How to Stay Motivated After Scoring a BAD Grade

As the summer descends like a whirlwind of classes, coursework, and obligations, the pressure to perform intensifies, and with it, the doubt.

You’ve already heard all the warnings about how difficult summer semesters are, and how easy it is to fail. The courses are accelerated. The professors are pushy. And all you can think about is all the ways you would much rather spend the swimsuit season.

Even so, students who fail quizzes and tests during this time are still stunned by bad grades; and some take it as a good reason to drop the class. In fact — summer semester or no — failure is always a possibility and can make many students feel discouraged. It’s easy to think:

Why am I even here? Maybe I’m not cut out for this. Am I just wasting my money? What if I fail the class? Maybe I should just drop out.

But as with any other obstacle in life, losing the battle does not mean forfeiting the war. I once scored a whopping 11 percent on an exam for a ridiculously complicated class called Decision Science. Yet, I managed to complete the course with a B at one of the toughest universities on my island.

Here’s how I managed to motivate myself in spite of scoring a low grade – and how you can do the same.

Focus on the End Goal

One grade is only a drop in the bucket, in the larger scheme of things. While it certainly decreases the likelihood of leaving the course with an A, it doesn’t mean you need to fail or drop out altogether.

Focus on the bigger picture, and move forward by working on what you can fix and improve, now that the test is a thing of the past. No amount of worrying will bring you a time machine to go back and change it.

So rather than waste your time moping about the failing grade and worrying about the future, plan for a better score the next time around by using that time to study instead.

Understand Where You Went Wrong

When studying for the next test, the first place to start is wherever you went wrong initially. If you can’t figure it out, then enlist the help of other classmates or your instructor to see where you went wrong. This helps to ensure you don’t make the same mistake a second time around.

Many students choose to move on by merely studying something else. After all, the exam is long gone. However, what you do in a test or quiz could show up again on a final exam. And even if it doesn’t, the core concepts you learn in one class might likely show up again in future courses. This is especially the case with degrees in technology, science, and math.

Remain Positive

Even while pouring your energy into studying for the next test, thoughts of self-doubt might come to haunt you. You might start to think about all the problems you have had with similar courses, and how much money you sank into paying for these credits.

You remember your friends warning you not to take the course over the summer semester, or family members questioning whether you could handle your major at all.

Cast the self-doubt aside by focusing on the positive. Most schools do not accept college students unless they believe they have the ability to do well, and to succeed. There is a reason there is an application process, and why some college-hopefuls likely never made it to your class.

Take this vote of confidence from your college, and arm yourself with it against doubt of your ability to achieve academic success. Accept that as humans we are capable of making mistakes, even when we know we have a lot to lose.

In fact, the higher the stakes, the greater the pressure. And for most people, the more pressure someone faces to perform, the more likely they are to make human errors. This is normal.

Appeal to the Teacher

At least twice in my academic career though, my classmates and I took a different course of action. In the case of the Decision Science test, for instance, I wasn’t the only one who failed. Almost the entire class did.

How? We made the same stupid mistake: we wrote our algebraic formulas with the wrong sign, and ended up plotting a graph on the opposite side it should have been on.

Thus, we appealed to the teacher as a group and requested a resit. She was hesitant at first, but when we later learned that other groups had also failed the test that week, the teachers re-taught that portion of the lesson and allowed us to resit the exam. We didn’t all ace it the second time around either, but we did a hell of a lot better!

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

If all else fails and you find yourself incapable of recovering from the failing grade, or just feel devastated at the lost opportunity for an A, hang in there. However you choose to handle your distress, avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope.

Recreational drugs and alcohol flood college campuses every semester, and the temptation is great. However, if humans have nothing else, we at least have the opportunity to make choices for ourselves.

While the occasional drink and night out on the club are fine, using drugs and alcohol to cope with stressful situations encourages the development of unhealthy habits. Many an alcoholic and substance abuser got their head-start – or just that final push – while in their later high school years and early college years.

Don’t become a statistic. Problems do not fix themselves on Earth, while you’re soaring high. What comes up must come down, and they’ll be right here waiting for you when you get back.

Change Majors

If this bad grade follows a string of others, as discouraging as it may be, it’s not a sign that college isn’t for you. Take a moment to step back and consider your strengths and weaknesses.

Did you choose your major because your parents pressured you into it, or because you thought the resulting job would make you good money? Or did you choose your course because you actually think you’ll enjoy this kind of work, and believe you would be good at it?

There is a tertiary study program for everyone out there, regardless of the field you’re interested in. In fact, college students who choose not to complete their degree can consider professional certifications or trade school instead. There are usually also easier degrees to replace more difficult ones: like nursing or dentistry in medicine, and paralegal work in law.

It’s not about not being smart enough. It’s about finding areas and levels of study that are compatible with your strengths and weaknesses, whatever they may be.

While we would all love to breeze through college with straight A grades in reward for very little effort, this is an unlikely case for most of us. Acing college not only takes hard work, but it also takes perseverance and a refusal to accept failure as your end game.

So, get up. Dust yourself off. And keep pushing.

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Stanford Rapist Gets only 6 Months in Jail

A California judge incited public outrage when he sentenced Brock Turner to only six months in jail. The sentencing came more than a year after Brock sexually assaulted a young woman at a frat-party.

The young woman was not a student at the college, and has no recollection of the attack, but remembers waking up to discover that she had been sexually assaulted behind a dumpster. In a letter to the attacker, she said:

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus… A deputy explained I had been assaulted…

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately.

In light of all the victim faced, the judge’s reason for the sentencing only served to make the public even angrier. He stated:

A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.

Even more upsetting to the victim is Turner’s refusal to take responsibility for what happened – instead  he blames alcohol consumption and takes responsibility only for his decision to drink.

As a result of the light sentencing, efforts to recall the judge are now in place.

Featured Image Credit:  Courtesy Stanford Dept. of Public Safety – Stanford Department of Public Safety

4 Tips To Help You Travel In Spite of Student Loans

How many of you believe it’s just too expensive to travel while still in college?

I bet a large majority of you would raise your hands. This widespread agreement is likely due to many current (and past) college students suffering from financially-crippling amounts of student loan debt.

This results from the way we look at debt. If we choose to let it take over, it will. But there are ways to learn to live with it, while still enjoying life – as it should be enjoyed in our younger years.

As Adrian Harper, a recent college graduate and young business owner, stated in this interview:

I needed to manage my life the way I managed my business…If I could save a dollar here and a dollar there for my company, I should also do that for myself.

These words are inspiring for any recent college graduate, and this same mindset can be applied when travelling with the baggage of student loans. It reinforces the fact that you can travel with debt.

Many of us have found opportunities to travel while still making the necessary monthly payments; you just need to strategize your trips. In fact, in spite of my own student loan debts, I travel and tour with my band – Stepbrothers – every few months.

Thus, it can be done – but how?  I’ll tell you. Here are four cost-efficient ways to help you travel, regardless of your financial status.

 

1. Travel Economically

Most of us can agree on the importance of living frugally. Yet, many of us never think to apply this to our travels. It is important to find frugal opportunities to travel. This may include utilizing travel points, such as airfare miles, to gain low-cost travel opportunities; or even scouring the internet to find coupons, or time-sensitive discounts. Applying this ethic towards planning your trips can earn you significant payoffs in savings.

Be Flexible with your Travel Dates

Often times, there are certain dates throughout a year where airfare and accommodations are significantly cheaper than others. If you’re traveling just for the hell of it, then it is possible to save hundreds of dollars on your trip by simply clicking around a few dates and comparing prices.

Take Advantage of Existing or New Memberships

In today’s world, many businesses and services offer tons of rewards for their customers. Look into the services you are currently using to find membership discount opportunities. Credit card companies or stores like Costco generally offer all sorts of cheap travel opportunities for their customers.

 

2. Live on a Budget (But Don’t Short Yourself)

Most of us already live on a budget. But many people’s thought process behind living frugally is to simply cut everything out of their lives. This can lead to a depressing and unhealthy lifestyle. Don’t gamble your lifelong happiness away for the opportunity to save money now.

Instead, find opportunities to save, while living the way you want to. Doing so can open opportunities for you to not only continue your student loan payments, but to set aside what I call a “Get me the hell out of town” fund – allowing you to have the necessary funds to travel at the drop of a dime.

Plan your Spending

This can boil down to many aspects of our adult lives and involves a great deal of planning. For instance, when creating a grocery list, write down only exactly what you need until payday. This can go for nearly all of our spending. Don’t shop blindly. Know exactly what you need, and buy only that.

Did you see a shirt you absolutely must have? Great! Now you have something to save towards for next payday.

 

3. Group Your Student Loans into Your Normal Bills

For those new to the student loan world, this can be hard to grasp. But much like rent, car payments, and insurance, a student loan is just another bill. Accepting this with a positive mindset significantly reduces the fear associated with student loan debt. While it is important to be responsible with these bills, don’t put your entire 20s on hold in order to pay them off.

Student loan payments exist for one main reason: so that individuals have the ability to chip away at them over time. They don’t exist to completely hinder our ability to enjoy our life.

You just graduated! Live a little!

Learn How to Budget Bills

While this may be easier said than done, it can be done. For example, I know exactly how much money I need each month to cover all my bills way ahead of time. This allows me to break down how much money I have left to spend.

From there, I decide how much I can allow myself to spend on fun each day, and put the rest (generally around 10% of each pay check) into savings. I then use these savings to travel and enjoy myself.

 

4. Find a Side Job

Finding a side job can really benefit our ability to travel, and the best part is that, in today’s world, young people have the ability to offer our skills on our own terms. Skill-based opportunities are becoming increasingly sought-after, and many of these opportunities hold the ability to travel within them!

Thus, having a side job is a fantastic opportunity for us to save, in order to travel and tackle our student loans. If you were already surviving with your current job, then a second job will, in theory, generate large amounts of money that you won’t have to put towards bills – although it is wise to use a bit of this extra cash towards your student loan payments.

Utilize Your Skills

If you have a hobby, why not get paid for it? Are you a photographer? Do you love to write? There is always a need for wedding photographers, or travel bloggers – and honestly, these are great gigs to have.

A good friend of mine is a travel blogger who literally gets paid to travel – writing reviews of local businesses in the area. While this may be a rare opportunity, these options do exist. You only need to find it.

 

In short, it’s possible to travel while paying off student loans. It’s just a matter of planning ahead of time, and being wise with the way you spend and save money. In the words of the great Shia LaBeouf:

“Don’t let your dreams be dreams”.

Where to Find Potential Dates in College

College is a great time in your life to date – perhaps the best. In college you learn what you want in a career, and how you want to spend the rest of your life. You also learn about the kind of person you might want to spend the rest of your life with.

For those looking for a male partner of equal or greater education, there is no better time to find one. According to a study published in The Times, “in the 25-34 age group, 37.5% of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while only 29.5% of men do”.

Thus, once you graduate from college, those are the odds you’re faced with. So here are some of the best ways and places to meet potential dates – and maybe even your future spouse – while in college.

Class

Meeting people in class ensures you already have something in common, and provides you with an ice-breaker. It also allows you to get to know the person on an intellectual and platonic level, which creates much stronger relationships than just rushing into the sexual side of things.  However, avoid getting into romantic relationships with other classmates who are taking your core courses. 

Why? If it does end up working out, you end up losing much of your personal space, and their presence in class might be distracting. If it doesn’t work out, then it might make classes awkward, and gods forbid you’re forced to work with them on a group project. Not everyone can maintain a sense of professionalism in this situation. Even if you’re sure you can, will they?

Clubs

Likely, not the kind of club you’re thinking – virtually every college has clubs and societies students can join to broaden their social circles, while learning new skills. This is a great place to meet people you share a passion with, regardless of your majors. In clubs, students can bond over chess, art, Asian culture, or saving baby seals.

Couples who share a common passion outside of their relationship are likely to last longer than others. These couples have loads to talk about, usually have more in common, and are understanding of how much time this passion might take up of each other’s personal lives. Working towards a skill together and achieving a shared goal also teaches them to work as a team, which is an invaluable lesson for settling down later on.

Online 

Social media and dating sites are also great ways to meet people you share common interests with, and with whom you might be compatible. Many people experience success on websites like Tinder, OkCupid, POF, Badoo, and Bumble. Even regular social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have played unintentional match-maker many times.

Be wary of sharing what school you attend on social media though – especially for women attending college on smaller campuses. This makes you easier to find.

While there are many great guys hoping to find a woman just like you to share amazing experiences with, there’s also quite a few who would just like to toss you in the trunk. Share your location and routine only with select people you would like to meet or spend time with.

Gym

The gym is a great place to meet other people who are in shape – or working on it. This is especially true if you go at a specific time on specific days of the week. Do this often enough, and soon the faces at the gym become familiar. The more familiar you appear to people, the more likely a conversation becomes. The more likely a conversation, the more likely it is for a connection to form.

In addition to this, when people work out, their bodies produce endorphins, which generally puts them in a good mood. This makes people more willing to exchange a friendly hello, or a smile, especially since you clearly already have something in common – fitness.

Guys also successfully break the ice by offering women help with machines at the gym, and women often break the ice themselves by asking for it. But even when you do absolutely nothing, at some point you’ll end up speaking with the people who workout around the same time as you.

Don’t shut yourself off by keeping headphones on or staring endlessly at your phone, if this is a possibility you’re open to.

Dog Park

Dog owners are naturally more social than other pet owners, and people who have no pets at all. Most dog owners try to walk their dogs and socialize them with others, especially when they own only one. Over time, dog owners become accustomed to talking to strangers to diffuse situations where their dogs behave badly, or to answer questions about their dog’s breed and age.

Just like the gym, many owners keep dogs on a routine either to discipline their pets, or because of their own schedule. Keep showing up to the dog park at regular times each week, and once again, faces will become familiar. Familiarity breeds trust, which once again makes it easier to build a connection with a fellow dog owner.

College is often bashed as the time for sexual experimentation in a young adult’s life. While this is certainly true to some extent, not everyone goes to college with these intentions. In fact, some people – male and female – go to college, hoping to graduate with their future husbands and wives. But regardless of your intentions, we’re sure these tips will help you meet that special someone soon enough.

5 Great Benefits from Working in the Summer

After three semesters of sitting in a classroom, buckling down behind another desk for work is often the last way you want to spend the summer. However, as the cost of living and the cost of a college education continue to rise, for many college students there is simply no better option.

Working during the summer semester prepares you financially for the coming academic year. It also preps you for work in the real world, when you graduate. Still not convinced? Here are five ways sucking it up and working in the summer can benefit you in the long run.

1. Builds Experience

Even with a college degree, one of the biggest obstacles to landing your dream job is experience. Some jobs require as much as ten to twenty years of experience in the field to be even worthy of consideration. Even lower positions or smaller companies often require at least some experience to land the job.

The sooner you start working towards that the better, and summer provides the perfect opportunity to get started. In fact, many college graduates land permanent jobs at the companies they worked at during the summers.

2. Looks Good on a Résumé

Let’s be honest. Many of us have worked summer jobs at places belonging to family and friends where we got a nice title but spent the day playing video games and surfing the net. But even if you got no worthwhile experience on the job, it still looks great on your résumé.

Know how to market yourself via the employment history on this document. Turn “fetched coffee” into “assisted the general manager with day-to-day tasks”, and “surfed the web” into “conducted online research”.

3. Great Networking Opportunities

College is a great place for networking – and so is work. Even if you pack bags at Walmart, while working towards your degree in anthropology, you never know who might walk through that door. Attend company events and meetings when you can, and make casual conversation with customers when the chance arises.

Leave a lasting impression, and never miss out on the opportunity to let others know you’re working towards a degree. They might not have use for an anthropologist on aisle 5 when you graduate, but they might know someone who does.

4. Helps with College Applications

Colleges no longer want to be your only source of education, and very few provide any real world experience to prepare you for work. Thus, when it’s time to advance from a bachelor’s to a master’s, or a master’s to a PhD, having experience in the area you wish to go into gives you a certain edge over other applicants.

This is even more important if you go to school in the big cities where competition for placement is stiff, or if you chose to apply to a school which has a very low acceptance rate.

5. Makes Money

Of course, the most obvious reason you would want to work in the summer is to make money! What better reason is there? None really.

Ensure you save up as much as you can to put towards books, tuition, living expenses, or even just emergency funds. If you’re not very good at saving, consider giving a percentage of your money to your parents to keep during the summer, or create a fixed deposit which prevents you from touching the money any time soon.

While making money is the most obvious benefit from working during the summer, it is still only one of many. However, if you don’t save as much as you can all that money will be for naught.

Either way, you can at least benefit from a boost to your resume, getting real world experience, networking with amazing people, and putting yourself in a position to get picked above other candidates for prestigious schools. These far outweigh the benefits of being a bum all summer.

Regardless of how you spend this summer break, we wish you all the best for the semester ahead!

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About the Author

Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mage and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

5 Roles of a Good Passenger on a Great Roadtrip

Summer is finally here! It’s time to bring out the swimsuits, passports, video games, and camping gear. And for millions of college students around the world, it’s time to prepare for your summer road-trip.

Whether you have a long drive back home with a car full of clothes and books, or you plan to do some domestic traveling with friends – a road-trip can be a great experience with the right company. In fact, one of the best indicators of how well your road-trip will go is who you’ve got with you in the passenger seat.

A good road road-trip requires a responsible driver, but a great trip also calls for a passenger who understands the importance of teamwork when you hit the road. So here are the five roles of a good passenger on a great road-trip!

Navigator

Before the dawn of GPS, road-trippers needed companionship more than ever. They needed one extra person to read the enormous printed maps and provide directions to the driver. These days, we can simply key in an address and let our smart phones do the rest.

But sometimes finding a place to eat in a strange town, or somewhere to bed down for the night might require a bit more research involving price, and close proximity to the highway. Thus, a good passenger knows how to locate these places, and to point the driver in the right direction.

Waitress

According to the American Automobile Association, distracted driving accounts for anywhere from a quarter to a half of all motor-vehicular accidents. Recently, the focus has been mostly on texting while driving, but there are several other activities people engage in, which distract them on the road.

Eliminate at least one of them by passing the food and drink to the driver, when they need it. Open all packages and containers, unscrew bottles, and open can sodas.

When they’re done eating, be sure to put everything away for them as well. The less time they spend fumbling with snacks and trying to re-cork drinks, the safer you both will be.

Communications Specialist

As previously mentioned, distracted driving accounts for a significant number of accidents in America, and texting while driving is the biggest distraction of all. Thus, a good passenger may need to read urgent messages to the driver and type out responses to family and friends.

Keep in mind that this should not be used as an opportunity to snoop through the driver’s personal messages and pictures. Respect their privacy, as you would expect them to respect your own.

Chauffeur

Yes, we did say you would be the passenger, but sharing the driving responsibility – especially for long journeys – makes the trip less stressful. It also decreases the likelihood of the driver falling asleep at the wheel from boredom or exhaustion.

For this reason, avoid consuming alcohol or anything else that might impair your judgement on the trip, just in case the driver needs you to take over at some point.

Entertainer

If for any reason, the passenger cannot assist with the driving, then becoming the entertainer is the next best thing. In this role, the passenger becomes responsible for keeping the driver awake by ensuring boredom doesn’t creep in, and for keeping them de-stressed.

To boost their mood, you could play music; or read hilarious tweets, memes, and articles. Sometimes, you may also need to just leave them alone to fume in silence.

But the most effective way to keep a driver awake is to engage them in conversation. This means not just talking, but listening, and asking questions to keep them thinking and responding.

This once again decreases the likelihood of them falling asleep at the wheel, while also building a closer relationship between the driver and passenger.

Most of us enjoy new destinations, but few enjoy the long travel-time it takes to get there. However, if you play some or all of these roles to make things easier for the driver, you could turn a boring drive into a trip worth remembering!

5 Tips for Surviving the Summer Semester

College students spend almost the entire spring semester looking forward to the summer break. Why? Well… that’s easy. It’s the longest holiday all year and a signal of one year down, a couple more to go. It’s time to go home, travel, relax, put your feet up; and just enjoy the beaches, the hiking trails, and the club.

But not for everyone.

For the students looking to complete their degree sooner, or who need to resit failed courses, taking classes is one of the best ways to spend the summer semester. Even so, this semester can be challenging, as instructors must cover the same course material in much less time.

With that in mind, here are five tips to help you come out on top – or just make it out alive.

Take as Few Courses as Possible

As previously mentioned, the summer semester is a great way to rack up credits and get some courses out of the way, but try not to stuff the semester with as many courses as you would during the rest of the year. Ideally, students should aim for one to three courses during this time – two being ideal.

This is because the pressure from professors to complete the courses in time falls on students, who must spend more time outside of class, reading ahead, catching up, and completing coursework. Thus, the summer semester provides less time to complete coursework and study for tests.

Besides, who wants to spend the entire summer in classrooms?

Balance Easy & Hard Courses

The more difficult a course is, the more time students must spend on it just to get a passing grade, or an A. Thus, during the summer, students should avoid picking courses that might prove difficult to keep up with.

What counts as hard varies from person to person, but for the average student mathematical courses, science subjects, and foreign languages often prove the most difficult.

This advice stands unless you’re only taking one course for the summer. At this point, taking a harder course might be a much better option because you can focus on it, with no other courses to distract you.

Create a Condensed Schedule

Many people may prefer to spread out summer classes throughout the week. This might make sense at first, until you find yourself wishing you had entire days to work on a project, study, or just relax without needing to worry about attending class.

Try to cram all your classes into one to three days, so that you have the rest of the week to focus on work and have a little fun. It also leaves full days open for potential side-gigs and part time jobs to help boost your income.

Just be sure to stay on top of your work, as this also likely means that all your homework and finals will be due on the same days.

Don’t Procrastinate

Benjamin Franklin once said:

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

The summer semester is a great time to put this quote into practice, as it’s the worst time for waiting until the last minute to complete assignments, or to study. Time is of the essence, so spend it wisely. Once your work is out of the way, you’re free to do the things you actually enjoy.

Make Time for Fun

The wealth of pictures on Facebook and Instagram of everyone else enjoying their summer vacation can make the semester feel like hell. It can seem like everyone else is out having a great time at the beach or at the club, while you’re stuck in a classroom or busy studying.

Eliminate that feeling by making time to have fun, whether alone, with your partner, or with friends. Go on a date. Watch a movie. See a concert. Go to the beach. Explore local festivals. It is summer after all – class, or no class. And don’t you forget it.

Taking classes isn’t the most fun way you could spend the summer semester, but it’s likely the most productive. Still, there’s plenty of time to have fun before and after the semester starts, and even between classes. This means you can still travel, hit the beach, or just sleep the days away. However you choose to spend the summer, we wish you all the best for the semester ahead!

5 Reasons you Should Volunteer for the Summer

Whether you, your parents, or the government pays for your college education, one thing is certain: college is really, really expensive. Because of this, it’s easy to want to spend all the free-time you have making money to pay for tuition and living expenses. Easy and sensible.

Still, in Top 5 Ways to Spend the Summer Break, we recommended volunteering as a great way to spend the summer. Considering the financial obligations that come with being in school, not everyone can fit this into their summer schedule, but volunteering even once per week can make all the difference in your life.

Here’s how.

Provides Travel Opportunities

The absolute best way to spend the summer is travelling, and there’s no reason volunteering should get in the way of this. In fact, volunteering is a great way to make international travel a real and affordable possibility.

Those who love risk and adventure often volunteer their services around the world in exchange for food and a place to sleep. This might mean working on a farm, helping out on a fishing boat, or providing extra help at a bed and breakfast.

There are, however, more organized options for the volunteer who loves to travel. These provide the opportunity for you to use and grow your skills as teachers, builders, conservationists, and even assistant archaeologists.

Do your research and check with your school to see if they have partnered with any volunteer projects that could use your hands on deck.

Influences Change 

There are many more stories in the media highlighting what we need to change than those helping us to change them. Too often do we complain about the ills of the world, while simultaneously leaving it up to someone else to fix.

We believe that our tiny contribution is far too small to be noticeable, or to create real change. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

If there are causes you wish to support, or changes in the world you want to see: be that change. Join a group of volunteers to help make those changes a reality, or start one on your own. As one old saying in Jamaica goes:

One, one cocoa. Full basket.

Puts your Life into Perspective

The media provides a long laundry list of things we need in life in order to be happy. While not all of us subscribe to this list, it nonetheless makes it easy for us to identify and focus on all the things going wrong in our life, versus everything going right.

Volunteering does a lot to help put your own life into perspective, and make you grateful for the opportunities you do have in life, no matter how few they are.

After all, who can guiltlessly complain about student loans to children who can’t even afford an elementary education? And what’s one day out with a dead iPhone compared to living in neighborhoods with no electricity or running water – ever? You will never see the little inconveniences in your life the same way again.

Teaches Selflessness

In the past, individualism and the accompanying tendency towards selfishness mostly plagued big, industrialized cities. Thanks to the media and the brilliant new ways it finds to permeate cultures, this glorified culture of materialism and the prioritising of the self has reached virtually every corner of the globe.

Volunteering helps to reinforce the ideology that life isn’t always about getting and taking or being paid as reward. It is also about giving and sharing and accepting other people’s happiness as one acceptable means of finding our own.

People who understand this way of living do much better in work, school, and their personal life because they understand that not every good deed requires direct and immediate payment – or even acknowledgement.

Looks Good on a Résumé

Selflessness is a great characteristic to develop, but what’s the point of doing anything long-term if there’s no personal gratification involved? Volunteering meets even this need as well, by giving you a one-up over other applicants for work, and even for school.

Organizations love to hire people who bring a more international perspective to the table, who show that they don’t need to be paid for every second of work they do, and who go above and beyond to meet community goals instead of just satisfying their own. These are not only the people they love to hire, but also the people they love to promote.

Sometimes volunteer work provides an even more direct boost to your résumé, as well. For instance, volunteering at an animal shelter would give you an edge to work at a veterinary hospital, and volunteering to teach children in impoverished countries would go a long way towards boosting your chances of getting a job as a teacher.

Volunteering doesn’t pay in cash, but what it pays in kind can prove far more beneficial for a lifelong learner. Not only does volunteering teach great life lessons, but it also prepares you for the real working world, which greatly values the personal drive and focus on community goals that organizations need in order to grow and excel in their industry.

Top 5 Ways to Spend the Summer Break

Summer break is right around the corner – and for a lucky few, it’s already here. After all the hard work you put in last semester, you’re likely thinking of going on adventures with your friends, partying at night clubs, seeking out a summer fling, or surfing at the nearest beach.

These are all great ways to spend the summer, but not necessarily the best ways to make the most of your time. Check out our recommendations for the top five ways to spend the summer holiday.

5. Work Abroad

Travelling is a great way to spend time off from school. You can meet new people, experience different cultures, and maybe even learn a new language. If you think this is something only your wealthy, well-connected, or super-daring friends can do, then think again.

In 7 Tips for Balancing Work and School, we suggested working abroad as a great way for students to boost their income during the summer semester. Many colleges have programs in place for students looking to work abroad during this time.

Sure, it’s not as great an experience as an actual vacation, but it’s a hell of a lot better than staying home. Just imagine the valuable work experience you gain to help build your resume.

4. Volunteer

Paid work isn’t the only kind of experience your future employers will look out for. Volunteering also shows employers that money isn’t the only thing that motivates you – even if it is – and that you’re a team player, as few volunteer projects involve working alone.

Every summer for nine years, I volunteered at a healthcare business owned by a family friend, helping with paperwork and doing routine IT maintenance. By the time I left college, this was the only real work experience I had outside of freelancing.

When I first got called in for an interview at my first and only corporate job, HRM was impressed with my  lengthy “tenure”. This ended up being the only reference they checked with, of the three I provided.

3. Find an Internship Program

Even more impressive than volunteering, is participating in internship programs. Internships offer current students and recent graduates the opportunity to get on-the-job training in the field or position they intend to work in. Many interns also later become permanent members of staff.

The more well-known the company, the more valuable the experience. Even if you only fetched coffee and stapled documents, imagine applying for a computer science job and pointing out that you did your internship at Google, Apple, or Samsung.

Internships for bigger companies are harder to get into, but someone has to get in, so why can’t it be you? Keep applying, and don’t worry about settling for your second-best, or the back-up intern plan, if it doesn’t work out. Sometimes a detour leads you down a much better road. Open yourself up to possibilities and unexpected opportunities.

2. Take Classes

After finishing up finals, this might be the last thing you want to consider, but taking classes during the summer can help you finish up your degree faster, by racking up more credits. It can also help to lighten the course load during the rest of the year.

As Benjamin Franklin once said:

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

1. Chase Your Dreams

While summer is a great time to focus on and prepare for your future career, it’s also a great time to focus on your dreams, while turning them into goals.

Whether it’s writing a novel, finishing the Game of Thrones series, learning to surf, or finding that special someone, this is a great time to spend on dreams you don’t have time to pursue when class is in session – guilt free.

Pursue your passions.

Don’t spend too much of it on the things you have to, at the expense of all the things you want to do. Strike a balance and work towards the life you’ve always dreamed of.

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About the Author

 

Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mage and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

Originally published on May 6, 2016.