Students blog

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

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  • A young man lies on his back outside on a concrete step. He is wearing headphones and using an app on his phone.

    A Language Learning Journey

    Princess Robinson

    “Ah-beh-se-cheh-de-eh-efe”, accompanied with a military tune, were the words of the alphabet song that my first high school Spanish teacher played every day. I will never forget it. While some view the language class requirements as a hassle, taking them seriously, especially in high school, changed my life. Indeed, learning multiple languages has benefits, including opportunities to cultivate meaningful relationships, improvement of your first language, and strengthening your memory.

    When a positive engagement or activity evokes feelings of joy and doesn’t seem burdensome, one is said to be passionate about something. Having the ability to speak multiple languages lights my countenance and confirms a part of my purpose. My first high school Spanish teacher was energetic, humorous, and patient. I attentively took notes as he paddled the desks of the drowsy students with a yard long ruler. While I was an average Spanish student, what allowed me to grow in it was repetition. I didn’t exceed the high school Spanish course requirement, but in the summer of my junior high school year, I began to look at my Spanish book and make Spanish vocabulary flash cards, ranging from colors to food. Grocery store runs became opportunities to practice what I had learned. Some people were astonished, celebratory of the bravery of learning a new language, and some were critical. In fact, many people have told me to just speak English. I keep in mind that learning languages is for everyone to learn, is not cultural appropriation, but is a desire for improved communication.

    Learning a second language can improve your first language and enhance memory. Prior to learning Spanish, I didn’t fully grasp the context of the English sentence structure. For example, Spanish taught me that the words for “to be”, “ser” and “estar”, are verbs. Studying a second language also requires a willingness to be disciplined and consistent in training the brain to adapt to different grammatical and sentence structures.

    It can be tricky to figure out the distinction of gender differences in grammatical structure for languages where there are grammatical differences in communicating with males and females. Saying “how are you?”, for instance, is structured differently in some languages because the pronouns you, him, her, and them represent gender in word differences in acknowledging a man or woman. When you begin to study a new language, your brain begins to adapt and you increase your ability to multitask.

    Learning new languages can cultivate priceless connections. As mentioned earlier, as I built my Spanish vocabulary, I implemented what I learned by practicing with people in shopping centers, school, and even church.

    Apps are a primary way to learn languages. In addition to Spanish, I am learning Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Hindi with Pearson’s very own app – Mondly by Pearson, included free when you use Pearson+!

    I’d love to see language learning apps incorporate live instructors from different countries that are willing and able to give personalized lessons. Recently Mondly by Pearson added new options to practice real-life conversations and chat with a personalized virtual language teacher with Mondly VR and Mondly AR.

    Learning a new language takes dedication and discipline. Immerse yourself in YouTube videos in the desired language, use your language learning app on a regular basis, and seek out opportunities to converse with someone who speaks that language. Above all practice, practice, practice and you’ll begin to realize the results of your hard work!

    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! 

  • Blog author Arwa’s spiral bound journal showing a page of her annotated notes.

    Reading Between the Lines: The Power of Annotation

    Arwa Hammad

    Do you feel stuck in a reading rut, unable to recall the knowledge you've just absorbed? If this is you, don't worry because there's a solution: annotation! Although there is no "correct" way to use this approach, annotating can be described as writing your thoughts, questions, and observations immediately on the material you're reading. This establishes a permanent record of your thoughts and ideas for future reference, while enhancing your comprehension of the subject matter.

    Highlighting

    To begin annotating, I typically take a highlighter and a pen and jot down my thoughts on a sentence, passage, or chapter I've read. I prefer to apply my prior knowledge before reading the chapter and critically search what I have read. This not only enables me to revisit and comprehend what I have written but also allows me to analyze the text in real time, aiding me in understanding the material and identifying where I have encountered confusion.

  • Two textbooks stacked in front of a laptop and a desktop monitor. There is a set of headphones sitting on the top book.

    Find Your Space

    Tristan Larkin

    College students need a productive space to study and work on assignments. While many students prefer to work in their room or apartment, often that space is shared with roommates whose academic schedules do not line up. For those students, it is crucial to find a space where they can focus. Even if someone feels comfortable in their current study space, trying new places can still lead to an even better studying experience.

    How To Find a New Location?

    Explore! Try new spots around campus: outside, different parts of the library, classrooms. Gather your study materials, walk around the campus until you find an inviting place, sit down, and try it out. If it doesn’t feel right, pick up and try somewhere else. Students often limit themselves to popular places, like libraries or outside the coffee shop. While those are great, do not be afraid to branch out and find somewhere no one has recommended. There are hidden treasures everywhere.

    No One Size Fits All

    People like different spots. Just because a bunch of people say the school library is perfect for them does not mean that it is for you. Everyone needs to find their own place. A spot that seems ideal for one student may be full of distractions for another. Determine how much noise level, light, and overall aura of the space is conducive to your study preferences.

    You may even prefer different locations depending on the subject you are working on. If you’re working on flashcards or getting a reading assignment done, it may work to find a relaxing place outside or in quiet corner of the library. If you’re getting group work done, you probably want to find a space where you can sit around a table and have a conversation without begin shushed by a librarian.

    Give it a Shot!

    Many students can get pretty set in their ways with where they like to study, and that is totally understandable! People like structure and consistency, especially in school. But if you study in your bed, it can be hard to resist falling asleep. Working at the kitchen counter can lead to distractions from roommates. Finding the right place to work will lead to a more positive and productive study session.

    If you ever feel like you want a bit of a change, try out a new space. There is nothing to lose, and it might lead to a pleasant surprise.

    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 young female college student sits at a table studying surrounded by her notes, a laptop, and a water bottle.

    Reduce Distractions to Improve Your Study Sessions

    Molly McKenna

    Do you ever have a challenging time studying? Do you often find yourself getting distracted and losing focus? Guess what... we have all been there. Studying can be a tedious task, especially when you are not prepared. Simple changes to your routine could tremendously help with your ability to get work done in the most efficient way. Ranging from finding the perfect spot to having the perfect materials, I am here to provide you with study tips and tricks that have motivated me to complete assignments and to properly conquer my studying requirements.

    Step One: Find A Spot That Is Secluded from Noise and Distractions

    I am one to get distracted very easily, but one of the best ways for me to stay focused is to set up my workspace on a quiet floor in the library or study lounge in my living complex. Another key component to feeling prepared to work is having a spacious workspace. When my area is cluttered with extra papers and junk, I feel overwhelmed. Attempting to eliminate any unnecessary clutter from your space and allowing yourself to dissociate from others during your studying time will help conquer that common overwhelmed feeling. If surrounded by friends, I will usually not complete as much as I originally hoped to because of distractive conversations. Set small goals and allow yourself to have more breaks after achieving each goal and not become overwhelmed by the total amount of assignments and studying requirements on your plate.

    Step Two: Put Your Phone Away (Or At Least Silenced)

    Technology is a huge cause of distraction nowadays. Although it can commonly be used as a tool in work and studying assignments, staying away from social media and other extracurriculars is such an important key to staying on task. Most are probably guilty of procrastinating an assignment and when finally getting to that assignment, only wanting to scroll through their latest feed. I know I have been there! Having your electronic device next to you with messages popping up is quite a tempting interruption. To maximize the potential of your studying and staying on task, I suggest silence your phone and put it out of sight at least for a set amount of time. Start with 20 minutes and continue to increase the time interval– no phone and no distractions. After those 20 minutes, allow yourself to have a 3-minute break. This should lower the chances of wanting to grab that phone constantly and will make getting work done more efficient.

    Step Three: Be Prepared with The Necessary Materials.

    Before sitting down to get to work, I suggest looking over each task to see what materials you will need. Do you need to print papers out? Are highlighters going to be a useful tool for studying purposes? When studying, I like to have notes printed and separated by class. I always utilize highlighters to help me stay organized with material. If not on paper, I usually will have my laptop and use the tools built into the program my notes are on. Aside from studying materials, I suggest having water and a light snack next to you to prevent you from having to get up and become distracted. Being prepared will already have you feeling accomplished before even starting your assignments.

    With these tips and tricks in mind, you will be set to manage your assignment and studying goals. Simple adjustments to your work habits and methods of achieving your academic tasks will have you prepared to get to work in the most efficient environment.

    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 young female college student sits at a desk working on a tablet.

    Seven Must-Have Apps for College Students

    Erica Yap

    How many times have you heard that your mobile devices are a distraction? While the answer may be a lot, there are surprisingly several apps available to optimize your learning, maintain your focus, and help you manage your time better. As a student who is often on the go, I want to share my favorite mobile apps that have helped turn my mobile devices into my best study buddies over the course of my four years in college.

    1. Pearson+: Whenever I am riding the bus to and from campus, a very productive use of my time is to scroll through flashcards offline on the Pearson+ app. Even if it is just a few minutes of study time here and there, it really adds up! Many other features to the Pearson+ app include access to textbooks, an audio player, advanced note taking, practice questions, and tutoring discounts!

    2. Mondly: I always wanted to study at least one semester abroad, so I use Mondly to learn languages. It’s fun, easy to use and it includes just the right amount of gamification without distracting me from actually learning. Conversation practice feels like talking to a friend, so I never have to worry I won’t be good enough in real-life situations.

    3. Flora: Have you ever wanted a virtual plant? The Flora app uses gamified technology to give you that extra incentive to focus. The longer you spend working on your assignments or completing your studying, the more time your virtual seed must grow! When you choose to browse a different website or hop onto social media, then your virtual plant dies.

    4. Notability: A powerful, yet simple note-taking app that allows you to make PDF annotations. On this app, I find it helpful to download class PowerPoints beforehand and take notes directly on the slides while my professor teaches the material. I also use this app to sign documents and highlight my notes as I study outside of class.

  • A panoramic view of a large brown, hilly area for 4-wheeling at sunset.

    Take a Break and Get Outside

    Carl Conley

    Nearing the end of the semester, students will be faced with the most difficult time of year... finals. Final exams are what most students dread every year right before leaving for break. Studying for hours can be exhausting and take a toll on students’ physical and mental health. Here are three activities that have helped me stay focused and determined while studying for those big exams.

    Put Down the Phone

    There have been many times while I was studying that I would pick up my phone to text one person back. What do you know?: 30 minutes later I would still be on my phone scrolling mindlessly through social media while accomplishing no work. Then I would stop looking at my phone screen and look right back onto my computer or iPad screen. This turned into hours of staring at nothing but screens, leading to headaches and sore eyes. I can easily say that the best decision I have ever made is to leave my phone in another room or my backpack while studying and not right next to me on the table.

    Fresh Air is Essential

    Sitting inside for hours on end is an easy way to lose motivation. On average, a person can stay focused for about 45 minutes at one time before their mind starts to wander. This may not seem like a long time to study for some people, but it can vary from person to person. What I have figured out works best for me is setting a timer for 45 minutes. As soon as those 45 minutes are up, I stop working, close my computer and take a 15-minute break. The best way to take a break is to get outside and enjoy a new environment, some sunshine, and fresh air.

    Fresh oxygen can lead to keeping your eyes and brain running in the best shape possible. As referenced in this article on how fresh air affects children’s’ learning, “allowing in fresh air cleans the lungs and gets rid of impurities and allows more oxygen into the body. The brain uses 20% of the body’s oxygen supply – therefore keeping the air fresh is a sure way of keeping (your brain) working at top capacity to help in learning” [1]. Where going on your phone for 15 minutes will do nothing but strain your eyes, stepping outside and breathing the fresh air will immediately help your entire mental state.

    Get Moving

    Physical activity is a perfect way to take your mind off the stress of school. Some of my favorite activities to do outside include going for a run or bike ride, playing spike ball with friends, or going for a hike/walk to relax and enjoy the outdoors while letting my mind take a break. Not only does regular physical activity help ensure you will stay in shape throughout the school year but, according to Heidi Godman at Harvard Health Publishing [2], “exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills”.

    I can personally say that ever since I changed my study habits and stuck to the basics of putting my phone away, taking scheduled breaks outside, and getting regular exercise, I have seen a drastic change in the efficiency of studying. It now takes me less time to go through the material because the 15-minute breaks of fresh air or exercise help me stay much more focused during the 45 minutes of work.

    With finals coming up, don’t make the same mistakes I once did of staring at screens for hours on end. Ironically, taking a break from studying every now and then may be your best chance to study effectively!

    References:

    Fireco. (n.d.) How Fresh Air Creates Happier Classroom. Fireco.uk. https://www.fireco.uk/how-fresh-air-creates-happier-classrooms/#:~:text=Allowing%20in%20fresh%20air%20cleans,capacity%20to%20help%20their%20learning.

    Godman, Heidi (2014, April 9). Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

    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! 

  • An empty college classroom with a Smartboard at the front. Each student desk has a red chair.

    Trying New Things: Study Spots Edition

    Sidney Li

    Studying is an integral part of any and every college student’s life. Eight out of 10 times that anybody asks what a college student is doing, they’re most likely studying. There are certainly popular spots that every college student seeks: libraries. Yet, these spots get quickly crowded and become so popular around midterms and final season. Here is a guide on other not-so-popular spots around campus that any and every college student can utilize.

    Empty Classrooms

    Mentally and physically separating work and play is crucial for any student. There are a variety of empty rooms that you could utilize when classes aren’t in session. It could be tricky to find one during the week because a class might need that space, too. Be flexible and ready to move, if needed. If you’re looking for a space on campus on the weekends, empty classrooms can be your best friends if they’re not locked after hours.

    Parks, Outdoors, and Green Space

    Being inside for multiple hours a day studying has its drawbacks, as you need some vitamin D from the sun. You could find a picnic table, bench, or even using Mother Nature herself by sitting on some grass while soaking in the sun. Having that breath of fresh air might help you stay more productive especially if you don’t need to use Wi-Fi and the weather isn’t crummy.

    Lounges around Campus

    Every university has sitting areas throughout their multitude of campus buildings for people to utilize between classes—so take advantage of these! I’ve definitely utilized some throughout my college career between classes or to grab a quick bite while reviewing notes for my upcoming class.

    Cafes and Dining Halls

    Who doesn’t like having food and drinks in one spot near where you’re studying for a few hours? I have spent an entire day studying in one of our campus dining halls during finals season because there is so much seating. As long as you have headphones or can tune out conversations and the hustling and bustling sounds easily then you’re practically golden!

    Student Union or Recreational Centers

    If you want to make your studying exciting, you can easily switch up your areas as it will help refresh your brain and even help remember your class notes easily. Every campus has community or recreational centers that often have common areas or even lounges set up for public use. Not only that, but you can take a studying break by working out for a bit or taking a walk!

    Next time you’re trekking towards the library for a three-hour study session, try out one of these new spots instead! Be sure to take advantage of the many different areas your college campus offers to get some work done.

    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 laptop with an eText section of a genetic text on screen. Next to it is a student’s spiral notebook open to a page with written notes.

    Get the Most Out of Your Pearson Revel eText

    Shika Jwala

    College students spend an average of 14.1 hours a week reading assigned material. That's a lot of time and energy! Reading assignments in college can be boring and tedious, especially if the textbook is long and complicated. When I was a freshman, I remember putting aside several hours in my day to tackle assigned readings. It was even worse knowing that a lot of material on the exam would come from these readings. However, Pearson's Revel eText is designed to solve this problem! Using Revel eText enhanced my knowledge of the subject, while cutting back on my reading time. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your Revel eText.

    Tip #1: Play it out loud

    By far one of the best features of Revel eText is the “audio playlist” feature. At the top right of the screen, you have the option of having the page being read aloud to you. This is super convenient and can even help you process the material better. I sometimes find myself getting distracted while I read. Listening to the audio version keeps me engaged and focused. It’s especially nice because having the text read aloud allows you to do other things, like going for a walk or doing the dishes. It saves time and lets you multitask!

    Tip #2: Pop-up definitions

    Another cool feature is the pop-up box with a definition when you hover over a highlighted word. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to flip to the glossary or find a dictionary just to understand a word a textbook uses. Having to search up many complex words used in a textbook can get frustrating and tedious. Not a problem with Revel! Hovering your mouse over the word gives its definition in an instant. This has helped me save so much time and energy in the long run.

    Tip #3: Use the search feature

    Can’t remember what page covered the Nitrogen cycle? Revel has an awesome “search” feature. Click on the magnifying glass icon to search for any word or short phrase. This makes it way easier and faster to find the information you need. As college students, we need all the shortcuts we can get. Searching using keywords can quickly find what you’re looking for.

    Tip #4: Highlight

    Need to make a study guide for that big exam coming up? Revel eText lets you highlight important sentences on the page with your cursor. All your highlighted sections will be saved in a notebook, which can be found at the notebook icon/section that’s labeled ‘notebook.’ After you finish your readings, all your highlighted texts will conveniently be in one spot for you to study. You can even color code them with different colored highlighters. Making a study guide has never been quicker or easier. Now, you are well on your way to ace that test!

    Tip #5: Flashcards

    Revel eTexts have a flashcard section, which can be found by clicking on the flashcard icon. This lets you make your own deck(s) of flashcards to test yourself. It’s like having your own little Quizlet, but even more convenient! You can highlight any piece of text you want on the flashcard, so no need to type anything out.

    With these features, studying activities that used to take hours and many different resources can be done more efficiently in one place! These resources have helped me save so much time and energy while improving my grades.

    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!