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Top 9 Tips for Students for the Summer Semester

Top 9 Tips for Students for the Summer Semester

Come May, a sort of frenzy catches students’ minds. While spending the summer at the beach is appealing, you could cut back on the beach time a bit and help yourself out. Student loans are no fun to think about, but they will be piling up. Give yourself a headstart and try some of these tips this summer to get a leg up on the competition.

1. Better Your Career

Go and look at your resume. Then go and look at the resume of someone who was in your shoes give years ago. It is usually an alum from your school or someone similar in age. Compare the most highlighted aspects in their resume and figure out one thing that makes them shine. Do this for top ten people who graduated five years ago. This will give you some idea on where you can see yourself in five years and what you need to do to get their in only two years. It will also be a good way to recognize them for what they have achieved. This will land you ten new contacts that will help you with networking and job hunting when you graduate.

2. Better Yourself as an Individual

You always wanted to learn how to play guitar. You wish you could let loose on the dance floor. If you could do some yoga meditation, that would be awesome. Summer is the time to take one of those wishes and work on them. There are likely classes in your school’s recreation center or at a local YMCA for which you can sign up for. Most of these should be free or cheap, so go for it.

3. Generate Passive Income

There are two ways to make passive income. First one is when you have a talent that could help others. For instance, if you could record a video testimonial for a service you can get paid for it. In order to find buyer for your talent you can go to Fiverr.com –  a website where people do stuff for 5 bucks and list your talent. You would be able to make a small passive income while helping others.

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The second way to make money doesn’t even require a talent. As a student, I have made decent money from places like Flippiness.com –  a website to make money online by flipping books. Flippiness sells you a pair of links, one is where you can buy a book and the other is where you can sell it. You simply order from the selling website, get it shipped to your place, and send it to the website that buys it back. It is an arbitrage opportunity fed by technology taking advantage of varied book pricing on different websites. Spending about 30-60 minutes a day, you can make at least $200 a day.

4. Set Your Goals

Summer semester gives you enough time to set your goals right. List down your goals for the next year so that you know the big picture a year in advance. Then break them down to monthly goals so that you have a short term goal to look forward to. Then break them further down to weekly goals so that you have actionable insights. Once you have set your goals make sure you put your weekly goals at a place you see everyday. Work on them and check things off your list as you achieve them. It will help you stay focused and it will also boost your confidence.

Your goals for next year also include your plans for fall semester. Decide on the courses you want to take and register for classes before others to avoid the last minute rush. Submit your financial aid application and apply for other grants that you are eligible for.

5. Cut Down Expenses

Sixty percent of students pay more than they should or they need to for basic expenses. Give your bank statements from the last three months a good look. Check out where you spent money on a recurring basis. Then put it in a basket of “required” and “not required”. If an expense is not a required one, you don’t want it to appear on your statement over and over again. You can live without Krispy Kream donuts or at least cut down on that service you don’t need anymore, such as a landline phone. If you spend a lot of money on international calls, get yourself some Rebtel coupons and save up to 90% on your calling rates.

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If you are a student, there are offers that you might not be aware of. Most of the universities offer free software for students. Use Microsoft Dreamspark if your department has a subscription to it.

Look at your phone bill and call them to find out if they give a student discount. Even if there is none for your school, you can see if you can go for a discount based on where you work. Working for Flippiness won’t count. Get a cheaper phone connection such as a pre-paid phone without a contract.

6. Get an Internship

Look for mailers on your bulletin board or emails that were sent last month. If your school has a career portal, keep an eye on it as well. Try for a paid internship, but at least get an unpaid one. Internships give you a taste of real world and teach you how to thrive in a professional environment. You would not work on the most critical things in an organization, but helping the financial advisor putting together those Excel sheets for a board meeting will be quite a learning experience.

7. Study Abroad

If you want a great college experience go to another country for a semester. Most of the students have to take their core courses and thus fall and spring semesters are not easy for a study abroad course. However, summer semester is the best time to explore this opportunity. Just make sure you choose the right institution and right course.

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Check with the career counsellor at your school as many schools provide a study abroad course or have an affiliation with another school that does.

8. Avoid Distractions

Everything that seems interesting but takes your time away from your productive self is a distraction. You don’t need that video game and you don’t really want to start watching that soap opera. Decide how much time you want to spend on Facebook and don’t respond to notifications. In fact, stop notifications from Facebook and other sites you don’t really want to spend time on.

Distractions are not necessarily technology based. You might be excited about learning a new hobby, which is great, but there is a limit on how much time you can spend on it.

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9. Respect Your Professors’ Time

Summer semester is short and hence Professor’s need to teach a lot in a short period. They will be in a rush to get things done on time. Don’t be that guy, read before you go to class to make most of it. Don’t email them for make-up exams and quizzes unless there was an emergency. Make their job easier and it will make your job much more easier as a student. Stay disciplined.

If you have any other tips for the summer semester I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with me on social media.

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Mukesh Agarwal

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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