Tempus fugit! (Time flies!)

One of the challenges adult and graduate students face is finding the time for the school-related tasks they’ve got to get done.

24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 84,000 seconds – this is all we’re given each day. Too bad time doesn’t stand still. In fact, even as you’re reading this blog post, time is flying!

Here are 5 tips for making the most of your time as an adult or graduate learner:

1. Don’t neglect your spiritual life.  This one is a given. Remember, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience. Unconfessed sin resulting in fear, worry, anger, resentment, or bitterness will dull your focus. A spiritual life in disrepair is dead weight you don’t have to carry. Cling to the cross of Christ and invest time there first and foremost. You’ll be rewarded with multiple minutes for every one you spend in prayer!

2. Use The Pomodoro Technique. Moving from the spiritual to the physical: It’s important to realize that your brain has its limitations. To maximize your study and paper-writing time, try working for 45 minutes straight – no stopping, no breaks! – and then taking a 15 minute break. Focus hard, unplug. Wash, rinse, repeat.

3. Use a white noise or other noise cancellation software. Background conversations and other aural interruptions ruin your focus. Try putting on a set of headphones and use a white noise app from ITunes.  Most such software is free. You will be amazed at how your concentrating power instantly improves. What once took 20 minutes might now take only 10.

4. Lift your heavy weight when you’re fresh. There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Know when during the day you work best at your most difficult task, be it writing, reading, note taking, synthesizing information, etc. Save your busy work – responding to emails and attending to minor administrative tasks, for example – for when your brain is fried and you can go on auto-pilot.

5. Watch what you eat. Blue Bell Cookies n’ Cream ice cream goes down easy for me, but my sugar high lasts 10 minutes and them I’m depressed. Try to stay “lean” when you’re in study mode. Eat fruits and vegetables – watch the bread. Stay hydrated. If you can keep your blood sugar level, your concentration will remain stable over longer periods of time.

Alright, there you have it. Time is ticking. Get after it!

What If……

JoAnn recently shared the following story with me, and it got me to thinking about all the issues adult students face when they go back to school. She was taken out of her home at the age of 12 because of an abusive mother. She lived in a group home for a while but didn’t really fit in. As a result, she lived on the streets with no hope of a bright future.
One day, she asked the question, “What if I went back to school so I could get a job?”
She found a program and finished her GED. Belhaven University supported the program she went through and encouraged her to consider college.Again, she asked the question, “What if I went to college so I could better my life?” She began at Belhaven but soon found out she was pregnant. As a single mom, it was all she could do to work at her low-paying, part-time job and take care of her child. As a result, she dropped out. That was a sad day for her, but she told me she would never forget the kindness that the staff at Belhaven had shown her.
Fast forward 6 years, and once again JoAnn asked the question: “What if I finished my degree so I could work for more than minimum wage?” She has now enrolled in school again with a bright hope for the future.
How many like JoAnn or (fill in the blank ) are out there asking the same question, “What if…….?”
Many of our students have similar stories, and many of their journeys started with “What if….?” Think about the possibilities when you fill in the end of that question. I am sure many of you who are currently attending classes are tempted to let life’s issues creep in and snatch your dreams of an education. You might be surprised where your journey will end when you start it with “What if…..?”

Your Brand Identity

Have you ever wondered who Coca Cola is? Or, thought what is a McDonalds? Probably not. Their brand identity is strong. They know who they are, they carefully create and articulate that information, and we come to know them by the information that is communicated.

At the same time, have you considered you have a brand identity as well? Your brand identity is how you want to be perceived and should reflect the value of what you bring to the audience. Here’s the great thing…you are in control of your brand identity!

I have one of those fancy fitness trackers and I love it. It prompts me to take the stairs or go the long way to a meeting. But, plenty of times I still choose to take the elevator and chances are good I’m going to run into someone on that elevator who introduces themselves and asks me who I am or what I do. Being able to articulate who I am in that 30 seconds is crucial. It will certainly be the only first impression opportunity I have to do so. By preparing for this in advance I am more likely to accurately communicate my brand identity and have more control over how I am perceived in that first impression.

As an adult learner, perhaps you are in the process of seeking a new job. Maybe you just want to position yourself a bit better at your current place of employment. In each regard, you would benefit from having your own personal elevator speech prepared. You never know who you are going to be standing beside in the elevator, or the coffee line, or at the dry cleaners. Use that opportunity to share your brand identity. Besides, you never know where it might lead you!

I recently read an article in Journal of Interactive Marketing in which the authors shared “the premise for personal branding is that everyone has the power to be their own brand and a person’s main job is to be their own marketer” (Labrecque, Markos & Milne, 2011, para. 11). Wow, what an opportunity!

I believe a few intentional steps in planning can help you be prepared to present your personal brand identity:

  1. Who are you? – You would think this is obvious, but sometimes being tongue tied gets the best of us! Clearly state your name – are you Robert, Bob, Rob…? Decide this in advance.
  2. What can you offer/what do you do? – This is not your job title. Try framing your job title in terms of what you do. My job title may be Director of Admissions, but I prefer to say “I help adult students realize their dreams”.
  3. Provide a hook to learn more – what is unique about you or what you do that someone may like to learn more about?
  4. Practice makes perfect – you want your speech to be concise, interesting, and memorable. Practice it over and over and don’t be afraid to make changes. You will find you are more likely to remember it and less likely to stumble over words like “um” or “uh” with practice.
  5. Ask for a takeaway – “Could I give you my business card”? Or perhaps, “Could we connect on LinkedIn?” are great ways to share your information and gain information for further networking with your audience.

 

Labrecque, L.I., Markos, E., & Milne, G.R. (2011). Online personal branding: Processes, challenges, and implications. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 25(1), 37-50. doi:10.1016/j.intmar.2010.09.002

 

Amanda Young is Director of Admissions at Belhaven University, Atlanta

#orlandostrong

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For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

It has been amazing to see a city, state, country and world come together to serve and help each other in the wake of the horrific events in Orlando. Even though you may not live in Orlando or attend online classes through our Orlando campus, you may have a connection to the Orlando community. You may have visited Orlando. You may have family in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers for healing continue for the victims, families, first responders, volunteers, healthcare professionals, law enforcement officers, the list goes on. #orlandostrong defines this community.

Many of our Belhaven students are part of the group of unsung heroes – the volunteers who immediately asked, “How can I help?” and were out in the field serving others. These selfless acts started me thinking about our Belhaven community. You may not realize it until you need something, but you have an incredible community of resources available to help and support you as a student – whether you are online or on campus. The faculty, staff, administration, and fellow students are all part of your Belhaven community, and invested in your success as a student. In an online environment, there are times when you may feel you are out there by yourself. I encourage you to reach out to other members of your Belhaven community for help, and to share thoughts and ideas. Asking questions and sharing ideas is also an important part of the learning. As we wind down this academic year, and look forward to our next year, I encourage you to reflect on the verse for our past academic year.

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My Brother’s Keeper

From our friend Sandra Kelly, Director of Student Services at Belhaven’s Jackson LeFleur Campus:

Dear beloved, as you read this blog, I want you to know one important thing, “You are my brother and sister in Christ and I am yours…” According to society, we are supposed to be in competition with one another, down-talking, jealous of and hating each other. However, as men and women of God and fellow members of the Belhaven University Family, a Christian principled institution, instead of operating the way the world expects, we are to walk in love towards one another and keep each other uplifted. We are our brothers’ keepers.

Today I prayed for you, my brother and sister! I prayed for those who lost sleep last night as you paced the floor wondering how your bills are going to get paid. 

I prayed for you, my brother and sister, as you battle anxiety, insecurities and loneliness, not only from a personal perspective, but educationally. It is so easy to become frustrated and stressed-out when all of our efforts at achieving greatness seem to falter. Situations like that seem problematic to us, but are just right for God. After all, our Abba is the “Problem Solver!”

Finally, I prayed for you, my brother and sister,  as you deal with past hurts, pains, and perhaps forgiveness, I prayed for you to be released, and for you to release those hurts, that pain, those who transgressed against you. 

By now I know you’re thinking…..“But, you don’t even know me!” And you are right. I do not; however, I prayed for you, my brother and sister without calling your name….Why? Because I am your keeper! Isn’t that what I am supposed to do? That’s how things are supposed to be, right? Shouldn’t I be your keeper? As you being a spouse, parent, friend, church/community leader, and student, I should be there to encourage you when you need it.

After you have studied countless hours and still end up failing your test, shouldn’t I pick you up when you falter? Should not I be able to speak life into your situation? As a child of God, I have that obligation to do these things. As Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

As Christian brothers and sisters, we of all people must be keepers of one another. When you lean, know that I will be there standing beside you to lift you up. When you struggle in your classes, I will be there to encourage you every step of the way. When you cry, I will offer my sleeve to wipe your tears. When you talk, I will offer my ears to listen. When you need a comforting word, I will offer my voice as a vessel of God’s Word. When you are going through rough times, I will be standing in front of you to offer my arms for a hug. And when you need me to just be there, I will do that too. You will hear me saying, “Don’t give up on God, because He will not give up on you!” I will do all of these things….Why? Because I am my brother and sister’s keeper!

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Walking In

Two weeks ago, we were packing up our campus – preparing for the following day: moving day! I’ve never met anyone who likes to move. Given the choice between moving and having a root canal, I’ll take the root canal – gladly. However, the prospect that moving to a bright and shiny new facility would allow us to better serve our students was motivation enough. We were pumped and ready to pack. Just as we thought we couldn’t be more motivated, Joe walked in.

Joe is always walking in. Each evening when he walks into our campus, his hardy greetings seem to electrify the place. Joe walks into each office – into my office. Whatever is wrong with the day always gets a little better when Joe walks in.

As a non-traditional student, Joe is older than many of his millennial and Gen X classmates. As his instructor, I quickly found that Joe brought a lot of wisdom to the classroom and wasn’t shy to share it with us! Much has been written about generational differences these days. When Joe walked into my classroom, it became evident that there are more similarities than differences between us – that we’re all ultimately searching for the same things in life – confirmation that our lives matter: a sense of purpose.

We didn’t ask for student volunteers to help us prepare for the move, but, as I mentioned previously, Joe walked in – a May, 2016 graduate of Belhaven University (BS in Management) and newly enrolled graduate student (Master of Science in Leadership). We talked, laughed, packed, and all shared a meal together. A day that we had not looked forward to suddenly became a very good day.

The day after we packed for the move, Joe had a massive stroke. As of this writing, he is not doing well. Please pray for Joe. We don’t know if he will ever walk into our campus again – only God knows. A family member wrote the following: Joe was very proud of his work at Belhaven and learning with your organization gave him a great sense of purpose…thank you for that.

Of all the things that adult degree programs do for their students (better pay, opportunities for promotions, etc.), providing a student with “a great sense of purpose” represents our highest calling. Joe, and the adult students he represents, reminds us that amidst the discussion of career goals and academic planning, a much deeper longing motivates students when they walk through our doors.

I don’t think it’s an accident that adult students find purpose in programs like ours. The Christian worldview component has something to do with that for sure. There’s also the people component – the faculty, staff, and fellow students. We’re family, and its “family” that motivates a student to show up, to hang out, to walk into our offices –and ultimately into our lives. For this, we should be grateful.

 

 

Ed Pickel – Chattanooga/Dalton Campus

Using Your Talents

Does the fear of failure keep you away from trying things that could be great for you? Do you feel like God is leading you to do something that you are hesitant to start? There are many people who feel the same way. Starting something new and unknown is difficult and unsettling; however, in order to grow, people need to be in situations that force them to strive for something difficult to attain.

An example of this is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. A master gives three of his servants one talent each. This was no small sum. The modern equivalent to a talent could be as much as a million dollars. This master believed in his servants and expected a great deal from them. The first two were wise and invested well. They brought back much more than their master initially gave them. But the third was concerned that he would lose the master’s money and did not make any effort to invest it. Instead, he buried it for safe keeping. Little did he know that this was the worst thing that he could do.

Talents

It is oddly coincidental that a measure of money back then was called “talent” because this is also something of value to the Master. He gives us talents that we are to invest in business or people. The problem comes when we let fear overtake us, and we bury our talent inside of us instead of using it. We were not meant to bury it, but to use it for the good of ourselves, others, and to glorify the One who gave the gift.

Knowledge is like these talents. You are investing in your education in order to grow the talent that God has naturally given you. He has instructed you to do so, and given you the ability. Now it is up to you to put in the work of growing that talent into something more than it was before!

Student Success

Keep striving until completion. He gave you the talent, and He will give you strength and endurance to finish!

He makes all things new

From our Director of Admission and Student Services in Memphis, Erica Johnson:

As we are watching the beautiful spring season unfold and bloom…the phrase “April Showers Bring May Flowers” comes to mind!  We are definitely experiencing an early spring… and it’s such a beautiful visual reminder of God’s new life and creation and His ability to produce glorious transformations not only in nature but also in the lives of His children.

When we are following God’s plan for our lives- it becomes clear where He plants seeds and where the fruits of His labor blossom.  While, seeds and trees require rain for nourishment and growth- sometimes the rain may come in the form of a spring thunderstorm which is par for the course of the changing of seasons- from winter into spring.  Those storms can be severe at times; however, once those storms have passed and the sun is shining brightly- we can really see the beauty of God’s creation.  As the trees bloom and bright colorful flowers blossom, each day becomes more and more beautiful.

God works in our lives the very same way…and often times, when we are facing our own personal storms… finding our safe haven in Christ and trusting him to take us to through the storm can not only test our faith, but tests our willingness to give up trying to control the outcome.  He tells us in His word:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

 

When we are facing tough assignments or feel like we just can’t meet a deadline… We must remember that we are on our own personal journey and God is working in our lives…we just have to give Him control and trust completely in His plan.  When we are able to completely follow His lead, we will still continue to grow and be challenged; but when we come out on the other side, we will be transformed – and molded into the person God is shaping us to be.  Living by faith, allows us to continuously evolve in our character…and allows God’s handiwork to shine through- so we will have our story to tell and God can ultimately be glorified.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!  Corinthians 5:17

 

-Erica Johnson

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Keep Your Chin Up

 

Spring-Is-Sure-To-Follow

SPRING! It’s a new season. Beautiful colors are coming back into the landscape. Trees have green leaves again, and flowers are blooming. Soon the grass will need mowing again.   grass_border_3    Oh, maybe you didn’t want to be reminded of that!

Has it been a long winter for you? Have you faced more obstacles than opportunities lately? Are you tired? Is it hard to keep going to class and to complete your assignments each week?

Take a deep breath and remember why you are on this journey. You are in school to reach an educational goal you have set for yourself. You and many other students can get discouraged during the challenging times. Remind yourself of the reward at the end of the race.

Keep your focus on the finish line! diploma

KEEP YOUR CHIN UP!

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and

let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

Proverbs 4:25-26

Keep Your Chin Up

Why Learning to Work with Younger Generations is so Important

Working Together

Why Learning to Work with Younger Generations is so Important

Did you know that there are four generations in the workplace? That’s right! There are, and if you want to have a satisfying career, you have to learn how to work well with all of them. This can be challenging for many professionals. Why? Because each generation has a different way of looking at work and a different definition of accountability. This is causing a lot of friction between “old schoolers” and “new schoolers,” which can be detrimental to both your work relationships and productivity.

As a seasoned worker who’s had many years of experience in your field, it can be tough to watch someone straight out of college excel in front of your eyes, and it can be easy to shut down new, innovative ideas with the excuse “We’ve always done it this way.” What you might not realize, though, is that the frustration you’re feeling is being projected to your co-workers, especially those who you feel are overstepping their professional boundaries. You look intimidating to them, and instead of seeing you as a helpful resource, they see you as the grumpy, old co-worker who has a huge problem adjusting to the times. Your fellow employees aren’t the only ones who see you this way; employers will too, and this is where you run into further issues. If you allow this negative attitude to interfere with your work, people will notice, and trust me, it’s a bad look for you. It hurts your professional brand immensely and makes it harder for you to advance.

Organizations want professionals who are excited and willing to collaborate with employees of all ages because, in the end, it doesn’t matter how old you are – the only thing that matters is that you do a great job while working collaboratively with others.

-Wilbert C. Bryant, Jr.