10 hot classes for success in the year 2020

Imagine the places you could go if only you knew what classes could take you there…

A zombie apocalypse might just destroy civilization before the year 2020. Hey, plenty of crazy things happen every day. If the zombie virus goes viral, only the best and brightest are going to have a chance at survival. Just in case, we’ve compiled a list of classes that you should take now to ensure you’re place in post-zombie apocalyptic society in 2020.

  1. Social Media Marketing, San Francisco State University

So knowing how to use social media in a way that benefits the company you work for may not be exactly breaking news to anyone. Almost every person currently looking for a job or working towards a degree of realizes the importance of social networking and promotion. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a serious class. With social media, more is more, and increasingly employers are expecting a higher level of knowledge when it comes to it.

  1. iPhone Application Development, Stanford

More and more these days, companies are being faced with the challenge of catering to a growing population of smartphone-owning consumers. These consumers require faster, easier, and more personalized ways to connect with any given business at any given time. Smartphone apps are the biggest trend right now that allow businesses 24/7 contact with consumers around the world, and like social media, it is beginning to fall to every employee to know how these apps work and how to make them better.

  1. Study Abroad

Technically, studying abroad is not a single course one can take to learn skills future employers might find noteworthy. However, seeing the world teaches students how to respect cultures other than their own, how to work with people who don’t come from the same background, and how to work in a foreign environment. All of these skills are increasingly necessary in a globalized world, where one day you could be talking to someone in Idaho and the next, someone in Switzerland.

  1. Organizational Behavior, Georgia Tech11-professor-graphics-hula

This course provides an introduction to how the behavior of individuals, groups, and organizations affects organizational effectiveness. AKA it teaches students how to better conduct themselves in a business environment so that they are as productive as possible, while also teaching future managers how to make their company more lucrative.

  1. Gender, Leadership, and Management, Harvard

This class is focused on leadership and management from a gender-based perspective. Issues covered include leadership styles and their impact, understanding power, ethical decision making, workplace stereotypes, differences in communication, and approaches to teamwork. All of these skills are and will continue to be vitally important in the modern workplace.

  1. Foreign Language

Again, not one specific course, but still important to employers of expanding businesses. Just the fact that you know a language, even if it is not one the company currently needs to use, can be a positive sign to an employer that you can put in the work necessary to learn a foreign language down the road.

  1. Business Writing, University of Notre Dame

This course is designed to help people in the business world improve upon their writing skills. A common problem in the workplace is that employees cannot even draft polite emails, much less professional presentations. “For whatever reason, we are finding the business writing skill-set to be missing,” said Paula Hill-Strasser, an adjunct business professor at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. When preparing for a future career, students should take some time to hone their writing skills in the workplace that can not only just help them get a job, but also ensure that they keep it.

  1. Corporate Communication, Dartmouth

This mini-course explores the changing needs for communication in the business environment. It covers the ever growing environment for business, media relations, financial communications, reputation management and crisis communication.

  1. Peer Advising Program, University of Pennsylvania

This program, recently set up at Pennsylvania, is run by older undergraduate students for younger freshmen and sophomores. “While it’s great to see professional advisors and faculty, there are certain things that only a student can articulate,” Director of Academic Affairs and Advising for Wharton Scott Romeika said. Early responses have led to more informed students, who in turn make better course decisions.

  1. How to Develop “Breakthrough” Products and Services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This course teaches students how to systematically create ‘breakthrough’ products and services for a company—a huge trend for businesses everywhere trying to find the next big thing. Shouldn’t that next big thing be you?

Content derived from the following article:


Social Media and College Applications

We can’t hide from it, social media is EVERYWHERE! We’ve all heard stories how social media postings have resulted in athletes getting kicked off of sports teams for violations of athletic codes, and by this time we are aware that job seekers need to manage their online identities as well since social media has become an additional reference source. What about for College Admissions? Have you given that any thought? You should!

College Admissions Offices are social media savvy. According to Kaplan Test Prep’s most recent survey of college admissions officers reposted that the percentage of admissions officers who visit applicants’ social media pages to learn more about them has hit a record high of 40% — quadruple the percentage who did so in 2008.

Information that can negatively impact college bound students is what you’d expect: references to drugs and alcohol, bullying, nudity, and accusations of plagiarism. So what can you do, other then make good choices and avoid situations that put you in a compromising position? Kaplan recommends:

  1. Limit your profile search-ability so search engines won’t link to your profile. Go to Account – – Privacy Settings – Apps and Websites – Public Search (Edit Settings) and uncheck “Enable Public Search”. Or, if you just want to limit parts of your profile, go to Edit Profile and select the privacy level (Public, Friends, Only Me, Custom) for each profile data point.
  1. Control who can contact you on Facebook. Set your controls so only people who have a mutual friend can contact you. Click Account – Privacy Settings – How You Connect and select “friends of friends.”
  1. Take control of tagging on your profile. Facebook’s default settings allow friends to tag you in their photos, profile posts, and even check you into places. (Does anyone else find that creepy?) Change these settings so only friends can see these posts. Go to “How Tags Work” under Privacy settings and opt out. You can also choose to review all tags before they are linked to your profile so that your friends don’t have the chance to link embarrassing party photos without your permission.

But what are the triggers that prompt admissions officers to look beyond the traditional elements of the application (GPA, standardized test scores, extracurriculars) and turn to Google and Facebook? Admissions officers mentioned several trigger points, both positive and negative:

  • Interest in Talents: Some admissions officer say they will visit an applicant’s social media page — often by the applicant’s own invitation — if the applicant mentions a special talent, for example, such as being a musician, artist, poet, writer, or model. In fact, 42% of admissions officers reported an increase in such invitations compared to two year ago.
  • Verification of Awards: Citation of particularly distinguished or noteworthy awards can sometimes trigger an admissions officer’s online search for independent verification; as one officer noted, something “out of the norm.”
  • Criminal Records or Disciplinary Action: Some admissions officers say that if an applicant mentions they have a criminal background or a record of disciplinary action, they will do some online digging to get more details.
  • Scholarships: Students applying for special scholarships can come under greater scrutiny, as schools want to ensure those receiving the scholarships are fully deserving; extra due diligence can come in the form of online checking. .
  • Admissions Sabotage: Anecdotally, admissions officers say they occasionally get anonymous tips about prospective students pointing them towards inappropriate behavior. They’ll sometimes dig online to see if it has merit.

Kaplan’s survey also found that social media can cut both ways. Thirty-seven percent of admissions officers say that what they’ve found about an applicant positively impacted his or her application — and an equal percentage say that what they found negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances. Positive findings included discovery of undisclosed leadership roles or community service, while negative findings included criminal offenses, photos of drug or alcohol use, racial prejudice or inappropriate behavior.

The bottom line…be smart! It’s not just what you are posting but what others post about you. Manage your online identity!!!! If you would like to ensure your student has a positive online footprint we can help. We provide an online background check on the student as well as tactics and strategies to help you set yourself up for success with college admissions on social media. Give us a call if you want to get started 360.580.5106

How to Get Geared Up Before Heading Back to School

September is here, and we all know what that means: time to attend class, study, get good grades AND be involved on campus. Oh yeah, and I guess have a social life on the side.  After a summer off, it might seem nearly impossible to stay afloat. That’s why now is more important than ever to prepare for the stressful semester ahead. Read on for some eye-opening insight on getting inspired, staying motivated and avoiding burn out.

1) Remind yourself of your long-term goals. 
First ask yourself, “Why do I attend college?” And, “What do I dream of doing one day?” These are both questions you can use to gear yourself up the next time you don’t want to write that super annoying term paper, or you feel like sleeping through that pain-in-the-you-know-what 8 a.m. class. At the moment, the task at hand may not seem worth the effort. But, in the long run, you will thank yourself for putting in the time.

2) Spend time with those whose careers you wish to emulate.
No matter how busy, make time to speak with people you admire. Find out how they got to where they are today and make a plan for how you will one day reach your full potential in a similar way.

Taylor Bryant graduated in 2012 from Syracuse University where she studied magazine journalism. She says her motivation to do well in school 9-professor-graphics-jerseystemmed from both the personal satisfaction of good grades and her desire to incorporate into her own style the writing styles of other accomplished writers.

“Whether they were my own classmates, actual published journalists or literary authors, I admired their way of writing, and it inspired me to do the same,” Bryant said.”

Whenever Bryant felt that she was lacking motivation, she would attend guest speaker seminars and watch TED Talks, which were great tools in turning her attitude around.

“If there was a speaker coming to talk about their career — and it related in some way to what I wanted to do, I would always go.” Bryant said. “That always served as major motivation for me.”

3) Set short-term goals.
In contrast to my first piece of advice, it’s also important to focus on a few short-term goals to help along the way. While it is important to think about your ultimate professional objective, chances are getting there will take some time. Think of smaller milestones you would like to accomplish each semester. Not only will it boost your spirits to make progress, but small-scale, college tasks will also serve as great resumé builders.

4) Appreciate the college experience. 
I know, I know. What’s there to appreciate when you are given way too much work, not enough time to complete it and a load of debt to pay back once it’s all over? Trust me, I get it.

But, I have to say, there’s just something special about living in one place with all of your friends – who are just as sleep deprived as you – and having the opportunity to learn.

Even though it is easy to forget why we are in college in the first place, Alexandra Zaslow, a recent Indiana University graduate, says she especially appreciated college because of the amount of focus there is on learning.

“College is the last time in your life where you’ll have a teacher imparting wisdom on you,” said Zaslow. “I tried to take it all in as much as possible-especially during my senior year.”

5) Know what you love.

The worst time to think about how to get motivated is when you are already stuck in a rut of passionless indifference—a dramatic-sounding but accurate description of those stagnant moments when it seems there is nothing to look forward to.

This is why it’s important to know ahead of time what inspires you and makes you excited about life. Maybe it’s something as simple as engaging in a favorite hobby, such as hiking, painting or photography; it could also be spending time with friends and family. Whatever it is you find enjoyable, try to recognize what makes you happy before you are feeling down.

Although college can, at times, seem more overwhelming than exciting, Zaslow suggests reminding yourself that all the hard work ultimately leads to achieving your dreams. Once you know that, you are getting out of your own way and allowing yourself to get started.

“Don’t become intimidated by the challenge ahead,” Zaslow said. “Once you start it only becomes easier.”


Content derived from the following article:


What’s the Deal with Early Action?

Early Action, like Early Decision, is an accelerated college application process in which students typically must complete their applications in November. In most cases, students will then receive a decision from the college before the New Year. Some schools even have a second Early Action deadline that comes after the first but before the regular decision deadline.

If Early Decision is a 10 on the stress-o-meter, Early Action, which doesn’t have the added pressure of the required commitment, is around an 8. With Early Action, you won’t need to withdraw other applications if you get accepted. Also, if accepted, you can wait until May 1st to respond.8-professor-graphics-worm

On the downside of Early Action, you better make sure to familiarize yourself with the term “contingency plan.” Plan A is always nice, but sometimes life hands you a few lemons, and you get stuck with Plan B. Unless you don’t have a Plan B, in which case, you’re probably going to get stuck with Plan Live in Your Parents’ Basement. That should be like Plan W… minimum. You will find out if you got in to your dreamy dream school two weeks before the deadline for most Regular Applications, so we recommend you work on your other applications just in case you don’t get in. What we are saying here is make sure you are still applying to 6-10 schools. And don’t be like Jonny Slackoff (it’s Slavic). Jonny had everything going for him. 3.7 GPA, half-ride to Purdue… but he came down with a bad, bad case of senioritis. Stopped showing up for class, homework was turned in with nothing more than doodles and his girlfriend’s name written in various fonts. Those guys from Purdue caught wind of his declining performance and turned that half-ride into a… no-ride. Oops.

Let’s talk money, shall we? Some colleges are giving preliminary scholarships for Early Action applicants – you may have received emails from colleges telling you to apply now and they’ll waive the fee and you’ll get first dibs on scholarship money. It’s true and we’ve seen clients get anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per year in scholarships – so pay attention!

In general, early action is a much more attractive option than early decision. Some reasons to consider early action include:

  • At many colleges, the acceptance rates are higher for early action than for regular admission
  • Students who are not accepted early are still considered for admission with the regular admission pool
  • Early action is not binding — students are free to apply to other colleges
  • Students can apply early to other colleges
  • Although students receive early notification of an acceptance, they do not need to make a decision until the usual May 1 deadline. This allows time to figure out financial aid
  • If accepted early at a college, the spring of a student’s senior year will be far less stressful
  • More money!

Content derived from the following articles:

Grove, Allen: What is Early Action? Learn the Benefits of Applying to College Early, About.com, College Admissions 2013 ©

Article: Early Decision vs. Early Action vs. Regular Decsion vs. Rolling Admission, http://www.shmoop.com/college/early-decision-early-action-regular-decision-rolling-admission.html

The 5 Cardinal Sins of Essay Writing

If you’re starting papers with something along the lines of, “Throughout all of time and space and history…” – we need to talk.

Students stand out as mature writers among their peers when they demonstrate the ability to go beyond simply regurgitating classroom notes, textbook quotations, and stock phrases, and instead develop and refine their own original writing voices in grammatically-correct papers.

The following are five cardinal sins (as in, unforgivable) of essay writing. Avoid these to impress your professor, win over your teaching assistant, and make me shed tears of joy:



The essay should not be one long paragraph, and no paragraph should fill an entire page. If it does, go back and break it into smaller points. There are several types of essays, but there are three you can expect to write regularly in school:

Narrative: Applications, especially college applications, ask for this format. The Narrative Essay is usually first-person, autobiographical, and describes a story or process from which you have extrapolated some greater meaning or understanding.

Expository: Expository essays explain a topic. Some research and analysis are required, and you are to make an argument. These are commonly compare-and-contrast or cause-and-effect papers.

Persuasive: This is probably the essay you will be asked to write the most. As the name suggests, you are expected to take a position on a controversial (or at least debatable) topic and detail your argument, refute the counterargument, and offer evidence.



If I have to re-read the same paragraph five times and I still don’t understand what you are saying, your wording needs to be reorganized.7-professor-graphics-devil

If I have no idea what your thesis is, your introduction needs to be reorganized.

If you say you are going to discuss A, B, and C and then you never get to it, your content needs to be reorganized. Same goes for discussing A, then C, then back to A, then a brief mention of B in the conclusion.

If you close your paper with the last paragraph, rather than a conclusion, your ending needs to be reorganized.



Cliches are sayings that we are used to hearing and reading. If your eyes gloss over when reading the following list, it’s because our repeated exposure to them ultimately blunts their meaning and effect:

Throughout all time and space…

In conclusion…

But at the end of the day

All in all

Bright and early

epic battle

Wasn’t that boring? I’m sorry I did that to you. Now stop doing it to the people grading your papers.



Filler is anything that is not immediately relevant to the topic and is an obvious attempt at padding out a weak paper. This includes ruminations on the meanings of words, quoting dictionary.com, or taking unrelated tangents.

I also warn students about poetics – if you’ve just written half a page about the meaning of life and the essay topic is World War II, go back and delete all of it. Then start over, this time addressing the actual assignment.

Avoid using filler by filling out a paper with textual evidence, which you can use as evidence to support the point you are making. Just make sure to explain the quote and connect it back to your overarching point. If you are just sticking random quotes in the paper, that’s filler.


  • Write out numbers 1-10. Do not write out years.
  • Capitalize proper nouns. Do not capitalize random words.
  • Do not use contractions – i.e. write out “don’t” as “do not”
  • Do not use “very” or “really.” The sentence sounds better without it.
    • “The war was really devastating” vs. “The war was devastating”
  • If it is a possessive, use an apostrophe.
  • Avoid fragments and run-on sentences

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen students write something like, “In the year of nineteen hundred and forty one, the united states entered world war II very ready to fight in the War.”

Try: “In 1941 the United States entered World War II.”

Shorter? Yes. But it conveys the same information without the grammatical errors, correct punctuation, and omits the filler.

Read the original here and consider Aim High Writing when you need assistance navigating your college, scholarship, and graduate school applications, including essay writing, interview prep, and self-advocacy coaching!

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