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Todd Rhoad5 Steps to Achieving Maximum Benefit from Your Degree

by Todd Rhoad

Pursuing a college education, at any point in your life, requires a substantial commitment in time. As a young student, time is a considerably more abundant resource; however, as a seasoned learner with numerous responsibilities, such as those ccompanying a job, family, or both, one must focus on an efficient utilization of many resources to achieve the maximum effectiveness in their professional and academic development. Too often we become so involved in just completing the tasks necessary to obtain the degree that we fail to truly prepare ourselves for life with the degree.

Just imagine we go through all of the hard work, toil, blood, sweat and tears for four years to get the degree only to find ourselves holding the diploma in our hand thinking “Now what?”So, then we are forced to develop some strategy to improve our employment position but don’t quite have all the resources we had when we were in school. We put our resume on the Web and hope that the addition of the degree will bring in numerous phone calls of those wanting to hire us. Maybe we aren’t looking for another job but an improvement in position within our current company. We hope that once we graduate, our managers will come around to our desk and tell us that we have a new position now that we have a degree. While these situations sound exciting, they are highly unlikely. Getting the degree is great but is no guarantee for success or improvement unless you have put some real thinking and strategy behind it. The following steps will help you do just that.

Having a plan for what you want your degree to teach you and how and where you plan to use it is vital to your growth.

1. Determine your goals, what you want to learn and specialize in. Write it down.

Writing your goals down triggers a response in the brain called “reticular activating system” that can create a sense of awareness of opportunities that can help you get closer to your goals. The unconscious mind will continue to focus on the direction you set in your written goals even when you aren’t consciously thinking about it. Your brain will keep you in tune with events that may help you achieve your goals and will keep pushing you until the image that you have in your head of what your real success looks like is equivalent to what is physically present in your surroundings. The career map you generate will help you use time and resources more effectively and efficiently. Is it worth the small amount of effort required to generate the map? A study of Harvard graduates over 10 years found that 3% earned 10 times more than the other 97% combined. What was the one factor that was different between the 3% and the 97% in both studies? The 3% had written goals and a plan of action they followed daily.

So determine what you want and write it down. Try to be very specific in defining the goals. Keep them challenging but achievable. List what they are, how long it may take to get there, what resources you need, who can help provide those resources, etc. Put specific dates for completion of these goals. Then, create a plan on how you will go about achieving each goal. Review these every day so that your mind stays focused on what you need to do. Celebrate completion of tasks and especially goals. Mark them off the list when done. These little successes provide additional rewards since they also cause the brain to release chemicals that make you happier, healthier and more driven to reach your goals.

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