I also tend to make sure that my workspace is clean, my laundry is done, my bed is made, and the trash is taken out, all before I start. Or, knowing myself, I will do all of that instead of studying.

Log Out

I know this seems drastic. Logging out? Can’t I just close the browser?

Nope. Log out.

It’s too easy to think ‘oh I have to look this up..’ and opening your browser to go Google a piece of information for your project, only to find Facebook as your homepage, or to find yourself tapping the Tumblr bookmark button out of habit, and then finding yourself getting distracted by something on the first page. Next thing you know, it’s 3 hours later and you’ve done exactly nothing.

Log out. That way when you click that bookmark button or somehow unconsciously end up on Pinterest, you won’t see any status updates or pictures of kitties or cute marshmallow snowman recipes to distract you.

Hide Your Phone

Or have your roommate do it! Drastic times call for drastic measures. Phones are another distraction!


There is a time for work, and there is a time to relax.

Every once in a while during a particularly stressful or frustrating time I take my roommates out to do something fun. Midnight In-N-Out runs are one of our favorites! Or if I know there’s a particularly stressful week coming up (such as finals or tech week) I’ll go to the store and stock up on a ton of my favorite candies.

Another thing that I do is I treat myself with one small candy for every page of work I finish. I started this technique back in middle school when I was struggling with finding motivation to do my math homework. I would set out a handful of chocolate chips or Cheez-It’s and eat one for each math problem I finished.

Acronyms, Poems, Songs…

GMOBSERITC. To you, that’s gibberish. To me, that’s the ten steps of the Stanislavsky system that I had to study for my Acting class midterm.

Studying straight facts is the most difficult thing for me. Memorizing, memorizing, memorizing. Making acronyms tends to help me (and my roommate who helped me study that) cram for important facts, even if the acronyms don’t make real words they still aid in getting all that information crammed in one space.

Write and Re-Write

Ok, so this is one of the ‘normal‘ tips that I mentioned that everyone says. But it really does work!

I use this as a form of quizzing myself on the material by writing it over and over again. There’s something about how writing things by hand helps you remember it. I’m not just talking about writing notes by hand in class but also writing by hand again and again to help improve your memory of the material.


Before you know it will reach 3am the morning before the test, and you’ll be asleep on your textbook. Know your limits. Don’t let that happen.

While sleep is important, rest away from work is also important. I had a rule during high school: If it’s not done by 9:30 it’s not worth it. I stuck with that (sometimes extending it an hour if it was an important assignment or if I had been procrastinating a ton) and I still managed to get through high school with great grades.

Now, in college, I have bumped that rule up a little bit. Considering that I don’t normally go to bed until around midnight or later now, the 9:30pm rule would not be realistic. I’ve made a mental rule that when I feel exhausted or done: to stop. That’s it.

Most importantly, my mental health and physical health matter more than my grades. I will try my best, but I won’t beat myself up over it. That’s my motto.

Originally posted on Dani Dearest.

Wisdom Wednesday: Volunteering…What’s in it for me?

Image result for volunteer

We often talk about volunteering in terms of the positive impact we can make on our communities, but another approach in thinking about whether or not to get involved is: “What’s in it for me?” While it may seem like a self-centered question in a field that revolves around giving back to others, it’s a logical question. Fortunately, we have good news: volunteering has many benefits!

Succeed in School– Service-learning holds the potential to increase the attendance and engagement of students in classrooms and schools. It also engages students in classroom learning in ways that foster academic achievement and increase motivation to learn. Service-learning can also help to address underlying causes of low graduation rates, while incorporating the strategies most recommended for preventing students from dropping out.

Land Your Dream Job– A report by The Corporation for National and Community Service reveals that those that volunteer have a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who don’t. An additional study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research supports this claim, noting that unemployed people who volunteer between 20 and 99 hours during the year are roughly 7 percent more likely to have found employment one year later compared to those who don’t volunteer. Volunteering helps you build your experience, expand your network, and gain knowledge needed to switch fields.

Excel in the Workplace – Volunteerism allows individuals to develop key skills that are essential to success in the workforce. These skills include: leadership, communications, fundraising/business development, patience, problem solving, public speaking, and coaching/mentoring, among others.

Stay Happy and HealthyResearch conducted by UnitedHealth Group reveals that volunteers are more likely than non-volunteers to consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months. There is also a strong connection between volunteering and mental/emotional health: doing good helps us to stress less, and less stress is an important component to staying healthy.

Ready to improve your life? The GOAL Center will now be hosting monthly volunteer opportunities aimed at helping you engage with the community, increase your employability, and enhance your resume! Contact us for more information. Happy volunteering!


Wisdom Wednesday: The Happy Secret to Better work

What is the true secret to happiness in our working lives? The formula is commonly understood to be that working hard leads to success and success leads to happiness, but what if there were a better way?

Shawn Achor’s talk is both hilarious and poignant. It will keep you glued to the screen for the entire 12 minutes. The takeaway? Happiness breeds success, and if you can tap into the “happiness advantage,” good things will follow. Concrete suggestions for becoming happier (the hard part) start around the 11-minute mark.

Wisdom Wednesday: The Key to Success? Grit.

What makes people successful? Is success dependent upon one’s inherent abilities, talent or IQ? Or is success just a game of luck? Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher and a research psychologist, explains that in her investigation of what causes certain people to be successful, only one predictor emerged. Her powerful TED Talk below argues that “grit” is the number one predictor of success, not IQ.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. It’s not about being able to learn and meet goals quickly, but rather being able to stick with your future and not give up. Grit is working very hard to make the future that you want a reality no matter the obstacles that may arise. It entails learning from your mistakes and continuing to persevere even when you experience set-backs. In these circumstances, remember that ability is not fixed, but rather changes with your level of motivation and effort. Grit is the key to success.

With the Fall 2015 term quickly approaching, strive to experience this semester as a marathon not a sprint. By making consistent efforts towards your educational goals, you are much more likely to be successful in your classes. Start this semester off strong, stay strong and finish strong! In doing so you will not only be one step closer to graduation, but you will also be developing the one trait that accurately predicts success over the lifetime.

Wisdom Wednesday: Powerful Habits of the Ultra Successful

Often individuals think that successful people are born with an innate ability to lead and excel at whatever they do – or that success just comes easier for some than others. However, motivational speaker Brian Tracy says, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Changing poor habits and taking the time to invest in yourself will result in empowerment and positive changes. Take a look at the 10 most powerful habits of ultra successful people:   Infographic1

Wisdom Wednesday: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid in your Twenties


For the YOLO generation, your 20s may seem like they’re all about embracing mistakes. But when it comes to money, what you do now can make or break your future financial success. Here are seven money mistakes you’ll want to avoid in your 20s.

1. Not Budgeting
Failing to set up a monthly budget and stick to it can leave you living paycheck-to-paycheck. Worse, you may find yourself slipping into debt when you’re tempted to spend more than you earn. But with a well-planned budget, you can’t only stay in the black, but also save for emergencies or retirement.

To get started, you’ll want to track your expenses using a budgeting app or pen and paper. To create a budget manually, list your monthly expenses and subtract them from your total income. From there, you can figure out which unnecessary costs, like entertainment or shopping, you can cut back on in order to reach your savings goals and pay for essentials, like rent, bills, and groceries.
2. Not Saving for Emergencies
An emergency fund can spare you from getting into major debt if you suddenly lose your job, experience a medical emergency, or otherwise incur unexpected costs, like an expensive car repair. Your savings should cover six months’ living expenses. Ideally, that would give you the flexibility to bounce back from an emergency. To make saving convenient and consistent, set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings account around payday.
3. Postponing Retirement Savings
Just 55 percent of all millennials are saving for retirement, according to the 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial Study. But a key to building a solid nest egg is starting early enough to reap the benefits of compound interest. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on your original investment, plus any money your account accrues in interest over time. So the earlier you contribute to a Roth IRA or 401(k) the more earning potential your initial investment has.
4. Not Building Credit
Good credit helps you access the best loans, housing, and credit cards on the market. If at first you’re not approved for good credit credit-cards consider applying for a secured credit-card. Secured cards require a deposit as collateral in case you can’t pay your bill. But as you demonstrate your creditworthiness with a secured card, you can apply for cards with lower interest rates and better rewards.

Don’t apply for too many credit cards at once, though, or it will hurt your credit score. Once you have a card, make on-time payments and keep you credit utilization ratio, or ratio of debt to credit available, below 30 percent to raise your credit score. Monitor your credit with a free annual report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. For a few bucks extra you can get your credit score, too.
5. Neglecting Student Debt
The longer you take to pay off your student loans, the more you will spend on interest over the life of the loan. For instance, if you’re like the average 2014 graduate who is $33,000 in debt, a 10-year repayment plan at a 3.4 percent rate will cost you just under $6,000 in interest over the life of your loan.

That said, if you have credit-card debt and student loans, paying off credit card debt should be the priority, since it comes with higher interest rates. But your student debt shouldn’t be ignored. And as soon as your credit card debt is paid off, your contribution should increase toward student loans.
6. Letting Your Bills Pile Up
Short-term consequences of not paying your bills could include various fees, as well as higher interest rates on loans and credit cards. Bills that remain unpaid for extended periods of time might be handed over to collection agencies, in which case your debt may be reported to the credit bureaus. Once the delinquency is reported, your credit score could suffer until the debt is paid. Even after you pay up, collections generally remain on your credit report for seven years.Setting up automatic payments on your bills is an easy way to avoid paying a heftier price for your bills in the long run.
7. Hasty Family Planning
The costs of a wedding and child-rearing can set a young couple back financially before they get the chance to harmoniously merge their finances. The average cost of a wedding was $29,858 in 2013, according to a survey conducted by The Knot. And the steady increase in those costs over the years suggests we’ll be paying even more for “I dos” in 2015. Raising a child born in 2013 costs more than $245,000, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. So while considering the money angle while making family decisions is not necessarily what your heart wants, it may make sense for your long-term financial stability.

This article was originally published on NerdWallet.

Wisdom Wednesday: Five Lessons to be Learned from a Student Success Coach

During college–whether you realize realize it or not–you have access to some pretty unbelievable career resources. With on-campus recruiters, applications geared toward graduating seniors and the Goal Center located on campus, the job-hunting process is never going to be easier.

Whether you’re feeling stuck in your current role, you’re ready to switch careers or you’d just like to build out a more explicit plan for your future, working with a Student Success Coach may be the tool you need.

Below you’ll find five lessons to be learned from working with a coach.

1. When thinking about your career, step out of the day-to-day and think “big picture”

Day to day life is so packed with responsibilities that it can be difficult to think about what you’ll be doing next week, never mind six months from now. It is recommended that students create an 18-month plan for their career. This could mean where you’d like to go within your current job, or it could be a roadmap for how you want to get to a new opportunity.

Working with a Student Success Coach can help you learn how to look at your career from a big picture point of view. This new perspective help you to stay in touch with your goals and build a much clearer vision of the type of role you would like to be in. It also will help you to define what you need to be doing in order to get there.

2. A lack of clarity is okay–but talking through it and having someone to be accountable to is extraordinarily helpful

At this point, you may be thinking, “Okay, ‘big picture’ thinking about my career sounds great, but what if I have no idea what I want to do or where I’d like to be?”

That’s okay–our generation is so driven, hyper-connected and forward-thinking that any kind of ambiguity feels very wrong. If you’re at a point where you feel very unclear about your next move, a coach will provide you with actual tools to help figure these things out.

We’re talking worksheets, reading materials and candid conversations with someone that is holding you accountable to deadlines. These tools and benchmarks will help you get clarity and focus so that when you do make a game plan, it’s aligned with your real passions and goals.

3. Your LinkedIn is crucial (but so are your other social media outlets)

It is critical that job seekers have an updated, polished and well-written LinkedIn profile. Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for a job, a strong LinkedIn illustrates and catalogs the best parts of your professional experience. Furthermore, it helps you organize the big projects you’ve worked on so that when you are ready to make a move, you don’t have to try to remember exactly what you did three years ago.

While LinkedIn is key, it’s not the only way that future employers can find you. The way that you portray yourself on Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites is also very important. Maintaining a professional persona online could give you  a boost when the hiring decisions are being made, and depending on what field you’re in, having a Twitter profile that demonstrates your knowledge of current trends can be a great marker for your credibility. Use social media for your benefit.

4. Do your research. And then do it again.

While working with a coach can be a powerful catalyst, you truly get out what you put in. Your coach can only help you as much as you’re willing to help yourself. A coach can certainly act as a guide, but if you’re not willing to do the extra work, it’s not worth either of your time.

5. Be (extremely) organized with your materials and your time

If you’re going to work with a career coach, you have to be extremely organized. Research, outreach and planning take time–lots of it, and you’re going to have to keep things organized and manage your time well.

These are just a few lessons that you will learn from a DCC Student Success Coach. There are so many more valuable takeaways. Just remember that if you’re feeling “stuck” or unfulfilled in your current job, it is critical that you take action. Schedule an appointment to meet with a Student Success Coach to discuss your goals

Source: http://www.levo.com/articles/career-advice/5-invaluable-lessons-from-working-with-a-career-coach

Written by: Chloe Troia

Thoughtful Thursday: The Value of an Internship

It’s the beginning of summer and time to revisit your game plan for exploring what to do with your degree. If you haven’t considered an internship in the past it might be well worth your time. An internship provides the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to a real world work environment. Additionally, an internship will help you enhance or develop skills to make you more marketable as you begin searching for your first professional position after graduation.

Employers are seeking students with practical workplace skills necessary to compete in the job market. While focusing on academics is important, and some employers will want to review a transcript or will pay attention to your GPA, most employers will be asking about your experience. Internships can provide you with examples to give during your interview that demonstrate your skills and experience and give you valuable information to include on your resume.

Internships are also a good way to try out a company or career field without having to make a long term commitment. Often a student will begin exploring their field of interest through an internship to determine if it is a career field they would enjoy as an occupation. Typically internship tasks or assignments can provide you with hands-on experience to help you determine if the field you are considering is a good fit for you.

An internship experience can give you the opportunity to gain self-confidence — time to discover your strengths and identify your weaknesses so you can turn them into strengths too! Again this can be an important source of information when trying to answer that all too common interview question: what is your greatest strength? These experiences can help set you apart from other candidates during the interview process, because you will be able to speak with confidence about the field you wish to enter. You will have gained some insight into the industry through real world experience. The experience may help you become a better student, because you might find that you understand concepts taught in class much more easily after seeing practical applications.

While a variety of internships are available, selecting one that allows you to grow or enhance your skills can be a challenge. As with the job search, be sure to research the organization, talk to former interns who may have interned at the site, and speak with your Student Success Coach about whether or not it will be a good fit for you. The internship experience is an important step towards post-college life and may even result in landing a job before graduation! By making the most of an internship experience, you will increase your skills and add value to your future. Here are some helpful tips on how to prepare for and locate an internship that will complement your career interest.
1. Decide what you want from an internship. This will help narrow your search. What skills do you want to gain? What technical skills, knowledge, and practical experience do you hope to gain?

2. Prepare or update your resume. The Goal Center offers advising for resume review. If you don’t have a resume or if you have one that needs updating schedule an appointment to meet with a Student Success Coach today!

3. What type of organization are you interested in? Organizations come in all sizes and shapes, from Fortune 500 companies to non-profit organizations. Things to consider include size, ownership, corporate culture, etc.

4. Will you consider both paid and nonpaid internships? It would be great if all internships paid, but a large number do not – especially in certain industries. So, you need to decide whether you can afford to not get paid during your internship. While it is not always the case, paid internships tend to be more professional because the employer wants to get its money’s worth from you.

5. Identify a network of contacts and ask for internship suggestions. Who do you know that might know something about the internships in which you are interested? These people will form your network. Bring up your internship search in conversations with friends, relatives and co-workers. You never know who will have a contact somewhere. Visit with a Student Success Coach at the Goal Center for additional resources.

6. Choose your top ten internships and create separate folders for each. The toughest part of a job or internship search can be keeping track of the details and limiting your search. Creating a system to track what you are doing (cover letters, resumes, and conversations with potential employers) will help manage the process.

It’s not too late to start researching and applying to summer internships! The Goal Center can help you designate and apply for internships throughout the Danville area. If you have questions or would like to meet with a Student Success Coach call the GOAL Center at 434-797-8536 or email us at goalcenter@dcc.vccs.edu.

Wisdom Wednesday: Conquering Post-Commencement Stress Disorder

Graduation Picture Having a sense of anxiety is normal when approaching graduation. As the time grows near completion of college and your entrance into the workforce, you may find that you have concerns about your potential to succeed in your industry. Are you really prepared? Are you ready to step into the professional arena with your credentials in hand and armed with confidence and a sense of accomplishment? The answer is yes! Yes, you are capable. Yes, you are ready. You have put in the work, you have earned the degree and you deserve this moment of recognition. The answer is a resounding YES! Don’t let fear of inadequacy or inferiority hinder your progress. If you are feeling overwhelmed or have a sense of anxiety over what will happen next, know that you are not alone. Feeling nervous about the next phase of your life is natural, but here are some things you can do to conquer this negative energy:

  • Meet with a student success coach to set post-graduation goals
  • Talk to your counselor, adviser or professors
  • Reach out to professionals in your desired field of interest for advice or experience.
  • Continue to research your dream career

Don’t let fear consume you. Take this opportunity to make the most of the time you have left, and make sure you end on a positive note. Continue to work on building your resume and continue building valuable experience up until the day you walk across the stage. Remember to network and build professional relationships as well. This can prove to be invaluable in the way of gaining opportunities that can lead to your dream job. This Ted Talk given by Alan de Botten speaks to the young adult who is in the process of defining future goals after graduation. He states that success should be personally defined rather than dictated by society. Listen to yourself and become the author of your own ambition because you are the expert in your own life.

  As you transition into the working world from college, remember that you are in control. You define what is important to you and steer the course of your own life. You are ready and have endured the process. You have not only accomplished your goal, you have flourished! Trust that process and believe in your abilities.

Wisdom Wednesday: The Power of Intention


“That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny.” –Garth Stein

So much to do and so little time to do it. This could be the slogan for these times with endless deadlines, constant responsibilities, and the relentless question: “so what are you going to do with your degree?” There are many steps in pursuing your dream career after graduation. You will need to network, gain experience, and find a starting out job just to name a few. With all of these goals in mind it becomes easy to forget what matters the most. Retaining a sense of your own worth & values to guide you through your choices is of the utmost importance or else the steps are scattered and become merely check-offs on a never-ending to-do list.

In order to avoid losing sight of what is really important to you, you must be intentional in your actions. This will help you to steer the course of your own life. You can think of intention as the underlying reason for a goal that you have set for yourself.  A goal is something you want to achieve. An intention is the way you want to live your life.  For example:

Goal: Get a job.

Intention: Do meaningful work in the world.

Intentions express what guides us through our daily actions in support of small and big goals. They are the driving purpose behind what we choose to do. By never losing sight of  your true intentions you will be better able to claim the direction of your life and stay motivated. Here are five ways to claim your direction:

  1. Clarify: What matters to you? This can be anything that you are passionate about.
  2. Focus: Keep your intention in mind as you move through each day.
  3. Activate: Take daily actions that demonstrate your commitment & intention.
  4. Share: Talk with others about what drives you to find individuals with which you can connect.
  5. Acknowledge: Express your gratitude for people and interactions that support you, your intention and your career pathway.

By being intentional with the goals that you set for yourself, you will be far more likely to prosper and enjoy the personal growth that you experience. Becoming successful in college, at work or with your finances is excellent, but it is equally important to have a higher purpose in doing so that brings meaning to your life. In this way, intention is a powerful tool that helps you set personally rewarding goals for your future.