Author : christine-a-shelly

The Online Student’s Spring Break Dilemma

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
Spring-Break-online-students-militaryauthorityA group of college students meet for coffee one March morning to discuss their Spring Break plans. Student A is a sophomore at the local state college; he plans to pick up some extra hours at his part time job. Student B is in her second year at a nearby community college; she and some friends are driving to the beach for the week. Student C works full time at a small startup business, serves in the Army Reserves and is in an online bachelor of business administration degree program. Pop quiz:  Does Student C get a spring break? Depending on the school, the answer is probably no, there’s no ‘official’ spring break for most online programs. But here’s the thing: You don’t need to be a traditional student to have a spring break. There are plenty of ways to take a breather without getting behind in classwork. Online classwork = flexibility. If you can swing it, spend a little time getting ahead in your reading, projects or assignments so you can relax. If you don’t live near a beach and/or can’t afford the airfare (who can?) Here’s a few ideas for some springtime fun:
  1. Put on your sunglasses and be a tourist in your own city. Most people avoid their local landmarks – and they miss out on some fascinating history and entertainment. Pack yourself a picnic, grab a few coins for the parking meters and spend a day (or two) basking in the glory of your own hometown.
  2. Give back. If there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, spend time volunteering for them when you’d usually study. During a time of year when most people bug out, a lot of organizations would probably be happy to have an extra pair of hands.
  3. Road trip it. If you absolutely, positively, must get out of Dodge, pick someplace you can drive in an hour or two and soak up all the local flavor. Speaking of flavor, you could make a game of eating only at local diners or drive-ins along the way to wherever you’re going (and back).
Some students – I was always one of these – use spring break to get ahead caught up on projects and reading. If you’re one of these souls, don’t forget that it’s good study hygiene to take a break now and then. Find ways to unplug for a little while – even if you only take an hour away here or there, recharging time is important. Here are a couple of ideas for mini-getaways:
  • Foodie fieldtrip. This is also known as Dinner (or Lunch) Out. Go to a restaurant, sit down and relax. If you really want to live it up, shower beforehand and put on a clean shirt. You’ll feel like a new person.
  • Get some Vitamin S – Sunshine. Okay, so it’s actually Vitamin D that sunlight delivers, but that’s not as catchy. At any rate, taking a brisk walk outside for twenty minutes can do wonders for you and your brain. Put the laptop aside for a little while and get moving in the great outdoors.
  • Read for fun. Give your brain a rest and read something else that interests you. Spend a few minutes on something that you want to read, whether that’s a classic novel, a comic book, or a trashy magazine.
  If you’re an online student, you still need a breather so you can finish the semester strong. Give yourself a much-needed break and don’t miss out on the fun. Even if you have to create your own. Tell us your spring break tales in the comments below…keep it clean, this is a family blog!  😉   By Christine A. Shelly #springbreak #onlinestudents #roadtrip #vitamind #readinglists

The Battle for Your Brain: Ways to Avoid Distractions

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
thinking3_militaryauthorityMultiple assignments with springtime distractions can be tiresome and threaten your grade point average, making finishing the last few weeks of the spring semester akin to running a medieval gauntlet. There are so many things fighting for your attention: email, texts, Facebook and Twitter, family, friends, coworkers, and even pets. Here are some easy things you can do to combat distractions and finish the semester strong: Identify your weaknesses. Can you resist a text message? What about a Facebook notification? If your web browser is open, can you ignore it or must you surf? Knowing what distracts you will help you form a strategy to avoid straying from your target. Be honest with yourself, and make a list of every potential threat to your focus. This leads us to number 3… Use your resources. When you know what you want to achieve, and you’ve identified potential obstacles to achieving your goals, the next step is to figure out what you can do to help yourself stay focused. Is noise is a distraction? Wear noise-canceling headphones or put in ear buds and listen to ocean sounds. If email or text notifications are a problem for you, adjust your phone’s settings and turn them off, or put your phone in a drawer across the room while you’re working. For some people, shutting down Outlook and closing their Internet browser is the only way to get things accomplished. If you have kids or pets that distract you, ask a friend, family member or neighbor to keep them occupied so you can work. Read two more tips on the Military Authority Google + page. Do you have a plan to counteract distractions? What works for you?  Let us know in the comments below.   References: http://topachievement.com/smart.html

http://career-advice.monster.com/in-the-office/workplace-issues/work-interrupted-6-ways-to-avoid-distractions-hot-jobs/article.aspx

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder-self-help.htm #stayfocused #adultstudents #studysmarter

The Education You Need for the Job You Want

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
education for the job you wantWhen a major retailer announced last week that it would increase salaries for its hourly employees, many people took notice. Whether the move was a byproduct of pressure from lobbyists or unions, no one but the decision-maker truly knows. A spokesperson for the retailer stated that this long-awaited increase was driven by the desire to retain, and attract, good employees and reduce costly turnover. This move is yet another indication that competition for jobs is fierce – and it’s also a signal that companies want to attract well qualified people – hiring for good-paying, career-building jobs. That’s good news. So what does it take to find a one of these jobs?  That’s a great question, and if we had a guaranteed solution, we could retire early. Based on a look at some of the top employers’ most sought-after jobs, the most common denominator is a bachelor’s degree. Among the top five employers from the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list, a look at their websites reveals that they are actively hiring for a variety of roles: administrative, engineering, and human resources to name a few. Let’s take a look at what kind of responsibilities are entailed, and what kind of education is required to qualify for an Office Manager position. Administrative Roles:  Office Manager The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes these tasks as those performed by office managers or administrators regardless of the business:
  • Oversee the purchasing, storage of distribution of office supplies
  • Manage all administrative and clerical personnel
  • Oversee the budget for contracts, equipment and supplies
  • In factories, overseeing the maintenance and repair of machinery and electrical and mechanical systems.
  • Office managers also often keep track of environmental and health regulations and make sure a company adheres to those standards.
Education:  College degrees are not always required for entry-level roles in these positions, but in leadership roles, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement. A master’s in business administration can boost chances for promotion.   Engineering Roles: Industrial Engineer The BLS Occupational Handbook states that Industrial engineers typically:
  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand methods and activities in manufacturing and services
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products, or deliver services, with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects
Education: A bachelor’s degree in industrial, mechanical or civil engineering is a must for these roles. In addition, applicants may want to become licensed so they may carry the designation PE (professional engineer). Licensure requires:
  • A degree from an engineering program accredited by ABET
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
  Human Resources:   Labor Relations Specialist The BLS Occupational Outlook states that Labor relations specialists typically:
  • Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
  • Lead meetings between management and labor
  • Draft proposals and rules or regulations in order to help facilitate collective bargaining
  • Interpret formal communications between management and labor
  • Investigate validity of labor grievances
  • Train management on labor relations
Education: Generally speaking, labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in a human resources or business field with coursework in human resource management. However, the level of education and experience required can vary by position and employer. Some organizations prefer specialists who have had coursework in mediation.  There are universities and colleges who offer labor relations certifications, as well as a number of professional associations that offer coursework and supplementary certification programs. The next step is to evaluate your own competencies and interests. It’s important to know where your expertise can be best applied, and where you may need to seek additional education, training or credentials. Do your qualifications make you well-suited to the type of jobs employers offer? If not, education is often the best first step toward reaching your career goal.   References: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2014/11/11/the-top-100-military-friendly-employers/ http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2015/02/25/tj-maxx-marshalls-to-follow-wal-mart-in-raising-pay

https://www.linkedin.com/company/military-veterans-employment-network-mven

By Christine A. Shelly #militarystudents #bachelorsdegree #mastersdegree #getthejobyouwant

Four Math Hacks for the Returning Adult Student

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
math_numberIs a fear of math holding you back from going back to school and pursuing a degree? It’s a common feeling that prevents a lot of people from moving towards their education goals. But it doesn’t have to… Around half of all U.S. adults feel ‘math panic.’ But that panic can be overcome by opening our eyes to how and why we use math every day. When we do this, we’re improving our math skills. For parents of elementary age kids, Math at Hand: A Mathematics Handbook, is a great resource for tackling long forgotten match concepts and recalling math-related vocabulary. Real life math exercises can help, too. Use landmarks to draw a map from your work to your house. Simple, right? You’re using geometry, measurement, algebra and mathematic problem solving skills. Another example: Next time you’re at the store, estimate how much your grocery trip will cost. Boom. Math. Our regular education contributor, Christine Shelly, recently posted some interesting math hacks that could get your brain’s math gears in motion again. Head over to her full article to read more. Do you have any other math tips or hacks that you use? Tell us in the comments. #mathhacks #lifehacks #students

Easy Ways to Save Yourself Time

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
get-back-timeThere’s a scene in Irving Berlin’s classic film “White Christmas” when Bing Crosby asks Danny Kaye why it’s so important to him that he finds a partner and settles down. Kaye responds, “I want you to get married. I want you to have nine children. And if you only spend five minutes a day with each kid, that’s forty-five minutes, and I’d at least have time to go out and get a massage or something.” Preach, brother.  It is a rare day indeed that many of us get that kind of uninterrupted time, isn’t it? In a perfect world, 24 hours would be plenty of time to do everything we need to do. But whether you’re a student, a parent, an employee or an employer, the demands on your time seem nonstop. What if you could make a few minor changes and get even just a little bit of time back? Think of the possibilities:
  • Time for a study group (or book club, or exercise, or time with your family or friends) at your home
  • An hour to cook and eat in instead of wasting money (and adding calories) eating fast food on the run
  • Less stress
  There are a few tricks to getting some of that precious time back in your day, and none of them involve Irving Berlin. Here’s a handful of ideas to help you get organized and be more efficient with your time.   At home: 
  • Use one calendar. Put everyone’s appointments and activities on the same calendar so you know a) where there might be conflicts and b) when and where activities take place. Rather than scrambling around at the last minute for rides or arguing about which activity takes priority, you can plan ahead and save yourself some stress.
  • Simplify. If something has hung in your closet, taken space in a drawer or been boxed in the basement for a year (or more), donate it to someone who will use it. Clearing out some space will not only help ease the stress, it will a) make it easier for you to get to the things you really use and b) help someone else.
  • Delegate. You don’t have to be in charge of every chore in the house. Ask roommates, kids or spouse to help – and then let them help. (This one can apply to “work” tasks as well)
  At work: 
  • Block off ‘catch up’ time. Whether it’s 30 minutes each day or an hour once a week, setting some time aside to focus on what needs your attention most can spare you the last minute frenzy.
  • Exercise. Make your breaks work harder for you by taking a 10- or 15-minute walk or stretching whenever you can. If your workplace offers an onsite gym, make it a habit to use it each week. You’ll benefit from the mental and physical boost that exercise brings both at work and at home.
  In general:
  • Focus forward. Everything won’t always go your way. Learn from your experiences, but don’t re-hash old conflicts or linger over things that are outside of your control. When you waste your time and energy on the past, you’re missing important opportunities in the present. Don’t waste another minute brooding about what could/should/might have been.
  • Avoid or limit time on social media. Posting this advice on a blog seems a little hypocritical, but it’s no secret that social media and the Internet are two prime suspects in The Case of the Lost Time. If you absolutely must know what’s trending, set yourself a time limit and stick to it.
  Time is precious. After all, when we have time, we want to spend it with our loved ones, or following our dreams, don’t we? Isn’t that worth protecting? As always, we are open to suggestions – what kind of time-savers or organizers have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.   #timemanagement #simplify #focus  

Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Learning Skills

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
write-things-down-to-rememberHave your “New Year/New Me” resolutions worn paper thin already? There are countless Facebook pages, YouTube videos, and Twitter hashtags devoted to these well-intended statements. Based on studies of human nature, we can assume the majority of people who vow to change December 31 will be back to their old selves by Groundhog Day. 

We all have ‘stuff’ to work on and plenty to learn, but rather than make broad claims of “brand new me-ness,” why not just pick up a tiny new habit or two that makes it easier to continue learning and growing?  Here are some ideas: Write it down.
Like singing, the physical act of handwriting helps your brain connect with what you’re trying to learn. If you’ve become accustomed to typing everything into a tablet or laptop, the idea of using pen and paper may seem strange to you. Buy yourself a spiral-bound notebook and write down lecture notes, or your errand list, or whatever you want to remember. Educators say you are more likely to recall what you took time to hand write. Sing out loud.
Nobody likes memorizing a list of facts, but everybody has a favorite song. Next time you’re studying for a test (or just want to make sure you remember to pick up the dry cleaning), put the facts to music and sing it loud. Especially if you’re studying a new language, education experts have found that singing taps into auditory learning skills and helps you recall what you’ve learned more quickly and accurately.   Want three more ideas? Read more suggestions from Christine Shelly.   #resolutions #newyearnewyou  

Celebrating Your Way: Getting Through the Holidays When Life Is Hard

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
holiday stressWhen life is hard? Yes, certain aspects of life are always hard. But the season for togetherness and celebration often adds an extra layer of stress and struggle for people dealing with personal challenges. That stress can come from the after-effects of a divorce, the sadness following a loved one’s death, a chronic illness, or coping with PTSD.

People change, relationships change, and as a result…families change. Homes change, our daily routines change, and holidays change. When we hold too tight to the past and when we refuse to make new traditions, we miss out on the beauty of what is the present and the hope of what might be the future.

If you or someone you love is struggling a bit this year, here are a few tips that might help getting through the holidays easier, and even potentially lead to creating a good memory or two.

  1. Make a game plan.  If you know that a family gathering is going to be in a crowded location, or there will be alcohol at a friend’s Ugly Sweater party, think through how you’ll handle it ahead of time.  If you need to, write down a few of your best coping strategies and keep them in your pocket.  If you start feeling anxious, excuse yourself to a private area and review your notes.
  2. Use the buddy system.  Tell a trusted friend or family member that you may need their support when you’re going to be somewhere that could potentially be a stressful or sensitive situation.  If you know a celebration will include children, but you’ve recently gone through a bitter custody dispute, for example, having a friend close by to talk to in you start to feel emotionally overwhelmed can help.
  3. Maximize the good.  When you’re feeling good, take note of it.  Practice deep breathing and relaxation during these times – they can turn into coping mechanisms during situations when you feel yourself getting anxious.
  4. If you have a spiritual side, nurture it.  During the holidays, people tend to refocus on their beliefs and spirituality. Visiting your place of worship can be a profound way of connecting with others, celebrating the holiday in a personal manner, and can be a healthy way of managing emotions that can otherwise leave you feeling vulnerable.
  5. Be flexible.  Most families have long-standing ways of celebrating the holidays – everything from the way they decorate the tree to what they eat and where they spend their time.  When your own sadness or stress enters the picture, recognize it as a time to show some patience and understanding. Talk with each other and focus on creating a holiday that everyone can enjoy.  For example, if large crowds and noise are a too much, maybe instead of blasting holiday music while you and your 26 cousins bake cookies and decorate the house, this year you donate some time at a homeless shelter.
  6. Have a safe word and an exit strategy.  Come up with a ready-made reason for leaving a party/situation early, and have a safe word that indicates it’s time to leave.
  7. Give alcohol a time out.  For many with PTSD, drinking alcohol can make symptoms worse. Turning to alcohol to get through 11 parties can quickly turn into a bad habit once the parties are over. If you’re hosting, limit the availability of alcohol. If you’re out somewhere, stick to the rum-free eggnog.
These are just a handful of strategies that may help you and your loved one enjoy the holiday season.  Although it can be a challenge, life changes, illness, or PTSD do not have to put a damper on the holiday spirit. What are some ways that you or your loved ones have approached the holidays that made them less stressful for everyone?

The 5 Days of Gifting, the Book Lover

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
The book lover is a tricky specimen to shop for. See a book you think they’d like? They may have already read it. Or have read reviews about it and decided against it. The sheer magnitude of available options in titles, genres and authors creates an excruciating challenge to shopping for a book lover without giving away your gifting plan. Rather than risk spoiling your loved ones’ Christmas Day surprise, here are a few ideas to help.   Typewriter Laptop Case by Ted Baker ($49;  Amazon) typewriter-laptopMany’s the classic literary jewel that’s been crafted on a typewriter such as the one depicted on this laptop case. And while a vintage typewriter might be a fabulous gift, they’re expensive, not to mention they’re a tad bit too heavy and awkward to lug to your local coffee shop. Next best thing: a snazzy, inspired laptop case that gives you instant cool points wherever you go.   Repurposed Book Clutch Purse ($40; etsy.com) book-clutchThe Case of the Curious Christmas Gift has been solved by you and Nancy Drew. Carolyn Keene’s classic series is given new life as a fashion accessory by an American artist on etsy.com. She’s also crafted a washable wallet from the pages of the book to carry your cash or credit cards. Perfect for your fashion forward book loving friends.   Litograph Literary Temporary Tattoos ($5 for two; litographs.com) temp-tattooDoes your book lover have a bit of a rebellious spirit? Check out the beautiful, memorable temporary tattoos inspired by classic lines of literature available from the artists at Litograph. Your book lover can literally keep their favorite lines of their favorite novel close to their heart. Or ankle. Whatever they choose.   Library Card Coaster Set ($20, outofprint.com) librarycard-coasterWe’re old enough to remember the days when librarians rubber stamped a date on a card to loan you a book. Commemorate those days gone by with these colorful and historically accurate library card coasters. Sturdy enough for your coldest drink and artsy enough to spark a conversation.     Literature-inspired iPhone cases ($25, outofprint.com) If you have a book-loving friend who also appreciates a bit of irony, this custom iPhone case may be the perfect gift for them. Fans of George Orwell’s 1984 may wish this case was made of RFID-deflecting aluminum.           This wraps up our gift idea series for this year. Here’s wishing you and yours a healthy, safe and happy holiday season and best wishes in the New Year.   #Christmasgifts #giftideas

The 5 Days of Gifting, The Animal Lover

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
You know the profile: this person spends at least a third of their day looking at cat memes, penguin cams or wild horse rescue websites. Their vehicles carry paw print decals in the back windshield and they are twice as likely as your other friends to have donated to a wildlife preservation organization. So what do you give the biggest fan of our four-legged (or double-winged) friends? Put your paws together for this little list of ideas.   World Wildlife Fund Adopt-A-Species ($25 and up; worldwildlife.org) tigerHave a loved one who’s obsessed with narwhals? Why not “adopt” one for them? With a gift of $25 or more to the World Wildlife Fund, you can symbolically adopt an endangered species and your friend can receive a plush toy, a species reference card and other tokens of appreciation. Your donation will go toward conservation efforts.     Humane Society of the United States ($10 and up; humanesociety.org) animalsocietyA donation to The Humane Society of the United States helps support animal rescue efforts, shelters, and training nationwide. For $10 or more, you can provide a holiday gift in honor of your loved one. They will receive a personalized greeting card with a special message – donations of $25 or more also include a year-long subscription to HSUS’s All Animals magazine.   Custom Pet Pop Art ($289; allpopart.com) dogpopartYou always knew Sparky was a superhero. Now you can have him immortalized the way you see him: in colorful, hand-drawn graphic splendor. Simply provide the good people at allPopArt with a photo of your pet pal and voila! You now have a vibrant, cherished keepsake for your animal-loving friends and family.     No/No Green Seed Ball Wild Bird Feeder (about $8, Amazon) birdseedballWe can’t forget fans of our fine feathered friends this holiday. This steel sphere deters squirrels and provides fresher seed for wild clinging birds to enjoy. Simply fill it, hang it outside and enjoy the delightful wonders of bird watching that are sure to follow.     Unlikely Friendships, by Jennifer S. Holland (about $8, Amazon) unlikely-friendshipsAs any animal lover knows, we humans can learn a lot from our furry and feathered cohabitants of the planet. Jennifer Holland is a National Geographic writer who has captured unusual tales of inter-species friendship. It’s a little treasure of a book that is sure to warm the heart of whomever receives it.       #giftideas #Christmasgifts #animallover    

The 5 Days of Gifting, The Foodie

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
The Foodie is a fun person to shop for. Because food. Cooking. Eating. It’s all glorious. Your particular Foodie may have their own special interests – whether it’s European pastry-making or Brazilian beef – but we’ve done our best to select a variety of fabulous foodie gifts that will make your pal’s mouth water. Foodie Dice (About $25, Uncommon Goods) foodie-diceIt takes a certain type of adventurous personality to be a true foodie. Now your foodie can explore culinary adventures by leaving dinner in the hands of fate with the Foodie Dice. A simple roll can yield a multitude of flavor combinations just waiting to be discovered.  Five dice contain options for center of plate protein, grain or carb, bonus ingredient, herb and method of cooking. So when the family asks what’s for dinner, the answer is as easy as a roll of the dice.   The Spice Lab Gourmet Sea Salt Collection ( $55, Amazon) spice-lab-saltsGive someone you love the gift of variety this holiday. This award-winning collection is one of four available from the Spice Lab, and includes 11 different salts from around the world plus a reference card with food pairings. Which will your foodie like best: the Apple Wood Smoked from El Salvador, the, the Cyprus White Flake, the Pacific Blue Kosher or one of the many others?   Micro Green Kits ($48, Uncommon Goods) microgreensFor the truly DIY food lover, growing your own organic spices or vegetables is a must. These ready-to-grow kits are made from recycled aluminum and contain USDA-certified seeds and organic growing medium. Sprouts are salad-ready in 7-14 days. The spice kit includes Japanese mustard, daikon radish and edible chrysanthemum sprouts. Veggie kits include red cabbage, mini-carrot greens and Tom Thumb pea greens.   Suburban Cheesecraft DIY Cheese Kit (etsy, $50) cheesecraftSpeaking of DIY, this crafty kit provides instructions and tools for the industrious foodie who wishes to make their own fresh cheese.  All you need is milk and a sense of adventure. This makes more than 40 pounds of different types of cheese – including mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, paneer and queso blanco. Me gusto queso!       Bamboo Bread Knife ($12, MoMA) bamboo-knifeAny foodie knows that your kitchen is only as good as your cutlery. This beautiful knife designed by the Museum of Modern Art is as sturdy as it is gorgeous. It can swiftly slice even the crustiest baked goods – and it’s made from sustainable bamboo. A fantastic addition to any foodie’s collection.     #giftideas #Christmasgifts #foodie #gourmet