Category Archives: College Life

How To Ace Group Projects

Filed under: College Life, Education, Tips - Angelina
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BookRenter Blogger Biography Cameron Tranchemontagne

Some people love working in groups – it comes naturally to them and they are happy to collaborate with, or manage, a team towards the completion of a common goal. For others, working on group projects can be the most frustrating, infuriating, annoying, and/or confounding principles of higher education. Class assignment groups are mixed with students that have unique points of view and methods to approaching tasks. Often times, people working together in groups (by assignment or even by choice) may not agree on everything and may have difficulty working together as a team.

Here is some advice on how to make the best out of your next team project:

1. Assign Roles

Everyone in the group should do a fair share of the work, but how do you know who should do what? Divide up the project tasks so that each group member has at least one responsibility. I recommend letting everyone choose their own roles since each member will have a better idea of their own strengths and weaknesses, which will result in a happier experience and overall better outcome. If there is a certain task that nobody wants to be assigned to, try breaking that task up into smaller parts for everyone to complete together, or perhaps excuse whoever takes the role from doing as much as everyone else. Assigning group duties will ensure everyone is pulling their own weight and working together towards completion.

2. Coordinate

Conflicts can easily happen when trying to schedule a meeting time between several college students. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to find a time between everyone’s classes, work, activities, and social life (wait, do those exist in college?), but a great way to find out everyone’s availability is to compare schedules on websites such as Doodle. Be sure to schedule at least the next group meeting (if not all of them) before departing, otherwise it will be hard enough just trying to coordinate with everyone not face-to-face. Speaking of coordinating; be sure to establish the most reliable form of communication.

3. Communicate

Constant and frequent communication is key. If there isn’t clear communication between team members, problems happen. Once, I ended up researching the same stuff as my group partner and we had to ask for an extension. Another time, a team member didn’t even know he was in our group because he was absent the day groups were assigned and nobody let him know. On more than one occasion, my groups have had fundamental disagreements about the main thesis of our presentation. Get my point? Headaches like these can easily be avoided if communication is kept through each member of the group. Teams cannot function efficiently without communication. Everyone should have a way of contacting each group member (email, phone number, etc.). I suggest creating a contact sheet for everyone to have. Don’t be the group that gets left stranded on presentation day because the team member responsible for bringing in the finished product is nowhere to be found, and no one has his/her phone number.

 4. Collaborate Online

Collaborate together online outside of meetings to continue working on the project. Email works, but may be the slowest and not the most effective method for group projects. Facebook has become a great place for people to link up and join group pages to share ideas and files. I like to use Google Drive whenever I am working in a group project. Google Drive is just like Microsoft Suite software, except it is all free and stored online in The Cloud.  Google Drive can be used for word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, drawings, maps, and more through downloadable apps. Why use email to send files back and forth when everyone can work remotely on the same file at the same time, live! I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already because you can even see who has contributed to what sections of the file. And this is a perfect way to work on the project without having to have everyone get together. All work can be assessed at any time, from any location with internet.

Group projects are not always easy, but working together as a team is a life skill necessary for college and beyond.  It will come easier with more practice and with time, you will be an expert on how to work as a team.

What do you do to ace your team projects? Share with us in a comment below!

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The Secret To A Good Night’s Sleep

Filed under: College Life, Health & Fitness, Tips - Angelina
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Sylwia BaranBookRenter Blogger Biography

Sleep is important to our health and overall well-being, yet it’s something that college students never get enough! This is not surprising considering college students are constantly studying, under tremendous amounts of stress, over use electronics, and often have a poor diet. It’s time to stop that yawning and learn four tips to getting a good night’s sleep:

 

1. Limit Your Eating Before Bed

You may have heard that you shouldn’t eat too much before going to bed because you will gain weight, but did you also hear that it can also be the reason you’re having trouble falling asleep? Watch what you eat before you go to sleep. Stay away from red meat and fatty, sugary, and spicy foods before bed because they are harder to digest and will make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, keep to healthy, low-calorie snacks to satisfy any late night cravings.

 

2. Create A Bedtime Routine

Sometimes you just need to prepare your body and mind for sleep. About an hour before actually getting into bed, start to do things that relax you, like taking a warm shower, making sure your room is dark, or lighting a bedside candle. This way, when you finally go to sleep, both your body and mind are already relaxed, which will allow you to fall asleep quicker. Everyone is different, so find a routine that works for you.

 

3. Turn Off Electronic Distractions

When you’re lying in bed, it may seem like the perfect time to scroll through your Facebook news feed, look at new posts on Instagram, or even watch another TV show favorite on Netflix. You may find this relaxing, but electronic use before sleep actually stimulates your brain and makes it harder to fall asleep. Turn off your television, phone, tablet, and any other electronics in the room to get a better night’s rest.

 

4. Increase Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in our body that helps regulate our sleeping cycles. Melatonin levels often change depending on the season, which can change your sleeping habits. It is also available as a dietary supplement for those who may having issues falling or staying asleep. Talk to your doctor before considering any new dietary regimens.

 

College can be filled with pulling all-nighters, early morning classes, and not the best habits before sleep. However, if anyone knows the importance of a good night’s sleep, it is a college student. Try these suggestions to get a better night of rest and share with us what works for you in a comment below.

 

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5 Ways To Shape Up For Spring

Filed under: College Life, Health & Fitness, Tips - Angelina
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Darlene Megino BookRenter Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

It looks like winter is finally coming to its end. Now it’s time to get back into shape after hibernating all winter. Don’t fret! Getting in doesn’t have to require a gym or an entirely new health routine. Here are five easy ways to get yourself into shape just in time for spring!

1. Stair Master

A simple way to exercise those muscles is to avoid elevators and escalators (if possible) and take the stairs instead. Make this a daily task and each day climb the stairs faster, eventually to the point of sprinting. Get that heartbeat up! If you don’t frequently visit places with stairs, then go somewhere that has them, like to a nearby mall or parking garage. If you climb up and down the stairs for at least 30 minutes, you will definitely be sweating by the end of it!

2. Water Jug Lifts

Have some empty milk gallons or water jugs lying around? Fill them up with water and you’ve got your very own homemade weights. Do about 10 reps and 3-4 sets of curls, and you’ll feel the burn! You can definitely do other arm workouts using water/milk gallons as weights too. This work out is quick and is sure to get great results!

3. At Home Work Outs

Don’t have the time to head out to the gym for a quick workout? No problem! If you have 20 minutes to spare, then this is the workout to help you get into shape! Repeat this circuit workout as many time as possible within a 20 minute period. This is actually one of my favorite at home workouts! You will definitely feel the burn and will sweat up a storm. This full body workout will have you looking and feeling great, just in time for spring!

4. Park Exercise

With spring comes more sun! With longer days, take advantage of local parks for some outdoor exercise. Try to follow the above park workout for some quick and fun physical activity. It’s more fun if you bring a friend! I know some people still have plenty of snow outside and going to a park may not be an easy option, but even some outdoor exercises such as biking, running, or even walking is much better than just sitting at home on the couch.

5. Just Juice It

Juicing is a great way to detox, get nutrients into your body, and get a big boost of energy. I suggest juicing your own juices, rather than purchasing them from a store, because this way you can choose and know exactly what you are drinking, without a lot of sugar and/or preservatives. Juicing is a great way to get into shape without having to even hit the gym. It’s also a perfect on-the-go meal on your way to class or work. There’s tons of recipes to choose from, varying from detox juices, weight loss juices, or to just yummy juices!

You don’t have to go overboard with dieting and exercise to shape up for the new season. Just try some (or all) of these ideas! These small changes can make a big difference and you’ll be ready for spring in no time!

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5 Tips To Improve Your Writing

Filed under: College Life, Education, Tips - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

Essays are a huge part of college. No matter what you’re studying, there is bound to be at least one class in which the instructor assigns an essay (sometimes several). If you don’t mind writing, then it may be a piece of cake to crank out a five page paper. However, if you aren’t a big fan of writing and put it off until the last minute, it can be a nightmare. Either way, there are several important tips every college student should know to make your writing the best it can possibly be.

1. Find A Quiet Space

It is more difficult to study, do homework, prepare for exams, or write if you are sitting in a crowded, buzzing Starbucks. I used to bring my laptop there, thinking all of the other writers and readers would inspire me, but I only ended up distracted by the sound of steaming milk, coffee orders, and not-so-quiet conversations. When you’re in a quiet environment, such as the library or a study lounge, you’ll focus better. I also recommend to leave your living space to minimize typical distractions (roommates, television, etc.). If you tell yourself you are physically going somewhere to write, you will take it more seriously and be much more focused when you are in that environment.

2. Review, Review, Review

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen friends and fellow students make, is that they don’t take the time to re-read what they wrote when they have finished. However, reviewing your writing is so important! Avoid yourself the embarrassment of turning in a paper with simple mistakes (spelling, punctuation, and grammar). A lot of professors actually dock points for simple mistakes such as these. Reviewing it can also ensure that you have covered everything you wanted to in your paper and that it all makes sense. This is also the chance to read it aloud to hear how it will sound to your reader. Keep in mind who your reader is (your professor), and write it for them.

3. Remove Unnecessary Words

People sometimes add filler words to their writing to make it longer, which is clever (and I’ve done it too), but it’ll only make your writing sound immature. When you edit, delete these filler words, including “that,” “so,” “and,” etc. Sometimes you may not even realize these writing habits until you review your writing. Also, search your paper for repetitive words. Trying replacing words used often in your paper with synonyms to still explain your point without sounding redundant.

4. Add Detail

Depending on what class and topic your essay is for, it might be a good idea to spice it up a bit with some added detail. It’s good to be informative in your writing, but to really grab a reader’s attention, add some adjectives to make your writing descriptive and easy to visualize.  Write everything as if you’re really seeing it in front of you as it happens. J.K. Rowling and Tolkien had great success because their visions translated so well to paper with their descriptions.

5. Use Another Pair Of Eyes

Whether it’s a friend, classmate, or your instructor, have someone else read your writing. If they’re confused about something, that’s cue that revisions need to be made. Ask them for their honest feedback and to get out their pen to provide editing suggestions. You could even take it one step further and have them write down what they think the main idea of each paragraph is. If they have a different idea of what you were going for, it’s your chance to fix it.

Look for inspiration by taking a closer look at some of your favorite author’s writing. What in particular do you like about it? When you find the answer, learn to incorporate that into your own writing. The more you practice and try to improve your writing, the easier it will become to write. This skill will be helpful not just for college, but for any career as well.

How have you improved your writing skills? Share with us in a comment below!

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Spring Break On A Budget

Filed under: College Life, Fun Ideas, Money/Budget, Seasonal Celebrations, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Bailey Buckingham BookRenter Blogger Biography

Every year, I daydream about a beautiful, warm, tropical place that I can fly away to, but then I remember that I don’t exactly have the money for such a trip. Working full time and going to school is something a lot of us are familiar with – along with not being able to pay for a flight to Miami and a hotel room for five days. However, just because you cannot afford to have a luxurious Spring Break, doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck! Here’s a few ideas to have a memorable Spring Break while on a budget:

1. Alternative Trips

Some universities are awesome and have packages for Spring Break trips. I go to Texas State University and they offer a week long mission trip. I’m considering to go on the trip because they take us around Texas to help out at shelters, and then drive us to Louisiana to help there. Not to mention, our nights are free to do as we please! Free New Orleans trip AND you get to help out so many people in just a few days!

2. Drive Around

Explore your state (or states nearby)! There’s no reason you have to fly to get away. It’s so much cheaper to drive. Grab two or three friends, split the cost, and don’t splurge on fancy hotels. Plan some favorite activities and you’ll realize the company is really what makes a vacation fun.

3. Vacation Bundles

Like always, Google can be your best friend. There are a ton of sites that offers packages and plans for college students to go on a trip for spring break! Some of my friends have used Student City because they offer safe, reliable, and convenient vacation packages that have everything included in the price. Oftentimes, the more you can bundle, the more you can save.

4. Plan Ahead Next Year

It may be too late for this year, but if you have some solid friends that you know you’ll still love next year, it’s SO much cheaper to plan ahead and to pull your resources. You’ll get flights way cheaper, along with hotels. I planned a trip to Thailand for next December, and my flight is dramatically cheaper than if I were planning this trip for a few months away!

So, don’t fret! If you plan ahead and work within your means, I promise you can still have an amazing Spring Break!

Leave a comment below and share with us your plans for Spring Break 2015!

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