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When I grow up I will ... uh-oh! How to find the career path for you

Have you ever been asked the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" If not, it is something you have probably given some thought. And, the answer has probably changed several times. If you are struggling to discover what career path you should take, consider the following and weigh your options carefully before making a final decision.
child in construction hat
1. Start with where you are. What classes do you take in high school or college that you particularly enjoy? For instance, if you really enjoy your science classes, a career in healthcare or environmental science might be for you. Love math? Perhaps engineering or accounting would be a better fit.

2. Volunteer. Learn more about possible careers while giving back to your community. This is a great way to test the waters of potential career options with no strings attached. Volunteer at an animal rescue group or veterinary hospital if you have a passion for working with animals. There are many volunteer opportunities at hospitals and nursing homes if you are considering a career in healthcare. There is not a better way to get a feel for a day in the life of a job than by actually experiencing the environment and duties that occur on a regular basis.

3. Try something new. Take a class that teaches you a skill you have always wanted to learn like drafting, automotive repair or cake decorating. You might find a hidden talent you didn't know you had. There are often low-cost community instructed classes available for everything from photography to dance.

4. Already have a marketable skill? Try starting your own business. See if you can find local companies who'd be willing to pay you for your help with web design, writing, or art. By doing some freelance work, you have a great chance to make some money while exploring a possible career path.

5. Many schools offer special visitation days for interested potential students. For example, Western Dakota Tech holds WDT Eagle Night several times throughout the year. This is an excellent opportunity to meet with Instructors, Financial Aid, Admissions, Career Services, Special Services and Counseling Services. This is a one-stop-shop where you can get all of your questions answered. Even if you are unsure of which direction you want to take, Eagle Night is a great chance to gain some inspiration, and ease some anxiety that you may be feeling when thinking about what you want to do in the future.

So how can you tell what you might want to be when "I grow up"? The best time to decide this, of course, seems to be sometime around middle school, but if you happen to have gotten to high school (or beyond) and have no idea what lies in store for you beyond graduation, don't despair. There is never a 'right' or 'wrong' time to start planning for the future.

The most important thing to remember when trying to decide what to do after high school is that there is not an incorrect answer. The best way to determine whether a career is a good fit for you or not is to try it, and you can't do that until you learn something about it. If you think that you have an opportunity to try something that could turn into a career that you love, it would be time well spent to test the waters. Don't be afraid to try lots of things in attempt to find the one you'll love to get up and do every day. Remember, it is okay to change your mind if you find out you don't like something. You never know till you try, so take a risk and go out and experience some career options.

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WDT is closed Friday, Oct. 4

WDT is closed Friday, Oct. 4, because of the weather.

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Balancing School and Life — Mission Possible?

When considering school, it's easy to talk yourself into "I'm already too busy" or "It will take too much time." Don't miss the opportunity to get involved in the field you desire by making excuses. It is possible to balance school and life! Follow the tips below and begin your journey to a bright future.
Create a Schedule

In order to maintain balance between school and life, you need to set a game plan. Block out time for the non-flexible parts of your day, such as work, school, and commuting. Plan the flexible blocks of time into family, homework, and "open." Once a schedule is in place, look for ways to multitask within the schedule or to delegate when possible. Don't forget to build time for the things you enjoy such as exercising or simply hanging out with friends. These things will help you feel less stressed, and you will be able to enjoy them guilt-free. By managing your time, you will not have to worry about schedule overload or trying to do everything at once.

Establish a support system

Whether you are a non-traditional student or going to school right out of high school, higher education is a commitment. Even the best of students find new challenges present themselves when it comes to attending school and keeping up with daily routines. If you have a support system in place by way of parents, friends, your spouse, and even your employer, you will find most of the challenges you encounter can be overcome. When you decide to go to school, sit down with the people in your support system and share your goals, uncertainties, and doubts. Prepare them for helping you in a bind and to help to keep you motivated along the way.

Tell your boss

Many students go to school and have full-time jobs. Let your employer know your plan for your education and that it may require a bit of flexibility. You may be surprised to find that your boss has ideas to help, especially if part or all of your studies are applicable to your current job. Working and going to school is not impossible. Having support from your workplace can make a huge difference in your success in both arenas.

Set goals

When you are signing up for classes, realize that it is going to take time. Most schools can help you to map out your academic plan. Be reasonable when determining how much you can take on at a time. It's easier to take smaller, defined steps toward something than to work toward one overwhelming goal. It is important to not take on too much in the beginning and find yourself burnt out half way to your final goal. Know the requirements of your program, and set the course for a realistic completion date. Put specifics (and specific dates) on paper. Celebrating small steps along the way will help you stay motivated and focused on your final goal.

If help is available — take it

If you are undertaking a new educational path plus juggling work, home, and other activities, try not to fall into the trap of attempting to do it all. Every student faces unique challenges that deserve unique attention. Explore your campus for support services — you'll be surprised how many centers, offices, staff, and resources are dedicated to helping students overcome challenges. With proper support, you'll make the most of your time and efforts and will avoid wasting valuable time and energy.

Focus and trust in your plan

If you have taken the time to create a schedule, stick to it. When you're studying, keep your mind on studying. When you're with your kids, try not to be distracted by your long to-do list. And if you take an evening off, enjoy it. Naturally, things will happen that you need to adjust your time accordingly, but avoid the urge to change things haphazardly, which will leave you feeling distracted and off balance. If you've allotted time for something, give it the attention it deserves, and do not feel guilty about setting aside other things.

Everyone faces struggles in balancing school and life. Try to keep things in perspective, and realize that what may be a struggle now will have a great impact and benefit on your future.

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Quizzes, tests, and exams. Oh, my! Overcoming test anxiety

Ever had that churning feeling in your stomach just before a test begins? Ever break out in a sweat as your instructor passes out the midterm? Ever feel like skipping a class because a quiz is scheduled?

Those feelings are the worst. They can make you feel like you failed before you even start.

Well, don't worry. There are things you can do (besides running away screaming) that can help you deal with the dreaded condition of test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a nervousness or fear experienced before, during, or after a test because of distress, worry, or panic. Almost everyone experiences some nervousness. But some students find that anxiety interferes with their learning and test-taking to such a level that their grades suffer.

Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to keep the anxiety from interfering with your goals. First, it's important to know that you don't have to eliminate it entirely. A certain level of anxiousness is good as it helps you stay motivated and focused on the test at hand.

Being prepared for the exam is more than half the battle when overcoming text anxiety. Attending class is crucial to test knowledge and performance. Know when tests dates are scheduled and what information will be covered in exams. Avoid cramming the day or night before a test. You will not retain information as easily by overloading your memory at the last second. Both long- and short-term memory come into play when retrieving information. Maintain a study routine that allows you to absorb information at a steady pace rather than all at once. Study in a location where you can concentrate, get interested in the material, and give it your complete attention. Limit distractions such as cell phones, televisions, and Internet. Take thorough notes and convert them into flash cards you can review several at a time. People learn differently—some people are visual (seeing) learners, some are auditory (hearing), and some are kinesthetic (hands-on). Discover your best learning style and create a way to study around it. This will ensure that you are matching your study time to your learning style.

Be self-confident going into the test. Avoid thinking negative and self-defeating thoughts. Things such as "This teacher doesn't like me" and "Everyone else is smarter than me" will only destroy your confidence and motivation. If you find that you have the tendency to do this, try writing these statements on a piece of paper, and then respond positively to yourself in another statement. Essentially, give your own pep talk. Set your mind up for success rather than failure.

Before the Test:

  • Take a practice test the day before with conditions as much like the test as possible.

  • Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine which increases anxiety.

  • Stop negative thoughts and focus on positive statements.

  • Give yourself time to feel composed and to be on time for the exam.

During the Test:

  • Skim through the entire test, read the directions, plan your approach, and plan your time.

  • Start with the easiest questions first.

  • Focus your attention on the test. Don't waste time and energy worrying, thinking about the consequences of not doing well, or wondering what others are doing.

  • If you don't know an answer, mark the question and plan to come back to it later. Often, other questions will jog your memory to remember the answer.

  • If you start to feel anxious, close your eyes and take three or four deep breaths. Relax and continue to focus on the test, question by question.

  • If your time is running out, concentrate on those questions you know well and/or have the most weight.

  • Use all the time allowed for reviewing your answers and completing ideas. Only change answers if you are sure of yourself.

After the Test:

  • Learn from your performance. Make sure you understand the answers to questions you got wrong (a great reason to use office hours or discuss in a study group).

Give these ideas a try. They will help you in overcoming test anxiety. They also will make test day a breeze, and you might even look forward to it. (OK, probably not, but it won't be nearly as big a deal).

Happy testing!

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WDT enrollment increases 9.4 percent

More than 1,100 students—9.4 percent more than last year—call Western Dakota Tech their academic home this fall.

WDT's enrollment of 1,115 makes this the third largest fall semester in WDT's history.

"This is an exciting time for WDT," President Mark Wilson said. "These enrollment figures show that students value the skills and experience a WDT education provides."

WDT added additional class sections to handle the increase. In addition, WDT's recent building expansion created larger labs for some programs and made additional classrooms available.

"Our campus expansion came at a perfect time," Wilson said. "This expansion is providing additional lab and classroom space that allows WDT to provide education and training to even more students."

WDT has seen enrollment increases in most programs. WDT's newest program, HVAC Technology, also experienced a strong start.

"We are committed to quality programs and quality faculty so students have the best experience possible," Wilson said. "We will continue working hard to make sure students are receiving the education they need for the careers they want."

WDT's placement numbers show WDT works. More than 98 percent of WDT's most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or serving in the military, and 90 percent remain in South Dakota.

"Placing students should be the ultimate gauge of success for any postsecondary institution," Wilson said. "WDT is proud of how well our students do after they graduate."

Western Dakota Tech is the only technical institute that serves the western South Dakota region. WDT offers more than 30 programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

WDT faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, WDT students graduate ready to make real and immediate contributions to their employers and their communities.

For information about WDT, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to Visit WDT on the web at

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