Tag Archives | learning

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College is demanding; there are essay and assignment deadlines to juggle, exams to study for, summer internships to find, and a graduate job to pursue. The transition from college student to young professional can be equally tough.

So, what are the top five skills you need to be working on to get you through college life and out the other side to employment with ease?

Clue: If you are only concentrating on your college work, you may not be working on all the right skills you need for a great job after graduation.

1. Communication

The ability to communicate with others is vital. It’s not just about being able to voice your own opinions and arguments; equally important is the ability to read and understand others.

There’s a theory that over 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, which means people largely get their message across through body language and tone of voice, rather than the actual words they choose to use.

People spend lots of time chatting with peers. This kind of talk is informal and unstructured. Most feel more comfortable talking with individuals from a similar generation and background.

However, when meeting with college tutors, attending interviews for employment and further down the line in professional work, more formal dialogue is required.

For this reason, it’s vital to work on your interpersonal communication skills – to hone your ability to read others by taking the time to listen, watch and converse with people from all walks of life. This is a particularly important part of interview preparation.

Part-time or voluntary work can offer you opportunities for improving your communication skills.

2. Writing

Perhaps you thought learning to write was for grade-schoolers? Not so at all.

Thanks to the internet, there’s never been a greater demand for the written word. Every day, people write through direct messaging, email and social media; they read blogs and online news.

Although much of what is read and written may have gone online, this doesn’t mean quality has been compromised. Students still need to turn in first-rate essays and reports, and people are all keen that whatever they write on social media gives a good impression.

Outside in the post-college world of work, email is a dominant form of communication, detailed business proposals and scientific reports are still being written, and companies need to be able to market their products and services through quality web content, blog posts and succinct social media. In fact, according to the most recent NACE survey, 4 out of 5 employers see good written communication as a vital skill.

Without a doubt, you need to be able to write well. You may not want to be a journalist or novelist, but whatever your goals, you absolutely do need to be able to get your point across through the written word.

It can be simple to improve written English skills. The most straightforward way to learn to write in a more advanced way is to read. By reading the kind of styles you wish to emulate, you can observe the structures, the style, the formality and the vocabulary used.

3. Critical Thinking

People today live in an age wherein they are continually bombarded with information via the internet and their smartphones; never before have they had to contend with such a volume of media passing by their eyes.

However, their ability to evaluate this vast quantity of information and form their own arguments is often lacking.

Unfortunately, the way in which people were taught in high school meant that they were expected to regurgitate a required response to pass tests. This often means that people find it difficult to analyze the swathes the information they receive at college level, where greater understanding and depth of knowledge is required.

It is vital for students to think critically enough to identify and evaluate different arguments and see that there may be bias, misinformation or alternative ways of looking at the subject in anything they read or view. This will enable them to construct their own arguments and responses in written or oral discussions.

In the graduate world, employers are increasingly looking for candidates who can think critically, evaluate problems and provide alternative solutions, rather than passing the buck.

4. Initiative

Initiative is a skill in demand from graduate employers.

This is because, in the world of work, students who willingly show initiative demonstrate that they take responsibility for something. They know that if the project they are working on does not produce good results, they are responsible for that. They will therefore work hard to ensure the best outcomes.

For this reason, demonstrating initiative shows the beginnings of leadership skills, too. Initiative is about taking decisions and ownership of a situation. This person will not need to be micromanaged and can help engage others.

To practice this skill in student life, look for opportunities where you can get a handle on something that interests you and show you can make the most of situations. It could be starting a micro-business, writing a blog, or taking an active interest in student politics.

5. Teamwork

Finally, over 82 percent of employers questioned in the NACE survey say they actively search for team players when sifting through résumés, and this figure has been rising in recent years.

Once in employment, very few people work autonomously. Their role and input are nearly always part of a bigger picture, where colleagues are of equal value and importance to the finished results.

However, as a college student where you are largely working alone on essays, projects and assignments, it can be hard to gather much experience of teamwork during your college years.

Potential employers need to see evidence of teamwork, so for a fully-rounded résumé, you need to have something concrete that demonstrates you’ve worked successfully alongside others.

Your contributions to sports teams, music and drama ensembles, political or charity campaign groups can all show that you’re a team player, so make the most of opportunities to take part in life outside of the classroom.

This article was contributed by guest author Maloy Burman.

second semester reflection

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

In the spirit of the new year, it’s time to make plans for the future and reflect on the past. Personal growth doesn’t come only from making resolutions or setting goals, but it relies a lot on learning from previous experiences. This is especially important in your first year of university/college. So, if you haven’t done it yet, here is your chance to stop procrastinating and reflect a little on what you’ve learned as a post-secondary student so far after your first semester.

1. This is not high school.

While this may seem obvious, stay with me. When I say this isn’t high school what I mean is yes, okay you literally are no longer attending secondary school, but more specifically you are now an adult and university is where you learn to act like one (more or less). By the end of your first semester you will likely have learned the hard way that no one is responsible for you anymore, except yourself. At first this seems great. No one cares what time you get home, what time you get up for class, or if you even make it to class at all. However, it doesn’t take long for all of the good habits you spent years developing to disappear overnight, and when things go wrong, the flipside of all this freedom is that you usually have no one to blame but yourself.

2. The sooner you can come to terms with failure the better.

In the land of startups there’s a strange motto these potential tech giants live by that may seem foreign to the rest of the world: “fail fast”. If taken at face value it appears as if they are encouraging companies and ideas to fail, but that’s not the case. What they are really doing is attempting to normalize failure and make it part of the process that leads to success. In other words, if you are going to fail, it’s better to get it over with quickly and move on to the next thing. The important lesson here is to let failure happen and keep moving forward in spite of it, which is something that you need to learn by the beginning of your second semester. One of the first big lessons of university life, both academically and personally, is that you are going to fail at something, but that failure is not the end of the world. It’s how you respond that matters.

3. Friends come and go.

Remember all those friends you met during frosh week? I hate to break it to you, but most of them are not going to be around come the end of the semester. In university, people will constantly come into and go out of your life. For the first time, you won’t have the same day-to-day schedule as most of your friends and you’ll learn very quickly that maintaining adult friendships requires work. People get busy. People lose touch. If you really value someone’s friendship, you need to make an effort to see them. However, the upside of meeting a lot of new people is that you also have the opportunity to be a bit selective. The one thing you’ll learn as a university student is that when it comes to relationships, quality matters infinitely more than quantity. You need friends who aren’t just there for a good time, but who are going to be there for you when times get tough.

4. It’s okay to change.

At the end of your first semester of university, you are no longer the same person you were just a few months ago. You may have moved away from home for the first time, and you’ve been exposed to new people, new ideas and a new way of life. In the process, you’ve found out a lot about yourself and what really matters to you. You may not realize it right away, but this is a big turning point. Who you become now is going to determine your life going forward. Embrace these changes and seize the corresponding opportunities that arise. Then change your mind again. Experience as much as you can while you have the time and the freedom to do so.

5. It’s okay to have no idea what you’re doing.

Here’s a heads up: no one does. Everyone who seems to have their life together is usually just as confused and stressed out as you are beneath that perfect exterior. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t feel pressure to do something because you think that you should. Now is the time to listen to your heart and tune everyone else out. I know that may sound cliché, but everything is going to be so much easier and more exciting if you take this time to find out what you’re really passionate about. Life will sort itself out one way or another. Don’t waste time worrying if you don’t have it all figured out right this second.

6. When you can, choose sleep.

This is, hands down, the best advice. Sleep is so much more important than whatever it is you were going to do instead. I know that as a student, a lot of the time it’s not realistic to expect a full eight hours of quality sleep every single night, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Just because no one is enforcing a bedtime doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have one. A lack of sleep will catch up with you. Sleep deprivation takes a mental, physical and emotional toll that no amount of caffeine is going to be able to counteract.

7. If you aren’t already, get involved.

Join a club. Play a sport. Start something. Create something. Do something. Do anything. In school there are so many opportunities to try new things and meet new people, most of which do not exist in the “real” world. Get out there and take advantage of them. Life is about balance and this is one of the best ways to find some as a student.

Image by Steinar Engeland, unsplash.com

There is no excuse not to sharpen your digital skills in this modern day. The Internet has made many things possible; among them the ability to study for free to attain all manner of skills – right at the comfort of your space. The most marketable skills are digital skills because you have to keep up with the times. The best part is that no matter who you are or where you are, you can enhance your professionalism by acquiring a wide range of digital skills. This article documents eight digital skills you can learn from home, absolutely free.

1. Touch Typing

Every person should consider this wonderful skill. Touch typing will make you very proficient when it comes to typing on your computer. You will rely on muscle memory rather than looking at the keys. This is the sure way to type super-fast while eliminating major errors. Whether you are working for a company or for yourself, typing fast and effectively will save you both time and money – not to mention that you’ll be the envy of your friends. It is a great skill to get started with. Test your typing speed online and study touch typing if you do not have an impressive speed. This skill is free and a quick search online will reveal exactly where to start.

2. Product Management

Product management skills allow you to manage or coordinate the processing of digital products. This means you can manage teams from the idea level to launch, whether for sites, apps and even wearable technology. Product managers will oversee the process while working with designers, marketers and developers. How to seamlessly do this will be made possible by your digital skills in product management. The good news is that you can study this online, free of charge. You will get excellent insights that allow you to stand out from the crowd. This skill will also see you successfully learn how to use relevant tools; to facilitate the collaboration of your team. Virtually anyone can attain this skill and it is worth taking full advantage of.

3. HTML and CSS

Having some coding skills is definitely the best thing you can do to add value to your profession. HTML and CSS are the two most important coding languages that are used to build websites. HTML is the foundation and many people who have mastered this skill have learned it online for free. CSS is the next level of coding and it will play a role in bringing various features to a website. After learning these skills, you will be able to enhance a brand the right way by building the right outfit for the online space. You can do this for your brand or for that of your employer. Again, you do not need to be very intelligent to master this skill. You only need to have a keen need to learn, and some time to spare. Learn absolutely free online and enhance your skill-set.

4. Photoshop

There are many people who are familiar with Photoshop but have never gotten around to using it. The truth of the matter is that if you have never used it, it can be a bit intimidating. Photoshop skills will go a long way in helping your products in a number of ways. From designing websites to apps and social media images; Photoshop skills will save you money. This is because you do not have to hire someone else to do this for you. Additionally, you can create designs that you actually like as you customize your products. Photoshop skills can be acquired for free and searching online is the best place to begin your skill acquisition. The good thing is the Photoshop is highly user-friendly.

5. SEO

Without Search Engine Optimization skills, you can be sure that your online website marketing endeavors will be compromised. You need to know what makes a good site suitable for the search engines. There are all manner of tactics employed by site owners to remain relevant online. Through SEO, you are able to learn the right ways to fully optimize your site in a sustainable manner. From SEO content to analytics, there is so much to learn. Thankfully, you do not have to pay for it online. Acquiring a wealth of experience in this area will enable you build very strong brands. Keep in mind that keeping your skill up to date is the way to go; there are so many SEO elements that crop up daily in the ever-changing digital environment.

6. Digital Marketing

Marketing products and services digitally has become the order of the day, as companies are able to make sales and big profits. Learning how digital marketing works will also propel you in the right direction if you are looking to engage this field. In reality, we all engage in digital marketing for one thing or another. Learning the best practices will give you that extra edge that will keep you ahead of the pack. This area aims to grab the attention of digital customers for better product visibility. There are all manners of tactics to employ and studying free online will allow you to attain these crucial digital skills.

7. Social Media Management

There is no question that most of us use social media. However, what many people do not have are the right skills to use social media while capitalizing on the potential gains. In this respect, social media management skills are pivotal and will allow you to perform better. From Twitter to Facebook and Instagram, there are endless social media channels to talk about. In light of this, knowing how to handle your social media engagements is a digital skill that you can learn online for free.

8. A New Language

Learning a new language may not sound like a digital skill. However, because we are living in a global village, learning a new language can open up an array of opportunities that will enhance your life. To this end, learning a new language for free online will not just help you appreciate another culture, but it will give you an economic edge as well.

This article was contributed by guest author Adam Fort.

Image by COD Newsroom Relations, flickr.com

In order for any educational institution to prosper and thrive, it must maintain a curriculum which is updated and well researched. Well-educated and learned faculty plays an important role in withholding the level of education provided in the school or college. But these aren’t the only aspects of a successful college; students must be willing to work hard, learn and strive for greatness, and only then will they perform well during their educational years. Upholding its standard of education, America has been a hub for many students around the globe for its intuitions that are at par with many others. This wealth of knowledge and esteemed faculty of teachers have always assisted locals in choosing a college in their own country. This is also the reason why international students have been coming here to study various majors for a long time.

The recent political climate has been tough on a lot of students who have come from other countries to study here. The fear that international students may have with regard to their identity can be overwhelming. However, these people are here because they worked hard for it and deserve to be in this college. To feed into their fears, dropping out due to an insecure atmosphere would be unjust to them and to the institution of education as a whole. Every person deserves knowledge and good education to help them become a contributing member of the country. Here is why every college needs to be more accepting of students from all backgrounds:

More Understanding:
The more you know someone, the easier it is to become close to them, and the less likely you are to be biased towards those people. The only way to be more understanding of others is to talk to them and find out about their culture through interaction and bonding. This helps both native and foreign students become comfortable, confident and knowledgeable when faced with other foreigners later on in life. When we learn customs from different areas, we have an upper hand over people who haven’t met any foreign students. The knowledge of such traditions can lead to better communication with foreign clients of the same region in your future professional life. Teachers teaching diverse students may at first encounter hindrances when it comes to catering to different mindsets, but even that can further enhance the teaching faculty’s communication skills.

Difference of Opinions:
When people from different backgrounds are sharing the same platform, there is bound to be a difference of opinion. Students and teachers can learn from it and debate about it. This variation in opinion can lead to creativity and healthy competition in assignments, presentations, and exams. It leads students to learn about other cultures and their problem solving tactics and way of studying. This also concludes to better research on subjects and reaching a more concrete conclusion.

Whether the student is of a Hispanic or Latin origin, a member of LGTBQ community, or is an exchange student from a European or Asian country, diversity promotes unity. Not only does an environment with students holding various nationalities endorse your institution as more tolerable, it also encourages harmony among students. They will be more united and can become more accepting of other people. When these young individuals go into society they may have the capacity to be more welcoming and friendly in a work environment, or on a national level.

There is no question that the more the people there are, the more influence they will have on each other. Teachers and students can work together to form clubs and societies that help other students polish their skills. The literature club can have more diverse literary knowledge, the arts club can explore other forms of arts and the music society may be able to work with instruments different from what they are used to, through foreign exchange students or international students.

Admitting diverse students can only benefit educational institutes wishing to produce quality education and giving their students more experience in the world outside the campus. There is no progress without people accepting each other for who they are. When they are nurtured from an adolescent age and taught among different people, they can grow to become more trusting and accepting of people who are different. It is how the world must work in order to have a peaceful future and to protect mankind from harming one another.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachael Everly.

Image by PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay.com

Image by PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay.com

Being a language learner and co founder/CTO of Skill Silo, a live language learning company, I am constantly being asked: “Why should I learn a new language?” or “What are the benefits of learning a new language?” The answer can vary from person to person, but there are a few reasons that apply to almost everyone.

Let’s start with the most impactful benefit; your career. Whether it is for advancement, or higher pay, employees who are multilingual have a major advantage. It is a fact that employees who speak more than one language are paid higher wages for the same job as mono-linguals. (Source). What’s interesting to note is that different languages have higher pay. The benefit of career advancement is coupled to the industry and company you are working for. If your company is seeking individuals for global travel and you speak the local language vs another employee who doesn’t know the language, the choice is obvious.

The other two benefits of why you should learn a second (or third) language are more personal.

If you are fortunate enough to travel the world, you will undoubtedly find yourself in a situation where speaking the local language is helpful – if not, you’re not traveling properly, but that’s for another time. Ever been exploring a new city and wanted to eat at a tasty local restaurant without guessing the menu items? How about public transportation – ever get lost or were unsure of where to get off/which direction to travel? You don’t need to know the full grammatical structure of your host’s language to ask for directions or for food recommendations. Basic conversational skills with emphasis in various contexts can be a lifesaver.

Lastly, learning a new language is fun and mentally challenging. You get immediate results and can actually apply your new skill in the real world. Learning new phrases and speaking to others within minutes of comprehension is rewarding. Advanced calculus is fantastic, but when was the last time you used it outside of a classroom? Being mentally challenged/stimulated is incredible for your health and brain. You will boost your memory, and be able to identify patterns more quickly. (Source)

There are dozens and dozens of benefits to learning a new language. Above I outlined the three most common benefits and reasons to learn a foreign language. Depending on your situation there are other benefits not mentioned, but ones that are just as valid. Time to start learning!

If you are interested in learning a new language, give Skill Silo a try! You get to choose your own teacher and meet with them, 1-on-1, without having to leave home. Upon registering, you will receive a free 30-minute lesson in any of the languages they offer. Even better, by using coupon code STUDENTS10 you will receive 10% off your first purchase!

This article was contributed by guest author Judah Lamm.

Image by NEC Corporation of America, Flickr

Image by NEC Corporation of America, Flickr

If you type the phrase ‘learning style’ into a Google search, you’ll find a ton of different categories and names for styles within the classroom, workplace and more. Generally speaking, most people are familiar with the kinesthetic, auditory and visual learner. Most people can identify with at least one of these learning styles.

Auditory Learners

If you’re an auditory learner, you typically need to hear things to absorb the information. It’s common for auditory learners to talk to themselves. They often like to read aloud and they naturally mouth words. To consume and retain information, it’s a good idea to record yourself repeating whatever content you need to learn. Once you’ve recorded yourself saying it, play the recording back to yourself over and over again. This will help the material become second nature to you.

Visual Learners

Visual learners obviously retain information best through what they see. Reading is very helpful for visual learners because they’re able to see the words and remember the content that way. Visual aids are essential for the visual learner to retain information. For example, when the teacher is writing information on the board, it would be wise to include a diagram or some sort of pictorial reference. This will do so much for the visual learner’s attention span and retention of the information. Diagrams and graphs are both great tools for the visual learner to use. If you’re a visual learner and you’re enrolled in a master in public administration online, it would be great to purchase a dry erase board and recreate the notes from the online lectures. Simple strategies like colorful markers and a dry erase board will help visual learners succeed.

Kinesthetic Learners

If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you learn best through touch. Kinesthetic learners need a tactile element to their lessons because they need movement to stimulate them. It doesn’t have to be extremely complex, but little elements of touch will do a lot for the kinesthetic learner. Allowing the kinesthetic learner to type their notes on the laptop will help them retain information better than writing it out in a notebook would. If the presenter is lecturing and there’s no way to incorporate the tactile element, stretch breaks every 30 minutes will be very helpful.

No matter what category you belong to, there’s always a way to consume, learn and retain information. Yes, some of the learning process might involve getting creative and thinking outside of the box. However, once you’ve nailed down your learning style, the sky is the limit.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.