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Tips for the New Semester

Posted on 1/30/2021 9:12:11 PM by Maria Lattanze

And we’re back.

Not back on campus quite yet, but back to online classes every week and working through long, stressful nights.

But before those long, stressful nights, how was everyone’s first week of the Spring Semester?  My week went pretty well.  I have a busy schedule this semester between classes, the newspaper, and my three jobs, but I am happy to be back.  I enjoyed the extended break, but I needed to get back into a routine; I needed something to look forward to rather than watching TV all day.

Now I am sure some of you were nervous about this first week of classes.  Whether it was your first time taking classes at Cabrini, having new professors, or not knowing anyone in your classes.  I have experienced all three scenarios during my journey through college, and I understand.  Allow me to offer some advice.

* * * * * *

I used to be extremely nervous to do anything.

Too nervous to answer questions.

Too nervous to present during class.

Too nervous to speak at all in class.

I lacked confidence in myself and a lack of confidence in my knowledge/skillset, which was unhealthy for my mental health.

It wasn’t until my dad had told me something 6-7 years ago just before I was about to test for my solid black belt in martial arts.  He told me and my sister, “No matter how nervous you are, you go into that testing room with the attitude ‘Let me show you what I can do.’”  Needless to say, I have never felt so confident in myself in my life.  Ever since then, I carried this philosophy with me both inside and outside of karate.

Having confidence in yourself is a huge leap, in not only college or a career, but life in general.  I tell my students who are currently training for their black belt test to have confidence when performing their routines and when answering questions. 

I tell my students, "if you think you have the correct answer, let me know, if you think this is the right move, show me and tell me why." 

For example, if I were to ask you, “what is the capital of Pennsylvania?” Which answer sounds better:

  1. “The capital of Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh.”

  2. “Uh...the capital of Pennsylvania...is...I think….uh...Pittsburgh?”

Notice that both answers are incorrect.  The second answer tells me that you did not know and are most likely guessing.

I tell my students: “It is better to hear a confident wrong answer rather than a ‘uhhh, I think it’s this?’ The confident wrong answer tells me that you are not afraid of answering incorrectly. It tells me that you are not afraid of the outcome.  It tells me that you prepared for the test, and you got one answer incorrect.”

I also tell my students to focus on themselves.  Do not worry about the others in the class.  They are there for the same reason you are: to learn. Focusing on others will affect your overall success in class; you will not learn as efficiently because your focus will be divided.

* * * * * *

So, go into classes this week with the attitude, “Hey, let me show you what I can do AND what I know.” 

Do not be afraid of failing.  

Do not be intimidated by others in the class.  

If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. What’s the worse that can happen? You get kicked out of class?  No. 

The worse that can happen is you learn something new. And is that so bad?

Having confidence will take you far. Good luck!