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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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If the College Fits...

How to Find the Right School for You

October 4, 2011

If the College Fits...

by Katie Askew

Finding the right college for you may seem daunting but it’s actually easier than ever before. (Thanks, Internet!) For those new to the process, here are a few tips to get you started on your quest to find your perfect school:

The easiest way to find colleges is to let them find you. A major part of a college admissions counselors’ jobs is to recruit prospective students so keep a close eye on your snail mailbox, your email inbox, your phone and even sites like Scholarships.com because you’ll most likely be contacted by a college via one of those paths. (Side note: Create a more professional email address for college communications – the admissions office WILL laugh at your 2hawt2trot@whatever.com address so keep it simple and classy with some variation of your.name@whatever.com.)

Don’t turn away any one type of school just because you think it’s not for you. Generic college brochures and pamphlets you receive in the mail are just that: generic. It’s impossible to get the big picture from a few glossy pages; it takes some personal research to find the parts of the school that pertain to you.

Just because a school was perfect for your parents, best friend or significant other doesn’t mean it’ll be the right fit for you. College Board and Scholarships.com both have great college search tools that allow you to narrow your search based on location, majors, cost, activities and housing. Just pick from your personal list and you’ll get links to colleges’ admissions pages.

Virtual tours are helpful but try to physically visit the schools you’re most interested in. I can’t stress enough that the campus visit can be the most important factor in a student’s decision. Visiting various kinds of schools can help to narrow your search as well; tech schools, public institutions, private institutions, rural colleges, Big 10 universities, Ivy League universities, community colleges, small schools and even beachfront colleges all have something unique to offer and you may not know what that is until you step foot on campus!

Katie Askew is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, teaching and performing music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.

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College Branding Kicks Into High Gear

October 4, 2011

College Branding Kicks Into High Gear

by Alexis Mattera

During your college search, what drew you to certain schools and what made you cross others off your list? The financial aid package could have been just right or the tuition could have been too high to manage without taking out multiple student loans. Maybe there was a big focus on your major or maybe the dorms were haunted. Those are all valid reasons but some experts think it may have been because the school marketed itself too much, too little or in a way you just couldn’t relate to.

When compared to the methods employed in the corporate world, marketing and branding in higher ed has been lacking. The tides are beginning to turn, however, as people like David R. Perry come to campus. Perry, a former marketing officer with Microsoft, Quaker Oats and the Seattle Children’s Hospital, recently began working as the chief marketing officer at Bentley University and much of his job will be figuring out exactly what Bentley offers and should be offering, to whom the school should be offering it, and how to get this message to potential students, families, faculty members and the surrounding community. "You have to be crisp and clear about what you are and what you're not," Perry said. "With all the choices students and families have today, with the education market as competitive as it is, as an institution you have to define strengths and weaknesses and focus on where you put your resources."

Bentley isn't the only college reevaluating its branding efforts (check out what college marketing officials at Temple, Michigan and the University of New Haven have to say in this Inside Higher Ed article) but we’re curious: Would a college’s marketing and branding initiatives make or break your college decision or would you be more focused on other factors?

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Early Decision vs. Early Action - Which is Right for You?

October 6, 2011

Early Decision vs. Early Action - Which is Right for You?

by Alexis Mattera

So you’ve wanted to attend University X for as long as you can remember. You made sure your academic and extracurricular accomplishments exceeded its admissions criteria, took multiple campus tours and even made its .edu your homepage but the time has finally come to submit your application packet. Doing so early seems like a no-brainer...but is it really?

Applying to college ahead of traditional deadlines has become quite popular in recent years; with that increased interest, however, comes some confusion. Should you apply early decision or early action? Can you apply early to multiple schools? Can you apply early to one college and regular decision to another? Here’s some much-needed clarification from Examiner.com.

Early Decision: Generally, ED programs are binding and require applicants to relinquish all rights to consider offers from other colleges. If you are surer than sure of your college choice and would go to this school beyond a shadow of a doubt if you were accepted, this is a great route to take. If you’re concerned you will not get in, you should consider another application method that allows you more options.

Early Action: EA, on the other hand, is non-binding in that it allows applicants to choose from other colleges they’ve been admitted to instead of being locked into one. While most early action programs say it’s ok to apply early action and regular decision to other institutions, some can be restrictive (check out Yale’s policy compared to Harvard’s) so be sure to check the requirements before sending in your materials.

College students, did you apply early? If so, what did you think of the process? High school seniors, do you plan to apply early – either ED or EA – and did these explanations help you?

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Communal Living Illness Etiquette

October 20, 2011

Communal Living Illness Etiquette

by Jacquelene Bennett

Ah, October: Not only is it the beginning of the fall season but it’s the beginning of cold and flu season as well. No matter how amazing you think your immune system is, everybody gets sick and if you live a dorm room and have a roommate, illnesses get a little more complicated.

When I get sick, all I want to do is lie in bed all day with the lights off and sleep but you can’t do that when living with a roommate or with roommates. Here are some tips on how to behave when you’re sick and sharing a living space:

  • If you think you are getting sick, tell your roommate. This information allows your roommate to take preventative measures against getting sick themselves and if you do actually come down with something, it won’t be a complete surprise.
  • Despite how bad you are feeling, your roommate still has a schedule and shouldn’t have to tip-toe around you. Set rules about noise levels and if it’s okay to turn the lights on when they come in and out of the room, if you are bedridden.
  • Your roommate isn’t your mother so don’t expect him or her to take care of you. Though some will offer to help you out, don’t depend on them to get your food, make you take your medicine or to talk to your professors if you are absent from class. That’s all on you – handle your responsibilities like an adult.
  • Grab the Lysol and disinfect like there is no tomorrow. Open the window, wash your sheets and wipe down all surfaces you and your roommate both come in contact with (doorknobs, light switches, mini-fridge handles, etc.) to limit the spread of germs.

It may be more work than you’re used to but your actions will not go unnoticed: If your roommate falls ill, they will remember your courtesy and return the favor.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Banishing Bullying

October 21, 2011

Banishing Bullying

by Radha Jhatakia

From high schools to colleges to workplaces, bullying is a serious issue with serious consequences. There have been so many cases where students are bullied by their peers and the torment is so much that they commit suicide. When you bully someone, you not only hurt them but their family and friends as well.

I’m so glad that there is a rising awareness about bullying and laws are being passed to prevent it in school and online, an act also known as cyber-bullying. When I was in middle school, I was bullied quite often – many times based on my race – and I would come home crying but have no one to speak to about it. As bullying has become a more prominent issue, celebrities and politicians are speaking about it and counseling programs are being implemented in schools everywhere so students can have a place to hash out personal issues and raise awareness.

Remember, what may seem like a harmless joke, wall post or text message can potentially cause the people you’re bullying so much pain that they choose to end their lives rather than endure any more abuse. Also, if you are aware of bullying but do nothing to stop it, you are just as responsible as the bully if anything happens to person enduring the torment. It may seem difficult for someone to stop the bullying cycle but it’s far from impossible. All it takes is one person to stand up against bullying and lead others to do the same. Be that person and make a difference.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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UC System Changes Admissions Requirements, Confuses Applicants

October 24, 2011

UC System Changes Admissions Requirements, Confuses Applicants

by Alexis Mattera

Thinking about applying to one of the University of California’s 10 campuses as a freshman for the 2012-2013 school year? If so, read the admissions requirements carefully, lest a change intended to ease your college-related stress levels send them sky high instead.

As standardized tests go, all UC campuses call for freshman applicants to submit scores from the SAT and ACT but have eliminated supplemental SAT subject exams from the list of admissions requirements. Though many students are breathing sighs of relief that they do not have to prepare for, take and afford another exam, others are still signing up for the subject tests in droves because they think it will boost their chances for admission. UC officials say students who do not take the tests will not be penalized but those who do and score well will be viewed in the same positive light as someone, say, with a leadership role in a school club would be. This explanation – plus the fact that specific programs like engineering and science do recommend subject tests – has left students and counselors understandably confused.

You can read more reactions from both sides here but as the November 30th application deadline draws closer, we have to wonder where our readers stand. If your dream school did not require you to take supplemental exams, would you follow the rules or still take the exams and hope doing so would give you a leg up on your competition and why?

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How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

October 25, 2011

How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

by Jessica Seals

Spending $500-plus on books every semester is enough to make any college student dread a new class schedule. After two semesters of spending that much on my books, I became determined to find a way to keep as much money in my bank account as possible. Of course, I made the decision to start buying my books from discount places online such as Amazon and eBay but I also wanted to see if there were other ways to keep from paying anything at all without having to rent books. I started reading blogs started by people who were once in my same position and found a bunch of helpful tips for earning extra money online.

It probably sounds crazy to say that I spend a great deal of time taking online surveys...but I do. After doing my research, I discovered sites such as Swagbucks, MyPoints, E-Poll surveys and Valued Opinions, which have users search the web and complete other activities in return for virtual currency and gift cards. I’ll admit I was skeptical until my first gift cards started arriving – and they actually worked when I went to redeem them! It took me a while but once I got the hang of it, I was able to redeem my points for Amazon cards that I use to pay for all of my books. I no longer dread the beginning of the semester because no money comes out of my pockets for school-related costs and beyond: I’ve also earned gift cards to restaurants and retail stores so I can eat and shop for free as well!

Interested? Give it a try...but understand that you’ll need to put forth some effort to reap the benefits. At times, I have spent all day on these sites (days when I don’t have class, of course!) and because of this extra effort, I’ve had more success. You may not have the same results but I still think it’s worth it to pass along this information and help other college students save money.

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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Pick Your Classes Wisely

October 27, 2011

Pick Your Classes Wisely

by Jacquelene Bennett

Sometimes the most difficult part of a university class is not the homework or the tests but the process of picking out and registering for the class itself! Seeing as though this will be my last time registering for classes, I thought I would pass along some tips and tricks of the trade.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to overload your schedule with gen ed requirements early on in your college career; rather, you should aim for a nice balance between your gen eds and the classes you need to take for your major and/or minor. My rule has always been “half and half” – half of the classes I take are gen eds, while the other half is for my major or minor. This method not only keeps you from hating a semester because you were taking nothing but uninteresting classes but helps you in the long run by allowing you start on your degree requirements sooner.

Begin mapping out your course schedule with your adviser well before registration time. They can help you plan your classes semester by semester, give you insight on professors and create a list of back-up courses in case your first-choice classes are already filled by your registration date. You should also talk to friends or people who have taken the classes you’re interested in to get a feel for the material and workload.

Once you’ve registered for your next semester, make a list of classes that you want and need to take the following semesters as well. You’ll be able to see if you'll have time to pick up an internship, job or fun elective.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Why Can’t High School Be More Like College?

October 28, 2011

Why Can’t High School Be More Like College?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Did you ever wish you had more freedom to choose what classes you could take in high school? Students in Georgia share your pain and the Board of Education is considering implementing a plan which will allow students to take only the classes which are relevant to their future careers. Students will be required to take general courses before choosing their “career cluster” at the end of their sophomore year but depending on the “career cluster” they choose, some students may be able to get their dream jobs right out of high school!

While I know I would have liked more choices regarding the classes I took in high school, I'm still not sure I'm onboard with this idea. For one thing, not everyone knows what career they want when they're in high school – some students have trouble deciding what they want to do well into their college careers! – even me: When I was in high school, I was convinced I wanted to become a pharmacist before I realized my true calling as a writer.

The fact is that college is expensive and the idea of cutting down on the rising cost of college by taking some of the necessary courses in high school is very enticing indeed. Along those same lines, if this program is implemented and a student decides they don’t really like their course of study, they can switch between clusters until they find one that better suits their goals.

So, will Georgia become the first state to implement a more individualized high school experience? We'll have to wait and see next fall.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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