We’ve all been in the class where it is hard to stay awake. Here are some tips for staying awake in class!

  • Take a cold shower.
    Getting up a little earlier to take a cold shower can help you wake up quickly.
  • Bring a water bottle.
    Drinking plenty of water can help you stay awake in class. You can’t fall asleep if you’re constantly drinking water.
  • Eat a snack.
    This doesn’t mean to eat food that has no healthy attributes. Foods like apples, nuts, and strawberries have natural substances that can help you stay awake.
  • Sit in the front of the class.
    Placing yourself at the back of the class is a sure way to fall asleep. There is more of a chance of not falling asleep if you sit in front of the class because the professor is standing in front of you. Sitting in the front can also make you want to participate in the discussion, which will help you stay focused and comprehend the subject better.
  • Good posture.
    Not only does sitting in the front (or middle) of the class help you, but having a good posture can also help stay alert. Slouching in your seat can trick your mind to get too relaxed. Sitting up straight can help you stay alert when the lecture is long and you’re having an off day.
  • Use the restroom.
    Excusing yourself from the class to go to the restroom can help stretch your legs and body. Splashing some cold water can also help you stay alert.
  • Sleep more.
    Getting more sleep the night before your class can help you stay alert. If you’re well rested then you don’t have to worry about falling asleep in class the next day.

 

It’s that time of the year…. time to decide what classes to take this upcoming semester! It’s important to know how to pick your classes so you can graduate on time, and get the most out of your college experience and your money!  Here are a few tips to guide you in the process of choosing your classes.

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1. Start the process early.

Avoid the stress, and don’t wait until the last minute, or else… well, let’s just say, you may end up with one crazy schedule!

2. Check your graduation requirements.

Review your school’s course catalog. If you have already declared your major, choose some courses that fulfill general requirements in that area. If you have yet to declare a major, get your core requirements out of the way or pick some classes in subjects that spark your interest. Some classes require pre-requisites, therefore make sure you have met those requirements before enrolling.

3. Read RateMyProfessor reviews.

Head over to ratemyprofessor.com and read through the reviews.  You can’t always trust the reviews on this website, but they give you an insight of what the class/professor is like. If you have friends who have taken those professors before, ask them about the course workload and the experience they had in the class.

4. Balance the types of classes.

If you can avoid it, don’t take multiple classes that similar or with the same professor. Needless to say, it can get a little overwhelming studying for similar subjects throughout the semester. Variety will keep you sane!

5. Count your credits.

Be aware of how many credits your classes are and add them up, to ensure that you meet the full-time student requirements. You don’t want to be short a credit or two!

6. Create different schedule options.

Now that you have your list of classes you are interested in, it’s time to work them into a potential schedule. Here comes the really the tricky part, you will need to decide whether you want to take your classes in the morning, afternoon, or certain days of the week, especially if you currently have a job or are involved in any school activities. Create at least two different versions of schedules to consider. [Feel free to print out our handy Class Schedule Planner Grid to assist you build multiple schedules.]

7. Visit your advisor. 

I must admit, some advisors can be cluessless and useless, or definitely help you get your life together! If your advisor falls into the “helpful” category,  he/she will likely have advice about what they think works or doesn’t work and may even suggest classes you hadn’t even considered. If you feel like your advisor isn’t much help, try talking to a different advisor in your department.

8. Schedule as soon as possible.

Once you have your final draft, go sign up for your classes. You definitely don’t want to miss out enrolling in a class you MUST take this semester. Remember, classes have a limited seat capacity, therefore they can fill up very quick.

Best of luck this semester! 🙂

 

In a day and age where tech comes first, keeping a paper planner probably isn’t all too exciting. But when due dates and events start to pile up, you’re gonna wish that you had a handy planner to keep you on track. Here are a few tips to help you start and keep a planner or journal.

Photo courtesy of CreativePlanners.com

Take your planner everywhere – There’s no point in getting a planner if you aren’t going to use it. Make sure you have your planner on you at all times in case a new event or a new due date pops up. Seeing your week or your month all in one spread can also help you schedule new things – you wouldn’t want to pick up an extra morning shift at work the day after a night out with your friends.

Use your phone – Sometimes you just can’t bring your planner with you or take an extra minute to pencil it in. You can always use your phone to keep track of events in times of need but always make sure to transfer your events do your paper planner. I personally rely heavily on my phone calendar but in my opinion, it just doesn’t do for me what a paper planner can. There’s a ton of more advanced planner apps out there but sometimes the interface can get too cluttered. Phones are great for setting reminders but come up short when giving you an accurate overview of your tasks and event so I suggest that you use your phone to set reminders rather than for planning.

Color code – Using codes for your different tasks and events can help tremendously when you’re looking for the information you need quickly. It also helps important due dates and tasks stand out so that you don’t accidentally miss it. Use different colors for school, work, due dates, bills, and more. 

Use the right materials – Just as important as the actual planner, your materials can make a huge difference in efficiency. For example, there are some events that crop up that aren’t necessarily set in stone. In times like these, you can use sticky notes or tabs to write the event on so that your planner isn’t littered in strikethroughs and scribbles. Another great solution is erasable pens.

One task at a time – Don’t overload yourself with a bunch of to-dos. It’s tempting to fill up every line and every checkbox but you have to set realistic expectations. Planning isn’t supposed to make you feel bad or stress you out over not accomplishing your goals. When you set unrealistic goals you can’t achieve, you’ll less likely want to keep a planner that reminds you of your ‘failures’ in the first place. Be kind to yourself and to your capabilities. 

Divide your workload – To help you with overscheduling yourself, divide out your tasks and events. Use either the Eisenhower Matrix, Covey’s Time Management Grid or both to help you determine the importance and/or urgency of a task. Using this method, you can now divide your tasks and events into your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly schedules. 

Make time for planning and journaling – We all know that life gets hectic sometimes – especially in the Fall semester with school, a handful of important holidays, and just the end of the year. As mentioned before, you can always use your phone to help with planning but you also have to make time for your paper planner. Make sure you schedule a designated time for planning and journaling. Depending on your needs and your methods this can take anywhere from as little as 5 minutes to 45 minutes.

Explore your needs and different methods that help meet them – Finding the perfect planner can be daunting. There are so many options and layouts to choose from but sometimes too many choices can make the decision even harder. Choose one that fits your needs and wants. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on planning, choose a minimal layout that gets down to the basics. If you want more a comprehensive lifestyle planner, choose one that has dedicated spaces for those things. When choosing a planner for yourself, also take into account the size that is most comfortable for you to keep on hand at all times whether it’s pocket-style, full size, or even weekly or monthly printables.

Photo courtesy of The Chic Cupcake

Bullet journaling – If traditional planners just don’t cut it for you, you can try your hand at the bullet journaling trend. This method does away with traditional planners altogether and allows you to basically create your own layouts and spreads. The great thing about this method is that it extends beyond just planning and to-do lists and ventures into real complexities of different lifestyles. You can add sections for a mood tracker, weight tracker, seasonal bucket lists, affirmations, and so much more.

Be budget friendly – Planner and bullet journals can get pretty costly. Always keep in mind that you can DIY a great planner. So many brands and lines have create-your-own options where you can buy the sleeve and filler pages separately. Even better than that, there are so many free downloadables and printables online. If bullet journaling is your thing, you can even upgrade regular notebooks, journals, or sketchbooks to avoid paying upwards of $20 – $30 for a dedicated bullet journal. If you need DIY help, there are also tons of videos online like this one from YouTuber SeaLemon.

Personalize it! – Add your own touch by using stickers, washi tape, or even your own doodles and drawings. If you aren’t artsy or satisfied with your handwriting, stickers and washi tape can help a great deal. You can use stickers for your headings – you can either buy journal sticker booklets or print your own on sticker paper. You can use washi tape on page borders to mark important pages or even outline boxes.

 

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You probably don’t need to hang onto that freshman level history book for the rest of your life nor do you want to pay a lot of money for it to sit in the back of your closet for years. This is where renting can be a great option!

Renting textbooks is just like renting movies or sporting equipment. When you rent a textbook, you pay a discounted price to use the book you need for the semester. This allows you to pay less up front but still use the textbook you need. When you’re done, you just return the book back to the rental company!

Do keep in mind that since you are renting, the book needs to be returned in a reusable condition. In addition, it is important to return your books by their due date to avoid any late fees.

Its August and that means school is starting up again soon! Preparing for a new semester can get hectic especially if you’re still in vacation mode. Start preparing now a little at a time so when the first day rolls around, you’ve got everything in control! Here’s a rough checklist to keep you on track!

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Registration
If you haven’t already, register for classes! So many students put off registering until the week before school starts but by this time, all the good classes at great times taught by awesome professors are full. Crafting a great schedule could make or break your semester so make sure you do your research and meet with your advisors.
Since my first semester of college, I’ve kept a spreadsheet of my course hours and I use it to track the classes I’ve taken, the grades I made, and the classes I still need. I’ve even broken it down further and split up my remaining courses into different semesters leading up to graduation. This way, when it comes to registration, I can pull up my spreadsheet and know exactly which classes to register for.

Applying for FAFSA
Many students rely on financial aid to pay for most, if not all, of their school expenses. If you rely on FAFSA, make sure you apply as soon as possible. Visit the FAFSA website here.

Packing
If you’re planning to live on campus, packing your things and moving in should probably one of your top priorities. If this is your first semester living away from home, you’re probably already stressed about leaving your friends and family behind for a couple of months. Get a handle on the stresses of moving by creating a moving checklist. Categorize essentials, things you need to purchase now, and things you can probably purchase once you’re there (to save on space). There are tons of premade packing and moving checklists available online like this one from College Board.

Summer Cleaning
Look, cleaning isn’t fun for most people. But organizing and going through your belongings before school starts make your day to day activities a whole lot easier. It allows you to take inventory of what you do (or don’t) have so when you go back to school shopping, you buy things that you actually need. Assess your closet and make sure you have essentials like socks and undershirts. Go through drawers and bins and collect all your pens and pencils and you might not even have to buy any more. Clear out old class folders and binders and reuse them.

Find or Create the Perfect Planner
Learn to get organized by using a planner. There are so many options and designs to choose from that can really help you stay on track. I always strayed away from traditional planners because I could never find one that fit my needs that’s also in my price range. If you’re anything like me, maybe you can try your hand at bullet journaling. You can personalize your own subheadings with a mood tracker, affirmations, goals, important dates, to-do lists, and many more!

Plan a Self Care Day
Usually, when you think of back to school checklists, you don’t think about self-care but for me, its probably the most important thing on my list. When school rolls around, I get stressed fast and easy so I make sure I’m in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually before the first day of classes. Find the activities that relax you and take a day to enjoy yourself.  For me, this means going on a detox (to purge my system of overall summer unhealthiness), booking a massage, getting my nails done, doing an at-home spa facial, and writing an emotionally and spiritually charged journal entry. To each their own.

Creating a Budget
No doubt about it, I spend more money when I’m in school. I have a reason to be out of the house almost every day, and it’s tempting to buy instead of make. Buying a coffee 4 times a week for the whole semester is easily $200-$300, now imagine if you’re also spending on lunch every day – keeping a tight reign on your spending habits can be daunting but you could make it easier by setting a budget.

Fix Your Sleeping Schedule
The days of staying up late and binge-watching Netflix are almost over – it’s time to fix your circadian rhythm. This can be hard if you’re a night owl plagued by insomnia, so I suggest starting off small. Figure out when your body starts to get tired and turn out your light, tv, and other distracting devices 30 minutes earlier. The next night, try doing it an hour earlier and so on. If this method doesn’t work, I usually force myself awake no matter how much sleep I got the night before which pretty much ensures I’ll be knocked out at a  decent hour later on. If all else fails, there are many sleeping aids on the market. If you’re wary of becoming overly dependent on sleeping aids or waking up with a “Nyquil hangover”, melatonin is a great alternative.

Get a Head Start
Working at a college textbook store has given me a lot of insight into the minds of college students. When customers come in, they usually aren’t familiarized with their schedule. Take some time before school starts to get ahead. Try to find the online syllabus to figure out what you need to be prepared for (and whether or not that textbook you weren’t planning to get might actually be worth renting). Try to mentally prepare for each class and make sure you’re not blind-sided by a much heavier course load than you were intending. Another great way to get a rough idea of how your classes might go is through RateMyProfessors.

Jump Start Your Brain
Not that you haven’t been using your brain all summer, but you might not have been engaging in as much active thinking, reading, and listening. Jump start your mind by engaging in activities that can simulate class time. Watch interesting TEDtalks or documentaries that will help simulate listening to a lecture and take note of when you find yourself zoning out. Do some light to medium reading to get you back into the swing of reading chapters upon chapters from your textbook.

Figure Out What Textbooks You Need
Purchasing textbooks is one of those things you have to time just right. You don’t want to buy them too early in case your professor changes titles and you don’t want to buy them too late in case the title goes out of stock. Check your online syllabus and start looking at prices and package options now. Keep in mind that prices might change, but it should still be in the rough ballpark. You can always buy or rent your textbooks in advance and return them for a refund as long as it’s within the refund window and it’s still in the same condition. If you don’t want to take a chance, always ask your professor on the first day of class for confirmation of the book title, edition, and/or ISBN and order your book as soon as possible.

Save money on your books by ordering from Textbook Solutions here!

Summer Beach

In a pinch and need to study quickly? Here are the best tips we have to make the most of your study time!

 

Great testing/quizzing tools and tips:

  • Organize your notes!
    • Studies show you can recall information better if it is closely related.
  • Practice Elaborative Rehearsal
    • Uses meaning to help remember and store information.
  • Quizlet
    • An app which allows you to play quizzing games on your phone.
  • Good ol’ flashcards
    • You can have your friends and family quiz you!
    • Studies show that you learn the information more effectively when you teach it to others 😉
  • Kahoot
    • An app that is similar to quizlet, it allows you to create your own questions and gain points for every correct question. It is the perfect study game to play with friends!
  • YouTube
    • Watch YouTube videos for terms you struggle to understand.

 

 

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DID YOU KNOW THAT…

  • Testing yourself or practicing is much more effective for remembering information compared to repeatedly reading your notes.
  • Repeated studying influences a student to become overconfident and to falsely believe that they know more than they actually do
  • Using self-reference (information that is related to you) can help improve long-term memory
  • The Action Observation Effect states that memory is better for observed actions than for verbal statements (visual imagery).

 

Practicing with friends is a great way to study. Although, we do not recommend procrastinating, we hope these strategies help you do well!  Testing/practicing allows for better retention and it helps keep the information in your memory for longer.

Taking notes can be a daunting task, and it can be critical to passing a class. Here are the best tips we have for making the most of your note-taking.

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Before the Lecture:

Do your homework and reading assignments. This will reinforce your understanding of the previous lecture and prepare you for the upcoming lecture.

Check your syllabus to see what the next lecture will cover. Review the applicable sections in your textbook.

If the professor has provided lecture material prior to class, download and print. Give them a thorough read and use them to help you structure your notes before class.

Write down any questions you have from the homework, reading, or lecture materials to ask the professor in class.

Pick a seat which is front and center! This is doubly important for large lecture halls. You’ll be able to hear the professor better, your view of the presentation will be unobstructed, the professor will be able to hear your questions, and it makes a good impression.

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During the Lecture:

Your posture affects your focus, so sit up straight, toward the edge of the chair.

You will not have time to write down everything the professor says word-for-word. Instead, listen for introductory/transition words and phrases like “the following,” “in conclusion,” “most importantly,” “in addition,” “on the other hand,” “this means” etc.

Pay attention to any keywords, formulas, concepts,  etc., that you noted during the pre-lecture prep.

If the professor writes it on the board, underlines it or highlights it, speaks more slowly or loudly than usual, or repeats something, it’s probably important and should be included in your notes.

Ask questions! If the professor doesn’t make it easy to ask questions during the lecture, write them down and ask them after class.

 

After the Lecture:

As soon as possible after your class ended (no longer than 24 hours later) take time to do a thorough review of your notes, as well as organize and clarify them. The sooner you revise your notes, the better, especifically if the class is hard or covered a lot of information.

Rewrite your notes to be more legible and aesthetically pleasing. This will give you a preliminary review while also making your notes easier to understand.

Review your notes on a weekly basis. You may prefer to plan in advance the days and times you’ll do your reviews.