How to Make College Students More Courageous

As educators, we know one of the best traits that can aid in success is confidence. Self-doubt can kill dreams and a lack of belief in oneself can deter anyone from achieving a goal and becoming successful. However, confidence is often something that we have or need at any given time. We need confidence, even for the smaller day to day routine things that we do. On the other hand, sometimes, we need courage to get through a situation. Courage is pushing through when things are tough or create fear. For example, it might take confidence to ace the final exam, but it takes courage to stick out a degree program when it puts finances in jeopardy, reduces work-life balance, and all your support systems are against you going for this goal.

As educators, we will see many students each year that need to build up their courage. They need our help and guidance on how to be courageous in a time of fearfulness or anxieties. Students face many life events along their four plus years with us, and to help them achieve their goal of earning a degree, we must also provide mentorship on how to be courageous.

Here are 3 ways you can guide students into being more courageous:

  1. Reduce Fears and Anxieties

If you want your students to be more courageous, remember that as a professor, your role is to teach, guide, model and inspire, not to show students how tough “the real world is.” Learning new content and balancing education with life is already hard enough, no need to instill fear on top of this. As an added bonus, as you minimize fears and anxieties, and students push through, they build confidence.

To minimize fears and anxieties in your students, there are several things you can do, here are some tips:

  • Set course expectations up front.
  • Link students to helpful resources.
  • Give them tips on what to do if they encounter technology problems.
  • Provide your contact information and answer emails/calls in less than 24 hours.
  • Give a little leeway in the event a student had a major life event occur during a specific week.
  • Humanize yourself. You can do this by sharing a little about who you are personally, doing videos in the courseroom, using humor, building rapport.
  • Don’t give negative feedback in the open forum. Use personal email or gradebook feedback.
  • Give feedback on assignments and discussion questions. This helps the student to know what they have done well with and where they can improve. No feedback leaves students in the dark as to what they can improve on and how.
  1. Encourage Students to Focus on What They Can Control

In a classroom setting, you are the authority. Students may feel intimidated at times or feel that they have limited power. Perhaps they don’t like the content, don’t understand it, or are having personal troubles while also trying to manage their education. As a professor, if you want to increase your student’s courage, help students to focus on what is in their control. This will help students persevere in the face of adversity or trials because they will realize they are not completely powerless.

Here are some tips you can share with students to help empower them to take control over their education:

  • Give students tips on avoiding procrastination
  • Share resources on balancing life and work
  • Give students tools on how to achieve better time management
  • Help students become intentional about their leaning. You can provide them with assessments that can help them better understand how they learn. (Check out the Learning Connections Inventory (LCI) through Let Me learn).
  • Share school/university resources.
  • Educate students on the importance of, and how to, build support systems and strong networks.
  • Teach students how to create SMART goals.
  • Encourage students to take an honest look at the people and activities in their lives. Then have them personally assess what/who might be best to cut versus keep in order to achieve those SMART goals.
  1. Teach Communication Skills

It takes courage to do something when you are scared or to press on in the event of pain and sadness. It is important to let students know that they are valuable and can use their voice to make a difference. By teaching students how to speak up, you empower them to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others- and that often takes a lot of courage. In today’s society, the next generation in line must be heard. They are facing extreme levels of violence and rage, but the power of speech can change that and create a positive movement. As a professor, you can also educate your students on how to speak up on less socially involved issues, but still critical aspects of a student’s life; for example, how to speak up for an advancement or say no to outside tasks that don’t fit their goals.

Here are some ways you can help students improve their communication:

  • Educate students on the importance of various communication styles (formal, informal, verbal, non verbal).
  • Provide tips on how to use social media- alongside pros and cons.
  • Provide guidance on how to listen and the value of patience.
  • Educate students on how certain words can be perceived as having self-doubt. (For example, watching how often a student leads with “I think” or “I feel” in negotiating or business).
  • Model being respectful and discuss the importance of having an open mind.
  • Provide feedback on how to be clear and concise, yet substantially answer a question.
  • Share resources, such as books, articles and videos on how to communicate with confidence.

By boosting students’ levels of courage, we are helping them to persevere through the trials and tribulations that life throw at them while they are taking a leap of faith into bettering their lives. As we boost courage, we also instill confidence. Courage and confidence are two key ingredients into helping our students reach their goals, obtain dreams and earn their degree. It is in these amazing students and their achievements that we are fortunate enough as professors to leave a bit of our legacy, behind.

17 Best Apps for College Applicants and College Students

Phones are not just for phone calls any more. They can be computers, maps, tour guides, game centers, cameras, search engines, and many more things. With the right apps, they can even become a tool for college.

We researched many of the education apps out there and chose the 17 most useful apps to the average college applicant and student. These 17 apps can help you with the college search, with college prep, with your college applications, with academics once you are in college, and with the college lifestyle in general.

Pretty useful, right?

While these 17 apps should not be your sole providers of information, they are certainly a convenient and fun way to take on a small part of the college admissions process.

So browse away, and happy downloading!

1. Peterson’s College Guide

  • What it does – allows you to search for information on thousands of institutions, including such statistics as selectivity, financial aid, and majors offered.
  • Best used for – quick research or browsing to get ideas about different schools. For extensive research, rely on information from the school’s admissions office and website. Also very handy for campus tours.
  • Favorite Feature – “Shake for a College Suggestion” feature. Simply shake your phone and explore the random colleges that come up.

2. College Confidential Mobile App

  • What it does – provides college admissions articles and allows participants to discuss various parts of the admissions process. You can participate in discussions on the go, check college application blogs, and interact with other users.
  • Best used for – Background research and gauging what other college applicants are talking about.
  • Favorite Feature – “Campus Vibe” section, which allows iPhone users to browse through hundreds of reports from students who have gone on college visits at a specific school.

3. futureU SAT

  • What it does – allows you to play SAT prep games on the go. Games are based on a Kaplan curriculum and accompanied by test taking tips.
  • Best used for – supplemental test prep.
  • Favorite feature – portable nature of app allows you to study anytime or anywhere, which is great for consistent test preparation.

4. SAT Vocab Challenge Vol. 1 by The Princeton Review

  • What it does – quizzes you on 250 vocabulary words often encountered on the SAT exam. You can test yourself on definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and positive and negative connotations.
  • Best used for – on the go vocab studying.
  • Favorite feature – some challenges are timed to simulate the actual SAT test-taking environment.

5. SAT Connect

  • What it does – provides on-the-go SAT studying with 800 test questions, 7 diagnostic tests, study guides, and vocabulary flashcards. Provides feedback on your scores and times and keeps track of your progress.
  • Best used for – diagnosing SAT problems areas for yourself and focusing on practice questions within those areas.
  • Favorite feature -gives you detailed explanations of the answers to any questions that you miss, which helps you to avoid making the same mistake twice.

6. Common App Mobile

  • What it does – allows you to fill out your applicant through your mobile phone but this not recommended.
  • Best used for – checking the status of your application and making sure that various stages of your application have been processed.
  • Favorite feature – the ability to check your application status on the go- you no longer have to hover nervously in front of a computer.

7. Dropbox

  • What it does – keeps documents in one easily accessible location, which is great for the variety of essays and other documents that you accumulate during the college application process. Allows you to sync files from various locations.
  • Best used for – storing essay drafts, recommendations, and resumes in a secure location.
  • Favorite feature – app uses an online storage mechanism, which means that your documents are safe from any ill-timed computer crashes.

8. iStudiez Pro

  • What it does – tracks homework and deadlines for all of your classes. You can also color code and label various extracurricular activities and place them alongside your class calendar.
  • Best used for – keeping track of the many obligations that come with being a college student. Having all of your schedule information in one place will make it easy to plan out your obligations and work schedule.
  • Favorite Feature – the “Today” view reflects all of your academic and extracurricular obligations for a particular day.

9. myHomework

  • What it does – provides a digital calendar for your homework assignments. You can sort your homework into different class lists or view it as a calendar.
  • Best used for – planning out your semester when you receive the syllabi for your classes. Knowing when all of your homework is due will help you to plan your workload and to avoid procrastination.
  • Favorite feature – you can set reminder alarms to give you fair warning about upcoming due dates.

10. Stanza

  • What it does – lets you download thousands of texts to your phone so that they are available to you in a more portable format. You can choose from a variety of free works or purchase other works from the app’s partner stores.
  • Best used for – smaller readings for your classes. For most classes it is best to own the actual book. However, for shorter readings, Stanza can save you from a very heavy backpack.
  • Favorite feature – you can transfer books from your e-reader or computer simply by dragging them over to the Stanza icon.

11. Mental Case

  • What it does – allows you to create flashcards using text, images or audio, or to download existing online flashcards. After you create the flashcards, you can quiz yourself directly from your phone.
  • Best used for – cuts down on the time you put into writing out flashcards and gives you more time to quiz yourself.
  • Favorite Feature – being able to make flashcards with high quality images is especially helpful for classes where you need to know diagrams and graphs.

12. Instapaper

  • What it does – saves webpages so that you can access them later, even when you do not have Internet access. Saves most webpages as text only files, making them easy to read even on your phone.
  • Best used for – bookmarking articles or pages that you need for class, or that you are just interested in. Being able to access these even without wireless coverage gives you more freedom to read and study wherever you like.
  • Favorite Feature – if you are looking for something new to read, you can check out what other friends are reading or choose from the Editor’s Pick list.

13. Evernote

  • What it does – allows you to make random text, audio, or visual notes about pretty much anything. You can record notes, ideas, or snapshots in a searchable database for easy access later on.
  • Best used for – remembering all of the random facts and ideas that you will absorb both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Favorite Feature – it converts text from any snapshot images into text that is readable and searchable on your phone.

14. Bump

  • What it does – allows you to exchange phone numbers and other contact information when you “bump” your phone with your friend’s.
  • Best used for – frenzy of introductions that you will encounter during your first weeks of college. You will meet so many people, and Bump provides an easy and fast way to get their contact information.
  • Favorite feature – it almost goes without saying that being able to exchange phone numbers simply by touching phones is pretty cool…

15. PocketMoney

  • What it does – keeps track of your finances with data from any checking, savings, or credit card accounts that you input.
  • Best used for – making sure that you do not overstep your financial boundaries in college. It is so easy to forget how much money is in your checking account, but this app makes that information readily available even when you are on the go.
  • Favorite Feature – charts and other analytics help you see where you are overspending and how to cut back

16. Wi-Fi Finder

  • What it does – shows you the various wi-fi hotspots in your geographic area and how to get there.
  • Best used for – finding places to study in your local community. The app is also helpful if you are studying abroad, where it can sometimes be difficult to simply stumble upon a wi-fi hotspot.
  • Favorite feature – clear directions to the nearest wi-fi location

17. Urbanspoon

  • What it does – helps you find nearby restaurants and view ratings and reviews for each establishment.
  • Best used for – finding a restaurant in your new college town. College is all about exploring new things, so challenge yourself to discover the unique local restaurants that your area has to offer.
  • Favorite feature – “Slot Machine” gives you a randomized restaurant choice when you shake your phone. It’s great for when you are feeling particularly spontaneous.

University-specific applications

Most universities offer smartphone apps featuring calendars, upcoming events, university news, and important logistical information, such as dining hall menus or bus schedules.

Once you have decided which school you might attend, you should check their website or iTunes for any available apps.

Tips To Choose Students For Direct Entry Into Schools Of Higher Education

This is a common situation that you have to face. Every year, you have to select from a large group of 16-year olds, a few who automatically qualify to join institutions of higher education even before the final examinations.

This poses a big dilemma when these students have almost identical academic results and extra-curricular activities.

Are there other ways of trying to separate these teenage students and choose the most suitable to enter into the respective educational faculties?

Here are some tips that you should seriously consider.

Philosophical Questions

Firstly, you can create some philosophical or ethical questions to slowly see their own personal stand and bias. The coming new workplace will have a big portion of robotics and automation. Thus it is crucial to see if your candidates are not merely book-smart but am also ready to face the new realities of life.

Video Resume

You can instruct them to make a minute presentation describing their strengths and why they fit a particular faculty. This one-minute presentation can follow the style of a video resume and should have clear dialogue and accurate subtitles to allow the assessor to get a first impression.

Referees

You can also contact the referees of these candidates and find out why they want to recommend these students to direct-entry into higher education. It is up to your own experience to discover if these referees merely associate themselves with these candidates just to give blind support but may not know have enough reasons for their support

Extra-curricular Activities

You may have to create an internal system of grading your potential candidates in terms of the results of their chosen extra-curricular activities. For example, a higher grading can be assigned if the candidates have proven leadership responsibilities.

Open-ended Questions

You can give all final-round candidates some open-ended questions and ask them to provide their best replies and analysis to the given case studies. Do ensure that you allocate sufficient time for these activities.

Future Thoughts

Pose a question about where their chosen industries will be headed to in the next few years. This is crucial because you do not want a chosen candidate to switch faculties on a whim. Normally, a good candidate will make an effort to read more about the new chosen path.

Lego

The truth of the matter is this. Lego blocks are very good for any candidate to highlight what is in his mind. The Lego pieces are of different colours and sizes and are only constrained by the deep recesses of the candidate’s imagination.

Team building exercise and observation

You can also follow-up by allowing each final candidate to join a team of senior students who are already in the higher educational institutions. Break them into different groups and give them group projects to do. Remember to delegate the group presentation to be done by each candidate and then allow the other group members to evaluate them. This is very crucial because their peers are very good judges of competency and maturity.

Best of luck for your search.

Tips for Online Students: How to Ask a Question

Getting Started

When you are new to online learning there can be a lot to learn, and fast! As an online student you will be taking on some additional responsibilities for your time and your academic work. One of your greatest resources is your instructor. Asking for help or communicating with an instructor can be very intimidating, especially for a new student.

Before You Email

Many times instructors will post important information in the course announcements, the syllabus, or perhaps send out a welcome email at the start of class. Chances are that many of your questions will already be answered there. Be sure to spend some time reviewing your class and the materials right away. You will feel much more at ease with your environment.

How to Ask a Question

Instructors love to help students. We are here to help you succeed! In order to help us help you, we need you to be as specific as possible. If you simply say “I need help” or “I don’t understand” it doesn’t give us much to work with. Begin your email by stating the assignment, unit, or reading that you are working with. Then follow up with the question. Tell your instructor what you don’t understand or what outcome you are looking for.

A Poor Email:

Professor Smith,

I am so confused and I don’t understand what I am supposed to do! Help me!

Student Jones

Unless Professor Smith is a mind reader, chances are he or she doesn’t know either! What are you working on? Where are you in the classroom? What is the obstacle holding you back? In this scenario, your instructor will have to ask you follow up questions for more information, which will only delay you getting the help you need.

A better way to approach the issue:

Professor Smith,

I am having trouble with the Unit 4 discussion. Are the instructions asking for two responses to classmates, or three?

Student Jones

This is very clear and concise. Professor Smith will know how exactly how to respond, meaning you will get a clear answer right away.

Following Up

Most faculty members are quite diligent in responding to student emails right away. However, there are a myriad of reasons you may not get the speedy response you hoped for. The very first thing to do is review your syllabus, the course announcements, and if applicable your instructor’s biography. Look for information on contacting the instructor. Did you use their preferred means of communication? (Note, increasingly the preferred means of communication will be a messaging tool in the classroom and not email.) Is there a stated expectation of how long you should wait before a response?

If there is no expectation outlined in the course materials, wait 48 hours and then you may follow up with your instructor for a response. What you want to avoid here is multiple emails a day, or sending emails hours later asking if your instructor received your message. This is inefficient for both students and instructors.

Instructors as Resources

Remember, your instructor is key to your success. You never have to feel timid or apologize for asking questions. It is our role to support you and help you navigate the course successfully. We want to help you! Asking questions is a great way to enrich your learning experience.

Helpful Tips and Advice for Students

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been at university for a while or if you’re just beginning your time as a student, advice will be coming at you from all sides on what you should be doing to succeed during your further education career. A lot of it will come from people who have been in your position before but fail to remember that everyone is different – so if you hear something that doesn’t ring true for you, it’s fine to trust your instinct and shrug it off. However, there are a few basic tips that most students would do well to take note of that will definitely see you through some tricky times.

Speaking to people and asking questions

The first thing is pretty much applicable to life in general as well as university: never, ever be afraid to ask questions. This doesn’t just mean during your lectures; you would hope that your tutors are happy to provide answers to your queries, so remember that this also applies to your life outside the lecture theatres or study room. If you have issues that are affecting you, anything from your emotional welfare to feeling that you’re swamped with too much work, there are always people there who can help you out.

Getting out there and talking to people you don’t know can be a difficult prospect for many, but at least university makes it easier for you to do so. With so many societies and clubs available, social functions aplenty and your brand new course mates (all of whom will be in the same boat as you) all you need to do is throw yourself into the mix. Locking yourself in your student accommodation and hiding away from the world means that everyone else is missing out on what you can bring to the group, so get out there. In fact, you can even use your accommodation as that first stepping stone – start chatting to people in your halls or shared house and see if they fancy a quick beer or a bite to eat.

An organised student is a healthy student

Organisation is the key to being a successful student, so make sure that you’re prepared to juggle different elements of your life. You may feel that you never have enough time to do everything you want, so prioritisation is vital; set time aside to cover your academic duties as well as your burgeoning social life – and don’t neglect old friends from home or your family either! Also be aware of your budget; money is always tight as a student, but it’s perfectly possible to live well on a small amount each week.

This also links to another important bit of advice: do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. The occasional takeaway is grand, sure, but don’t become reliant on McDonalds or the Chinese across the road. Do what you can to eat healthy food regularly and you’ll be well on the way to taking proper care of yourself. Keeping an eye on the little things will help so much in guaranteeing your physical and mental health, so do whatever you can every day.

Success as a student means different things to different people – for some it’s getting a 1st, for others it’s about flying the nest and learning to be independent. Just remember that you can always ask friends, family, lecturers, student support services, or even older students who have already learnt the hard way for advice.

College Students and Stress – Stress Management Tips for College Kids

Stress is one of those ever-present concepts among college students, a feeling of unease and discomfort that many students accept as a given and don’t even try to manage or eliminate. Most of the stress college students feel does nothing to improve the quality, quantity or timeliness of their work and as such is nothing more than a drain which makes their already difficult jobs all the more impossible. Read on and learn a good primer for getting started managing the stress in your life.

Is All Stress Bad?

The first thing you need to understand is the fact not all stress is bad for you. We tend to think of stress as a unidirectional thing, as a concept with no possible positive connotations or effects and this just isn’t the case. The truth is there are two different forms of stress out there. While you certainly want to avoid and minimize one of these types of stress it’s a good idea to maximize the other. The two types of stress are:

1. Distress. This is the kind of stress you want to avoid. This is the stress that comes from damaging mental and environmental states and which drains your time and energy and causes you to feel bad about yourself, your work and your life in general. This is the form of stress most college students are accustomed to and it can be caused by everything from negative friends and relationships, overloads of unnecessary work, malicious professors, unsupportive family members or constant work performed which is neither important nor meaningful (to name a few). This form of stress needs to be avoided, minimized and hopefully eliminated from your life at all costs.

2. Eustress. This is a form of stress that is talked about so rarely that few college students are even aware it exists. Eustress is the kind of stress which propels you to work hard on projects and assignments you consider to be important and worthwhile. Eustress doesn’t drain energy, it energizes you and makes you feel better about yourself and your life. Projects which cause eustress may be tiring because they require a lot of work but they never feel draining in the same way as stressful projects. Positive people (friends, family, faculty) and large, ambitious projects which are meaningful to you are common sources of Eustress.

What Stress Management is Really About

Now that you better understand exactly what stress is all about and the fact there are two different forms of stress out there the whole idea of stress management should take on a whole new light. The point of stress management is two fold

1. To eliminate Distress from your life.

2. To maximize Eustress in your life.

Why Most Stress Management Doesn’t Work

The reason most stress management systems or techniques is simple- they simply aim at eliminating distress without attempting to maximize eustress. Eliminating distress is good, it’s great, it’s necessary even. But if you remove distress from your life you’re just going to create a vacuum in your life which you will unconsciously fill with either the same distress you previously pushed aside or from some other negative source of pressure. By actively working to produce eustress, by clearly defining what you’re going to focus on after you get rid of the distress in your life you won’t have to worry about defaulting to negative feelings and drained energy when you find yourself with some free time.

Eliminating distress from your life by cutting out the problem at its source while simultaneously increasing eustress in your life by maximizing its sources isn’t something we’re taught in school so it might take a little practice. Thankfully all you need to do is sit down and write down what and who make you feel distress and then write down what and who makes you feel excited.

When you have your list it’s a simple matter of cutting the one list from your life while focusing on the other. It’s a little easier to say than to actually do, it may be simple but it’s not easy, but above all it is necessary work and the only effective form of stress management out there.