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How to know when it's time to drop out of college

How to Know When It’s Time to Drop Out of College

College, General By October 20, 2019 No Comments

Dropping out is a huge decision with far-reaching consequences. You should consider the ramifications carefully before moving forward. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide if now is the time to drop out of college.

How do you know if dropping out is the right decision? 

How to Know When It’s Time to Drop Out of College - sometimes dropping out of college is the right decision for you

How do you know if dropping out of college is the best decision for you?

Start with Why. 

Why do you want to drop out of college? It’s possible that your problem is fixable with a less drastic solution. For instance, if you have decided that you’re on the wrong career path, you may just need to change your major rather than quitting school entirely. If you’re really unhappy with your institution, look into transferring to a school with an atmosphere that suits you better. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut and you can afford school, try a semester abroad or a semester-long internship away from campus. If you are facing a difficult problem in your personal life, see if you can take a leave of absence rather than dropping out. Some schools allow students to take a semester off and then resume where they left off without any penalties. If you’re thinking of quitting school just because it’s harder than you expected it to be, it’s unlikely that quitting is your best option. Being successful in the real world without a college degree will likely present even more challenging obstacles. If you are overwhelmed by the difficulty of college, check out this article about adjusting to college life, or this article full of resources to help you succeed in college. 

Of course, sometimes dropping out is the right decision. 

Maybe your parents always wanted you to go to school, but you never wanted to. If you truly have no desire to be in college – any college – then it might not be for you. Or perhaps you are already employed and a college degree is unnecessary in your industry. If that’s the case, before you make a decision about dropping out, talk with others in your industry – especially successful people whose careers you would like to emulate – and ask them if they have college degrees, or whether they think that the industry is moving in a direction where college degrees will be necessary in the next few decades. If you are confident that you will be able to succeed in your chosen industry and that your lack of a degree will not impact your career aspirations or your earning potential, then dropping out might be the right decision for you. 

Like millions of others, you may also be worried about the debt you are incurring in order to get a college education. If this is one of your main concerns, then try to break down the numbers. Take a look at your loans and figure out how much you will have paid for your college education by the time it’s all paid off (student loan debt calculators like this one can help you). Now use the skills you’ve learned in college thus far and do some research – how much can you expect to make in your chosen career? Compare your earning potential with a degree in your field versus not having a degree in your field.  Is it worth the debt you will incur? If not, maybe there’s another reason that makes it worth it – like a passion for your field. If the numbers are not working in favor of staying in school and you don’t have another compelling reason to stick around, then dropping out maybe your best option.

How to Know When It’s Time to Drop Out of College

Choosing to leave college is a big decision that could have major consequences. Use wisdom and take your time when making this decision.

What to do when dropping out of college is the right decision: 

What will you do when you drop out?

What will you do instead? It’s important that you have a plan. Consider how things in your life will change. You will no longer have student loans or scholarships available to cover your living expenses. Envision the short term – how will you pay your rent and other living expenses in the first year after dropping out of school? Also, consider the long term – what kind of career do you want to have? Maybe you plan to wait tables to pay your bills right away, but do you love waiting tables enough to keep doing it for the next several decades? If so, make sure that the income from that job will support the lifestyle that you want to have. If you have more of a short term plan, think about what you really want to be doing for your career. How will you get there? Does it require more of an education than you currently have (e.g. training from a trade school)? If so, how do you plan to get that education? 

If you think you want to quit but you’re also unsure of what you want to do once you’re free of the constraints of college life, consider taking a gap year. Year On (formerly known as UnCollege) offers gap year programs that combine service learning with skill-building and internships to help launch your career without a formal college education.

How will you share your plans? 

How will you go about letting everyone know about your plans? Communication is important, especially if your parents have been funding your education. When telling your parents, make sure you are clear about why you are quitting, and how you plan to get by after you leave school. You should also talk to your friends at school and let them know why and when you will be leaving…which brings up another important question!

How to Know When It’s Time to Drop Out of College-how to share your plans for dropping out of college

Remember, that you shouldn’t make this decision in isolation. Even though sharing your plans can be tough, it is important to loop in people you highly respect and those who are important in your life before making a big decision.

When will you make your final decision? 

When will you make a final decision? Sometimes agonizing over a decision causes significant distress on its own. Making the decision can be a relief and allow you to start making concrete plans to move on with your life. Set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. The same principle applies for actually quitting – if you choose to leave school, when will you do that? If you decide early in the semester that you want to leave, you may be able to get a partial tuition refund. If you have gone far enough into the semester that you will not be able to get a refund, consider sticking around through the end of the semester. This has the advantage of giving you college credit for the classes you took and gives you the option of using the credits if you ever decide to return to college.

It is important that you not ponder these questions in total isolation. You should talk to people and let them know what you’re thinking. It’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional, a trusted professor, someone who works in the industry you hope to work in, someone who has dropped out of college, and at least one person who knows you well. All of these people will have different perspectives and might be able to raise points that had not occurred to you. Also, think deeply about who you are and how you will fare without the structure of college life. People often tout the success stories of famous college dropouts to illustrate that college degrees are unnecessary. Sure, Steve Jobs and Coco Chanel dropped out of college, but do you have the internal motivation necessary to build an empire? If you are a motivated person who can forge a path on your own, then these might be excellent role models for you. If you tend toward late nights watching television and sleeping until noon when deprived of structure, then you should take that into account when making your decision. 

Whatever you choose to do, make sure it aligns with who you are and your goals.

whether you earn your degree or not, always use your passion to lead you.

Whether you complete your degree or not, forge your own path and tap into your internal motivation to achieve your dreams.

Know that you want to complete your degree, but struggling with some aspects of the college experience? Check out the article on How to Adjust to College Life.

This article was written by BookScouter contributor, Crystal Koenig. 

Crystal Koenig BookScouter Contributor

Crystal Koenig is a freelance writer and adjunct college instructor based in Southern Utah. She holds a PhD from Washington University in St. Louis.

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How to Land a Great Internship & Make It Count – A Guide

College, General By October 16, 2019 No Comments

You are thinking ahead and want to gain the work experience that will complement your education and get you a dream job right out of college. That’s great! 

Landing a great internship isn’t a simple task. It takes a bit of hard work, but it is possible. 

Follow this guide and you’ll find yourself closer to landing and thriving in that great internship. 

1. Understand your goals. 

The first step to getting an internship is understanding your goals. To do this you must ask yourself what you want to learn through work experience. Figuring out what you want to learn at an internship is very important because it will inform where you apply and help you set goals. This step isn’t necessarily easy, but once you know what it is you want, the rest of the steps will feel much easier. 

If you are uncertain about the specifics of what you hope to learn, that is okay! Write down general skills, experience, and understanding that you hope to gain from the job. 

At most internships you will gain knowledge and skills in broad areas, like: 

  • Company structure
  • Following standard operating procedures
  • Team dynamics
  • Goal setting 
  • Client management systems 
  • Delegation
  • Data entry and management
  • Whether or not you enjoy that specific niche in your field of work (which is probably the most helpful to you) 

If the above is what you hope to gain from an internship experience, great! You can be confident that most internship programs will provide you with the opportunity you desire. 

Many people hope to also gain specific knowledge within their field of study. If this is you, it is also important that you articulate specifics of what you hope to gain. 

Below are some examples of specific concepts and skills you could grow in understanding during your internship: 

  • Well crafted design
  • Engineering
  • The process of reviewing editorial submissions 
  • Preparing to launch a new product 
  • Supply chain management 
  • Social media marketing strategy 
  • The art of writing strong grants 
  • Navigating lobbying and connecting with representatives at your state capitol 

Unsure what you can learn by interning at a company? Ask the Student Support or Career Services at your college to help you get specific about what you want to learn at an internship. You can also ask friends who have participated in internships or reach out to businesses that offer internships (Side note: connecting with a company to ask these types of questions is a great way to get your foot in the door). 

Feeling stuck about which questions to ask a company? 

Here are a few questions you can ask businesses directly: 

  • What do you hope interns learn through their experience with your company? 
  • What specific skills do you help teach during the internship? 
  • What are the strengths of the intern supervisor(s)? 
  • What skills and areas of knowledge do you hope to strengthen in your interns? 
  • Do you offer any type of assessment (personality, skills, outlook) that interns can take at the start and end of your program to observe their growth? 
  • What do the daily task of interns include in this program? 
  • Who in the office do interns interact with most and what are their skill sets?
  • How often do you hire interns at your company? 
  • Where are your past interns working now? 

Questions to ask friends who have held an internship: 

  • What were your daily tasks as an intern? 
  • What were your favorite projects to work on as an intern? 
  • What did you learn as an intern? 
  • How did you get your internship? 
  • How did you prepare for your internship? 
  • How do you recommend someone prepare for an internship that was similar to yours? 

Feel free to list as many aspects of work that you want to learn about or apply during your internship. The more you know about what you want to learn, the better you’ll be able to narrow down where you want to apply.

2. Decide where you want to apply. 

You can apply for an internship at most companies. This is great news, but this can also be overwhelming. That’s why understanding your goals is an important first step to take before identifying where to apply.

Start your list with the businesses you already know and respect.

Important first questions to ask yourself: 

As you develop your list keep two key questions in mind. 

“In what city should I live in during my internship?” 

and “Do I need to get paid at this internship?” 

By asking yourself about location and pay you’ll be able to narrow down viable options. 

To dig a little deeper when considering location, ask yourself, “am I willing and able to do an internship away from home?” If so, then consider which parts of the country or world you’re willing to travel. Keep in mind choosing to relocate comes with additional expenses. Make sure you and your family are prepared for this financial commitment, especially if the internship is unpaid.  

With the world as your oyster you can apply almost anywhere. This is where knowing what you hope to gain in an internship can be very helpful. Use your “what I want to learn” list as a keyword resource. Google searching “engineering internships” or “hands-on summer marketing internships” will lead you to some of the country’s top leading businesses that offer specific internships to college students. While typing in “internships” will direct you to long lists filled with opportunities that might not be pertinent to you. To get more specific include the city or state name when researching your specific type of internship. 

While the options are more limited by staying local, you can still experience great benefits at your internship. Similar to researching global opportunities, you can search for “engineering internships near me.” You may be surprised by the opportunities that pop up! 

Another avenue of research is speaking with your college. Reach out to your college’s Academic Support or Student Career Center about a list of companies other students from your college have interned at before. They may be able to connect you with a great local business that wants to hire interns from your college or university. 

With your list of options in hand, do a little more digging. Read about the ethos, vision, and goals of each business or non-profit. Which ones resonate with you and seem like you’d be able to learn several of your goals with these companies? 

While your future plans may differ slightly from the companies you are reviewing, if there is some overlap you likely have a great opportunity right in front of you. In this scenario, it is highly likely that you will learn about one or two concepts or skills in which you hope to grow. Additionally, the experience will expose you to new processes and ideas. Businesses are looking for interns who will jump right in, learn, and explore. This is the time to learn as much as you can.

It is also great to ask yourself this question, “can I see myself working at this company one day?” It is perfectly normal and okay to apply to internships where you don’t necessarily see yourself working in the future (it can still be a great experience). However, interning with a company you want to eventually work for full-time can help you understand the company culture, be trained by their team, and connect with their hiring managers. By gaining internship experience at this place, you will learn if you can truly see yourself in a role at the company in the future as well as expose the team to you, your work ethic, and genius; all of which could lead to a job offer later on. 

Now that you have your list of places where you’d like to apply, it is time to prepare your application.

3. Prepare your resume. 

If you are applying to your first internship, chances are you might not have a resume. 

A resume is a brief document that outlines your skills, education, and experience. If you are limited in experience, do not worry! You can highlight and expand on the experience and education you do have. Consider including jobs you had in high school, volunteer experience, special awards, and any jobs you may hold on campus. Uncertain what to include in your resume, Glassdoor provides excellent instruction for writing a resume for an internship that doesn’t feel overwhelming. 

Most people keep their resumes to one page since it is about highlighting your strongest achievements, experiences, and goals. Over the past few years, many applicants have chosen creative resume templates. Using color and modern organization of the items. If you choose to be creative, make sure your resume is still clear and understandable. 

Many resumes outline the individual’s goal for applying for the job, work experience, education, specific special skills, contact information, and sometimes names and contact information for references. Having the basics laid out, be certain to highlight aspects of your work and educational experiences that relate to the internship role to which you are applying. This serves as a quick snapshot for the interviewer as to why you are qualified for the job.  Don’t be shy about your interests either! Even if you do not possess much work experience, sharing your passion and desire to learn more about that role is very valuable to the company as well. It communicates that you will show up excited every day ready to learn and implement all that you are learning. 

Another avenue to share your passion and articulate how you see yourself benefiting the company is through a cover letter. A cover letter is a way to go deeper with the experience highlighted on your resume while also sharing more about who you are and your goals. Not all internships require a cover letter in the application process. If it is not required and you would like to share more of your story, consider drafting a cover letter and proofreading it with a trusted professional in your life. Proofreading will ensure it comes across as personal, professional, and polished. 

No matter what you include on your resume, it is very important that you follow the outlined instructions for applying for the internship.

4. Submit your application. 

With your strong resume in hand, you are now ready to apply for your internship. 

Research the application instructions and process online. If the instructions are unclear, reach out to the internship coordinator at the company by phone, email, or a LinkedIn message. This could also be a great opportunity to introduce yourself and learn more about the position. 

Following the application guidelines demonstrates that you are attentive to detail and respect their company policies. This is not to say that creativity is unwelcome. Quite the contrary. Do your best to stand out amongst the other applicants. If you choose a creative element, be sure to do so within their guidelines. 

The application process may include a form to complete online, submitting your resume and cover letter, sharing a writing sample, and an interview.

Speaking of being creative, there are several creative ways to apply for an internship. 

Other approaches to applying for an internship: 

  1. Reach out to the internship director and employees of the company with LinkedIn connection requests. First, make sure your LinkedIn profile is set up and professional, and then start requesting connections of those that work at the company or organization where you are applying. Always add a note to your LinkedIn connection request and make sure you present yourself professionally.
  2. If you hear of an opportunity or are introduced to a company you admire in a class, don’t be shy. After the presentation immediately introduce yourself to the speaker. Let them know your passions, what you appreciate about their presentation, and that you would be interested in interning with them. Be bold! Specifically, ask when and how you should apply. Ask for their card or contact information. Specifically follow up with them around the time they plan to bring on new interns. If they are not sure of when the internship program starts, ask if you can follow up with them next week after they’ve inquired about internship start dates with their team. 
  3. If you already have a job in a company, ask your supervisor if you can shadow under another department for one or two days to broaden your skill sets in the company. After you shadow ask that department if you can assist them with special projects. This could place you under the direct wing of someone who can mentor you in the company or help you grow in your field. 
  4. Applying to a large internship program (or one that you know receives many, many applications)? Place yourself at the top of the list! After reviewing the application guidelines, reach out to the company by phone or email with a genuine question that only the decision-maker (intern supervisor) will know the answer. Once they answer your question, submit your application. Your name will be familiar to them as they review applications. Not sure what to ask, head back to the list of questions in section one for sample questions. 
  5. Conduct a survey in your field to gain knowledge that will be helpful to you and the company where you are applying. Ask the decision-maker if you can submit a survey you are currently conducting as part of your application or to join the team as an intern on a trial period as you complete the survey (or expand it). 

5. Stand out in your interview. 

Your resume, cover letter, and application impressed the company. Congratulations! 

Now it is time to shine face-to-face (or over the phone)! 

The interview is a key part of the application process for any job, including an internship. Understanding what you can already offer the team and the areas in which you want to grow will be key to helping you have a successful interview. That and confidence.  

Googling “questions I might be asked during an internship interview” could be a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Ask professors, friends, or even trusted adults to conduct practice interviews with you. Let them ask questions about your resume, cover letter, experience, and dreams. Answer honestly, and then prepare questions to ask the company. The more you practice the more comfortable you will feel with your answers. Be sure to remain natural and honest in your answers. 

Dressing to impress certainly applies here. When you arrive at an interview it is important that you are clean and professional in attire, attitude, and speech. Remain positive and honest in your conversations with the receptionist all the way through your final goodbye. 

During your interview, remember that the interviewer(s) has already read your resume. They will likely ask you to expand on the experiences you highlighted on your resume. Be prepared to give more context and insight into your prior experience. With that said, it is also to your benefit to acknowledge the professional areas you hope to grow in and master while interning with the company. Your vulnerability in this area shows the company that you will be invested in this opportunity because you already see the value they will offer you–and that is valuable to them!

As mentioned above, having questions prepared for the interviewers is always a good idea. By having questions ready you demonstrate your curiosity about the company and reveal that you think ahead. While technical questions about hours and pay are valid, it is also to your benefit to ask questions regarding the team culture and what success looks like in your role.

6. Follow up and follow through. 

After your interview, open your laptop and write a thank you email or send a handwritten note to the manager or team who interviewed you. In your message, highlight aspects that you appreciate about the company and the role. Specificity is your friend. End your note with an affirmation that they will be happy to hire you! This shows professionalism, initiative, follow-through, and confidence. 

In your thank you email or note, make sure to triple check names, titles, spelling, and grammar. Uncertain if your grammar is correct, use tools like spellcheck or Grammarly. Again, attention to detail here is important. You want every aspect of their interactions with you to feel professional, natural, and positive. 

During the days or few weeks after the interview, be mindful that the company may be interviewing several other applicants. If the interviewer mentioned that they would follow up with you by a specific date, and the day passes without their outreach, that is when it is appropriate to send a second follow up email to check-in. Please never harass the interviewer demanding a response. Forcefulness can actually lead to them not choosing you. Be professional, prompt, show your interest while being patient. 

Once you land that dream interview it’s time to follow through on the promises you made during your interview. For more tips on making the most of your internship, keep reading! 

Now that you have the job…

“How do I make the most of my internship?” 

Just like anything in life, when you have an internship you will get out of it whatever you put into it. 

If you want to have a great internship experience, show up every day expecting to learn something new, ask questions, take initiative, ask your supervisor how you can do more and exceed the company’s expectations.

Below are the top tips on thriving in your internship. 

Ask questions. 

No one wants to be annoying, and we’ve all witnessed scenarios where someone asks unnecessary questions. 

However, it is important to confidently ask questions when: 

  • You don’t understand your responsibility in an assignment
  • You have a genuine question about a concept 
  • Additional clarity is needed for you and/or the team 
  • You sense that an aspect of a project hasn’t been thoroughly thought through 
  • When you want to grow in knowledge or skills 

If you anticipate that your questions will take significant time to answer, request a meeting with your supervisor.

When asking questions, be sure that you are genuinely curious and not just trying to stump a teammate or supervisor. The former fosters a sense of wanting to grow while the latter could create resentment and tension. 

Keep in mind that your internship experience is primarily viewed by your supervisor as a learning opportunity. This is your chance to learn as much as you can under a company that you admire. Soak up as much information as you can. 

Take initiative. 

Most companies look for interns and employees who take initiative. This does not mean always doing what you want and how you want. However, taking initiative in a respectful and timely manner will demonstrate your passion and work ethic. 

“How do I show respect when taking initiative?” I’m glad you asked! 

Before you take initiative, ensure that the work you are responsible for is completed! Do not allow a side project you are excited about steal away from your actual responsibilities. 

If a project you are overseeing is delayed due to a lack of communication or confusion, then it is appropriate to respectfully ask the person directly responsible for that area to clarify or contribute the missing information. If you are uncertain who the correct person is, then check in with your supervisor to learn who you should follow up with to move the task forward. 

Think critically. What areas of a project could improve? Is there a different process that would help a department or the company grow? If so, ask questions to better understand the current processes and the reasons behind the company’s current decisions. Once you have a decent handle, approach your supervisor in a current meet to present your idea with openness and curiosity. Be open to them wanting you to initiate the change, them wanting to put this suggestion on hold, or them shutting down the idea. Curiosity is also important. Using a phrase like, “I have an idea, and I wonder if it could work well. Would you like to hear it? I’d love to hear your feedback?” Approaching your supervisor with genuine curiosity and humility will reveal that you want the best for the company and help you not to feel defensive if they begin to ask questions or shut it down. The important thing is you tried! 

If you are struggling to come up with an innovative idea, that’s okay! Don’t force it. No one is expecting you to come up with new ideas as an intern (unless that is explicitly stated as part of your role). 

Learn expectations (and how to exceed them). 

While expectations were likely reviewed in your interview, it is important to confirm that you understand all expectations of you and your role during your first week at the internship. These expectations could include your professionalism and desired outcomes of projects. 

Once you understand the expectations, aim to meet them. If you have trouble in an area, be brave. Speak with your supervisor about how you can grow in an area to better meet the expectation and hopefully exceed it! 

Once you are confident that you can meet the expectations (without burning yourself out), choose one to two areas that you can impress your supervisor by aiming to exceed specific expectations. 

Communicate clearly.  

Nothing makes a supervisor happier than clear and concise communication. Your supervisor is likely balancing their full-time workload in addition to overseeing your work. Providing them with clear and concise communication helps them be more effective with their time with you, leaving them with more space to offer you more mentoring, training, and guidance. 

Be clear about: 

  • Your schedule, especially if any trips were pre-planned before taking the internship
  • If you are unable to make it into work for something like an illness 
  • What you hope to learn in the internship or with a specific assignment
  • Review of an assignment
  • Answering their questions

Now, this is not to say that being detailed isn’t important. However, maintaining respectful communication (including avoiding over-communication) can help with efficiency and give more time for you to grow in your role. 

Be sure to ask how your supervisor prefers to communicate with you. This could be via email, Slack, etc. Work with their preferred channel of communication. It shows respect. 

Another way to show respect is to receive communication well! Pay attention and engage in meetings. Read emails and respond if necessary or to confirm your receipt of the email. Pay attention to calendar invitations and project deadlines. People are communicating with you to help you do your job well. They may be relying on your communication to do their job well too. 

Keep your foot in the door. 

Remaining in contact with your supervisor, teammates, or intern peers can prove helpful to you in the future, especially if you left a great impression during your internship. 

To keep your foot in the door with the company you can: 

  • Add your supervisor, teammates, or intern peers on LinkedIn
  • If appropriate, add personnel to your Facebook or social media platforms (this might only be appropriate with your peers, but could also include your supervisor. It simply depends on the team culture at the company). 
  • Follow up with an email or handwritten note of thanks to your supervisor or department teammates with specific details as to what you learned and how you are excited to move forward in your field. 
  • Send a holiday card, note or email. 
  • Check-in every 6 – 12 months to see how they are doing. Even if you are not ready for a job with the company just yet, it shows that you are personable. 
  • Ask about upcoming job openings the company anticipates having during the time you will be starting to apply for a job and what skills they are specifically looking for. You guessed it, then practice those skills! 

Your former supervisor and teammates are well connected. They often want to help the business, and if you were an asset to their team, they likely want to help you too! 

Good luck on your internship application! 

Want more work experience while earning your degree? Check out the 7 Best Campus Rep Jobs to Apply to.

Download the How to Land a Great Internship & Make It Count-A Guide pdf to keep on hand or share with your friends!

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10 Hacks to Master the College Essay - BookScouter Blog

10 Hacks to Master the College Essay: Finding Inspiration and Defeating Procrastination

College, General By October 14, 2019 No Comments

Nothing is quite as daunting as a paper in college. While exams bring their own set of stresses, the sheer amount of time required when researching and writing a paper is incredibly overwhelming. We’ve all heard the same few tricks for the writing process since elementary school: Make a good outline after you brainstorm! Write a strong thesis statement and repeat it in your conclusion! However, those words of wisdom are about as tired as your eyes after staring at your laptop screen for three hours, desperate for the words to start flowing. Providing fresh advice for writing college essays is a challenge within itself as everyone has such different styles and processes for how they write best.

However, there are some basic hacks that can help anyone streamline the process, break free of procrastination, and hopefully not dread the task of writing (as much) anymore.

1. Make a list of small tasks for each day. 

The worst way to lose motivation when writing is to sit down with absolutely no game plan and expect the next Great American Novel to pour out in a matter of hours. It’s just not going to happen. However, making the conventional ‘outline’ when writing can sometimes also be unhelpful and irritatingly banal.  A good compromise is to make a brief list of tasks per writing session instead of initially trying to sketch out every paragraph in an overarching outline. For example, setting the goals for your first day of writing of refining your topic into a condense explanation, finding five relevant sources, and creating, titling, and saving a document (small tasks matter and help us feel more productive!) will get the process on a good track moving forward. Scheduling four to five tasks per writing session alleviates the overwhelming gloom when tackling a huge project by dividing the giant task into smaller ones that feel more achievable on a daily basis. Writing these out and crossing them off once complete is also beneficial to your writing mindset. This tip will also aid in the prevention of all-nighters before due dates that are fueled by Red Bull and followed by typos and regret.

have-a-checklist-while-writing-your-college-essay

Keep your list of writing to-dos nearby and cross a few tasks off each day.

2. Take advantage of your school’s library sources. 

Don’t let your university library merely be a place for socializing over coffee and fretting over impending deadlines. Actually, take advantage of the resources offered to you by your library system in order to find the best resources for your paper. Most libraries have an assigned librarian to each area of study who you can meet with to develop a strategy for researching pertinent articles and books. Casting a wide net in your search for resources will not provide the relevance and specificity needed for most college topics, and thus the art of searching for resources is crucial to the overall product. Combing databases for articles necessitates its own set of shortcuts that are best learned earlier in the writing process rather than later. Either meet with your major’s assigned librarian,  look through all of the online databases your school has access to in order to best find citable academic papers and articles, or do both! Know beforehand which databases to look through because merely doing a cursory Google search will not produce results that qualify as academic. Once you realize JSTOR is not, in fact, an online shopping hub, your quest for sources will become much easier.

3. Write out of order. 

Sometimes finding the perfect opening statement can unnecessarily halt progress when getting over the initial hump of starting a paper. Beginning with your strongest point in a well-crafted base paragraph can help structure your paper and spur motivation to continue writing. Writing the introduction after a few body paragraphs will provide more fluidity and clarity to your overall paper.

4. Minimize overwhelm managing sources and citations. 

Don’t get overwhelmed with sources and citations. One of the most overwhelming feelings is finally honing your topic, finding a multitude of pertinent sources, reading said sources, and then feeling even more overwhelmed when trying to synthesize and condense what you just read. My advice: create a completely different document from the start where you can instantaneously group similar citations. Build groupings such as “Introduction”, “Counterpoints”, and so on to easily list the sources that go along with each category with the specific quotation and page number so that way everything is organized as you go. Similarly, the moment you know that a source will be cited in your paper, go ahead and create the in-text citation/footnote/bibliography entry immediately in order to not have to go back through the whole paper and try to remember where certain citations came from. Keep a tab open for an online bibliography generator in order to not get bogged down with creating them yourself.

writing-a-college-essay-can-be-easy-with-these-hacks

Have fun writing college essays using these pro hacks.

5. Balance the time spent reading with actual writing. 

We’ve all fallen victim to spending way more time reading about a topic and doing the background research rather than putting hands to keyboard and actually typing the paper itself. It can be difficult to know when to put down the book or journal article and start writing. I usually try to set a reading to writing ratio depending on the difficulty of the topic. If the topic is very complex and something I have limited previous knowledge on, I might set a 3:1 hour ratio of reading to writing to ensure that both are being accomplished. If the topic is something more familiar or more opinion-based, I might set a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of reading to writing. Setting a phone alarm to keep this regimen is also wise. There is no worse feeling than having all of the information and thoughts in your mind, but running out of time to properly convey them on paper.

6. Turn off word count. 

That pesky, foreboding number that rests at the bottom of your screen can be a huge detractor to your overall progress. Constantly checking to see if you are closer to hitting the mark takes away time from the actual writing itself. Therefore, turn off the word count tool (switching to Focus View in Word is probably the easiest method) until you’ve written all you can muster and then check it as a benchmark periodically. This way, you won’t feel the constraint of trying to expand your thoughts solely to get closer to the minimum number of words.

7. Change the font to help shake writer’s block. 

This tip might border on obscure but sometimes changing the font of the phrase or paragraph you’re trying to complete can help shatter writer’s block. The change in appearance will help see your thoughts in a different way and can break up the monotony of a Times New Roman inundation. Read here for more detailed information about trouncing writer’s block with a change in font aesthetic. 

change-the-font-as-you-write-to-help-keep-a-fresh-perspective

Change the font as you write to help keep a fresh perspective.

8. Use the thesaurus when necessary and with caution. 

The overuse of the thesaurus tool has long been lambasted (look no further than this classic clip from Friends), but it can come in handy in moderation. While I’m not saying substituting an obscure synonym that could impede comprehension is wise, glaring overuse of a word also diminishes a paper’s quality. For example, if you have used a particular word five times in one paragraph, it might be fruitful to look at the thesaurus options, do some further investigation to make sure you understand their nuances, and then use a synonym if a good fit. Try to expand your lexicon without becoming overly pretentious or incomprehensible.

9. Vary music choices when writing. 

While some prefer to write in silence, which honestly is sometimes the best option during crunch time when you require absolutely no distractions, most prefer to listen to music during the writing process. Whether it’s to help focus and stimulate your mind or drown out the sniffles and coughs of your fellow library patrons, music definitely has its benefits when writing. Different styles of music will invariably appeal to different writers, but sometimes a certain genre is best when starting to write or when executing the duller editing-heavy tasks. Check out these testimonials of what styles are best in different writing settings. When in need of a creativity stimulant, why not pull a 180 and completely switch genre to see if the new song can acoustically spur a new idea or give you clarity.

10. Use two spelling and grammar check programs. 

A great final hack at the very end of your writing process is to put your entire paper into a second online spell check software (PaperRater, JSpell, etc.) that’s different from the word processing software you’re currently using. These free online tools will parse through your paper and find any lingering spelling and grammar errors in less than a minute. Having a second check will usually uncover a few small mistakes that when fixed, will elevate your paper. A final polish and a second set of (virtual) eyes are a no brainer when finishing a paper. Having a real set of eyes (swap papers with a trusted classmate!) look over your draft is also immensely advantageous. 

While many students begin to loathe writing during college, remember that no paper is insurmountable when started early enough and scheduled out properly. Though not every topic will appeal to your interests, try to find a   individualizes it and makes it more fascinating to write about. Of course, if you have major concerns or hesitations about a certain assignment, meet with your professor for some clarification and reassurance. They will almost always be happy to assist and provide individual guidance on the next steps moving forward to complete your paper. Happy writing and stop checking that word count!

Written by BookScouter Contributor Parker Strubhar.

Parker Strubhar - BookScouter Blog Contributor

Parker Strubhar is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma and currently resides and works in Washington D.C. He is also a freelance writer. Business inquiries can be directed to parkerstrubhar20@gmail.com.

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Working With Failure with Destin Bell of KDash on The Studentpreneur Show

The Studentpreneur Show Episode Episode Thirteen: Working With Failure – with Destin Bell from KDash

General By October 6, 2019 No Comments

On this episode of The Studentpreneur Show, we speak with Destin Bell, one of the young men that is running the sports analytics tool called KDash. Not only is Destin working on KDash, he also previously owned a business called LifeOffU. In this interview wediscuss why LifeOffU ended, how Destin overcame failures of the business, and what he now knows for the future.

What is KDash?

KDash is currently in development, but once complete will provide an incredible tool for e-sports fans. KDash is a sports analytics tool helping teams optimize performance. While KDash didn’t originate with Destin, he joined his friend to help market and growing the company as the CMO. Together they are developing and preparing KDash for the market.

KDash makes money as a SaaS company. They work with teams as the analytics platform that aggregates data providing actionable insights that allow teams to see how they can optimize. Destin suggests that you think of it as money ball for video games.

Destin didn’t begin with KDash, though. His first business was LifeOffU, which operated for about a year. LifeOffU was a platform to help college students find things to do off-campus in their local area. Recognizing the needs of the community and market, Destin made the decision a few months ago to phase out LifeOffU. Fortunately, he’s working on a plan to reimagine LifeOffU into a concept that will better serve clientele.

Both of these businesses began out of his desire to do something more than go to class and hang out. Destin aims to add value to others and fill a gap in people’s lives.

The real-life of a studentpreneur:

When asked about how he balances everything, Destin returns to the theme of prioritizing.

He shares that the hardest part of running two businesses and school at the same time is prioritizing tasks. Deciding between what’s important and what’s urgent for both the business and school can be a major challenge. This rings especially true since Destin has so many ideas and wants to work on the fresh idea. Just like many of us, those new, exciting ideas can be distracting from what we’re already working on.

Destin will graduate this coming spring (2020) from the University of Kentucky. Over the summer he balanced an internship while running his own business. He sees his internship as opportunities to grow in experience as well as learn which direction he wants to take after college.  Currently, he is leaning towards being an entrepreneur and enjoys the work of leading a vision for a product. However, just like all of us, we never know what could arise.

As a studentpreneur, Destin shares that finding likeminded people has helped him significantly. He values diversity, yes, but sees the strong value of people being likeminded in work ethic and a desire to “push the needle.” This ethos produces better products and a better work culture.

As for school, UK has been great! However, Destin notes that most of his valuable lessons as a studentpreneur haven’t come from the entrepreneurship program at school. He’s learned the most through doing.

How can failure help you as a business owner?

Destin’s first failure as a business owner was losing the first contract he had for LifeOffU. After losing that contract, he bounced back and learned how to do it better next time. Through this experience, he’s learned so much.

Destin shares so much about how failure is truly part of the process. It doesn’t mean that you are not successful.

His advice for other studentpreneurs recovering from failure: keep pushing and remember that you’re young and still have a long life to live and things to learn.

Because it cannot be said enough, Destin shares again that prioritizing time better is what he learned from his first failure. Learning to prioritize is so important for all business owners. Remember that your clients are counting on you.

Ready to work with failure on the path to success? Listen to the full episode HERE!

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adjusting to college life

How To Adjust To College Life

General By October 1, 2019 No Comments

Starting college is exciting! Most people have been planning and dreaming about college for years. But when it’s finally time to move onto campus and start a college career, some students are surprised to feel overwhelmed or adrift. Don’t fret – it is normal to have a few hiccups in the beginning.

Here is some advice to help you get your feet under you.

Academics

  • Think carefully about your class schedule, especially for your first semester. Factor in the possibility that it might take some time to adjust to the rigors of college life.  Don’t stack your schedule with the most difficult classes all at once. Although organic chemistry and anatomy might both be required courses for your chosen major, that doesn’t mean you have to take them at the same time, or during your first semester. Look into less demanding electives that you might enjoyMix those in with more challenging classes. Your academic advisor should be able to help you navigate balance in your schedule each semester especially your first semester.
  • When setting up your schedule, don’t make yourself miserable. Are you a night owl that loves to sleep until noon? That’s unlikely to change just because you’re in college. If you can avoid it, don’t register for an 8 AM class that meets three days a week. If you’re an early riser that tends to crash in the afternoons, then go for those early classes! College is great because you can often tailor your schedule to suit your preferences – unlike with most real-world adult jobs.
  • Read the syllabi for your classes. It’s tempting to gloss over them but don’t. They are full of important information like how much each assignment is worth, due dates for projects, the attendance policy, and dates of exams. It’s smart to go through and add these things to your calendar so you won’t be caught off guard by something like a major project due the same week you have exams in two other classes!
adjust well to academics by attending class

Attending class is one of the best ways to adjust to the academic rigor of college.

  • Get yourself to class. It’s always tempting to skip that 8 AM seminar or that long lab, but resist the urge. Academic success is closely tied to regular class attendance.  Even though you might not usually think about it in these terms, you’re paying a lot of money for these classes. Get everything you can out of them!

Social Life

  • Maintain your ties with friends and family back home. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your new surroundings, but keeping in touch can help you feel grounded and more secure as you bravely try new things.
  • It might sound cheesy, but make new friends! Social support is so important as you navigate the joys and struggles of college life. Make sure you have a great crew to see you through all of that! One of the great things about college is that, whether you’re a first-year or a transfer student, there is a whole group of people who are also starting out and in need of good friends. You can make friends through a school club, organization, work-study job, sports team, intramurals, or even in a class.  
make friends in college

The friends you make in college can help get you through those four years, and your friendship could last a lifetime.

  • Don’t party too hard. I know this might sound like advice your mom or dad would give, but there are good reasons to keep the partying in check. Go out and have fun, but don’t make risky choices that could jeopardize your future. For instance, drinking heavily and often will interfere with your ability to study and to make it to class. Have a good time, but remember to prioritize your education. If you make good choices, you can have a fun four years. Bad choices might cut your college education short, especially if you burn out.
  • It’s likely that you’ll have roommates while attending college. You can save yourself a lot of stress by being a courteous roommate. Try to communicate with your roommates about expectations such as who does the cleaning and when there should be peace and quiet. 

Extracurriculars

  • Try new things. College is a time to open your mind and learn. One of the best ways to learn is to be open to new experiences. For instance, if you see flyers hanging around for a campus event where everyone will practice mindfulness meditation and your first instinct is to roll your eyes, challenge yourself by attending the event! Maybe you’ll hate it, but you will definitely learn something. And you’ll get to practice keeping an open mind – an important real-world skill!
  • While being open to new experiences,  set aside time for the things you’ve always enjoyed. If you’ve always loved hiking, don’t give it up just because you’re busy in college. Seek out opportunities that will allow you to keep doing the things you love. As an added bonus, you’ll have the chance to connect with others who enjoy the same things you do!
  • Choose an extracurricular. It may sound counterintuitive to pile another thing onto your already full schedule, but it will help you make social connections outside of your classes and will keep you connected to campus life. Look for extracurriculars that align with your existing interests or career goals. These may help you connect with professionals in your field or build your resume. If you’ve always loved hiking, try joining your school’s Outdoors Club. If you’re planning to major in Political Science, get involved with the campus political club or your choice (most campuses have both College Democrats and College Republicans).

Health

  • Take care of yourself. College may be the first time you’ve lived on your own. With all that freedom, plus access to endless amounts of junk food and people to socialize with, you might find your diet dominated by pizza and your bedtime sliding into the wee hours of the morning. You’ll be less stressed if you maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep on a fairly regular schedule. Sure, eat the pizza…but squeeze in some veggies too!
choose healthy meal options in college

One of the best ways to help you adjust and thrive in college is to take care of your body by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest.

  • If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to make changes. Cut back on your hours at work, or drop a class if that’s what you need to do. It might feel like a big deal at the time, but your mental health comes first. If you’ve taken on too much, you can always eliminate something. Most colleges also offer counseling services. Reach out if you need someone to talk too, even if it feels like a small thing that is bothering you. Having someone to talk with about our problems, even the small ones, is a healthy practice for life. 

If you’re struggling to adjust to your classes or to life on a college campus, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. My article, The Best Resources To Help Every College Student Succeed, has great suggestions for where to start. 

Written by BookScouter Contributor Crystal Koenig.

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The Best Personality Tests to Help You With Your Career-blog

The Best Personality Tests to Help You with Your Career

General By September 23, 2019 No Comments

Personality tests and college go hand-in-hand. Most incoming students are bombarded with a deluge of personality tests among the welcome week activities, leadership retreats, and club meetings during the first few months of the academic year. While fun to take, do personality tests offer something more than just a novel way to classify and describe yourself? 

While there are many detractors of the tests as a whole who point out the lack of scientific backing behind them, the tests can offer a glimpse into what type of job, therefore what major, might be a good fit for your work, thinking, and personality styles. While no one can definitively be put into a box of a certain trait or personality type, these tests can provide clues into certain careers in which you you might excel and enjoy.

What career choice works well with your personality

With limitless research and online content devoted to transforming test results into concrete careers, it can be difficult to know which quizzes are truly worth your time. Below are five are the most common personality tests that I’m sure you’ve taken at least one of (or at least heard about). They will be dissected and examined with a career-focused lens to see if there is merit in using the results in the job market. Without further ado, here are five personality tests in increasing order of how much value they can provide in your job search.

5. The Pottermore Sorting Quiz

The best feature of this quiz is that it’s completely free! Offered via the Pottermore online universe, this uber-popular, ubiquitous quiz sorts you into one of the four Harry Potter houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw. While most of the questions tend to focus on hypothetical interests rather than practical questions ( for example, one asks what you would examine first in an enchanted garden), there is a surfeit of online literature devoted to detailing the type of careers best for each Hogwarts house. On top of that, the topic is bound to come up when meeting new people, so this result is an important one to have in your back pocket. Even though your HP house might seem like a frivolous categorization, there might be some merit in applying the results to the real, sadly non-magical (Muggle), world.

Your job shouldn't clash with your personality

Your personality has the potential to greatly impact the type of work you enjoy and thrive in.

4. U-Zoo

Similar to the Harry Potter quiz, U-Zoo has four categories that you are placed into upon conclusion of the test.It is also free to take! There are various iterations of the quiz with different animal results. This one here gives percentage results of four animals: Lion, Owl, Monkey, and Horse, with each animal representing a different personality type. It stands out by giving percentages of the four results, which aims to prevent a one-size-fits-all classification. Therefore, being split almost evenly between two types can happen.

The test forces you to know yourself very well as it pretty much consists of checking boxes next to traits that describe you best. Another nice feature is that it details your strengths and weaknesses that relate to your overall skill set. Then, the quiz suggests online courses to help improve your employability based on your results. Therefore, while not a great test to find suggested jobs, it is a great one for self-improvement to help best market yourself as a new hire.

3. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

By far the most pervasive of the quizzes on this list, Myers-Briggs Personality Types have almost become just as integral to Instagram bios as astrology signs. With 16 personality types to be categorized into based on the answers to 93 questions, the results are more specific than other similar questionnaires. The test has many online resources to accompany the results where you can find out what Game of Thrones or The Office character matches your personality type. Novelty abounds with this test and since so much real world-application research and writing has been done about Meyers-Briggs it can be useful to delve into the plethora of content about personality type and career match-ups.

find the best jobs for your personality with these personality assessments

Navigating choosing a major and career path can be challenging. Consider learning more about your personality to understand which options might be best for you.

Multiple sites list specific career suggestions for each of the 16 results and detail how the skills associated with each type can help achieve success in various industries.

The test definitely has its critics, as many major media organizations have published articles that call out the lack of science behind the creation of the test back in the 1940s. The original Myers-Briggs quiz costs around $50 to take online but there are many free online alternatives that are based on the original.

So while acknowledging the lack of psychological soundness by proclaiming oneself an INTJ or ESTP, these classifications can be combined with job search articles online to help seek out compatible careers.

2. StrengthsFinder

Rather than categorizing the quiz-taker into a single type, StrengthsFinder supplies five qualities that you possess most after completion of the test. The overall mantra of this examination is that an individual’s personality is composed of their greatest strengths. The format of the test is unlike its counterparts in that the taker is tasked with choosing one of two options per question that they identify with more. The sentence pairs (of which there are over 100) are sometimes complete opposites and sometimes have no apparent correlation. The lack of an obvious direction for some of the questions helps to not choose the answers of the results you want to have, but rather the ones that are true.

 Started in 1998, StrengthsFinder is composed of an online test as well as an accompanying book with additional information about the quiz. The results are five ranked talents (out of a possible 34 options) that best describe you and your work ethic. These range from ‘competition’ to ‘futuristic’ or ‘analytical’ that describe your strongest areas of excellence.

your personality matters when it comes to choosing a career

This test stands out in that it gives you multiple results rather than one overarching label. It is also much more focused on how you work in a group and how you complete a task rather than generic personality descriptors. 

There are online resources as well that delve into the 34 strengths and explain what they mean and how they correlate to values and achievements. This test also requires a fee to take, but per usual, there are similar free alternatives online. Overall, StrengthsFinder’s range of results that are grounded in professional application make it a worthy quiz to try.

1. The Enneagram

Taking the top spot on the list is the Enneagram exam. The test online costs $12, so we suggest getting your campus organization to sponsor the exam, as it is very popular for retreats. The test is great for understanding your own and others’ way of thinking as well as building stronger inter-organizational and interpersonal connections. The test has 9 possible results with personality type names such as The Achiever or The Individualist. The 9 types are organized into three encompassing “centers”: Instinctive, Feeling, and Thinking. Each center contains three of the nine personality types that have relating attributes. The reason that this test ranks so highly on this list is the breadth of the results that are supplied afterward. Not only do you get a breakdown of the interworking of your personality type, but you also receive common careers that others with your type pursue and a list of well-known people with that type.

Knowing your personality traits can help you in your job

It’s not just about finding the right job to fit your personality. It’s also about learning how to use what you know about your personality to make your job your dream career.

Contained in the results are also your ‘wings’, meaning two of your adjacent personalities that also affect your overall psyche. This is beneficial as the test does not place the taker in one sole category, but rather shows how the overall personality makeup is the confluence of many different types. The results are so comprehensive that they might even seem invasive when examining the dominant emotions of each center and the way each type copes with its respective dominant emotion.

There are many resources for matching Enneagram types to potential jobs, with the rabbit hole of articles about the nine types seemingly endless. Some articles detail not only the most compatible jobs for each type, but also potential nightmare ones to avoid.

While of course all jobs of one particular sector are not going to be the exact same, this advice can be helpful in identifying careers that might clash with your instinctual work ethic and behavior. Better to discover this now while you can change your major than three months after graduation when your shiny new desk job makes you want to buy a one-way ticket to a different continent. The sheer amount of information given after taking this test combined with the validity and realistic application awards the Enneagram the top spot on the list.

Learn about your personality and how it can help with your career choice

Personality tests enduringly appeal to our human  desire to categorize and neatly describe ourselves. While every personality test should be taken with a grain of salt, the results of the quizzes can be used to find more about your career strengths and interests.

At the end of the day however, only you know how you problem-solve, work, and see the world best. Thus, don’t solely rely on a quiz to define yourself and your career goals. Choosing a career is an important decision and should be approached holistically rather than off of a singular quiz. Nevertheless, happy quiz-taking and job-hunting!

Written by BookScouter Contributor Parker Strubhar.

Parker Strubhar - BookScouter Blog Contributor

Parker Strubhar is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma and currently resides and works in Washington D.C. He is also a freelance writer. Business inquiries can be directed to parkerstrubhar20@gmail.com.

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