Stop Being a Summer Zombie!

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We look forward to summer vacation all year, but about halfway through it can get stagnant. Yeah, you’re probably busy meeting all your goals, working a job, and padding that resume. Friends and family fit somewhere in there. But there are plenty of people who spend their summer vacation doing nothing, relishing the time when their biggest concern is determining what to watch on Netflix that day. Whichever camp you fall into, busy bee or couch potato, the fact remains that you’re probably not being as mentally stimulated as you are in the school year.

But during the summer? The brain drain is real. Zoning out every once in awhile is okay, but doing so for such an extended period of time makes you run the risk of becoming a zombie. Furthermore, engaging your mind frequently benefits your future career, as well as your grades, come fall.

So, how do you get the cogs in motion again without writing a term paper on your vacation? Well …

Keep Up on the News

Look, I know it’s complicated. Not only is it difficult to piece together everything happening around the world, but who’re you supposed to trust? That’s ultimately up to you, as everyone will have different political leanings, but try to assess every story’s validity. Read multiple different sources for every story, and you’ll eventually get a feel for which sources are reflecting a viewpoint and which ones are truly reporting the news.

Current events are a great way to keep your gears moving, and you’ll definitely impress your political science professors come fall.

Don’t Neglect Math!

Math is one of, if not the, most hated subjects out there, but it’s generally required at most universities for a good number of majors. If you’ve finished your mathematics requirements, maybe you can ignore this one, but math can be very useful for everyone, no matter your career field.

Understanding statistics helps you understand how the world actually works; knowing how to convert units helps with baking or building; realizing the true effect of percentages can help you understand how student loan interest affects your life after college. Math doesn’t come easy to everyone, but thinking about how math actually affects your life might help you care a little more. Consider any math problem, no matter how simple, like a puzzle to spur your brain on.  If it’s something very important, like your monthly budget or your savings, there’s no shame in using a calculator, but try to do it in your head first.

Have Good Discussions

Just because you don’t have to write a paper on the latest book you read doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t analyze it. Sometimes having a soundboard can reveal illogical assumptions you made — or even lead you to question your original position. Even if books aren’t your thing, you can have valuable discussions about anything: current events, a TV show, trends you notice in your own friend group, football, whatever. Just try to go a little bit below the surface, and it might spur interest in something you never thought about before.

Furthermore, keeping up-to-date on a variety of issues will help you have better conversations. If you’re well-informed on most topics, most people will probably want to talk to you. And who doesn’t want to be known as the smart one?

Organize!

Having a clean space is not just to put your mom at ease. It has actual physical and mental benefits too. It’ll improve your productivity, letting you focus easier instead of slumping back into bed. Being messy might not seem like a big deal to you, but when you consider that this will help you live an all-around healthier life, it’s really a no-brainer.

So whether you need to find space for your clothes or just keep them off the floor, clean your room! Just because you’re a college student doesn’t mean you have to fulfill all the stereotypes.

Keeping mentally sharp is a task that you’ll have for the rest of your life. Eventually, you’ll finish school, and you’ll have to do it completely on your own. Right now, you can rely on classes to expose you to new ideas, but don’t slack off during summer vacation just because you can! As your classmates shake off summer stupidity after returning to class, you’ll wow your professors and feel better than ever.

Five Successful Habits from Incredible Student Leaders

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I have been lucky to work with some incredible students. These students have earned 3.8+ GPAs, been high performers in Student Leadership positions, worked part-time, and made incredible memories. They lived the dream, right? I’ve put together five trends I have seen from the incredible, and if you start applying these you will see incredible results too.

The number one thing incredible students have in common is urgency. Every successful student and successful person for that matter has urgency. They feel like they don’t have time to waste and they never stop growing or learning. It is ok you have to take a class with content you don’t care about, the incredible students understand that they will have to do things they aren’t passionate about in their future job too. Now matters. So if you are in a class where you don’t see a purpose, find a purpose. Why spend any of your time frustrated, bored, or coasting? Be fueled by the desire to achieve.

The second trend of incredible students is that they have an elevated circle of influence. Your friends, the people you spend the most time around, help you determine what is acceptable. That means how much time you study, what grades you pursue, and how hard you work. If you want to increase any of those levels, start elevating your circle of influence. The incredible students I worked with were selective with those they spent time around. Even within their Student Leadership teams, the incredible students still surrounded themselves with others that supported and pushed their levels of effort.

Being an incredible student is no cakewalk. These students were always the busiest that I knew. To operate at that level they had to manage their time and relationships well. Incredible students break down their classes and their time. They know what is coming, what has to be done, and who they need to involve to help them get there. Incredible students build and maintain relationships with their teachers, even the ones in classes that don’t cover their favorite subjects. If you want to be incredible, learn to communicate and organize your time. You only get today once, are you gonna waste it?

To be incredible, you have to know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? The incredible students identify these and then focus only on maximizing their strengths. Use your strengths to boost your performance and figure out how to excel. If you aren’t very organized but communicate really well, then always communicate with your teachers, classmates, and bosses. Increase your level of communication and your relationships will help you stay on top of your responsibilities.

Incredible students live above the opinions of others. These high performing leaders aren’t bothered when people call them nerds, or boring, or a loner. You will never please everyone, so why waste any time worrying about the expectations of others. Live in your own reality, and remember, just because someone says something or you have a negative thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it.

You’ll notice that none of those trends have anything to do with natural talent. Maximizing your strengths doesn’t mean developing new ones, it is identifying what you have instead of worrying about what you don’t. Effort, focus, priorities, and work. That is what will get you there. Which of these trends do you need to work on? How will you adapt these to your situation? Figure it out, start doing, and start being incredible.

Dealing with Pre-Application Anxiety

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College Application Stress

There are two types of high school seniors right now.  There are the ones who have already applied to their colleges of choice and are waiting to hear back on an early decision, and then there are those that are putting the whole affair off until February.  I was the second kind.  My classmates were deciding over their top three early admissions, and I hadn’t even looked past the first couple pages of my state school’s website.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care.  Actually, quite the opposite.  The whole thing seemed so overwhelming, I didn’t even know where to begin.  K-12 had been pretty straight forward.  I had been told where to be, what to do, and what to learn for the past thirteen years, so college seemed like this insurmountable challenge.  If that last sentence hit a little too close to home, here’s some advice to get you through the next couple months.

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Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

One of my biggest problems was that I started to overthink everything.  What would I even major in?  Where were all my classmates going?  Would I like the town?  Could I handle the drive there and back during holiday breaks?  Would I live in the dorms, join a sorority, or was I allowed to live off-campus

These are all important questions, but you don’t have to know the answers to all of those right now.  You don’t need to worry about whether the school colors will clash with your skin tone until you’ve explored your options.

Prioritize!

So, you don’t want to overthink things, but you still need to identify what is important to you.  Before you even start seriously looking at schools, think:  Do you want to live close to home?  Do you just have to go to the same school as your best friend or boyfriend? Do you need to go to a top school, or do you want to save money by staying in state? These are important criteria to be aware of when you looking through your options.  Write them down as a list in order of most important to least important.

Of course, it can be difficult to pick a school if you don’t even know what you want to go to school for. With so many options, most freshmen are just as lost as you.  That’s okay!  You’re still a teenager.  Just think about some fields that you might be interested in, and keep those in mind while researching programs.  If you are one of the lucky few that knows that they’re destined for medical school or the world of marketing, then more power to you!

Start Doing Research

If you haven’t already, you need to get to this step ASAP.  The longer you wait, the fewer options you’ll have.  Start by just looking through the basics: costs, location, prestige, population, etc.  How does each school match up to your criteria?  You can successfully eliminate a lot of schools this way.  Recognize that some of your criteria might be at odds with each other.  You might have to give up living in a big city to go to school with your best friend or vise versa. Whenever you come to conflict like that, refer to that list you made, and ask yourself which one matters more.  Which priority is going to make you happier in a year?

You’ve also probably received more than your fair share of university pamphlets.  These can be great resources to see your options, especially which universities are interested in you, but make sure you look deeper.  Don’t decide based on the smiling students on the cover or the football team’s performance.  Instead, scour through their website.  Ask older siblings or friends what they discovered was really important in college.  Visit the campus if possible! Then reevaluate your own list.

Look at Your Finance Options

Paying for college is a big part of the experience.  A university’s affordability should be one of your top concerns.   There are several ways that you can accomplish that.  Scholarships and grants are the best, but they’re also very competitive.  You should apply for these as early as possible!  Next, see if you qualify for any sort of employee reimbursement.  Some schools have specific partnerships, like ASU and Starbucks, and some companies will only provide it under certain conditions.  Obviously, you don’t know where you’ll be working after graduation, but it’s never too early to start looking at future career paths.

Loans are an unfortunate reality for most college students.  If you find yourself among us, make sure that you know your stuff.  Finances are complicated- they have college courses about them!  There’s no shame in admitting you don’t understand the jargon.  Just do yourself a favor and learn what you can about loan lingo.  You’ll make more educated choices, and you won’t be surprised when you get your first bill in five years!

Decide.

Okay, I know that it still seems overwhelming, but you’re ready!  You’ve got all the tools to make a great decision right in front of you. Imagine the weight off your shoulders when you can actually answer your grandma’s holiday questions with zero stress.  This is a big step, but college is a journey.  Picking where you go is important- it’s your first adult decision- but it’s what you do at college will be even more so.  One step at a time!

The Less-Obvious Benefits of Studying

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You know you have to study. If you want the good grades, you’ve got to put the time and effort in with each class. While you think cramming for that big exam is just enough, you’re also wondering, “Shouldn’t there be more benefits to pouring over my entire notebook?” Luckily, for high school and college students, here are a few great examples of some little-known perks of doing your best while in study mode.

 

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  1. Become a Better Friend

When you take notes, especially if you are taking them from a lecture or video, you are practicing what is called “active listening.” Passive listening happens when you are listening, but you are thinking of the next step (such as what to say next). Active listening is when your mind is totally focused on what the person is saying so that you comprehend it best.

For example, if your BFF is talking about an argument with her mom, put your good studying skills to work to pick up on subtleties in her speech pattern or her mentioning of smaller details. Your friend will love that you are tuned in to her, and you will love that your mind is focused.

 

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  1. Practice Goal Setting Techniques

The main goal when you study is to know the necessary amount of information and move on. But when you study, you are also practicing goal-setting techniques that can help you become a successful person down the line.

Start by making the goal (memorize x amount of pages), plan for the goal (spend 25 minutes a day reading through notes), and then work towards the goal (the actual studying). When you’re out of college, you can use that same careful and detailed method to find your first job, work towards a promotion, or even run a marathon!

  1. Exercise Your Brain for the Future

People say learning happens every day, and starting good studying habits helps you learn better and faster. When you’re in the job market, being able to pick up new skills and knowledge makes you more marketable, and you’ll be able to talk about almost anything while showing off what you’ve picked up while pulling those all-nighters..

Studying is exercise and fuel for your brain. It fires up your nerves and speeds up the signals. In addition, learning something new also increases myelin, a fatty brain substance that powers up brain function. See? You’ve learned something new today.

 

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  1. Learn to Problem Solve

Critical thinking is a buzzword you’ve picked up by now — and for good reason. Critical thinking helps you process issues as they come in a creative, stress-free way. It additionally helps you see the world outside of black and white. For example, an algebraic question may have more than one way to solve it — one way being faster and more efficient, the other being slower but more detailed.

But with studying, critical thinking isn’t quite so obvious. Memorizing material your teacher told you isn’t helping, right? Wrong! When you study, you are essentially asking yourself questions and giving yourself answers. You are looking critically at material that you may have covered months ago. And you’re adding to your bank of skills and information that you can use to apply to other problems down the road.

Studying may seem like a pain now, but hopefully these facts motivate you to want to study and get more from your classes than just that great grade.

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7 Tips to Prepare for Your Finals

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Now that November is here, you probably have your mind set on the upcoming winter break. But it is important to remember that you have one major hurdle to get over before you head home — final exams. While you may not be up to studying just yet, there are some easy, low stress ways to prepare for finals with a month to spare.

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1.   Review Your Grades

Here’s a secret you may not realize: you may not need to put as much pressure on final exams as you think you do. For students with solid, high grades, a professor’s grading system may mean that a final grade will not affect them significantly. To see if this applies to you, do the math by looking at your grade percentage and then measuring it up with how much your final is weighted. If you’re unsure, check with a professor or TA. On the other hand, if you are struggling with your grade, you may want to check in with your professor to find out what grade you will need to get on the final to pass or improve a letter.

2.   Check Your Syllabus

Your syllabus is most likely set up so that the professor has already highlighted the main lesson points. Go through and make a list of all the major lessons, along with any important documents you have read. This will help guide your studying.

3.   Review Previous Exams

Your final exams work just like your syllabus. If your final is a cumulation of what you have learned, the professor will most likely draw up questions similar to the ones you have already answered on tests or exams. Make note of where you struggled and where you may not need to put much effort in and mark that on the syllabus.

4.   Re-Outline Your Notes

Now that you have your syllabus marked and your tests noted, use it to re-outline your notes. Cut out items that are not on the syllabus or items that you were not using on exams. If it helps, type it all out so that you have a condensed version at your fingertips you can refer to.

5.   Set Up a Review Schedule

Looking over your notes, you may be getting a sense of how much or how little you need to study. Plan out a schedule so you are reviewing the lessons you know well first while you spend the most significant chunk of time re-learning the things in which you struggled with. Using a calendar, write down the lessons or notes reference so you can make study goals each day or week.

6.   Check-In with Extra Help

Speaking of extra help, a month out is still enough time to contact a tutor or TA to help you out. But you have to be proactive. A graduate student, someone who has aced the class before, or even the professor will be able to offer one-on-one help. You just have to reach out first.

7.   Plan Out the Week and Day-Of

Finally, clear your calendar for the week of finals. Avoid parties or distractions like trips out or dinner dates with friends. On the day-of each exam, set aside some funds to grab some coffee or to chow down on your favorite, comforting meal. You can always celebrate on Friday when your pencil is down and your test is turned in!

5 Things to Be Sure of During Midterms

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Professors say midterms are a time to report how students are doing halfway throughout the semester. Students say its a time designed to make our lives harder. Either way its a time we will have to endure no matter what, check out some tips below to make your days during midterms bearable.

Stay hydrated

As small as it may seem, staying hydrated constantly will serve as an advantage. You are helping yourself become less prone to becoming sick during a time when the amount of students with the sniffles is exorbitant. Grab yourself a reusable water bottle to take with you to class, the gym, and when you’re running to the library for those study hours.

Get Rest

At times it may feel like there is not enough hours in the day. Time has to be set aside for homework, class, friends, and countless amounts of other things. However, pulling all-nighters throughout the week or only getting rest for 2-4 hours does the body no good. You will most likely oversleep the next time you do get some shut eye, or you will just feel out of whack for majority of your day.

Prioritize

Set a schedule and stick to it. In the long run it will only benefit you because your time is stretched so thin between weeks it’s going to be impossible to remember everything. If you set the time for how long you will do each activity, you will have time left over to relive tension. Try yoga or taking a hot shower shower and using aromatherapy products. Fifteen minutes of pampering will go a long way when under pressure.

Stay Positive

During midterms feeling overwhelmed is at a high. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that work will only be this demanding for about two weeks, and then sure enough you will be on break and back at home enjoying yourself with old friends.

Eat

Through midterm week, and the week leading up to midterms be sure to eat right. Although eating properly should be exercised all the time, these weeks are more imperative compared to the rest of the school year. Replace cheese pizza with a leafy salad, and choose trail mix or a granola bar over sweets.

Busy Semester? Not A Problem!

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Hello again, my fellow bloggers!

It has been a while since I was able to blog with all of you – five months to be exact! I am sorry that it has been so long; I have been extremely busy! And, when I say busy, boy do I mean it! After a two week hiatus from everything (classes, work, tests, deadlines, etc.), I finally decided on the perfect topic to get me back into the blogging world: dealing with the stress of being busy. How ironic!

Like I said before, I really and truly learned what busy was during my last semester. I not only took on five classes, but I also participated in an internship program for credit. The classes were difficult and kept me on my feet throughout the semester. My internship, although extremely rewarding and fun, took up a lot of my time during the school week. Balancing both, in addition to my social life, proved extremely difficult, but I did it and I conquered the semester. Each and every one of you will have a semester like this, one that works you to your core, but if you follow my few tips below, then you will be better able to handle the hundreds of tasks that you will need to do throughout the semester!

1) Use A Planner. I mentioned this multiple times in my summer series, but I cannot tell you how helpful it was for me. It helped me to keep each day organized and to remember the deadlines of each activity. Make sure to write down every event, assignment, test, and any other deadline as soon as you get them so that you do not make the mistake of forgetting them later on!

2) Make A Schedule To Call Your Family And Friends. When you are extremely busy, it can be very easy to forget to call home or your friends. By making a schedule, you can create a block of time out of your week to talk to everyone. Additionally, calling your loved ones will act as a de-stressor in your life.

3) Make Meals Ahead Of Time. When you spend all of your time studying and working, it can be hard to find times to make your meals and eat. Last semester I discovered that by making my meals earlier in the week, such as a whole box of pasta on Sunday, I was more likely to eat throughout the week when my meal was already prepared. Even preparing your lunch in the morning can greatly help and save you time!

4) Avoid Extra Extra-Curricular Activities. Do not get me wrong, it is VERY important to participate in extra-curricular activities throughout your years spent at a university. But, finding the right amount may take some time. When you are taking part in a busy semester, do not engage in more extra-curricular activities than your stress level can handle. For example, I had to take a semester-long break from my student ambassador organization on campus in order to maintain a good GPA with my internship program. It is OK to limit your activities down to a manageable level; it will make your life extremely less stressful.

5) Make To-Do Lists. I have always loved to-do lists to keep myself organized, but I really love them when I am extremely busy. Make daily to-do lists to better manage your life during your semester. Don’t forget to check off the activities that you accomplish.

6) Make Time For You. This is my most important tip! Make sure that you make time for yourself each week. You need time to relax so find an activity that can do that for you!

7) Cut Out Extra Stressors. This tip goes hand-in-hand with number four. Cut out anything in your life that can add extra stress. This can be things such as extra jobs, unnecessary classes, or clubs. There is no need for things that can cause unnecessary stress – especially during a busy semester!

8) Schedule Your Study Time. I learned to do this tip towards the end of my semester. Use your planner to schedule in study times for your classes. Make weekly slots for each class so that you are better able to manage your time. Have a test next week? No problem. Because of your weekly study slots, you are more prepared than ever!

9) Focus On One Activity At A Time. Whether you need to study, work, sleep, etc., you can only do one thing at a time. My advice? Put away anything that is not involved with the activity you are participating in. For example, if you are studying for a test, put away your phone and your worries about work. It will help you to remain focused on the task at hand.

10) Get Your Beauty Sleep. Sleep is the most crucial factor in doing well in anything! Make sure to go to bed at a decent time so that you can rest your brain and de-stress your body!

I hope that you are now better able to handle any busy semester that is thrown at you with my ten tips above!

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Finals? Oof. We’ve Got Tips!

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Take it from someone who feels your pain – finals are never a fun time. But, they’re a necessary evil and they DON’T have to be so bad. I know what you’re thinking… “how are finals ever NOT so bad?” I’m with you, but if you have to take them, at least make it easier on yourself by preparing the right way and getting all of your ducks in order before you brave the storm at 8 am.

The days of finals have evolved, for some. Depending on what your strong points are in test taking, you may perform better with different types of tests. In my recent experience, gone are the days of scantrons and fill-in-the-bubbles, and born are the days of 20 page essays and thorough analysis’. As a Communications major with a knack for writing, I’d prefer the second option. For people that aren’t fond of writing or have trouble organizing their thoughts in essay format, scantrons and fill in the blank tests are sometimes more comfortable. Whichever test style you like better, or have to take, we’ve got a few tips to help you stay focused and prepare efficiently.

Scantrons: Essay questions allow you to elaborate on your understanding of the given material. You can use examples, quotes, and if allowed, references from your book or notes. With a scantron test, you have to pick from 4 (sometimes 5) preset answers. Sometimes, the answers provided are tricky. For someone with super test anxiety, scantrons always have me second guessing myself. Not to mention, accidentally missing a row and answering 50 questions wrong if you skipped a row.

Here’s how to prepare: This seems like a no brainer, but know your material. Usually, if you study your notes and your course material thoroughly, you’ll be surprised how many questions on the test will look familiar to you. When you’re confident in your knowledge of what’s being covered there’s a lower chance that you’ll pick the wrong ‘trick answer’. Even when it comes down to answers that are just ONE word off, separated by an ‘and’ or ‘or’, you’ll be prepared to pick the right one. If you aren’t sure about a question, skip it and come back to it later. Sometimes while you’re answering other questions, you’ll remember an answer to another. AND, sometimes the answers to earlier questions even present themselves in later test questions. Don’t rush yourself. If you have the extra time, take it. Double check, then check again.

Fill In The Blanks or Short Answer Questions: When you’re filling in the blanks, make sure that you’ve explored every possible solution before hastily guessing. You may be overwhelmed with all of those blank spaces staring back up at you, but don’t be intimidated. To give yourself more confidence, jump to the questions you know first. Once you feel good about knowing the material and you see your handwriting filling up all of those blank spots the rest will just flow. If there’s a few you don’t remember, don’t freak out. Like the scantron tips, try to read the rest of the questions and see if it can spark you to remember the ones you forgot. If that doesn’t work, flip the test over or on a piece of scrap paper write the term down and start stemming the first ideas that spring to mind. Doing this helps to trigger your recollection mechanisms that might help you get closer to the right answer.

Here’s How to Prepare: Since fill in the blanks and short answer questions require you to recall not only the subject matter but the details about it too, it might be helpful for you to study with note cards. Have a friend or your roommate quiz you on the material by writing the term/subject on the front of the card, and bullet notes about it on the back. This is different than just skimming over the topic in your book or notes because it makes you actually have to remember different details about each card. Have your roommate place the cards you got wrong into a separate pile to re-visit when you’re done with the first stack. To switch it up a little, have your quizzer switch between reading the bullets and the front of the card so you can practice recalling both.

Long Essays: I prefer long essays because I feel they help me best explain my knowledge of the subject matter and allow me to back up my reasoning with examples. However, even though I feel comfortable writing essays, I still freak out a little bit every time I see one on a test. It’s often intimidating to see all of the subquestions you have to answer within an essay question, and then worry about how you’re going to make it all flow together. Always remember that when writing an essay, you should always start with an introduction, body copy + supporting examples and details, and then a conclusion paragraph. If you’re introducing three main points or examples in your essay, try to break them up into separate paragraphs. This allows your reader to pay the proper attention to each example and then move onto the next after they’ve grasped the concept. Try not to jump around between ideas throughout your paper. Remember, fluidity is what makes your paper read smoothly and helps your reader understand your purpose. If you’re a little freaked out about how you’re going to structure your essay, read the bullet points in the essay question and start answering them from there. Try to connect them with thoughts and transitions to make them flow together.

Here’s How to Prepare: Most of the time, your professor will give you a heads up on the material you need to have down pat before you go into take the test (or even take it remotely). Don’t take this lightly. They are telling you this for a reason, aka it’s going to be one of your essay questions. Scan your book, your notes and any presentations or online files that your professor gives you access to. Start writing each subject down in your notebook and immediately start organizing bullet points or key points underneath it. When you’re done, start making an outline for each topic by organizing the bullet points into corresponding sections or ideas. This will help you create a balance and will help you recall the subject matter when it comes to test time.

Have any more tips you’d like to share? Comment below or tweet them to us at @OcmonCampus! What tests do you prefer to take, why?

Good luck to you on finals!

The Easy Way To An A

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As the final examination period approaches, stress levels on campus are starting to rise-especially for freshmen who have yet to experience it. I, a self-proclaimed “Nervous Nancy”, was extremely jittery for my first set of college finals. I had no idea what to expect or any idea on how to really prepare myself for the unknown. Sure, I had my fair share of finals in high school, but I knew that they would be nothing to the degree of a college final. I decided to try every study/preparation tip in the book: highlighting, organizing, study guides, etc. After many trials, I have found six tips that work for me and will hopefully help you!

1. The first study tip is to turn off all of your electronic devices or anything that you may find to be distracting. I know that it may seem extremely difficult, seeing as college students find it hard to live without these devices, but turning them off can actually help you to get higher grades on your tests. If you find it difficult to stay off of the internet on your computer, unplug your Ethernet chord or disconnect your Wi-Fi connection. This will allow you to focus on your work and not on the internet.
2. The second study tip is to devote at least an hour a day to each class starting two weeks before finals. Allowing yourself to slowly learn your notes will not only help you to stay on track with your studying, but also help you to memorize your notes so that you are extremely prepared for any test.
3. The third study tip is to study while sitting up. Avoid lying in bed at all costs! It is easy to get too comfortable and doze off!
4. The next study tip is to make flash cards. Flash cards not only help you to study for material that you may be struggling with, but they are also good for quick reviews right before the exam. Make sure to bring the flash cards everywhere you go; you never know when you are able to do a fast review. The quick reviews add up, and in no time you will really know the material.
5. The next tip is to organize your notes for all of you different classes. Make sure you have everything you need and then begin sorting them by chronological order. This will help you to determine which terms go with which topics. To save time before finals, try to keep up with this throughout the semester so that you can begin studying right away!
6. The final tip that I have is to highlight or sticky note your notes. This will help you to pick out important topics which usually appear in final examination questions. I personally like the highlighting method. I choose pink for people, yellow for terms, and blue for locations. The different colors help me to keep my terms and topics in separate larger topics that make it easier to study.

These tips, though a bit time consuming, help me to have a structured studying schedule. Because they have been so successful for me, I encourage you to try them if you are looking to find a study plan that will help you to become extremely prepared for any examination!

Keeping that New Year’s Resolution: College Budget Edition

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It’s almost 10 days into the New Year! Many people who started the year off right with new resolutions are in full swing keeping up with a schedule to reach their goal. Sometimes though, goals are a bit tricky to reach due to outside influences. For those who are trying to be more healthy and go to the gym, eat right, etc it can often be difficult to keep a healthy schedule when working a full day, attending a full day of classes, or not having enough resources around them (like in your residence hall). If you’re trying hard to keep your resolutions, here’s 5 tips that may make your efforts a little bit easier!

Transitioning to a healthy lifestyle: Eating healthy can be expensive. Going to the gym everyday is a bit impractical with a day full of classes and a night full of studying. Most residence halls don’t come equipped with stoves and ovens. If you’re trying really hard to live a more healthy lifestyle while living on campus, you may have noticed these pointers as well as a few others that may deter you from reaching your goal. The key here is to not get discouraged, but instead get creative! Yes, eating healthy CAN be expensive but if you find the right things to buy and where you can maintain a healthy diet on a college budget.

If you haven’t read our past blog on eating healthy on campus, you should definitely start your research there. In addition to the healthy (and inexpensive) foods listed in that blog, you can also pick up coupons for your local grocery store to buy 1 get 1, or even with items discounted for local college students. Items such as rotisserie chickens are a great resource for protein and they can last you for quite a few meals. Chicken sandwich, chicken salad, wraps, etc can all be made from one chicken that usually is priced around $8.00. Pair this with some carrots and hummus and you’re set to go! For getting healthy via physical activity, try walking to class if you usually drive. This may not apply to early year students since they usually leave their cars at home when they go off to college but if you’re one of the lucky ones who DOES have your car on campus, try substituting walking to class twice a week to start instead of driving. Also, try to take the stairs to your class on the 6th floor instead of the elevator. Yes, you may get a little sweaty at first, and yes people may hear you huffing and puffing for the first 5 minutes of class but that will quickly change when your body gets used to all of the activity. And, you’ll feel much better, too!

In addition to eating right and getting active, try to get out in the sun for at least 10 minutes a day! This should be easy if you’re walking to campus, but the Vitamin D from the sun will boost your mood and give you more energy. For cooking in your residence hall, there are plenty of delicious microwave meals you can make that aren’t full of processed additives and still delicious and inexpensive! Check out a few in our last blog or check out our Pinterest board of healthy items to eat and make on campus!

Cutting Out Bad Habits: There’s really no need to pinpoint any specific “bad habit” here, because they vary so differently from person to person. Maybe you want to do something small such as stop biting your nails down to the nub or maybe something a bit bigger like stop smoking or drinking soda. Bad habits quickly become an everyday part of our daily routines, so in order to cut them out, you must substitute them for something else. The important thing is to replace them with something healthy and helpful, and not harmful. For example, if you constantly bite your nails but want to stop, every single time you go to bite them, instead drop a marble into a jar (or keep them in a pouch in your purse or pocket until you get home). Once you get a certain amount of marbles, go buy yourself something nice or reward yourself with your favorite food, movie, etc. It may sound silly, but watching those marbles collect in the jar is a wonderful way to remind yourself of your progress every day. As for things like drinking soda, try to replace them with fruit juices that give you natural energy, or teas such as chamomile or green tea. They’re healthier for you, and even come in caffeinated versions. And, with Keurigs around these days, a cup of hot, delicious tea is only a press of a button away!

Being Nicer: You’d be surprised how many people have told me this New Year that their New Year’s Resolution was to be a nicer person. Let’s be honest here, sometimes our schedules can get a little hairy with little to no sleep, jobs, classes, work, gym, family, friends.. you name it. A packed schedule can often lead people stressed and lacking some nutrients and sleep. Therefor, people tend to be a bit more on edge and more apt to take it out on other people without even realizing it. The first step to being a nice person is making sure you’re not packing your days with things that drain you. If you feel like your schedule is all work and no play, start setting aside some time for yourself to just unwind and relax. Maybe this means just sitting in the campus courtyard with your earphones on for 20 minutes between classes or going shopping on your own. Whatever it is, having some time to yourself is a great way to do some internal reflecting without stressful interactions. And, with living on campus with a roommate around you all the time, some time alone could be really needed. Another reason why people are often on edge is because they can’t turn off their brain! Once you leave work or class, try to leave the things that you can deal with the next day at those places. Coming home with the stress from work or school (not applying to homework and projects) will just make you more tired! Try to get away for a little and relax your mind with yoga or a nap. The third step is to be mindful of how you talk and interact with people. You may not even realize that your quick 1 minute conversation as your running from class to class with a friend comes off hasty or rude. Going to class is important, but let them know you’re interested in talking to them at a time when you aren’t so rushed to get to class – they’ll understand, and it may even give you some time to catch up and hang out later on.

Being Financially Responsible: This is hard for any college student to maintain. If you haven’t already read our blog about college finances and FAFSA, head here to take a skim. College can be expensive, and learning to live on your own away from home can often be a test of your financial responsibility. It’s often hard trying to learn to budget your money while you’re also stressed out about classes and things that you need vs things that you want. It’s often hard for students who are used to being at home where things like laundry detergent and cups, blankets, etc are supplied to being on campus and learning to budget money to buy what they need. If your schedule of classes permits, try to find a job on or near campus that allows you to work anywhere from 15-20 hours per week. This will give you a little extra spending money in your pocket that will teach you to budget a certain portion of each paycheck and divide your limit on things that you want to buy like clothes, vs things you need to buy such as toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. If you have trouble with not spending money when you have it, set up a savings account and put a portion of it in that account right when you get it. That way, you can feel secure knowing you have money that you aren’t to touch unless needed. Also try to watch what you’re spending money on. Going out to eat can be expensive even if it’s $5.00 here and $5.00 there. If you have dining hall tickets, eat there as much as possible to save any extra money you have laying around. Chances are your parents paid for you to have a package, and the food will be conveniently located on campus for you to grab. Now girls, I understand that buying new clothes and accessories is always exciting to wear to classes or out with friends. If you don’t have the money to spend on new threads, try having a clothing swap with your roommate or friends on campus. They may have things they don’t wear anymore and would love to have some of the things you push into the back of your closet. Also try to find stores around you like Ross or TjMaxx: you’d be surprised what things you could find in those stores that are both fashionable and inexpensive!

Getting Better Grades: Obviously no one WANTS to get bad grades (I would hope), but with stress and hard classes, sometimes you can’t maintain that 4.0 you dreamed about. If you’re returning back to campus and already know that your grades didn’t come out the way you had hoped the previous semester, take this into consideration and look to find a tutor on campus or someone that can help you in the subjects you struggle with. There are plenty of groups and organizations on campus that offer tutoring sessions to students who are struggling just like you are. Don’t be embarrassed about getting help. Instead, use the extra help to your advantage and get a head start on your academics as a step to improving your grades. Try to locate any distractions outside of class that prevent you from concentrating or studying. If you feel like you study for hours but still can’t grasp the material, you may not be studying in the most effective way per your learning habits. If you haven’t read our blog on study tips, head there for a must read on 5 crucial tips to find what works for you. The key component to studying and getting good grades is to really put the effort in and study hard. Read the material, do your assignments (even if they seem like “busy work”), and ask for help when you need it. Most concepts follow a “building block” procedure. Don’t allow yourself to fall behind by moving onto the next concept without understanding the first. Your professor is sure to have office hours where you can visit them and go over topics you don’t understand. If you feel like you can’t hear well in the lecture hall or can’t see the board, make it your responsibility to find a seat right in the front of the class with a cup of coffee or tea. Staying alert, awake and concentrated is a formula to success!