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6 Ways You Can Ace This Semester

August 2, 2018

Another summer slips away and the new school year is just around the corner. Whether it’s your freshman year or your senior year, there are bound to be some doubts, apprehensions, and nerves beneath the excitement. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start out the semester with a bang! Here are some tips on how to kickstart your semester to make it the best one yet.

1. Schedule a visit with the Center for Career and Civic Engagement ASAP to set up a resume

Trust me on this one. The sooner you have a professional, established resume, the sooner you can start applying for internships, on-campus jobs/work-study, and other opportunities that require a resume. It’s better to get your college paperwork in order so you can be ready to send potential employers your cover letter, resume, and whatever else you might need at a moment’s notice. You never know when, where, or with whom you might make a connection!

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2. Expand your network

Have you ever heard people say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” That could not be more true in the working world. Finding jobs and getting your foot in the door truly is all about connection, connection, connection. For introverts like myself, this can be difficult. Attending awkward networking events is extremely intimidating. However, in order to build your reputation and land an internship or job, networking is something you have to do. You will be forced to suck it up, and talk to people. Honestly though, it isn’t as terrible as you think. People are still just people with all the same insecurities, doubts, and apprehensions that you have. Here's a hint: No one really knows what they're doing in life. The pros just know how to fake it. Plus, here’s a tip I learned long ago for conversations starters: Answer a question, then ask a question. Simple really. If they ask what your major is, answer and then ask them how they got started in the field they’re in. To sum it up, go to networking events and make an effort to put yourself out there. You never know who might connect you to your dream job!

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3. Join the clubs/organizations in your major

Moravian College has a plethora of clubs and organizations for every major, minor, hobby, or interest! So, why not join the club(s) that coincide with your interests? Joining clubs not only shows potential employers that you’re dedicated to your study, but that you also are serious about the work you do because you use your free time to attend meetings and events when you could be relaxing or watching Netflix instead. By participating and being active in activities related to your major, but aren’t required shows that you go above and beyond at school, and will continue to do so in the workplace. Joining clubs related to your major also allows you to gain skills that you might not receive in the classroom. For example, volunteering at club fairs or hosting club events gives you communication skills with others, cooperation, collaboration, and, here it comes again, networking! Clubs are definitely worth the extra time.

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4. Use. Google. Calendar.

I cannot stress enough how vital it is to develop good time management. The workplace won’t wait for you if you’re 10 minutes late to a meeting and they definitely won’t accept your excuse of “I was in line at Starbucks.” If you aren’t a morning person and have to get up for an early class, too bad! Your job will probably require you to come in even earlier than 9am. Set your alarm, actually get up when it goes off, and start your day. If you aren’t great at time management, there’s still time to get into a rhythm while at school. Google calendar is fantastic at helping with time management because you can customize it however you want. It gives a 10 minute notification before a scheduled event is happening and you can customize the event to repeat every day, week, or every other week at specific times. During the school year, I color coded mine for classes, club meetings, work-study, and extra or miscellaneous events. Besides, most professors will send Google calendar invites for advising meetings or any other individual meetings, so you might as well start using it and familiarize yourself.

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5. Determine which study method works for you, then follow it!

For a lot of students, problems with studying all comes down to how you go about doing it. Studying isn’t fun for anyone, but it’s something we all have to do to graduate! There are many different methods of studying that work for different people. Here are just a few.

a) Group studying: If you are a social person and study best when bouncing ideas or flashcards off of others, then group studying might be the best option. Just be mindful to not get distracted with your friends and keep the focus on studying (most of the time).

b) Quiet studying: Some people find background noise distracting and need absolute silence to study. Luckily, the third floor of Reeves Library is made just for that! It’s a completely silent floor so you won’t have to worry about interruptions there. Find a private study room or stake a spot by the beautiful arching window and hunker down for an evening with the books. Or, study in your dorm room if you can. Lots of college faculty advise against this because you’re more likely to be tempted to take a nap in bed or get caught up in watching TV, but if it works for you, then do what works! If you truly can only focus when holed up in your own space, then don’t listen to what people say. It’s your grade that’s on the line, not theirs.

c) Public studying: If you’re like me and find that your mind splinters into all different directions without white noise, then studying in public or with background noise might work better. I cannot focus my thoughts if it’s totally silent. I’ll start to think of other things I have to do, or make up scenarios in my head and get distracted. By playing quiet background music, movies, or TV, I can focus my brain on the work I need to do. If you’re studying in a place like the Afterwords Cafe or the HUB pavilion, be careful to not spend too much time people watching or chatting with friends. Take a brief break to say hello, get a snack or drink, then get back to work.

d) Studying with incentives: A lot of people I know find it easier to study with incentives. If I read the chapters for this class, then I can go get a snack. If I finish half this essay, I can take a break to watch an episode of my Netflix show. For some, this works very well and motivates them to get their work done. I do not have that kind of discipline. If I were to reward myself with an episode of my Netflix show, that would quickly turn into binge-watching in no time.

e) Studying without breaks: This method is probably next to unheard of. Who wouldn’t need to take a break from studying? Well, for some, they find they have to concentrate and finish assignments in one sitting otherwise their workflow and ideas will be interrupted. Taking breaks in the middle of an assignment can sometimes make people lose their footing and rhythm when doing homework. If you need to finish an assignment in order to let your mind feel at ease, try completing one assignment at a time before taking breaks. For example, I would finish all the homework for Spanish before taking a break, then finish my homework for English, and take another break. This method allowed me to feel satisfied and relieved when I knew an entire assignment was completed. My motto was always, "write first, edit later." At least get it all out on the page before going back and making sure it was right.

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6. Take time to have fun!

Lastly, and probably just as important as studying, make time for your friends! If all you do is study, you’ll be missing out on one of the most crucial aspects of college! Socializing and getting off-campus once in a while helps clear your mind and rejuvenate your energy. Who wants to be stuck inside their dorm or on campus 24/7? Go out and get some fresh atmosphere! Getting off-campus is especially easy for our students because Moravian College is located not even a mile from historic downtown Bethlehem! Visit the various restaurants, shops, and cafes the city has to offer. Some stores, like the Moravian Book Shoppe and the Chocolate Lab even offer 10% off discounts to Moravian students if you show your college ID. So what are you waiting for? Explore the town you’re living in for 4 years. Take it all in, and treasure this time in your life because it goes by extremely fast and you don't want to miss a thing.

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