By Lisa Vento Nielsen
I have been an educator since 2003 teaching at local NYC colleges and universities while also being an executive in Corporate America. I have always been the professor who tells it like it is – meaning, I would discuss and teach from textbooks but also include and weave in real world experiences and stories into the course. Any course I have taught over the last 13 years whether it be economics, finance, marketing, management or anything I would always go over real career readiness tips and techniques on how to interview, writing resumes and picking your career.
When I launched my company, The Next Step in 2015, I found that writing a blog every day was an amazing way to increase my visibility as a new company, get clients and have “free” marketing. I also found, though, that I had way too much to say and that blog posts did not give me the ability to really share the lessons I had to share. That was how my second book was born, The Book on College Readiness – The Prof’s Guide to Surviving High School and Kicking Butt in College .
This book is the culmination of 13 years’ of sharing and creating these lessons for all of my students and it also goes a huge step further because now I also create and provide 30 hours of college and career readiness workshops and training in the NYC area through my company, which you can find out about here.
The Book on College Readiness is the first book in a series with the next book The Book on Career Readiness in draft form and focusing on how to graduate college with a job offer. You can find out more about the books on College and Career readiness on my College and Career Readiness Books Webpage .
I am also an author of books on using entrepreneurial skills to launch a business or be the boss of your career which are great next steps for the college aged person getting ready to really rock their careers with someone’s expert advice (me). You can find out more about these books here Entrepreneur-ING Books.
Bringing the real world to the classrooms of higher ed and K-12 as an educator means I see first hand what students really need today to be ready for their next steps. Something I have seen so much lately is complacency and students giving up more and more. This is caused, in no small part due to constant “bad” news in terms of economic growth potentials, helicopter parenting and social media. We are all guilty of being too involved with our kids’ lives and I talk a lot about this on my blog in terms of University Advice.
Do you know how to use social media to build your brand? Yes, even though you might be young, you can be professional on social media without losing all of your friends. Do you know how to balance being an involved student with keeping up your studies and social life? These are just some of the lessons I provide in The Book on College Readiness. With worksheets and “homework” for you to fill out and add your own thoughts and goals to you can begin building out your future for after high school.
This book is appropriate for any one in high school, college or anyone who has someone in their life in high school or college. There are lessons on how to pick the right school for you and how to write your perfect application essay, too.
Here is some more information from the introduction of The Book on College Readiness:
I have been involved in colleges and universities since 1994 in various roles. I have run my own business on helping people apply for their dreams universities and colleges since 2006. This newest iteration of my company, The Next Step, has been relaunched in mid-2015 and is focused on sharing the message of education and learning.
My mantra is that by learning, you will achieve your dreams. You need to be willing to put in the work, though. And if you can remain focused on learning, you will be successful in college and beyond.
You see something we all had trouble realizing when we were in high school is that your whole life and success can be helped along at a young age; if you can focus on your life and your unique skills and talents from a young age, you can be better prepared for your next step. I am sure your parents and guidance counselors are telling you this; they told me, too but it does not always sink in. I wrote this book to help this message to sink in.
In early 2016, I launched a seminar series to help give back to local high schools called the College Readiness Seminar; I learned that the message I had to share was very well-received and needed. As much as the parents, guidance counselors, and school administrators are already sharing this message to the youth, there is something about seeing someone who is outside of all of that, someone who can boil the message down into actionable lessons and has the experience to back it up that makes it sink in.
As an educator for the past 13 years and someone who was what I call a “late bloomer” student but who had tremendous successes as a college student and career person, I take the lessons I learned and the passion I have for teaching and poured it into this book.
It is in sharing this, my lessons learned, that I help teach myself more and also give back to others. The idea behind this book is to make this message more actionable for more people by sharing my words in a new format. I write a blog 5 days a week and the category of University Advice becomes a repository of some of these ideas but putting it all together fresh in a book format is an exciting challenge for me.
I have been a professor since 2003 and have been teaching in the K-12 system as a substitute since 2014; I have seen first-hand how much people of these ages need help in cutting through the craziness to identify how to handle their college experience like a boss.
So many kids get stressed or give up – the balance is to identify how to make the most out of their unique skills and talents to find the right university experience for them and then to succeed in that college experience. It is also important to know how to know when you are in over your head and how to manage stress and more.
This book will follow closely to my college readiness seminar but with extra content. I am assuming that most of the readers of this book will be the parents but I am going to address most of it to the student; I think I have the personality and the social media presence along with these college readiness seminars where maybe a younger person would want to read my words but if not, as the parent these words and chapters can help you navigate the process with your children
Because it is a process. Gone are the days when you just threw together an application and kept your fingers crossed someone would accept you. You now need to plan and identify what schools are best, what schools are affordable and what schools will keep your child happy and safe.
Students today are growing up with more stressors and problems than at any other time. You really need to balance as a student where you can feel safe and grow to your full potential more than you ever had to before. Many students are taxing the universities’ mental health systems due to stress, breaks from reality, depression and more.
The best way to help defend against this potential is to have the plan in place as to what will help YOU be you without having the put on pretenses or pretend to be someone you are not.
In my day, you would have the high performing high school student go away to school and then realize they could not do it anymore; they would just hit a wall and come home and re-start somewhere more low-key.
Now, you have this still but you also have more pressing issues of mental health emergencies (not just tired but really burning out) and also the drug epidemic which a nationwide issue.
I can tell you that in my time in university classrooms, it has gone from students making excuses because they were out partying to students telling me all about who killed themselves from their peer group, who was on drugs, which students were entering rehab programs and more.
This is not to scare but just to identify that if you are someplace where you fit in and feel appreciated and needed, you will be hopefully too busy to get into these types of troubles and issues. But if you do find yourselves in any of these situations, please talk to someone you can trust and get help. Mental illness and other issues are stigmatized in this country but we are getting better at identifying and treating them –which hopefully will lead to a more accepting environment for those who suffer.
So much of this time of your life will be stressful and confusing. You are being expected to be an adult after spending your life as a child. You will be signing up for large bills to get an education to help you on your road to the rest of your life.
This is a hard time to be a young person anywhere today. The basic ideas of getting an education, finding a job and building a career is not at all easy and does require you to be a constant learner and someone who is perpetually curious.
Channel your inner 5-year old and keep that curiosity with a healthy dose of skepticism and smarts to deal with the world around you in order to successfully complete high school and move on to college.
Reading this book is a great way to prepare yourself for the rest of your life which is beginning within the next 1-4 years depending on what year in high school you currently are.
I would hope you are reading this as a freshman so you have more than enough time to implement the roadmap of this book’s plan but even if you are a senior, this is going to give you a leg up on how to manage your life once you become a high school graduate.
I am spending time to lay the framework on identifying who you are truly and how to know what you might want to focus on during university. This will help to lay the groundwork for those skills and talents during the younger years of high school or beyond.
This book can also be used when you begin college; many people wind up changing majors or going away to school and deciding to come back home.
Some students can have their grades suffer because of partying too much and for those students, they need to identify what they want and write defense letters as to why they should be admitted to another chance at a new school – there is no shame in this. There is no shame in any of it; it is life and it is how we learn. In order to learn, sometimes we must fail.
I do think that by reading this book you will position yourself to avoid the common pitfalls and failures that are hidden on your road to success; by following the advice and tips in this book, you can be ahead of the curve in your steps to college graduate.
Thank you for choosing me as your guide through this process; I have tons of experience helping people navigate these steps but I often meet my clients when they are ready to apply as junior, seniors or when coming back for a change in plan – I am honored to be part of this process with you and hope you will consider contacting me to let me know if this roadmap helped you and how. Happy Hunting!
Lisa Vento Nielsen is an educator, executive and entrepreneur who has been teaching college students since 2003. The experiences and lessons she has to share are included in her books on college and career readiness as well as her workshops and training on getting the job and more. You can follow her on Twitter @thenext_step123 or via The Next Step Blog.