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

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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

What Kind of a Leader Are You?

leadershipLet’s start with the premise in leadership that you don’t need a title to be a leader.  What is leadership?  Leadership is a process where a group comes together to create positive change.  While the organization might have a traditional “leader” at the helm of an organization, when viewed as a process everyone contributes to the success of the group.  In a successful group, every member has skills and abilities that contribute to the group accomplishing its goal.

As a TU student, I encourage you to seek out opportunities to examine your strengths as a leader and group member, to practice your skills, to get feedback and to grow personally and professionally.  Learning and understanding your strengths, applying your knowledge and skills, and being able to articulate your strengths and skills are invaluable as you graduate and navigate your career path. brandyhall

What are some of the key skills needed to be effective in contributing to a leadership process?

  1. Effective leaders know and understand their strengths.
  2. It is important to be able to communicate your message effectively and to listen for understanding so that you are able to recognize different perspectives and experiences.
  3. Leaders who are able to build relationships and trust with other are most effective.  It is crucial that a leader learns how to work effectively with others and to be a contributing part of the team.

Here are some ways you can develop leadership skills and capacity at Towson:

  1. Join an organization or participate in an activity which allows opportunities for self-assessment and reflection.
  2. Attend a retreat focused on personal and professional development.
  3. Visit the Career Center which has a variety of self-assessment and feedback opportunities such as “StrenghtsQuest” which identifies your top 5 talent themes to help you identify and develop your strengths.  To learn more about the self-assessments offered through the Career Center visit: http://www.towson.edu/careercenter/students/advise/assessment.asp
  4. If you live on campus in the residence halls, look for opportunities to get involved in your Building Council and attend programs offered by URG and H&RL.
  5. Become a peer mentor on campus.  The training opportunities and hand-on experience are invaluable.
  6. The Center for Student Diversity holds the “Retreat for Social Justice” every fall which provides an opportunity to strengthen your multicultural leadership and to understand the complexities of identity within organizations and groups while striving to create inclusive and safe spaces for all voices to be valued.
  7. The Office of Student Activities provides many opportunities to strengthen your leadership.  To learn more about the Office of Student Activities visit: http://www.towson.edu/studentactivities/leadership/

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a. Initiatives out of Student Activities include:

i.    I L.E.A.D. Certificate – a non-academic certificate offered to students on campus who earn points by attending workshops and participating in various leadership opportunities on campus.

ii.    LeaderShape – The LeaderShape Institute is a 6 day leadership development program offered each year to TU students.

iii.    I L.E.A.D. Workshops & Conferences – workshops are offered on a variety of topics and conferences offered through Student Activities include the Men’s Leadership Symposium, Spring Leadership Conference, or Women in Leadership Conference.

iv.    Omicron Delta Kappa – ODK is a national honor society that recognized students who have shown achievement in one of five areas.

My hope is that each reader will take advantage of the numerous opportunities available to enhance their leadership while a student at Towson University.

Deb Moriarty, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Finding the Right Employer (It’s okay to be picky)

Looking for employers and jobs is somewhat like looking for a significant other. It’s vaguely like dating where you need to know as much as possible about the other person (the employer) in order to know if you’ll be happy and successful in the long run. When looking for the right employer, you need to start taking into consideration important factors that can later impact your career.

While past internships and work experiences are a great way to start figuring out what you like best in the work office, there are other factors to take into consideration: In what kind of work environment do you excel? In what type of atmosphere are you most productive? Do you work better with certain people?

There are several other factors that go into finding the right employer:

  1. Employer reputation- Are they well known? Will this organization help open doors for you later on?
  1. Growth potential- It’s common to apply for entry-level positions (that’s how you get your foot in the door!), but does this company have opportunities for you to move up? Will you be able to take on more responsibilities and climb the career ladder?
  1. Security/benefits- Is this company still going to be in business in 5 years? 10 years? What benefits can the company provide for you (i.e., retirement, health insurance, etc.)? But also keep in mind benefits like flexible schedules and holidays. Benefits often lead to overall satisfaction and a happy work-life balance.
  1. Work environment/organization mission- Can you imagine yourself happily going into work and not minding if you have to stay late? Would you feel comfortable at your job due to the people and atmosphere? Also, does the company culture and leadership match the values and ideas you hold valuable?

It’s a lot to take in and consider about an employer, especially when you start to feel like you can’t be too picky when it comes to applying for jobs. But to help make your searches easier, there are plenty of resources to help you figure this all out:

  1. Organization’s website/social media- Check out their “About Us” and “News” website sections to see what the company is up to. Also see if the company has LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Seeing how they interact with people and what they post can help you get an overall sense of the culture.
  1. TU’s Career Mentor Database- You can connect with TU alumni working at companies you’re interested in to conduct informational interviews.
  1. Websites that review companies- Check out Vault and Glassdoor to read reviews from people who work there.
  1. TU Cook Library’s Guide to Company Research- This guide has valuable resources for conducting company research.

The best way to find out what you want from a job is to get out there and work…now is the perfect time to start an internship or even an on-campus job. Student employees can look forward to National Student Employment Week (April 13-19) here at Towson University when we show them just how much they are appreciated in our offices. This is also the perfect opportunity for student employees to reflect on what they value and need in a work environment.

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And finally you can learn about other students’ work, internship, volunteer, and overall leadership experiences by checking out the Career Center’s #TUinfinity campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Tell us about your experiences using #TUinfinity for your chance to win weekly prizes, including a grand prize $500 Amazon.com gift card!

Shelby Hillers
Career Peer Advisor
Career Center

The Beauty of Helpful Listening

attentive-parenting-listening-to-your-kids-2-size-3Do you have a friend or loved one who seems to understand you better than most others? That person probably shows you respect and has an accurate understanding of how you feel. The ability to demonstrate an accurate understanding of how someone else feels is called empathy.  And at this time of the semester, when pressure and stress are both increasing some empathy – both given and received – means a lot!  At the Counseling Center, we understand how to help students through empathic listening and genuine care.

Most of us have tried to talk things over with a trusted someone when we are struggling — it’s a universal human need. Talking about problems with an empathic person can help us to clarify how we feel, and what we need to do to resolve our problems. Feeling genuinely understood by someone else also offers hope and helps us to feel less alone with our troubles.

But things don’t always go well. We can tell right away when we aren’t being heard accurately after taking a risk to talk with someone. And it can be quite a challenge for us to be a good listener for someone else. Here are some dos and don’ts for helpful listening.

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Helping Don’ts

106498-104125Many of us haven’t really learned how to listen well to others. We easily may become distracted by our own feelings when called upon to hear the problems of a friend. Instead of listening carefully for understanding, we might ask too many questions, making our friend feel criticized. Or we might give advice too early, implying disrespectfully that our friend’s difficult problems would be easy for us to solve. Talking about our own similar situation risks takes the focus off of the speaker, leaving them feeling unheard and misunderstood. Besides, our own experiences might not be so similar after all to our friend’s.

Helping Dos

Helping effectively means listening more and talking less — offering our time and attention to the person who needs to talk. A good listener suspends judgment and focuses in on the meaning the other person is communicating, connecting with the other person’s feelings, not only the words that are being said. A good listener is patient and tries genuinely to understand the difficulties of a friend instead of offering quick advice. With accurate empathy, our friend can often resolve the problem in their own best way after thoughtfully self-examining with the help of a good listener.

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Professional Counseling

Many people choose to talk over problems with professional listeners like the psychologists and other clinicians at the TU Counseling Center in the Ward & West building on campus. You can count on your Counseling Center counselor to be friendly, confidential, concerned, and unbiased.

The Counseling Center is for everyone facing the many difficulties of living and the stress of academic pressure, not just for the few with serious psychological problems. In addition to individual counseling, group counseling is also offered, in which students work on their own personal goals, while at the same time practice helpful listening to others.

Students who take advantage of counseling services can become more effective in their lives in general, as well as more able to understand and empathize with others. Check out the Counseling Center for more information. And if you would like to check us out further, just call 410-704-2512 to schedule an initial appointment.

Greg Reising, Ph.D.
Counseling Center

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