Education for Everyone Everywhere

Archive for the ‘Useful Tools’ Category

Quieting the Mind

“Education for Everyone Everywhere”

The slogan sits beneath the Horizons University banner on our official website, proclaiming the idea that education should be available for everyone, anywhere in the world. While of course Horizons University offers on-campus learning, we’re able to bring the classroom anywhere and everywhere through our online programs. The classroom is wherever the student wants it to be. Whether it’s the living room sofa, the corner table in the local coffee shop, the public library, or the aisle seat on a flight to Boston, online education releases the student from a regimented schedule and allows them to study at their own pace, in their environment of choice.

But, as much as we don’t want to admit it, this freedom comes with the burden of responsibility and self discipline.

Centering the mind and quieting the mind to focus in a non-traditional work environment takes time and practice. Working from home or completing a degree online has wonderful perks, but it’s important to stay organized and to stay aware of our time and space in order to stay creative and productive.

Here are some helpful tips to quiet our minds and decrease distraction when working:

  1. Meditate: Daily meditation may seem like it belongs in yoga class instead of the office, but meditation can be done by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Take a break during the day to recollect. It could be in the morning while your coffee is brewing, at lunch in the break room, at your desk or cubicle, or when you get home in the evening. Simply close your eyes and breathe. Meditation isn’t about trying to block your thoughts. The human brain will continue to think and process and worry no matter how hard you try to silence it. The point of meditation is to acknowledge these thoughts and gently move back to a central, calm, focal point. Meditating for 10 minutes before sitting down to write a paper or doing a project will allow your mind to focus more clearly on the task at hand.
  2. Clear Your Schedule: Clearing your schedule doesn’t necessarily mean canceling plans with friends or missing your favorite TV show because you’re stuck in the library studying. It’s important to balance studying or working with personal time for yourself, however when it is time to buckle down and write, make sure there is nothing hanging over your head. For example, before sitting down to write or begin your work for the day, make sure the bills are paid, the cat is fed, and the laundry is done. It’s incredibly difficult to focus wholly on a project when you are distracted by chores or other tasks you need to accomplish. If possible, set a time during the day that is devoted entirely to your online work or study, then, try to get as many chores accomplished beforehand so distractions are minimized. Hide your phone in the pantry, plug in your headphones, keep a snack next to your computer, and get to work.
  3. Find Your Ideal Environment: Some people can design, read, write, create, blog, edit, etc. while seated at a tiny table in a loud, bustling cafe. In fact, this may be the only environment they are able to work effectively in, or at least the environment in which they’re the most creative and focused. Others couldn’t read and comprehend a sentence amongst the music and clanking of coffee cups. While most of us think we know our ideal study environment, it’s important to think critically about how productive we’re being in the different places we choose to work. Ask yourself, “Do I get more work done at my kitchen table? Or at the library?” “Does the bookstore or cafe bring me much needed inspiration for my writing? Or is it ultimately a distraction?” Take time to find your space.

Comment below to share your personal study habits. What works well for you? How do you quiet your mind and focus?

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Why Time Is Of Essence

Time managment TIPS

One of the most recurring terms in our communication and conversations is “Time”. As we research for the next issue of our newsletter, HorizoNews, Chronos is depicted as an essential asset to have on your side, whether you are a faculty member, a student, a member of staff… In the latest newsletter issue, we underline the importance of planning as a way for online students to prepare for an efficient year of successful studies.We have also mentioned before in this blog, how crucial it is to take breaks, breathe, look around and come back recharged. So, how can we learn how to manage our time better, to preserve a “white space”, and what does free time mean (does it still mean something to you)? Time, over and over again, calls for our attention.

One way to go about time is to manage it through the very popular time-management set of skills. What may come naturally to some of us, may be slightly more problematic for others. If we look closer at the intervention of time in online courses, we can also rely on ECTS per course. According to the Bologna process, each ECTS stands for about 25 hours of work. Given the total number of ECTS for a given course, students will then be able to understand at a glance how many hours each course involves. These are then split between Engagement, Preparation and Independent study hours depending on the tasks and type of involvement they require. When courses are developed, it is essential that theres parameters are taken into consideration to offer quality and consistent content in compliance with the Bologna standards and learning outcomes.

Time management applied to online studies guarantees rhythm, helps define time blocks that allow for deep learning/deep work and infuse a sense of scope while also making sure that a course can be completed. We assist our online students in time-management by providing them with a Study Plan: this document helps them acknowledge their tasks and evaluate how much time they will need to perform them and reach their goals.

As with many other aspects of our lives, time control and management cannot go without winding down, and I would even say that one cannot grow stronger, be beneficial without the other. To better manage our time, we also need to take breaks: after a pause, our brain and body are fully recharged and ready to re-engage. Carving out a white space means accepting a shift in our routine which may feel unsettling for some of us prone to coordinate and manage every aspect of an overly busy life or of what feels like it for an entire addicted generation. The panic one may feel raising as the days grow slower and time opens up for ourselves and our thoughts is only normal. And, guess what? It requires time to adapt! But the process is a healthy one that helps fight stress and a very effective way to clear a creative and brainstorming block. You cannot find the right sentence for your conclusion? Your ideas are stuck? Try going for a walk, listening to some music, meeting with friends… According to marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark, “We need to carve out blank space. (…) You don’t need time to have a great idea, what you need is space.” The goal is to find the right balance so that you can learn, teach, discover with pleasure and renewed motivation and strength.

What is your solution when it comes to letting go and learning to re-engage? Do you actually have to learn how to do this or does it come naturally to you? What are your favorite time-management tools or go-to activities when you need to step down a notch and “fill your mind and your soul with inspiration“? What are your favorite time-management tools? Let’s share our experiences here!

P.S. If you like this post, sign up in the Newsletter Sign Up field to enjoy the FREE Horizons University newsletter, HorizoNews. Each month, receive 2 issues straight to your inbox!

Credits: DeathToTheStockPhoto (Edited by Horizons University)

5 Top Tips for Your Next Job Interview

Job Interview Tips

Now that you have sent your resume and cover letter out and that you have been receiving requests for interviews, it is time to up your game and think about the next step, the ever important face-to-face meeting. Research says that recruiters make their mind during the very first 20 minutes of your job interview and even that the first 90 seconds are crucial, so there is little time to make the strongest (and best) impression! In order to get you started and help you on the way to success, we share with you 5 essential tips that should make you feel more at ease with the challenge ahead – while putting you in the position of a winner!

TIP #1: Nail that first impression

The first impression is a visual one, as simple as that, with 65% of hiring professional considering that clothing can be a decisive factor between two candidates. The recruiter is going to see you and what he/she is going to see needs to be positive. Taste is a very personal matter, but when applying for a job, it might be advisable to steer clear of excessive clothing, make-up and attitude in general. We would suggest you dressed as a professional: simply and efficiently, with no frills susceptible of distracting your contact. Show that you know what matters and you like going to the point. This does not mean that you should avoid putting your personality out there: you may express it via a touch of color, or a subtle pattern, for example. Who would have thought fashion to rank so high in the list?

TIP #2: Body Language is the Key

There’s the outside look and…your body language. While it may not be the most important aspect of your interview, it is one that draws attention from the beginning of your interview. Do show a steady gaze, make eye contact, shake hands firmly (without overdoing it) and avoid being fidgety (leave your hair and face alone). This will ensure that your contact stays focused and – you too.

TIP #3: Prepare, prepare, prepare

Show your recruiter that you are genuinely interested in him/her, the company and its activity sector. Do use LinkedIn to get to know their environment and research the company on the Internet and read as much as possible about it. You may also join related groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and a bit of benchmarking to try and understand who the competitors are and where the differences lie may be a good idea. A good level of preparation and understanding will  help you move to asking the right questions – which is probably even more important than providing good answers. You will be able to show your critical thinking skills and fluid intelligence.

On a more practical note, do remember to pack more than one pen, a notebook, several copies of your resume and any additional document that will support your achievements and profile.

TIP #4: Open Attitude

Take advantage of your interview to show that you have an open attitude: listen carefully, react accordingly and show that you are interested and adaptable, willing to learn and share. Your recruiter needs to understand that you are someone his/her team will enjoy working with.

TIP #5: Take Responsibility

Instead of listing your strong points, weaknesses and tasks as if they were a mere checklist (although we do love a good old checklist at Horizons University), take some distance and include your tasks and achievements in a more holistic and analytical presentation. For example, one of your weak points may be just the perfect opportunity to improve: how? What are you doing to grow? What project have you taken on? Your tasks and studies may also be presented in a dynamic, development oriented way instead of being a mere bullet pointed list: in what way the choice of you studies/the tasks you have performed at work as an employee or an intern in the past show that you know how to take responsibility and grow?

The tips above are meant as the starting point of your brainstorming and preparation and we do hope you will find them helpful and efficient. The interview, regardless of the job you are applying for, is a great opportunity to show a complete picture of who you were, are and will be: potential is your ally!

Are there any other tips you would like to share with us? What would would be your piece of advice to candidates?

P.S.: If you like this post, sign up to enjoy the HorizoNews newsletter. Each month, receive the issues packed with the latest news and tips straight to your inbox!

 

Credits: Canva edited by Horizons University

How to Pack for Summer + your packing list (FREE resource!)

PACKING LIGHTWhen summer comes, travel plans are in the air with long-haul or short trips on every corner. Today we are sharing with you a few practical trips as you prepare for a short summer trip that will take you back to your family, or away to a new capital you wish to discover while going on a job interview.

Our first piece of advice is to pack using a carry-on – whenever possible: this will help you avoid luggage registration and a long line once you reach your destination airport – not to mention the stress induced by the fear of losing that piece of luggage and all its much needed contents. Carry-ons also offer limited space, forcing you to only take the essential items along.

Our second piece of advice is to PLAN: it does not really matter whether you plan a week ahead or a few hours ahead, as long as you sketch some kind of plan in your head by asking yourself the following questions:

-How many days will you be away?

-What are the weather conditions to destination (are you going to Iceland in the heart of winter, or down south during the monsoon season)?

-Any special occasions that would require special attire?

Once these criteria are identified, you may start the actual packing following the simple technique of interfolding larger items (trousers, pullovers etc.) and rolling the smaller ones (socks, underwear) in your shoes . Note that interfolding is extremely efficient, unless you plan on stopping along your trip and taking things out of your carry-on. If you are planning on packing a t-shirt/shirt/pullover a day, you may want to deduct two and you’ll be closer to your actual needs. Place (sock-filled) shoes at the bottom of your suitcase and from there start interfolding and rolling clothes  to ensure that they do not move around too much in your carry-on – which in turn means that you will arrive at destination with wrinkle and crease-free garments.

If, like me, you tend to start by making a list of books you intend to read during the months ahead, investing in a Kindle device may well be a travel savior! I would also not recommend carrying around your laptop: as thin and efficient as it may be, it does not match a tablet. Should you need to write away all summer to finish your dissertation or the book of your dreams, you may want to consider a bluetooth keyboard…

Keeping these practical considerations in mind and willing to help you along the way with the rest of the essentials , we have prepared a quick check-list for you to use.

Are you ready to download and start traveling light?

Free checklist action buttonHappy summer reading-learning-teaching to all of you!

Credits: DeathToTheStockPhoto (edited by Horizons University)

Set Your GOALS (+ a bonus for our readers!)

Set your goals

In order to successfully progress through your academic project, setting a series of goals will help you gain focus and direction. Setting goals is a specific process that requires careful and analytical upstream brainstorming and planning in order to be a life changing experience. In this month’s HorizoNews newsletter issue, we revealed some of our insider’s tips and we are now ready to share some of them here (and adding a FREE resource to help you going too!):

1 – Your Q&A session

Asking yourself thought provoking questions will help you identify your goals and the means you will need to use to reach them. Try answering some of the following questions to get your brainstorming started about your motivation and objectives:

> What motivates me?

> What are my strong points and how can I leverage them?

> What are my weak points and how can I improve them?

> What is my academic project and why?

> What is my professional project and why?

> Is there any part of your mindset holding you back?

This is just a sample of the questions you may ask yourself to define the route you want to follow and the tools and skills you want to utilize.

2 – The SMART goals

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented). R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

3 – Write them down!

Writing your goals down will make them real and attainable.

We strongly advise you to use positive sentences and action verbs to make your goals clear and actionable. To track your progression, be extremely precise when writing them down, providing as many details and milestones as possible: dates, deadlines, amounts, tools (tables, to-do lists, books)… Break massive goals down into smaller ones to make them reachable and to allow yourself to monitor your progression every step of the way and make adjustments wherever needed. You will then be able to build on the previous goal-reaching experience to move on to the next one better equipped.

To complement the actionable guidelines we have shared with you in our June newsletter issue and here, we have designed a practical resource for you: the very ultimate and FREE CHEAT SHEET! It is all yours to download for FREE  – click on the action button below to start planning your future:

Action button

 

We hope you enjoy the free resource and encourage you to share your progression and own tips with us and our readers in the comments, on Facebook and Twitter. If you have not subscribed to our exclusive newsletter, this is the perfect time to do it: the relevant sign up field is visible at the bottom of our Home Page.

Happy goal settings to you all!

 

 

How to make commuting valuable

Commuting time final

Horizons University’s students can study online or on-campus. In order to meet the hectic way of life and working of our on-campus students and to make a new type of offer in the very traditional learning market, Horizons University has opted for the intensive seminar approach: 1-2-day seminars ensure that our students can plan in advance, get the required permissions from work and fully focus on the high impact and quality content of their courses.

Given the specific format of our seminars, our students and professors come from all over the country and sometimes even from abroad! They do know what the term “commuting” means, whether they cover the distance by car, public transportation – or by plane; today we are going to encourage you to turn what is often perceived as negative time (or wasted time) into a more enjoyable moment you can actually decide to turn into valuable time. In other words, let us think positively and grow stronger from the experience. In this post we share some practical tips to make the commuting time as pleasurable and enriching as possible.

1 – Keep learning

Depending on what your family or professional life look like, you may find out that commuting time is the best (if not the only) opportunity to focus on some activity requiring quiet and concentration while the miles fly by. What about preparing for your next course then? What about doing some extra research and reading? In all our courses, whether online or on-campus, students are encouraged to add personal reads to the suggested ones available in the syllabi, while some professors upload into the online course shell the course material before the actual seminar, so that students can already tune in, read in advance, do some personal research work and step int the class fully prepared. Should you have managed to gather articles, books, magazines over the previous couple of days, you may want to dig into those resources while the train/bus/tram is bringing you to your final destination. The extra reading will help you cover new areas of your study topic and start class with fresh ideas you can share with your professor and peers.

Suggested readings:

Le Média du Cross Canal ECommerce

Courrier International

Capital

Management

Le Journal de la Logistique

The Economist

Time Magazine

(Note: most of these offer both the paper-based and online option.)

2 – Buffer time

For some of you, commuting time might be the perfect opportunity to take time off, shut down your professional and academic files and get creative in different areas: read your favorite author’s latest book (to avoid extra weight, a reader like a Kindle would be a great option), listen to the latest episode of your podcasts, tune in with the day’s news and your favorite radio station to unwind at the end of the day or to get ready the energy flowing before a new one. You may also combine the two options by listening to audio books. Listening to some great stories is a great way to get our brain down to work, triggering functions that would otherwise remain idle. The bravest can even do some needle work (as seen on my train last week…), sketch or write ideas down in a notebook (grocery list, blissful thoughts for the day…), following the current trend of the notebook comeback!

Suggested audio programs:

The Moment with Brian Koppelman

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin

TED Radio Hour: the list and topics are endless

The Busy Marketer with BJ Smith

France Inter

France Culture

3 – The Driver’s Options

Should you be used to commuting by car, it might be a good idea to skip the reading and needle work altogether. We would advise you to get the full audio option: audio books, podcasts, music, elearning courses… The options are endless, as long as you keep your eyes on the road!

Suggested audio resources:

iTunesU

Udemy

SkillShare

(Note: even though some of the courses do feature videos, you may simply start by listening – it works out just fine, tried and tested!)

What are your favorite activities during your commute? What solutions have you found to turn this time into a pleasurable and invigorating moment of your day? Let us know which resources and activities we should add to the list – I am sure we would all be happy to tune in!

Credits: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Prepare your Application Record + FREE download

You’ve chosen your program, you are ready to go for it and yet, in all your joy and excitement at starting something new, something for yourself, something that will make you grow and push the boundaries of your learning experience, you are not sure that all the required documents are in the application record you are about to submit to Horizons University.

The first thing you can do to touch the ground again is to visit the Horizons University website: this is a repository of readily available information on application (and much more), from Admissions Requirements, to Program Descriptions and Tuition & Fees page, to the Admissions Process clearly explained via an easy to remember visual that breaking down every step of the procedure for you.

Checking our Q&A section on the website is certainly another useful step towards the success of your application: students before you have asked many questions, you will and so will other students after you – we value your questions and feedback. And so do your peers. This is why we have compiled a list of the most recurring questions and our answers with the objective of collecting valuable and practical guidelines for all our prospects and students, based on everyone’s feedback and experience with us.

Should you need someone to talk to, we are available for you via email, skype, phone – you decide!

And if you need something practical to take notes on and tick away with unstoppable satisfaction as you gather the items required to make up your application record, we have what you need, panic no longer, sweat no more. It is as easy as our FREE downloadable check-list where the essentials to get you there are conveniently listed on one single page. So, do you want it? Get ready to click:

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