5 Key Steps to Help You Capitalize on Your Opportunity

Do you click on those internet articles that begin with “10 Things You…” or “The Top 10 Places….”?  I find myself intrigued at times and just have to go for it.  But the truth be told, sometimes all we want is something short and to the point.  So my message this time is for Students…both high school and college.  If you anticipate needing a job or internship for next summer, now is the time to begin making a plan to make connections and get on the radar while you are on Winter Break.  So, here are the 5 Key Steps to Help You Capitalize on Your Opportunity:

  1. Identify where you will or want to be during the summer.  As a high school student that is probably at home, but for college students you may identify a different location.
  2. Identify your area of interest for work experience or an internship in your intended field.
  3. Identify who you know personally in that industry or find out who the industry players are that you don’t know yet.  Key word, yet!
  4. Create your Contact List including name, name of business, email address, phone, physical location and be sure to leave space to make notes of your contact with them and future opportunities.
  5. Identify your available dates and times and take action to set up appointments with those individuals or businesses as soon as your Break begins.

Capitalize on your opportunity to secure a summer job or internship by creating a plan using these 5 Key Steps.  Even if a business isn’t hiring yet it is never too early to develop a relationship with the hiring agent.  That way, you get ahead of the competition, create a relationship with someone who may provide that great opportunity, and you still have plenty of time to enjoy that Winter Break!  Organization using 5 Key Steps = SUCCESS!

Student “To Do” List

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day demands that we lose sight of the 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.

As a high school student with college on the horizon, 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.  Time management has a direct impact on your grades and a vast majority of college students face dropping out because of poor time management that manifests itself in low grades or even probation and loss of scholarships.

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.  Assess your situation and make a “To Do” list to ensure action and accomplishment.

Summer – Jobs – Opportunity

Whether your summer begins May 10th , June 7th or June 21st, the landslide of summer workers/participants will hit in full force.  You need to be prepared to submit applications and do interviews before everyone else.  So work backwards.  Identify your target date for starting work and work backward with your plan.  You will need time for interviews, phone calls, application completion, Internet or local searches and networking.  That means you start now mapping a summer plan.

There are some terrific web tools for identifying summer employers as well as tips for effective interviews.  Here are just a few:

www.quintcareers.com                Great for searching College Internship Opportunities

www.getthatgig.com                     Opportunities for students 16-21 years

www.teenjobsection.com          Interactive map of opportunities across the country

www.snagajob.com                       Getting and making the most of your job

The important thing about starting now is you begin looking at the opportunities.  And opportunities do not apply only to work.  Opportunities may refer to athletic team participation, experiences or internships.  What would you like to do?  Are there jobs/opportunities you are particularly interested in doing and things you just would not consider?  What transportation barriers exist or what options are available if a good opportunity presents itself?  How many hours a day will you be available to work/play/volunteer?  Is summer class part of the equation when figuring schedules for work?  Different employers will embrace your availability as a summer worker and as a student working to get ahead.  Others may find value in your performance and embrace the opportunity that you may be available for the next few seasons.  The here and now impacts tomorrow!

By starting your search now, you have some time to explore options and activate a network.  Just like business people network to expand and strengthen their own client base, students can network to find great summer opportunities through parents, relatives and family friends.  Now is the time to get started!

Finding the Balance

 

As a child or even teen, our parents help us define the balance in our lives.  But once we head off to school or out into the world of work, that balance becomes our responsibility. 

 

Once upon a time our balance was structured around our need to eat, sleep and get our daily dose of exercise, but……notice that word came up again, life got a little more demanding and the balance included homework.  On we went into the world of high school, college and eventually work.  At every step along the way, life brought new opportunities, more challenges and greater need for balance.  But, those increased responsibilities, opportunities and challenges undermined our attempts at balance and in some cases, they may even remove balance from our radar.

 

What are the “buts” impeding your balance?  After all, having balance in our lives helps influence our sense of satisfaction and success.  For some, balance includes a calm and blissful state brought on by organization and rhythm in life.  For others it is a constant stream of thoughts, actions and involvements that keep one in motion.  What is balance for you?  What is getting in the way?  What “but” can you address in your daily routine and use to assist in finding your balance?

 

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.

Time Management – Putting You Ahead of the Game

Time management is one of the most critical issues facing college students, so you can’t wait to get there to get it under control.  It is also an imperative for being an effective employee.  If time management is a challenge for you, get a planner/day timer and start using it.  Begin with the end in mind!

College students who are seniors and facing graduation and the workforce in the next 2-3 months, you should be in “full pursuit” of that 1st full time job.  Attending college job fairs on campus or in your local area are good options and are all well underway.  Don’t forget those career-finder websites, but remember that if you use a headhunter service, ask about the fees!

College juniors, you may not be ready to secure that first post-graduation job, but attending job fairs is quite beneficial from the experience perspective.  Get out there and see who is hiring, who might have internships for senior year, and the projections for hiring next year.  Get business cards from those whom you are interested in maintaining contact.  It’s a great way to build a relationship!

High school juniors, do you need to register for the SAT or ACT?  The opportunities are diminishing for this year, so manage your time effectively.  Seniors, many of you are in wait mode and anxious for acceptance letters.  But that doesn’t mean you are on cruise control.  Grades need to stay strong, and if you are undecided about those colleges, be sure to do your homework evaluating the programs at each and making note of potential scholarships once accepted.  Need to connect your natural abilities to a major area of study?  Contact me.

Managing your time can put you ahead of the game, not just in the game.  The competition is steep out there, so begin with the end in mind!  Eye on the prize!

College Search

This is a really critical time for juniors and seniors in high school who are college bound.  Juniors need to be actively engaged in a plan and a process of managing timelines of tests and prep programs, exploring options and building their “Full Student Package.”  Seniors, you are applying to colleges and universities.  So, for all of you, I encourage you to visit the CollegeWeekLive website and explore colleges and universities that are part of the site.  As a site member, they provide great tools for students and parents as well as virtual tours, live chats and tons of information.  It’s free so sign up today!

http://www.collegeweeklive.com/index.cfm?

The clock ticks and calendar waits for no one.  Don’t miss an opportunity!  Capitalize on your options.  Need help understanding options and clarifying 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?

3 Considerations When Choosing an SAT or ACT Prep Program

Paying for college really starts in high school.  All those extra coaches, fees for lessons and expenses for tests are just the beginning of what is yet to come.  So how can you manage those expenses so you get the “biggest bang” for your buck?  One way is to choose a test prep program that meets your specific needs and allows your dollars to target that purpose.  After all, depending on where you live, prep programs can range from $30 an hour for standard tutoring all the way to $8400 for an annual package with some big name companies.  Each has their own benefits and drawbacks.

There are basically three different ways to engage in a test prep program.  The first is one-on-one tutoring specific to SAT or ACT, the second is a group delivery model and the third is an on-line tutorial which may be individual or group but involves a live video feed.  In order to choose one, you need to consider these factors:

1 – Timeline for Preparing – In an earlier blog I wrote about creating a timeline for working from the endpoint backwards.  That way you don’t miss deadlines for test registrations or college applications.  But as you select a test prep program, be sure you get the specifics about when classes occur, what happens if you miss a session due to illness or other school related obligations, and how does the instructor address your specific needs.  Will their schedule fit with yours?

2 – Cost vs. Benefit – What is the overall cost for a program and does it include a practice test?  How are practice test results used to structure the prep program or is it a generalized plan?  While there are no guarantees on any plan, you want to invest your time and energy in better understanding your own performance and getting the best possible score as an outcome.

3 – Consider Your Learning Style – Do you learn better through visual, auditory or kinesthetic modes?  How can you capitalize on other learning modes if your number memory is low?  The Highlands Ability Battery helps answer these questions and can assist in making an effective decision for selecting a test prep program, but how do the three delivery models address these modes of learning?

Choosing a test prep program may include conversations with student peers or parent booster groups when attending school functions, but when it comes time to select the one for you, be sure to consider these three factors.  If you need more information on the Highlands Ability Battery, contact me.  If you need more information about the programs in your home area, contact me.  Choose wisely, get the best result possible, and the “biggest bang” for your buck.

If you’ve had a good SAT or ACT prep experience, please comment here to share that with other parents and students.

Preparation as a Determining Factor in the Duration of Your Degree

When we set out to buy a car, we do our homework.  We check websites for best deals and dealers, price special features, and determine in our mind what our budget will be and the kind of vehicle we can afford.  Part of the equation may even be determining how long we intend to keep and use the vehicle, how serviceable it will be, and how much satisfaction we will get out of using it.

Actually, college is a similar investment.  We do our homework, compare schools, tuitions and, unfortunately, while we may think we budget enough for college, changing your mind on a major can completely change the financial picture.  The national average indicates that students in college change majors 3-5 times.  And although a bachelors’ degree typically only requires 4 years of college, the national average for students’ indicates they require 5.8 years.  Changing majors changes the duration of your degree and has huge financial impact.

Preparing ahead of time can make all the difference in the world from your performance in college classes to the amount of money invested in attaining a 4 year degree and even to the level of satisfaction with the chosen field of study and eventual career.  Preparations can begin as early as middle school and most of them take almost no time to invest beyond what you already do.  But you do have to be organized and have a plan.  Obviously the closer you get to junior and senior year in high school the more you need to be doing and the amount of money you invest becomes more demanding.  After all, tests, college visits and many activities include costs.

Good preparation can save time and money both in high school and in college.  So when you think about getting that college degree, have you thought about how much you are willing to invest in upfront costs of time, effort and money to save thousands on the back end?