Author: kmontgomery

Make Your Summers Count

Back in high school, my summers consisted of socializing with friends, sleeping in every day, and laying poolside. Although I look back on those times with fond memories, I regret not making my summers count.

Whether you enjoy cooking, robotics, theater, or basketball, there’s always a summer enrichment program out there for you to join. If you wish to hone skills, explore your interests, create a new passion, or even meet friends, summer enrichment programs will help you do just that. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, virtual enrichment programs are becoming an option for students as well. Many summer enrichment programs are held on college campuses. So, you not only get to enjoy experiential learning, you also get the chance to see what a college dorm is really like! If you get to live on a college campus for a week while still in high school, the transition from high school to college will be much easier!

Are you curious about how to research different summer enrichment opportunities? CFNC has a great search tool. You can search by location and interest. Try looking at the different opportunities being offered at your college or university of interest. Utilize the time you have over summer to deepen your learning and life experiences!

The secret to self-care

It sounds cliché, but when you have a healthy mind and a healthy body, you will have a healthy life. Some of us are good at maintaining a healthy body, but forget that taking care of our mental health is equally important. Others are good at maintaining a healthy mind but forget to look after their physical bodies. If you take care of both, you will live a healthier life.

Realizing what is in your control and what is out of your control is the first step to self-care. What is the good of incorporating self-care activities into your daily life if you don’t cut out unhealthy activities, too? More often than not, we respond to disappointment and loss in negative ways. We cling to bad habits that actually make us worse off than we were before. We start to practice numbing habits, such as drinking or overeating. The secret to managing all of the emotions we will experience in this life is to know how we can respond positively even when our situation is crummy. Self-care is not the same thing as self-improvement. Self-care is the practice of allowing yourself to have a pleasant or nurturing experience.

Instead of worrying about the things you can’t control, focus on the areas of your life you can control. Maybe you are exerting control in a relationship that you know is doomed to fail and it is causing you emotional pain. Maybe you are exerting control over a family member that partakes in destructive behavior, but to no avail because they continue to make bad decisions.  Look at your life and name the areas that you have control over. Most of us have control over how we spend our free time, right? Let’s look at a few self-care activities that you can incorporate into your daily life. Keep in mind, if you add self-care activities into your everyday life, you may need to get rid of a couple activities that aren’t adding value to you. Maybe you play too many video games or you spend too much time watching a particular show. Think of several activities you can cut out so you can add one of these!

  • Journaling. I love this activity. It frees my mind from the fears I have and I get to focus on being grateful for the blessings in my life. You can also practice getting negative vibes and thoughts out on paper.
  • Photography. Taking photos of nature can be such a peaceful activity. I personally love taking photos of flowers and scenery.
  • Try yoga or pilates. This is especially important as you get older. Having a solid stretching routine will loosen up your muscles and help you practice clear thinking.
  • Find ways to connect socially. Think through the people in your life you care most about. Ask them to coffee or schedule a phone chat with them.
  • Focus on having a well-balanced diet. Try eating a green every day. You will feel better and keep down your weight.
  • Prioritize sleep. Sleeping at least eight hours a night will help you become more efficient in your daily tasks and you will have more energy.
  • Go on a walk or a run.
  • Meditate on deep breathing for five minutes. Don’t force yourself to “think” about anything in particular. Just try to be still and focus on breathing in and out.

Try several of these out in the next several days. Remember, those who care for themselves well are the people that have more capacity to pour into their families and community. A healthy body and a healthy mind equals a healthy life.

What’s Your Learning Style?

Are you frustrated with your academic record so far? Do you wish to make better grades in the future? Maybe you are satisfied with your grades, but you would like to raise the bar a little higher and instead of making straight B’s, start throwing some A’s in the mix. If you have not discovered what type of learner you are, now is the time! Understanding how you process and learn information will help you navigate the study methods that work for you.

Maybe you are a visual learner because you have the ability to synthesize information presented to you through visuals such as charts or graphs. Data is best understood through various visualizations.

Maybe you are an auditory learner because you find that taking notes in class is a distraction. Perhaps you feel that you can remember information being taught if you can maintain your attention and not be distracted. You might be an auditory learner if you find group activities helpful, when you can discuss the material with others.

If you are a reading or writing learner, you might find that taking notes and looking through powerpoint slides helps you recall the information for the test. This is my learning style. I process information as I write it down, so taking notes is absolutely paramount to my success.

Maybe you are a kinesthetic learner, one who has to take a hands on approach to learning. For you, interactive learning is key.

So what do you do after understanding your learning style? Research different study methods that work for your learning style. Need somewhere to start? Here are several study techniques that are inspired by the research of Barbara Oakley, presented in her book, A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science(Even if you Flunked Algebra).

  1. Use recall. After you read a page in a book, look away from the page and try to recall the main ideas. You can think through them or say them out loud.
  2. Test yourself. Create a practice test or make some notecards.
  3. Chunking the material. Group large amounts of information in smaller sections in order to memorize it more effectively.
  4. Space out your repetition. Don’t spend an excessive amount of time studying just one subject but divide your study time with several.
  5. Take breaks. You can’t study for five hours straight without a break. Take little breaks along the way! Just like an athlete needs a break from physical exertion, your brain needs a break, too.
  6. Use simple analogies to explain complex concepts. Try to think of a way to explain the concept to a ten year old. The additional effort you put into explaining it allows you to encode (converting neural memory structures) what you have learned.
  7. Focus. Turn off your phone for thirty minutes at a time so that you aren’t distracted. If you are constantly distracted during your study time, you will not be effective. During each break, give yourself a small reward.
  8. DO THE HARD WORK FIRST! While you have the most energy, focus on the harder stuff earlier on in the day.

Does the Degree Matter?

by Kristen Montgomery
March 20, 2020

Is pursuing a degree really worth all the money and effort? Many have started to question the value of pursuing a degree after high school due to rising cost of college tuition, the issue of underemployment post college graduation, and the fact that only 27% of people in the U.S. are working in a job that relates to their major.

Many career coaches will tell you that having the degree, regardless of your major, is essential. I would have to agree with them. The higher paying jobs will require at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Here is the caveat-according to a recent report by the Burning Glass and Strada Institute, 43% of recent college graduates are underemployed in their first job out of college. Two-thirds of those students are still underemployed after five years. After ten years, still over half of those remain underemployed!  

 The degree does matter because it shows you are a committed person and employers like to see this.  Picking the right major is also important. Some majors have more return on investment than others, meaning more pay and less chance of being underemployed post graduation. For example, degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which require specific skills on the job, will yield to a greater chance of not being underemployed after graduation. If you reference the chart by the Burning Glass and Strata Institute below, you will see that students coming out of these majors still experience the problem of underemployment. STEM majors are also not for everyone! If your heart is not in it, there are plenty of other majors that pave the way towards successful careers.

Source: Burning Glass, “The Permanent Detour.”
Source: Burning Glass, “The Permanent Detour.”PRESTON COOPER/FORBES

I know this can be a difficult process, so here is my advice. If you feel clueless on how to begin choosing the right path after high school, begin by taking a personality test. You can click the link below to get started. Understanding your personality type, interests, aptitudes, and values is essential. Your next step would be career exploration. Once you learn about yourself, you should explore targeted careers. Learn about the education, qualities, and experiences that you need to attain careers that you are interested in.  

My last bit of advice is this- while you are in high school or college, get as much experience as possible. Job shadowing, internships, and summer enrichment programs are key. Regardless of your major, developing workplace skills while still pursuing your degree can increase your job prospects significantly. Employers understand that recent graduates will not have years of experience in that particular field. Seems pretty obvious, right? Having some experience is better than having none. Trust me! Pursue every opportunity you can so that when you step into your first interview, you can talk about what you learned during that internship or summer enrichment program. Crosby Scholars is always here to walk you through each step of the process.

Assessment tools and career exploration

Why Does Personality Type Matter When Choosing a Career?

The internet is booming with articles about how Gen-Zers will transform the workforce. This will happen as they bring their technology talents and desires for financial security to their workplace. Blair Decembrele’s article, “The Job-Hopping Generation: Young Professionals on the Move,” suggests that Gen-Zers are three times more likely to change jobs than people from other generations. Twenty percent of them that are already out of college are averaging four more jobs within the short amount of time they have been in the workforce. Compare this to baby boomers who averaged about two jobs in the past ten years. 

Career pivoting can be a good idea. It suggests that young workers are hungry to learn and have access to new opportunities. So what does that mean for students who are still in high school? You may end up making a career pivot later on in life. But, why not have a clear idea of what career paths might suit you before deciding on a school or degree? 

Knowing your personality type, aptitudes, values, and interests ahead of time could save you time and money. It may prevent you from declaring the wrong major or attending the wrong school. Some argue that personality type is the most important factor when choosing a career. In large part, it is. Personality type is something to take into serious consideration when choosing a career. Yet, you should also understand what your values, interests, and aptitudes are. 

There are plenty of free personality inventories you can take online. After taking a personality test, you will have a better understanding of how you perceive the world. You will know whether you get your energy from being around people or from being alone. Choose a career that fits your personality type! Steve Jobs once quoted, “ … the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” A lot goes into choosing the career that you will love, but knowing your personality type is a great way to start!

When Waiting Hurts

Are you a student who is thinking about going to college, but not sure when you should start planning, or what steps are involved in planning for college? If you said yes, to any of this, then you should keep reading. Early awareness can be the key to future success. When I was a senior in high school, I had no idea what types of colleges were out there, and especially what type of degree to pursue. I heard about this amazing university close to where I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, so I applied to High Point University. I was lucky to end up at such a great school with having done minimal research.  As a recent high school graduate, I did not realize that selecting the right major would be one of the most important decisions.  I thought all majors had the same return on investment, so I basically just picked one.  Data proves that some majors will lead you to more job opportunities post-graduation than others.  So… what can you learn from this? Do your research.

It’s hard to know the type of degree/major you should pursue if you don’t know your career interests. You may be thinking, “ I’ll worry about my post- graduation plan during my senior year. Until then, I’m going to focus on my social life and enjoy being young.” It is important to have fun but you cannot wait to start thinking about your future plans. You are not too young to begin exploring your options! Begin discovering your interests, start developing skills, and begin researching schools and degree programs.

 Ask yourself these questions: What are my interests? What are my skills? What activities could I participate in if I don’t already have interests or skills? What do I enjoy doing? Experience can give you a deeper sense of self-awareness. Learning what you enjoy doing and what you DON’T enjoy doing can help you narrow your focus. Self-awareness as it relates to interests and aptitudes EARLY on in life can help you make a wiser career choice when the time comes. Trying different hobbies can be a great place to start. This is actually one of my New Year resolutions for 2020. Trying a new hobby can help you see the world through a new lens. It can broaden your perspective and you will learn something new!

Not only is it important to start discovering your interests and skills now, it is equally important to work hard in school. The grades you make freshman year will impact what types of opportunities you may or may not have available to you at the end of high school. What if you wake up one morning and realize your “dream school” is no longer a possibility because your GPA is too low? You cannot wait until your junior or senior year to start caring about your test scores and grades. By that time, it could be too late. Even if you don’t plan on going to a four year school and desire to pursue a certificate program or a two year degree at a community college, academic effort and experiences still count for you. Having a strong work ethic can help you succeed in any career you choose. Work hard, play hard!

Trust me, you do not want to become the same clueless senior that I was. Don’t wait and be too late! Take ownership of your own future and start exploring your options.