Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why you should travel in community college

So the reason I've been MIA this week is I was traveling around in California speaking at a community college and doing research for my next book. 

And as I walked around the bay, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, I remember thinking about my very first flight. It was when I was a sophomore in community college, traveling to Nashville, TN for the international Phi Theta Kappa convention.

I was attending college in Florida, so while this wasn't that "far," it was still a turning point for me. Being on an airplane was something, in my mind at that point, was reserved for "rich" people. It wasn't something I'd ever done. 

Being physically up in the air, moving from one place to another in a matter of hours, was nothing short of empowering for me. It made me feel like maybe that professor was right, maybe community college really could be this launching point that could take me farther than I could even dream.

That feeling of being in the clouds that first time has never left me. I still feel this incredible sense of gratitude every time I'm up in the air, going from one place to another. It's nothing short of magical to me, and I still can't believe I'm actually someone who gets to travel around like this. 

I want to encourage you to do whatever it takes to travel while you're in community college. Look into study abroad trips both at your college (many community colleges have these!) and through outside organizations, like Diversity Abroad.

Also look into clubs and organizations that provide even local travel opportunities. Usually officers are the ones who get to travel, so it's another great reason to get a leadership position! This is one of the greatest benefits of community college - because you don't have to compete with juniors/seniors for the highest leadership positions. You can be a president now, and I encourage you to do just that. 

My first travel opportunity is still one open to many community college students every year! Phi Theta Kappa has an international convention in a different state each year that is just out of this world. They often have amazing celebrity speakers! If you've gotten your invite letter, don't just join the chapter on your campus - become an officer!

Traveling in college, especially for anything that can add to your professional development, is WORTH THE INVESTMENT! Don't let the money scare you. Be creative and look for ways to travel for free. But don't be afraid to put a little skin in the game either. 

Because travel, to me, is about so much more than just the experience itself. It's what that experience does to your brain, your sub-conscious. I think it sends this little, very quiet, yet oh so powerful message: you can do big things. 

So go. Go somewhere. See another part of this country or this world. Let it remind you that no matter how small you feel at times, you really can do more than you ever thought possible.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The shortest secret formula to getting good grades

1. Go to every class. 

2. Sit in the front row. 

3. Spend at least two hours of study time in the library for every hour you have in class, every week. 

4. Ask for help when you need it.

5. Repeat. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why you should create your future business card now

Last week I was at my friend Erin's house (aka writer of HappyProfessor.com) and she showed me something I thought was just so awesome.

It was a business card she'd created and printed on card stock a while back - a business card that listed things she wanted to "be" before she actually was those things. She created a business card as if it had already happened.

And it turned out, she eventually did make those things happen. 

As I held her business card that was once a dream and now had basically become reality, I imagined what business card I would want to create for the future; even thinking about printing it out and holding it in my hand made me feel something. Something like excitement. Something like hope. 

The effectiveness of visualization for Olympians and other professional athletes has been well documented. 

If it applies to sports why not other things in life? And why stop at the visualization? Take it a step further and create something tangible and see how it makes you feel.

Create a future business card on an online creator (Moo.com is my personal favorite) or on a word processor (just print it out on card stock, not regular paper).

Keep it in your wallet and look at it often, especially when you're feeling down. 

If you like that, you might also want to try writing your future "dream" bio, or even creating a mock up of your future diploma with the highest degree you're hoping to get!

Visualization is really helpful, and turning it into something tangible can also be very exciting, as it can remove some of those barriers you have in your mind and get you one step closer to actually believing you can do the things you most hope to do. 

There's something special about having a tangible reminder of your most precious goals. Don't let today end without creating something like this for yourself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Student Success Triangle - Why Creating Value is Key

Yesterday I was interviewed by the awesome Thomas Frank, founder of CollegeInfoGeek.com (check it out!) for his podcast for college students.

Thomas started his blog while in college, and helps students regarding topics like study tactics, personal branding, and paying off college debt.

So you can imagine, we had a pretty awesome time talking.

As we were excitedly "geeking out" about college success ideas - both the ones in my book and the ones Thomas talks about - he came up with this triangle in his head, and turned it into this:
(See, I told you he was awesome).

My book focuses on the "Relationship Building" part of the triangle, but today I wanted to elaborate on how "Value Creation" can help you be successful in college and beyond. 

There are many ways you can create value on campus, and it's essential to both winning scholarships and generating career success after college. 

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and my interactions with the following have really been confirming to me the importance of creating today, not tomorrow:

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
When International Dot Day was trending on Twitter I had to find out what was going on. Turns out it was inspired by this incredible children's book written in 2003. I bought it immediately and it made me cry. You'll have to read it to find out why, but essentially it shows how a teacher inspires a girl who thinks she can't draw.

The teacher has the young girl just make a dot, and then tells her to sign it. The teacher then frames the picture/dot on her wall. The girl is inspired, empowered. And she starts creating more dots, more art.

To me this story perfectly elucidates the importance of creating something now - with whatever you've got, whatever you're interested in.
The Future Project
This incredible non-profit encourages high school students to create projects, "dreams with a deadline," and it's amazing. I was watching a bunch of their videos the other day and was in awe of some of the projects the students were creating, like a student who created a website and event to help students coping with loss.

The Future Project has done research that shows why projects like these can have such a huge impact on students' lives. Not only do these kinds of projects stand out in a resume or college application, but something special happens when you complete an ambitious project...

Happy Professor
My good friend Erin writes the blog HappyProfessor.com, and wrote a book of the same title. Earlier this week we were both talking about the incredible feeling we got from creating a website and writing a book - how it's scary at first but that once you do it it makes you feel like you could do anything. Suddenly writing your next book or starting your next website doesn't seem so scary. 

In short, you feel empowered.

You feel like maybe you really have something to offer the world. That maybe, just  maybe, your actions actually matter. 

P.S. Doing a project you care about makes you INTERESTING. This in turn makes it much easier for you to make real connections in your community and online via social media (i.e. Building Relationships). People love hearing about new projects, and it shows that you are a person of action. 

And as you engage in projects and create value you'll start to get closer to what you really like to learn about and what skills you really want to develop, thus making you much more excited about learning.

So are you ready to start to add value creation to your college success triangle? 

10 Ways to Create Value in College

1. Start a club

2. Create and execute a campus event
3. Write for your college newspaper; host a campus TV or radio show
4. Start a small business; see if your college has an incubator
5. Start a YouTube channel
6. Start a blog or website
7. Find an internship that gives you the opportunity to create something new
8. Do a photo project
9. Create art and share it
10. Do an original research project* (check to see if your college offers funding/help)

The key is to think about what you're most interested in and then just contribute to that area. DO something. MAKE something. Create something. 

Seek out help and don't do it on your own. And don't worry if it doesn't work the way you wanted it to. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to get done. 

Make your mark. You'll be amazed at what a little dot on a piece of paper can turn into. 


*At Stetson University I was required to embark on a year-long research project in order to complete my bachelor's degree. It was daunting, but accomplishing that 75-page research paper and presenting it out-of-state at a conference gave me the confidence and skills to write my book. It taught me how to break a giant writing project into smaller parts, and made me feel just so dang good that I actually COULD do something I previously thought terrifying. 

If starting a blog, a YouTube channel, a website, writing a book, or giving speeches appeals to you, you'll like the free ebook I wrote here about creating a personal brand through value creation.