8 Easy Ways to Prepare for Studying Abroad in the U.S.

Thinking about studying in the U.S.? Chances are, you’re new to its education system, culture, study skills, communication styles, and professional networking. Well, have you ever considered how to prepare for the differences between your norms and what you’ll experience in the US?

You might think,

“Well, I traveled to the U.S. one time many years ago and I plan to watch American movies. Will that be enough preparation?”

No! The first year in the U.S. is critical for international students, and if they’re not ready for academic and cultural differences, they can experience significant hardships with school as well as a loss in time, money, and quality of life.

So how can you avoid this? Prepare early for U.S. academics and culture at home.

Use these 8 preparation tips to learn about study skills, culture, networking practices, and day-to-day life management strategies to help with faster adjustment and success at your new institution.

1. Connect with Students at Your Future School on Social Media

One way for you to feel connected to your future school and new home is by joining Facebook groups and other social media. Search your new school’s website for student clubs and organizations that interest you. After selecting one or two of your favorites clubs to join, connect to their social media sites. If these are unavailable, try searching for student groups specific to your university or general social media groups in the local area.

By introducing yourself online and following the group’s updates, you can begin new friendships with others who share your interests. You can also get information on events happening in your destination city. You’ll be able to enter university with a better sense of your surroundings and have more conversation topics to choose from.

Note: It’s not encouraged to “friend” individual people that you do not know / have never talked to on Facebook.

2. Watch Videos by Other International Students and Professors

Watch free online videos to learn what other students and teachers recommend. International students in the U.S. share what they have experienced and American students and faculty share strategies to succeed at their school. Depending on where you’re moving to, these people can help you avoid problems. Watch videos fromTaraMaddendent.com, YouTube, or Vimeo.

3. Attend U.S. Study Abroad Fairs

Attend U.S. study abroad fairs in your country and ask school representatives practical questions like:

  • What pre-departure preparation classes does your school provide for international students?

  • What support services are available for me after arriving to campus?

  • Who can I email at your school to learn more about day-to-day life as a student?

Follow up with the new school connections through email and social media. It’s amazing how these professionals can help you prepare for U.S. study.

4. Practice Speaking English

Become more comfortable speaking English by practicing with English speakers and American natives in your country by attending English and culture clubs. Many clubs are free and can be joined through Meetup.

Another way to practice English and to learn about American culture while in your country is by volunteering at U.S. army bases, churches, or companies. If you prefer online strategies, you can also use chat programs like Conversation Exchange or interactive English learning websites.

5. Plan Your First Three Weeks

Give yourself something to look forward to when you first arrive and plan things to do in your first three weeks. Look at your school’s event calendar and add those you want to attend to your personal calendar. Look for a new gym, coffee shop, or place of interest and make a time to go there. Sign up for a fitness class or Meetup event.

Fill up your first 3 weeks in the U.S. with these events and give yourself a busy, but manageable schedule.

6. Take a Trip Before You Go

If you can, consider taking a trip to the U.S. before taking the leap to study abroad. International students who can travel to America for vacations, attend a U.S. high school, or study in short-term programs have unique opportunities to experience the country’s culture and academic systems.

Many international students who participate in summer or winter camps will be able to recognize if an American school is a good fit for their academic goals. These students are able to better prepare for language, culture, and academic differences through these prior experiences.

7. Use Free Online Resources

You can also learn about U.S. history, culture, and social norms online. Blogs and government websites are great tools for learning how to bridge differences between your culture and American culture. The U.S. State Department offers pre-departure support in their article titled 5 steps to U.S. study.

If you currently live near a U.S. Embassy, consider attending an EducationUSA pre-departure orientation where advisers and U.S. alumni provide information and resources to help you prepare for what you’ll experience in the U.S. To locate a center near you, visitEducation USA’s list of advising centers.

8. Earn Credits and Take an Online Preparation Class from a U.S. University

For the first time ever, American universities and colleges are offering international high school and undergraduate students online classes to help them prepare for studying in the US. These online university classes provide academic credits towards an undergraduate degree. You’ll learn strategies to earn higher grades, perform better in American classrooms, learn networking skills, how to bridge cultural gaps, and manage culture shock.

One class example is ELEC 110: U.S. Academics and Culture, a class offered by Sierra Nevada College, for international high school and undergraduate students. This four year private school provides international students with a letter of recommendation, certificates, and Priority Admission to their campus in addition to three transferrable credits towards an undergraduate degree. Scholarships are available for this program.

After taking this course, a high school student in Japan said, “This class has helped me prepare for the U.S. university. I have more confidence in myself because now I know what to expect in the U.S. university and cultures.”

But why do U.S. schools want international students to take online preparation classes? International students who prepare with formal training are more ready for schooling, language and communication, socialization, internships and employable positions in America. Since this option is new, here’s a basic list of what you should expect to learn in an online U.S. preparation class and the benefits you’ll earn.

What you’ll learn

  • Study skills, classroom etiquette, and presentation skills

  • How to write a college paper and take good class notes

  • How to get to know your American professor and earn better grades

  • Ways to prepare for quizzes and examinations in the US

  • US culture and communication skills

  • Time and health management skills

  • How to meet American friends and future employers

What you’ll gain

  • A competitive advantage on your school application

  • A U.S. transcript record with up to three academic credits towards your degree

  • A letter of recommendations from U.S. professors

  • A certificate of completion for your job resume and employment applications

  • Priority admission to select U.S. schools

  • Discounted online university tuition and special scholarships

  • Professional readiness for employment

Why You Should Prepare in Advance

Too many international students and their parents assume adjusting into U.S. classrooms and culture will be easy, but ultimately find that assimilation is way more difficult than they expected. In fact, research indicates that unprepared international students can experience academic troubles, misconduct penalties, culture shock, poor health, and even depression. They don’t achieve their academic or language goals, and some even drop out or transfer schools.

International students who prepare at home adjust faster in the U.S. with more confidence and skills to earn higher grades, live healthier lifestyles, develop English skills faster, and become more professionally ready for internships and employment. In fact, U.S. universities require international students to complete academic and cultural training because it’s critical for their success and well-being.

Unfortunately, most training takes place after international students arrive in the U.S., at a time when their energy and attention are split between many new responsibilities: mandatory orientations, moving in, class placement tests, joining clubs, finding classrooms, buying textbooks, and meeting new people, among many others. This is in addition to physical strains from time zone differences and recovering from international jet-lag.

Remember, the first year in the U.S. is critical for your success and health. Regardless of how you prepare for studying abroad in the U.S., it’s important that you do. Save yourself from the unnecessary hassle, time, money, and energy resulting from being unprepared.

Start preparing when before traveling to the U.S. to adjust faster with more confidence, more friends, higher grades, better communication skills, and a higher quality of life.

What to do BEFORE study abroad?

Students who prepare for US study BEFORE study abroad, graduate 20% faster. 

Students also experience: 

  • Safer living conditions in the host country

  • Having better relationships with faculty and peers

  • Having more confidence to speak with host country nationals

  • Having more fun

  • Saving money 

  • Having stronger university applications

  • Having a better understanding of host school’s rules and resources

  • Having better professional skills for internships and job interviews in the host country. 

3 Minute Research Video: https://youtu.be/8U-tAb4aFKM

Quick Video: Prepare

Website: www.culturallyconfident.com

International Student Integration Solutions: Who’s Doing What Services and Why?

How do U.S. universities invest in international student integration?

This NAFSA session provides data on more than 200 U.S. institutions’ pre-departure, transitional, & post arrival integration services that support preparation, integration, & retention of inbound students.

Gain innovative solutions to maximize first-year experiences with the NAFSA session’s PowerPoint PDF.

Authors: Tara Madden-Dent, Ph.D.; Katerina Roskina; & Dawn Wood.

New Study: Mentoring Impacts More Than Graduation Rates

“Mentoring” can be defined as the structured, intentional and sustainable relationship between a person with more experience and knowledge (mentor) and a person with less experience and knowledge (mentee). Research has shown that mentored relationships can encourage professional and personal success, and that pre-college programs that include mentoring can more effectively help students transition from high school to college. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education suggests that the act of mentoring can contribute just as many positive outcomes for mentors as it does for mentees. 

The study looked at college student mentors of sixth through twelfth grade students in the University’s Dean’s Future Scholars program. The program is an outreach, research-based mentoring approach to increase high school graduation rates and college enrollment for first-generation, low-income students. In the study, the college student mentors identified themes of how mentoring affected their own lives. The college mentors stated that being a mentor enabled them to reflect on their own behaviors as a student and make better decisions leading to their own success. As a result, the mentors believed it had inspired greater motivation for achievement, improved their own study and work habits, increased their accountability to faculty, and caused them to reevaluate their own professional goals. The lesson learned: being a mentor is more than supporting the goals of another. It is an opportunity to reflect on one’s own behavior, strategies and goals. Mentoring is a win-win situation for both those aspiring to attend college in the future, as well as for current college students who serve as their mentors.

The sixth through twelfth grader students who participated in the Dean’s Future Scholars Program since its foundation in 2000, have been given the knowledge, skills, direction and support to make the decisions necessary to graduate from high school and complete college. The program recruits students during their sixth-grade year from Washoe County School District Title I schools and mentors them through high school and college. The program has established a homegrown, sustainable educational model resulting in a 90 percent and 86 percent high school graduation rate of participants the last two years, respectively. This is significant when compared to Nevada’s high school graduation rate of 56 percent and the national average graduation rate of 74 percent.

The program requires students to meet with a college student mentor regularly to review grades, establish goals, make sure the necessary steps are taken to fulfill high school graduation requirements, and plan for college. The program also hosts a summer program to provide high school math courses, early college credit and an introduction to college life. It provides tutoring, examination preparation, community service projects, campus internships, college application assistance and financial aid. The program is largely funded by private donations and grants, along with campus resources.

 The mentoring component is key to any academic or professional program. Aspiring college students should consider inviting a trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced mentor to provide guidance in their lives, and trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced professionals should consider mentoring students. To watch a short interview with Bob Edgington, director of the Dean’s Future Scholars Program, visit http://ow.ly/adKb5. Or, for more information on the program, contact Edgington at 775-784-4237 or bobdfs@unr.edu.

 

Co-authors: Tara Madden-Dent & Dr. Patricia Miltenberger

Tara Madden-Dent is a Nevada Law Instructor and PhD Candidate in higher education administration at the university of Nevada, Reno College of Education; http://taramaddendent.com  http://twitter.com/#!/DrTaraMDent   http://www.linkedin.com/in/taramaddendent

Dr. Patricia Miltenberger is professor emeritus of higher education administration at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education. http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/pmilten/  https://twitter.com/#!/coyotepat   http://www.linkedin.com/pub/pat-miltenberger/20/719/38a

Int’l Ed Webinar Recording: How Best to Prepare Students for International Study

If you missed the webinar, feel free to watch the recording or read the white paper below to learn about a recent study about preparing Polish Fulbright scholars for U.S. study and research.  Dr. Madden-Dent explored the impacts of a 4-week pre-departure cultural and academic preparation class on students’ integration, adjustment, communication, academic and professional achievement.

Pre-departure preparation is only one strategy will be discussed at Dr. Madden-Dent’s upcoming presentation session at NAFSA in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, June 1.  If you’re attending NAFSA, you are welcome to attend and join the session: (https://goo.gl/Ja5Vdj )

 

To read the whitepaper and foundation of this webinar, Pre-departure Training for Study Abroad: Preparing Fulbright Scholars for Study in the USAFIND PDF HERE

Or copy/paste the following link into URL box:

https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/132128/Fulbright%20-%20Whitepaper%20(v14Feb).pdf?t=1518645700208&utm_campaign=GSP%20%2B%20IES%20Whitepaper&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=60696342&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–__6gMng71K7YTgMTUUUGeYd-sscV9eVqof-MIktVng2gQzxiAKyV_fPV2rOhxcS7_HNvIQVwlY9PFUxs_LjAg3ocK2wstLhOdS0VC7fyDrNem3tA&_hsmi=60696626

Hackschooling Part II w/ Logan LaPlante

Back in January, my students and I discussed "Hackschooling", a topic introduced to us by Logan Laplante's TEDx speech in 2013 (see video here).   Tonight, Logan joined our University of Nevada classroom and provided his response to student follow-up questions regarding issues that impact Hackschooling (e.g. Common Core State Standards Initiative, international students/English second language learners, professional development/networking, parental involvement, etc.).  He also shared about his experiences with the NV educational system, home schooling, tailored education/learning styles, and how HackSchooling could be modified for a variety of learning environments. The following questions were created by UNR students' and Logan's responses are found in the students comments below: Logan’s Hackschooling Follow-up Questions

1. Common Core: How does the implementation of Common Core State Standards (standardized testing) affect your Hackschooled homeschooling experience?

2. Happy & Healthy: How can public schools “hack” their systems to teach being happy and healthy given their limitations?

3. Creative Resources: How can resources outside of Incline Village be implemented into Hackschooling?(Will you provide an example of how local resources could be used to hack public education (writing, reading, etc.) for another student who doesn’t ski in a different city?

4. Networking: Incline Village is a small town where networking and building relationships can be less intimidating. How would your Hackschooling method for networking, differ if it were done in a big city like L.A. or New York?

5. K12 TEDx: How can the TEDx presentation series contribute to the public K12 educational system?  (If elementary, junior highs, and high schools put on their own TEDx series- how could the benefits/experiences you’ve had help young students, parents, teachers, community, etc.)

6. Music Ed: How can your experience be applied to a student learning music at a low- resource school and low socioeconomic community?

7. International/English Leaners (Me): What benefits and challenges do you believe Hackschooling can provide to international students and English language learners?

Video: Transition Into A New Culture

Thank to my former UNR student, Alyce for her wonderful final project interviewing Young Park. The transition into a new culture can be very challenging. Young introduces us to his cross-cultural experience.  

 

Public School Church/State Discussion

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqzfIitfHjU] In June 2006, (Clark County, NV) Foothill High School Valedictorian Brittany McComb delivered a Christian-laced graduation speech.

Prior to graduation day, her speech was reviewed by school officials who required edits to avoid school-sponsored promotion of a religion.  Brittany agreed to the required changes but proceeded to use her original version anyway. School officials quickly cut off McComb’s microphone, to avoid anyone getting the idea their public school was preaching Christianity.

In relation to church/state regulations in public schools, what are your thoughts about this public school dilemma?  How does the Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, student free speech and expression, limited-open forum/open-forum/closed forum, and preventative school policy relate to McComb’s speech?

In addition, here is a short article related to this topic: http://www.computernewbie.info/wheatdogg/2009/11/23/brittany-mccombs-legal-battle-ends-at-supreme-court/

How to Increase Faculty Publication Rates

In higher education, the “publish or perish” environment presupposes an academic’s ability to construct, submit, and defend written positions while expanding preexisting research and theory.  It’s very important that faculty who seek research and tenured positions, be active publishers in peer-reviewed journals.  Unfortunately, only a small percentage of academics are actively publishing.  Current publication rates also seem to be disproportionate with the value and pressure higher education places on faculty to publish.  The number of publications and the integrity of those publications can either help or hinder faculty professional development (employment, promotion, tenure), professional value within the system (institutional or national recognition), and the chances of earning professional incentives (grants and awards).  As important as publications have been made within higher education, how can educational administration more effectively support faculty to publish?  The following suggestions are helpful publication interventions that increase faculty publication rates:

  • Writing-for-publication professional development courses, retreats, workshops, or consultations.  These strategies provide structure, writing timelines, goals, and instruction.  Ideally, the PD publication intervention is also fun; hosted in a motivating environment amongst like-minded researchers and writers.
  • Writing-for-publication support groups, clubs, teams, and social media forums. These strategies strengthen writer motivation, decrease writing anxiety, provide a reward system for successful publications, offer accountability measures, and create structured time dedicated for writing.  Facebook, acadamia.edu, and academic blogs are just a few examples of how social media can increase communication amongst writing group members.
  • Writing-for-publication co-author partnerships.  This strategy unites two academic writers with a common writing goal.  The relationship helps keep each author accountable or on task.  Co-authors also share research and writing responsibilities as well as provide editing support.  Co-authors may choose their writing partner from within their same discipline or establish a cross-discipline partnership to complement their expertise.
  • Writing-for-publication coaches or mentors. These strategies provide structure, accountability, instruction, lessons on writing processes and politics, practical writing exercises, and editing support.
  • Submit papers to cross-discipline, peer-reviewed journals.  This can increase the exposure rate and therefore, the acceptance rate into journals with paralleling research interests.
  • Strengthen undergraduate and graduate writing-for-publication cultures on campuses.  Indoctrinated with the motivation, experience, and skills needed to publish, students seeking professorship and research positions will demonstrate more consistent publication rates after graduation.

The scholarly peer-reviewed journal article has been a key indicator of an academic’s value in higher education.  Without a strong record of publication, many academics will be denied rewards such as external funding, promotion, tenure, or even employment.  The suggestions mentioned above provide structured interventions to streamline publication processes and increase faculty publication output rates.

College = Employment

Groans and whining; that’s all I heard while listening to my previous student describe her experience at a student job fair:

“It was the same old, same old.  I pitched the same monologue over and over while shaking the hands of local employers in hopes that I land a job after graduation.  Why do I have to work so hard for only a few potential jobs?  It seems like someone should have invented a more efficient way for students to land a cool job by now… isn’t this the 21st century?”

Looking at her with amusement, I shook my head in agreement before replying, “Check out Presentfull.com”.

You see, until now, colleges and universities have used traditional, localized methods to introduce students to the workforce.  It has been a difficult task that requires significant time, staffing, and institutional resources.  Many postsecondary institutions cannot afford student employment resources which leave students to experiment with employment challenges alone.  Fortunately, higher education can now use social media to achieve our instiutional mission faster and more efficiently.

Presentfull.com offers a more effective approach to increase student employment rates.  If enrolled in college, a student can create a free profile to market themselves and apply for internships, part-time, and full-time jobs.  Presentfull’s international student employment website has officially launched this month in the United States. I suggest that students, higher education, and the business sector explore its usefulness.

Think about it…no more door-to-door, hope to get an interview, inefficient employment plans.  You now have the freedom to brand yourself as a qualified professional from the comfort of your own home.   Presentfull.com is a new resource for college students to introduce themselves, develop and promote their resume, network with local and international companies, and apply for jobs all on one website.  Did I mention it’s free?!

How can your business benefit from having a free profile on Presentfull.com?  How can college students benefit from marketing their skills and applying to jobs all around the world? How can professors use Presentfull to increase student engagement and learning? And lastly, how can higher education benefit from using Presentfull's resources?

  • Business Benefits- Open access to qualified college students interested in internships, part-time jobs, and full-time careers at your company.
  • College Student Benefits- Increase professional network of potential employers and business partners, apply for internships, part-time jobs, and full-time careers on a local level and international level, and engage with other students and college professors.
  • Professor Benefits- Familiarize yourself with students, create a free class discussion forum, introduce your students to open job opportunities that correspond with your course topic, and invite business professionals to speak to your class as guest experts.
  • Higher Education Benefits- Free and streamlined student career planning: resume/CV development, Video Resume development, Cover Letter/Letter of Interest development, application station, mentor and network center.

Check out Presentfull.com for yourself by creating a free profile. Let me know what you think.

Also, congratulations to all 2012 graduating college students and incoming fall senior college students. I hope the Presentfull.com resource helps you get the job/internship that makes you very happy and successful. Good luck. -Tara

I wish…

A young woman from Florida named Elise wrote me last week and asked, “Because I don’t have an overwhelming passion for only one thing and I don't have a personal brand, how can I become a more valued and important professional in my workplace?” Most likely, there are many opinions and recommendations for Elise about this subject but I will respond by answering, “listen for I WISH statements”.  “I WISH” statements are another way of saying, “here is a need and it is an opportunity for someone to create a solution”. Purpose and value are often determined by the ability to satisfy a need and "I WISH" statements can identify those needs.

Examples include: -“I WISH my child had a mentor”. Solution: Dean’s Future Scholars

-“I WISH teachers had it better, I’d become one”. Solution: To Teach or Not to Teach

-“I WISH I knew more about blogs and how blogging can help me become a better writer” Solution: 6 Ways Blogging helps writers

-“I WISH I was more nationally recognized in Higher Education”. Solution: The Social Network Equation  Social Business in Higher Education: Increasing Faculty Competitiveness  Connecting the dots: Increasing competitiveness and leadership

-“I WISH we could study abroad”. Solution: USAC Increases Student Competitiveness

-“I WISH I didn’t have to drive all the way to Carson City in order to attend a Nevada Legislature meeting” Solution: Knowing the Politics behind your Success

-“I WISH I had more publications to put on my curriculum vitae”. Solution: Cross-disciplinary student initiated collaboration  Publish or Perish

“I WISH my son or daughter could do something extra to be more successful in college” Solution: Sticky Campus

“I WISH I had someone to talk to about becoming more competitive” Dr Tara Madden-Dent

These I WISH statements came from people in my life.  I responded to them by addressing the need and creating a solution or recommendation.  If I can’t solve their I WISH statement, I introduce them to other resources that can.  Either way, I contributing to others and creating progress within my industry.

Listen for I WISH statements in your life. These are moments when you can be of value and satisfy a need; thus becoming more productive and essential in the workplace.  Being proactive and taking initiative reflects creative ambition and selflessness: two very respected and rare qualities in today's workforce.  If you can’t resolve a need by yourself, search for other resources or work in partnership with other professionals. You’re ability to contribute to society, create change, and see your efforts manifest into solutions will inspire your passion through feelings of being useful and productive.  Creating solutions for I WISH statements can add professional value to yourself and your business.

Please let me know Elise after you address an I WISH statement in the workplace and how it impacted your role as a professional. Thanks for the email; I wish you great success.

Knowing the Politics behind your Success

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbQDx3BSrQI&w=560&h=315] “Knowing the Politics behind your Success” is a PowerPoint tutorial that provides instructional steps to 1) conveniently access your Nevada Legislature’s meetings during a LIVE INTERNET BROADCAST and 2) easily contact your Legislative Representative and include them into your professional network.

Your Legislatures are voting on legal issues that directly impact your current and future professional success.  Become politically savvy to predict and prepare for future trends, needs, and business opportunities in your society and workplace.

This Screenr PowerPoint tutorial gives an example of how current legislation is impacting Higher Education for those working or studying at a college or university.

Try the two strategies presented in "Knowing the Politics behind your Success" and share your thoughts and/or experiences to this blog.  I appreciate the feedback about how you increase your professional competitiveness through political awareness.

Cross-disciplinary Student Initiated Collaboration

What happens when university undergraduate and graduate students from multiple disciplines organize a network of collaborative research and publication partners?  The outcome resembles the Publish or Perish Club at the University of Nevada.  Its mission is to increase student publications through a culture of research by means of workshops, peer collaboration, faculty advising, and co-authored publications. The intensive level of intrinsic motivation to publish in peer-reviewed scholarly journals empowers the student initiated club to produce many single author or co-author publications. The Publish or Perish Club (PPC) is a professional student organization that encourages undergraduate and graduate student scholarly research and publication in partnership with university faculty and administration.  Membership in the PPC is open to all University of Nevada, Reno students and faculty. The PPC provides opportunity for students of all grade levels and amongst all disciplines to collaborate on research and design articles for publication. At a research institution, it is mportant to prioritize valid research and publication throughout campus culture.  PPC collaborative student and faculty networks increase publication rates, increase professional competitiveness and experience, emphasize a culture of active publication, and synergize research efforts throughout university disciplines to provide robust perspective and expertise on relatable studies.  These cross-disciplinary, interactive co-author partnerships compliment research studies from multiple professional perspectives and encourage interdisciplinary research.

Monthly PPC meetings provide workshop platforms to design and edit publications while building co-author networks. During the academic year, the PPC hosts coffee socials to further encourage smaller group discussion around topics including, but not limited to research, publication, presentations, and professional competitiveness.  An end of semester awards ceremony provides students and faculty scholarships to support future research.

PPC members have increased their professional network to include more scholarly writers, have increased opportunity for co-author or editing support, and established new publication goals. Students are also learning how to prepare thier course assignments to be transformed into future publications and presentations.  The PPC student initiative is demonstrating creative ways to increase professional competiveness through cross-discipline collaboration, communication, and publication education.

6 Ways Blogging Can Make You a Better Scholarly Writer

We often hear that social media publications are less important and inferior to peer reviewed journal publications.  Faculty and researchers are discouraged from distractive activities such as blogging, tweeting, or social media communications. Many departments completely ignore social media application in order to focus on more traditional research and instructional methods.  Ironically, it turns out that in today’s digital society, researchers and writers actually improve scholarly publication skills through blogging. The following are six ways that blogging can make you a better scholarly writer:

1. Practice makes perfect:

The more experience a writer has, the faster he or she will develop advanced writing skills.  Original ideas organized and communicated effectively via blogging provide scholarly writers the platform to practice writing articles and to receive feedback.  Blogging is a metacognitive activity that encourages stronger and more creative writing abilities. Reading blogs will also introduce different viewpoints and organizational frames to consider including in future scholarly articles.  The more exposure and experience with disseminating data, the better.

2. Research feedback: 

Writers make their scholarly articles better by seeking peer reviewed feedback in order to build the strongest paper possible.  Traditionally, we ask faculty or friends for their opinions but now, with social media, it is possible to expand our peer reviewing network to include researchers, faculty, students, and nonacademic professionals from all around the world. Blogging is free, instantaneous, international, and informal.  Interactive blogging provides multiple perspectives and suggestions to incorporate into an article or support an original premise. Before submitting a finished article to a peer-reviewed journal, try breaking it up into one or more blogs and test it within a social discussion.  Blog writers will benefit from the interactive discussion and feedback.  These discussions often lead to future research and inspire new articles.

3. Collecting data:

Do you think you’re the only one contributing quality content on a particular topic?  There are over 160 million public blogs and over 180,000 blogs created every day.  Think about the amount of knowledge and experience circulating the web about your interests? To gain access to current data, writers need to go no further than their own computer. Books and journal articles take a long time to publish.  Blogging allows you to read about what other researching leaders are currently working on. This helps you to collect relevant data and maintain your leadership position within your field.

We are no longer limited to only peer-reviewed journal articles for valid data.  We can use blogs to find prestigious scholars, read about their work, and then link to the author’s published article.  Also, by reading blogs that contradict or challenge your own hypothesis, you can gain a better understanding about the topics you want to write about. By challenging other countering principles, and defending your own, you will become a stronger writer. Blogs will provide you with a more robust foundation of data while leading you to new authors, research, or scholarly articles.

4. Scholarly recognition:

Blog sites can be used to organize your data and clearly demonstrate your research line.  Because it chronologically records and displays your digital publications, you may build upon previous research.  Your blogs will be referenced by scholars of all skill levels who will then refer you to their colleagues and friends.  You will be considered a leader in your industry; actively publishing and searching for effective outcomes. Others interested in your field will be able to follow your research more easily. Blogging also provides potential collaborative partnerhships for future research with leaders from all over the world. The best part is, the international researchers will come to you.

5. Professional development:

Blogging sites allow you to publish your curriculum vitae or resume that potential employers, hiring committees, and journal review panels can refer to while considering your expertise. Blogging allows you to format your presentations and publications in a causal style using video blogs, PowerPoint, Screenr, or traditional articles. Grants and service can also be displayed on blog sites or hyperlinked to other sites displaying such committee work, scholarly awards, or other related achievements.  By producing a quality blog site, writers will practice their scholarly abilities while developing a professional image and brand as a writer.

6. From blog to book:

Once you have established a thorough line of valid blogs that complete a research hypothesis or provide substantial original content, it is to time consolidate the individual publications into a streamlined book. Many scholarly writers aim to design and write a book.  Blogging helps to structure the book one blog at a time.  If organized effectively, each blog could be a chapter of your next book. After addressing online responses, discussions, feedback, and revisions of your blog entries, you can consolidate a series of related blogs into one book for publication.

The residual ignorance, fear, and hesitation lingering amongst traditional scholars will inhibit not only their publication abilities but those of whom within their apprentise or mentoring relationship. In the past, it has been easier for faculty and scholars to simply overlook the importance of social media within Higher Education; but now, today’s publish or perish culture within a digital society demands that educational leaders embrace blog techniques amongst other strategies to enhance the industry.  Blogging will expand the scope of writers’ publishing abilities while increasing their influential reach across the web. Blogging can improve scholarly writing skills, increase publication rates, and expand professional networks.

Image

Mentoring: Increasing Professional Competitiveness

Mentor: A person with more experience and knowledge who shares their wisdom with a person with less experience and knowledge. Research has shown that mentored relationships can encourage professional and personal success.  Regardless of your age, gender, socioeconomic status, or professional interests, seeking and receiving effective guidance and advice from a mentor can encourage faster development and increase professional competitiveness.  Yes, mentorships require time and effort but the outcome can often be more effective than most training or preparation programs.

For example, the University of Nevada hosts a college preparation program called Dean's Future Scholars which uses a relational approach to mentor students into college.  Since its foundation in 2000, DFS has established a homegrown, sustainable educational model resulting in a 90% high school graduation rate for first generation, low-income high school students.  This is significant especially because Nevada’s high school graduation rate is only 54%.  

The program traditionally recruits students during their sixth grade year and mentors them through high school and college.  DFS college student mentors meet with their high school students every week to review grades, establish goals, fulfill high school graduation requirements, and plan for college opportunities.    

DFS also hosts a six-week summer program at the University of Nevada to provide high school math credit courses, improve high school grade-point averages, and introduces students to college life while building sustainable academic networking skills.  Free tutoring, examination preparation, internship opportunities, student job opportunities, and an array of student resources such as computers, printers, and a writing stations are available through the program.  This long-term commitment allows first-generation, low-income students a greater chance for graduating from high school and entering college.

Dean’s Future Scholars, Big Brothers Big Sisters, National Mentoring Month, and Mentor are just some ways to enhance your personal and professional development.  Ask a respected professional within your industry who has more knowledge and/or experience than you do, to be your mentor today.  Just make sure that you are committed to work hard, listen to, and consider following your mentor’s suggestions.  Having a trusted ally in your corner whose goal is for you to succeed is an effective strategy to improve your professional competitiveness.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4baD1n6-qwA]