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Work Smarter, Not Harder

15 Jan

super_strength-512Spending Time on Strengths

Everyone is their own worst critic and we often have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. While we challenge those expectations in college, it’s important to keep it real and use our time in school wisely.

It’s hard for us to see a weakness in ourselves and accept it as is. This makes it very tempting to work harder on our room for improvement instead of maximizing our strengths.

To work smarter, not harder in college, we have to identify our strengths and focus our energy on developing them even further. Weaknesses will fill in and follow suit over time while you evolve as an individual.

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Finding your Strengths

We all want to succeed, that’s why we came to the U of A. We hear a lot about “following our passions” and “doing what we’re best at”, but how do we discover these things? How do we know when our passion has been ignited, or when we’ve found our niche?

It sounds like we should just stumble upon these hidden strengths and know them when we see them, but it’s not always so easy to pinpoint. One way of finding out about this is by looking at a challenge and your skills to meet it.

When a challenge presents itself, our response to that challenge tells us about our skills in that area. For me, just a few minutes of algebra problems are enough to remind me that math is a weakness of mine. On the other hand, ask me to draw you a picture and I’ll handle the task with a smile on my face. You might be a person who is very comfortable with math, but stressed out by creative demands. Stress is just an indicator of how we evaluate a challenge, and how we think our resources can meet it.

When it comes to school we can identify areas of strength and weakness in ourselves by monitoring the challenge level and the skill level we experience from different subjects.

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Getting in the “Flow”

According to the “Flow” model presented by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the ideal scenario is a high level of challenge met with a high skill level. According to this model, a person can perform at their best and achieve their highest under these conditions while experiencing fulfillment from the task. He adds that you must have clear goals, visible progress, frequent feedback, and confidence in your abilities.

Keeping track of your grades can help with setting clear goals and watching visible progress. Visit office hours for frequent feedback, and keep up the hard work for more confidence in your abilities!

-Amanda

 

#StudiousSeptember: Study Tips for the Chronic Procrastinator

20 Sep

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If you’re like me, you procrastinate everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s studying for a giant exam that’s worth 25% of your grade or the smallest assignment that should ideally take you 10 minutes to complete.  Admittedly, pushing everything back to the last minute in college isn’t necessarily a good or easy thing to do. While this may have worked in high school, it can easily come back to bite you if you aren’t careful about planning and time management. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few things about how to effectively get things done and limit procrastination.

  1. Write down EVERYTHING! Not only will you be able to see what days or weeks your schedule is busier, but if you write it down the chances of you forgetting to do it are slim to none. Even if you’re sure you’ll remember to do that last minute homework assignment, chances are you’re eventually going to forget to do something. But if you write it down, you’re much less likely to forget and resort to writing a five-page paper in the hour before class.Bruce Almighty.gif
  2.  Overestimate how much time it’ll take to do things. So many times I’ve thought “That assignment will only take 30 minutes” and then end up spending 2 hours on it. If you overestimate time, you won’t get stuck being unable to finish because you didn’t allocate enough time. Plus if you plan for something to take you 3 hours and it only takes 1, you just made an extra two free hours in your schedule!
  3. Plan specific times to do tasks. If you look at what you have to do and just say “Oh I’ll just do that later”, chances are “later” will just keep getting pushed back. But if you say “I’m going to do that at 2:00” then you’ll be more likely to do it because you gave a specific time.later
  4. Be very explicit about what you need to accomplish. Similar to doing something “later”, if you plan to “read your textbook” or “study”, you’ll crack open a book, pull out your notes, and call it a day. But if you specify to “read and highlight chapter 4” or “work through 5 practice problems”, not only will studying be easier because you know exactly what you want to do, but you’ll also see yourself making a lot more progress.
  5. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS! It’s way too easy to get roped into Netflix, your phone, video games, etc., and end up wasting hours without accomplishing anything. If you don’t have the self-control to stay away from distractions (because, let’s be real, binge-watching Friends is way better than reading a biology textbook), use an app or other site to block distracting sites for a specific amount of time, or get a trusted friend to hold your phone while you study.Distraction.gif
  6. Find the best place for you to focus. If you can’t get anything done in your dorm or home, go to the library. If you don’t like the big space of the library, try a study room. If you hate studying indoors, go outside for a while. It’s better to move than be unproductive where you are.
  7. Lastly, JUST DO IT! It’s so easy to put things off until you absolutely have to do them. But trust me when I say it’ll feel so much better just to get things done early. Not only will you not be continuously stressing about them, but you’ll also find yourself with so much more free time that you’ll definitely appreciate.

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I hope these study tips could help you some! Procrastination is a dangerous habit to get trapped in. But with a bit of motivation, discipline, and planning, you can beat the addiction and find success in studying!

-Jessica

Top 20 Movies to Watch Over The Summer

10 Jun

 

Shannon’s Picks                                                              Chrissy’s Picks

Action:  

 The Bourne Identity                                                          Dracula Untold

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Adventure:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows                       Bridge to Terabithia

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Animation:

How to Train Your Dragon                                            Lion King

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Comedy:

The Hangover                                                                    The Intern

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Drama:

Cast Away                                                                            Sense and Sensibility

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Family:

The Sandlot                                                                         Howl’s Moving Castle

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Fantasy:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey                           Harry Potter

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Horror:

The Shining                                                                         Shrooms

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Romantic Comedy:

The Wedding Singer                                                         The Ugly Truth

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Science Fiction:

iRobot                                                                                    Blade Runner

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Chrissy’s Summer Reading List

10 Jun

Summertime,  the most relaxing word a college student can hear, say, or think. Summertime opens up a plethora of opportunities that are not available during the school year: sleeping until 1pm, going on random road trips, and of course reading fun books. I don’t know about y’all, but I find that during the school year I am way too busy reading the various assigned readings to  actually get any fun reading done! So, I made a list during the school year of all the books I would like to read during them summer and I am now steadily working my way through them! Here are my top 10 books that I would like to have read by the end of the summer. I included short summaries of the books that I found on the publishers’ websites.

Please note that most of these contain adult themes and violence. Please read at your own discretion. 

10. Ella Enchanted: Gail Carson Levine

How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!

But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.

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9. Dracula: Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

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8. The Blood of Flowers: Anita Amirrezvani

Both a sweeping love story and a luminous portrait of a city, The Blood of Flowers is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life. Illuminated with glorious detail of Persian rug-making, and brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan, The Blood of Flowers has captured readers’ imaginations everywhere as a timeless tale of one woman’s struggle to live a life of her choosing.

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7. The Iliad: Homer

Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace

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6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.
By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.
Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in.
Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

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5. 13 Reasons Why: Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

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3. Brave New World: Aldous Huxley

The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley’s vision of the future- of a world utterly transformed. Through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, people are genetically designed to be passive and therefore consistently useful to the ruling class. This powerful work of speculative fiction sheds a blazing critical light on the present and is considered to be Huxley’s most enduring masterpieces.

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2. The Other Boleyn Girl: Philipa Gregory

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

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1. Poison Study: Maria V. Snyder

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dusté and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear—.

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Quick & Easy Healthy Snacks

10 Jun

I’ve got to say, having such busy weeks I’m always looking for quick and easy snacks. And now that its summer and temperatures are high, nutritious snacks are even more important to keep up with this heat. Now after browsing the internet, I found a variety of recipes that are perfect for summer and taste delicious! Now to share with you are a few snacks I’ve tried myself that take no longer than 10 minutes!

apples

Apple Moons

Just spread apple slices with peanut butter and add granola to the top!

chicken

Chicken and Waffles 

Mix chicken salad with some sliced grapes and chopped walnuts. Spoon onto toasted mini whole-wheat waffles.

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Pomegranate Slushies 

Blend 1 cup pomegranate juice and 2 tablespoons honey with 3 cups ice until slushy. Pour into glasses and top with more juice.

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Matzo Melts

Brush matzo crackers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried rosemary. Top with sliced turkey and shredded cheddar. Bake 5 minutes at 400 degrees F.

These are just a few of the great snacks I’ve made at home thanks to the Food Network. To see more visit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-after-school-snacks/50-quick-snack-recipes.html?oc=linkback

New Year, New Me?

21 Feb

Starting Spring semester is always a wake up call for me. I am not sure why, but I am never as motivated in Spring as I am in the Fall. This Spring semester seems to be the worst one of all because I am taking a lot of units and I have my annual laziness epidemic going on. Personally, I think I, and students in general, have a harder time staying focused in Spring because the weather gets better, and everyone wants to be outside. Regardless of the causes, what I need to do this Spring is to get myself organized and set up personal goals.

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The most important aspect of a goal is that it is achievable, so while it is nice to think that I can take 21 units and work 20 hours a week, this is really not possible for me. So, my first goal is to work enough to keep me busy, but not so many as to overwhelm myself. I have actually already achieved this goal, I found that working 13 hours a week is best for my current schedule.

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My next goal for the semester is to study on the weekends. Often, I have the mindset that the weekend is my time to relax from school, and while I might not have to go to school, I can still do school work. Doing work on the weekend will make my daily work less stressful and help me stay more motivated.

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My last goal for the semester is to socialize a bit more. I am not sure how it has happened, but since I have come to college, I have become a recluse. It doesn’t matter if it is just hanging with friends at my apartment, having any kind of social interaction will help me not procrastinate as much.

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Look, I know motivation in the Spring semester is hard to come by, but if you make goals for yourself, we will find a way to get through it together!

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-Chrissy

Don’t Let Classes in the Summer Be a Bummer!

8 Jun

Summer Pre-Session is over, and Session I is now upon us. Though this session only lasts for 5 weeks, losing academic motivation, whether it’s during the summer or during a full semester, is very common. I myself took two online classes while I was visiting my mother in Oregon last year. This was my first time taking summer courses, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have any time to relax and truly enjoy my break off. But to my surprise, balancing school and fun was totally doable! I learned to manage my time, making sure I put enough aside to dedicate myself to my homework, and it worked out perfectly 🙂

Near the end of the Spring Semester, I asked each of my students whether or not they were planning on taking summer courses. And the ones who said they were voiced some concerns. The most common one I heard was being worried that taking a class that was condensed into 5 weeks would require them to do a lot more work in such a short period of time. I will admit, the course work is a bit more fast paced, but professors completely understand how potentially overwhelming that can be for students.

The University of Arizona knows that their students deserve much needed breaks throughout the year, especially during the summer. So professors tend to adjust their lesson plans accordingly. So rest assured, taking courses during the summer isn’t as painful as it may sound. But for the sake of making this experience even more painless, I would like to share some tips on staying motivated 🙂

1. Balance classes with fun. Though school is very important, don’t forget to relax and spend time with you friends and family. It is summer after all!

18343-Titanic-Jack-Rose-Spin2. Take plenty of breaks. If you just spent 2 hours reading material for an upcoming paper, reward yourself with an episode of your favorite television show (if you have a Netflix, may I suggest Friends?).

yeah_sure_friends3. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Speaking from personal experience, if you don’t understand the material try not to spend hours figuring it out all by yourself. It’ll create unnecessary stress for yourself, and cost precious relaxation time. So ask your professors and/or TA.

gif-bigbangtheory-penny-laptop-help4. Exercise. We all have those moments, when we sit down, determined to crank out an essay, but we can’t for the life of us form a coherent thought! The little wheel in your mind doesn’t want to turn, so give it a little push by going outside for a walk or even taking a dip in the pool (considering it may be too hot to do anything else).

2296YMX5. Stay organized. Invest in a planner (if you don’t already have one). Feeling overwhelmed is what procrastination feeds on. When we feel that we have too much on our plate, we want to avoid it all together. So compile a list of all the assignments you have due and split it up evenly throughout the week. Also getting to place a check mark next to each item is incredibly satisfying.

tumblr_n6cyv0QbeX1tr2c16o1_400I wish you all the best of luck during the next few months, you’ll do great! (You’re a Wildcat, so why wouldn’t you?)

Best,

Casey 🙂

#JumpstartJanuary: Reflection

22 Jan

Spring semester is upon us people! While we are currently experiencing the calm before the storm, let’s reflect on what brought us to where we are today. In this past semester alone I have learned so much about myself that I didn’t know I had in me. I am hoping you have experienced the same.

Looking back on last semester what were some things you would change? I bet you’ve heard that question over a hundred times! But really, reflection is a good thing. How do  you want to start off the new year and semester? Consider some of your struggles and successes and use that energy to start off prepared for anything that will come your way.

When I look back on my last semester, I like to compare it to a ball of yarn all bunched up together with pieces going in every direction. Needless to say I missed out on a lot of opportunities. BUT with a little reflection and some set goals we can make the semester a great one!

1) SLEEP

Sleep, it really is a good thing! That’s why so many stress about it so much! One of several reasons why I was not able to concentrate on my work was because I felt like always passing out. Over time, little sleep took a toll on me, then I lost all energy to study, prepare for the next day, or even speak at times. We have all been there, feeling like a zombie (without the desire for flesh and blood) and just breezing through the day with no recollection of any material or events.

Goal: Set a reasonable bedtime. It sounds unrealistic but consider how you will feel through out the day after a full night sleep. My goal is to be in bed by 10-10:30 at the latest. If  you feel like staying up when you don’t have to, just think of those days of running off of 4-5 hours of sleep. NOT FUN!

2) Focusing on YOU

Be selfish. Yup, I said it. Care for others but don’t forget to help yourself as well. If you are anything like me, you’re always lending a helping a hand to your friends and family but then putting aside your own struggles. CALM YO’SELF! I found that burying my stresses and avoiding dealing with them really left me feeling worse physically and mentally. It’s great to be a part of a friend’s support system, but at the end of the day consider your needs too.

Goal: Sometimes heroes need saving. You are not obligated to do things you do not want to do. Set some standards with yourself and mention them to your friends. The late night In-N-Out trips can wait… well, sometimes. Have a happy medium. Do not be afraid to have your own support group!

3) EXERCISE

I will admit, those morning bike rides kicked my butt last semester! I was a 3-sport athlete in high school, so starting college with a not-so physically active schedule hit me hard. Every now and then I would exercise when I could, but eventually I stopped. For me exercising and playing team sports really relieve my stress. Between little sleep, avoiding my own problems, and hardly exercising, my energy went from 100 to 0 real quick. I found that once I started exercising again my vision cleared a bit.

Goal: Start off with at least 30 minutes of exercising. You can run, bike, walk, lift weights (carefully)… anything! I plan to exercise at least 4 times a week just to have time to recharge my mind and body.

 I hope these goals will help you consider some of your own! Whether it be a new year or semester, don’t be afraid to make the necessary changes needed in your lifestyle. Change is good!

Until next time,
Maddie

5 Tips on How to Balance Your Life

10 Jan

If you are at all like me, you have a million different things happening in your life at once. You have classes to get to, a job to keep, friends to hang out with, homework to complete, laundry to do… after you balance all of that for awhile, your life seems like a swirling mass of routine chaos. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 5 tips on how to maintain balance in your life.

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1) Keep a Planner

I know that you have heard this one a million times before, but that is because it really does help. If you have everything written down, then you are less likely to forget something, and you can see how much time you have to relax.

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2) Just Say No

It is okay to tell your friends you can’t hang out today because you have other things to do. They will understand! By doing this, you will have plenty of time to finish your paper and do your laundry without having to stay up until four in the morning.

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3) Eat Healthier and Exercise

Sometime this can be tough because unhealthy food is so much cheaper and easier to come by, but even if you change out one unhealthy meal a day for a healthier one, you will start to see a change in your life. There are ways to eat healthy on campus, and there are services that can help you go off campus to get healthy foods as well.

There are a million places on campus to exercise. Trust me I know that exercising is exhausting, and you have a million things to do so you don’t have time to do it, but I have found that I actually have more energy after I exercise than I did before I started. Now I exercise before I go and start on my homework because I have found that it helps me focus.

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4) Focus on Studies

Believe it or not, but you are actually at the University to get a degree, so you should probably focus on that. Yes, it is okay to have fun and go out with friends and assert your independence, but that’s not what you’re paying for. I know it isn’t always fun to stay in and do homework, but you’ll find that when you avoid procrastinating until the last minute, you understand more of what happens in class. Plus if you have no idea how to do your homework correctly, you have the chance to go in and talk to your professor, a chance that is lost if you wait until the very last minute.

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5) Talk to Someone Outside of Tucson Regularly

Sometimes while we are at school, we forget that other things exist outside of campus life. By talking to someone outside of Tucson (whether it be a parent, a sibling, or friend) you will find that your problems seem a bit less overwhelming. An important thing to remember when doing this is that you shouldn’t spend the whole conversation talking about your problems at school…that kind of defeats the purpose.

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Since doing all of these things I have found that my stress levels have gone way down, and my life seems much more balanced.

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– Christine Ellis

Conquering Time Management: A Personal Success Story

21 Nov

Some people think taking on 19 credit hours, a year long internship, as well as juggling a job 5 days a week is an impossible endeavor. How could you possibly have the time to do all that? How could I possibly manage my time well enough to actually succeed in all my classes, my internship, and a paying job? In all honesty, there is no easy way or secret formula–it’s all about mastering my time management skills.

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Trust me, this took many years of practice and self discipline, but I can most certainly say that I would not be as successful as I am in college without this vital skill. I always had the drive to push myself and allow myself to utilize my time to the fullest and in the most efficient manner.

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For me, time-management has never merely been about planning or keeping a planner (aka my holy book), but it’s about personal drive, a vision, and goals. I challenge myself periodically and take the process of self-improvement head on. It’s what encourages me to get out of bed in the morning really–the idea that I, as an independent young thinker and doer, have the power to make the things I want in my life happen for myself–it gives me the feeling of ultimate accomplishment.

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Indeed, I am a bit of an overachiever, even a micromanaging perfectionist if you will, but these harrowing traits of mine have always led me to maximizing my chances for success in higher education and the future. In the end, I can proudly say that I successfully maintain a 4.0 GPA, give quality analyses within my internship, and exhibit a positive and attentive attitude in the workplace.

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~Leylah Hadrovic

Sophomore, ASA Peer Mentor