College Minors: The Benefits of Selecting a College Minor

Earlier this week, I wrote about changing majors (read that article here). Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about minors. We all know about the importance of declaring a major, but fewer students give serious consideration to minors. While not a requirement, there are numerous benefits to choosing a minor to supplement what you are learning in your major. Let’s take a look at a few of those benefits below:

Explore A New Field Of Studytestprep

This is the most obvious benefit of choosing a minor. At some point, you may find that you are really curious about a certain field of study outside your major. You may be an engineering major, yet really love studying psychology as well. Or you may be a journalism major who really enjoyed a marketing elective you took last semester.

Choosing to minor in one of those fields would allow you to build competence in the field you’re curious about while also continuing to pursue your major. You have to take electives anyway, why not use that as an opportunity to explore a minor?

Expand Career Prospects

The second most common reason for choosing a minor is to gain skills that will make you more marketable to employers. Having a solid minor shows employers that you’re not a one-dimensional person. Not only have you been able to master a single field of study, but you’ve learned alot about a second discipline as well.

If you want to use a minor to expand your career prospects, try to consider a minor that will complement your major in a useful way. Those majoring in engineering could benefit from a business minor if they hope to one day be a manager of large projects. Math/Statistics is a good minor for anyone desiring to find a career in any type of analytical field. Languages are a good choice for students who are considering work overseas.

Prepare for Graduate School

Selecting a minor is also a good way to set yourself up for future graduate studies. If you are considering earning a Master’s or PhD one day, you should declare a minor while you are an undergraduate student. During your graduate studies you will be required to take classes outside of your specialization. So, when you apply to graduate school, your application will look stronger if you can show that you are academically well-rounded. You can demonstrate this by selecting a minor, and even getting a recommendation letter from a professor in the department you minor in.

Additionally, you may end up going to graduate school in a field that’s different than your undergraduate major. Perhaps you will discover that you are not interested enough in your major to complete another degree in it. Or maybe you will find another field of study that aligns better with your goals. In these cases, many students end up going to graduate school and specializing in the field they minored in during undergrad. Having completed a minor, you will have already taken most of the prerequisites for acceptance into the graduate program in most cases.

Conclusion

Depending on your goals for the future, selecting a college major can be a great decision. I believe any student can benefit from choosing a minor. So, if this is something you’ve been considering, go ahead and choose the minor that’s right for you and take the plunge! You’ll be glad you did.

 

As always, thanks for visiting College Kid Now What. Don’t forget to share this article with a friend who could also benefit from the tips shared here. If you have any questions or comments for me, feel free to email me at Jonathan@CollegeKidNowWhat.com or leave a message at the College Kid Now What Facebook Group.

Until next time

Stay Curious, Stay Motivated!

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Considering Changing Your Major?

Most college students change their major at least once – AT LEAST. I changed mine 6 times! If you think it may be time to change your major, below are a few things you should think about before making the final decision to switch:

ChoicesConsider Your Reasons For Changing Majors

There are a number of reasons you may want to change your major. For me, I realized that I was not passionate about my original field of study. For you the motivation may be slightly different.

You may have taken an elective last semester that you feel more aligned with than your current major. Or perhaps your career goals have shifted.

It’s okay to change. College is all about finding yourself and discovering what makes you tick. But make sure you have a concrete reason for switching your major. Do not make this type of decision simply because you did poorly on a test, had a bad experience with a professor, or as a knee jerk reaction to some other temporary circumstance.

Some good advice I heard on the radio recently was “never run FROM something, always be running TOWARD something”. For the purposes of this article, that means, changing a major should be a decision that is made because you are moving closer to your passion and alignment. It should not be a decision made because you are afraid or discouraged.

Are There Prerequisites?

Some majors are highly sequenced and entail a number of pre requisite courses. This is especially true of technical majors and some business majors.

If you’re changing to a major with prerequisites, be sure you understand the courses you need to take in order to make progress toward graduation. Meet with an academic advisor for help developing a good course schedule.

Depending on the number of prerequisite courses you need to take, you may end up graduating a semester or two later. You need to make sure this is something you’re willing to do if that’s what it takes. If you’re changing majors during your freshman or sophomore year, you can likely catch up relatively easily and still graduate in 4 years.

If you are changing course later in your college career, you may want to consider adding a minor rather than switching your major completely. This will allow you to explore your new field of study while also saving time and money. Still, it is possible to change majors after Sophomore year, just be sure you work closely with your advisor to figure out the best plan of attack.

Career Considerations

While you should be exploring your interests and passions in college, be sure that you are always considering your future career as well. When you select a major, have at least a general idea of what type of career you want to be preparing for.

What can I do with this major? What types of internships should I be looking for to get some experience in my field? Are there any research or clinical opportunities that I can take advantage of on campus?

These are questions you should ask yourself when considering the career implications of changing your major. Remember, you can always visit the career center at your school or speak to professors to get a better idea of the career options associated with the major you are changing to.

Conclusion

Hopefully you found some food for thought in this article to help you as you consider changing your major. Whatever you decide, remember to always run TOWARD the solutions that will bring you the most satisfaction and alignment.

Have you recently changed your major? Why or why not? Share your thoughts on this topic below in the comments section.

I’m glad you stopped by today! Don’t forget to connect with College Kid Now What on Facebook (facebook.com/collegekidnowwhat). And you can always contact me directly with questions or suggestions for new content. Message me through the facebook group or by email at Jonathan@CollegeKidNowWhat.com.

Stay Curious. Stay Motivated!

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Overcoming Test Anxiety

In college, tests are a fact of life. You can’t avoid them. Many students are nervous about tests, especially during freshman year when you’re often unsure of what to expect. A healthy level of nervousness can actually benefit you as you approach your exams. It keeps you from becoming complacent or slacking off too much. However, there’s a point where that nervousness is actually having negative impacts on you emotionally and psychologically. If you find yourself abnormally anxious about taking tests, despite being adequately prepared, you may be suffering from “Test Anxiety”. This is the subject of today’s post. Read below to find out how to tell if you are suffering from test anxiety and what you can do to overcome this issue:

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

 

Simple “nervousness” becomes Test Anxiety when you have all the knowledge and skills to perform well, yet dread and fear of failure cause you to underperform. Note that this is different from the anxiety that arises from lack of preparation. Below are some common symptoms of test anxiety:

-Accelerated heartbeat

-Headaches

-“Butterflies” in the stomach

-Blanking Out

-Feelings of helplessness

-Anger and frustration

These are just a few symptoms of test anxiety. If you are feeling any of these extreme symptoms, the first thing to do is recognize them for what they are. Once you identify your test anxiety, you can start taking steps to overcome it.

Preparation is Key

Being adequately prepared for exams is the best way to preempt test anxiety. Sometimes, studying alone is not enough. Try studying in groups and walking through various concepts from class together with others. It may also help for you to explain important lessons out loud to make sure you’ve got it.

If you know you tend to suffer from test anxiety, go speak with your professors. They may not be able to help you with your anxiety, but they will be able to let you know if you are on the right track with your studying. Go to office hours, and ask for assistance. The key is to be specific with your professor about the concepts that you need some help with. Below is something you might say:

“Hello, I tend to get a bit nervous before big exams, and I really want to do well on the test we have coming up. Here is my understanding of XYZ concept. Do you think I’m on the right track, or is there something I’m missing?”

If you use the above approach, you will demonstrate that you want to do well and that you have put some thought into the subject matter. Your professor can now guide you to the correct answers. This will help you feel better prepared at test time.

Keep Things In Perspective

There’s a lot riding on your performance on exams. You may be hoping to attend grad school. Maybe  you’re trying to keep a scholarship. Perhaps there’s a little bit of perfectionism in you. Yes, grades are extremely important. But try not to think about all of those things when you sit down to take a test. It will only distract you from the task at hand. The future will take care of itself. The best thing you can do right now is to do the best you can on each assignment day by day. Don’t psych yourself out.

Take it Slow

If you know  you’re nervous about a test, be sure to take your time and read every question throughly before giving an answer. When we’re nervous, it can be easy to skip over important words and phrases.

[Example: Which of the following was NOT a reason the U.S. abandoned the Gold Standard].

If you’re reading to fast (and ‘not’ is not capitalized), you may miss that important word and select the incorrect response.

Know Where to Turn For Help

If you still are unable to get control of your Test Anxiety, be sure to speak with an advisor about it. Most campuses have trained counselors who can offer personalized assistance for students suffering from Test Anxiety.

Conclusion

Test Anxiety is a real problem, but it can be overcome. Remember that no single test will make or break your chances of success in the future. Just focus on doing your best each time you sit down to study, listen to lecture, or take an exam. And do not hesitate to seek help if the symptoms do not go away over time.

If you know of a friend who suffers from test anxiety, share this article with them. And, as always if you have questions or comments feel free to email me at Jonathan@CollegeKidNowWhat.com or give a shout out on the Facebook group (www.Facebook.com/CollegeKidNowWhat).

Stay Curious. Stay Motivated!

 

(photo credit:  Stuart Miles – www.freedigitalphotos.net)

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Ready For Midterms? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Testing Begins

It’s that time again! Time for midterms. You’ve been to class, studied hard, completed some homework assignments, and even passed a few pop quizzes. Now it’s time to really show what you know. Below, you’ll find a few questions that will help you gauge whether you’re really prepared for your upcoming exams:

1) Can you identify the topics your professor feels are most important?

Exams can cover alot of material. So there are bound to be subjects the professor feels are more important to understand than others. Don’t just depend on memorizing all the bold-print terms in your textbooks. You’ll want to pay attention things your professor writes on the board, assigns as homework, or repeats weeks after the topic was first introduced. Of course, you want to ideally be prepared to answer questions about all the material, but knowing where to focus the bulk of your energy will help you be efficient with your study time.

2) Can you still answer questions from past quizzes and HW assignments?

A good number of questions on midterms are pulled from past assignments. I’ve even had exams that were simply repeats of the previous quizzes. Verbatim.

Now, that doesn’t happen very often, but you can use homework assignments and quizzes as an indicator of what to expect on your exams. It can be easy to forget the concepts taught at the beginning of the semester as you start learning newer things. So make sure you go back through your notes to refresh your memory.

3) Do you know the EXACT time and location of your exams?

For large classes, your exam location may be different from the place you meet for lecture. The same is true for exam times.

My freshman precalculus class consisted of well over 200 students and met at 10:40am during the week. However, for exams, we were split into smaller groups and directed to different classrooms. And the tests were given around 7:30pm.

Check your syllabus for information regarding when and where exams will be held. You do not want to miss and exam because you assumed it would be held at the same time and place as lecture.

4) Do you have 3 exams scheduled on the same day?

At most schools, you are not required to take 3 exams on the same day. (Or two evening exams followed by an early morning exam). If you find that you have 3 exams scheduled on the same day, speak to your professors or academic advisor as soon as you notice this.

Remember, you have to bring this up to your professors/advisors. They will not be aware of your exam schedule unless you tell them.

5) Are you getting the proper rest each night?

It can be tempting to stay up and cram each night leading up to your midterms. But, do your best to avoid that practice. Having plenty of rest will help your mind be sharp and alert during your exams. However, if you’re groggy and sleep-deprived, you may make simple mistakes, causing you to lose valuable points. Fight the urge to cram by developing a weekly review schedule so that when exam time comes, all the material you need to know is still fresh in your mind.

Conclusion

Midterms can be stressful. But hopefully, the questions have helped you examine your readiness and develop a plan of attack so you can be prepared when it’s time to take your tests.

What strategies have you used to be more prepared for midterms? Share your thoughts in the comments or on our CollegeKidNowWhat Facebook group!

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Test Prep Courses: How to Actually Get Your Money’s Worth

So you’re considering graduate school, but you’re not quite sure how to tackle that GRE… Or maybe you’re eyeing medical school, but you need some help brushing up on your chemistry skills for the MCAT. Perhaps law school is calling your name, but you’re a bit intimidated by those tricky Logic Games found on the LSAT. One way to conquer these obstacles is to sign up for a Test Prep Course and let an experienced instructor guide you though each portion of your chosen exam.testprep1

Unfortunately, year after year, countless students spend hundreds on these courses and still fail to gain enough understanding to excel on their tests. You’re busy, you’ve got a lot of different things going on. But before you shell out the cash for one of these courses, make sure you’re ready to follow the tips below to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.

1. Make Test Prep Your Priority

You’ve got to treat test prep like a job. If you want to get real results from your test prep course, you’ll have to temporarily re-prioritize things in your life. You may need to cut back on hours at your part time job, wake up a little earlier in the mornings to complete homework assignments, or pass up a few social engagements for a couple weeks. Most courses will last 6-12 weeks. Dedicate your every free moment during that time to doing practice questions, reviewing notes, and corresponding with your instructor.

And be sure to attend every meeting. You may feel that missing one class is no big deal, but that may just be the day they discuss that topic you’ve been struggling with.

2. Know Your Weaknesses BEFORE Signing Up

Too often students mistakenly assume that simply attending a test prep course will raise their test scores.

As a former Princeton Review instructor, I can tell you that is certainly not the case.

While attending consistently may help you understand some general concepts that you didn’t understand before, it takes much more to actually see results.

Take a practice test before beginning your course. Examine the results and note the portions you need improvement on. Now you know where you stand, and you know where your problem areas are. From there you can focus on getting extra help and attention where you need it most.

If you can show your instructor that you’ve actually put time into analyzing your own performance, he or she will be eager to point out some strategies that could help you make improvements. Even if the rest of the class if in a different topic, your instructor will be able to suggest some extra practice activities to help you with the concepts you need to work on.

3. Do The Homework And Then Some

If you’re taking a prep course, you will no doubt get a good amount of homework each week. You are not going to get a grade for completing the course, so the homework is essentially “optional”. But if you really want to improve your scores and perform well on the actual test, you need to complete every problem that’s assigned to you.

Remember the homework is assigned solely for your benefit. This is not like a typical college class where you get some homework assignments that seem abstract and somewhat impractical. In a test prep course, each exercise is engineered to get students in the mindset of succeeding on their standardized tests.

I know you have other classes to study for. You’ve got papers to write. But find a way to complete the work for your test prep class as well. Standardized testing requires that you practice, practice, practice.

You’re paying good money for the course. Don’t cheat yourself by only participating in the classroom portions and letting the homework slip by unfinished. Do your homework, and then look for more practice problems to do. Even if your group is assigned questions 1-10, go ahead and complete 11-20 as well.

It may be tedious, but I’m telling you it will pay off.

Conclusion

It takes a good amount of self discipline to make the most out of a test prep course. Truth is, nobody is going to make you do the work. The instructors have busy lives outside the classroom, and they will not chase students down to make them complete assignments. Your destiny is truly in your hands when it comes to test prep.

But I promise you, if you’ll dedicate a couple of weeks to this, you will see results. You will improve your scores, you’ll have a stronger application, you’ll increase your options for grad/professional school. But you’ve got to focus and make test prep your priority for that short time.

Invest a few weeks upfront, and reap the benefits for a lifetime.

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