We're now up to over 2200 members - who knew?! And I know the site is very active, because when we were down for 72 hours last month, I got about 200 email complaints : ) Good to know you're out there and care about your StenoLife! As always, don't tell me about grammatical errors or typos in this newsletter - I appreciate the concern, but... If you want to contribute an article, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles in this issue -
1 - "StenoLife - April Insanity Sales!"
You've heard of March Madness? That's nothin'!
Get ready for April Insanity! For the month of April, every website
in the StenoLife ring is offering discounts and specials on almost every
item. These are the LAST sales of the year on
these websites, so if you're thinking of making any of these purchases
during the year, now is the time to take advantage. Examples -
And these are just some of the special offers. As I mentioned before, this is the LAST sale of the year - that's why we're making it a good one : )
What Would Brian Boitano Do? (back to top)
Okay, if you're a South Park fan, you may get a chuckle out of the title of this article : ) But I actually have something to share here! The Olympics just passed and ice skating is always the most watched event. I can't say that I caught any of it this year, but I did read about it in the news. The thing that stuck in my head - Sasha Cohen fell down twice in the finals...and won the silver! Besides failing to show up, falling down is the very WORST thing you can do...and she fell twice...and she won silver.
There are a couple lessons here for you. First - the obvious one - you can stumble and still be victorious. This goes for tests, schooling and life. You can royally screw up a section in a test, finish strong, and pass it. That's a fact. You can slack off in your studies, start again, and succeed. That's a fact. You can make wrong choices in life, make some minor adjustments, and get back on track. That's a fact.
But it's the more specific lesson that I really want to talk about. Michelle Kwan is in the last minute of a brilliant routine. A triple toe loop - stuck it! A double axle - nailed it! A quadruple Flargen - yes! Okay, I made the last one up. But just as she goes up for a triple Lutz...SPLAT!! Michelle hits the ice and ends up on her back (gasps!). She rolls over...elbows on the ice...and shakes her head, upset with herself. And she lays there...and lays there...and the music plays...and...she...lays...there. We've seen it a million times before. Just when...what? We haven't?
Oh, that's right! When skaters fall, they DON'T just lay there! Before you can blink, they're back up on their skates and continuing with their routine - like they never missed a beat! Not only that, they have a smile on their face! Now, I'm not naive. I realize they are forcing those smiles, but still! They fall. Commit the biggest error they can make. And they hop up and power forward like it never happened. That's what Brian Boitano would do, and that's what you need to do too. You fall, you get up. You error, you correct. You slip, you steady yourself. Be a skater and go for the gold! (or silver ain't half bad)
Pride and Writing (back to top)
Now, to say I've had a lot of jobs is like saying Stephen King has written a couple books. Whenever I meet somebody new and the topic of their job comes up, I've undoubtedly held a job in the same field - there's always some connection. I've served ice cream, worked in pest control, sold lamps, delivered flowers, been a cameraman, managed nightclubs and been a veterinary assistant. That's just the short list. And as diverse and these jobs may seem, they all had one thing in common...take a guess.
Me! I was the link, and I brought everything I had to every job I took on. I made THE best ice cream sodas...helped my dad build his flower business from nothing...was the #1 pest control agent in California (won a trip to the Bahamas). I may not have been the best at everything I did (I got fired from the lamp company), but I always did my best. My pride wouldn't allow anything less.
And I'd like to see more students take that approach to schooling. You can't "dabble" in court reporting school and succeed. You have to be there, front and center, ready to work. There are those who will give it everything they have...and NOT succeed. So what makes other students think they can take a passive approach and reach their goal?
I'm talking about showing up, on time. I'm talking about leaving at the very end of class - not cutting out early. I'm talking about coming back on time after breaks. I'm talking about not just showing up for tests. I'm talking about transcribing as much as you should be transcribing. I'm talking about reading back, no matter how lousy your notes are. I'm talking about proofing your tests, because that can make the difference between a pass and a fail. I'm talking about being proud of the person next to you for passing a test. I'm talking about learning from the person next to you, rather than trying to tear them down.
How you approach your schooling represents YOU. What kind of impression would someone get about you if they only had your approach to school to judge you by? Show some pride. This is a proud field with a great tradition - show it off!
How I Passed My Big Test - Two Stories (back to top)
With the RPR, RMR and other state exams rolling around soon, I wanted to highlight some success stories to get you in the right testing mind set. These are former SimplySteno students - once where you may be today. I asked them to let me know what was going on with them before, during and after their big test. Enjoy!
- Before the test - I
had just made it. I passed the second to the last qualifier. I practiced
harder that final month than I ever had. I was determined to go into
the test feeling confident. The rumor was that if you passed the qualifier,
you were pretty sure to pass unless Mr. Mumbles was a speaker or a tester
fainted and distracted everyone.
Before the test - basically, I really focused on my
accuracy for a couple of months and when I would do practice takes at
190 and 200 I would pretend that they were the test and let the butterflies
fly up and rush into my stomach and then I would try different ways
to eliminate them. I found that my biggest problem
During the test
- the next day I went with a friend of mine to take the test and during
the first one I was very shaky in the beginning and then I just said
to myself that it was easy, because it was, and to calm down because
there was no reason for me to be nervous, I deserved to be there. I
just tried to focus as much as I could on doing what I do every single
day, as though it didn't matter. By the second test, though, my nerves
were completely frazzled and
After the test - After two weeks of waiting I couldn't take it anymore so I thought I would just call the DOL and find out if I passed or not, and that Monday when I went to their website to get the number, I decided to type in my name for the heck of it, and it came up. I was shocked. My husband was sitting next to me and had to reassure me that it was really there. All day long I looked at the website to make sure that my name was still on it and then I received my certificate in the mail. Now I am in the process of learning all the fun little "procedures" that go along with this career. And I am learning new software. I love every minute of it. And I am still not done. I want to have many, many initials behind me name someday and so I will continue to challenge myself. I also want to make very clear that I did not do this alone. I had a wonderful support network of people who really believed in me and stood by me during this process. And I couldn't have done it without all those prayers. I really believe that God intercepted and numbed my nerves on account of all the people praying for me.
On another note, I just want to
say that any students who are continuing to pay outrageous tuition prices
because their school tells them that online programs don't work, please,
please talk to someone that is in an online program. I learned a lot
better that way because the material, at least in my program, was much
more challenging, and it was easy for me to just lock myself in my office
and practice because my machine was always set up, I wasn't distracted
with socializing, etc. If you are in a good campus school, that's awesome,
but if you are unhappy with your program, please consider an online
program before quitting. I say this very humbly because I don't for
one minute believe I did this all on my own or have any special skills
outside of the average person, but I am proof, and have proof that
Whistle While You Write (back to top)
You write the words you hear, correct? And words
are words are words - no matter what form they take. So if you
ever want to try something totally off the wall, try writing to songs.
It's a totally different experience for a few reasons. First,
there are dictation patterns in music you won't hear in any "normal"
dictation. With songs, you get a bunch of words, pretty fast...then
a break. And it repeats the pattern. So you really get a
test of your ability to remember what was said. While some songs
would seem to be 300 words per minute (REM's End of the World), when
you average the words out for the length of the song, it's really pretty
slow (just 90 words per minute) Just make sure you don't practice to
songs you already know, or may have a hard time understanding.
I've picked out a few songs and their speeds for you -
Is Your School MIA? (back to top)
I started updating school links last month and had a lot of dead websites : ( If all of you could check out this page - schools - and see if your school is on the list, that would be great. If it's not, please let me know what school you attend and if there's a website/contact info for it. You can reach me at email@example.com. Remember, this is going to help all of you, so help me...help you! (hmmm....did I steal that?)
18 Months - My 3 Biggest Surprises as a Program Owner! (back to top)
After working at a campus school for almost 10 years, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the inner workings of a court reporting program. So when I decided to start my online program, I didn't expect too many surprises. And for the most part, I was right. The basics are the same with an online program. It takes a lot of organization and time - hard work. The students range from the intense to the completely passive - some show up and others don't. But there were a few things that totally caught me off guard. Here are the top 3 -
1 - Money has little value. While students always talk about struggling to pay for school and get through so they can start making money, they are often willing to throw it away. In 18 months, I've had 7 students send me their startup fees, then disappear! And I'm not saying I sent them their program, then they decided to work on their own. We never even got far enough to decide on a starting speed. They simply sent me their $610, then vanished! And while I appreciate the free money, I stand here, boggled.
The second half to this is that many students only give partial effort. You'd think that plunking down all that money would be enough to keep someone on track and striving to finish in the least amount of time. Umm...not really. And I saw this at the campus school as well, and I mentioned it in one of the articles above. But that still doesn't make it any less baffling to me. Missing days...early leaving...no outside studying...I don't get it.
2 - Statistics lie. I get asked all the time - what's your passing rate? Over 75%!!! That's right - while the overall graduating rate in the country is less than 10%, mine is over 75%! And that's true...and totally misleading. Accurate statistics can only be made after several years of operation. My current drop rate is less than 25%, far less than most schools. But I've only been in operation a short time. That number will gradually climb as time goes on. I hope to keep it under 40%, but we'll see how that goes.
The passing rate is harder to measure. Students take state exams, RPR exams, court exams. Some students take no exams at all in order to work in their state. So who do I count as a "passing" student? Personally, my goal is for that student to work in the manner they want. That's a passing student to me. But if we have to work with fuzzy definitions, that's a bit tougher to figure out. I can only say that any statistics gain value the longer a program is open. At 18 months...not so much : ) I never thought about it till I was in the middle of it.
3 - Many students jump in with their eyes closed. I've decided that I'm going to be an astronaut. So I bought a space suit yesterday and I'm going to stand outside of NASA next week. I'm pretty sure they'll let me fly the next shuttle mission. What...doubt me? Yet this is the same approach that many students take when they start court reporting school. Half the students out there now don't even know the requirements to work in their own state! Many signed up with a program without speaking to another student that was already in the program. And some signed up without even knowing exactly what a steno machine looked like!
You're going to be investing a good chunk of change here - don't you think you should find out all you're getting into? You wouldn't buy a house without looking at the kitchen. Know what to expect - money - time - pressure - challenge - explore today. As for me...NASA called. Seems they won't accept my mom as a reference on my application : )