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Ways to Decrease Your Fear of Public Speaking

September 26, 2011

Ways to Decrease Your Fear of Public Speaking

by Jessica Seals

Public speaking is one fear that gets the best of many college students. Students cringe at the thought of having to give a presentation alone in front of their peers or at the thought of having to take a speech-centric course, despite the fact that some universities require such classes for graduation. A fear of public speaking can put a damper on a college experience – students may shy away from classes they really want to take because they are too afraid to speak in front of the class – and while not everyone will become the world’s greatest public speaker, there are ways to ease your mind and become better at speaking in front of a crowd.

Shift your focus. If making eye contact with people is your problem, find an inanimate object to focus on. I’ve found looking at the wall or space in between two people helps a lot because it makes it seem like you are making eye contact when you really are not. The crowd will be none the wiser and you will be far less flustered.

Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your speech or presentation in front of a mirror before it is time to speak in front of your classmates. Practicing will make you more confident in what you have to say and instead of fumbling with your note cards, the words will just flow right out of your mouth.

Perform for friends and family. Once you’re comfortable delivering your speech or presentation to your reflection, try it out on family, friends or roommates. This will ease you into presenting in front of a live audience like the one you’ll speak to in class.

Some people never get rid of their public speaking phobia no matter how often they have to perform in front of a crowd. Once you realize that you are not the only one afraid to speak in public and the most effective ways to practice, your nerves will calm and you’ll ace that presentation.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Have a Question? Ask It!

September 20, 2011

Have a Question? Ask It!

by Jessica Seals

Most college students are afraid to ask questions in class because they are afraid other students will judge them. They are also afraid to query a professor outside of class because they’re nervous the instructor will get angry if they deem the question’s answer as obvious based on the course material covered. My advice: GET OVER IT!

The material a professor will teach at the beginning of a course serves as the foundation for the rest of the semester. If something puzzles you early on, you run the risk of not understanding the rest of the material that is related to it. If you do not ask for clarification, you will not score as well on exams and papers that reflect your knowledge of the topic and your final grade for the class will be lower than what you wanted because you spent the entire semester in a state of confusion.

I have seen students flourish after they have asked for help because they finally understand the material but I have also seen students give up after a few topics did not make sense to them. I personally do not care if other students feel a question I ask is obvious – if I’m not understanding something, I’m going to figure it out any way I can! – and after the professor has answered, I feel like I can do better in the course. An added bonus is that the professor (a.k.a. the person who calculates my final grade) has a favorable opinion of me because I expressed a genuine interest in what he or she was teaching.

In the long run, asking questions and getting help will get you much further than remaining silent and confused all semester. You can either ask questions in class or get help from the professor privately but you should never be too intimidated to ask for help.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. She is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. Jessica also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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My College Graduation Checklist

August 15, 2011

My College Graduation Checklist

by Jessica Seals

After four long years of taking history or biology classes you dreaded, the psychology classes that counted towards your major and quirky electives to reach the required number of credit hours to graduate, it’s finally time to walk across the stage and become a college graduate. As I am now entering the second semester of my senior year, I have learned that there are several steps that you must take in order to successfully graduate.

While attending school, you will more than likely have an advisor that will help you graduate with your desired major as quickly as you can. Of course, these advisors are human and they are bound to make a few mistakes so check the university general education requirements for graduation at the start of each semester to keep track of the classes you still need. This is what I did and because of it, I was never hit with the surprise that I would not be graduating when I thought I would. An advisor will definitely help you avoid this problem but it is always good to double check to make sure nothing is missed.

The other important thing that I learned is that graduating from college is very different from graduating from high school. In high school, you have guidance counselors and teachers who get everything together for you and constantly remind you to turn in any forms. In college, however, you are the one who has to submit your intent to graduate form to the registrar on time, make sure you don’t owe any money, complete exit counseling and turn in any extra documentation required by your school.

Graduating from college will be one of the happiest times of your life. Despite all the excitement, take some time to make sure that everything is in order so that no surprises keep your diploma out of reach.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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The Importance of Letters of Recommendation

November 18, 2011

The Importance of Letters of Recommendation

by Jessica Seals

When I first began attending college, my agenda included getting good grades and making new friends. No one told me how important it is to establish relationships with my professors and up until my junior year, I did not put a great deal of effort toward creating and maintaining these connections. It was only when I began looking into law school admissions requirements that I noticed I would need multiple letters of recommendation from professors to complete my applications.

So what did I do? I began by taking more challenging classes with professors I already had so they could get to know me, my work ethic and future goals. Now that the law school application process is in full swing, I am fortunate enough to say that I have already designated which teachers will write my letters of recommendation. Though our relationships are now quite strong, I am also providing my resume so they can easily reference my past accomplishments as they write.

I have seen classmates struggle to get good letters of recommendation because they only did what they had to do to get by. If you plan on going to graduate or professional school, you will need letters of recommendation and it’s never too early to begin the process. Believe me, the law school application process is taxing but my stress level was cut down significantly because I made the right connections with my professors.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Graduation: A Time of Celebration or Stress?

November 8, 2011

Graduation: A Time of Celebration or Stress?

by Jessica Seals

As I type this blog entry, I have less than two months of college left before I get my bachelor’s degree...and I am on an emotional rollercoaster.

When I first found out that I would be able to graduate a semester early, I was overcome with joy and during the summer, I could not wait to begin the fall semester and kept having visions of walking across the stage and smiling proudly as I realized all of my hard work had paid off. Although my excitement grows more and more each day, so does my stress level. Graduation is a wonderful time because family and friends gather to watch you close one chapter of your life and hear your plans of starting a new one. I am elated to know that everyone I care about will soon get to see how hard I have been working in school when they see all of the honors I’ve earned but since that day isn’t here just yet, there’s still much work to be done.

Although I am graduating, my workload has actually increased. I have to take the LSAT to get into law school and put together things such as my letters of recommendation and personal statements for my law school applications. I am very satisfied with the grades that I have made so far but the law school admissions process is pretty daunting and I often find myself frazzled when I think about how close the application deadlines are! I kind of wish I could hop in a time machine and go to May 2012 see how things worked out.

Behind all the stress, however, I know one thing is certain: I will make it through and when I do, the smile on my face will be even bigger and wider than it was at my high school graduation because of everything I’ve accomplished. Soon-to-be graduates, what are you looking forward to the most?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Why You Should Include Office Hours in Your Schedule

June 28, 2011

Why You Should Include Office Hours in Your Schedule

by Jessica Seals

On the first day of class, professors usually pass out detailed syllabi that provide valuable information such as grading scales, what materials will be needed and what topics will be covered during the semester. There is one more piece of helpful information that most students overlook despite the fact that it’s normally displayed at the very top of the page: the location of the professor’s office and what days and times they will have office hours.

Although professors have office hours, most students do not take advantage of them. I just completed my third year of college and I have lost track of the number of emails that I have received from professors practically begging students to stop by during their office hours with any type of question. Most professors are also willing to accommodate students if their class and extracurricular schedules do not allow them to come during regular office hours but only a handful of students seize this opportunity by the end of the semester.

I have always taken advantage of office hours to make sure that I understand every assignment clearly. I have often noticed that professors tend to be more favorable towards students who come to their office hours because they seem to be the ones that care about their performance in class the most. I also get the one-on-one help I need and always do extremely well on assignments I ask questions about.

My advice to any college student is to take advantage of office hours. The professor gets to know you personally and notices that you care about your grade. Also, don’t wait until the end of the semester to show up with concerns; there’s not much that can be done by you or the professor if issues are being addressed this late in the game.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Financial Woes for Students in Tennessee

June 21, 2011

Financial Woes for Students in Tennessee

by Jessica Seals

Students with hopes of obtaining college degrees in the state of Tennessee now have more issues to worry about other than just getting accustomed to the college lifestyle: Negotiations have been taking place that will place an even bigger burden on the financial status of students.

Currently, students who have been living in Tennessee for at least a year can apply for a lottery scholarship formerly known as the HOPE Scholarship. This scholarship provides $4,000 to students who attend four-year public or private schools and $2,000 for students at two-year schools. A student could receive this award during each fall and spring semester for up to five years; however, legislators are currently working to put a 120-hour cap on the scholarship before the 2011-2012 school year begins. A 120-hour cap means that some students who have chosen to have more than one major will more than likely lose the scholarship before they graduate and have to find alternative ways to pay for school. This cap will reportedly only apply to students who began attending college in 2009 or after but depending on where students go to school, they could also be hit with tuition increases. Schools such as the University of Tennessee in Knoxville are hoping to implement a 12-percent tuition increase for the upcoming academic year.

This increase, along with a cap on lottery scholarships, has caused more students to become stressed out because it will be even tougher to pay for school. These limitations on financial aid could lead to an increase in students who drop out of college, a decrease in the number of students attending college and an increase in the amount of loans that students will have to take out. Will these changes impact your college experience? If so, how do you plan to address them?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Jessica Seals

May 10, 2011

Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Jessica Seals

by Jessica Seals

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Seals and in addition to being one of Scholarships.com's virtual interns, I am a senior at the University of Memphis currently majoring in political science with a minor in English. Nice to "meet" you all!

I chose to go to the University of Memphis due to its close location to my hometown of Jackson, Tennessee and the fact that it was one of the few schools in my area that offered political science as a major while offering a good selection of scholarships to pay for my education. Why political science, you ask? I was informed that it is a popular major among students who wish to go to law school and after I graduate, that’s exactly what I plan to do. As for my English minor, it will definitely prepare me for the extensive amount of reading and writing that I will have to do in law school, especially in my chosen concentration – corporate law.

I look forward to working as a virtual intern for Scholarships.com and I hope that I am able to provide the insightful first-hand accounts on college issues, such as paying for school, extracurricular activities and how to balance and manage your time for current and future students - information I always wished someone would have provided for me!

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The Freshman Experience

October 19, 2011

The Freshman Experience

by Julius Clayborn

You know those feelings you get when you are about to embark on a new and exciting journey and are completely overwhelmed by curiosity? Well, I harbored all of those same sentiments...at least until one unbearable train ride to college.

Let me give you a brief synopsis on my less-than-brief journey to Cornell. It consisted of an awfully long (more than 12 hours!) and uncomfortable train ride from Illinois to New York. Imagine going that long without Facebook or other social networking sites – the horror! My excitement, coupled with utter nervousness, would not let me sleep at first but I eventually drifted off into an awkward slumber, awaking in Syracuse. From there, I continued my journey to campus.

Once I reached Cornell's campus in Ithaca, there was an abundance of people to assist with luggage and to help new students get settled in their new homes. I found this very helpful, for the realness of the entire situation hit me once I put my things away and looked at my ID card: "I am a freshman in college. I am a freshman at Cornell. Wow." I was in shock for a while but the apprehensiveness soon passed. I had the opportunity to immerse myself into the orientation activities and leave all of my worries behind. There was everything from rock climbing to music concerts and I met some pretty cool people while doing it all! I got to explore the campus, hear urban legends and attend a riveting convocation ceremony that reminded me of why I chose Cornell the first place.

When I finally started classes, I was grateful to have been allowed the opportunity to be taught by brilliant professors who are masters in their fields. I knew that by the end of these four years, I would leave Cornell smarter. I would move beyond regurgitating information and would truly have an intellectual grasp on the world. Although future train rides will be bumpy ones, I know the reward at the end of the line is well worth it.

Julius Claybron was born on Chicago’s South Side in the Harold Ickes public housing projects. At the age of five, he lost his father to diabetes and was raised by his mother and grandmother, who helped him to enroll in Urban Prep Academy – a public all-male college-preparatory high school – during his sophomore year. Julius started to read when he was just two years old and still enjoys escaping in books during his spare time. He just began his freshman year at Cornell University this fall, where he plans to double major in psychology and English literature.

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Education vs. Experience

October 17, 2011

Education vs. Experience

by Kara Coleman

I recently had a difficult decision to make: Up my chances of getting an A in my mass communications class or cover a story for the school newspaper that would look impressive in my portfolio. Which would you choose?

Employers put just as much stock – if not more – in your experience than your education. Don’t get me wrong, a degree in your field is important but your prospective bosses want to know that you can do the job you are applying for.

On his radio show, John Tesh said that, in general, most employers admit where you get your degree isn’t necessarily the biggest factor in hiring. Say you got your degree in business administration from an Ivy League school but don’t have any work experience to back it up when you apply for a job. Someone who has applied for the same position may have gotten their degree from a state university but has been working part-time for a local company and learning the ins and outs of operating a business firsthand. Who is more likely to be hired?

I try to work around my school schedule as much as possible and hardly ever miss class; however, the marching band at my university performed for the Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London this week and I had the opportunity to cover the story for the school newspaper. Going to the band event meant that I would have to miss my toughest class so I had to decide whether it was more beneficial to meet an English lord and participate in an actual press conference or go to class and gather information for the next test.

Naturally, I chose to attend the event. Not only was it a fun experience but an interview with the Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London made a nice addition to my portfolio! Remember, tests and grades are only the beginning: Get involved with your desired field in any way possible while you are still attending college and you will be much more marketable after graduation!

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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