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Life As A Student: 5 Steps to Maintaining a Healthy Balance

Hi everyone,

I am proud to announce today’s guest blog post by author, Lucinda Curran.

Enjoy!

Gina 

Lucinda CurranBeing a student is such an exciting time – the buzz of learning new information, making new friends and discovering more about yourself all make it memorable.

Yet, there is the pressure, the timetables and the deadlines… Making it tough to maintain a healthy life balance.

So, as the semester gets going, it is important to do some planning so that you not only meet your deadlines, but that you do so with ease, and ensure that you are taking care of your well-being.

I love studying, and at any given moment, I am always studying something. What I am going to share with you is the method that got me through one of the heaviest study period of my life. At one stage, I had 23 contact hours per week (classes and lectures) and well over 30 assessments per semester – and that went on for 5 years!

Here are my 5 steps to maintaining a healthy balance.

5. Creating Goals

I always recommend having a clear picture of what it is all about.

  • Why are you studying?
  • What will your life be like once you have completed this qualification?
  • What will your work life be like?

Take some time to sit with these questions and really “get to know” your answers. Then, on a piece of paper, either draw or write down your answers.

These images and ideas are something that you will want to draw on when the pressure mounts (like during exam time). Having your goal clearly in your mind will give you the incentive, passion and motivation to get through.

4.  Self Care

Taking care of yourself is vital. Student life is a lot about what I call the input-output cycle.

You go to lectures and tutorials and soak up information, you read your texts and other work, and you think, converse and play with new concepts. Then you write assignments, essays and exams. There are a lot of demands on a student.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, studying can weaken the digestive organs as well as create stagnation. So, from this point of view, I recommend maintaining a good diet of foods that are seasonal and easy to digest (soups, stews and casseroles are great meals for students as they are easy to prepare and can be eaten over several days). I also recommend exercise to help maintain your body – anything from walking to cycling, kick boxing to tai chi. Exercise will also help you to reduce your stress levels.

Other than that, make a list of the things that YOU enjoy – that you find nourishing and nurturing.

3.  Assessing Your Semester

Once you start each of your subjects, you will have an insight into how much time you will need to spend on each subject, what your assessments are and when they occur.

You will also know your timetable – when your classes are, when study groups are meeting and so on.

On a calendar, mark which assessments are due, examinations are taking place, any field trips and so on.

2.  Sorting Out Your Week

Here comes the fun bit… But, it does make me think of Rimmer from Red Dwarf. If you aren’t familiar, Rimmer is a fictional character who procrastinates by creating a timetable for his studies. He spends so much time creating it, color-coding it and making it look nice that there is no time left to study!

You’re going to do a simple and quick version of Rimmer’s masterpiece.

Simply draw up your week so it fits onto a page – I prefer days along the top, and times down the side (in hourly lots). For the rest of it, I suggest using one color for each area of your life.

Now, write in your classes, study groups, work and any other fixed commitments. Don’t forget to include travel time.

Next, fill in a daily activity for you – so, bring out your list from step 4 above and write in what you feel is humanly manageable.

Then, fill in study time – research, reading, and writing… I recommend blocking time in for each subject. Break this up so that every 90 minutes, you take 15 minutes to shift your focus. This could be enjoying a cup of tea, walking around the block or meditating. These mini-breaks will refresh, reenergize and refocus you. It is amazing how much more productive you can be when you schedule and take these breaks.

Fill in chores – they still need to get done. Things like cleaning, cooking, doing the groceries… Make sure you plan time to prepare your good food. I used to use Sunday afternoons for this – I would cook for the week and make good use of the freezer, freezing meals in portion sizes.

Reflect back on your plan. Is it overfilled? Have you got space to catch up if you need to? To rest? To have fun? If not, revise it so that you do. If so, well done!

1.  Rewards

This is the most important step. This is the one that will help you get through with a smile.

Like in Step 5, where we talked about the ultimate goal, this step provides you with mini-goals.

At the start of every week, schedule in something that is just for fun. This is your reward for the week. It can be used to push you through those times where you just don’t want to do any study… For example, “I can go to the comedy club on Thursday if I get my work done.”

You can have daily rewards to, such as, having dinner with friends if the whole day’s work is completed in time.

Remember that you can do anything in life, as long as you dearly want to. Shine and Succeed.

Lucinda Curran © 2014

Lucinda Curran has always been a student of life and has enjoyed exploring, being challenged and inspired by all that life offers. She embraces learning on every level, having completed her MA, Bachelor of Health Science and more.

Her greatest passion is health: health of people, animals and the planet. Thus she is a Chinese medicine practitioner and Building Biologist with a special interest in environmental sensitivities. She combines these modalities to provide truly holistic healthcare and is passionate about making the world a safer place for all who dwell here.

both booksShe the author of Change Your Life: 50 Daily Meditation-Affirmations That Anyone Can Do and Conversations About The Self: Exploring Ideas From Change Your Life Radio. Lucinda is also the producer and host of the weekly Change Your Life Radio show.

Click here to view Lucinda’s Book Trailers. Check out the following links to buy Lucinda’s books!
Conversations About The Self: Exploring Ideas From Change Your Life Radio
Change Your Life: 50 Daily Meditation-Affirmations That Anyone Can Do
www.ChangeYourLifeRadio.com.au

Five Tips for Prospective College Students

Attending college is a big decision. Here are five good tips for starting your college research early:

  1. Get a practical sense for what it’s like to be on campus. I always advise prospective students to visit a college before applying. Find the most convenient parking lots and investigate how much it costs to park in certain parking garages. Will you be walking to classes? Find a good campus map and walk around to estimate how long it would take to travel from class to class. Also, know where the shuttle stops are, in case you’ll be carrying a lot of heavy textbooks. Many colleges offer campus tours that reveal great information and details.
  2. If you already know the subject you’ll be majoring in, call that department and find out if you can schedule an informational interview with a prospective professor in your major. Studies show that students decide what major to declare based on positive experiences with their favorite professors on campus. If a professor is willing to meet with you even before you put in your application, that’s a sign that he/she will be responsive when you actually become a student.
  3. Contact the Admissions and Records and Financial Aid offices to ask questions early. Many colleges offer in-state and out-of-state residency tuition rates. In most cases, to establish in-state residency, you must start the process a year in advance before attending school. Be sure to check your college’s website for residency rules because some states have more stringent requirements than others. Establishing residency might mean registering your driver’s license, registering to vote, and signing a lease for an apartment in that particular state. Make sure you have paperwork documenting when you began the process of declaring residency—your wallet will thank you later!
  4. Mark important deadlines on your calendar or track them with a to-do list. Often the deadlines for scholarship applications fall months before the semester actually starts. Do some digging and find out which scholarships are available and note their requirements. Many scholarships require a written essay and letters of recommendation. Start selecting your recommenders early and give them plenty of notice.
  5. Find out if your college has a career services office. Most, but not all, colleges offer assistance with resumes, networking, and your career decision process. Be sure to visit your career services office to glean important information on how best to market your hard-earned skills before you have your diploma in hand. Also, even if you are busy studying during college, it is important to network and gain valuable contacts for your job hunt later. Start up a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is like a professional version of Facebook and allows you to collect recommendations from colleagues, employers, and fellow employees. You’ll be glad for them later!

Do you have a college visit story to share? Please feel free to comment below.

Happy college hunting,

Gina Akao

Writing and Editing Today’s Newsletter

UNRQuad2013Welcome to my quarterly newsletter! Four times a year, you will receive educational tips, advice, and inspiration—all for free if you are a subscriber!

The Fall 2013 semester is upon us. The phones at Admissions and Records where I work are abuzz with the questions of students and parents asking about logging in, adding classes, and meeting payment deadlines. For those of you navigating the crazy world of college, here are a few tips:

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Can My College Help Me Find a Career?

Hi everyone,

It’s commencement time! Many students are graduating high school and college and are looking forward to finding their dream jobs. Luckily, most colleges offer some kind of career services department to assist students in this endeavor.

If you’re a recent grad, don’t wait until too long after graduation to update your resume and apply for jobs. The market is tough out there. Help is only a step away if you’re on a college campus.

The University of Nevada, Reno, for instance, has a Career Studio, where students can drop in (no appointment necessary) to get instant resume and cover letter critiques. Drop-in hours are Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm in the Thompson Building (students can check the website for summer hours).

I interviewed Internship & Employer Relations Coordinator, Robyn Maitoza, Ph.D. “The Studio’s grand opening and ribbon cutting will be in September 2013,” and the Studio (now open, but located in Thompson) will be moving to the soon-to-be-built Student Achievement Center, which will replace Getchell Library. Students will be able to connect with mentors via social media, as well as in person.

Students will be able to sign in on iPads. UNR’s Career Studio is hiring 10 career mentors who will work directly with students who drop in. In addition, students may use computers in the Career Studio to update resumes and cover letters. The Career Studio, in contrast to the former career services department, will be a hub for career services and will conduct workshops, on-site interviews, and panels to help students find employers and vice versa.

The only downside I see to the new studio format is that students will not be able to take the full Myers-Briggs personality test or Strong’s Interest Inventory, which require a small fee to administer. Personally, I have found going over assessment results with a professional career counselor extremely beneficial. But, not all students will have the patience to spend hours on career tests. Instead, the Career Studio’s current assessments available are free and take less time to complete and review.

Additionally, the Career Studio will be installing a new system to collect data on how many students utilize the different services. Students will be able to search a database with job postings and employers will be able to log in and post jobs. The Studio will also provide opportunities for students to shadow alums in their target careers and to sign up for internships.

For more information about the Career Studio, please visit http://www.unr.edu/career. If you’re not a UNR student, peruse your college’s website to find out what kind of career services it offers.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to receive your “Top Ten Career Tips” for free.

Happy career hunting!

Gina

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