Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Finding travel opportunities in community college: an international student shares her story

The short video below features a me interviewing a successful international student for the college success TV show I host, The SKiNNY on College Success.

Whether you're an international student or not, her story offers some great insights - including some unique ways to volunteer and travel while in community college!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

5 things to stop procrastination (while I wrap myself in plastic wrap??)

Procrastination is one of the most popular topics students ask me about, so I'm loading up content at the beginning of the semester for those of you who really want to get a handle on this and not let procrastination stop you from getting good grades and reaching your full potential in college. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The worst mistake procrastinators make on their to-do lists

This is the time of year where the most popular topic is procrastination. Students e-mail me from all over the country desperate to overcome their procrastination.

And to be honest, I'm impressed. The fact that you want to stop procrastinating is kind of awesome. 

Today I want to share with you the worst mistake many people make (I've done this before too) when creating their to-do lists - a mistake that basically invites procrastination over to play video games with you and be your best friend (and not ever do any work).

Do you ever make this mistake? Test yourself with the following:

You're assigned an essay in a class. What is the first thing you do?
A) Put the due date in my calendar
B) Put "Write essay" on my to-do list
C) Think, "boo I hate essays" and then go check Instagram
D) Put "Create project to-do list and calendar reminders for essay" on my to-do list

Did you catch the mistake there? While obviously C is not so great, the real mistake is B. 

Writing a whole essay is overwhelming, even to straight-A students. I love reading and writing, but seeing "Write an essay" on my to-do list is enough to make me want to go play video games instead.

Looking at a big project will make even the best anti-procrastinators want to think of doing anything else but tackling that big ugly project. 

Instead, the first thing you should do when you're given an assignment is D, "Put 'Create project to-do list and calendar reminders for essay' on my to-do list." 

It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you have to do to complete a big project. Instead, it's best to focus only on the very NEXT step you have to take, and do your best to forget about everything else.

That is why the first to-do item on your list should be to sit down and break that big project into smaller to-do items (as well as set SMS/mobile reminders on a calendar, like Google Calendar, to make sure you don't get behind).

Asana is what I use to create my to-do lists for work and I love it (you can use it on your phone and computer). You can literally create a project and then create the small items that need to be done under that project, each with their own due date.

So for example, instead of putting "write essay" on your to-do list, you'd make that essay a new "Project" in Asana, and then start creating to-do items, ideally tasks that would take less than an hour or so to complete. For example, tasks for an essay could look like this: 

- Brainstorm at least 4 possible thesis ideas
- Choose final essay topic
- Create a rough draft outline of essay
- Choose 5 sources for essay
- Create MLA bibliography for 5 sources
- Read source 1 and write out quotes for essay
- Read source 2 and write out quotes for essay
- Read source 3 and write out quotes for essay
- Read source 4 and write out quotes for essay
- Read source 5 and write out quotes for essay 
- Copy/paste quotes into the outline
- Edit final outline
- Write page 1 of rough draft 
- Write page 2 of rough draft
- Write page 3 of rough draft
- Write page 4 or rough draft
- Write page 5 of rough draft
- Bring rough draft to writing center for edits 
- Edit pgs 1-3 of rough draft
- Edit pgs 4-5 of rough draft
- Do full final edit 
- Turn in essay  

Now, that may seem like a lot, but the key here is that you would put all these items under a project, and then create another project like "Today's Tasks" and then just put only the next to-do item in that list, so all you can see is what you need to do that day. 

The more time you put into breaking a big project into smaller items, the easier it is to accomplish. When you sit down to "study" you then have a plan, instead of just starting at an essay and wondering where to begin, dreading the whole thing.

Let me know how this goes for you and please share in the comments any other things you have done that have helped you overcome procrastinator habits. 

You can do this! :) 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TBT: What to expect your first week of college

The video below is a throwback from last year; it answers some of the most popular questions I receive about the first week of college, and shares some tips to ensure you ROCK your first week. Good luck!! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to stop procrastination BEFORE it starts

Do you procrastinate on fixing your procrastination?


The WORST mistake you can make in college is not developing a plan to stop your procrastination before the semester starts. 

One of my most popular posts ever features 10 ways to stop procrastination, and I wanted to add another way you can stop it - BEFORE the semester starts.

(If you're reading this after a semester has started it's okay, this can still help.) 

Not only will this help you not procrastinate, but it can also help you improve your grades IMMENSELY. 

I've developed this really simple time management chart for you that you can download and do in a few minutes RIGHT now (see links below). 

I know you want to procrastinate this right? You're already opening a new window and thinking "well, Isa, that sounds good and all, but I'll do it tomorrow, right now I need to catch up on my Twitter feed"). 

Hold it right there. You can do this right now. I believe in you!! Tell that procrastinator in your brain to be quiet and keep scrolling.

I can't take all the credit for this idea as I got the inspiration for it in a book I was reading this morning about teaching a college course. I added my own spin to it and I hope it helps. 

Doing this chart will help you plan to have plenty of time to do homework, readings, and study for each course AND enough time to get ahead and put in the time and effort required to get an A in any class.

I spent at least two hours in the library for every course each week and it enabled me to get straight-A's throughout college without stress or procrastination. I also almost never did homework on the weekends, which may not work for everyone, but I loved devoting Monday-Friday to school and then the weekends to pure fun. 

If you put the time and effort into building your schedule the way you want it (and make the necessary sacrifices to make your classes and the work required of them a priority, even over work) you can get the grades you know you're capable of and actually enjoy the learning process. 

You may feel like you need the last-minute pressure to do your work, but once you experience the thrill of doing something EARLY you may just find that can motivate you even more.

Click on one of the links below to download the chart to help you build your schedule and find the time you need to reach your full potential in college. I've made the documents available on Dropbox for you and the links are below.

It looks like this:
 I challenge you to do this right now. Go. Come on. You can conquer procrastination once and for all. 

Your GPA will thank you.