Tips on Applying for Your Future Career

Author: Samantha Duffy

So you have filled out the graduation application and the thought alone of being done with school probably has you more excited than a female who just found out “50 Shades of Grey” was becoming a movie. What’s important to remember though is that just because school is done doesn’t mean the work is. It is time to put all the countless hours of studying and paper writing to use and find a job; but, where do you start?

Well first let’s get one thing straight, just because you have a degree does not guarantee you a job. That may not be the easiest pill to swallow considering the price of tuition today, but the truth is that a lot of people have degrees now, and a lot of those people want a job just like you. This does not mean your chances of landing a career is out of your reach, it just means you have to know how to apply. Here are a few tips that can help you in your quest to achieving success after college.

Be proactive.

Now is not the time to rest on you laurels, you need to really be going after these jobs. It is not possible to apply for too many jobs; in the words of Forrest Gump, job hunting is “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. You may not hear back from a lot of the places you apply to, but don’t let that get you down, chances are someone is going to pick your application.

Don’t completely rely on the Internet.

The internet is a great way to apply for jobs because there are tons of postings, and it is relatively quick and easy. Keep in mind that it means thousands of graduates are applying this way too, so that makes your application a minnow in an ocean. Make your application stand out by making connections within the company and networking your way in.

Create a wide network.

Do not limit yourself to friends and family when it comes to building your network. Reach out to anyone that you think might be helpful in your search for a job- it can be your childhood camp counselor, a troop leader, even an old teacher you really loved. You never know where there could be a connection to a future career. In addition to reaching out to these people, maintain a decent relationship with them too. Having a diverse list of references when applying for a job is a good thing; it helps employers get a better understanding of who you are in all types of environments.

Appear professional.

This one is a biggie for graduates today. Giving off a professional vibe is more than putting on a suit and covering up your tattoos, it means social media. If you think your employer is not looking at your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you are sadly mistaken. Now is the time to clear out your social media websites; use the three B’s system- no beers, bongs or bikinis.

Don’t set your expectations too high.

This is like the first-time home buyer; chances are you won’t get everything you ever dreamed of. Your first job is just the beginning, you have to work your way up to the job of your dreams, just like everyone else has to. Michael Jordan didn’t just pick up a basketball one day and become a legend, he had to work for his success, and so do you.

Follow through.

You don’t ask someone out on a date and then never call them with a follow up plan. Same goes for job hunting. Submit your application and then follow up, it shows initiative and puts your name in their minds.

Take it seriously. 

Too many people do not understand the seriousness of finding a job. Make sure your resume is creative and reflects YOUR skills, not the templates you got offline. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and do your best to improve those areas that aren’t as strong. Being serious also means being prepared for an interview. This isn’t a job at your local Taco Bell; the questions are going to be a lot more in depth and require more personal information, so do your research and really get to know who you are and what you have to offer the world.

Use your college’s career center. 

This one is not on here just because we are the Career Center. The office helps students find the right network contacts, teaches useful job search tactics, and gives information on how to improve your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Make note: The Career Center does NOT find a job for you, nor do we write the resume for you. Our job is to help prepare you for a job, not do everything for you. Use the tools and information you get here to start conducting your search on your own.

Take this advice into consideration and don’t hesitate to start working on your job search right away. You do not have to be a graduate to find your future job, you just have to know what you want and then go after it.

Related Articles: 10 Job Search Mistakes of New College Grads

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Making the Most of Your Spring Break

By Samantha Duffy

It is hard to believe that it is already time for Spring Break, especially when there is still a blanket of snow on the ground and the high is 40 degrees. Never the less, it is March and that means we have all been working hard for the past two months and earned a break from classes. To those of you who are lucky enough to travel somewhere warm; stay safe, sleep in, relax and enjoy yourself. For the rest of you sticking around the area, know that you have options to make the most of your spring break.

If you are beyond stressed out with your work load, then use this break to simply relax. Never underestimate the power of a bubble bath and aroma therapy. Take the time you would have spent in class to do the things you have been missing out on. Catch up on your favorite TV shows, go on a Netflix bender, take naps, bake your favorite recipes, hang out with friends, go somewhere you haven’t been- do whatever it is that makes you happy and do it knowing that you deserve to. Keep in mind though that you have a whole week off and that you have time for more things than just relaxing. Say it with me, Spring Break Alternative.

This semester PNC PaWS (Panthers at Work Serving) program is offering an Alternative Spring Break for students who want to volunteer and make a difference in the community. The opportunity to help others is a truly rewarding experience, but volunteer work is also a great asset to add to your resume, as well as a chance to network with others. The schedule this year is as follows:

Monday, March 9- Housing Opportunities

Project: Painting an Apartment
Location: 2001 Calumet Avenue, Valparaiso, IN 46383
Time: 9:00-1:00

Tuesday, March 10- Food Bank of Northwest Indiana

Project: Packing Backpacks
Location: 2248 W. 35th Avenue, Gary, IN 46408
Time: 8:30-12:00 

Wednesday, March 11- LaPorte Salvation Army

Project: General Cleaning
Location: 3240 Monroe Street, LaPorte, IN 46350
Time: 9:30-3:00

Thursday, March 12- La Porte County YMCA

Project: Converting Elston Middle School into a YMCA Location
Location: 317 Detroit Street, Michigan City, IN 46360
Time: 9:00-1:00

Friday, March 13- Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City

Project: Painting and Reorganizing a Storage Room
Location: 301 East 8th Street #126, Michigan City, IN 46360
Time: 9:00- 3:00

Interested? You can register for the Alternative Spring Break here. The deadline for Registration is Thursday, March 5th, at 4:30 pm.

If participating in the program isn’t your cup of tea, but you still want to feel like you got some work accomplished, then use this time to do things that you can use in your future. Start working on your resume and cover letter, create a LinkedIn profile, search for jobs and internships that interest you. This is a time where you do not have to worry about homework or exams, so stop making excuses. Even dedicating 20 minutes a day to working on these things is a start- make it happen!

At the end of it all, regardless of where you will be spending your break, remember to make the most of it. After this week it is back to the books until May, so don’t just let the days fly by. If you are a senior preparing to graduate, like myself, don’t forget that this is your last spring, so make it one worth remembering! Do things you wouldn’t normally have the time to do, and enjoy every second of it.

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12 Things You Won’t Miss After Graduating College

Author: Samantha Duffy

College. The best four years of your life; or at least that is what everyone tells you. I can honestly say that there is a lot of truth behind that statement. My experiences during my college career have provided me with some of the best memories that I will definitely never forget. Lets face it, going to college really is living the dream. School gives you the chance to find your passion, chase your dreams, meet new people, make mistakes, have fun, learn new things, and become the best version of yourself. There is a lot about college to love, and that can make leaving school hard to do. This has been your life for the past four years. You know who you are here, and so do the people. This is your comfort zone, your niche, and leaving it will be harder than you think. But, that does not mean you are going to miss everything in college. In fact, there are a ton of things that you will NEVER miss about living the college life.

1.)  Taking classes that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with your major. 

Don’t get me wrong, we understand the point of them, you want us to be well rounded individuals, but that does not make them any less annoying. And I don’t care what you say, I will never use half the things I learned in Algebra.

2.) Any class that starts before 10 AM or after 5 PM.

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Image Courtesy of

My brain is not ready to operate that early yet, and it stops working after five. Besides, 5 o’clock is supposed to be happy hour; the only question I want to answer is “what would you like to drink?”.

3.) Registering for classes.

What do you mean the class is full? I’m a senior. You already have all my money, bump the freshman!

4.) Parking on campus.

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Image Courtesy of

Survival of the fittest is in full swing here. You would trade your first born for that front row spot if it means avoiding parking in the farthest lot and walking ten minutes through the arctic tundra.

5.) Group projects.

This one doesn’t even need an explanation. You’re warned though, group projects don’t really go away after college. Just wait until your first group project at your job.

6.) Trying to find an open outlet in the library. 

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Image Courtesy of

What is it going to cost me to get you to unplug your device? Don’t want to negotiate? Fine. Let me find some scissors.

7.) Textbooks.

Buy this $200 book for class so that you can use it once, then sell it back for a whole $20. You win again bookstore.

8.) Exams. 


I would love for someone to explain the logic behind finals week. Whose bright idea was it to cram five tests for multiple subjects all in one week? You should just have me drive my car off a cliff and into a body of water, that would be less stressful.

9.) That person in class that can never just shut up.

This person can come in all forms. There’s the “speaking as a parent”, the “I like to argue with everything the teacher says”, the “I never come to class so can you tell me what everyone else already knows”, and then let’s not forget everyone’s favorite “class is dismissed, I have a question”. In case you didn’t know, we are all imagining what it would be like to round-house you in the face right now.

10.) Getting called on in class when you didn’t read.

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It is like there is no way to avoid this. I swear teachers have a sixth sense that lets them know when someone didn’t do the work. Nothing personal teach’ but there was a Breaking Bad marathon on last night; which did you really think was going to win?

11.) Your totally abnormal sleep schedule.

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Between cramming for tests, all-nighters for papers, staying out all night, working late, and caffeine overloads, sleep becomes something you do whenever that precious moment comes around. You may cherish the dysfunctional relationship you have with your bed now, but one day it will change and be normal again.

12.) Blackboard. 

By the time your professors finally get the hang of it you are graduating. Not that it matters, because then they change it and the professors have to learn it all over again.

So for those of you who are preparing to graduate, know that life after college has its benefits. Some of you may think you won’t miss college at all, but trust me you will. Going to a class for an hour and 15 minutes might seem like torture now, but just wait until you have to go to a job for eight or nine hours a day, five days a week. There is plenty you will miss about college, and you should always hold onto those memories; but, when you throw that cap in the air, think of all those things about college that drove you crazy and rejoice in the fact that they are now a thing of the past. (At least until you decide to go to grad school.)

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“Parents Just Don’t Understand”

By Samantha Duffy

I think everyone can agree that, despite our different personal experiences throughout college, there are certain things most of us can relate to during our time here. Some of you may be adults that have families of your own, but many of us are still looking to mom and pop for help during college. Whether you are living with them or trying to make it on your own, your parents still have a say in the way you live your life; after all, you know they are the one’s you call when you need help.

While no one should take for granted the support of their parents, it can be frustrating trying to reason with them at times. A lot our current students are first generation (first in family) college students, and it seems like mom and dad do not get what it’s like to be in school. Some of you may laugh at this idea that balancing life in college is difficult, and know that I am envious. But to some of us, being in college has its ups and downs, and can be a struggle to get through once in a while. Trying to explain to your parents all the emotions, trends, and hardships of college is almost as frustrating as minimum page length requirements.

So the next time you are having a moment when you just wish your parents could see the world through your eyes, remember that you’re not riding that struggle bus alone. Here are six things college students wish parents would understand.

1.) That asking us, “what are you going to do when you graduate?”, is the most frustrating question ever.

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Photo Courtesy of

We are already asking ourselves that every day of our lives, and you adding to it makes the anxiety worse. Let me catch my breath!

2.) We reserve the right to be irresponsible sometimes. 

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We’re in college; this is part of the experience, it is part of how you learn, so we get to let loose sometimes. This one is a little different for those of us who commute to school, because it is a different experience than on-campus students. We have to drive everywhere, going out is more expensive, “ragers” get shut down, and we don’t get to walk home during our breaks. So don’t nag us for staying out too late on a weekend or for multiple trips to Buffalo Wild Wings between classes; if we’re being safe then don’t grill us.

3.) We have way more on our to do list than just classes. 

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Try adding work, homework, internships, clubs, building a resume, networking, paying bills, maintain a high GPA, and try to figure out what you’re going to do after you graduate.

4.) The cost of textbooks angers us just as much as it angers you.


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Do you really think I want to purchase a book for $125? No! But I  don’t make the rules, and neither do you. So don’t make me feel like a homely peasant when I need money to buy them; we do our best to find the lowest price.

5.) We are counting down the days till graduation too. 

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Your parents are excited for you to really fly free from the nest; you have studied hard, are entering the professional world, doing things on your own, and making them proud (and their wallets fuller). But trust us, were excited too. We can’t wait to get that diploma and not worry about 8 AM classes and ten-page papers. We are ready to find the right job and start making that money.

6.) But we’re also dreading graduation day.

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Sure, graduating is going to feel great, but it is also the realization that we’re headed into the real world at our own risk, and that is a little intimidating. College has been a comfort zone for these past four years; it feels safe. So even though we know we are ready, we are still allowed to be a little scared.

There are a million other things that we all wish parents could understand. That putting off work is a lot easier when you’re part of the social media generation. That going to classes all day means you earned bonus hours on Netflix. That sometimes it is easier to find my clothes if they’re scattered across the floor rather than put away. And while yes, college is about education, it is also about learning from experiences, and enjoying your time here.

So the next time your parents make a comment about what you are doing, and you know they don’t understand, just tell them in the words of Tom Petty, “The work never ends, but college does”.

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Major Motivation: How to Choose Your Perfect Major

- Author: Samantha Duffy

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Now isn’t that a question that has been asked by every teacher in the history of our adolescent lives. Growing up, the answers were always pretty general; doctor, police officer, firefighter. But as time went on and we began to grow and change, so did our ideas of what we wanted to be. I know that in the second grade I wanted to be a lifeguard more than anything, but then reality got in the way of my dream when I found out that working at the local pool wasn’t going to pay the bills; also, I wasn’t exactly the strongest swimmer. So then I had to ask myself, if I can’t be a lifeguard, what am I going to be?

This might be a question that many of you are asking yourselves now. You are looking at the list of college majors and realizing that you are no longer a child being asked what their dream is; instead you are a grown up that has to make a big, real world decision. So how do you decide? Sure, you have made it to college and are ready to take the next steps towards bettering your future, but how on Earth is anyone supposed to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, especially if you’re only eighteen. As you sit there mauling over all the different majors, trying to decide if Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo is the best way to pick one, try asking yourself these questions instead.

Wendy Peffercorn was everyone's inspiration, right? Image Courtesy of

Wendy Peffercorn was everyone’s inspiration, right?
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1.) What are you passionate about? 

Is there something you do that you just absolutely love? Any hobbies you do or clubs you are part of? Maybe you like tinkering with car parts or writing short stories, whatever it is that makes you happy, start there. Remember that choosing your major means choosing the type of job you will be doing for the next 40 years, make sure it is something you will enjoy.

2.) Where do your strengths lie? 

This is a big one, and you need to be realistic with yourself. Sure you might love watching Grey’s Anatomy, but if you got a C in biology, going to school to be a Doctor is probably not going to work out in your favor. Now is the time to start analyzing your transcripts and SAT scores; find out what your strongest subjects are and see what majors coincide with them.

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3.) How much time are you willing to dedicate towards your education?

Psychology might be something that you can see yourself doing for living, but are you prepared to be in school for the next seven years? Keep in mind when choosing a major that not all degrees can be earned in four years; some require much more time that you might not be willing to commit to. Don’t forget that becoming a psychologist or engineer means a lot of work on a daily basis. These types of majors are not easy and they require certain GPA’s and a ton of studying; will you be able to handle that amount of dedication? Studies have reflected that Engineering majors have a drop out rate of almost 60 percent; know what you are getting  yourself into before you waste your time and money.

4.) What kind of life do you want to lead after you graduate?

Not all jobs are on a 9 to 5 schedule. Certain careers demand a lot of time, travel and extra work. Do you want to have a family some day? Do you want to be able to attend all your college friends weddings? Will you be okay missing girls night out or the big hockey game? Some jobs make it hard to do these things, so make sure all your hopes and dreams mesh well together.

Once you have answered these questions you can start the decision process. Here are some ways to make the road traveled a little less bumpy.

1.)   Seek Help

Know that you don’t have to go it alone. Utilize the school’s resources, they are there to help you! You can work with us here at the Career Center to help you find out where your best fit is, or you can sit down with an adviser or teacher and get an idea about what a good major is for you.

2.) Divide and Conquer

Yes, you need to pick a major, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it right off the bat. Try spending a semester dabbling in a few different classes to see what works best with you. Most majors require that you take courses in different fields so it won’t be a waste, and you won’t have any “what if’s” later on.

3.) Get Some Perspective

Don’t be afraid to talk to people who work or are studying in the area you are interested in to get some incite. Everyone’s experiences are different, so it can be helpful to see things from multiple viewpoints. They also can help prepare you for what to expect and give you advice on how to have a successful experience. And who knows, maybe you can score a good deal on their old textbooks!

4.) Get Proactive

Get out there and get going! There are a million different quizzes online that can help you decide which major is right for you, like this one here. Start researching different majors and the jobs that are available for them. An article by US News gives a list of majors with  the best return of investment, so you know what you will be looking at once you earn your degree. Also check out the link at the bottom of this post for information about the top ten easiest and hardest majors; there are lots of facts that might help you with your decision! So get motivated and get going!

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Related Articles:

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest College Degree Majors | 10 Tips for Choosing the Right College Major

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Oh Baby You, You Got What I Need

Author: Samantha Duffy

In my last blog post I discussed the importance of your college GPA when it comes to landing your dream job. While the numerical data reflecting your course work plays a major role in receiving the position you desire, it is not the only significant piece of information you need to have on your resume. So what else are these future employers looking for from you? Now that is a question all students should be asking; whether you are a freshman or senior, it is never too early to start preparing for your post-college success.

Studies have been conducted by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) to find out what organizations feel are the most vital characteristics of future employees. While that A in COM 435 might show how well you comprehended the information, employers also want to see how successfully you can apply your knowledge and skills in real world experiences.

The survey conducted by NACE collected responses from 260 different organizations, and the results placed two qualities of the highest importance; the ability to work in a team structure, and the ability to solve problems and make decisions. So you know all those classroom group projects you loathed so much? They don’t end the day your college career does. And in case your group project experience did not already teach you this, strong decision making and problem solving skills are both attributes of successful teams.

So now you may be wondering what you can do to illustrate to employers that, despite the slackers and confrontational teammates, you contribute positive traits to group work. There are a ton of different things you can start doing that will demonstrate your ability to work well with others.

Take classes that require group projects

PNC offers plenty of service-learning courses that not only give you group work experience, but also a chance to work with a real organization within the community. A lot of the work you complete in these courses can be put on your resume and added to your professional portfolio. Plus you can tell employers about the role you played in your group.

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Join clubs and extracurricular activities

School clubs and sports teams show your willingness to work with others, as well as your level of dedication. Volunteering is also another great way to demonstrate these attributes while also revealing a strong sense of moral responsibility. Some clubs provide students with all three of these benefits; for example, Lambda Pi Eta is a National Communication Honor Society that brings communication majors with scholastic honors together, who then complete charitable work and projects to strengthen the communication field.

Because what girl didn't want to be a member of The BabySitters Club? Photo Courtesy of

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Because what girl didn’t want to be a part of The Baby Sitters Club?

Jobs and internships

Your full or part time job also shows team building skills; do you get along with your co-workers, can you take direction from those in charge, do you delegate tasks to others in a professional manner, how well do you perform under times of extreme pressure, what do you do when there is an internal or external issue? Internships are one of the best ways to gain these experiences in your specific field of study, and look awesome on your resume!

Getting involved is one of the most important aspects of you college career. Yes, your future boss wants to see that you paid attention in class, but they want to know that you are a well-rounded individual. If school is all you have to focus on, then you should have a 4.0. So start looking around for jobs, internships, clubs and groups that you can join that will better you as a person. The Purdue North Central website lists all the various clubs available through the school. Also, don’t be afraid to stop by our office in LSF 104 during drop-in advising hours for help in your search for the perfect internship or job!

Check out some of the other qualities employers placed on their list of desired qualities:

  • Verbal communication skills with individuals inside and outside an organization
  • Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Ability to obtain and process information
  • Ability to analyze quantitative information
  • Technical knowledge relevant to the job
  • Proficiency with software programs
  • Ability to create and edit written reports
  • Ability to sell and influence others

Related Articles: The 10 Skills Employers Want Most in 2015 Graduates

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C’s Get You Degrees, But Not the Job of your Dreams

Author: Samantha Duffy

As graduation is rapidly approaching for many students, it is often you hear many future graduates complain about being burnt out. Your lifetime of education has all piled up, and even though the semester is going by quickly, it feels like a never ending load of work. Can it be May 15th yet? Then you find yourself slaving away at 2 in the morning, trying to finish your ten page paper, and the desire to earn that “A” is replaced by the realization that you are perfectly content with getting a “C”. After all, C’s get degrees, right?

Yes, a C-average does earn you a diploma, but that does not mean it will be smooth sailing when it comes time to applying for a job after graduation. As the number of people enrolled in college increases, employers must decide who is the best fit candidate based on more than where your degree is from. Only one person can get the job, only one can be the winner; so how do you determine which college student is superior? The answer to that is your grade point average.

Employment studies show that a student with a GPA of 3.3 or above has a greater advantage when applying for a job. Organizations often use this number to weed out the slackers from the over-achievers. If the company can only hire one person for the position, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are looking for the most qualified person, not the average student. So if your GPA is lower than a 3.3, your resume is less likely to pulled for an interview; it simply does not even compete with the others.

While some small organizations may not care as much about GPA, the large organizations definitely do.  An article from Forbes reported that, “According to a survey of more than 200 employers conducted in Aug. and Sept. of this year by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 67% of companies said they screened candidates by their GPA” (Adams, 2013). These were companies like Kellog, Proctor & Gamble, and Bank of America; the big time organizations that set the standard for all others.

So you may be sitting in class, day dreaming about the day when you no longer have to sit through a boring lecture, but remember that what your professor is saying is important. Take notes, study hard, and go to class. Your grades reflect your level of competence; if you can’t get a decent grade in your area of study, why would an employer believe you were competent to perform a job in that field either? So do things right the first time through; life does not always offer a do-over button. Once the grade is there, you cannot just go back again and change it. Retaking a class does not trump your previous “D”; the grade is still there, just like that feeling of regret.

How can you maintain a high GPA in college you ask? There is not one sure-fire plan that guarantees you a perfect transcript, but there are definitely some things that most plans have in common.

1.) You have to want it. If you have your heart set on getting the best grades possible, then you are more likely to do everything in your power to get it. Write down the reasons you want an “A”, an remind yourself of them whenever you lose motivation.

2.) Go to class! This is seriously the easiest thing you can do to get a better grade. I know how much I dread going to classes sometimes, but just get it over with. Being in class forces you to hear the information, even if you don’t take notes, chances are you will remember something come test time. And second, going to class earns you easy participation points, even if you just doodle the whole time, at least you are making an effort to be there.


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3.) Study in shorter periods. Rather than sitting down the night before and cramming for hours, try reading one chapter a night, or just go over vocab for 10 minutes a day. Human beings have an average attention span of about 7 seconds, so shorter study sessions with higher frequency help you retain the information better, plus it goes by faster.


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4.) Make college your number one priority. I know this one is a challenge for many students like myself, but it is probably the most important step toward achieving academic excellence. I have to pay a ton of bills during the school year, so often times I find myself wanting to put my job before my school work, but that is not the way to go about it. Save money by not going out all the time, and focus more time on bettering your grades. You are going to school so that you won’t have to work a minimum wage job anymore; it is a mistake to put your education on the back burner because you care more about working at the low-rate job you secretly despise.


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5.) Balance out your class schedule. Try to organize your classes so that you have an even mix of advanced and lower level courses, that way your grades aren’t imitating the Titanic because you can’t keep your head above water. Also, keep your extra curricular activities balanced; I know it is hard, but you can say “no” to people sometimes. Work at organizing this schedule too; knowing what is going on from day to day is key to mastering your educational success.

I leave you with this advice, and hope that you actually take what is written here into consideration. Trust me when I say you do not want to be the graduate with the degree, and nothing but student loans to show for it. You want to be successful after you complete school. You want to be the one that gets the job everyone else is pining over. So do the work now; leave all your cards on the table and walk away knowing you gave it your all, and that you will find success for all your efforts. Once again I remind you all to take advantage of not only your education, but the added opportunities your school offers. As always, the Office of Career Development has tons of services that can help you better your future, so stop in and find ways to better your future in the real working world!

Related articles: Do Employers Really Care About Your College Grades? | How to Maintain a High GPA in College: 8 Steps |

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