Taking on a new challenge

It seemed like such a good idea when they asked…

What was I thinking?…

I can totally do this…

What if I can’t do this?…

This is going to be fun!…

Am I really ready because it’s almost time to get started…

These are just a few of the thoughts that have plagued my brain over the past few weeks as I prepare to teach a Marketing course this spring for the Gordon Ford College of Business. If I’m being perfectly honest, I must admit that perhaps I was slightly overzealous in taking on a class in addition to my regular duties as CMO (which seem to be anything but “regular” in 2017), my volunteer work, the upcoming high school baseball season, and generally trying to keep my sanity.

Ready or not, starting on Tuesday, January 24, there will be 30 students in my Marketing 331 class who will be looking to ME with the expectation that I know something about Social Media Marketing (SMM). Being in the trenches of SMM every day versus teaching it to others are two very different things. My goal is to present information in a way that provides a new perspective, that makes sense from a professional standpoint, and that gives students the opportunity to gain some real world experience.

As I’ve been working to build the content for the course (with a ton of help from Dr. Corie Martin and others), I realize that this is a great opportunity for me to evaluate the things we do in the Marketing & Communications Office, to read the latest research on the topics we’ll cover, and to really appreciate the value of an area that has become so vital to what we do every day. At a minimum, we rely on social media for WKU branding, for customer service, for engagement with current and prospective students, for communication of major news and events, and the list goes on. Other businesses and organizations use social media for their specific purposes, and – heads up to my students – those are all things that we will cover in class.

Even though this new endeavor is taking up a big chunk of what little free time I had, I’m convinced it will be worth it, and I’m looking forward to the challenge!

Survival of the fittest

Campus will be buzzing Monday as another new semester begins at WKU. Based on the chatter I’m seeing on Facebook and Twitter, some students are ready to come back and some are perfectly content to enjoy the extended break.

The transition to college life is tough. It’s one of those major and memorable events that changes a person forever. It’s a time of life that is fun, scary, exciting and sometimes even a little sad (I remember the day I got my acceptance letter, because my mom locked herself in the bathroom and cried). These transitioning students are young adults, but at the same time, they are also big kids. The transition to adulthood isn’t yet complete.

Unfortunately many kids come to college who are unprepared for both the sudden new-found freedom and the rigors of college coursework. Even though I don’t typically work directly with students, I still see it all the time. They get downright giddy when they realize no one is hovering over them or telling them when to come home. They can hang out with whomever they want, whenever they want…and they do. They can choose not to go to class, and while it might affect their grade, no one is going to call their parents to see why they are absent. They are not only allowed to think for themselves, but they are encouraged to do so.

The popular kids and the smart kids who were once the top dogs in their high schools are suddenly small fish in a big pond, and not being in the spotlight can be a big adjustment. Students are suddenly surrounded by an increasingly diverse group of classmates after possibly having spent the previous 13 years surrounded by basically the same group of kids. Hopefully they’ll figure out quickly that just because everyone doesn’t look or sound or think like them, that that makes them even more interesting!

<Soapbox Alert!>

As parents we have to begin prepping our kids to survive this major life change early on. We can’t wait until their senior year of high school to decide that they need to know how to make good decisions. And they need to know how to solve problems without having to rely on mom and dad for things they could easily handle on their own.

Frequently I see students who have an issue with a class or financial aid or housing or any number of other things. Typically they know WHO they should talk to, but they often don’t know HOW to approach the situation diplomatically. In many cases momma has always taken care of everything for them – they’ve never had to work something out on their own, and therefore they don’t know what to do. College students are young adults – they are old enough to try to find solutions to their problems (without having to get momma involved), but they need to be allowed to practice problem solving before they leave home. It’s all part of spreading their wings and becoming independent and self-sufficient adults.

My hope is that my boys have enough confidence and discipline to be successful when they get to college. I want them to be able to make good decisions and to solve inevitable problems that will arise. Of course I’ll help them when they need it – I’m not going to just throw them into the world and wish them good luck. But at the same time, I’m not always going to taking care of my baby birds. I want them to be prepared to survive and thrive when they leave the nest!

Finals Week Tips

It’s finals week at WKU – the last week of the semester when there is a lot of excitement for the impending Christmas break, but the student stress level is so high you can feel it in the air. I remember those days – thinking that the week would never end and that the tests would be the death of me, but somehow I always made it through unscathed.

Here are a few simple tips to help students survive:

Take care of yourself. Yes, you have to spend most of your time studying, but you also have to sleep and eat. Taking care of yourself physically will make the time spent studying more effective.

Study at a steady pace rather than frantically cramming for a few hours just before a final exam. If/when you feel your mind drifting to the point that you have no idea what you just read, it’s time to put down the material, take a quick break, and refresh your brain.  This is a good time for a brisk, five-minute walk.

Find your ideal study place. Maybe it’s in your room, maybe in the study room at your residence hall or maybe it’s at The Learning Center on campus (they have extended lab and tutoring hours during finals week!).  The library is a great place to study, but it will probably be busier than usual, so be sure to have a backup plan. A [quiet] coffee shop may be a good choice, and the caffeine is easily accessible.

Re-write your class notes. Go old-school with the notes and actually write them with a pen on a piece of paper to help you remember the info.

Friends can help each other out. They say you know something the best when you have to teach it to someone else, so teach what you are studying to a friend or roomie (or even just pretend to), and see if that helps you understand rather than just memorize the material.

Minimize distractions. Turn the TV off, put the phone down and focus on the task at hand. You can always text your friends later to brag about how great you did on the test.

Before a test begins take a few long deep breaths and let them out slowly to help you relax and clear your head.

I’m sure there are lots of websites with other more “scientific” tips, but these are the ones that I always found helpful.  Good luck to all WKU students on a successful finals week…finish strong!