Five Hundred Words is dedicated to helping students succeed in college and prepare for a rewarding career path. For several years, I’ve been talking to students about making the right choices, connecting with their teachers and networking in general, and aiming high when planning for job hunting or graduate school. I’ve spent hours talking to students one-on-one and in class. I’ve invited students to meet with me and didn’t just wait for them to knock on my door. As a result, at times there was a long wait to see me; students showed their appreciation in student evaluations; I had a group of followers when I posted on Emory University’s confessions page (see the EmorySecrets prof section); and I was invited to give the annual Last Lecture talk at Ball State in 2014 (watch the video here).

But my target audience remained rather small, limited by the number of students who had taken my classes and some of their friends. Five Hundred Words is my attempt to reach out to a larger audience. It offers two main sections: the first will allow students to send in questions about anything related to their life or college experience (send questions to: advice@fivehundredwords.net). I will then post the question anonymously with my reply or advice given below. A discussion may follow here or on the Facebook page. The second will feature videos of conversations I have with my world history class at Ball State. Typically, a new video will be uploaded every Thursday or Friday.

I chose the name Five Hundred Words as it represents the most important skill students can and should pick up while in college: the ability to write a short, no more than 2-page/500 word-essay about anything. No matter what area one studies or what profession one wishes to pursue, the ability to write clearly and concisely will have a profound effect on finding a job or graduate school placement. In a world where most people cannot write properly, a well-written cover letter or personal statement immediately stands out. To train students to become better writers, I’ve developed an online writing guide.

– Dr. Yaron Ayalon
Assistant Professor of History
Ball State University
For more on me and what I do, see here.