Monthly Archives: October 2013

Decisions: Part 1

     Decisions. Decisions are the atoms that construct your life. They make up who you are. Your life is a time line of decisions that you have made. Of course there are certain things placed outside your control.

Signs

     You didn’t choose your parents, you didn’t choose your neighborhood, and you didn’t choose your socioeconomic class. You didn’t choose to be short, you didn’t choose to be dyslexic, and you didn’t choose to hate calculus (well, maybe you did choose that last one, but that’s understandable).

We all find ourselves in different circumstances.  But, what we do have in common are decisions. You get to decide how you react to every situation that faces you.  Your decisions are the building blocks with which you will create your future.

Imagine your life is like the block stacking game, Jenga. One upon another. One upon another you make these decisions and you place them on top of and next to each other.  Sometimes you make bad ones and you shakily place the new ones on top of it and hope it holds. Sometimes you place them without thinking at all of the decisions you will soon have to put on next. Hopefully, more often than not, you take your time and make decisions carefully and intentionally which will create a strong foundation for all your future decisions.

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SAT or ACT: Which Test Should I Take?

It’s that time of the year. Fall has finally come. School is in full swing and it’s time to get to work planning your life after graduation. If you’ve decided that going to college after high school is going to be a part of your plan, then you need to consider which college admission exam to take. The two big ones are the SAT and the ACT.

What are the SAT and ACT?

The SAT and ACT are nationally administered standardized tests. These tests are designed to help colleges evaluate potential students. Your scores on these tests are often a prerequisite for college acceptance.

Which test do I need to take?

Most colleges accept either test’s scores but it is always important to check with the colleges you are applying for to make sure of their specific requirements. You can typically find this on their website under admission requirements.

Which should I choose?

If after looking up the requirements of your potential colleges you find that you have the option of taking either exam, then the choice is yours. There are a lot of differences between the two exams and the choice is mostly a matter of preference.  The SAT is more of an aptitude test whereas the ACT is an achievement based test. Here are some specifics about each test to help you make a more informed decision.


The SAT

As I mentioned above, the SAT is an aptitude test. It measures reasoning and vocabulary much more heavily than the ACT.

The Content:

The SAT has three major components which include: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and Writing.  It is then broken down into 10 smaller sections which require you to rotate back and forth between math, writing, and reading. If you choose to take this exam you have to be comfortable with switching between content a lot. This exam also has a lot of reading comprehension and sentence completion, so if you enjoy vocabulary and language is your thing then this test might be your first choice.

Scoring:

The SAT also scores differently than the ACT.  The SAT has no room for luck. That’s right, no guessing; ¼ of a point is subtracted from your raw score for each wrong answer. Colleges will look at the results from each individual section with the SAT.

Time:

The SAT takes 3 hours and 45 minutes.

 


The ACT

The ACT measures what you have learned in school. It focuses more on content and what you know in specific subjects.

The Content:

The ACT has five sections: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing. The writing section of this test is optional but may be required by the colleges you are applying to, so make sure you find out before skipping it! This exam moves through the five sections without jumping around. It also focuses on more advanced mathematical concepts than the SAT (think basic trigonometry). The ACT is unique in that has a science section which requires reasoning skills and the ability to interpret data.

Scoring:

The ACT has no penalty for guessing and only scores the questions you answer correctly. It also has a composite score which shows potential colleges how your combined scores measured up against others. With ACT tests, colleges are more concerned with your overall score and less with how you did in a specific section.

Time:

The ACT takes 3 hours and 25 minutes.


Remember:  

Don’t put off taking your test. Sometimes life happens and you get sick, nervous, or have family issues and you tank your test. You need to leave yourself enough time to get the scores back look at them and decide if you need to take the test again. Charles Baudelaire says it best “In putting off what one has to do, one runs the risk of never being able to do it.”  Don’t procrastinate.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments about the SAT or ACT I’d love to hear from you.

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You Can’t Go Further

I was driving to the store the other day to return a Redbox movie and saw this sign on a massive billboard down town. “You Can’t Go Further Without A Degree.”

You Can't

I drove past it and thought to myself, “Wow. That is a really bold and really depressing statement.” I returned the movie and drove back the way I came, but this time I stopped. The billboard was in the parking lot of a fairly busy Little Caesar’s Pizza place and a video rental store. I got out of the car and stood their looking at the sign. I took my picture and thought of all those poor people who are trapped and can’t go further without a degree. Then I thought about all those poor people who have a degree and work at Starbucks. Then I smiled, got back in my car, and went home.

The really sad thing is that there are actually people that believe this sign. They believe that if only they could get a degree they could be successful. It doesn’t matter what the degree is. Somehow if I get that piece of paper, businesses will flock to me and throw job offers at my feet. I’ll be rich and famous and run faster and look better if only I had a degree.  The fact is; degrees aren’t holding you back.  You are the only thing that can hold you back. Don’t be a victim. You can be successful without a degree. You just have to have a plan and be intentionally about it. If your idea of success is lots of money; I have a lot of friends without degrees who are making way more than those with them.  If you think success is job security and freedom, I also have a lot of friends with degrees who have been waiting for years to find a job that actually uses their degree.

I’m not trying to discourage you from going to college at all. It is a very important part of a lot of people’s plans for success. What I’m trying to say is that it is not essential in everybody’s plan for success.

The point is, you need to have a plan and you need to know what success means to you.  The sign would be more accurate if it said “You Can’t Go Further Without A Plan.”

Remember:

Identify your passions, understand your talents, and create a profitable economic model that serves others. Do this and you can’t go wrong.

I would love to hear from you. What do you think about this sign? Is it true? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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10 Reasons Your Senior Year is Like World War Z, and 1 Reason it’s Not.

Making it through your senior year is a lot like fighting the undead.World War Z

Kind of.

Here are 10 similarities between your senior year of high school and the most popular zombie movie of the year.

1. There are a lot of blood shot eyes.

2. The majority of the people don’t have a clue what’s going on.

3. Things happen a lot faster than you would imagine. (Running zombies- what!?)

4. Your reading material isn’t always used for its intended purpose.

5. Being resourceful pays off. 

6. You have got to come up with a plan for the future.

7. Not doing anything will usually end up poorly for you… very poorly.

8. There’s a lot of screaming.

9. It helps to think outside the box when solving the tough problems.

10. If you are not careful you’ll become a part of the horde.

And the one major difference between your senior year and World War Z:

Zombie Horde

1. The weak are NOT the most likely to survive! 

You have got to be strong to overcome the pressures from others to follow the “normal” paths of success.  Choose a path because you are passionate about it, understand your abilities and talents, and create an economic model of serving others that will also be profitable for you.

Being indecisive or following the crowd despite uncertainty about where you are going will only lead down a very expensive path to someone else’s idea of success.  

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Run! (from normal)

Normal1nor·mal
 adjective \ˈnȯr-məl\
: usual or ordinary : not strange

 
Usual, ordinary, not strange; that’s the definition of normal according to the Merriam Webster dictionary. Normal could also be defined as the common accepted behaviors among a group of people. Or simply put, normal is what everybody is doing. Usual, ordinary, not strange, is that how you want to be defined? If it is, please disregard the rest of this post. If not, keep reading.

Still here? Great!

Let’s take a look at what normal people are saying about planning your future and choosing a major. This excerpt comes from a popular college resource site.

“Realize that you definitely do not need to know what you want to be doing ten years from now. College is a time of exploration and discovery. Many prospective college students have not yet been introduced to the fields that will define their future careers. The majority of students will change majors before they graduate. Many students will have careers that aren’t directly connected to their undergraduate majors.”

Hmm, it sounds good but what kind of advice is that really? All I hear is:College

“That’s right folks; don’t come to college with a plan…please. You can figure that out once we get you on the conveyor belt.  As a high school student you can’t possibly know what jobs are out there nor have any information on them without going to college and taking exploratory classes. Plus, you’re probably not even going to be getting a job in the field that you just spent four years and a ton of money to study.”

Let’s look at the advice the colleges are giving. This excerpt comes from a universities’ website.

“Many new students come to college with the skills and abilities to succeed but without a clear idea about a college major. At Anonymous University, we welcome the undecided (EXPLORATORY) student.  By declaring “exploratory” as your major choice when you come to Anonymous University, you will have the opportunity to learn about different majors and minors, take self-discovery inventories, and meet faculty and students who will help to guide you toward choosing the best major for you. Students who choose Exploratory Studies receive one-on-one advisement to help with their individual needs and concerns about choosing a major.”

Again all I hear is:

“Don’t know what you want to do yet? That’s okay; we’ll take your money anyways! We don’t mind influencing your decision about your future based on courses we have available and needs we have within the university.”

That same university went on to propose:

“You can live with other exploratory students as a part of the Explore, Discover, Decide, Living, Learning Community.”

I know when I have no clue how to do something, or when I’m trying to figure something out it always helps me to surround myself with other individuals who are equally as clueless… oh wait. Never mind.

My point in all this is to simply encourage you do push past what is normal and do what is extraordinary.

Extrodinary

ex·traor·di·nary
adjective \ik-ˈstrȯr-də-ˌner-ē, ˌek-strə-ˈȯr-\
: very unusual : very different from what is normal or ordinary
: extremely good or impressive

 

Merriam Webster defines extraordinary as very unusual, and that’s what I want for you.  Be that weird student who actually knows what you want and has a plan to get it.  You don’t need to go to college to have someone tell you what you can do. Figure that out now so that you can be ahead of the masses. You don’t have to go to college and pay top dollar to intern in different fields and learn what you like and what you don’t.

Intern now.

Job shadow now.

Volunteer now.

Take the initiative and do something now.  Be extraordinary. Identify your passion, discover your talents, and create an economic model that makes you rich doing what you love.

Bottom line: Run from normal and you’re well on your way to becoming extraordinary.

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