Skills

Going from high school to college is a huge transition. No longer do you have teachers nagging you to turn in assignments or those annoying bells that you and your peers rushed to class to beat. You are now officially responsible for your actions and the decisions that you make. While the consequences of being late in college aren’t marked by a pink detention slip, they still exist and they’re more detrimental to your life than you might expect.

Just as it takes about 21 days to break a habit, it takes the same amount of time to adopt one. You might be thinking that it’s impossible for someone to be late that many times in a row, but I’ve seen it happen so many times and it was always the same people coming in five minutes (or later) after that imaginary bell rang signalling the start of class. The people who are repeatedly late probably have countless reasons why they can’t make it to class on time, but just like your future employer, your professor isn’t going to care too much about your excuses.

In fact, points might get deducted from your overall grade if you are constantly coming to class well after the lecture has begun. The consequences might be different at every university and, in some places, there might not even be any rules against being late but, again, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences.

If you can’t come to class on time, then showing up to an internship or a job when you’re supposed to be there might be extremely difficult for you. Being on time requires discipline and a lot of time management. This means going to bed at a reasonable time and, even if you don’t, still forcing yourself to get up when the alarm goes off (and remembering to set your alarm in the first place). If you have 15 minutes to get to each class, make sure you calculate how fast you would need to walk and how long it takes you to get from Point A to Point B.

Once you get into a habit of showing up on time, you won’t have any issues doing it in the future. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’d put more effort into being punctual if they had a job because they’re getting paid to be there, but even if those are your exact thoughts, that isn’t a good argument to make. You’re in college to get a degree that is necessary to land said job, and if that isn’t enough of an incentive to be on time, how can you be a good employee?

Not only can not being on time affect your professional future, but it could damage the impression your professor has of you. They might not be taking off points for your tardiness, but if you ever need them to write a letter of recommendation or if you need help with something, they could take into account that you never made an effort to show up to class on time and that you were repeatedly late. Sure, you have other professors to turn to if you ever need a recommendation, but if you’re not showing up to one class on time, you’re probably not managing your time well which means that you have probably been late to other classes.

It’s like a Domino Effect. Once you start being late to one class, that tardiness begins to affect your punctuality in your other classes. You miss out on so much when you’re not in class when it starts. The first five to ten minutes of class could be the material that’s going to be on the test, so if you’re steadily missing out on that information then you probably won’t do well on the tests. This is not to say that you won’t get good grades because you could possibly get the notes from a classmate or read from the book assigned for the class, but the probability is higher because lateness can translate into not putting in enough effort to get an A or a B, especially if you have a habit of being late.

Don’t get me wrong. Being late once or twice is bound to happen. Things come up and we all oversleep sometimes. Those few mishaps aren’t going to lead to failing grades. Just don’t make a habit of it because once it becomes one, it will take some effort to undo. If you are one of those people who is late three or four times a week, it’s not too late to try to do better. Adjust your sleep schedule, try to walk faster when getting from one class to another, and look for shortcuts if your classes are farther apart and you don’t have a bike or don’t want to chance getting on a bus or driving a car. There are always ways to make it to class on time, you just have to put in effort to make time work in your favor and not against you.

Tardiness is not something you want to carry with you each semester because, in the long run, it can affect your grades and your credibility in the eyes of your professors. There is a saying that goes ‘dance like nobody is watching.’ You don’t have to dance across campus (you can if it’ll get you moving faster), but what you do have to do is act like everyone is watching and, more importantly, you need to watch yourself. Hold yourself accountable and be a responsible student by being as punctual as possible.

If you need to imagine that annoying bell to put a little pep in your step, then do so. Do whatever it is you need to do to be on time because you can’t seize your education if you aren’t present the entire time.

Education

fall supplies 2014

‘Tis the season for going back to school, and we all know what that means: new school supplies. Start your semester off on the right foot with these handy notebooks, planners, and tools. Don’t start your new classes without these seven necessities:

1. Big Monthly Planner – A big calendar made for big plans and big dreams. Mark all of your important dates, and never miss a meeting, class, or event again.

2. Thought Cloud Sticky Notes – Have a brilliant idea? Write it down! Don’t want to forget something brilliant your teacher said? Note it.

3. Moleskine Classic Notebook – Take notes, write down your to-do’s, and jot down your ideas and accomplishments.

4. Sharpie Chisel Assorted 8 Pack – When you want to make a statement, do so in a big and colorful way. Sharpies are perfect for labeling, notes, and crossing things off of your to-do list!

5. Pencil Case – A durable pencil case will hold your statement Sharpies, writing tools, school ID, and anything else you need for class. We like the handle at the end for easy access from your backpack.

6. Camelbak Water Bottle – You all know very well that water is incredibly important. Stay hydrated throughout your classes, sports practices, and after-school clubs with a reusable water bottle.

7. Lime Green Streamer Binder – Your backpack can get pretty packed. Avoid wasting time searching for specific class binders and just assign patterns and colors to each class. This binder definitely stands out.

Image: Laiwan Ng, Flickr (edited)

EducationSkills

We all know (and fear) the mass of college loans that await us at the end of our four years, so why not save a little money when it comes to shopping for your dorm? What do you really need to survive your four years? It can be tricky to narrow it down when it feels like you need everything and anything for being on your own for the first time. Here’s a generic list of things I believe are worth having when staying on campus:

  1. Bed Products: Two words: Twin XL. Make sure your sheets fit the bed that your school is providing you with! You can get away with full sheets if you tuck them in or a twin comforter since they’re made longer in order to hang over the edge of your bed. I also recommend getting a mattress pad and bed bug protector. No matter where you go, those beds aren’t going to be as comfortable as the one in your room at home, and it’s always better to take precautions rather than not. Also, bed risers can be a life saver when it comes to under bed storage. Don’t forget to load your bed up with some comfy (and cute) pillows!
  1. Desk Products: Putting aside your standard school supplies, there are some items you’re going to need to have in and on your desk at school. One of the most important things is a lamp. You’re going to want to have proper lighting for all your studying and late night surfing the web endeavors! Which comes to my next necessity; a laptop. It’s an unavoidable need to have to get you through all you classes whether to help you with cramming for that big exam or writing that research paper due at the end of the term. Also, remember to have lots of containers and bins to organize your supplies in your desk draws! As for personalizing your desk, consider having a few nicely framed pictures and a mirror so that you can avoid trying to do your makeup in the bathroom in the morning; it’ll truly be a life saver!
  1. Medicine/First-Aid: I highly recommend having a homemade first aid kit handy somewhere in your dorm. You can keep Band-Aids, Neosporin, Advil, Tums, sterilizing wipes, and any other medical items you may need as the year goes on.
  1. Beauty Products: All things under the categories of makeup and hygiene come into play in this category!
  1. Bathroom Products: Whether you’re sharing a suite or using a communal bathroom, it’s always a smart idea to have a shower caddy. It makes bringing all your bathroom necessities from your room to the bathroom so much easier. Some other generic necessities include towels, shampoo and conditioner, and all your mouth hygiene needs!
  1. Miscellaneous: There is a list of items that I recommend that don’t necessarily fit under one particular category, but come in handy nonetheless:
  • Batteries: There’s always going to be something you have that needs batteries and having them hidden in a draw somewhere will save you lots of time when you do!
  • Full Length Mirror: You have to be able to check your outfit before going out in public, right?
  • Trash Can: Self-explanatory.
  • Laundry Bag: Save yourself the trouble of attempting to lug all your dirty clothes with the stereotypical overflowing pile in your arms.
  • Umbrella: Rain or shine, you’ll be stuck walking to class.
  • Tissues: Commonly forgotten and always needed whether it’s to fend off that common cold or clean up a quick spill!
  • Backpack: A life saver when it comes to lugging your books from class to class.
  • Paper Plates: Easily disposable and a great way to keep your room from being littered with crumbs!
  • Sewing Kit: Usually overlooked, but you really never know when a sewing kit can save the day!
  • Flashlight: If there’s a power outage, you’re not going to want to waste your cell phone battery to guide your way around.
  • Garbage Bags: These will make your life so much easier when it comes to emptying out your trash can!
  • Mini Fridge: There is going to be food that you’ll want to have that need to be refrigerated (or those leftovers from dinner last night).

Happy dorm shopping!

LearnSkills

I recently just wrapped up my very last class in an 8-week series of Tango classes. For many years, I have always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance. I saw the movie Shall We Dance? and was in awe by how fun dancing looked. I am in no way graceful or coordinated, so I knew taking any kind of dance class would be challenging. I did some research, found an 8-week Tango class, and decided to go for it.

I ended up loving every minute of it, and even though I was correct in that it would be a challenge, I loved putting myself out there to learn a new skill. I can now Tango, and even though I am still at a beginner’s level, I am better than I was eight weeks ago. In addition to learning the steps and how to position my arms, I learned a lot about myself in this class series. There are aspects to dancing that are similar to life, and I made the connections as I was (awkwardly) gliding across the dance floor.

These are the 9 things I learned from Tango class:

1. The power of repetition.

At the beginning of every class, we would do exercises back and forth across the dance floor. Even though it got repetitive, the point was to take the next step better than the previous step. Dancing is all about getting the steps down, and through practice and repetition, the steps become part of your muscle memory. Through this repetition, my feet and body started to understand the way the dance was performed. After just two classes, I held my arms up in a different way than the very first class without thinking twice. As you do things over and over with intention, you get better at them.

2. Get in the zone and focus.

When you are dancing with your partner, it is important to be in the moment. The second your mind starts to wander, toes are stepped on and the entire rhythm is thrown off. When you are dancing, or working on a project or task, give it your 100% attention so you can do it well.

3. Embarrass yourself, and then laugh about it.

Staring at yourself dancing in front of a mirror that covers an entire wall is not easy, especially when you don’t actually know how to dance. When you’re just starting out, you are going to look silly sometimes, and you are going to make mistakes. When you feel embarrassed or bad about it, just look around you. Everyone else there is learning how to dance, as well. You are all in the same boat. Laugh it off, and move on. This applies to most things in life, not just dancing. Whether it’s public speaking, a sports game, or something you are learning by yourself, just know that when you can laugh at yourself if you make a mistake, you have already succeeded.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

Okay, so you embarrassed yourself and messed up on a step. Say sorry to your dance partner for stepping on his or her toe, and learn from the mistake. Focus, figure out what you could have done better, and then don’t make the mistake again. It feels so great when you get a complicated step right.

5. Quick-quick-slow.

There are a couple of steps in tango that require a quick-quick-slow rhythm. This means that you step quickly twice, and then take the third step slowly. Then repeat. As I was learning how to do the “media luna,” where you move around your dance partner in a quick-quick-slow circle, stepping forwards and backwards, I couldn’t help but think about how much it resembled my life at the time. A lot of things happened all at once, and then all of a sudden everything slowed down. Sure enough, the next week my life was back to being quick-quick, and then slow. Things will get hectic, busy, and overwhelming, but if you stick with it and keep moving forward, your life will calm down and you can breathe again.

6. Use feedback to your advantage.

When I was making mistakes with my footwork or body positioning, my teachers would identify what I was doing wrong and help me fix it. They are there to help me become a better dancer and to learn the proper way of dancing the Tango, so why would I get annoyed with their feedback? Use feedback to your advantage and excel.

7. Stay on your toes.

Not physically, but metaphorically speaking. There are routine steps that you will learn in dance, but every now and then, your dance partner will switch up a move just to keep you on your toes. It’s when you get too comfortable and your mind starts drifting that you will mess up the last-minute switch. Just as in life, get into a rhythm and routine that works for you, but every now and then, switch things up to keep life fresh. Stay on your toes and improvise.

8. Learn how to follow.

As someone who works hard to be a leader, it isn’t always easy to be a follower. When I Tango, I am the follower. I take directions from my dance partner, who is the Lead. At first this was difficult, and I would be pushing and pulling to try and move in the direction I wanted to go. However, when it comes to Tango, I had to learn how to trust my leader and follow his steps and direction. While the two dance partners are a team, one person takes more control of the situation. When I finally learned how to follow my Lead, we would be gliding across the dance floor. It was a pretty cool feeling.

9. Step outside the comfort zone.

None of these lessons would have been learned if I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone in the first place. I signed up for these Tango classes without a friend or dance partner. I embarrassed myself in front of strangers, had no one to laugh about it with except myself, and I can honestly say it was awesome. These Tango classes were something that I did for myself, to follow through on my interest, and to learn a new skill that I’ve wanted to experience for the longest time. If you want to learn how to do something or if there’s a class you want to take but you can’t find anyone to go or do it with you, just do it by yourself! When you don’t have the distraction of a friend, you really can focus on personal growth and learning more about yourself.