Monday, December 21, 2009

Semester Break

Ah, semester break. For college students, it can be a huge relief for many reasons. It's amazing how quickly a semester flies by. It seems like just yesterday the excitement of the fall semester was happening, now it's over. This is a great time for reflection. How did you do academically? What lessons were learned? What will you do differently? Were you too involved in extra activities or do you want to try taking on more this next semester. Take some time to reflect some, because once the next semester starts, it'll move just as fast (if not faster) than the fall did.

Two thoughts as you begin pondering last semester/preparing for the next. The first is this, you have a whole semester ahead of you. That's right, the year is only halfway done. You can still meet new friends, get involved, and pull up a GPA if it fell lower than expected. Secondly, think of you walk into your classes in January. You'll have all "A's" in your classes. Rather than chasing A's, think of it as you already have them and you just can't loose too many points to loose the A's.

In the meantime, relax and prepare for the spring semester. You deserve it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Education Investment

My wife and I recently went to our financial planner after the birth of our daughter to talk college savings. Our adviser had a nifty tool on his computer which could calculate estimated cost of attendance at a variety of different types of schools 18 years from now as well as how much we'd need to save each month to hit the mark, realizing that unlike retirement, the window to save is much shorter for college savings.

Assuming our daughter may think like her folks, we had our adviser plug in a 4-year, state school, assuming in-state tuition. He asked what percentage we'd like to help fund. We went with forty percent. As he entered this information and the computer calculated, he asked us to guess how much 40% would be...not knowing, he broke the news....$85,000!!! Again, that's only 40% and that's for in-state. Granted, there is some inflation added in and such, but holy cow, we were surprised!

The cost of higher education continues to rise, especially in times of a tough economy and less funding from tax dollars. I write this as a reminder of the true investment an education is....and that people should remember those numbers as they think about skipping class, being ok with a "C" grade or taking their time getting that degree. If you bought a new car each year, you wouldn't neglect it like many neglect their education. And remember, if you take out loans, you'll be reminded each month as you write those checks.

Pig Flu!

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, I'm sure you've heard of the "swine flu" aka H1N1. While this has been well reported in terms of the general public, college campuses are taking a big hit due to the large numbers of people in close proximity.

It seems like two messages are out there. One being the "it's just the'll get over it" and the other is "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE." This has made it difficult for folks to take it seriously and some are probably taking it WAY to seriously.

What's my point? My point is wash your hands. :-) Sometimes I am shocked to see the hygiene levels of those out there. Coughing into their hands, rubbing their face, touching door knobs, etc. I would encourage you to think about your sneezing and coughing habits and wash your hands frequently. And, maybe more importantly, manage your time (get good sleep) and stress so you are less likely to get sick. Best of luck....and watch out for those pigs!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Signing

A big THANK YOU to those who came out to see us at the book signing in Ames, IA this past Friday. It was great to get some time with Mike to laugh and share with others the book.

We hope to bring a few more signings to the area in the near future. Stay tuned!

On Top of Your Game

About a month into school now and the "honeymoon" is over for many college students. The reality of studying, exams, conflicts with those around them and just the amount of decisions they get to make on a daily basis. This is a critical time in the semester, especially for freshmen. It may seem like there is a lot of time left in the semester, but patterns that are formed early are often hard to break. From study habits to interactions with a roommate and everything in between, the patterns are forming.

Take a moment or a few (go to a coffee shop, take a long walk, seclude yourself in the library, etc) alone and evaluate the areas of your new college life. Be honest with yourself. If there is something that doesn't feel right or is concerning to you, find ways to fix it soon. If you aren't sure, find someone like an RA, Hall Director, your adviser, or another university official to help you.

College is a big investment of time and money. If you bought a new car and in the first month the radio wasn't working correctly or the engine was making noise, you'd want it fixed, right? :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

College students ROCK! Photo from space for less than $150!

The $150 Space Camera: MIT Students Beat NASA On Beer-Money Budget

Posted using ShareThis

After reading that article, I'm reminded of the creativity and limitless potential of college students. I'm fortunate to work with college students every day and am always inspired at their intelligence and especially enjoy when that intelligence converges with something fun like the above story.

Friday, September 4, 2009

College Football

College football is here! The pageantry and tradition surrounding it always reminds me of how fun college was. Nothing beats the cheering crowd, marching band and collective optimism for the home team. For some students, these traditions are why they chose to go to a certain school. College athletes can become campus celebrities (and national celebrities in some cases) as they showcase their talents to the campus and country.

With that being said, take a look at this article (or video below) about a football player suspended THE ENTIRE SEASON for throwing a punch after a game:

Prior to the announcement, I wondered how the college would handle this situation. If you read the previous post about choices and consequences, here is a real life example of a choice this player made and the consequence he now has to face. I wonder if this player is regretting his decision? I bet he is. I hope he truly learned from this. When others hear about this (athletes or not), I think it's a big reminder to do the right thing and make good choices as you go about your days. I really do commend Coach Kelly for this decision. He may very well catch some static for doing this to a star player, but I think the message he sends shows his own class and integrity. It also will hopefully help other remember to play with sportsmanship and keep the traditions of college football alive for the right reasons.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Choices Galore!

Long ago in grade school, I remember being told that for every action there is a consequence. If you are ok with what the consequence will be, make whatever choices you need to. Working with college students, I witness many of their choices and consequences. I’m happy to report that I get to see a lot of cool things happen in people’s lives. Great opportunities, scholarships, jobs, positive relationships and the list goes on and on. Sometimes I get to see students make the wrong choice, but learn from the consequences and become better people.

Unfortunately, I do too see some students continually make poor choices. Sometimes a bunch of little things add all add up (not studying, watching too much tv, not effectively communicating, procrastinating, etc.) and slowly become a ticket out of college. And on some occasions, students do things which earn more serious consequences (cheating on an exam, consuming too much alcohol, vandalism, trying drugs, etc.). For many of these choices, I see people’s lives take serious detours from what was planned. Not only do these choices hurt their own lives, but the circle of friends and loved ones also usually are directly affected (and can be very costly).

Do I sound like a parent? I hope not (although, I do have a 6 month old daughter). The point I’m trying to make is it’s amazing the amount of choices that we are allowed to make in our lives. When you are faced with a difficult decision or are just unsure, trust your gut and the advice of older and wiser people.

And remember…make all your consequences good ones!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Move in time!

The next few weeks are some of the most exciting on a college campus...move in time! The energy on campus is elevated, the streets are busier and everyone seems excited to be part of the campus community. I've been on "the other side" of move in for the past 10 years helping others successfully maneuver the process, but I remember the feelings my first year. The excitement started months before the big day. I made lists of what I needed, I pictured myself in a small room with a roommate and I got excited over the little things (like having my OWN bottle of shampoo and tube of toothpaste, not having to use whatever was bought for our family home). I remember packing up the truck the night before the big move. It'd been talked about for so long, but the eve of departure had arrived. Looking back, my actual move-in day seems like a blur. I confidently walked up to pick up the key to my room as my parents began loading up the hand-truck for the first load (by the way, great thing to bring with you to save trips to your room). As we finished unloading, the excitement of setting up my new space probably overshadowed the need to properly say "goodbye" to my parents. As they left it sunk in that I was "on my own."

The move in process really is an exciting time, but can also be stressful. Planning ahead, but also being flexible during the process are some of the keys to making the day both a functional and an emotional success. For lots more tips, tricks and advice, be sure to check out Chapters 3-5 in the book. Happy moving to all!

Monday, August 17, 2009


On behalf of The Voice of College team, I'd like to welcome you to our blog. We are very excited to have the opportunity to help you or your friends and family navigate the first year of college and beyond. Check back occasionally as we'll take the opportunity to comment on current events, things to think about, and anything else that we think would be helpful for our followers. Again, thank you for visiting and be sure to send your friends to