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 person’s hand holding a Monopoly-themed 1,000 piece puzzle.

    Breaking the Ice with Communal Jigsaw Puzzles

    Jordan Little

    Living on your own can be a daunting task. I grew up with two younger siblings for the majority of my life. I always had someone with which to talk, joke around, or to grab a bite to eat. I always had those constants in my household. That all changed when I started college. After I finished unpacking the last of my moving boxes in my freshman dorm, I remembered walking my family back to their car and watching them drive off as I stood alone in the parking lot.

    Busting the Boredom

    I went to bed in my quiet room and woke up the next day alone in search of something to do. My eyes darted around the room and landed on an unopened puzzle box sitting on my shelf. The desk in my dorm room was far too small to complete the puzzle on, so I headed into the dorm common area and started working there.

    Gaining Attention

    When I first started the puzzle, I was prepared to spend the afternoon alone until I grabbed dinner from the dining hall. That wasn’t the case at all, though. Not only was the common area located next to the only trash shoot on the floor, but many people were exploring the different areas of the dorm before classes started up the following week. As people would walk by, I would wave hello while sorting through pieces.

    Puzzling Passersby

    The sight of a gigantic puzzle would often draw people closer and lead them to ask me what I’m working on and how far I’ve gotten. After answering them, I would always offer if they wanted to grab a seat and help work through the puzzle. More and more people would walk by the common area and more and more people would grab a seat or come back later just to work on a puzzle.

    After a few days of doing different puzzles, I got to talk with a wide range of people in my dorm. I continued hanging out with them in the common room, even if we weren’t working on a puzzle. What started as a simple way to pass time led to me meeting so many amazing friends that I still talk to and love hanging out with. If loneliness, boredom, mingling, or adjusting to college life are getting you down, start a common area activity that could build community and spark conversation.

    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 group of 10 college women outside in front of some green trees and brush.

    Advice for Spring Recruitment Week

    Peyton Maria

    As soon as winter break comes to a close, some college students will be traveling back to campus in order to join a Greek life organization. Whether you’re a freshman girl who has been waiting for rush week all semester, or a junior guy looking to rush to meet a good group of friends, the entire rush process can be a stressful one.

    To calm some nerves, I have compiled some advice about the process from my friends at colleges all across the US. I hope you find it helpful as you go through this stressful, but genuinely fun and rewarding experience!

    Xavier Kretsinger-Walters - James Madison University
    “Sounds obvious, but be yourself. Chances are, if you change up your personality just to fit in or get a bid, you'll end up in an organization that you won't feel connected to. Find a Greek organization with similar personalities where you see yourself making good connections and friendships.”

    Alivia Clay - Texas Christian University
    “I would say to follow your gut. I felt most at home at a sorority that wasn't considered a top house and because of everyone else's opinions I ended up choosing the "better sorority" that hasn't been a great fit. Sometimes the houses that are the least popular have the most fun and where you'll find the most friends. Just follow your heart <3 Good luck!”

    AJ Vazquez - Indiana University Indianapolis
    “I would say to go with the group of people that you best fit with and that you feel you can be yourself. A Greek organization is meant to better young men and women and it’s key to find an organization that feels like a home away from home. I also encourage those interested in Greek life to rush all chapters they can and not focus on the number of members or anything they’ve heard but to judge based on their personal experience and perspective.”

    Student - University of Florida
    “Just be yourself and don’t be scared to answer any questions! They just want to get to know you for who you are!”

    Cassidy Chinn - University of Georgia
    “Always be authentic to who you are! The rush process can be hyped up and super stressful, but you really do find where you are meant to be. Greek life is great, and you really do get out what you put into it!”

    Jasmine Ferrante - University of Maine
    “I would say to always be yourself and not change who you are! You will end up in the right chapter for you and thrive in the chapter.”

    Victoria Kaplan - UC Berkeley
    “Rush week can be incredibly exhausting, so make sure you take time for yourself to properly recharge and be the best version of yourself. While you may think you absolutely need to be in a certain house, at the end of the day the people you click with make the best friends!

    Michelle Qi - Florida State University
    “Be open minded because you will be happy where you end up and you WILL find your perfect family! It can feel overwhelming at times but stay strong and know that there is always a house for you!!”

    Jen Fiengo - Coastal Carolina University
    “I personally went through spring recruitment. If you don’t walk into the room and feel comfortable, that sorority is not for you. You need to go somewhere that feels like home, and you will know it when you feel it.”

    To sum all that up, the whole point of the process is to find your home and a group of people you want to spend college with. Good luck, trust the process, don’t stress, and you will find your people in the end!

    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 person holding a shopping bag standing in front of a large outdoor Christmas tree with lit with white lights.

    Gift Ideas for the Season

    May Gratton

    When it comes to Christmas gifts, sometimes it is hard to find the perfect thing for your favorite people. Most of the time when we ask for ideas, we are often met with the response, “you don’t need to get me anything, don’t worry about it.” But, if you’re anything like me, you love getting gifts for others. To help ease the stress, I have made a list of a few gift recommendations, based on gifts that I have given to my family/loved ones.


    Last year, I got my parents a digital picture frame. My siblings and I can upload pictures via an app to display on their frame. I have also gotten my parents matching hoodies from my college, Oregon State (go Beavs!) Instead of college hoodies, you could also go to somewhere like Old Navy and get them a nice sweater! If your parents are empty nesters like mine are, another great idea would be to get them some tickets to a concert or some sort of event that your parents would be interested in.


    I’ve always been a huge fan of gag gifts for siblings. One year, when my sister was going to University of Oregon (my school’s rival), I got her an Oregon State blanket, with the intention of my parents keeping it. On top of a gag gift, something simple like a flannel or a cute sweater for your siblings will never go wrong. I always get my brother something simple like a hat, T-shirt, hoodie, or shoes.

    Significant Others

    A great idea for your significant other is getting them a perfume/cologne that you like the scent of. Personally, even if the scent isn’t my favorite, I would still wear it if it was given to me by my significant other. Another gift idea would also be an experience that the two of you can do together, like a concert, a weekend away, or a sporting event. Or how about matching customized sweatshirts? Finally, jewelry! You can never go wrong with a simple bracelet or earrings...maybe even a ring (wink wink).


    It’s fun to use inside jokes and/or little things that you know about your friends in selecting their gift. Last year I got all my friends basic things that everyone uses but hates paying for, like makeup wipes. I also got them Turbie Twists (super-absorbent microfiber towels) to use for their hair after a shower. Candles are something that everybody can enjoy! Just think about random things that your friend may like and find a funny, but useful gift that you could get them. For example, one of my friends loves cats and sushi, so I found a pair of cat chopsticks for her, which she uses at least once a week now!

    Happy gift giving!

    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 green rectangle with the text: ‘A Christmas Tradition of Cooking’ alongside two photos of dishes mentioned in the blog – a kale salad and a chocolate mint ice cream sandwich.

    My Family’s Top 3 Holiday Dishes

    Saige O’Rourke

    Christmas dinner is different in every household. Some make it a formal occasion, some may order in, some make a pizza, and some munch on snacks while watching “A Christmas Story.” In my house, my aunt Megan cooks a meal with several courses inspired by her favorite food finds throughout the year. This dinner takes weeks of brainstorming along with at least an entire day of cooking. These are my top 3 favorite dishes Megan has ever made for my family for Christmas which will hopefully inspire you for the future!


    For starters, Megan always makes tomato basil soup topped with parmesan cheese. This dish is as simple as it sounds, and it is so great that it makes a yearly appearance. I personally look forward to this soup every year, yet I don’t eat it any other time before the holidays. While making the soup from scratch, she also uses fresh basil & shreds her own cheese.


    A close second to the soup is a kale salad (pictured in the thumbnail photo). I absolutely loved this dish, and I avoid kale with a strong passion. This salad was full of cranberries, green apples, parmesan cheese, among other small ingredients. To follow the soup, this salad is a light appetizer dish that leads up to the main course without filling the family.


    The homemade mint chocolate chip gelato cookie sandwich (also pictured in the thumbnail) was recently added to the list. Megan is huge about going big or going home, so all portions of this dessert were made from scratch. She used her own chocolate from her company and created the gelato in her machine from sugar, cream, and mint. Although I wish I was exaggerating, I happily ate the left-over sandwiches for days after Christmas.

    To prepare for this meal, Megan hits the ground running after New Years. She travels around the country trying new restaurants and ingredients to get a feel for what new things she likes. Even though Megan has a large food background, that is not necessary before you make the decision to try something new in the kitchen for your family. This has become a tradition in our household, but it had to start somewhere!

    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 selfie with seven college students outside in front of holiday lights. They are dressed for cold weather in coats and knit hats.

    Five Holiday Hacks for College Students

    Peyton Maria

    Navigating the holiday season as a college student can feel weird. Suddenly your gifts are all dorm room essentials. Every family member wants to know in depth details about your last semester and judge you for your major or sorority choices. Not to mention that you spent everything you made that semester on books for spring, and you realized you didn't even buy gifts for your parents yet.

    With this crazy season just a week after finals, here are five holiday hacks for college students:

    Tip #1: Shop Black Friday Deals

    The term “broke college student” never feels more real than when it comes to buying gifts for Christmas. The easiest way to avoid spending your student loans on gifts for your family is to shop early, and shop sales. There are also sales throughout the fall semester that are important to take advantage of. Also, the sooner you know what you’re going to buy, the more you can spread out your spending.

    Tip #2: Know the Answers to Common Questions

    The first time you go home, you will feel like a broken record, answering every question about school and friends over and over again. To relieve a little bit of major frustration from this, think of some of the answers ahead of time. This way, you have clear answers to all of the main questions instead of dragging on through boring conversations.

    Tip #3: Canvas Free Christmas

    As tempting as it is to spend your break stressing and planning for the next semester, make sure none of it seeps into your time on break. The whole point of winter break is to do just that: take a break! Spend time with family, sleep in, hang out with hometown friends. Whatever you do, don’t spend your entire break stressing about the semester to come.

    Tip #4: Make your Christmas List

    Since the beginning of my freshman year, I have had a running “wishlist” in my Google drive that I can share with my family members who are looking for gift ideas for me. Every time I see something I want or need that I cannot afford, I add it to my wishlist. This way, I’m being more financially smart during the school year, and Christmas gifts aren’t just random things that won’t help me survive the next semester.

    Tip #5: Do All the “Kid” Stuff

    Finally, take a little time to be a kid again. Bake cookies for Santa, make gingerbread houses, go look at Christmas lights, go ice skating, etc. Don’t let the stress of college and the upcoming semester cause you to miss out on all the things you love about the holiday season.

    All in all, Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, not stress. With these five tips, I hope your college Christmas feels a little like you are seven years old again.

    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 red bowl on a table filled with a healthy meal of rice, salmon, and chopped zucchini.

    Tips to Healthier Eating Habits for College Students

    Mikayla Wallace

    Cooking healthy meals in college can be extremely challenging, especially staying within your budget with rising grocery prices. The following tips can help you achieve a balanced diet in college while not breaking the bank or spending too much time cooking. One tip for eating a healthier balanced diet in college is efficient grocery shopping with a well-prepared list.

    Another tip for college students wanting to eat healthier is preparing breakfast options and study snacks early in the week to cut down on time spent before class making meals and avoid impulsive decisions. By following these two tips, college students can navigate the challenges of cooking nutritious meals on a budget while optimizing their time and resources.

    Efficient Grocery Shopping

    As a busy college student, it can be difficult to get to the grocery store even once every other week which is why it is super important to plan when you want to eat healthier. If you have roommates, I recommend getting a grocery list app to share what you want from the store on a joint list. Having a shared list of dinner ideas with roommates is another way to ensure you are mixing up your meal options. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive for a college student's budget. I have found the best way to get fruits and vegetables into my diet is by buying them frozen. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables also ensures you are avoiding food waste. Another grocery shopping tip for college students on a budget is to check the price per ounce or pound for each item because general packaging can make some items look cheaper than they are.

    Meal Prepping

    For some college students, meal prepping sounds time-consuming and too repetitive, but the key is to not meal prep all of your meals. I recommend meal prepping for breakfast or lunch because it allows for more time and energy to cook dinner. My go-to for prepping breakfast is overnight oats because you can mix up the flavor combinations so it does not get boring, and you can make multiple for the whole week. Lunch is usually the hardest meal for college students to eat a balanced meal because many students have classes or work around that time. Prepping containers of snacks ahead of time can help you get through the middle of the day. I recommend cutting up whatever fresh vegetables or fruits you have all at once to have a couple of healthy snack options on hand throughout the week.

    Cooking healthy meals in college can be a daunting task, but it is not impossible. Overall planning, preparation, and a little creativity can help any college student eat healthier on a budget. Prioritizing nutritious choices and planning will contribute to a balanced diet, ultimately promoting overall well-being and academic success in college.

    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 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 group of 10 college friends taking a selfie inside a college gym.

    A Productive Lifestyle for College Students

    Will Jansen

    The challenge of being a productive college student is that, for the first time in the traditional student's life, he or she has so much freedom in how time is spent, a sharp contrast from high school. It can be intimidating, but it should really be viewed as a terrific opportunity. Interests, hobbies, class times and majors influence the exact responsibilities each student has, but students should apply themselves in specific ways to make the most of their time.

    Here are 6 areas to prioritize to achieve a productive lifestyle.

    1. Studying

    This is both most obvious and vital, hence it is placed first on the list. Most professors in three credit hour courses recommend a minimum nine hours of study per week—If a student takes 15 credit hours, that’s a recommended 135 hours of study weekly, excluding class time! Realistically, some classes, especially core courses and prerequisites, demand maybe two hours, while a major course could demand 12. Every student is different; just make certain you review regularly and stay on top of the busy work for easy points.

    2. Physical Fitness

    An active, healthy body makes for a strong mind. Lift weights and run long distances if you prefer, but that isn’t at all necessary—just keep moving to stay fresh. For me, I play basketball with my friends two or three times a week at the campus rec center, push some weights around or hit a treadmill two more times. Choose whatever you prefer; keep a strong body and have some fun while doing it.

    3. Campus Involvement

    Staying tied in on campus is a great way to get the most out of your college experience. There is plenty of overlap here with other points, but getting an on-campus job and being involved with clubs can help a student immensely. Most schools have student organizations centered around each major or college and are great ways to get involved. However, get out of your comfort zone and try other areas: student government, intramurals, and more.

    4. Nutrition/Meal prep

    This one can be tricky, especially for those living on campus with no kitchen. As I said in point 2, a healthy, strong body makes for a strong mind, so work on yourself in every aspect. Nearly every eating location on campus is required to offer low calorie or vegetarian meal options, so take advantage. Eat at regular intervals; eat with constraint. Take care of yourself to perform at your best.

    5. Outside Work/Side Projects

    This one encompasses both short- and long-term development. Some students may need to work full time jobs to help fund college. For a traditional student, part-time on-campus employment opportunities may need a little digging but should be very easy to find. Any good part-time college position will be flexible with your classes. Have new experiences, get some cash to have fun with your friends, and maybe save some away if you can. At the same time, look at career development—work on those LinkedIn profiles, reach out to established professionals in fields you’re interested in. Work on your own projects that excite you: research a topic you often think about, coach a youth sport you love, read a book, or, maybe, even write one. There is no limit to the applicable options here, work hard on whatever piques your interest.

    6. Rest and Recovery

    Getting to all of those above can feel like a lot to tackle. But what’s just as important as any of those is personal time. College is meant to be enjoyable. Work hard, live hard. Go watch your school play any and all sports, go out with friends on a Friday night. You’ve earned 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! 


  • A large grouping of tall pine trees with the sun peeking through.

    The Oasis That is Thanksgiving Break!

    Jordan Little

    Thanksgiving break has always been a favorite of mine, even though I’m not a fan of turkey. My love of Thanksgiving is far removed from its original meaning and more about how we celebrate it. Similar to New Year’s or the 4th of July, the majority of children and adults in the US are given time off from work/school because of Thanksgiving, often for an entire week. This common practice gives people time for traveling throughout the break. For example, my immediate family and I live in a different state than the rest of my extended family. We live in Georgia while my maternal extended family is located in Chicago, Illinois, and my paternal extended family is located in various parts of northern and central Florida. Because I get to see my maternal family many times throughout the year, my siblings and I enjoy driving down to Florida once a year to visit my paternal family for Thanksgiving.

    Variety at Dinner

    I always have such a fun vacation during Thanksgiving break. I have a lot of family members who live in Florida and who drop by sometime during Thanksgiving week. It’s so interesting to catch up with so many different people while listening to music or eating food. Every family that comes chips in a portion of the big dinner Thanksgiving night, with my host cooking the majority of the dishes served. With so many people at the dinner, guests don't typically eat together at one big table. Instead, people are encouraged to eat in the living room, in the backyard, or even on tables set up in the garage and driveway. Music and laughter are everywhere, and the dinner lasts for hours.

    The Fall Break

    Though I have many personal reasons to enjoy Thanksgiving break, a more common positive about the holiday is when it happens. For college students, the fall semester can be tough. You have to get back to the mindset of school and the weather gets colder and colder. Besides Labor Day weekend, most colleges don’t have a significant break until later November with Thanksgiving. During my first year of college, I would often find myself counting down the days until Thanksgiving as a break from the months of learning I was getting used to. Even if you don’t travel for Thanksgiving, or celebrate the holiday in any way, any student can appreciate the much-needed fall vacation that is Thanksgiving break.

    If you were to ask me what my favorite holiday was, I would likely respond with Christmas. However, if you were to ask me what holiday I look forward to the most, my answer would have to be Thanksgiving. I don’t have many attachments to the historical origin of the holiday, but I spend the majority of the fall semester looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving 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!