Category Archives: Education

Crash Guide To Acing Finals: Suggestions From A Senior

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

Some people handle finals better than others, but for the majority of the college student population this is an incredibly stressful time. Time after time again, I have seen my peers work themselves into a state of perpetual anxiety induced by their fears over the outcome of their finals. They either feel that they have not studied enough, worry they studied the wrong material, or they let their procrastination get the best of them. But, when students obsessively worry about their finals, it can have detrimental effects. Some students find it harder to focus on individual tasks because of the sheer overwhelming amount of work constantly dividing their attention; some can’t sleep or force themselves to stay awake for unhealthy amounts of time; some turn to unhealthy decisions like Adderall (which should only be taken in small doses and only if prescribed by a doctor), which can cause liver damage and even addiction.

Finals can be stressful, but there are ways to overcome this challenge and walk away with pride.

Anxiety

I have struggled with anxiety in the past until I became a lazy and unmotivated teenager. I still struggle staying motivated to do my work, but I have come to realize that by being more laid back and not worrying so much about the material, I actually began to improve on my test and essay scores. I could more easily recall the information I had learned in class or studied for homework just by being more calm and collected. Then this brought confidence. If you feel that you are overwhelmed and drowning in work, take a break. Take a moment to think, reflect, breathe, and then plan out how you are going to approach your workload. Once you break it down on paper and have a solid plan, that Mt. Everest of work and responsibility is diminished to nothing but a bunny slope.

Preparation

Simply telling yourself “everything is going to be ok” is not enough (but it helps with anxiety). You actually have to put in the work. Write down your plan of what you want to get done and how long it will take to accomplish. I like to write down my plan in a personal agenda or calendar, but plenty of people are more inclined to use their phones or tablets. In each box (day), I write down what I want to accomplish for that day and I mark the due date for assignments. For example, I may write in the box for 5/11 that I want to work on an introduction to an essay that is due Friday. I write in the Friday box what time the essay is due. I continue to break down the assignment throughout the week to make the assignment easier and less daunting. Having a specific plan and visualizing due dates can help to keep you on task and organized.

Take Breaks

Finally, as mentioned before, don’t forget to take a break once in a while. Most experts agree that studying in 1 hour blocks with 15 minute breaks is the most effective way to study. That is not to say that you should follow this model perfectly. Sometimes when I am studying, I like to keep going even past an hour just to keep my momentum up. I generally just take a break once I start having difficulty focusing. This is a signal to me that my brain is tiring and can no longer stay on one task. No matter how long it takes you, once you start to feel brain-dead, take a quick break. Get up from your workstation to get a change of scenery and work your blood flow. Try to find something else that will engage your brain and/or body. Playing music, taking a walk, getting a snack, or talking to a friend are all great break-time activities. Just remember to keep it short. Sometimes a “quick break” can easily derail a perfectly good study session.

Sleep Well

Make sure you are getting enough sleep. The brain simply cannot function at full capacity when it is sleep deprived. This will just make things harder for yourself. Avoid late night cram sessions and definitely do not pull an all-nighter, no matter how desperate you may be to study material. You will be guaranteed to crash during your exam if you do. Sleep actually helps memory function and helps to keep focus, which are things that are definitely needed for finals.

Always remember that if you don’t get your desired grade on a final, it is not going to ruin your life. Surround yourself with positivity. Listen to some feel-good music, hangout or study with your best friends, and always remember: everything is going to be okay. Everyone has the potential to do well; never doubt your abilities. Just give your best shot at finals – giving anything less than your best, will only cheat yourself.

Good luck!

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Going Green For Earth Day

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

Earth Day started in 1970 to recognize the need for and celebrate environmental protection. Now, it is a global event, celebrated annually on April 22nd. There are typically many different festivals or events that occur on Earth Day with lots of activities to educate people on how to “go green.” “Going green” means to act in a way that is environmentally friendly that will protect the environment and sustain natural resources. There are many different ways (some simple, others creative) to “go green” this Earth Day and help make a difference!

1. Save Energy At Home

This is at the top of my list because it is the most common (and a simple) way to try to live green. Try reducing your utility usage (water, electricity, and heat/air conditioning) and not only will the environment thank you, but so will your wallet! Reducing the amount of utilities you use will save you money and the earth’s resources. Turn off unused lights, upgrade to more efficient appliances, reduce water usage, and insulate your windows and walls to conserve heat/air conditioning. Instead of sitting at home and watching television or playing videogames, consider going on a walk, exercising, learning to play an instrument (that’s not electric), or planting a tree! Distract yourself from the use of utilities for a while to make a difference and when you eventually do return to watching Netflix, please do so responsibly.

2. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies

This is a creative option that not many people consider. Using just vinegar, baking soda, lemons, and soap you can make your own cleaning supplies that are environmentally friendly. What most people don’t think about when using regular cleaning supplies is if the product label says it’s toxic to people, wouldn’t that imply that it is not so great for environment either? Pouring those cleaning supplies down the drain, or throwing away a Windex-soaked paper towel, exposes the environment to these toxins. Some products are labeled as eco-friendly, but be sure to read the label to be sure. Even still, you are better off creating your own cleaning products since you know the materials used first hand and will probably spend less money for them.

3. Buy Used And Donate Items

Buying and donating used items (that are still in good condition) are great ways to reuse and recycle items. Unfortunately, not a lot of people like to own previously used items because they want the newest stuff for themselves. This is the most common mentality since we have been taught how to be good consumers. However, this has led to overproduction of goods and an increase in waste. Not only is buying used a good way to “go green,” but it is also a great way to spend less money. Garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, and searching online are all great places to look for discounted used items. Also, buying used does not classify you as “lower class.” It classifies you as smart, responsible, and caring.

4. Buy Local Food

Do you know where your food comes from when you buy it from a store? It is likely that it traveled about 1,500 miles before ever reaching your dinner plate. Think about it. You are relying on the necessity of oil to have your food shipped to you. Oil debate aside, this takes a huge toll on the environment and disenfranchises local farmers trying to make a living with responsible farming practices such as intermittent grazing. If you buy from a local farmer’s market not only are you supporting that farmer, but you are also supporting your local economy and likely buying food that tastes much superior. You are also reducing the distance from the source, which reduces how many people handle your food, how much time your food is sitting on a shelf or in a truck, and you actually decrease the risk of your food expiring too soon or picking up a bacterium along the way. Fresh, local food tastes good, feels good, and does the body good.

These ideas are only a few ways you can “go green” for Earth Day, or any day for that matter. Sometimes small steps towards living an environmentally friendly life can make a big difference.

Leave a comment below to tell us how you’re helping the environment!

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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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5 Tips To Improve Your Writing

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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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Preparing For A New Semester

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BookRenter Blogger Biography Cameron Tranchemontagne

Winter break for most college students marks the epitome of vacation. Winter break also marks the half-way point of the school year. You most likely have already chosen your classes for this upcoming semester, so now all you have to do is prepare for them.

Here are a few ways to prepare for the upcoming semester:

1. Check The Readings

The first thing I do to prepare for the new semester is check to see what the readings will be like. I do a lot of reading and writing for my communication major, so I like to get an idea of which classes will have the heaviest work load. Doing this will help you learn where to allocate the most of your time and resources. Also, some professors assign readings even before the first day of class. It is good to be aware of this so you are not the only one not hanging in an essay on the first day of class.

2. Pre-Order Materials In Advance

The second thing I do is pre-order all books and supplies I might need. This assures me that I will have everything ready to go when the first day back to classes comes. I would rather have what I could need and not need them, than need them and not have them. You can always return something if it is not needed. Also take stock of your class supplies. If you need more notebooks, then go buy some more. Or you could take the high-tech, tree-saving route, and get a tablet to take all your notes on. Pens are also nice, as well as pencils for when the professor breaks out a surprise Scantron. Want to gain popularity among your peers? Be the only one in class with pencils during a pop quiz.

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 3. Learn Your New Schedule

Thirdly, it might be sensible to memorize your new schedule. You should print/draw your schedule on a piece of paper or put it all in a day planner. Do whatever you have to do to learn what your new schedule will be, so adjusting to it will be a lot easier. I had a roommate who wrote where he had to be every day for a whole month on a calendar on the first of each month. It took him maybe twenty minutes at the most and kept him well organized and on time for the whole month. Meanwhile, I lounged on our snack littered couch playing Skyrim and was late to class about 80% of the time because I didn’t do the same.

Don’t be that student that gets back to campus and realizes they are not ready. Do not wait last minute to scramble for supplies, be unprepared for your first assignment, or have no idea where your class is. Get a head start now to avoid any potential embarrassment!

What is the one thing you make sure to prepare for to start a new semester?

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