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

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    A Stranger Became My Mentor

    Trisha Norfleet

    When I first heard that I had been named a recipient of the 2016 Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education, I was ecstatic! As part of the award, I learned I would be paired with a mentor to guide me throughout my academic journey for the next 3 years. As the over analytical person I am, I did a lot of research about mentoring and what that means. My initial reaction was that the program would to be socially awkward. To be paired with a stranger and seek guidance from an adviser that I had never met seemed strange. How could I possibly connect with a stranger who knows nothing about me?

    From a stranger to a friend

    Now, after a year of monthly calls with my mentor, Nicole (my mentor) went from a stranger to a close friend. We have so much in common. I began to eagerly anticipate speaking to her every month and connecting with her on my academic progress. As a first-generation college student, there were not many people in my life that I could share my academic goals and milestones with. With Nicole, I was able to express my transfer stress and college milestones as well as get feedback from someone who has already experienced college life.

    Nicole has guided me through transfer stress as I searched for the right university for me. She has also offered insights on student organizational projects and personal life struggles. My mentor has greatly contributed to my success by offering me endless support. She has counseled me through many stresses during my college journey.

    More than a mentor

    I appreciate my mentor Nicole because she is very understanding. She makes me feel safe to confide in her for all of my issues whether school related or personal. I know that when I start my classes, finish a lecture, work with a tutor, or get involved with campus activities or organizations, Nicole will appreciate my hard work. With her support, I am confident that I have a successful future. Now when I hear my phone ring and see that it is my Pearson mentor, I am still shocked how fast our relationship has grown. I am grateful that I have her in my life. Nicole is continually motivating me and encouraging me to utilize my strengths.

    Nicole is more than a mentor and I am grateful to have her as a part of my Pearson Scholarship Award. I am continually improving academically in my new college, and I would not be as comfortable in my transfer and college academia without my mentor.

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    My Inspirational Professor: Dr. Brem

    Victoria Bankowski

    As I sat in Professor Toni Brem’s Microbiology class I kept asking myself, “what did I get myself into?” Taking this class was sure to be a challenge for me. Up until that point I managed to breeze through the classes at my community college without much difficulty. Walking into Professor Brem’s lecture on that very first day of class intimidated me, making me sick to my stomach. But through this challenge and perseverance I managed to learn a significant life lesson.  

    I was afraid to breathe.

    Microbiology is rumored to be the most difficult course within my major. I feared I was destined to fail with an instructor who had a reputation of being tough. I studied her mannerisms and took note of the softness of her voice and her delicate facial features. With her hands in her lab coat pockets, she tapped her leg patiently waiting on the attention of the class.  In those first few moments I came to realize that Professor Brem had a great deal to offer through her demeanor.  Without saying a word, her posture and actions demonstrated that she demanded the full attention of her students. She took pride in the knowledge she had to offer for those who were there to learn.

    Facing Fears

    I was very intimidated by her stature, as was the rest of the class. When Professor Brem spoke, we listened.  However, I had a difficult time comprehending the technical lingo of Microbiology. One morning I found myself walking past her office where she sat quietly working on her lesson. She asked me if there was anything that I help with.  I managed to tell her I was scared to death of her class, and what she was teaching was so difficult to comprehend.  She shared ways for me to learn the material and promised her door was always open.  

    Gaining Confidence

    After that talk with Professor Brem, I began to interact with her more during class, lab and after class. It was nice to know that she wanted me to succeed and her mannerisms were evidence that she was a professor who truly cared about all her students.  I began to celebrate the possibility of making it through her class. One day after lab I stayed to talk to her about applying to transfer to several universities.  Professor Brem thought I should apply to her alma mater, the University of Michigan.  I thanked her for believing in me, even though I questioned even being eligible for such a prestigious university. Professor Brem encouraged me further by telling me it would not be an easy task but she felt I had the makings of a good student.  Apparently I reminded her of a time when she was in the same place.  I walked away with a smile on my face. I was determined to cherish the kind words she offered to me.  

    She pushed me to believe

    Not only did I survive Microbiology that semester (I earned an A in the course!), but Professor Brem also inspired me to apply for a college I would have never even thought to consider due to its prestige.   I am pleased and proud to share I am a University of Michigan Wolverine.   Professor Brem’s patience and guidance over the semester helped me to take pride in the direction I was heading.  It was her belief in me that pushed me to believe in myself.  Her words of encouragement will continue to manifest in my head.   I could not have done it without her.   I pray that I make her as proud of me, as she has managed to make me proud to be a part of her path.

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    Declutter Your Mind: Organization Tips for a New Semester

    Lianna Mae Smith

    A new semester of school reminds us to reassess how we will organize for school and for our lives in general. In the past, I have lost sight of my goals due to clutter in my schedule and home. So I believe that the very best way to stay organized for the school semester is to literally clean house. Get rid of or store away anything and everything that will not support you as you go through school. Organizing your mindset for the semester is also a huge part of this process. Maybe you will find my tips helpful as you try to keep it all together in this new semester.

    Put away all distractions

    Commit your mind to school. This consists of putting away all the things that you already know you won’t have time for during the semester. For example, I know that I can’t play Skyrim without spending hours and hours on the Xbox 360. Therefore, I put away my Xbox where it is difficult to set it up. That way I know that my time will remain effective and organized. This helps to actively prioritize my school schedule over my video game schedule.

    Get ahead of chores

    Declutter, take out the trash, dust, wash and put away everything so all your surfaces are clean, low-maintenance, and ready to go! You will start the semester off right and feel motivated to keep this organization going.  My process involves cleaning all the nooks and crannies of the house.   Finally, I sit down and make a budget to ensure I won’t have to worry too much about managing my money over the next few months. It sounds like a lot of work, but if you do it before you go back to school, it will be worth it.

    Make a schedule!

    Block time for every single thing you will do into a schedule – including time to get organized! Set time aside consciously for things that you must get done in your day. That includes preparing meals, grooming, playing with pets, etc. This may sound awfully regimented and not very spontaneous, but you will find that you can reach your goals if the tasks you complete each day are tied to those goals. Leaving the day open to interpretation means you can quickly get off track. It might be fun in the moment, but it will take you so much longer to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your dreams.

    Overall, most of this pre-semester preparation is meant not only to help you clear your space and save you time, but also to clear your mind and help you focus as you move through the semester. You can save yourself a lot of stress if you keep your eye on the prize!

    What is the best way you stay organized throughout the semester? Share with the Pearson Students community by commenting below!

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    Mentoring: A Bridge to Academic Excellence

    Daniel Owusu

    Several strategies and ideas have been coined or used in pursuit of helping students achieve excellence in their academics. These strategies or ideas include scholarships, tutoring, internships, and mentoring. I believe the most valuable of them all is mentoring. In my opinion mentoring is the bridge to academic success and I am privileged to be paired with a mentor through Pearson, Ramona Elmer.

    Last year I was honored to have been awarded the Pearson Scholarship. Along with the financial award, each Pearson Scholar is matched with a mentor. Initially I didn’t value the mentoring as much as I did the financial aspect of the scholarship. I was concerned about paying my tuition and other academic expenditures. I did not know what mentoring was or what good could come out of it. Now, I can confidently say that the mentoring component is as important as the financial component of the scholarship.

    Effective communication

    Communication is one of the key components of mentoring that has helped improve my academic performance. My mentor and I got off to a good start with communication. During the early days of the program we exchanged emails. Sometimes we communicate via phone calls. At other times, my mentor and I would meet in person and discuss academics and personal issues. Setting up meetings wasn’t always easy. She had to drive for almost an hour and sometimes because of my work and tight schedules, arranging meeting times was hard, but my mentor was willing to work with my schedule.

    Consistent Support

    Words cannot describe how the immense support from my mentor has contributed to my educational success. Just to mention a few, my mentor, Ramona, ensures that I have the required study materials for the upcoming semester. She also helps me with information about securing scholarships for my education. She provides encouragement to me when the semester gets tough. This was helpful during my final semester in my community college when I had to deal with the transfer process, classes, work and my personal life issues. She played a key role in my transition to my four-year school and personally drove me to school and made sure I got a good start.

    Ramona’s dedication of her time and resources to my overall well-being and academic success is something that I really appreciate about her. I am the only member of my family here in United States. Being so far away from my family is challenging, but I also find great significance in having an individual to turn to for advice. Having someone who cares about you in all endeavors keeps you motivated and allows you to be proud in your academic performance. That is why I believe mentoring is the bridge to achieving academic excellence.

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    Take a Break from Technology

    Delaney Stockford

    Over the Thanksgiving break I decided to be in the moment and spend time with family since it was only a short weekend. I decided to take a break from technology and be social media free. I must admit, it was difficult not being able to check Instagram, Snap Chat, or Facebook quite frequently. However, I learned a lot from the experience that I would like to share with you.


    The first day was by far the hardest. I had major FOMO. (Fear of Missing Out) I wanted to see what all my friends doing and posting on social media now that we were all home for the break! It got easier as the weekend continued. I found myself grabbing my phone, but I had to keep reminding myself to stay off it. However, I did make the occasional exception of texting to stay in contact with friends and family.

    Living in the Moment

    It was refreshing to be present and to spend time with my relatives. I even had a friend surprise me since I didn’t know she was home already. It would not have been as big of a surprise if I had seen her post on social media that she was back.  

    Making Memories

    Thanksgiving day was by far the easiest day of them all because I was too busy catching up with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins I have not seen in months. I am thankful for the memories I was able to make with my family that weekend. Even though it was a struggle, my family was there to support me and keep me distracted!

    After this experience I really do not see myself living a “social media free” life.Technology plays a big role in my everyday life and I am truly thankful for the technology I am provided with – not only for social media, but also the resources I use for school. However I learned that I needed that brief liberation and it acted as a cleanse for me.

    Now I challenge you, Pearson Students! Do you think you could go one week without checking social media pages? Try it over Winter Break! f you wish to share your experience, write a blog about it, and submit the draft through the Pearson Student Insiders!

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    Optimism Helps Beat the Winter Blues

    Mackenzie Stogsdill

    It is that time of year again for most of us: it is cold. You are dreading getting out of the warmth of your bed to go to class. You go outside and it is well below freezing.  There is not a bus to take you to your building so you walk for ten minutes in the arctic tundra that is your university campus. On top of that you have to deal with how difficult school is in general and other stresses that the life of a young adult provides. HOW WILL YOU DO IT? Better yet, could you possibly do it with a smile on your face? I am here to tell you that it can be possible using optimism.

    How optimistic are you?

    I have struggled deeply with being optimistic. If I looked at a pie graph of the percent of my time I spent complaining and being upset about something compared with the time I spent happy or grateful, I have to admit that it sometimes leans more on the negative side. I would hate to get to the end of my life and say that more than half of my awake life was spent having negative thoughts versus positive ones. That has been a wake up call for me.

    Move toward optimism

    Optimism is being hopeful about a successful outcome. Find ways to think positively in order to fend off the winter blues. If you are walking outside on campus, be glad you have an opportunity to go to school. If you are upset about the snow or freezing rain, be thankful that there is water to keep the plants growing.

    Tips to beat the blues

    Here are some tips for turning your cold-weather stresses into reasons you are blessed (sorry, I tried to rhyme):

    • Reverse your thinking. For example, if you are upset about the cold, be glad it isn’t hot. If you are mad that there is class in the snow, be thankful that you are going to school in a snow globe.
    • Make the most of your time indoors. Organize your desk. Clean out your backpack. Invite friends for indoor fun like a movie night or game night.
    • Destress. There is active fun to be had outdoors even in the cold. Being active can help reduce stress. Have a snowball fight. Build an igloo. Do something.

    To be honest, we are too easily selfish. We want more and take a lot for granted. Given that college is an “it’s all about me” stage in our lives, there is so much more to life than us. Why spend the winter months sad when there’s so much to be glad about?  How do you beat the winter blues?


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    Failure Is An Option: Learning From Mistakes On Your Way to Success

    Anna Wagenhauser

    While visiting my aunt and uncle in Florida this summer, they told me about their journey as business owners. They moved from Maryland to Florida on a whim. At the time they had little-to-no plan of what they would be doing with their lives (besides relaxing by the beach, of course). Now, almost 10 years later, they’ve avoided failure and created a successful rental property management business, with two office locations and around 20 employees.

    One evening, I asked my uncle how they became so successful, and he gave me two pieces of advice:

    Be as confident as possible in yourself and your abilities

    Sometimes you must “fake it till you make it,” but you’ll come off as a more competent and successful person because of it.  Just think: if my aunt and uncle hadn’t had the confidence to move almost 1,000 miles to an unfamiliar place, they wouldn’t have the success that they have now.

    Have the mindset that “failure isn’t an option”

    We all know that failure is a possibility when we venture out of our comfort zones. My uncle made a clear distinction between the negative connotation attached to “failing” versus being “unsuccessful.” He said that it’s OK to be unsuccessful. At that point, you cut your losses, learn from your mistakes, and try something else. But even if your idea or business doesn’t work out, you can still learn something valuable.

    It’s so easy to become discouraged or lose confidence when life doesn’t go as planned. As a student, we face the idea of failure on a regular basis in our classes, friendships, personal lives, and work environments. But whether you’re starting a business, trying to make it in the music industry, or wanting to maintain happy relationships, the key is the same: believe in yourself and your abilities, learn from your mistakes, and always move forward.



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    No Regrets: Finishing Your Freshman Year Strong

    Lorise Diamond

    Looking back on my freshman year, I can honestly say that I have no regrets. There is nothing I would have done differently. As my first day of community college approached, the imagery of my long-term goal, graduating from San Diego State University, loomed as a distant future. Only one thing stood in my way; the first step—earning an Associate degree. Preparing for the first day of class I asked myself, “What kind of student do you want to be?” My heart replied, “The kind who does their best.” I never imagined that degree would come with Honors. Here is my advice on how to finish your freshman year strong.

    Pace is important

    Whether you entered college straight from high school or are a lifelong learner, slow and steady wins the race. It had been a while since I had been in school. I knew that sitting in a classroom was the easy part. The challenge would be making time to engage. I began with just 2 interesting classes to gauge my comfort level. Each subsequent semester I added another until I reached 14 units. The most units I have taken in a semester is 19, which I only tried once and don’t recommend- only because it ends up being too many finals! Find a course load that feels comfortable for you.

    Have fun!

    Some prerequisites are not as interesting as others.  Pepper those prereqs with at least one fun class. Having a fun or interesting subject matter helped keep me engaged, especially on days when I didn’t feel like going to campus. Yes, it happens. Be sure to schedule a class that excites you.

    Attitude is everything! 

    My overall enthusiasm kept me engaged. It carried me through each semester. Most of all, I embrace myself. My dreams are important to me. When friends seem disappointed that I’d rather study than hang out, I let them know that being a good student is my job. My academic success is a direct result of dedication and discipline, which rely on my enthusiastic attitude. Real friends will offer support and even admire your brilliant decision to study. So, wake up, and show up!

    Determinedly, I moved forward toward my vision like a heat-seeking missile with a single-minded purpose: minimize distractions and be the best student that I can be.  It worked. I graduated from community college with honors, earning an Associate degree— Communication Studies for Transfer. Now, I’m a senior at SDSU. My vision is much closer to reality, and I still have friends, old and new. Therefore, the final advice I’d offer to freshmen is to envision your optimal future and then let every moment count toward that potential. Make it happen!


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    Life Lessons From My Siamese Cat

    Doralicia Giacoman-Soto

    Cats may not speak, but they sure can teach us a lot about life and how to make most of it! I want to  celebrate our feline friends by noting the wisdom that they possess and what we can learn from them. Here are a few things I’ve learned from our cat friends, particularly from my own cat, Izzy, who is pretending not to recognize me as I’m typing this.

    It’s okay to just have fun sometimes!  

    Sure, life is about working hard, trying to be productive and managing responsibilities, but it’s also important to have fun. Izzy strongly lives by this rule. While you can’t always break away from your responsibilities, try to work some fun free time for yourself into to your schedule. While my cat prefers to play with small soft soccer balls during her playtime, find something that entertains you.

    It’s important to get enough sleep

    This is an important area that is imperative to our health and cats seem to recognize easily. Some cats are so concerned about their health that they even sleep 14 hours daily! Though being in college and working can be demanding and time consuming, it is important to make sure to get enough sleep. A healthy body and mind are the foundation of your well-being and performing well in every part of your life. Try to make sure to get a good night’s sleep so that it’ll be YOU waking up first before your cat!

    Never give up on what you want

    Cats seem to understand the importance of persistence and never giving up on what you want. Many times Izzy has tried to eat my food and I’ve taken it away, yet nevertheless she persists! It is a simple lesson: never give up on what you’re passionate about and keep fighting for what you want! Due to her persistence and unwillingness to give up, my cat Izzy has managed to eat some of my food from time to time.

    Address everything with a strategy

    Whether it be a job interview or school exam, it’s important to first consider your goals, then plan the steps you need to take to reach your ultimate goal. In the case of my cat, her clever strategy involves grabbing my food when I’m distracted!

    Always stay true to yourself

    Izzy doesn’t care about what other cats are doing or what we humans may think about her – she is simply Izzy. And that’s something that a lot of us could learn from: our individuality is unique and amazing! Whether it be career-wise or in your personal life, it is important to stay true to yourself and to do what you love.

    A cat is much more than a purring furry bundle on your couch! Embrace the knowledge your cat has to offer – whether it be to be get more sleep, or be more persistent towards your life goals – we can learn a thing or two from our feline friends