6 ways to help your brain this winter break

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Winter break is upon us!  You are probably holding your breath for that glorious moment when you turn in our last exam!  Finally, you can sleep in without missing your first class or paying for it in a low grade!

First up on your to-do list: catch up on sleep and binge-watch your favorite TV shows.

Sounds like the PERFECT winter break routine.

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Establishing credit: two baby steps and a warning

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Let’s say you feel ready to handle the responsibility of credit and all that entails.  How do you get started? 

Before we even get into that, let’s take a moment to revisit the main take-away from our last post [Credit: what is it and why should you care?]  Let’s say it all together now: No credit is better than bad credit! 

Yes, we are starting with the warning mentioned in the title.  That is because it is so important!

Moving on.

Demonstrating that you are responsible with your finances is key to qualifying for a loan or credit card… but how can you prove that you are financially responsible with credit when you don’t yet qualify for the very things that help you build that credit?

Baby Step #1: Open a bank account in your name, if you don’t already have one.  Try your best to deposit on a consistent basis. Even if it is only a few dollars a month.  It all ads up, and a history of deposits looks good even if they are small.

Baby Step #2 Apply for a secured credit card.  You use it like a regular credit card, but the spending limit must be backed by a deposit.  (Your spending limit is typically dictated by the amount of your deposit.)  You can use the card to pay bills or make purchases, and you will be responsible for paying off your balance just as you would with a regular credit card.  Another option is to become an authorized on someone else’s credit card.  This means that the other person will need to be able to trust you! (A typical scenario is for a parent to add their child as an authorized user on their card.)  They will be held responsible personally for any bad decisions made with the card, so you will be expected to be on your best behavior!  On the flip side, your name can benefit from the correct usage of that card.

Looking for more baby steps/ways to get started on building your credit?  There are several other valid options, each of which have their own set of pros and cons.  Nerdwallet.com may be helpful to you as you navigate the world of finances and learn what will work best for you.   This page on their website offers several more options for building credit from scratch: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/how-to-build-credit/  

Ultimately, your level of responsibility will determine how well they work for you.

What is a good target age for establishing credit?

The decision to use credit or not and when to begin establishing that credit is a subjective one.  Every person has different goals and varying degrees of responsibility.

That being said, you will need to be 18 years of age or order to apply for most credit cards, but can open a bank account when you are much younger (sometimes as young as age 13).

Warning: Building good credit is fairly easily done, and can be accomplished in just a few months.  Bad credit can haunt you for hears.  It is not a bad idea to work toward building good credit while still in high school.   However, your self-control plays a significant role in the success of this plan.  Some students are better off waiting.  Be honest with yourself and seek advice.  Make sure that the temptation to spend is something you can handle.

 

 

 

Credit: what is it and why should you care?

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Educating yourself on the basics of what credit is and how it affects you is key to making wise economic decisions.

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Three ways to maximize your study sessions.

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At this point in your life you are very familiar with classwork, exams, and, of course, studying.  If you’re in college, no doubt you are studying.  At least a little!  The question is, are you studying effectively?  Continue reading

Dealing With Goodbye

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People get weird when it’s time to say goodbye.  Especially when it is a long-term goodbye.  Yes, even adults.

Maybe you can identify yourself in one of the following examples:

  • You get hyper and say ridiculous things that are completely immature or flat out make no sense. But you continue to jabber on and on and on, following no particular train of thought, anxious to plow through becauseyoucan’thandlethestressandwantitobeoveralready.
  • You get super sensitive and cry about every look, feeling, or slight inconvenience.  Why did she look at me like that?  *sniff*  He really said that?  *tear trickles down cheek*   Why won’t this suitcase just zip up already?  *full-on river of tears floods face*
  • You go waaaaaay off the charts in the opposite direction and distance yourself emotionally. Your stoic expression rivals George Washington’s likeness on the one dollar bill.

What is it about saying goodbye that throws people into a tailspin?  It’s like we morph into overgrown toddlers hiding behind our parents on the first day of preschool.  Here’s the good news: getting weird about goodbyes is actually pretty normal.

The simple answer?  Goodbyes are hard.  You cope by pulling out whatever internal armor you have at your disposal.  And while that might get you through the moment, it may cause you to miss out on the positives to be found in the circumstances or, worse, cause the goodbye to end on a negative note.

As you approach THE goodbye that is dropping off your child at college, you may be wondering how you will handle the scenario.  In your mind’s eye this young adult is still eight years old and needs help combing his/her hair.  (There are so many moving parts, memories, mixed feelings, and uncertainties about this transition that it is easy to dwell on the negatives and become overwhelmed.)  Instead, try to focus on the positives!

If you need some help coming up with those positives, maybe these will help get you started:

  • The simple fact that they have reached this milestone means they are growing, learning, and taking strides toward adulthood.
  • They are here largely because of YOU and your support, guidance, and advice.
  • Hopefully, this season of their life will help them continue to mature and impact the world around them in amazing ways.
  • They are confident enough to take this step and venture out on their own.
  • ______________________ (Your turn! Fill in the blank!)

Here’s to a successful shift from high school to college… make it memorable! (In a positive way!)

Off To College: One Thing You Can’t Afford To Leave Behind

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Have you looked at the calendar today?  Did you notice that there are only 5 more squares in July?

Five days before August hits in all it’s hot, busy, back-to-school fury.

For some, the conclusion of summer means cramming in a few more beach days, one more camping trip, or one more theme park adventure.  For others, it means cranking through just a couple more weeks of longer-than-usual work days to save up for the fall semester.

Emotions range from excitement to dread and everything in between… possibly ricocheting between the two extremes like an out-of-control bouncy-ball!

If you are beginning your freshman year at college, you are getting ready to launch out on your own.  This is true for both commuter students and campus residents.  While the change is more drastic when a student actually “moves out” for college, commuters also experiences a detachment from what (up until now) has been their typical family schedule.  This is a necessary, even healthy, part of the process of growing up and morphing into adulthood!

Naturally, becoming immersed in college will mean you become a bit less involved in life outside of college – especially as a campus resident.  Here at Trinity Baptist College, we encourage you to take full advantage of the spiritual culture of our campus by attending chapels and Bible studies and develop strong relationships by participating in activities and athletic events.  College can be so much more than an academic education if you allow it to be.  It can be the place where you meet life-long friends and make important connections that impact your life long after graduation.

There is a delicate balance, however, between full involvement in your college life and maintaining honest communication with family and mentors back home.  You may not grasp the importance of this now, but believe it – you need to keep in touch!  And not just because your family loves you and wants to hear from you! (Although that is a very valid reason, and one you need to remember!)

There is another — deeper — reason.  You will need advice. No matter how old you get or now experienced or mature – you will always need someone to speak into your life and offer a different perspective.

Proverbs 11:14 – Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 19:20 – Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Embracing your independence without dismissing the family members, friends, and mentors who have had a positive influence in your life before college is a tricky but important lesson to learn.  They are familiar with your background.  They have witnessed your strengths and weaknesses first hand and know you better than anyone on campus.  They can see how your struggles, triumphs, fears, and dreams make you unique.  They also can see your potential more clearly than most and genuinely desire your success.

Eventually, your new professors, friends, and mentors will come to know you as well.  They will hopefully speak into your life with wisdom and help you mature as a person.  But view these new influences as an addition to your support system instead of a replacement for what you already have in your parents and spiritual mentors.

Getting to college is a milestone to be proud of, certainly.  But don’t forget the valuable advice and support that got you to this point! You can’t afford to leave behind the wisdom and perspective that has been instrumental to your success so far!

Above all, don’t distance yourself from the ultimate source of wisdom for your life – God and His Word.  Even if all others fail you or steer you wrong, His wisdom transcends all.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The down side of having a plan

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There’s a down side?  Really?

If you are a planner, you are probably staring daggers at your screen right now.  “What kind of incompetent person would suggest that planning is less than the epitome of being responsible?”

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Three tips for every commuter student

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Often, moving out is assumed when people talk about going to college.  However, that is not always the case

In fact, statistics show that the commuter student population is over half that of on-campus students.  Curious?  You can read a US news article about that here.  Of course, this data will vary drastically depending on the university or college in question, and the percentage of commuter students tends to be lowest in the freshman class.  (This might be because many colleges and universities require freshmen to live on campus.)

Wondering why some colleges require freshmen to live on campus?  It’s actually for your own benefit!  Here’s a quick list of solid reasons why it’s a good idea.

Commuter students face a unique set of challenges. 

We met with a commuter student at TBC and her observations echoed that of many other commuters across the country.  There are some obvious perks to living at home and driving to class each day, but there are three main areas that are unique challenges for the off-campus student.   If you are planning to commute and want to get the most out of your college experience, these are three areas that you should consider as you plan your days.

  • Get involved. It takes extra effort to truly get to know fellow classmates and professors and be familiar with campus facilities and events. To be an active participant in college life outside of the classroom, you’ll need to be strategic.  It is easy to just go to class and leave, but by doing that you’re missing out on many of the experiences that make college so exciting.  On-campus students tend to spend a majority of their time together in the dining hall, in the library, walking back and forth to class, in the activity buildings, attending campus events, and, of course, in their dorm or other student housing.  Relationships are built during those times, and you’ll need to intentionally plug in to the campus culture and community outside of class.  It is not impossible, but it can be difficult if you aren’t naturally outgoing.

Helpful tip: Purposefully meet fellow freshmen as well as upperclassmen during orientation and build on those connections.  Freshmen will likely be slightly out of their comfort zone (but the same boat as you!) and you will likely all have a very similar schedule. Chances are, you’ll see each other frequently and probably have multiple classes together.  Upperclassmen will have the inside scoop on how things work and what to expect.  It’s always advisable to have more mature people in your life who can share their experiences and perspective.  Look for those good influences that you can depend on!

  • Traffic is unpredictable.  Depending on your distance from campus you’ll need take into account rush hours and possible traffic flow obstacles (accidents, construction, special events, etc.) Each semester, class schedules change and demand that the commuter student learn a new routine.  Don’t let this discourage you from your goal!  Hundreds of college students accept this challenge every day and pass with flying colors.  Just make a point to give yourself extra time, especially on days when you have an exam or a project is due.  Being late is never a good idea, but it is a really bad idea to be late on a day when a grade-defining event is on the schedule.

Helpful tip: For the first week or two, plan to give yourself way more travel time that you actually need to get to campus and find your classroom.  Get familiar with your route and take note of any rail road crossings or school zones.  If you encounter either of those on your way to campus, you may need to scope out alternate routes to keep in mind if needed.  If you arrive on campus with 30 minutes to spare, take advantage of that time to roam campus and get familiar with the layout.  Or look for a familiar face and start a conversation! 

  • Even if you commute from home, you may need to plan your own meals. It might work out perfectly for you to run home for lunch or dinner, but then again it might not.  Classes, homework, work schedules, and campus activities can conflict with home routines. Meals could easily be one of the main changes you’ll need to account for.  (Skipping meals shouldn’t be part of your plan!)

Helpful tip: Look into the possibility of paying for a meal service plan.  Making a stop at the college cafeteria could be the perfect answer to a crazy class schedule, and most likely be cheaper than buying snacks every day.  (Healthier too, if you choose wisely in the cafeteria!)  Another option would be to pack your own meals to bring with you.  Take that extra money you’ve saved and use it to knock out that college bill!  

In the end, your college experience can be what you want it to be. 

If you want to have a positive experience, make the extra effort to make it so!  Keeping these three points in mind as you make plans can go a long way toward creating the experience you are looking for.  Ask questions, look for creative solutions, and enjoy this exciting phase of life!

 

Three Truths For College Students to Build Their Life On

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When I think back to my time in college, I am often reminded of just how much change took place during those five years (yes, I was one of those special students that finished a four-year degree in five). When I started college, I was living with my grandparents in Springfield, MO. I had few concerns and responsibilities in life and was basically living for the moment. Four years later, I had transferred to Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, FL and was about to graduate with a Pastoral Theology degree. I was married, owned a home, had a full-time job and couldn’t wait to start working on a seminary degree.

Even looking back on it now, I get dizzy thinking about how quickly God changed the course of my life. The direction, focus and clarity that came to me during those few short years is something I will never forget. It is one of the reasons that the past nearly ten years of my life has been devoted to helping other college students find that same life focus.

I believe that in God’s providence He allowed me to see some important truths through the words and influence of various mentors and teachers in my life at that time which changed the course of my life. Here are three of the truths that helped me to see life more clearly.  They are just as true for college students today as they were for me as a college freshman eighteen years ago.

  1. God is the only source of ultimate and lasting good.

During my youth, I had experienced some very difficult circumstances. My father suffered permanent disabilities through a tragic accident that I had unintentionally caused when I was fifteen. There were other painful life situations that my family and I had endured. Through all of this, I had come to see first-hand that God was still the only source of goodness.  Even in tragedy and pain, I had felt and seen His guiding hand and I did not see that anyone else had a better solution or alternative for how the tragedies of this life were going to be corrected. God had opened my eyes to the story of redemption through Jesus Christ and everything else paled in comparison to that truth. Sitting through doctrines class at a Christian college gave me the words to articulate what I had experienced in my own life.

  1. Everything you chase to bring fulfillment outside of God disappoints.

I don’t have a testimony of riotous living, but I had experienced enough of sin in my own life to know the end is destruction. Growing up in a pastor’s home gave me a front row seat to the consequences of poor choices and behaviors in the lives of so many people. I came to see that all of humanity, including me, was broken. Even the allure of youth as a college freshman could not overcome the truth that gnawed at my heart; where will all of this lead in twenty years? I know many will argue that Christianity makes sense for someone that has nowhere else to turn, but my life was not on the rocks when I committed to follow Christ. I am so thankful that the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my life allowed me to see the truth that although my life seemed put together on the outside, I was broken beyond repair in the eyes of God. My only hope was the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

  1. Eternal rewards are not measured on an earthly scale.

This is a lesson that I am continuing to learn. I have little to say about this because I am not satisfied with my own application of this truth. This is merely an acknowledgement that even in the realm of Christianity and spiritual growth there is a tendency to seek the fame and notoriety that are, in substance, the same as what consumes celebrity culture of our modern age.   Particularly as American Christians, we are averse to anything that feels like pain, difficulty or trial because we have bought into the lie that Jesus wants us to always be happy and successful. As a college student, it is important to understand that in God’s economy, the first are often last. The weaknesses in our life allow God the opportunity to show His power and receive glory for Himself. Don’t be afraid to live a life of obscurity and faithfulness in service for God. What is done for him in secret during this lifetime He has promised to reward openly in the eternal life to come.

3 Ways Neglected Maintenance Affects Your Leadership Ability

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How many emergencies have been created in your life recently due to neglected maintenance? Maybe you were late for an important meeting because your car wouldn’t start. You knew the battery was well beyond its useful life but instead of taking 30 minutes to purchase and have a new one installed, you kept putting it off because you were too busy.

Perhaps your maintenance emergency was a financial one because for years you put off replacing a $10 air filter and now you have to call out a repairman to work on your home air conditioning system.

Have you ever tried driving a car for multiple thousands of miles without changing the oil? Eventually you will ruin the entire motor by simply putting off routine maintenance that, if completed in a timely manner, would save you thousands of dollars and many hours of frustration.

There are many examples of this in the mechanical world but what about within the sphere of leadership? Does the principle of neglected maintenance apply to our effectiveness as leaders?

I believe that it does. Let’s examine at least three ways that neglected maintenance can negatively impact our personal leadership.

  1. Areas of neglected leadership maintenance never seem important until they do not function. Just like in the example of the car battery, you can be seemingly effective in your leadership until one day you just aren’t because you have neglected to properly maintain essential areas. Some practical examples would be:
  • Maintaining a consistent prayer life
  • Studying, meditating and personally applying Scripture
  • Taking time to rest and restore mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally
  1. Areas of neglected leadership maintenance are not always exciting to work on. Just like changing the oil in your vehicle is not as exciting as getting a custom paint job or installing a great after-market DVD player or stereo, the oil is a far more critical issue. The same is true in leadership. For example, working on things like follow-through and consistent communication are less fun than attending conferences or dreaming about big ideas. While the latter have their place, it is attention to the less exciting maintenance details that actually allow us to move on to greater, healthier places.
  1. Areas of neglected leadership maintenance require discipline and consistency. You don’t change the air filter in your home air conditioning system once every five years. You have to schedule this maintenance detail every three months. This requires attention to detail. Most areas of neglected maintenance within our areas of leadership are not difficult to accomplish, the hard part is simply remembering to do them in the midst of the chaos and busyness that characterizes our daily operations. We simply forget how important these little details are until they have been neglected long enough to create a crisis.

Don’t become a victim of neglected leadership maintenance. Take the time today to evaluate the little things that have been overlooked and may become the big things if they do not receive some attention soon.