Archive for the ‘High School Life & Advice’ Category

How to Start a Student Organization

Activities such as organizations, clubs, and volunteer work are important when it comes to college, scholarship, and job applications. Colleges, scholarship providers, and prospective employers are always looking for leadership skills among their applicants. To make yourself stand out, think about something you’re passionate about. If there isn’t already a student organization surrounding that cause or activity, consider starting your own organization!

studentorganizations

Creating your own student organization is beneficial for you because it provides you with a way of meeting fellow students with interests similar to yours who you can work with toward a common goal. It’s also great for your school because it will allow students to become more involved on campus and they’ll be able to provide a more diverse set of extracurricular offerings to prospective students. Creating or even just participating in an organization is a great way build your resume while doing something you enjoy and are passionate about — what a sweet deal! If you’re interested in moving forward with your idea, here are the steps needed to start a student organization.

Step 1. Strategic Planning

First and foremost you will need to develop a mission and focus of your organization. There are many questions you should ask, and answer, before and during your planning to create a new organization. What are you passionate about? Why do you want to create an organization? What do you wish to achieve by creating this organization? Are there other students that share the same passion and goals? Is the organization appropriate for your college and fit into your college’s mission? Does it address any issues that the campus may be facing? Why does your organization need to be recognized by the school and how will it benefit the school? Is there an existing organization on campus that is similar to your organization’s mission and goals? The answers to these questions will be most helpful when you have to draft a proposal and constitution of the organization for your college’s approval. Familiarize yourself with the answers to all those questions, because college, administrators, advisors, and students will want to learn more about your organization before committing to it.

Step 2. Founding Members

In order to successfully start your organization, you will need support. Speak to people you believe will be interested or who can help you spread the word. Additionally, your school may require more than one member in order to establish the organization/club in the first place. Having additional founding members will also help ease your stress and tension because they can help you with the workload and preparation.

Step 3. Advising

Once you have an idea and people to support your plan and goals, you will need to speak to an advisor at your school to discuss next steps. Since different schools have different requirements, it is important to discuss with the advisors first before to see what else you’ll need to make your dream come true. Your advisor can answer most of your questions and concerns about getting your organization recognized and approved at the college.

Step 4. Paperwork

There will be quite a bit of paperwork, so be prepared to write, present, talk, and sign a whole lot. At this point, you need to sit down and draft the official documents for the organization. As the founder of the organization, you will most likely have to draft a constitution. This document should be detailed and include statements regarding the name of the organization and its meaning, what it stands for, the goal and purpose of the organization, the benefits of having the organization on campus and why the acknowledgement by the college is important, the activities the organization will participate in and any causes that the organization might be involved in, current and future plans for the organization, and how the organization can benefit the community in a bigger picture. Additional documents may be required depending on your organization.

Step 5. Congratulations!

After all your hard work, your organization is finally acknowledged by the college and is officially open to student involvement! Now it is time to establish the organization in the community of students. Utilize your marketing and public communication skills to recruit more members and encourage involvement in both the organization and the community. You can pass out flyers, hold information sessions, host activities and events to raise awareness of your organization, and participate in student-centered events and activities on and off campus to gain a better sense of community and recruit. It may be stressful and frustrating at first, but it will be well worth it when students begin to show interest and join. Remember to have fun with it. Good luck!

Still trying to figure out what you’re most passionate about? Cappex can help! Explore your interests by visiting our Colleges and Majors search tool.

image credit: ferguson.ua.edu

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The Ultimate Guide to Letters of Recommendation: Who to Ask and How to Do It

Letters of recommendation. The elusive cousin of resumes and cover letters. While they’re not always invited to the party, they are generally welcomed as a nice surprise when they show up. They convey—possibly more than anything else—your work ethic. It’s important that your recommendation letters evolve as you take each new step in your academic and professional career.

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Who to Ask

HIGH SCHOOL

Letters of recommendation are required for many college and scholarship applications and many volunteering opportunities. Think about the position or institution you are applying for and select letter writers that know your character and skillset the best. Some of those people may include:

  • Teacher: A teacher you’ve had at least a class or two with will be able to speak to your general work ethic, personality, determination, and willingness to go the extra mile. They are a good person to ask to write about your history of academic achievements.
  • Volunteering coordinator: Do you have previous experience volunteering? If you worked closely with a supervisor or volunteer coordinator during your experience, they would be a perfect candidate to write about your willingness to help and your dedication to a specific community.
  • Employer: Juggling a part-time job with school, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering says a lot about your ability to balance multiple things at once. Your employer will be able to talk about your punctuality, your enthusiasm to succeed, and how well you work with a team.

COLLEGE

Recommendation letters are going to be important for three main things: internships, graduate programs, and your first out-of-school job. Even if a letter of recommendation isn’t specifically asked for, it is not a bad idea to have a few written up on your behalf to bring them with you to interviews. Not only does it show that you are a person worth vouching for, but it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile.

  • Academic advisor: Most colleges require each student to have an academic advisor. This is someone that should know your academic history as well as your passion for your field. Encourage them to write about your thirst for knowledge and excitement learn new things.
  • Internship supervisor: A supervisor from a previous internship is the best person to recommend you for your next internship. If you implemented any changes or created a project during your internship, ask your supervisor to mention that process and how it helped their business.
  • Mentor: If you’ve found a mentor in college, you should absolutely ask them to write you a letter of recommendation. Depending on your relationship, this is someone who will know what kind of work and activities you’ve been involved in, what you want to do in the future, and who can speak to what you’re capable of—chances are it’s a lot!

How to Ask

Writing a good letter of recommendation is no easy task. Once you decide who you want to ask, you need to take into account their schedule, how well they know you, and what they are best suited to write about. Follow these tips for a smooth process.

  • Be courteous: Writing one of these letters takes time. Make sure you ask if they’d be willing to write the letter at least a month before you need it. This gives plenty of time for them to come back to you with questions and work through multiple drafts. It also gives you time to find someone new if for some reason they say no or have to back out. It is your responsibility to let them know upfront of any deadlines or special requirements for the letter.
  • Be helpful: In order to write a great letter, your references will need details. Make sure to supply letter writers with a copy of your resume and cover letter, as well as the position description if the letter is going to be for something specific. You should let your writer know if you want them to mention specific pieces of information. It’s important to let them feel free to write their true opinions, but it’s never a bad thing to tell them why you are asking them to write the letter and what you think they can best speak about. Think of this as an opportunity to have someone else talk about things you couldn’t fit in your resume.
  • Be thankful: The process isn’t over when they hand you their letter. Make sure to look it over (unless it’s required to be sealed) and verify that it’s relevant and what you need for your application. After you’ve sent it off, be sure to thank your writer. An old fashioned thank you note is the best way to go, and mention how much it meant to you that they were willing to vouch for you and help you achieve your goals.

Whether you’re applying for a scholarship, a new job, a graduate program, or you just want something to supplement your resume, a strong letter of recommendation can set you apart from other applicants. Not only does it show your ability to build and maintain working relationships, a well-written letter gives potential employers, colleges, and scholarship providers an idea of your past achievements and work-ethic. To ensure a useful and relevant letter, ask someone who has a history of working with or advising you to write a recommendation. Provide the writer with examples of your work, an updated resume, and a brief description of the position or organization you are applying to.


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Holly King is a recently graduated writer living in Salt Lake City, UT. When not scouring the internet for updates in business, lifestyles, and technology, she is tending to her garden and trying to perfect the world’s best egg sandwich.
 
 

image credit: colorado.edu

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5 Easy Mental Hacks that Instantly Boost Your Productivity

productivityIn the pursuit of being successful and making dreams come true, productivity is the lifeblood. In the age of social media and the 24-7 digital distraction machine, productivity is a big issue with even the most ambitious students. How do you get past the urge to procrastinate? Most of us love to laugh at videos on YouTube, chat it up on Facebook, or simply daydream about not having to do what’s necessary, but before you know it, 40 minutes have passed and you’re doing anything but the task you set out to do. With technology continuing to offer more and more interesting means of instant gratification, what can we possibly do to drop those distractions and maintain focus and productivity?

There are many great ways to boost your productivity, but we’ve put together a list of the five best ways to give you impenetrable momentum and powerful focus that will help you plow through even the stickiest and most mundane tasks.

1. Listen to Background Music

Some music simply sets the mood for getting things done. In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, assistant professor of music therapy at the University of Miami, found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood. Listening to music during your times of serious work and focus can make a notable difference. You might be tempted to play your favorite tunes, but for this purpose, it’s best to choose music with no words or at least words that you cannot understand, such as classical, atmospheric, opera, jazz, new age, etc. If you’re stressed out, try listening to nature sounds or calm, meditative music to help reduce your stress so you can focus better and get more done.

2. Get a Productivity Accountability Partner

HacktheSystem.com, a popular blog on entrepreneur lifestyles, recently started connecting their blog readers with each other as accountability partners to get their personal tasks done. They used actual money as a penalty if the task wasn’t completed. This is an extreme example, but simply having someone else who can hold you accountable for your tasks can really keep you on track to getting things done. Reach out to your classmates or use social media to find someone you can work with to keep each other accountable for anything from daily homework assignments and studying to research projects and papers. Establish times to check in with each other on the status of whatever you’re working on. Knowing that someone else will be checking in on your progress can provide great motivation to get started on — and ultimately finish — that project.

3. Positive Affirmations

Before it all comes out, it starts from within. We can change what is within by telling ourselves in advance what we can accomplish. Many people use the power of positive affirmation to start their day off right. Simply beginning your day by telling yourself that you’re going to have a great and productive day puts your brain in the right mode to do just that. Apps like Singulaa allow you to record your own voice over soothing music so you can play those positive messages back to yourself. Write down your best and most powerful ideas, speak them into existence using the app, and listen to them daily or whenever you find yourself in need of a productivity boostEventually, your mind will absorb the positive messages and you will find yourself working more efficiently and with greater purpose.

4. Identify and Destroy Bad Habits

Take some time to sit down alone in a room or somewhere else private to do a simple self-assessment and identify any bad habits that you’d like to change. Charles Durhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” says that with every habit is a cue, an action, and a reward. Put some thought into identifying what cues your bad habits and why you do each one. What is the reward? Why do you continue that action over and over? Through this exercise, you can identify patterns and learn how to change your bad habits while keeping the same rewards and cues, thereby creating a more productive lifestyle.

5. Accomplishment Journal

At the end of each day, write down everything that you accomplished that day. Take note of all the big things (finally finished that big paper, received a scholarship, got an internship, etc.) and all the small things (got your laundry done, tried a new food in the cafeteria, made it to the rec center to work out, etc.). Giving yourself recognition for and being excited about what you did each day can create a habit of looking forward to all that you can do the next day, giving you more purpose and reason to be productive.

This is an amazing time to live in. We have more access to powerful and positive resources that can give us the type of life we want to have. Using these five clever mental hacks will not only allow you to boost your productivity, but will also improve your general outlook on life.

Russel Cooke is a journalist and business consultant based in Canyon Country, CA. and Louisville, KY. He thoroughly enjoyed his time spent in college, and considers it his best series of learning experiences to date. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.

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