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Top Three Lessons I’ve Learned to Shake Out of the End-of-Semester Slump

By Enya Daang   There are some days when you get everything on your to-do list done and you feel unstoppable. Then there are days when you know you have countless number of things to do, but the motivation to get them done is just out of reach. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. With finals quickly approaching, this is a hole you don’t want to find yourself in. Luckily, I’ve come up with my top three lessons to shake yourself out of your end-of-semester slump!

Change Your Environment

An effective trick when you are having a hard time keeping your mind focused on a task is to change your location. This allows you to take a step back and see what work you’ve done and what is left to do as you settle back down. It’s basically a reset button for when you’ve become too comfortable in one setting. Personally, I move to a completely different room because it gives me a chance to stretch and walk around for a bit before getting back to work. Now, be careful. Try not to move to a place where you will most likely be hanging out with friends or be distracted by the noise! Remember, you are trying to be productive.

Find What Time You Are Most Productive

The beauty of college is that your schedule is incredibly more flexible than in high school. Coming into college, I naively thought I could make myself sit down and be productive for hours at a time, at any time of the day. I did manage to work for several hours at a time, but it was a struggle to keep focused and to retain the information that I was learning. The secret here is to figure out what time of the day you have the most energy and plan your day accordingly so you can maximize the amount work you get done. After several days of logging my energy levels throughout the day, I discovered that I am most productive during the late morning and early afternoon. With this in mind, I always put the work that requires the most thinking during those times. Try it out!

A Word on Scheduling

Planning out your day is one of the most important things you can do when you study. It is the running start you need right before diving into the work you had set out to do and, most of the time, it will keep you on track. However, scheduling can be a little tricky. When you make your schedule too detailed and structured, you are most likely going to miss a couple of tasks and take it as an excuse to give up on working all together.

A good way to avoid this is to find a balance between structure and flexibility that works best for you. There are some people who need to plan out the exact time and location while others just go with the flow. On most days, I give myself a general idea of what I want to accomplish in a certain amount of time, but leave enough room in the day to finish the work that I did not get done, if I have any.

Keep your head up, follow the top three lessons and study hard these next couple weeks! You’ve got this.

Enya is a technology intern at GiveTeens20®. Although her hobbies include photography and solving rubix cubes, her heart always belongs to math and sharpening her programming skills!


“Oh, I’m Sorry!”

By Kathy Laidlaw

The tellers where I bank are SUPER friendly and personable. They often indulge me in light conversations, asking if there is anything else that they can help me with, asking how I am today, etc. Last week, as I finished my transaction, the teller asked, “Where are you off to now?”  Even though I’m making transactions on a business account, my appearance could sometimes be best described as a confusing mix of Yoga student and Ladies Who Lunch (it is a thing. Google it!) so the question could have been answered in any number of interesting ways.

When I said with an enthusiastic smile, “I’m going to the office” her immediate response was, “Oh, I’m sorry”.  Although it was a comment spoken in jest , it made me wonder… She, in that short statement, summarized the “Why” behind GiveTeens20®. It is unfortunate that the mindset around work is that it is something that must be tolerated and slogged through; so that one can get to the true relevance in life, which is anything outside of work. Which brings us to the higher purpose GT20 is working towards.

Our purpose as an organization is to help teens find that area in life that lights them UP so that going to work is exciting and something to look forward to.  Take the two steps that will help you find that intersection of what you love and where you will succeed:

  • Know yourself through honest self-assessment
  • Learn about careers where you now know you have an interest

Everything you need is here- resource, advice, support and a whole lot of fun learning exercises! So check it out and have your eyes opened to new possibilities!

Kathy Laidlaw knew she was an educator at heart yet didn’t want to be confined into one classroom.  After high school, she attended community college and worked in a number of different industries where she rounded out her background before starting GiveTeens20® in 2011.


How I Conquered the “Dreaded” Community College

By Catherine Tran

There is a widely-known expression in Vietnamese that reads: ”Life has a way of testing your resilience, therefore we must prepare for the worst”. I never truly grasped the meaning of this until the summer leading to my freshman year at college when my father said, “Catherine, I cannot afford to send you to college.” His shocking declaration came when I was less than two months away from departing for UC Irvine. Instead of celebrating my acceptance, I was overwhelmed with the pressure to adapt to my new situation, an admission into a Community College. This abrupt change in direction left me devastated; in an instant, my path towards university was halted and I had to quickly reroute.

When I made the decision to “just go to community college”, I internalized so much self-doubt, shame, and disappointment. The people who surrounded me were constantly projecting the idea that community college was the bottom of the educational hierarchy, as if my journey to be successful was illegitimate unless I attended a four-year university. Instead of mourning something beyond my control, I shifted my perspective and viewed community college as a blessing in disguise– an opportunity to build a strong academic foundation and solidify my passion in web design.

I have put forth diligent effort in all my classes, in turn receiving high marks, and fostering enriching relationships with my classmates and professors. Outside the classroom, I dedicate myself to helping other students succeed by ensuring that their needs, wants, and concerns are being addressed. Being selected as a peer mentor has been the most rewarding and impactful experience as it allows me to empower and motivate other students by sharing my story of how I transformed a challenging life event into a humbling, positive experience.

Although my path towards university was derailed, I optimized my college experience and never lost sight of my academic goals. This experience taught me to be flexible with given circumstances and maintain focus. I approach tough situations with objectivity and determination and turn them into positive opportunities for change. In essence, my experience at Ohlone College helped me develop the tenacity to overcome future challenges and flourish.

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Catherine Tran, Cat to her friends, is a second-year student at Ohlone College intending to major in Cognitive Science and Media. She has served in the GT20’s student advisory council for over three years. During her free time she enjoys watching funny YouTube videos, reading personal development blogs, and going ham on the karaoke machine.

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