Staying Inspired During College

With readings, exams, and extra curricular activities on your plate, it is very common to feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the work that we have to do.  Especially during freshman year, when students are still adjusting, it is difficult to stay calm in moments of distress.  Don’t worry though; I have some great tips for you to keep you inspired and feeling strong when things get hard at school.

Number one; create an inspiration board and paste it on your dorm room wall, ceiling, computer background, or anywhere else you feel that you will see it most.  On your board, make sure to include a variety of pictures and phrases that emit positivity and your vision of happiness and success.  For example, put some pictures of you and your friends smiling and laughing together, a picture of a career you may want to have one day, your favorite animal, etc.  This may seem like a silly idea, but seeing these images around you on a daily basis will serve as inspiration for you to work harder in everything that you do and remember what it is that you are working for.  Also, during those times of crisis, such as finals week, you will be able to stay strong, knowing that all of the things you love and want to have are on their way if you keep working hard.

Number two; make it a part of your college life to – every so often – go to a new place or interact with new people.  It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and feel uninspired, which can make our crises seem even worse.  It is important that, as college students, we try new things…clubs, food, talking to new people even when we feel very shy, etc.  These new opportunities will keep us inspired and in a better mood so that when crises strike, we will know how to handle them head on!

Number three; what better way to calm a crisis than to avoid one in the first place? A great way to prevent crises from happening is to keep yourself in enough of routine.  Your day does not need to be 100% scheduled, but it is important to keep yourself somewhat structured and organized so that you can get a good amount of work done each day without saving it all for the last minute, which could cause a lot of potential stress.

School can definitely be a bit stressful sometimes, but it is important to remember to remain calm and inspired through these difficult moments.  Live your college life with inspiration, structure, and goals, and you will be sure to have less stress and crises in your life.  Good luck!

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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Impressing Your Professors: A ‘How To’ Guide For New Students

Going to a new school can be scary – from moving into a dorm to trying to navigate through the dining hall.  Luckily, I have a few tips to help you do well in your classes. Once you feel comfortable in the classroom, I promise that the other new aspects of college life will fall into place.

Although adjusting to college life can be difficult at first, it will get much easier once you feel comfortable in class.  For this reason, it is vital that you create strong connections with your professors.  The first step is to sit in the front of the classroom. This will make a great impression on your professor, even if you’re in a huge lecture hall.  Also, it will prevent you from getting distracted as easily during class and keep you off of your phone and Facebook.  Not to mention, since you’ll be paying more attention to lecture material, there’s a good chance your grade will increase as well.

The second step is to go to office hours!  Even if you understand the material fairly well, it can still be very beneficial for you (and your GPA) if you pop in and say hello to your professor during their office hours. They schedule these hours purposely so that students can come by. They can provide additional helpful information and clear up all of your questions.  Another great part about visiting your professors during office hours is that it may help you to find a clearer path concerning what you’re interested in as a major or career.  They can become your mentor and help inspire you to choose the direction in which you would like to go.  After all, isn’t that why they’re there?

The last step is something you probably know from high school, but is just as important now.  Can anyone guess? That’s right…class participation!  It is very important that you participate regularly – and not just for the sake of your grade. It’s also important that your professor gets to know you and (hopefully) is impressed with your enthusiasm toward learning.

Follow this “How-To Guide” and you will be good to go! I have no doubt that these helpful tools will be of great service to you! I wish you luck in school, but now I am confident that you won’t need it!

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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Surviving Finals Week

Finals week has crept up on us again – it’s time to dust off those textbooks and get down to business. Don’t be stressed, be prepared! Follow these important tips (and check here for even more!) to ensure that you make it through finals unscathed. From starting to study early, to giving yourself incentives, we cover it all. Keep reading

  1. START STUDYING EARLY – The finals themselves really aren’t the worst part of finals week – it’s the fact that we procrastinate, and then have to stress and cram 4 months of knowledge into our confused little heads in a matter of a day or two. Approach your exams and projects the smart way by planning out your goals for each class by day. Switch up the subject that you’re working on throughout the day if you tend to get bored, or stick with one class if you prefer to get in (and stay in) the zone. Do whatever works for you, but be sure to leave yourself more than the 12 minute bus ride on the way to the final. While I would applaud you for your boldness…no. Just no.
  2. BE HEALTHY – Exam week isn’t the time to be eating poorly, skipping the gym, or getting sick. Try your best to be healthy – you’ll not only feel better but you’ll perform better too! Stock up on brain foods and snacks like fish (who’s up for some sushi?), blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, nuts, avocados, and pumpkin seeds. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and maintain your regular exercise routine. If you’re not much of a gym nut, go for a short walk around campus once a day. Aside from the endorphins from exercise, the fresh air and sunshine can also do wonders for your mental health.
  3. GET SOME SLEEP – Like many of you, I’m guilty of pulling my fair share of all-nighters. While this may seem like a brilliant idea at the time, it could really be hurting your performance on finals much more than helping. While you sleep, your brain actually absorbs all of that information that you’ve been burning into your retinas all day. You’ll be less likely to forget the process of photosynthesis, or how to solve a quadratic equation, or that you didn’t put on pants and you’re halfway to the bus stop. Moral of the story? Get some shut eye.
  4. USE INTERACTIVE STUDY METHODS – Instead of just reading page after page of notes, try organizing the information in a different way that makes it more memorable. I’ve always found that rewriting my notes in a structured way freshens up the data in my mind and I’m less likely to be unconsciously reading/retaining nothing. You could also try making flash cards for exams that require a lot of memorization (and less comprehension). If you find it more effective to study with others, join a study group. Your classmates may have a different take on the information that could help you to understand or remember your notes more easily. Make up a song or mnemonic device together. Then, reward yourselves with fudge. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
  5. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT – Do yourself a favor and don’t stick to one place for an entire day of studying. Research has shown that students retain more of what they study when moving around throughout the day. Spend a few hours in your room, a few at the library – maybe even a few outside if it’s nice – just be sure to switch it up. Pick places that are cool in temperature and have lots of natural light to maintain your concentration most effectively.
  6. TAKE BREAKS – To get the most out of your study time, take frequent breaks. While the “correct” number varies, taking at least 2 short breaks per hour (depending on your attention span) seems to work well for most. This may seem a little too frequent, but it has actually been proven to help keep the brain much more focused during the time you are studying, thereby improving your score on those pesky little finals.
  7. STAY AWAY FROM TECHNOLOGY – Yes, there will be certain times where you need to use your computer to study, but if you don’t – don’t take it with you! Distractions like Facebook, Instagram, and that really cool new game you downloaded with “that cute little puppy who does all those things and other stuff”, can lead to hours upon hours of wasted study time. Turn your phone off, or if you can’t be trusted, leave it behind along with your iPad, tablet, laptop, and any other assorted devices you have the “cute little puppy” app downloaded. Fear not, the digital world will most definitely not forget about you, and that cute little puppy will forever be cute.
  8. REWARD YOURSELF – Treat yourself to an ice cream cone or a dinner out with friends once you get through an exam or finish a final project. For one thing, it will boost your morale and reset your mind for the next final. And for another – it’s fun. We need fun to FUNction. Get it? Ha. Ha. But really, it’s important to have a silver lining in sight that makes you feel just a tad bit saner. You can also try setting sub-goals where you receive small rewards once you achieve them. For example, once you complete studying a full chapter, you get to turn on your phone and check Twitter for 5 minutes. The next time, Facebook for 5 minutes, and so on. If food is more of a motivator, try to replace sweets with those brain food snacks I talked about earlier – blueberries or some peanuts would make for a delicious reward at the end of study session.

That’s it! Use these tips to help you breeze through finals like it’s your job. Want some more advice? Check out more tips here.

What do you do to prepare for finals? Any tips we missed? Let us know!

Written by blogger, Sandy Gomez

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Attention (Soon-To-Be) Graduates: How to Wear a Cap & Gown

Graduation is coming up faster than you know it and despite how simple it may seem, wearing a cap and gown correctly can be confusing. Whether you’re receiving your Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral degree, we have your recipe for success! Watch the video or follow the steps below to look your best on graduation day.

BACHELORS

1. PRE-USE – Remove gown from plastic bag and place on a hanger to drop out any wrinkles. Use a cool iron or steamer if necessary, but DO NOT wash or dry clean
2. GOWN – Wear with zipper in front. Sleeves should fall below the elbow and above the palm of the hand, bottom should fall below the knees and above the ankles.
3. CAP – Front of cap is indicated by the crown. Crown should rest about 1 inch above eyebrows and the top of the cap should be level to the ground.
4. TASSEL – Starts on right side, moves to left after graduation

 

MASTERS

1. PRE-USE – Remove gown from plastic bag and place on a hanger to drop out any wrinkles. Use a cool iron or steamer if necessary, but DO NOT wash or dry clean.
2. GOWN – Wear with zipper in front. Hands fit through wrist openings and back of sleeves should hang down at the bottom. Sleeves should fall below the elbow and above the palm of the hand and the bottom should fall below the knees and above the ankles.
3. HOOD – Place hood over neck so it hangs down your back. Decorated portion should be displayed. Fasten cord (in front of hood) to shirt or dress to keep in place.
4. CAP – Front of cap is indicated by the crown. Crown should rest about 1 inch above eyebrows. Top of the cap should be level to the ground.
5. TASSEL – Will depend on your school’s tradition, so make sure you find out.

 

DOCTORAL

1. PRE-USE – Remove gown from plastic bag and place on a hanger to drop out any wrinkles. Use a cool iron or steamer if necessary, but DO NOT wash or dry clean.
2. GOWN – Wear with zipper in front. Will typically have bell sleeves and velvet panels. Sleeves should fall below the elbow and above the palm of the hand and the bottom should fall below the knees and above the ankles,
3. HOOD – Place hood over neck so it hangs down your back. The decorated portion should be displayed. Fasten cord (in front of hood) to shirt or dress to keep in place.
4. CAP – Front of cap is indicated by the crown. Crown should rest about 1 inch above eyebrows. Top of the cap should be level to the ground.
5. TASSEL – Will depend on your school’s tradition.

A lot more to it than you thought, huh? I hope these steps make your graduation day just a little bit less stressful. After all, it’s supposed to be a celebration! Congratulations and enjoy that very bright future that you’ve made for yourself – you earned it!!

Written by Blogger, Sandy Gomez

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Finding the Right Mentor for You

As much as we’d like to get to where we want on our own, it often take the support of others to really propel us forward. We get the help of family, friends, and other supportive people. In particular, mentors can play a large part in shaping who we are and what we become. A mentor can be found in many forms, such as a teacher or an older classmate or friend. An article in “I Want Her Job” looks at how to find a mentor to guide your endeavors.

How to Find (And Keep) the Right Mentor For You:

1.)   Figure out what you want

What goal are you going for? What areas do you need guidance in? What kind of mentorship are you looking for?

2.)   Get the Coffee

Make as many connections as you can. You never know who you’ll find to help you or who you can help.

3.)   Create (and keep) the Relationship

Once you’ve found someone who you can see as a potential mentor, it’s time to create the relationship. Reach out to them, and remember that a relationship is a two-way street.

Be sure to check out the full piece for more helpful mentor advice!

Written by Guest Blogger, Katherine Chang

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Back to School Checklist

As a kid, “Back to School” was a cringe-worthy, shudder-inducing time of year. It meant less time to play outside, the end of trips to the swimming pool, and back to tests and homework. Once you reach college, however, “Back to School” becomes an exciting start to a new chapter! There are new professors to learn from, new floor mates to hang out with, and tons of new activities going on on campus.  Be prepared for everything that comes your way with our handy Back to School Checklist! From ordering your books to planning out your dorm set-up, there is a lot to get done before classes start. However, it doesn’t have to be stressful! Plan ahead and you’ll have nothing left to do except be excited. Let’s get started with Step 1…

1. Order Your Books – This goes without saying. However, how your order your books can be important. Browse your bookstore website to find out which textbook options fit your needs. Looking to shop on a budget? Save big by renting used textbooks (yes, you can write & highlight in them!). Thinking of going digital? Check for eTextbook options.

Have everything all set before you even set foot on campus. Choose to order online and pick up on campus – the bookstore staff will have everything put together for you when you arrive! Now that is convenient.

2. Map Out Your Schedule – Few things feel more awkward than showing up to class on your first day…late. Save the grand entrance for another time and map out your schedule beforehand. After all, you want a good seat don’t you?

3. Get Your Finances in Order – No, we’re not saying you have to start investing heavily in the stock market or start researching mortgage rates. Simply find a way to manage your own budget in a way that works for you.

We are big fans of the app GoBank (And also, just so you know, GoBank is a business partner of Barnes & Noble College!). You check your balance without logging in, pay your cable bill or rent, send and receive money to and from friends and family all from your cell phone. It makes managing your money easier than ever. Members are free to choose what they want to pay for their monthly membership fee, anywhere from $0-$9. They’ll receive the same features, no matter what.

So maybe planning out every inch of your new dorm is a bit excessive, but it helps to plan out the general set-up of your room before you get to campus. Check your school’s website for dimensions or room layouts. If your room looks small or oddly shaped, it might be worth it to leave some of your extra stuff at home.

Check your bookstore website for their dorm collection! There you’ll find tons of supplies, electronics, and accessories all perfect for sprucing up a barren dormitory.

Reach out to your roommate and coordinate who will bring what. One of you might already have something, so there is no need for the other to go out and buy it. Work together to make your shared space as enjoyable as possible.

Two years ago we posted an article about how important it is to protect all of the technology you’re toting around. Laptops, cell phones, tablets…these items cost a lot of money and it’s important to treat them properly. Sites like Society 6 offer tons of awesome cases and skins, so pro-tech-t your tech in style!

One of our favorite new tech accessories comes from Guerilla. Add a fun case to your calculator in a variety of exciting colors (pick one up at your campus bookstore!).

We’re all guilty of the same packing method. You know – throw everything into a suitcase and hope you can squish it until it fits. Packing this way, however, often leads to extra items you don’t need and the inevitable face-palm upon realizing all of things you do need…but forgot. Beyond that, the disorganization leads to a seemingly endless unpacking session with half of your time spent searching through the bottomless pile.

When it comes to your clothes, pack like-items together (ex – jeans, tees, socks) and put heavier items (like shoes or coats) toward the bottom of your suitcase. Try rolling your shirts tightly together in order to fit as many as possible.

You also might consider grouping everything you need into categories – bedding, desk & school supplies, decorations, etc. That way you can unpack swiftly and correctly…and spend more time catching up with friends.

Really! It’s not a bad idea to think about the big picture. Is there anything specific you want to accomplish this semester? It could be academic – getting an A in Organic Chemistry. Or maybe you were thinking on a more personal level – expanding your group of friends. Whatever your goals may be, make sure they reflect what you want to get out of the new semester. Figure out how you can work towards your goals each day.

Looking for even more tips? Check out our Back to School Survival Guide!

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How To: Fold Your Shirt in Only Two Seconds!

When you only have 15 minutes until your next class but realize you have to fold your freshly dried laundry before it wrinkles, what do you do?  You probably just bunch it together, throw it in the drawer, and let everything get wrinkled (again).  I found this great video on YouTube that teaches you how to fold your shirts in 2 SECONDS! This video will help you save so much time and avoided the dreaded need to iron your clothes!

Find the video here!

Written by Guest Blogger, Myles Marcus

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Download Worthy: GoBank’s Nearest Bank Branch is in Your Pocket

GoBank, the bank used by designers on this season’s Project Runway , is a bank account designed to be opened and used on your mobile phone. You can download the free app to your Android or iPhone, sign up, then do all of the normal banking activities you’re used to (and a few you’re not). You’ll never have to step foot into a bank branch again.

Check your balance without logging in, pay your cable bill or rent, send and receive money to and from friends and fam—you can do it all on the app. Want to pull out cash? No need to log in, just tap on the ATM Finder, and it will list all the free ATMs around you. There are over 42,000 scattered over the U.S. (Ahem, that’s about twice as many as Chase and Bank of America according to info from their websites.) Another bonus? No overdraft fees.

You can use your GoBank debit card to make purchases. Choose their standard card for free, or design your own for $9 with a photo from your phone, computer or Facebook. Right now, if you head into your campus’ Barnes and Noble bookstore before July 31, you can pick up a GoBank info packet, along with a promo code for a free photo debit card. Or, just use the code below. Check out all of their Simple Fees at GoBank.com/NoWorries.

GoBank offers a little extra flavor when it comes to money management. Members are free to choose what they want to pay for their monthly membership fee, anywhere from $0-$9. They’ll receive the same features, no matter what.

GoBankers can also build a budget to better understand their money situation, then ask the Fortune Teller if they can afford it. The Fortune Teller is an animated dog named Professor Dog, who exists in real life as the CEO’s favorite pet. You can view Professor Dog, affectionately nicknamed “PD”, on GoBank’s Instagram account.

Like what you hear? Follow GoBank on Twitter, “Like” them on Facebook, then download the free app. You can sign up for an account in between classes… depending on your thumb size of course.

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Dish It: Only Two Ingredients!?

Cooking while at school can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a way to constantly get to the store. Imagine my delight when I found this awesome website with 34 Two-Ingredient recipes! I can be a picky eater, but some of these look delicious and I would have never thought of them myself. Some require an oven but some require no cooking at all, how fabulous!

Do you like Nutella? There’s a recipe for Nutella Cake! Thin mints? They have that too! I think my favorite is the peanut butter banana ice cream.

You have to check their website out. The pictures make me want to eat it all!

Do you think you can make these recipes easily at school?

Written by Guest Blogger, Maria Cafferata

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Surviving Freshman Year: Beat the Homesickness

When I left for freshman year of college, my parents were crying…hard. They cried and cried while I just waved goodbye. I was so excited to embark on this new journey that I really didn’t think that I could ever miss home. In my mind, I wondered who could possibly miss following tons of rules and having to answer to parents at all times?

Well, that wears off after a bit.

If you start feeling homesick or miss your friends (or for me, my dog!), don’t stress! There are tons of ways to beat that feeling and to continue making the most of your freshman year.

Get Out: Yes get out of bed, get out of your room, go meet people! Most dorm rooms have common areas, so go watch TV down there, play pool, or just hang out with new people! Sitting in your room sulking won’t help you feel better.

Social Network: In the world of Facebook and Twitter, you can always remain connected to the people you love. Personally, I’m a bit addicted to Facbeook, especially since it’s on my cell phone. This is a great way of keeping in touch with your friends UNLESS you spend 24/7 on it instead of making new friends. Everything in moderation.

Skype: Video chatting, enough said.

Write letters to add a personal touch!

Write Letters: I know it sounds corny but my friend and I were “pen pals” while we were both away at school. It felt awesome to get a hand written letter about her week instead of a million text messages. It was really personalized instead of generic and meaningless.

Get Involved: Find some kind of organization that interests you or that is important to your major. I joined Psych Club because I’m a psych major. It’s a great resume builder and a good resources for classwork, homework, and friends. Staying busy will help keep you focused on the future instead of all the things you miss from hom.

The overall theme here… get out of your comfort zone and make the best out of your situation! College offers so many new opportunities…you don’t want to miss out just because you’d rather gaze at a picture of your cat for hours on end.

So, the next question is…what if you’re reading this and you’re already an upperclassmen? Do you have any ideas that may help our incoming freshman? Post them in the comments below!

Written by Guest Blogger, Maria Cafferata

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