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How to be a better reader online

Written by Ashworth College on Monday, 07 August 2017. Posted in Why Ashworth

How to Be a Better Reader Online

Online courses require a lot of reading and shifting from reading physical books to digital materials can be an adjustment. But no matter the medium, the trick to being a good reader is to be engaged. And the trick to being an engaged online reader means bringing in a few tools to help with focus and comprehension. Here are a few tips for becoming a better reader online.

Tips for comprehension

When it comes to studying, the No. 1 thing you can do to make the most out of your time is engage with the text. Engaging in active reading will increase how much you retain.

Recite, Relate & Review: Start with periodically reciting what you've read, reflecting on the material and its key points. Relate the reading to what you've already learned, then review parts of the reading you may need more clarification on.

Don't Study in Bed: It's tempting to want to work in bed while studying at home. However, studying in bed decreases productivity and has a way of tempting you to stop working, lose focus, or fall asleep. The best space to work is at a table or desk in a quiet space.

Print Out the Readings: Shifting exclusively to digital reading can sometimes be hard. If reading online is too difficult, print out the readings. This gives you the option to highlight passages andtake notes in the margins. Everyone learns differently—find the format that works best for you.

Apps for annotation & notetaking

If you don't want to print out online reading materials, but miss the ability to write in the margins, you're in luck. There's an app for that—quite a few, in fact. Here are a few study apps that can help you take notes while reading:

Penzu: Penzu is a private, 100 percent customizable online journal. Keep it open on your desktop to easily type your notes while studying. The benefit of online notes is they can never be lost or misplaced and they're accessible anywhere.

StudyBlue: StudyBlue provides intelligent digital learning tools, including flashcards, notes, study guides and more. With its free mobile apps, you can instantly access all of your notes and flashcards on the go.

Tools for focusing

A key factor to being an engaged reader is focus. This can be tough with a million things happening around you. However, there are a few tried-and-true ways to maintain your focus while studying.

Listen to Music: Listening to music is known to calm your senses, "leading to more conscientious studying, elevating your mood, motivating you to stay focused and studying for longer periods of time," according to Fastweb. Specifically, classical music has been known to create a calm and serene atmosphere—many consider it one of the best genres to listen to while studying, as listeners have reported it puts them in a better mood and increasesproductivity.

Avoid Multi-Tasking: With the internet at your fingertips and the societally-ingrained tendency to multi-task, it's difficult to stay focused when studying on a computer. A 2014 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average American spends only 19 minutes a day reading, mostly because the presence of screens takes away from the time spent reading other things. Luckily there are many online tools that combat this issue. For example, StayFocused is a web extension that increases your productivity by restricting the amount of time spent on time-wasting websites.

Recommendations for self-care

When trying to stay focused and retain information, it is important to know when to take a break, especially as staring at digital screens can cause eye fatigue.

20-20-20 Rule: Keep the 20-20-20 rule in your back pocket while studying. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This will exercise your eye muscles and help prevent straining.

Bluelight-Blocking Web Extensions: Additionally, there are many web extensions that help youstay energized and maintain healthy eye care, particularly if you're studying at night. When youuse artificial lighting to extend the day, various sleep signals are disrupted. The blue light emitted by screens causes you to be more alert and produce less melatonin. Apps like CareUEyes and browser extensions like f.lux work to reduce the blue light emitted from screens by adjusting to the time of day and shifting the color of your display after dark. CareUEyes even locks your computer, forcing you to take a three minute break every 45 minutes.

Online reading takes some adapting, especially if you're not used to doing a majority of your studying online. But with a few simple tricks, you can win at your next study session by optimizing your ability to focus.

About the Author

Ashworth College

Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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What do employers really look for in a resume? Three things to include and three things to avoid.

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When it comes to what employers want to see in a resume, you may be surprised. Certainly they want to see the standard bits of information, such as education, job history, and training. But what they’re really looking for is a means by which to determine if you’re the right hire for the job. This means they’re also looking at information such as results, relevance, signs of motivation, and an indication that you have a genuine interest in the company and position.

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1. Keywords

Keywords help match your resume to relevant job openings. It should be a no-brainer to realize that an employer searching for a “veterinary technician” needs to see that specific phrase in your resume (and not just the abbreviation “vet tech”). Beyond the job title, you should include other important keywords in your resume, too.

Go over any job posting carefully and make a list of the skills and attributes the employer is seeking. For instance, if a job posting lists “the ability to create pivot tables in Excel,” and you have this experience, then be sure to include the phrase “pivot tables” in your resume. If a posting requires “ability to work with minimal supervision,” and your prior work history includes such a position, then you should be sure to write something like, “managed the department with minimal supervision.” Including specific keywords like this helps employers find you when searching for resumes online and also helps the hiring official match you to the opportunity when scanning resumes to determine which people to interview.

2. Action-oriented verbs

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Example: “Achieved 25% year-on-year sales growth,” NOT “Was responsible for managing the sales department.”

Example: “Reduced patient billing errors by improving the efficiency of work flow within the department,” NOT “As part of management responsibility, changed the department’s work flow.”


Be sure to quantify your achievements whenever possible. If you can use numbers to communicate the concrete results of your efforts on the job, it will help a prospective employer better visualize what you can contribute to the organization.

3. Education

Even if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t specify an educational requirement, be sure to list all of your degrees and relevant diplomas or certificates, starting with the highest degree you’ve earned. You do not need to include the year you graduated unless you are still taking classes, in which case you should share your anticipated graduation date and your current GPA:

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (anticipated degree date June 2020)
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Current GPA: 3.9

To highlight your commitment to continuing education, be sure to include relevant career diplomas and certificates you’ve earned:

Career Diploma: AutoCAD
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Career Diploma: Medical Office Assistant
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Three things an employer doesn’t want to see on your resume

Just as employers are looking for the inclusion of certain items on a resume, they are also actively scanning to make sure certain items are not a part of your resume. Don’t make these common resume mistakes! No employer wants to see these errors on a resume.

  1. Typos. Make sure to carefully proofread your resume before you post it online or send it to a prospective employer. In fact, you should have a couple of friends proofread your resume, too, to catch any stray typos.
  2. Inflated skills or credentials. Be honest on your resume and only list the skills and qualifications you actually possess. Never lie on your resume, whether it’s about your educational level or past career history.
  3. Lack of links to social media profiles. These days, many employers dive deeply into the backgrounds of their job candidates. On your resume, include links to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, personal website, or other relevant social media so prospective employers can get to know you better.

BONUS: Add a new degree to your resume’s education section

You can increase your chance of getting a good job by pursuing a degree, certificate, or career diploma in a field that pairs well with your interests. Talk to an admissions advisor today to find a degree program at Ashworth College that suits your interests, schedule, and budget!

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3. Talk about your weaknesses

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So come prepared with three to five questions that will provide the insight you need to determine whether or not to accept the position, if it’s offered to you. A few questions you might consider are:

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We’re not so different from the students we serve. Like them, we each have our individual goals, dreams, personal roadblocks, and vision for who want to be and where we want to go. Here at Ashworth College, we’re all about inspiring and enabling students to be their best selves, so we thought we’d share insights into what motivates our staff to GO BEYOND the ordinary and always—always—strive for more.

Every company has that person—the one who knows everyone and seems to hold the key to finding the answers to any question. At Ashworth College, that person is Online Engagement Coordinator Shawn Bryant. Or, as he’s referred to by his social media teammates, #ShawnCares.

A graduate of James Madison University and lifelong athlete, Shawn originally came to Ashworth College in 2007 as an Admissions Advisor to pay for his training to play professional football. He eventually returned to Ashworth College where his career path took him from Admissions, to Student Services, to being tapped to join the social media team.

Today, Shawn can be found behind the scenes on the social media sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) for Ashworth College and sister sites James Madison High School (JMHS), Madison School of Healthcare, and PCDI-Canada, responding to questions and resolving issues.

Q: #ShawnCares. Why do you think your peers gave you that nickname?

A: I think it’s because anything I put my name on, I take seriously. I remember something our CEO, Rob Klapper said, about everyone in our company being important from the janitor to the CEO and that resonated with me. When I’m responding to students, I’m not speaking for myself—I’m speaking for Ashworth College. So I treat every issue as if I had something to do with it, personally. That helps me be the very best I can be.

Q: You were the Chairman of VOTE for six years. Tell us about that.

A: VOTE is “Voice of the Employee” and its purpose is to give employees across the company a means to be heard. It’s also a morale booster, as we headed a number of projects like Habitat for Humanity builds, food bank drives, our annual company picnic, etc. When I was chair, I was still in admissions and student services but I had one-on-ones with our CEO, representing employee concerns. That was great training for what I do now on our social media channels.

Q: What’s your superpower?

A: I’m a puzzle-finder. My degree is in sociology with a minor in criminal justice and for a while I thought I might be a detective. My current role allows me a good bit of detective work. I trace down what was said, what the roadblock is, and put together the story of what happened, so I can bring our team members together to resolve it.

Shawn Bryant and Kamogelo Phahladira

Shawn Bryant and Kamogelo Phahladira. Kamogelo traveled from South Africa to attend our 2018 graduation. She often reached out to Ashworth College on Facebook Messenger with questions and was thrilled to meet the person who helped her along the way!

Q: What do you most enjoy about your job?

A: Resolving issues! It’s great to turn a frown into a smile or just know I was able to help someone seeking answers.

Q: You live on social media during the day. Are you active on your own time?

A: Oddly enough, no. (Laughs). I prefer face-to-face conversations and being able to read body language and hear someone’s tone. That’s why when I receive a complaint over social media, I read the complaint over and over and over. I’m really trying to “hear” what the person is saying, so I can respond appropriately and give them the answers they need.

 
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