Students blog

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

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PreK-12Higher EducationProfessional

  • A black-and-white map of the United States with a dotted line connecting Atlanta, Georgia and Berkeley, California.

    2,604 Miles Away: Tips to help freshmen cope with homesickness

    Megan Cistulli

    I attend college in California – over 2,604 miles from my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. I love home and family, and the transition across the country was not easy. Homesickness was a challenge that became conquerable once I began to implement the remedies below.

    Bring the Smells of Home with You

    My mother always burned a special candle in our kitchen: Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin. The first thing I did when traveling to California was make sure a Bath and Body Works was within driving distance. I always make sure to have a candle on hand. If candles are not allowed, try bringing the smells of home with you through cleaning products. Use Pine-Sol Cleaner if you miss the sweet aroma of pine from your backyard. Use the same laundry detergent as your mom. Whatever smells remind you of home – whether they be hairspray, moth balls, or dad’s cologne – keep them close and incorporate them into your new life – it’s essentially a carry-on bag home edition.

    Writing Letters

    The best, and most underestimated, form of communication is through writing letters. Not only have I experienced the distance aspect of venturing far from home, but the time change presents a challenge as well. When I want to check in with my mom or dad at 9pm, they are fast asleep because it is midnight on the East coast. The way I cope with the time changes is to draft letters to my parents. Any time I want to share something with them, I write it down. At the end of every two weeks, I send them the letter I have been working on. Sure, we FaceTime and call, but the letter acts as a safety net and catches all the missed thoughts or moments I want to share with them.

    Explore Your New Environment

    The quickest and most efficient way to sooth homesickness is to explore the new area around you. Think of all of the energy and experiences just waiting for you outside your dorm doors. Make it a goal to try something new three times a month – a new restaurant, lookout point, shopping center, park, or ice cream parlor. The best way to cure the feeling of being a stranger in a new place is to begin to establish routes in your new home. Make connections to new locations and memories which in turn will lead to new sentimental affiliations.

    Unfortunately, homesickness is not your typical seasonal flu. It takes more than a shot to alleviate the feelings of separation and physical distance. Fear not, the remedies listed above are fool-proof and have helped to sooth homesickness from 2,604 miles away.

    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 female college student studying for the LSAT

    Don’t be LAST to take the LSAT: Start Early!

    Megan Cistulli

    Calling all my future lawyers: are you interested in law school? If so, this article dives into preparing for the inevitable and dreaded Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as an undergraduate. As a rising junior in college, I have decided to study for a test most people wait to study for until their senior year or after. Why wait? Starting early allows you to plan out your studying and take your LSAT before your senior year.

    Study Early

    Some people think the best time to take the LSAT is post-college because they will be better equipped to take the test; however, I can attest to the fact that this is a faulty assumption. If your plan is to jump right from undergraduate to graduate school, then studying for the LSAT after your college graduation creates an extremely crunched and stressful study period. Studying for this test takes approximately three months full of migraines and extra-large cups of coffee. Instead of relaxing, traveling, or spending time with friends and family during the summer before law school, you will be cooped up in your room trying to understand logic games.

    On the other hand, if you plan out your studying schedule early, you open up the door to numerous test date availability, study abroad opportunities for later summers, and a much less stressful study routine. Studying for and taking the test early does not put you at a deficit as the LSAT is a learnable test that does not truly relate to the courses you take in college. So begin studying early so that you have a firm understanding of the material.

    Test Early

    Law school applications typically open between the end of August to the start of October. The caveat is most law schools have rolling admissions, meaning reviews and decisions are made as applications come in, not after the application deadline. Waiting can be detrimental to your acceptance. Law school classes have an extremely exclusive and specific number of spots. If admission offices fill those spots before your application comes in, then you must wait until the next year to apply. Similarly, applying later in the admission period is much more competitive as you are vying for limited remaining seats.

    In order to combat the admission process, you can take the LSAT early. I suggest taking your LSAT the summer before your junior or senior year of college. This way, you can get your score back well before the application period opens, and it also gives you time to retake the test if you are unsatisfied with your score.

    I am not a great standardized test taker. Seriously, they present one of my biggest obstacles in my education and pursing graduate school as well. However, by strategically planning out my studying for the LSAT and taking it early, I am more confident in my abilities to take on this standardized and required test. More than that, I am able to put myself in the best position possible to get into the school of my dreams. I hope that you will be able to do so as well by implementing the strategy of studying early and planning out when to take your LSAT.

    Pearson Students: What are your tips for acing standardized tests?

  • Healthy food nicely arranged in a plate placed on the table

    Eating Healthy at Home

    Megan Cistulli

    What’s harder than standing six feet away from everyone around you? Standing six feet away from a fridge filled with cookie dough, gelato, and leftover pizza and a cupboard filled with potato chips, gummy candies, snack cakes, and Girl Scout Cookies. Unfortunately, I don’t think the bathroom scale is broken this time.

    Our current pandemic is causing us to overeat food high in fat and sugar leading to unhealthy weight gain; it won’t be getting any easier during the holidays! During this time, I have found three great strategies to help stop overeating and focus on a healthy and fun lifestyle.

    Intermittent Fasting

    The first strategy I implemented when COVID-19 forced us indoors was intermittent fasting. Personally, I find this strategy easy, and it leaves my body feeling wonderful. The easiest fasting schedule is a 16/8 schedule. For 16 hours you fast, and you only eat during the other 8 hours. The best part about intermittent fasting is for most of the fasting period, you are asleep. Think of yourself as a bear. Sixteen hours of your 24-hour day are left to your body to burn fat like a bear in hibernation while the other 8 hours allow you to fuel your body so that you can stock up for “winter.” In my case, I do not eat until 11am, and I stop eating at 7pm.

    Sugar Free (sort of)

    I must admit: my sweet tooth is as big as anyone’s. Suppressing your sweet tooth completely does not work. Trust me, I’ve tried it. Designate certain days in which you allow your body to consume sugar. This tactic not only leads to discipline but also gives you a chance to savor the sugary sweets when you do consume them. For me, I only allow sugar like ice cream and cookies on Sunday. Now my Sundays are not only relaxing but are also a little extra sweet.


    If you get bored, like I did the second week of quarantine, try a new lifestyle altogether! I decided to try a vegetarian diet. I have been meat-free for about four months now. Of course, you can try any type of lifestyle from vegan to pescatarian to flexitarian. The sky is the limit, my friends.

    These three viable options can make a major positive impact in your day to day life especially while we hunker down in our homes, but make sure to always workout when you can to keep your metabolism engaged and your endorphins flowing. Notably, these strategies can be short term – until the pandemic subsides – or long term depending on your body’s reaction to the change.

    Next time you go grocery shopping, cut down on the sugar so your kitchen is not home to as many temptations. The next time you are craving a Twinkie, do twenty jumping jacks and eat a banana instead.

    We all get cravings or like to treat ourselves from time to time – try to be aware of how you are treating your body and be mindful! We can all see the light at the end of the tunnel, so hold on until then because the light is much sweeter than the fleeting pleasure and regretful feeling of scarfing down an entire box of Thin Mints.

    Pearson Students: How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle during quarantine? Share in the comments below!

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    How to nail your interview: SMILE

    Megan Cistulli

    Interviews are tough, but if you SMILE, you can nail them every time and get the job. Sure, your resume may be perfect, but the face-to-face interview can make or break whether or not the position is yours. Read on to learn about an acronym I created for the word SMILE to consistently thrive in interviews. It is as easy as smiling.

    S- speak slowly

    If you speak too fast, you come across as nervous, out of your element, and in a rush to leave. Slow down to improve enunciation, pronunciation, tone, and cadence. Equally important, a slower interview is more natural and conversational. Consequently, you create a more relaxed and comfortable environment for the employer interviewing you, and you become a person they would enjoy having on their team because of the natural dynamic you have established.

    M- memorize material

    You do not want to come across as robotic or too rehearsed, but you do need to know what you are talking about without constantly referencing your resume or notes. For example, when the interviewer asks about a past job you had, be able to talk about the details of your role and more importantly how that role would contribute to your success in the position you are interviewing for.

    I- inspire your listeners

    In an interview, you have to step out of your comfort zone and make the person having a conversation with you feel excited and energetic. Imagine how many conversations a single interviewer is required to listen to. The answer: a lot. You need to give the person sitting across from you a reason to hire you. What will you do for the company? Why are you special? How will you make a difference at this company when other candidates have the exact same credentials as you? Speak with some gusto and wow your audience.

    L- listen carefully

    One factor some people tend to leave out of their interview arsenal is listening carefully to what the interviewer says and the questions they ask. Do not glaze over tricky questions just to stick to a script that adheres to your resume. Remember, employers have seen your resume and that is why you got the interview. Interviewers want you to listen carefully to what they are saying then critically think about an answer that not only incorporates past experience, but also has a fresh perspective on the problem or task at hand.

    E- explain your answers

    This is not a time to be shy and hold back all of your brilliance which earned you an opportunity to interview. When you give an answer, explain it in a way that the employer can understand your experience. You must create a narrative.

    Here’s an example. I played basketball at the collegiate level then stopped playing after I transferred to another school. If a potential employer asked about this, I’d want to give a thorough answer incorporating not only why I stopped playing, but what I gained from the experience. “As a collegiate player I had invaluable experiences like waking up at 5 a.m. for weight training, immediately heading to classes, then back to a second practice. The experience not only sharpened my mental and physical toughness but directly contributed to my outstanding work ethic, time management skills, and ability to work on a team productively and successfully. However, as my career goals began to take shape, I made the decision to transfer to a more rigorous and academic-focused school. I plan to earn a B.A. in political science focused in the public law sector and minor in Italian before attending law school.”

    Remembering the SMILE acronym gives you a new perspective on the interview process and your interview arsenal. When you practice for an upcoming interview, take note of how fast you are talking, how natural you sound speaking about your past experiences, and how in depth you can elaborate on your ideas. One last thing to top of your interview, make sure you don’t forget to smile!


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    What It's Really Like to be a Campus Ambassador for Pearson

    Megan Cistulli

    When writing blogs for Pearson, the possibilities are endless and the scope is about as broad as it gets. This means student writing on this particular platform is exceedingly honest and authentic. This piece does not deviate from that trend and gives readers a genuine look into what it is like working for Pearson.

    I have been working for Pearson as a Campus Ambassador for a little over half a year now, and I can honestly say it is the best job I have had, but why? How is Pearson different from those other companies? Keep reading if you want to find out.

    The Experiences

    One thing that separates Pearson from other companies is the quality and quantity of experiences. From strategy meetings in Palo Alto, California to meeting with department heads at universities in the San Francisco Bay Area to spending hours in the campus bookstore compiling an Excel sheet containing the Pearson products used at my university, my experiences are frequent and invaluable.

    What I gain from the professional experiences is the priceless commodity many students my age never have the opportunity to encounter. Personally, numerous of my on-campus and off-campus experiences are attributed to Matt Christopherson, District Sales Manager, and Nick Dincelli, Senior Regional Sales Executive and Account Manager. For example, when Nick or Matt allow me to accompany them to meet department heads or strategize with an executive team, I not only see firsthand the laying of the groundwork and behind the scenes action that goes into making Pearson products thrive in college classrooms, but I am also able to participate and talk with these professionals and the customers. Consequently, my communication, public speaking, leadership, and critical thinking skills sharpen and improve as they are put to the test through these real-life experiences.

    The Leadership

    Another element of Pearson that truly stands out is the leadership; specifically, the leadership I have interacted with. I once had the opportunity to have dinner with Pearson’s President of Global Product and North America Courseware, Tim Bozik, along with District Sales Manager Heather Kazakoff, Sales Vice President Brian Williams, and Senior Sales Rep Becca Butts. As I sat there with my ears open taking in the exciting new ideas they were discussing, Tim Bozik asked, “How can we improve as we head into a digital era? How can we bridge the gap between paper and digital? What steps does leadership need to take in order to improve and make this happen?” To my surprise and excitement, the question was not only directed at the Pearson professionals at the table, but it was directed to me as well – a young college student.

    After I gave my input, I began interjecting in the rest of the conversations. My ideas were listened to and expanded upon. The leadership did not overlook or ignore my voice but rather welcomed and sincerely acknowledged my solutions and suggestions. The main take away from this one example is that Pearson’s leadership sculpts and fashions its approach and role in a purposeful and meaningful way from the bottom up. The leadership is approachable and progressive; always supporting the student voice and critically thinking about better ways to serve customers and the community.

    The Moms

    Some of us are lucky enough to have one mom who supports and cares for us. As a Pearson Campus Ambassador, I get five: Dory Thornton, Mary Frances Weatherly, Margo McIlroy, Jeanne Bronson and Molly Meiners. It is one thing for a division of employees to have a productive management team. It is entirely different to have a management team that is not only productive but supports, encourages, cares, endorses, and even cries for their employees. Remarkably, the Moms’ treatment of all ambassadors creates a culture of excellence where students want to succeed, put themselves on the line, and work hard for people who work just as hard for them. When hopping onto a Zoom call with our team, I am prepared to work; however, the environment is different – quite familial. The air is filled with a unique trust and positive energy which directly contributes to the success of the Pearson Campus Ambassador Program. The Moms absolutely follow the trend of outstanding and unparalleled leadership at Pearson.

    I remember one day about seven months ago I was scrolling through my LinkedIn page, and saw a message from Mary Frances with a headline that stated, “Ambassador Opportunity.” I must admit I first thought it was LinkedIn sponsored spam or something of the sort. Thankfully, I was wrong, and I took the time to research and apply for the opportunity. I wonder where I would be today without Pearson, all of the experiences, the exceptional leadership, and the Moms. Well, I am glad I never have to find out.

    If you are interested in becoming a Pearson Campus Ambassador, follow this link


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    Dear younger me: How you'll learn to pilot a balanced life

    Megan Cistulli

    September 15, 2020

    Dear Younger Megan,

    I am writing you this letter sitting in an apartment in a big city just like you always dreamed of. After reading this message, I hope two things: first, you listen to the advice I bestow upon you because I know how stubborn you can be. Second and more importantly, I hope this information allows you to successfully pilot a balanced life through a calculated trifecta of wellness and harmony.

    In a few years, you’ll have an amazing high school career and end up traveling across the country from Atlanta to San Francisco to attend college and play collegiate basketball. You become an NCAA athlete, moot court vice president, clerking at the Hall of Justice, a member and soon to be president of Pi Sigma Alpha, 4.0 student, and Pearson Campus Ambassador. You hit some bumps along the way which include a horrific injury which ends your college athletic career, but overall, you do pretty well for yourself. You may be wondering how you got to where I am, and my answer comes in one word: balance. The balance I seek every day in my life has three distinct sides creating a foolproof triangle: social, physical, and mental.


    The first point of the triangle is social. You need to find yourself a community. For you, it will start with the sports community as an athlete, but then you will begin to branch out to students in your class. Make sure to hang out with your friends and make time for them. Grades and work are important, but remember, establishing a community is a crucial part of maintaining a balanced life.


    Equally important, the physical component of the trifecta feeds positivity to the other two sides. For you, working out every day is key. Whether it is a quick three mile run or a heavy lift in the weight room, there is no better feeling than a good sweat. The gym is an amazing place to make like-minded friends grinding for similar goals. More to the point, working out creates endorphins which make you naturally happy, as well as contributing to a more natural sleep pattern. As a college student, keeping your body physically fit allows you to not only be happy, make friends, and feel great, but it also helps you stay focused throughout the day.


    Arguably the most important and hardest to grab hold of, the mental aspect of balance presents a conquerable challenge. Of course, there is no such thing as perfection; however, there are numerous ways to achieve happiness and equilibrium in this area of life.

    • First, take time for yourself. For you, taking one night a week to do a facemask, read a mystery novel, and eat a bowl of ice cream with your roommates will give you the mental check-in you deserve to make sure you are okay.
    • Second, stay organized. You keep a very colorful and organized paper planner which you live by.
    • Third, try meditation. You start to meditate freshman year of college, and will find it to be a transcending experience.

    My best advice is to do daily check-ins with yourself before going to sleep and ask yourself if you are okay and what you plan to do differently the next day.

    With that, I leave you with the notion: you will be successful in everything you do when you find your balance whatever it may be. By paying attention to your social, physical, and mental wellness, you will pilot your way to success!




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    Ciao! MyLab Languages from a student's perspective

    Megan Cistulli

    Ciao! As a college student learning a language, MyItalianLab is one of the arrays of interactive language learning platforms offered through MyLab Languages created by Pearson.

    I accidentally stumbled upon an Italian class the start of my sophomore year. As a favor to a friend and my Italian heritage, I stayed in the class. I thought it might be fun to learn a new language and have the ability to communicate with my grandparents in their native language. However, I completely underestimated the rigor of the class. With the help of Pearson’s MyItalianLab platform, I received an A in the class. Now, I am continuing to learn Italian and plan to study abroad in Italy in approximately two years with hopes of understanding and speaking the language fluently.

    Helpful Features

    The features of MyLab Languages are endless; however, I want to focus on three key elements which truly helped and continue to help me excel in my foreign language class.  

    Verb Chart

    The verb chart is a life saver! If you have ever studied a language, you are aware of the sheer amount of verb conjugations that exist. This is no exception in Italian. The verb chart allows you to type the verb you are searching for and it automatically pulls up whatever filter you place on the search, whether it be tense, mood, participle, or past infinitive. 


    The glossary tool is extremely underrated. It allows you to have a full-proof dictionary on your computer with the audio if you are struggling with pronunciation. This feature is of the utmost importance because most teachers do not allow online translators, so this digital dictionary is perfect for all of those compositions you will be writing.  

    Student Activity Manual

    My favorite feature is the Student Activity Manual (SAM). SAM activities are an interactive way to review the chapter through different types of exercises. For example, there are vocabulary fill in the blanks, listening comprehension audio tracks with multiple choice, fun videos with questions, grammar tutorials, and more. Completing these immersion activities allows you to fully engage with the language you are studying. 

    MyLab offers a variety of languages such as Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Latin, Portuguese, and Russian. Honestly, if I did not have the assistance of Person’s MyLab platform, I would not have done well in my Italian class, and I most certainly would not be making plans to study abroad in one of the most beautiful and culturally-vibrant regions in the world. 


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    Best ways to stay connected while we are disconnected

    Megan Cistulli

    Like many, I am quarantined in a room by myself doing my best to contribute to the health and safety of my community.  If you are reading this, you might be a college student looking for support, a professor doing their best to stay afloat during the transition to remote instruction, or someone browsing the internet trying to find something to read while sitting on the couch. Whatever your reason, I am glad you are here to look at a few suggestions and resources to help you stay connected during this unprecedented time of disconnected quarantine.

    Outside activities with family:

    1. Take a walk: Yes, this is the most obvious; walking will help keep your heart and body stay happy and healthy.  
    2. Yoga (away from others of course): A family yoga session in the park is just what you need to get a good stretch in and center your body’s energy. 

    Outside activities on your own:

    1. Ride: Whatever you prefer to ride – bike/scooter/Heely shoes/unicycle/hoverboard – get out of the house and get active by riding around your neighborhood.
    2. Run: Getting out of your house, listening to great music, and getting a good sweat in is the perfect way to get endorphins flowing in your body.

    Inside activities with family:

    1. Paint nights: Get those watercolors and canvases out because painting is the perfect way to therapeutically calm yourself and also create new artwork for around the house (even if it ends up on the wall behind the door).   
    2. Book club: Coherently as a family, start a book and have discussions every week accompanied by tea and sweet treats. 
    3. Game night: Plan game nights with your family whether it be Perpetual Commotion or Monopoly- the list never ends!  
    4. Dance party: Have you ever wanted to have aux or be a DJ?  This is the perfect time to have a dance party with your family and share music interests. 
    5. Cook off: Have a cook off with your family and see who can bake the best cupcakes or soufflé.   

    Inside activities on your own:

    1. Learn a new skill: Personally, I am learning how to type at which allows for students, anyone for that matter, to learn how to type.  The down time you have now is the perfect time to learn something new.
    2. Read: We all have those books we never seem to have time to finish.  Guess what? You have the time now!
    3. Workout challenges: Try a 30-day plank or push-up challenge.  Even if you feel lethargic, 20 jumping jacks will get your blood flowing.  
    4. Cook: Try a new recipe from Pinterest or Home Cooking.  It is tempting to finish an entire sheet or cookies during anxious times, but this is the perfect time to try those healthy peanut butter balls or protein banana muffins.
    5. Netflix Party: Netflix now offers Netflix Party, so if you are feeling lonely, call up your friends to watch the same movie or show and chat about it at the same time.  I live in California, so it is nice to watch movies with my friends in Georgia. 
    6. Write letters: Letters are an extremely personal way to reach out to friends, family, grandparents – anyone that you can’t visit with in person right now. Show your community how much you care by physically writing to them.  It is a great time to also encourage others because they need the support just as much as you do.   

    My best advice during this uncertain time is to take everything day-by-day.  I know we are all looking forward to the day when we look back and say, “Remember that corona virus thing?”  Try not to worry too much because that day will come soon enough. You got this – we all do.