9 Things to Do Instead of #EMchat Tonight

If you missed the memo, we're canceling #EMchat tonight. Sorry for the last minute change. Lots of wheels cranking, candles burning, and life events happening in our realms. Forgive us? Still want an hour of the best professional development this side of the internet? Okay. Here you go. How many links can you fit in a blog post? A lot. In no particular order:

1.   Improve your Email via Meghan Dalesandro.

2.  Watch some of these via The Team at Rapid Insight.

3.  Learn some #EMsci from Brock Tibert. And try not to get lost. THAT is the real challenge! He's too smart.

4.  Download this. Then start reading it. I lied, it's not all free. But totally worth it.

5.  Request to join this group. I'm sure there's a good conversation going on. Or at least Jon Boeckenstedt is there leaving good comments.

6.  Speaking of, play with some of these visualizations. They never end.

7.  Catch up on this and last week's #EMchat from Chegg. (Two things or one?)

8.  Start some research to figure out how to get THIS FILM on your campus.

9.  Start a conversation. Ask a question. Link up with an #FAchat, #SAchat, #CareerServChat, #SCcrowd, #SCchat, #CollegeCash hashtags and build your network.

FOR BONUS #EMCHAT POINTS: Find THIS and mail to Crofton, Maryland.

And, if you've got some great prodev of your own to share with the community, I didn't leave it out on purpose. I promise. Share it in the comments or with #EMchat at any time! See you all next week for a chat on Prior, Prior Year Financial Data for the FAFSA. Speaking of, read this by Scannell & Kurz's Aaron Mahl.

Tell Me About Yourself

In my spare time, which I'm finding less and less of these days, I like to volunteer whenever possible. Whether it's a soup kitchen, pro bono management consulting, or something education related like alumni volunteering at admission events or anything in the K12 arena really, I take a lot of pleasure in finding ways to give back to my immediate and surrounding community.

The other day I had a really fantastic experience holding mock interview sessions for high school juniors. I sat at a table and every 10 or so minutes a new student would come introduce themselves and I'd start..."tell me about yourself." I wasn't disappointed a single time.

From the student whose family moved here from another country when he was in third grade and lacks confidence in his [really superb] English; to the cosmetology student who isn't only taking courses in high school and a local college, but spending her weekends networking with makeup artists in New York; or the self-identified dyslexic guy who not only owned the learning disorder but also went into great detail into how he works so diligently to overcome it each day--I simply sat there in awe.

I listened as students talked about their strengths and weaknesses, opening their vulnerabilities up to a complete stranger--something that's hard to do as an adult, let alone a high school student. I saw passion in the eyes of the student who talked about the feeling of accomplishment he gained from replacing a side panel on a car; felt the love from a student far beyond his years when he talked about how he wasn't currently working because he was helping his family watch his younger siblings so his parents could work; and saw the ambition in each student expressing their dreams for the future, whether those entailed heading directly into the workforce, moving away to college, or joining the military. The dreams were all different--the passion the same.

I follow a ton of threads, groups, pages, and communities dedicated to college admission, both the profession itself and the students who make the profession, well, a profession. There have been plenty of times where I've seen counselors (both school and admission) who are completely jaded when it comes to today's students. As someone who doesn't work in the industry, I guess it's easy for me to say that I just can't see how that's possible. But based on my recent experience, I can say the quickest way to tear out of that slump is simply to ask a student to..."tell me about yourself."

I can't wait to do it again.

Teaching the Successes to College

The third post in my initial series is a conclusion to the First Year Experience.  I so far have introduced thoughts about New Student Orientation, and Welcome Week.  This third part is about what happens when the school year starts.   Many universities, including my own institution, provides a class for students to take in the first semester.  This class, which I am going to call First Year Seminar, is supposed to teach students the successes to being a college student.

Some of these successes are topics like note taking, studying, and how to do research.  And while these topics are sometimes not the favorites of the students in the classroom, they are necessary.   I have helped to teach a couple of these seminars.  Following up with my students in later years, the biggest thing they have said was how beneficial covering topics like that were.  They said that college is a huge step from high school.  At the same time, it was these students that gave me the most problems in the classroom on days like this.

So the bigger questions is: does teaching success skills like the one's mentioned above need to be so painful for students in the class?  Looking back and now looking forward as a hopeful professional in this area of higher education, I know now that the answer is no.

Creativity in lessons can go very far when working with students.  Half of the battle in most cases is trying to have he students buy in to the importance.  One solution among many, is to incorporate their other classes into this seminar class.  Another is the style of class.  Having a theme or a key issues that the class has to solve over the course of the semester can help when addressing different lessons over the course of the semester.

One thing that I think that every instructor would hate to hear is that their class was not beneficial.  When discussing retention at any level, one of the questions that may come up is, "Are our students prepared to succeed?"  This preparedness starts their first year.  Between learning about the university and making friends in the first two programs,  First Year Seminar brings it home with preparedness to get it done in the classroom.

What at your university helps get students prepared?