7 New Year's Resolutions College Students Can Stick To

7 New Year's Resolutions College Students Can Stick To

Here are some resolutions us college kids can actually keep
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We all know making a New Year’s resolution is easy, but sticking to it? Well, maybe not so easy. As we get older, though, we try to come up with more reasonable resolutions. Sometimes, however, college students tend to make a few that just don’t stick, maybe like stop procrastinating. So, maybe while that specific resolution has never really stuck with me personally, here are 7 resolutions us college students can actually keep.


7. Learn to manage your stress.

Everyone knows how stressful college can get, what with exams and papers and quizzes. However, it’s important to learn how to manage your stress in a healthy way. Obviously, one of the best ways to do this is by exercising. Whether it be doing your own routine at the gym to attending a yoga class to running or biking around campus, exercising can be a great way to get out all your pent-up anxieties. Not only does it keep you fit and healthy, but it can also be a great way to socialize by getting a group together to workout with.


6. Get organized.

Take out some stress right away by learning to organize yourself for the coming semesters. Don’t just shove papers into your backpack, purchase a trifold to keep all the important stuff for each class. Buy and write in your agenda all the time. Although your syllabus lists whenever an important paper, project, or exam pops up, they don’t always have the extra homework your professor will assign throughout the week. You can also use the agenda to write in those important dates, just in case you misplace your syllabus.


5. Plan ahead.

Even though it can be hard for everyone, the best way to avoid midterms and finals stress is by getting started on your big projects ahead of time. That doesn’t mean you have to start writing months in advance, just figure out what you want to write about or what your project will be on and maybe put together a guideline on how the paper or project will be made. That way, by the time the project/paper is supposed to be due, you have less to worry about.


4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If ever you find yourself confused or have forgotten something pivotal to homework or a larger project, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professor or even fellow students. The professors will certainly not bite or think lesser of you for going up to them with a question.

You’re paying to get the best education and if you need help, that’s what the professors are there for, to help you succeed! It might also be a great idea to get to know your fellow classmates and get together a study group or have a group chat to discuss any issues you might have with the class. Plus, you could make new, long-lasting friends.


3. Try putting yourself out there.

This one will especially apply to the freshmen or sophomores attending college. I know this one might seem impossible, especially if you have a crippling fear of anxiety and rejection like me. But as you get older, you’ll begin to realize just how easy it can be to put yourself out there. It might seem really scary at first, but you just have to remember that it’s college. The old ways of high school cliques and “popular girls” are far behind you now.

College is a completely different playing field and everyone has an opportunity to find themselves. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be the mean girls and the stupid jocks to stray away from, but you’ll learn how to differentiate those people from the good ones. In college, there truly is no judgment. So, in the New Year, maybe try joining a club, auditioning for that play, or just saying hello to the person on your right.


2. Find an internship.

I cannot stress enough just how important internships are. Not only do they look exceptionally good on your resume, but they also help you gain experience in your field. Even if you’re just a freshman, there’s no shame in getting ahead. Talk with your guidance counselor or professors who specialize in your major and see what’s going on. Sometimes, you can even get college credit for doing an internship for a semester. There’s no harm in getting ahead.


1. Apply for graduation.

For all my seniors out there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Just because it’s your senior year, doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to graduate. You need to find out when is the perfect time for you to apply for graduation. If you’re planning on graduating in the spring, it’s best to apply in January and if you’re graduating in the fall, you’re most likely going to apply sometime over the summer.

Of course, it’s always best to check with your guidance counselor to discuss the best options. Applying for graduation is the first step to getting your diploma and it’s certainly a great start to a successful semester!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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what it was like teaching english Online to chinese children

Probably one of the best part-time jobs for homebodies and night owls!

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Many people go about their lives in normal nine-to-five jobs or more traditional positions without ever thinking of the numerous opportunities available online nowadays. As technology has become increasingly relied on in more and more jobs, as well as influencing the creation of new ones, a new norm was established — an employee working from home.

At least 43 percent of Americans have been found to work at least some of the time at home, and that number is growing with each year that passes. Employees that work remotely are also reported as being more productive. The flexibility that remote positions allow obviously make a positive impact on workers and that appealed to me as a college student hungry to find some sort of calling beyond the classroom.

One of those jobs happened to be 'virtual' or remote teaching positions.

How I ended up teaching children to speak English

Basically? I was looking for opportunities to work remotely, also known as the desire to stay home all day and still make money. Since my degree was in English, I narrowed down my job search to "English graduate positions" and found a website that advertised TEFL jobs specifically.

Apparently, there's an obscure market online for English native teachers willing to teach from home. The pay ranged depending on experience and different companies had different requirements for applicants to meet, like nationality, possessing a college degree or teaching credentials.

Just like in any other job market, some employers were better known than others. I applied for a relatively well-known company, DaDaABC. I ultimately chose them because they didn't seem to be as "spammy" on online job boards as their competitors. I also liked the idea of teaching one-on-one, rather than through other companies that included two or three-to-one lessons.

I wasn't planning to teach online, it wasn't part of some grand plan. I was just looking for a job that fit my lifestyle and related to my degree. I ended up finding one of the most interesting jobs I could have imagined, it almost felt too good to be true to be able to work at home and for fewer hours, but at the same time, there were definite downsides to consider.

The hiring process for online English schools

I can't speak for all online English schools/companies, of course, but the hiring process I went through with my company took about a week and was relatively simple to complete. After my initial application was sent through their website, I was contacted within two days through email by a recruiter (it was sent in the middle of the night because of the time difference between my city and where the company was based in, Shanghai).

The Skype interview was quite the experience with loud construction sounds coming from the recruiter's side. I could barely hear her questions over the loud whirring of what I guessed was a chainsaw (I watch a ridiculous amount of horror movies, probably factored in). Most of the questions were related to my experience in teaching, what my degree was in, whether I was TEFL certified. I had my doubts that I would be getting the job since I only had a little teaching experience and wasn't a certified instructor. I was surprised when the recruiter told me I had passed on to the next stage of the hiring process, an interview with a mentor; employees of the company that graduated from teaching and became trainers for other instructors.

The mentor interview didn't last very long, which I suspected after the first 5 minutes of basic questions (my name, and my experience teaching), was more of a training session than an actual interview. I was asked to demonstrate how I would teach a simple lesson like the ABC's to a student. It was a bit embarrassing pretending that the mentor was a student, especially with his age estimated to be in the mid-thirties and his possession of a strong native British accent. Miraculously, I somehow got through my demonstration without bursting into laughter. He gave me some valuable feedback related to my teaching style, my approach, and then sent me on my way.

A week later I was scheduled for classes and struggled to get through a series of training modules hosted by other teachers while accustoming to the teaching portal before my first scheduled classes. Safe to say at that point I was in! Especially when they sent over a 6-month contract and their company policy.

Waking up at outrageously early hours

I have always been a deep sleeper. To me it was especially difficult to wake up for a job at 8 o'clock sharp when I took on the online teaching position — it practically traumatized me to drag myself out of bed at 2 in the morning twice a week. My scheduled working hours were initially from 2 to 5 at night/morning (however you might see it). After Daylight Savings Time went into effect, I was nearly emotional with the happy thought of waking up two hours later.

If you're considering applying to an online teaching job, you'll need to factor in whether your willing/capable of working at unusual hours. Whether that be late at night or early in the morning. In my case, the students I taught were in China, which meant that we had a fourteen-hour difference between us. When I was sleeping, they were finishing up with dinner or about to head to bed themselves. For my students I was the last part of their day after they got through normal school, then possibly cram school, they finally arrived home only to face more lessons with me.

Sometimes I wasn't the only one that felt pretty crabby at the start of a class, but as soon as I saw my student, those feelings would disappear. Despite also being tired and going through a full day, most students tried to pay attention and I saw it as a sense of duty to entertain them or keep them interested in the material. I wanted my classes to be fun, I didn't want them to think of me as just another mandatory burden enforced by their parents. I couldn't remember feeling sleepy by the end of my first lesson of the day, it just wasn't possible knowing my students were doing their best to stay awake and learn, especially with how difficult that would be compared to teaching.

Wearing pajamas while working = heaven on earth

To be completely honest, it couldn't be considered wearing pajamas to work because I was required to wear a certain type of shirt (specifically a long-sleeved blue shirt). Even with wearing only pajama bottoms, it was still the best thing since chocolate. This benefit stood out in my mind after my teaching contract expired and I went back to primarily working in an office with a dress code, which I now find even more restrictive following my blissful work-from-home experience.

Using lots of "props" (I really mean hundreds of toys)

When I was watching the assigned training videos before starting my first lessons, I noticed that the fellow teachers hosting them used a lot of toys, like, more toys than I had as a child. Each teacher had a different set of favorites they brought out for certain lessons. For example, one instructor liked to use a faceless muppet toy (I know what your thinking, creepy! But just wait...) to teach students about body features. For example, he would start out with the muppet's eyes, holding one out closer to their monitor for the student to clearly see on the other side. He'd sound out the word "eye" and wiggle it. Eventually, the student would repeat the word and he'd place the eye on the muppet, making it a one-eyed muppet. "This is an eye," the instructor would emphasize, pointing at the muppet. The idea was to continue placing various features on the muppet's face until he had a full face and was significantly less creepy.

Another teacher would bring out little animal toys and place them on a safari background. She would use them as a reward system for the children. Each time they pronounced something correctly or answered a question, she would place a toy in, " (student name)'s safari." It was a hit! The kids in her lessons would squeal in delight or suddenly have a huge grin on their face whenever they succeeded in gaining another animal to their own personal safari.

I didn't like the idea of buying dozens of toys that I might or might not use in every lesson. I tried to go without the first few lessons and quickly regretted it, I'd forgotten how fragile kid's attention spans were. I tried everything I could think of; funny faces, embarrassing sounds, nothing was effective in keeping their eyes on me for long. Until, I pulled out farm animal hand puppets I'd found through a deal on Amazon. As soon as a toy appeared, it was like magic. My student would stop playing with their own toys at home and finally stare at mine. I didn't regret the investment at that moment and you know that famous saying, "if you can't win, join them."

Accustoming to blank stares and awkward silences

If you don't feel unnerved when other people stare at you like you have two heads, or you think you can come to terms with it happening on a regular basis, you'll do just fine teaching kids online. Since it's a remote position, you'll be teaching through a video program similar to Skype. When you first appear on the screen to a new student they'll typically be looking anywhere but the computer, or staring straight at you looking lost. About two months into the position I could distinguish the type of student I had in those first few seconds by those actions.

Students that are already preoccupied with another task at the start of the lesson will typically require more resources to teach than other pupils. Essentially by "resources", I mean toys, flashcards, and other physical objects shown to them that might distract from what they would rather be doing.

The students that seem fascinated by your sudden existence are most likely a number of things. They could either be surprised to see a foreign person (since they might not have the chance to regularly in their home country), feel shy or uncertain about how to act around you as a stranger, be struck at the complex idea of video calls or a combination of all those things. I had to change my teaching tactics based on my student's personality or behavior constantly, a big part of it was smoothing past awkward silences when the students were feeling overwhelmed and not taking anything personally, no matter what came up.

Singing, dancing from the waist up, and smiling nonstop

People often say kids will be kids, whether they are from China or anywhere else in the world. I wish I had been more aware of that at the start of my teaching experience, instead of worrying about cultural differences, (like questioning whether it would be appropriate to do the Macarena dance with the self-provided humming of the accompanying theme song). The kids I taught were similar to the kids I interacted with on a daily basis in my hometown. They just wanted to have fun, be entertained, and of course were silly beyond belief when they got used to you. Not only did I utilize toys/props in my lessons to interest my kids in the content, I didn't let the distance between us get in the way of including some physical activity in our meetings.

Judging by their giggles and big smiles whenever I danced in my seat or sang along with the alphabet song, my students appreciated my enthusiasm and would happily join in. It was in those moments when I felt the most accomplished or proud of my efforts as a teacher. Not when my students learned a difficult word or grasped a concept in class, though that was also rewarding in its own way. The best moments were when I saw my students enjoying their time with me and the learning experience overall.

Waiting for my shift to end

During the first few months I worked, I didn't have any regular students and it was incredibly discouraging. When I searched for opinions on the issue through Facebook, I saw encouraging posts by fellow teachers. Many of them had also felt the same at the beginning of their employment, they had test lessons scheduled occasionally, but a good chunk of their working time was spent sitting in front of their computer, waiting for a class to be scheduled, sometimes they didn't get to teach one student their entire shift.

For weeks I would wake up and clock in for my shift and wait.... then clock out. That's right, I didn't get to teach for a long time after I was hired as a teacher. That period of time stands out to me because of the many doubts I had. I questioned my teaching ability, I questioned if I had done something wrong in my first lesson, I worried that parents secretly didn't approve of me. As time went by I started slowly getting more bookings and becoming more confident in myself, I realized that there were outside factors involved that I couldn't have controlled.

Depending on the season, bookings would either be less or more, at the time that I was feeling discouraged and spent most of my time waiting, students in China were enjoying their breaks or holidays. Eventually, I began to miss being free between scheduled lessons because I reached the point when I was constantly booked, every shift, with barely a minute to prepare for the next class.

Studying basic Chinese at a frantic pace

During my first shift while teaching English online, I realized that I was only half as useful/competent with one language under my belt. My first student was at a very low comprehension level and I quickly had to rely on energetic hand movements or mini presentations with my toy toolset to get any sort of idea or communication across. The application that the company provided for teachers to use had a translation tool available for English to Chinese and vice versa.

It didn't seem completely accurate though depending on what I typed into it. The first time I used it I wanted to instruct my student to look at where I was pointing on my whiteboard. I pasted the translation into the chat box and didn't get a response, they looked more confused if anything. This prompted me to frantically search online for how to pronounce "look here" in Mandarin. When I found a reasonably reliable resource I used it in the lesson and was astonished when my student responded. For the remainder of the lesson, I harnessed those few words to keep them progressing steadily through the material. I took that first event as a valuable learning moment,

I could probably be lazy and just speak English with my students, whilst hanging on to the desperate hope that they eventually became fluent enough to respond to me. I decided that wasn't an ideal move, especially with how beneficial it was to use only one phrase in a lesson. I wasn't expecting to build some experience with a foreign language when I was teaching one, but it ended up happening and I saw that as another hidden benefit of my new job.

Becoming a creative person for my students

More than anything, my experience as an English teacher taught me how to embrace aspects of myself I never knew existed, as well as embracing new ones. I started out looking for a part-time job that I could easily incorporate into a student's busy daily schedule. I got that, but what I didn't expect was to feel motivated by my teaching job to find other interests I could pursue. I became more open to new hobbies and established a desire to better myself as not only a teacher but a person overall. I managed to take on a challenge, a new career and to succeed in it. I was emboldened to overcome other challenges in my life or obstacles that stood in the way of me finding personal satisfaction.

Whether I continue to teach in the future for many years or do something entirely different, it's all possible. If you had asked me what I was capable of before my teaching job I'd give you a pretty limited list that was a clear indication of my low self-confidence. I now feel that I'm a more positive person that encourages myself and others to try new things, just for the sake of learning what it could be like.

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