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Résumé -Word Choice Matters!

Many of us think about résumé’s when it’s time to apply for a job or a scholarship. There is so much information that goes into résumés and there is also a great deal of information that shouldn’t be in a résumé. Keep reading to see my personal tips about résumés.

What is a résumé?

Great question! A résumé is a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous experience. So on this 1-2 page document you want to make sure you market yourself well. Many people only put the basics here, but, this is your time to shine! Note your experiences and what skills you’ve learned. What were your responsibilities and what skills did you learn? Granted, these should be short sentences but put your strengths forward! You want to show the people reading your application that you deserve the position or the scholarship! This is your ticket to earning an interview. Ask someone to review it for you before you submit it. Another great service we can provide, by the way (shameless plug).

Word choice

It is my opinion that having someone look over your résumé is always helpful. Make sure these are trusted adults, that will give helpful advice. Many times when we describe our experiences it sounds pretty basic, but word choice is everything! Choosing the right action words for your résumé can completely change the tone of your description. I’m sure we’ve all sent a text where we meant one thing and it was understood a different way. An easy way to find new vocabulary for your résumé is to find synonyms for certain words. For instance a word often used is “helped”, try using assisted or aided. Sometimes you realize that you didn’t help you collaborated with others on a project. Also if you are currently working, look up your job description online. See how your position is explained and use that to inspire your words.

Before I graduated college I made an appointment with at the student resources office to create my résumé. When we started talking about my experience my only jobs were being student researcher, a sales associate at Kohl’s, and a deli clerk at Harris Teeter. He asked me about my responsibilities. Imagine seeing my résumé and under deli clerk you see – slices meat and cheese for customers. Is that what I did? Yes, but see how this sounds: “Prepare, process, package, and stock products according to health and safety standards.” Sounds much better, right? It’s also a more accurate description of what I did.

So what don’t I need?

Remember a résumé is a summary, so we do not want to be heavy handed with our words. We are not telling a story, but we do want our summary to make the interviewer(s) curious about our experience(s). Under each experience I would note 2-3 responsibilities.
Also there are many résumé templates online and on Word, be careful. You definitely want to be basic here, in my opinion. I’ve always been told not to go for the colorful ones or the ones with funky layouts. Some people put pictures on their résumé and that could be a bit much. Every employer is different, but I would stick to a plain layout.
Above all else DO NOT lie or exaggerate. Always be honest and upfront. That’s a sure way to get denied for what you’ve applied for and also things you may apply for in the future. The interviewer may also tell others about your lie, so don’t risk it!

I hope this helps and know that we are here to help! Good luck with your résumés!

Community College is not a Dirty Word

Are you a parent thinking community college is fine—as long as it’s not where your student will attend? Students, do you think less of your peers if they attend community college? Face it, whether we like it or not, there is a stigma about attending a two-year college.  

It’s time to change the idea that a community college education is only a fallback plan. Many students and their parents don’t even consider community college. They believe that classes or the campus experience at a two-year school are not as good.  

Last year, Mitchell Community College was the top choice for Crosby Scholar graduates. But, “I’m only/just going to Mitchell” is a statement we heard way too often! Students should be proud to attend community college. Crosby Scholar alums who attend community college aren’t there because they lacked options. They chose a two-year college for good reasons.  


The old adage, “you get what you pay for” doesn’t work when talking about college. The price of college (which varies widely) doesn’t always reflect the value of what you are earning. Instead of seeing community college as a great value, people assume that if it is cheaper, it must not be as good. There is nothing wrong in wanting to earn a degree in a cost-effective way. One semester of tuition and fees at App State will cost about the same as three semesters at MCC. Avoiding student debt is a very good reason for choosing an economical education. 

Students who choose a career degree at a community college also do well. There are two-year degree programs that result in high-wage occupations. (Think R.N.’s, medical technologists, engineering technicians, etc.). For students interested in these careers, community college is a no-brainer!  


In NC, we are lucky to have a community college in every county. Students who have family responsibilities or a job are able to commute. Room and board prices at colleges are often as much or more than tuition and fees. Families have already covered those costs, so living at home doesn’t add to the bill for parents.  

Big fish, smaller pond 

Students at community college won’t find themselves in a class of 100 or 200 students. They will also have professors as teachers, not graduate students. Professors at community colleges spend most of their time in the classroom, teaching. Community colleges have libraries, student clubs, campus activities, and new people to meet.  

Career and transfer options 

Many students want to transfer credits from a community college to a university. To make this possible, courses must be similar. Two- and four-year colleges earn accreditation from the same organization. They must meet the same standards for faculty credentials. 

Every four-year college accepts transfer students—even the most competitive institutions. Research shows that two-year college graduates complete a four-year degree more often than other students. Those same two-year graduates are also have higher grades than their counterparts who were at the university for four years. 

Support systems 

Why do these students do better? Some of these students realize they are not ready to move out and take on more responsibility. By commuting to school, they maintain support systems with local teachers and family members. Gaining confidence through successful college work is valuable before starting at a university. 

So, let’s all work to get rid of the stigma that community college is less. The only way to correct this perception is to change our own attitudes and behaviors. Students should not be “looked down upon” for selecting a higher education path that is the best fit for them. Instead, let’s congratulate students on making the right choice for them! 

Get Started on Career Exploration

Career Exploration:  Action Items to Get Started!

Students, do you feel like your parents control everything?  Are you looking for ways to test the waters in your future?  The best way to start is to just start! You will probably need help.  Ask your parents.  A crazy thought.  Believe it or not, they had a life before having you and they have experiences and resources that can help you.   

If you are a parent or guardian you can help students in this exploration path.

  1. Let your student take the lead.  Up until now, we have controlled every aspect of their life.  Time to let them start to control aspects of their life. 
    1. Let them TRY
    1. Let them FAIL
    1. Let them TRY AGAIN!
  • Provide your student opportunities to try new things.
    • Community Service – Helping others actually can expose your student to different life experiences and help them see beyond themselves.  Volunteer at school, church, community, senior center, animal shelter, food pantries, political campaigns, library, national park, local rec center, museums, habitat for humanity, etc.
    • Extracurricular activity – Sports, Music, Art, Technology, Student government, and academic teams and clubs. 
    • Part-Time Job/Internship or Job Shadow– encourage your teen to start working part-time during school breaks.  Working a summer at a fast-food restaurant can be excellent motivation for continuing education and clarifying job/career goals. I have seen many students gain very valuable experience by just going to work with their parents or adult, job shadowing.  Internships are another route to gain experience.
    • Chores & Responsibilities – Students can learn and obtain skills by helping their family around the house, with younger siblings, managing personal and family responsibilities.

Like it or not, obtaining your career goals starts with YOU, your education, and your opportunities.  In today’s day and age, understanding your path early can make a difference in future success and opportunity. 

Learning about YOU helps you make important decisions like:

  1. How much education do I need? Certification, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate.
  2. Do I need to start in High School?  Some schools require certain classes before you are admitted.
  3. What Path should I take?  Start at Community college, 4-year or Gap Year.
  4. What school is best for what I want to do?  Over 3600+ Colleges and Universities to choose from.  You will save time and money by researching before you go.

I ramble…and if you know me I can go on for days.    What is the best way to start?  Look above for ideas…by the way not just for students.  Adults can benefit from a little self-evaluation from time to time.  When?  Start exploring NOW! 

Why Career Exploration?

Do You Want to save TIME, MONEY & ANXIETY?  Then keep on reading. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?  …. Relatively harmless question, but for some it causes a lot of stress.  Which ultimately leads to putting off the question or not really thinking about it. 

Before anyone has a panic attack and needs to go practice stress-relieving techniques, let’s look at a few words in the question. 

WHAT do YOU WANT to be WHEN you grow up?   English teachers forgive me.  My new question is:   What you want when? 

WHAT – What a loaded question.  Do you want a job that you can show up daily, leave without worry that gives you a paycheck to get basic necessities?  Are you thinking long-term for a career that has a path for growth and development? 

YOU – Unique, only you can answer.  You might look to others for advice or guidance but no two paths are identical and the career/job you choose and how you obtain that role is unique to you.   Look at this circle chart.  Note that you are at the center.  All of the surrounding factors have an impact on your choice.  Personality, Skills, Values and Interests.

WANT – Want verses need.  That is the difference between Job and Career.  I need, shelter, water, food, transportation.  I want a lifestyle, relationships, a home, travel and life experiences.  What you want to have will drive your decision-making process. (I tell my students to look up careers and jobs on to see how much they might make in a specific job/career.  The answer you find will drive some decisions.)

WHEN – Timing is everything.  Most adults struggle with answering these questions.  Let me really blow your mind…I want middle and high school students to start thinking about career choices.

Let’s be clear, I know very well that 11 – 13-year old students have no idea what job or career that they are going to have for the rest of their life.  In fact a high % of people will change jobs several times before they are in their thirties.  This is the time for our students to start learning about themselves.  My question to a student breaks this down a little better. 

  1. What do you like to do? (Interests)
  2. What are you good at? (Skills)
  3. What is important to you? (Values)
  4. How do you work?  (Personality)

The internet is full of free career assessment tools.  A few I like are

J  So I started this blog with a simple question, “Why career exploration?”  Because it can save you time, money and years of frustration and anxiety.  Read Next week’s blog to find out how you can help your student Explore Careers.    

A Secret to College Success: Awesome Academic Advising

Coordinator of Advising and Assessment—my first position after completing graduate school. At Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio, I trained faculty advisors to work in the Advising Center. These expert advisors could explain a variety of options and possibilities for every student. They knew about every program offered at the college. 

Like today, students struggled with transportation and budgets. As advisors, we knew that it was important to take all these factors into account as we worked with people. We stayed in close contact with financial aid, career counseling, and other student services. We helped connect students to other resources available to them.

Students I knew came to college to make their lives better. Some were re-training after a lay-off. Others were coming to college for the first time after children were older. A few were starting over after making a poor attempt at college right after high school. So why, then and now, do students who come to the college so motivated, not finish a degree? Why is there such a high rate of attrition at community colleges and universities? 

There are many answers to those questions. This blog is focused on one. Students don’t finish degrees when they never see a clear pathway to the goal. Taking a class here and there with little direction means that a student often doesn’t see a finish line. Or, because of haphazard scheduling, the finish line is further away than it could have been. Most students, though, do have a goal that they want to complete—usually in the shortest time possible. 

When I was a freshman, I received a paper worksheet that listed all the requirements for my degree. My path was visible on that 8.5 x 11 page. I loved using my highlighter to cross off classes every quarter. I felt a great deal of satisfaction as I completed more and more pieces of my program. Today, many of those worksheets are digital, but still a powerful tool and motivator!

I had the advantage of knowing the degree I wanted to pursue when I started college. But, it’s okay to start as an “undecided” or “undeclared” major. These students need advisors and information more than anyone! One benefit of not declaring a major is the freedom to explore options. Yet, this can and should happen with a plan in mind. Advisors can recommend courses to a student based on conversations with him or her. The advisor knows the course offerings, professors, and “insider” information. By working with an advisor, the student’s schedule can be the best possible choice each term. 

Colleges publish plenty of information about degree plans and program offerings. But, advisors always know more than what’s in writing. They know which professors might be on sabbatical or medical leave. They often know what type of research a professor is conducting. Advisors know which courses are offered in certain patterns. Although 100 level courses are for freshmen, the advisor knows which ones tend to be more difficult than described. They can suggest good fits during the semester that requires several difficult courses. They also know about clubs and organizations on campus that might interest a student. Students who know their academic advisors well receive more than a signature on a schedule each semester. 

Students, though, should not depend on the advisor alone. Each student must become a self-advisor, too. Students need to know the degree requirements and the recommended course sequences. Undergrads should read the college catalog. They should explore study abroad, online, and other options. Good advising happens when a student brings a tentative schedule to the appointment. Instead of dealing only with scheduling questions, there will be time to talk about internships or co-op experiences. Students and advisors might also discuss the best options for classes in a minor field of study. Job opportunities in the field could also be a topic of conversation. 

Advising is offered by colleges to support students. Students should take full advantage!

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.

..And it begins!

Today marks the beginning of the Iredell Crosby Weekly Blog. It really only marks the official beginning of the written blog on our website. I don’t know about you, but I have been writing a blog in my head for years. Have you ever been in a dental or medical office waiting room and someone is on their phone having a conversation about whatever? You know what I am talking about. Depending on the topic of discussion and the opinions being shared really impacts the length of the blog in my head.

Example – “My kid is a straight A student about to apply for college and we anticipate we will be getting so many scholarships for his grades.” I could go on a good 30 minutes on that topic.

Then there are all of those Social Media Articles that are shared, sometimes without a thorough read and always including so many advertisements that you really don’t know what you are reading. You know the ones I am talking about. Always have a title that is a little confusing or controversial, and you are not really sure where the writer is going to land.

My favorite blogs to write in my head are to my kids. How many times have you said the same thing to your kid and they have brushed it off? Then one day another parent, adult or friend says the same thing and your child looks at you like…”Why didn’t YOU tell me about that!” (Insert Eye Roll)
Over the past 5 years Iredell County Crosby Scholars has shared articles and resources on our website in the hopes of providing valuable and helpful information. Our blog will be an addition to the other resources available on our website.

There are thousands of blogs on the internet about multitude of subjects. Today marks the beginning of the Crosby Blog. According to the word blog can be a noun or a verb.

Let’s get to the heart of what you want to know, your key questions: Who, What, Where, Why, When & How

So mark your calendar for Thursday mornings. Tell us what you think and if there is a topic that you would like us to cover, let us know. Also, share this with your friends or family that might be interested. Until next time.