Students blog

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

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    Make Your Dreams a Reality

    Nnenna Umelloh

    I started college the fall semester of 2014 at the University of Houston straight out of high school. This experience was akin to living on Cloud 9 because the University of Houston was (and still is) my dream school. I had been making plans to attend this university since I first discovered it in the 8th grade. My high school classes were selected based on the credits that would transfer to the university. I knew all there was to know about the Honors College, Bauer College of Business, and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. I knew what I wanted to major in and was very familiar with the degree plan. Not only was the University of Houston the only  school I applied to, but for me, it was the only school worth going to.

    A dream becomes reality  

    When I got accepted into the Honors College, I witnessed my dream become a reality. It was at that moment that I began to realize how malleable the reality we live in can be. Our actions, thoughts and intentions can have a dramatic effect on how we live our lives. The process of transitioning dreams to reality is where creativity, research and faith come into play. I worked hard to get accepted into the Honors College, it didn’t happen overnight.

    The power to shape my reality

    Starting college at my dream school was the first step for me. Imagine a young African American woman graduating from a Tier- 1 research institution in four years with two degrees, fluent in two languages, with extensive travel experiences. Imagine a student who started a chapter of a national organization, opened a consulting business, started a nonprofit and is now about to head to South Korea to learn her third language! That person is me. Not to mention, I did all this before turning 22 and spent less than $10,000 on everything– tuition, books, study abroad, fees, business ventures! That sounds like a pipedream to most people, but for me, that is my life.

    Making your own reality requires redefining what “real” is

    This is where creativity plays a huge role. You need to tap into that part of your psyche that used to believe that literally anything was possible. It is important not to limit yourself by the barriers you think might exist. For example, a 5-year old would gladly entertain the possibility of becoming a ninja-fighting robot astronaut who does gymnastics on the weekends without hesitation.  They see possibility and wonder around them and they want to engage with all of it. Entertain the possibility of limitless opportunities. Go down the rabbit hole of what-ifs, and I-wish and wouldn’t-it-be-great-if. Reignite the excitement of an overactive imagination then start taking steps to enact those dreams.

    Build a road map

    After your creativity has become ignited, start to do your research. This is where you start to build the road map to those dreams. Understand that the pathway to your success will be riddled with challenges designed to make you stronger and this pathway will ebb and flow. You need to open yourself up to change and flexibility. If you see an obstacle, go through it. If you can’t go through it then go around it. Or go over it, under it, sideways, and if all else fails take a bulldozer and tear it down!

    Have faith in yourself

    Lastly while paving the path, it is important to have faith in yourself. Your faith is the steam engine behind all your efforts. If you lose sight of what you are aiming for then all your effort can seem wasted and things start going south very quickly. It is okay – even encouraged- to rely on family and friends who believe in you. They can help you through the hard times. It is okay if they do not see the vision you have for yourself. All they need to do is believe in you.

    Take the first step

    Make your dreams a reality! Don’t loose your imagination – ignite it, to inspire yourself into accomplishing amazing things! With hope, faith, and a little bit of research, you can live your most daring dreams – it just requires you to take the first step!


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    My Pearson Experience: Representing the Student Voice

    Erick Jenkins

    I am honored and humbled by the experiences Pearson has provided me. As a Pearson Campus Ambassador (PCA), I have had the privilege to deliver the student voice to Pearson executives and attend conferences across the nation. Pearson Insiders and PCA’s are frequently given the chance to tell their story and how they feel about Pearson – and what’s truly remarkable is that Pearson listens. In my travels, I have learned about this multinational company and the true emphasis it puts on student perspective. I can say after interning and working for several companies, Pearson has the kindest and most accessible employees and executives I have met.

    Representing the student voice

    Recently I was part of a group of PCA’s invited to Boston to bring the student voice directly to the Board of Directors of Pearson. This was a very eye-opening experience. We were all nervous going in and did not quite know what to expect. We thought we would be around “big shots” who wouldn’t really care what we had to say. However, we were very wrong. The board members were very interested in our perspective. 

    What does the millennial learner want?

    We sat on a panel as the board of directors asked us questions. Some were challenging and really allowed me to think. Questions such as ‘What does the millennial learner want?’ don’t come up in conversations frequently. We had the high honor of representing a whole generation of students so had to construct solid reasoning before answering. After we gave our answers one board member stated that millennials are unpredictable because “we don’t know what we want”. I agree with this statement and I also believe that we want learning to come cheap and easy. I questioned whether I should make this statement to the Board of Directors. The answer is yes, if given the chance everyone should speak truth to power. People with influence breathe too, they’re humans and can learn from others. Students are customers, learners, and beneficiaries of Pearson’s products. I don’t think anyone would disagree that students want products that are affordable and easy to use. None of us on that panel articulated this thought directly, but we all spoke to the diverse struggles of students.

    Seize the opportunity to say what you think

    We all also had the chance to speak individually to the board afterwards and I can say that I was heard by them.The Board really showed their appreciation of our insights. Each of us shared our stories and they had words of wisdom for us on how to pursue our dreams. They understood that each of us had to give up something to be in that room since we are all full time students. What I got out of this experience is that everyone’s background is important. You never know how similar they may be to you. Seize opportunities to share your thoughts and also to give people the opportunity to speak regardless of your assumptions. You never know what position you’ll be in when you are done with school, just remember to be accepting.


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    Quality over Quantity: Prioritize Like a Pro

    Roxi Fam

    College is one of the busiest times of my life. I wake up early to get ready and drive about an hour to get to school. I go to bed late at night after studying and preparing for class the next day. This process was repetitious for the past three years. I was limited on time and had to weigh the pros and cons of everything that took up space in my planner. I began to choose quality over quantity and it taught me how to value and prioritize my schedule better. Here are my tips to prioritize like a pro.

    Be Selective

    To make the most use of my time, I had to become selective about the commitments I made. This included the organizations I joined, who I could devote time to, and which classes were going to get most of my attention. I had to narrow down the most important tasks that needed immediate attention and the people who matter most. There were times I wished I could be in two places at once, but I had to decide which one would take precedence.

    Set Priorities

    In setting priorities, I learned to evaluate the quality of an event, task, accomplishment, and friendship. If something is poor quality, it will not endure for long. College allowed me the opportunity to really put this into practice and determine what was best for the long run. I would have to make tough decisions not only for those moments but also for my future goals.

    Balance Both

    There are times when quantity is needed but we must not skimp out on the quality. Quantity may be needed during the busier times of the semester. It is important to be able to balance both quantity and quality in life. However, it is more important to know when the right timing is to choose one over the other and discern its value.

    It is important to find your focus in life, and prioritize things that really matter. Choose quality over quantity.


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    Note Taking Tips

    Anuj Saxena

    The first step towards excelling in academics is taking clear and extensive notes. Taking notes properly and strategically can be an important step in scoring well on your exams. Here are the note taking tips I find the most helpful.

    Handwritten vs. Typed

    Hand-written notes can be more effective than typing them on your laptop or tablet. Students tend to retain more if they handwrite their notes. Try handwriting notes in class and then organizing and typing them as a follow-up. Properly organized and maintained notes will definitely reduce the amount of time you require to prepare for your exams.

    Maintain Notes

    Scoring well on your exams is not hard at all if you maintain your notes well throughout the semester. I really like to keep my notes in an organized fashion. I always date my notes so that I can easily look back on them and find out what was taught on that day. After I am done with one chapter I leave one-page blank so that when I read the textbook and find something important I can jot it down easily with my notes.

    Highlight examples

    Professors tend to give a lot of examples to help illustrate concepts. I highlight all of them in circles or boxes. This really helps me to recall how the professor explained that particular topic. Moreover, those examples usually appear in a few questions on the exam. This is one of the most important note taking pieces of advice I firmly believe.

    Pool notes with a study group

    And finally when the exams are round the corner, I make a study group with my friends. We all pool our notes together and see if there is anything we have missed. We discuss the notes in detail. That helps everyone prepare.

    I believe using a very organized fashion to note taking correlates with higher exam scores. What do you think? Is handwritten better than typing notes? Do you have study groups to help prepare for exams? What about including the professors examples  – is that helpful to you? Please share your note taking advice, when retweeting my blog!


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    Positive Affirmations: How a Sticky Note Can Make an Impact

    Jennifer Brown

    Have you ever wondered what would happen if you decided to go outside of yourself and do something amazing? I had this experience while volunteering for a nonprofit. I found out how simply giving positive affirmations can make a big impact on others.

    Do something special

    I do not remember what it was that caused me to come up with this idea, but one morning I decided that instead of just coming into the office for a regular day, I would do something special. I decided to write positive affirmations on as many sticky notes as there were doors to the offices in the building. You can see where this is going. I got there early and only the secretary knew what I was doing. I was so worried I would get in trouble by doing this, but I stuck with my intuition and did it anyway.

    On every door, I put a sticky note with something positive written on it. I was leaving early in the morning to go to another office, so I wasn’t there when everyone found the notes.

    So surprised!

    When I got back to the office I found out that everyone was talking about the notes on their doors and was wondering who put them there! Not everyone went to the office that day so there were some notes still on the doors. But most of the notes had been taken off and obviously read. The secretary told me how so many people were so happy and surprised to see the notes!

    A small act makes a big difference

    I was filled with so much pride knowing that I could make a big difference in the lives of everyone in the building through such a small act – even if it was just for one morning. Although this was a challenge for me I realized upon doing this that there is so much inside of me that has potential. So, what is it that is in you? What is the one thing that you should be doing, but aren’t? How can you make a positive impact on others?

    I want to hear about some of the things you want to do in the lives of others! Retweet this blog and share your impactful stories!


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    A Regret Became a Learning Experience

    Fiyinfoluwa Akinwumi

    I am proud of my academic accomplishments this far. However, in retrospect I cannot help but think of things I wish I would have done differently to excel in my academic career.  One of my biggest regrets stemmed from a choice I had to make in my senior year. Here is the story of how it turned into a valuable learning experience.

    An Advanced Credit Opportunity

    During the end of my sophomore year in high school, I discovered the opportunity for students to take dual credit courses while in high school. These classes allow students to start preparing for rigorous college coursework. Plus they earn college credit that can be transferred to the college a student chooses. The adviser stated that most colleges will accept those credits more than the advanced placement exam scores.

    A Difficult Choice

    This seemed like an amazing offer because getting college credits before I start college meant I could graduate sooner than the other students.  I took three college classes when I was in high school. However, in the spring of my senior year, I had the opportunity to take both a college calculus class and do an architecture and engineering internship. I registered for a college calculus class and was excited when I was also accepted into the internship. But the schedules of the internship and the class were conflicting. Since it was the first time I got an internship offer, I dropped the calculus class and chose the internship.

    A Disappointing Experience

    The internship had twenty students from my school. We were excited to get experience in architecture and engineering. At the end of the program we would be making a presentation to the company showing the accomplishments we had made. However, after two weeks several students decided to drop out of the internship.  That made it more difficult for those staying in it. We had to take on the extra jobs initially assigned to those who left. Three weeks before the presentation, the students that remained in the internship decreased to two – myself and one other student. We were left to prepare for the presentation that should have had the work of twenty. The supervisor decided to cancel the internship and I wished I had taken the calculus class instead.

    When I registered for college classes at my University, I was disappointed to see that I could not be in the same math class as my friends. They took the high school dual credit calculus which allowed them to enter Calculus 2. I still had to take Calculus 1.  If I had not gone for the internship I would have been able to graduate earlier.

    Learning from Experience

    In the end, the internship was an insightful experience. I think everyone can learn from everything –  even if things don’t always go exactly as planned. I really wish I would have taken the calculus class instead of the internship. But life is full of difficult decisions, and rather than focusing on a regret I learned to focus on what I learned from the experience.


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    Understanding Myself

    Victoria Bankowski

    As I sit back and reflect on my life, I am pleased because I can see the rocky road I have managed to conquer.  I started with so many bumps and wrong turns I never believed I would be in the final stages of accomplishing a bachelor’s degree. To get to this point I focused on self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. Each one of these values was important in helping me work towards understanding myself. They helped me to see I was worthy of feeling good about myself.

    Self-esteem is how we value ourselves  

    If you think everything you do is wonderful and deserves praise, you have a positive self-esteem. However, if you feel like you are not worthy of good things, your self-esteem may be low. Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of their own worth.  I have had issues with judging myself. Even though I have managed to do well for myself – I own my home and have excelled greatly in academia – I have still had issues in believing in myself.  I needed to remind myself that “I am competent” and “I am worthy”.  My self-concept brought about the negative emotions of despair, instead of the positive emotions of pride.  To help build my self-esteem I engaged in positive self-talk. Whenever I was feeling anxious about my abilities, I would say out loud “I am worthy” and “I’ve got this”, which helped me out a lot.  I began having confidence.   

    Self-worth is how we regard our abilities

    When a person possesses little self-regard for themselves they can become depressed and fall short of their potential.  Self-worth is a confidence and satisfaction in oneself and one’s abilities.   As I previously stated I fell short in self-esteem and because of that my self-worth was non-existent.    However, as I began working independently on how I felt about myself, I began to feel better about the person I was yet to be.   I began to develop a feeling of self-respect for myself and my abilities.  I found myself volunteering throughout my community, and as I took on more and more, I began to feel my self-worth increase.

    Self-confidence is a positive feeling of trust in our own abilities

    This is a trait that you can develop through having high self-worth and high self-esteem.  Self-confidence is built upon as we master the activities which make us who we are.   I have found the more pride I took in who I am, the more confidence I began to exude.   I began to realize my full potential and slowly become the person I strived to be.  

    I have made a lot of mistakes in my lifetime; however, it is those errors which have helped in determining the person I am yet to be.  It is through consistent dedication to myself that I have built my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.  I want to be the kind of person that others respect and I will continue to work on it for as long as it takes.  The day I stop making mistakes, will be the day I stop learning.  As Abraham Maslow once said, “I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act.”  We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it.


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    Balancing Act: 3 Essential Tips for Busy Students

    Carina Truong

    With rising tuition costs each year, students choose to supplement their academic journeys with part-time jobs and paid internships. Some students attend school full-time while also working full-time. In a recent study published by Georgetown University, 70% of today’s students work while earning their undergraduate or graduate degree. Many working students also have responsibilities within their families. As a working student, I myself have had to juggle the demands of a part-time job while attending school full-time. Here are my top 3 essential tips to help busy students balance between work, life, and school.

    Essential Tip 1: Wake Up Early

    Last semester I had a 23-unit class schedule. Waking up early in the morning was the number one key in helping me keep up with work and a demanding class schedule. Each morning I had time for moments of mindfulness. Afterwards I would plan important reminders, goals, and deadlines for the day in my journal. These extra hours also saved me many times by providing just enough time to review for an upcoming quiz or catch up on an assignments. This is a piece of advice that is timeless and beneficial for anyone, and something which is consistently practiced by top-performing business executives and professionals worldwide.

    Essential Tip 2: Plan, Plan, Plan

    I firmly believe that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Every night before I head to bed I take time to plan. I jot down a list of bullet points on a Post-It Note or in a journal to remind myself of to-dos and deadlines. I also like to organize my schedule by budgeting each day of the week with allotted hours or designated slots of time to complete certain activities. Using Post-It Notes is very practical since they are affordable and extremely handy. You can stick Post-It Notes in your math notebook, on your car dashboard or even tuck them inside your smartphone-case for an “on-the-go” to-do-list. Using this organizational system my entire semester allowed to maintain a killer GPA.  At the end of the semester my school’s Vice President of Instruction notified me that I had been granted an Academic Honors List Award!

    Essential Tip 3: Eat Healthy

    A healthy breakfast provides you with nutrients, antioxidants and energy that will fuel your mind and body to be productive. Instead of heating up that leftover pizza-slice, pop some frozen berries and half a banana into a blender and make a smoothie that is both tasty and brain-boosting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt lethargic, sluggish and sleepy after eating some greasy, high-sodium junk food. Keeping a healthy diet by consistently eating vegetables, fruits and grains will help you focus better and achieve more.

    I hope you enjoyed this dose of inspiration! If you start to follow these tips, you will see positive changes in your life, work, and studies! Waking up early, keeping organized plans, and eating healthy are three essential tips to help college students balance a hectic schedule and achieve success.


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    How to Keep Your InternSHIP Afloat

    Kara Lyons

    My summer internship for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. Everyone around me was so professional and knowledgeable. It was easy to feel as if I didn’t belong. However, that is precisely why internships exist. As students with little to no professional experience, we do NOT belong. Internships thrust you into new experiences, initiating a period of rapid growth that helps prepare you for your future.

    All internships are unique and explore different specialties at various companies, but there are some key learning concepts that are similar across the board: adaptability, critical thinking, and professionalism. To sharpen these soft skills, I have compiled the three most important things I learned this summer that helped me keep my head above water.

    Ask Questions

    You may walk in the doors on the first day of your internship and be greeted by seasoned professionals who have worked at a company for over twenty years. It is easy for them to forget that all of this is new to you. Questions help bridge gaps in education and communication, and they allow your boss to make sure you are completing a task correctly the FIRST time.

    For instance, once my boss asked me to take down a shelf where the new copier machine was being relocated. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not until you realize the whereabouts of the office’s toolbox is a mystery to you. After asking around, I was told the toolbox was in the “spider closet,” which both terrified me and made no sense. Through more questioning, I found the closet and realized that it required a code to enter. I had to ask for additional assistance to complete a task that should have been a quick and easy assignment.

    Employees at an office take for granted the knowledge they have gained through years of work experience with a company. Although it may feel like the opposite is true, asking for help is not a nuisance. Your boss will be much more annoyed if a job is done incorrectly than if you have a few questions about it.

    Bite off more than you can chew

    You intern with companies for the sole purpose of learning, so don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibilities. Ask your boss and coworkers if they need help! At no other point in your life is assistance going to be so readily available, so ask for new projects and solicit help accordingly. Not only will this teach you how to become adaptable when thrown into novel circumstances, but it also demonstrates initiative that will not go unnoticed.

    Manners Matter

    Everyone wants to work with people they find pleasant. When you are kind to your coworkers, they are more likely to ask for your help on projects. “Thank you” should be the most common phrase that comes out of your mouth, next to “please” and “do you need any help with that, sir or ma’am?”

    Now, go thank your momma for raising you right and preparing you for a professional career.

    PRO TIP: Write a handwritten, personal thank you card to your boss or supervisor whenever you are done with your internship. It is so rewarding and means so much to them, especially in this day and age. After writing a thank you card to my boss, I was asked back for the next summer less than a week later.

    During your next internship, are you going to sink or swim? Internships are a fun way to learn about your career potential, and with these 3 tips, you can stay afloat and will sail with breeze.