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11 Best Colleges In America You Need To Know

11 Best Colleges In America You Need To Know

There are thousands of colleges in the United States. Each one has something different to offer prospective students, and each has successful graduates who speak with pride about their alma mater. However, there are a few schools that stand out because they provide an educational experience that is tailored to the needs of students who are seeking more than just a standard 4-year degree. Each college in this list stands out because it has something unique and original to offer.

Webster University: to Earn Your Degree While Studying Abroad

Webster Sign 1915

    The flagship campus of Webster University is located just outside of St. Louis, but the college has campuses on four continents. This makes it an ideal choice for students who want the experience of studying abroad while maintaining a continuity in their education. The Global Citizenship Program prepares undergraduates to work, compete, and contribute on the global stage.

    Bard College at Simons Rock: To Get a Jump Start on Your Dreams

    Bard College

      Every year, there are so many bright students who either drop out of high school, or who simply coast until graduation. Bard College at Simons Rock gives these students an alternative. The average incoming freshman is a young 16.5 years of age. Keep in mind though, that not every high school student can bypass their last two years of high school and head into this school. The students (also known as rockers) at Bard College must demonstrate a track record of being curious learners with serious academic goals. Once they do make the cut, there is no babying involved. Students are treated as capable adults who have something valuable to contribute.

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      Reed College: to Join an Alumni Class of Excellence

      Reed College

        Reed college is one of the most intellectually rigorous liberal arts colleges in America. Reed was the first college in the United States to add fine arts requirements to its liberal arts programs. Reed college alumni have gone on to win major international awards. It also has an impressive list of other accomplished graduates including:

        • Pulitzer Prize Winner Gary Snyder
        • Author Janet Fitch
        • Wikipedia Co-founder – Larry Sanger
        • Television Chef – Steven Raichlen
        • Apple Co-founder – Steve Jobs

        Bennington College: To Design Your Own Future

        Bennington College

          The founders of Bennington College believe that students are responsible for their own education. Because of this, the curriculum at Bennington is self directed. Each student works with an adviser to plan their education, and then evaluates their own progress and receives feedback from instructors on their achievements as well.

          Blackburn College: To Learn and be Debt Free

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            Every student at Blackburn College participates in a work program that allows them to gain work experience, and help offset the cost of their education. Not only is this work program nationally recognized, it is entirely run and staffed by Blackburn students. This is a great school for anybody who wants to reduce or limit their student debt. Students hold jobs on campus, at local businesses, with local law enforcement, and at nearby schools.

            Cornell College: To Tackle Higher Education One Class at a Time

            Cornell College

              Imagine attending college and being able to focus on one course at a time. Students who attend Cornell college are able to do just that. Because they are able to focus on one discipline at a time, students gain a much deeper understanding of the subject matter. Just 18 days after a student starts a class, they are finished and have earned their credits. In addition to this, all students adhere to the same time schedule. This gives each student plenty of time to spend with their peers and to participate in on and off campus activities.

              Earlham College: To Learn and Become a Better Person Through Quaker Values

              Earlham College

                Quakers believe in pacifism, activism, service, and that the pursuit of truth is a virtue. One of their mottos is that all truth is God’s truth. If you are interested in a global education that focuses on strong personal morality, peace, and equality, Earlham University might be the perfect choice. Students who graduate from Earlham are very active in the social justice movement, politics, and charitable works.

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                Green Mountain College: To Earn a Degree and Save the Planet

                Green Mountain College

                  Most colleges and universities have begun incorporating an earth friendly philosophy in their policies and classes over the last few years. Green Mountain College has been doing this for decades. In fact, the Princeton Review has voted this college the greenest in the nation. Students who attend this college, located in beautiful rural Vermont, can choose from a variety of majors. However, they will also be required to complete 37 hours of Environmental Liberal Arts coursework.

                  American University: To Become a Great Modern Day Journalist

                  American University

                    American University has become the school of choice for students who are interested in modern journalism. Students who attend the school of communication who wish to become journalists will learn about interactive journalism, take classes in social media, and attend workshops in investigative reporting. This excellent school combines the longstanding rules of ethical journalism while also embracing new technology and new communication media.

                    University of Washington: To Become a Great Healer

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                    University of Washington

                      Students who make the grade for admission into medical school have accomplished something that most of us never dream of. Students who get into the University of Washington’s School of Medicine have accomplished something even more amazing. They have been accepted into the nation’s top medical school program, and will have the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the brightest minds in the medical field.

                      Vanderbilt University: To Learn to Teach

                      Vanderbilt University

                        Students who long to teach future generations should take a look at this prestigious school in Nashville, TN. It is nationally recognized as one of the top schools for teachers. Students attending Vanderbilt to become teachers, school counselors, school administrators or educational policy makers attend the school’s Peabody college where they will work hand in hand with nationally renowned instructors.

                        Of course, you can skip going to college, but only if you are talented enough to master the skill of self-learning and can succeed in life without any assistance.

                        Featured photo credit: Dave Meier via picography.co

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                        Last Updated on March 15, 2019

                        How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                        How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                        When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

                        Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

                        In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

                        What Makes a Leader Fail?

                        A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

                        If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

                        And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

                        What Is Effective Leadership?

                        Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

                        Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

                        Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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                        “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

                        How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

                        To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

                        1. Courage

                        The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

                        “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

                        Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

                        For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

                        In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

                        It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

                        Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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                        2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

                        If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

                        The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

                        To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

                        3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

                        Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

                        Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

                        4. Likability

                        Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

                        When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

                        Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

                        So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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                        5. Vulnerability

                        Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

                        When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

                        6. Authenticity

                        Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

                        Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

                        7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

                        Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

                        Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

                        Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

                        Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

                        As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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                        “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

                        8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

                        Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

                        This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

                        9. A Passion for Continual Learning

                        Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

                        These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

                        Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

                        The Bottom Line

                        No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

                        Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

                        More Resources About Effective Leadership

                        Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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