Break It Down and Create a Focus

Adult workers often talk about professional development or continuing education units and the associated costs, benefits or requirements for some professions.  However, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone reference high school students who prepare for college as undergoing professional development.  But that is exactly what it is!  There are costs associated and benefits to be had through professional preparation for college whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

On the academic side, PSAT/SAT/ACT prep courses are all a form of professional development.  Parents invest significant dollars in order for their son or daughter to increase their score potential.  The investment is not a guarantee, but it enhances the probability.  So it is important to plan wisely and get the biggest bang for your buck.  When I am asked by parents or students, “When do we start,”  I always say, “Middle school.”  When the shock wears off, we get down to business and begin to plan from where they are at that moment.  But here is a tip for getting the best outcome with the end in mind.

Create a calendar that targets test dates and work backward.  Identify the necessary enrollment date and get registered on time to avoid late fees or missed application dates for colleges.  Using these dates, work backward again and identify the necessary time frame to participate in a prep course or private tutoring so that you have time to take practice tests and target areas needing improvement. That’s how to get the biggest bang for the buck!  While this only targets test dates, ultimately, you have already marked your calendar with application dates and can pace yourself accordingly.  Break it down and create a focus.

The world of work has changed radically over the last 5 years and it is more important than ever that everyone look at ways in which they can enhance their own marketability.  In order to do that, adults, college students and high school students need to look at professional development with a new perspective.  How can you invest in yourself, your loved ones or your employees to enhance marketability or job performance?  Need help? Click here to contact me for more information regarding your own professional development.

Be Aware and Be Proactive with Your Social Media

With everyone either back to school or getting there immediately after Labor Day, this is a great time to remind all students, college and high school, YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE FOLLOWS YOU.  No. I am not shouting at you in text format, but I am making a point.  If you (or your friends) blog it, post it on Facetime, Twitter, Instagram, or any social network, you are vulnerable to future employers, mortgage officers and credit opportunities, college admissions, and the list goes on.  Be aware and be proactive.

How many hours a month do you spend on the Internet?  How much time are you using it for education, entertainment, work, purchasing services or products, or connecting with friends and family?  The average American spends 32 hours per month on the Internet.  A tidbit I learned on a webinar hosted by Juicy Results, a terrific web marketing company.   And as I thought about that number, I realized I spend that much time per week and more on the Internet!  If the nature of jobs and careers in the future is changing, then this is important information to know.

Do you have a social media presence?  What does it look like?  Universities and employers alike are using social media to “check out” their candidates.  Everything from your email address and voice message to your pictures and comments on the Internet are available for public scrutiny and feed into your public image or “social entity.”

Just as different people have different perspectives on issues, different generations view and address issues differently.  In regards to social media, there is a great article and some interesting data that specifically address the issues of school and job impact.  Click here to read the article and be sure to scroll down to table 2B and note the difference between Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers.  While an Echo Boomer may see nothing wrong with a particular message posted on a social media site, the individual responsible for your admission to college or hiring you may be a Baby Boomer and the posting is offensive.

Now ask yourself the question again and consider who may be on the other side of the computer monitor checking you out.  What does your “social entity” look like?  What do you need to do to create the kind of social image that characterizes you but doesn’t jeopardize future opportunities?  Contact me if you need assistance or want more information.

Unexpected Gems

Most everyone has walked through a grocery store or Bed, Bath and Beyond and seen the OXO display for kitchen gadgets.  They are great tools!  But recently, in an advertisement for their products, they posted words of wisdom from their interns for rising college seniors.  Pretty clever marketing!  They specialize in kitchen tools and shared some “out of the box” thinking on their part when it comes to tools.  Enjoy, and best of luck for a great year to all my college freshmen!

 Sage College Advice from our Interns 

 We polled these rising seniors in between meetings to share some of their best advice for easing into college:

  • Take advantage of every opportunity you are presented with.
  • Step out of your comfort zone to try new things and meet new people – you might be surprised with the results!
  • If you’re struggling with work, ask for help.
  • Always have disposable cups, plates, etc. for ordering in!
  • Bring an extra set of sheets for laundry day.
  • Set rules with your roommate on the first day – even though it will be awkward, establishing them early will avoid conflicts.
  • Try not to get too stressed. You’re entering four of the most exciting years of your life!


4 Considerations to Evaluate Summer Needs

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”  – Mark Twain

Whether you are a high school student or a college student, you are on a path that can provide enormous opportunity and create background experiences that set you up for success.  So, as part of the plan, begin by evaluating your needs.

As a student, there are 4 Needs to consider when planning your summer.  Keep in mind, your plan may include parallel paths to meet these Needs.

1 – Financial Need – Do you need to make money for spending cash or are you in need of making money to be able to make expenses when you return to school?  Do you need to make money to pay for college?  If “financial need” is a primary concern for your summer, then getting started on your pursuit of summer employment is an immediate need given the competition that will be out there.

2 – Experience Need – Experience presents itself in many forms.  It can be an internship, externship, or participation with an organization.  Internships may be with or without pay, but the big payoff is experience with a company that can build toward future employment with them or at least the benefit of learning what you do or don’t want to do in your future.  Participation with an organization may be in the form of an athletic team and building skills and stats toward college or professional opportunities.  Either way, the experience is your primary need.

3 – Volunteer Need – This one is of particular importance to high school students but should not be dismissed by the college student.  Volunteering speaks to your character.  Many high schools require community service as part of their graduation requirements.  Universities look at volunteerism as one element of consideration when admitting students.  Companies look at your community involvement as commitment, community outreach and opportunities to be seen as a positive extension of their own business.  Assess your schedule and your need to increase volunteer capacity.

4 – Education Need – Do you need to take summer courses?  Does your graduation date indicate that you are on track with completing your diploma or degree on-time?  Do you want to get ahead on your timeline?  Assessing your summer needs for education is important for maintaining an “on-time” graduation date.

Evaluate your needs and take action now!  Break it down and break away from the pack!


3 Actions for a Productive Outcome

Regardless of where you are in your life – high school, college or workforce – these 3 Actions can be put to the test for a Productive Outcome. It takes about 20 minutes, so ask yourself, “Do I have 20 minutes to put into creating the Outcome I want?” If so, get started:

1- Assess – Take five minutes to assess/write down where you are at this moment in time as well as what you want the outcome to be 4, 8 or 12 months from now.  It might be a grade point average, a performance level on the field, resume’ building or job search.

2 – Create – Take 10 minutes to create a timeline in which you realistically identify points of progress.  They may be grading periods, games or matches, or resume’ and interview intervals.  Points of progress help to steer you toward the Productive Outcome and maintain focus.

3 – Visualize – Take 5 minutes to visualize yourself achieving the Outcome you want.  Again, it doesn’t matter if the outcome is in the classroom, on the field, or in the board room, the important factor is to see you achieving that outcome.  It is important to play that visualization over and over in your mind and reduce the negative influences we all experience day-to-day.  Like the points of progress, visualizing keeps us focused with a positive energy.  Tim Kremer, MySpiritofGolf, works with professional golfers all over the country in helping them to maximize their talent through redefining how they see themselves and their efforts.  His work is extraordinary, grounded in brain research and transferable to most anything we do in our lives.  Take a look,

So, 20 minutes, 3 Actions, Productive Outcome.  Ready, set, get going!

A Big WOW!

This week is a Special Guest Post – Bud Bilanich has been recognized on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and countless other news programs and publications.  He has devoted his talents and passion to being a top life and career success coach with companies like Chase, Johnson&Johnson, Merck, PepsiCo and countless others benefiting from his work.  His message is valuable for high school students as well as those in college and already in the workforce.  I hope you will enjoy his work as much as I do:


I love Marla Brady’s College and Career blog.  She packs a ton of common sense advice into each post.  That’s why I was flattered when she asked if I would contribute a guest post.  I help young professionals – those who are just out of college get on the right track to life and career success.

Receiving your degree is a great accomplishment.  I remember how proud I was way back in 1972 when I became the first person in my family to graduate from college.  But as I began my career, I learned that there is a lot about life and career success that they don’t teach you in college.

I made a lot of mistakes as I went about creating my career success.  I’m hoping that I can help young people just beginning their careers to get the benefit of the knowledge I gained through experience with having to deal with the frustration and pain that sometimes come with gaining experience firsthand.  So I’ve written down some of the things I’ve learned about what it takes to succeed in your life and career. This is advice I wish I had when I graduated from Penn State in 1972.  I hope you find it helpful.

I’ve found that all successful people have five things in common.

  • Successful people are self-confident.
  • Successful people create positive personal impact.
  • Successful people are outstanding performers.
  • Successful people are dynamic communicators.
  • Successful people are interpersonally competent.

Self-confident people have at least three things in common:

  1. Self-confident people are optimistic.
  2. Self-confident people face their fears and take action.
  3. Self-confident people surround themselves with positive people.

People who create positive personal impact have at least three things in common:

  1. People who create positive personal impact develop and constantly promote their personal brand.
  2. People who create positive personal impact are impeccable in their presentation of self.
  3. People who create positive personal impact know and practice the basic rules of etiquette.

Outstanding performers have at least three things in common:

  1. Outstanding performers are technically competent.   They remain technically competent because they are lifelong learners.
  2. Outstanding performers set and achieve goals.
  3. Outstanding performers are organized.  They manage their time, stress and lifestyle well.

Dynamic communicators have at least three things in common:

  1. Dynamic communicators are excellent conversationalists.
  2. Dynamic communicators write in a clear, concise easily readable manner.
  3. Dynamic communicators are excellent presenters – to groups of two or 100.

Interpersonally competent people have at least three things in common:

  1. Interpersonally competent people are self aware.   They understand themselves and their impact on others.  They use their self awareness to increase their understanding of others.
  2. Interpersonally competent people build solid, long lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the people in their lives.
  3. Interpersonally competent people are able to resolve conflicts with a minimal amount of problems and upset to relationships.

When my niece graduated from Florida State several years ago, I wrote a little book called An Uncle’s Advice to His Niece on Her College Graduation.  Inside, you’ll find my thoughts on each of the success characteristics above and my best advice on how you can use them to build the life and career success you want and deserve.

You can download a free copy at  When you download the book, you’ll also get a bonus.  You’ll begin receiving daily life and career success quotes that have helped me on my life and career journey.

There’s a reason they call college graduation ceremonies “commencements.”  As you leave college you are commencing on a new and exciting phase of your life.  You are commencing on a career.  I hope that you find the career advice in An Uncle’s Advice…to be helpful.  You have my very best wishes for a lifetime of success.

Reading = Success

In early elementary school we learn to read.  Through middle and late elementary we refine the skills and begin to read to learn.  From that point forward, our acquisition of knowledge changes radically.  And today, when the trend of business and global infrastructure revolves around Information, how can we be successful without the ability to read and read well?

In the January 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Best Colleges, there is an article, “A To-Do List for Your College Search. “  The article is great as it addresses activities that need to be done each year of high school, but one that caught my eye was in the Freshman Year.  The recommendation was, “Read voraciously.”  It’s true.  The more you read, your reading will improve as will your vocabulary.  Thus, your success on tests improves and your class performance.

The Highlands Ability Battery is a wonderful assessment of natural abilities and provides lots of great information for career path.  The funny thing is, even the Highlands Company recognized in the early 1920’s that vocabulary is so important to future success that while it is not a natural ability, vocabulary can be increased through reading and can serve as a significant indicator and enhancement to your success.   While math and English, science and history are not part of the assessment, the developers of the Highlands Ability Battery included vocabulary because of its power and influence on our work lives.

In a world where many believe “Knowledge is Power” or that the global world of 24/7 breaking news and technological advancements are going to shape an entirely new work force, they are paying attention to the trend.  The question is, “Will you?”

If reading increases knowledge, and “Knowledge is Power”, then opportunities for success increase with reading.  So, read voraciously.  Read books, read magazines, trade journals, newspapers, the web or anything you find interesting.  Build your vocabulary; increase your performance and your career opportunities.  Reading = Success.

Want to know more about The Highlands Ability Battery, your college major or career direction?      Contact me.

Where Are You?

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day demands that we lose sight of where we are in the big picture.  For high school and college students that location can be critical.  So in an effort to re-focus and clearly identify where you are, let’s look at the resources so that there are no surprises.

As a high school student, you need to assess your grades.  On-line access through district portals makes that possible.  Do you use it?  Are there patterns in your grades like low tests, or quizzes, missing assignments?  This is a good time to evaluate where you are so that there is a good outcome for the semester.  After all, many of you are nearing midterm and you have time to correct problem areas.

College students, you are in a similar position.  You have on-line access to grades, you can see patterns of performance and you have time to address problem areas.  However, for you, there are some resources and practices that are different from high school.  If you need assistance, check your professor’s office hours and make an appointment.  It will help your status in class as they will see you as an individual who is interested and one who cares about their class performance.  You can also check out math or writing labs that provide student-to-student tutorial services free.  There are lots of services available, but you have to take action and take advantage of them.  Contact me if you need help navigating the system.

Know where you are so that there are no surprises.  For high school students, your transcript speaks volumes about your educational ability, your work ethic, and your attitude as a student.  So keep it on track!  College students, your status at a university, current or future scholarships and rank for a potential employer depend on your performance, keep it on track!

Where are you?

Finding Your Balance – A Good Fit

It doesn’t matter whether you are a high school student, a college student, or an adult … finding a “good fit” for college or work is a bit like finding your balance.  Robert Fulghum wrote about it in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  He said, “Live a balanced life – learn some, think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”  Wise and wonderful words!

As a high school student, it is important to be engaged in not just the grades of specific classes, but the activities and experience of high school.  In doing so, you build your value to colleges and universities through your experiences of participation, leadership and service.  All of which include opportunities to work, or play or dance or perform or demonstrate who you are as an individual.  It helps you to find your balance and understand where you fit in.  Likewise, as you search for colleges and universities you begin to develop an understanding of those things that are important to you in finding the “good fit” experience of higher education.

College students looking for that first job coming out of school, you begin to understand the kind of environment that you would find satisfying or the kind of people you want to spend the bulk of your day with as you go about creating a career.  Life begins to take on a new balance that is based on an evolving set of values, interests and abilities.  Do you know what yours are?

The culture of an institution like high schools, colleges and universities as well as the culture of a work environment all provide opportunities for you to find your balance.  But it does take some effort, it doesn’t happen by accident and you must pay attention.  Just like Mr. Fulghum said in his book, “Live a balanced life – learn some, think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”

3 Tips for College Admissions Using Basic Etiquette

Have you seen the daily postings of “Do you remember this” on Facebook with photos of old products or tools that were used 10, 20, 40 years ago?  They take many of us back to an earlier time and the things we did or used on a daily basis. But for young people, they may seem irrelevant.  Much like Ann Landers, Emily Post or Miss Manners, wrote about social etiquette for syndicated publications for years, the new age has brought new terms and concerns.  Etiquette has now expanded to “Netiquette,” and the proper uses of the net in business, and I would expand that to say, “Your College Search.”

While many of our forms of communication have changed over the last 20 years with the Internet and cell phones, some of the old manners of business are still the best method to secure a positive outcome whether you are looking for a new job or seeking college admission.  Here are 3 Tips to help you in that process:

1Get Connected – When you make contact with an individual in an admissions office; get their name, a direct number you can reach them by phone for future questions, and an email address.  These are the first steps in building a relationship.

2Be Authentic – Don’t waste their time and yours.  If the school really isn’t an institution in which you could see yourself attending, don’t waste their time and yours.  Identify other schools that are a closer match to the experience you are looking to build.  The questions you ask should not have answers readily found on the school website, so do your homework.

3Be Polite – Use your manners each time you speak with someone in the admissions office and thank them for their time.  However, be sure to send a thank you note following an interview.  While email is good, handwritten is even better!

Basic etiquette is simple but it is so important.  It sends a message about your character, your attention to detail and your value of other people’s time.  Their time is valuable, but so is yours.  Make every effort count.  Get connected, be authentic, and be polite.  Basic etiquette still works wonders!