Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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  • Blog author Maggie Parker took this photo of a colorful sunset in Syracuse, New York.

    A Triple Major’s Guide to Not Freaking Out

    Maggie Parker

    College students all have a lot of responsibilities to tackle. Some are involved with sports at varying levels, some are part of clubs, some have a job, and some (like me), made the crazy decision to do all three of those and more. I’m a student at Syracuse University with a triple major, a member of two club sports teams, a member of a sorority, and hold two jobs. I’m busy to say the least. In addition to all my commitments, I know how important it is to take care of my mental health. Over the past couple of years, I’ve accumulated a number of helpful strategies to help manage a balance of work and fun while also taking care of myself. Here are my top 5 tips:

    Make A Schedule

    Some prefer digital calendars, some prefer the classic pen and paper, but either way creating or updating a calendar with your daily schedule is the best way to stay organized when you have a lot on your plate. I personally use Google calendar and color code my schedule based on if the commitment is for school, work, or an extracurricular activity. This lets me see my whole week ahead clearly, and I can access my schedule on my laptop or my phone when I’m on the go.

    Plan Time for Yourself

    Related to my first tip, scheduling time for self-care into your calendar can be incredibly helpful if you find yourself struggling. I personally try to go to the gym 4-5 days a week, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, because I know that moving my body is super important for my mental wellbeing. I put my gym times into my schedule at the beginning of the week, so I don’t have to worry about trying to fit it in on a day-by-day basis.

    Prioritize Sleep

    Believe me, I understand that making time for a full 8 hours of sleep isn’t always possible. However, trying to make an effort to get the right amount of sleep for you is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. Not only will getting enough sleep make you feel better, but it can also help you perform better in academic pursuits. To maximize sleep, try reading a book or journaling instead of looking at your phone right before bed.

    Prioritize Assignments Appropriately

    While I’ll never fully recommend skipping one commitment to finish something for another, it can be helpful to prioritize things like assignments based on how the grade is weighted or how lenient the professor is on late work. For example, when I’m having an unbearably busy week, I know I can let an assignment for a certain class slide because I know the professor accepts late work. For another class, however, my professor is super strict, so I always make sure to get my assignments for that class in on time. Check out this blog with more time management strategies like this.

    Have Fun!

    College involves a lot of academic and extracurricular commitments, but there are also so many opportunities to be a young adult and have fun. Whether you want to have a night in with your friends, go out to dinner, or go to a sporting event, take advantage of this time of your life, and take a break from the struggles of academia. Having fun with friends is one of the highlights of the college experience, so try to make time for it when possible.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A picture of the blog author’s campus with the words ‘Welcome Home & Away’.

    Creating a Home Away from Home

    Janay Pope

    Whether you are a freshman moving into your dorm, a senior living on your own, or a transfer student getting adjusted to a new school’s structure, being away from home can be a unique, exciting moment in your life. Yet, it can also be stressful or, at times, lonely. It is a new experience for some college students to make new friends and explore a new community independently. Many college students go through a period where they realize they can start over but do not know how to start or feel awkward exploring a new environment. Here are some lessons I’ve learned on making new friends and creating your new home away from home.

    Finding Resources

    Moving out of the house away from one’s parents may seem like the highlight of college, but no one prepares you for feeling homesick or feeling like a stranger in a new community. This was the case for me coming from Michigan, moving to Oxford, Ohio, and later transferring to Florida A&M University located in Tallahassee, Florida. I went from a virtual space during my first and second years to an in-person experience, so getting involved on campus was challenging. It felt like everyone had a head start because they had already been there. One of the ways I overcame this was accepting guidance from faculty, joining on-campus and off-campus organizations, and connecting with local businesses where I could meet people in the same situation as me but who came from different backgrounds.

    Getting Connected

    A great way to get connected is to get involved with events on campus. Most will have back-to-school events to kick off the new semester. If you prefer to leave campus, get involved in the community. Some towns may seem small, but sometimes less is more because there is beauty in simplicity. Here is a list of things to do that may spark ideas to explore the community around you.

    • Local theater
    • Festivals / carnivals
    • Restaurants
    • Community/botanical gardens
    • Flea markets & local markets
    • Local sports teams involvement
    • Car shows, museums & local competitions

    These are just a few general ideas of what you could explore. I recommend getting familiar with the behavior of the city you are in. Is it a quiet town or a city that never sleeps? Finding where a town is in terms of characteristics will help you find your space and maybe even create one of your own.

    Creating a Space for Memories

    Whether you’re in a dorm or apartment, decorate your room or space until you can’t anymore. Hang pictures and leave space for new memories you will make. If there’s a Pinterest post you have always loved…recreate it! Make your space yours. If you have symbols of home, showcase them in your room and allow it to be a place of comfort when feelings of homesickness arise.

    Bringing Home Traditions

    Finally, it is okay to take home with you. One of the best experiences about living away from home is meeting peers who have their own traditions and coming together to explore those traditions. Just because a city does not partake in activities you experienced back home does not mean they are unwilling. It is important to celebrate where you come from and be introduced to others from different backgrounds. Create an event on campus related to something you did in your hometown or create new traditions with your friends. As you move through your college career, remember that home can be wherever you want it to be if you make it yours.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A picture of a city

    Expand Your Horizons through Study Abroad

    Emilee Foy

    Whether in high school or college, there are a lot of benefits that come from traveling to a foreign country to study. Three big things that I learned in high school from studying abroad were observing the differences in cultures, adapting to living in a new place, and learning through new experiences. I studied in Cadiz, Spain before my senior year of high school and am studying abroad in Innsbruck this summer. Therefore, hopefully what I have learned from this experience will give other students a realistic feel of what it is like.

    The Culture

    One of the big things I learned while in Spain was the differences between the United States’ culture and Spain’s culture. Not only was the language a difference, but the way the people in Spain dressed was much different than the way Americans did. In addition, the house mom I lived with had very strict dining rules and ate very quickly which was much different than I was used to. Many people in the city of Cadiz did not have cars and relied on walking or public transportation. It was beneficial for me to adapt to their customs and understand that different countries have different ways of life. It allowed me to see the differences among cultures which gave me a broader outlook.

    New Environment

    While it was definitely a culture shock, I had to adapt to the environment in order to gain the most from the experience. After overcoming jetlag due to the time change, I slowly became more and more familiar with to my new surroundings. Embracing the day-to-day experience of living in a different country helped me to understand their unique customs and helped me to get the most out of the trip.

    Unique Experiences

    The most important aspect to a study abroad trip is to enjoy exposure to new experiences. I was able to take salsa lessons, surfing lessons, and a cooking class to learn how to make paella. We also visited outdoor markets with tents that sold locally made handbags, clothing, and other things. This was interesting to see what vendors could make and how they bargained with their customers for the products. These things were activities that people in this country did daily, so it was a unique feeling to be a part of things that were so different than where I am from.

    It is a profound experience to see different landmarks and meet new people outside of one’s own country. Any student who has the opportunity to study abroad should seize their chance in order to expand their knowledge.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us - click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A student copies class notes from one notebook to another. There are also pens and snacks on the desk.

    4 Tips to Make Your First Year of College Easier

    Josephina Hinds

    College can be a scary thing and can sometimes feel like you are back in high school all over again. Let me assure you though that college is nothing like high school and can actually be a lot more fun. Here are some ways to make your first year just a bit easier.

    1. Don’t be afraid to go out and meet new people

    While it may seem like a very overwhelming thing to do, there are ways to make it easy. Campus-held events are a great way to get out and meet new friends. Most campuses will let you know in advice when an event is and what the event is going to be.

    Don’t be afraid to talk to the people in your major as well. This is a great way to connect with people who have the same interest as you.

    2. Put yourself out there

    Get your name out in the community. Join groups or clubs to get out there and make more connections. If your college has volunteer clubs, joining can help you make new friends and also help you get familiar with your new town if you aren’t from there.

    3. Get organized

    I was not organized when I was younger but trust me when I say that organization is going to be your best friend. Get sticky notes to keep in your books so you aren’t marking them up.

    Whether your college uses Canvas or another learning management system (LMS), there’s probably a built-in to-do list. Use it to keep track of assignments so you won’t fall behind.

    Set reminders in your own calendar of what assignments are due when and what time they are due. This will help you stay on track even when you aren’t logging into your Canvas or other LMS on a regular basis.

    4. Take time to yourself

    I can’t stress this enough when I say you need to take time for yourself. Look after your mental health and take time when you need it. Talk with your professors when you need a break and most of the time they will be understanding. Take the time to do what you love and relax every once in a while.

    While your first year of college can seem crazy and wild, be sure to take in those fun moments. Make new friends and just remember to breathe. Have fun in your first year of college – you’ve got this!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A latte in a white cup with a leaf design in the foam.

    Study Locations to Keep You Motivated and Productive

    Kaitlin Hung

    Even after my third year of university and I STILL struggle with finding the ideal environment/habits for studying. This past quarter seemed to be one of my best quarters, not perfect but I was able to smoothly pass my classes while balancing two jobs. I was wondering what caused this and realized there was something I did differently. I studied in different spots!

    I noticed that the reason I don’t study as well in my room is because my room is a personal space of comfort. I subconsciously associate my room with relaxation which causes me to not work as hard or lose focus easily.

    In no particular order here are the different places I studied this year and what I loved about them:

    1. University Library

    My university’s library has many tables with dividers for individual study as well as study rooms you can reserve for hours. The library is a free option with Wi-Fi that allows me to study with my friends (including the ones that lived on campus and didn’t have a car). Being surrounded by studying students motivates me to study as hard as my peers. Not to mention our school’s libraries have a designated quiet floor for those who don’t enjoy the chatter!

    2. Local Cafes

    I’m not talking about the international chains of cafes, which aren’t a bad option at all, but the smaller rustic cafes that have dimmed lights and other seating options like couches or loveseats. People here will be independently working or having a chat with their friends, the white noise here is one of my favorite sounds to listen to while working. It may be difficult for some to work in dull lighting, but I personally enjoy it, it provides what I imagine “old school academia” would be like.

    3. Botanical Garden

    This may sound a bit impractical but think of it as a productive picnic! My university has a botanical garden but if your school doesn’t, a local park would be another great option! I usually study here if I have an exam coming up; I’d bring a clipboard and print all my practice material to go over so I wouldn’t have to use any electronics. The sun shining on me and the light breeze is a nice way to get out and stay productive. Check out this blog about how plants reduce stress!

    These are the main places I visited to stay motivated, and I look forward to finding new spots to study!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A water bottle and a writing journal set on a white blanket. The journal is titled “just breathe”.

    Managing the Stress of College Life

    Emilie Conners

    College can be exciting, stressful, fun, and overwhelming all at the same time. Enjoying your time spent in your college years while also taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to you is extremely important. Many of us juggle a part-time job or sport with a demanding class schedule that leaves us asking “how do I manage my stress during a time like this?” Here are some tips to help you balance all the pieces of your college life whether you’re an incoming freshman or you’re planning to graduate in the spring.

    Relieve Stress by Writing

    I have made a habit of journaling to help myself decompress during the week. Journaling can be extremely helpful for alleviating stress and anxiety. Some things I love to journal about are my goals, positive affirmations, and sometimes just thoughts to help organize my ideas. Starting your day off with journaling can help you begin your day in a positive manner.

    Sweat Away the Stress

    Working out during the week through an activity that’s fun for you can be a great way to let off some steam. Some ways you can do this are by taking a walk/jogging around campus, attending a workout class with some friends, or simply trying a new hobby like hiking or biking. Everyone likes working out in different ways and so there’s no wrong way to get your exercise in.

    Fight the F.O.M.O.

    Schedule time for yourself to enjoy moments with the people that are important to you. The “fear of missing out” is a common feeling among college students and can make handling multiple responsibilities nearly impossible. I have found that scheduling a dinner with your roommates once a week or coffee with a friend can make even the most chaotic weeks enjoyable and easier to get through. The people you surround yourself with are the people who help you become who you’re striving to be; don’t let those important relationships pass you by. However, it is also important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t stress about missing certain events, it won’t matter to you in the future and there will most likely be another opportunity just like it.

    The ultimate key to managing stress during college is not expecting yourself to do a million things at once. Just remember it’s okay to take some things off your plate if you feel overwhelmed or unable to complete everything you’re responsible for. College is all about taking advantage of opportunities and helping yourself become the best version of yourself possible. This takes patience, mistakes, and practice. Taking care of yourself is the first step to becoming successful at anything else. It is extremely important to value your mental and physical health before prioritizing your other responsibilities.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started!