7 Tips on Studying for Finals

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Are you overwhelmed by how many Spanish terms you have to study for? Maybe cramming a day before your next project is due or rereading the same chapter multiple times to no avail? I know I am stressing right before finals. If you’re also feeling overwhelmed by a huge pile of books, notecards and Red Bull, keep reading for some helpful tips to study for this upcoming finals week!

1. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE- Start studying like I did at least a week before.


2. MAKE FLASHCARDS– Whether it’s Spanish, French, the Revolutionary War, or learning about muscles, make flash cards…It will make your life 10 times easier

3. QUIZLET– If flashcards aren’t your thing, try online websites such as Quizlet, which can give you tests, flip flash cards for you or give you a few learning games!

4. MAKE AN EFFORT-I know sitting in the library from 10 am until 4 o’clock is rough, but try and do it because is the last week…make it count.

5. HAVE A STUDY BUDDY- Whether it is your best friend, classmate or big in your sorority, sit down with them and do homework together. The two of you can take a break, but they can also tell you when to get back to work and when you have been on your phone too long!


6. IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A BREAK- It’s not okay to binge watch Netflix, but a ten-minute break here and then won’t kill you.
7. MAKE THE LIBRARY YOUR BEST FRIEND- Library, School of Business, Engineering Building; whatever it is, get comfy because that just became your new home for the next week.
Hope you use these helpful tips!!! Good luck with finals everyone!!!!

What to Do When You Feel Like You’re Falling Behind in College

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falling behind in college

Great news! You’re almost done with your first semester of the year. How are you feeling? Are your classes going well? Are your grades what you hoped they would be? I am sure some of you out there are shaking your heads ‘no’ to both of those questions. Feeling like you’re falling behind is pretty common, even for overachievers. Figuring out how to recover in the middle of a rough semester can seem impossible. These steps will help you make a plan to get back on track and get the grade you want.

 

GIF via Giphy

Step 1: Audit Yourself

To begin, you need to know what you’re facing. This means figuring out your current grades ASAP — if you can, by percentage. Take out a notebook or grab your whiteboard and write each and every one of them down. That way, your current situation is out there, in full, so you can strategize on what you need to work on and what classes you can put less time in.

Step 2: Talk It Out

When you feel like you’re failing (or you know you are), there is no time to waste. You need to get your professor or academic advisor involved. Showing that you recognize your problem and that you’re proactive puts you in such better standing than someone who waits until the week of finals to ask for help. Set up a time to sit down and evaluate together so that they can help you pinpoint what is the problem and maybe give you some personalized solutions on how to make it better.

Step 3:  Plan Your Calendar

For most colleges, you have about five more weeks until break. That seems like a ton, but in the grand scheme of things, there are midterm reviews, project deadlines, meetings, and final study sessions to take up your time. Grab your syllabus and go through each class. Mark on your calendar, planner, or phone important deadlines along with reminders a week, 3 days, and 1 day in advance. You’ll feel less overwhelmed when the days ahead are spelled out.

Step 4: Goal Set

Now that you’ve got a realistic picture of what you need to do and when it is due, it’s time to set a goal for yourself. The most important part of goal setting is to be realistic. Unless your professor is really lax on grading, you’re not going to go from a D- to an A+ in half a semester. But passing with a C or even a strong B could be in reach. Use that calendar to write in check-in marks each week where you see how you have progressed on that goal line.

Step 5: Reward Yourself

You need to reward yourself for when you do hit those goals. The grade and the relief are enough, but you may also want to treat yourself to a celebration dinner or a new poster for your dorm room. Adding a reward to the goals doubles your chances of success and helps you establish good study habits for future semesters.

Step 6: Cut Yourself Some Slack

Finally, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you get to finals week and you’re still feeling crushed, take a moment and think of what you have accomplished, what you have learned, and how far you’ve gone (even if it doesn’t seem like a lot). Then, decide what it was that you did wrong. Maybe the class was too advanced or you took on too much this semester. While you don’t want to make excuses, knowing why you feel like you’re falling behind can help you pick yourself up for next semester.

Can You Take College Classes when in High School?

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College classes in High School

Whether you are eager to begin your college career or are looking for a challenge outside your regular high school classes, you may be asking yourself if you can take college classes while in high school. Well, we have some good news for you: you absolutely can take college courses while you’re still in high school! Here are a few things you need to know before you get started.

Get some second opinions

Maybe you’re a straight-A student or an overachiever who loves to take on academic challenges. Or maybe you just like the idea of getting a jump-start on the credits you’ll need. Whatever the case, you should get some opinions from those who know you best before you start exploring your options.

Start with your guidance counselor. These professionals are trained to know local college options, along with classes open to you. If they’ve been around long enough, they’ll also know if the classes are appropriate for you to take and if you’ve met the necessary pre-requirements.

You may also want to talk to your most trusted high school teacher, especially if he or she teaches the subject in which you want to take classes. They can give you an honest opinion on if they think you’re really ready to take on a college class, especially if you are already busy with regular classes and clubs.

Know your options

Many high schools work with community colleges to provide top performing students with access to college classes as part of the normal curriculum. This may mean travel to college campuses or having a professor travel to you. You’ll most likely get both college credits and high school credits in one!

Your second option is to go straight to the source — the college itself! Community colleges are your best and more affordable options. They cater to non-traditional students and often have programs or beginning college courses geared towards those who haven’t completed high school yet.

Here’s where your high school guidance counselor comes in handy again. They will show you how to apply, find, and register for classes (or will point you to the person that can). If you’re going for a four-year school, you may also want to check in with them so they can speak to a college admissions counselor or advisor on your behalf.

Don’t get discouraged

Let’s say you’re not exactly ready to begin college early or there aren’t any options for high school students in your area. Don’t worry! You can still get the college experience! For one, you can take AP (Advanced Placement) courses. If you pass the AP class, you can receive college credit or opt out of some classes when you get to college. It’s the best of both worlds!

You can also look into online college courses offered through programs like Coursera, Khan Academy, or through colleges like Harvard. The best part of this is that these classes are often free or inexpensive. You’ll get prepared for college classes and learn, be challenged, and learn a new lesson!

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.

 Image Sources (1,2)

9 Best Secret Study Spots on Campus

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What’s your study style like? Do you love to cram in one session or are you a fan of spreading it out over the course of the semester? Do you need music, a friend, or extra notes? Whatever your study habits and needs, a good session wouldn’t be complete without a good location. It must be quiet, off the beaten track, and distraction free. These best study spots on campus are ready to become your go-to place to prepare for your next exam.

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  1. Smaller Libraries

In addition to the main library, most larger universities have several smaller libraries outside of their main branch. These libraries are usually for specific schools or subjects, such as biology or music. Because they’re specialized, there are not as packed or frequented, meaning you’re almost guaranteed to find a huge table or an empty corner to park yourself for the afternoon.

  1. Garden Benches

Shakespeare-style or Victorian gardens are popular on older campuses. These places are not just perfect for a stroll, but they also are home to many private nooks and crannies perfect for studying. Go exploring with your backpack of notebooks and see what perfect bench or lawn you can find hidden in a beautiful garden!

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Outside of Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL.

  1. Empty Classrooms

Many colleges are not huge fans of students taking over their classrooms after hours. But as long as you abide by the rules, leave if a class comes or group comes in, and keep the room in pristine shape, you should be fine. Just be sure to know when the classrooms lock up so you’re not stuck inside late at night.

  1. Learning Centers

Learning, writing, and research centers are not utilized nearly enough — but they should be. Not only are they the perfect place to get help for that math problem you don’t understand or the paper you need a second opinion on, but they also usually have private rooms you can use to study. Stop by yours today to see what they have to offer.

  1. Reservable Study Rooms

Need a place for a study group? Contact your librarian for a reservable study room perfect for a group of two or more. Most come equipped with whiteboards or even technology you can use to make your studying complete. But first come, first serve, so book ahead!

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  1. Vacant Computer or Tech Labs

Now that most students have their own computers, tech labs are becoming a thing of the past. But that means there’s more space for you to spread out or to have a friend join you. And even if the lab is taken, most of the users will have headphones on which means you’re guaranteed a pretty sound-proof room.

  1. Music Practice Rooms

If you love to study with music but hate wearing headphones, head to a music practice room. You may need a music student to help you get in or make a reservation, but they can be a great place for a louder session. They are also ideal if you need to play back a professor’s lecture or are studying a video or presentation.

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  1. By Art Displays

Let great art inspire you! Color and the peaceful and calm energy will help you concentrate on bringing a bit of creativity to your study habits. Bonus points if you are able to study in an art exhibition at a campus museum or gallery.

  1. Closed Cafeterias

Between breakfast and lunch, many campus cafeterias shut down and go dark until the next meal. Since no one has a reason to pass through and only the sounds of the cafeteria workers in the background, you can accomplish a lot in those quiet hours.

 Image Sources (1,2,3,4)

How High School Seniors Can Work Smarter

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In today’s society, most teenagers have a larger problem with understudying than overstudying–most, but not necessarily all. Although not knowing the material is going to hurt your grade, reviewing the material so much that it starts to run together is just as bad.  There’s nothing worse than sitting down to take a test and having your mind become as blank as the sheet sits in front of you .

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Besides the ordinary schoolwork, there are quite a few aspects of our lives that we tend to overemphasize and worry about. Practice does make perfect, but that doesn’t mean you should practice kicking the ball until you break your toe, and if you sing a song one thousand times over, you’ll be so hoarse that you won’t be capable of singing in front of a live audience.

If you want to maintain your high average, healthy body, soprano voice, and–quite frankly–your sanity, it’s important that you learn the difference between hard work and smart work. Hard work is a vital aspect of smart work, but the difference between the two is the end product:  a happy you, or a stressed and overworked you.  I know the outlook that I’d prefer.

Hard work is studying until twelve AM;  smart work is studying just as hard, but only until 9 PM.  Part of being a smart worker is realizing that if you can’t find time to complete every single item on your to-do-list, it isn’t the end of the world.
Tomorrow is a wholly new day, and if you’re well rested, you’ll be prepared to tackle that list–and even more smart work.

–Tori A. from Prep For A Day

How do you attempt to work “smart” instead of “hard”?

Dress for Success: The Perfect Study Outfit

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School is officially back in session and that brings late nights of studying. As soon as I get home, I usually change into an outfit that is a lot comfier than my high school uniform! I think the key to studying is to be as comfy as possible so you can focus more on your work, rather than your outfit! I have put together for y’all an outfit that I typically wear when studying!

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A Comfy T-Shirt

I typically change into a nice, loose-fitting t-shirt once I get home. Lots of mine are from various school events, but I love how cute this Lauren James one is!

Norts (Nike Shorts)

I live in my norts (also know as nike shorts or running shorts). I have so many pairs that it is slightly ridiculous! They are so comfy and perfect for working out (or just dressing very casual). I love the blue color of this pair!

A Sweatshirt

Perfect for studying in a cold library or on a day when it’s a bit cooler outside. I love my Vineyard Vines Shep Shirts since they are so soft and versatile. I have one in navy, that is very similar to this one, and I love it!

A Headband (to Keep Your Hair Out of Your Face)

I know that personally, when my hair is down in my face it can be pretty distracting (aka I have to push it out of my face every two seconds). I opt to put it a cute headband. I love Lululemon headbands, like this one since they hold your hair so well!

What is your favorite outfit to study in? Let me know in the comments!

Ace Your First College Paper!

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Educators are notorious for giving essays at the beginning of the school year.  It’s the ideal way for them to screen everyone in the class and assess their individual strengths and weaknesses. Most of us would prefer to fall to have more (if not all) strengths, but the truth is, we all could use a little extra advice! These a few tips that are guaranteed to help you write a solid essay, and they aren’t the least bit difficult. Just remember that a huge part of your grade comes from your effort, and there’s no writing trick that can teach you that!

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1.  Make An Outline:  Students usually hate making outlines because they’d rather get straight to the writing. Take those extra ten minutes by putting together an outline. You might be tempted to skip it and save some time, but your grade may suffer because your essay will lack flow and organization.  Having an outline allows you to organize all of your thoughts into one fluid essay.

2.  Use A Thesaurus Moderately:  Wanting to impress the teacher with some unconventional vocabulary is typically a smart move on your part.  However, it’s best to limit your use of thesaurus words to less than four words per paragraph;  if you use any more, your teacher will notice an odd trend.  Also, make sure you know the exact definition of a word before using it (otherwise, it could come back to haunt your grade).

3.  Write Introductions Last:  If writing introductions gives you undue stress, just wait until you’ve finished all other components of your essay before tackling it.  Since the introduction is essentially a summary of your essay, it will be much easier to write when you have the entire essay in front of you.

What are some of your tips for writing the best essay?

–Tori A. from Prep For A Day

Countdown ’til Summer

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Spring break is over, and summer is around the corner, but not so fast… there is still one more round of finals to take before the beach days, barbecues, and baseball games are in full effect. Perhaps you took a trip with your friends to a place with endless sun and clear blue oceans, maybe you volunteered your time and participated in an alternative spring break, but most likely you lounged around your house with your family and caught up with your friends back home. Regardless of how you spent your spring break, the reality is that you’re back on campus, and there’s only a few weeks left of the semester which means one thing: crunch time!

First thing‘s first. Don’t Procrastinate! You’ve heard it from your professors, your RA and naturally, your parents. If it wasn’t so common to see the library jam packed at midnight during finals week, it wouldn’t be such a reoccurring statement. We get it, you have 4 months to complete something, so you put it off thinking you’ll get back to it, the problem is you never do! A helpful suggestion to keep you organized is a To-Do list. There is no better feeling then getting something done and crossing it off your list. Utilize your professor’s office hours, and take advantage of study groups.  Sometimes you retain more information when it isn’t being delivered by a demanding professor. Get ahead & stay ahead!

Studying may not be the most entertaining part of college, but setting aside a time when both you and your roommate buckle down and drill into the books could end up being productive.  Come up with a plan, and upon completion, grab fro-yo as a treat! Don’t forget: a reward is always good motivation.

It’s always a great feeling opening that email notification saying you have a package from home. OCM is committed to making sure students feel the love on campus from their family. We have recently added healthy option care packages; so if you’re gluten free, vegan, or dedicated to working out, we have a package especially for you. There are plenty of treats in each pack, so be sure to share with your roommate! We love to hear feedback as well, so if there is something you wish was in your care package, let us know! Hard works always deserves compensation!

 Spirit Pack

Writing a Research Paper Pt 2: Credible Sources

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Writing a research paper takes time. Making an outline is part of the journey, but finding adequate research to back up your argument or topic is where things get tricky. As a college student, you should know by now the do’s and don’ts of research papers, but just in case you forgot and are in panic mode, don’t worry. I’ve got you.

Do: Before anything, make sure you’ve picked a topic that isn’t too broad. Maybe you want to talk about dogs, specifically how certain breeds are viewed by society and any stigmas they carry, ie; Pit bulls. Instead of just hitting fingers to keyboard right away, try to narrow your topic down a little more first. Trying to research a topic as broad as that will pull up a plethora of resources some helpful, and some not helpful at all. You’ll spend more time sifting through research than you will even writing your paper. Try something like, “the misconception of Pit bulls in society. Dangerous or mis-trained by owners”. Or, if you’re on the other side of the argument, try researching the breed of dog, the genetic traits that make them more or less aggressive, and events in history that have given them the stigma they hold today. Point being, the more specific, the better.

Don’t: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to be careful using Google for your research purposes, but if you are an avid Wikipedia user, this is for you. Wikipedia is great. When you’re looking up quick facts about events in a movie or character in a game or novel, it’s the perfect outlet. The problem with Wikipedia is that it isn’t a credible source, meaning it can be edited and altered by just about anyone, and no one checks to see if the information presented is factual. When researching for your paper, try to use your college’s online library for scholarly articles and databases. Most times, these articles within the database will even have an APA citation ready for you to use (or study if you’re unsure of how to format it). If you must use Google, try to use Google Scholar. Much like your school’s library, Google Scholar can be filtered by Boolean phrases and can be trusted for credible sources. Just make sure that your professor hasn’t specified that the sources must be within the last 5, 10 years. Some professors will ask for recent research, in which case you can filter the search results by the year.

Do:┬áCheck your research and compare it to your outline BEFORE you start writing your paper. If you’re like me, your research and notes can get a little jumbled around. You might start writing one part of your paper and insert a few quotations from your research and leave out some of the important ones. When you compare your research to your outline, you can break up your information and research by sections such as findings, methodology, statistics, etc. This will help you stay on track and organized from start to finish. A smooth flow in a research paper is key ┬áto a strong argument. If your reader gets confused, your argument will fall flat.

Don’t: If your paper is supposed to be 8 pages in length not including a title page and work’s cited, don’t use up 6 of the pages with long, misplaced quotations. Having a lot of research is great, it means you’ve taken the time to learn a lot about your subject and you’re excited to share with others. Make sure your professor ┬áknows how much work you’ve put into your paper by adding your own thoughts, feelings and understanding of the topic at hand. The quotations are great to back up your thoughts, but try not to let them overtake your entire paper. And, as always, make sure you use the proper in-text citations! Plagiarism is taken very seriously, and even if you don’t mean to take information from another author or scholar and paraphrase, summarize or quote without citations, you could face some serious consequences. If you’re not sure if you’ve cited correctly or adequately, try heading to your university library or asking your professor for help.