We all must learn to speak!

There are many skills that employers seek but none more important and in short demand than public speaking and writing.  Ed Week published a recent article highlighting this “crisis.” Improving your public speaking and writing skills will only increase your marketability when seeking a job. So how do you improve your skills?

  1. Practice, practice, and then practice some more.
  2. Read challenging books and articles.
  3. Attend presentations where the speaker is known for their effectiveness.
  4. Tell stories during your presentations to lead the audience through your points.
  5. Video your presentations.
  6. Learn a new word and its meaning every day!  Practice using it.

There are many other ways but if you start with these, you will definitely improve both your writing and public speaking abilities.

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

Going to College is Like a Trip to the Grocery Store

Going to college is an amazing opportunity to set the trajectory of your personal and professional life.  It’s also an amazing time that will expose students to so many incredible opportunities.  When you go to college, think of it as a trip to the grocery story.  For example, what you buy is a lot like what is expected of you in college.  Think of it this way.

  • The staples like milk, butter, eggs, and bread are like ALL of the classes you will take while your in college.  In other words, they are the basis for so many things you will build upon (or bake) in your life.
  • Everything else you buy at the grocery store is what you want to eat in the future.  So if you what to have a party, you buy chips, dips, drinks, and deserts.  That way, you have a great party.  Therefore, if you want to have a great career you want to make sure that in addition to the staples (your classes), you do a lot of other things like volunteering, student clubs, research, sports, professional associations, and internships.  That way, when you look for a job after college, you aren’t going with the basic job, but instead are going to qualify for a job that is like the party!

Bottom line, staples are essential but it’s all the other things you will do that will enrich your life, personally and professionally.

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

Communication is EVERYTHING!

The single biggest skills gap in recent college graduates is verbal and written communication.  So let me be concise here and provide several recommendations to build both of those communication skills.

Verbal

  • Always be aware of your own emotions when having a conversation.  You need to control your reactions, think clearly, breath steadily, and focus on listening. Without strong listening skills, you will never be a great communicator.
  • Practice having hard conversations by debating a subject and being willing to adjust your perspective.  Stubborn, strong minded people typically are not known as effective communicators.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to speak in public.
  • Practice eliminating filler words by picking a random topic and speaking about it immediately for 3 minutes. For example, avoid saying: “He like didn’t like say what he like meant very like concisely.”  Also, silence is okay but filling silence with “Ummmmm” or “Ahhhhhh” is not effective communication.
  • Control your nerves by 1) controlling your breathing (steady breathing), 2) before you start, think of something that makes you smile (it will release dopamine which calms you and makes you happy), and 3) preparing — always prepare to speak in public!

Written

  • Read challenging texts like textbooks, trade journals, peer-reviewed research, and high quality publications (not newspapers).
  • If you come across a word you don’t understand, look it up!
  • Practice using new words in your conversations.
  • Practice writing and proof your work 3 times before you submit.
  • Use a professional editor who will review his or her edits with you.
  • Get extra help.  Students are always provided extra help with writing! You just need to ask.
  • Read, practice, and repeat!

A strong communicator will no doubt be a very strong candidate for college admissions and for employment.  However, you will not become a strong communicator if you just do what is expected of you in your high school and college courses.  It will take a strong commitment on your part, a consistent multi-year effort, and an unrelenting determination to learn. Good news is, research proves that anyone can develop their communication skills! Finally, start now!

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

 

What Students and Parents Need to Know About College

Too often, students fail to recognize that college is entirely different than high school. The following list highlights a few significant differences from your high school experience.

  1. College is about you taking charge of your work and learning.  Professors care about you and want you to be successful.  However, that success rests solely on your shoulders and will require you to commit significant time outside of your classes to learn what is expected of you in your classes.
  2. Your classes are only 30-40% of your preparation for a career.  The rest includes over a hundred and fifty (and counting) different opportunities to learn, build real-life experience, and expand your portfolio as you prepare for your job search.
  3. If you approach college like high school, you will fail, even if you do earn a degree.

There are so many more differences but the point is, most people do more research into buying a car or how to pay for a college education than they do in how to be successful in college.  College is a great time and you should absolutely enjoy it!  However, if you do it right, you will no doubt continue to enjoy life, your career, and the success that comes from owning your own success.

For more differences between high school and college, go to www.mycollegemax.com!

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

Sources for Choosing a College Major

Declaring a college major can be a daunting task.  It is becoming more and more common for students to enter college with an undeclared major.  A recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed asked 23,000 adults who attended a community college or four-year institution about how they chose what to study in college.  The following three sources were identified as the most likely to be used:

  • Employment-based guidance
  • Social network of family and friends
  • Online tools

Other helpful tools:

  • High school guidance counselor
  • College advisor

In addition to using these tools, considering using My College Max, which offers a Career Assessment and helpful tools for choosing a major/career.  Once you have decided on a major, it is important to do well in your classes and participate in extracurricular activities.  Also, be sure to complete an internship (or two!) in order to fill out your resume and gain experience in your preferred professional field.

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

Why Good Kids Cheat

There is no doubt that the majority of students are honest, hard working, and possess high levels of integrity.  On the flip side, students are reporting crisis levels of stress from the elementary grades through college. This “stress crisis” is when “good” students often face the real yet harmful choice of cheating for a higher grade. From downloading papers and copying friend’s work, to having some write your paper or using technology to cheat; there is no foolproof way to get away with cheating.

There are many reasons to avoid cheating:

  1. It is wrong and sets you on a path that you may not want to go down;
  2. In many cases, it’s illegal and can result in arrest;
  3. A nice professor will give you a failing grade for the test or assignment you cheat on;
  4. A smart professor (the majority) will fail you in the class and report your cheating to the administration;
  5. Many institutions will expel you and mark the cause on your transcripts, making it very difficult to gain entry into another college or university; and
  6. It doesn’t ease your stress; it makes it worse!

Bottom line, cheating is not acceptable and few will tolerate it.  Your best bet is to invest the time in learning how to study, putting the time in to do well in school, and learning to deal with your stress.  You will be happy you did and life will be a lot less stressful in the long run!

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

What are the skills employers are looking for in college graduates?

Nace – The National Association of Colleges and Employers has identified and defined the following skills that employers expect college graduates to possess.

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.
  • Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.
  • Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
  • Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.
  • Career Management: Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates, openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.

To learn how to build those competencies, visit your Career Services office or look into www.MyCollegeMax.com, an online tool that is designed to build the above skill sets and help college students succeed! Bottom line, the students will need to proactively seek out different experiences to build these “higher order” skill sets that will prepare them for today’s job market.  The more they do, the more skills they develop, the more competitive they will be.

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

How to Plan for Medical Emergencies in College

A medical emergency, either minor or major, can occur at anytime. There are a handful of steps students (and parents) can take before heading off to school in order to ensure they are prepared if emergency strikes. A recent article in The Buffalo News highlights important healthy and safety preparations. Be sure to put the following information in a file or on your phone:

  • Health Insurance Card (picture of front and back!)
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Primary Care Physician
  • Pharmacy (both at home and at school)
  • College Health Clinic
  • Campus Safety
  • Local Urgent Care
  • College Counseling Center

In addition, the following are useful supplies to pack for your college residence:

  • Digital Thermometer
  • Ibuprofen
  • Bandages
  • Heating Pads
  • Ice Packs
  • Prescription Medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Topical Antibiotic Ointment

As a college student, it can be stressful dealing with these situations while away from home for the first time. Take these precautionary actions in order to avoid some of the disorder associated with being sick while at college. Also, be sure to check out our blog “The Importance of Health and Wellness” for other tips to staying healthy during the school year!

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

Is College Worth It?

The cost of college has been rising over recent years causing many to reconsider the advantages of a college degree; however, it is absolutely worth the investment. A college degree can afford for an all-around better life – financially, professionally, and personally. An article by the Huffington Post explains the three main categories of benefits of college: career/economic benefit, social/emotional benefits, health/welfare/quality of life benefits.

Did you know?

  • A person with a bachelor’s degree earns $700,000 to $1,000,000 more than someone without a degree.
  • According to College Board, college educated people report greater job satisfaction.
  • Those with bachelor’s degrees have lower unemployment rates and are more likely to find new jobs while unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • In addition, college educated people are more effective communicators, have more friends, and suffer less frequently from anxiety.
  • A college degree provides quality of life benefits, including living longer and healthier, more leisure time, and frequent vacations. Children of those with a college degree also enjoy a higher quality of life.
  • The final areas of brain development occur in the frontal lobe where complex reasoning, emotional intelligence, and control are developed. This development continues into your college years, making the college experience critical to attaining higher order skills.

In conclusion, a college graduate and society benefit greatly from higher education. For those who want to maximize their college investment, visit My College Max to help you prepare for college and career. Utilize the easy-to-use tools, to maximize your college experience and job potential after college.

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D.
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com

Why Former College Students have Regrets after Graduation

Most former college students have regrets after graduation. A recent survey by Gallup and Strada Education Network finds that half of former students would change at least one of three decisions: the type of degree they pursued, their choice of major, or the institution they attended. Out of 90,000 respondents, 28 percent would chose a different institution,

36 percent wish they chose a different major, and 12 percent would have pursued a different level of degree. On the other hand, former students are happy with the quality of education they received.

Students primarily have regrets due to incomplete understanding of the following:

  • Employment Opportunities
  • Earning Potential
  • Long-term Student Debt

It is important for college bound students to utilize available resources in order to make the right decisions. Make sure to visit My College Max and explore the tools to help prepare for college and career. Go into college with a plan in order to avoid unnecessary regrets!

Steven J. Harvey, Ph.D. 
CEO & Founder, My College Max, Web Site: www.mycollegemax.com
Executive Director, The WNY Consortium of Higher Education, Web Site: www.wnycollegeconnection.com