It’s currently spring break and Villanova students are anxiously awaiting their midterm grades. I think this is a good time to remind you of what midterm grade reports tell you and how, regardless of what they say, they can be good for you.
Your midterm reports are a way for you to see if your method of studying is working for you in a positive manner. If you have all As, you know that most likely, the way you’re handling your workload and absorbing information is pretty much spot on!
A couple of Bs is no problem either. Sure, there may be some things you can change, but you’re doing pretty well. You can be proud of what you’ve done so far, but determined to do better for the rest of the semester.
Cs and Ds, maybe even an F? First of all: It’s okay. I know that anything below a B can be devastating to stressed out overworked students such as myself (and probably you too!). Even so, it’s great that you now know what your midterm grade is. Just like all the rest of the grades, this tells you what you need to focus on for the rest of the semester. Maybe only studying right before your Psychology exam works out fine and you have a B or higher in the class, but doing the same thing for Calculus II has resulted in a C-. Now you know that there has to be some adjustments. You might need to attend office hours for certain courses, take on some tutoring, reach out to your peers and form solid study groups (that are focused on actually studying), and whatever other support your school (or outside of it) may offer. These grades aren’t your final grades and knowing just what isn’t working and what is working can help you pull your grades up until you are happy with them.
What I want to stress, however, is that if you are working hard and still not receiving the grades you want, don’t destroy yourself over it. Last semester was a difficult semester for me, but I gave it everything I had and more. I didn’t get all of the grades I wanted and my GPA didn’t raise like I had hoped. In one of my job interviews, an interviewer asked me why I thought my GPA went down since the last time it was reported. I told her with full sincere honesty, that it wasn’t what I wanted, but I had given it my very best and I was still proud of my grades and GPA. This was the honest to God truth. She said that she was sure I had worked hard and that my grades were something to be proud of.
It’s true that it hurts when your GPA goes down or you get a B instead of an A, but if you gave it your best from the very beginning (or even a little later), don’t disregard that.
Until next week!
P.S. Feel free to submit some topic suggestions! I would love to hear from you all.
I'm making changes.
Believe it or not, I'm not one to make new year resolutions. If I want to do something, then I do it. If I want to make a change, then I make it. This isn't to shame people who follow such a tradition, it's more to show that that tradition might not work for everyone. I know that for me, if I were to make a resolution, unless I really wanted to make the change, I wouldn't make it.
I started working out right before Christmas (yikes, I know) and since coming back to school, I've been determined to get out more. Don't get me wrong, I love staying inside and firing up Hulu or Netflix and just chilling. But I also would like to go ice skating or go to a diner with some friends or just hangout sometime. I'm trying to make that change this semester.
The previous semesters were rather rough on my social life. My first semester at Villanova, I threw myself into my schoolwork. I dove in like schoolwork was a pool, and if we're being honest, the only part of me not in the pool was my nose so I could breathe.
I still hung out with friends, but not to the extent that I wanted. When the second semester came around, I was a doing a little bit better. And I want to clarify, I am an incredibly social. I love being around people and meeting new friends and all of that. The issue was that I just wasn't sure how to make sure people knew I was social, you know?
Now, in my fourth semester (can you believe it!?), I've since figured out that the pool is only just about 4 and a half feet deep. I'm 5'5, so I'm doing pretty well. I've been making plans with friends and actively letting them know when I'm free and what I'd like to do.
I met another girl who likes to do crafts just as much as I do and I recently made a pop-up birthday card for another friend. Yesterday, I had a three and a half hour study session with someone I had just met and it was a good time.
I'm making changes. I hope you are too.
Your career isn't everything.
It is a lot of things, but it isn't everything.
I think this is something I wish I had learned a lot earlier in life. I take my academic and professional career seriously. I am always looking for new experiences and resume builders, trying to network, and making new connections. This is important, I know, but sometimes I am so focused on that, that I forget to develop myself personally.
This is one of the ways that I develop myself personally. I appreciate the chance to broadcast my thoughts to the people who read my articles (I appreciate you too!). However, I still see the difference between my professional identity and my personal identity.
For any future employers that may be reading, don't fear, I am quite well rounded! I write these articles, I have a love for crafting (I've made my own rug!), I enjoy writing poetry and short stories, and I love to volunteer. There is so much more to me than just my professional life and so much more to me than just my personal life. I am both of them combined, but balanced.
But as I said before, when it comes to talk about my professional identity, I can speak about myself for some time. I assure you, not in a bragging type of manner, but in that I know how to respond to questions about my professional development. But, when people ask me what I enjoy doing, sometimes it's difficult for me to come up with a response. The things I mentioned before I love doing and I'm not sure why they don't roll off my tongue. Well, actually I do.
If I think about it, there has always been a serious emphasis on my professional development. When I was growing up (not that I'm not still growing...), my aunt Marlene (who happens to be Dr. Joy's mom!) would always say, "People judge you on the way you dress, the way you walk, and the way you talk!!" It's completely true and in that order as well! My parents, especially my Dad, used to insist that my siblings and I be careful about what we post on social media, because employers look at that to help determine who I am. (To all potential employers, I hope you enjoy the jokes I retweet as much as I do!)
I have spent years cultivating my professional life, making sure that whether offline or online, I am presenting who I am in the best way possible. As I go through college, I'm beginning to realize that I should do that more with my personal life as well.
So what in the world are you trying to tell us, Cassia? What should we get from this? I'm trying to tell you not to let the focus you place on your professional development to hinder your personal development. Explore hobbies, join clubs, meet new people, take (calculated) risks, and enjoy yourself. When you come home from your future job, you want to have something that you like doing to help you unwind. I'm trying to tell you that your personal life is important too.
Take care of yourselves! Until next week.
Last week I talked about investing in yourself, part of that has to do with self-care.
Self care can mean a lot of things for different people, but one type of self care I want to talk about, is your time.
Time is money and money is time. Time is valuable and something, once used, you cannot get back. No matter who you are, your time is worth something. Don’t allow others to waste it.
Friend who always texts you for favors, but accidentally threw their phone in a river every time you text them for something? They’re wasting your time. Practice self-care and stop doing favors.
Have you spent 3 hours in bed knowing you have an assignment due soon? (I should just @ myself for this one) You’re wasting your time. Practice self-care and get your work done.
Your resume isn’t in shape and you want an internship/job, but you don’t spend any of your free time doing things that will build your resume? You’re wasting your time. Practice self-care and seek out career building opportunities.
You’ve been working non-stop around the clock, at all times (finals week or not), only stopping to sleep and eat? You’re not managing your time wisely. Practice self-care by pausing, reevaluating your duties, and force yourself to incorporate a healthy amount of down time.
The last one may seem a bit backwards. We are constantly told “Work hard!” and “Do well in school!” and “Make sure you’re dedicating a good chunk of your time to studying/working/career building/networking!!”. There’s that old saying, “You can rest when you’re dead.” This is somewhat true, but you aren’t dead. Truth be told, all work and no play leaves Jack a drained and depressed person. You have to schedule time for yourself that has nothing to do with your career, your schoolwork, your network, or anything that you are already dedicating a massive amount of time to. You need “me time”.
I know for me, it often feels like I don’t “deserve” me time. I’ll look at all the work I’ve done and I’ll think, “You don’t deserve a break yet. You can take one later.” And do you know what often happens when I think that? When I skip my break? I end up feeling exhausted a day or so later and I “steal” three hours of me time in one day. I feel guilty and stressed throughout the time and when I finally do get back up (because you already know I’m in bed), I feel like I’ve wasted the entire day.
This could be avoided if I just regularly scheduled in me time. And you should too. Whether it’s a hobby, watching one (or three) episodes of your favorite show, or just take a guilt-free nap, practice self-care and manage your time properly.
Take care of yourself and you will always be able to give your absolute best.
What is your vision for 2018?
What goals did you accomplish in 2017?
What goals are on 2018’s to-do list?
It’s imperative to have something you are fighting towards. A milestone that, when reached, will push you forward to another one.
This year, we should focus on investing in ourselves. Parents invest time, energy, and money in their kids. Business owners invest time, energy, and money into their businesses. We shouldn’t be any different when it comes to investing in ourselves.
For example, I’m a computer engineer. I want my career to focus on back-end development, where I could be using programming languages such as Java or Python. So I invest in myself by learning programming languages that would be useful. Right now, I’m doing my best to learn Python. Something else I’ve done before and plan to do again is participate in hackathons to increase my skills. These things take time, energy, and sometimes even money. Even so, it’s worth it. You should be able to see the value in investing in yourself.
It can be a struggle, though. Sometimes I find it a tad difficult to push myself to do things that don’t seem to be immediate necessities. When school is in session, I catch myself pushing certain tasks to the back burner because “school always comes first”. This habit was most prominent in my freshman year of college, but going into my first semester of my sophomore year, I’m more actively balancing and prioritizing. School is important, but there should be a constant balance. It’s true, the scale might tip every now and then, especially if it’s midterms or finals week, but fight to keep it pretty consistent.
By working hard in school, you are investing in yourself. By eating properly, exercising, and drink enough water, you are investing in yourself. By seeking every opportunity that is relevant to you, you are investing in yourself. By making personal and professional connections that positively build your community, you are investing in yourself. By learning new skills, that are relevant to your future career or not, you are investing in yourself.
And when people see you diligently investing in yourself, they want to invest in you too. You can get on the path of success by first investing in yourself.
I don’t think I’ve experienced a more emotionally and mentally taxing finals week, than I did this year.
I fought every single day of this semester to do well in my classes.
I would get up at 7AM, three days a week, to study for an hour and a half. Then at 8:30AM, I would meet with one of my professors since my schedule didn’t work with his office hours.
I reached out to multiple people on how I could understand Physics (I still don’t). I pushed myself to fall asleep at 11PM every night (sacrificing what little time was left to properly socialize) so I could wake up early the next day.
I went to executive board meetings and took care of my responsibilities for all of my leadership positions, and I did my absolute best to help my fellow suffering engineering friends with whatever I could.
And the night before my last final, after several defeating final exam experiences, I found myself sobbing in the middle of my textbook, begging myself to study for just two more hours. I felt overwhelmed and defeated and uncertain. I took some time to cry, time that felt stolen, before I went back to studying.
The next day I took my final and when I walked out, the triumphant feeling was missing.
I wish that the sentences that follow this one were filled with hope and had an inspiring message, but here is the truth: I am tired.
I fought tooth and nail to make it through this semester. I have suffered and cried and pushed and cried some more. I did my absolute best to do well. I even took a final exam that was optional, just to make sure I took every available opportunity. This isn’t the say that I didn’t do well. I don’t know what my final grades are, but I don’t believe they will be devastating. However, they may not be what I had hoped they would be.
Here’s what I want you to take away from this: Sometimes you will try your best, and it won’t be enough. Sometimes you will sacrifice some “chill time” in order to study a little bit more and still not be able to answer a question on an exam. It happens. It’s okay to feel defeated. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay. Tomorrow, you can try again. Tomorrow, is a new chance to complete the things you’ve started.
If today you could not do what you set out to do, at least you tried. At least you gave it your best. In life, you will often find that that is the most we can do.
Keep on keepin’ on, my people. We must push to get uphill, but the top of the mountain is where it is most beautiful.
Merriam Webster Dictionary.
What do these four things have in common?
You can find definitions in each of them. Definitions for theories, concepts, words, and so on, they can be found in at least one of the three sources I mentioned.
So where are you defined and who or, what, defines you?
For a generous part of my life, my academics defined me. My 3.8 GPA in high school. The grades I got in college courses. The leadership roles I took on inside and outside of my school.
If I told you about myself, my school would be the first thing I said and if I could find a place to appropriately mention it, my leadership roles as well.
Truthfully, not too much has changed. I've only just realized that I placed so much emphasis on my academics that I've forgotten to tell people about who I am outside of my grades. It's something I have to work on.
Make no mistake, you should do your absolute best in your academic career. Fight for good grades, do all extra credit, meet with your teachers/professors, and study hard. But that shouldn't be all that you are, you know?
I see the aftereffects of allowing my academics to take up so much of the plate that is my self esteem. This morning (11/29) I found out I have a B in one of my fairly difficult courses, which means I can't get an A in the course.
And you know?
I felt crushed. I went to my next class feeling dejected and stupid. I wondered if I even deserved to be an engineer if I can't even get good grades and maintain a good GPA.
But...a B isn't bad. And I have a good GPA.
When you eat a meal, you don't have just bread rolls or just string beans or just meat on your plate. You have some bread, some string beans, some rolls, and mayberoom for dessert.
If your self esteem is a plate, you can't only have academics or only the opinions of others or only your financial status or only your physique. Your plate must have a little bit of everything. It's okay if it fluctuates, but be careful to not let one thing take up your entire plate. Learn to balance it.
In case you're wondering, by the end of the day, I picked myself up. My self esteem is back in check and I'm fiercely competing to still make my goals. Some days you have to pick yourself up and keep fighting.
And I will. We will.
Because our first name is Resilient. Our middle name is Excellent. And our last name is People. And we REPresent ourselves exactly as our name is. Because that is who we are.
Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. I'm talking my list of top five holidays entirely consists of the word “Thanksgiving”. I. Love. Thanksgiving.
This week, since Thanksgiving is next week, I want to remind you of one thing:
Life is difficult, so if you have the chance to think about what you are thankful for, think about it.
I’m going to list a few things/people I am thankful for and maybe the reason why for some. My hope is that from reading my list, it will help you remember what you are thankful for too.
I am thankful for Jesus Christ. When I say He has truly carried me through my darkest (and brightest) moments of life, I mean that. He has given me given me Peace through my pain, Joy throughout my day, Humility, Strength, when I felt defeated, Love when I need it the most (all the time), and so much more. He has faithfully been there for me and all to Him, do I owe.
I am thankful for my family.
My Mom, my Dad, my sisters, my brothers, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, all of them. I know that regardless of how alone I feel at any given moment, they are always right there supporting and loving me.
I am thankful for my friends.
I have a medium sized group of friends from high-school that I know I can count on. We don’t talk every day because we have busy lives, but the bonds I have made with each of them are strong and healthy. I also have met a solid group of people who I am forming friendships with that have made my life at Villanova much more enjoyable. I appreciate each of these people in my life.
I am thankful for the access I have to education.
Villanova provides an excellent academic curriculum that I love. I am learning what I enjoy and I am being prepared for what I will encounter in the workforce. I know that my experience is not everyone’s experience, which puts into perspective just how blessed by God I truly am.
I am thankful for who I am.
I am creative and loving and interesting and resilient and fierce. I have fought my way to get to the place that I am right now and I am fighting to get to my next goal. And I am thankful that have come to a place where I can love myself.
Take a minute to remember what you are thankful for. Even if you can only think of one thing or half a thing, think about it for a minute or two.
Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.
But also, a PWI.
What does this mean for me, and you, as people of color?
It can mean a lot.
It can mean having a student say he's "speaking Ebonics" when a professor tells him he's missing all of the nouns in his sentence.
It can mean listening to a group of white girls giggle hysterically as they try to "figure out" if it's melanin or melatonin that makes you sleepy.
It can mean someone complimenting your Senegalese twists and asking if it's your real hair. And then, when you answer no, it can mean them immediately asking if it's rat hair.
It can mean having a professor ask you if your parents have taught you how to make fried chicken yet.
It can mean a lot of things. A lot of hurtful things.
But it can also mean having an amazing education.
It can mean learning exactly what career you want for the rest of your life.
It can mean experiencing new things and traveling to different countries by studying abroad.
It can mean having doors opened because of the prestige of your college.
You need to be prepared for the different positive and negative things that a PWI has to offer.
It won't be easy. It may shock you and leave you frustrated that you were too tongue-tied to respond. You might feel ostracized or begin to believe that maybe the ridiculous questions and remarks you're receiving have some validity.
But can you do it?
Can you learn from past encounters and be better prepared for future ones?
Can you choose your battles and glean knowledge from the ones you win and lose?
Can you block the ignorance that is imposed upon you from taking root inside your mind?
Regardless of what school you go to, you will come to learn a multitude of things that aren't always directly correlated to academics. Cherish those lessons because you will need them as you begin to go into the workforce.
Take the knowledge you are given and use it towards innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, and so much more.
Go and be amazing.
There are stigmas that are a trap. One stigma in particular comes to mind: You appear weak when you ask for help.
When I reached high-school, I not only fell into that trap of a stigma, but I lived in it. I began to feel like I had to be self-sufficient all the time and every time. In high-school, I could do everything myself. I managed my time, handed in my assignments on time, I got to class on time, I juggled extracurriculars, studying, sleep, and eating. I was a pro.
And then I came to Villanova. Let me tell you, college is not high-school. I felt stressed all the time. I forced myself to study every minute of the day that I possibly could to the point where I felt guilty for even taking time to eat. I would spend time with friends and in between my laughter, I would feel anxious over how much homework I could have been doing instead.
I couldn't breathe. I couldn't enjoy myself. I couldn't live without feeling guilty about living.
That isn't how college is supposed to be. That isn't how life is supposed to be. My experience wasn't this way because of how heavy of a workload college was giving me (although, you do have to put in some serious work), but because I felt overwhelmed. My first year would have probably gone much better if I had known what I know now: It is okay to ask for help.
There is no weakness in asking for help. The number of benefits in waiting to ask for help after you are so deep in trouble that it's almost too late is zero. Don't wait. Don't be afraid.
I'm in my sophomore year now and my story has changed. I can breathe. I can laugh with friends and enjoy every minute of it. Today, I took off three hours just to do a DIY craft. I don't have to feel guilty for taking time to myself.
And, that's partly because I have learned to ask for help. I have learned to reach out when I start to feel overwhelmed or burnt out. I reach out to the people I know who will reach back. Find those people and hold onto them. Reach out to them, make sure they know they can reach out to you.
Take care of yourself by asking for help. In a world where we are always fighting, climbing, struggling, and living, we don't have to do it alone.