Ice Bucket Challenge Out; Career Center Challenge In

This summer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has cooled down in recent weeks, but that’s no reason to stop challenging yourself this semester.

Every student has something more that they can give – but unlike the ice bucket challenge, we’re not talking about donating money.

We’re talking about that extra push you can give yourself to help land an interview and then get that dream internship or job you’ve always wanted.

CAREER CENTER CHALLENGE: The Career Center is challenging you to attend at least one career-related event this semester that will contribute to your future. Here are our recommendations for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

FRESHMEN: By this time, you’re finally settled into your new environment and all of the crazy life changes don’t feel so – well – crazy anymore. But don’t get too comfortable. Take the challenge and attend one of these career-related events.

SOPHOMORES: Don’t fall into the “sophomore slump” – the time when you are no long0714048 Sophmore week-localister a newbie and somehow you get lost in the mix of your peers. Fortunately, the Career Center is featuring Sophomore Career Week so that you can complete the challenge.

JUNIORS: This is the year to fine-tune your resume to meet the needs of potential employers for internships and jobs, as well as improve your skills overall. Take the Career Center Challenge and attend at least one of these career events.

SENIORS/GRADUATE STUDENTS: By this time, you should have some work experience under your belt. But if not, there are still plenty of opportunities that the Career Center is offering this fall to ensure you complete the Career Center Challenge.

For more information about the Career Center visit www.towson.edu/careercenter or call 410-704-2233.

Sara Heilman
Career Center Marketing Intern.

Study Groups Empower Students to Learn

stStudy groups have been proven to be very successful in helping students perform better in their courses. Effective group learning can increase motivation and confidence, as well as strengthen connections among your peers. The ability to work as part of a team is also a highly desirable trait in the workforce. Being part of a study group experience can be rewarding, but requires effort on your part.

Some of rewarding benefits of joining a study group are:

  • Improve your understanding of course material
  • Share resources with current students about course content
  • Experience new ways of thinking and new ideas about course content

Possible complications within a study group are:

  • An unmotivated participant can turn a study session into one long gossip session
  • An underprepared participant can turn a study session into a “teaching” rather than a sharing of ideas
  • Lack of commitment of each participant to attend sessions could ruin the pace and motivation for all participants

Size Matters

When forming a study group, it is important to consider not only how many people should be in the group, but also who should be in the group. For best results, limit the size of your study group to three to six students. Too many voices in one group can cause chaos, confusion, and distraction. Furthermore, the more people you have in your group, the more difficult it can be to schedule a time. If there is a larger group of students interested in forming a study group, simply divide the group in half and mix up the members from time to time. When organizing a study group, don’t feel limited to only inviting your friends. Choose your study group members wisely – people who have similar academic goals and have a desire to participate, share, listen, and learn. A good start is talking to your classmates sitting around you to gauge interest in forming a study group. It is very likely that there are other students in the class also looking for study partners!

Preparation

Another important aspect of study groups is the preparation each group member must complete before the group meets. Study groups should be a secondary means of studying; each member should be studying on their own before the group meets. The group time should be spent clarifying topics that each member doesn’t understand or as a time for practicing exams or tests.

Group Goals

Study groups are formed for many different reasons. It’s important to determine the specific goals for your group. Are you looking for test preparation? Your group might develop possible test questions to review and provide practice before exams. Are you looking for a group to meet weekly? Your group might compare notes from class sessions to fill in gaps and clarify topics, share study strategies, check for understanding of readings, or develop study aids like charts or notecards.

Once you have your group together, the Academic Achievement Center can provide guidance on how to structure the group for success using the “AAC Study Group Toolkit.” To get started, visit our website at http://www.towson.edu/aac/studyGroups.asp and fill out the request form.

Additional Resources:

http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills-articles/study-groups.asp

http://classroom.synonym.com/advantages-disadvantages-study-group-4192.html

https://students.case.edu/education/resources/studygroups/formagroup.html

http://homeworktips.about.com/od/studymethods/a/studygroup.htm

 

Academic Achievement Center

Elizabeth Scarbrough
Director

Kimberly Graham
Placement Testing Coordinator

Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistant

Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist

A Mindful Way to Approach the Beginning of the Semester

stressed studentA stress free life is impossible. (Darn it, right?) Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and stress can have a significant impact on us in both physiological and emotional ways. The bad news here is that we cannot escape stress. The good news, however (yes, there is good news!), is that we can absolutely influence the way that we experience stress and help buffer against stress’s negative side effects. Our mindset plays a huge role in the way that we view and approach stress. Engaging with stress and our experiences from a mindful perspective can help us cope with stress in a healthy and positive way. Research shows that engaging in mindfulness can help improve attention and memory, decrease worry, improve communication with others, and improve immune functioning – just to name a few.

So, what is mindfulness, you ask? Mindfulness is a unique way of paying attention to our experience that involves both full awareness of the present moment, and open-minded acceptance of it. Awareness relates to being cognizant of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in any given moment. Stress and worry often arise in relation to thoughts about the future or past. Focusing on the here-and-now can help decrease stress’s power over us. (After all, the only thing we can impact is life in-the-moment anyway.) Open-minded acceptance involves being receptive to whatever enters your awareness. This means embracing things we may be happy to pay attention to (such as joy and excitement), as well as things we may rather ignore (like sadness, anger, and pain). This last point may cause you to feel skeptical about mindfulness, but the key with this perspective is that when we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, and experience them fully, we can more easily move beyond them. For example, try not to think about a purple elephant… All you can think about is a purple elephant! Now focus on the purple elephant… Your thoughts probably dwell on the purple elephant initially, but then start drifting to other things. The point is that thoughts and feelings we try to avoid and ignore only become stronger. The very attempt at pushing them away gives them more power.

Another way to think about mindfulness is to imagine you are seeing the world through a baby’s eyes. Everything is new, exciting, and interesting. Hold that lens in one hand. Now, in the other hand, think about the way you might relate to a friend who is crying and upset. Hopefully, as you try to support your friend, this involves compassion and non-judgmental support. Now, imagine relating to yourself with this kind of compassion and lack of judgment. This is what it involves to embrace your experience and self in a mindful way. Most of us can be easily consumed with self-criticism and self-doubt, so relating to ourselves in this way can be unfamiliar. However, you can hopefully get a sense of how powerful it can be.

Mindfulness is a way of being, but it’s also a skill. The good news is that it’s very easy to start, and you can practice while you do just about anything! If you’re intrigued and want to learn more about mindfulness and how to incorporate it in your life as the semester starts, here are some ideas and resources for you.

 

  • Bring awareness and focus to every day chores: When you are doing dishes, focus on what you are doing as you are doing it. Feel the water as it runs through your hands, hear the sound as you scrub the dishes. If your mind drifts away, get your focus back to the experience of doing dishes, nothing else.
  • Looking at things as through a child’s eyes: Next time you start feeling that stress is piling up, go for a walk. As you walk, look at the trees around you, look at the color of the sky, as if you were seeing them for the first time.
  • Practice deep Breathing: Start practicing deep breathing on a regular basis. Take a few minutes once a day to deep breathe from your abdomen. That way, next time you find yourself feeling stressed, doing deep breathing, which results in a sense of relaxation, will come up more naturally.flat,550x550,075,f.u1
  • Bring awareness to your body: Throughout the day, be aware of any points of tightness in your body while you walk. Notice your body as you are walking. Pay attention to your posture. Pay attention to your feet as they contact the ground. Feel the air on your face, in your body, as you walk.
  • Eat mindfully: Choose one meal a day, every day, which you will eat mindfully. Eat slowly. Focus on the smell of your food, look at its color and its textures. As you start eating, take time in every bite to savor the different tastes. Notice any changes in taste as you chew. Notice the aftertaste.

As you can see, you can approach your everyday experiences in a mindful way. Also, as a skill, the more you practice living mindfully, the more readily you use it when needed.

Also, the Counseling Center on campus has different resources available to help you have a more mindful approach to your daily life:

  • We have a Meditation Room. You can book it for individual meditation or attend group meditation sessions. Schedule a session at TUCC front desk or by calling our Counseling Center at 410-704-2512.
  • You can find audio, apps, and other resources in our website, at http://www.towson.edu/counseling/events/meditation_room.asp
  • You can check out events.towson.edu for the schedule of Therapist led Guided Meditations.

Bea Palma Orellana, MS
Doctoral Intern
Counseling Center

Nina Weiss, MA
Doctoral Intern
Counseling Center

Carpe Diem!

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One of the most memorable lines ever voiced in cinematic history is the line “Carpe Diem,” (Latin for “Seize the Day”), from the movie Dead Poet’s Society. It is also one of most widely recognized phrases associated with the late great Robin Williams. Carpe Diem can mean many things to many people and in the movie Robin Williams’ character, an English teacher named John Keating, offers his interpretation in the following clip:

 Whether you can identify with Mr. Keating’s interpretation or not, the common idea presented is that we should learn to live for the now. Live for day at hand. Practitioners of meditation call this Mindful Meditation, through which you become aware of the moment, your body’s physical and your mind’s emotional reaction to events and happenings on a second-to-second level. How does this relate to me as a college student, you ask? It’s a good question and one I hope you will fully answer for yourself in time. However, for now, at the beginning of the semester, my answer to you would be to embrace where you are as a student. If this is your first year, accept the pressures of acclimating to life as a college student. These pressures can include academic, social and personal ones. It is an immense transition – take it one step at a time and understand that the University community is here to support and guide you. If you are a second year student, feel emboldened as you start the year and seize the feeling of understanding what it takes to succeed, and try to recognize your success in terms of where you’ve come from and where you need to go. If you are an upper classman, revel in the fact that your goals are soon to be accomplished and that these final years are perhaps the most important in your life to come. The awareness of that, and your actions that affect that future, should be your daily focus.

Regardless of your class rank or credit count, you can seize the day and recognize that life is unpredictable, and the path less traveled is often the hardest, but the one that will give you the most rewards at the end of the day. So seize the moment. Be aware of it. Celebrate it and appreciate it.

Robin Williams was a great man. His contribution to our world was to make sure we knew what it was for someone to embrace each moment. He did this by giving us everything he had, at every chance he was given. In my view his purpose in life, or at the least his desire, was to make us smile, and laugh and cry. He lived in this selfless way to teach us this lesson of Carpe Diem.

I hope as the year begins we can hold these words close to our thoughts and the memory of him close to our hearts. And be inspired by them both to make most of your academic career and your journey through this time in your lives because it is a great time indeed. Live for it now. Carpe Diem.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. “
Robin Williams

 

Robert Karp
Undergraduate Academic Advising

Finals FAQ’s …..Answered!

kcFinals time has finally arrived! You may find yourself asking a lot of questions about how you should prepare for your finals. We have the answers to some of the most common questions!

I have so many exams to study for; how can I maximize my time when studying?

Consider your preferred learning style. When studying, do you learn best by: using images and diagrams? Repeating aloud the material and talking about it with others? Working with models and being physically engaged with the content? Reading and writing….and then, rereading and rewriting? These characteristics describe four different learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read/write.   Draw on study strategies that match your preferred way to learn in order to maximize your study time.   Find specific study strategies for each learning style by viewing the Targeting your Learning Style for Success presentation in the Academic Success & Study Strategies section on our resource page.

Where do I get the help I need?First, consider what kind of help it is that you need. Are you struggling with course content? Need help making a study plan? Stressed out? Once you determine what kind of help you need you can pinpoint the appropriate campus resource(s):

o   Professors – Don’t forget that your teacher is the one who writes the exam! Take advantage of office hours and get the information you need.

o   Academic Achievement Center– Stop by the AAC for tutoring: “Last Minute Finals Q&A Sessions” run by AAC tutors.

o   Library Resources – The library offers extended hours during finals to accommodate busy schedules. Also, check out the schedule for the “Relax your Brain” tables.

o   Writing Center – Don’t delay getting assistance with your papers. Visit the writing center to make an appointment or call 410-704-3426.

o   Counseling Center – Call or visit the counseling center to learn about programs and workshops that can help to reduce stress and anxiety during this busy time of year.

What if my “final” is a paper?

Start drafting your paper as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to revise your paper a few times before turning it in.   Wayne Robertson, Director of TU’s Writing Center suggests these tips for revising your paper:

o   Read aloud to catch errors and sentences that sound awkward. In any given day, you listen to a lot more language than you read. The result is that your ear is usually a much better editor than your eyes. Find yourself a quiet room and just read the entire paper aloud. Any time you stumble, rework that sentence to make it sound smoother.

o   Use an outline…after you have a draft.   Try this: After you’ve written your paper, look at each paragraph individually. What is the purpose of that paragraph? Is it to introduce a new point? Is it to provide another piece of evidence to support a prior point? Is it to examine a counter-argument? Organization is best addressed on the paragraph level. Once you understand the purpose of each paragraph, you can see the overall movement of your argument, which will help you reorganize. After making any larger organizational changes, now go through and rewrite the first sentence of each paragraph based on its purpose. If the paragraph is introducing an alternate perspective, you might start the paragraph by writing, “Of course, some may argue…” If the paragraph is adding the consequences of an idea, you might write “The consequences of changing this policy….” If organization is something you usually have trouble with, this simple exercise can really help. faq

o   Get feedback from other readers. Students often assume good writers work effortlessly. They don’t. Writing is difficult for everyone, and almost everything that‘s published has been looked at by multiple people. Ask other people to give you feedback on where they get confused, about where they might not be convinced of your argument, and on how focused the ideas seem to be. Ask friends, family and faculty for input, and of course, use the writing center

I am stressed about my finals, what do I do?Exam stress can be reduced if the right strategies are put into action. Study early and often to avoid the additional stress that last minute cramming causes. Create a balanced schedule during exams that integrates focused studying, breaks and rewards. Practice regular deep breathing and remember to get lots of sleep. Use your bed only for sleeping. If you find you are restless and cannot get your finals out of your mind – get up, leave your bedroom and create a worry list that you will tackle the next day (Sharer, N., Towson University Counseling Center). Listen to relaxing music before bed and silence your cell phone. A little bit of nervousness during exams is normal – take a deep breath and put your hard work into action.

Should I cram or should I sleep? It can be tempting to wait to the last minute and try to stay up really late or not even go to bed at all when trying to study for finals. However, getting a good night’s rest is just as important as studying all of the information that you need to cover. There have been countless studies conducted to support this and they have shown that 8-9 hours of sleep the night before an exam improves the ability to recall information studied. They have also shown that too little sleep is harmful for your recollection on exam day. This isn’t your pass to not study for your test; your studying needs to be done in a way that allows you to get the amount of sleep that you need to perform to the best of your ability on exam day.

Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

Jennifer Wendt
Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

Brittany Bell
Graduate Assistant
Academic Achievement center

Make More Than Just Coffee During Your Summer Internship

#TUinfinity-Logo
With summer just around the corner, it’s easy to swap those textbooks for beach towels. But while it’s easy to relax this summer, students should also use the summer to gain a beneficial internship experience. Summer internships are great way to make your resume standout, show your dedication, and gain amazing experience in your field.

You want to make sure you gain the most out of your internship experience. It’s easy to fetch coffee and run errands as an intern but remember you can maximize your internship to be much more than that. Here are a few tips to help you make sure your internship is extremely beneficial to both you and your employer:

  • Establish at least two or three learning objectives—set goals you want to accomplish and discuss them with your supervisor. This will help you, and it also shows your employer what you want to get done.
  • Take initiative! Don’t wait for projects to be given to you. Volunteer for tasks and ask for more duties.
  • Demonstrate maturity and go above and beyond your supervisor’s expectations.
  • Be observant—note how employees organize their ideas and respond to questions.
  • Seek feedback/accept constructive criticism. What you do might not always be perfect or right. When your boss shows you how to do something better, don’t take it personally. Instead see it as a chance to become better at your job and gain new skills.
  • Be the best version of yourself—whether this means manners, professionalism, or working as a team—be a better you.

Visit the Career Center website for more tips and suggestions to maximize your internship experience.

If after reading those tips you’re still overwhelmed with the idea of becoming an intern, stop by the Career Center’s Summer Intern Prep Workshop May 23 from 1-3 p.m. You’ll even be able to take an assessment to help you understand what strengths you can bring to an organization. All majors are welcome to attend!

Also don’t forget to tell the Career Center your success stories! One of the many benefits of an internship is sharing the experience with other students, friends, and family. So join the #TUinfinity campaign to share your story and you could win a $500 Amazon gift card! For information on how to enter, check out our page here.

Good luck with your summer internship!

Shelby Hillers
Career Peer Advisor
Career Center

Mindfulness Part 2 – Mindfulness in Practice

mindfulnessdefn4Most people reading this have heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses” but how many times have any of us actually stopped to appreciate a flower? If you have, then you’ve already practiced mindfulness. When you stop your journey to appreciate something immediately in front of you, you are being “in the present.” Instead of worrying about a test you are getting back this afternoon or considering how you’d like to spend your weekend, you focus your attention on what is going on around you right now. Spring is the perfect season for exploring this aspect of mindfulness. It seems everywhere you look there are signs of life and renewal, all inviting you to stop and appreciate the beauty surrounding you. But being in the present isn’t just about flowers and nature. You can also take a moment to savor that bagel you had for breakfast, feel your feet as you walk, or even relish the graphics in Titanfall.

One way to practice being in the moment is through mindful breathing. Set aside a few minutes and sit in a quiet place. Allow yourself to settle into wherever you have chosen, then direct the spotlight of your attention on your breath. Try to feel the air as it enters and exits your body. Be curious about your whole body as you inhale and exhale – the rise and fall of your chest, the feel of the air in your nose and throat, the sounds of your breath. Inevitably, your attention will wander from your breath to other thoughts or feelings. When this happens, gently acknowledge that your mind has wandered and refocus on your breathing. This refocusing process is at the heart of this meditation. As you become skilled at refocusing your attention away from your thoughts and back on your breath, you may find that you are better able to refocus your attention away from your worries, fears, regret, or pain.

It is not uncommon to feel frustrated when you start the practice of mindful breathing. You may sit and try to focus on your physical experience of breathing, only to find that you can’t seem to stop thinking about an upcoming final. This is perfectly fine. In fact, the second important aspect of mindfulness is being nonjudgmental. As those worries about your test force their way into your attention, do not judge yourself for not being able to control your thoughts. The goal is not to control your thinking. Instead, the focus is on choosing how we respond to those thoughts and feelings that unconsciously, and without our control, pop into our head. We often negatively judge ourselves for the thoughts or feelings that we have, and do everything we can to escape or avoid the negative feelings. A mindful approach is to accept that we cannot control what comes into our mind, but we can control how we respond to those thoughts or feelings.

SproutsThe exercise of mindful breathing helps us work the mental muscles that allows us to be more directive in choosing where to focus our attention. As we go through our daily lives, and experience the ups and downs that comes with being a human being, mindfulness helps us to become more aware of what we are internally experiencing, accept what we find, and choose how we relate to the world around and within us. For more information about mindfulness, you are welcome to attend the mindfulness workshops being held at the Counseling Center at 6pm every Wednesday evening (through 5/14). The counseling center web page also has links to additional readings, blogs, and apps that can help you get started in your own journey.

Tom Wahlund
Doctoral Intern
Counseling Center

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