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Career

7 Tips to Help Students Prepare for a Bioscience Career

January 21, 2021

College is the time when young adults start to transition to the life and responsibilities of adulthood. It’s no wonder this period can be complicated and nerve-wracking. After all, this is the time when many students are starting to prepare for their future careers.

The same thing is true for bioscience students who are wondering what career path to take.

If you’re looking for some tips, here are a few that will give you some inspiration:

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Don’t let shyness or your over-reliance on yourself stop you from working smarter.

There are plenty of people who are willing to help you and give you advice. When you’re feeling stuck, there’s no shame in reaching out to people to provide you with some perspective.

Over time, you’ll come to realize that your career path is clearer now that you’ve gotten some feedback from others in the same line of field you want to be in.

Develop Strong Study Skills

When you’re planning a bioscience career as a student, you probably know studying doesn’t end when you get your diploma.

When you’re in this industry, you’re always going to be a student, so you must develop strong study skills.

If you don’t develop these skills, you will stagnate, which should never be an option, especially in the scientific field. Therefore, you should start sharpening your study skills now.

Seek Out Mentors

With social media, it’s a lot easier to connect with professionals in the bioscience industry. That’s why Michelle Dipp, co-founder and managing partner at Biospring Partners, encourages students not to be afraid to seek out mentors.

You don’t even need to find them in real life to have the mentors to help provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed.

Some of these bioscience professionals provide nuggets of knowledge for free through social media. What’s great about that is the diversity of guidance you can get while building your network.

Since it’s much easier to reach them through the Internet, you can get all sorts of gems from around the world. Take advantage of it!

Consider Your Length of Study

If you want to find success in a bioscience career, you’d likely need more than a bachelor’s degree.

You need to have a master’s degree, and if you plan on doing research-based jobs, a doctorate is essential. It’s best to prepare for a life in the academic field early.

Stay Up-to-Date

If you’re planning on looking for entry-level jobs in the bioscience field, it pays to keep yourself updated on everything in the industry. This simple thing is going to give you a competitive advantage over other candidates for a similar role.

It lets people know that you have a genuine interest in the field. Mind you, students have an advantage when it comes to updated industry knowledge. So use that advantage to prove that you can be an asset to the team!

Expand Your Knowledge

Although you might want to focus on a particular industry niche, you should at least feed your curiosity about other sectors. Perhaps you are curious about how bioscience can contribute to agriculture.

Being open to expanding your knowledge is always a good idea no matter what field you’re in, so remember to keep an eye or an ear out all the time. You never know when this will help you in your future job.

Find Internships

Studying is going to be a significant part of your bioscience career at any level. However, there’s so much more to a career in the biosciences than studying.

After all, nothing beats experience, so try to get into internships as much as possible.

Not only will it give you practical experience, but it will also help you expand your professional network.

Conclusion

The seven tips listed above can help you be the most prepared as possible for when the time comes you have to start making career moves.

The bioscience industry is a unique field, and there are plenty of opportunities present there for you. You just need to make sure that you prepare for it so that you’re ready to take them on.

These tips will serve as your foundation for a bright future ahead, so apply them as soon as you can!

Student Life

Thriving With a Disability in College

January 18, 2021

The National Center for Education Statistics reports approximately 11% of college undergraduates have a disability. Federal statistics show less than half of these students graduate from two-year courses within eight years, and only one-third of disabled students complete four-year courses. There are various reasons for this educational gap, including the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which ensure disabled students are accommodated as required, only apply to colleges receiving federal aid. This, coupled with having to suddenly adapt to independent life without your usual support basis, can add challenges to the college experience.

If you’re about to embark on your first year of study, here’s how you can ensure you have an optimal learning experience.

Battling Stereotypes

A study by Alison May and colleagues, published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, found that it is generally accepted that “people with disabilities constitute a stigmatized group and that disability stigma has a negative impact on students with disabilities in higher education settings.” There are various categories of stereotypes about people with learning disabilities. These include believing that students have a low level of intelligence. Added to this issue are social challenges, since students with disabilities often have to spend longer on academic tasks, leaving less time for socializing. Students with disabilities can also fear being criticized by teaching staff and peers. 

Choosing The Right College

Selecting a college with a wide array of services can make a big difference when it comes to the quality of one’s learning life. Students with cerebral palsy, for instance, may have complex needs, owing to a possible combination of visual, hearing and speech impediments. When cerebral palsy is first diagnosed in a baby or small child, doctors are often unable to predict the challenges they may face as they grow older. Adults, for instance, can develop walking and other disorders that require them to use a wheelchair. In these cases, ramps, elevators, and other equipment are key for attending class and making your way to different areas of campus. 

Top Colleges For Students With Disabilities To Consider

Just a few colleges with a stellar reputation for accommodating this and other needs of disabled students include Landmark College, The University of Arizona, Beacon College, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Iowa. Some colleges also have prestigious programs for students with disabilities – including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, Berkeley, and Wayne State University. The latter, for instance, is fully wheelchair accessible, and has a program called Handicapper Educational Services – which provides financial aid, personal assistance, and other types of help for students with disabilities.

Applying For Grants And Scholarships

It is important to be an active member of a network centered around your disability so as to be aware of any new grants and scholarships you may be entitled to. The National Federation for the Blind, for instance, sponsors 30 grants and scholarships every year. You can also safeguard your finances by taking out insurance catered to students, including renters and tuition insurance.

While a fraction of undergraduate students have disabilities, an even smaller percentage complete courses necessary for a degree. In order to maximize your chances of thriving in college with a disability, selecting the best college is important. Be sure to look for one that offers educational support as well as other services for students with disabilities.

Career Student Life

How to Land a Job Through a Video Interview

January 15, 2021

By now, most of us have accepted the shift from in-person interviews to digital interviewing. Even as life returns to a pre-pandemic state, hiring is unlikely to revert completely back to the way it once was. 

Employers have realized the benefits that come from remote recruiting, including the larger pool of qualified candidates that comes from eliminating geographical barriers. Video interviewing has become so popular, 86% of organizations are now using them to hire employees, with no signs of slowing down.

Here are some tips to make sure you’re prepared for your next video interview

What You Should Know about Video Interviewing

Video interviews do not always occur in real-time, like a Zoom call where you meet face-to-face electronically at an agreed upon time. They can also take the form of a one-way, pre-recorded interview where the interviewer is not present. 

In pre-recorded interviews, you record answers to pre-set questions, asked either in written form or via video, and the recruiters review your responses at a later time. Many students and graduates are unaware of this, and the surprise can throw off even the most prepped job seekers. Now you know!

Tech Tips for Virtual Interviews

Since video interviews occur online, naturally you’ll need some hardware and software to participate. The specifics depend on the platform being used, but here’s some general information to help:

  • Make sure your Internet connection is strong and secure.
  • Use a desktop or laptop rather than a cell phone or tablet. This will provide a better experience and limit shaky recordings.
  • While you can use built-in audio, you may want to opt for headphones with a microphone. This helps to minimize echoes and improve sound quality.
  • Use Chrome or Firefox as your browser as these are the most reliable.
  • Exit out of any apps that require access to your camera or microphone.

Looking Good on Camera


Nailing your video interview starts with looking the part. Dress professionally, style your hair appropriately, and find a well-lit and quiet location where you can be easily seen by the interviewer.


More tips:

  • Position the camera at or slightly above eye level.
  • Be mindful of what’s behind you! Tidy your surroundings and ensure nothing unprofessional is on display.
  • Project confidence by practicing good posture and open, positive body language. Smile and try not to cross your arms or fidget.

Increase Focus by Minimizing Distractions


Since most virtual interviews are done at home, this increases the potential for interruptions, which might throw you and those evaluating you off.

Stay in the game with these suggestions:

  • Let roommates, partners, or or children know when you’re participating in a video interview. Ask them to be quiet and considerate for the duration of it.
  • Close doors and windows to reduce noise and prevent pets from entering.
  • Silence your phone and turn off any music or television in the background.

What Questions to Expect During Your Video Interview

Now that you’ve taken steps to prepare your environment, it’s time to prep answers to anticipated interview questions. The most common video interview questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • What is/are your greatest strength(s)?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What makes you the right person for this position?


These are the types of questions that would be asked whether you are interviewing in person or over video. Think of concrete examples you can share from your work, school or volunteer experiences. Be honest, project confidence, express enthusiasm for the position and practice, but make sure not to sound like you’re reading from a script.

With these practical, easy-to-follow tips, you’ll be well-positioned to land a job offer following your video interview. Good luck!

Transition

Transitioning From High School Life to College Life – What You Need to Know

January 13, 2021

As a high school student, thinking about heading into your first year of college can be both exciting and scary all at once. You’re used to living at home with your family. You’ve probably had most things taken care of for you, and you’ve lived a certain way with specific household rules your entire life.

College changes all of that in an instant.

When you transition from a high school senior to a college freshman, you go from being a “kid” to an adult. More responsibilities rest in your lap than ever before, from doing your own laundry to taking care of your own finances. Though dorm life may not be a completely accurate representation of what it’s like to own your own home or apartment, it gives teenagers a taste of what the real world is really like.

It’s your first step into adulthood, and it’s okay to be nervous. But, the transition doesn’t have to scare you. By preparing ahead of time for college and knowing what to expect, you will have an easier time “leaving the nest” at home and moving forward into the next chapter of your life. Let’s look at some lessons that can help you along the way.

Managing Your Finances

One of the biggest hurdles college students have to face is managing their money. And in many cases, they’re having to do this for the first time. While some students continue to get money from their parents, about 75% of students have jobs while they’re in school, and the average yearly income for a college student is about $13,000. Finding a successful balance between work and attending classes isn’t always easy, especially as a freshman.

If you need to get a job while you’re in school, make sure you:

  • Set your priorities
  • Have goals in mind
  • Handle your free time safely and wisely
  • Don’t let yourself burn out

Talk to your professors about your job, even if it’s only part-time. You don’t want to end up missing a class for work, especially if your teachers don’t know that you’re employed. Most professors are willing to be a bit flexible and understanding if you’re upfront with them about your job and why you need to work. If you end up with too many unexcused absences and they don’t know why, it could reflect poorly on your grade, or you may not even pass the class.

Even if you do find work while you’re at school, it’s important to maintain a budget. You can do this ahead of time, before you find a job, to determine how much you will need to earn to pay for things like food, or even rent if you’re living in an apartment. The cost of living is different depending on which part of the country you’re in, and so is the minimum wage. Be sure to do your research on the state where you’re attending college as you build your budget to determine your monthly financial needs.

Staying Connected

One of the best things you can do to make your high school to college transition easier is to stay connected with the people you’re closest to. Now, more than ever, it’s important to feel a connection with loved ones. You might be attending a school that is doing distance learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a new college student, that can increase feelings of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

Thankfully, technology makes it easier than ever to remain in contact with the people you care about. Work out a schedule that fits your needs when it comes to talking to the people that are important in your life. That might include a weekly Zoom call with your friends from home, or calling your parents each night.

If you’re traveling abroad for a semester, make sure you have the right phone plan set up before you go, and instant messaging apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home. Staying connected with the people you’re used to can help you to not feel so alone in a new place, especially during these times of uncertainty.

With that said, it’s also important not to depend on those people to manage your stress or keep you happy. If you spend all of your time connecting with people back home, you could be missing out on new friendships that could last a lifetime. So, while you might spend your first few weeks of school staying in touch with friends and family, eventually you should work to strike a healthy balance between communicating with those at home and spending time with new friends and roommates.

Making the Transition Easier

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You don’t need to. About 20 million families send their kids off to college every year, and everyone has to work through that initial transition period. While it can be a nerve-wracking time, it’s also the first step on your journey to the next chapter of your life.

While it’s important to be organized and fully-prepared, there are other things you can do to make the transition from high school to college easier on yourself, including:

  • Having realistic expectations about the college experience
  • Taking care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Finding groups/clubs you’re interested in
  • Being assertive when necessary
  • Learning to problem-solve

One of the biggest roadblocks many new college students face is procrastination. When everything is new and exciting, things like homework and studying can quickly be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude will eventually lead to excess stress. Make sure your dorm space is set up for productivity by eliminating distractions, having good lighting, and keeping it neat and organized.

College can end up being one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. You’ll be able to share stories about your time there for years to come. While the initial transition might be scary, you will learn to ease into it quickly, and make lasting memories along the way.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Student Life

The Best Streaming Device Options for College Students

January 8, 2021

Studying can be grueling. One sure-fire way to escape your frazzled brain is a few good hours of binge-watching your favorite series.

Many students make do using their laptop, tablet or even just their phone for watching TV. But, without breaking the bank, it’s possible to make this all-important down-time a little more comfortable.

To upgrade your setup in a worthwhile way, there are a few things to consider.

We’ve compiled a list of recommended streaming devices based on price, quality and usability features. 

Apple 4K

With a starting price of $179, the new Apple TV 4K might be a little unnecessarily pricey for your budget, unless the added features make it worth your while. Yes, you can get Airplay or Apple TV+ on other hardware, but this latest updated software allows for linking up to your PlayStation and Xbox controllers for an all-in-one entertainment device.

Between the Apple Arcade game streaming service and the vast extent of cloud gaming options, if you’re an Apple fan, this may be the most solid system choice moving forward. Certainly, when it comes to the number of titles available through one device, it’s unparalleled. In addition, for cable-powered apps it features a zero sign-on setup.

If you’re not an Apple lover, check out the best value-for-money Android TV boxes

NVIDIA Shield TV 4K

Before we get much more budget-friendly, let’s talk about the NVIDIA Shield TV 4K HDR streaming media player. This device will set you back around $200 and yes, its fantastic quality – but for such a hefty price tag you have to ask yourself, do you really need it? Unless you are a hardcore gamer and/or have a 4K TV, probably not. That said, it is arguably the best in its class – fast, voice-control enabled and with superior Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos surround sound. If quality is your thing and you can afford it, you won’t regret it.

Amazon 4K Fire TV Stick

This little Amazon Fire TV stick was certainly designed with ease of use in mind. With a recommended retail price of $62.97, this remote bundle comes with a new wi-fi antenna for optimized 4K Ultra HD streaming. That, added to its Alexa voice command capabilities, makes for a superior streaming experience.

Roku Streaming Stick

If you’re not much of a gamer and you really need a bargain, then this super affordable streaming option might be your best bet. The Roku Streaming Stick currently comes in at just $29.40 and is easily portable to boot. With supported internet services that include Netflix, HBO, Prime Video, Hulu with Live TV, Apple TV, Showtime, The Roku Channel, and Google Play, it’s a great all-rounder as well as Alexa voice-control friendly.

Micca Speck G2 1080 Portable Digital Media Player

The Micca Speck G2 is an affordable choice that has a portable-friendly design and is powerful enough to stream whatever you’re into. Supporting a wide range of connections and files, this device comes with a car power adapter and although not voice control enabled, has a full function remote control. For anyone worried about cost, at just $37.99 this little streamer might be all you need. 

Matricom G-Box Q (v3) Android Media Mini PC

With an Android OS, the Matricom G-Box Q² is well worth a mention. With a sleek, portable design, this fast-processing device is the closest thing to a PC that’s all play. Unlike many streaming devices, this is a full android computer designed for your living room, that is free from any restrictions. You can install and customize all your favorite apps and it also supports Amazon Prime video access. Priced at $77, it’s a lot for your money.

Final thoughts

These are just some of the streaming device options available and it’s well worth doing your homework before making your purchase. Not only do the prices differ considerably, but both the quality and applications for use do too, and it will pay off if you research the options based on your personal preferences. Happy streaming!

Student Life

7 Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet in College

December 31, 2020

The internet is flooded with cute, fluffy animals and the temptation to get a pet of your very own while at college can be tough to resist. But is it a good idea?

Here are seven important questions to ask yourself before adding a furry roommate to your new digs.

1. Are you even allowed to have a pet?

A study showed that college students who spent just 10 minutes enjoyed reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A pet can definitely help if you’re dealing with mental health conditions. However, before getting a pet, consider whether you have the appropriate environment for it, starting with whether you would even be one. Most college dorms do not allow pets, and any that do have strict restrictions as to what types or sizes are permitted. If you live off campus, you need to check with your landlord. Many landlords are equally strict, and even if they do allow pets, many charge additional fees, so get the low down. And, if you’re wondering whether concealing a pet might be a good option, the answer is no! Pets are cute, but you have your whole life to enjoy pet ownership and it’s not worth losing your lease over.

2. Do you have the space?

Even if your dorm or apartment is ‘pet-friendly’, that doesn’t automatically make it an ideal environment in which to house and adequately care for a pet. At college, it’s common to get accustomed to limited space, but animals aren’t always so adaptive. Some dog breeds would be immediately out of the question and even cats might not have enough space to feel comfortable. If you are really determined to get a pet but have little space, you should consider sticking to a pet that is happy in a cage or bowl.

3. Do you have the time to care for a pet?

The amount of daily care that pets needs can differ greatly – cats can be somewhat self-sufficient, whereas dogs need daily walks, play times, baths etc. But even cats and most other pets also require regular attention, veterinary appointments and of course, daily feeding. This might be fine until your friends ask you to stay out late or go on a fun road-trip.

Having a pet means considering their needs every day and planning around them. It’s a big commitment, and the time you can devote to them is an important consideration when deciding if you are ready for pet-ownership.

4. Are your roommates okay with it?

It’s best to be thorough when discussing your pet plans with your roommates. Whilst they may seem fine with it initially, the realities of sharing a property with an animal might wear a bit thin. Dogs bark in the night. Puppies mess on the floor. Pets take tolerance.

Discuss the possibilities upfront, as well as any expectations for sharing the care of the new family member. It’s also important to prepare yourself for being respectful as a pet owner with another roommate. You may need to ensure that your pet does not go into their room, and that you will foot the bill if your pet pees on, chews or somehow destroys something belonging to them.

5. Can you afford to support a pet?

College life usually means living on a budget. Whilst you may already have some budgetary sacrifices in mind to afford some cat food, the costs don’t end there. As well as food, there are other costs such as grooming needs and general vet care. Vaccinations and chipping bills all add up – and that’s not taking into consideration any emergency expenses.

Unexpected vet bills can crop up at any time due to accident or illness and these can be extremely expensive for anyone on a budget.

6. What will you do with your pet during college breaks?

If your family lives close enough to school that you will drive home, then it’s possible that you could take your pet home with you during school breaks – so long as your family agrees! Otherwise, school breaks could pose a problem. Unless you plan on staying at college through your breaks, you’ll need to either arrange care or potentially expensive travel arrangements for your pet. School breaks are a time for de-stressing and having to worry about a pet could significantly impede your ability to relax and enjoy some downtime.

7. What kind of pet will you get?

If you are determined to get a pet, then at least carefully consider what kind to get based on the above points, as well as some other considerations. For example, temperament, shedding and allergy/hygiene considerations must be placed above their cuteness factor. Depending on what you get, this could be your pet for many years to come. Remember, a dog may be for life and not just for Christmas, but a pet is also for life, and not just for college!

Student Life

How to Manage Your Time While Studying Online

December 26, 2020

Online learning definitely has its perks, including no commuting, flexibility, and studying at your own pace . But since there’s little to no authority, the responsibility of sticking to your schoolwork is solely yours. You can only make it work with proper management skills.

If you’re an online scholar and find it hard to manage your time, this piece is for you. Here are eight tips on time management for learners pursuing online courses.

Designate Space for All Your Learning Tasks

A common challenge online students encounter is finding a suitable place for studying, classes, and group discussions. As a result, allocating time for studying and actually focusing can be difficult. You need a conducive environment for studying- whether in the house, at a café, or even local library.

Study space will help develop the proper mindset and actually focus. Also, ensure that you have the required software, a strong internet connection and power outlets nearby.

Don’t forget these important features of your study space:

  • Well lit
  • Clutter-free
  • Comfortable
  • Away from noise or disturbances

Plan Your Week Ahead

The flexibility that comes with online studying also bears a cost. If you are not disciplined, you won’t accomplish anything. Your regular schedule outside of schoolwork can take the majority of your days if you let it. That’s why you need to take charge of your commitments by planning. Set aside time ahead for reading, participating in group discussions, and tackling assignments.

If you need help, such as from a college essay editor, engage one early not to miss a deadline. Also, go through your schoolwork and figure out how you can prioritize. Some tasks will require more time, while others won’t. You’ll make better use of your time if you assess your syllabus to determine when you will work on particular tasks.

Use a planner and write down things like:

  • Assignment deadlines: paper drafts and submission copies
  • Virtual classes and meetups with educators and academic counselors
  • Other academic activities: group discussions, networking meetups, etc.

Devise a Routine Using a Schedule

When it comes to online learning, there’s usually no such thing as a routine. This freedom that comes with studying asynchronously online can sometimes lead to procrastination and laziness. Therefore, it falls upon you to develop a daily routine for tackling assignments and studying for your units. Start with making a daily schedule and to-do list and try to be consistent about following it.

Break Up Your Coursework

Some courses and even assignment might seem intimidating at first glance. And, you may be hard-pressed when scheduling them within your tight schedule. An excellent tip to managing your time and accomplishing things is to break up your coursework. Check what you’ve got to cover and break it down into sizeable parts that you can cover at different times.

Come Up with a Work-Life-Study Balance

You need to formulate an excellent work-study program, especially if you’ve got to attend online learning sessions and still show up at work. To develop a well-balanced plan that keeps you from wearing down, arrange your time to focus on these three essentials- school, job, and your personal life.

Go for a simple schedule that is easy to follow. And remember to pay utmost attention to every area of life at each moment.

Overcome the Urge to Multitask

Refrain from multitasking when studying online. Often, doing this undermines your productivity, making the learning process ineffective. Always focus on a single study activity at any given moment, for example, revising for a test, reading a section in a book, or attending a Skype appointment.

How do you plan your undertakings to avoid multitasking? To overcome this habit, many people recommend that you plan your activities according to importance. The first 3 or 4 time-sensitive and important tasks should come at the top of your list. Feel free to use various project management tools to enhance your focus.

Get Enough Rest & Start Your Day Early

Do you get enough rest? Do you wake up early? As a student, you need always to be well-rested and, better yet, an early riser to make the most out of your academic pursuits. How can you achieve both of these? To get enough rest and still wake up early, you must get to bed early and ensure that you get some quality sleep.

Today, many online programs allow for much flexibility, making it quite easy to extend your day well into the night to accommodate various activities. While this might seem ideal initially, this habit often wears down even the most hardworking of learners. Without enough rest, your memory and learning capabilities are undermined.

Stay ahead of your studies by getting a full night’s sleep throughout your online course. Try formulating a sleeping schedule that allows you to sleep for at least 8 hours each night and wake up around the same time each day.

Figure Out What Distracts You & Avoid it

What takes your attention when it’s study time? Whether it’s entertainment, social media, or a neighborhood gossip site, it’s best to identify and address it. Distractions tend to undermine the learning process by taking up your focus. As such, you can miss out on important concepts, making you waste a lot of time to understand.

If your distractions are on the internet, you could use website blockers such as KeepMeOut. Such tools will help you stay off social media or other platforms during study time.

Taking an online course remains an excellent idea for anyone who wishes to further their education. To make sure the process is as beneficial as possible, one must take command of the learning process right from the start. The tips in this article will go a long way in ensuring that your studying is effective.

Career

Tips for Writing a Killer Business Plan

December 22, 2020
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Are you gearing up for the next phase of life after college and considering embarking upon a business venture? If you intend on taking it seriously, you will inevitably need a business plan. 

Your business plan is an important document and well worth your time and effort to perfect. When executed effectively, it has the power to paint a vivid picture of how your business will operate, the goals it will strive toward, and what ethos it will be driven by. 

Formatting your business plan 

There are two main styles that a business will choose when formatting their business plan:

Traditional business plan – This typically spans 12 or more pages incorporating detailed analyses, supporting documents, contracts, permits, licenses, credit histories and more. They take much more time to create upfront, but taking a deep dive into your business that leaves you with an extremely thorough outline can serve you well.

Lean startup business plan – One or two pages summarize the most important elements of your business strategy. This potentially covers all of the same sections as a traditional plan, but is more condensed to give overviews rather than elaborate analysis. 

Investors and lenders will typically prefer a traditional business plan, but if you expect the course of your business to undergo significant change, a lean startup business plan covering the fundamentals may suffice.

Whatever template you choose to create, you can use the following tips to ensure that you craft a solid and compelling plan to propel your business forward.

Keep it simple

Keeping it simple does not mean dumbing it down – but if your plan starts to waffle, you’ll quickly lose your reader’s interest. When it comes to business plans, more than many other forms of writing, you need to keep it sharp, concise and effective. Only use photos, graphs or charts that significantly enhance the reader’s understanding of your vision and ensure that your formatting makes your document even easier to navigate.

If writing isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a writer or editor. You can find freelancers to help out with this on sites like UpWork or Fiverr. Just make sure you opt for high rated sellers with excellent reviews.

Work backwards

When creating a plan for a future vision, it can be helpful to reverse the process in your mind and draft your plan from there. For example, realistically consider where you would like your business to be financially after the first 12 months, and then work backwards. What goals would need to be achieved after six months? Three months? One month? Work these milestones into your draft and soon you will see your business plan taking logical shape.

Know your competition

Never speak negatively when referring to your competitors. Familiarize yourself with who they are and what they are doing both well and poorly, and, in your own business plan, outline how you will differentiate your brand from the rest. What will be your company’s unique selling point or proposition (USP)? Be sure to highlight whatever it is that sets you apart from the rest – unique approaches that have viability attract the attention of investors and show that you have thought this vital aspect of the business through.

Know your customer

Successful business plans demonstrate well thought out insights into their customers and a desire to truly understand their clients. What are their needs or problems they have that your business will solve? What is your target demographic? Who will be buying your product or service? Why do they need it? These insights lead to the all-important question – why will they pick you?

Outline your marketing plan clearly

It’s easy to have lofty dreams, but not so easy to drill down on exactly how those dreams will be achieved. A solid business plan demonstrates that the how-to has been carefully researched and considered, and that you have arrived at a series of specific steps that you will take to execute your vision. Where and how will you market? What will you offer and to who? How will you generate new customer leads? How exactly will you entice consumers away from the competition?

Be realistic 

It’s great to dream big, but remember to keep your immediate plans within realistic parameters. Don’t overestimate your revenue forecast or inflate your financials. Do your research and position yourself with confidence, not naivety or arrogance. What will you offer and how much will you charge? What do comparable businesses charge for similar products or services? Keep your projections realistic to cultivate trust with your reader and be sure that the financial information you share is rooted in solid facts.

There are thousands of online resources at your disposal when it comes to crafting a winning business plan – we’ve just highlighted some key points. Be ambitious, yet realistic. Demonstrate care and research regarding customer insights. Speak respectfully but confidently when analyzing your business in comparison to others. Back your claims up. And importantly, once you’ve collated your business plan’s content, deliver it in a concise, sharp style. Get to the point whilst infusing just the right amount of passion to drive your intentions home. Good luck!

Student Life

11 Tips to Maximize Your College Experience

December 15, 2020

Headed off to college? That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get the most out of your college experience (and we don’t mean just friends, football games, and all-nighters). The goal is to graduate from college in a way that’s life-changing. Here are eleven tips to get started. 

1. Meaningfully participate in extracurricular activities

The students who get the most of their college experience are the ones who get involved in ways that spark their interest and passion. This doesn’t just mean sports but also includes music, theater, leadership, volunteering, or other activities. If you’re planning on retiring from your primary high school skill, choose a new one before you get to college. 

2. Live on campus 

You have the rest of your life to live off campus. When you live on campus, you put yourself right in the middle of the action and energy of college. Let other people fight over electricity bills and the dishes. 

3. Leave your car at home. 

If you live on campus, it’s easier to leave your car at home. Not only does it save you a few thousand dollars a year on insurance and maintenance, but you also don’t have to worry about finding parking on campus or its corresponding fees, like a parking ticket. 

4. Get a bike

A bike is a great college alternative to a car. You save time and money because you can bike up to your classes, park, and lock. Plus it’s a great way to avoid that Freshman Fifteen! 

5. Take small classes

Do what you can to take small classes. This might mean moving to advanced classes sooner or taking less-popular majors. If you are only an observer in your classes instead of an active participant, you’ll miss out on the full college experience.

6. Learn from the great professors

Find out who the life-changing professors are and take the classes they teach. Look on professor review websites or ask upperclassmen. Taking classes from outstanding professors who are passionate about their subjects can have a huge impact on your life. 

7. Continue to apply for financial aid. 

While most financial aid is given to first-year students, there is typically money withheld for second year and beyond. Once you choose your major, ask professors about potential scholarships, and keep applying for private aid.

8. Try to only work a job during vacation and on weekends. 

If possible, don’t work more than 10-12 hours a week during the semester. Minimize the time spent at a job so you can maximize the time focused on schoolwork and college activities. 

9. Take classes that prepare you for life. 

By taking classes like art history, accounting, and computer coding, you’ll be at home in museums, prepared with the basics to run your own business, and have a foundational understanding of web development. College is the last time you can indulge in extensive education without also juggling a full-time job.

10. Get bilingual by graduation. 

Knowing two (or more languages) makes you more hireable, putting you ahead of the average applicant. Spend a semester and a summer abroad, or even a whole year, to learn a language.

11. Fill out the FAFSA each year. 

Many students will do all they can to qualify for financial aid before they go to college. But many don’t realize their parents need to complete the FAFSA every October. 

College is a great opportunity to learn new things and have life-changing experiences. Make the most of it with these tips! What else have you done to maximize your experience in college?

Health

Protecting Against Mental and Physical Fatigue in College

December 11, 2020

Pursuing an education was already a draining proposition before COVID-19 temporarily rewrote the playbook. Now, learning online, in a socially distanced classroom, or via a hybrid of these two options, has become downright exhausting.

As a student, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the additional fatigue this can create. Here are a few recommendations for various ways to protect both your mind and your body from the added stress that comes with schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Identify Your Social Support Network

Research regarding lockdown fatigue amongst college students has shown that one of the most important factors to success had to do with social support. Those who perceived a higher social support experience tended to fair better in confinement and lockdowns.

With that in mind, it’s critical that you maintain a solid social support network throughout your time in college. This is particularly challenging during a pandemic. Fortunately, we live in the 21st-century, and there is a plethora of alternative forms of communication that can be used to remain connected to your social network (i.e. your close friends and family), including:

  • Phone calls.
  • Text messages.
  • Social media.
  • Video chats.
  • Email.
  • Handwritten letters.

As you go through school, remain in close contact with your social support network at all times. This can help you identify, process, and address fatigue when it arises.

Consider Your Home Study Setup

One of the most obvious physical barriers to overcome is maintaining your physical health when you’re endlessly studying in lockdown. The need to do homework and attend virtual classes can keep you strapped to your desk and staring at a screen for countless hours every day. You can mitigate the undesirable physical effects that this causes by:

Maintaining your physical condition and endurance can help you remain at the top of your game while you learn from the homefront.

Fight the Mental Battle Daily

Finally, it’s important to make a proactive effort to fight for your mental health. This isn’t a one time deal, but a consistent task that must be tended to on a daily basis.

Letting things like stress go unattended can lead to a variety of different symptoms that can impact your ability to study and learn. This includes things like listening and communication problems, speech issues, developing depression and anxiety, and even poor motor skills. Fight back by:

  • Silencing your inner critic and staying positive.
  • Eating, sleeping, and exercising regularly and in healthy quantities.
  • Maintaining communication with your school’s counseling center.
  • Leaning on your social support network.
  • Meditating daily.
  • Unplugging from your devices when you’re not studying or attending classes.

By taking steps to preserve your mental health, you can ensure that you’re in the best state of mind as you tend to your studies.

Guarding Your Mind and Body

Your educational journey was always meant to be busy. Classes, homework, and exams were going to leave you feeling drained, regardless of the circumstances.

Nevertheless, the unique situation that the coronavirus has created has made it more important than ever to take steps to proactively protect your mind and body from fatigue. So build that social network, perfect your home-study situation, and keep fighting the battle for your mental health every day. Above all, regularly remind yourself that this too shall pass.

Keep your chin up! We’ll all get through this together.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.