Obama urges…but is that enough?

Obama urges college students to graduate in back-to-school speech – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs.

So I follow educational stories closely, and will continue to do so. I’m also interested in how our leaders and policy-makers make sense of the state of higher education today. As I blogged about a few weeks ago, it seems to me that the rhetoric of leaders is “finish school – it’s important for our country and our future” but the message being sent by federal and state lawmakers via budget allocations is “getting an education is your own business, pay for it yourself and don’t keep asking me (or the taxpayers) for more.” That’s strange to me, what about you? Is education a public or private good? How do we as a nation make college completion a real priority, or are we doomed to speak in circles about this but never do anything about it?

Quite frankly I think that we put too much emphasis on “going to college” and not enough on what that means. As my good friend (and recent Ph.D.) said; “going to college is not just the thing to do after high school – it’s much, much more than that.” We are working on a book that will hopefully help people think through this.

Time Management vs. Managing Multiple Priorities

I just got back from the nation’s capital where I spent about 4 days with over 600 SGA leaders from around the WORLD! Literally, I have some new friends from Cairo, Egypt, Illinois, the Virgin Islands, Pennsylvania, Texas, Qatar, and our neighbors up north in Canada. I have been a speaker for the Association of Student Governments (ASGA) for 5-6 years and am always energized by my brothers and sisters who take up the mantle as SGA leaders. We don’t always get it right, but most of us are well intentioned enough. Why do I say we? Oh you didn’t know? I was HEAVILY involved in SGA back at NC State. I was Student Body President my super-senior year (yes I did a victory lap), and before that served in almost any post you can imagine in SGA. Then I advised SGA when I came to U of L! And what I learned and continue to try to teach now is that there is a BIG difference between managing time, and managing priorities.

You see, those people who “manage” their time tend to be able to fit a whole lot of stuff into one day. Killing themselves to study, go to meetings, eat, meet with friends, do research, and work a job, all because they measure their success in how much they can do – no matter how important or impactful that doing is. They run around saying “I’m so busy” hoping to elicit glares of respect or adulation from those who just don’t seem to be important enough to be as busy as they are. I don’t think these folks get it – in fact, they are missing everything. You see, these folks are busy bodies – running to and fro, feeling that they are successful because they were able to just barely get to bed by 2am, only to have to do it all again the next day. This was me circa 2000.

Then there are the others folks (the folks I strive to emulate). These folks prioritize their day, fill it with meaning, substance, and value added work for their lives and the lives of others. These people, we will call them “the real deals,” prioritize their time, and realize that not everything we do is equal in importance. Real deals understand that time spent doing things that are core values for you is what ultimately leads to success. They realize that quantity does not necessarily equal quality, and that very busy people have lived lives full of nothingness because they did not prioritize properly to give meaning to their work. Your job this week is to figure out how to “multiply your task” rather than simply “multi-task.” Get more out of the tasks you do by seriously assessing the value of what you are doing, then aligning those appropriately. Spend most of your time on those things that serve, that connect you closer to others in your life, that bring you excitement, and leave the rest to the busy bodies. Trust me, they thrive off the mundane stuff they we truly are too busy for!

Turbulence

I am writing this post from 30,000 feet in the air (ain’t technology grand!). In 2009 I had one of the most horrific flying experiences in my life. I can say without hyperbole that I thought I was going to die. Keep in mind that I have been flying since I was a little boy (5 or so) because my biological father works for the airlines. Needless to say I have a few miles under my belt. I was on a return trip after consulting at a university in NC coming back to KY. From one small city we left on one of those small ridiculous prop planes. We call them “crop dusters” lol. Anyway, unbeknownst to me, there was a violent wind storm raging through the south and midwest, and it tossed and turned that plane in ways you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been skittish of turbulence ever since.

On my last trip to Trinidad I was talking with a friend and colleague of mine who happens to be a pilot. I asked him how he dealt with the turbulence. He told me three things: 1) turbulence are natural, it’s just air. we are in a flying piece of metal flying through that air, you can expect the bumps to happen; 2) the chances of the catastrophe happening that we always think will happen actually happening (whew) are astronomically low. The plane is designed to fly, even if the engines failed, it would still coast and eventually land!; and 3) if the worse case does happen it was just meant to be, and as a person of faith I could understand that. He ended with “so just sit back and watch your movie.” I’ve felt better ever since.

So what’s this have to do with my blog? I’m here to say don’t be surprised by turbulence (bumps in your life or your academic journey). Expect them to happen; you are a unique person charting new territory in your life with unfamiliar people and surroundings. Remember that you will likely make up a worse case scenario that is so much worse than it will ever be. But no matter the “emergency” you are designed to succeed, it’s in your DNA! You will eventually land on your feet if you just keep on moving forward. Also remember that you made the decision to do this, so do it! You have everything you need to succeed, and if you don’t, you can create it, learn it, or get it from someone else. And finally, if the worse case that you are thinking does happen, then seek whatever gods may be to help you through it – and understand that things happen for a reason sometime, and you will survive. Trust me, life, and certainly school are a lot less scary than we make it out to be. So just sit back and watch your movie. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the view!:)

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Stressed Much?

Carol J. Scott, M.D.: Back to School Stressors — Invisible Indicators in the Lives of College Students.

Hey folks, take care of yourself, and take care of each other. I can vouch that being a good, active, and involved student can cause a tremendous amount of stress – but nothing is worth your health and certainly not your life. Do you know someone “going through it” in the worst way right now? Don’t let them suffer alone – help them. Good resources in the article, and when in doubt, let me know how I can help!

Dark Thoughts

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.” ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where there is light, darkness flees; so if last week I talked about good thoughts, this week its about the evil siblings of those thoughts. Over the last week I had a few dangerously dark thoughts as it relates to my professional and personal life. You know the ones I mean. The ones that speak in absolutes, and that have the potential to lead to darker and even more dangerous thoughts; “I’ll never forgive him/her; this is the last time I trust him/her; I don’t even know why I am doing _____; why am I here, wouldn’t things be better if I weren’t; those people are all ______”. These thoughts transcend mere negativity into the realm of dark thinking. They are where stereotypes, prejudice, dis-trust, and ultimately failure are born.

Like weeds, they are ubiquitous and unassumingly natural. They are poison to the soul, and are seeds of self-loathing that have only one purpose – death.

Death in this case can mean a lot of things; spiritual death, academic death, death in relationships, death in ambition, passion, goals, you name it. A colleague and I recently discussed a student who, in the course of a 10 minute advising session, actually said that they are thinking about not coming back next year. Let’s examine that thought for a second: you have already thought and spoken into existence in September 2011, that you are probably not coming back 11 months from now? How did a hopeful and talented college student get there so fast?

We have all been there. This kind of dark thinking only has one possible path, and if it is not handled like the weed it is, then all is lost. Next post let’s look at my lawn as an example of how to treat these thoughts! Yes I said my lawn. In the meantime, identify the darkest thoughts you’ve had lately. Call them out for what they are, and start thinking about how your new thinking is going to change everything, forever.

6 Steps to Beating the Shortage of Financial Aid – US News and World Report

 

 

 

 

6 Steps to Beating the Shortage of Financial Aid – US News and World Report.

Good information from US News & World Report. I’m really interested in helping students find diverse ways to fund their education as states continually cut funding. Also thinking through the college process for traditional age students and “new-traditional” students (returners, 25 and up, vets, etc.) is now more important than ever. We don’t have the luxury of experimenting with school – you may find yourself worse off than when you started. Know someone who is thinking about returning to school, hook them up with me!

Higher Education Cost Lowering; Still Higher Than Inflation |

 

 

 

 

Higher Education Cost Lowering; Still Higher Than Inflation |.

I stood hand-in-hand with my fellow students from NC State back in late 1990’s making this same case. To see the problem persists begs a serious question. What do you think about this?

International Day of Peace

The United Nations declared today as an International Day of Peace. September 21st, only 10 days after 9-11, we all can reflect on our role in creating peace in our own circles of influence. As I attend the launch of a new Peace, Justice and Conflict Transformation program at my institution I’m inspired by the speakers who challenge us to watch our words, and thoughts, as they put either positive or negative energy into space. So hey, what will you do to pursue peace today?

Students protest new study on diversity efforts – WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Students protest new study on diversity efforts – WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports.

What I appreciate most about this story are the beautiful faces from all backgrounds standing together. Despite your beliefs about affirmative action, we can all value the love these students have shown each other!

Good Thoughts

If simple words can start and end wars, then thoughts can be so much more powerful. As students, thoughts can be the difference between you making it, or completely failing. In fact, the right thoughts are central to your success.

Think about it (forgive the pun); you don’t need physical prowess to do this school thing, nor do you have to be all that smart necessarily, take for example ________ (fill in the blank…you know who I’m talking about! We all have a _______).  So what is it, what’s the big secret? The “completers” in this journey to the degree have persistence, confidence, self-esteem, a healthy dose of ego, and above all else belief – all the offspring of good thoughts, and good thinking. All great performers experience a mental certainty that they will finish the race. This is known before they ever start.

Spend more time affirming yourself, and if you can’t do it, find somebody who can and will. Walk in the certainty that you can do it (“it” being whatever goal you have in front of you). This is not simple pop psychology here, it’s fundamental truth. I think, therefore I am – so what are you thinking?

More on the darker side of thoughts next time…

Dr. Anthony

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