Finish Strong

By Dr. Eileen Wirth
You’re almost there – just a week to finals then another to graduation for seniors. Try to finish the year strong – and not just academically. That’s tough because with everyone under stress, normal student-faculty tensions are exacerbated.
Seniors get paranoid that any little thing could deprive them of graduating with honors. Some argue with their professors over fractions of points on exams or projects.
Faculty, in turn, grumble about the “B+ whiners” as one of my friends calls the complainers. Don’t they realize we’re trying to be as fair as we can to everyone?
I’ve spent part of the past week guiding an adjunct through the process of failing a couple of students who have missed numerous classes and failed to turn in their assignments until long after the due dates. Why did they wait so late to focus????
But we’ll all make it to the end one way or another. If you want to finish strong:
•Find out as much as you can about what every final will be like and set up your study schedule NOW. Seek tutoring if need be.
•If you need more time for a rough final and your professor teaches more than one section, ask to take the final with the later group. Some professors allow this and it can help your grade.
•If you’ve blown a class, be mature about accepting the consequence. Show your professor that you’ve learned a painful lesson, a great asset if you ever have to work together again.
And seniors, I HOPE you graduate with the honors you seek. But even if you fall short, don’t let it spoil a huge milestone, a wonderful event and the relationships that have nurtured you for four years.
Finish strong, everyone! Blessings to all, especially the seniors moving to the next stage in life.


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Fit Your Personality and Passions

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

One of my top seniors sat down for a heart to heart about her future after an enlightening meeting with a Creighton alum who works for Gallup.
Gallup, as many of you know, screens applicants for personality fit with the company before even considering skills. My astute senior figured that she wouldn’t make it past the first phone test. Even if she did, she likely wouldn’t be happy since she’s not interested in business.
Her life revolves around service and causes. Money isn’t her top priority. Some lucky nonprofit will soon make one of its best-ever hires.
While my senior will never work for Gallup, the alum that visited did us an enormous service. She taught students that finding the right job – or selecting the right major – is about personality fit as well as skills.
A chance encounter with my own freshman roommate reinforced this. She reminded me that she had switched from journalism to speech therapy after a call from her high school journalism teacher. Annie had edited her high school yearbook and had gotten A+ in high school journalism so the call from Sister B. shocked her.
“This is one of the hardest calls I’ve ever made,” said Sister B. “You’re really talented but you shouldn’t major in journalism.”
“But why?” asked Annie. “I loved your class and I worked so hard. I did so well.”
“Journalism doesn’t fit your personality. You belong in human services,” replied Sister B, explaining her reasons for the advice.
“She was right,” said Annie. “ I belong in human services.” She said she owes her rewarding career in speech pathology to this good advice.
So whether you are an underclassman picking a major or a senior who is job hunting, think about what drives you and what makes you happy. Ask people who know you well for insights into your personality. Take a test to discover your strengths and passions.
Then choose a path that fits your personality and passions as well as your skills. Good luck!

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Still Looking for an Internship?

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

So you still haven’t found your summer internship! Welcome to the club. You aren’t the only one even though it may feel like it, based on conversations with advisees.
Take heart. There’s hope.
Lots of employers, at least in my field, think spring semester ends about Memorial Day, not early May. As a result, I get quite a few requests for interns in May when most students have departed. Sometimes I’m scrambling to find good candidates for good jobs.
So here are a few suggestions for getting a summer internship even at what seems like a late date:
•Tell your advisor and other key faculty members that you are still looking. Supply your major contacts with an updated resume including your cell phone so they can reach you if the perfect opportunity appears 10 days after your last final.
•Circulate your resume to recent alums in your field and any family friends or relatives who might know someone who can help you last minute. Unfair though it might be, connections are still the name of the game. My daughter got one such job when I casually mentioned her interest to someone important – and I wasn’t even trying to pull strings.
•While paid internships are preferable, if need be sacrifice money for a great experience. You can always make money serving or working in retail part-time while laying your base for the future with the unpaid internships
•If you keep striking out on interviews, go to the Career Center for interview coaching and a critique of your resume. These folks are GOOD and can suggest changes to help you succeed.
The last few weeks of the semester are beyond hectic but assume that getting any kind of internship will take several weeks so don’t delay. Your odds of getting something if you just work your networks NOW are very high.

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Registration FAQ’s

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

            Since we’re into registration advising, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I receive during in-person advising. The answers are general advice and may not apply to all students. But they are a starting place.

1. How many hours should I take?

Take a standard load of 15 or 16 hours to graduate in four years. Taking 18 hours can be killer. you take a consistent 15 to 16 hours, you should complete core, a major and possibly a minor  in four years.

2.  If I want to study abroad when should I do it?

If at all possible, plan to study abroad, preferably during your junior year.  However since you need to take most of your major classes here, know that the semester will consist mostly of electives.  If you can’t complete all major requirements and core with one semester of mostly electives, try for a summer-abroad program to give you international experience.

3. When should I take my electives?

Avoid taking electives as long as possible unless you want to test a possible new major or minor. You can always take electives your senior year but you can’t graduate with out meeting major and core requirements. However if you want to take a one-hour elective in something like dance or yoga because it is your passion, do so. Such small electives can be great for you.

4. What are Senior Perspectives? Do I have to take one?

These are required Classic Core courses for Arts & Sciences students and are intended to round out your Creighton education. They do not appear in the Magis Core. Try to find one you might like first semester since second semester competition for popular SRP’s gets fierce and there are no waivers.

5. Do I have to have a minor?

Minors are recommended but not required. They give you specialized knowledge of a field outside your major. The disadvantage of minors and especially high-credit requirement certificates is that they reduce your electives. You should decide if you’d rather have something specific on your transcript or take a broader range of electives.

6. What’s a good GPA?

Try for at least a 3.0 because this sends a message of “good student” but if you want to go to Med School or other graduate or professional programs, you’ll need a 3.5 or higher.  It’s better to take a standard load to reach your target GPA than take 18 hours and lower it.

I hope this helps! Good luck with registration and have a safe and blessed Easter/Passover.


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Registration: Patience – Don’t Panic


By Dr. Eileen Wirth

            OMG! It’s time to start registration advising – and this year’s watchword is PATIENCE with all caps.  Help!!!!

With lots of faculty advising in the Magis core for the first time plus trying to fit students into Classic Core courses, things will likely get tense but they’ll all work out somehow.

The new Magis core benefits students with its reduced size and increased flexibility but     in the short run it will be harder than telling you to take God and Persons or pick a Non-Western history course. Faculty are adapting to new terminology, new requirements and new ways of locating courses to fulfill those requirements. We need a little time and practice to get used to the changes but we will.

Your four-year plans may be a bit sketchy because faculty are still writing courses for the new core but you’ll see a lot more courses even by next fall. Transitions just take time – and PATIENCE.

Even if your planned major doesn’t overlap much with core you should be able to complete it and the core in four years if you focus on requirements. That’s always been the case and should be easier now with the smaller core. Discuss your fears with your advisor to get an approximate idea of how things will lay out.

Upper class students may have to substitute some courses for other Classic Core requirements but everyone I know is committed to helping you graduate on schedule. Don’t panic – work with your advisor to make things work just as you always have.

Even I who love registration advising am a little nervous about the coming few weeks. I’ll probably have to refill my candy dish a couple of times but we’ll all make it.

Good luck and just remember that this too will pass.

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Rebounding from a Bad Midterm

By Dr. Eileen Wirth
You knew something was wrong when you got a C in a course at midterm instead of the B+ you expected. So this week you find out what happened.
When your professor hands back the exam, you glance at the 45 and stick it in your backpack. After class you grab your cell phone and complain to your mom or your buddy about how unfair the test was.
Not very helpful strategies.
Let’s rewind this scenario starting with your first glance at the grade. Painful though it be, look through the test then make an appointment with the professor to discuss it. Your goal for the meeting is an action plan for improvement.
I always urge students who got less than a C on an exam to meet with me but it’s amazing how many don’t. Such sessions aren’t much fun for faculty members if you are in attack mode but deeply satisfying if we can find a way to help you improve. Most of us WANT you to succeed.
I suggest you approach such a visit by:
•Asking your professor to explain where you went wrong. If the test was objective your score will remain your score but if there were essay or short answer questions, you might pick up a few points from a second review.
•Asking Professor X how to prepare for his or her exams. Can he or she suggest a tutor?
•Giving respectful feedback on what is happening with you and the course.
Two of my all time favorite students and I bonded during such sessions. One helped me see how I could help the entire class by distributing my study guide earlier. The other learned how to write short answer questions. I was so impressed with her maturity and sincerity that we remain in close email contact several years after graduation.
Both got B’s in the course. With hard work and the right approach, you might pull your course out yet. Good luck!

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Midterm Stress Relief

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

As soon as I finish writing this, I’m headed for the kitchen to bake brownies for our department’s popular “Puppies and Brownies” midterm week study break Monday afternoon. Gooey homemade brownies that would sink a ship and cute dogs supplied by faculty and staff—stress relief doesn’t get much better!
But even if you aren’t in a department that embraces its students in this manner, spoil yourself to survive a week that all of us regard with irritation at best and loathing at worst.
What’s your pet guilty pleasure that won’t get you arrested for underage drinking?
This is the week to take an hour and watch something mindless like “Guy’s Grocery Games” or an ancient episode of “Mr. Ed” on cable TV. You’ll be so bored that cramming for that Foundations philosophy midterm won’t seem so bad.
An hour at KFC or the Rasmussen Center will do wonders for you mentally and physically – even a brisk walk up and down the Mall can help if it feels more like March than January outside.
Of course nothing beats coffee if you need a dose of Substance Alert. However coffee may be more helpful if you are studying early in the morning than late at night when it tends to interfere with badly needed sleep.
On Saturday I noted a larger than usual student contingent at 5 p.m. Mass at St. John’s. Prayer never hurts, especially if it soothes your nerves and helps you study. Dropping by St. John’s during the day to meditate for 10 or 15 minutes can make you feel like a new person. Let its quiet and beauty capture your spirit.
Best of all, remind yourself that by Friday, you’re headed to Spring Break!
Best of luck with exams and have a great break.

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I’m Sorry To Tell You That …

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

It’s one of the hardest words in the English language to accept and one everyone faces sooner or later. Currently a fair number of students are coping with not getting into their chosen professional school or not getting that dream internship in New York. Freshmen and sophomore may be changing majors or career plans due to their grades or discovering that their dreams have shifted.
Then there are more personal rejections like a romantic break up or even failing to get into the Greek organization of choice. The lists could go on and on.
We hate rejection but we all have to face it sooner or later. The issue is not whether we will face rejection but HOW we will handle it. We can either let it devastate us or grow stronger from what it can teach us.
Last week I watched a guilty pleasure on TV – the end of Hollywood Week on American Idol where I saw half of the 48 semi-finalists being told they hadn’t made it. The lucky 24 who did were ecstatic. However except for one person, all of them eventually will be eliminated. Their execution has simply been delayed.
I could almost tell which Idol losers would be just fine. They acknowledged their hurt, maybe even cried, but quickly shifted gears to focus on a positive future in music or elsewhere. They also had supporters present to help them through the pain.
Almost all Creighton students will lead successful lives even if those lives are different than they envisioned during Welcome Week. I remember a student who was rejected for medical school twice but today is a successful chiropractor. Is he a failure? Hardly, just someone who found an alternative path.
Whenever I face rejection, I think of the old saying that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” If you’re feeling the pain of a rejection, look for that window and go for it!!!!

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When You Have a Complaint…

 By Dr. Eileen Wirth

I’ll never forget the day that two students came nervously to my office to complain that a temporary instructor had not given them essential course information and they were worried about what to do with midterms approaching.

Some checking showed their concerns were justified. We addressed the issues and promised that no one’s grades would suffer. Everyone limped through the semester.

The lesson of this tale: if you have a serious concern, work up the courage to try to get it addressed. It can feel risky because you fear retaliation but people in authority need to know about problems in their organizations.

Always talk with your professor first to try to resolve issues because sometimes there are simple misunderstandings. After that if you aren’t sure whether you have a valid complaint that needs to go higher you might ask your advisor or another trusted professor to assess the situation.

If they suggest talking to the chair, make an appointment and come prepared with details on your complaint, preferably documented.

Chairs will give short shrift to what a friend calls “B+ whiners.”  They will not re-grade your essay or exam and may patiently explain that everyone finds Dr. XXXX’s course challenging.

However chairs need to know about such things as major violations of standard policies and procedures  (i.e. not letting students know about their expectations or grading policies or any form of racial, sexual or homophobic harassment etc. Happily such occurrences are rare at Creighton but chairs cannot fix what they don’t know about.

Sometimes it’s important to risk asking a chair to intervene as my two students did.

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Lessons from Brian Williams

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

Beware of the dangers of Facebook if you have anything to hide.

That’s a lesson that NBC Anchor Brian Williams has learned the hard way and it applies to everyone from prominent journalists to freshmen in college.

In case you’ve missed it because you don’t pay much attention to TV news (all my students get their news online), Williams has been forced to take himself off the air because of his false tales of being part of a helicopter mission that was ambushed in Iraq about 10 years ago.

Williams got away with his stories, which he has embellished over the years, until about a week ago when the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes investigated a stream of conversation on Facebook. He’s admitted his errors and apologized but the story hasn’t died so he’s off TV. He may never recover his career.

The lesson this teaches us is simple. You can’t hide anything in the era of social media whether you are a famous TV reporter or a Creighton student. I repeat,  if anyone knows anything negative about you, they can share it on social media and, like Brian Williams, your reputation may take a hit from which it will struggle to recover.

If you think you can hide something behind privacy settings, think again. Employers will  find your posts about wild parties or sexual activities.  They routinely research your social media before hiring you.

Professors also go online to find out things like whether you have downloaded a paper. It just takes running a sentence or two through Google or Sooner or later you will be caught and face cheating charges.

Almost as bad as the cheating charge, a professor who catches you will remember the incident forever and this will cost you a recommendation for grad school or a job.

Your single most valuable possession is your reputation for integrity. If you are inclined to cut corners, think about what that is costing Brian Williams.  Don’t let a moment of foolishness or laziness endanger your bright future.

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