Everything You Need to Know About Studying Abroad

One of the things I missed out on in college was studying abroad. It is one of the few regrets I have in life. However, my youngest sister Mia recently did get this opportunity, she did a summer intensive program in South Africa followed by a fall semester in Florence, Italy. She agreed to answer a few questions for me about her experience. In addition, she supplied a couple of links to the organizations she went through to do it.

Related articles:

10 Things To Do Before Graduation

The Ultimate College To Do List

5 Recipes Every College Kid Should Know

Introduce Yourself:

I’m Mia and I am an Interdisciplinary Sculpture major, Culture and Politics minor, and Photography minor.

How many countries did you visit?

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Map of Europe by Hans

Over the course of 5 months I went to 9 countries.

  • South Africa
  • Italy
  • France
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • The Vatican

What classes did you take? How many credit hours did you earn?

I earned 15 hours that counted as 5 courses

  • Advance Sculpture, where I learned plaster casting & carved white Carrara marble.
  • Body Archives a multi-media course that looked at how the body has been depicted in European culture over centuries, this course had 2 exhibitions, one was at the Anthropology Museum in Florence.
  • Women in the Arts an art history course looking at female imagery, female artists, and female patrons in and from Italy
  • A MICA course (6 credits) with professors that were sent over with us to facilitate an independent studio course (open course allowed to create what ever art that we wanted inspired by Italy).

How did you record the events of your excursion? travel-420011_1280

I have a journal that I bought in Rome at the Borghese Gallery that I kept all my tickets from museums and miscellaneous things (train tickets, postcards, pamphlets, etc.)

 

 

What was the biggest lesson you learned on your trip abroad?

  • Your time abroad goes too fast, you have to learn to do things for yourself.
  • If someone is ruining your time by always being negative you just need to move on without him or her.
  • Explore the world and do it with people who are passionate and excited about life and have similar interests. I wish that I would have just done things without thinking about others opinions.

Did you meet interesting people? Do you plan to stay in contact?

I met a lot of people from other schools and most were not art majors so it was interesting to see the work that they created. I added most people with social media some go to schools close to me so I hope we stay in contact. I also made friends from my school that I didn’t know before traveling and now we hang out regularly.

Did you learn any of the language? Was it easy to communicate with the locals?ice-cream-1123717_640

Florence was such a tourist hot spot that everyone spoke English to me. Most of the time if people speak English and they know you speak English than they try to practice it with you. I know enough Italian to say common phrases like greetings, ordering food, and ordering gelato.

 

What are some of the essentials you were glad you packed and brought with you?

The food there is different I’m glad I packed some fruit roll ups, they just reminded me of home and provided something familiar. Pack extra underwear Italian apartments don’t have dryers usually so you need enough to get you through laundry day. I packed a couple pairs of good walking shoes, and my own pillowcase some apartments will have all the stuff you need, but it was nice to have something from home sleep on.

slippers-704705_640Was there anything you did not pack, but wish you did?

Extra deodorant the deodorant there is roll on and it’s not the best. Slippers for walking around the apartment floors there are tile and the buildings are old and not well insulated. Something to personalize the room, pictures from home.

What advice do you have for others who are considering a semester abroad?

Find a place that has something you’re interested in arts, history, politics, culture, etc. Then once you get there travel as much as you can with as little as you can. Explore the city that you stay in, so many people just wanted to go out to all the clubs and bars and would sleep all day. You can drink in any city but you can’t see The David or 5th century mosaics or a museum on the work of hard stones just anywhere.

Would you do it again?old-1130743_640

Definitely, I think that it helped me expand as an artist and make work that had more research behind it. I now have experience with American history/ culture and European history/ culture. It allowed me to grow up and become independent as well as made me into an experienced traveler. I have seen almost every piece of art that I have learned about in art history courses which was really exciting.

Did you find this article/interview helpful? If you have further questions or would like to see more material like this please comment and let me know in the comments below.

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Public Sleeping Day

Today is public sleeping day. I’m sure every one of us has felt like falling asleep right smack dab in the middle of our day and I’m sure every one has fallen asleep in class at least once in their lifetime. Before college I never could have imagined sleeping anywhere outside of my home. However, I regularly took day time naps in places all over campus. Those all-nighters eventually come back to bite you.

I had 3 favorite napping spots. The most obvious one being the library. My university had some well placed napping chairs where students could frequently be found catching a quick 30 minute to hour long power nap. The student center also had some of the most comfortable couches for napping. In fact you would have trouble catching the two couches open as they were often filled by someone attempting to catch a nap between classes. As a junior I was accepted into my Universities Honor Program a cool perk many Honors Programs don’t advertise is that theirs a special secret room for students to use anytime of day. We had access to refrigerators so we could bring our lunch, free coffee, and if you had a group project you were working on it was perfectly okay to invite your group to meet there just as long as you didn’t give non-honors students the entry code. The room even had a wii and an xbox for students to play games that they could borrow for free from the honors office. This room was predominantly used by students to nap and eat lunch. my favorite perk as an honors student was this room.

In honor of Public Sleeping Day I give you my top 4 tips for sleeping in Public.

Tip #1:

Always have a warm jacket or light blanket available even if it isn’t cold. Being able to cover yourself or just your face from the glaring lights I found helped for more productive and restful sleep.

Tip #2:

Find a quiet place like a quiet hallway or library. You won’t be able to get any zzz’s if you are constantly being interrupted by yelling, shouting, or another person’s conversation. If you don’t have a quiet place play classical or relaxing music and pop in some ear buds.

Tip #3:

Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t oversleep and miss your next class, meeting, or work. Sometimes I would work on homework at the library and get tired while I was working. So I would set my alarm to wake me in 30 minutes. I would take a quick nap and wake up to continue working.

Tip #4:

Keep your personal belongings i.e backpack and purse close. I usually used mine as a pillow, or had my hand wrapped around the handle. You don’t want someone attempting to steal your stuff while you are sleeping.

What is your favorite public sleeping spot? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Write an Undergraduate Essay Like a Master’s Student: Part 3

Literature Review:

Now that you have all of your research collected it is time to write up your Literature Review. A literature review, will not be required for all research papers or by all professors. Some will ask for it as a precursor to your paper. This is their way of making sure you have begun the research process. In simple terms a Literature review, reviews the articles you have selected to use for your research paper.

Step 1:

Read all of the articles, and books you have selected to use in your research. Make sure to take notes

Step 2:

Choose one quote or more that you will likely use from each article in your paper.

Step 3:

Summarize each article and how it is useful to your research topic.

Step 4:

Make sure each article has its own paragraph.

The literature review will often include the introduction to your paper. This means you will have designed a thesis and you will show in the literature review how each of your articles helps support or dispute that thesis statement. The literature review is not the body of your paper, but merely a supporter of your introduction as well as a tool for developing what will eventually become the body of your paper. Sometimes articles will be small and support the same concept or point within your paper in this case it may be beneficial or helpful to combine two or sometimes three articles into one paragraph.

In case you missed my article describing how to locate literature for your paper be sure to check out that article here.

 

How to Write an Undergraduate Essay Like a Master’s Student: Part 2

Do Your Research:

Before you can write the paper you must first do the research. In some cases you may also want to have an idea of/for the thesis. For more information on how to write a thesis please see part four (coming soon). Every teacher and professor will likely have their own requirements for the types of articles or literature you can use. There are three main resource types primary, secondary, and tertiary. Many professors will require that you utilize journal articles, which are considered primary resources. However some will require the use of books, which are for the most part considered a secondary resource.

What falls under the criteria of a primary resource?

> original written works i.e poems, diaries, court records, interviews, surveys, and scholastic journals/articles.

What falls under the criteria of a secondary resource?

> reference materials including dictionaries, encyclopedias and textbooks.

> Newspapers and magazines are often considered secondary resources, but in some case may be considered a primary resource.

What is a tertiary resource?

A tertiary resource is a resource with the primary usage of  organizing and locating primary and secondary resources. One way you may use a tertiary resource is if you are analyzing the google results or database search results of a particular topic. For instance you might note in a research paper that there are 81 million results for Justin Bieber.

With the understanding of the different types of resources it is now important to know how to go about finding the right resources for your paper. Key words are an important part of locating articles or literature. Before beginning your research it is important to have at least 3 different keywords or phrases. It’s also important to write down every key phrase or word you use when completing your cursory research as you will want to note it in your essay as you describe the research you have done. This is especially important when completing a qualitative research study.

Example:

You are writing an essay on “How Dog Ownership Leads to Better Health.”

You go over to your database and type in that long phrase and you are likely going to receive errors for too many words or articles whose only relevance to your statement is they use the words How to in the title or article. A good first search would instead be dog ownership health.

Now when I typed this search into Google Scholar I received 127,000 results that is a lot, but few enough that you could probably go through them and find some relevant articles. However, it may be that you receive a result number that is on the large side. It is important to keep all research as relevant to today as possible especially if you are completing research that relates to today. If you are doing a historical analysis then the time at which the article was published likely doesn’t matter. However, to make sure the science and statistics are relevant to today especially with a topic such as health it might be wise to provide parameters for the publication date.

For this topic try and make sure articles are no more than 5 years old. If research is too thin with that number then as long as you don’t extend it past ten years you should be fine. When I apply the yearly range for my key phrase dog ownership health it lowered the number of results from 127,000 to a smaller 19,800 results. Google scholar also includes citations and patents in its results, but for the case of this research I just want journal articles so I remove those options and lower the result number to 18,400. Google scholar has a means of doing a more detailed search where you can look for your keywords in the title only or within the article. You can also do a search for articles that do not include a certain phrase or that include exact phrasing. You can also search a specific journal by typing in the journal name. When I searched titles only with my key phrase I received a mere 9 results.

Other key phrases for this topic might be:

Healthy dog owners

Dog owners improved health

After you pull up a result page with different articles it is important to read through the results. Do not read each article in full instead read the abstract if available. If there is no abstract available read the introduction, both will let you know if it is a good article for your project. In addition, many teachers will recommend you have a certain number of articles that you use in your research always pull 2-4 extra articles just in case one or more of them do not have anything to do with your article. You will come to find that some articles are more useful than others. Make sure you are choosing articles that will aid your research, but that will also not provide the same information. You want to be able to utilize all of your articles within your paper and if you pull five articles and only one actually pertains to what your research topic is about or three of the topics pertain, but all essentially say the same thing you may want to diversify the information. You want a group of articles that will take the subject from the different main points. Now you won’t know if you need more articles till you read the initial ones you have. If your professor states you need 8 articles for your paper print off 5 you feel really comfortable with. Make sure you record the citation information as you do. This will save you a step when creating your work cited page and when you are having to cite the articles within your paper.

If the paper is due within a week or even a month you will not have time to read each article the recommended three times. Here is the rule of reading and taking notes from journal articles.

Super Speed:

As you read the article highlight the main ideas and pieces of information that you may want to quote in your paper later. Use 3 different highlighters to represent the different points. Statistics are best marked with green, yellow is best for good ideas, and a third color orange is preferable works well with the passages you may want to quote. Do not read an entire article if you get through the first 3-5 pages and absolutely know it will be of no use to you. If it turns out to be a dud put it away. Read longer articles first. Also if a section is droning on with statistics and you are not needing statistics for your position within your research feel free to skip over it and move onto the parts that actually pertain to what you are writing your article on. Once you’ve read the five articles you picked out then continue your search of the online database and find the remaining articles you need. Be sure to focus your search on any areas of the research where you are missing information or have questions.

I can afford to take some time:

So you have some time before your paper is due and can afford to spend a little extra time researching. Aim for two read throughs. The first read through do not use any highlighters take notes on any questions you have after reading the article or while reading the article and let that be it. Later after you have found all of the articles you need go back through and complete the highlighting read through.

I have a lifetime to write this research paper:

If you have the whole semester before the paper is due and your the early bird who likes to get a head start then aim to read your articles three times. First without highlighting and just writing down your questions and thoughts. The second time go through it with the highlighters. Finally, as you make your third read through notate how the article actually helps your essay/research. What questions have been answered or ideas have been created within your head.

You may have noticed that the previous information focused on journal articles and may be wondering okay, but my teacher said I need at least one secondary resource. I need a book for my research. Your library is your friend. The library database works similar to a scholarly database. Use the same keywords. Once you have found a few possible titles go check out those sections of the library to know whether a book is a good fit for your research check the following locations.

Read the back/inside cover, this will give you a synopsis of the book.

Then read the table of contents. The table of contents will aid you in knowing which chapters will be most useful.

If the whole book appears useful read the introduction or the first page of chapter one.

Now no one wants to read an entire book for a research paper especially if they only have a short period of time in which to write it. Don’t think you have to read the whole book in order to use it within your essay. Pick one-three chapters that will be useful to your research and focus your attention there. Use sticky notes to keep track of different sections you may want to quote or that inspire ideas and questions. Make copies of the pages you will be reading for your article so that you don’t have to carry around an extra book. When making copies be sure to make a copy of the copyright page as you will need it for citation purposes.

How to Write an Undergraduate Essay Like a Master’s Student: Part 1

I was originally going to write an e-book on how to write an awesome undergrad essay, after all I spent four years writing some amazing essay’s and I even completed a 200 plus page honors thesis my junior year. To say I have experience in essay writing is an understatement. As it turns out the market is flooded with all kinds of essay writing how to books. So instead I’ve decided to turn each section into its own blog article. I hope you find this series useful. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments in the box at the bottom of the page.

Picking The Right Topic

As an undergrad you will not always or even often be given the option of choosing your research topic however on occasion you may be given the option of choosing the angle or side of a topic you are being asked to write. It is important to consider the following  questions as you choose your research topic.

Does it interest you?

Any project you will be spending more than a week on should be able to keep and maintain your interest. Even when you do not get to pick your topic finding a way to enjoy the research you are doing is essential when working on a long term project. When you are uninterested it can cause you to procrastinate or not do as in-depth  research as you could if you were interested.

What do you already know?

It is important to consider topics with which you already have some basic knowledge of. By choosing a topic you have some familiarity with you are giving yourself a leg up in the research portion. By having some first hand or previous knowledge you are able to choose keywords and phrases that will best assist you in locating literary research supporting or negating your thesis.

Do you have any preconceived opinions or assumptions that might bias your opinion?

It is important to consider your misconceptions or assumptions as you embark on your research exposition. You do not want your bias to bias the paper or the research.

How much research is out there on the  subject? Is it well explored or is the research thin/scarce?

Before choosing a topic it is important to visit Google Scholars or a reputable Scholarly database to do some cursory research for example say you wanted to write a report about Teenage mothers who graduated from a  four year College. You might find that there is a large amount of research on the subject. Whereas simultaneously if you choose a topic like Vitamin C’s effect on Cancer you will likely find little to none. The amount of research that is already out there on the subject could be helpful or detrimental depending on the type of research project you are doing. If you are doing a research project that requires an experiment it would be nice to have other research out there that completed the same or similar experiment having other research could be supportive or it could also hinder your experiment as others might compare your research and claim that because of the different aspects within the experiment your results are flawed. Now if you are simple wanting to complete a qualitative study dependent more upon historical documentation and the social implications of a subject then having more research already out on the web is better.

How well does the topic fit within the assignment?

After a short 30 minute cursory research session you should be able to determine whether the topic you are considering  is the right fit for your research project. Should you determine that your original research idea is not the right fit for the project then reconsider the direction.

For example if you were originally considering researching early childhood obesity and how it may positively affect individuals as adults, change your  angle to how childhood obesity may affect the child’s future academically. I. E how likely is it for a child who struggled with childhood obesity to go to college and complete a four year degree. All in all reconsider how you define the meaning of positively.

There are many questions science has not yet been able to answer either through social or scientific theory. Consider your audience, consider the available research, and most importantly consider your interest.

Is College Right for You?

Is college right for you? I don’t know, and no one does accept for you. So stop looking for someone to give you the answer you want to hear, and act upon the answer that is within your heart. There is no right or wrong way in life. I come from a long line of very strong women, women who had to work really hard to get to where they are today. They each took there own strange path, however, they all successfully raised their kids.

My sisters and I (there are three of us total including me) we have each taken a different path. I’m the eldest, I did everything the “right” way. I ended up exactly where I wanted to be all along, but it wasn’t anything I ever envisioned or imagined, because I am a stay at home mom. I am also a writer who gets paid to write what she loves, you can’t beat that.

My youngest sister just spent half a year traveling the world, while getting college credit for it. She is studying to be an artist. I have full faith she will accomplish it too. Like me she did things the “right” way, only she didn’t just go to college, she went somewhere new, she took the risk and made it happen.

My middle sister, she went to a community college. She got her associates degree. She tried and tried to get a job in her field, but couldn’t. She decided she wanted to have a baby. So she did, and she went back to school. She got a second associates degree and was recently offered a job in her field. She is my super hero, because she took a risk. She not only had a baby when she could not realistically be expected to afford one, but she also went back to school, while simultaneously working and taking care of a new born. She is my super hero. Both of my sisters are my super hero. I’m hoping that one day I will be just like them.

I went to college, and I will admit I learned a lot. I even plan on going back to college one day. However, I have a lot of friends who didn’t go to college. Some who started then quit and decided the career life was better. I have some who started, quit, and went back again a little later. I have some who did not go straight away, but went once they knew what they wanted to do. There are so many paths to life. It is hard to choose and decide which is the right fit for you.

The truth about life is that you never know what it is going to bring you. Maybe you really want to go to college, but you are not 100% sure what you want to do in terms of a career or a major. If this is you, then I highly recommend attending community college. It provides a great and easy opportunity to take a few classes and explore your options. In the mean-time you can also get all of those pesky basics courses out of the way.

Are you completely unsure whether college is right for you, and are planning to attend simply because that is what everyone expects from you? Do you secretly have your eyes set on a mission trip or traveling the world? Do not allow others to guide your life choices. You are an adult now, about to take life by the horns. No one else is responsible for your life choices accept for you. So if you want to travel the world, I suggest you do it. Something I wish I had when I was younger was the drive to do the crazy thing. I almost always did the smart thing.

Since graduating college I wish I had worked more in the real world. I didn’t because I thought I was going to become a professor. Whether you are thinking about just going straight to the working world, or are considering taking some time off from school to work full time I think this is just as smart as going straight to college and completing all four years in one sitting. After all when you do go get that degree (if that is what you choose to do) you will graduate not only with a certification that can get you a great high paying job, but work experience on your resume that many employers require on top of a diploma in today’s work force.

10 Things to Do Before Graduation

College is a place for new experiences, exploration, and preparing for your future. It is the opportunity to explore everything you ever had an interest in. Here are ten things every college kid should do before they graduate.

*Note I included only items that would be available for every students budget. You will not find travel abroad on this list for that reason.

#1 Volunteer as much as you can.

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to try out new things you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to do. Go with your interests. If you are interested in gardening help out at the community garden. Interested in medicine volunteer at a hospital. Thinking about becoming a teacher be an after school volunteer at a local school. There’s plenty of after school programs.

#2 Get a job

If you can keep a job for at least 2 years (bonus points if you can manage to work full time while also going to school) you will have increased opportunities for finding a job after you graduate.

#3 Start your own Business

There are so many things you can do from home to make money, plus running your own small business while going to college looks awesome on your resume once college is over. The list of options is literally endless.

  • Blogger/freelance writer
  • Photographer
  • IT help
  • Tutor
  • Go to thrift stores and re-sell things for a profit on craigslist/eBay.
  • Go to thrift stores and up-cycle everyday products to sell on Etsy or eBay

#4 Do an internship

Some internships are paid others are not, whether its paid or not doing this will up your odds of graduating with a job. Plus it gives you the opportunity to network within the field.

#5 Apply for Scholarships

Just because you made it into college doesn’t mean you should stop applying for scholarship money. The end of High School does not also mean the end of scholarship applications. Keep applying make it a goal to apply to at least one a month.

#6 Participate in physical activities

Whether you are a natural athlete or not you should take the time to get your body moving. Its not only a great way to meet new people, it also can help prevent some of that freshmen 20 from becoming permanent. Some activities you might want to look into are Quidditch, Yoga, Tai-Chi, kick-boxing, or any of your schools long list of sports teams.

#7 Attend a conference

Present a paper or project you completed for one of your classes at a conference. It gives you the opportunity to practice public speaking, allows you to get to know your professors better, and can help you improve your research skills as you prep your paper for the sort of presentation expected of a scholar like yourself. Plus many conferences offer scholarship opportunities for undergraduate students who participate. Many times your university will also pay for your attendance.

#8 Experience a new Culture

Not everyone can afford to study abroad, however there are many ways you can still experience a culture outside your own. For example many times the foreign exchange department hosts meet and greets. You will be able to meet and talk with foreign exchange students attending your university. It is designed to help them improve their English, but its also a great opportunity to learn more about where they came from.

You can also study a foreign language. Many times the foreign language department will host events designed to educate students about the countries where the languages they teach are spoken. My University had a french week every year. They had a different french movie every night and a french poetry reading competition, as well as a french dinner where traditional french food was served. Did I mention I have a minor in french?

#9 Take a leadership training course.

Many universities will host events like this for free or close to free. Usually sign ups are first come first serve and free food is almost always present. Its just another skill for your resume, but you will also learn some valuable skills your university probably doesn’t offer in a 3 credit course.

#10 Experience Nature

Go hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, or camping. Do something that brings you close to nature. Check out your university gym, many times they will host events where you can pay a small fee to go with a bunch of your fellow students on a trip outdoors.

Well that is all ten. Did I miss something? Is there anything you would add that college students should do before they graduate from University? Share in the comments.

Pulling an All Nighter

College where an all nighter can involve partying and studying simultaneously or separately. On any given night of the week college students are pounding away at their brains and sometimes their livers. In this post I give you the ultimate guide to surviving a long night of studying. First off I would like to state the importance of sleep in retaining information the night before a test. Staying up late the night before a test might provide you with some short term memory benefits, but if you want to retain the information for the long hall it is important that you give yourself some time to sleep before going in to take the test ideally somewhere between 6-8 hours. For an 8am class it would be best to begin your all night study marathon at 4 in the afternoon allowing you 8 hours of study time before you go to bed at 11pm. Now if you think 6 hours of sleep would be efficient you could probably get away with beginning your studies at 6pm and going to sleep at 1am.

Not the sleeping type. That’s okay I’m not either. Here is how I survive on 5 hours of sleep a night both as a college student and now as a parent. Water and caffeine are my two best friends. Water speeds up your metabolism and is a great way to get yourself off to a healthy and happy start. It is also a good way to keep you awake at night without having to worry about the hurtful side-effects that too much caffeine can bring. I try an keep my caffeine intake between the hours of Noon and 8pm, considering I usually don’t go to bed until sometime between 2am and 4am this is a good stopping point. For the rest of the night I stick to water. 20150710_222144

A long study session needs appropriate brain food. During my four years at college I really enjoyed eating mushroom sandwiches (I was a vegetarian for 3 out of the 4 years I was in school). In addition, chips and salsa was a great snack. Some brain food tips:Protein, folic acid, and vitamin B are great for helping to build memory.

It is also important to take brain brakes, during which its important to get your body moving. Stretching exercises or a quick dance to your favorite song should do the trick. It might also help to get a change of scenery, take a quick walk around the building. Ideally you should take a 5min-15 min. break every 45 minutes to an hour. If an hour is too short a time span try and take a break every hour and 30 minutes at most. While in college I would take a break by either switching my study location, or making a quick run across the street to the corner store or H.E.B. It was often my way of treating myself for the long hours of study. When I couldn’t do that I would walk around the building of my apartment or call one of my friends who was also studying late into the night. Taking your mind off the subject is a great way to allow the information to sink in similarly to when you are sleeping. sports-shoes-115149_1920

In conclusion, if you want your late night study sessions to be worth the exhaustion drink water, time it so you can get some sleep, prepare protein rich snacks, and give yourself brain breaks. On the rare occasion when I was feeling the need to workout I would take a 30 minute break or so at the gym, where I would run or walk laps. Sometimes I would take flashcards and just walk the indoor track over and over. If your worried about gaining the freshmen 15 consider taking your studying to the gym.

What helps you get through a late night study session?

The Ultimate College To Do List

It has been almost two years since I graduated College, and since graduating there are so many things I realize I should have done, that I didn’t do.

Apply for at least 1 scholarship every month (aim for two or more if you can). Many people stop applying for scholarships once they are in school, however there are still plenty of scholarships to be had. I really wish I had been more vigilante and continued applying to scholarships regularly during my college career. If I had, I might not have had to pull out so many student loans.

Internship- I looked into internships while I was in college, but never actually applied. Now that I’ve graduated and seen the job market I really wish that I had done one.

Get a job- working will help to build your job experience, making it easier to get a job when you graduate.

Travel abroad- You will have little opportunity to travel after graduation, take the opportunity now to see the world, as much of it as you possibly can.

Volunteer- this is a great way to try new things, and give you ideas for career options. It also gives you experience you can add to your resume when you start your after graduation job start.

Read for fun- I don’t think this one needs explaining, but in case your wondering “why would anyone want to read more than what is already required for college?” The more you read the more you learn.

Start a business (freelance write, computer programming, etsy) By starting your own business, you put extra money in your pocket, and put an extra item on your resume.

While High School was all about preparing for college, college is all about preparing for the work force. I wish I had done so much more in college as preparation for my eventual career, no matter what route my career might take me. In the end I choose to build my own business, there’s so much I could have done to prepare myself for this endeavor, there is also a lot more I could have done to prepare for an actual job in the work force. You can always say I wish, what if, etc. I hope my list of shoulda, woulda, coulda helps you to achieve the end goal of college.

Online vs. Brick and Mortar School

Just a little over a year ago I graduated from Sam Houston State University, when I first began my college career I was under the impression that the only way to get a real education was by sitting in a classroom. Sam Houston even then and especially now had an outstanding online program, and today more and more students are choosing to take the path of the online degree. So what is the difference? How do you choose whether to go to the real asphalt under your feet University or the bedroom carpet lined University? With technology growing at such a quick speed you may not necessarily have to choose. If like me you are lucky enough to go to a school that offers both you may be able to take a combination of both online and in-person courses.

For those who prefer to go one way or the other though it may prove to be a difficult task deciding. It used to be that online programs were not as acceptable in the job market as brick and mortar degree’s. However, with online programs growing in popularity and prestige hiring managers are developing an increased appreciation for those with online degrees.

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Pro’s of an online degree:

  • Flexible Schedule
  • Increase your skillset
  • Build your resume

As a result of the flexible schedule, you have more time to work a job, by working you can build your resume, and upon graduation go into the workforce not only with a degree, but with real life work experience.

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Pro’s of attending a Brick and Mortar School:

  • Easier access to professors
  • Larger network
  • Accountability
  • Increased resources

When you attend school on campus, you can easily make face to face appointments with your professors to discuss any questions you have about the course, or even your future career. In addition, you get to meet people through clubs and organizations who may be able to help you get a job in the future, or who will perhaps become your life long friend. Some professors will include attendance in your grade others won’t, either way walking into class late is always a big no no. In addition, your required to turn things in on certain days. As a result of having to be somewhere at a specific time you are automatically more accountable for your education. It also helps that you have a room full of people to side eye you should you not do what your supposed to. By being on campus you have access of the library and on campus computers, plus a ton of other free resources such as the academic center, which have tutors that can often help you build your study and writing skills.

Con’s of attending School Online:

  • Not everyone will see the degree as having the same level of expertise (think state vs. ivy league)
  • Can be more expensive (out of state tuition costs)
  • You have to be diligent with your time and pay attention and check into your email frequently
  • You have to teach yourself

Con’s of attending a Brick and Mortar School:

  • You may have to move
  • Increased costs for transport
  • Time consuming

For the most part choosing between an online university and a brick and mortar university is a personal decision. You have to look at where you are in life and what your lifestyle can accommodate. In addition, keep in mind your personal learning style as well as your ability to work on your own. If you are the type of person who needs someone watching over them to make sure they do what they need to do, then an online school may not be for you. I choose to go the brick and mortar route mostly because I thought I didn’t have much choice. Looking back however, I am really glad I did. My learning style was well suited for it, in fact I believe it took college to teach me accountability.