To Be Your Student

Graduating from a traditional, four-year college, I didn’t have the privilege or experience of learning from the skilled professionals at Arizona Automotive Institute, Platt College, and South Texas Vocational Technical Institute. While I was able to learn many of the same important life lessons you instill upon our students – professionalism, sacrifice, service, leadership, respect and discipline. I cannot help but wonder how great it would have been to be one of your students.

  • To work side-by-side with a master welder bending molten metal
  • To learn medical ethics and patient care from nurses who have experienced the joy of life and sadness of death throughout their career as part of their calling, credo & DNA
  • To sweat under the hood of a tractor trailer or automobile with someone who could tear an engine apart and rebuild it in their sleep
  • To trace the veins of a patient with a Medical Assisting Instructor on route to a perfect stick
  • To replicate a sterile operating environment ensuring the field and formation exceeded the expectation of a seasoned Surgical Technologist
  • To roll egg whites delicately, flip a crepe perfectly, or flambé a dessert elegantly as my chef instructor stood watching with admiration, pride and nervousness
  • To properly learn dosage calculations, effectively administer air management techniques and recite recent revisions to medical record coding
  • To be on the roof of a commercial building identifying faults in an air conditioning unit with an instructor who knew the problem before we took our first step up the ladder
  • To take impressions and fabricate crowns, as a Dental Assisting Instructor stood by as a mentor & cheerleader
  • To mimic the graceful motions of a Professional Massage Therapist as they outlined a flawless Swedish technique
  • To sit completely awestruck in a class where a general education or CAS instructor was able to effectively connect theory to reality, and reality to my career aspirations

While my list of missed educational opportunities is long, as the President & CEO of Ancora Education, I have had made up for it through my many interactions with each of you – our esteemed faculty.

As we close out National Teacher Appreciation Week, I know I am a better person for working with, and learning from, each of you. As a company, we stand in complete admiration of your contribution and commitment to student success. You are the reason our educational model works. You are the reason our students work. Their experience, in your presence, creates life-long opportunity, tangible change, and a better future.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Zawisky

President & CEO

5 Reasons to Celebrate Your Instructors during Teacher Appreciation Week

When you really add up all the time we spend in school, from kindergarten to high school graduation and even on to higher education for a lot of us, it’s evident how important a role teachers really play in our lives. Without teachers, we would have no doctors, nurses, or presidents. We would have no mechanics, engineers, or welders. We wouldn’t even know how to read this very article.

With all things considered, we should show our appreciation for our teachers every day, but since this week happens to be when, we as a nation, observe Teacher Appreciation Week, here are five reasons to celebrate your instructors:

  1. Their Inspiration –

Your instructors possess an immeasurable amount of knowledge and understanding of their field, and they have chosen to share their passion and knowledge with you, as their students.

  1. Their Dedication –

As instructors they have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping their students have a successful future. They give of themselves, day-in and day-out to help you along your educational journey.

  1. Their Support –

When you’re having a hard time understanding a concept or struggling with preparing for a test, your instructors are there to offer you their support. They want to see you succeed and will go out of their way to make sure you have the support you need.

  1. Their Willingness to Challenge You –

Your instructors are there when you’re struggling, but in the same way that they will support you, they are also willing to challenge you. It is through these challenges that you learn to grow, both as a student and as a person.

  1. For Believing in You –

Even when you might not have believed in yourself, your instructors believed in you.  Because they believed that you could succeed, you believed that you would succeed.

Share your reasons to celebrate your instructors in the comments!

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

What Food Labels Aren’t Telling Us

Food Labels 101

You would think that if you wanted to know exactly what is in your food, you would just read the label. Think again. Although labels are supposed to be there to tell us exactly what’s in the food we’re about to purchase, they can be extremely deceiving. With consumers being more health conscious than they ever have been, food companies have figured out how to trick us with misleading claims and clever marketing phrases.

Labeling claims are carefully crafted to catch your attention and convince you that the product is healthier than it actually is. Look out for these common, but misleading phrases found on food labels.

Natural

This is possibly the most misleading term in the food industry. This does not mean that the product is healthy or even all that natural. The word “Natural” is used to reel in unaware consumers who tend to believe it means the same thing as “organic”, which it does not.  In fact, when it comes to labeling foods, the term has no clear meaning and isn’t regulated by the FDA, much less, any agency. A recent survey of 1,005 adults  by Consumer Reports found that more than half of consumers usually seek out products with “natural” on the label, based on the false belief that they’re made without GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), hormones, or artificial ingredients.

Low Fat

Food labels claiming that the product is “low fat” can be found on everything from yogurt to salad dressing. Unlike the term “natural”, the FDA does regulate when this claim can be used. This may seem to offer the assurance that the food has a significant nutritional benefit, but in fact it could be the opposite. Low fat products are processed to reduce either calories or fat and some products are simply watered down. Often when these things are removed something is added in their place, like sugar or artificial ingredients.

Cage free or Free Range

The terms “cage free” or “free range” might conjure up lovely images of happy hens frolicking around a farm yard all day, without a care in the world, but unfortunately this is not the case. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) defines free range as having exposure to the outdoors. The problem is that there are no requirements for the amount, duration or quality of the outdoor exposure. Most “free range” or “cage free” birds spend their lives in extremely over-crowded warehouses, with little exposure to the outdoors. Diseases run rampant in these conditions, due to unclean surroundings, tight quarters and contaminated feed. If you are looking for eggs or poultry from happy birds, look for “pasture raised” on the labels.

Sugar Free

Products labeled “sugar free” may not contain refined sugar, but it is often replaced with something far less healthy. “Sugar free” usually indicates the presence of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Aspartame, sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners can have just as many, if not more negative health effects than regular sugar. Just because a food has no added sugar, doesn’t mean that it’s sugar free! Juice, for example has no sugar added to it, but the naturally-occurring sugar in an 8 ounce glass of juice still contains anywhere from 24 to 36 grams of sugar – the equivalent of six to nine teaspoons.

Finding your way in the supermarket jungle

Making informed choices on the food that we buy for ourselves and our families can be difficult when food companies are constantly trying to mislead us, but here are a few suggestions to help you find your way:

  1. Stay informed – the best way to avoid being pulled-in by healthy-sounding deceptive marketing phrases is to become knowledgeable about the foods that you should be eating.
  2. Be skeptical – If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Shop the Perimeter – The perimeter of the store is where the freshest and least processed foods are generally found, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish.
  4. Keep it simple – Avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Want to see if you’ve learned a few things about food labels? Take the Web MD quiz here.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

The Most Important Thing to Take on an Interview

The day has arrived and you are preparing for your first interview. You have worked hard to learn a new skill. You have studied and passed your certification exam. You have a copy of your diploma, transcript and certificates demonstrating great attendance and grade point averages in your portfolio. You have multiple copies, ready to leave one behind for anyone that asks.  You have prepared an award winning resume. Your interview attire is perfect- clean and ironed. You have studied the top 10 questions you could be asked on an interview and you have prepared answers for all of them. But, there is still something missing. Self-confidence.

The one thing that will win an employer over is a candidate that possesses self-confidence. Self-confidence is a magnet for success. It means that you believe in your own skills, goals, and ability to succeed. In an article posted in the Time Management Ninja, the author lists 10 reasons that self-confidence leads to success.

 10 Reasons That Self-Confidence Leads to Success:

  1. The Drive to Start Things – Confident people start things. They are not shy about striking out on a new idea even when those around them are still pondering it.
  2. The Ability to Stand Up for Oneself – Confidence allows you to stand up for yourself in a fair and consistent manner. Otherwise, you may find yourself unheard or unfairly treated.
  3. The Ability to Say No – Confident people have the ability to say “No” where appropriate. They do not take on unnecessary or inappropriate work or obligations.
  4. The Ability to Say Yes – And at the same time, confident individuals say “Yes” to opportunity. They do not miss new options because they are shy. I have seen individuals pass up opportunities (even promotions) because they didn’t think they were “worthy”.
  5. Confidence Overcomes Fear – Lack of confidence can lead to paralysis from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of what others think. Fear of the unknown. To succeed, you need the confidence to face and overcome your fears.
  6. Believe In Themselves – Self-confidence means believing in yourself. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” He was right.
  7. Set the Bar High Enough – Confident individuals set the bar high and aim high. Lack of confidence leads to weak goals, setting the bar too low, and mediocre results.
  8. Stretch Your Limits – Confidence lets you know your limits and test them. By stretching your limits you increase them. You are stronger than you think.
  9. Confidence Asks Questions – Confidence allows you to ask questions, even when others are silent. Confidence even lets you “ask for the job”.
  10. Believe In Winning – Confident people believe in success. And more importantly, they believe in their ability to succeed.

As you prepare to land your new career opportunity, consider the most important thing you can take with you, self-confidence. When you believe in yourself, you stand out in the crowd and you will always have good success!

To ensure that you’re prepared make an appointment with your Career Services team.

Written by: Shaundra Hamilton, Ancora Education – Vice President of Career Services

Study Techniques That Compliment Your Learning Style

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Study, study, study. Do you find yourself studying excessively, but your grades aren’t reflecting all the effort you’re putting in? Then maybe you aren’t studying in ways that compliment your learning style. Contrary to popular opinion, textbooks and lectures might not be the only way to prepare yourself for an exam.

What is a learning style and how does it effect me?

Learning style has to do with the different ways that people bring in and absorb new information. Knowing your learning style can help you use your strengths when studying. Ever wondered why you do well in some classes and not in others? This may depend on your learning style. Whether taking a regular class or studying for a major exam you can greatly increase your productivity by tailoring your study habits to compliment your particular learning style.

You might be a Visual Learner if…

If you never forget a face, but have trouble remembering people’s names then you might be a Visual Learner. If you’d rather watch the movie than read the book, you might be a visual learner. Visual learners process information best when it’s presented to them visually.

Study tips for Visual Learners:shutterstock_280433198_rendered

Take detailed notes

Whether you are sitting in class or reading a text book, make sure to take lots of notes. By taking copious amounts of detailed notes you give yourself the ability to review what was covered later at your own pace, and the act of note-taking itself contributes to your absorption of the material.

Watch a video on the topic

Like I said before, if you’d rather watch the movie, then maybe you should. Now this doesn’t mean go watch the new Star Wars movie instead of studying. It means finding videos online that cover what you are studying. Whether you Google a short clip to answer a particular question or you use an online learning resource like Khan Academy, you will find videos to be strong study aids. Note: Make sure your videos come from reputable sources.

Use Flashcards

Flash cards will help you learn the subject using repetition to ensure you retain the knowledge. There are many apps available if you don’t feel like making your own flash cards. Apps such as Chegg Flashcards and Studyblue allow you to keep score and track your stats so that you know what areas you need to focus on.

 You might be an Auditory Learner if…

If you find you enjoy humming aloud or talking to yourself, you might be an Auditory Learner. If you remember words to songs and notice sound effects in movies, then you might be an Auditory learner. This just means that you study best by listening. Auditory Learners tend to perform the best in classes that emphasize lectures and class discussions.

Study tips for Auditory Learners:

Record your lecturesshutterstock_272450690_rendered

Recording your lectures allows you to listen to them again when trying to study. There are many apps available.

Verbalize what you’ve learned.

In the same way that visual learners learn from writing notes, auditory learners can solidify their learning by verbalizing what they’ve learned. Put it into your own words, this helps you to truly grasp the subject and remember it longer.

Read aloud

Read aloud whenever possible. After reading a chapter, summarize it out loud.

Use Mnemonic Devices

A mnemonic device is a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something. Using a mnemonic device can make remembering dull or difficult to learn material such as numbers, formulas, dates, terminology, or concepts easier and maybe even a little fun.

Work in Groups

When working in a group you can discuss the subject and better absorb the material. You can also quiz each other.

You might be a Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner if…

If you hate using an owner’s manual when you buy a new gadget or reading the instructions to put together IKEA furniture, then you might be a kinesthetic learner. If you tap your feet to music and can’t sit still in lectures, you might be a kinesthetic learner. This means you comprehend information best through hands-on learning. Kinesthetic learners tend to do better in labs than in lectures.

Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners:girl typing on laptop with socks

Apply what you’ve learned

If you’re studying from a textbook, you can get frustrated pretty quickly. To combat this frustration and better understand the material you covered, look for practical applications for what you’ve just learned.

Take short study breaks

Rather than forcing yourself to sit and study for long periods, break up your study sessions into 30 minute increments with 5 minute breaks in between to stand up and move around. This can be beneficial to all students, but especially for kinesthetic learners.

Keep your hands busy while studying

Believe it or not, kinesthetic learners study and comprehend information better when their hands are involved. It can be as simple as holding an object, like a stress ball, while studying or typing out your notes.

What to keep in mind

 No matter what your predominant learning style may be, it’s important that you keep in mind that it’s just your predominant, not your only learning style. Most of us are a mix of all three.  Don’t be afraid to try methods from other learning styles as well. The goal is to find what methods work best for you.

 Find Out Your Learning Style

You can find out what your preferred learning style is by taking the assessment found here.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Ancora Education

One Graduate’s Success Story

CorbinI remember the first time I met Corbin Gerner.  Corbin wasn’t even looking for one of our skilled trades programs and visited AAI with his friend for moral support.  “I was only going to support my friend who was interested in AAI’s HVAC/BR program.” But after touring AAI Corbin left with such a great impression of the campus. “When I first walked through the welding lab I saw students cutting metal, grinding steel with sparks flying and I thought that it was the most awesome thing and instantly wanted to try it.”

Corbin is a United States Army Veteran who served five years in the Infantry, did a one-year tour to Iraq and served another year in Afghanistan. He was happy to see that AAI had a big military population, from staff, faculty to students and alumni. He felt right at home. He only had 11 months left on his G.I.-Bill and felt that the “timing was just perfect.” Meeting with our Admissions and Financial Aid team really helped him through the process.

When I first met with Corbin he mentioned that he had just finished his AA degree but still had no idea what to do with his career. I was able to help and guide him. After checking out the skilled trades programs AAI offered, he became more and more interested in our Combination Welding program and enrolled in February 2015. He had never welded before so this was new to him and was really excited to learn the welding trade. Throughout his program we kept in good contact and he always let me know how classes were going for him. He said, “Looking back now, the teachers and staff always checked on me and that kept me motivated.”

In anticipation of graduation Corbin started working more with the Career Services department.  They were able to help him update his resume, helped him with interviewing skills and how to effectively present the skills he learned at AAI to a potential employer. After graduating in November, Corbin landed a job with DH Pace in Phoenix. “I now have the highest paying job I’ve had since getting out of the Army, I’m more than excited every day to go to work now!” stated Corbin.

As an admissions representative at AAI, I find that success stories like Corbin’s are incredibly motivating. Seeing him succeed made me feel like I played a small part in changing his life.  Keep up the great work Corbin!

Written by: Karina Zavala, Admissions Representative – Arizona Automotive Institute

NOT NETWORKING = NOT WORKING

shutterstock_194022155_renderedIf you are clever at small-talk, have the confidence to insert a positive personal story that almost fits into a conversation, and can manage to sound smart when discussing news, business, and sports, you are a good networker. If you prefer to talk to people you know, don’t know how to keep a conversation going in an uncomfortable situation, and don’t like the pressure of always being “on,” then you my friend, are NORMAL!

Whether you love to network or hate to network, your career just might depend on it. “Networking” in the professional context, means talking and relating to people for the sake of improving your career. But guess what? Your best network is the people you already know!

I have had 7 jobs in 20 years (large and small companies, several you have heard of), and 5 of the 7 jobs would not have happened if it weren’t for my friends. Here are the 7 jobs, and who got me the “in” I needed to land an interview.

  1. IT Consultant – My sister, and my best friend’s wife were both employed at my targeted employer. They got my resume to hiring managers.
  2. Process Manager – A friend that I met during my first job left and got a new job at a new company. He told me about the role and got me in the door.
  3. Product Manager – Someone I barely knew from a co-ed 4-person beach volleyball league.
  4. Product Manager – Monster.com. Yep, no help on this one. But my resume worked now that I had “Product Manager” on it.
  5. Regional Director – High School friend I had kept in touch with and hounded about jobs over the years. He finally came through.
  6. Project Manager – CareerBuilder.com. Yep, no help. Miracles do happen.
  7. Product Strategy Director – Someone from a parent-company that I was in training with for 5 days. During training he was impressed with me (so don’t act like a clown during training–you never know who could be of help to you later).

The key for me was that I let everyone mentioned above know I was looking for work, and what kind of work might be good for me.

When I was “in between jobs” do you know what kept me sharp, gave me confidence, and helped me practice those uncomfortable conversations with strangers? Job networking groups. Guess how many job offers I got through a networking group? Zero! Would I go to one again, and did I see it help other people get jobs? Absolutely.

Look for groups like this one:

http://careerdfw.org/J/

Consider clubs and groups for employed individuals. People with jobs are better at helping people get jobs!

http://www.networkafterwork.com

Join your local Rotary club.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce

But most importantly, network with friends, family, and family friends!

Written By: Dan Morchower, Product Strategy Director – Ancora Education