How to get on your professor’s good side

Building-Professor-Rapport-1Let’s face it, some professors are intimidating. And when you’re in a big class among dozens of other students, it can sometimes feel like you’re just another face in the crowd to your educational counterparts.

But you can stand out. Despite the factors that seem to make bonding with your professor an impossible task, it is possible. And it’s actually fairly simple. Start today by taking these five basic steps to getting on your professor’s good side.

Show up Don’t want your next one-on-one with your professor to be awkward? Start by showing up to class regularly prepared and ready to go. Usually, all it takes for your professor to remember exactly who you are is one instance where you contribute something original to the class discussion, or ask a few questions that show you’re engaged.

 

Treat them as a colleague: While it’s always a good idea to address your professor by their correct title, acknowledging their title doesn’t mean you have to be your professor’s subordinate. In fact, most professors enjoy having an open dialogue with students who are interested in the research they are doing or the subject they specialize in. Treating your professors like a coworker also helps you prepare for corporate culture.

 

Always be honest: This is the golden rule of professor relations. Aside from being an ethical obligation, being honest when you talk to your professor protects you from hurting your own reputation. Being up front and honest helps build the trust of professors and means they’ll be more likely to give you a good recommendation if you ever need a reference. Not to mention, professors do talk, and you don’t want your standing among them to be worsened.

 

Be concise Most professors have been around the block. That being so, they’ll probably know the point you’re trying to get across before you’ve even made it. Keep things short and sweet when it comes to talking to professors and for the most part let them do the talking; their job, after all, is to communicate with students. Professors will not only appreciate the brevity, but be more likely to give you a few minutes of their time before or after class if they know you’ll be concise.

 

Ask for advice No matter what the class, every professor you will ever have can give you advice on something in life. If the questions you ask are truly engaging, chances are they’ll enjoy it giving you advice, too. Make it a point to ask every professor how they thing their class might apply to your field of study, your career path, or even the modern world. Doing this can not only open your eyes to jobs or ideas you’d never previously thought of, but it’s a great way to show your dedication to professors.

HealthyU_Harry (1)Need more advice? ACI is on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook,Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

 

 

 

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5 tax-filing tips for college students 

taxaccountantHolding a part-time or full-time job as you complete your degree doesn’t just mean more work on a day-to-day basis. It also means that come tax season there’s one more thing to worry about.

You shouldn’t be discouraged, though. Filing taxes as a college student doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

There are several ways that you can stay on top of your filings and even get the most back possible with the right combination of research, effort and time. Here’s how:

Start early

Even though you may not have your W-2 quite yet, There are several reasons why you should start looking at your taxes as early as possible. For one, taxes are one of those things that always requires double checking before you send them out. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll likely have a few mistakes in your work. Moreover, if you’re in the market for free aid or advising, the longer you wait, the longer the wait will be for those services.

File

Often times it’s as simple as that. Though HR Block’s recent “Get Your Billions Back” ads may seem like they’re only directed at those with careers or high-cost investments, the truth is you have nothing to lose by filing for a tax return and everything to gain. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you haven’t made enough to get a return, or that your return will be so small that it’s not worth filing for.

Leverage your status

There are several ways that students can receive breaks from the government for their higher education aspirations. Three of those to check out are 1) the Hope Scholarship Credit, which can give you up to $1,500 in tax relief during your first two years of college 2) the Higher education expenses deduction, which reduces the amount of income that is taxed and 3) the Lifetime Learning Credit, another credit that reduces your tax load, this time up to 20% of your tuition and $5,000 total.

Talk to your family

It’s important to understand your family’s financial situation before diving into filing your taxes, as this can often be the most convoluted part. Be sure to sit down with your family prior to filling out your taxes and ask questions such as 1) am I still a dependent? 2) Do I plan on using a tax credit? and 3) who would benefit more from a credit or deduction?

Remember that the value of a deduction (for example, one of those mentioned above) increases with your tax load. This can make it much more valuable to someone in the 35 percent bracket (like your parents) than someone in the 15 percent bracket (like a student), so it’s important to really talk out this decision.

Don’t do it alone

As we said in the intro, filing taxes on top of school and work can be overwhelming–especially when it’s your first time, and even moreso when you have to go at it alone. And with so many different routes one can take regarding credits and deductions, it’s hard to know which way is up. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your school’s financial resources or ACI Specialty Benefits’ student experts for advice or additional resources regarding your finances.

HealthyU_Harry (1)Want more help deciding on a career path? Just ask. ACI is on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook,Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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What’s love got to do with it? What you can learn from last year’s ‘happiest’ jobs

77513Love is in the air, and it’s not just because it’s the middle of February. Students everywhere, are learning to fall in love with their career paths by gauging them similarly to how one might assess a first date–is it exciting? Do your values line up? Are you kept engaged?

These questions, it turns out, are exactly the right ones students should be asking. Check below to see why CareerBliss.com ranked these jobs as some of the happiest in America, and learn how you can end up choosing a career that you can love doing for the rest of your life.

IT consultant

Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to IT consulting. Employees set their own hours, choose which projects they want to work on, and, most of all, have reported having some of the best relationships with their bosses and colleagues of any job on the CareerBliss.com list. The takeaway? Some of the happiest employees are those whose day-to-day tasks include plenty of personal freedom and little to no micromanaging.

Realtor

Relationships with clients can be a huge factor in loving your job. After all, every job is about pleasing a consumer base and arguably no job allows you to do this in a more hands-on fashion than a realtor. The 4.029 happiness score of realtors–good for third-highest on the list–is a reflection of just how big of an impact positive, open and face-to-face relationships can have on your occupational happiness.

Software engineer

One of the most in-demand careers, the fact that software engineering is also one of the happiest careers shows the benefit of getting a job that combines individual creativity and team-oriented collaboration in today’s market. If you’re somebody who has passions in several different fields, consider pursuing a job that mirrors your polytechnic skills so that you never have to feel the grass is greener on the other side.

Teaching assistant

Many students find that they can’t get enough of the learning environment. Part of this reason is that the jobs that make us the happiest are those that keep us engaged and constantly learning. If you’re soured by the thought of a repetitive job where you’re forced to learn the old fashioned way, consider a job where you interact with others as a teacher or mentor. Teaching/research assistants were ranked highest on the CareerBliss.com list for 2014 happiness in part because every day they go into work in an environment they love.

Team leader

One of the biggest reasons students end up backtracking on their career choices is that the culture and values of their industry just don’t end up lining up with their own. If you’re someone who weighs heavily the ethics and culture of your job, consider stepping into a leadership role where you help set the culture. HR employees and project coordinators are examples of team leader roles that rank highest in happiness quotients.

Source: http://www.CareerBliss.com

HealthyU_Harry (1)Want more help deciding on a career path? Just ask. ACI is on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook,Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034 or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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The Homework Code: Reviewing Today’s Top “Study Hacks”

Depression ScreeningIt’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This likely explains why a study routine–when repeated the same way time after time– can eventually make it feel like you are going crazy.

And while many techniques are out there to polish your study routine, some tend to work better than others. So put your pen down, take a quick break, and check out HealthyU’s take on some of today’s most popular study hacks.

Background noise

Focus At Will is an app that claims its instrumental background fosters creative thinking more so than complete silence. And it’s not alone– many apps including Pandora and Spotify can provide non-distracting background noise to quietly lull your mind into focus. Studies have found that background noise does work in improving focus and memorizing–it’s the same reason many go to coffee shops to write.

Does it work? Yep, especially when reading or writing. If you’re someone who gets distracted by dead silence while studying, try it. Just make sure there are no lyrics or discernible voices in whatever noise you choose.

Utilizing scent

Some people claim studying with a certain scent in the air is not only pleasant, but can boost memory if you then spray that scent near you right before a test.

Does it work? Though based off the theory of state-dependent learning that states being in a similar environment can trigger memories from the past, you’d probably at best be adding one or two things to your memory and would probably be better off using the time it took to find a scent to simply study.

reading-with-a-dogSpeaking your notes

You might not want to try this one at the library, but speaking aloud your notes as if you were giving a lecture yourself can be one of the easiest ways to remember information. Some professors even suggest turning your notes into a story and recite it to your dog, your roommate, or yourself.

Does it work? Yes. However, this hack is almost exclusively useful to subjects like history, English, or psychology. For subjects like calculus or physiology, stick to simpler mnemonic devices like acronyms.

Scheduling breaks

Often referred to as the “Pomodoro Technique,” scheduled breaks involve working for predetermined blocks of time–usually about 25 minutes. This block of study time becomes a constant unit of measurement, and involves first deciding how many “pomodoros” your studying will take, then working for that many blocks with 5 minute breaks whenever your timer runs out.

Does it work? This technique can work for those who are always thinking about taking a break instead of the material they’re studying. Scheduling breaks can make you more productive by shifting them into more of a reward than a reprieve.

android-logoInteractive notecards

While the old-school method of flashcard studying is tried and true, a wave of interactive notecard apps has made flashcards easier and better. Quizlet, available online and in app stores, if one of those free apps. Used to create flashcards, play learning games, and share notes with others as well as search for cards students have already made.

Does it work? Absolutely. When memorizing, no method is better than flashcards. The beauty of notecard apps is that they shuffle the cards and create quizzes for you and also allow you see your improvement grow with constant grade updates.

Blocking distractions

Today’s final study tip, we’re going with the most simple, but hardest to accomplish one: getting rid of studying sworn enemy, social media. The number one tip for blocking this most tempting of distractions is to simply shut off your wifi or use an app like this one which “blacklists” certain sites while you study.

Does it work? Physically blocking certain websites is good for a short term solution. Think of it more as a way to gradually improve your discipline to stay off distracting sites, however, rather than a fix-all solution.

HealthyU_Harry (1)

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or onfacebook,Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or emailinfo@acispecialtybenefits.com

 

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#Ranked: The 5 Most Valuable Soft Skills for Today’s Job Market

Soft skills are defined by employers and professionals as a “cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people.”

cloud-walking-wire-business-man-600x361But for students, they can more simply be understood as “the things you learn in college that you aren’t graded on.”

While soft skills may not necessarily show up on an exam, a transcript, or even the “skills” section of your resume, that’s not to say they aren’t as important.

Many soft skills, such as the ones listed below, can actually make or break whether or not you get certain positions out of school. Learn them, master them, and start here.

#1 Confidence

The simplest, oldest trait in the book has arguably never held more weight than it does today, with more and more competition flooding every open position. Being confident means acting quickly and deliberately, voicing your opinion even when it may not be popular, and giving off an air of calm the whole way through.

#2 Empathy

increase-confidenceWhen you think about many jobs today, marketing is usually involved in some way. And there is no better trait for salesmen, advertisers, developers, or managers to help them understand their consumer base than empathy. Learn how to truly understand the other side of every story and you’ll thrive not only within your company, but in all your client relations.

#3 Flexibility

Want to work at a tech startup? Well then you better be prepared for anything that gets thrown at you. Companies these days know that skills can be picked up quickly, but employees that fit are a dime a dozen. This means that job descriptions are being expanded to require employees to wear many different hats, take on several roles, and work non-traditional hours. The more you can get comfortable with adapting to a changing environment, the more you’ll be rewarded.

#4 Public speaking

Public speaking becomes important right off the bat in the interview phase. But being able to speak effectively in front of others is a major reason why students excel in their jobs and get looked at by managers as candidates for leadership roles. If public speaking still seems awkward to you, join clubs or groups at your school or in your area so you’re forced to interact in front of others.

#5 Ability to accept criticism

Finally, no matter how great of a fit you may be for a job, it remains that no employee, student, or otherwise has ever been perfect. Never let your accomplishments cloud your humility and always be willing to accept criticism–even welcome it. From your English professor to the CEO of your future office, everyone will tell you that the people they enjoy working with the most are those who are always willing to learn.

HealthyU_Harry (1)Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook,Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or emailinfo@acispecialtybenefits.com

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The Basics of Networking

Think that networking is for people who don’t have homework, who have graduated, or who grew up with powerful businesspeople in their lives? Have you ever dismissed networking as simply a call to stick your nose in others’ business, ask for handouts, or act like you know what you’re talking about when really you have no clue? Of course you have. We all have.

networking-meeting-of-bus-007In reality, networking is none of these things. Rather, networking is just a big word for a series of simple acts of sincerity, which can take all of five minutes a day. These acts can end up landing you jobs, references, and the kind of real-world advice that sticks with you for a lifetime.

So what are you waiting for? Drop your old notions of networking and check out these basics to grow your professional web and making your connections count.

Be yourself

Don’t try to act hyper-professional or, on the other side, overly-lackadaisical. By that same token, don’t pretend to be interested in things you aren’t or oversell yourself to have skills you really don’t. The best way to meet others who are like-minded is, you guessed it, to be yourself. Honesty and authenticity are traits that are easily read by those already established in their careers, and can go a long way,

Get online

Getting your networking online via a site like LinkedIn means you’ll technically be networking all the time as more employers view your profile. It also serves as a way to stay in contact with recruiters without having to ask the sometimes overly-personal question of “can I get your email/phone number?”

Don’t think in terms of success/failure

Reaching out to others can be intimidating, but don’t get discouraged when you don’t hear back. Even taking the step to get out of your comfort zone is something to be proud of, and often times, professionals will recognize that there simply isn’t anything they can do for you at that time, and will make a mental note of your email or conversation. In any case, the beauty of networking is you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Don’t dismiss anyone

The more you network, the more you’ll find that help and advice often comes from the places you least expect it. In fact, if you talk to those you already know like friends, classmates, or relatives, you’ll probably find that you already possess a strong network. Start small with your immediate circle – those you’re already comfortable with – and work your way out, treating everyone as an asset. At the end of the day, likability and trust are the most important factors of networking.

Be prepared

Having concrete goals in place for your career, your extracurriculars, and your personal interests is an important part of making a strong impression on colleagues and peers. Goals and even specific career positions show that you aren’t simply looking for someone to hand you an opportunity. This strategy is especially important for those studying the arts or business, as goals are always more likely to stand out to others than vague interests.

HealthyU_Harry (1)Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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4 Ways You Can Take Charge of Your 3-Day Weekend Today

There are many different ways you could spend the first long weekend of the new year. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which falls on this coming Monday, could mean a three day mini-vacation, a time to get extra hours logged at your job, or a chance to have a holiday that doesn’t involve much of anything at all.

MLK-PNG1Or, it could be a bit of everything.

Make the most of the first three-day weekend of the new year with these four approaches that foster success in and out of the classroom.

Be a Friday warrior

The absolute worst way to spend a three-day weekend is not getting a lick of work done and not enjoying yourself because you’re too busy worrying about the laundry list of things you have to do when you return to a normal schedule on Tuesday. The answer? Don’t slack off today. While you may want to treat Friday as an extension of the holiday weekend, try to instead think of the extra day off as an incentive to get as much done as possible. This way, you can plan to enjoy yourself without being crippled by having too much to do that you end up doing none of it.

Make room for whatever

Set aside at least a half-day for whatever comes to mind. Maybe you sit around and do nothing, maybe you call a family member or friend, maybe you tell others you’re free and see what comes up. Either way, holidays are few and far between, and the opportunity to have three days away from school and work to recharge your batteries does not come around too often.

Plan a Monday workday

One approach that many craftier students take to three-day weekends is actually turning their day off into a work day. And it actually makes some sense. On Monday, coffee shops will be less hectic, school libraries will be next-to-empty, and all will be quiet for you to get as much work done as you wish. The other side of the coin is that on Tuesday when everyone returns to work, you can use the time to relax as movie theatres, restaurants, and parks will be much more cleared up than they were on the weekend.

Look up volunteer opportunities

Holidays are meant to bring people together, and few others do so as well as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Give back to your community by browsing volunteer opportunities in your area today. Just a few hours of charity work can have a big effect on changing the course of your school term as you begin to be more thankful for the opportunities you do have and less worried about the smaller stressors of day-to-day life.

HealthyU_Harry (1)

Need more advice? ACI can help with everything from finding volunteer opportunities to managing your time. Contact us on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebookGoogle+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also, feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com.

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