4 Things I Wish I Knew Earlier as a College Student

#1: Network. Network. Network. 

Spend time getting to know your professors, mentors, classmates, authors of journal articles (yes, you can reach out and communicate with them!), blog authors, books, etc. I missed too many opportunities earlier on because I was so shy, and afraid to meet people, or felt like I would say something goofy. It is amazing the willingness people have to talk with you, let you know about their research, writing, or area of passion. Any chance you have to interact with others, take advantage! It could possibly save you time later in your education, but it will absolutely keep your mind open and the gears grinding.

One thing I let people know later in my PhD work was how passionate I was about the area I was researching (personal and professional experiences of downsizing managers). When I let that secret out, people began asking me how the process was going and what I was learning. This got me out of several slumps, as I was so excited to talk with others about my research.

Another way to build relationships and meet others in through social media. I have met so many awesome people via Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and numerous other social media platforms. Those have become great friendships and support systems for me. Use hashtags (#) alongside terms that you are interested, and find groups, pages, and connections that you can begin networking. I did this with the terms #leadership, #phd, #graduate #management when I first took to social media after graduating (yet, had I realized the benefit, I would have done this search years earlier).

#2: Manage your time.

Take advantage of any waiting I used to take a book or article with me almost everywhere when I was in school. If I had to wait at an appointment, or when picking someone up to go out, or even waiting for a meeting to begin, I would pull that out and use the time to my advantage.

Another great way to manage your time is through time blocking. This provides an opportunity to determine the time that should be focused on your studies, family commitments, friends time, working out, relaxing, and so on. If you have difficult spending too much given time focused on something (say a two-hour study block), then use the Pomodoro technique where you set a timer for 15-20 minutes and focus on the task at hand during that time. When the timer goes off, you take 5-10 minutes to get up and walk away, taking a break from that. Repeat the Pomodoro technique during your time block and you will have results and not be exhausted.

Securing an accountability partner is another great way to manage your time. You can run things by that person, and they can help you to stay aligned with your goals, and provide feedback or criticism to help you get back on track when you start to fall.

#3: Dig a little deeper.

One thing I did during my earlier PhD days was to take two elective writing classes that built upon each other. I knew that would help prepare me for my upcoming coursework, as well as the amount of writing I would be tasked to complete during my dissertation milestone. I encourage you to consider signing up for an additional course, workshop, webinar, seminar, etc. that will help you build the skill set(s) you need to be successful in your studies and beyond.

Another way to dig deeper is to really take the knowledge and feedback of your professors and mentors and look at ways to integrate and improve your work. Don’t get offended when they slaughter your paper. Instead, take it as a learning opportunity and find ways to improve.

Use the mindmapping technique to expand upon your ideas. This is a great tool, especially for individuals that are visual. I learned this when I was in middle school from Sandy, a schoolteacher friend of my mom. It has served me well, as I have continued to use the technique to this day, even beyond the college classroom and into the workplace.

#4: Don’t be so hard on yourself.

I can’t stress this enough. You can be emotional – college is a giant growing pain for many. The key is to make sure you don’t stay in that emotional purgatory for too long. Reach out to your support, or (back to Tip #1), network and find support along your journey. Sometimes the most understanding of your situation are those that are in it like you. I could get support and feedback from my fellow classmates and other college students. My connections in social media that had similar experiences as mine have also been extremely supportive in helping me to get back on my feet after the emotional whirlwind that hit.

Pat yourself on the back – this is HARD stuff! Not everyone goes to college and you should realize why – it’s not easy. Give yourself a little break every occasionally.

Lastly, some people start college and shit happens. Maybe it is a personal or family event, or maybe college isn’t right for you, whether that means right now or permanently. It’s not for everyone and there are other opportunities outside of college that can be taken. Don’t stress over it or worry about whatever judgment people might pass on you if your decision is to move forward without college. Don’t live your life to please others. Do what is right for you.


A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Connections

Over the past month, I have had an opportunity to meet and connect with some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G individuals. This is all a result of my coaching business or by connecting with others via social media. Here is some insight and links to some of the great people I have had the chance to interact with further:

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Cynthia Bazin, founder of SmartChic and the SmartChic Inner Circle, as well as the SmartChic Inner Circle members. Being a member of this community of awesome women has strengthened me tremendously and given me support and encouragement to get some great feedback and try new things (www.smartchic.me)

Gail Foley, a fellow member of the SmartChic Inner Circle, who has a radio podcast called “One Awesome Community” providing insight and resources for women entrepreneurs (www.oneawesomecommunity.com)

Lisa Kosak, a fellow member of the SmartChic Inner Circle, who recently started working for a company headquartered in Ohio. We had the opportunity to meet for dinner and have had similar experiences, have similar interests, and enjoyed great conversation!  Lisa hosts the Green Thumb Leadership blog (http://www.greenthumbleadership.com/)

Stephanie Jo Johnson, a fellow member of the SmartChic Inner Circle, who recently launched her eBook “40 Days of Inspiration” to provide support and guidance for women moving past divorce (http://www.stephaniejojohnson.com/)

Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence, helping authors and thought leaders to grow their online presence and promote their books (www.weavinginfluence.com)

Maria McGraw, a long-time friend and JamBerry Nails consultant, using her profits to pay for her two daughters’ braces (http://fabuloushomemanicures.jamberrynails.net/profile/)

Students at Shasta College, by request of Dr. June Covington, to talk about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur and moving on after school

Dan Forbes, (@danvforbes) host of the ever-amazing #leadwithgiants TweetChat. I recommended a chat on the topic of virtual leadership and Dan was game! He worked with me to develop the best set of questions to use and the chat was a success! (www.leadwithgiants.com)

Grove City Chamber of Commerce and its members, as I had the honor to present as one of the monthly Table Talk lunch and learn series presenters this month, providing insight on “The Power of Connecting” (www.gcchamber.org)

Jen Polk and Maren Wood, who are coordinating the 2nd Annual Beyond the Professoriate Virtual Conference (#beyondprof), for providing me an opportunity to present this year. Excited at the opportunity to meet so many other PhDs (and PhD candidates) at the conference coming up in May! (www.beyondprof.com)


Here are some additional great resources that I learned about along the way:

system-71228_1280Lewis Howes, a former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur who has a radio podcast called “The School of Greatness.” I have listened to a few of Lewis’ podcast interviews with authors, researchers, etc., and also attending a free virtual training session on developing and launching webinars as part of your business (http://lewishowes.com/)

Sarah Hart, who is, simply put, a creative genius. I attended her free virtual training session on creating an eBook and learned about the Canva application (where I am now developing my own eBook). Thank you to Stephanie Jo Johnson for the shared post on FaceBook regarding Sarah’s free webinar. (http://www.sarahhart.ca/)


Episode 95 Beyond The Stone Wall with Dr. Tracy Shroyer

So excited to share an awesome interview that Gail Foley​ from One Awesome Community​ provided me with the opportunity to do this week! I had a great time talking with Gail and hope that you enjoy this podcast interview and also subscribe to get Gail’s podcasts sent via email to you daily! She is so energetic & puts a smile on my face every morning on my way to work.

Episode 95 Beyond The Stone Wall with Dr. Tracy Shroyer.