Students blog

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

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  • Blog author Tommy is wearing a blue t-shirt and holding up a small dry erase board, on which he has written out his weekly goals.

    Use Goals and Rewards to Achieve Academic Success

    Tommy Sewczwicz

    At the beginning of every semester most students are very motivated to achieve their academic goals – whether that be to achieve straight A's or just passing all their classes. We get to start fresh at the beginning of the semester with the belief that this will be our best semester. Typically, the first couple weeks go by smoothly but when tests start coming up and work piles up, things can go downhill. We may start settling and not working as hard as we did at the start of the semester, losing the vision of our goals. Here are a few tips I use to help me stay motivated throughout the semester.

    Write Out Big Goals

    The first thing I do at the beginning of the semester is write down my big goals for the semester on my whiteboard. Some of the goals I may include are:

    • more A’s than B’s
    • no C’s or worse
    • complete all homework assignments on time

    …or whatever else I may be trying to focus on. By writing these goals on my white board I see them every day and remind myself of what I am trying to accomplish. If I have fallen behind in one of the goals, I have set for myself I know I have to lock in more. Whereas if I am on pace to meet my goal, I know that what I am doing is working and to keep doing what I am doing.

    Write Out Smaller Goals Through the Week

    Next, I also have smaller goals written down. These can be daily or weekly goals that help you reach your big main goals. I will also write these down on my whiteboard so that I can see what I have to do and get the satisfaction of crossing it off my list. An example of some of the smaller goals I may set for myself are:

    • go to all my classes
    • complete my upcoming homework assignments
    • study for an hour

    Breaking down my main big goals into smaller goals makes it seem easier and motivates me to do my work because I know that it will directly affect my big goals.

    Reward Yourself Whenever You Accomplish Something

    One of the great ways to stay motivated is by giving yourself something to look forward to. It can be something as small and simple like you get the rest of the day to just relax and do what you want or something bigger like buying new clothes or going on a little trip. Last semester I tried this and ended up completing my goals because I wanted a couple of new sweatshirts. For each goal I completed, I allowed myself to buy a sweatshirt. It was the first time I was engaged and motivated through a whole academic semester. Giving yourself something to work for keeps you engaged with your schoolwork, and you’ll learn a lot more.

    Remember the Big Picture

    Whenever I am dreading to do an assignment, I will look at the big picture and examine the path that leads me to where I want to be. All the little assignments, projects, and tests matter and are just little steps leading me to my goals. This visualization helps keep me motivated because I want to accomplish my larger goals and I will get my work done to insure the best future for myself.

    A certain amount of self-management is needed to achieve academic success. Whether it be long term and short-term goal setting, establishing rewards for yourself, or examining the big picture, figure out what motivates you to complete your work and implement it early in the semester before you get off track.

    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 full stadium at an Iowa State football game.

    Navigating the Emotions and Challenges of Your College “Limbo” Years

    Lauren Blair

    Navigating through your college sophomore and junior years towards being a college senior is an underplayed challenge. The new responsibilities and freedoms for freshmen are highlighted and discussed frequently. However, a shadow falls over many college sophomores and juniors as they enter the "limbo" years. They don’t need the support that many freshmen seek yet they also don’t have the spotlight of graduating and entering a full-time position in a few months that the seniors acquire.

    Reality Sets In

    The “limbo” years can feature feelings of burnout and questioning as students feel stuck in a repetitive cycle of attending classes, studying, and taking exams. Many of my peers agree that these years are full of love/hate relationships. They describe going from one day loving their major and studies to the very next day finding themselves questioning everything about their future. The excitement of college has worn off. These students are facing many internal battles to find the right path for their success while managing to have a good time along the way, despite the difficulty of their classes increasing. Some might feel stuck working their way through generic courses, still searching for their passion while having yet to experience the joy of practicing real work in their major field.

    Change Your Mindset

    One way that helps me stay motivated despite the repetitive nature of the “limbo” years is to change my perspective. I struggle to find passion for required courses I have to take outside my major, but I take a step back and evaluate ways I can adjust my performance and attitude towards these classes. A basic course such as English seems taxing and time-consuming to an engineering student, however I recognize that this course may be more helpful for things outside my degree such as scholarship or application essays.

    This change of perspective helps me maintain a positive outlook and an attitude focused on making the best of the situation I am in. I realize I cannot change that I must take courses I may not enjoy but I can change how I approach them. Staying more open-minded allows me to draw something from the course even if it as simple as how to talk to professors or how to study for non-problem-solving courses.

    Set Small Goals

    Another tactic I use is to set small goals so I can visualize my own progression and growth despite feeling stuck in a loop. Setting a different attainable goal each month or between each holiday is an easy way to build in self-progression. For example, after winter break last semester, I set one goal to work towards and after Valentine’s Day I reflected to see how successful I was. I then set a new goal and reflected on that one during Spring Break. Following this schedule, I could see myself growing professionally, academically, and personally as I improved different areas of my life.

    Some examples of goals I have set are to reach out to professional contacts I haven’t reached out to in a while, finalizing an internship position for the summer, cooking more meals in my apartment, or attending a weekly yoga class. These goals cover a wide range of my life and are simply set to help provide myself with a way to track progression and find purpose amid the academic cloud many sophomores and juniors feel trapped under.

    The challenges that sophomores and juniors face may not be highlighted as strongly as those of freshmen and seniors, but maybe they should be. There are many more tactics to fight through this feeling of being stuck in quicksand, but the main key is to pull yourself out of the situation and view it from a more overarching perspective. Set goals for yourself to keep your personal values the focus of your daily 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! 

  • A group of college students sitting in a circle outside on their campus.

    Seize Your Summer!

    Ashish Bijumon

    We all want a stress-free summer after a long and difficult semester. It is a time to unwind and relax. However, students often waste valuable time on apps such as Instagram and TikTok. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of scrolling through social media for hours watching the latest Kardashian news or the new trendy dance. My own mistake was following sports news religiously. I wasted so much time until I realized I could use my time to learn a new skill, apply for jobs/internships, or participate in community events to network with others. The summer is a time for fun, but we must take control of the day and use it to our benefit. Here are a few tips I used to seize my summer and take control of my career.

    Rise and Shine

    During the summer I would stay up late until around 2-3 AM and wake up at noon. This was due to me playing video games late at night with my friends. However, when you wake up late, HALF of the day is already gone/wasted. I would be angry at myself for waking up so late because now the day felt shorter, and tasks felt like they could not be finished. This was very unmotivating and I found myself just pushing the tasks to the next day, except then I would repeat my same mistakes. I recommend setting multiple alarms so you can get up in the morning and get more stuff done, such as getting a workout going in the gym or heading to the library to pick up a book.

    Learn Something New

    During my first two years of college, I worked at a Dunkin Donuts. It was a fine job, but I felt that I was not setting myself up for a successful future. I wanted to learn skills in the computer field such as database management and coding; how could I do that being a barista? It took me a while to leave the job, but when I left, I went to the local library and picked up a “Coding 101” guidebook. This book would define my summer of 2021. I was taking a programming course the coming semester and knew that I needed to be familiar with the concepts. With more time on my hands, I used it on enhancing my technical skills. I read and practiced the different programming languages such as Python and JavaScript and became comfortable with them. I was a beginner in programming with no experience, but with dedication and structure I became confident in my skills and felt that I used my time to help my future career.

    Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

    I was lucky to be around career driven individuals. We all shared the same goal: to better ourselves. My friends and I would meet every evening to play basketball and stay active. We reserved the morning and afternoon hours to better our skills and network. Having people who share the same ideals and have the same mindset as you is a crucial part in taking control of your summer and career. They won’t be obtrusive, but rather they will support you and have your back. Surround yourself with positivity.

    Summer shouldn’t just be about focusing on your career, but you can use some of that time to make productive strides towards your career goals. Have fun, but don’t loaf around. Time is crucial, seize the day and reap the benefits.

    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 panoramic view of a mountain range under a blue with while clouds. A dirt trail is featured in the terrain in the forefront.

    Ready, Set, Goal

    Jasmine Hartman Budnik

    Setting goals is important, but sometimes it’s hard to believe it will make much of a change in your life. I felt this way until recently when I began to rethink my idea of setting goals. Not only did I find I was more motivated, but I also started seeing actual progress in the goals I set. All it took were some new strategies and a redefinition of what it means to set goals. Here are a few tips that can change the game as you race towards the finish line of achieving your goals.

    Make a Goal and Make a Plan

    When I realized that the sticky note of New Years' resolutions on my desk was the extent of how I set goals, I wondered if my definition of setting goals was part of the reason why nothing ever came of them. It is easy to think that setting a goal means coming up with an idea of something you want to accomplish and “setting” it by writing it down or telling others about it. In reality, that process is just scratching the surface of what “setting a goal” should mean to you.

    I redefined the term to mean not only picking an end-goal, but also the process of making a plan, clearly defining the small steps that will get you there, and finding a way to keep yourself accountable. I only started seeing progress when my goals were no longer statements on a sticky note, but checkboxes in my planner, consistent physical reminders in my environment, and progress reports I made to my friends.

    Consistency is Key

    In terms of strategies to help you set goals that actually lead to changes, there are some tips we have all heard but need to start taking a lot more seriously. To start, goals take time. We all know that important goals can’t be achieved overnight, but that means you need to be ready to put in place a long-term plan. The steps you make should be consistent and placed into your weekly schedule, rather than having vague benchmarks that you hope you end up finding the time to meet. Your goals also need to be action-based. There are plenty of resources on how to set SMART goals or workbooks to walk you through the steps. While I sometimes feel constrained using those frameworks, the central theme that your goals should be realistic and actionable needs to be incorporated into your goals no matter what!

    Find Your Why

    Lastly, here are some strategies that I didn’t expect would make such a big difference in setting achievable goals. First, you need to know why you want to achieve that goal. This means getting past the desire to do something because everyone else is doing it or because other people will be impressed. If no one in the entire world ever knew or saw you reach this goal, why do you still want to achieve it? When you realize why you really want something, or that maybe you don’t actually want it, working on the steps to get there becomes a passion, rather than a chore.

    Finally, I learned that sometimes it is better to set fewer goals to give yourself the time and space to invest in them, rather than spreading yourself too thin. I believe it is better to achieve one goal than to set ten and never get around to them. By picking only the goals that were most important to me, I have been able to see my available time lead to visible progress. I hope these tips help you start the race towards achieving your goals!

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

  • A young college woman standing in front of a white board in a conference room. She is looking down at a laptop open on the table in front of her. The words ‘Determine Your Goal’ are written on the white board.

    Planning the Next Step

    Marissa Atilano

    Imagine this, finally, the time has come. As you toss your grad cap in the air, you think back on all the memories you've made throughout your time in college: cooking with your roommates, going to tailgates, cheering on your team, and pulling off a few all-nighters to earn that A on your final project. Now, as the cap falls back into your lap, you think about what is next.

    What is next? Did you plan for the next step? How could you have found the time to worry about the future when you were worrying about the present? You're in luck, as you have found the blog that guides you in avoiding this unwanted situation. Even if you are reading this as you throw your grad cap in the air, you can set yourself up for success post-graduation by following these tips for planning the next step.

    Determine Your Goals

    The first step in every plan is to determine the end goal. You can have multiple end goals for post-graduation that focus on career, lifestyle, or personal life. To discover your goals, spend time studying yourself and gather your wants and needs for your future. Your initial goals do not have to be detailed and definitive. As you continue your journey in reaching your goals, you may find that they change or become more concrete.

    Create A Schedule

    Creating a schedule can be the most influential process in planning the next step if done properly. Allocate time on a weekly, or even daily, basis to work on reaching your goals. To make your schedule efficient and realistic, set working times and deadlines for small goals that will collectively assist you in reaching your ultimate end goal. The most important aspect of a schedule is consistency. Practicing consistency will allow you to reach goals at a quicker and more predictable pace.

    Don’t Do It Alone

    In addition, I recommend that you do this process with the help of your community and resources. Finding a mentor or taking advantage of your campus career center can assist you in planning your next step. These resources can provide guidance in making decisions, networking opportunities, and additional methodologies. Utilizing the people around you can have a large impact on reaching your goals and on the direction of them.

    In conclusion, planning your next step takes time and resources, so it is beneficial to follow a strategy when taking on this challenge. Any student or graduate can use this strategy to advance themselves in reaching their desired goals, including you. Now that you have read this blog, you can feel confident in planning the future that you have ahead of 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! 

  • Shadow of a person, excercise objects spread out on the concrete floor

    Set Goals to Create Daily Motivation

    Jesus Hernandez

    If you are lacking daily motivation, writing down your goals can be a game changer as this will be a constant reminder of what you are striving for. The three main goals I believe everyone must have written down and be constantly focused on are your career, health, and leisure goals. These three types of goals have worked well for me because they help me feel balanced in life and help me stay self-motivated every day. 

    Breaking it down

    Career goals are goals you hope to achieve in a certain profession such as working for your dream company, becoming a doctor, a professional athlete, or perhaps a musician. These are considered long-term goals; many may get discouraged because it seems like it will be years before the goal is achieved. A great way to stay motivated is to set smaller goals to reach the ultimate goal. An example of a small goal for a student can be getting an A on exam in one of their major courses. Breaking down long-term goals into smaller achievable goals will help you sustain your drive to reach that final career goal. 

    Daily practice

    Setting goals to maintain good health has helped me become more accountable each day because health-related goals usually require daily practice. While you can certainly have long-term health goals, this area is very compatible with setting smaller achievable goals. One small goal that I have set for myself during this pandemic is to get at least 10,000 steps a day. I have my long-term health goals as well, however setting this small goal for myself has kept me self-motivated in times where I might otherwise have been inactive due to the closure of gyms. 

    Get out of your comfort zone

    Leisure goals can be short-term or long-term and vary from person to person depending on their interests. This is a type of goal that can allow you to get out of your comfort zone. Some examples can be traveling to different countries, taking road trips, visiting all the beaches in your area, or trying a new adventure like skydiving. Leisure goals are important for your mental health because it is a time to reward yourself and destress from the demands of school or work.

    Setting career, health, and leisure goals has allowed me to stay self-motivated. I encourage you to take time to think about your goals and write them out. Investing the time to set both short-term and long-term goals will change your mindset and you will constantly want to keep improving to reach those goals. 

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    Your best year yet!

    Anna Attaway

    If your life is anything like mine, your plans over the last few months changed a lot. Maybe your vacation was cancelled or maybe your internship was moved online. And now that many colleges will be starting Fall 2020 classes either partially or fully on-line, these next few months are going to look different than we had originally planned. But maybe in these new circumstances, we’ll find new opportunities. I think that we have the potential to make this time some of our best moments yet. Zig Ziglar once said, “Time can be an ally or an enemy. What it becomes depends entirely upon you, your goals, and your determination to use every available minute.” These months can become fulfilling and meaningful if you dream big and set goals. 

    Here are some tips on setting goals:

    • Start by taking time to think about what you’d like this time to look like. When all is said and done and next year has come around, how will you remember this year? How do you want to use this time? Create a big picture vision statement.
    • Next, take your big picture and break it down into smaller goals. Then, think about the steps that you can take to accomplish these goals. There’s a French proverb that goes, “Little by little, the bird builds its nest.” The key to achieving big things is by taking them one small step at a time. You reach the summit of a mountain by starting at the bottom.
    • Reward yourself for each step you take, but don’t lose your motivation. Whenever the small steps feel meaningless, remember your reason for walking.

    Ready to set some goals? The best thing about goals is that they can be whatever you want them to be! They only need to be things that matter to you. Does the move to online classes open up time in your schedule to pursue new opportunities or gather new skills? Can you find different ways to relax and cultivate contentment? There are many meaningful options, but the goals that you care about are the ones that you will be willing to invest time in. Choose goals that reflect your best self. Are you ready to start working on your best year yet? Now is the best time to begin!


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    Creating a Schedule in a Time of Chaos

    Becca Elson

    Has anyone else’s world completely turned upside down? Yes? Mine, too – as well as every other college student across the world. I would have never imagined my education could change so dramatically in such a short amount of time. Campus closures due to COVID-19 changed not only my education, but my entire social life as well. If you are managing to not go insane, huge props to you! 

    This is all very difficult, but I am doing my best to make it through this as I hope you are, too. I want to share what has helped me stay positive and motivated throughout this experience. Here’s a consistent schedule I try to follow every day to maintain a sense of normalcy

    Set the Alarm

    Waking up at a decent time is very important. This helps to get my day started and get motivated. I make a point to be up by 9 a.m. because I’ve noticed that if I wake up later than 10 a.m., the day is done before I’ve had a chance to be productive. I also like to have my day wind down around 6 p.m. so then I can relax, make dinner, and chat with friends in the evening. Keeping this timeline is a great way to establish balance in your life. 

    Make Daily Goals

    I suggest making a flexible schedule built around five things you would like to accomplish every day. For example, between the time I wake up and wind down, I try to work out, do something school related, read for thirty minutes, spend some time on my job with Pearson, and study for my certified public accountant license. No one is perfect and some days are better than others. I don’t always have to complete everything, but by having a goal, I find myself more motivated to get out of bed and get things accomplished!

    Stay Accountable

    Keeping track of what I am doing helps me stay on schedule. I created a document where I have each day listed in a row and I mark what I have done for each of my five daily goals. It might sound nerdy but it really works for me! Before I give in to the urge to lie in bed and watch Netflix, I will look at my document and see what I have slacked on before turning on my show. 

    Go Outside!

    I always carve out at least 30 minutes a day to be outside. Being cooped up in your house all day can get very dull. Going outside is a great way to get a change of scenery. If the weather is nice enough, I try to do my homework outside or take a walk. 

    Sticking to a routine can help you stay in a positive state of mind in these chaotic times. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, both physically and mentally. All we can do is try our best and hope this will be over soon.


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    Achieving your college degree: How to conquer your elephant 101

    Lindsey Green

    Imagine thundering footsteps as you race to the horizon of the African savanna and you come upon what you believe will be your next challenge, an elephant. Massive ivory tusks, a trunk so heavy that it outweighs you, feet the size of tires. You look around and there is no one else there but you. Now imagine that elephant being your college degree and it’s your organic chemistry course staring you down. The beast is massive and you are not sure how to conquer it all or how you are going to graduate. As a freshman in college I faced the same task. Knowing my ultimate goal is to pursue a medical degree, I had to meet the challenge of learning to take on a colossal elephant. 

    There is a saying, ‘there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time’, meaning huge goals can be accomplished by taking on a little at a time. When learning to conquer my elephant, I spent most nights studying and countless hours at coffee shops solving math problems. I pride myself in working hard and being ambitious. It is what fuels me to build a better future for myself. Because of this I often fear the aspect of failure; I believed that one failure would prevent me from achieving my goals. This was not the way to think or conquer the task before me. Instead, I am learning that I have to congratulate myself for the things I have accomplished and appreciate the times I have failed. What I am doing with my failures is seeing what I can learn from them. If going that way or using that particular tactic did not work, I try another way. Ultimately, there is no wrong way to defeat your elephant as long as you take it in strides. 

    Being driven is a blessing and a curse. I know I can put my head down and work hard, but if I am not careful I can become too focused on the end goal, causing me to lose all direction of where I am. It makes me think, ‘how can I take on this elephant at all’? I’ve realized now that this is not how to approach the beast. I’ve had to learn to break things down. A term paper is no longer a semester-long project, but smaller assignments I make for myself each week. It is not an entire degree I have to finish, but semester by semester. The tasks I needed to accomplish can even change from week to week. I’ve learned to step back and see my goal in smaller increments instead of a 13,000 pound challenge. 

    While changing my way of thinking may seem small, it completely changed the way I approach challenges. I can still become overwhelmed amid the savanna, but I have learned a skill set to keep me on track. The elephant can be defeated, but it takes determination to accomplish. I believe anyone willing is capable. As long as you take it step-by-step the elephant will get smaller. Where you start is entirely up to you, but the most important part of any plan is to start somewhere. No task is ever impossible to complete, but it is impossible to do so all at once.