5 habits of successful students

Getting back to being a student is not easy, especially if you have been out of school for a while. But since you have decided to get your master’s degree, there are a few simple habits that, if developed, can help you become a better student as well as have a positive impact on your life in general. Acquiring these habits can help you become more productive, organised, and efficient.

Some of these points might sound obvious, and they are, and you might be under the impression that you are already implementing them in your life. But I urge you to think about these points and analyse if you are genuinely implementing them – the answer might surprise you.

The 5 habits

Do not procrastinate

We have covered this point to death in our blogs, and here we are writing about it in another blog. And the reason we are doing it is that this is a significant point, the importance of which cannot be understated. Procrastination is also one of the most common habits developed by human beings. My colleague, Vidhi Kapoor, has covered procrastination and tips on overcoming the habit in one of our previous blogs – Procrastination.. Saving for tomorrow…….

Read ahead

Depending on the programme of study, you may get access to materials before the module starts for real – use that time to prepare. Make a list of the topics covered in the module (mind-maps are a great tool for this), try to get your hands on as many of the recommended/required readings as you can, and even start reading about the concepts in advance. Doing a first pass before watching the video lectures will help you prepare the ground for sowing, as it were – and it may be that questions that you come across while reading solo will be answered by the lecture, or not – in which case, you’ll know what to ask using the class discussion when the time comes! 

Plan

Organise your notes in such a way that it is easy to find when the time comes to refer to them. Use a calendar, keep track of your class and fee payment schedules, know when your assignments are due and ensure that you complete your tasks before they are due. Time management is probably one of the biggest reasons students fall behind or stay ahead in their classes. We have covered time management as well in one of our previous blogs. Being organised can also relieve stress because you know what to expect and can be prepared beforehand.

Let’s file “seamless cloud back-ups” under being organised. Even with intermittent internet access, you can still organise cloud back-ups (or external drives if you prefer) – computer crashes do happen, but they are seen as the equivalent of the “dog ate my homework” of yesteryear. 

Teacher’s pet

Traditionally, being thought of as a teacher’s pet could make you really unpopular with your classmate. You are all grown up now though: stop thinking like a child!  No man is an island! But as usual, we keep forgetting this. If you have a question or do not understand something, ask! The professors are there to help you learn and study better. You can also ask your classmates for help, and hopefully, you will also be able to help them, if asked. There is no better way to truly understand something than trying to explain it to someone else. Active class participation can have several positive impacts on your student life. Teachers notice the students who are engaged in class and will, in general, be more positively disposed towards these students. Don’t be afraid to “raise your hand”, virtually as that may be, and ask questions. It is always better to come away from a class with a clear understanding of the subject.  And finally, take notes while you watch the videos – it is the best aid you can have during your revision of the subject.

Use active study methods rather than passive study methods

I will explain to you my understanding of the differences between active and passive study methodologies using a simple example.

When I was in school, I had a teacher that made us study by rewriting something repeatedly. For example, and this is just an example, let us take Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This teacher would make us write the law repeatedly until it became muscle memory. There may be a time when this works, but I have found that there is no understanding of the law here, and this is a passive way of studying.

An active study method is to summarise your understanding of the topic in your own words. This method enables long term retention of the topic and, more importantly, understanding of the subject matter, which will help you to practically implement it at work in the long term.


These are just a few points that will hopefully help you become a better student. There are probably many ways to achieve this more effectively and efficiently. If you know of any, please list them in the comments.

If you are ready to start your online studies, chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process.

Student Interview – Tina

Henrik Johan Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright and theatre director, once said, “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” Unfortunately, after his death, this quote was plagiarized and para-phrased into what we know today.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Group photo of RKC 2018 Graduation @YorkStJohn in the Quadrangle

But motion picture has completely changed the way we consume data. Not only does it enable us to take in more information in a short time, but it also makes the information more credible. Hearing it straight from the source makes a difference. 

Robert Kennedy College (RKC) is pleased to share with you, our readers, students, alumni, and potential students a series of video interviews with some of our graduates, sharing their challenges and tips and tricks for successful studies. It does not matter the programme or the university these students graduated from, they were all students of RKC, they all faced similar challenges in doing a master’s programme online, they all faced a decision – to do or not to do an online master’s degree.

Here is your chance to hear directly from our students and hopefully help you make an informed decision, to help you study better, or simply to motivate you to live your dreams and to achieve your goals. 

Meet Christina, RKC alumni and graduate of York St John University, as she shares her thoughts and decision-making process on why she choose to get back to studying and the challenges she faced.  

York.mba – student’s story – Tina

Hopefully this interview has answered some your questions about RKC and doing a master’s programme online, and please watch this place for more similar blogs. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for a more personalised discussion of your needs and best match with the programmes we offer, and the application process.

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Anthony Cairns

What is the best way to study online? Should you do an online programme? How to better manage time when learning online?

These are all questions that we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get asked regularly by students who are looking to join one of our online programmes. Undertaking to do an online master’s degree programme will be an additional commitment to your time and finances, and it is wise to get information beforehand, cross your T’s and dot your I’s before making your decision. 

Through this continuing series of blog posts, some of our past and current students have shared their thoughts and opinions and given their feedback on handling some of these choices and situations. Hopefully, this will help you to make an informed decision. 

Learning from those who came before you is smart. I am not asking you to follow what they are saying blindly, but to take what they said worked for them and see if it will work for you, maybe make a few changes (or a lot). In the end, only you know what works best for you!

Anthony Cairns is one of our successful students who graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Leading Innovation and Change (This programme has been discontinued, we now offer a 100% Online MBA in Leading Innovation and Change in its stead). Anthony says that his experience in doing an MA via RKC resulted in his now doing a PhD. 

On the left Anthony Cairns – Graduation Picture – 18th November 2015, and on the right Anthony Cairns being awarded his master’s degree by the Archbishop of York in 2015 John Sentamu

Once you get the academia bug, there is no stopping the roller coaster! 😉

Anthony Cairns, RKC Graduate

An Introduction

Who you are, really?

I am a software test management consultant, specialising in software testing, governance, and ISO standards.

Which Uni are you studying with?

I studied with York St John University for my MA. 

Which programme did you choose and why?

MA in Leading Innovation and Change 

The Study Plan

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? For example, how many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?

I decided to study 2 modules at the same time, the reality being that I achieved this, but with detriment to perhaps I could have gained higher marks had I studied one at a time. But the end result was I managed to gain my MA in less time than I would have otherwise taken. Although I was working full-time as a contract consultant test manager, I worked every evening from around 7pm until about midnight. I then got up early at around 6am to do a couple of more hours before going to the office.

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)

I used to personally love the 8pm to midnight, as well as the 6am (if not earlier).

How much time did you devote for each assignment?

Hard to say when I did 2 at the same time, but perhaps I estimate about 20-30 hours each week across 2 modules.

Travelling and Communication

How did travelling impact your ability to study?

Not at all, as when I travelled it was via flight and it gave me extra time to work on my MA.

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?

There was no real time difference as such as I worked whatever time I need to allocate to get the work done and delivered.

On the top we see Anthony Cairns sitting in the front row with his graduating class, and the bottom picture shows Anthony Cairns with his lovely family

A typical day as a master’s student

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?

Get up early, do some University work. Go and perform my daily paid-for-work. Get back (to home or hotel), then do another couple of hours before dinner. Stop for an hour or so for dinner, then do another 3-5 hours after dinner in the evening.

Any advice?

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.

Perhaps work on a single module at a time. Take all the advice you get from your supervisor, as they have been there many times before. Read, read, read, then read some more. Research is paramount. Give advice and guidance to fellow students who may need a little help and guidance. I did this all the time and found it also personally very rewarding.


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this place for more similar blogs. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, and the application process.

How does the food you eat affect your brain, and can it make you a better student?

If you ask me, the brain is the most essential part of the human body. Some of you might disagree with me and say it is the heart, lungs, liver, or left pinky finger that is more important, and you might be right, with valid reasons. The fact is, without the brain, nothing else matters. A body without brain activity is just a shell.

So, taking care of the brain, nurturing, and exercising it is crucial if you need to perform at your best. In my opinion, it is more important to keep your brain at peak efficiency than it is to keep your body in the best of conditioning. And like everything else that is related to your body – what you eat is critical in its development.

The brain. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Alina Grubnyak

The Brain

If you removed all the moisture from your brain, what are you left with? Breaking down your dehydrated brain into its constitutional nutritional content, most of its weight comes from the following:

  • Fats, aka lipids
  • Proteins and amino acids
  • Micronutrients
  • Glucose

Of course, the brain is much more than just the sum of its nutritional parts. However, each part has an important role in your development, functioning, mood, and energy. So that sleepy feeling you get after your third helping of biriyani (a delicious Indian rice dish, a definite must-try!) could simply be the effect of food on your brain.

Fats aka lipids

The brain has the second-highest lipid content behind adipose tissue, and brain lipids constitute 50% of the brain dry weight. Omega 3 and omega 6 are the most essential fats in your brain, and, as they are critical in preventing degenerative brain conditions, must be included in your daily diet. Therefore, eating omega-rich foods is necessary for the creation and maintenance of cell membrane. Some examples of omega-rich foods are: 

Omega-rich food. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Ella Olsson
  • Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) 
  • Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts) 
  • Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)
  • Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil) 

There are, of course, fats that are bad for your body and brain, like saturated and trans fats, and long-term consumption of these may compromise brain health. So, you know what to look out for, a few examples of “bad fats” are: 

Bad fats from junk food (but they are soooo goood!). Photo credit: unsplash.com/Leon Ephraïm
  • Baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and pies
  • Shortening
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Frozen pizza
  • Refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls
  • Fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken
  • Nondairy coffee creamer
  • Stick margarine

I know, that is most of the good things in life. It makes me sad too!

Proteins and amino acids

These are the building blocks of life, of growth, and development. A protein is a chain of amino acids that are connected. They impact how we feel and behave.

Amino acids contain neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit a signal from a neuron across the synapse to a target cell, which can be a different neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. This has an impact on your sleep patterns, mood, weight, etc. 

Different types of foods can have a vastly different impact on how we feel. For example, pasta can give us a feeling of calm, or protein can make us energised. This is why having a balanced diet is essential because you don’t want to swing your mood around too much.

Micronutrients

According to the World Health Organization – micronutrients are vitamins and minerals needed by the body in very small amounts. However, their impact on a body’s health is critical, and deficiency in any of them can cause severe and even life-threatening conditions. They perform a range of functions, including enabling the body to produce enzymes, hormones, and other substances needed for normal growth and development. Micronutrient deficiencies can cause visible and dangerous health conditions, but they can also lead to less clinically notable reductions in energy level, mental clarity, and overall mental capacity. This can reduce educational outcomes, reduce worker productivity, and increase risk from other diseases and health conditions.

Five micronutrients — vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc — play roles in maintaining the immune function. The following are a few examples of micronutrient rich foods: 

We can get our daily requirement of vitamins from food as well as pills. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Diana Polekhina
  • Vitamin B6 – Chicken, cereals, bananas, pork loin, potatoes with skin
  • Vitamin C – Tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit
  • Vitamin E – Sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, safflower oil, peanut butter
  • Magnesium – Whole wheat, legumes, nuts, seeds
  • Zinc – Oysters, beef shank, Alaskan king crab, turkey (dark meat)

Glucose

The human brain only makes up about 2% of our body weight, yet it uses up to 20% of our energy resources. Most of this energy comes from carbohydrates that our body digests to glucose. The brain, specifically the frontal lobe, is so sensitive to drops in glucose levels that a physical change in mental functions becomes visible. 

According to an article by the Harvard Medical School (HMS), brain functions such as thinking, memory, and learning are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this fuel source. If there isn’t enough glucose in the brain, for example, neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers, are not produced, and communication between neurons breaks down. In addition, hypoglycemia, a common complication of diabetes caused by low glucose levels in the blood, can lead to loss of energy for brain function and is linked to poor attention and cognitive function.

The brain is dependent on sugar as its main fuel; it cannot be without it.

Vera Novak, MD, PhD, an HMS associate professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Assuming we have carbs on a regular basis, the type of carbohydrates we eat can also have a varied impact on the brain. For example, high glycaemic foods, such as white bread, cause a rapid release of glucose into the blood, followed almost immediately by a quick dip in blood sugar. This results in shortened attention span and mood swings. On the other hand, foods like oats, grains, and legumes release glucose gradually, resulting in a more sustained level of attentiveness. 

Food for a more gradual release of glucose. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Rachael Gorjestani

Again, a balanced intake of carbohydrates is needed to get your brain performing at peak efficiency. 


So, there are tangible benefits to following a diet plan. However, do not go about changing your diet on your own; you never know the impact your diet can have on your body and health. Instead, consult your doctor, a nutritionist, or both, tell them your goals and work with them to develop a dietary plan.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting. Photo credit: unsplash.com/National Cancer Institute

We would like to hear from you – please comment below on the impact following a diet has had on you. How were you able to stick to your diet?

While our Education Advisors (EA) are no nutritionists, you can always chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process. 

Can exercise make you a better student?

I am the last person on Earth who should be giving any advice on exercise. Exercise has been my mortal enemy for as long as I can remember. I have tried several times to overcome this enemy and to start working out regularly, but I am sorry to say I have fallen short every time. I have at most done only a couple of years of reasonably regular workouts, and that too, not consecutive years. 

In my defence, I have done my best to stay motivated about working out. To that end, I have read and watched what feels like every article, book, and documentary about staying motivated and consistent when working out. So, I guess you could consider me somewhat knowledgeable, at least theoretically, when it comes to working out and the benefits of exercising. 

The benefits of exercising

It cannot be disputed; exercising is undoubtedly beneficial. Whether it is your cardiovascular health, bone health, or even decreasing the risk of diabetes, the benefits of regular exercising are many, and it should be a part of everyone’s lives. But for the majority of us (and I can personally attest to this), health benefits are seldom a motivator for us to go to the gym.

Today, a vast majority of us have a short attention span. As a result, we need things done quickly, require immediate results, or we lose interest. So, focus on the immediate benefits we get from working out to remain motivated, such as the feeling of wellness we get immediately after an exercise session.  

Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.

Peter McWilliams, New York Times bestselling author

In the first job I had after university, I remember my boss telling me – “If you are comfortable, you are not growing”. It is something that struck me as a truth to be remembered. Of course, there are other sayings – “no pain, no gain”, “feel the burn”, and of course, you hear many stories of top athletes who embraced pain and suffered to reach the pinnacle of their sport. 

No pain. No gain.

If you are not already someone who works out regularly, then in no way am I asking you to go to this extreme for your workout – that would just be unrealistic. But when you start to feel the burn, let it motivate you to push just a little further, and before you know it, you will be running your first marathon. 

Pushing beyond your comfort is something that you learn very quickly when you work out regularly, and you can use your experience from this to push yourself out of the comfort zone in other aspects of your life. You have already seen the benefits of doing so.

So how does exercising help you become a better student?

Improved cognitive function

According to a study by the International Journal of Sports Medicine – research shows that aerobic exercise enhances cognitive function, specifically executive functions. These results provide partial support for the benefit of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility.

It works, even if you just go a couple of times a week

According to a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology – regular exercise is beneficial, even if it is two or three times a week. Some of the benefits include:

  • Significant decreases in perceived stress, emotional distress, smoking, alcohol, and caffeine consumption
  • Increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending, and an improvement in study habits

Discipline 

 You have to work at building discipline

The above point shows that exercising, even if it is two or three times a week, helps build discipline and self-regulatory behaviour. Discipline helps in completing tasks and assignments before a deadline. Without working on cultivating your discipline, you will miss deadlines and fall behind on completing other tasks. If you practice going to a gym regularly and eating healthier, you will cultivate and develop your discipline. After all, discipline is also a muscle that needs to be worked on. 

Keystone habit

Keystone habits are habits that automatically lead to multiple positive behaviours and positive effects in your life. These habits spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.

Charles Duhigg (author of The Power of Habit)
Charles Duhigg at TechCocktail in 2012

According to research, regular exercise, at least three times a week, is a keystone habit. It acts as a trigger that helps to start eating better, be more productive, have more patience, be less stressed, drink less alcohol, reduce smoking, and study better. 

So, does exercising help you become a better student by helping you study better? Studies have shown that it does. 

Will you be able to see a tangible impact? I don’t know. I guess it will depend on the individual.

But if there is one thing that I have taken away from this, it is to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow. 

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone

If you work out regularly, share your experience with us on staying motivated and cultivating this habit. Comment are open. 

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process. 

Traditional Media vs Social Media – Understanding which works best for you!

Putting what we do “out there” is a fundamental part of human nature. We like to be appreciated and, unfortunately, thrive on the approval of others.

My story and my 15-minutes of fame

When I was a 19-year-old university student, I remember just sitting around on campus one day with friends, when out of the blue, an MTV truck pulls up. A popular VJ (video jockey) at that time jumps out and start randomly picking up students to participate in one of their challenges. My friend was picked, and he picked me as a part of his three-member team for the challenge. Long story short, we won and a few weeks after the episode aired nationally. Within minutes of the episode airing, friends and family from all over the country, some of whom I never knew existed, started calling my home (no mobile phones in those days, only those brick mobile phones existed) and congratulating my parents. Though it lasted only for a couple of weeks, I became an instant celebrity on campus. And I was just a supporting act in my team. But I had my 15-minutes of fame, and I loved it. I am still talking about it more than 20 years after the event. 

But I digress. My 15-minutes of fame has nothing to do with this article. I just wanted to talk about it. Again.

The point of my story

But, if you think of me as a product, and of MTV as traditional media, they got me limited national recognition, albeit only for a short time and only to a very niche market (viewers of MTV). If today I were to put up a similar video on social media, I could probably get the same 15-minutes of fame, only to an even more niche audience (my followers and subscribers).  

Social media platforms started as a way for friends to connect and share their life stories, but today have become an integral part of a company’s media strategy. You need to understand the differences and similarities between traditional marketing and social media to know which approach works best for you.

Differences/Similarities between traditional marketing and social media

The Reach 

Both traditional media and social media can reach either a large or niche audience. In this regard, they are similar to each other. Traditional marketing can reach a vast audience: a good example of this is the Super Bowl commercials. Super Bowl commercials have become a cultural phenomenon alongside the game itself, as many viewers watch the game only to see the commercials. The cost of a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl LIV in 2020 reached up to $5.6 million, with the estimated reach in terms of audience of about 100 million viewers. Social media can also have a mass-market reach: you might have a large subscriber base that you built over time, or you could pay for a large number of people to be reached – for videos and content to be sent to a large audience, for banner ads, and popups. 

The Budweiser Clydesdales, mascots of the U.S. beer brand Budweiser; its parent company Anheuser-Busch frequently advertises during the Super Bowl and have won USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad survey 14 times in its history.

But alternatively, both forms of media can reach a niche audience. In the case of traditional media, placing ads on a billboard or a local new paper can target only a specific community or an advertisement in a trade specific magazine can be used to target a specific industry. And, in the case of social media, ads can be targeted towards specific geographies, age groups, gender, search history, purchase behaviour, etc.

The Cost

 Traditional media can be expensive. A good example of the cost is again the Super Bowl ads. In 2020, a 30-second ad slot cost upwards of 5.5 million US dollars. And that is, of course, in addition to the cost of making the ad, from hiring an entire film crew with equipment, the location, the scriptwriters, the directors, the editors, the actors, etc. It can all add up to a pretty penny. Even advertising on billboards – there is the photographer’s cost, the models, the photoshoot, the cost of renting the billboard, printing/painting and maintaining, etc.

How much do you want to spend on marketing?

Social media, on the other hand, can be economical. A page on Facebook or LinkedIn can be free, and depending on your targeting parameters, the cost to promote the page can also be inexpensive. In addition, unless you are creating a professional ad, the cost to create content can be minimal; all you need is a phone with a camera and internet connection. Also, you don’t have to spend money on a physical space. Everything is virtual. 

The Workforce

Delivering on a traditional media marketing project can be very human-resource intensive. You would typically need highly trained and talented individuals, working together as a team, to deliver on even a 30-second advertisement that might just end up tanking.

Social media, on the other hand, what most mid-size companies require is 5 to 7, maybe ten people, working from home on their laptops. This may have seemed weird (or funny, in a weird way) pre-pandemic – I’m betting you haven’t batted an eye right now.

The Turnaround Time

Another simple and noticeable difference is the time taken in delivering a campaign. I am sure companies were hard at work the day after (probably even earlier) the Super Bowl ad aired, working to next year’s ad. It takes a lot of effort, planning, and coordinating to put a high-profile ad together. Even a low-profile photoshoot can take time to get right. Planning a social media campaign, on the other hand, can be done in what feels like a blink of an eye, and hence can be done multiple times a quarter. 

Time and tide wait for none

Permanence

Once an ad goes live on a traditional media platform, there is no taking backsies. There is no quick way to edit a live ad, and removing it permanently will take time and result in the loss of investment in the creation of the campaign. Social media, on the other hand – you can create, edit, and delete in seconds.

Fake News

This is where traditional media still scores over social media. People still trust the content put up on traditional media over that shown on social media. There is no way of policing all the content that gets put up on social media, and anyone can create a false campaign designed to spread disinformation. In contrast, something that’s put up on CNN or the BBC or The New York Times is more believable; this is because they have created trust over a long time and are more easily brought to account for creating or distributing false information. Sometimes the credibility of traditional media is more important than the instant gratification of social media.


These are just a few differences/similarities between the two forms of media. Figuring out what works for you and your firm is vital to planning an effective marketing campaign. What has worked for you in the past, and how did you and your firm arrive at your decision? Comment below, we hope to learn from you as well. 

In the meantime, we offer 100% online master degree programmes such as – MSc Digital BusinessMSc MarketingMBA Digital Marketing, and MBA Media Leadership to hopefully help you make more informed decisions. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer and the application process.

Understanding International Intellectual Property Rights

After reading the title of this week’s blog, I am sure some of you might be wondering why I chose to write on this topic; the blog will be long, convoluted, and tedious. And you would be wrong. This blog is going to be short and sweet.

There is no such thing as International Intellectual Property (IP) Rights. The end. 😀 

Copyright is a type of intellectual property right

The fact of the matter is IP rights are territorial. Each country creates its IP rights through national laws, and the laws can govern conduct only within that nation’s boundaries. However, there are several international IP treaties that establish ground rules such as how long should copyright or pattern last, defining what constitutes a trademark, etc. What these treaties do for the countries that join them is provide standards and a baseline for all to follow, thereby providing more protection and confidence to creators and inventors seeking to safeguard their creations.

The most crucial minimum standard set up by these treaties is the principle of National Treatment.

Under national treatment, a country that grants particular rights, benefits, or privileges to its own citizens must also grant those advantages to the citizens of other states while they are in that country. In the context of international agreements, a state must provide equal treatment to citizens of the other states participating in the agreement. Imported and locally produced goods should be treated equally — at least after the foreign goods have entered the market. The same goes for services, trademarks, and copyrights and patents.

Principles of the trading system, World Trade Organization

It means that countries that have signed these treaties must guarantee the same IP protection to foreigners that they provide to their citizens.

One of the first international treaties to recognise creators’ rights was the Berne Convention in 1886 for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. It provides creators such as authors, musicians, poets, painters etc., with the means to control how their work is used, by whom, and on what terms.

I know this is cliché, but international IP rights have taken on new importance with globalisation. Most significant businesses operate beyond their local boundaries and are truly multinational.  Trade is global, and there is no iron curtain. So, it is understandable that companies or creators want to protect their creations and maximise returns on their investments. This results in IP rights playing a significant role in international trade.

Sellers of pure IP products such as movies, literature, art, software, etc., will usually only sell to countries with robust IP rights.

Movies, literature, art.. Pure IP products

Today, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency under the United Nations, is responsible for promoting and protecting intellectual property across the world by cooperating with countries and international organizations. However, even if a signatory country does renege on IP rights, there is still no way to enforce any punishment, as IP rights are territorial and have to be enforced by the county itself.

It is also a fact that five developed countries receive around 90% of all technology royalties and licencing fees. This means that for developing nations to have access to the latest technologies or medication, they will have to pay a premium. As a result, developed and developing countries have very different attitudes towards IP.

Developed or first world countries try to maximise the economic benefits they get for their creations/services through strong IP rights/laws, arguing that robust IP rights are necessary to protect their significant investments in developing their products. Hence, if a developing country has strong IP laws, it is generally considered an excellent trading partner by most developed countries.

On the other hand, developing nations need modern technology and medication to advance and compete with other countries and improve the standard of living of their citizens. Developing nations can view strong IP rights as a tool the developed nations use to either deny or restrict access to modern technology, preventing them from growing or, in some cases, even surviving, making them reliant on the developed nation.

So, who is right? We all fall on one side or the other, and both have valid points of view.

Understanding International IP is not easy. It can be convoluted and complex, and at the end of the day, it depends on the laws of the country you operate in.

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Age is just a number! It is never too late to learn.

I went all the way from kindergarten to MBA without a break. I am sure there are a lot of you out there who might have done the same. Looking back, I began to realise that I did not value the education I got. I don’t think it was even the education I wanted.  

Kindergarten to University

On the other hand, I know that a vast majority of people in this world are not as blessed as I was and don’t even have access to basic education. Whatever the reason people miss out on an education – social, cultural, economic, familial responsibility, geographical, political, etc., it is never too late to get an education, especially if you are driven for success.

Human beings have started to live longer lives now than at any time in our history – the miracle of modern technology. We try our best to shorten our lives – global warming, deforestation, polluting the planet, genetically modifying food (there are both pros and cons here), hunting animal species to extension, wars, etc. Still, we find ways to work around these self-created issues and extend our lives. This means gone are the days when you could retire at 60 and hope to live out the rest of your days in peace and happiness. Today, you will most likely run out of money.

Celebrating RKC 2018 Graduates @ York St John University

I have started this blog by listing three points that I feel are relevant to why mature students go back to school:

  1. Got yourself a degree that is not in line with your dreams or career growth path
  2. Did not get the education that you think you deserved (due to reasons out of your control at that time)
  3. Need to stay relevant and competitive in today’s work environment by adding value to yourself

Once you have decided to go back to school, there are several points you have to consider. Ask yourself:

  1. Which programme works for you? Which will add the most value to you?
  2. What certificate do you want to get – bachelor/master’s degree, professional certification, etc.?
  3. Do you want to study full-time, part-time, or online?
  4. From which university do you want your degree and why?
  5. Work-Family-Education balance, can you do it and how?
  6. How much do you want to spend? Can you make space for the programme in your budget?

So, you have decided on your budget, the programme, the university, worked out a study plan and budgeted for the additional expense. But now, there are a few more challenges or fears that have cropped up, and you are not alone. The following are four challenges/fears that most mature students face and suggestions for overcoming them.

  1. Learning to learn again: While it might be a few years since you last studied, you haven’t been wasting your time. You have been learning your job and gaining confidence and proficiency in it. Use this confidence to get back in the groove of learning; it is like riding a bike, you never forget. And the fact that you are back to learning as a mature student speaks volumes for your motivation. Also, you won’t be the only mature student – work together as a group to overcome your fears. 
  2. Fear of assignments: Assignments can be daunting. Researching, referencing, planning, writing, and submitting a 5000-words assignment on time can scare anyone, especially if you have never done it before or if it has been many years since you last had to do it. The fact is, like any skill, assignment writing can be learnt. Maybe do a short course on how to research and write an assignment before joining the programme, or if that is not an option, you can find plenty of “how-to” videos online. Ask your professors for help and pro-tips – that is one reason they are there, to help. Ask your fellow students how they do it. But at the end of the day, the only way to gain proficiency in any skill is to do it.
  3. Work-Family-Education balance: In my opinion, this is the one point that will constantly be a bother. You start with a plan, but like Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke said, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy”. So, keep an eye on the situation and evolve your plans accordingly. Life is change, adapt or get left behind.
  4. Don’t have the skills:  This may or may not be accurate, but if you think like this, then what you don’t have is confidence. Remember, all skills can be learnt, which is why you are here to learn. You have work and life experience, which typical on-campus, fresh-out-of-school students might not have. Use it, you will find you are more skilled than you think. And always remember, this was your choice, you are already more motivated than most to do well.  
Gregory Foster, one of RKC’s mature students who graduated from the University of Cumbria with an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability, received the university’s Postgraduate Student of the Year prize in 2018

Don’t forget your motivation for choosing to learn again. Choosing to become a mature student. 

If you have chosen to learn, then Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the management and business law programmes we offer (Bachelor and Master’s degrees) and the application process. I hope to one day be able to feature your story on our blog!

Zoom fatigue – It’s a thing, and here’s how to fight it

The world’s new “staff meeting room”

The challenges of working from home are many, from trying to keep yourself motivated to the many distractions around you. We have covered some of these challenges and how to overcome them in an earlier post. And now that you have figured out how to overcome some of these challenges, you are hit with something new – Zoom fatigue.  

A recent study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows that:

  • 44% of workers say they’ve experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic
  • 22% noted that the practicality and novelty of video conferencing has worn off over the past eight months
  • 15% confirmed they find virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting and prefer to communicate via other channels, like email or phone

This apathy towards video conferencing has led many researchers to name this phenomenon “Zoom fatigue”. Though I must say that this is unfair to Zoom, as Zoom is just one of the tools used for video conferencing. So, when I say Zoom meetings, I mean all the video conferencing tools and applications. 

Fatigue/stress can manifest from many different sources

So, why is Zoom fatiguing?

To answer this question, let us first understand fatigue. I hope I won’t lose any of you here as this part will get a bit technical (I kind of dozed off researching this bit as well). According to Doctor Jena Lee, MD, a psychiatrist with UCLA Health, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center – a basic understanding of fatigue, neurologically, is through our Reward Pathway, otherwise known as mesolimbic pathway, a dopaminergic pathway in the brain. This is the part of the brain that is concerned with activating our body to counteract fatigue.

Mesolimbic Pathway, otherwise known as Reward Pathway

In our brain, rewards increase alertness, energy, and motivation, which reduces fatigue. Every decision we make, even unconsciously, tries to maximise rewards over cost. For example, if you are deciding on a book to read, the cost is the time and effort you spend reading, and the reward is the enjoyment of the book. So, our brain ensures we pick something good to read. 

What is the difference between reading a book all day or binge-watching a show and Zoom meetings? Why do you feel fatigued after a day of Zoom meetings and not from the others? The simple answer is, most often than not, our mind does not perceive a reward at the end of a Zoom meeting. Our minds are not made that way. When there is a personal social interaction, our mind perceives it as a reward, but not in the case of a Zoom social interaction. 

Personal social interaction is perceived as a reward

In the case of personal social interaction, the reward is not from what is being said but from the body language, energy, environment, and other non-verbal cues. We don’t see much of these cues on video, hence putting in more effort. If you look at a video conference, most of the time, each individual will be doing his/her thing, just put the call on mute and only respond when prompted, and not to mention the number of technical difficulties and slow internet connections. No wonder that people lose interest. And after all this, there is still no reward at the end of it; you just have to attend more meetings and get more work to be done. It can all get so tiring!  

Another drawback of working from home is that you are glued to the chair (bed) all day. There is very minimal movement, no circulation. Our body is basically asleep. 

How do we fix this?

  • Make our interactions more personal, not just work, work, work. Ask how the other person is? Share what is stressing you out. The thing about Zoom calls is they end immediately after the meeting. We have stopped building relations with our co-workers. Remember how life was when there used to be a personal meeting; people used to break for lunch or coffee or even just a smoke break and talk to each other. 
  • If you have a day full of meetings, do something physical and non-work-related between Zoom calls. Just walk around your neighbourhood and see what is happening.
  • Change the environment. If you are just in one room making calls and going from one Zoom meeting to another, it might start feeling like you are in prison. So, move around the house, go to the garden or a nearby park (as long as it doesn’t distract from your call).

While these three points might sound simple, they may be challenging for you and might not be what you require. You know your stress points and judge for yourself if you need professional help. Don’t forget; this past year has been stressful for almost everyone in many different ways, and stress has manifested itself in several different ways. 

Stay safe. Stay healthy. 

Celebrating Women’s Day 2021 – Overcoming challenges women face in today’s online workforce and how men can help!

There are so many internationally recognised “day’s” – Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, even Groundhog Day. But of all the “day’s” that we celebrate, Women’s Day is probably the most important!

It is 2021, and women still have to fight to be recognised, respected and, in many cases, to be paid the same as men. It is really sad! And this at a time that we consider ourselves educated and enlightened, i.e., more than any previous times in human history. Please comment below (especially our gentlemen readers) why you think this gender inequality still exists, especially in a professional work environment.

A female, holding up a sign protesting that she earns less than a “him”, for the same work

It doesn’t bode well when we consider that the United States of America, considered by some to be the epitome of Western civilisation, modern sensibility, and equality for all, only now has elected her first female vice-president. While it is something for all women to celebrate, one must consider that the US is approximately 245 years old, a democracy since its founding, and they still haven’t elected a woman president.

Kamala Devi Harris, 49th Vice President of the United States

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. COVID-19 has turned the way we live and work on its head. While most people have adapted and embraced the work-from-home reality, the one group of people this has been a real challenge for is the working mothers. Let’s face it, in a vast majority of household globally, the mother is the one on whose shoulders the home rests.

While this post is dedicated to all women, it is specially dedicated to the tireless working mothers of the world. While all of us have faced challenges during the COVID-19 lockdowns, this is especially true for working mothers. With the lockdown forcing us into isolation, shutting down schools and day-care, and other entertainment outlets, working mothers had to meet their professional commitments and deadlines while having to do most of the household work, childcare, homeschooling the children and cooking. A 2020 survey by Women in the Workplace states that in America, during the COVID-19 crisis, women—and mothers in particular—are taking on an even heavier load. Mothers are more than three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving. In fact, they’re 1.5 times more likely than fathers to be spending an extra three or more hours a day on housework and childcare—equivalent to 20 hours a week, or half a full-time job (Source: WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE: THE IMPACT OF COVID-19).

A working mother

All of this added pressure inevitably leads to underperformance, stress, and job insecurity, leading to early burnout. And that is just the professional toll, there is also a personal toll, a feeling of being a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad provider. Shockingly the same survey also found that one in four working mothers are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether just to cope with the additional stress COVID-19 has added. 

So, what can we (men) do to help? How can we (men) empower the hard-working women around us, especially working mothers, so that we don’t lose their talent from the workforce, thereby regressing humanity to the dark ages and demoralising our daughters? The following are just my thoughts; please feel free to add to them in the comments.

  • Be inclusive Let’s face it, most of the workforce is still male-dominated and male-centric. It was hard enough for a woman to be heard over all the machismo during an in-person meeting, but it is now even harder to be heard during a virtual meeting. So, make sure you encourage your female colleague and make sure she participates and her voice is heard.
  • Be encouraging Most working mothers have the additional challenge of looking after the kids while attending a virtual meeting. This could result in background noise or participating in a video call without turning on the video (I do that all the time) because either she or the house or the kids are a mess, just to list a couple. All this could irritate some of your other colleagues. Play defence for her, explain to your colleagues the additional challenges of being a working mother and ask for their understanding. At the same time, explain to her that it is alright and that you understand the challenges she is facing. Sometimes all it takes is a little understanding.   
  • Share information Make sure you share all the information she needs to get her job done. With all the data sharing that happens in today’s virtual work environment, there may be times when your female colleague might not have access to all the data she needs to complete her work, or she might have just forgotten where to retrieve the data. Whatever the reason, you don’t lose anything by being a little more helpful. Be approachable and encourage her to ask for help too if needed. 
  • Be fair All these points might make it sound like the working mother is incapable of dealing with the additional pressures at home and hence you should not give her much work. Do not insult her intelligence or work ethic, and do not assume. Distribute work as you usually do but encourage her to say no if it is too much. Talk to her about her career path and what she needs to do to progress on it. 

These are challenging times for all of us, and we should ensure that we keep moving forward. Be inclusive. Work towards equality for all.

We at Robert Kennedy College are proud of our female colleagues and working mothers. Wishing everyone a Happy Women’s Day 2021!

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