Fortune Favors the Persistent

That’s right! If you are not working every single day to achieve your goals, you are not doing enough. Staying persistent through the tough times is what separates the people who achieve their goals from the ones who do not. It is a very simple formula. Work hard and it will pay off.

Now, is this true in every single circumstance? Absolutely not. But, for the people that persistently work through all the hurdles that their goal places in front of them, it makes a difference. No one is going to succeed at everything they put their mind too. The key is to not let the bad times define the good times.

Taking the beating of failing is hard. No one wants to be called a failure. Now, whether this goal is returning to school or even starting a business, you are going to have failures. Not everything is going to pan out exactly how you had planned or hoped. And knowing this fact ahead of time and embracing it, will help avoid a whole bunch of useless heartache in the future.

When I look at the future of my goals, I think about things like Murphy’s law. The law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Having this mindset might seem pessimistic to some. However, this is just good planning. How can you have contingencies in place for a catastrophe that you haven’t even thought of yet?

Planning for the future is not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it’s glum and rainy. But, thinking of things in realistic terms will set you way ahead of everyone else. Because, when those bad things come your way, and they will, you will be ready with a plan to attack them.

Every path toward a goal will have its ups and downs. How you deal with these ups and downs can really make a difference when it comes to achieving your goals. So, visualize all the bad things that you can think of that may derail you off the path to goal completion. Have a plan in place to deal with these potential calamities and it will be easy to stay persistent even when things get tough. And remember, fortune favors the persistent!

What do you think? Let me know by commenting below and remember to share this post on Twitter.

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4 Ways to Stay Motivated in School

Keeping your motivation high, when juggling a full work load and school, can be hard. It is far easier to fall into a slump and begin procrastinating important tasks than to keep your eye on the prize. But, this is what we need to do if we want to complete this goal of education. I have made a short list of things that I have done to keep my motivation high. So, here we go.

Set Realistic Goals – Keeping your goals in line with what you want to do is not enough. These goals must also be realistic to keep your motivation high. The reason for this is simple. If your goals are unrealistic, this means you will likely fail. Failure can drag down motivation in the blink of an eye. So, set yourself some goals that are attainable, and your motivation will soar as you complete those goals.

Find Support – Having a good support network can help when dealing with high-stress situations. There are many ways to handle stress. Having a shoulder to lean on can help when dealing with stress so that it does not kill your motivation. Surround yourself with people who will be there to lift you up when you get down, and your motivation won’t take a hit when you begin to get stressed.

Stay Focused – Remembering to keep focused on the tasks at hand can help with motivation. You can use this tactic on homework, projects, and even work. Write down due dates and stay focused to stay on track. There is no bigger killer of motivation than getting an F on something just because you forgot a due date. Staying focused will help avoid this situation and help keep motivation high.

Pat Yourself on the Back – My biggest source of motivation comes from within myself. For each assignment or project that you complete, reward yourself a little. This reward does not have to be big. It could be a simple as allowing yourself some time to relax or going out to lunch. Acknowledging your accomplishments, even just a little bit, will help your motivation to soar.

Motivation can be a hard thing to attain. It’s not like you can buy it at the grocery store. Keeping motivated is hard work. But, if you stay on top of it by following these simple tips, your motivation to complete school will never diminish.

What are some ways that you stay motivated? Let me know by leaving a comment and remember to click the Twitter button below to share this post.

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4 Things to Address Before Changing Majors

Changing your major is a big deal. After all, you just spent a bunch of money on classes that might not go toward your new degree choice. For us late-in-lifers, changing majors can have an even bigger effect by further extending our graduation date. Before making this huge decision, there are some things you should do first.

Do Your Research – Conduct some in-depth research about the major you are in and the ones for which you are planning to enroll. A good way to do this is to make a pro and con list for each major. List the things that are important to you, and see how each path will line up with your values before making the final decision.

Get Advising – One of the first things you should do when planning to change majors is to talk to a student advisor. They can give you the tough answers that you may or may not want to hear. Let them know all the information and they will give you an overall effect that your decision may have. Knowing all the outcomes is a good start when making any challenging decision.

Check the Bank – Evaluate your finances and see if changing majors is even possible. For instance, if you are on a scholarship, there may be a possibility of losing that money depending on when you are making this decision. Evaluate the added cost for being in school longer, and make sure that you are willing to bear that cost.

How’s the Grades – Are you struggling to get decent grades in your current major? If yes, this may be a sign that you need to evaluate other options. If the answer is no, think about how your change may affect your schoolwork. Maybe the major you are planning to change into will have tougher classes. Make sure you are you are aware of your capabilities when looking to change degrees.

Changing majors is a huge decision for all college students. Take the time to do your research and make sure you know all the angles before making this decision. Making a big decision like this without all the necessary information could leave you regretting that decision.

Have you ever changed majors? Let me know what made you decide by commenting below.

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5 Study Hacks to Improve Your Grades

Studying is an intricate part of every college experience. The way in which we study can have a huge impact on our grades. For the non-traditional student, it is difficult to even just finding time to study. Good time management techniques can help with this situation. But, there are some other effective tips that can help get the most out of your studying time.

Speak – When going over reading material it is a good idea to speak out loud instead of just in your head. This may seem silly at first, especially if someone else is home when you are talking to yourself. However, it has been proven that reading out loud helps you retain the information better. So, don’t feel crazy when talking to yourself while studying for an exam. It actually helps.

Teach – This is a personal favorite of mine. I have found that if another classmate is struggling with the material it benefits us both if I give them a hand. Helping others doesn’t just make you feel good. This tactic can actually help you retain the information better as well.

Take a Break – Sometimes it might feel like you just got to power through to get all your studying done. However, if you are like me, you will hit a point where you won’t retain any more information. Give yourself a break. Let your brain relax for a little bit before going at it again. Your brain will thank you when it comes time to take that exam.

Group it up – Another helpful tool, if you are not too much of an introvert, is group studying. I like this option, because, you get all different perspectives on the subject. Someone in your group may have a way of explaining something that helps it just click for you. And you may be able to return the favor. All in all, group studying is great if you can find classmates to participate.

Practice – Like the age old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” This is as true today as it always has been. The best tip for effective studying is to practice, then practice, and then practice some more. Practice until it is second nature and you won’t have any issues come exam day.

I have listed some of the tactics I use to make sure I am studying effectively. What helps you? Comment below and let’s start a discussion.

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The Age Gap: Returning to School Later in Life

I think a major deterrent for people to reenter school is the problem of the age gap. It may feel a little weird going back to school with a bunch of people that are quite younger than you are. No one wants to be the old person in the class. However, this fear may not be as rational as people may believe. I will share with you some of my experiences in hopes of alleviating this fear for some people reading this blog.

The Numbers Don’t Lie – As I said above, some of the fear of returning to school comes from the fact that no one wants to stick out as the oldie in class. However, you might not be sticking out as much as your irrational fear may lead you to believe. In fact, an article published by Keypath Education, they show that the National Center for Education Statistics is showing a rise in non-traditional student enrollments. The statistics show that not only is enrollment on the rise, but, currently adult students account for about 40 percent of students in higher education. I guess there are a lot more oldies than we thought.

It Might Be in Your Head – Though the numbers above show increasing amounts of nontraditional students, there may still be a worry about the ability to connect with the younger generations. College is about immersing people into the experiences they will face on the job. And one of those experiences is working together on a project. So, if you return to school, you will inevitably be working with younger classmates on a project. However, I have found that my knowledge of life outside of school is a valuable and respected tool when it comes to these projects. So, you will get good experiences of working with younger people that will be beneficial when you start your new career.

You Will Learn – And I don’t just mean the material you will learn from the instructor. Some of the greatest learning experiences in college come from learning from your fellow classmates. For instance, my fellow classmates have allowed me to learn that I am good at communicating difficult information. I have helped many struggling students throughout my college career. I like doing this because it helps me to learn the material, but, I am also learning a far more valuable skill. And I might have never learned this skill without these interactions.

There are many deterrents for people to return to school. We have talked about the difficulties of finding funding, time management, and now the age gap. As with most roadblocks in life, these can be overcome. If you work hard and strive to complete your education, nothing can stand in your way, not even fear.

Please comment below and let me know what you think about the growth of non-traditional students on our college campuses. Remember to click the Twitter button and share this with your friends.

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To Get an MBA, or Not Get an MBA?

That is the question. And for me, it has been a difficult one to answer. I am currently majoring in business management, and thinking about the option of continuing to get my MBA. But, this is not a simple problem to solve. Like all non-traditional students, I will be getting my bachelor’s degree relatively later in life. Then add some more time to this whole process to go to graduate school, and I have a very difficult decision to make. So, what are your graduate school plans?

The dilemma for me in answering this question comes mainly from the issue that I still don’t totally know what I want to do with my life. I feel that many people probably have this same problem. I have worked in a specific industry for many years now. Do I use my business degree to help me climb the ladder in my current industry? Or, do I look at the possibility of changing industries?

What if I don’t want to work for someone else, but; instead I want to strike out on my own? This question makes me start considering an MBA. My thought is that maybe the MBA will help me be able to start my own business. I still don’t even have the skills to write out an in-depth business plan, a major component when looking to start your own business. But, there have been many people who started very successful businesses without ever even graduating from college. So, will the MBA be worth the massive investment?

Trying to figure out the return on investment (ROI) of any project is going to be hard. A lot of unknown exists about the actual return. Sure, we can run a lot of numbers and make educated guesses, but at the end of the day, it is still a guess. Is it better for me to start my own business now, or wait until I have that master’s degree in hand? I guess what I am trying to figure out is whether going to graduate school will pay off in the long run. Or, will it simply just add more stress to my life without any meaningful return.

This post was filled with a lot of questions. Questions I am sure many of you ask yourselves as well. The purpose of this post is to start I dialogue. Knowing other’s opinions may help some of us overcome our fear of the unknown, and finally, decide on whether to pursue a graduate school program.

Please comment below so we can start a discussion on the topic of continuing to graduate school. I believe this forum may help people that are struggling with this decision.

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4 Steps for Successful Goal Completion

Making your goals clear, for education and life, can be a huge help for the non-traditional student. Having a tangible goal in mind and a path to achieve it will help make that goal a reality. Unfortunately, many people jump into something without fully defining the goal that they are set out to accomplish. If this happens, it makes it hard to know how well you are along your journey. This post is aimed to help with goal creation and definition.

Define the Goal Defining the goal is the holy grail of goal completion. However, a lot of people don’t realize that they are defining their goals wrong. For a goal to be clearly defined it must have some way of measuring whether the goal has been completed. For example, “I want a bachelor’s degree,” is not a well-defined goal. However, “I want to get my bachelor’s degree in business management by Fall 2018,” is a much more clearly defined goal. Now you can gauge how close you are to obtaining that goal.

Create a Measurement – Decide how you are going to measure how well you are on task for your goal completion. For the school example, this is easy. If you want to graduate by Fall 2018, you can easily determine how many classes you need to take each semester, and this is your measurement. If you have a sales goal of $1 million for the year, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to measure sales by day, by week, by month, or by the quarter to see if you are on task to complete the goal.

Document Your Progress – It is not enough to simply define your goal and the measurements for obtaining that goal. You must document the progress. This process is the only way you will truly know if you are going to hit that goal, and within the specific timeframe that you defined. Keep a close eye on each task that is relevant toward the goal, so that you can identify any problems before they force you to abandon your goal.

Debrief – This is the biggest, and most missed, part of tracking your goals. After successful completion or failure of the goal, it is important to debrief. If the goal failed, figure out what went wrong to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. If you completed the goal, figure out what best practices you used so that you can use them again next time. Knowing what went right and what went wrong will help make future goal completion easier.

All of us non-traditional students have an educational goal in mind. However, this process can be used for any goal. Whether you are saving to buy a house or looking to increase the sales of your small business, these steps will help keep you on track to goal completion.

How are your goals coming along? Let me know in comment section. And remember, if you liked this post, please click the Twitter button to share.

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4 Ways to Decompress and Lower Stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life. And you may be adding, even more, stress to your everyday life by deciding to go back to school. Keeping track of homework deadlines and projects on top of life’s normal obligations can spike the stress of the non-traditional student. Here are some ways to decompress at the end of the week to help lower some of that stress.

Exercise – Apart from being all around good for your body, exercise can help with your mental health as well. Going for a nice jog or hike can really help you ease what is weighing on your mind. Maybe you don’t like running though. Whatever exercise you enjoy will help you break away from your stresses and decompress. Try incorporating as much exercise into your daily routine as possible to maximize the benefits.

Go Outside – We greatly underestimate the effect of being cooped up inside has on our stress levels. But, getting out of the house and doing something can also help to get those stresses off your mind. Camping is a great way to get outside and away from the hustle and bustle for a while. But, if you don’t have the time to go camping even having lunch at the park can be a nice way to get out of the house.

Meditate – It may not be for everyone, but meditation can be great for relieving stresses. Sitting quietly, even for just a short period, relaxing, and slowly breathing can help alleviate some of your everyday stresses. Let the worries leave your mind for a little while, and you will feel much better about the tasks weighing on your mind.

Read a Book – Break away from the text books, and read a book that you really enjoy. The reading will help your mind escape the pressures that are currently rolling around and let you focus on the story. If you are not a book reader, try watching a movie. The effect won’t be as large, but it will still help your mind release some of the built-up stress.

Decompression is key to dealing with high-stress situations. Try incorporating some of these activities into your week to help deal with the added stress of your life. Returning to school is an extremely hard task. But, you don’t have to let it overwhelm you. Take some time for yourself and decompress.

How do you deal with stress? I would love to hear your thoughts in comments section below.

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How to Avoid Burnout

When a person is headed back to school after being in the workforce, there may be a sense of urgency to get it done as quickly as possible. This way of thinking, however, may lead to some unexpected pitfalls. You don’t want to start your educational journey, only to crash and burn because there was too much on your plate. So, let’s look at how to be patient when we are so impatient.

Start Slow – For some, it may be tempting to add a lot of courses on to your schedule right from the start. However, if you have been out of school for some time, you may not realize just how much time, and effort is needed for each course. My recommendation is to start out slow. You don’t want to start out running, only to run straight into a brick wall.

Build Slow – Most colleges recommend that anyone who is working full-time only to take 6 credits at a time. It would be my recommendation that this is where you start. Start with two classes and see how well you can fit it into your life. Only add one more class at a time and see how you adjust to the added responsibility before adding any more.

Set Your Pace – Supplement your regular semesters by taking classes during the summer and winter semesters. This strategy will help keep your impatience at bay and help you feel that you are achieving your goals faster. You will also help set your pace to complete your educational goals without it taking 10 years.

Starting back at school later in life can make our impatience run wild because we just want to get it over and move on to the next stage of life. However, starting slow and slowly building will help you set your pace for success. Remember, time management skills can also help avoid burnout. Make sure you get to your destination without crashing and burning along the way.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts on burnout. Go the extra step and click the Twitter link below to share.

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4 Keys to Effective Time Management

Effective time management is an essential skill for the non-traditional student. Work, family, and other obligations are all eating up your time. How will you fit school into the mix? There are simple ways to manage your day to make sure that your time is used efficiently.

Plan – Good time management begins with planning your days, and even your weeks. Start by planning how much time you can dedicate each day to certain areas of your life. For instance, out of a 16-hour day, you may devote 9 hours to work, 3 hours to school, and 4 hours for family and recreation. Now, do this for the whole week.

Block – Now that you know how much time you have for each large section of your life, you can now add in specific tasks to each time slot. This is called blocking because you will “block-out” sections of time for specific tasks. For instance, if I need to read a chapter in my Operations Management text on Wednesday night, I will block out a one-hour period from 7 to 8 PM to dedicate to this task.

Tweak – Now that we have started blocking out tasks the next step is to see how close we are to the actual time it takes to complete each task. You may find that some tasks take longer than expected, while others got done quicker than expected. Now just tweak future blocks for similar tasks, and we are getting closer to complete time management.

Repeat– Now just repeat the process over again each time you have a major change in a major life area. For instance, say you decide to take an additional course you may want to plan for an additional two hours dedicated toward school. Next, block out your specific tasks for that course and tweak as necessary. Remember, whenever you are adding time to one area you are taking time away from another. So, keep this in mind to give yourself a good balance.

Life can be hectic with all the obligations we have going on around us all the time. With effective time management techniques, you can ensure that areas of your life are not getting neglected. So, Plan, Block, Tweak, Repeat, and have a better handle on your everyday tasks.

What do you think of my ideas on time management? Tell me how you manage your time, and remember to share this post on Twitter.