I've been a busy boy - online program - new website being built - keeping the other websites rolling. No, I'm not asking you to feel bad for me. I LOVE what I do! Thanksgiving isn't for a couple months, but I'll tell you now that I'm thankful for what I have. I just feel bad that I don't have the time to write more articles! Only one major one today, but I think it's worth reading.
Articles in this issue -
1 - "Top 10 Student Mistakes!"
After working at a campus school for 10 years, then working with my online program for 3, I've seen the same patterns over and over when it comes to students. So I'm going to do my best here to point out the biggest mistakes I see students make. Just one or two may not kill you - but a combination of more than that can leave you treading steno water (stenocide). They are in no particular order.
1 – Test Days Only – Many students feel that tests are what court reporting programs are all about. So those are the only days they show up for school – test days. Yikes! “I can’t move forward if I don’t pass tests!” “I need more tests!” “What do you mean we’re not having a test today?!” But taking tests is just a way of measuring how hard you should be pushing forward.
I think in terms of speed brackets. If you’re going for your 140 speed, you can handle some dictations faster than that (if it’s the right material) and most slower (but not all). So you have this speed bracket of about 120 to 160. Those faster and slower speeds within your bracket are what will make you a better writer – not more tests.
Tests are just one piece of the puzzle. A needed one, but just one of many. So if you’re just showing up for tests, then leaving, you’re puzzle will never be complete.
2 – Not Transcribing – Most students only transcribe tests they think they may have passed. Sad. Transcribing is important on several levels. First off, it gets you more familiar with your CAT software. And if you’re not using CAT software, it improves your typing skills. Second, it gives you a chance to really look at your notes and look for writing patterns. You may think you’re writing something well, but until you SEE it, you really don’t know. And when you see an error several times, you know what you need to be working on. More on that next.
Transcribing can be a chore when your notes are trash. I understand that. So I’m not saying you need to beat your head against the wall and transcribe everything. But don’t let yourself off the hook either. Make a commitment to transcribe SOMETHING each day. That pattern you develop of writing, transcribing and proofing will really help you on state exams.
3 – Autopilot Writing – Many students feel that just putting in writing time will take them to that next level. “I wrote 8 hours today!” “I wrote in bed!” “I write while I’m in the shower!” But putting mileage on your steno machine isn’t the answer. It’s what you get out of the miles that matters.
Are you sitting there like a zombie, fingers going up and down? Finish
one dictation – start the next? Besides pumping blood through
your fingers and maybe building up some endurance, what are you hoping
to accomplish with all that writing? You need to write with a purpose…write
with a purpose…write with a purpose. Go into every writing session
with a goal in mind. “I’m going to try and hang on for those
first 30 seconds with total accuracy.” I’m gonna make sure
I’m breathing and my muscles are relaxed.” “I’ll
keep my shoulders back and lift my fingers.” Whatever it is –
have a goal – write with a purpose – don’t be a steno
Consider this – there have been dieting fads forever that have you losing lots of weight quickly. But those pounds don’t stay off. They come right back! Now they advertise losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks – a big difference. And those pounds stay off because they were taken off the right way. Same thing with steno – a magic pill just doesn’t exist.
5 – Using Death Words – How many of you have used the words “stuck” or “slump” to describe where you are? If you say you’re stuck, you’re STUCK! You have accepted that and you have embraced it. Bad choice.
Your steno schooling will be filled with ups and downs. Up two notches and down one. Up three and down two. That’s a pretty typical pattern. Very rarely do I see constant, upward progress. I won’t say I’ve never seen it – but it’s not the norm.
So take those words out of your vocabulary. Because each time you use “I am stuck” to describe your steno progress, you’re digging that hole deeper and making it harder to climb out. You may be at the bottom of a hill at the moment, but that just means you’re due to start heading up again!
6 – Keeping Up With Joe Steno – Did you hear the one about the student who got through CR school in 12 months?! How about that one who breezed through in 14 months?! And the other who…you get the picture. There ARE those students out there – no doubt about it. But did you also hear the one about the student who graduated in 9 years? 12 years? 7 years?
If you’re going to compare your progress to the person sitting to the left of you, you also need to compare your progress to the person to the right of you! Even better – don’t compare at all! You are not clones. You don’t have the same work life. You don’t have the same home life. You don’t have the same responsibilities. You don’t have the same background. So why should everyone be on the same level?
My best advice in this matter – worry about YOU. The only important measurement is the one that measures how well you are progressing based on what you’re personally capable of. Words of wisdom I got years ago from an agency owner, “Don’t count other people’s money.” You don’t really know what others are dealing with – better or worse. So you can only worry about you.
7 – Social Butterfly – This may come as a shock to some of you, but CR school is not a social event. Sure…it’s social. And that’s fine – social interaction keeps you coming back many times. But at the core, and most importantly, it’s about your future. So when you come to school and chat with your friends for an hour – hit a class – take another 40 minutes to chat – go to lunch – hit one more class – you’re screwing yourself.
You have to think of this as your job. Your hours of work are your school hours. And if you don’t do the job – attending classes and doing all the work – you WILL be fired. Well…you won’t be fired – you’ll fail. So socialize once classes are over.
8 – Teacher/Reader Problems – One of the best teachers I ever had in high school was also one of the most miserable people I’ve ever met. He taught geometry and was as stuck in his ways as a person can be. His way was law. And in my eyes, he was a jerk. But…
I wasn’t about to let my negative feelings towards him get in the way of me learning geometry. I could have moped and muttered under my breath. I could have used those negative feelings as an excuse for not learning what I had to. And that’s what many students do.
But while you may be free to choose the occupation you wish to pursue, you don’t always get to choose who will lead you there. So you can expend your energy focusing on those around you, or you can focus that energy on your writing and getting out of that situation as soon as you can.
I’m NOT saying all teachers are wonderful and productive and have something valuable to teach. Some just stink : ) But you probably don’t have the power to change who teaches you (at least most of you don’t), and I think that energy can be better used in your studies.
9 – Thinking All Dictations Are Equal – Most students have to deal with literary, jury charge and 2-voice material. Some have 4-voice as well. Thinking that all these types of material, when read at the same speed, should have the same degree of difficulty is just nuts. Yet I hear or read almost every week, “Why do I have such a hard time with lit?”
First point – they test literary material at 180 on the RPR exam, and jury charge at 200. You think that’s just random? No! Even NCRA knows that literary material is harder for the most part.
Second point – literary material can be random. With jury charge you know you’re going to hear some familiar things. With literary you don’t have that luxury. That means fewer opportunities for briefs and hearing more words you may not be familiar with.
Accept that ALL types of writing will help you become a better writer, but not all types of material are created equal.
10 – Missing the Big Picture – If I ask you what your steno goal is, what would your answer be? Hopefully, you’d have more than one. First, you want to become a reporter (or captioner, or CART writer, or…). And that’s an awesome goal! It’s clear – it’s achievable – it’s…so big! In fact, for most, it’s too big to be the ONLY goal you should have.
Because you can only reach that goal once – and it’s down the road a bit. That’s why you need other goals as well – short-term goals that allow you to celebrate the road, rather than just the destination. Moving up a speed should be a short-term goal. Finishing an academic with a good grade should be a short-term goal. Showing up for every class for a month should be a short-term goal. Transcribing every day for a week should be a short-term goal.
Short-term goals give you lots of reasons to celebrate, rather than
relying on just passing tests or finishing school. And you need those
constant little boosts for motivation. BUT…notice I NEVER use
the word deadline. A goal is not a deadline. A goal is what you’re
shooting for. A deadline has consequences if you don’t hit it.
So be flexible about your goals. Set the bar high, but not so high that
you have no chance at success. And SHORT-TERM is the key. And when you
hit them, celebrate!
Yep, we've opened enrollment once more : ) We've
had a lot of success over the past few months - many students are now
working. So that's opened up some slots. If you don't know,
SimplySteno is an online CR
program. Check out the message boards or email me if you have
New Steno Website Opening Soon! (back to top)
I've been working on my new steno website for about 6
months now. I was hoping it would be open by now, but those darn
glitches! What's the new website going to be, you ask (you asked,
right)? It's a review website for all things steno. After
reading the message boards and seeing, "Has anyone ever used..."
about a million times, I thought it would be nice to have a single place
where all students and reporters could go to see reviews on items by
other students and reporters.
RPR Testing! (back to top)
This just in - Registration for the October 1-13 Written
Knowledge Tests and November 3 Skills Tests is now open. Candidates
must register for the written and skills tests separately. So
if you're prepping for the RPR, check out www.RPRprep.com.
There are 3 and 5-week prep programs - with and without academics.
And if you purchase a package in September, you'll be entered in a drawing
to win one of 5 steno machine covers from www.StenoCovers.com.
Last plug - I promise! Every audio or animation
order placed at www.SpeedBuilders.com
in September comes with a FREE WEEK! And you'll also be placed in a
drawing to win 1 of 5 steno covers from www.StenoCovers.com!