How to Stay Happy in the Cold Season

AsianBlogFall is almost upon us, and with that comes the shortening of days and frigidity in the air. Gone are those long, hot, and sunny summer days, and people are often left depressed in its wake. There is a name for the blues some people experience in the colder months; seasonal affective disorder (SAD). When left unchecked, it can lead to serious depression and a whole host of issues, so it’s best to be avoided. Here are four tips to beat SAD, and to make fall and winter just as fun and exciting as summer:

  1. Vitamin D: this vitamin is vital in maintaining good mood, and it’s most readily available through the sun. Long, dark days make it harder to get sunshine, so make sure you go outside for at least ten minutes a day in the sun. If not possible, pop a Vitamin D supplement, your mood will thank you.
  2. Go on vacation; having something to look forward to does wonders for the mood, and a change of scenery and pace can defeat the cold season doldrums. Plan a trip, it doesn’t have to be extravagant or exotic, and see how your perspective changes.
  3. Exercise: activity of all forms, especially cardio, has been proven to boost endorphin production, a hormone responsible for good mood. Working out outside can provide the double whammy of activity and sunshine, but the gym is an excellent resource when it gets ugly out there.
  4. Pamper yourself; with the nasty weather, short days, and holidays of the colder months, people often neglect themselves. It’s important to take care of yourself on a personal level, be it massage, a pedicure, or even just a hot bath. Make sure this fall and winter you don’t forget about yourself, and if a schoolwork-overload is preventing you from some pampering, visit Unemployed Professors, who specialize in your well-being.

Surviving the First Year of College

bfsCollege can be tough, especially for freshmen coming in to a new environment. It can be overwhelming living alone for the first time, and the freedom combined with responsibility can prove to be a heady mix. Many have crumbled under the pressure of the first-year of college, but you don’t have to. Start by investing some time in becoming organized. Buy a planner, download an app, and mark your calendars, as this can save so much time in the long run. Keep your space organized and you won’t waste time looking for lost things, or forgetting that a ten-page paper is due tomorrow.

Organization can help you stay ahead, which is another important aspect of success as a college freshman. With the freedom of college, it can be easy to leave assignments and studying to the last minute, which can and will catch up with you. Instead, use your new-found organization skills to stay ahead of the curve. Beat procrastination and do things as soon as you can after they’re assigned. This will help with your grades, as well as ease up a lot of stress in your mind.

Speaking of stress, it’s important to find activities outside of the lecture hall that you can focus on. This will help you deal with stress, and make your quality of life better overall during this time of transition. Join a club, make some friends, and make sure you include some time to party and blow off some steam. If you find that school work is just taking up too much of your time, head on over to Unemployed Professors. They specialize in letting you not neglect your important social life.

Stay Fit This Fall

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Summer is almost over, and that means fall keggers, pumpkin spice everything, and tailgating with wings, shots, and carbs. Packing on the pounds gets easier the more we cover up with clothes, and before we know it, we can’t fit into our summer daisy dukes for the Halloween party. Here are some tips on how to avoid the cool weather weight gain that inevitably seems to creep up:

1. Make it a skinny: Fall beverages are part of the allure of the cooler months. Nothing is cozier than drinking a sugary, creamy concoction with extra whip cream on a dark fall night. Buyer beware; those drinks are loaded with calories, making them a deceptively effortless way to see the number on the scale rise. Try not to drink your calories this fall, you’re going to need them.

2. Get a hobby: Many outdoor activities are more challenging during the cooler and shorter fall day, making sedentary evenings on the couch with snacks a viable option. Don’t fall into this trap; instead of Netflix and chill, rediscover your love of reading, drawing, or music.

3. Pick up the pace: chilly days mean warm cars, as people avoid walking outside in lieu of an automotive journey. Instead of driving, walk where you can, bundling up in the process. Activity in cold weather is especially effective in weight loss since the body expends more calories warming itself. So, instead of buckling in this fall, go for a walk, or better yet a jog outside; and if you find that schoolwork is robbing you of exercise time, make sure you visit Unemployed Professor to get some much needed free-time.

…and remember, one of our friendly, tweed-wearing Unemployed Professors is happy to help you tame the essay writing monster.

 

NYQ thinks Unemployed Professors “should burn in hell”

According to a threatening email my company received today, Ray Hammond thinks I should “burn in hell” for starting this site and hopes that I “choke on [my] money.” This message was sent from his official email account at the New York Quarterly, a non-profit and poetry publication.  

Instead of responding to this highly unpoetic message in kind, I am choosing to be the bigger person in this situation and I therefore made a gift to your organization. 

I began Unemployed Professors to help out both struggling students in a credential-oriented, capitalist educational system, as well as under-employed academics who may be struggling to pay for food, medical bills, or childcare.  

Mr. Hammond, I respect the work you do and hold your own organization in high regard. You don’t need to respect mine, but veiled threats and evocations of eternal damnation are uncalled for. After taxes, this is the largest donation I can afford to make this holiday season. 

Unlike NYQ, my organization would never under any circumstances wish death, violence, or eternal damnation on anyone. I hope you will use this gift to reflect on the true goals and values of your organization, as well as how you use its official communication channels.

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Creative writing can improve your communication skills

banner5In today’s day and age, people have the ability to engage in a more diverse range of hobbies than ever before. Some are physical activities, things like yoga and Zumba, which challenge the body and contribute to bodily health. Others, such as interactive gaming, stimulate the mind and, if interactive, create social situations for people who may otherwise be more introverted in their everyday lives. A hobby that’s been around for a long time, but is gaining popularity due to the technology driven world around us is creative writing. Something that is completely free to do, creative writing has the ability to improve one’s vocabulary, language, and cognitive reasoning skills.

Money is an issue for many people, and finding a hobby that can fit into a tight budget may seem daunting. Creative writing only costs time and the rewards that can stem from it are innumerable, especially when it comes to developing language skills. In the present culture of text messaging and emails, spelling, grammar and vocabulary tend to fall by the wayside. As a result, language and reading skills of the general public are suffering. This can prove problematic in any social situation, but especially in academic and professional environments. An easy way to overcome this is with creative writing, which forces the writer to utilize various words to get their ideas across. Dictionaries and thesauri are tools that creative writers often end up utilizing, which helps them get a more widespread grasp on language. The more someone writes, the more they tend to seek out new and innovative words to convey their thoughts, which translates into improved vocabulary in all aspects of life.

Creative writing can be anything from free-form prose to a structured and coordinated script, the possibilities are endless. Once a writer chooses a path, the goal is to organize their thoughts in a way that the reader can grasp the work. Often, this type of discipline and organization in creative writing will translate into more cogent and organized reasoning skills in everyday life. For example, during arguments many people feel flustered and incapable of expressing their thoughts in a cohesive and easily understood way. The intent, emotion and reasoning is there, yet the person lacks the language tools to effectively get their point across. Creative writing will help with that, as it trains the writer’s mind to express himself in a way that is more easily understood. This also works in reserve, making the writer more capable of understanding and unraveling communication from others.

Ultimately, creative writing is one of the best things someone can do to improve various communication skills. Vocabulary, language, and cognitive reasoning all improve when creative writing becomes a hobby. It is one of the most flexible and inexpensive diversions from everyday life, and there is also no set standard for someone to write. Creative writing does not discriminate, anyone from a child just learning to write to a genius academic can engage in this informal hobby; improvement and progress is inevitable.

Here at Unemployed Professors, we acknowledge this fact and are here to help you with your creative needs! Our profs are here to help with your term paper!

 

Student Financial Aid

banner9As students finalize their decision on the college that they will attend, begin the arduous process of making living arrangements, in conjunction to deciding on the materials that they will bring with them, they will be presented with an experience that some have yet to encounter –the financial aid process. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), deciding on how much money to take out in loans, determining if a co-signer would be the most advantageous to reduce their long-term debt and finalizing their decision by signing the elusive promissory note; all of these hoops that a novel university student must jump through may seem daunting; yet, it is a necessary aspect of the university experience that the majority of students will encounter.

Let’s face it, only a minority of university students come from affluent backgrounds and the rest of us are pursuing a college education as a means of undergoing intra-generational mobility. We want to have a better life than our parents could provide and the only means to accomplish this is by increasing one’s understanding of the world. Whether one desires to improve themselves through the humanities, social or physical sciences, the decision to pursue a college education is a significant step that should not be decided on a whim. There are severe consequences for individuals who do not sufficiently analyze their current life situation to determine if a college education is the most appropriate. I am a tenured professor at a mid-tier University and have unfortunately seen a large portion of the student population pursue higher education to party 24/7 for 4+ years. That is not saying that one should not enjoy the college experience while they are bettering themselves, but deciding to accumulate more than $100,000 in debt to fulfill a need to party should not be the main determinant for such a serious endeavor. The university system in the United States is more or less a ‘legal Mafia’, whereby they are allowed to charge absorbent fees for a service that has been deemed a human right in other first world nations. These expenses cannot be paid out of pocket by most and thus, student loans are the only option.

If the decision to attend a university is the most appropriate, then one must fully understand the different types of financial aid. The below is a brief summary of the different types of loans provided by lenders.

  • A subsidized loan is awarded to a student based upon their financial need. Filling out the FAFSA requires a student to answer general questions about their income, their family’s contribution, and other factors that may affect their financial viability. This information is used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the amount of financial aid awarded is not subjected to interest while attending school at least half-time. Furthermore, a student is provided with a six-month grace period after they leave school and are provided with the opportunity to defer their loans if they are experiencing financial hardship. Alas, a student is responsible for paying any interest that accrues during the grace period and is only provided a certain number of deferments depending upon their career option, i.e. working in a non-profit provides one with greater flexibility for repaying their loans.
  • An unsubsidized loan is NOT based on financial need and any individual who submits a FAFSA can obtain financial aid through this loan program. Unfortunately, interest begins accruing immediately after the loans have been disbursed and the interest is capitalized onto the principal. This means that any grace period, deferment or forbearance that a student wishes to utilize will be subjected to accruing interest and this can significantly increase the amount of money that they will be required to repay.
  • A private loan is provided by a third party that is not directly associated with the federal government. As such, the rules and regulations associated with the loan agreement are vastly different from subsidized and unsubsidized loans. This (typically) results in higher interest rates, less flexibility with repayment options and fewer resources that are provided by the federal government. Although the amount of money that a student is required to pay for a higher education is absurd in the United States, increasing the educational status of its citizens is advantageous to the federal government and they are willing to work with a student to reduce the financial constraints of their student loans. A private loan lender is only concerned about profit maximization and therefore, they are less willing to work with an individual to reduce their student loan debt.

The type of loan that one chooses will largely depend upon their family’s socio-economic status, their ability to balance work with school and the amount of debt that they are willing to accumulate while pursuing their academic dreams. The decision to obtain student loans must not be taken lightly and each entity who will be involved with the loan, i.e. the student, parent or any other cosigner, must be fully aware of the loans terms and conditions, as well as the long-term consequences of the loans.

Consider my previous situation as an excellent example of the consequences of the student loan process. My total educational debt was $80,000 at a loan interest rate of 6.8%. My loan term was 10-years and my minimum payments were $920.64 a month. This means that my average debt per year was $20,000 and this is relatively minimal when considering that some educational programs result in debts greater than $35,000 per year. After my 10-year loan term ended, I ended up paying back more than $110,000, which equated to about $30,000 in interest paid. $30,000 is a significant amount of money and as you can see, the decision to pursue higher education should not be taken lightly. Before beginning the financial aid process, set aside some time to reflect on the personal and professional goals that you wish to accomplish with higher education. If a college education is the only way that you can pursue your dream, then DO IT! If there are other alternatives that you would rather pursue that do not involve accumulating unfathomable amounts of debt; consider saving the $30,000 in interest paid (in my situation) and embark on a career that truly makes you happy…Good luck to all the aspiring academics out there and we wish you only the best!

How to Set Manageable College Goals

banner728X90-2College is a huge concept in our society. People start planning for it before their children are born, kids grow up hearing myths about it starting almost in kindergarten, and every day of high school seems geared towards the SAT’s and job readiness. With such high stakes, how is it possible to get through day-to-day life in a way that helps you maximize what you’re getting out of your education?

The biggest goal, obviously, is your degree, and some people may attach other goals to that: Graduate with a 4.0. Make Phi Beta Kappa. Chug an entire keg. Whatever. But when the goal is that big, it’s difficult to come up with smaller goals. That is why I used to use the following framework:

Every term, I would sit down with my advisor. If you don’t have an advisor, sit down with someone you trust: a mentor, a parent, or even your roommate.

  1. List your biggest goals. Think on the timeline of 4-5 years out, when you will ideally be graduating. Subdivide this list into personal and professional / educational goals.
  2. List your academic and personal goals for the term. Think about what you want to have accomplished this term. A 4.0? Registering for the LSAT (oh, you poor fool!)? Earning a black belt? Running a half marathon?
  3. Create a mid-term checkup checklist. Decide on a date (preferably one with no midterm exams or papers due) and sit down with your mentor. They have to be your accountability partner.
  4. Every week, take 5-10 minutes on Friday afternoon. Write down what you have done that you are proud of and what you have done to achieve your goals. If it’s nothing, be honest. At least write it down.
  5. At the midterm checkup, ask yourself: Am I doing what I need to do to achieve my goals? Ask your accountability partner: Do you think I could be doing something else / something more? If so, what?
  6. At the midterm checkup, revise your goals, and add notes as to why. Be really honest, but not hard on yourself. “I realized that I need another term to train for a marathon” is fine, because now you have a new goal. “I bombed the midterm because I was hung-over, so I don’t think I’ll make an A in organic chemistry” is honest. The point of this is to be honest with yourself and develop useful goal-making habits.

Of course this process doesn’t even have to be formal. However, I do think it’s really important to share it with someone else. Sometimes you can be really hard on yourself if you don’t meet your goals. It’s really important to realize that sometimes, changing the goals you make is a more important reflection of your growth than actually achieving the goals. And the point of college, in some ways, should be to grow as a person and understand yourself more.

Keep your goals on the horizon. Work smarter, not harder, and see if any of our friendly professors can help you today.

More networking tips for shy students

banner150X160Last fall, I blogged about some networking tips for the shy student. Now it’s a new year, a new term, and I have a whole new set of tips for you today. If you followed my advice, hopefully last term you made some friends, networked online, got in good with your professors, and made some social goals. Here are some challenges for you.

Hang out in the laundry room. No, really. Here is my thinking: Everyone who’s worth knowing does laundry sooner or later, right? So they will come through. And the people who don’t go to the laundry room will become someone else’s smelly friends, not yours. Added bonus: The laundry room is also a quiet place to study, generally speaking, free of many other distractions. So striking up a conversation with a potential new friend should be pretty easy. “Aren’t you in my [insert topic here] class?” is a good place to start, even if you know they aren’t. Or “Cool [team] hoodie! Were you at the game last week?”

Get out of the house or dorm. If you are in an online class, or online only program, networking may feel abstract and alienating. Try working in a public place: there are many coffee shops and even meetups targeted at people who work or study online. Check out WorkFrom.co or Meetup.com

Volunteer. This will help your resume, help you network, and connect you with people who share your interests. Put up flyers or invite people in your class to go with you to a cleanup. There are websites to find volunteer opportunities especially tailored to your interests. Try to get groups of people together to volunteer. It’s totally okay to ask your professor before class if you can make an announcement: “There’s a big river cleanup Saturday; does anyone want to go with me? It’s a great volunteer opportunity and then we can all get pizza. I’m hoping to get 20 people to come with me!”

Try on a new identity. Hell, it’s college. You might as well do it now. Do or wear something that starts conversations. Wear a tail. Get a weird piercing. Carry around a hobbyhorse. Be a Brony. Have a few snappy answers ready when someone asks you about them.

“Say Yes”. This is simple, but consider: there are few other times in your life when you have as much to gain and as little to lose as you do in college. A friend of mine had a rule in college to never turn down social engagements and to always say yes the first three times someone asked her to do something. After that, if you hate them, say no! But what’s the worst that will happen if you sit and have lunch (or three lunches) with someone who turns out to be boring, or if you go on a “meh” date or three? Nothing! You’ll gain valuable social experience and maybe even build important relationships.

Focus on networking, not studying. Work smarter, not harder, and see if any of our friendly professors can help you today.

Students – Make tomorrow suck less

banne300X200One of the most useful things I’ve ever come across is the “Unfuck your habitat” (UFYH) site. This site is full of small fixes and even an app. The fundamental idea underlying it is the Pareto principle, as well as the idea that small changes add up over time, because it’s important to change your habits.

However, one shortcoming I have found with it is that it is focused a bit more on housecleaning. It’s aimed at housewives. However, it is easy to change the recommendations for student life. One of the most important things in UFYH is to focus each day on making tomorrow suck less. That’s a great concept, right? “Make tomorrow suck less, today!” But for students, this doesn’t necessarily involve doing the dishes or laying out your clothes, and realistically, not all students are going to go to bed at a “reasonable hour.” What can you do, as a student who may have a shared bathroom that someone else cleans, no kitchen, and a raging Reddit addiction that takes up most of your night?

One of my favorite tips on the UFYH blog is to charge all your gadgets the night before. Next, you should pack up your bag. If you have an 8 AM class, make sure that before you go to bed (even if you go to bed at 6 AM), your bag is ready to go, so you can make sweet love to that snooze button as many times as possible while not risking forgetting anything. Is an assignment due? Will your professor only accept it in hard copy? You better print that shit out and have it in your bag. College is casual, so you might not need to worry as much about laying out clothes for tomorrow as the UFYH blog suggests, but you might want to lay out something clean to wear.

Double check your assignments and your email before you go to bed. You would not want to get up at the crack of 10 AM to the cruel sounds of your alarm clock if your professor canceled class the night before! Similarly, you don’t want to overlook any last-minute deadlines or homework assignments.

Finally, I think students should never be working on an assignment the day it’s due. Even if your class is late in the day, set yourself a deadline of the day before. Don’t go to bed and promise yourself you’ll get up at 4 AM to finish (trust me, I did this many times when I was in school, and it took years off my life). That kind of time management is only for experts, like me. And look how far it got me! Anyway, a buffer day to account for last-minute computer / health / zombie disasters is a great idea, so ideally, even if it means you stay up a little later, you can go to sleep relaxed. A looming deadline can interrupt even the most epic of sleep, so it just makes sense to get all your work done before you go to bed.

Make your own tomorrow suck less.  See if any of our tweed-wearing nerds can help you with your assignments.

 

 

How to talk to your college professor

banner3-300X250Believe it or not, professors are people too. Nerdy, boring people, yes, but people nonetheless. And most of them actually love to hear from students. Most of the time, I am happy to sit down with students and clarify expectations about an assignment, content for the course, or just shoot the shit and talk about their educational experiences and goals. Not only is this a great way to network and plant the seeds of later recommendations, it can be the difference. I know when I’m teaching, I’m a lot more forgiving of the students who made an effort to engage with me as a person than I am of the ones who huff in on the last day, claiming my final exam killed their grandmother and demanding an extension.

However, it’s possible to take this too far. Some professors like being called by their first names, others don’t. Follow their lead and call by the name they’ve introduced themselves in class. Emails should always be relatively professional, but on the other hand, why waste your time writing “Hi it’s [your name]” in an email, where the subject line clearly says the sender? You may feel a real rapport with a professor and that’s great – but keep in mind that office hours need to be prioritized. You may be having a great conversation, but it’s polite to leave if someone else comes in, especially if they seem to have a concern.

Professors do care about you (really), but you should keep conversations professional or neutral. Don’t ask questions about their personal life unless it’s something they have brought up first. Also, while it may be important to talk a bit about your personal life, keep in mind that these are the first professional relationships of your life, so try and be professional in what you tell your professor. “I am very sorry I missed class; I was very sick” is acceptable. “Sorry I missed class, I had diarrhea” (as one email I received said) is not.

Remember that if you are having very serious personal issues, it may be best to ask your professor about campus counseling options and services. Your professor is your professor, not your friend, your priest, or your psychologist. Your professor is your champion, because they want you to succeed, but they have a different role than counselors or social workers. They may feel a rapport with you – I do have my favorite students – but they have an obligation to all of their students, so don’t monopolize all their time.

In my experience, the students who made the most effort to communicate professionally and appropriately were the most successful. It may be really difficult to navigate the professor-student relationship, especially if you’re the first in your family to go to college. However, this is no reason to be intimidated. Even the most famous and renowned professors are still complete dorks in the real world. Well, maybe Indiana Jones wasn’t…but he was the only one. And he’s probably not your professor….I hear he’s on sabbatical anyway.

Talk to your own professor today. See if any of our tweed-wearing nerds can help you with your assignments.