#30 Day Challenge to Help You Excel This Semester

Put financial aid, career services, and chapel on your agenda

(Image: iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages)

For the past three weeks, we’ve been running a #30 Day Challenge to help you set the tone for success this semester in the first 30 days of the term. We’ve framed the series around the places on campus you must familiarize yourself with to excel.

Be sure to read the other three posts on the campus library and bookstore, the health center, and your professors’ offices (for you to visit during office hours).

Financial Aid

It’s hard to do well in school if you’re worried about financing your education, so be sure you know the folks in the financial aid office. In addition to filling out the FAFSA, ask about scholarships. Financial aid offices often know about alternative sources of financing—but you need to ask.

Also, download the app Scholly to learn about scholarships you qualify for. Scholly does all the searching for you.

Career Services

You may be thinking, why go to career services during the first 30 days of the semester? How is that going to help me excel?

I read somewhere that going to your campus career center is a subtle way of telling yourself that you will graduate and eventually become part of the working world.

Also, starting early is best, says Paul Timmins, director of the Career and Community Learning Center in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. He said in an e-mail, “We currently require all of our first-year students to visit Career Services, to write a résumé, and to learn about how to use our online job and internship posting system.” The school is also developing a series of expectations for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

As Timmins says, “Doing a little work each semester is much better than trying to cram four years of career planning into the senior year!”

Esther Akutekha, a graduate of Rutgers University, agrees. She visited her campus career center about once a semester and more often as she got closer to graduation.


Not every school has a chapel, but almost every campus has quiet places where students can study or read. If your school has a chapel, use it. Attend services. Visit even when there is no service. Sacred spaces tend to be inspiring and soothing even when they’re empty and quiet—perhaps especially then.

No chapel at your school? Join a campus group that meets to worship, or a group that volunteers to help others. Getting outside of your head and helping others is a way to avoid getting too self-absorbed—and it’s healthy. It’s another way you can excel this semester.

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