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Skills for College Students

Skills for College Students


Skills for College Students: Reading, Writing, and Keyboarding

There are several skills that everyone should learn.  Not only will they help you succeed in school, they can help you be successful in the rest of your “normal” life.  Having these skills not only allows you to study and communicate effectively, they can help prove to prospective employers that you care about learning and that you have the ability to learn.  These are skills that you can’t be taught, you have to teach them to yourself.  You have to have the desire and the discipline to sit down and learn them.  So, without further delay, here are a few skills for college students to learn and develop – in class, their personal life, and the workplace.


In our technological age, this skill is becoming more and more vital for students to know.  Being able to type well and quickly will save you time in class, as you type out notes.  It is also an asset in a job hunt.  Make sure you include your typing speed on your resume!

Figure out how fast you type with a fun typing game!

And learn how to type or improve your skills with a free, online program!

Speed Reading

We can all read, but being able to read quickly for information is a skill most of us have to learn.  I highly suggest that all college students take a speed reading course.  It probably won’t make you the fastest reader in the world, but just improving your speed a little bit is a good thing.

See how fast you read with this fun, quick test!

 Writing to Share Information

Writing is becoming a lost art.  Texting, with it’s short bursts of information, has become the only way many people communicate.  And now with autocorrect, we don’t even have to know how to spell anymore.  Being able to write clearly and effectively is a skill that professor and employers are looking for.

For a fun course in writing, try Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I’ve taken multiple courses from them and love them!

3 Books for the American Government CLEP

3 Books for the American Government CLEP

In honor of November 4, 2014 – otherwise known as Election Day – let’s talk about the American Government CLEP.  Are you about to go take the American Government CLEP?  Well, you only need 3 books on your shelf, and you are ready to study!

CLEP Official Study Guide – This book has one practice test for every CLEP offered.  It is also published by CollegeBoard (who hosts CLEP), so the practice tests use “official” questions.  A quick rule of thumb is 60% on this test means you’re ready to take the exam.

CLEP REA Guide American Government– Consider the REA guides to be the CliffNotes for CLEP exams.  It’s not for teaching you the subject, it’s for reviewing and refreshing your memory.  Not only is the material good, the practice tests you receive are very helpful.  Also, with the new REA guides,  you get a short, diagnostic test that is a great way to pinpoint your weak areas.

American Government in Christian Perspective – As I studied for this exam, I found it fascinating to read this Abeka textbook along with the other material.  Not only did it dive deeper into topics for me, but it covered everything with a Christian worldview.  American Government was already interesting, but reading about the Christian values and men and women from our history was really fun!

There you go!  My recommended 3 Books for the American Government CLEP!

Why You Need to Fail

Why You Need to Fail

Okay everyone, I’m getting my blogs up and running again!  I’ve got life *somewhat* scheduled and planned out… and I’ve got some blog post ideas sketched out and ready to go.

With that said… Why You Need to Fail.

Everyone should fail at least one thing in your life.  You need to mess up, drop the Frisbee, fail the CLEP, miss the deadline, wreck the car, miss the goal, burn the food.  The list goes on and on.  Failure is tough and hard (trust me, I know!) but there are three reasons I think everyone should fail (and why every distance student should fail a CLEP).

We’re all human

If you succeed at everything, you get a little cocky.  Some of us more than others, but we all do it.  Your head gets a little big when you have a “perfect record”.  Failures are good reminders that you are human, I am human…  in fact, we are all human!   Failure is a reality check.  Take it and move on.

Failure teaches more than Success

I realized this when I was learning how to drive (I’m still learning, by the way).  I could drive in a parking lot, at the correct speed with the correct posture all day long.  But it wasn’t until I started doing hard things – like driving with other cars, going over bridges, merging onto the interstate – that I started making mistakes.  Some were uninformed mistakes, some were dumb, obvious mistakes.  But each one made an impression in me, and taught me a lot more than all the perfect driving ever did.

God shouts through pain

Let’s be perfectly honest, failure causes pain.  Last night, during a volleyball game at a local park, one of my friends messed up badly.  The ball went wide and far, and he hurt his shoulder.    He walked off the court and said, “That hurt.  My pride and my shoulder!”  Failure can hurt – physically or emotionally.  It causes a lot of pain.  But the good news is God shouts through our pain.  “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, butshouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  C. S. Lewis

So, when I have kids and friends tell me they failed a test, I sympathize.  But I also think its a really good thing.  Whether they realize it or not, they just made a huge leap to being an better person in Christ!


12/50 Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

12/50 Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

I’m fascinated with lists and things in rows.  I love lists of things to learn and do.  I have a list of books to read, a list of books I’ve already read, a list of things to do in life, and a list of CLEPs to finish.  🙂

Last week I stumbled upon this article by Marc and Angel Hack Life: 50 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do.  While I don’t agree with all of the things on the list, there were definitely a few that stood out to me.  So here are my top 12 skills to learn before you graduate.

12 Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

  1. Learn to perform CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver:
  2. Tell a story that captivates your audience:
  3. Handle a job interview:
  4. Speed read
  5. Manage your time
  6. Remember names
  7. How to give driving directions
  8. Take good notes
  9. Listen to others
  10. Give a short speech
  11. Type
  12. Jumpstart your car
Managing Summer!

Managing Summer!

“Bees will buzz, kids will blow dandelion fuzz”

Olaf in Disney’s Frozen

As summer days grow longer and warmer, it becomes more and more tempting to let school and work slide for awhile.  Colleges and schools are out, the sun is shining, and it’s time to get outside!  But if you’re like me, there are deadlines to meet and tests to take.  Here are 3 ways to keep up with school and still enjoy summer!

1. Be realistic about summer goals

Here’s a good thing to remember: no matter how hard you try to avoid it, things will interrupt your summer.   Impromptu soccer games, families visiting, friends to go see, and days too beautiful to ignore.  So don’t make a list of “30 Things to Accomplish this Summer”.  Be realistic.  Set a few goals that really need to be done and focus on those.

2. Read good books

Reading is highly underrated, and I don’t just say that because I love to read.  It exercises your mind, relaxes you, and educates you.   What else in life gives you all those benefits in one swoop?

3. Take some time off

Give yourself some time to rest and regroup.  Take a summer trip with your family, spend a day only reading, take a sibling to the zoo.  When I finished Macro last Thursday, I took the rest of that day and Friday off to relax and play with my siblings.  Remember that even God rested after creating the world.  Resting isn’t bad, it’s laziness that is a problem.

How I Pass CLEPs

How I Pass CLEPs

I have taken quite a few CLEPs and, with the exception of Macroeconomics last spring, I have passed them all.   When I share that with people, they usually want to know how I pass that many tests.  And to be perfectly honest, it is nothing that I do.  It is totally the Lord and my mom.  I was homeschooled all twelve years and the skills I learned there are the reason I can go take college level tests and pass them.  Here are a few things that might help you pass your tests.

Be Disciplined

My mom was always there for me, if I needed her.  But with 7 other children, she couldn’t hold my hand the whole time.  Especially when I hit high school.  So I basically did my Junior and Senior year of high school on my own.  Admittedly, I wish I could have had that special time with my mom, but it taught me a lot about self discipline!  If I didn’t get my work done, guess who’s fault it was?  Map out your goals and hold yourself accountable!

Set a date

Take a practice test and gauge where you are.  Then call your test center and schedule your test.  And then write it onto your calendar in red ink and let it stare at you when you don’t want to study!  Here’s a rule of thumb I use with the Official CollegeBoard practice test.  Less than 40% correct, schedule test 4 weeks from now.  40-55% correct, schedule test 2 weeks from now.  55-60%, schedule test one week from now.  60% or up, go take that test!

Save money

Nothing like a limited bank account to put a fire under you!  Being aware that I have no money to spare when it comes to school really pushes me to know the topic.  I literally can’t afford to fail a test.  That will make you study like nobody’s business!  And remember, that a failed test means 6 months before you can retake.  You’re saving time and money!

Be willing to move the date

But, be wise about when you take your test.  I have canceled a test the day before.  Why?  Because I couldn’t get my score up.  I’d rather postpone than fail and have to wait 6 months!  You have to know when to shoot and when to be still.


And the last two are best summed up by quotations.

Be willing to fall

“If you learn from defeat,  you haven’t really lost” Zig Ziglar.

Blame yourself

A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. – John Burroughs

College Composition Modular CLEP… Is there a difference?

College Composition Modular CLEP… Is there a difference?

Q. Is there a difference between College Composition and College Composition Modular CLEP?

A. Yes, there are actually several differences!


College Composition: 120 minutes.  50 for the multiple choice, and 70 for the essays.

College Composition Modular: 90 minutes.  (only multiple choice)


College Composition: Two typed, mandatory essays.  Prompts created by CollegeBoard.

College Composition Modular: optional two essays, topics created by CLEP OR a writing assessment created by your institution OR no essay

Essay Scoring

College Composition: All CLEP essays are scored twice a month by English college faculty, selected by CollegeBoard.  You will receive your score within 4-7 weeks.

College Composition Modular: College of your choice scores your essay.  Receiving your score will vary.

When Does Your Energy SOAR? (Time Management)

When Does Your Energy SOAR? (Time Management)

Time Management #2

Figure Out When You Work Best

Everybody has a time when their energy level soars.  Figure out when your mind is the sharpest, and work then.  You will get the most out of your effort if you know utilize the time that your thoughts, actions, and emotions are the most stable and ready to work.  Studying and working usually involves being still and concentrating on desk work.  You can’t be dying to go run or falling asleep.  That won’t help.

Here are some times when your energy level may be at its highest:

  • When you first get up in the morning
  • Right after eating
  • Right after exercising
  • After reading
  • Just before a deadline (be careful with that one)
  • Working towards a reward (friends over or a fun book to read)
  • In the quiet of the evening (with a cup of hot tea!)
  • In the midmorning
  • In the afternoon
  • After laughing with a sibling or friend

When do you study best?  I have 2 times – between 8:00 and 12:00 each morning and after running in the afternoon.  🙂

December Focus: Time Management 101

December Focus: Time Management 101

I was inspired to keep blogging some through December when I had a great idea for a series.  How to balance school and family during the holiday season.  This will be brief series with 6 good ways to keep the holidays focused on God and the family He gave us… while still being productive.   So, here we go!

Time Management Principle #1

Keep a calendar (or two) and actually use it.

It is easy to buy a calendar at the beginning of the year, but you sometimes have to force yourself to use it.  Actually putting dates on the calendar will save time and headaches, while helping you to keep track of everything.  At a glance you can see that you have to many “school” events and no family stuff – or to many “fun” events and no school.  🙂

It also keeps you from double booking anything.  I am a Junior in college, the oldest of eight, and I just got hired as an event planner.  Needless to say, my life could be a mess if I didn’t take charge of my time.

Use a calendar and control your time – don’t let it control you.

Economics for Your Bookshelf

Economics for Your Bookshelf

As I study for Macroeconomics (after taking Microeconomics), here’s a list of highly recommended resources for your bookshelf as you study for these two CLEP exams.