• Staying Organized During a Busy Semester

    by Kara Stevens

    A screenshot of blog author Kara Stevens’ online calendar showing color-coded entries each day for the month of March.

    Staying organized can be a difficult task, especially when you have a lot on your plate. As a college student, we have a lot to keep track of: classes, assignments, exams, and even extracurricular activities. It is so easy to become overwhelmed. Here are three things that help me to stay organized all semester long.

    Get and Use a Planner

    Planners will be your best friend. Even if it is a digital planner, it can be so helpful to make note of everything. I use my planner daily and write down all my assignments that are due within the month just to keep track of everything. I also find that writing your to-do list in your planner and being able to cross off items is not only satisfying but also helpful in showing what you have accomplished in the day. I have found that visual aspect of using planner is what really helps me stay on track.

    Use Color

    I have found that using color with my planner is extremely helpful. Not only does it help differentiate what is what for your classes but also makes it more fun to look at. It may even make it easier and more motivating to complete assignments. Colors don’t have to be just for classes either. I have designated colors for my personal calendar and extracurricular activities as well.

    Time Management

    As a student, I know managing time can be a hard task. But, with having an organized planner and knowing what needs to get done for the day, time management is key. Optimizing downtime is what I have found most helpful. If you have a break between classes, think, “What can I get done in the next hour?” I have found it helps to block out time for assignments and activities even though it is not a set class time.

    With these three steps, staying organized can be easy. These steps have helped me survive my first in-person year. I can manage 5 classes, a job and a leadership position in my sorority. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t entirely avoidable but organizing your thoughts can help.

    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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  • 3 Tips to Stay Organized when College Gets Chaotic

    by Rachel Calcote

    A college literature book open to a passage about Geoffrey Chaucer. Next to the book there is a cup of coffee with a heart design drawn in the coffee cream.

    Balancing school, extracurriculars, a social life, and work can be difficult at times. As the semester picks up pace, events increase, and deadlines quickly approach. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed or get distracted from the tasks at hand. But not to worry, here are three tips that can help you get organized and avoid that mid-semester meltdown.

    Tip #1: Figure out your scheduling preferences.

    Having your schedule laid out so that you can see your availability for that day, week, or month can help when planning for extracurriculars and social events. This can seem like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. But consider whether you prefer a virtual or hand-written planner. Do you like to have everything to be on a computer or mobile device or are you a person who likes to handwrite things out? If you like everything in one place, consider if you take notes online or with a pen and paper. Don’t be afraid to try different methods until you find the one that works best for you.

    If you decide to track things using technology, add your schedule to your calendar. One that connects to your email is super helpful for when people email links to meetings. If you decide you want to use pen and paper, decide if you want to use a monthly calendar, a planner, or a desk calendar (where you can tear off the pages after you use them).

    Tip #2: Color code your commitments.

    Using colors to connect certain topics in your mind can help focus your thoughts and immediately distinguish between items on your schedule. Pick a color for each class, a color specifically for work, and then a color for each club you’re in. Then when you are tracking your deadlines and writing out your schedule, use the same color for deadlines that you used for that specific class or for work or whatever else you have on your schedule.

    If this seems like too much to try all at once, start by separating work and school, pick one color for each, and as you become more comfortable with the color-coding, you could add more if you chose to.

    If you’re wanting to get really into it and you take notes by hand, you can get your notebook colors to match your chosen calendar color for each class.

    Tip #3: Prioritize your to-do list.

    Most people have some form of a to-do list, whether it is in their head, on a piece of paper, in their planner, or on their phone/computer. To-do lists can be super helpful when you’re trying to get your thoughts in order and writing out things you would like to finish that day or within that week. The trouble is they can become long and overwhelming really fast.

    To prevent this, pick out the top 3 things from your to-do list that must be finished first. I pick out mine based on deadlines. Whichever 3 things have the most immediate deadlines are the ones I want to knock out first. Another way to do this can be to see which 2 things are due the soonest and 1 thing that will take a long time which must be started now. You can still write out your whole list, but each day pick at least 3 things to start or partially finish. When you finish those 3, pick out another 3 you want to start on.

    As the semester progresses, utilize these three organizing tips to get a better handle on what you need to get done. This can definitely help lower your stress so you can finish strong!

    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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  • More Plants, Less Stress

    by Lauren Kot

    A collection of six houseplants if a variety of planters, including one in a pink ceramic cat.

    It is easy for college students to feel overwhelmed while juggling classes, study sessions, a job, and a social life, not to mention preparing for a future after college. But it can also be an incredibly exciting and wonderful time! Prioritizing mental health is so important for college students. Finding ways to help manage stress and relieve anxiety will have such a healthy impact on your overall health and wellness, and it will make your college experience all the better.

    One easy way that you can improve your mental health and wellbeing is caring for a houseplant. There are many ways that plants can better your overall health and wellbeing. Owning a plant has been shown to:

    • lower stress and anxiety
    • improve mood
    • give you a greater sense of purpose and responsibility
    • improve productivity
    • increase attention span
    • and improve air quality!

    Reduce Stress Levels

    How can one plant do all of this? Well to start, having plants around you makes you feel more relaxed, comfortable, and can reduce your physiological and psychological stress. Researchers found that students in a computer lab who were surrounded by plants had lower blood pressure than those who had no plants. Plants can make you feel less stressed, happier, and more optimistic. Watching a plant grow and admiring its beauty will instantly improve your mood.

    Increase Brain Function

    Studies have also shown that plants improve productivity and increase attention span, two things that all college students want in their life! Houseplants engage your senses, decreasing cortisol levels and increasing productivity. In one specific study, brain scans of students in a classroom showed that students who studied with real plants in the classroom were more attentive and concentrated better than those who did not have plants around them. Having a plant in your room allows for studying better and longer.

    Become a Plant Parent

    If you’re new to plant ownership, look for plants that need little maintenance, such as aloe vera, spider or snake plants, and succulents. Caring for a plant will give you a sense of responsibility and will improve your overall confidence. It strengthens your bond with nature and gives you a stronger sense of purpose.

    It may be intimidating at first to be in charge of keeping a plant alive, but it is way easier than you might have thought. Once your plant starts growing and flourishing it will encourage you to continue the pattern of caring and helping it grow. And the wonderful thing is that the plant gives back by improving your air quality. It does so by removing carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen. Having a plant allows you to gain a greater sense of purpose as well as cleaner air to breathe.

    There are many things you can do to benefit your mental health, and owning a plant is just one of them. Even if you live in a small dorm or apartment, all you need is a little bit of sunlight and a small plant that doesn’t take up a lot of space. It is that simple! You can visit a local nursery or any home improvement store and find a plant for less than $10. You are one small action away from becoming a plant parent and a happier college student. Stress less and own a plant!

    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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  • Finding and Securing an Awesome Summer Internship

    by Cobe Fatovic

    A college student’s computer monitor and keyboard. The monitor screen shows two open windows, one featuring a financial spreadsheet and the other featuring the home page of a financial institution.

    Most college students have been asked, “do you have any internships lined up?” While internships are certainly not for everyone, they are common among college students. They are a great way to learn about areas you may be working in down the line. Finding and securing an internship is arguably one of the most stressful parts of college. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding parts.

    The Search

    Often, the hardest part of finding an internship can be the search. This can be a daunting task when you don’t even know where to begin. The easiest place I found to look was simply Google. If you type in, “Summer 2022 Internships in (whatever you are looking for)” there are a ton of results. If something interests you, then apply! You can always turn down interviews later down the line, but you might as well keep your options open. If you have a better idea of what you want to be doing, then skip Google and try searching on LinkedIn or through a job search website through your university. I found that many companies through my school’s portal were more responsive than just cold applying on Google. If you know exactly what you want to be doing, then go directly to your favorite company’s website. Normally, you can navigate to a careers page, where you will be able to see all their open job opportunities and internships. There are many ways to find internships, but I think a combination of all of them is the best strategy.

    Resume

    Now you have narrowed it down to a few opportunities that interest you. That is great, but how do you go about standing out from all the other applicants? Your resume is vital to securing an interview. It is very important to have multiple people read and edit your resume. One small grammatical error is all a company needs to toss your resume in the trash. Have your parents, grandparents, friends, and professors edit it. My strategy was to have family and friends go over it first to catch the grammatical errors. Once I knew it was free of these errors, I had trusted adults at my university edit it. It is a better use of their time to find ways to improve the content and phrasing of your resume rather than finding grammatical or formatting errors that your family could have caught. The more eyes on your resume, the better.

    Interview Process

    Finally, the interview process. This is where you get to stand out and show your personality. Interviews are for the interviewer to judge your fit in the company, but also for you to judge whether you want to work for the company. I found that my best interviews were always the ones where I connected with the interviewer. In terms of preparation, repetition is the most important thing. Practice with older students and friends in mock interviews. This will help you get used to speaking about yourself and your experiences. Finally, just be yourself! It is important to ask genuine questions and try to get to know the company. If the role is meant for you, it will naturally work itself out.

    The most important thing through the whole process is remaining positive and confident in yourself despite rejection letters. A rejection to a company does not reflect your ability to do an internship. There is a job for everyone out there, it is just a matter of finding the right one. Good luck!

    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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  • Differentiating Fact from Opinion in the News

    by Alyson Robinett

    A female student wearing a hoodie reading information from two computer monitors and a laptop screen.

    When did the news become about ratings instead of reporting what is truly happening in the world, and how can we know what to believe? College students need to be aware of why news outlets are biased and learn how to differentiate fact from opinion in the jungle known as fake news.

    Today, a person can name any news outlet and know what they stand for – what the outlet reports, whose side they support, and what “type” of person watches their channel. How did this happen? If it is the news’ job to report what is going on in the world, then a person should be able to watch any news station and hear the same information. Unfortunately, this ideal is not what occurs today.

    What Is Fake News?

    The news didn’t always operate like this. This phenomenon of reporting only one side of the story is called biased or opinionated reporting. It is also called Fake News. The media began to implement this type of reporting as people began to “[cancel their cable subscriptions] in favor of an Internet-based service” (Is Media Dividing America?), also known as cord-cutting. To convince people to keep their news subscriptions, news networks needed to keep people entertained. This doesn’t happen with facts; they needed to report opinions.

    Ratings Reign Above All Else

    News companies abandoned their integrity to keep their ratings high and keep people watching. They chose which side to support and kept their stories consistent with their side. This form of “news” “[appeals] to our emotions in many ways... It’s these emotions that keep us addicted to media,” (Is Media Dividing America?). If the news reported unbiased facts, then they couldn’t put their spin on the story to keep us coming back for more.

    Differentiating Fact from Opinion

    So, students know that news outlets are biased in their reporting and only support a certain side. How can they discern what is fact and what is opinion? There isn’t one right way to do it. It requires a lot of research on the topic, double checking claims from news outlets, and reviewing opinions from experts about the topic.

    How can people stop news outlets from reporting biased opinions? The truth is, they can’t. However, students can educate themselves in order to recognize the difference between fact and opinion.

    Source:

    Is Media Dividing America?” Paypervids, 24 Apr. 2021

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  • Struggling with Online Classes? Here are 5 Key Ingredients to Success

    by McKinley Falkowski

    A view looking down on a college student’s desk featuring a large desk calendar, computer keyboard, computer mouse, and notepad. The student’s hand appears to be writing notes on the notepad.

    During my freshman year of college there was a constant joke going around about how online classes were so much easier than in-person classes. But during the past two years, I have learned that online classes are not easy at all, and I would argue can be much harder. I found it more difficult to grasp curriculum, and easier to focus on everything besides school and fall behind.

    If you are currently taking an online class, or are planning to take one soon, this blog is for you. Below are the five key ingredients I found to achieve success in online courses. These ingredients are tried and true and will never fail you.

    1. Organize your time – This is perhaps the most essential ingredient to success. You need to set aside time each week to focus on your class rather than simply doing assignments when you remember to do them. Setting aside time during the week is critical to getting your body in a groove and helps keep you on track in terms of due dates, leaving you ample time to study. My rule of thumb is to set aside two hours a week per credit hour for each online course you are taking.
    2. Write down all your assignments and due dates – It is easy for students to fall behind on work when they rely on a syllabus to tell them when an assignment is due. Syllabi are often complex and may not be organized in the most logical or coherent manner; it is easy to forget what assignments are due when even after reading them. That is why another key ingredient is to write down all the assignments and due dates. I use Microsoft Excel to write down all my assignments for all my classes into one sheet with each class designated by a different color listed by due date. This way I can quickly see what important projects are approaching.
    3. Utilize a calendar – When you organize your time, put your designated focus time for each class in your calendar. This way you won’t schedule other events like dinners, dates, or whatever, on time you already designated for your classes. Simply telling yourself that you will do the class material another time is a recipe for disaster! Keep yourself in the routine and use a calendar.
    4. Communicate – This may sound easy, but it is critical to communicate to others in the class, and to those in your life about what you are working on. Communicating with others about class work is an easy way to reinforce course material and keep your mind in the academic mindset. Additionally, communicating with family or friends about the fact that you are taking an online course allows an external check to exist as they might ask how your classes are going and what you are working on.
    5. Attend office hours – There is a reason why your professors or TAs have office hours each week and that is to help you. Take advantage of this opportunity to get one-on-one time with your instructor as they will help you fully grasp the course material. Plus, you will begin to establish a relationship which can help in the future should you need to ask them for letters of recommendation.

    Online classes aren’t easy, and that’s okay. But following these five ingredients are the key to success in online classes.

    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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  • How New Leaders Can Help Their Teams Achieve Success

    by Zachary Suozzo

    Two male college students are standing in a hallway shaking hands. They are both dressed in business attire with suit jackets and ties.

    Being a good leader can be a major challenge. Successful teams are collaborative, communicative, and available. The pace of the pack is determined by the leader. New student leaders who have never had the opportunity to lead a team may wonder where to even begin. Focusing on three areas can help set new leaders up for success: identifying a leadership style, developing a community, and establishing good relationships with individual team members.

    Find your style

    Every leader, every team, and every individual on a team is different. There are 7 major styles of leadership: Autocratic, Authoritarian, Pacesetting, Democratic, Coaching, Laissez-Faire, and Affiliative. There is no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all leadership style that works for every team, and that’s okay! Leaders have to figure out what leadership style their team responds best to. Leaders also must figure out which style best fits their own goals and ambitions. If one of those styles works with the leader’s goals and is responded to by the team, amazing things can happen, and serious productivity can begin.

    Build a community

    Individuals need to be comfortable with the leader and with their teammates for productivity to take place. Good leaders look for ways to foster a sense of community on the team. Many times, community building opportunities take place outside of working together on a project. Whether in-person or virtual, any environment where people are interacting with each other and not talking about work can bond a team together well. Common interests can improve team morale, leading to engagement that improves team productivity and allows for team members to be more approachable to each other.

    Cultivate relationships

    If the team trusts each other and communicates with each other well, their uniting force will be the leader. Having a solid individual relationship with each team member is extremely important for continuously elevating the team to the next level of performance and camaraderie. Taking the time to get to know each individual is time intensive, especially considering the potential size of a team, but is so important when it comes to morale, accountability, and communication. Individuals should feel as though they can come to their leader for anything and having a line of communication that’s always open is very important for that.

    Leading a team can be extremely time consuming and challenging, on top of all the work that comes with the task at hand. For a long-lasting relationship with success, teams need to be a cohesive unit. Effective team leaders carry out their work with a solid leadership style, help team members establish relationships with one another, and have an open line of communication at all times. Leaders can evolve; if one solution doesn’t work, keep trying to achieve that desired outcome!

    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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