Why Come To Work Sick?

Editors Note: Just a quick post here, more of a thought than anything, on what went through my mind the other week when I caught the flu. I hope you enjoy! – Louie 

Did you get the bug that was going around? That seems like the phrase people use at least twice a year. Usually when the seasons change, right? So what happens when you do get sick? Maybe you go to school anyway and get your peers sick. Or, maybe you still go to school and are less productive than usual, as a result. Maybe you’re like me, and when you get sick you don’t want to do anything, so you don’t, but then you mentally beat yourself up because you feel unproductive. So, naturally, you try to get work done, but you’re not productive so you continue to be sick and get zero work done. If nothing else, this is a journal entry for myself. I faced this recently, and it took me about a day to realize that I should have just stayed home and rested instead of being unproductive for a whole week. Let’s explore this one a little further.

 

If you read nothing else

According to a Harvard Business Review article in 2004, the United States loses an estimate of $150 billion each year from employees taking off work for illnesses like heartburn, headaches, and fevers. This also seems to take into account the people who are unproductive because of their illness. It’s ironic, right? You come to work to not do work. But that’s the society we live in. We feel bad for taking time off to better our health. Instead of being unproductive for five days, wouldn’t it be better to take off a full day and get some rest? Apparently, some recent research is agreeing with that statement, as local public health doctors, according to The Guardian, are reporting that you should stay home with a fever for at least 24 hours. If you can afford to stay home for two days, you reduce your chances of spreading your sickness by 40%. Oh, and one more thing, wash your hands! More reports are saying that warm, soapy water rinses for at least 20 seconds are what will minimize your chances of getting sick in the first place. So, in short, you should try and stay home when you are sick, seriously, think about it. You get sick, you come to work and get three other people sick. Now four people are unproductive instead of one. I think most bosses in America would agree that you should take time off, especially if it means only one person is out instead of more. 

 

Why is this even a question?

Working on a weekend, holiday, when ill, are all norms for us at this point. We literally are working ourselves to death! The BBC has pulled some studies of their own and reported that people tend to go into work when they are sick as sort of a “Show and Tell”. We’re essentially showing people that we truly are sick, justifying to ourselves the need to take off the following day. “Look how sick I am people, you should now have no reason to think my day off tomorrow is unjustified” is what we say to ourselves. Whether it’s having a strict payroll team breathing down your back, or the constant build-up of group projects, homework, and group activities, sometimes it seems like staying home from work and school is more work than it’s worth. I mean, who likes to come back to school with more to do than when you got sick? No one.

 

How can you combat this?

In all honesty, this is going to be up to your own judgment. It’s often tricky because you are the only one who truly knows how you feel. You have to be the one to decide what you should do. Sometimes, you are just too sick to go to class and pay attention for long periods of time, but you can still work from home. Working from the comfort of your own home can do you wonders and still keep you productive, but if you choose to stay home, make sure you get work done. We all know the day, we choose to stay home, and we eat, sleep, and lounge around. All of a sudden our roommate comes home from class and we look at the clock to realize it’s 6:00 pm and we’ve done nothing! Working from home can keep your colleagues healthy, and also get work done in your pajamas, but let’s all vow to actually work if we feel up to it. Deal? Deal. 

 

Lastly, if you just feel awful, get some rest and eat some soup! You would much rather prefer to rest one day and then be productive the next, instead of being unproductive for a whole week. We all know that point where we’ve had enough, but we also know that point where we can work and just feel a bit crummy, but you have to make that decision! In the end, don’t feel bad if you have to take time off, after all, we’re all human, just make sure you keep killing it when you’re healthy! 

My Personal Reflection on my College Career

 

I finally made it. Last semester of senior year… and yet, time seemed to slip through my fingers even when I thought it was going to take an eternity to pass. Life seems to do that to us, doesn’t it? The old cliché rings in my head, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” As that may be true, I often find that time flies when we’re busy and mindlessly suffocated by our daily routines. There were countless occasions when I didn’t know what the time was once I made it home, simply because when we go class to class, meeting to meeting, we tend to lose track of what’s around us.

That being said, I tried to make more time for myself in this past year, simply because I thought I was going through my daily grind and not really experiencing life. “Experiencing life” can be a bit vague, I’m talking about the little things, like looking around when I walk to and from class, or taking the time to mentally detox in the mornings and evenings. Normally, I would wake up in a rush and then that anxious feeling would continue all throughout the day. I would finally lay down in bed and immediately fall asleep, never having a chance to reflect on my experiences.

So this reflection is more of a piece for those who feel the same way as I, stressed and too busy for our own good. This is for people to take a moment to look back on the years we have spent at NIU, reflect on how we have grown as adults, while also looking forward to the future. I want this to serve as a reminder to everyone, not just seniors, that you do not have to know exactly what you want to do with your life. You don’t have to be a traditional student to be successful. Being honest with yourself and doing what your heart desires instead of what others want you to do, is the best way to your own personal happiness.

So I urge you to please kick back and do a personal reflection on yourself, it may just be what you need to get through your final semester.

 

First/Second Year

When I first came to NIU, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. I originally thought I wanted to be an architect when I was in middle school, but that quickly changed to wanting to be an engineer. Unfortunately, I had a pretty nasty physics teacher in high school who changed my opinion on engineering in just one semester. Isn’t it a shame how some teachers in high school can really alter your view on a subject? Oddly enough, it turned out to be okay in the end. Once I graduated high school I thought I wanted to be a Psychologist, so I majored in psychology and philosophy at Elmhurst College (in Elmhurst Illinois) my freshman year. I started to come to terms with the reality that I could not afford Elmhurst College, nor were my majors something I wanted to make into a career.

Sure, the majors were interesting to me, but I didn’t want to take traditional classes on them. I would rather read about Psychology and Philosophy in my free time and make a hobby out of those subjects.

With all of that said, I wanted to go to a school that was close to home, but far enough for me to live on my own. The cost of school, in general, was an issue, so I spent my second year at Harper College (in Palatine, Illinois) where I could save some money, while also finishing my second year of Gen Eds at a community college. It was after taking all of those introductory classes that I decided to use my interest in psychology and bring that into the business world. That’s what lead me to NIU.

 

Third Year

My first year at NIU was spent in classes all around campus, which was fun for me to see the campus in its entirety. At the time, I only was taking one class in Barsema Hall, and I remember myself feeling anxious to finally spend my time there. I actually spent most of my studying in Barsema Hall, even when I had exams for other classes. The building felt like the place where I could build a future, an area that encourages scholarly success. Something about that feeling made the College of Business seem refreshing and inviting.

I have to admit that in high school I thought I needed to get my hands in everything. I played four sports while also being in multiple organizations, so once I got to college I told myself I would only play golf and that was it. Naturally, once I stopped playing golf at Elmhurst College and came to Northern, I thought I would simply go to class and come home to study. Luckily, I snapped out of that way of thinking, because I immediately felt like I had wasted two years by not getting as involved as I should have. I felt like I was at a disadvantage to other students by not being in organizations, but at the same time, I was working until five in the morning at times at the police department on campus. That was the only job that would allow me to work more hours than normal while working at night when my classes were over. Regardless, I thought getting involved would not only bring me around likeminded people but also make friendships, both of which I didn’t have at that point in time.

I knew I wanted to join something, and so in my second semester of my first year at NIU, I choose to join Delta Sigma Pi, the business fraternity. It was through Delta Sigma Pi that I was introduced to my current position, being the Student Intern for the College of Business marketing director. I finally started to feel a connection to the College of Business with this position, and it also allowed me to get a feel for a business oriented job, instead of one in Public Service. After leaving my supervisor role at the Police Department, I started to spend more and more time at the CoB, which was certainly a benefit, becoming acclimated with traditional business culture. The first year I spent here was certainly a wild ride, but it was after that second semester that I really started to call NIU my home.

 

Fourth Year

It was in my fourth year when I finally declared my business major in marketing. It took me a while to finally decide because the decision felt so daunting to me. How are we supposed to decide the rest of our lives at 21 years old? It was crazy to me, but UBUS 310 brought my vision into focus, and marketing was certainly something I could see myself doing in the long run. It just felt right, and I think that’s something important here. Sometimes you don’t necessarily know why you want to pursue or do something, it just feels right, and that’s okay.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said something rather profound on a Podcast I was listening to. He was talking about how our society, rather, our language insists on all of us coming up with words to describe our actions and how we feel. Is it black or is it white? Are you male or are you female? We demand to know exactly what people are feeling, and we don’t accept that sometimes there is not an answer for something, it just feels right. Sometimes words simply cannot describe our feelings, but we are demanded to come up with something to say, so we settle on what to think based on what we can articulate. Instead of limiting your thoughts based on the words you know, people should make decisions based on logic, reasoning, and how you feel about the situation. Of course, we can’t make decisions based only on feelings, but there is something to be said about listening to that feeling in your stomach, telling you if a decision is right or wrong.

Going back to Delta Sigma Pi, the fraternity also lead me to my love for Social Entrepreneurship, the first semester back in my fourth year of school. A brother in DSP was talking to me about my outlook on life and how my ideas matched up really well to Social Entrepreneurship, so I talked to a couple professors and I immediately fell in love, knowing that would be my minor. Social Entrepreneurship lead me to CAUSE, where I was able to pursue my passion of making the world a better place.

That fourth year was wonderful, I was taking classes I loved and making connections with professors that would eventually lead me to bigger and better things. I was working for the college, while also getting really involved with organizations and sitting on boards that were making real decisions for the College of Business. It felt like I finally found the right place to be.

 

Fifth and Final Year

Well, after all this hard work, I’m staying here even longer. I thought all I wanted to do was be in sales and make a living on my own hard work, and don’t get me wrong, I would still love to do that, but not at this current stage of my life. It wasn’t until the first few weeks of this academic year that I came to visit a professor I had a few semesters ago. She sat me down and we talked about my plans for the future. I honestly was feeling a bit uneasy about my future at the time. I really wanted to do something that would make an impact on people, but I simply didn’t know what. She asked me if I had considered teaching in higher education, and that’s when the “lightbulb” went off in my head. Yes, yes I had, but why didn’t I fully think of that before? I guess I never really took the time to think about it clearly. I was always moving so fast through my undergraduate degree that I never really evaluated my true feelings about my future. I never stopped to reclaim my days as mine and reflect on what had happened that week, analyzing what stood out to me. It wasn’t until I had someone else slow down my crazy life, that I began to see the last puzzle piece I was missing. After thinking more about it, teaching would be the perfect career for me. Constantly learning, the opportunity to impact young minds, and continuously being progressive through the power of education. It was then that I decided to stay and be a GA while obtaining my Masters at the College of Business here, the home I have come to love. It couldn’t have worked any better for me.

 

Final Thoughts

So what now? Well, more school. But I was trying to get at the constant change in my career path. I changed my major more times that I ever would have expected, but I think it was my open-mindedness that allowed me to audit so many different majors, and experience such a wide variety of subjects to finally make up my mind.

There seem to be many people who know what they want to do with their lives right out of high school, which is completely fine. However, it’s the student who doesn’t, who may feel a bit behind, like they are missing out by not knowing exactly what they want to do with their future. I’m writing this to tell you, that’s okay. You don’t have to know. Be open with the fact that there may come a time when you figure it out, and then it changes. That’s the beauty of enrolling at a wonderful school like NIU, you get to choose your future.

At the end of the day, I’m happy with the way everything turned out, and if you are too, good luck moving forward. For those of you who are looking deep down inside yourself wondering if your choices so far are really yours or something someone else told you, it’s not too late. Take the extra time to evaluate your life and do what truly makes you happy, because, in the end, it’s not anyone else’s decision but your own. Your way to true happiness and fulfillment is gaining control of your life.

I hope this inspired someone out there, and for those of you graduating this semester, cheers to you and see you in May!

–   Louie

Transitioning into The Spring Semester

 

If you are anything like me, the spring semester seems to be the unfavorable one. Sure, you have the summer to look forward to, but that’s six months away! While Valentine’s Day and my birthday in April, for example, are certainly fun events to look forward to, nothing seems to bring as much joy as the holidays in fall. Everything from Halloween to the end of the year festivities, the fall semester seems to go by a lot quicker once the sweaters come on and the leaves start to change. So as a student, how can we start off right, and make the spring semester just as strong as the fall? This is an exceptionally daunting question for students like me, last semester seniors. I mean, the finish line is so close! How can we be expected to learn for another six months? Well, we have to, so here are some tips that are going to help me ace this last semester, so hopefully they help you too.

 

Start Now!

The reason I am posting this a week before school starts is because it is important to get a head start on the semester. Everyone knows how hectic the bookstore can get when students come back into town, so if you are here before move-in day, get your books before everyone else! Make sure you also use online books stores like Chegg and Amazon for rentals if the required books become too expensive. This also means that you should be stocking up on school supplies. Remember when you only had one pencil and pen left after week two? I do, so make sure you stock-up before the rush to Walmart becomes unbearable.

This also means going on the NIU Bookstore website and plugging in your class schedule to see what books are required and what books say to wait until class starts to purchase them. Every professor is different, so take advantage of those who allow you to wait until the first week of classes before you purchase. Some professors may allow students to share books in a group or use the online version, meaning you may not have to bear the full cost after all.

 

Stay Ahead

This is probably the most common sense tip on this entire list, but common sense is not always common practice. If you stay ahead of your work, the entire process seems to move at a manageable, relatively stress-free pace. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself on track:

  • Buy a planner, or better yet, get the free ones they give out at the NIU Bookstore the first week!
  • Take an hour or two and go through the syllabus for each class, marking down when assignments are due and the dates of exams in your planner. Trust me, it is tedious but you will be thanking yourself when you know what is due while others wait until the last few hours to complete that assignment.
  • Check Blackboard at least once a week, maybe make it a Sunday night habit, and get yourself familiar with how that next week is going to pan out.

 

Time Management

How do you organize your time? For me, I personally use the iCalendar app on my phone to organize everything. I have my class schedule on there, along with my meeting times for organizations and clubs, and I also have my work schedule all in one place. This makes it easy for me to schedule my week and gives me some piece of mind that everything is in place. Don’t just use your memory to get you through the semester, you will forget things and that will lead to a negative snowball effect, which could be hard to recover from.

This also means you are going to have to make time for studying but do not forget to make some time for yourself too. Having too much stress on your mind throughout the day will bog you down. To combat this, give some time for yourself. Remember, this is supposed to be a reasonable amount of time. If you do not have three hours to lounge around, then be honest with yourself and get some work done.

A good example is with me, I personally like to set aside an hour or so each night to leisurely read something I am interested in, and I also like to wake up early to make some coffee while reading up on the latest news. I like to take control of my morning and evenings because I know the day in between is normally hectic. So between my normal school day and the time I use to study, I at least know the first and last few hours of each day are spent doing something I enjoy.

 

Find a Mentor

There used to some weird stigma with students who enjoy talking with their teachers to pick their brains on what they know. I am sure everyone has heard of the student who was labeled as the “Teacher’s Pet.” Clearly this is ridiculous, and in college, if you refuse to find yourself a mentor with the plenty of excellent professors within the College of Business, you are certainly missing out on not only a wonderful academic resources, but also someone to turn to when making big decisions, like choosing a job in their particular field or advice on post-graduation plans and ambitions. Long gone are the days of those silly stereotypes, it is called networking, and you should take full advantage of it.

This could be as simple as finding someone in the College of Business who you look up to, and schedule an appointment with them. I have never been to a college (keep in mind I have transferred twice) where the faculty is as willing to help and mentor students as much as they are here at NIU. So take my word and find yourself someone who you can idolize and ask questions to.

 

Start Looking for Internships

If you haven’t started looking for internships yet, getting a jump on it will benefit you immensely. Companies are now requiring more than your degree, they want you to have experience right out of college and one of the best ways to do that is with an internship. Maybe you know someone who can get you an intern spot, but if that is not the case, Huskies Get Hired is an excellence resource. That is personally how I got my summer internship at Apex Energy Solutions and I absolutely loved it. If you choose to wait until the Internship/Job Fair, that is fine, but getting a head start on that will be beneficial for you.

Internships are no longer fetching coffee and organizing papers, they are high paying outlets for students to gain real-world experience while getting a great look into an industry you might be interested in. Plus, with an internship, you do not have the risk of it hurting your resume if you choose not to stay afterward. Consider it like a trial run at an industry you may have your eyes on. On the other hand, if you do love the internship and that company fits with your personal values, most companies will make you an offer at the end of your time. Think about it like this, they basically trained you already, and you got acclimated with their work culture, why would they not want to hire someone who already fits in? This should certainly be something you do this semester, it can only benefit you.

 

Finally, Have Fun Learning!

Think about it, we are lucky to be in a position where such a wonderful schooling system is assessable to us. The power of knowledge is never going to be negative to your career. The more you know and the more you continue to learn, the more doors are going to open for you. If you graduate this year and you still don’t know what you want to do, there is no need to worry! If you don’t find a job right away, consider doing the Masters program at NIU. That is what I am doing!

Uncertainty is completely normal, but not wanting to continuously learn, is not acceptable. You should be constantly hungry for knowledge. Remember, your learning should not stop once you leave college, you should constantly be surrounding yourself with people who want you to succeed while you all learn from each other.

By going into this semester with an open mind, you will be guaranteed to learn something new, and that is what makes all of this fun! You have an open invitation to be smarter by the end of this semester, but the only thing stopping you is you! Open up a bit and meet some new people, you never know what kind of connections you will end up making.

 

So hang in there everyone, this semester is going to be a fun ride for all of us. Stay positive and be sure to keep up with your work so it does not sneak up on you! If you follow these tips, you should be just fine!

Have any other suggestions? Feel free to send me an email and I can add it to the list! I am looking forward to talking with you all at lzmich1@niu.edu!

See you around,

– Louie

Impact Beyond DeKalb

Forward

The Social Entrepreneurship program at NIU is one of the most innovative, progressive, value-added sets of classes I have taken in my collegiate career. As part of my Global Social Venture Consulting class with Dr. Christine Mooney, we received a fully immersive education, unmatched to what you can learn through a textbook.

The class is divided into three teams who are assigned a company with a social mission of some kind. “Social Mission” being that the company has a double or triple bottom line consisting of profit, but coupled with people or planet. For example, TOMS Shoes has a double bottom line of profit and people. That company then gives a few business issues for the teams to research, ask questions about, and ultimately provide recommendations for the client to enact at some point in time if they so choose.

The class also includes an international trip to one of the companies, and this year’s client was Entreamigos, who operates in San Pancho, Mexico. This article is about what I learned from this trip and the lessons learned with the underlying psychological realizations uncovered from my experiences.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this article and at the very minimum, choose to think about Social Entrepreneurship a little more than you did when you started reading. After all, this world is one that we all share, and problems that we may not be effected by initially, certainly are worth acting on. For our actions today can work towards giving everyone the same opportunities to succeed, that some of us take advantage of every day.

Thank you, and enjoy – Student Intern: Louis Zmich

Louie on the beach of San Pancho, Mexico

Louie on the beach of San Pancho, Mexico

A Whole New Outlook

It’s incredibly easy to overlook the problems that affect today’s world. Our lives are increasingly busy; we have so many ways to become distracted from what is going on around us. Too many times are we rushing to class, hurrying to a meeting and studying profusely for an exam, it’s completely understandable that social issues are overlooked. (“Social Issues” Include, Poverty, Hunger, Climate Change, etc.). Why wouldn’t they be? People simply do not have time to read deeply into an issue as broad and complex as poverty, hunger or education. Media today portrays these issues in such a brash and intimidating light, it’s much easier to swipe past the negativity, instead of accepting it and making changes. So, if these issues are broken down into digestible, daily changes to our everyday lives, we can slowly start improving the broader picture. This is why Social Entrepreneurship is so important.

The goal of a Social Entrepreneur is to innovate and exploit these issues in a cohesive and friendly matter, where the busy person can stop and learn something new, continue with her day and then when shopping for her daily items that night, make decisions that are socially responsible and end up helping those in need at the same time. That, in my opinion, is what progression is, not changing the status-quo entirely overnight, but showing people that small tweaks in our daily habits can eventually make tremendous headway on the issues that lurk overhead.

That being said, we are all busy in our own endeavors, we have to take classes in order to graduate, or check another thing off our mental to-do list. So, if this is a requirement for our graduation and ultimate career success, why not take a class that provides the credit we need, but also makes an impact at the same time? That’s where Global Venture Consulting comes into the mix. This Fall, myself and 9 other classmates were split up into teams and are continuing to help consult and provide recommendations to their business issues. Consulting is inherently a face-to-face interaction, thus part of this class involved going to Entreamigos in San Pancho Mexico to speak directly with Nicole Swedlow, CEO, and Founder, on these issues, while she showed us the reasons why we need to think more intensively on the issues that are at hand.

One of the first beautiful mural walls you see when entering San Pancho, Mexico.

One of the first beautiful mural walls you see when entering San Pancho, Mexico.

 

The Destruction of Tourism

When you have a community, rich in heritage and tradition and close to the water, you inherently attract tourism. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it often leads to communal destruction. When anyone foreign settles in a place like San Pancho, they immediately fall in love with the culture and the people. This love will naturally cause people to want to buy property, and they can do so for a very reasonable amount, something you could never do in the United States for example. But this could end up being toxic to the social structure. The way the social structure works in these small towns is started with your great ancestors who first move there, and the cycle is as follows:

  • You buy land when you first enter the town, or when the town is first established.
  • As you have children, the land you own is distributed equally amongst your children.
  • The children then use that land as a source of income; farming, fishing etc.
  • When they have children, that land is split up in the same fashion previously mentioned.
Diego, standing in front of the recycling center at Entreamigos.

Diego, standing in front of the recycling center at Entreamigos.

This continues, all the while skills are being passed down from generation to generation. That is the form of income and education that has made these small towns thrive for so long.

This cycle will continue and as someone’s business continues to grow they will buy up more land and so on. As previously mentioned, the importance of education stretches only as necessary for your job. Sure, there are people who are educated, but it’s in their own profession, which is fine until they give up their land.

When a tourist comes in and offers more money than some of these people have ever seen, for their land, these people rightfully so, jump on that opportunity and are left with a lot of money and no way of making anymore. When education is lacking and you sell off your only asset, it’s hard to find another job because all of what you knew was rutted in your property. This has led to people in these towns thinking that anyone who is a foreigner and is making money in their village, must be corrupt and must be taking advantage of the locals. When looking at it in this light, it’s easy to see why people who travel to these villages are looked down upon.

Entreamigos

“Everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to teach.” This is the motto and notion behind Entreamigos. Here in the United States, education is engrained in our culture. What people are doing after high school is most likely something that has to do with more education. Beauty School, Trade School, Community College, Universities, it’s all the same premise, continuous education. In a town like San Pancho, what measures success is owning a local business or being a successful fisherman and this model works, but only as long as the town stays a secret to everyone else. As explained before, when tourism hits towns like San Pancho, business like Entreamigos can’t be trusted by the locals.

Main entrance to Entreamigos

Main entrance to Entreamigos

Thankfully, Entreamigos was able to break through this stereotype and over the past decade and has built nothing short of a communal movement. Everyone we talked to in this town, simply loved Entreamigos. Besides Nicole, everyone who works there and studies there are all locals.

Everyone has a gift, so why not teach others what you know? People who come and tour the facility, instantly want to help in some form, teaching the staff about leadership, or teaching children a new useful skill. This model brings the town together, and everyone feels invested in each other. It works, and I got to see it firsthand. I was even able to teach some children English while I was there, and in return, they taught me Spanish. Skills we both know fairly well but never have the chance to teach in our home countries, it was truly an opportunity for growth, and one I will never forget.

Morgan, in the black t-shirt on the right, is laughing along with the children at Entreamigos.

Morgan, in the black t-shirt on the right, is laughing along with the children at Entreamigos.

 

Changing Lives Through Education

Entreamigos goes one step further and offers opportunities for people anywhere to sponsor a child in Entreamigos. The sponsorship allows children to receive a proper education in the public schools and universities surrounding these villages. We had a chance to meet the man who was sponsored by Dennis and Stacy Barsema, while we were in San Pancho. Christian was a phenomenal person, and after receiving his education, he came back to Entreamigos to give back to his community and continue the circle of education for the younger generations in his town. The opportunity to talk and spend time with someone who had benefited directly from another person two-thousand plus miles away was not only touching but inspirational too. The role-models that we have in class, are the same people making a change in the world,

Mural drawn by local artists, in the courtyard of Entreamigos.

Mural drawn by local artists, in the courtyard of Entreamigos.

 

Closing Thoughts

One of the biggest takeaways I brought back with me was the concept of happiness. It certainly is subjective, but we all have different standards of it. As a whole, technology Is intended to bring people together, separate the distance between us and constantly keep everyone up-to-date, but it may seem that these luxuries actually push us apart. The people in San Pancho were so happy, eager to help and never complained about the things they didn’t have. Instead, they cherished what they do have, a roof over their head, food on the table and a healthy family surrounding them. That’s happiness, and it was emotional to think that success and happiness to some, is judged internally by the amount of money we make, or the title associated with our names.

Everyone has their own definition of happiness, but I think there is something to be said about appreciating the big things in life and not sweating the small stuff. We get so bogged down with the things we don’t have, and continuously compare ourselves to everyone around us, never stopping to self-reflect and look in the mirror. We seem to be so focused on impressing others that we actually forget to love and understand ourselves and those who matter the most to us. I often, on this trip, stopped and wondered what life would be like if we all took some time every morning to self-evaluate and be thankful for what we have. Unplug for just a moment, and connect with our inner-most thoughts. Maybe, if we took the time to connect internally, our connections externally will become exponentially stronger, more genuine, and last longer.

Overall, San Pancho completely changed the way I look at, not only my life but the lives of others. Doing the right thing isn’t often the easy choice, but making steps to impact the lives of others is something we all should have at the forefront of our conscious decisions. When it comes down to it, being born in a developed country is not only luck, but it’s statistically improbable. So I think the important statement is one said by Warren Buffet when talking about humanity and our quest to help others, “If you’re in the luckiest 1 percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.”

Photo on site of the location the entire class got to stay.

A photo on-site of the location the entire class got to stay.

Tips On Studying For Midterms and Finals

Caption: As I was following the 45/15 rule the other morning before lecture (explained below), I came across this familiar view looking out at Dad’s Pond behind Barsema Hall. What a cool sight to see. Posted on my Instagram @louie_zmich. Also be sure to follow @NIUBusiness on Instagram!

Editors Note: With this collegiate semester almost over (I know, it’s crazy), we seem to realize that getting to the half way point sometimes isn’t the hardest challenge. All the material goes in your brain and you recall it when you need it, but now midterms are here and you have forgotten everything you’ve learned! Fortunately I have done some research and put together some simple tips to get you back on track so you can ace your midterms and finals. These are tips compiled from students themselves and some studies done on other college campuses, so let’s dive in! As always, if you like what you read, feel free to comment on this post and follow me on Facebook & Titter @LOUIEZMICH and Instagram @louie_zmich. Enjoy!

First off, I want to say that by you following these tips it should help you in multiple ways. To begin with, you’re simply going to retain more information. As you become better at studying, you are going to actually learn the material and not just memorize it. Second, you will also begin to develop good habits so cramming won’t be the worst of your worries. These both may seem like a long shot because cramming and memorizing can be the normality sometimes, but as you start to follow some of these rules ahead of time, you will  notice improvement without having that be your initial intention. With that being said, let’s take a look at what this article is going to contain:

  1. Tips from students and an explanation for those tips
  2. Tips from various research, along with an explanation for each tip  and a all to action, how you can starts right away to ace those exams

As we start off, this is interesting to say that all of these student tips are from students who are in the business school right now at NIU and are taking classes here just like you, so if they can achieve excellence, so can you!

Making flashcards early, and continuing to make and review a few, each day. 

  • This one might be one of the most effective because making flashcards not only stimulates your brain, but also lets you make visual progress when you can throw the ones you know away over time. Once the exam comes, you’ll be a pro on the material.

Review the material by re-writing it.

  • This was a tip that multiple people told me, many also paired up this tip with another, reading your notes out loud. It’s the same concept of meeting someone, and then immediately saying their name out loud, your chances of remembering that name increases dramatically. Once you visualize it, and hear it, the information sticks much easier. So as you re-write your old notes, you should then go and say them out loud to double your chances of remembering!

Study in groups and teach each other the material.

  • When you study in groups you get the perspective of people who don’t think like you. This is important because you may see a problem one way, but cannot figure it out without the help of someone else who sees the problem from a different angle.
  • This also is effective in reducing the work load of a big study guide, if everyone divvies up the material and then teaches the group the material they had to cover, everyone is much more likely to retain the information because if you can teach it, you’re more than likely to have a great grasp on what ever it is you’re teaching.

Keep the material fresh by bouncing around on related topics.

  • This tip wasn’t brought up too much by students, but I thought was very accurate from when I study. If you immerse yourself in a lot of material in the same subject, you start to get board and tired of the same old thing. By bouncing around from different chapters, all the information is relevant, but in the same token stays fresh and new so you’ll learn more by staying engaged.

Now that we have the student’s point of view, I think it’s time to look at my top three researched topics that the experts say will boost your learning capacity and increase your test scores!
Apply the 45/15 rule when you’re studying

  1. According to the Pomodoro Technique, your brain can stay focused for about 45 minutes, with the first and last 20 minutes being the height of your learning capability. Once the 45 minutes is up, you tend to drift off and sometimes retain none of the information you were studying. Once the 45 minutes is up, surf the web or go for a walk outside for fifteen minutes. This will keep your mind fresh and give you an incentive to work for, every time you sit down to study you’ll know a nice break is coming soon.

Get a change of scenery when you study

  1. I always thought when studying you should wear the same kind of clothes you had on in class, and wear the same fragrances, and while those two things do have benefits (especially smell and taste, chewing gum in class and wear a specific fragrance too. Then, come test time do both of those again and watch your scores increase! It’s true!), studying in the same place every time may not help you as much.
  2. A New York Times study indicated that the old time ways of studying in the same place have been kicked when college students who studied a list of vocab words in two different rooms performed much better on a vocab test than students who studied the words twice in the same room. Researchers think that our brains make subtle associations between what we’re studying and what’s in the background while we’re studying. Those unconscious associations help you remember what you’re learning. So the more you change it up, the more your mind has something new in the room to associate that certain formula with.

Space out review sessions

  1. In 1885, German scientist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered the spacing effect. The spacing effect shows that humans remember facts and figures for long periods of time, when you space out the time you study instead of cramming the day or night before an exam. He also discovered that we all have a “forgetting curve.” The rate at which we forget things depends on several factors, but the wonderful thing is it’s possible to figure out how long it will take to forget something. “Knowing how long it takes you to forget new information allows you to strategically plan your next review session for maximum performance on your exams.” – AoM
  2. SuperMemo is a fantastic program that can actually find what your forget curve is. You create flashcards of information you want to memorize and work through them on your computer. SuperMemo then uses an algorithm to figure out when you should be presented with the material again after you review it. How amazing!

Studying doesn’t have to be something that is always associated with stress and anxiety. Studying can be satisfying and efficient, everyone knows that feeling of leaving an exam and knowing you’ve killed it. At this point there isn’t anyone in this college that likes to fail, we all want to succeed so why not take the steps to become successful and ultimately save you a ton of time in reality.

I hope this has been of some help to you, and if you have any study tips that I have missed or would like to share, please leave a comment or contact me directly and I will share it on the “study tips” link on the blog!

Thank you everyone, and don’t forget to be awesome,

Louie

 

Let’s Talk About How Beautiful You Are.

Photo by: Datta Prakash

Editor’s note:

Lately my articles have been light hearted and promoting, everything from organizations to wonderful people in our community. Today is going to be a bit different. The topic is a tough one. But it’s important…especially when life moves as fast as it does. The subject is depression and emotional instability. I had a chance to sit down with Erica Wade, LCPC Staff Counselor/Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling & Consultation Services in the Campus Life building, room 200. I thought it would be great to share what I learned from Erica. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and even sharing it. Life is hectic and who knows, by sharing this, it might reach someone who needs a little help to turn their life around. As always feel free to reach out to me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH. I would be more than happy to talk with you anytime, anyplace. Thanks everyone, please enjoy.

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This article will cover the following topics:

  • NIU Career Counseling:  what it does and the services they provide
  • Self-awareness:  what to watch out for in yourself, and your own emotions
  • Awareness of Others:  what to watch out for in a friend and their emotions
  • Coping Strategies:  how to cope and and deal with issues you discover
  • Ways to Help:  what to do if you feel your friend is affected
  • Campus Resources:  resources NIU provides
  • Upcoming Events:  what is “How the Health are you, NIU?” & Chai Chat
  • Immediate Actions:  things you can do right now to become mentally healthier

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Before you start reading I want to make it clear that this article was meant to almost be a PDF that you would save and print out to reference whenever you needed. A good amount of research and interviewing went into this, so it is lengthy. That being said, if you do not have time right now to read this PLEASE TAKE AWAY THIS:

Go to, “How the Health are you, NIU”

  • This will be in the Holmes Student Center on Thursday October 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm.

And/Or attend Chai Chat

  • In the Campus Life Building in room 100 on Wednesday October 7th from 4:30 – 6:00pm

Both of these are a great way to relax and make new friends while also receiving help from professionals who know exactly what you or someone you know could be going through. Again, I appreciate the time you’re taking to read about this pressing subject.

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What does NIU’s counseling center do for students?

The university counseling center has a wide range of things to provide for the students of NIU. The services are broken down into sub-groups of Advocacy and Consultation. Both are staffed by fully trained APA accredited and multi-disciplinary/psychologically licensed psychologists, counselors and social workers:

Advocacy Services- Provides services for individuals who have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The service is provided to help students feel safe and offer support.  Students will also be given the opportunity to work with another office outside of the counseling center to address concerns from a legal standpoint.

Consultation Services- This service is provided for students and/or Faculty to assist  someone who may need counseling services.  This service is available to everyone on campus and also includes same-day walk-ins.   Walk-in participants fill out simple paper work and then sit down with a staff member. Once you’re done meeting with a counselor, you can join a women’s group, men’s group, a transpire group (for people who identify as transgender), and even a general process group (for anyone).

There is also a relaxation/meditation group that meets every Monday at noon. With this group, people can come in and do some relaxation strategies: like working on your breathing, imagery meditation, and lessons on slowing down and relaxing.

The second Monday of each month also brings therapy dogs into Stevenson from 6-7:15pm, can you think of a better way to spend your Monday night?!

Additionally, this service provides 24/7 over the phone crisis support, which means services are available in a crisis situation.  A student would need to call the NIU’s non emergency number (815) 753-1212) and then ask to be directed to a counselor. From there, an on-call licensed counselor will talk with you for as little or as much as you need in order to feel comfortable and safe.

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What are some signs to look for in yourself or in a friend?

The points I am about to list are something that can be for you or for a friend. Being aware of how you’re feeling is important, but it also is important to question how your friends and family are acting, because these could be clues that those people are reaching out to you for help. The more aware you are, the better off everyone, including yourself, is. Remember, college is about transition and self-exploration. It is okay to feel like you’re not fitting with a specific group, but just know your exploration is normal. You can never explore too much to find out who you are. Things to look out for in your everyday routine are as follows.

  1. Look at sleep patterns, are you sleeping enough? Maybe you need to try to go to bed earlier so you can be fully rested. Also, are you not sleeping because there is a problem? Or are you just very busy.
  2. If you start to not sleep as much but then wake up and have little to no interest in anything that you should be doing, you may want to talk that out with someone.
  3. You sense yourself/friend beginning to isolate from others. Are you especially isolating yourself from close friends and family?
  4. You start to see shifts in your mood
  5. Your academic performance is suffering, and you never want to go to class anymore
  6. Having thoughts of just ending it all, and having ideas of “what if I just did __” and that blank resulted in harm to others or yourself.
  7. You’re more irritable, and your irritability lasts much longer than normal
  8. You find yourself filling a missing piece in your psyche with substances. You feel the need to fill the “hole in your heart” with substances that only worsen the damage.

If any of these become an issue you may want to follow up with that person, or yourself, and seek someone to talk with about your thoughts, you’re never ever alone in this world and no matter how isolated you feel, someone is always willing to help you. That said, you can definitely help out others if you sense someone having issues.

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How to cope when you have issues or you see someone with issues:

  1. Always encourage seeking professional support. These people are professionals for a reason, they are willing to work around your schedule and will help you out immensely in full disclosure.
  2. Reach out to your family and friends. Sometimes it’s the people who know you the best who can help you the best.
  3. Exercise! By exercising you release chemicals into your system that will make you feel invigorated and happy!
  4. Being connected and constantly moving with groups and activities around campus. When you are part of something that is bigger than yourself, you get the feeling of accomplishment and can use that busy time to forget about what’s bothering you, sometimes that’s all you need to get over that psychological hurdle.

Sometimes when something is hitting you close to home, you feel the need to act and help out. We all have been in this situation and it is not fun, but we all should be prepared to act when we sense someone close to us feeling extremely down.

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How should you behave when you sense someone is in danger?

  • It’s always an uncomfortable situation, but you need to know that it is possible that you are the only escape your friend/family member has. If you’re strong, they will in turn be strong in the long run.
  • You can say something along the lines of:
    • “I’ve noticed you’re not happy/ have been disconnected lately.”
    • “Maybe you and I should go for a walk.” From there the situation will be much more friendly for talking. Take a walk past the Campus Life Building and encourage a stop into NIU Counseling together.
  • Encouraging to go together makes the experience much less stressful. You can also say that you’re going for yourself too, as a way to not isolate your friend.
  • The Counseling Center has a lot of leverage on your side, you can almost use these tools as a way to get people happily in the door:
    • Massage Chair
    • Therapy dogs
    • Talk sessions

Now that you have experienced a little about how to go about a situation and what to look out for, it is also important to know all of the resources available to you as a student.

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What resources are available on campus?

There are three other counseling centers, these are through the academic programs in:

  • Community Counseling Training Center– Counselors of Education in Graham Hall (master and doctoral students)
  • Psychological Service Center – Department of Psychology in the Psychology Building (master level and doctoral students)
  • Couple Family Therapy Clinic – Marriage and Family Therapy Program (in Wirtz Hall) (master level students)

All the counseling centers outside of the center in the Campus Life Building will see everyone, including people in the community, just in case you want to refer a friend or family member who is not a current NIU student. The other centers that I listed above will also do evening hours as well. All of these are free except for the Family Clinic. The center in the Campus Life Building is for NIU students only.

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What events are coming up to help students?

  • Thursday Oct. 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm in the Holmes Student Center:

How the Health are you, NIU?  This is fun and active way to come and have a relaxed time and receive help if you believe that is what will make you feel as best as you can.  This is change from the names of the previous “depression screenings” as a name change does not have that stigma that the word “depression” carries.

People think that just because they feel depressed that there is something wrong with them. The truth is, nothing’s wrong with you, you may just simply need someone to talk to as the stresses of the world can become too much for everyone. It’s always okay to talk about how your feel, and it is also always okay to feel the way you feel.

  • Other centers on campus also agree with the cause and are collaborating to put on this event.
    • Campus Rec
    • Health Services
    • Wellness Promotion
    • Living Right
  1. There will also be depression screening available for everyone, along with a workshop filled with student activities like:
    • A coloring area to express your emotions on paper
    • Board games and icebreakers
    • Wheel to ask questions and win some prizes
    • Posters about expressing your positivity
    • Power points with inspirational and positive messages to warm your heart
  2. Extras to release negative energy:
    • Poetic Asylum, to express your feelings in the art of poetry. Relate with others using your emotions in “the spoken word.” (Personal storytelling, and wordplay).
    • Dances from: Nimbus, Zumba dance classes
    • Therapy Dogs, because who doesn’t love dogs?! (Besides some cat lovers of course).
    • NIU SnapChat photo frames
  3. Prizes to win!
    • Chipotle, Buy One Get One Free,  coupons
    • Northern Rehab gift cards
    • Pita Pete’s gift cards
    • Huddle gift cards

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What can you do right now without going public?

So, what can you do right now, before you go to someone and open up information that you maybe don’t want to disclose? That’s understandable, and also why self-rehab may be the key first step to take. The list that follows contains examples of what you can do:

1. Write and draw your mind

    • Express what you’re thinking and get things on paper
    • Just simply find time to pause and write down everything, mind dump on the paper to realize what you have actually been thinking
    • Sometimes you don’t even realize what exactly is bothering you, until you get it onto paper. It’s a healthy way to tell your story to yourself for reflection

2. Make sure you get out and get some sun

    • Going for a walk and exposing yourself to the sun is great for your mind and spirit

3. Find a hobby and dive into it

    • When you devote yourself to a hobby you become focused in that and relax yourself from what could be bothering you
    • Cooking is something that you can do everyday and serves as a double purpose in becoming healthier as well!

4. Simple call to a friend or family member

5. Pay attention to everything that you’re putting into your system

    • Look as what is around your house, and remove any negative imagery, books, anything that can put a negative aura in your line of sight
    • Media and food and fast paced actions through your day really put negative stressors on your body, and reflect how you’re feeling

6. Comedy and laughter are some of the best things for you

    • It warms your up, and shifts your muscles around in your mouth and face to stretch out your whole body
    • Find a comedian you like TODAY and start watching bits.  Some clean and funny comedians are:
      • Jim Gaffigan
      • John Mullaney
      • Demetri Martin
      • Brian Regan
      • Russell Peters
      • Kathy Griffin

7. Yoga is a very good way to relax your body and mind

8. Creative therapeutics

    • Office that provides people the opportunity to do yoga and physical therapy
    • In DeKalb on Hillcrest

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I really tried to make this article as informational as possible, between research and interviews I hope that some of this knowledge related to someone. If any of this even helped one person, the article did its job. Remember again, everyone on this earth is beautiful, inside and out, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Someone who criticises you is only doing that to cover up something they have been hiding from the world. Not to mention that since we all are human beings, none of us is perfect, we all have been through tough times we never thought we would get out of. But here we are, enjoying life and being the beautiful people we were meant to be. That also brings me to my last point, we all have a story to tell, and memories to share. That said, we all have had the tough times too, so if you’re feeling down, speak up, because I promise you someone will be willing to listen.

Thank you all for your time, and as always, don’t forget to be awesome.

~ Louie

 

What’s Your CAUSE?

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Editors note: It seems like when you start to join organizations, a snowball effect starts to form and you simply cannot stop joining and making a difference. It’s so true though, the feeling you get when contributing to something bigger than yourself is truly amazing. As everyone knows, when you start to get very busy, you can only pick one or two of the best organizations to be part of.  CAUSE is the staple of all organizations in that it is fit for everyone, so taking a look at what these people do for the school and the community, was a no brainer. As always, if you like what I do, feel free to follow me on social media @LOUIEZMICH. Hope you all enjoy!

 CAUSE, we see it everywhere, you smell it on Thursdays and join us on events such as the Social Impact Summit, but what is CAUSE? (And what is the Social Impact Summit, you say?) CAUSE is the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs…I hear the typing right now, “Why Unreasonable?” Well, Gerorge Shaw, said it best…in fact it’s his quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” This is the foundation of CAUSE, and this student run organization is anything but reasonable when it comes to establishing itself as  the top dog in fundraising and community contribution.

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 Who are those people selling glorious pizza on Thursdays? CAUSE, the idea was simple, CAUSE wanted to offer pizza to students, that seemed to be the only thing that student count not manage to receive when studying in Barsema. This was the idea that sparked the prestigious phenomenon that fills the atrium with hungry people and smells that intoxicate. The students at CAUSE hand make the Pizza Pros’ pizzas on Thursday mornings at 9:45am sharp and literally top, spread, and bake all the ingredients by hand and personally deliver the pizzas to Barsema Hall to sell them promptly at 11am. Only challenge? Staying in stock! The weekly fundraiser is from 11am-1pm, and the organization almost never makes it past 12:30pm, as the demand is just too high. CAUSE has even maxed out Pizza Pros’ ovens at 24 pizzas, and we still cannot keep enough on hand. Sounds like people need to order up right when they can. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:photo2-e1406646253633.jpg

Besides having long lines for their fantastic pizzas, CAUSE goes way beyond fundraising. CAUSE is most definitely leading the charge in donations around the world. This year, CAUSE has decided to do donations a little bit differently  by donating 50% of profits from pizza sales each month to a helpful organization of the student body’s choice from around the world. This month, CAUSE is donating their proceeds to Nicole Swedlow and Entreamigos! (Pictured below). CAUSE is also doing something amazing, and offering a scholarship to qualified NIU students at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Simply a testament of how powerful and large this organization is becoming.

The truth is, CAUSE is about sharing and increasing the impact in the community. Going beyond NIU is simply another facet of being unreasonably bold. It’s like a pond ripple effect and CAUSE is making a big splash. Expanding out to other Universities and schools over time, just feel like the only way to move forward that would fully satisfy everyone’s hunger in this organization. It really is amazing to think that something that literally started as pizza sales in the atrium has blossomed so much that the thought of expansion is now a legitimate idea being discussed. Who knows, maybe down the line, high schools and universities across the country could have their very own CAUSE!

Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Selling+CAUSE+Pizza.jpgCAUSE has become, over time, it’s own Social Entrepreneurial business. The meetings are run like a business, finances are conducted like a business. When said plan becomes a hit, the only thing an unreasonable person would think, would we be to go and get more people around the world to care and help out with others. The leading factor in the outreach is by far the success of the Social Impact summit.

The Social Impact Summit was started in 2013 and had the goal in mind of combining students, professionals, and professors with expertise in the social space into one large summit where networking, startups and entrepreneurs could thrive. This is the big time, this is what the entire team works for through the year. The Summit is held every April in the Barsema Alumni Visitor’s Center and consists of a full day of keynote speakers combined with breakout panels and a networking lunch giving opportunities to students just like you who want to make a difference. The entire event is funded by the pizza sales and companies willing to donate. This is amazing, companies are willing to sponsor a completely student run event because that’s the kind of people they want! Innovators, risk takers, and people who just simply get things done. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Social+Impact+Summit.png

The Social Impact Summit also goes a step further and conducts their annual “Pitch With A CAUSE” competition. This is a competition for anyone who has an idea for a business that makes a positive social or environmental impact. It basically is Shark Tank but for NIU, literally. There is a panel of professionals in this field, who work together to ask questions and pick a winner for the grand prize of $1,500! People from around the world come to pitch their cause. No joke, a group from Hungary came last year, simply wonderful! The day is full of wonderful things for everyone, good food, and great organizations to network with and sometimes purchase goodies from, not to mention the keynote speakers who will most definitely catch your interest. April should be your go to month to really jump start your career in a fantastic direction.

Innovate. Impact. Be unreasonable, that has always been the model for CAUSE and never straying away from that model has brought ample success. When asking a CAUSE member, “What does CAUSE do?” you will never get the same answer, simply put, we do so much. CAUSE never puts down a new idea and not only has become its own pizza business, but has also become a networking powerhouse and central hub for innovation and excellence from speakers to donations.

Thank you all for letting me try to express exactly what CAUSE does, and maybe this sparks your interest in something else to join. If you’re interesting in joining, feel free to stop by Barsema Hall Room 219 on Wednesday’s from 5-6pm and don’t forget to go to http://www.niucause.com for all the updates on what is going on in the CAUSE world, and as always, hope to see you on Thursday’s for pizza!

As for now, as always this is Louie telling you to stay awesome and do something to change the world!

Thank you everyone,

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~ Louie

Mastering the art of note taking

Editors note: Hello everyone, Louie again. I figured the beginning of the year would be a great time to talk about the power of taking good notes in class. The quality of your notes greatly reflects on how well you do in class, and with classes getting more and more difficult as you get closer to graduation, there’s no better time than to brush up on your note taking skills. After taking a whole seminar over the summer on note taking, (I know, riveting). I wanted to share some information I had learned. As always, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to reach out to me @LOUIEZMICH on all social media.

 It seems simple enough, but taking notes that are efficient and effective is not a simple task. If you’re anything like me, professors talk so fast and everything seems so important, you end up writing so much down but never getting it all because your hand can’t write that fast. Note taking doesn’t just begin when you sit down in the classroom; it actually begins before you even go to class.

1. Read beforehand.

Unfortunately, you heard me correctly; you will have to read the book before you go to class. The reason for this, simply put, is your brain cannot function and comprehend brand new material when you’re being lectured simultaneously. Think about it, how many times have you been extremely focused in class and never had your mind wonder at all? Odds are, not many, so when you’re in class you want to have some idea of what is next to come.  This way you can write down topics that clear up what you didn’t understand before you came into class, and not write down concepts you already understood while reading before hand.

Now, before you go to class you do not have to read the entire chapter word for word, but what you should do is the following.

  • Read the first and last sentence of every paragraph, and make headers for each new topic in your notes.
  • Read and understand every bolded word.
  • Read the entire summary at the end of each chapter.
  • Make note of concepts and words you didn’t understand before the lecture.

See, that’s not too hard to do, but it is exponentially important before you go to class to have this mental mindset in place. You will never be caught off guard if you follow those steps because you will know what is coming, and have an idea of what is being talked about before you listen in on the lecture. This is also helpful because if you do doze off, or your mind wanders, you will know right where your place was in class as marked by your notes.

2. 24 Hour “Shot Clock.”

Now that you did all this preparation before class, it is crucial that you get into a routine (foreshadowing for the next post) of reviewing your notes no more than 24 hours after lecture. This is very important if your goal is to learn and comprehend the information. Unless you’re trying to memorize something to then forget it later, you what to actually learn the material from class. By going back and re-reading your notes, you still have a mental image of the lecture in your mind. Research published in the Teaching of Psychology Journal in the ’80s concluded that students were messing up on their tests not because they’d taken bad notes, but because they weren’t re-reading them before the exams. If you have the opportunity, and choose to record your lectures, make sure you follow along in your notes as you re-watch the lecture. This act of visiting your notes within 24 hours of your lecture is a great way to remember what you were thinking as you were writing in class. Make sure you ingrain that information in your head while it’s still fresh, that way the next time you have class, you will have already reviewed the material. By the time of the exam you will be able to recite your notes without looking at them. Which means no more cramming either.

3.   Be OCD with your notes, and be creative. 

You want your notes to be as professional and organized as possible. It will not benefit you at all if your notes are all over the place. You need to be able to sit down again and again and know exactly what you wrote down and when. Simple things like headings, dates, and titles are perfect with keeping on task with your notes. Your notes should have a variation for your own style, but should look slightly organized like this:

How to become a better person                             09/02/2015

  • Read good blog posts.
    • Louie Zmich has great ideas
  • Go to a great college
    • Northern Illinois University has great degree programs

Why becoming a better person is crucial in life

  • Better people have more friends
    • Studies show, this is because people will like you
  • Better people, are healthier people
    • You wont be stressed about how people don’t like you

Summary:

In order to become a better, healthier, and more popular person, you must be enrolled with NIU and read Louie’s blog posts.

With notes like these, all joking aside, you will be more organized and know right where your thoughts were on every topic. You also want to include pictures in your notes as well. Drawing releases a lot of your creative side and inspires your mind to capture the thought better when something is drawn out. Make an image on paper to enhance the idea that you are trying to capture in your notes.

 4. Take Breaks.

The typical meeting format of continuous talking and     simultaneous scribbling might not be ideal for optimum note taking. It turns out that everyone might not listen and write well when trying to do both at the same time. The Journal of Educational Psychology researched lecture structures and found that incorporating periodic short breaks greatly improved the quality of notes taken. One way to approach this would be to have little moments of quiet writing reflection in between meeting agenda items. Wouldn’t that be pleasant?

I think it’s time for everyone to stop cramming before exams and to start being prepared before the exam date comes around and sneaks up on you. Even though that is a loaded statement, hopefully if you follow these tips you will eventually be a master note taker. Everyone has had that feeling of accomplishment when walking out of a lecture actually understanding what went on. You feel secure and ready for the exam, and that was just after one lecture. Imagine having that feeling all the time because you were ready before, during and after the lecture by being prepared and great at marking down your lectures.

I hope this has been some help to you, and hopefully this year has been made a bit less stressful by the power of note taking.

As always, thank you and don’t forget to be awesome today,

Louie

Bring It! Center – Charge Up and Refuel

Editor’s Note: This article was written to introduce and inform students on the various resources available to them on campus. This week we are highlighting the Bring It! Center, one of my personal favorite rooms on campus that not many people know about. – Jacob Ferguson, NIU College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Bring It! Center

The Bring It! Center is a place for College of Business students to come together to study, collaborate on group projects and receive service, support and training with technology. In the center you will receive:

  • Help with the Anywhere Lab
  • Help with the Anywhere Printer
  • Help with Wi-Fi
  • Help with Password Resets
  • Help with NIU E-Mail

Location

The Bring It! Center is located near the Atrium in Barsema Hall Room 104.

Policies/Guidelines

  • The Bring It! Center will provide general support for any mobile device.
  • Food and drink are allowed on shared areas and each user is responsible for their own device and to keep the Bring It! Center clean.
  • The Bring It! Center does not provide support for desktops or any hardware repairs.
  • A waiver must be signed by students or faculty members before they can work on your device.
  • Mobile devices are not to be dropped off for repair.
  • No misconduct, including but not limited to arguments among group members, loud talking, loud music or any other distractions that disrupt the other groups or students studying.
  • Please be courteous to your fellow students.

Failures

Last week I began a short two-part series about contributing factors to my success as well as my failures.  This is part two of that series and below I will highlight practices that have resulted in personal failure from my perspective.  I hope you can learn something from my mistakes and maybe take some time to self reflect as well.  Cheers!

Always present yourself in a manner suitable to meet someone new.  I dress slovenly on Mondays because I sit in an office and work on a computer.  However, what happens if a representative of a company I’d like to work for comes in to visit the dean in the office I work at?  It’s happened more than once and I continue to fall back on bad habits.  If only I would’ve taken the extra half hour to clean up before leaving my apartment, who knows how many more connections and opportunities I could have had in my academic career?

Forgetting to leave time for myself.  I used to have hobbies that included running, lifting weights, biking, and swimming. I took on so much in school that I left no time to pursue these activities.  Needless to say, I “let myself go” and caution others to leave time to take care of themselves before caring for the masses.  “When asked “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”, the Dalai Lama answered:

“Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Falling into a routine.

Spending time on the wrong things.  I spent a lot of my time early on at NIU trying to make other people happy.  I took myself out of my way to offer an extra hand, brain, and set of eyes to people and more often than not, I was left with minimal if any reciprocation.  You have to understand that like in the stock market, there are certain investments you don’t make because there is little to no ROI.  Although you’re not losing your life savings in the stock exchange of life, you’re investing your time in these people and projects.  Time, as I understand it, is the most important thing you can give; unlike money, you can’t get it back.  Make sure you’re spending your time on the right people and projects otherwise you’ll find that frustration, stress, and confusion may find its way into your heart…and believe me, no one needs that.

Being busy.  There’s a friend of mine at the college of business who never refrained from challenging me to be better.  Regardless of the conversation, this individual always made me feel like what I was doing wasn’t good enough and although this sounds depressing, I welcomed the motivation.  If I had a surplus of free time, he’d ask why I wasn’t busy.  If I was busy, he’d tell me that there was a difference between being busy and being productive.  Really think about that for a second……go ahead, take your time.

Being busy vs. Being productive.  How profound and self explanatory.  I’ll leave it at that and let you make of it what you will.

Again, these are just a few points that I can recall from my experience at NIU.  Now we’ll ask you…what has contributed to you failing and what could you do better?  Leave your input in the comments below! 2.0out