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Finals: Mastering Material and Overcome Anxiety

5 May

If the word finals gets your anxiety ramped up every time you hear it, then it is time to start thinking about some ways to help decrease that anxiety and build your test confidence. It has been a long semester to say the least and finals are always the last (and often largest) wall to get over. I have had my fair share of test related anxiety throughout my college career and as my last set of finals approaches, I want to share the tips and tricks that I have used to keep the anxiety to a minimum and knock my finals out of the park.rise

1) Remember to Relax

Taking five minutes to do nothing… I mean nothing. No books, no D2L, no slides and most importantly, NO PHONE. Taking time to sit and focus on the thoughts that are going on in your head allows you to identify the things that are causing you the most stress. Once you identify the stressors then you know whats bothering you and can make a plan.

Just a reminder: Remember to breathe. I know it is silly, but the reason anxiety builds is often because the thoughts are fast and furious and make you tense. When your body tenses up, your breathing gets short and that constriction can lead to more anxiety. I know this from experience. Let yourself focus on the breathes you take in and out

2) Activity

Yes, sitting still and cramming for a week straight isn’t the best game plan. Just life remembering to relax, making time for an alternate activity (other than studying) is important too. I personally, like to start my days off with a run. I take my dog and we hit the road for 30-40 minutes. The activity takes my minds away from the studying and away from any potential stress. Studies have shown that taking some time to get physical not only keeps you healthy, but it actually helps you focus more when you go back to studying.

Whatever you like to do, just do it! Even if it is getting up to take a walk or get some fresh air every hour, it can potentially increase your productivity which can only help that final grade right?!

3) Alternate Study Spots- Spots to Consider on Campus

campus mapI know, I know you have your favorite place to study on campus or in that coffee shop on University Blvd. That is great! I am not saying you should abandon it entirely. By changing up your study location, it forces your brain to adapt and increases the plasticity of your mind. All that jibber jabber means is that it allows your brain to put more information in it and actually retain what you need for the exam.
So, if you pick one day a week to study at that other coffee shop on University Blvd you may be able to exponentially increase the benefits of your study time.

 

4) Build On What You Know- Relate one class to another

Whether you are finishing your first year or your last year of college, being able to build on what you already know and recognize concepts that relate to one another will cut that study time in half! All too often, I got into the mindset that I had to study for every single thing on the exam because I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Before you go jumping on that band wagon I so terribly remember, take a few minutes to think about the work that you have already done and the things that you know. If you can relate a new topic to an older one that you already know (and like), then you are ahead of the game.

curveI just took a genetics exam today and before I let myself get into that old habit of thinking I didn’t know anything, I sat down and analyzed what the test was going to be on and how I might be able to relate it to something I already learned. Great news came! I knew that the genetics exam was about hormones and hormone pathways and guess what? Not two weeks ago did I take an exam in another class that was on hormones. Plant hormones, yes, but hormone pathways nonetheless. Knowing that I had already mastered something similar put me in a better mental state and allowed me to relax and feel like I had the upper hand on studying.

These are just a few ways that you can help prepare yourself for finals. I know that finals are stressful and full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, that wont change, but what can change is how you approach them. After working on these skills during my college career I can say that the test anxiety has gone down and the grades have gone up! Happy Finals Wildcats! You can do it!

 

 

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Studying on the Wild Side: A Day in the Life of a Conservation Biology Major

16 Apr

We all meet people throughout college that are studying different things. If you’re like me in any way, you might ask yourself a few questions. What classes do they take? You go on field trips?! They have those in college? Do you do research? What does a typical day look like? The list of questions goes on and on. Fortunately, I am here to answer some of those questions for one of my majors: Conservation Biology.

First off, the full title of the major is, Renewable Natural Resources- Conservation Biology, but that is far too long to say and most of the time i lose people at the second word, so Conservation Biology it is. A typical day for an RNR major as they are nicknamed goes a little something like this…

Go to class. As a RNR major you are required to take classes like Conservation Biology, Genetics, Measurements and Mammalogy.. Yes, I said Mammalogy. You might be asking what the heck is that class? In short the study of mammals, but in long, a semester’s work of dedication to memorizing, recalling and sight identification of 150 animals native to Arizona and the wester United States. Now, this might make it seem like there is a lot of library time memorizing, but that is far from the truth. Here is was the class looks like:

We did a lot of research outside in areas throughout Arizona. We saw some pretty awesome locations and views.

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A major in conservation biology doesn’t require that you conduct or participate in research, but there are ample opportunities to do so throughout the college. I participated in a joint study between U of A and Arizona Game and Fish Department where we studied the wildlife-urban interface in Chandler, AZ. It was an awesome way to get “field” experience and it looks great on a resume!

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Part of the being a RNR major means that at some point in time you will have to work with wildlife. By work, I mean hands on work. As groups we would catch and analyze small mammals like the one below. Isn’t he cute!

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You spend a lot of time with the people in your major and many times they become some of your closest friends. A campfire always helps the bonding also.

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Sometimes, you get dared to do some silly things and have to eat a grasshopper… The key is not opening your mouth after you put it in.

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We survived, and it didn’t actually taste too bad. I earned some bonus points with the professor that day though.

The major isn’t always outdoors, camping and eating weird bugs though. There are different tracks that you can follow. My focus was on policy and law which allowed me the opportunity to participate in an internship for the Arizona State Senate.

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I was of the only student who wasn’t a political science major (nothing against Poli Sci), but this was an advantage. I had experienced or followed many of the laws that guide agencies such as the Arizona Game and Fish Department when doing research and field work, so I had a unique perspective that proved beneficial.

Overall, my major may not be typical, but it has sure been a blast. Despite the memorizing. I encourage you to ask your friends what a typical day looks like in their major or to take an elective class that counts towards your graduation, but is outside of what you would typically study. You never know what will interest you!

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Keeping You Connected to Summer

16 Apr

Keeping You Connected to Summer

Are you ready for summer? It is just around the corner! Check out the latest edition of Wildcat Connections and see if you have all your bases covered.

How Finding Nemo and Nike Got It Right

28 Mar

Finding Nemo and Nike got it right. They just nailed it is you ask me.

“Just keep swimming” and “just do it”

Bottom line to both… Motivation. It is an easy thing to talk about and an even easier thing to think about, but actually finding it can be hard. We are all faced with decisions in life, many of which seem intimidating or difficult. The way we decide to tackle these decisions and move forward is often driven by motivation.

As you navigate your way through the space and time of college, you will be faced (as I am sure you have already been) with challenges that require a whole lot of moxie and just as much motivation.

I am graduating in May. Not May, next year May. May in a month and a half May. I know that I will be going to law school in the near future, but had to make the tough decision to take some time off of school in order to get everything in order. Making that decision was hard, but knowing what was in front of me after the decision was even harder: job searching while maintaining my grades at a level that would still help me when I applied to law school. I knew that the only thing that would help me land a job and stay focused would be motivation… and I mean a whole lot of it.

I began my job search process (at least the serious part) in January 2014. I was overwhelmed. My resume needed an overhaul… understatement of the century and I needed to get my head into the job search game. I have spent the better part of the last three months editing my resume, re editing the essay, ironing my suit, shirts and pants until the lines were so straight my grandmother would be proud and most of all, I spent those months finding ways to stay motivated.

I traveled all over Arizona to interview, Skyped, called and Facetimed in order to not miss out on any opportunity each time wondering if I could make this the job of my dreams (at least temporarily). It was hard to stay motivated. Some days I just wanted to sleep for another one, half hour or ten minutes, but I made myself get up in the promise that if I put in the hard work now, I would be able to sleep sounder and sleep in once my post graduation plans were set.  So, I got up, repeated the cycle of searching, writing cover letters, submitting my resume and answering questions.

I knew that the U of A was having a job fair in early March and that was where I turned my motivation and focus too. I read up on all the companies, all the mission statements and committed myself (and my memory) to information that I could use in the 5-10 minutes that I would have at the event. My motivation to take the one change I would have to make a good first impression.

Did it work? Was my motivation and drive what it needed to be to land a coveted interview? I will be the first to tell you that it worked and I was offered a few interviews and subsequently multiple job offers. I am no longer unemployed post graduation! Yay!

Motivation is not something that you inherit or get by osmosis. It is something inside of you that you train and work with that shapes your dreams and propels you even when you feel like you can’t keep going. There are a lot of people who will quote famous lines about motivation, but I think Nike and the movie Finding Nemo got it right: Just keep swimming and just do it.

Just Keep Singing

10 Mar

Fearless: Pronunciation: fi()r-ls
Function: adjective
: free from fear : BRAVE

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That is what Merriam Webster’s defines fearless as. Fearless is the idea

 

that for a moment no matter how long it may be, you do something that challenges your comfort and places you, knowingly, into a vulnerable and honest state.

That is easier said than done.

This February (like the one that just ended) I was given a challenge to be fearless. Fearless is something that can only be defined in an ambiguous way. Without getting to psychological, we all have fears and they all come from different places. Bottom line: fear is relative and highly personal. What you fear is probably completely different from the person sitting in the room with you and both fears are probably different from my fears. Like any rationally irrational person, I have a few fears. Some make sense, others not so much, but they are there.  When I was told to look at the thing I fear and identify one specifically, I thought “Great, this will be a nice reflection on what I need to work “… or something like that.

I was wrong.

Reflection was part of the process, but it wasn’t the only part. I was then tasked with the assignment of conquering the fear. Awwhhhhaaat?! I suppose that you are asking, “What on Earth could your fear possibly be?” To which I will tell you in one simple, innocuous word: karaoke.

Background: I DON’T SING. I don’t sing in the shower. I don’t sing with my headphones in. I don’t sing in the car. I certainly don’t ever sing in front of people. I lip sync like a champ, but when it comes to putting sound with the words, I refuse.  I have always been shy. How shy you ask? So shy that in kindergarten, I couldn’t face my class (and their parents) to tell them about my favorite animal. I turned my back to the class and told my presentation partner what to say for me.

That being said, I volunteered myself to do the one thing in this world I am really afraid to do. Sing karaoke. When I made this decision, it was the first week of February. I thought about when I was going to go and what song I would sing, then put it off to take a few midterms and write some papers and when I tuned back in, it was the last week in February. I realized (in a panic) that I would need to sing soon and by soon I meant in the next couple of days. I researcher and I looked for places to go that weren’t either too seedy or too far away. I picked a date and time and my goodness, I struggled through it all. I won’t lie; I had major, major anxiety about the whole thing. I didn’t sleep the night before and I still didn’t really know what song I was going to sing still. Thursday (THE karaoke day) rolled around and it was the longest day on record. I couldn’t stop thinking about the embarrassment and the utter ridiculousness that I had volunteered myself for. I felt like I was approaching something terrible until I sat down after one of my classes that day and realized that the fear I had was consuming me and ruining my day and I was letting it happen. I was letting the fear of this event take away all my power and positivity.

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I was going to look ridiculous and sound even worse no matter what. I wasn’t going to magically have the vocal skills of Adele in the next 5 hours so I had to embrace the fear and make the conscious decision to not let it get the best of me.

Fear is something that feeds off of the ifs and the whys in your mind. Once I decided that I was going to be brave and turn the karaoke into something that would be fun and if nothing else entertaining for my friends to see I no longer was afraid.

Fast forward and I made it out alive. My friends were all there and they supported me which at the end of the day is what I value most. I sounded terrible, but I accomplished my goal and although I wouldn’t freely elect myself to karaoke again, if I had to I wouldn’t be scared.

Moral of the story: Fear can take you away from opportunities in your life. Making the decision to be brave isn’t easy, but that is the hardest part. Once you made the decision, it is smooth sailing and sweet songs after that. We are all given moments in life where we can choose to be brave and take the opportunities as they come to us or hunker down and hope that the opportunity we let pass wasn’t a big one. I am not going to miss any big opportunities and neither should you. Sing off key and out of tune if you have to but just keep singing. 

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Wildcat Connections- Stress Management

3 Mar

Stress Management Edition of Wildcat Connections

This edition of Wildcat Connection will help you bust stress and look forward to spring break.

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Hot Off the Press- Wildcat Connections Newsletter

23 Jan

Hot Off the Press- Wildcat Connections Newsletter

There’s still time to start off right! Click on the image above for our latest edition of Wildcat Connections, and learn how to get involved on campus.

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Welcome Back!

13 Jan

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back, Wildcats! We are excited to share our latest edition with you! This edition is full of great events, important dates and deadlines, as well as some extra special goodies! Make sure you check it out!! We can’t wait to see you back on campus in two days! Bear Down!

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Wildcat Connections- New Year, New Semester

7 Jan

Wildcat Connections- New Year, New Semester

Happy New Year Wildcats!!
2014 brings new and exciting things just for you. This edition of Wildcat Connections reflects on the great achievements of 2013, but also looks forward to the opportunities and adventures ahead in 2014. Be sure to check out all the sections to get ready for another great semester! We cover everything from preparing for the semester ahead to providing you with ideas about what to do in Tucson in the last week of break! Enjoy!

Resolve to Start Strong — Resolutions We Can Keep Together!

5 Jan

Congratulations! You made it through the fall semester. It is a new year, and you may be considering resolutions that will lead to an even better version of you. Resolutions are hard to make and even harder to keep. Our team of student experts decided to highlight some of this year’s most popular resolutions as well as resolutions we are making ourselves.

Top Resolutions of 2014

1. Stop doing _____
This resolution is aimed at stopping a bad habit and improving your health, wellness and organization. This year, our Outreach Facilitators are going to try to stop stressing so much!
2. Start exercising more
This seems like a simple resolution, and it is, until that second week of activity comes around and you’re tired and sore. Don’t worry though; we are right there with you. One of our facilitators is running a half marathon in February so stay tuned to see if that resolution holds up and how the training will go. YOU CAN DO IT!
3. Take a Trip
This is a fun resolution that we all strive to attain. Taking a trip can be as easy as driving to the top of Mount Lemmon to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and school. The greater message here is to do something to take care of yourself.
4. Volunteer More
Volunteering is a great way to get in touch with campus and the Tucson community. There are great ways to get involved and opportunities are endless. Some places that welcome volunteers are: Ben’s Bells, Habitat for Humanity, Animal Shelters and Food Banks.
5. Eat Healthier
This is one of the easiest and best ways to do something that will make you feel better. This resolution doesn’t mean that you have to overhaul your diet completely. Some of our Outreach Facilitators are going to cut out little things like soda and cookies. A little change can go a long way.

A new semester and a new and improved you are right around the corner. We are excited and cheering for you every step of the way. The spring semester is a time for you to take the not so great moments of the fall and turn them into a success. Student Affairs Outreach and your Outreach Facilitators are here to help you keep those resolutions as well as assist you as you navigate through your semester. Let’s Bear Down and start strong!

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