Hot%20Tips%20on%20How%20to%20Get%20the%20Most%20Out%20of%20Your%20College%20Experience%20and%20Colle

Hot%20Tips%20on%20How%20to%20Get%20the%20Most%20Out%20of%20Your%20College%20Experience%20and%20Colle

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–8. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: "HOT TIPS" ON HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE AND COLLEGE DEGREE (Or, "Things I Wish I Knew When I Was in College”) Joseph B. CUSGO, PhD. Marymount College * Become actively involved in the learning process. 1. Be thcrciidon't cut classes! Some students believe that cutting classes has little effect on their final grades, particularly because college professors frequently don't take attendance or "call roll.” However, college research indicates that there is a direct relationship between class attendance and grades-was one goes up or down, so does the other. One study at a 4—year college found that every 10% increase in the number of course absences resulted in a .2 drop in grade- point average for that course. (Source: Journal of Educational Psychology & Measurement, volume 4‘), 1989) 2. When you're in class, really be there—listen activelv and take notes aggressively. Research shows that most test questions come from the instructor's lectures and that students who take more notes in class get better grades. 3. Participate in class-w—try to contribute something meaningful to class discussions and ask questions when you're confused. Such active involvement in the classroom helps you stay alert and attentive, and helps you to comprehend and remember the material presented in class. 4. When studying outside of class, use "active learning," strategies, such as: (a) Organization and Classification: create mental categories for information (index cards are great for this purpose). (b) Behearse: test yourself—without cheatingfldon't simply "look at" or "look over" the material you're studying. (One great way to prevent yourself from cheating and peeking is to put the question on one side of an index card and the answer on the other side—-so, when you find yourself flipping the index card before saying the answer. this is a sure sign which let's you know that you really don't know the answer.) (c) RephraSe: translate the material you're studying into "your own words" (then you know you're not just memorizing or "parroting" it without really understanding it). (d) Relate and Associate: "connect" what you're trying to learn to things you've already learned or experienced. 5. Involve yourselfwith out-of-class resources who can help you learn, such as: (a) teachers—see them after class and in their office for extra help; (b) advisers—ask them for advicc on how to learn more effectively——they're not just there for class scheduling and registration; 10 (c) pei-Wuse them as "study buddies” or as a social-support group to help you learn and to make learning more fun (e.g., join "study groups" or form them yourselfby selecting peers who you know are motivated and will show up); (d) library—the librarians are teachers too; (e) learning eegtggeit's not just remedial "repair work" for the academically "lame"-»good students use the learning center to become even better. Research shows that students who become actively involved with the above academic resources are more likely to complete their college degree and receive higher college grades. This "active involvement" involves two key elements: (a) The degree of psychological energv or intensity of effort that you put into academic activities. For example, taking notes on a required reading and organizing them onto index cards requires more energy/effort than passively underlying sentences with a magic marker. In a 600- plus page review of over 200 research studies on college students, dating back to 1960, the authors reported that, "Perhaps the strongest conclusion that can be made is the least surprising. Simply put, the greater the student's involvement or engagement in academic work or in the academic experience of college, the greater his or her level of knowledge acquisition and general cognitive (intellectual) development” (p. 616). [Soureez Ernest Pascarella & Patrick Terenzini, (1991). How College Aflecrs Students. San Francisco: Jossey Bass] (b) The total amount Oflltfl you devote to academic activities. Research indicates that time Spent on academic work does pay off in good grades. One study revealed that students whose grades were mostly "As" spent 40 hours or more per week on academic activities; whereas, among students whose grades were mostly "Qs or below," only 23% spent 40 or more hours per week on academic activities. Research also indicates that college grades have a positive influence on: (a) the status (prestige) of the college graduates first job, (13) the graduate's career mobility (ability to change jobs or move into different positions) and (c) the graduate's total earnings (salary). Furthermore, good grades appear to count the same in terms of the graduate's future income regardless of the "reputation" of the college attended—-i.e., how well you do academically in college matters more than where you go to college or where your college diploma is from. (Source: Ernest Pasearella & Patrick 'I‘erenzini, How College Affects Students, 1991) "‘ Become actively involved in co-curricular (extra-curricular) experiences. Good campus activities to become involved with include: student government, college committees, club leadership, peer counseling or peer tutoring; writing for a student publication—— such as the student newspaper or college yearbook; involvement in college—sponsored volunteer work or community service. Research on college students consistently confirms that students who are active participants in college life outside the classroom are: (a) more likely to enjgy their college experience, (b) more likely to graduate, and (c) more likely to develop leadership skills that are useful in the "real world" ot‘work after college. As one recent research report concluded, "We have seen that the more students put into their college experience, the more they get out of it. It is also true that the more they put into it, the better they like it" (Pace, 1990, p. 121). Furthermore, students who participate in campus life usually earn better grades than non— ll participants, as long as they don’t "overdo" it. A good mleiofrthumb would be to Spend no more than 15-20 hours per week in out—of—class activities (work or co—eurricular) and not to get involved in more than 2-3 major campus activities during your college experience. Not only would limiting the number of your out-of~class activities help you keep up with your studies, it probably would be more impressive to future schools or employers. A list of too many activities may seem suspicious-—as the Director of the College Placement Bureau put it, "Just a list of club memberships is meaningless; it's a fake front. And even ifthere's been some activity in one of them, remember that quality, not quantity, is what counts" (Pope, 1990, p. 189). Also, don't forget that campus professionals with whom you interact regularly while participating in eo~curricular activities can serve as excellent sources for personal references and letters of recommendation (e.g., Director of Student Activities or the Dean of Students). * Attempt to gain career-1131ated1 outrof—class experiences (cg, volunteer work at a community mental health center; research assistant for a faculty member). Such experiences not only improve the quality of your resume, they also provide you with out- of-class "contacts" who may serve as excellent references and sources for letters of recommendation (or, who may even serve as future employers—during or after college). Also, such career—related experiences may improve the accuracy of your eventual career choice (eg, real "hands on” work with children, the mentally ill, or laboratory research may provide you with first-hand, real-world work experience in these professions, allowing you the opportunity to "test the waters" and find out whether you would really like to pursue a future career in any of these fields. lfyour college does not offer any internships that appeal to you or relate to your career interests, consider contacting the National Society for lntemships & Experiential Education, 3509 Haworth Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609. This is a national organization which publishes an annual directory of internship opportunities across the country in a wide variety of fields. In addition to this national resource, you could contact the local Chamber of Commerce in the town or city where your college is located. I would argue that such out~ofuclass work experiences are so valuable that it might be worth taking a bit longer than the traditional four years (8 semesters) to complete your college degree. (If you think ahead, what's the big deal about delaying graduation for six months or a year when you consider that you still have about 50 years of full—time work ahead of you before retirement!) Taking an extra semester or two to complete college in order to get relevant out—of—class work experience would be well worth it because it may help you identify a future career that you'll be happy with, and may enable you to receive a higher starting salary in that career after college graduation. In fact, research does indicate that students who have had internship experiences during college tend to be more satisfied with their first job after college and tend to have higher starting salaries. An internship also enables you to avoid the classic "catch 22" situation which recent college graduates often encounter when they apply for their first career position. The scenario goes something like this: Employer asks the college graduate, " What experience have you had in this field?" The recent graduate replies, "I haven't had any experience because I've been a full—time college student for the past four years.” However, students who are involved an internship during 12 their college experience are better able to beat this "no experience" rap and become qualified for their first position. Furthermore, you needn't be afraid that out—of—class work will lower your grades. Remember, a "full load" of classes requires that you be in class only about 15 hours per weekithat leaves a lot of out—of—class time left over for other activities. In fact, research on college students indicates that students who work up to 15—20 hours per week actually earn higher grades than students who don't work at all. (Perhaps this is due to the fact that working students learn to manage their out— of—ciass time better because they have an “in—class" schedule and an "out—of—class” (work) schedule; on the other hand, non—working students have so much outvof—class "free time" that they may get lulled into mismanaging it, or not managing it carefully—-tending to waste or abuse it.) * When choosing a college major, be sure to keep the following things in mind: 1. Check the college catalog to determine what specifigeojirses are required for the major and see if they "match" your skills and interests. For instance, business majors are required to take quite a bit of math, including calculus. So, if you're intending to major in business, then you should feel comfortable and confident that you can handle its math requirements. 2. Don‘t be pressured into ghoosing a major in your freshman year. Studies indicate that 50% of all beginning college freshmen are "undecided" about their major, and among the other 50% of freshmen who say they're “decided,” half of them eventually change their mind! In fact, the average college student changes his or her mind about three times before finally deciding on a major! So, take enough time to explore your options by: (a) discussing possible majors with your advisor, (b) taking an elective course in a subject that you‘re considering as a possible major, (c) checking with teachers in the subject you're considerng as a possible maj or—-to find out what you might do with that major after graduation, (d) getting volunteer or internship experiences in fields related to the major you're considering to see if you would enjoy working in that field. Even if you think you're sure about your choice, still take the time to "test it out," i.e., make sure your choice of major and career are compatible with your abilities, interests, and values. As the president of one highly regarded college put it, "The kids who worry me are the ones who are so dam sure they know what they're going to be doing.” (Dr. James Powell, quoted in Looking Beyond the Ivy League by Loren Pepe, p. 180). Also, keep in mind that most college majors allow you to pursue lots of different careers after graduation and allow you to go on to graduate school (for an MA. or PhD.) in many different fields, to go to professional schools (e.g., for a law or medical degree). So, don't feel that when you choose a major, you're choosing what you‘ll be doing for the rest of your life—those are two separate issues. Research on college graduates shows that they change careers about five times. This "career mobility” is one of the key advantages of a college degree~~it enables you to move into different career positions—--no matter what your college major happened to be. * Consider the possibility of a minor in a field which, when combined with your major, may further enhance your employment prospects (e.g., a psychology major with a minor 13 in business or computer science, or a business major with a minor in a foreign language). A minor usually requires about one-half the number of credits that are required for a major; check the college catalog for the exact number ofcredits and the particular courses the college requires for a minor in the field which interests you. * Build your resume early, starting during your freshman year. Keep track of your experiences and accomplishments by means ofa log or diary that includes iniclass and outwofkclass activities (e.g., outstanding grades in ecurses or special assignments; co— curricular activities, awards, volunteer services). This continual, cumulative record will ensure that you don‘t forget to mention such accomplishments in your "fact sheet"w~which you’ll eventually provide to those who serve as your references), or in your letter of application ("cover letter”)—which you'll eventually send to schools or employers. The process of continually adding to your diary of achievements is also a valuable strength— recognition exercise—it "forces" you to focus on your accomplishments and to make a visual record of them. individuals engaging in this process often report a boost to their self—esteem because, when they look back at their many achievements, they are reminded of all the good things they've accomplished. Also, by keeping track and maintaining awareness of all your strengths and achievements, you're in a better position to answer the classic job-interview question: "What can you contribute to our organization?" Also, when applying to a potential school or employer, be sure to do some. advanged research on the particular institution or organization to which jett're applyipg. ln your letter of application, be sure to mention some specific aspects or characteristics of the institution or its particular progranrtdcpartment which appealed to you and which attracted your interest to them. This shows that you've taken the time and effort to learn something about their organization and that you've seriously considered the "match" between what they can offer you and what you can offer them. In fact, if you're interviewing with a representative ol‘the institution, and you're asked the class question, "Do you have any questions about us?", you might use this question as an opportunity to ask them about their institutional goals and then point out how your qualities, skills, interests or values are "in line" with their objectives (i.e., why there is a good "fit" between you and the institution). Failure to do at least a little bit of research on the particular institution or organization to which you're applying, and failing to include it in your letter of application, may give them the impression that they're receiving yet another stock "form letter" from some lost soul who's desperately looking for acceptance from anyone. A good strategy for organizing your letter of application might be to point out: (a) where you’ve @ (your past history or background experienceSAacademic, co—curricular &/or work experienceswwhich qualify you to apply), (b) where you are now (why, at the present point in time, you've elected to apply to them), and (c) where you intend to go (what you intend to do after graduation, why you intend to do it——why it is important to you, and why your experiences with them will contribute to your future personal and professional development). This past— present—future sequence may serve to demonstrate your ability to engage in meaningful self— rellection, self—insight, and goal—setting. When writing about yourself, try to identify specific. examples or illustrations of your positive 14 qualities and areas in which you’ve grown or improved in recent years. but also be sure to indicate personal areas in which you feel you still need to improve or develop. No human being is perfect; indeed, one indication of a healthy self—concept is the ability of the individual to recognize and acknowledge both personal strengths and personal weaknesses (areas in need of self—improvement). Some honest self—criticism indicates that your letter is sincere; if you don't acknowledge any need for improvement in any way, then you run the risk of writing a letter that may be interpreted as a "snow job" or a seifcougratulatory "ego—trip.") * When requesting a letter of recommendation from someone you want to serve as a personal reference, select people who know you well and who have observed you perform in different settings. Key performance settings would include: (a) the classroom (cg, a professor for an academic reference), (b) on campus (e. g., a student life professional for a co—curricular reference), and (c) off—campus (eg, a professional for whom you performed volunteer service or an internship). Also, be sure to make your requests well in advance ofthe lettcr's deadline date, provide the letter writer with a stamped, addressed envelope (a simple courtesy) along with a fact sheet about yourself, including your specific experiences and achievementsiboth inside and outside of classroom (cg, exceptionally high grades you may have received in a particular course or research project, co—curricular activities, special awards or recognition, work experiences or volunteer services, and special interests or talents that relate to your academic major and career choice). Don't be afraid of coming across as a braggart or egotist. The fact sheet is the place and time for you to "toot your Ovvn horn”—you're not being conceited; you're just identifying personal strengths for possible mention in your recommendation letter. Besides, by providing such a list of Specific accomplishments, you make thejob Ofthe letter writer much easier and you improve the quality of the letter written because it will contain specific, factual information about yourself? which represents much more powerful evidence in support of you than do glittering generalizations about your character or sweeping compliments about your personality. One final recommendation: if the reference-letter form allows you the option of waiving your right to see the letter, I woald recommend that you waive your right——~as long as you feel reasonably certain that you will be receiving a good letter of recommendation. By waiving your right to see the letter, you show the potential employer or college-admissions officer who receives the letter that you didn't "inspect" or "screen" it (cg, to see if the letter was a good one before sending it off); instead, you show confidence that you will receive a positive recommendation by waiving your right to review it. * Consider doing an interview "role play" and have yourself videotaped during this simulated interview. Such practice and immediate feedback may reduce your anxiety about being interviewed and improve your actual interview performance. 15 *“ When you interview for schools or positions, make a mental note and, later, a written m of the type of questions you've been asked. For instance, after the interview is over, mentally review it-—jotting down the questions you were asked while they're still fresh in your mind. Consider developing an index-card catalog of questions that you've been asked during interviewsiwith the question on one side and your prepared response on the reverse side. The more organized and prepared you are for interviews, the better will be the quality of your answers and the lower will be your level of anxiety. 7" Conclusion: One Final and Important Piece of Advice A primary reason cited by students for going to college is to gain the experience needed to eventually enter a career that will be both personally and professionally rewarding. Research on the relationship between the college experience and career success indicates that personal preparation and individual initiative are the key factors which enable students to translate the college experience into a successful career after graduation. One large study tracked college students after they had graduated to determine how successful they were in finding jobs. The results of this study indicated that career preparation while in college and personal initiative during the job—hunting process, were the two key characteristics displayed by those students who were most successful in getting outstanding career positions after graduation. These successful graduates were interviewed and asked what advice they would give to other college students. The results of these interviews, and the advice given by the successful graduates, are nicely summarized in the following statement issued by the director of a national college placement bureau: A big reason for their success, which shines through their answers and the advice they give, is initiative. They tell students to get involved in campus activities, but for substance, not for show; to take some career-related courses, to get internships and to have summer work experiences, and finally, to use initiative in investigating career possibilities and in looking for an actual job. Eight—six percent of them said their own personal initiative was crucial to their being hired for their first job (Source: Loren Pope, Looking Beyond the Ivy League, 1990, p.57). What this advice suggests, and what the research cited in this article indicates, is that success in college and in your professional life after college depends on m—ie, you make it happen by what you dp. The "college experience" does not happen to all students in the same way; instead, the individual student can actively shape or create the college experience in a way that maximizes personal and professional success. This article has attempted to provide you with some "hot tips" or "strategies for success." Now it's up to you to put these strategies into practice and begin to create your own college and career success. Good luck; enjoy the trip! 16 SNAPSHOT SUMMARYOF SUCCESS STRATEGIES: A CHECKLIST OF TARGETS & TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE & YOUR COLLEGE DEGREE LACADEAHCS: THE CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE 1! Good Grades (High GPA) 1 Hot Tips: U Get To Class: Treat it like ajolni f you “cut,” your pay (grade) will be cut. l} Get Involved in Class: Come prepared, take notes and participate. B Get into a Regular Schedulefor Out—of-Closs Work (cg, reading assignments and reviewing course notes are ‘°homework”——even if nothing is “turned in” to your instructor). ll Strategic Course Choices D Hot Tips: Get a “Well—Rounded” General Education: Liberal Arts & Sciences [‘ Get Experience with Diversity: Cross-Cultural (International) & Multicultural E Get Experience with Information Technology I: Get a Minor to Complement Your Major l. Use Electives Wisely (e. g, to “test” or confirm your interest in a major or a minor). 2. C0-CURRICUL Ur”; OUT—OF—CLASS EXPERIENCE ll Take Advantage of Out-of—Class Sup Qort Services: Library, Learning Center, COmputer Services, Advisement & Transfer Center: Counseling, etc. _\l Get Involved Q Campus: Campus Events, Clubs/Organizations, Leadership Development 1/ Get Involved fo Campus: Volunteerism (Service—Learning in the Community), and Internships (Work Experience Relating to Your Major). 3. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT Al Develop Communication Skills: Writing & Speaking Develop Interpersonal Skills: lluman Relations & Teamwork Develop a System of Personal Values: Ethics. [Ala 4. SELF—MARKETING: PACKAGING & PRESENTING YOUR SKILLS, STRENGTHS, AND ACHIEVEMENTS Develop a Resume (start it now by keeping an ongoing list of your accomplishments) Develop a Portfolio (start collecting your best work products)(e.g., writing, art work) Develop References (identify professionals who know m well & know your work Well). lzalzalé l7 ...
View Full Document

Page1 / 8

Hot%20Tips%20on%20How%20to%20Get%20the%20Most%20Out%20of%20Your%20College%20Experience%20and%20Colle

This preview shows document pages 1 - 8. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online