Monthly Archives: March 2015

What is it about Study Abroad…

… that I am blogging about it again in March? Just one year (plus one week) ago, I wrote about Study Abroad, and here I am again! It must be something about the Spring semester, or the month of March, that gets students talking to me about academic travel adventures! Maybe it has something to do with Spring Break!? Come to think of it, my third year of college, I went abroad for Spring Break! It was quite an adventure.

At UNI, I was a member of the Women’s Rugby team; I spent sophomore to senior year bruised from neck to toe. In high school I was a cheerleader, so it was a bit of a transition becoming a rugby player. My second year on the team (third year of college) we participated in the Women’s World Cup Rugby Tournament in Europe. We were the only U.S. team, so although we were NOT Team USA, it kind of felt like it! The tournament was actually the week after Spring Break, so every member of the team needed to get signed permission from their professors stating they understood the request to be out of class the week after Spring Break; their signatures were our approval. It was exciting sharing this opportunity with each of my professors, but I recall fearing one of them wouldn’t sign the official letter and put me in a bind on what to do. Blessedly, they all signed!

I vividly remember, being at my teammate Wendy’s house, with her and two other players who were sisters, discussing our destination travel cities prior to arriving at the tournament. During that giddy chat, Wendy said something to the effect of “my mom is really worried about me traveling in Europe, but I told her, Heidi’s been abroad, so I can rely on her.” To which I replied “Wendy, I’ve been to Japan, not to Europe!” And she said, “Well, don’t tell my mom that!” Ah – a trip down memory lane, sorry; back to focusing on the original purpose of this blog!

What actually lead to me to think about study abroad this week, was this College U.S. Today article, Flying Solo: Five Reasons You Should Travel Alone While Studying Abroad. This quick read got me reflecting on two things. One, the conversations I’ve had with two students I mentor, Wilson and Selena, in the past three weeks, about the study abroad trips they are hoping to do this year. Selena is planning to be in London this summer, and Wilson is planning to be in Quebec in next Fall, or potentially all of next year. Two, the emphasis put on being independent! Study Abroad, on its own, allows for a level of independence, and traveling alone, while abroad, takes it to a deeper level. I have done these things; they are exhilarating and, at times, nerve wracking. But, here’s the key, you don’t have to go abroad to travel solo!

Reflect for a moment, when is the last time you did something completely independent and solely for yourself? Let me reemphasize the COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT part… and now reiterate the SOLELY FOR YOURSELF part…? Being a busy college (or high school) student, it is probably hard to pin-point when that was.

I suggest you look at your calendar/schedule/planner, and find time to be an independent adventurer, close to home, soon! It could be a road-trip to a nearby city, to the coast, on a hike, or anywhere. However, it must be someplace where you push your comfort zone, just for a little while. Wherever that may be, please, please, make sure it’s safe, and you’re safe! Imagine this outing as your preparation for a study abroad adventure. Have your phone/mobile device with you, but silence it, and only use it in a true emergency. Rely on your instincts, on science, on social science, on critical thinking, and definitely observation, to get you by. I’m quite confident your adventure will be a great success!

Oh, and one more thing, about my rugby trip; backpacking around Europe for 10 days, before playing in a tournament against all EU teams, wasn’t the smartest idea, but our team was proud to return to campus with a Dutch clog as a trophy for last place!

School is your job

School is your job.

Let that sink in.

School is your job.  Oh, I know; you may have a job — one that pays you by the hour; or, even a salary.  You might even think of it as a “real job” while you are going to school.  But, please consider reversing this order of priorities.  (And, realize, we actually encourage students to have part time jobs — up to 20 hours a week even; studies show that working part time while going to school can be a successful pairing — time management increases, boredom stays away, etc.)

But, I want you to consider making school your job.  This means you prioritize school (classes and studying) the same way you would your job.  You set aside 2 hours for every unit you are enrolled in to study.  If you are enrolled in 12 units, then you study 24 hours outside of class per week for those courses.    Set up a designated study space.  Be in that space for the required times to study for whatever is on your agenda.  Set up a “schedule” that has you ‘working’ on X class for Z amount of time every day or other day.

If you reach out to your professor with a question or a request, you need to check back with him/her in order to follow up appropriately.  Just like with a job:  if you reach out to your boss to change your schedule, don’t you constantly check/recheck your phone or email to find out his/her reply?  This should be true of a question or request to an instructor:  if you ask for an extension of  a deadline or to turn in homework late, you should be checking and rechecking the phone/email to find out the reply.  Prioritize school.

If your main goal is to work and draw a pay check.  Then do that.  Think carefully about school.  But, if your main goal is to earn a Bachelor’s Degree, then do that.  And do it with vigor and dedication.

Mid Term Mania

Today, when I walked into my lower division class to begin lecture, the following interaction ensued:

Me:  Last night, I sent around the Homework #3 assignment via our course webpage.  Did everybody see it?

Class:  Yes.

Me:  Did anyone start on the homework and try applying the new concepts?

Class:  No.

One Student:  I am waiting for the study guide.  (The syllabus notes that a study guide will be handed out prior to the midterm day.  The midterm is 2 weeks away).

Me:  Um, you should be studying and trying the homework right now, not waiting for a study guide!

So, here’s the thing:  Waiting for a study guide in order to study course materials is waiting far too long.  This strategy has very long odds for success.  Instructors/professors assign homework in order to give you the chance to practice what you are learning in class.  Obviously, the chances that the concepts from the homework are also on the mid term are pretty good.  However, why wait to study?

You shouldn’t.

Instead, take the time now to plan a study strategy for mid terms — whether they are one or two weeks away.  Plan out your days so that you work in time to study the materials you are engaging with today.  Make studying your job.  Right now your job is to be in school and to be successful.  Treat studying just as important as a full time job.  It will pay off.  We guarantee it!