Things to learn before college

As I am starting college this year, I am concerned about how I will get through a transition process. There are a lot of things that people wish they had known before starting their freshman year, and several of them are described in Moira Forbes’s article called What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Starting College, in which she interviews successful women about it. The author mentions, how exciting and anxious at the same time it might be to step onto campus for the first time as a freshman faces all the difficulties of being independent and responsible for him or herself. Tons of work, social pressures and other factors make it hard for one to hold. However, a good start is important and affects the whole studying period, so it is crucial to make the right decisions. Moira Forbes gives a reader the experience of some people who had already achieved their success.

Whitney Wolf, Founder and CEO of Bumble, who was an International Studies major at Southern Methodist University, recommends college newcomers to make sure they do well not only in classroom but in their life in general. Health, relationships and mental wellbeing should not be given up to get good grades, and it is vital to remember about such approach. She also points out that emotional intelligence is much more beneficial than just documented intelligence.

A graduate of Princeton University with an A.B. in History and now the CEO of Lebenthal & Co., LLC, Alexandra Lebenthal reminds the students not to trust people too much. Otherwise, it can lead to one finding out that he or she invested too much time, money or other resources in someone but not themselves. Even if it seems like you are in good relationships, someone might try to take the advantage from you so better keep it in mind all the time. She also specifies that once you notice such troubles, you have to get out immediately as hoping that the situation will ‘miraculously change’ is useless in any case.

Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, received her Bachelor’s degree in History and Science from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges. Now she tells the readers to focus on who do you want to be and how do you want to affect the world instead of asking yourself what do you want to do after college. Letting others’ social expectations define you leads to you being disappointed later in life. A job should mean something important to a person, then it can bring a full weight out of his or her talents. Cheryl Dorsey calls it ‘core identity that is as intrinsic as our DNA’, so it is substantial to make the right choice.

April Underwood, Vice President of Product at Slack who studied Management Information Services at The University of Texas at Austin, claims that it means a lot to be brave to ask great questions instead of pretending to know all the answers. She describes her story, noting that ‘fake it till you make it’ approach she embraced in her early years worked well for her, however there was something important she missed. Good questions can broaden your worldview and make your relationships deeper, and they are not revealing your weakness. Conversely, they show that you are curious and engaged, helping to create useful emotional and intellectual connections.

The CEO of AnthroTronix, who received her B.A. in Biopsychology and Mathematics from Swarthmore College, Corinna Lathan advises college newcomers to push their boundaries, getting outside of their comfort zone. Giving her personal experience as an example, she declares that doing things you are unlikely to do challenges the boundaries of your comfort zone and makes it bigger, so there are a lot of advantages for your future life.

Rachel Tipograph, Founder and CEO of MikMak who graduated from New York University where she received a B.A. in Entertainment Business and New Media, suggests that being a ‘supreme, verbal storyteller’ can greatly help one in life. Being able to convince people through speech gives you a chance to hook a person, and undoubtedly you will need this skill a lot of times. She mentions that the worst things it can lead to are that you can be ignored or challenged, and both of them are insignificant in terms of your overall story. So the ability to ‘speak up and act big’ is a good thing to learn to do.

While reading this article, I was glad to find out that I have already used these suggestions in my school experience. I tried to focus on my physical and mental wellbeing, and I am sure it helped me a lot to graduate with all excellent grades. When you are in harmony with yourself, studies seem to be easier and more comfortable. Another thing that was a great help for was my ability to discuss questions I do not understand. I tried to speak up because in my opinion not knowing something is not embarrassing especially if you study at school. In fact, it is all about being confident enough to embrace your ignorance in order to overcome it and learn something new. When you realize that no one can blame you for what you say and what you ask, then you reach a new level of understanding between you and the teacher or professor. Understanding these simple facts is a key to successful discussion in classroom.

Talking about getting outside the comfort zone, I can say that moving to Dubai definitely pushes the boundaries of it. I start getting education in another country, and it gives me great opportunities in terms of gaining new knowledge and social contacts. Moving forward in life means overcoming certain difficulties, and it brings you one level up in your life. Honestly, I can not say that I know for sure what impact I want to have on the world, but I am here to define it and develop in this direction. It is important to keep in mind your real goals and wishes, not letting others dictate you what you have to do later in life.

Personally, I made several decisions concerning my future studies at SAE Dubai. I want to be engaged and take part in all the events to get the most out of the educational process. Besides, I want to meet new people to make social connections that will help me to reach my creative goals. I am willing to discover the world and myself through various filmmaking projects, and I always remind myself that there is no one, but me who is responsible for my future success so it is useless to waste my time trying to avoid working hard. The more I do, the more I get, and I should not surrender the opportunity to make my hobby my job. Everything depends on me, so I will try my best. Otherwise, I will probably miss the chance of my life.

I do not expect the transition process and my first year in college to be easy. However, I know it will be very interesting, and I am happy to finally be able to study what I want to and develop in the spheres I find important. It is useful to get advice from those who had already passed this period and learn on others’ mistakes instead of making your own, so I grateful I had a chance to read the article of Moira Forbes and get a bit more prepared for what I will have to face soon.

What it takes to be a creative thinker?

What it takes to be a creative thinker? Glory Anna explores this question in details in her article How To Be A Better Creative Thinker, destroying an existing stereotype that creativity is a gift exclusive for the ones born this way. The author examines different types of thinking and teaches the readers how to turn creativity into a ‘viable and renewable resource’ by making it a way of living and solving problems. According to Robert Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams, the authors of How to develop student creativity, there are three types of thinking applied to creative work:

  1. Analytical ability — the process of analyzing the ideas and considering the possible outcomes.
  2. Synthetic, or creative, ability — the process of generating ideas.
  3. Practical ability — the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to life

There is also another classification which divides thinking into two categories:

  1. Divergent thinking, or elaborating ideas.
  2. Convergent thinking, or evaluating ideas to find the most suitable ones.

Generally, Glory Anna defines creative thinking as an ability to think of the ideas in an “out of the box way”, to see them from a different perspective to find innovative solutions. She points out it is possible to develop this skill by learning its important key traits including brainstorming and reframing. Brainstorming is basically acknowledging all your ideas no matter how useless or stupid they initially seem without being afraid of failing or looking lesser than you are. Reframing is all about changing your first interpretation and opening up your mind to new points of view. Being aware of these attributes allows you to approach to problem solving in a different way and develop your creativity.

Furthermore, there are various techniques that can help you become a better creative thinker that are described in the article. The first one is Habit and Ritual technique. Psychologist and psychometrician Robert Sternberg claims creativity is a habit that can be developed via strong consistent routine. In other words, you have to commit yourself to donate some time to being creative daily/weekly/etc. to habituate your mind to it. Another way is to create a ritual consisting of a set of actions that will be a signal to your brain it is the time to create. It works because our mind has automatic responses to fixed-actions patterns familiar to it. These two techniques provide an easier and more natural creative process.

Mind Mapping, a form of visual note taking, can also be helpful in terms of creative thinking. Organizing your ideas by making an associative pattern leads our mind to fresh solutions. One can also try Role Play, which allows him or her to reinterpret the ideas by looking at them for an alternative perspective. Another form of creative thinking is Insight, or “creative eureka”, when an answer just comes to your mind. Stimulating your mind by using these techniques helps to generate the ideas even when you are stuck.

Steve Jobs once said that creativity is not about doing, but about seeing something so the solution becomes obvious to a person. To develop our natural ability to generate new ideas we need to change our perception of creative thinking and literally teach our mind to find innovative solutions.

As for me, a few years ago creative thinking was something that happened randomly. I found it rather difficult to generate ideas on purpose, but immersing into a creative process was a great help. ‘Appetite comes with eating’ worked for me perfectly well, allowing me to find new solutions and create. You can never reach your goal until you start working on it. However, a while ago I decided that it was the time to face this problem and teach myself to think creatively when I need to. The most useful technique that still helps me all the time when it comes to creativity is brainstorming via mind mapping. Generating as many ideas as I can and writing them down is the easiest way for me to find the right approach to the problem. While examining the question, I try to see it from different perspective, as it was advised above, and try to apply all the ideas to my work.

The most destructive thing I can think of in terms of creativity is the assurance that you just cannot be creative. The point is that you need to truly believe you are able to find a unique solution, and then you will come up with it, no matter how long it might take. I think it is necessary to avoid the most obvious and already existing answers. Don’t be afraid to break the rules because they can be a great foundation but should not restrict your creativity.

I also find it essential to develop myself in different spheres to make up a good foundation for my future discoveries. Creativity is not about making something out of nowhere but about connecting things together and seeing the links between ideas that don’t even seem close to each other. It is extremely useful to observe and analyze the world around you to see more than all the people surrounding you. I try to constantly remind myself to question the reality and find various explanations to what’s going on. Why does it happen? What would happen if I changed something? The answers can be surprising.

Sometimes we are just too afraid to be creative, looking for excuses why we are not able to think of something innovative. Overcoming this fear is a key to success in coming up with new ideas. We all need to dive into creative process making it our way of thinking, our lifestyle. And the more you create, the easier it is to make your mind work.

It is possible to teach yourself to be creative, and I think it is absolutely vital in the modern world with its information economy. Learning the techniques described above can help to develop one’s creativity and make it a way of living and thinking.


Ask dumb questions!

Why people need to overcome the fear of asking dumb questions? Many of us often feel ashamed to show the lack of knowledge, preferring to pretend to understand the subject. The reason for such reactions is our concern about the opinion of those who surround us. Jason Feifer in his article ‘Want the Upper Hand? Ask the Dumb Questions’ explains, why it is so useful to ask  “stupid” questions. Describing his past fear of sounding silly and ignorant, Jason illustrates his point of view with his experience as a novice journalist. In the beginning of his career he felt afraid that someone can find out his incompetency in some aspects of the discussion. However, a good advice combined with gained experience taught him that asking ‘stupid questions’ is rather beneficial than humiliating. In fact, people seem to speak more when asked a basic question because of the willing to explain and share their knowledge.

Ankur Jain, a successful businessman Jason spoke to, points out that the ability to ask simple questions makes young entrepreneurs benefit in terms of their career. It allows them to approach to an issue in a fresh way, not limited by the acknowledged statements, which leads them to finding new solutions. The reason for them to ask these questions is not just their inexperience, but their willingness to learn more and understand the subject. Those who prefer to keep silence so as they look smart lose more than the ones questioning convenient facts. ‘Shelving the pride’ is a key to making new discoveries. Moreover, mostly people want help and are ready to explain everything patiently, which sometimes is really inspiring. According to Jason Feifer, you have to embrace your ignorance in order to reach new opportunities in your life.

To tell the truth, it was extremely pleasant to read this article and realize I discovered this simple thought quite a while ago. The point is: revealing your inexperience makes the communication much easier and more comfortable for all the speakers. First, overcoming the shame of looking dumb destroys the emotional boundaries that limit our sincere participation in the discussion. When you admit to yourself and the one you speak to that you don’t know something, the conversation becomes  more natural. In other words, it demonstrates a simple essence: we are all humans, and it is okay to not understand something. Overcoming the fear of admitting my insufficient knowledge made me feel so free in the discussion that from that moment I keep the promise given to myself not to let my complexes and frights to complicate my life.

Another point is that any question is a request for knowledge which contributes to one’s intelligence. Agree with me, an attempt to learn more, to explore the unknown deserves to be respected. A genuine willing to understand the issue shows one’s interest and curiosity which drive a person to new findings and revelations, uncovering the secrets of the world. I believe gaining new knowledge is vital for a constant development of the mind, so ask more and learn more, try to conceive causal relationships instead of blindly assuming the facts. It’s a key to be smart rather than pretend to.

The last things I want to say still astonish me with their simplicity. While we fear asking for explanations from people, they actually enjoy the opportunity to pass their knowledge. People like being treated as professionals, they like to see that somebody is truly interested in what they are talking about, that’s why letting one to demonstrate his or her proficiency is probably the best way to make the conversation feel easy and comfortable. To get the most out of the discussion, just be honest and open, ask questions, listen to answers, enjoy the process of communication. At least I can declare that this policy makes my life a bit more enjoyable and simple.