• Learn the Basics of Coding!

    by Sophie Harrison

    A screenshot of code with an overlay of a confused looking cartoon face.

    Learning to code can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. The basics of coding are essential in today's technology-driven world, and with the right tools and knowledge, anyone can become a proficient coder. Here’s a short guide on how to learn the basics of coding, the best applications to use, and some beginner's knowledge to get you started.

    1. Understand the basics of coding:

    Before diving into coding, it's crucial to understand what coding is and how it works. Coding is essentially the process of creating instructions that a computer can understand and execute. There are many programming languages that you can learn, but the fundamental concepts are similar across all of them. These concepts include variables, loops, functions, and conditionals.

    To start learning coding basics, we recommend finding a beginner-friendly resource that can provide you with a solid foundation. Online resources like Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp, and Khan Academy are great places to start. They offer free, interactive courses that cover the fundamentals of coding.

    2. Choose the right coding applications:

    Choosing the right coding applications can make a significant difference in your learning experience. There are many coding applications available, and the right one for you will depend on your level of experience and the programming language you want to learn.

    For beginners, we recommend starting with a text editor like Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, or Atom. These text editors are free and provide an easy-to-use interface for writing code. Once you've become more comfortable with coding, you can move on to more complex integrated development environments (IDEs) like Eclipse, IntelliJ, or Visual Studio.

    3. Understand the basics of a programming language:

    Each programming language has its own unique syntax and rules, but the basic concepts are similar across all languages. Understanding the basics of a programming language is essential to becoming a proficient coder.

    The four basic concepts that all programming languages share are variables, loops, functions, and conditionals. Variables are used to store data, while loops allow you to execute a block of code repeatedly. Functions allow you to group related code and reuse it throughout your program, and conditionals are used to make decisions based on certain criteria.

    4. Practice, Practice, Practice:

    Practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for coding. The more you practice, the better you'll become. Start by writing simple programs, and then gradually move on to more complex ones. Don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes; this is how you'll learn and grow.

    There are many websites and resources that offer coding challenges and exercises to help you practice your skills. Some popular ones include HackerRank, LeetCode, and Project Euler.

    5. Join a coding community:

    Joining a coding community can be an excellent way to learn from other coders and get feedback on your work. There are many online coding communities, such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Reddit's r/learnprogramming subreddit.

    Participating in coding communities can also provide you with opportunities to work on open-source projects and collaborate with other coders. This can help you develop your skills further and build your portfolio.

    In conclusion, learning to code takes time, patience, and dedication. By understanding the basics of coding, choosing the right applications, and practicing regularly, you can become a proficient coder. Joining a coding community can also help you stay motivated and learn from others. With these tips and resources, you can begin your coding journey today.

    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 to Become a Morning Person

    by Katherine Scott

    An early sunrise over a lake featuring a dock and two small boats on the water.

    Rise and shine! Waking up in the morning can be hard but persistently working on changing your sleeping habits can ease the morning slog. As a natural night owl, I decided that I needed to make a change to become an early bird. On this journey I learned a few lessons that I’d like to share with anyone who wants to become a morning person.

    Ditch the Afternoon Coffee

    Caffeine is a stimulant so drinking caffeine late in the day can create a disruptive sleep schedule. Many studies have shown that caffeine causes some people to be kept awake or to wake up periodically throughout the night. However, morning coffee is a positive; it can help boost morning energy levels and create that morning routine.

    Seek out Natural Light

    You might want to rethink the blackout curtains you currently utilize. It is important to let the natural light come in and help wake you up. Natural light plays an important role in suppressing the hormone melatonin. The less amount of melatonin you have in your system the more likely you are to feel awake and have the greater ability to seize the day.

    Workout in the Morning

    A sweat session is a great way to begin each day. Research has shown that early morning movement can help improve mood. The workout will increase endorphins and dopamine in the body; these are feel-good neurotransmitters. If you do this, you will start your day off in the best mental state. I always recommend prepping your workout stuff the night before, so you have no excuses.

    No Snooze Policy

    The key to this process is to set up a routine for yourself; setting up boundaries with the snooze button is a great step. This will force you to get out of bed immediately. The first couple early mornings I didn’t trust myself to not hit the snooze button, so I set my alarm clock across the room. This ensured that I physically got out of bed to turn it off.

    Implementing these changes can make the seemingly impossible feat of becoming a morning person seem effortless. Over the past year that I have been implementing these changes, I have been given a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

    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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  • Women in Engineering: Why I Chose an Engineering Major

    by Alexis Fiechtner

    The Colorado State campus featuring a fountain and campus buildings with the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

    My experience with biomedical engineering began in 8th grade as a 13-year-old diagnosed with a rare condition called Miserable Malalignment Syndrome. I learned that my leg bones were slowly twisting out of alignment, and would require multiple surgeries, weeks out of school, months in a wheelchair, two sets of casts, and walking boots. Without the surgery, my prognosis was joint dislocations in my hips, ankles, and especially my knees. My surgeon, Dr. Riley, used a custom-designed biomedical tool to perform my surgery. My childhood experience made me realize I wanted to help children with disabilities facing similar challenges and sparked my interest in biomedical engineering.

    Entering high school, I attended a school called STEM, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. It was here that I learned the fundamentals of what engineering actually is… a combination of technology and creativity. I had always thought of myself as creative, but not in the typical artistic type of way, but in a more problem-solving sort of way. Throughout high school I found myself drawing away from the purely theoretical mathematical equations, or the tiny molecules of chemistry that you can’t see. I focused my attention on design; specifically design that solves medical problems using the technical aspects of math and science.

    As it came time to choose a college, my choice was easier than most. I knew I had to go to a school that offered biomedical engineering as a major. Colorado State University offered the best program for me: a 5-year program ending in a double major of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering. I had found the perfect combination of my biomedical interest, with the technical skills of a fundamental form of engineering. This was ultimately the best choice I could have made because, as I am entering the job field, my mechanical engineering degree has served me well with opportunities.

    I will not say it’s been easy double majoring with two engineering degrees. It was long hours, lots of study sessions, and the difficulty of being a woman in STEM. Times are definitely changing and there were genuinely more women in my courses than I was expecting. However, standing up freshman year in Dr. B’s class and only seeing about 25 other women in a 200-person mechanical engineering lecture was shocking. Throughout my experience at CSU, I discovered the importance of speaking up for myself, joining organizations such as Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and putting myself in situations where I may be the only woman in the room. Sometimes I did experience the general challenges women face in this field: I did get spoken over, my ideas were ignored, credit was taken from me when I was rightfully due. But out of that 200-person lecture class from freshman year, I graduated in May alongside only 117 other students.

    It’s not always easy being a woman in STEM, but like I said, times are changing and if it were easy, everyone would do it! There are more women pursuing their passion in a STEM field than ever before; and out of all the times that I was ignored, didn’t get credit, or spoken over, there were twice as many times when I was respected. I surrounded myself with like-minded friends – engineers – lots of whom were also women in STEM – and stuck to my passion.

    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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  • Celebrating Women in Engineering

    by Jordan Wilton

    Two side-by-side photos. On the left, 3 college women smiling over the logo for Mississippi State University. On the right, blog author Jordan poses with a piece of engineering machinery.

    Happy International Women in Engineering Day! In honor of the holiday, I wanted to share some insight into the good and the bad of being a woman in engineering, and my hopes for the future.

    Being Alone at The Table

    While being a woman in engineering has come a long way, there is still so much progress to be made. Out of countless interviews, I have only ever been interviewed by women twice. Out of countless company sponsored dinners, I have never been with more than two other women. In my coursework, I have been in many groups where I was the only woman.

    I think it is important to acknowledge the difficulty of always feeling like the odd person out just because of your gender. The crazy part of it is that it has nothing to even do with your personality. I play sports, I grew up with two brothers, and I play video games, yet I always feel so separated from the guys sitting next to me.

    When learning to use surveying equipment for the first time in a course, I had the same level of experience as the guys in my group, but every time I was the person designated to take notes or just observe instead of setting up the equipment. The saddest part was that I soon noticed that it wasn’t just me. In almost every group, being female pretty much just meant you ‘probably had the best handwriting’ or ‘probably made things look prettier’. Despite being on the same playing field, for some reason we were still left out.

    The Brighter Future

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  • Boost Your Brain Power Through Reading

    by Myaya Morton

    A female college student reads a book and listens to music with headphones

    The action of reading, no matter how big or small, improves memory and concentration. It involves a complex network or brain circuits and signals. Reading more and more strengthens those networks and reduces stress by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. When reading there are multiple processes that happen starting with word analysis and visualization and ending with vocalization and comprehension.

    Reading Improves Memory

    Reading can actually improve memory because of the multiple brain functions involved. It allows more time for the brain to stop; you have to think about what you read, process it, and then imagine what is happening in the story. These particular steps help you recall information and sharpen your memory.

    Increases Vocabulary

    Scientists Timothy Keller and Marcel Just discovered that intense reading in young children causes the brain to physically rewire itself and create more white matter which improves communication hence why some young children have a more developed vocabulary than their peers. Reading is also contagious so if you read to or around children, they are more likely to read on their own.

    Increase Attention Span

    Nowadays it is easy to grow bored because everything is becoming routine – getting off work or out of class and watching a series on Netflix. Reading actually increases your attention span. Due to the sequential narrative style, the author has to keep you engaged thus increasing your attention span. While books come in digital formats now (audio and etext), reading a physical book can create a stronger impact due to the connection your sense of touch makes with your brain.

    Helps Relax and Promote Sleep

    Ever had trouble falling asleep and decided to watch some television to help? Using screens like your phone, tablet or television can actually keep you awake longer and cause you to lose sleep. Reading a book helps you relax after a long day which allows you to go to sleep easier.

    This summer, grab a good book and spend the day reading. It’s said that it takes twenty-one days to build a habit and ninety days to build a lifestyle so why not make reading one. Remember, it is one of the healthiest hobbies in the world!

    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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  • Re-discover Reading for Fun with this Summer Reading List

    by Madeline Beavis

    A female student lies outside in the grass, propped up on her elbows and reading a book.

    Students do so much academic reading for their classes that the joy of a good book is often forgotten! After reading hundreds of textbook pages during my first year in college, I’m sad to say that I, like many of my friends, lost my connection to one of my favorite pastimes: pleasure reading. Reading is a fantastic way to reduce stress, explore an author’s creative world, and exercise the mind without even realizing it! So, let’s reignite a passion for reading with 5 book recommendations from a variety of genres... happy reading!

    Who doesn’t love a twist on a good fairy tale? Check out Cinder by Marie Lu.

    Jump into a world where humans and androids attempt to coexist, a plague ravages the Earth, and those with special gifts live on the moon. Cinder, a well-known mechanic from New Beijing of the Eastern Commonwealth, spends her days trying to escape her stepmother and stepsisters who can be awfully wicked. In a whirlwind of ballgowns, royalty, and secrets, Cinder becomes the center of a cosmic war, and she may just be the key to saving humanity. Follow Cinder’s story in The Lunar Chronicles series, preceding Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, where she must distinguish friend from foe in order to find her happily ever after.

    Are you a science fiction enthusiast? Pick up The Martian by Andy Weir.

    If you think Mother Nature is merciless on Earth, try living on Mars. When botanist-astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally left behind on his crew's Hermes mission, it appears he may be the first person to walk on the Red Planet as well as die there. Over 128 million miles from home, running low on food and water, and lacking a way to communicate with Earth, Watney must use all his astronomical knowledge in order to survive. Can he overcome the planetary elements, or will he stay lost in space forever?

    Maybe you’re looking for an inspiring, true story? Educated by Tara Westover is perfect for you.

    Tara Westover’s memoir was named one of the top ten best books of the year in 2018 by the New York Times. Westover recounts her experience growing up as a daughter of Mormon survivalists. Living in the mountains of Idaho, she was almost completely isolated from modern society. She was seventeen when she first stepped into a classroom and after watching one of her brothers get into college, she knew she wanted a different life for herself. Traveling thousands of miles away from the safety of the mountain, even making it to some of the most prestigious universities, her educational journey opened her eyes to the wonders of the world around her. Take the trip with Westover as she acquires knowledge from all corners of the globe, battling superstition, lack of self-confidence, while wondering if she’s drifted just slightly too far from the mountains.

    Unsure of what the world could look like in a couple hundred years? Consider this future in Legend by Marie Lu.

    The western United States is a region of the past, rebuilt and now known as the Republic. Growing up in two very different worlds, child prodigy, June Iparis, and the government’s most wanted criminal, Day Wing, meet under extreme circumstances: the murder of June’s brother where Day is the prime suspect. June is on a mission to avenge her brother while Day is determined to help his impoverished family survive. As the chase continues, the truth begins to unfold and sends blame circulating through the Republic until it becomes clear there are a lifetime of secrets kept behind closed doors. Detangle the dystopia in The Legend Series trilogy to find out the real reason for the unpredictable partnership between rags and riches.

    Feeling like a detective? Investigate the supernatural in Gone by Michael Grant.

    Gone. Without a trace. Internet, television, social media all disappear, along with everyone 15 years and older. High school is hard enough without an entire town becoming a fishbowl. An impenetrable barrier has left the remaining teens trapped with no way to call for help. But danger lurks in the shadows. Emotions are running high, food is becoming scarce, animals are mutating, and some kids themselves are discovering they have strange abilities. Deadly abilities. The struggle for control shakes the town and battle lines are drawn. If you’re young, enjoy your stay in the fishbowl while it lasts because on your 15th birthday you will vanish as well, just like the adults. And you don’t come back. Are all the teens doomed to an early death or does safety lie beyond the barrier?

    Summer is a time when many college students are able to slow down and get some much-needed relaxation. Reading for pleasure is a great way to do just that. No matter what book you choose, take some time this summer to re-discover reading for fun and enjoyment!

    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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  • When It Comes to Marine Plastic Pollution, We Aren’t Off the Hook Yet

    by Kennedy McGrath

    A laptop and an iPad, both featuring a screencap of MapMaster 2.0.

    EarthDay.org reports that every minute, two garbage trucks of plastics are dumped into the world’s oceans.1 Marine plastic pollution is an ongoing issue that affects everyone, whether you live on the coast or not. Waste we release into the ocean can affect our food, water, health, and economy. We all have a responsibility to make small changes in our lives and use our vote to help reduce the amount of plastic that enters our ocean every year. Since June is National Oceans Month, there is no better time to reevaluate your consumption habits and educate yourself on this global issue.

    Before making any major changes to our lifestyle, it is important to educate ourselves on the impacts of plastic pollution. Plastic in the ocean can harm marine life, which can have effects that are felt throughout the food chain. As noted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, seafood accounts for 20% of the world’s protein intake so it is important to protect and maintain the wild fish and shellfish populations we depend on.2 Aquaculture, a seafood farming practice meant to provide more food and ease strain on wild populations, isn’t safe from plastic pollution either. Many enclosures are housed in open water where waste can flow freely in and out. In addition to threatening a major food supply, plastic also has negative economic implications related to tourism in many countries that rely on it as their largest economic sector. We should all make it a priority to learn how plastic waste affects our home and what changes can be made to protect it.  

    What We Can Do About Plastic 

    The first and most obvious change you can make is to refuse single use plastics whenever possible. This can be things like plastic cutlery, straws, bottles, and bags, many of which are the most abundant types of plastic waste in the ocean today. Items like these can harm marine life when they ingest it mistaking it for food. Preliminary research indicates that the chemicals in the ingested plastic can make it to humans with undetermined health effects. Instead, consider alternatives like reusable grocery bags made from recycled materials and reusable metal cutlery and straws. Using a reusable water bottle also goes a long way to mitigate plastic waste, and many public spaces have installed water bottle filling stations to encourage the use of reusable bottles. Though it can feel like we are just one small part of a much larger, more problematic whole, your individual actions matter. You can reduce your own plastic footprint while inspiring others to do the same until environmentally conscious actions have spread to everyone, catalyzing major change.  

    Your Vote Matters 

    Beyond your personal consumption habits, your vote can make a huge difference in the fight to end marine pollution. Use your voice to tell your representatives and senators to support environmentally friendly laws so they can be passed faster. When laws are passed that regulate plastic production and use, change happens more quickly than if a small group of consumers refuses it. If we can set an example as a nation, starting with each local government, we have the power to set a precedent that can spark change all over the world. This is when education on the issue becomes extremely important. An informed voter is dramatically more impactful than the alternative. 

    By the time you’ve finished reading this article, six more garbage trucks of plastic have been added to the same ocean we all share. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and disconnected in the face of a problem this grand, but in reality, it is no bigger than the plastic straw in your cup or the bag you use for groceries. We all have the power to make one small change every day that will make a world of difference. Educate yourself, make responsible consumption choices, and vote for environmentally friendly policies that can make big change fast. Remember that others are standing with you, from Pacific to Atlantic, and beyond.  

    Want to see visuals of marine pollution areas across the world? Check out MapMaster 2.0, an interactive digital mapping tool that helps students develop geographic literacy, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking skills by examining patterns and relationships across regional and global datasets. 

    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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  • A College Student’s Guide to Sustainability

    by Ashanti Crowder

    A female college student is working in a community garden picking strawberries.

    College campuses are some of the largest populated areas within metropolitan cities and small towns. Throughout our fast-paced lives juggling school, work, extracurricular activities, and our social lives sometimes we forget to take care of our community. While being confined to a campus has its restraints there are still ways to help the environment around you!

    What does living sustainably mean?

    To live sustainably is to sustain life on our planet, making sure we are being conscious of our water usage, recycling, and even electronic usage.

    Why does it matter?

    Sustainability is necessary to maintain our quality of life and ensure we are living in a safe and healthy environment. We want to keep our planet and ourselves as healthy as possible which is why we must contribute.

    How can we contribute?

    1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

    Some of the greatest ways you can aid your environment start at home! For college students this looks like reducing the amount of water you’re using in the shower or brushing your teeth. Turning off water when you are not actively using it helps conserve water usage. Find out where and how you can recycle plastic and reusable products within your community, and reuse some materials for fun D.I.Y projects!

    2. Join Your Campus Green Club

    Campus Green Clubs (or other environment-related clubs) are dedicated to keeping the environment clean. Joining and helping out is a great way to contribute to your community as well as meet new people. Green club activities usually consist of campus clean ups, turning scraps into compost, and more.

    3. Help Out Your Community Garden

    Offering to help your local community garden contributes to limiting food insecurity. You could even learn and try exciting new recipes from the crops you harvest.

    4. Go Thrifting

    Thrift shopping is one of the most popular methods of living sustainably amongst college students. If you’re wondering how thrifting is contributing, shopping second hand limits the amount of clothing and materials that will be thrown into landfills. Thrifted items are able to be repurposed and redesigned into fun and unique pieces. Other items can be thrifted as well such as books, toys, electronics, and furniture.

    Try these tips to move towards living more sustainably in your college community.

    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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