• It’s Never Too Late

    by Lee Ann Ridgley

    A view of the blog author’s desk featuring a desk calendar, computer keyboard, and a notepad with the quote in the blog from Maya Angelou.

    More than two decades ago, my college journey began, and I am still on that journey today. My pathway is one of heartbreak and loss, but also countless blessings. John Lennon sums it up perfectly with this quote, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." I hope my story will encourage students of all ages to realize their educational dreams, no matter the magnitude.

    Change of Plans

    After high school graduation, I was ready to take on the world. My next step...college! I was an innocent teenager with a solid plan. I would attend college, graduate in four years, and become a teacher. January 11, 2000, everything changed.

    In the process of unpacking my dorm room, my Resident Assistant informed me I had a visitor downstairs. The elevator jerked to a halt and the doors slid open. I rounded the corner to find my dad standing in the lobby. He said we needed to talk. Immediately panicked, I asked if my mother was alright. "Yes," Dad said. I then learned that my older brother had been in a fatal car accident, I packed my suitcase and headed home.

    I didn't have a plan, but God did. I do not believe that Darrell's passing was necessary, but his loss has served countless purposes in my life, my faith journey, and my professional development into adulthood.

    Trust the Process

    As a younger student, I never imagined I would be the type of person to become so engaged in my education outside of the classroom much less emerge as a leader among my peers. But after returning to school as a non-traditional student, that is exactly what happened. My first accomplishment, being accepted into the Honors College on scholarship. I became the President of The Future Teachers Club, and soon after, I was asked to mentor new Honors Students and students in the lifePATH® Program. Currently, I have the blessing of serving as Pearson Campus Ambassador and writing this blog. Did I ever dream of being a blog author? Never! No matter your path, and it may seem arduous, trust the process. The world's most beautiful diamonds remain under pressure for billions of years before producing their ethereal glow.

    Parenthood

    Motherhood is a catalyst for my achievements, but raising children while working, going to school, and taking care of my home is not easy. Being a stay-at-home Mom has produced glory and if I dare say, a much stronger gut. It took time to learn how to do it gracefully. I understand the value of time, something that diminishes before our eyes. Now my children can experience their future dreams, goals, and accomplishments through my lens. I hope that my children will understand the importance of believing in themselves and holding themselves to higher standards. Every parent's dream is for their child to be successful and productive. What better way to help them achieve that dream than through modeling it myself?

    The Transformation

    My transformation started immediately, but I couldn't see it. After my brother's passing, I gained an unusual affinity for butterflies. Every single time I see one, I think of him. I cannot help but gasp at their weightlessness and their ability to be graceful as they appear to hop spastically through the air.

    What's your dream? It's never too late to start.

    "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

    –Maya Angelou

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

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  • Mascot Madness: The Ohio State Buckeyes

    by Sidney Li

    The Ohio State Marching Band spells out O-H-I-O on the football field.

    Being a student within a Big Ten school has its perks. From the wildly supportive student body to alumni that travel from out of town to attend football games, being a part of The Ohio State University “Buckeyes” is a privilege. While traditionally colleges tend to utilize animals as their mascots, my school used Ohio’s state tree.

     

    History

    Contrary to popular belief, Brutus the Buckeye is the mascot of the Ohio State due to the prevalence of the buckeye trees found throughout the state. It wasn’t made up to be just cute and quirky. According to Ohio History Central, Native Americans in Ohio called this nut “hetuck” or “buck’s eye” and would utilize the acid from this actually poisonous nut for leather making.

     

    In reality, the buckeye tree is considerably impractical with its smelly bark and wood that doesn’t burn well. Yet, it is a stubborn tree. The buckeye tree can grow in places where a multitude of other trees can’t be found. This has served as inspiration to many Ohio natives.

     

    According to Ohio State’s student journalism paper, The Lantern, locals within the state referred to themselves publicly as the Buckeyes during the presidential election in 1840 when former Ohio presidential candidate William Henry Harrison won. Harrison also utilized the buckeye nut, a shiny dark brown nut with a beige tan patch in the middle resembling a deer’s eye, as his campaign symbol by wearing one around his neck. His supporters wore buttons featuring buckeyes.

     

    Buckeyes Today

    Due to the history and pride surrounding buckeye trees, Ohio State adapted this as the university’s nickname in 1950. Since then, Buckeyes have become famous beyond the state of Ohio. Today, there is a popular dessert of the same name made from rolled peanut butter dipped in chocolate, creating the similar dark brown exterior with a beige tan patch in the middle.

     

    Despite how this strange it may sound to have a tree nut as a mascot, Ohio has great pride in the buckeye - especially that carrying one brings good luck to the person. Overall, you can’t deny how unique Ohio State is with the buckeyes when it comes to marketing and familiarity as a plethora of people across the country know of this special nut.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

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  • Going to College the Same Time as My Mom

    by Hannah G. Brennan

    The blog author’s mom is sitting on a grey couch and working on a laptop computer.

    If you’ve seen Melissa McCarthy’s 2018 hit Life of the Party, then you witnessed a hilarious account of a mother and daughter attending the same college, going to the same parties, and eventually graduating together. Having not seen this movie since it came out three years ago, memories of it came rushing back to me when my mom decided to go back to school this past spring.

    After thirty years of raising two kids as a single parent, my mom’s decision to finally become a nurse while working full time is one that motivates me in my own college endeavors. And even though she is not attending UW-Madison with me, here are some ways my mom and I plan to motivate and inspire one another as we each continue our unique college journeys.

    #1: Practicing patience

    My mom and I both being in school has given us an additional experience in common, ultimately bringing us closer together. However, it has taken some work. I can sometimes get frustrated with my mom as I try to guide her through using the new technology that comes with doing schoolwork in the twenty-first century-- let alone the technological leaps education has taken the past year and half due to the pandemic. Doing this is even more difficult when I am on campus over two hours away from her. However, by taking a step back and putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, we are able to defuse our anger and find a positive common ground.

    #2: Staying positive

    By nature, my mom and I are highly self-critical. Whether it is lamenting over grades not as high as we hoped or letting the await of future assignments overwhelm us in the present, the energy can get negative quite fast. But since we acknowledge this behavior, we take steps to relieve ourselves of the burden. We talk things through (even when we don’t want to talk), help each other make lists to prioritize, and assure one another when confidence is low. For everything, but especially school, my mom has always been my biggest cheerleader. Now I get to be the same for her.

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  • Graduating and Missing a Loved One

    by Michelle Gomez

    Blog author Michelle Gomez stands on a park bridge, surrounded by her father, mother, and two younger sisters holding a portrait of her late sister.

    For any graduating senior who has lost somebody special to them, there's nothing you want more than for that person to be there for when you graduate college. Dealing with the death of a loved one can be particularly difficult for college students – trust me, I know. My sister died during my sophomore year of college. I felt like I was not grieving properly because of the overwhelming energy grief requires on top of the demands of being a student. But I learned that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and I found healthy ways to cope that, in time, renewed me and permitted me to live again with a hole in my heart.

    Milestones can be painful

    Fast forward to 2021 and I’ll be graduating in a few short weeks. Graduating is a HUGE milestone. Whether you’re graduating from middle school, high school, or college - you’ve made it. However, milestones like birthdays and graduation can be painful after someone you love dies. As I graduate from college on May 15th, I am thinking about whether my sister is proud of me and imagining how big her smile would be on my graduation day.

    As this bittersweet chapter of my life ends, the only thing monopolizing my thoughts is knowing that she won’t be there to hug me and say congratulations as I receive my college diploma. It absolutely kills me inside knowing that no matter how much I cry and plea, she isn’t coming back. The worst part is that there's nothing I can do to change that.

    Celebrate with their memory in mind

    Learning how to include my sister when big moments arrive has helped me both celebrate my accomplishments and remember her. I incorporate my sister into my daily life by wearing a bracelet with a charm with her name on it. I wear it every day and whenever I feel sad, I hold it and remember that she is always with me.

    Instead of dwelling about how sad and awful it is without her there, I think of all the happiness graduating brings to me and of all the people that have been there for me. There's nothing I wouldn't do to have my sister there at the end of this journey. But I know in my heart, she has been there every single step. I also know how proud she is of me for everything I've accomplished. I know that she’s truly been my guardian angel and made sure I got to this point. She also left me in great hands because I am loved incredibly by my family and my friends. From my incredible mother and grandmother to my little sisters and best friends, finally to all the people I call my family and friends, I am so blessed.

    Graduating college isn't just for me, it's for them and it's for her.

    Mairim, I love you so much.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog? If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started!

     

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  • Tips from a First-Generation College Student

    by Kerri-Ann Henry

    Student with backpack, walking between buildings

    College is a major change for everyone, but especially for first-generation college students. Between checking lists, bingeing YouTube videos, and seeking advice from social media and mentors, first-generation students strive to surround themselves in advice to ensure that they learn from the mistakes of others. I would know since I lived this first-generation experience. I’m a college junior and over the past 3 years I have read more lists than I can count and made more mistakes than I would like to admit. But among these experiences I’ve learned a few things that I did not see on any YouTube video or tip list and wished someone had told me in my freshman year as first-generation student.

    Tip #1: Distinguish the direction to debt

    Learn how you can fall into debt. It was not until I was in my second year in college that I realized how college debt accumulated. Debt begins to build up when your college/university charges for a semester and you are unable to pay off the total balance charged. This is the point at which students may decide to take out a loan to cover the charge, otherwise your school begins to enforce restrictions such as such as blocking registration, viewing schedules, viewing degree audits, access to campus resources, etc. This may be intuitive to some but for those students and parents who are new to the college experience, this may unfortunately become their first encounter with this process. The earlier you understand this path to debt, the more motivation you may garner to apply to more scholarships, grants, and internships in high school and/or college.

    Tip #2: Discover your department

    Students who enter college already knowing their major or feeling pressured by social or time constraints to stick to a specific major may have tunnel vision and avoid exploring other possibilities. Take time to consider the different courses at least within your current department. You may find another major that is similar to yours but focuses more on a career direction you are more interested in going in. I experienced this shift when I stepped out of my tunnel vision of my nutritional sciences major to see that my career goals better aligned with the Dietetics major, which was in my same department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Following this advice ensures that your major is the best fit for you and what you really want!

    Tip #3: Study your degree audit

    Check, study and get to know your degree audit! A degree audit is a progress checker of how close you are to finishing your degree. It lists all the required courses and types of credits you need for your degree along with the classes you have completed and which requirements they satisfy. Some schools allow students to access it on their own through a student portal, but even if your school does not, I suggest asking your adviser for a copy because becoming literate in your degree audit’s language can be critical to saving time and money in the future. As a freshman, I took extra classes that satisfied certain requirements because I didn’t realize that my degree plan already included classes that would have satisfied those requirements, thus wasting my credits. Taking a certain number of extra credits past your required degree credit count can result in your school charging you for what is called excess hours. In some schools, you are charged double the tuition rate for every excess hour you take! Check your school’s excess hour policy and make sure you are intentional about the classes that you take and do not take, based on your degree audit!

    Tip #4: Remember your reason

    Finally, remember how you got to where you are now! You may encounter trials in your college experience but as a first-generation college student, do not forget the trail you are blazing a trail for your family and yourself. You are entering territory where others near you may have never been before. I and so many others are prouder of you than you can ever imagine. Remember why you are in college and that you never walk alone in this journey!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us - click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • Tips for a Successful Mentoring Experience

    by Brooklynn Gross

    Student holding and showing Alumni Mentor Program Handbook

    In the movies, every hero has a mentor who helps them achieve their goals: Dumbledore shares his wisdom and advice with Harry Potter, and Yoda trains Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi. Mentors are also important in real life because they can provide guidance and support during a student’s journey.

    Last semester I participated in my university’s alumni mentor program and communicated with a professional in my future career pathway. I hope to work in the field of education, so my college paired me with the director of instruction from a local school district. After participating in this program, I believe all college students should work with a mentor in order to make professional connections, explore careers, and develop work skills.

    If you’re struggling to find a mentor, think about professors, upperclassmen, or people at your workplace who may be willing to mentor you. You could also reach out to your university’s career center for information about connecting with alumni. Finding a mentor is the first step, but it isn’t the last—you will need to create a positive relationship with your mentor in order to build trust and spark meaningful conversations. Here are my top five tips for a successful mentoring experience.

    1. Be professional

    Mentors donate their time to work with you; show your appreciation by being on time for meetings and dressing appropriately. Put your phone away and give your full attention to the person in front of you. Practicing professionalism with your mentor will help you develop this skill for your future career.

    2. Get to know each other

    Learn about your mentor’s story and share your own. You may choose to discuss some of the following questions:

    • What challenges have you overcome?
    • Who has encouraged you throughout your journey?
    • Why did you feel inspired to choose this career path?

    Discussing these questions can help you form a connection with your mentor and learn things you didn’t know about them. Hearing about your mentor’s journey may give you information for your own career path.

    3. Set an agenda for each meeting

    My school’s mentoring program provided a handbook with suggested topics for mentors and students to discuss. At our first meeting, my mentor and I looked through the handbook and chose a topic for each session. Setting an agenda for each meeting helped us focus on subjects that were most relevant to me. Our discussions centered on themes like student teaching, job applications, relationships with colleagues, and graduate school. Choosing these topics ahead of time gave me the chance to prepare for each meeting and write down my questions.

    4. Visit your mentor’s workplace

    All of my mentoring sessions were virtual due to COVID-19, but I would encourage you to visit your mentor’s workplace once the pandemic is over. Shadowing your mentor would give you the opportunity to meet their coworkers and connect with other professionals in the same field. It would also help you experience the work environment and decide if your mentor’s career would be a good fit for you.

    5. Ask for feedback

    My mentor reviewed my résumé and asked me interview questions, and he shared some tips that I can use when I apply for jobs in the future. I now feel more confident about my résumé and my interviewing skills. You could also ask your mentor to give you feedback on your LinkedIn profile.

    These five tips will help you get the most out of your mentoring experience. Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you card. When you put time and effort into this relationship, you can develop a lasting connection that will be fulfilling for both you and your mentor.  

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  • Planning the Perfect Schedule

    by Sydnie Ho

    A college student desk with laptop, notebook, planner, and an iced coffee.

    Have you registered for your classes next semester yet? If you are lucky, you will get all the classes you planned for. Other times, things might not go as planned. Here are some tips on how to plan the perfect schedule you might not have thought of before!

    Select class times that set you up for success

    People think that since they were able to wake up at 6am for high school, college will be the same. Let me tell you, it’s not! For some reason, waking up early in college is so much harder, so if you are genuinely not a morning person, do not register for 7am classes! Even if it is only 2x a week, you will regret it. Take into consideration when a good start time for your day is and build your schedule off of that.

    Plan for lunch breaks

    I like to register for classes that are back-to-back because I like getting all my classes out of the way, but I often forget about lunch! When this happens, I start losing focus and get hangry during classes. If this sounds like you, be sure to plan accordingly.

    Have backup classes

    Of course, we all hope to get our perfect schedule, but that does not always happen. There are 70k students at my school, so classes are bound to fill up fast! Sometimes you won’t get the section you want. Depending on your school, you might have a waitlist or be able to periodically check to see if someone dropped the class. Make sure you know the process and continually checking for updates. If you can’t get the class, have a backup plan for a class you can substitute in.

    Vary subjects and/or level of difficulty

    You don’t want to load all your challenging major classes in one semester. Mix it up with some of the hard classes and some of your easier classes or electives. If you are adding a minor or certificate, try to mix in some of those classes. You will be thankful to have some variance in what you are studying each week.

    Set an alarm for registration

    Make sure you set 1 or 2 or even 3 alarms before your registration time! One time I was out grocery shopping when my registration time came, and I had to do it from my phone. That caused me so much unnecessary stress. Make sure you are prepared to click that enroll button the second it’s time. You know everyone is doing the same so get ready!

    By keeping these things in mind, registration can be made easier and less stressful. Research your classes, plan well ahead of time, and have a backup plan. If you do not get all of your first-choice classes, know it will be okay. Sometimes the unexpected can be better than what you had planned! Good luck!

     

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