Students blog

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

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  • A calendar notebook and several pens.

    How to Succeed During an Overscheduled Semester

    Kayleigh Parish

    At my university, counselors emphasize the importance of “thinking fifteen”, meaning taking fifteen credit hours a semester to graduate in four years. While this doesn’t seem too difficult, as a biomedical sciences student this often means that the fifteen credits I’m taking are all STEM-based classes, which typically come with a heavy work load. This can make planning my weekly schedule overwhelming, especially since I’m also scheduling in work and events with student organizations I’m involved with on campus. Here are some tips I use when going about my semester.

    Register Wisely

    Setting yourself up for success happens at class registration. Choose classes during the time of day when you will be most active and more likely to pay attention. Whether it be morning, afternoon, or night, keeping to the part of the day that is best for you will help you to get the most out of your day. Also, give yourself enough time between classes to process your notes and assignments. This will help you understand the information given and might even decrease the total amount of study time needed.

    Be Flexible

    One of the biggest things to realize when scheduling yourself throughout the semester is that there is a difference between concrete plans and plans that can be flexible. Concrete plans are your exams and classes. They will not change no matter what. Even if one class session is cancelled or an exam moved around, for the most part the days and times won’t change. Plans you make with your friends can also be concrete. You all choose a time and an activity and because multiple people agree, it’s more likely to not be changed. Flexible plans are things that could be moved around your day if they need to be. You may not have a decision when other people or organizations plan events you wish to participate in, but you can decide to push your afternoon studying to later or earlier in the day. Being flexible is super important in college. It allows you to do what you need to do and what you want to do at the same time.

    Build Sustainable Habits

    It’s better to build daily habits in your day rather than try to adhere to a strict schedule. If you create a daily schedule, it may not work every day. Instead, make a list of what needs to be done in the day and complete each task when you can. If you know you need to study for three hours, go day-by-day and decide where studying will fit in that day. When I know I have an event at night, I try my hardest to finish everything I need to get done that day before the event. On a day with no extra events scheduled, I space my tasks out a bit more so as to not overwhelm myself. Being able to do this will help you not only succeed in classes and have fun, but it will also relieve some stress from your day.

    Finally, understand that while deadlines are important, you shouldn’t fully live by them. Give yourself enough time to study for exams or properly complete assignments but allow yourself to take breaks and have fun throughout the week as well. Taking thirty-minute coffee breaks can help you reset. Having dinner with your friends can help you destress before or after exams. Studying is important to succeeding in many classes, but you can have fun and succeed at the same time.

    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 early sunrise over a lake featuring a dock and two small boats on the water.

    How to Become a Morning Person

    Katherine Scott

    Rise and shine! Waking up in the morning can be hard but persistently working on changing your sleeping habits can ease the morning slog. As a natural night owl, I decided that I needed to make a change to become an early bird. On this journey I learned a few lessons that I’d like to share with anyone who wants to become a morning person.

    Ditch the Afternoon Coffee

    Caffeine is a stimulant so drinking caffeine late in the day can create a disruptive sleep schedule. Many studies have shown that caffeine causes some people to be kept awake or to wake up periodically throughout the night. However, morning coffee is a positive; it can help boost morning energy levels and create that morning routine.

    Seek out Natural Light

    You might want to rethink the blackout curtains you currently utilize. It is important to let the natural light come in and help wake you up. Natural light plays an important role in suppressing the hormone melatonin. The less amount of melatonin you have in your system the more likely you are to feel awake and have the greater ability to seize the day.

    Workout in the Morning

    A sweat session is a great way to begin each day. Research has shown that early morning movement can help improve mood. The workout will increase endorphins and dopamine in the body; these are feel-good neurotransmitters. If you do this, you will start your day off in the best mental state. I always recommend prepping your workout stuff the night before, so you have no excuses.

    No Snooze Policy

    The key to this process is to set up a routine for yourself; setting up boundaries with the snooze button is a great step. This will force you to get out of bed immediately. The first couple early mornings I didn’t trust myself to not hit the snooze button, so I set my alarm clock across the room. This ensured that I physically got out of bed to turn it off.

    Implementing these changes can make the seemingly impossible feat of becoming a morning person seem effortless. Over the past year that I have been implementing these changes, I have been given a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

    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 graphic featuring a person’s arm with a clock balanced in the hand.

    Procrastination: A college student’s best friend

    Jared Armstrong

    What were you doing before reading this blog? Scrolling through Instagram? Watching TikTok? Putting off your homework? All of the above? “According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anywhere from ‘80 percent to 95 percent of college students procrastinate, particularly when it comes to doing their coursework’” (National University, 2021, p. 1). Based on this percentage, nearly all college students procrastinate in some way. I am personally guilty of procrastinating and waiting until the last minute to get my assignments turned in. However, there are many different ways to overcome procrastination which will allow you to get the most out of each and every day.

    For starters, the biggest distraction is that smart phone you are either using to read this blog or have sitting right next to you. Put the phone somewhere you can no longer see it and you will immediately see an increase in your productivity. In addition, before moving your phone, set a timer for 25 minutes so that way you have a time limit for your work. Once the timer goes off, set another one for a quick five-minute break. You can now repeat this exercise for however long you plan to do your work.

    If you think I’m crazy, this technique is actually known as the Pomodoro Technique which was developed by entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo when he was a college student. In essence, “the Pomodoro Technique essentially trains people to focus on tasks better by limiting the length of time they attempt to maintain that focus and ensuring restorative breaks from the effort. The method also helps them overcome their tendencies to procrastinate or multitask, both of which are known to impair productivity” (Sheldon and Wigmore, 2022, p. 1). If you want to get rid of your procrastination habits, the Pomodoro Technique is a great place to start.

    Furthermore, there are other simple methods for you to prevent procrastination. Rather than numbing your brain with TikTok’s or social media, go outside, take a walk, get some exercise. Everything I just mentioned is widely known to improve your mood and limit your distractions. These activities will also make your mind more refreshed and ready to work. Make sure you take time every day to just take a breath and relax so that way you can see an immediate increase in your productivity.

    If you struggle with procrastination, you are not alone. I have heard this phrase a lot during my college career, and it really does hold true: “The problem college students face is not a lack of time, rather it is having too much time on their hands.” Instead of wasting valuable time, make a daily schedule for yourself that includes everything you want and need to accomplish based on the time you have. Put your phone away, start doing the Pomodoro Technique and set aside time for relaxation and things that will boost your overall well-being.

    So now what? Are you going to sit on your phone some more or are you going to get the most out of your day so you can have more time for fun? To procrastinate or not to procrastinate, that is the question.

    Works Cited

    National University. (2021, July 6). Helping Students Overcome Procrastination. National University. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.nu.edu/blog/helping-students-overcome-procrastination/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20American%20Psychological,of%20every%20five%20students%20in

    Sheldon, R., & Wigmore, I. (2022, September 15). What is Pomodoro Technique Time Management? WhatIs.com. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/pomodoro-technique#:~:text=What%20is%20the%20Pomodoro%20Technique,broken%20by%20five%2Dminute%20breaks

    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 black and white graphic of a set of scales beneath the text ‘School and Work’.

    How to Manage School and Work

    Sadaf Nasiri

    Having a hard time managing school and work? Don't know how you will get through another semester having to balance the two different activities? Here are some tips and advice from a full-time college student and a full-time worker. Though everyone's experiences differ, and everyone's schedules are unique, these tips can help you be able to manage both and work simultaneously, plus have some time for yourself in between!

    Make a Schedule that Works for You

    Don’t overwork yourself during the school year as that can often lead to a burnout (which is the worst!). Create a schedule that allows you to balance both school and work, plus make enough time for things like homework, eating, and some free time to enjoy yourself!

    Learn How to Advocate for Yourself

    You don’t have to pick up that extra shift just because your boss asked you to. It’s ok to say ‘no’. Make sure you speak up and be honest with those around you to avoid work piling up and getting stressed out.

    Build in Rewards

    Finished a big project or finished a long stressful shift? Make sure to treat yourself and reward yourself once in a while in order to motivate yourself to keep pushing. These motivations and rewards can be anything that you like or desire (candy, a shopping spree, etc.).

    Use Your Support System

    Everyone copes with stress differently. A support system is important to build you up when you’re feeling less motivated or to help out if you’re in a jam. You may even have multiple support systems – classmates, work peers, and family or friends. Turn to your support system whenever you feel like you need it. And return the favor by supporting others when you can!

    Fight Perfectionism

    Lastly, just know that life isn’t perfect, and you are still amazing regardless of what grades you get or how much you work! Not everyone can get all A’s while working during school. Not everyone can work full-time while being in school. Life isn’t perfect and you can strive to meet goals but know that not achieving them doesn’t make you a failure. You are still worthy of everything you’ve achieved and accomplished so far.

    You won’t always be able to get the perfect balance between both, but these tips can help you be able to meet the goals you want and achieve more while balancing school and 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! 

  • An iPhone stacked on top of a planner.

    Time Management Tips from a Grade A Procrastinator

    Madison Butler

    Who is perfect at time management? In high school, I felt on top of everything: school, social life, and extracurriculars! I believed the glide into my first year of college would be effortless. However, as soon as the first week finished, I was behind on my schoolwork and became a Grade-A procrastinator.

    Honestly, I’m still working on my ever-changing schedule, but I have picked up some tips and tricks that have made my workload flow in a way that does not stress me out at the last minute. Having a schedule that works for you is the backbone of not losing motivation and feeling successful!

    1. Phone Privileges (Okay, Mom)

    Ah yes, the dreaded words I used to hear from my parents growing up, "you have lost your phone privileges, Maddie," blah blah blah. But back then, I did not realize how much they were actually right! Staying up late, whipping my head at the sound of notifications, and scrolling on TikTok for hours (I know I am not the only one!), are just some of the ways I am constantly distracted. Especially when I need to focus on the task I have at hand. What has helped me in the past year, especially if you have an iPhone, is using the Do Not Disturb setting and setting my own screen time limits. The screen time limit tip helped me allot time (mine is set for 2 hours) for my daily social media and games "binge." Then, as soon as the time limit notification popped up, I have had to train myself to not hit the "ignore limit" button, and trust me, it's taken a while. I have now realized that I can complete a lot more tasks in my day when I’m not glued to my phone.

    2. The Foreboding To-Do List

    To be perfectly frank, I hated To-Do lists. I would always forget about it, lose it, and/or NEVER check all of the boxes. Those never helped me until about three months ago. To set the scene: the weekend before school started, I had just told myself I needed to create a routine, but how would I be able to do that because I rarely ever stuck with it (previous life evidence proves this theory correct). So, my solution was to buy the absolute cutest To-Do list I could find (I wish I was kidding). I placed it in the center of my desk, so it was one of the first things I would see when I woke up. I started the tasks off simple: brush my teeth, wash my face, eat breakfast, and others like studying Accounting for two hours, then rest for 15 minutes. Doing simple mundane tasks helped me easily track and stay on task throughout my day. Now, I don't need to write "brush my teeth" and stick with my more prioritized tasks, but it was an excellent start for me, personally! Find your own list in your own time!

    3. Use Breaks Wisely

    Another way to hold myself accountable is by using my breaks wisely. I downloaded an app called Focus Keeper, and it helps me when I am studying to work for thirty minutes and then take off ten minutes. This app allows me to study for more extended periods without burning myself out!

    All in all, you will find your rhythm to motivate and hold yourself accountable! Remember you are human, and it takes a while to break a habit, so be easy on yourself <3!

    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! 

  • Five post-it notes in alternating colors of pink, blue, and yellow are labeled with the initials of the days of the week: M, T, W, T, F.

    Get Organized and Stay Organized for your Best Semester Yet

    Lexie Harris

    Organization skills are vital for college students, but sometimes can be a little difficult to maintain. Whether it is making a schedule for the week or finishing and turning in assignments on time, there are so many tasks that require organization. There are plenty of ways to be organized, and not everyone has to use the same method. The way someone keeps organized usually differs from person to person. If one way does not work for you try another way! Here are some different tips to try on how to be organized and stay organized.

    Organize Your Time

    Staying on top of commitments and due dates is a required skill in college, and it can be a little difficult for some. Many students find using a planner or calendar, either hard-copy or digital, to be the best solution. However, it is not the correct way for everyone. Instead of using a planner or calendar, try using something else to keep track of what is coming up that day and that week. I have found that using sticky notes is very helpful. Every time I know there is something I need to do or remember, I write it on a sticky note. Then I stick them together somewhere I can easily see. When I am finished with whatever is on the sticky note, I crumple it up and throw it away. This helps me keep track of what I have coming up.

    Organize Your Stuff

    Another thing students might find a little difficult to organize is their possessions and belongings. This is especially true for people living in dorms. Even though dorms are, as a rule, pretty small, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find what you are looking for every time you need it. It might sound cliche, but putting stuff in the same place every time makes finding it when you need it much easier. Another useful tip is to put things close to where you might need them. For example, I usually only need my keys when I leave. So, I have a spot close to the door where I put my keys every time I enter. I find that this helps me to remember where my keys are and to not forget my keys in the room when I leave.

    Building solid organizational skills now will pay off for your future. There are many things in life that require a person to be organized. Everyone must find their own way to get and stay organized. A way that works to keep a friend organized might not work for you. These tips are the ways that I have found to help keep me organized. If they don’t work for you, keep exploring! The thing that matters is that you find a way that works for you.

    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 male and female college students sitting in a circle and talking on a campus lawn. Their backpacks are scattered on the grass beside each student.

    Isn’t College Supposed to be Fun? 3 Great Ways to Manage Academics and Do What Makes You Happy

    Libby Davis

    When I got to college, I remembered the countless times I heard an older adult or other family member say to me “college was the most fun time in my life, I would go back if I could”. I decided to take it as motivation to have the best college experience possible. I came up with three ingredients to make my college experience sweet; prioritizing what is important, managing my time, and getting involved in order to new people. These simple rules are something that college students hear all the time but why are they so important for us to actually follow?

    Prioritize Your Work First

    The biggest reason we all go to college is to pursue an education and eventually earn a degree that will hopefully lead to a job. But simply attending classes won’t lead to doing well and achieving a good GPA. Poor grades lead to negative feelings and stress; no one has fun failing. This is where prioritizing your work can help. Make sure you are on top of your schoolwork before participating in any other plans such as hanging with friends or going to sporting events.

    My own example of this occurred last semester when I really wanted to join some friends on a trip to California to watch my university play in the NCAA basketball tournament. The day we were to leave, I had two exams I needed to take. I prioritized preparing for and taking those exams over anything else – even packing. Everything ended up a success with two great grades on the exams and I made it on time to my flight later that day. Knowing I prioritized my tests and scored well on them made my time in California so much more fun because I knew I had been successful.

    Plan for Work and Play

    Learning how to manage your time on a day-to-day basis while in college is important. I manage my time by having a calendar with dates for not only all my schoolwork but also my personal commitments, like setting aside time to make meals, extra studying besides just homework, and time for personal hobbies. Having this organization has aided me in being a successful student while also building in time for fun activities, like hanging out with friends, spending time with my family, playing golf, and babysitting. These outside activities are what makes college fun for me and makes me happiest.

    It’s Who You Know, Not What You Know

    Besides just being on campus and in the classroom, it is very important to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Campus involvement plays a huge role in making your college experience the best because you get to meet so many new people who could be an ally for you in the future. A close family member has always said to me, “it’s who you know, not what you know”, and those words have proved to be true. Building emotional intelligence and social skills can make you so much more of a successful person no matter how smart you are in the classroom. People need people and we rely on each other so much. Getting involved within your college or university will just make your experience even more sweet.

    All in all, I know I have made my college experience worth way more than I ever thought I could, and I think everyone else should be able to as well by following my three ingredients to become a successful and happy student.

    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 closed student laptop with a student planner stacked on top and a pen on the desk by the laptop.

    How to Balance Your 3 S’s: School, Sleep, and Social Life

    Ambyr Dack

    When I came to college, I was told there are three S’s: school, sleep, and social life… but the catch is you can only have two. While there are times that certainly feel like the case, creating good organization and time management skills can help you maximize your college experience. What I have found to be most helpful throughout college is creating a calendar system that works for me, scheduling times to do certain projects that are during my peak hours of performance, and realizing the importance of intentional rest even in the midst of crazy schedules. 

    Find The Best Calendar for You

    How many times have you gotten a physical calendar and after one month you stop writing in it? We have all been there. Finding the right kind of calendar for you is key to keeping on track. If you know you are prone to stop using a physical calendar, try a digital one like Google Calendar or Outlook. At the beginning of the semester type in all of your deadlines for assignments along with known events like club meetings, classes, concerts, or trips. Set alerts that will automatically pop up on your home screen to ensure that you actually have to take a look at your calendar. What I have found to be most helpful is at the beginning of every month briefly reviewing my calendar for that month to make sure I'm aware of all upcoming dates and plan accordingly.

    Personally, I like to use two calendars. One is a monthly calendar on my desk that I use to add all of my assignment deadlines as well as any holidays or upcoming events. The other is a small physical calendar that has a weekly view that allows me to plan out what I will do on each day. 

    Strategize Your Studying

    Scheduling times to do certain projects that are during your peak hours of performance will help you with mental fatigue. For example, if you have a textbook chapter you have to read, a discussion post, and a quantitative assignment to do, be strategic on planning when to do these assignments. It takes a lot more focus to read a textbook chapter or to do a quantitative assignment than to write a discussion post. If you find you are able to focus the most in the morning, try knocking out the textbook chapter or quantitative assignment first, take a break, and save the discussion post for a time in the day you aren't as alert.

    Additionally, I know I get overwhelmed by the number of tasks that are on my to-do list, which easily leads to procrastination. Try setting an alarm on your phone for a short period of time like 30 minutes and just start a task. It will make it seem smaller and easier to start when you know you only are going to work on it for a brief amount of time. Moreover, this can also help when you have other tasks like cleaning your room or folding laundry. By setting a 5–10-minute timer you know that you are dedicating that specific time to it, which gives you more incentive to complete it within that time.

    Rest Is Productive

    Lastly, rest! Unfortunately, burnout is very common among college students, especially towards the end of the semester. The best way to avoid burnout is by taking time to intentionally rest throughout your week. This means finding ways to recharge, which looks different for everyone! Some examples might be to read a book, go on a walk, work out, listen to music, hang out with friends, journal, or cook. Finding times in your schedule to incorporate breaks like this is essential. It might seem like there is no time for this, but by adding rest into your schedule you will be more productive and have more energy throughout your week. Maybe you have an hour chunk during the week or split up that hour throughout your week. Find what works for you and make sure you prioritize it!

    Start early in the semester to establish effective time management balanced with plenty of rest. This will lay the foundation to productive habits that will help you maintain student success throughout the school year!

    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 screenshot of a student’s color-coded weekly digital planner.

    Starting Your Semester Out Strong

    Gabriel Hawthorne

    As students return from summer break, it can be challenging to re-activate one's mindset to a productive mode. Personally, I usually struggle with returning from summer because I have spent several months not thinking about school. However, not getting a strong start to the semester can make things harder in the long run, especially during midterms and finals. Here are some tips and guidance on easing your brain back into an effective mindset.

    Get Comfortable with Your Class Schedule

    Whether it is a course you've been excited about taking since you got admitted to college or a core curriculum class that you've been putting off, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your schedule. Not only knowing where and when your classes are, but what you anticipate your experience will be like in these courses.

    Review the syllabus to see if the workload is longer than you've been anticipating. The time commitment may require you to alter your schedule for other activities. If the class seems very challenging and requires a lot of work, you may want to consider how much time you plan to allocate completing that work on top of other classes and activities.

    For instance, I noticed that one of my classes required us to hand in reading assignments before each class. As someone who sometimes pushes their reading off until the last minute, I decided to make sure I had no activities before the class so I could do the assignment if I got too busy to do it beforehand.

    While it’s impossible to predict exactly how your semester will look simply based on the syllabi, reviewing your courses and schedule can help set reasonable expectations so you are not surprised by the workload.

    Plan Out Your First Week Back

    I usually like to schedule out all my activities for each week as soon as I can. This helps prevent me from overbooking my schedule and allows me to mentally prepare myself for the week ahead.

    Some activities, such as classes and meetings, have set times that cannot be changed. The gym and any time spent with friends can easily be rescheduled. However, allowing yourself time to relax is imperative to not burning out from work, so make sure to allow yourself some time to exercise or see some friends.

    After I have planned out my first week back to the best of my ability, I try to keep it consistent throughout the semester to build a routine for myself. Some people may not want to schedule out their entire week, however it can provide you with an understanding of what you have coming up and when. Create your own format that is comfortable for your success.

    Set Some Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When the semester begins, I usually reflect on my previous semester's academic performance and personal growth. There are times when I have felt I need to revise my study habits, so I try to make that happen early in the semester. Other times, I've noticed that I am happier when I exercise 2-3 times a week. Therefore, I prioritize adding the gym to my schedule. Making these adjustments early on in the semester can help you develop positive habits for the semester.

    I figured out these tips through repetition and listening to what my mind and body felt was right, which changed each semester. These are simply some tips that I have personally used and found very helpful as I start each semester. Obviously, everyone's experience will be different. If you are going to take anything away from this, let it be that you are the one who decides what works best for you. Trust your instincts and let yourself feel free to find your way of getting ready to have a great semester.

    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!