Students blog

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

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  • Nutritional food dishs of chicken on rice with avocado

    What’s on My Plate: Recipes for the Everyday College Student

    Rachel Stennett

    Picking out all the shortcomings in our diet is the easy part- figuring out how to make up for these shortcomings is a lot harder. “I should be eating more veggies, but I don’t have the time to prepare them; I should be drinking more water, but the taste is so boring compared to juice; I would cook more, but I don’t know what to make” are all common excuses students make when it comes to dining in college. Now that we have covered some of the nutritional deficiencies in college students and the most common micronutrient sources- how do we actually implement these foods into our diet? 

    While I experimented in the kitchen growing up, most of my meals were not as appetizing as the ones I idolized on cooking shows. During my time in college, I have had more time to refine my cooking skills and build a modest collection of go-to recipes. Here are a few of my favorite recipes and quick meals that can help add back missing micronutrients to the everyday college student’s diet.

  • Three-dimensional model of head and neck muscles with labels in Practice Anatomy Lab 4.0

    Dissecting Pearson’s Practice Anatomy Lab 4.0

    Micah Elpers

    Every student knows how hard it is to study for lab exams. You spend hours in lab making observations, doing experiments, collecting data, dissecting specimens, etc. just to leave and hope that you took enough photos and wrote down enough information to be useful later. These pictures are often blurry, and you can’t go back and look at your work to take better ones which makes it feel impossible to study for exams! This frustration is what makes Pearson’s PAL (Practice Anatomy Lab) 4.0 the perfect study tool for students! PAL 4.0 is a program composed of 3D models, diagrams, real life cadaver photos, flashcards, and so much more. It is designed to help students get the same experience online that they did in the lab. Now you don’t have to scour the internet looking for “sheep heart dissection” photos!

    PAL Learning Program 

    PAL 4.0 is designed to help students with challenging anatomical concepts. The program consists of all the body systems and provides students with various options for learning. These options include anatomical models, a manipulatable 3D model, cadaver photos, histology, and flashcards. All these different styles appeal to different learners! Some students may be wary of the cadaver photos so they can use the anatomical model instead. Some students are visual learners, and some are not. I love all the different formats; I always struggle trying to find diagrams that teach me what I want to know. PAL 4.0 allows me to study in ways I haven’t been able to before!

    Mastering 3D simulation

    In the PAL 4.0 mastering 3D simulation, you can interact with an anatomical model. The model can be manipulated and viewed from any angle. With the muscular system model, the muscles included in the group you’re studying are highlighted on the figure. If you click on a muscle, a textbox will appear and tell you the name, give you the pronunciation, allow you to hide the muscle, or isolate it. The isolation feature separates the muscle from the body and gives you a 3D image perspective of every angle of that muscle. This feature is incredibly useful because it demonstrates how the muscle looks on its own and how it fits with the body.

    See the real thing

    I always struggled in classes that didn’t have hands-on applications, like theoretical math, biology at a cellular level, etc. I always learn better when I can see what something looks like in real life. While seeing a cadaver can be shocking at first, being able to identify things you’re learning about, in real pictures, can change how you see them. A drawing of a deltoid muscle doesn’t show the detail that a picture of the real muscle can portray. The PAL 4.0 cadaver photos allow you to see the intricate details of the human muscular system. This has helped me with exams because I remember where those muscles are in my own body. 

    Who doesn’t like flashcards?

    I haven’t met a college student who doesn’t use flashcards for at least one of their classes; they are an easy way to learn definitions and simple topics. In anatomy, flashcards can be hard to use. How can I make flashcards for something I have to identify? Pearson’s PAL 4.0 provides students with excellent flashcards for every body system and specific region. Once you select a deck, you can choose to study them all or just some of the structures. PAL 4.0 then creates the personalized deck just for you. You’re then presented with an image of the structure you want to study; the other side of the flashcard has the definition. You can zoom in and out of the picture and pan it to get the full idea of the image. There is also an option to quiz yourself. A multiple-choice question will appear and ask you to identify the structure you saw. This amazing feature prepares you for any anatomy diagram a professor might throw at you.

    Between the flashcards, the cadaver images, and the 3D simulation, PAL 4.0 really has students’ success in mind. School can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you don’t have the materials you need to succeed. Thankfully, Pearson consistently equips students with resources to minimize the stress of college.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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    Being an introvert in the online world

    Justin Tate

    With so many students transitioning from campus education to online education, I’m reminded of my own experience. Shortly after finishing an in-person undergraduate program I entered my career and realized that the only way to pursue a master’s degree would be to complete it fully online.

    Embarking on a new adventure is always a little scary. But I think it hit me — a self-identified introvert — more than some of my peers. I’m not a spontaneous person and it takes a long time for me to warm up to change. To be honest, it wasn’t until senior year that I felt like I understood how to take notes properly and do well at the collegiate level. Now I had to learn how to be a student all over again? Yikes!

    As it turned out — like most things turn out — the change wasn’t that bad. Yes, there was a transition period and I made a few rookie mistakes along the way, but soon I discovered that there’s a lot to love about online education: as a scholar, someone juggling many obligations, and as an introvert.

    Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s some of the best tips, tricks, and self-assurances I can give to students going on a similar journey.


    Despite being a good student, I always lost “participation points” in my on-campus classes. And I knew exactly why.

    With a classroom full of peers staring me down, I was too shy to raise my hand and engage with the lecture. In the rare instance where I wanted to, my extroverted classmates sucked up the energy and left no time for the timid. When I did manage to be brave, whatever brilliant thought I had seemed to always come out as blubbering nonsense when spoken aloud.

    Online participation is totally different, and totally my jam. I love having the ability to proofread my thoughts, edit them clearly, and possibly throw in a splash of research before submitting. I feel more comfortable diving into the curriculum knowing that I’m not in the spotlight. At the same time, no one is in the shadows either. Extroverts and introverts are given the same opportunity to contribute, adding more voices to the discussion and more ways to learn from each other.

    Though there are some things I miss about meeting on campus — such as catching up with my friends before class — the one thing I never, ever miss is in-person participation.

    Time management

    Another great thing about distance learning is flexibility. Gone are the days of set class times, juggling life around a Tetris-like schedule, and waking up before dawn to avoid a fight over decent parking. Want to watch a lecture at midnight instead of 2:30 on Tuesday? No problem. Need to cover someone’s shift? Easily adjusted. When and how you study is totally up to you, just as long as you can still meet the assignment deadlines.

    With that said, the biggest challenge of online education is also flexibility. Without those set class times, coming up with a time management strategy is your responsibility. And it’s easy to procrastinate. Can I binge this TV show? Well sure, I’ll just do my homework at three in the morning. No problem.

    Surprise, surprise, it can be a problem. The best advice I can give to online learners is to come up with a study strategy as early as possible. Most programs require at least 15-20 hours a week of study time and finding gaps in your calendar for those hours should be a big priority.

    When possible, use mind games to trick yourself. I set alarms on my phone every night as a reminder to study. I used TV shows and video games as rewards for finishing projects early. Checklists became my best friend. It took me a while to realize that small goals worked best. Here’s an actual checklist I found from one of my classes:

    • Read first paragraph of chapter 5
    • Write 100 words on week 2 discussion
    • Read description of week 5 essay
    • Think about essay/Come up with 1 idea

    The secret of small goals is that they’re much easier to actually make progress on. Completing the task of reading one paragraph is a lot more doable than reading 50 pages. Writing 100 words is more realistic than writing five pages. Yet all progress is progress and having small goals every night is the best way to prevent cramming before something is due. Also, you may be surprised to find that when you set out to read a single paragraph you will inevitably end up going much further.

    Every student has their own tricks and techniques they use to stay motivated and meet deadlines. Online students are no different, but because the flexibility makes procrastination easier, it’s a good idea to plan on using all your best strategies every week, if not every day.

    Meeting with the instructor

    In online education, there’s an increased hesitancy for students to set appointments with their instructor. This is something I noticed from personal experience and something I’ve struggled with as an introvert all my life. It’s not that I don’t value having a substantial conversation with faculty; it’s that I get nervous asking for one-on-one support.

    On campus it feels slightly less awkward to set up face-to-face time. Instructors typically list their office hours clearly in the syllabus, and the location of their physical office where it’s possible to drop by and ask questions.

    In the online world, I was so used to email communication that it never occurred to me to set up voice-to-voice communication. I remember thinking that such a request might come across pushy. I figured a lack of personal connection was just a downside to learning online.

    None of that is true, of course. Online students are encouraged to have just as much access to their instructors as campus students. In many ways, it’s easier to connect online thanks to the variety of options (phone, chat, video conference).

    Once I discovered that I could talk through complicated questions with my professors, my entire experience changed. I not only gained clarity on assignments, I developed personal connections that lead to increased learning and even letters of recommendation down the road.

    I know how challenging it can be to find the courage to set up appointments like that, but I promise it’s worth it. Next time you’re drafting a long email to your instructor, stop and ask if your question can be better addressed through conversation. If so, consider sending a much shorter email like this:

    Dear Instructor,

    I have several questions about the recent homework. When possible, can we set up a time to talk through the specifics?

    Best regards,


    Yes, online education is different — but different doesn’t have to be scary. It took me a minute to reach that conclusion — okay, maybe longer than a minute — but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, I hope these lessons learned from my experience help make your online transition super smooth.

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    Being proactive, present, and purposeful as an online student

    Lexy Moscinski

    You find yourself sitting in the comfort of your home, your laptop resting in front of you. You pull up your online class and are presented with dozens of pieces of information. Thoughts race through your mind — “Where do I even begin? This is all so new…”

    Click here to see the syllabus! Click here to watch this lecture! Check out your homework here via this link!

    If you’ve never done online learning before, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to you. While you may feel like you are “on your own”, your connection to this virtual world will be based on both your efforts and your actions. Here are 13 tips to help you make the transition to online courses.

    Be proactive

    You may not be able to raise your hand to ask questions like you did when you were in a physical classroom, but in your new online world, you’ll still have many digital resources to stay ahead of the game. Make sure you’re utilizing them.

    1. Take time to click through your online course. What helpful things are being offered? Online tutoring? Writing center access?
    2. Start making a list of all the resources offered to you and keep it at your desk to refer to later.
    3. Review the syllabus thoroughly and note any questions you may have about the information provided. Review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of your class if one is provided, and if you have unanswered questions, reach out to the professor.
    4. Develop a personal calendar based off the syllabus deadlines so you can organize yourself effectively. You can use Google Calendar, Outlook, and more. You can also integrate personal dates on the calendar to see how your educational obligations match with your personal ones.
    5. Make sure you have a quiet, organized place to do your work — whether that’s an office at home or a library.

    Be present

    Your classroom life may now be behind a screen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t breathe life into every session you attend.

    1. Pay attention to when live lectures are offered. If they’re optional, still do your best to attend them — it will help you feel like you never left your physical classroom.
    2. Be active on discussion boards: This is a great way to start networking with other classmates and stay connected. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already, bounce questions off each other to be supportive, and take note of any helpful tips from your professor.
    3. Go to your professor’s virtual office hours, or give them a call if a number is provided. Sometimes students function better when they can put a face and voice to the person teaching them — make it a point to not just be another name on the class roster. Work to build a relationship with your professor by communicating with them often.
    4. Set up your own virtual meet-up sessions with other students. You can do this through Zoom, or whichever virtual meeting platform your classroom uses. Try sending out an email to your class to see if you can get some of your peers together to discuss how things are going and to support each other along the way.

    Be purposeful

    Being in a virtual classroom doesn’t mean you’re being let off easy! You must be purposeful, accountable, and self-motivated to be successful in an online world.

    1. Minimize distractions: When you are setting yourself up for study time, make sure the TV is off, your phone is put away (preferably in another room), and tell your family that it’s your study time and not to interrupt you unless they need to. If you’re studying in a public setting, such as a library, make sure you’re in a “no talking” zone, or rent a private room.
    2. Schedule break times because it can be very easy to get sucked into your work. Make sure you set a timer. Having a 15-minute break every hour can do wonders for your mental health and can help you absorb the material better.
    3. Make it fun: Listen to some study music in the background as you tackle assignments (if it helps you focus), ask a friend or family member to quiz you on your notes to facilitate some personal contact, and make sure you’re comfortable and have healthy snacks to keep your energy up.
    4. Take your work seriously — you may not be in a physical classroom, but you should act as if you are when you begin every study session. It’s up to you to take responsibility for your work and to appreciate the knowledge being given to you!

    While transitioning to an online format can be intimidating at first, you will have many resources to ensure your success. Take your time to get adjusted but remember that you are not alone in your academic pursuits — reach out when you need support, set up virtual group meetings, attend office hours, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to reach your goals! Best of luck!

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    The importance of community in online learning

    Jaylen Brown

    University of Central Florida student Jaylen Brown didn’t expect his Spring break to last for more than a few days. Once school was cancelled, he soon realized the impact went beyond just books and classes and impacted the social and community aspects of education. Hear his unique perspective on peer reactions, dealing with the abrupt transition to online learning, and the importance of staying positive in an uncertain time.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself


    What is the sentiment from your friends?


    How are your courses changing?


    What tools are you using to help you get through the rest of the semester?


    What is your advice for other students?


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    Coping with changes to a disrupted semester

    Delaney Henson

    University of Louisville student Delaney Henson shares her unique perspective on the recent disruption in education, including peer reactions, the changes to her courses, and general advice on coping with the uncertainty.

    While she feels “pretty prepared” for online learning, she also balances that with the amount of self-motivation and teamwork it will take to make this new learning environment a success.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself


    What is happening on your campus and how has that affected you?


    What is the sentiment from your peers/friends?


    How are your courses changing?


    What tools are you using to help you get through the rest of the semester?


    What is your advice for other students?


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    Staying healthy - body and mind - during a crisis

    Patricia Macalalag

    As a Physiological Science major and Global Health minor, UCLA junior Patricia Macalalag has a unique perspective on the worries of students and faculty in such a densely populated campus and city. Hear her thoughts on the rapid changes to teaching and learning, and how her areas of study shape her concerns during this current upheaval in education and society.

    What is happening on your campus and how has that affected you?


    How are your courses changing?


    What tools are you using to help you get through the rest of the semester?


    What is your advice for other students?


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    My professor moved our classes online. Now what?

    Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D.

    Colleges and universities across the country are halting study abroad programs, asking students to leave their dorms, and cancelling in-person classes, telling professors to move them online. It’s leaving thousands of students figuring out how to continue their semester remotely.

    You probably aren’t totally new to online learning, but this may be the first that it’s truly full time. Here is some helpful advice to make the transition a little easier:

    Set a schedule to manage your time

    You may find you have more flexibility now, but time management is the biggest factor affecting your success learning remotely. Figure out the amount of time you need to set aside for attending online class and studying each week. Keep a planner that plots out the times you should be online, when you’re studying and when your assignments are due. Don’t forget to schedule time to disconnect and be social (or at least as social as we all can be right now).

    Try new ways of learning

    Without sitting in class and taking notes, how do you commit things to memory? We have four study tips based on science to help:

    1. Study often. It’s like the idea of keeping something fresh in your mind by thinking of it every so often. And start this right away.
    2. But you don’t need to spend a lot of time studying. You can study in little chunks, like 15-20 minutes.
    3. Close your laptop and quiz yourself about what you were reading. Making yourself recall something, rather than re-reading it or even doing a multiple choice problem is better for learning. Think of it as strengthening the muscle that pulls the information from your memory.
    4. Connect the concepts you are studying to your real life or other things you know. If you make it meaningful it’ll stick with you longer. (Public health students are all set on this one.)

    Carve out a good study environment

    Sounds obvious, right? But, you’re probably going to be at home a lot now with other people, who also may have to study or work there too. Negotiate with your roommates, family members or pets to secure a distraction-free place to focus.

    Passive aggressive notes aren’t recommended, but a sticky note on the back of your laptop will let people know that you’re learning without interrupting you. You’re probably going to need to listen to audio, so make sure it is fairly quiet and grab your headphones. Experiment with white noise and music without words to help you block noise.

    Participation counts

    It takes more effort to socialize, collaborate and communicate in a new online environment than in your familiar classroom. The more you contribute and share ideas with others in your online class, the more likely you are to succeed.

    Be willing to speak up if problems arise

    Your professors and classmates are struggling to figure out the new normal too and speaking up will only help everyone. We’re all in this together.

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    Finding Your Sunshine: Identify pillars of support to help achieve collegiate success

    Natalie Farran

    When I started going to college, I found that the subjects got a lot harder than in high school. I began to feel that I couldn’t pass, make good scores, or even finish all of my homework. But through it all my mom was always there to help me and held my hand when I needed it. I have found my sunshine through her.

    My mom likes to tell me how much she believes in the quote, “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet.” She never got the opportunity to finish her education, but pushes me to continue mine in order to accomplish my dreams. It is because of her that I feel I can do anything.  Whenever I need support I always turn to her because I know her words will soothe me.

    While college can be a great time of finding yourself, it can also be a time of big challenges and stress. A little light shining in can help you keep moving forward. Whether it be a person or activity, there needs to be something that drives you and pushes you to be better. My mom always says that college is not easy, but nothing in this life is easy. Work hard and fight for what you believe in.

    She also always said that I never need to change to please anyone. It is important that whatever you may choose to pursue doesn’t change you along the way. College is where you learn a lot, but you can get lost in the shuffle of things. Hold firm to your values and beliefs so you don’t lose your way.

    I believe all college students need to feel supported. We have pressure to conform, change, or even give in to failure. We all need to feel that there is someone or something who can help and encourage us to keep going. It is imperative that you find what helps make you shine by putting you up instead of tearing you down. So if you ever find yourself discouraged, think about what keeps you going and don’t look back.