Academy of Learning College Blog

Team AOLC at the Victoria MS Walk
15 April 2014
Victoria MS Walk April 2014
Stephanie Stewart

Students and staff from the Victoria and WestShore Campuses participated in the Scotiabank MS Walk on April 13th and raised $1500 for the MS Society! The grand total raised from all teams who participated was $133,400. Thanks to everyone who walked or ran with Team AOLC especially our team captain from the WestShore Campus, Breanne Marriott (Office Administration Diploma program).

Staff from Academy of Learning College at the National Job Fair & Training Expo
03 April 2014

Our booth has been buzzing since the opening of the National Job Fair & Training Expo in Toronto yesterday.  Here are a few shots from all of the action.  The Fair is open until 6 pm Eastern today, so stop by Booth 1119 and say hello to Team AOLC!

 

St patricks day_aolc blog
17 March 2014
St. Patrick’s Day 2014
Stephanie Stewart

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Our students and staff had a great time celebrating today.  Here are some of the highlights:

Duane Yeomans
05 February 2014
Success One Step at a Time
Stephanie Stewart

Running a marathon is no small feat, and for Duane Yeomans, Owner and Director of the Dartmouth and Halifax Campuses, training for his first marathon was a life-changing experience. Born with his feet turned in to close to 90 degrees, both of Duane’s legs were put into casts and he spent a considerable amount of time at physiotherapy to realign his feet. As a result, running wasn’t an activity that Duane enjoyed growing up. “I grew up having pain in my ankles when I ran, and I chose to blame it on a physical limitation. In actuality, the pain was probably caused by weak ankles due to lack of exercise.” After his daughter was born, Duane decided to add some cardio to his standard weight training regime and gave running another chance. “Running is something I truly enjoy now, and I have never run with a negative attitude about it. I look forward to my long runs on Saturdays because I have that alone time to think and physically push myself.”

Less than one year after graduating from Mount Alison University in March, 1992, Duane chose to start his career in education at AOLC because the way AOLC accommodates the unique needs of every student. He believes in the system and what is stands for so much he opened the Dartmouth Campus in 1995 and took over operations of the Halifax Campus in 2005. “I take the time to invest in and find out who each potential student is and what he/she is about. I’m a firm believer that the degree in which we enter the lives of our students is the degree in which we have positive influence in their lives. This approach builds genuine trust and is a spring board for changing lives.”

The idea of Duane running a marathon originated from one of his I.T. students. Running was a topic that the two regularly discussed during their weekly conversations, and one day the student suggested Duane challenge himself by entering the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax in May, 2012. “Initially I rebuffed the idea. After all, I hated running as a kid. After several conversations about it I decided to challenge myself privately and see how far I was capable of running. I reached 30 km before I ‘hit the wall’ and was forced to stop and sit on the road.” It was at that moment that Duane decided he was going to need a training plan to complete the Blue Nose Marathon.

“I praise my students’ talents every day, and I remind them to never put limitations on themselves. You really can do anything you put your positive mind to!”

2012 Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon

Duane didn’t think twice about committing to the challenge of preparing to run a 42.2 km race even though there was only three months until the race. “I registered for the full marathon because I’m self-driven, and I don’t like to commit to things on a partial basis. I knew I could do the full marathon, and I wanted to test myself.” His small frame and self-driven mindset were two essential ingredients in his recipe for success. The third came in the form of a course offered by AOLC, Thought Patterns for a Successful CareerTM. Designed to expose students to concepts that can significantly change their lives, this course teaches students persistence and high achievement skills using humour and practical examples which was exactly what Duane needed. “I’ve always been interested in self-help courses. I love to read and I especially love to grow as a person through learning. The Thought Patterns for a Successful CareerTM course was fantastic! It is all about positive outlook and cognitively growing to succeed, and it can be a life changing course if one has an open mind for change.”

After three months of intense training, Duane completed the 2012 Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in 4:25:11! Proud of what he was able to achieve, he turned his focus to training for a second marathon in PEI in October, 2012. With six months to train for the BMO Nesbitt Burns Prince Edward Island Marathon, Duane added a new element to his training regime inspired by what he learned from the Thought Patterns for a Successful CareerTM course. “I prepared a running affirmation that I could complete a marathon in under 3 hours and 45 minutes. I would read this affirmation on my mobile phone every day. My result: 3:44:44!”

In 2013, Duane completed the Blue Nose Marathon in 3:55:10. His 10 year old daughter joined him on race day and completed the Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run (4 km) in about 35 minutes. Duane is considering running the marathons held in each of Canada’s provincial capital cities, and with 2 down he has 8 marathons to complete. He isn’t formally training for any races at the moment, but he may run the 2014 Scotiabank Fredericton Marathon in May. Duane credits his students for inspiring him to step outside of his comfort zone. “I praise my students’ talents every day, and I remind them to never put limitations on themselves. You really can do anything you put your positive mind to!”

Duane with his daughter at the 2013 Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon.

Duane with his daughter at the 2013 Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon.

Over this past weekend (January 24-26, 2014), our men’s hockey team participated in the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships in Haliburton, Ontario.  Led by Jason Campbell, Director, Marketing & Sales, Ode to Haggis (aka Team AOLC) played hard and represented AOLC at the premier of “There’s Something in the Water” on the Saturday night of the tournament.  We’d like to thank all of the amazing volunteers who donated their time to make this weekend an amazing experience for each and every team.

Ode to Haggis, aka Team AOLC.

Ode to Haggis, aka Team AOLC.

Lacing up for game one.

Lacing up for game one.

Waiting to get on the ice during game one.

Waiting to get on the ice during game one.

Skating hard during the first game.

Skating hard during the first game.

Warming up for game two.

Warming up for game two.

Getting ready to pass the puck in game two.

Getting ready to pass the puck during game two.

The incredible volunteers in red helping direct teams to the ice.

The incredible volunteers (in red) helping direct teams to the ice.

After our last game. We can't wait until next year!

A quick photo op with the tournament banner after our final game. We’re looking forward to next year’s tournament!

Alex-LaFrance_Blog-Header
21 January 2014
New Beginnings Start at AOLC
Stephanie Stewart

Due to the recession, the company that Alex LaFrance worked for went through the process of downsizing and he was laid off. Armed with an accounting degree and 17 years of work experience, Alex, a member and resident of the First Nations reserve of Akwesasne, quickly realized during his job search that his skills were outdated for the demands of today’s business world. When he earned his degree in accounting, the current technology that was instructed at that time was Lotus 123, WordStar and printing using dotmatrix. “I came to realize that I needed to keep up with the times and get formal training. In my job searches, I found that employers wanted people who can ‘hit the ground running,’ and they have little time to train anyone.”

Being a father of six, Alex needed classes that would start right away at a school that could accommodate his needs. The continuous enrolment, practical hands-on-training, and self-paced learning were just a few of the many reasons he enroled in the Accounting and Payroll Administration Diploma program at the Cornwall Campus. “My family really enjoyed the time I was able to spend with them because of the flexible hours. Also, when family commitments and emergencies came up I was able to attend them and not fall behind in my courses because of the self-paced learning.”

“I truly believe that I can now ‘hit the ground running’ thanks to Academy of Learning College!”

Alex LaFrance, Corwnwall Campus graduate
The variety of topics covered in the Accounting and Payroll Administration Diploma program including customer service, letter writing, and office computer software kept Alex engaged and excited about updating his accounting skills and learning payroll. “What I particularly liked about my program is that it completely prepared me for everything I will need to have a successful career.” As part of the Job Search and Résumé Writing course Alex was required to take, he had to submit a résumé to an organization as practice. He was pleasantly surprised that the organization complimented him on the design and format of his résumé as he had not received that type of feedback before.

Alex excelled in every course in his program and he graduated with honours in October of 2013. “My children and family are proud that I went back to College. They encouraged me throughout my education because they knew that it was worth it and we would all benefit.”

In his spare time, Alex enjoys camping, reading, and often volunteers to help those in need with their tax filings and questions. He is a strong believer in contributing to his community, and his goal is to work in a payroll department in his community. “I feel that what I have learned will give me the extra advantage needed in today’s competitive job market and allow greater promotion opportunities. I truly believe that I can now ‘hit the ground running’ thanks to Academy of Learning College!”

Deboura L-AOLC Blog-5
14 January 2014

Going back to school can be nerve wracking and a daunting experience for anyone and especially for a mature student. When Deboura Lagrelle made the decision to return to school after moving to High River, she was nervous because it had been years since she was in a classroom. “I was at a dead end job and not getting ahead financially. I needed a change, a ‘new beginning’, so I moved to High River looking for an opportunity.”

Deboura and her brother were raised by their father, a single parent, on the Elizabeth Métis Settlement. The decisions Deboura made as a teenager led her onto a rough and rocky road. “I started drinking at the age of 14 and experimenting with other substances.” As a result, she didn’t finish high school, which she regrets.

After becoming pregnant at the age of 18, providing for her daughter became Deboura’s priority. She finished grade 10 in 3 months and completed some grade 11 and 12 courses that same year. Because she couldn’t afford a babysitter, Deboura took her daughter with her to all of her classes. In order to provide for her daughter, she began working at camps throughout Alberta as a dishwasher and worked her way up to first cook.

After experiencing several years of Deboura struggling, she lost her father. Around the same time her father passed away, Deboura was diagnosed with Lupus Vasculitis. “I was also clinically depressed and alone. Then I met a loving and kind man who stood by my side and supported me.” Through the encouragement of her partner, she embraced her roots and returned to doing beadwork and making dream catchers for family and friends.

“AOLC gave me the spark I was looking for and the Facilitators welcomed me with open arms!

Deboura Lagrelle, High River Campus student

For as long as she can remember, Deboura has been fascinated with the medical field, so she was attracted to AOLC’s Healthcare programs; specifically the Medical Office Assistant with Health Unit Coordinator Specialty Diploma program. She knew the moment she walked through the doors of the High River Campus that she was in the right place. “AOLC gave me the spark I was looking for and the Facilitators welcomed me with open arms!”

The personal support she received in a comfortable learning environment and the hands-on-training helped Deborah achieve her goal of getting an education so she can get further in life. “I thank my Instructors for giving me the chance to prove to myself I can do it!”

Once she graduates, Deborah’s goal is to work with Alberta Health Services, and be a good influence and role model for her daughter. “I hope that she will stick to her dreams and believe anything is possible just as I did.”

There is a critical demand from every corner of the North American labour market for effectively-trained medical and hospital personnel. Caring for this growing segment will require an extensive increase in the number of Healthcare workers available in the industry.

We’re helping to increase the shortage of Healthcare personnel by starting the New Year with a promotion that will provide the Healthcare industry with qualified Healthcare professionals. We’re ecstatic to announce our New Year promotion Hurry into Healthcare!

From January 1st – March 31st, 2014, all students who register in one of four Healthcare programs have the chance to WIN a brand new Surface tablet with WindowsRT. The programs are:

  • Medical Office Assistant Diploma
  • Medical Receptionist Diploma
  • Medical Office Administration Diploma
  • Medical Office Assistant with any Specialty Diploma

Hurry into Healthcare provides potential students who are interested in starting a career in Healthcare the extra boost they need to begin training for a career they’ll love. With continuous enrolment and several funding options, students can begin hands-on-training for a career in Healthcare in no time.

“AOLC has created dynamic and innovated courseware to support any learning style with optimal success in the Healthcare industry. This has resulted in students satisfaction, success,  and employment in related Healthcare fields on a national scale,” says Shawn McGowan, Manager of the Healthcare Division.

Academy of Learning College continues to be a leaderin providing exceptional higher-education to professionals looking to retrain or begin a new career. For 25 years, AOLC has successfully provided students with a dynamic learning environment and has enhanced students’ educational experience by offering Healthcare, Business, and I.T. training in a number of different delivery methods including Instructor-led, Virtual learning, and Online training.

To stay up to date on all Hurry into Healthcare news, follow us on Twitter (@AcademyLearning) and use the hash tag #HurryintoHealthcare.

For more information about Hurry into Healthcare or to find a Campus near you, call 1-855-353-5627.

 

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As the year draws to a close, many are looking at the future of education and predicting what the upcoming year will bring to learners. Since the world of education is constantly evolving, predicting what trends will occur is a great way to see what the future of learning looks like.  Whether it is through technological advances or simply adapting teaching methods, just like any other service, education must also evolve with the changes happening in society.

Therefore, with the future in mind, we take a look at education and learning trends for 2014.

Continuing Education and Online Learning

One trend for the future that anyone with even the slightest desire to continue their studies has most likely noticed is the growth of online learning and massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs. Although taking courses online isn’t that new a phenomenon, the explosion of MOOCs is. Basically the difference between online courses and a MOOC is that MOOCs are free and accessible to anyone across the globe, whereas those taking an online course will requires enrolling and paying tuition. Whether you are interested in accounting courses or IT training, there’s a MOOC that exists for all types of learners.

However, the common connection between both types of courses, despite the two being online, is that they highlight that learning never ends even once school has. Whether you are in the world of work or want to return to school as a part-time student, online classes highlight the demand for a highly educated work force.

Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education has been a buzzword recently, as several Canadian provinces make changes to their kindergarten program to offer full day programs from 2014 onwards. British Columbia and Prince Edward Island have recently introduced all-day kindergarten programs, while Quebec has had full-day kindergarten for years. These examples just go to show the value of education and that you are never too young or too old to be learning. Whether you have children who are early childhood education learners, or if it is a field that you would like to enter, the growth potential in education is a reality for the future. Lastly, healthcare courses are also a great complement to an early childhood education program; if it is a field you are interested in having a career in.

Education and Technology

There’s no doubt that the popularity of tablets will be increasingly integrated into the education system. From text books in e-book format to being able to use a table to take notes using a stylus pen, the advantages of using technology to improve education are evident. Though how do these technological advances improve education? Through integrating technology students will be exposed to a variety of learning styles, as well as having more access to information through the amalgamation of online learning into the classroom. Lastly, incorporating online learning into the classroom also encourages collaboration and creativity by encourage technology as a tool to promote active learning methods and making information more accessible.

Although this is just a short list of learning trends for the future, we’d love to hear a few of your predictions!

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The semester has finally ended and you’ve been looking forward to kicking back and relaxing. Though before you put your feet up, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite books to help you stay on top of your studies and keep your mind sharp. If you’ve been studying towards pursuing a career as a medical office assistant and would like a change from medical and administrative books, this reading list might be exactly what you need. The beauty of a reading list is that it puts you in touch with both classic and contemporary literature that will change the way that you think, as well as help expand your mind to a reality that is different from your own.

Think of this list as a fun break, rather than an assignment because these are books that once you start reading, you won’t want to put down.

Fitzgerald, F.Scott – The Great Gatsby

Although a movie version of this book was just released in the summer of 2013, the book version should also be read because it explores the themes of classism and the American Dream in an in-depth manner that any reader will be able to appreciate. The novel is told from the perspective of the protagonist Nick Carraway, who moves to West Egg and becomes neighbours with Jay Gatsby, a nouveau rich millionaire whose ambition is to attract the attention of Daisy Buchanan, a beautiful socialite who once had a relationship with Gatsby. The novel looks at social politics and gives an analysis of society that any student will be able to benefit from and appreciate.

Lee, Harper – To Kill a Mocking Bird

Easily a classic that many have read in high school but it’s worth reading if you haven’t. The Pulitzer Prize winning novel deals with the issue of rape and racial inequality told from the perspective of six-year old Scout Finch. The novel, originally published in 1960 and set in the southern US, examines racial inequalities as well as social class dynamics, and is also a coming of age story for young Scout who is trying to make sense of the world around her.

Morrison, Toni – Beloved

Another Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Beloved is told from the perspective of a recently escaped African-American slave and examines the psychological impact of slavery as well as the dynamics of a relationship between a mother and daughter.  Students who want to read a fictional novel that also gives perspective to a period in American history where the effects of alienation still exist, will be able to appreciate the tale for giving that history a personalized view.

Gladwell, Malcolm – Blink

The only non-fiction book on this list, Blink, redefines the way we view the world. Gladwell’s second book examines how we perceive the world through making subconscious decisions based on our own personal experiences or biases. Regardless of whether or not readers agree with Gladwell’s theory, the book does push readers to think critically by presenting a range of examples of how individuals examine the world around them.

Plath, Sylvia – The Bell Jar

A somewhat autobiographical look at life post-graduation is told through the eyes of Esther Greenwood, a young woman who is making the transition from the safety net of school and transitioning into the world of work, told through the mindset of a mental illness. Many students will be able to relate to making the transition from school to work, as well as the challenge of figuring out a career path and identity.

This list is a small slice of the must-read thought provoking books that any well-rounded student should take the time to read. Any student, even those taking IT training or accounting courses should be able to appreciate this reading list. And if you’d like to add to it, we’d love to find out some of your own personal favourites. Happy reading!

New year resolution
13 December 2013

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As finals wind down, now is the perfect time to focus on future goals for the upcoming academic term and getting a head start on 2014. Maybe one of your resolutions is to get straight A’s or more exercise next year. It is important to realize that none of these goals can be achieved without proper planning and foresight into what is realistic to achieve and what isn’t.

Rather than creating a list of specific resolutions that may be difficult to follow through with on a long term basis, in order to help you get a jump start on the upcoming school year, we’ve come up with a list of lifestyle changes that any student could benefit from.

Improve Your Grades

This goal is probably the most important one, as most students are always looking to improve their grades. Although it’s easy to have a specific grade in mind that you are shooting for, setting a goal of overall grade improvement is more realistically achievable. As an example, students can aim to improve their grades by creating a manageable study plan that they are likely to follow. One way to accomplish this is by setting a set study time during the day devoted to each class that includes regular review of course material.

Get more sleep

Since students are often overworked with a full schedule of endless assignments, it’s tempting to pick sleep as the item to cut back on. However, instead of reducing your sleep time, make it a priority to get more. Try going to bed twenty minutes earlier every night, gradually increasing the difference each week until you’re going to bed an hour earlier. With greater amounts of sleep, your grades may even improve.

Improve your finances

Set a target goal of scholarships to apply to for the upcoming year. Even if you don’t meet all of the requirements, many scholarships go unawarded every year due to lack of student applicants.  Although students with business training or accounting training may find this goal easier, take the time to research websites or even visit your school’s financial services office to talk to a counselor about potential scholarships or work-study opportunities available on campus. That’s what they’re there for! They have a wealth of resources available that many students don’t even know about.

Exercise more

It’s easy for students to fall into a rut of hibernation, particularly during the colder months. This makes it even more important to plan to make exercise a lifestyle choice and part of your daily routine, rather than an activity that you try to squeeze in when you have the time. Any student taking healthcare courses is likely intimately aware of the long-term effects of lack of exercise.  If you know that you’re not the going-to-the-gym type, then join a dance class or an intramural league on campus to add more physical activity to your routine. The set schedule will force you to go!

By focusing on a series of smaller, manageable daily tasks, you will better be able to achieve your overall long-term objectives. With realistic resolutions and attainable goals, getting a jump start on 2014 is a target that any student can achieve!

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The holiday season is more than just presents and your favorite movies airing on TV. Along with all of the festive cheer is another side filled with volunteer activities for those in need. If one of your goals for the year is to volunteer more or even to help others in need, whether this is based on a family ritual or a personal goal, volunteering is a great way to efficiently utilize your free time to help others… and your resume.

Whether you are studying graphic design courses or accounting training, you can use your job aspirations for a greater mission. Many non-profits actually have more use for individuals with specialized skills rather than those with the more generalist educational approach of international development or humanitarian training.

Leveraging your experience to make your resume stand out

Make your resume stand out by aligning your skills with your long-term goals. This means that you should be considering volunteer opportunities that will also benefit your career. For example, if your career goal is a job as a medical office assistant, then consider volunteering with a medically focused non-profit organization. The organization will benefit from your training and it will make a good addition to your resume.

The beauty of volunteering at non-profit organizations is that in addition to sharing your time and your skills, you will also be learning more. Indeed, volunteers at non-profits typically have to take on a variety of tasks throughout the day and multi-task their time. Highlight this on your CV by demonstrating that, even though you are a specialist in your field, you are also well rounded and flexible in taking on a variety of tasks, which many employers want to hear when they are potentially hiring additional employees.

Lastly, through volunteering, you will learn about the jobs skills which will be crucial when you are looking for that first position in your field post-graduation. Since we all know that it’s difficult to find a job without experience, but difficult to obtain experience without a job, volunteering has become that ideal way to break out of what is essentially a symbiotic rut.

And finally, some questions to keep in mind when you are considering a volunteering opportunity:

  • Is this type of experience that I will enjoy doing?
  • Will this experience be beneficial to my long term career?
  • Will future employers be interested in my CV based on this experience?
college-graduate
29 November 2013
After Graduating College
Patrick Quinn

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You’ve passed all of your exams with flying colours, thrown your cap in the air and hung that diploma on the wall. Unfortunately, after all of the celebration comes that gnawing question, “now what?”

Graduating college is as much a celebration as it is a time of uncertainty. You’re suddenly thrown into a giant, sprawling world of choices, temptations and pressure. Overall, the most important thing is to just step back for a minute, take a deep breath and relax.

But What Will I Do Now?

After graduation –almost immediately – you’re struck with the nagging question of what you’re going to do with your life. Even if you’ve taken nothing but a ton of accounting courses, you don’t have to immediately dive into a lifelong career as an accountant. If you’ve majored in something and haven’t quite loved every minute of it, you’re not obligated to know exactly what you want to do with your life the moment you get out of school. The secret to a successful career after college comes down to three main things.

Options

When it comes down to it, the secret to landing a job straight out of college is that you aren’t limited to exactly what you studied. While it can be easy to feel like you’re boxed into shuffling papers around an office just because you’ve taken office administration courses, it’s not that cut and dry. There are an incredible amount of careers that the skills you have learned can land you in, you just have to think outside of the box! With administration skills, you could find yourself managing the day-to-day operations of a brewery, or overseeing the operations of a bakery making the sweetest, most buttery croissants.

Experience

Even if it’s not your dream job, it can be a great stepping stone to what you want to be doing. In this era, employers aren’t just looking for qualified candidates, they’re looking for experienced ones as well. There’s nothing wrong with taking a position that’s not your dream job if it allows you to get to where you want to be. It’s all about leveraging the experience you get and having it back you up when you try and tackle the job you were born to do. Practically no one sets up their dream career overnight. It can take some time, and that’s not a bad thing!

Confidence

While it can seem scary and overwhelming to be fresh out of school and trying to prove to employers that you should be hired, the number one thing you should remember is to be confident. If you tip-toe around the subject and act lukewarm, employers aren’t going to care. You have to own what you do. You’ve done the grunt work, you’ve slogged through the courses, and you know this stuff. Don’t doubt yourself! Play on your strengths. If you’ve done IT training then talk their ear off about troubleshooting a server error. Don’t be afraid to embrace what you’ve learned. You’re not on trial, even though sometimes it can feel like that. Confidence proves not only that you’ve retained what you learned, but that you care.

Above all, just remember at the end of the day you’re learning skills, not learning to fill a position.

Image Source: http://blog.mitchcommgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/six-qualities-of-a-good-graphic-designer-20130417.jpg
22 November 2013
Building your Portfolio
Patrick Quinn

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Your portfolio is a coalescence of everything that screams “you.” It is a professional and artistic representation of who you are, what you do, and how you do it. While that may seem extremely stressful, what most people don’t know is that compiling your portfolio can actually be a lot of fun. Of course, every portfolio should always contain your CV, a detailed cover letter and be tailored to the position you’re applying for. However, there are some great ways you can spice up the process of building your portfolio.

Diversification

Part of what makes a portfolio so interesting and enamouring is that it allows you to experiment with a plethora of different personas. What’s most valued about a portfolio of work is the differentiation of your work. While it may seem like including dozens of examples of the same type of work is a good idea, often it’s monotonous and not very exciting to look at. The majority of employers will prefer quality over quantity any day. By trying things that get you out of your comfort zone and dabbling in things that you otherwise wouldn’t have tried, you not only flesh our your portfolio, but you gain some worthwhile and memorable experiences. Designing logos for a marketing firm or even a friend’s company will show that you’re adaptable, flexible and willing to work under pressure. Even if you think you’re more geared towards the art world, slipping outside of your comfort zone is never a bad thing. If you’ve taken web design courses, flex your website building muscle in your portfolio, and include some mock-ups.

Personality

A portfolio shouldn’t just be a collection of work you’ve done, it should also be a way for employers to get to know you. While it may seem like you should remain professional and avoid putting too much of yourself into the portfolio you’re building, there’s nothing more boring than a bland, lifeless portfolio. Even if it’s something like applying to business school, you’d be surprised how much further a creative portfolio that shows your personality will get you as compared to a bland, strictly professional one. If you have a creative side, let it show. You’re not just a collection of work, so why present yourself as such? Include some of your creative or personal work, let them see that you’re not just a name.

Multimedia

There’s no doubt about it, in this day and age we are only becoming more and more connected. That’s why your portfolio can’t just be a handful of physical pages or a couple of slides. Not only do employers expect more, but putting forth the extra effort to include as many different media examples of your work and creativity is sure to get you noticed. Put your work into different categories – audio, video, animation, graphic design, technical writing, and creative writing – let them see how diverse your talents are. Even if you’re applying to be just an animator, showing them that you can also do live action video or edit sound or draft up logos will impress them. Don’t rest on your laurels, even if you’re strongest in one particular medium, don’t hesitate to show them what you can do in others. Take some classes to get better acquainted with different forms of media. Even if you’re just into business and marketing, take some graphic design courses and it will not only show that you have range and initiative, but that you’re keen to pick up different skills.

Choose Wisely 

The portfolio you submit for one job is not going to be the same as the one you submit for another job – you have to tailor your portfolio to where you’re applying. That’s why gaining as many varied and interesting experiences as possible, and including a wide and creative range of your work is so important. If employers can’t see who you really are, how will they know how badly they want to hire you?

Work-Life-Balance
15 November 2013

With the evolution of technology, the need for a better work life balance has become a greater concern as individuals are increasingly connected to a never-ending list of responsibilities. From taking care of children to elderly parents, all the while remaining on top of work, balancing life’s daily demands has become a growing challenge.

So how can we create a work-life balance when there is the need to remain constantly connected? According to a 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, almost two-thirds of Canadians are working more than 45 hours a week – 50-percent more than two decades ago, with one-third of Canadians feeling like they have more work to do than time permits. Therefore this increased technological connection means that there has to be a conscious effort to un-plug and unwind.

How to Create a Work-Life Balance

Creating a balance between your work and home life is a personal decision.  What works for one person may not work for you, so it may take some flexibility in your initial goal to create balance if it doesn’t work at first. Though work demands will always be constant, the most important aspect in keeping everything balanced is to leave work at work at the end of the day, even if you are a business student and aspire to enter the corporate world soon.

If you feel the work-life balance is important, plan to build a schedule for yourself. Only you can decide what you can handle in your day-to-day life. Learn to say no and delegate tasks if necessary. Considering there are only 24 hours in a day, you’ll need to create a list of the most important priorities. This means that there will be tasks that you won’t be able to accomplish in a day. However since there are certain priorities that are non-negotiable, prioritizing the tasks that you want to accomplish in a day are essential.  Whether you study web design courses or work as a medical office assistant, taking the time to prioritize daily tasks will help you save a lot of time.

Taking Time to Unwind

Although planning to relax sounds like a strange concept, in a hyper charged world, it has become essential. Regardless of what your priorities are, everyone should make the time to relax and to take some time for themselves. Whether you decide to schedule an hour in the morning before everyone in your household wakes up to read the newspaper, or to take class after work, taking the time to unwind should be as much a priority as any other responsibility. In the long run, your health and general well being depend on it. No one can attain peak levels of productivity when they are overworked and sleep-deprived. In the end, the best way to create a better work-life balance is to make it your priority.

The Art of Value Productivity
08 November 2013

Many of us have grand goals and aspirations for ourselves. We all want to be the best at what we love to do and obtain success, whether it is at school or at work. So how do we reach that point where we have not only managed our time effectively to get the most out of our daily lives, but are also producing output that will get us to a place where we have the potential to become successful? This concept is called Value Productivity.

What is Value Productivity?

Value Productivity is the ability to consistently produce highly-skilled and highly-valued output. The key to this concept is not to produce simply for the sake of producing, but to produce the best output that you possibly can, therefore adding value to your productivity. Adding value to productivity may be a familiar concept for a student studying business training. However for the non-business oriented, here’s a more relatable way; in a well-known blog post author, Cal Newport, takes a look at this concept by comparing the Value Productivity ideology to the daily work habits of Woody Allen. Based on that post, the reason why Allen’s productivity is considered high value is that, through having a goal of producing writing daily, Allen has directed and written 44 movies in a span of 44 years, earning 23 Academy Award nominations and more screenwriting nomination than any other writer. Simply setting a daily goal to maximize productivity has worked for Woody Allen, but how does the concept of Value Productivity translate for the average person? How can anyone add value to their productivity?

How to Add Value to Productivity

Maximizing your time will always go back to this foundation: careful daily planning and following a planned schedule. To maximize your time, start off by creating a goal, whether it is a daily, weekly or monthly goal. If it’s a larger monthly or weekly goal, such as write a novel or complete an essay, then minimize the overwhelming nature of such a large task by breaking it up into smaller more manageable and achievable daily goals. For example, if your monthly goal is to keep up-to-date with your studying and papers, then your weekly goal would be to study ten solid hours per week and your daily goal would be to “Take notes and review material after class.” If you want to make the task even more manageable, setting a daily goal of “From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. research and paper outline” would be even better. You don’t have to be a writer to profit from daily goals.  Even a student studying healthcare courses or accounting courses can benefit. The key to productivity is to not waste time and accomplish your daily goals. If you need to set a timer to ensure that you complete your goal during the allotted time, then do so, there’s no better antidote for procrastination than pressure.

The end result of adding value to your productivity should be achieving your goals and feeling better about the work that you are producing, no matter what your goals are. With a greater commitment towards improving your productivity, the sky’s the limit!

16405599_Business-woman-with-an-adhesive-note-on-forehead-1864298
01 November 2013

Ever wonder why some people have better memories than others? Are they simply smarter? Or is it that they’re using more efficient tools to remember information?  As a student, it is a given that there is always an abundance of information to remember. However, the trick to effective memorization is simply the tools that you use to retain information. Since students with the highest grades are typically the ones with the most effective use of retaining learned information or memorization, anyone can benefit from improving their memory technique.

One of the oldest memory techniques is called the Method of Loci. This memorization strategy was created by the Greek poet Cicero. According to legend, Cicero was the lone survivor of a building collapse and was called on to identify the guests at the dinner that evening by remembering all of their names. By placing them in specific locations at the dinner table, Cicero was able to remember everyone who was there that evening.

As the word loci is the plural form of the Latin word locus, or location in English, this technique relies on the use of creative visualization to associate the information that you would like to remember  with a familiar location or memory place. The technique was designed to help you remember things and objects in a specific order based on organization and association.

Putting Technique into Practice

For a concrete example of the loci method in action, imagine you are studying web design courses and need to memorize HTML code. You could visualize the codes in rooms of your home or a familiar location in your city. Therefore, if you wanted to remember the code for table attributes <table cellpadding= “1”>, you would start off in your kitchen by visualizing your table with a padded cell on top and your journey would next take you into your bathroom where you would see a tub full of dollar coins inside to represent the number 1. As your code progressed, you would place elements in different rooms of your home, visualizing a variety of actions and associations. The trick with the loci method is to create outlandish stories that will make the information that you would like to retain easy to remember. Although anyone can benefit from using the loci method, even if you are taking accounting courses, students in graphic design courses or visual and creative learners will appreciate this technique.

Take a look at the short video below that incorporates elements of the loci method with the link technique to help learners memorize a list of random words. As the video shows, combining memory methods makes memorizing information even more effective. Using creative association, such as placing information in locations around your house, means that anyone using an efficient memory system can memorize complex information.

Photo source: www.huffingtonpost.com
25 October 2013

There’s never been a word that has caused more stress than “finances”. It’s something that everyone worries about, no matter how much money you have or don’t have. And as a student it’s an even bigger concern since paying tuition and completing assignments are your key priorities, neither of which is a money earner. Combine that with the fact that as many as 60% of students borrow student loans, it’s easy to see why finances are of such importance for students.

Since managing money is a necessity when dealing with financial constraints, here are some ways to maximize your dollars.

Create a Budget

Somehow this word has become absolutely evil. No one enjoys budgeting and no one enjoys going without. However with smart budgeting you should be able to still have fun while managing your finances. The first step on the path to budgeting is to track your finances. From there you should be able to create a budget and stick to it! If you have a smart phone there are also apps to help keep you on budget, while tracking your daily spending.

Each monthly expense should be planned for, such as bills and groceries, with your needs and essential expenses at the top of the budget and your wants at the bottom. Those of you taking accounting courses may find this second nature. For those of you who need more guidance, take a look at this government website for an example of a budget spreadsheet. Alternately, you can also create one on your own using Excel or if you’re taking graphic design courses, get creative and design a fun budgeting sheet that will remind you of your long term goals.

Cut Back

One of the essentials to sticking to your budget is to cut back on your expenses. For example, if you feel that this year you absolutely need a new winter coat for the season, then you should cut back on going out with friends and use this “saved” money towards that new purchase. Your primary objective with cutting back should be to prioritize essentials.  If making a purchase feels absolutely mandatory, then acknowledge that you will need to either work extra hours, such as applying your web design courses to freelance on the side, or as a last resort reducing another area in your budget to make up for the lack of funds.

Use Discounts

Many grocery stores, retailers and public transportation offer student discounts. Make it a habit of keeping your student card with you and always ask about student discounts no matter where you are. Even if the discount isn’t advertised, it never hurts to ask. Also, doing something as simple as signing up for a rewards card could save you money in the long run. Take the time to shop around for the best deals.

Get your finances mastered in college and once you graduate and are earning a steady income you’ll be better equipped to tackle student loans and save for major investments. Once you get used to keeping a budget, with practice it will become second nature.

Photo source: umjeitomanso.blogspot.com
18 October 2013

The creative mind is simultaneously complicated and intriguing. Many researchers have devoted untold hours of studying into trying to understand how the creative mind works. The reality of the creative mind is that it doesn’t take a great flash of inspiration or even great genius to be considered creative. However, what it does take is the ability to be flexible and open in your way of thinking. Improving your creativity takes practice. You don’t have to be taking graphic design courses or even web design courses to benefit from additional creativity. Developing your creative mind can help progress your essay content, conduct lab experiments and help those in IT training improve how they write code.

Creative minds are always curious about the world. Therefore, if your creativity is something that you would like to improve, then take the time to pay attention to the little details of everyday life, as well as learn new skills to develop an innovative way of thinking. Learning and development are driving forces behind the creativity mind. For example, set aside time to learn a skill that you’ve always wondered about, such as creating pottery or learning life drawing skills. Not for the benefit of a class or a requirement, but just for pleasure. Spend your time getting better at it and it may improve your creativity in other areas of your life. No matter what pursuits you decide to foster, developing creative thinking habits will help expand your creative mind.

How Do You Become Creative?

Creativity is one area of thought that many feel they can improve on. Even if you aren’t working in a creative industry or don’t aspire to, you can always benefit from additional creativity. Many feel that they aren’t creative if they can’t draw or don’t have any interest in the arts, but this way of thinking is limiting and is essentially what holds back your creativity. When you think about it, creativity is essentially coming up with new ideas. Anyone working in any industry can benefit from creativity, since it is ideas that drive projects.

To enhance your creativity set daily goals and work on them even if you have to start off by making lists. To develop any skill takes practice and initiative. If you would truly like to improve your creativity, then you should be working on developing it every day. One piece of advice is to think of creativity as a journey and not a destination. It isn’t an end result that you will suddenly arrive at one day.  Just the concept of wanting to become more creative and striving for creativity will give you more innovative ideas.  Keep at it and you’ll see the difference before you know it!

It’s easy to feel like you’re ready for the exam when you’re at home studying on your own. Once your notes start to become familiar and you feel like you’re going to ace the exam, it’s time for a practice test. A practice test is a great way to test your knowledge, as well as retain the information that you’ve been learning, particularly if you are studying on your own and there is no one to verbally quiz you. According to research led by John Dunlosky (et al. 2013) from Kent State University, it’s also proven to be one of the best study methods to use to recall and retain information that you have studied. Since studying is more about how you’re studying, rather than how much time you’re devoting to studying, once you’ve developed efficient studying habits, the feeling of not having enough time to prepare for exams won’t feel as urgent.

Distributed Practice

First off, it is important to review the course material before and immediately after class. Reading and reviewing your notes before each class to retain information from the previous lecture and as a review for upcoming course material is called Distributed Practice. It is an active learning study technique that is based on distributing material through spaced repetition over a longer period to help solidify the information covered in a lecture. Active learning helps you become more engaged with the subject that you are learning by using techniques such as practice questions, to help you learn as well as absorb course concepts.

Improve your active studying skills by developing your own practice questions based on the chapter in your textbook. Your practice tests don’t have to be fancy or over thought, and you can create them for any type of course, even web design courses. They can simply be questions that you’ve jotted down on flashcards as you read the course material, to be answered later. Some other methods of practice testing could include completing practice problems or questions that can be found at the end of the chapter or electronic practice tests that are included with textbooks.

Group Study

Another tried and true study method that incorporates practice testing is the group study method. Joining a study group is a great way to combine social time with active study for better motivation. It also forces you to commit regular time for study. Devoting a regular session to reviewing course material relies on the buddy method for self-improvement. Students in accounting courses or business school may find this particularly beneficial, since everyone in the group will have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, this method will help you learn using different tips and techniques. It is also a valuable way to share and compare lecture notes.

Combining these study techniques with efficient time management techniques will have long lasting results on the way that you study, as well as improve the way you retain information. With greater practice these study methods should become second nature.

Evaluating Information Sources
04 October 2013

As a student, you most likely come across various sources of information as you attend lectures and write essays. The key to using this information, particularly when writing essays, is to analyze its relevance and utility. This ability to properly analyze information, called “critical thinking”, is one of the most useful skills that you will come across in your university career. Once developed, it will enable you to efficiently analyze the world around you when deciding whether information is relevant or factual. Whether you’re taking Accounting Courses or Healthcare Courses, learning to successfully evaluate information sources will help improve the way that you learn and the way that you think.

Here are few ways to improve your method of evaluating an information source:

Analyze Content (Print and Online)

Be wary of online content as the popularity of the World Wide Web means that anyone can be published online with little to no credentials. Before you include a quote taken from a website, firstly examine the nature of the website. Is it scholarly? Based on research? Or just an opinion? If information from a source has not been academically researched, and is based on opinion from an un-qualified author, then it is most likely not a reliable source to use.

When using a source that is in print, it is also equally important research the validity of the journal or book. Just because information is in print does not mean that it is any more reliable than information online. Take a look at the author’s credentials and affiliations. Some questions to consider are: when was the source published? Has the author been previously cited? Is the author affiliated with an organization? Also, be sure to examine the bibliography. If the subject matter has been academically researched, then all sources used by the author should be listed.

Determine who the intended audience is

Other questions to contemplate when deciding on using a source, is to consider whether you’re a part of audience that is being addressed. Is the information being presented aimed at an academic audience? Or is it more generalist and intended for the public or technical and too specialized for your purposes? One of the most important factors to keep in mind when evaluating information sources is the ability to use critical thinking skills to examine the relevancy and accuracy of the information source being considered. Even if you are studying to be a Medical Office Assistant, it is important to be able to analyze the information that you are reading. Take the time to evaluate all your sources in advance and you’ll feel much more confident when presenting your research!

Effective Communication and Presentation Skills
27 September 2013

Effective communication skills can help you achieve a lot professionally. They allow smooth relationships between companies and their clients, but also between employees. Oral presentations are dreaded by many, but being able to speak publicly is invaluable, whether it be in office administration courses, while running for student elections, or even at an internship or part-time job. So, how can one improve one’s communication presentation skills? Here are some of our best tips!

How to Improve Communication?

Be a Better Listener. To be a better listener is necessary to focus on what the other person is saying. Maintaining an appropriate level of eye-contact and not cutting the person off mid-sentence are very important tools in maintaining the appropriate flow of conversation and dialogue. It also goes without saying that checking your phone or sending a text when the other person is speaking are not the most effective ways to communicate, unless the message that you’d like to send is that you prefer not to continue speaking with that person.

Be aware of what your body is saying. The majority of communication cues are non-verbal. Since there is no way to get around this, it is important to be honest about your true intentions with the person that you are speaking with. Though there are situations where that cannot be avoided, it is in your best interest to clearly express your thoughts. For example, if you have numerous commitments for the weekend and a friend asks if you for a time-consuming favor, it’s probably best to admit you won’t have the time, rather than telling them maybe or even yes, only to cancel at the last minute.

Creating an Effective Presentation

Once you have mastered this communication tool, you will have mastered confidence and ability. If you are in business school, then presentations are one of the most useful tools that you’ll use when meeting clients for the first time. First off, before you can even focus on the actual presentation, you will have to prepare in advance.  Decide what you want to speak about, and then choose three main messages to communicate and focus on those. Clearly outline, organize your thoughts and research your topic thoroughly. The more knowledgeable you are about the topic that you are speaking about, the more confident that you will feel.

Effectively get your message across. Once you have outlined the three areas that you would like to cover, be clear and let your audience know in advance what to expect in your presentation.  It may be helpful to create a PowerPoint presentation that clearly outlines your key points and gives you a chance to pause, as well as to let the audience know exactly what you are covering in case they would like to take notes or research the topic further. Lastly, maintain eye contact with your audience. Although it’s tempting to directly read your notes, your audience will become bored and you will sound monotone. A good presentation should feel and sound like a natural conversation. Meaning you should be trying to connect with your audience.

Although there are many ways to be an effective communicator, whether you are speaking in front of a group for a class or have an interview, working on your communication skills and “faking it till you make it” are the best methods to feel prepared and confident. Many students, including those taking courses in IT training will find effective communication skills a beneficial tool in their career. With enough practice, you’ll find yourself completely at ease, and giving an oral presentation will feel as natural to you as writing an email.

Do you love tinkering with new technology and get to the heart of every computer you come across? Getting some formal IT training could help you open the doors to a great Information Technology career!

In our highly-competitive market, students are entering fields directly related to earning potential and long-term employability. The modern job market has put computers at the forefront of most careers, from at the desk of the medical office assistant to a key part of standard accounting training. Currently, there are a myriad of internet related careers that are growing by the year and chances are5 years from now there will be careers in the technology sector that don’t exist yet. Plus, all these computers take skilled experts to provide everything from technical support to network administration, making going into I.T. a reliable career path with constant room for growth.

To help you narrow your career choices, Academy of Learning College is thrilled to announce our  It’s a Tech World! Step Into I.T. initiative, and the goal is to help students uncover potential careers by highlighting the variety of Information Technology diplomas available to them.

Interested in seeing if Information Technology is a good fit for you?

Get a sample of the opportunities in I.T. at Academy of Learning College:

Network Administrator

Network Administrators plan, install and manage communications networks services within an information system.  Our highly-skilled graduates are called upon to evaluate communications hardware, software and transmission service alternatives; maintain links with network suppliers; monitor network performance; provide support for systems; localize and rectify faults in networks; and provide expertise and practical assistance in delivering service.

PC Support Specialist

This area of specialization deals primarily with personal computers in an office environment. Our PC Support Specialist classes offer an in-depth knowledge of both computer hardware and software, and prepare students to take the CompTIA A+, Network+, and Server+ certification exams. Students who specialize in this formation will also gain practical hands-on experience in trouble shooting computer problems and assembling a computer.

Computer Service Technician

Computer Service Technicians deal with all the problems commonly encountered when servicing PCs. Our program provides in-depth knowledge of computer hardware, giving students hands-on experience in troubleshooting computer problems and assembling a computer. Students will also prepare to take the CompTIA A+, Network+, and Server+ certification exams.

Help Desk Support Analyst

Help Desk Support Analysts support users of computer systems and software applications with all kinds of problems. Our program provides students with in-depth knowledge on evaluating, configuring, and troubleshooting communications hardware, software, and operating systems. It also introduces students to the fundamental expertise to be able to provide remote customer support. In addition to those skills, students will also be prepared for several industry certifications such as; CompTIA A+ certification and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Windows 7 certification.

To help celebrate all the choices for IT careers, from September 1st to November 30th, the Academy of Learning College is giving students who enroll the chance to be entered in a draw to win a free Surface tablet with WindowsRT. If you would like to be entered in our It’s a Tech World! Step Into I.T. contest to win this cutting edge piece of technology, ask an Admissions Representative at a Campus in your community about a career in this rising industry!

Improving Motivation and Concentration
13 September 2013

It always feels harder to stay motivated when you have a full plate and feel like you barely have enough time for yourself. How do you stay motivated to study when you are rushing through days that feel like a million years long? And, once you’ve improved your motivation, how do you concentrate as well?

For most of us, life feels like hyper busy merry-go-rounds where we have to over plan everything and feel like we don’t have enough time to get everything done. However, there are many ways to improve your motivation and feel in control. Before you can even begin to motivate yourself, you should come up with a list of goals. It’s difficult to find motivation when you’re unsure of what you are working towards.

Set Goals

Success does not happen on its own. It takes goals and careful planning, motivation and concentration. It won’t be possible to you find your motivation if you’re unsure of your goal. Therefore, devise a list of your long-term goals that you would like to make happen. These long-term goals can then be broken down into manageable short-term goals that you can put into place to make your long-term goals happen. These short-term goals can be daily or even monthly. For example, if you are taking graphic design courses and your goal is to master Photoshop, then one of your daily goals may be to work on a tutorial for 30 minutes a day. Another strategy could be to make a list every morning of the 3-5 tasks that you would like to accomplish that day.

Create an Action Plan

The first step in regaining motivation is to create a plan. Stay motivated by breaking up your goals into manageable tasks to conquer your goals. Of course, it can be challenging when your daily life feels like you’re scaling a mountain. Break up those mountains into molehills. For example, if you’re trying to stay motivated to get straight A’s for the semester, or simply want to get into Business School, then your action plan should be to focus on creating a feasible daily study schedule. Try using the SQ3R approach or even mind-mapping, presented in previous blog posts, to improve your study techniques.

Improve You Motivation With Better Concentration?

Concentration is just as important as motivation. If you’re unable to concentrate to complete the tasks that you would like to achieve, then you won’t meet your goals. The first step in improving your concentration is to make sure that you are getting enough sleep. If you are over tired then concentrating on simple tasks will feel that much harder. And if you aren’t well rested then you won’t be able to focus. If you are a sleep procrastinator or a night owl, then try going to bed 20 minutes earlier every night for a week. Focus on just twenty minutes until going to bed an hour earlier is a part of your nightly routine. An hour may not feel like much, but it will probably do a lot to your concentration!

Another way to improve your concentration is to try the 50/10 rule when you are working on tasks. After you’ve been working on a task for 50 minutes, take a 10-minute break to refocus. If you find that hard, then plan in advance what you would like to accomplish within those 50 minutes and set a timer to motivate you to stay on task. Certain subjects such as accounting courses may require more concentration. If you can’t sit down in front of a computer without checking Facebook or Twitter, then incorporate that into your 10-minute break. Reward yourself with checking your favorite online activities without feeling guilty about it. With better concentration and motivation comes a better way to accomplish the goals that you would like to achieve.

Mind Mapping for Visual Stimulation
06 September 2013

When it comes to learning, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. One learning or note-taking, method that is popular with those who would describe themselves as visual learners is Mind Mapping. What’s a Mind Map? And why would you even need one?

Mind Mapping 101

First off, Mind Mapping isn’t strictly a method for note-taking. You can use Mind Mapping in a variety of areas. Some include brainstorming, problem solving or even as a way to express your creativity. For those of you who are studying web design courses, Mind Mapping is a great way to brainstorm in advance the type of site that you would like to create.

When you’re first starting your mind mapping, you will probably feel more comfortable with the activity if you are more of a visual person. Mind Mapping is basically a different perspective from list making and note taking. Your map doesn’t need to be perfect. The most import thing is to be getting your ideas on paper (however you can even Mind Map online!)

How do you create a Mind Map?

Start your mind map with a central idea or your focal point for your activity. If you are using a Mind Map for a graphic design course project, then you should start with your theme or central core idea. From there you will be exploring your idea outwards using branches, lines, arrows or any other symbol that demonstrates an expanding idea. It’s important to not get stuck trying to make the “perfect” mind map. Your goal is to be getting all of your thoughts into a chart where you can clearly visualize ideas and concepts. The fun part about this activity is that you can even use color, or if you are more artistic, complement your ideas with visuals. Just find the method that suits you best to link or group ideas together. If you’re using mind mapping for studying, then it may even help you more easily retain information.

Is Mind Mapping the Learning Tool for Me?

Mind Mapping is a tool for anyone. You don’t have to be artistic. All you need are ideas! Your Mind Map is just presenting information in a way that is visually stimulating to better reflect what you are learning and to conceptualize your ideas. Try it as a challenge to your regular study routine or as an activity in your study group. Any type of student can benefit from mind mapping, even those in accounting courses. You don’t have to be studying in a creative field.  If you vary your methods of learning, you will feel all the more prepared when it comes time to take an exam or quiz.

Photo source: collegegrad.com
30 August 2013

Creating a resume can be a challenge for college students who don’t have a lot of work experience or are changing their career path. It’s a competitive job market out there, and while you should definitely take advantages of all the resources available at the academy and networking opportunities, at some point your resume will be the ticket to securing an interview for that dream job you’re after. Your education is a valuable qualification but to really stand out from the pack, it’s ideal to do as many internships as possible, volunteer, and participate in clubs and organizations, not just to enhance your resume but also to meet new friends and contacts while exploring potential career paths.

Here are some resume tips:

Formatting counts

Employers sifting through stacks of resumes will know right away whether they are interested, and one way to quickly lose their interest is bad formatting. Typos, misspellings, unprofessional fonts or a generally sloppy appearance will overshadow even the best content. It should look clean and readable, using a consistent font and size, with bold and italics for emphasis. White space makes it inviting and though one page should be sufficient for most college students, consider two if you have enough experience to back it up.

Develop a Qualifications Summary

After the contact information, the first section an employer will look at is an Objective or Qualifications Summary. The latter, sometimes framed as a Professional Profile, can give a better picture of the value you are offering, summarizing your skills that the position demands.

Highlight your education

As a student with little work experience (at least in your chosen field), your education is your best selling point and should appear before the experience section. It can move down in priority as you gain experience. Include the name of the college, city and province, anticipated graduation date and courses related to your job target. For instance, if you’re seeking an entry level accounting position, list specific accounting courses that demonstrate your abilities. Grade average can be included if it is worth telling.

Are you experienced?

Brainstorm a list of your most significant life experiences, including academic achievements, community service, athletics, jobs and internships. Focus on the most active components of your role, the most responsible and impressive elements of your experience. Using bullet points prioritized according to the most appealing duties, begin statements with action verbs that communicate relevant skills, quantified whenever possible to strengthen your case. For example, demonstrate your IT training problem-solving abilities by stating, “Upgraded system’s servers resulting in 10 percent increase in productivity.”

Try to highlight your experience with specific successful accomplishments that will set up some project stories during your interview. Besides the “Selective Experience” section (implying there is other, less relevant experience), you may include Skills (such as specific software from web design courses), Awards, Volunteering and Interests sections, that may showcase intangible qualities and interesting items that may help form a connection with the employer. Samples, recommendations and references may be included with a link or by adding “available upon request.” Keep a master copy but customize each time according to the targeted position. Good luck!

Photo source: nau.edu
23 August 2013

It’s not uncommon to sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed while balancing the workload and deadlines of college, particularly when combined with life’s other responsibilities. Everyone faces stress at some point but just as it effects each of us differently, there are many ways to appropriately manage and minimize it. Stress may seem like a necessary evil but at the end of the day, you’re the one in control of your life. Managing stress is all about taking charge of your habits, emotions, schedule, and approach to problem solving.

Identify the causes

Stress management begins with identifying the sources of stress in your life, which isn’t as obvious as it might sound. It can be easy to overlook how your reaction to unavoidable deadlines may result in greater anxiety than the task itself – for instance, a test in one of your accounting courses can seem much more nerve-wracking if you have procrastinated in your studies or attach more significance to it than warranted. Some students have benefited from creating a stress journal, keeping track of every time they feel stressed and identifying the cause, associated feelings and responses. Look at how you currently cope with stressful situations and if you are compelled towards destructive activities, it’s time to find healthier solutions.

Change the situation: Avoid the stressor

Not all stress can be avoided but prevention is the best method of minimizing it. Getting sufficient sleep, eating right, and avoiding excessive caffeine, drinking and smoking, are surefire methods to improving your mood and ability to handle unforeseen events. Take control of your environment by turning off negative newsfeeds and avoiding people and topics that cause anxiety.

Alter the situation

Deadlines are unavoidable but if you manage your time wisely then there won’t be that stressful last minute crunch for your IT training exam, for instance. Be assertive about potential problems before they escalate, anticipating and preventing them whenever possible. Be willing to compromise in your relations with others, communicating your concerns in a calm and respectful manner.

Change your reaction: Adapt to the stressor

When you can’t change the world, change yourself! Look at the big picture instead of getting stuck in feelings of helplessness. Imagine how inconsequential one bad score in your healthcare courses will seem in twenty years time. Take a step back, a deep breath, and reframe the situation by focusing on the positive aspects.

Accept what can’t be changed

It’s not a perfect world so sometimes we must accept, forgive and move on. Share your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist, if necessary. Do what makes you happy, whether its exercise, music, or watching a funny movie. All things will pass – keep perspective and stay balanced!

Photo source: www.scpr.org
16 August 2013

Critical thinking and reflection are at the heart of higher education and professional development – key skills that employers expect graduates to acquire from college and learning academies. Thinking critically is an ability to work with complex ideas in a way that you can effectively justify a reasonable judgment. As children, we come from an overly trusting place, gullible to believing anything we are told at “face value” and susceptible to false stories by not sufficiently questioning the source. Practical critical thinking involves asking and answering questions systematically to achieve deeper analysis and evaluation, improving our thinking processes to reach our full potential.

Here are some tips to improve your critical thinking capacity:

1. Suspend judgment to check the validity of an argument or action

In the process of thinking deeper about what is being presented, first of all appreciate that your own opinions may be wrong. This can be a challenge to our own egos but is an important step to evaluating with an open mind, considering the possibility that statements are true even if they conflict with our own views. One way to practice this is taking an issue from your healthcare courses, for example, and temporarily adopting an initial position with which you disagree, then reasoning from that starting point. This task can develop reasoning abilities and help you to realize the underlying motivations for why you believe what you do.

2. Consider multiple perspectives

Try analyzing a subject equally on both sides of an argument and explore all aspects of an issue (who, what, where, why, when). If you come across a piece of information on the internet, question the source it comes from and whether there is corroborating evidence from different sources. Understand the purpose of the person whose work you are analyzing, and consider the context of the article, the time and place it was written, and potential political motivations of the publishing body.

Effective web research means being highly discriminating in the websites you select. Ask yourself “who is the author?” Is the person providing the information someone who is knowledgeable about the topic? Is it reliably based on scientific evidence with similar information given across reliable sources? When researching for your home inspection courses, consider whether you can understand the process based on the data provided and if it fits with your prior knowledge or other reliable sources.

3. Use reason and evidence to resolve disagreements and re-evaluate

Begin to understand a topic by being open to various opinions but reserving final judgment. Why is this argument presented and not something else? What if they’re wrong? Some skepticism is definitely healthy, particularly when you consider that more data has been created (and uploaded) in the past two years than the rest of history combined!

Critical thinking skills have been found to be most readily learned when embedded in a specific subject. This “infusion method” can be applied to a particular ethical issue in your business training, taking arguments from experts on both sides of the issue. What is your point of view and supporting reasons? Why do you think that? Are there different perspectives? By relentlessly questioning our motives and going deeper and deeper, we can begin to understand our deeper values and approach new issues from an independent position that evaluates all perspectives. The truth is out there!

Top Tips for Interview Success
09 August 2013

We’ve all heard the standard interview advice before. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early, dress your best, prepare your answers in advance. But what about the interview tips that you need to actually land the position? What about the tips that you typically only hear from head hunters and recruiters? The advice that means the difference between receiving a rejection email and accepting a job offer.

Here’s a list of our top tips for interview success:

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a 30 second to 2 minutes pitch where you talk about who you are, your value as an employee, your skill set, your experience and why you are the perfect person for the position. It is whatever you can think of that makes you, you, delivered as succinctly as possible. The goal of this pitch is that it could possibly be delivered within the span of an elevator ride. Once you have this covered, it can be used to showcase your value in a variety of scenarios from meeting with a client for the first time, to proving your value to an interviewer. Those taking courses in business training or in business school will find this skill particularly useful as you will regularly be meeting with clients.

Work on your Communication Skills

What we don’t say is just as important as what we do, and it is usually our body language that becomes the dead giveaway during that crucial interview. Think of interview questions as a chance for you to showcase how charming you can be while filling in the blanks employers may not know about you from your CV. The goal is to prove that you will be able to solve all of their problems once you are hired on for the position. When answering questions, be concise, and answer the question by providing examples. Also, be sure to maintain eye-contact and lastly, although you may be nervous, try not fidget. Once you have those fundamentals covered, you will just have to make sure that the interviewers are impressed enough with your experience and how well you relay the information to actually be hired for the position.

Follow Up

Following-up has two purposes; one it keeps you on the interviewer’s radar to make sure that they haven’t forgotten you, and two it will set you apart from all of the other candidates. Start off with a thank you note after the interview. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you and use the opportunity to outline any points that you may have missed or forgotten to mention. If necessary, check-in a few days later to follow up and to see how the interview process is going. It will re-iterate your interest in the position, as well as ensure that you’re at the top of their mind. If you have taken accounting courses or office administration courses, then that potential employer will know that you are familiar with corporate etiquette as well as being thorough when completing tasks.

Familiarize Yourself with the Corporate Culture

While it’s easy to do a short search on a company’s website to find out what they’re all about, whether you’re interviewing for a start-up or for a company that’s been around for decades, the best way to learn about a company is to learn more about their corporate culture. Research recent news events that the company has been involved in. Read about them on Glassdoor. Put out a query on Facebook or Twitter to find out the inside scoop from present or past employees. In short, be a real detective. Since you are the one who will be working for the company, then you’ll need to know the good and the bad. You are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you, and they’ll also looking into your history to see if you will be a good fit for them.

Lastly, don’t sweat the interview process too much. Once you’ve prepared as much as possible for the position, it’s just a matter of finding that role where you will be the best fit. As long you take the time to sufficiently prepare, then you’ll land that new job before you know it.

The month of August is that defining month. With September around the corner, you start thinking about school, whether you’re on your career path working and thinking of going back to school, or are in-fact currently a student. To help you plan for this future, for the first time in their 25-year history, Academy of Learning College campuses from Victoria, British Columbia, to Charlottetown, PEI, are throwing open their doors for a full month to welcome visitors to Open Houses at all participating campuses.

An Open House is a great way to get a feel for the campus that you’re thinking of attending, as well as discuss your future career options and educational goals with staff. It’s always best to attend school at a place where you’ll feel comfortable, since you will be spending most of your time there, so taking the time to visit the school that you’re thinking of attending is a great way to get a feel for a campus and its facilities.  And since the Academy of Open Learning has close to 60 campuses spread across the country, it won’t be hard to find a convenient location to take classes. Most likely there is a school in your city or at a nearby location.

With 30 diploma and certificate programs being offered ranging from IT training or graphic design courses to healthcare courses, an Open House will provide you with the opportunity to research programs and explore the educational opportunities that you are potentially interested in. Or if you’re just looking to make that first step towards returning back to school, it’s a fun way to familiarize yourself with your potential learning environment and also make that final decision to see if the program that you’ve been considering is the right one for you. The choice to go back to school or deciding which post-secondary school to attend is a major decision that could impact that rest of your life. Take the time to weigh your options about the school that you are thinking of attending or about the program that you are considering studying.

AOLC campuses are each scheduling days and times when members of their local communities can explore training and education opportunities in a friendly and welcoming environment. Campuses plan to have refreshments and giveaways, including a chance for one lucky visitor to win an iPad Mini.

Whether you want to take a tour, learn about potential programs or just sample refreshments, August is a great month towards taking that first step in planning the rest of your future. Why not start now?

For more details, send an email to marketing(at)academyoflearning(dot)com or call your local campus.

British Columbia Faculties

Customer Service

Diploma Programs

Call Centre Customer Representative

Certificate Programs

Customer Service Representative

Home Inspection

Diploma Programs

Home Inspection

Certificate Programs

Home Inspection

Nova Scotia Faculties

Accounting

Diploma Programs

Business Accounting

Business

Diploma Programs

Business Administration

Language Training

Certificate Programs

English Training

Web Design

Diploma Programs

Web Designer

Ontario Faculties

Not all Programs available at all locations.