Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Feeling Stressed? Good! But Stay Calm

Stress is a necessary evil.  While we don't want to walk around feeling stressed all the time, it does help get successful results.

We want to be in the middle of that bell curve when stress leads to increased attention and interest, but right before it causes strong anxiety.

As you climb toward optimal performance, you have to stay calm because once you lose your cool, well, that can quickly lead to a "complete meltdown."  So what do successful people do to stay cool?

Travis Bradberry over at Forbes.com offers us some insight about how successful people stay calm.

Appreciate what you have. "Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn't merely the 'right' thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%." Remember, 99 percent of the world's population, alive or dead, would love to be a college student in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Avoid asking what if? "Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go." At least wait until after you've taken your last final - for now just study.

Stay positive. "Positive thoughts help make stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free." What are you going to do after finals? Going on a vacation, going home?

Disconnect. "Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body a break from a constant source of stress. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels. Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7." Turn the phone off - I mean power it down - and then go for a walk while looking at nature, not your cell phone screen. Remember, the best studying is done in 30-minute stretches surrounded by small breaks.

Limit your caffeine intake. Yikes! This would be tough. How about no caffeine after 2:00 p.m., so you can . . .

Sleep. Studies have shown that adolescents (and some of you are not far from adolescence) need as much sleep as toddlers. Your bodies and brains are changing so fast that your body needs time to recharge. No studying until 3:00 a.m. - try studying some every day.

Squash negative talk. Especially interior negative talk. This is a bad habit some of us fall into. So take a gossip break, no badmouthing others, no badmouthing yourself. It just leads to a negative attitude.

Breathe. Yes, take a deep breath instead of destroying your computer after you hit delete instead of save. BTW as soon as you open a new document save it, and then save it often.

Use your support system. You should have quite a support system by now. If you can't remember the assignment, there's an email tool inside all your class websites. Use it.

I bet there are a lot of successful college students out there. What do you do to stay calm in the face of stress?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What Would Your Internet Search History Say About You?

What if someone only got to know who you were based on your internet search history? What do you think he or she would think of you as a person? What kind of an analysis could be performed based on your search history?

How about whole states? Estately, a website that claims to be "an addictive easy way to shop for homes" did just that.  "The results ranged from mildly amusing to completely disturbing. No doubt this information will come in handy for anyone trying to decide which state they want to buy a home in, especially for those curious how their potential neighbors spend their time online."

Here's a sampling of the first four states in the Union (listed alphabetically):

ALABAMA:  FOX News / God / Impeach Obama / Jesus / Jessica Simpson / Obama Is The Antichrist / Polka  / Satan
          Analysis:  It’s a fire and brimstone kind of state, but with a soft spot for pretty blondes.

ALASKA:   Adult Friend Finder / AR-15 / Bestiality / Bird Watching / Couch Surfing / Mail Order Bride / Pull Tabs / Sarah Palin
          Analysis:  It’s awful lonely up north.

ARIZONA:  Conjugal Visits / Hippies / Scorpion Sting / How are babies made?
          Analysis:  Things you’d overhear on an Arizona hippie commune:  “I have to reschedule my conjugal visit because have to see a doctor about this scorpion sting.

ARKANSAS:  Atkins Diet / End of Days / Lap Band Surgery / Learn to Read / Walmart Jobs
          Analysis:  In 2013, Arkansas was declared the most obese state in America, and evidently they did something about it because in 2014 they’re now the second most obese.

. . . and then we get to our own lovable state of California.

CALIFORNIA: Alcoholics Anonymous / Bros Before Hos / Dandruff Cure / Food Poisoning / Google Glass / Kim Kardashian / Meat is Murder / Paris Hilton / Pokemon / Rogaine / What does Siri look like?

Analysis anyone?  You have learned how to do analysis and critical thinking throughout your college career, what does California's favorite web searches say about us?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Devoid of Humanity? Ask this "Ethics" App

The Marrkkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley held a contest asking students to develop an Ethical Decision making app that incorporated values presented in the "Framework for Ethical Decision Making":
"Making good ethical decisions requires a trained sensitivity to ethical issues and a practiced method for exploring the ethical aspects of a decision … The more novel and difficult the ethical choice we face, the more we need to rely on discussion and dialogue with others about the dilemma. Only by careful exploration of the problem, aided by the insights and different perspectives of others, can we make good ethical choices in such situations. We have found [this] framework for ethical decision making a useful method for exploring ethical dilemmas and identifying ethical courses of action."
See any problems with this brand of moral decision making? What discussion and dialogue or insights of different perspectives can you get from your phone?

Why did the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics want to develop such an app? According to the Chronicle of Higher Ed "The Santa Clara ethicists hope that people who make decisions that will change lives—business leaders, hospital administrators, and school officials, for instance—will use the app as a guide."

Really? We are going to offer our public leaders an app in order to make moral and ethical decisions?

As you can imagine there are some skeptics--and they are hashing it out on social media. The moral decision making app “references terms the noneducated in ethics won’t understand & is hilariously oversimplistic for those who are,” wrote one skeptic on Twitter. This just keeps getting better and better. Discussion and dialogue about moral ethics in 140 characters or less.
But simplicity is part of the idea, says Miriam Schulman, assistant director of the applied-ethics center. 
“We tend to work with people where the rubber meets the road,” she says. The point is not to get a client up to speed on thousands of years of moral philosophy, says Ms. Schulman. Instead, it’s to get him or her to deliberate in a slightly more organized way.
Are we really that devoid of morals?  Do we really need to study "thousands of years of moral philosphy" in order to make an ethical decision? Don't these people have parents or kids or even pets?

Your capacity to make deliberate choices is what makes you human.  Are you going to abandon your humanity to an app?  If so, why should you be allowed to vote? Or raise children? Or decide who gets medical treatment? Or who should attend college? What does the college-educated "app" between your ears think about that?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Successful Revising Techniques

Rewriting is the essence of writing well—where the game is won or lost.
—William Zinsser

This is very true - instructors don't expect everything in the first draft and, in fact, expect what Anne Lammott would call a "shitty first draft."

Here is some basic advice when it comes to revising drafts:
1) Revision is NOT just about fixing grammar and spelling. 
2) Revision is NOT just about moving some words around or finding every synonym Word has to offer. 
3) REREAD the prompt.  Are you answering the question being proffered, or have you gone off on some tangent? Get back on track and revise towards the prompt.
4) Check in with your thesis.  Is this the paper you just wrote, or did you discover a new approach towards the topic as you wrote your exploratory draft?  Make necessary adjustments. 
5)  When revising the next draft "think big"....what kind of evidence (stats, facts, quotes, examples) do you need to support ALL of your points?  Does your paper display a stunning use of ethos, pathos, and logos? 
6) Oh, and last of all know this, revision should take a lot longer than your initial draft.  So give yourself time to write a final draft.
This isn't the be-all list of revision, revision is a personal process and many successful revisers have different strategies.

What is the most successful strategy you employ when revising an essay?