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How Millennials Are Doing College Wrong

How Millennials Are Doing College Wrong
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Many millennials are doing one thing wrong when it comes to college. Can you guess what it is?

Sleeping through class and not doing homework? Taking out way too many loans and knowing nothing about them? If you guessed the latter, then you’re right! Millennials are taking out more in student debt than they can handle. And when it comes to repayment, they are clueless. According to a survey by Citizens Bank, 45% of those surveyed didn’t know what percentage of their salary went towards loans and a shocking 15% didn’t even know how much they owed in student loans.

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In the past decade, the number of students in debt hasn’t gone up much (about 5%), but the amount of debt they are in has doubled. This is in part to ill preparation before and a lack of knowledge of the funding that goes into paying for college. Most recent graduates regret taking out as much as they did and some say they wouldn’t have ever gone to college if they would have known how expensive it really would be.

Student Debt

Student debt is also adding up for this younger generation because parents are relying on PLUS loans to pay for the remainder of college expenses. Students can only take out $31,000 for their entire undergraduate education, but parents can take out as much as they want, even if they know they won’t ever be able to pay this off. Their children then feel like it is their responsibility to pay it off, and debt goes into the $100,000 range. Preparing for college is more than just getting good grades. Educating yourself on the types of loans and repayment options should be the first step. There are many other things you can do before, during, and after college as well to make your higher education a reality without drowning in debt.

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Starting young is the most beneficial way to be able to pay for school. Get a part-time job after school or in the summer and set a chunk of your paycheck aside for a college fund. If a job isn’t possible for you during school, like it is for some people, work your butt off in school and get ahead. Many high schools offer AP classes that give you college credit if you pass the test or classes that are offered through the college at your high school. This can put you semesters ahead and cut down the time it will take to get your degree.

Scholarships

Getting good grades or being involved can get you scholarships — AKA free money. You don’t have to get scholarships only from the college you are going to or only in a certain area (i.e. academics). Dip into scholarships from different organizations for different interests. There are hundreds of organizations that offer scholarships for all sorts of things. From being part of the National Honor Society to just being tall, a quick Google search will help you find the perfect scholarship for you. It won’t come easily, but there are plenty of options for you to apply for. The more money you can rack up in scholarships, the less you will owe back after college.

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Avoiding debt doesn’t stop once you get into college. There are four years where work can be done to avoid debt. Continue looking for scholarships. Things change while you are in college and you might find yourself qualified for more scholarships than you were when you came to the school.

Budget

Find ways to cut down on costs so you don’t need as much in student loans. This could be as simple as staying close to home in order to live at home for a few semesters or even taking a semester off to work and save up. Renting or buying used textbooks can also save you from many unnecessary expenses. While spring break in Cancun might seem like part of the college experience, it’s not. Cutting down on luxuries like this for four years will cut down on debt drastically.

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Part-Time Jobs

There are plenty of part-time, flexible jobs that are perfect for college students. Being an Uber driver only takes having a car and a license, and you can pick when you work. It can be as simple as signing up for medical transcription training online and spending nights converting recorded medical notes into text. You may not spend college with the most glamorous job, but at least you won’t be as in debt as your roommate who spends his weekends playing video games.

Paying off Student Loans

After college, there are a couple of options to get out of debt fast. Understanding the different repayment options is key to paying off Uncle Sam in a few years. There are options that allow you to pay a fixed rate and be paid in full in 10 years or there are options that work to your income. Some loans even have forgiveness programs where you no longer have to pay after a certain amount of time if you meet the criteria.

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Understanding your options and what you can do to save money at all points of your college career is vital to being able to get out from under your student loans soon after graduation. If you know what you are doing beforehand and not just winging it with your loans, you’ll be out of debt and into that new Toyota Corolla LE and four bedroom house in no time.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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