Making Connections that Count

Making Connections That Count

One of the best things you can do while in college is find a mentor. That relationship can really set you ahead during your course of study and beyond.

To make the most of that relationship, you’ve got to pick the right person first. I suggest that you come up with a set of goals and ideas you can share with that person during your initial meeting. It’s important that you both have a clear idea of the expectations and outcomes you are seeking.

Make sure the person has time for you. Mentor/mentee relationships require an investment of time. If either of you are not going to commit to the process, it won’t be fruitful.chick clique

These relationships need to be open and honest. Part of the expectations is not only sharing successes, but also failures. These discussions can help you grow. Are you both comfortable in being a little vulnerable?

Do they seem to be enthusiastic about the process? You need someone who is excited to share the journey with you. Someone who is willing to answer questions and share your journey. They need to be a resource and help you set goals that will lead you closer to your ultimate path.

You also owe them a few things. You need to be on time for your meetings. You need to be fully engaged in the process.  That means not checking your phone every 5 minutes. It means you are willing to put their advice into action.

qualities of a mentorSet a schedule for your meetings and keep them. Make sure you talk up front about how much and how often you will contact them. Is it ok to text, call or email if something comes up? Are there hours of the day they don’t want to be bothered? Remember, in every life things come up. If they need to cancel or reschedule, it’s ok.

Remember, your mentor is not there to solve your problems but to offer wisdom learned from their journey. So be prepared for a real discussion.

It’s not a one-way street. Make sure you are sharing with your mentor too. Maybe you have skills or talents that would be helpful for them. Maybe you ran across the best article that relates to your field. Don’t be afraid to share ideas or suggestions with them as well.

Learn about their life outside of work. Share what your life is like. The more real you can be, the better you’ll get along. You can also learn a lot about how they balance different areas or work and life. You might find you have a common charitable interest too.

When you meet, have a set of questions or a situation in mind to discuss. Having a point of focus will make your time more productive and keep you from getting lost in a sea of what ifs. Be intentional with your time and theirs.

If it’s not working or you feel like you aren’t connecting, it’s ok to move on. Thank them for their time and willingness to share with you. I’d suggest you consider a short-term arrangement in the beginning to see how things go. Try it for just one semester. If it seems to be working and you both agree to continue, then that’s awesome. However, if it’s not, you have a built in out with no hurt feelings.

On a final note, don’t feel like you must settle for one mentor. Your path will take many turns and there are a lot of people with a wealth of information to share. Take advantage of that. Hopefully, if your mentor is working in a field you are considering, they will introduce you to other people too. You might find people who interest you in many areas who are willing to share what they have learned along the way.

Study Strategies and Test Taking Tips

test taking and study skills

Finals are almost here.

Finding the time to study is key. Take some time to analyze how you are spending your time. Be truthful. Include the time you hang out at the fraternity house, your chapter meetings, and meeting friends to go eat. Once you’ve tracked your time, make a schedule that includes everything you need to accomplish. Put in class time, meetings, and some fun. Then go ahead and write in your study time. Make it a firm appointment.chick clique

Now that you have the time to study, pick the most boring or difficult item first. I know it’s tempting to put it off, but I promise you, it’s better if you go ahead and knock it out at the beginning. Use “waiting time” for some extra study time. While you are waiting for your clothes to dry, pick up your notes and read through them again.

Avoid cramming for tests. Cramming leads to anxiety. Anxiety leads less ability to remember things. Cramming keeps you from doing your best.

The rule of thumb is that you should spend 2 hours studying for every 1 hour you are in class. I know – you’re yelling at the screen right now. But it’s true.

Set your environment. Make your study area comfortable, but not comfortable enough you fall asleep. Make sure it’s quiet. Don’t invite others over during your study time. If you have group projects or study groups, do that in addition to your time.

Now that you’ve studied, it’s time for the exam.

test tips

If you have a multiple choice, true/false or matching test, go ahead and answer all the questions. It doesn’t make sense to leave any blank. You might get lucky. On true/false, remember if any part of the question is false, the answer is false.

Look for answers in other questions.

Don’t change your answers. Remember your first instincts are usually right.

Mark questions you can’t answer as you are going through. This will save you time at the end. Once you’ve answered all you know, you can go back and easily find the ones you need to spend more time on.

Make sure you answer the question asked. Read the questions thoroughly.

In an essay exam, make sure you understand what you are answering. Take the directions to heart. If it says compare, compare. If it says discuss, do that. If it says outline, use that format. Get to the point quickly. Don’t try to fill it with fluff.

Sharpen your pencil. Your story is ready to be written.

It’s New Year’s Day 2018. The party hats have been put away. The black eyed peas and greens are on the stove. It’s a time of reflection and renewal and celebration.

Celebrating what we’ve achieved to this point and acknowledging all the people who have helped us get there.

It’s moments of reflection as we look back. We remember those who are no longer physically with us and have special places in our hearts. We pause to remember the impact they have had on our hearts and our lives. However, the past isn’t our only thought. We reflect on our future and our dreams.

It’s a renewal of strength and determination. It’s about goals and plans and that drive to be something more than we were the previous year. It’s that force to see a dream become a reality.

It’s with those thoughts in mind I want to share a story I heard at some point along the way. From one writer to another, I hope you think of this each time you pick up your pencil.

The parable of the pencil goes something like this:

There are 5 qualities of a pencil:

•It is able to do great things, but only if it allows itself to be held in someone’s hand.

•It experiences painful sharpening from time to time, but that makes it become a better pencil.

•It can correct any mistakes it might make.

•The most important part of it will always be what’s inside.

• It leaves a mark on every surface it touches. No matter the condition, it must continue to write.

Now think of you as a pencil:

•You are able to do great things, but only by allowing other people to access the many gifts and talents you possess.

•You too experience painful sharpening from time to time. The struggles and problems in life are needed to make us stronger people.

•You have the power to correct mistakes you might make.

•The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.

•On every surface, or person you encounter, you leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must do your best. Always remember, you may not know the impact you have or the meaning behind a few words you share can hold.

Write bold words and dream big dreams, not just in 2018 but for each year to come. The page is blank today. Sharpen your pencil and write your new chapter. The book is called opportunity and it’s waiting on you to design the story.