Students blog

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

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  • A tabby cat sitting by red and white Christmas decorations.

    My Christmas Traditions

    Jen Fiengo

    I don’t know about you, but my favorite holiday seasons are those that take place in the winter months. While my family celebrates Christmas, the other winter holidays seem like such enjoyable times. I feel that traditions make these times more personable and special to each individual. Traditions have been passed down between families, whether they be centuries old or years old. My family has a few traditions that make the holidays special.

    Christmas Eve Presents

    First, my family does Christmas Eve presents. Each one of us get to open a small present on Christmas Eve rather than waiting for Christmas Day. This tradition comes from when I was younger. I was always too impatient to wait until Christmas Day, and being the only child, I was allowed to open one of my presents before I went to bed. When I was old enough to get my mom gifts on my own, I started having her open one, too, making it special for both of us.

    Putting Up the Tree

    Next, we always decorate the tree together during the first few days of Christmas. We take down the Thanksgiving decorations together, followed by putting up the Christmas decorations. We always decorate the tree together, each putting on ornaments that we’ve collected throughout the years. My mom used to do this when she was a kid, so this is a tradition she brought into our holiday season.

    Christmas Stockings

    Lastly, a tradition I find the most fun is that everyone in the family gets a stocking. What I mean by this is that my two dogs and three cats have their own stockings. Even when I had smaller animals, like hamsters and fish, they would all get stockings. They would be filled with treats, toys, and new collars every year, giving the animals something to open on Christmas. Our mantle is always full since we have five extra stockings hanging labeled with our pets’ names.

    Holidays are a time to be with family, friends, and those you love, but what would you do without a little fun? Traditions help me and my family keep structure and fun in our gatherings, whether the traditions are old or new. I enjoy the holiday season solely due to the traditions I share with my family.

    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 college dorm room with wall décor, a standing mirror, and plushie pillows on the bed.

    College Dorm to Second Home

    Jen Fiengo

    College living can be hard, especially when you move far from home. While being away from your parents may seem like an amazing idea to most of us college students, no one prepares you for how it feels to be on your own so suddenly. College dorms can be bland, boring, and even smell weird. Living somewhere that makes you unhappy or feel unsafe can drastically harm your mental and physical health as well as interfere with your studies at college. The best way to avoid this living situation is to make your college dorm feel like a second home.

    Bring Belongings from Home

    One way I made my college dorm feel like home was to bring something unique to my life from home. I own a lot of plants (it’s becoming a problem) and that is what I think of when I think of my room at home. When I moved to college in my first year, I brought none of my plants with me. I felt sad in my living space as it didn’t feel like my own. I went home and returned with a few of my plants, big and small, and filled my space with them. I instantly felt better, and my room felt more like my home. Bringing something, whether it’s big or small, into your space that is unique to your life at home can add a personal touch to your space, helping the transition from college dorm to second home.

    You Can Hang Things on The Walls

    Another thing I did when I moved to college was deciding to bring NOTHING to put on the walls. I was told no tacks, sticky stuff, or tape could go on the walls, so I brought nothing to put up as I knew it wouldn’t work out. However, that made my room look like an actual prison. Everything was boring and eggshell paint colored. I tested putting wall-safe strip hooks on the walls and peeling them off, and there was no damage! I immediately went to my local dollar store and bought posters, small mirrors, cute lanterns, and much more to hang on the walls. Once they were filled up, the walls no longer felt like a prison, but more like my space. Filling up the walls with motivational posters and cute decorations helped me make my room more like a second home.

    Keep It Clean

    Finally, the best advice I could give to any on-campus student is to keep your space clean. College is stressful, challenging, and time consuming, but so is cleaning your space if it gets too out of control. I set aside time each night to put things back where they belong, reorganize my desk space, and clear trash off of any surface it didn’t belong on. Then, once a week, I would go through and wipe down surfaces, vacuum, and wash my towels and sheets. Cleaning my room made me feel like a new person and made my space feel more livable. I would also buy wall scent plug-ins to keep my space smelling fresh if candles were prohibited. Keeping your space clean can make it feel safer and healthier while also making it feel more like home.

    College living is crazy, but it can also be fun. Be creative when decorating to make your space feel personalized. Bring something unique from home, load up your walls with motivation, and keep everything tidy, and your dorm will start feeling more like a second home.

    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! 


  • Two hands throwing graduation caps in the air against a blue sky.

    7 Habits of Successful College Students

    Jen Fiengo

    College is hard, there is no denying it. Balancing loads of assignments, studying for exams, and the occasional online course is not for the weak. 8am's and late-night studying has become a norm these days. However, it does not need to be as overwhelming as it all sounds. Effective college students are all around you, whether you can see it or not. The girl behind you in the cafe line just aced her chemistry exam and the student worker making lattes just landed his first internship. Success in college is easily attainable if you put your mind to it. I have compiled a list of 7 habits that motivate me, as well as some others, to be the most effective college student they can be.

    1. Wake Up Before 9am When You Do Not Have Something to Be Up Earlier For.

    I know this sounds impossible (and honestly irritating) for most, but it has made the biggest difference in my success since I started. Getting up at 9am as opposed to 10 gives you a whole hour of time that you would lose. You could get ready, eat breakfast, and do a chore or two within that time. By getting yourself up earlier on those days where you do not need an alarm, you open up an hour, if not hours, of your time to study, do homework, attend campus events, and get out there. When you get up later than 9am, by the time you are up and fully ready for the day, it is almost noon. That is half of your day GONE. When you get up at 9am, you can get your day started and be doing your schoolwork sooner, giving yourself some personal time in the afternoon.

    2. Use A Digital Planner You Can Access Anywhere.

    I understand, paper planners are so cute to customize and use the fun stickers in the back of the book, but what good are they if you are not constantly carrying them around. Digital planners are FREE! That is my favorite word as a college student, and I know it's one of yours, too. If you're like me, color coding your planner makes you feel accomplished and organized. I tend to use my regular iPhone calendar, but I have recently been exploring some digital calendar apps that I like, as well. Take the time to browse the app store and find one that interests you, get it on your computer and phone, and boom! Your due dates, events, work schedule, and activities are all accessible wherever you'd like. Finish an assignment on your phone? Open the app and check it off! Sitting in the library and finishing the book you wanted to read but didn't bring your phone? No problem, check it off on your laptop. Digital calendars just make organization that much easier.

    3. Make Time for Yourself.

    This idea relates back to getting up early. While success in college starts with being a good student, it also helps to be a functioning person, as well. No one I know lives a happy, healthy life by sitting at a desk writing essays all day. Enjoy drinking coffee? Take yourself on a little coffee date as a reward for finishing your assignments for the week. Make time for friends and family, not just schoolwork. Rest and relaxation are just as important as staying busy. If you are tired, it is more beneficial to take a nap rather than push through your work. You are not yourself when you are tired, so take an hour, set an alarm, take a restful nap, and wake up refreshed and ready to continue your work. My favorite thing is to go hang out with my friends and cook; it is my way of managing stress. Sometimes, I'll get my work done early so I can go to a friend’s place and have dinner with them. It feels like a fun reward for keeping up with my schoolwork. Making time for myself has greatly impacted my success at college, especially when it comes to mental health.

    4. Join clubs and organizations.

    College success is not just about grades. College is supposed to be a step above high school in the sense that you are gaining real-world experience and have the choice to do what you want to do when it comes to your education. So, you're paying all of this money just to attend class? STOP THAT! Everyone has something they love no matter what they say. That being said, there is a club for everything, as well (and I know this to be true, my college has a Quidditch team). Pick something you love, whether it be art, science, music, sea turtles, cooking, or even Quidditch, and go to your university’s website and find the club that relates to your interests. I recently joined a sorority, which I never imagined I would do. It was the best decision I have made in college so far. I have met so many new people, gained so many new experiences, and furthered my education more than I could've sitting at a desk.

    5. Get Exercise.

    Walking up the stairs doesn't count, but I wish it did. Exercise is not only good for the body, but it is enriching for your mind, too. Getting exercise helps release toxins through sweat, helps many manage stress, and helps keep us healthy. Exercise is unique to all. The gym isn't for everyone (and by everyone, I mean me), so don't feel like I'm pressuring you to go to the gym. Going for a walk around campus with your friends, driving to a nearby outdoor shopping center and walking around, going for a run by the beach, or going for a swim when the weather is nice are all good ways to get exercise easily. My favorite thing to do is go for a walk on the beach. I always bring a friend, put my phone away, and we walk until we don't want to anymore, whether it be 20 minutes or 5 miles. Getting outside has helped me be successful as it makes me feel healthier, which in turn, makes me feel happier.

    6. Find Your "Study Spot."

    By finding your study spot, you now have a set place to go that reminds you of studying. I love background noise (and coffee), so I frequently find myself wanting to study in Starbucks on campus. If you like a quieter setting, head to the library or a quiet corner in a building with a lot of windows. I love sitting on a windowsill and looking outside while I study, it feels so refreshing. When you choose to go to this spot for no reason other than doing schoolwork, you'll train your mind to associate that place with studying, increasing your chances of actually studying. Playing light music in your headphones or having a snack to pick at while you study helps a lot, too. Just keep trying different places until you find your spot. I promise, it is so worth it.

    7. Put Yourself Out There.

    College comes after high school for a reason. High school was there for the sole purpose of showing up, learning, and going home. College, however, was made to open you up to the real world. By sheltering yourself, you are wasting your tuition money. Yes, classes and learning are very important, but what's the point if you don't attempt to apply what you learn? Make that resume, attend club meetings you are interested in, join that honor society, say yes to that community service event, and say hi to that person passing you in the hallway. By allowing yourself to open up, you will find that there are so many new opportunities out there that you never knew about before. How will you know what you like to do without trying new things?

    College is a place for learning, experiencing, and exploring, so make sure you are making the most of it. Be successful by keeping yourself organized, planning your events, making time for yourself, joining clubs, getting exercise, finding your place, and putting yourself out there. Make college your experience, don't let college force you to experience it.

    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!