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10 Ways Students Can Survive College

10 Ways Students Can Survive College

As a current Troy University graduate student, I can confidently say that my undergrad years were some of the most exciting, but frightening, years of my life. From 2010 until 2014, I was a student at the University of Alabama. During my college journey I have made wonderful lifelong friends, learned so much about who I truly am, and I received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication and Information Sciences at the end of it. Along this wonderful journey, I have made plenty of mistakes and had to learn hard life lessons. I am not going to lie to you all – college can be a bumpy ride (but it doesn’t have to be). Check out these 10 tips on how to make your college experience one of your best life experiences:

1. Successfully take notes for a difficult class

I am sure you all have heard this saying before: in order to pass a class, you must take good notes. When you arrive at your college class, ditch some of your High School note-taking techniques. Write your notes legibility and in ways that YOU can comprehend. Sometimes, writing a simple diagram in your notes can help you study for that mid-term later on. Write down key points and a few details from your professors’ lecture and ALWAYS write down whatever they present on the board. Trust me, it will be on the next test (unless they say otherwise). Do not write down EVERYTHING your professors says. The point to taking good notes it to locate the main point of a lecture and some vital details. Don’t know how to successfully take notes? Go to your nearest writing lab and let them help you. If you are having trouble passing a difficult course, ask you professor for help as soon as you hit a snafu. Also, locate the nearest tutoring lab. Talk with some of your classmates and form a study group.

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2. Treat your roommate with dignity and respect

When you get to college, you will have a roommate. It is not easy to share a room with a stranger! Here is some really solid advice for you guys: do unto others as you will have them do unto you. Remember that golden rule and treat it as a rule of thumb when you go off to college. Treat this new person with respect and dignity. If you can, start a conversation with them and get to know them. After all, you guys will be sharing living space. I remember when this new chick moved into my college suite with me and my other roommates. Once I got to know her, this girl became one of my best roommates and she was a sweet friend. If you get to the point where you CANNOT get along with your roommate; see your Residential Advisor and request to move (if possible).

3. Take the initiative to meet new people

I get it; it is super scary to be thrown into this world of higher academia and be expected to be sociable and get excellent grades. But understand this-no man is an island unto himself. One way to meet people is to get involved in student-led organizations that interests you. Get involved and begin to make meaningful connections. You know that girl that you sit next to in class? Start up a small conversation. You remember that guy that bid you ‘good morning’ that lives right next door to you? Speak to him. It is going to take time but the more you put yourself out there, the more people will gravitate towards you. Start slow and at your own pace. If you make one or two friends during your college experience, you are golden.

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4. Keep in contact with your loved ones

Believe me when I say that is so easy to get caught up in ‘the college life’ that you forget to call your dear old mom and dad. Make time to reach out to your family and friends back home. Give your old man a call out of the blue. Facebook your mom and tell her that you love her. Tell that old friend from High School that you miss them. It is important to remember keep in contact with love ones. It is important to remember where you are from-or-it’s keen to remember where your roots grow… so to speak. Keeping in contact with family and friends gives you an unbelievable boost of confidence and strength to deal with the next go ‘round of ‘the college life’.

5. Save money on books

Books for your college classes will cost you a few locks of your hair and some internal organs. No, I am joking with you all. College is expensive enough without your respective university charging $400 for a book your will only use TWICE in your COM 100 class. Let me give you a few websites that will help ease the pain of buying books: chegg.com, amazon.com, ebay .com, and half.ebay.com. If you can, rent the books you need. Buy used books. Buy your books from other students that no longer need them (look up Facebook groups dedicated to this as well). Go out there and save money.

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6. Seek out job and internship opportunities

You want to know how to score a job and an awesome internship while in college? Ask. Ask your Residential Advisor, ask your professors, ask your classmates, ask you academic advisor, ask the Dean of Students… in fact, ask everyone you come across. Someone is bound to have the answers you seek. In fact, your specific college likely has several websites dedicated to finding employment and internships. You can’t find that awesome internship you wanted? Volunteer. Volunteer in your department of study. Volunteer as your favorite professor’s teaching assistant. It will pay off.

7. Ask important questions

Listen to me and listen to me good–there is nothing wrong with asking questions. Don’t let anyone make you feel terrible for wanting to get an understanding of something. If it is important for you to know, then have the confidence to ask all the questions you need to. My mother taught me that it is better to get an understanding than to speculate. Do you know that scripture “you have not because you ask not?” Let this be your motto for surviving your college years. If you are having a meeting with your professors, academic advisors or interviewer, try writing your questions down before you get there. Get their contact info so you can ask questions later. Your voice and concerns matter, so ask questions and get the answers you need.

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8. Become comfortable with yourself

You are going to notice that you will start to change more and more while at college. Embrace it. Change for the better, but do not lose who you are to fit into specific group. Make good, long-lasting, healthy changes as well. As long as these changes will bring positivity and add to your life (and not subtract from it), it’s all breezy. Get comfortable with who you are because ‘you’ are going to be with ‘you’ for the rest of your days-so you might as well learn to love yourself now.

9. Avoid making bad decisions

Media and society will make you think that booze, drugs and random hook-ups make your college life worth-while. I am here to tell you that society just told you a big, bald-faced lie. I know for a FACT that it is so easy to yield to ANY kind of temptation in college. But it’s earlier to get involved a life style that you can’t handle. Let me tell you a quick story. One year I lived with a bunch of girls who could PARTY. One night their extremely inebriated friend was screaming about how she may have been sexually assaulted AND how her friends found her sitting on an ant hill. That was not a pretty sight to see at 4:30 a.m. This young woman got caught up in something she wasn’t able to handle (I later found out she was OK and healed from her ant bites). But let me give you some friendly advice: if you wake up the ‘beast’ (whatever lifestyle consumes you); you are going to have to feed him(continue to live that lifestyle because you’re hooked). Avoid anything and anyone that threatens to deter your college career. Think about this; if you didn’t do ‘that’ before you got to college, chances are you don’t need to do ‘that’ while you’re in college.

10. Find an uplifting ministry

I would have been even more lost than I already was if I did not find the right church and college ministry. It took a couple hit-or-misses, but I found the right ones! Just as I had to study in order to succeed in my educational life, I had to do the same for my spiritual life. Whatever college you choose to attend (or currently attending) will have college ministries already in place. Begin to ask around and see which ones you like. You need something to keep you afloat in the vast seas that is higher academia.

Featured photo credit: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga via offcampushousing.utc.edu

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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