• Camping is Good for the Soul

    by Maeve Murdock

    A campsite with three tents in the foreground, with rising hills and the sunset in the background.

    Camping is good for the soul. No matter how much you hate dirt, bugs, non-perishable food, or sleeping on the ground, camping for a few days out in nature can do wonders for your mental health and perspective on life.

    In August of 2021, a group of 10 friends and I landed in the midst of towering mountains in St. Elias-Wrangell National Preserve. St. Elias-Wrangell is our largest national park, containing 13 million acres, and is found in south-central Alaska. So remote, we were flown in from Tok, Alaska on a 3-person plane in 4 separate rounds. The trip and transportation were organized through Xavier Expeditions, an initiative at Xavier University to introduce students to the beauty and peacefulness of nature. 

    Camp Set Up

    Dropped in the remote wilderness, surrounded by a mountain range, the only sounds we could hear were the rush of the river and the soft wind. We kept our food in bear barrels, large metal barrels that conceal the scent of food, in an effort to keep the bears from venturing into our camp. Any time we cooked, all the food was required to be eaten–otherwise the bears would be attracted to our camp. At night, we traipsed into the thick of the trees to sling the bags of food over the branches above, keeping them out of the bears’ reach. As you can tell, many precautions were necessary for our safety. 

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  • Disclosing Disability on Campus: Risks and Rewards of Accommodations in College

    by Yvette Pegues

    Two tall library bookshelves with an empty electric wheelchair in the aisle between the shelves.

    To borrow and expand on a bit from science fiction writer Jane Espenson: if we can't embrace disability inclusion in campus life, then what is the point? You don't create new future leaders with the same limits as the old ones.

    Disability, by nature, is diverse. Just as many others born into a state of being or find themselves adapting at the turn of life, disabled individuals are often on the brunt end of acceptance. Considering that a disability can be visible or invisible, it may not be intentional, but the fact remains - inclusion and representation matter.

    The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 19% of on-campus undergraduates had a disability (2015-2016). Of that number, only 30% completed their studies, and the remaining dropped out, citing a lack of resources.

    There Are Inherent Risks to Lack of Representation

    Incomplete studies are just the beginning of the lack of disability inclusion. Generally, when the qualms of inclusion are discussed, they are framed in a manner that does not extend beyond wheelchair accommodation and other minimal approaches. While this allows students with some selective disabilities to participate in class with their peers, it still symbolizes just how different their campus experience may be.

    Visible and invisible disability inclusion is more than preparing students to be a mere oversight in a sea of workplace conformity. It should focus on how students can rise despite the disability they are experiencing.

    Disability Inclusion Is the Key to Impact Among College Campuses

    When a person's natural state of being, regardless of what it may be, is nurtured, it allows them to fully blossom into the best versions of themselves. Investing in the social, athletic, and cultural inclusion of disabled individuals on college campuses is a step in that direction.

    Reportedly, the number of students with a disability who participated in campus activities such as clubs and other on-campus events is significantly lower than their non-disabled peers.

    When a student has a disability, inclusion can be more difficult to achieve. Students with disabilities are less likely to disclose, attend, or graduate from college campuses with architectural and attitudinal barriers that are bottlenecking diverse workplace pipeline, talent, and innovation.

    However, imagine the confidence rooted in encouraging participation by showing the uniqueness and adaptability of disability possible, accommodated, and celebrated. Disability inclusion is the catalyst that colleges need to increase the graduation rate amongst disabled undergraduate students and move the needle in an upward direction on the percentage of disabled individuals in the workplace.

    Reworking the framework of diversity inclusion looks like addressing the inclusion gaps on college campuses by encouraging representation throughout the many factors of higher learning, ranging from the classroom to the campus yard. The risks associated with overlooking the importance of diversity inclusion go hand in hand with the rewards of changing the narrative and taking a step forward in eliminating the challenges.

    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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  • My Hardest Goodbye

    by Gina Condit

    A Miami University campus building with colorful red and white flowers in front.

    Choosing a college when you’re in high school seems like the hardest decision in the moment. I remember being torn between the University of Cincinnati and Miami University. Both were close to home, and I had family at both colleges. Tours and months later, Miami University blew me away and my decision became easy; I knew it was where I wanted to spend my college years. Now as I approach graduation, two features stand out that helped make Miami University my college home.

    Campus Beauty

    My favorite thing about Miami University is the environment and the beauty of the campus. I look forward to walking to class because of the activities that are always happening, the unique brick buildings, and the flowers all around campus. Miami maintains the same brick design from building to building, creating a cohesive college campus look. And the inside of the buildings is even prettier. I spend the majority of my time at The Farmer School of Business where piano is playing and students are studying. I also love the trails and walkways throughout the campus and am making it a habit to explore them every week before I can’t anymore. I only have one short month left here at Miami University; I don’t know how time has flown by.

    Lasting Community

    From the forever friends I’ve made, the professors who’ve taught me lessons professionally and personally, and the memories I’ll never forget, Miami University will always be a home in my heart. My friends became family to me, and I couldn’t imagine going through college without them. The professors on this campus truly care about their students more than just how well they do in their classes. The professors are more like mentors at Miami who you can ask for advice, guidance, and real-life experience. I’ll carry the memories and their words of wisdom with me for the rest of my life.

    My advice to anyone looking at colleges and going through the application process is to tour every campus, go outside your comfort zone, and listen to the people on those campuses about their experience. College is only 4 years, and it goes by fast. The choice seems hard, but you can never make the wrong decision in the long run. The decisions you make will bring you friends, mentors, and memories like Miami University did for me. College is an exciting time in life, and I am blessed to have had the experience I had, making it my hardest goodbye.

    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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  • An Out-of-State Student’s Guide to Handling Homesickness

    by Casey Murphy

    A landscape photo of a college campus in silhouette in front of a sunset sky with white clouds.

    When I was in high school, I had a romanticized vision of moving away from home for college. New scenery, new friends, finally escaping my hometown. When I found the University of Vermont, it was a match made in heaven. I fell in love with the campus, the mountains, and counted down the days until move-in day. The reality did not hit me until my parents drove away from my freshman dorm, leaving me 6 hours away from home. It all came crashing in on me. I was alone.

    I tried to suppress my homesickness by keeping busy and pushing the thoughts of home away for many weeks. Yet, that made those emotions hit harder when they bubbled to the surface. The newest chapter of my life was starting, and while I was excited, I had to navigate those emotions and fears that came from moving away for the first time.

    A lot of responsibility and expectations fall on your shoulders in college. It can be hard to keep a handle on the emotions that come with moving far away. Here’s some advice that I wish I had known earlier that helped me deal with my homesickness!

    Don’t compare your difficulties

    While it is hard, try not to compare your college transition to others. Your emotions are valid and unique to you. Some people have no problem adjusting, but that does not mean you cannot struggle a little! Most college kids are 17 or 18 when they move out. We are still kids, even though we often have adult responsibilities. It’s natural to be nervous, but you are as capable as the next person to have a successful college career.

    Identify your fears

    Take a moment and identify the cause of your emotions. What am I scared of? What do I specifically miss? Who do I miss? All these questions are essential to organizing your thoughts and making a plan to work through them. Once you identify the root of your emotions, things become a lot clearer, and a solution seems more doable.

    Make new connections

    Try and get yourself out there! Many colleges offer lots of activities the first week on campus, so get involved! Talk to other people, explore club fairs, take in the school spirit. Get out of the dorms and make some acquaintances! With each week that goes by, set small goals to introduce yourself to neighbors in your building, talk to someone in line at the dining hall, or strike up a conversation with older students. These connections are vital in establishing a new friend group and family away from home.

    Bring a little bit of home along

    Make your room a safe and comfortable environment. Dorm rooms seem plain and boring when you first arrive, but this gives you a unique opportunity to put your personal touch on a blank canvas. Put up pictures, trinkets, or other things you brought from home. This can bring a sense of comfort after a long day. Bring a little of home to your new college home!

    There are so many changes that happen when you go away to college. Sometimes they hit you immediately, sometimes they hit you later. Your expectations can affect how you perceive this difficult transition that looks different for everyone. Though it is hard, hopefully these four tips can help you get through this homesickness.

    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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  • Incorporate Sustainability into Everyday Decision Making

    by McKinley Falkowski

    A group of 5 college students are chatting in a lobby.

    Climate change is an issue already affecting how we live. It seems like once-in-a-century storms happen all the time now! Businesses, governments, and regular folks need to take action to ensure that we avoid the worst of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint.

    As consumers, we need to start incorporating sustainability into our purchasing and disposal decisions as the products we use may have a major impact on the environment. Here are five things that you can do to incorporate sustainability into everyday decision making and reduce your carbon footprint:

    1. Shop Regularly at Local Farmers Markets

    By shopping regularly at your local farmers market, you reduce the amount of fuel needed to bring that fruit or vegetable from a farm thousands of miles away to just in your backyard. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and simply by changing purchasing habits you can reduce the demand for distant food and help local farmers in your community!

    2. BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

    How many times have you gone to a grocery store to have your groceries placed in plastic bags only to be thrown out later? Plastic bags are incredibly wasteful, as the production of these bags are energy intensive, and it will take that bag over 1,000 years to break down! If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, consider buying a re-usable bag as this will eliminate the need to use plastic bags.

    3. Donate Used Clothes

    Another easy way to incorporate sustainability into your everyday decision making could be to donate used clothes, so long as they are still wearable, to thrift stores or other used clothing stores. Clothing waste is terrible for the environment, and if you can limit how much waste enters landfills the better the environment impact.

    4. No More Plastic Water Bottles

    Plastic bottles, like plastic bags, are extremely unhealthy to the environment. I recommend buying a stainless-steel water bottle as it will cut the need for you to use a plastic water bottle. Stainless-steel water bottles are BPA free, contain far fewer chemicals then plastic, and help keep mold, and other bacteria at bay.

    5. Compost Your Food Waste

    Composting your food waste is fantastic for the environment as it reduces carbon emissions from food waste decomposition, and it sequesters carbon already in the atmosphere! Additionally, composting helps keep food out of landfills which are a big contributor to climate change. I have a compost bin in my back yard, and I absolutely love it! I use the composted soil to plant my own vegetables!

    We all have a role to play in combatting climate change. Doing your part to incorporate sustainability into everyday decisions is both fun and good for the planet!

    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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  • What Advocacy Can Look Like in College

    by Sarah Peters

    Blog author Sarah P is standing outside and holding a sign that reads, ‘Repro Rights are Human Rights’.

    As young people in college who are studying and preparing to become the next generation of active members of society, advocacy is one of the most important skills that you can learn and apply to your education and campus involvement. Some people experience disadvantages, lack equal opportunity, and face discrimination based on their socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

    If you are a college student and looking for ways to make a change, here are some ways that you can get involved on your college campus to advocate for equity and instigate progress within your community to ensure that all individuals are guaranteed the opportunity for success and a healthy social, academic, and workplace environment while embracing their identities and the diversity that they bring to the community.

    Get Involved with Student Government

    The first activity that I enrolled in when I arrived at college was the undergraduate student government. After going through an interview and application process, I had the honor of being selected as a member of the University of Missouri’s First Year Council. Not only did I make friends and feel closer to my community, but I was able to build my leadership skills, get further involved in student government, develop professional connections that led to internships and part-time positions, and advocate for the students to create a better college experience for everyone on campus.

    Through my student government, I had the honor of meeting with various members of my university’s administration to discuss ways to benefit the student wellbeing on campus. I felt that I could amplify the voices of students on campus by voting on legislation and policies that the students create.

    Oftentimes, student government can be overlooked by many students. If you’re interested in the legislative lens of advocacy through policymaking as a student, I encourage you to reach out to a member of your undergraduate student government! I guarantee that your student government would love to have you get involved.

    Listen, Learn, and Educate

    One of the easiest ways for injustice to occur is when people refuse to listen or believe people courageously speaking about their experiences. Some people may feel uncomfortable by talking about social justice issues, which can lead to shutting down, reacting inappropriately, or refusing to believe the person speaking. Not only are these harmful ways to deal with serious topics, but it can worsen the issue and deeply hurt the people that are advocating for better treatment.

    It’s important to recognize that remaining ignorant to contemporary issues is not going to create any progress or help anyone, and the wellbeing and prosperity of others is the most important thing when it comes to maintaining or developing a healthy community. It serves as a benefit to everyone when you listen to others when they’re speaking about their experiences, learn from what others have to say, and educate yourself on important topics that need advocacy. Another way that you can advocate through educating is by correcting peers, family, and friends if you're hearing hurtful or unjust language being used.

    Attend a Rally or Protest

    Some outlets that you can use to stay updated with upcoming rallies, protests, or gatherings are social media, student media, local newspapers, and flyers posted around campus. If you notice an issue on your campus, don’t be afraid to be a leader and organize your own rally or protest! On-campus clubs and organizations often are involved with rallies and protests, so you can always communicate with an on-campus organization to help arrange one. This is a great way to raise awareness by getting your peers actively involved in solving problems that are negatively impacting your community.

    If you find yourself in a situation where you’re unfamiliar or unsure of how to respond or help someone, you can never go wrong with responding with empathy and humanity. Advocacy is one of the best ways to give back to your community. Living in this world is a group effort, and advocacy is the price that you must pay to be a part of the team.

    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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  • Living with Student Debt Pre-Graduation

    by Hannah G. Brennan

    An aerial shot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

    Student loan debt has been a newsworthy topic recently. There are definitely pros and cons to borrowing money to pay for college. Here’s my experience with how taking out loans can provide both a path to greater learning as well as greater student debt.

    As part of the first generation in my family to go to college, I knew it would be no easy feat — let alone a small bill. I sometimes think back to who I was when I was choosing a college. I was just an 18-year-old kid eager to get out of Chicago, make new friends, and take the world by storm. I did not know what new roads college would lead me down, but I did know that I wanted a fresh change of scenery. I got just that by taking out loans and heading up to Wisconsin.

    After getting sent home in the middle of my second semester due to the pandemic, I realized my student debt was turning out to be more of a mountain than a hill. I was very fortunate to have received grants and scholarships that put going out-of-state on my radar. But still, the loans I did have were enough to create a panic that was starting to set in. I had trouble sleeping and could think of nothing else for weeks.

    How will I pay all this money back? Will my quality of life be worse than my peers who did not need loans? Did I make the right choices? — These are questions I asked and still ask myself.

    At 19 years old with no clue what I wanted to do to earn money after graduating, I did not know how I would deal with this money mess I had created. Not knowing how I would solve this problem scared me and watching many of my peers not have this same fear frustrated me.

    But over time, I have found that the best way to cope is by changing my perspective. I am learning to look at student debt as much more than a bill on the kitchen table. Instead, it is a representation of my stepping into adulthood and taking control of my education, my career, and my life. Some days the stress still gets me down, but most days I feel as though it is fueling me to succeed even more.

    I do not intend for this piece to serve as any kind of financial advice. I certainly did not make my college choice based on what was most financially sound. However, I did make my college choice based on what I wanted. I chose the option that was right for my future and that felt right becoming my second home.

    I cannot go back in time and undo what I have done, but I like to think that if I did go back, knowing what I know now, I would not have chosen differently. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. If I had not chosen to take out loans and go to the school I did, I would not be the person I am today. And I would not be as responsible or as grateful for every minute of my college experience.

    I don’t want financial worries of the future tainting my experiences in the present. When I start to feel the pressure like I did freshman year, I take a deep breath and look at pictures from all my happy memories at school these last few years. I could not imagine them being taken anywhere else, and that keeps me grateful and reminds me that everything is going to work out.

    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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  • Why You Should Consider Academic Research

    by Maeve Murdock

    Blog author Maeve Murdock at work in her research lab. She is using a white tube to insert a liquid into a test tube.

    Typically, people interested in science are immediately asked if they’re pre-med. The conversation normally goes something like this:
    Them: “What’s your major at ND?”
    Me: “Biological Sciences!”
    Them: “Oh my gosh, that’s awesome. Are you pre-med?”

    I plan on pursuing a PhD post-grad, and I strongly believe more attention needs to be drawn to academic research. People paint this picture of those in research as highly introverted, antisocial, and uber-competitive. While I can’t universally disprove this rhetoric, I’m here to make you think twice and to share why I personally love biological research. 

    Find The How and The Why

    Biology is the study of living organisms. When you think about it, we, as humans, have millions of little molecular machines going nonstop, keeping us alive, regulated, and energized. Studying for an exam within one of the areas of biology is one thing. Performing research to uncover a new truth in the field is another challenge entirely. Not only must you completely understand all the fundamental concepts related to your field of work, you must think innovatively and creatively about very complex ideas. Rather than the “what” of biological processes, you begin to consider the “how” and the “why.” Why is this family of genes expressed in these conditions but not in those conditions? How could this protein play an instrumental part in this unknown signaling pathway?

    It Takes Intense Focus

    Biological research has a degree of attention to detail that I had never previously experienced. You cannot space out for even one moment in the lab because you'll forget which reagent you put in which sample so far, label something wrong (which then can ruin weeks of work) or contaminate thousands of dollars of reagents. Yes, I’m speaking from experience–I’ve done all of the above. It takes mental stamina and experience to apply the highest levels of critical thinking and attentiveness for many hours at a time. 

    There Is Always Room for Improvement

    In addition to abstract thinking, an endless skillset accompanies biological research. As soon as I begin feeling comfortable with one procedure, I’m expected to multitask that procedure with two or three new ones, jumping on incubation periods of 10-15 minutes as an opportunity to make progress on my other experiment. The other side of that coin, though, is that there is always more to learn. Much of the results of my experiments are quantifiable data–results that are good or bad. I find it a fun challenge to always try to improve my performance on an experiment compared to my previous attempt (less background signal, higher DNA concentration, faster speed, etc.). 

    Think Beyond the Stereotype

    If you like science, research can be a very fun, stimulating way to apply your passion and knowledge to push the medical field forward. Though researchers rarely get much credit, they are the reason our medical treatments continue to improve so rapidly over time. And as for the stereotypes I mentioned earlier, my lab is full of very social people. We have happy hour, networking events, and occasionally take a quick break to walk to the farmers’ market together. We are collaborative, and every member of the lab contributes to others’ work in a meaningful way.

    If you are interested in getting started in academic research on your campus, talk to professors to learn more about the process. Explore academic departments that interest you. Reach out to current classmates involved in academic research for ideas on how they discovered their research opportunities.

    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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  • Learning About My Ancestry via European Heritage Days

    by Emilie Conners

    Blog author Emilie as a young girl sitting on her mother’s lap on a couch. Next to them is Emilee’s Belgian grandmother.

    European Heritage Days are traditionally held each September across the European Union, and feature cultural events highlighting local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art. The broader aim is to bring citizens together in harmony even though there are differences in cultures and languages.

    These days have come to mean a lot to me because, while my father’s side of the family is from the U.S., my mother and her whole side of the family are from Belgium. It has always been really important for me and my family to acknowledge my European heritage, especially growing up in the States. Understanding and learning more about my heritage is something that I have come to realize is so valuable especially as I have gotten older.

    Digging deeper

    Growing up with parents from two different countries teaches you a lot about the importance of culture and the permanent stamp it leaves on your identity. When I was younger, I never really paid much attention to my Belgium heritage. because it didn’t feel as significant due to the fact that all of my mother’s side of the family still live in Europe and so we don’t get to see them as often. However, this doesn’t make my European heritage any less important; it just means I have to dig deeper to learn more about it.

    Learning to represent

    It wasn’t until I started asking my mom more questions about what her life was like as she was growing up and before she moved to America that I realized the impact of her life experience has on who I am. Knowing where you come from and the types of cultures your parents were raised in can help you better understand why you are the way you are, and how you got to be that way. The valuable stories, pictures, and glimpses that I get into my mom’s European customs help me better represent my family and my heritage.

    Keeping traditions alive

    Even doing something small like asking my mom to teach me a recipe her mom used to make helps me learn more about some of our Belgium traditions which are just as important as our American ones. Getting to experience two different cultures growing up is a beautiful thing to be explored, understood, and appreciated. I am so thankful for the different pieces of heritage that have come together to help me become who I am today. Additionally, I am thankful for my parents for always striving to show me the importance of both cultures and raising me to be curious about my roots.

    I would urge you to ask your parents about their stories, traditions, and ways that have made an impact on you. There is so much to learn about where you come from and what makes you, you. It’s never too late to start embracing your culture and striving to learn more about your family history.

    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 Triple Major’s Guide to Not Freaking Out

    by Maggie Parker

    Blog author Maggie Parker took this photo of a colorful sunset in Syracuse, New York.

    College students all have a lot of responsibilities to tackle. Some are involved with sports at varying levels, some are part of clubs, some have a job, and some (like me), made the crazy decision to do all three of those and more. I’m a student at Syracuse University with a triple major, a member of two club sports teams, a member of a sorority, and hold two jobs. I’m busy to say the least. In addition to all my commitments, I know how important it is to take care of my mental health. Over the past couple of years, I’ve accumulated a number of helpful strategies to help manage a balance of work and fun while also taking care of myself. Here are my top 5 tips:

    Make A Schedule

    Some prefer digital calendars, some prefer the classic pen and paper, but either way creating or updating a calendar with your daily schedule is the best way to stay organized when you have a lot on your plate. I personally use Google calendar and color code my schedule based on if the commitment is for school, work, or an extracurricular activity. This lets me see my whole week ahead clearly, and I can access my schedule on my laptop or my phone when I’m on the go.

    Plan Time for Yourself

    Related to my first tip, scheduling time for self-care into your calendar can be incredibly helpful if you find yourself struggling. I personally try to go to the gym 4-5 days a week, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, because I know that moving my body is super important for my mental wellbeing. I put my gym times into my schedule at the beginning of the week, so I don’t have to worry about trying to fit it in on a day-by-day basis.

    Prioritize Sleep

    Believe me, I understand that making time for a full 8 hours of sleep isn’t always possible. However, trying to make an effort to get the right amount of sleep for you is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. Not only will getting enough sleep make you feel better, but it can also help you perform better in academic pursuits. To maximize sleep, try reading a book or journaling instead of looking at your phone right before bed.

    Prioritize Assignments Appropriately

    While I’ll never fully recommend skipping one commitment to finish something for another, it can be helpful to prioritize things like assignments based on how the grade is weighted or how lenient the professor is on late work. For example, when I’m having an unbearably busy week, I know I can let an assignment for a certain class slide because I know the professor accepts late work. For another class, however, my professor is super strict, so I always make sure to get my assignments for that class in on time. Check out this blog with more time management strategies like this.

    Have Fun!

    College involves a lot of academic and extracurricular commitments, but there are also so many opportunities to be a young adult and have fun. Whether you want to have a night in with your friends, go out to dinner, or go to a sporting event, take advantage of this time of your life, and take a break from the struggles of academia. Having fun with friends is one of the highlights of the college experience, so try to make time for it when possible.

    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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  • Creating a Home Away from Home

    by Janay Pope

    A picture of the blog author’s campus with the words ‘Welcome Home & Away’.

    Whether you are a freshman moving into your dorm, a senior living on your own, or a transfer student getting adjusted to a new school’s structure, being away from home can be a unique, exciting moment in your life. Yet, it can also be stressful or, at times, lonely. It is a new experience for some college students to make new friends and explore a new community independently. Many college students go through a period where they realize they can start over but do not know how to start or feel awkward exploring a new environment. Here are some lessons I’ve learned on making new friends and creating your new home away from home.

    Finding Resources

    Moving out of the house away from one’s parents may seem like the highlight of college, but no one prepares you for feeling homesick or feeling like a stranger in a new community. This was the case for me coming from Michigan, moving to Oxford, Ohio, and later transferring to Florida A&M University located in Tallahassee, Florida. I went from a virtual space during my first and second years to an in-person experience, so getting involved on campus was challenging. It felt like everyone had a head start because they had already been there. One of the ways I overcame this was accepting guidance from faculty, joining on-campus and off-campus organizations, and connecting with local businesses where I could meet people in the same situation as me but who came from different backgrounds.

    Getting Connected

    A great way to get connected is to get involved with events on campus. Most will have back-to-school events to kick off the new semester. If you prefer to leave campus, get involved in the community. Some towns may seem small, but sometimes less is more because there is beauty in simplicity. Here is a list of things to do that may spark ideas to explore the community around you.

    • Local theater
    • Festivals / carnivals
    • Restaurants
    • Community/botanical gardens
    • Flea markets & local markets
    • Local sports teams involvement
    • Car shows, museums & local competitions

    These are just a few general ideas of what you could explore. I recommend getting familiar with the behavior of the city you are in. Is it a quiet town or a city that never sleeps? Finding where a town is in terms of characteristics will help you find your space and maybe even create one of your own.

    Creating a Space for Memories

    Whether you’re in a dorm or apartment, decorate your room or space until you can’t anymore. Hang pictures and leave space for new memories you will make. If there’s a Pinterest post you have always loved…recreate it! Make your space yours. If you have symbols of home, showcase them in your room and allow it to be a place of comfort when feelings of homesickness arise.

    Bringing Home Traditions

    Finally, it is okay to take home with you. One of the best experiences about living away from home is meeting peers who have their own traditions and coming together to explore those traditions. Just because a city does not partake in activities you experienced back home does not mean they are unwilling. It is important to celebrate where you come from and be introduced to others from different backgrounds. Create an event on campus related to something you did in your hometown or create new traditions with your friends. As you move through your college career, remember that home can be wherever you want it to be if you make it yours.

    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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  • 4 Tips to Make Your First Year of College Easier

    by Josephina Hinds

    A student copies class notes from one notebook to another. There are also pens and snacks on the desk.

    College can be a scary thing and can sometimes feel like you are back in high school all over again. Let me assure you though that college is nothing like high school and can actually be a lot more fun. Here are some ways to make your first year just a bit easier.

    1. Don’t be afraid to go out and meet new people

    While it may seem like a very overwhelming thing to do, there are ways to make it easy. Campus-held events are a great way to get out and meet new friends. Most campuses will let you know in advice when an event is and what the event is going to be.

    Don’t be afraid to talk to the people in your major as well. This is a great way to connect with people who have the same interest as you.

    2. Put yourself out there

    Get your name out in the community. Join groups or clubs to get out there and make more connections. If your college has volunteer clubs, joining can help you make new friends and also help you get familiar with your new town if you aren’t from there.

    3. Get organized

    I was not organized when I was younger but trust me when I say that organization is going to be your best friend. Get sticky notes to keep in your books so you aren’t marking them up.

    Whether your college uses Canvas or another learning management system (LMS), there’s probably a built-in to-do list. Use it to keep track of assignments so you won’t fall behind.

    Set reminders in your own calendar of what assignments are due when and what time they are due. This will help you stay on track even when you aren’t logging into your Canvas or other LMS on a regular basis.

    4. Take time to yourself

    I can’t stress this enough when I say you need to take time for yourself. Look after your mental health and take time when you need it. Talk with your professors when you need a break and most of the time they will be understanding. Take the time to do what you love and relax every once in a while.

    While your first year of college can seem crazy and wild, be sure to take in those fun moments. Make new friends and just remember to breathe. Have fun in your first year of college – you’ve got this!

    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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  • Making Friends in College

    by Ashanti Crowder

    Two female high school students are smiling and hugging in front of a Jeep vehicle. They are both wearing black dresses and the female on the left is wearing a green graduation cap.

    For many of students, the shift from high school to college can be an extremely challenging and nerve-wracking experience. For most students, it is their first time away from their families and friends, navigating through a new state, city, or town. Starting fresh and making new friends can seem like quite the hassle. As a sophomore attending my first year on campus post-covid, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned on how to make friends on campus:

    Get Involved

    Campus involvement is a great way to meet new people and build relationships. What does it mean to be involved? Being an involved student means you are an active member of clubs and organizations on your campus. Joining clubs that are aligned with your personal interests, beliefs, and ideas can help you connect with people that you have something in common with!

    Use Your Residence Hall

    Some of the first people you’ll meet in college are your roommates. Get to know them and build a connection, share your interest, and invite them to attend events with you. Many college relationships and connections are built by being in the same place at the same time. Try speaking to your dorm neighbor or attending activities your residence hall may be hosting.

    Social Media

    Most colleges have a student activities council or some form of event coordinator. Follow your school’s social media pages to stay up to date with events that are happening around campus. This is a good way to reach out to other students and ask if they’re attending events. Check your school’s page for incoming freshmen. There are tons of new students who possibly don’t know anyone on the campus; reach out to people and get to know them!

    Join A Work Study

    As college students a little extra change in your pocket is an opportunity most of us won’t pass on. Working on campus will not only help you get familiar with your school but help you gain job experience and, of course, meet new people.

    And Last but Not Least, Attend Class

    As I mentioned earlier, being in the same place at the same time is how most relationships in college form. Attending classes, lectures, and tutoring allows you to connect with others easily. Offer to create a study group or GroupMe for the class. This is a way for everyone to get to know each other. If this is too large of a step, start with introducing yourself to the person that sits next to you.

    Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, even just a little, can make all the difference during your first weeks on campus. Be bold and take the first step to create friendships that will enhance your college experience and may last a lifetime.

    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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  • Learning Through Intergenerational Connections

    by Miyu Nakajima

    Blog author Miyu Nakajima is wearing one of her vintage dresses, a long pink dress with short, puffed sleeves and belted at the waist. She is also wearing black Converse sneakers and has a black cross-body purse. She is standing on concrete steps and is looking back towards something behind her.

    "​The sooner growing older is stripped of reflexive dread, the better equipped we are to benefit from the countless ways in which it can enrich us."​ –Ashton Applewhite

    My vintage dress collection is still minimal, but I’m proud of it, nonetheless. After finding my first one at the thrift shop, I still remember twirling around with glee way too many times in a 1950s Candi Jones pink floral dress. I just love how these dresses are meant for dancing, to make you sway side by side so that you can feel the fabric swish past. And I know that the previous owners of these pieces must’ve felt the same way. I love knowing that. I love knowing that somewhere, in another timeline, they too, also felt dolled up in these dresses. It’s a shared experience.

    In A Way, It Is Time Travel

    That’s why I love listening to older people talk about their past, nodding along as they describe their first heartbreak, their first time holding a baby, their wedding, and more. I know that I’ll get to that chapter of life one day and experience those same feelings, but for now, I just get to listen and, in a way, time travel.

    To Be Truly Wise Is to Learn from Other’s Mistakes Before They Become Yours

    As graduation approaches, I can feel the impending pressure to ensure I’m “adulting” and securing my future. However, I’ve learned that the best way to deal with this graduation anxiety is to talk with older people, particularly seniors who have so much wisdom. I encourage college students to connect with elders and be inspired to make an impact in the world that the seniors entrusted us with. You can find seniors to talk to at senior retirement centers, volunteer opportunities, and maybe even through family friends.

    The more I talk with seniors, the more I realize the importance of stepping away from the screen, enjoying the small moments (like dancing in a beautiful dress), and having an abundant mindset ready to tackle new experiences and learn from mistakes. Yet, despite all of this wisdom, our society perpetuates ageism. So many seniors have fought through obstacles like misogyny, financial crisis, and more, which inspires me to keep pushing through, despite it all. I hope that through intergenerational connections, I can learn not to be anxious about my future and continue to be a lifelong scholar who strives to turn the world into a comfortable place for our senior citizens, all the while swishing around in hand-me-down vintage dresses.

    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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  • The Illusions of Social Media

    by Sadaf Nasiri

    An adult male with dark hair and beard is lying on his back with his head on a backpack. He is wearing headphones and looking at his mobile phone.

    "Social media isn't real life!"

    This is a common phrase we hear in our everyday lives as people critique the false reality of social media. Like other social media platforms, Instagram pushes forward this "perfect" reality of others around us. While it is nice to see what our favorite celebrities or influencers are up to, is it worth the cost of it ruining our perspectives of our own lives and directions?

    Be On Your Guard

    To be frank, I find myself also getting lost in the continuous scrolling process. It is nice to connect with those we know from the past or present and possibly connect to new people in the future, but we all have to play some form of devil's advocate when it comes to social media and how it can impact our lives. Social media has the power to distract us with even the smallest thing such as an ad or a picture. The control that social media has obtained over the years is quite frightening, but who can we blame for this?

    Increased Pressure

    It is so hard to pinpoint the villain in this narrative when we all contributed to the rise of social media in this day and age. The pressures of being suitable for society’s norms are already high enough, but social media just increases this pressure as it pushes people to believe that they must be the best or at least present themselves as the best.

    False Reality

    Other technologies, like photoshop, filters, and other editing tools help create the illusion of perfection and attainability of society’s high standards. A good portion of people use these every day or on social media. I can say that I do too because it is so common now to use one of these tools. However, at the end of the day, we need to realize that all these things aren’t 100% true as they seem. We need a reality check to make sure we aren’t consumed by the high standards and pressures presented through social media and society.

    We are human beings who were designed to be ourselves and be authentic to that. Keep that in mind the next time you’re scrolling through social media and see an influencer’s post that makes you ever doubt yourself. Because deep down, we all struggle with the illusions of social media and the impacts they have on us.

    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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  • Find a Way to Balance School and Life Now to Avoid Regrets Later On

    by Courtney Lally

    A young female college student with long blonde hair is sitting at student desk, looking at a laptop screen and taking notes.

    As a college student taking many difficult classes, being a part of different organizations, and wanting to have time for a social life, it becomes difficult to find a balance. I often found myself spending too much time locked in my room doing homework and studying, therefore missing out on time spent doing the things I love. I don't want anyone to make the same mistakes I made and have senior year come wishing you would've spent more time doing those fun things. Don't worry, though, you can learn from me – here is how I made adjustments to create a healthy balance between school and life.

    Mindset Makes Everything

    I grew up with two very strong, independent parents and two brothers. My brothers pushed me to be more of a tomboy instead of a girly girl, and I often was judged for it throughout my elementary and middle school days. People would say mean things and I was grasping for something that could make me special, because clearly it was not my appearance, the sports I played, or my voice. I discovered that when I put more time and energy into school, did the homework, and studied a sufficient amount, I easily earned A’s. With this, I was the valedictorian of my 8th grade class, and I went into high school having the same mindset – get all A’s to prove you are worthy. I did exactly that in high school and felt very confident about myself due to my performance in school.

    I assumed that the way I had operated up until my senior year of high school would be perfectly fine to replicate in college, but boy was I wrong.

    You Are Inherently Worthy No Matter What You Achieve

    I spent my first three years of college doing the exact same thing – going to class and doing homework until it was time for bed. Hanging out with friends during the week was never something that occurred to me as an option. As I approached my senior year, I found myself being very depressed due to the fact that school consumed most of my life; I began to feel drained and unfulfilled. I realized that I couldn’t keep neglecting alone time and time with friends solely to get straight A’s to “prove myself.” The funniest thing looking back is that I’m not quite sure who I was trying to prove myself to – perhaps it was me, but it definitely wasn’t anyone else because I came to realize that they actually loved me beyond my academic performance.

    Reprioritizing ME

    I decided to make a crucial change in how I operated on a daily basis in order to refrain from missing out on the fun things in life. I began treating my schoolwork and fitness as a full-time 9 am to 5 pm job. As much as I hate waking up early, doing so has allowed me to attend class, get homework done, and spend time on my personal health. Once 5 pm hits, I make dinner and dedicate the rest of the evening to hanging out with my roommates and friends. This seemingly minor, yet impactful change improved both my physical and mental health while also allowing me to maintain my academic performance.

    Consider making this type of change for yourself. I promise you; you will not look back in 5 years and remember the grade you received in an economics class – you will remember the time you enjoyed working on yourself and surrounding yourself with those that you love. Learn from my mistakes and make adjustments now so you don’t have regrets at the end of your college years.

    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

    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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  • Balancing School, Work, Internships, and Interviews

    by Rukmini Waranashiwar

    A female college student sits in a saucer-type red chair with a laptop in her lap. There is a large window behind her, a low round table in front of her and the chair next to her is empty.

    When first starting college, I always looked forward to having a relaxing senior year; however, that did not turn out to be the case. What I hoped to be an easy semester turned into me taking 12 credit hours, managing a Pearson micro-internship, working as a Pearson Campus Ambassador (PCA), and interviewing for full-time jobs. My life became incredibly busy. Although it seems like a lot, my past experiences taught me how to manage my time wisely.

    Increasing Responsibility

    This was not the first time I had to handle a chaotic schedule. During the Spring semester of my junior year, I took 18 credit hours, worked as a PCA, and completed an internship with a search fund. During that time, the best thing I did to manage school and work was to prepare for exams at least a week in advance. Since I would have multiple exams a week, internship deadlines, and PCA projects all coinciding, I couldn’t spend all day studying for an exam anymore. Learning how to space out my studying was extremely integral to my being able to manage other responsibilities on top of school.

    Helpful Habits

    The habits I built during that time made me confident that I could handle all that senior year had to throw at me. I’d learned how to space out studying so I could balance my academics and maintain my GPA, while still being able to keep up with other commitments. Another habit that helped me was to put all due dates onto a Google or Outlook calendar. I have a hard time keeping up with a written planner, however I am always on my laptop. Having those notifications pop up for things like internship meetings, job meetings, and even classes is super helpful. I keep up with all my deadlines and make to do lists for day-to-day tasks. Being organized is genuinely the most important thing to manage several projects at once.

    And something interesting I learned during these heavy semesters is that I work more efficiently when I have more to do. Having many deadlines helps me get things done faster because I know I don’t have much time to procrastinate. When I was in high school and my only focus was on school, I wasn’t as efficient with my time because I didn’t need to be.

    Although taking on more responsibility may seem daunting, it has proven to be rewarding. Both my PCA position and Pearson internship have provided me with so much experience to talk about during my job interviews.

    Take Time for Yourself

    Now in my final semester, I’m finding that carrying out a job search can feel like a full-time job on its own: preparing for interviews, updating my resume, and applying to jobs in between classes and during lunch. The best thing I’ve done for myself this semester is build time in to take breaks, like hanging out with friends, exercising, and treating myself to some ice cream. Taking care of your mental health is important to maintain your best self. I’m extremely thankful for all of opportunities I have had throughout my college career and hope to apply what I’ve learned during these busy semesters post-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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  • Trying New Things: Study Spots Edition

    by Sidney Li

    An empty college classroom with a Smartboard at the front. Each student desk has a red chair.

    Studying is an integral part of any and every college student’s life. Eight out of 10 times that anybody asks what a college student is doing, they’re most likely studying. There are certainly popular spots that every college student seeks: libraries. Yet, these spots get quickly crowded and become so popular around midterms and final season. Here is a guide on other not-so-popular spots around campus that any and every college student can utilize.

    Empty Classrooms

    Mentally and physically separating work and play is crucial for any student. There are a variety of empty rooms that you could utilize when classes aren’t in session. It could be tricky to find one during the week because a class might need that space, too. Be flexible and ready to move, if needed. If you’re looking for a space on campus on the weekends, empty classrooms can be your best friends if they’re not locked after hours.

    Parks, Outdoors, and Green Space

    Being inside for multiple hours a day studying has its drawbacks, as you need some vitamin D from the sun. You could find a picnic table, bench, or even using Mother Nature herself by sitting on some grass while soaking in the sun. Having that breath of fresh air might help you stay more productive especially if you don’t need to use Wi-Fi and the weather isn’t crummy.

    Lounges around Campus

    Every university has sitting areas throughout their multitude of campus buildings for people to utilize between classes—so take advantage of these! I’ve definitely utilized some throughout my college career between classes or to grab a quick bite while reviewing notes for my upcoming class.

    Cafes and Dining Halls

    Who doesn’t like having food and drinks in one spot near where you’re studying for a few hours? I have spent an entire day studying in one of our campus dining halls during finals season because there is so much seating. As long as you have headphones or can tune out conversations and the hustling and bustling sounds easily then you’re practically golden!

    Student Union or Recreational Centers

    If you want to make your studying exciting, you can easily switch up your areas as it will help refresh your brain and even help remember your class notes easily. Every campus has community or recreational centers that often have common areas or even lounges set up for public use. Not only that, but you can take a studying break by working out for a bit or taking a walk!

    Next time you’re trekking towards the library for a three-hour study session, try out one of these new spots instead! Be sure to take advantage of the many different areas your college campus offers to get some work done.

    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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  • It’s Never Too Late

    by Lee Ann Ridgley

    A view of the blog author’s desk featuring a desk calendar, computer keyboard, and a notepad with the quote in the blog from Maya Angelou.

    More than two decades ago, my college journey began, and I am still on that journey today. My pathway is one of heartbreak and loss, but also countless blessings. John Lennon sums it up perfectly with this quote, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." I hope my story will encourage students of all ages to realize their educational dreams, no matter the magnitude.

    Change of Plans

    After high school graduation, I was ready to take on the world. My next step...college! I was an innocent teenager with a solid plan. I would attend college, graduate in four years, and become a teacher. January 11, 2000, everything changed.

    In the process of unpacking my dorm room, my Resident Assistant informed me I had a visitor downstairs. The elevator jerked to a halt and the doors slid open. I rounded the corner to find my dad standing in the lobby. He said we needed to talk. Immediately panicked, I asked if my mother was alright. "Yes," Dad said. I then learned that my older brother had been in a fatal car accident, I packed my suitcase and headed home.

    I didn't have a plan, but God did. I do not believe that Darrell's passing was necessary, but his loss has served countless purposes in my life, my faith journey, and my professional development into adulthood.

    Trust the Process

    As a younger student, I never imagined I would be the type of person to become so engaged in my education outside of the classroom much less emerge as a leader among my peers. But after returning to school as a non-traditional student, that is exactly what happened. My first accomplishment, being accepted into the Honors College on scholarship. I became the President of The Future Teachers Club, and soon after, I was asked to mentor new Honors Students and students in the lifePATH® Program. Currently, I have the blessing of serving as Pearson Campus Ambassador and writing this blog. Did I ever dream of being a blog author? Never! No matter your path, and it may seem arduous, trust the process. The world's most beautiful diamonds remain under pressure for billions of years before producing their ethereal glow.

    Parenthood

    Motherhood is a catalyst for my achievements, but raising children while working, going to school, and taking care of my home is not easy. Being a stay-at-home Mom has produced glory and if I dare say, a much stronger gut. It took time to learn how to do it gracefully. I understand the value of time, something that diminishes before our eyes. Now my children can experience their future dreams, goals, and accomplishments through my lens. I hope that my children will understand the importance of believing in themselves and holding themselves to higher standards. Every parent's dream is for their child to be successful and productive. What better way to help them achieve that dream than through modeling it myself?

    The Transformation

    My transformation started immediately, but I couldn't see it. After my brother's passing, I gained an unusual affinity for butterflies. Every single time I see one, I think of him. I cannot help but gasp at their weightlessness and their ability to be graceful as they appear to hop spastically through the air.

    What's your dream? It's never too late to start.

    "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

    –Maya Angelou

    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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  • Mascot Madness: The Ohio State Buckeyes

    by Sidney Li

    The Ohio State Marching Band spells out O-H-I-O on the football field.

    Being a student within a Big Ten school has its perks. From the wildly supportive student body to alumni that travel from out of town to attend football games, being a part of The Ohio State University “Buckeyes” is a privilege. While traditionally colleges tend to utilize animals as their mascots, my school used Ohio’s state tree.

     

    History

    Contrary to popular belief, Brutus the Buckeye is the mascot of the Ohio State due to the prevalence of the buckeye trees found throughout the state. It wasn’t made up to be just cute and quirky. According to Ohio History Central, Native Americans in Ohio called this nut “hetuck” or “buck’s eye” and would utilize the acid from this actually poisonous nut for leather making.

     

    In reality, the buckeye tree is considerably impractical with its smelly bark and wood that doesn’t burn well. Yet, it is a stubborn tree. The buckeye tree can grow in places where a multitude of other trees can’t be found. This has served as inspiration to many Ohio natives.

     

    According to Ohio State’s student journalism paper, The Lantern, locals within the state referred to themselves publicly as the Buckeyes during the presidential election in 1840 when former Ohio presidential candidate William Henry Harrison won. Harrison also utilized the buckeye nut, a shiny dark brown nut with a beige tan patch in the middle resembling a deer’s eye, as his campaign symbol by wearing one around his neck. His supporters wore buttons featuring buckeyes.

     

    Buckeyes Today

    Due to the history and pride surrounding buckeye trees, Ohio State adapted this as the university’s nickname in 1950. Since then, Buckeyes have become famous beyond the state of Ohio. Today, there is a popular dessert of the same name made from rolled peanut butter dipped in chocolate, creating the similar dark brown exterior with a beige tan patch in the middle.

     

    Despite how this strange it may sound to have a tree nut as a mascot, Ohio has great pride in the buckeye - especially that carrying one brings good luck to the person. Overall, you can’t deny how unique Ohio State is with the buckeyes when it comes to marketing and familiarity as a plethora of people across the country know of this special nut.

    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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  • Going to College the Same Time as My Mom

    by Hannah G. Brennan

    The blog author’s mom is sitting on a grey couch and working on a laptop computer.

    If you’ve seen Melissa McCarthy’s 2018 hit Life of the Party, then you witnessed a hilarious account of a mother and daughter attending the same college, going to the same parties, and eventually graduating together. Having not seen this movie since it came out three years ago, memories of it came rushing back to me when my mom decided to go back to school this past spring.

    After thirty years of raising two kids as a single parent, my mom’s decision to finally become a nurse while working full time is one that motivates me in my own college endeavors. And even though she is not attending UW-Madison with me, here are some ways my mom and I plan to motivate and inspire one another as we each continue our unique college journeys.

    #1: Practicing patience

    My mom and I both being in school has given us an additional experience in common, ultimately bringing us closer together. However, it has taken some work. I can sometimes get frustrated with my mom as I try to guide her through using the new technology that comes with doing schoolwork in the twenty-first century-- let alone the technological leaps education has taken the past year and half due to the pandemic. Doing this is even more difficult when I am on campus over two hours away from her. However, by taking a step back and putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, we are able to defuse our anger and find a positive common ground.

    #2: Staying positive

    By nature, my mom and I are highly self-critical. Whether it is lamenting over grades not as high as we hoped or letting the await of future assignments overwhelm us in the present, the energy can get negative quite fast. But since we acknowledge this behavior, we take steps to relieve ourselves of the burden. We talk things through (even when we don’t want to talk), help each other make lists to prioritize, and assure one another when confidence is low. For everything, but especially school, my mom has always been my biggest cheerleader. Now I get to be the same for her.

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  • Graduating and Missing a Loved One

    by Michelle Gomez

    Blog author Michelle Gomez stands on a park bridge, surrounded by her father, mother, and two younger sisters holding a portrait of her late sister.

    For any graduating senior who has lost somebody special to them, there's nothing you want more than for that person to be there for when you graduate college. Dealing with the death of a loved one can be particularly difficult for college students – trust me, I know. My sister died during my sophomore year of college. I felt like I was not grieving properly because of the overwhelming energy grief requires on top of the demands of being a student. But I learned that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and I found healthy ways to cope that, in time, renewed me and permitted me to live again with a hole in my heart.

    Milestones can be painful

    Fast forward to 2021 and I’ll be graduating in a few short weeks. Graduating is a HUGE milestone. Whether you’re graduating from middle school, high school, or college - you’ve made it. However, milestones like birthdays and graduation can be painful after someone you love dies. As I graduate from college on May 15th, I am thinking about whether my sister is proud of me and imagining how big her smile would be on my graduation day.

    As this bittersweet chapter of my life ends, the only thing monopolizing my thoughts is knowing that she won’t be there to hug me and say congratulations as I receive my college diploma. It absolutely kills me inside knowing that no matter how much I cry and plea, she isn’t coming back. The worst part is that there's nothing I can do to change that.

    Celebrate with their memory in mind

    Learning how to include my sister when big moments arrive has helped me both celebrate my accomplishments and remember her. I incorporate my sister into my daily life by wearing a bracelet with a charm with her name on it. I wear it every day and whenever I feel sad, I hold it and remember that she is always with me.

    Instead of dwelling about how sad and awful it is without her there, I think of all the happiness graduating brings to me and of all the people that have been there for me. There's nothing I wouldn't do to have my sister there at the end of this journey. But I know in my heart, she has been there every single step. I also know how proud she is of me for everything I've accomplished. I know that she’s truly been my guardian angel and made sure I got to this point. She also left me in great hands because I am loved incredibly by my family and my friends. From my incredible mother and grandmother to my little sisters and best friends, finally to all the people I call my family and friends, I am so blessed.

    Graduating college isn't just for me, it's for them and it's for her.

    Mairim, I love you so much.

    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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  • Tips from a First-Generation College Student

    by Kerri-Ann Henry

    Student with backpack, walking between buildings

    College is a major change for everyone, but especially for first-generation college students. Between checking lists, bingeing YouTube videos, and seeking advice from social media and mentors, first-generation students strive to surround themselves in advice to ensure that they learn from the mistakes of others. I would know since I lived this first-generation experience. I’m a college junior and over the past 3 years I have read more lists than I can count and made more mistakes than I would like to admit. But among these experiences I’ve learned a few things that I did not see on any YouTube video or tip list and wished someone had told me in my freshman year as first-generation student.

    Tip #1: Distinguish the direction to debt

    Learn how you can fall into debt. It was not until I was in my second year in college that I realized how college debt accumulated. Debt begins to build up when your college/university charges for a semester and you are unable to pay off the total balance charged. This is the point at which students may decide to take out a loan to cover the charge, otherwise your school begins to enforce restrictions such as such as blocking registration, viewing schedules, viewing degree audits, access to campus resources, etc. This may be intuitive to some but for those students and parents who are new to the college experience, this may unfortunately become their first encounter with this process. The earlier you understand this path to debt, the more motivation you may garner to apply to more scholarships, grants, and internships in high school and/or college.

    Tip #2: Discover your department

    Students who enter college already knowing their major or feeling pressured by social or time constraints to stick to a specific major may have tunnel vision and avoid exploring other possibilities. Take time to consider the different courses at least within your current department. You may find another major that is similar to yours but focuses more on a career direction you are more interested in going in. I experienced this shift when I stepped out of my tunnel vision of my nutritional sciences major to see that my career goals better aligned with the Dietetics major, which was in my same department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Following this advice ensures that your major is the best fit for you and what you really want!

    Tip #3: Study your degree audit

    Check, study and get to know your degree audit! A degree audit is a progress checker of how close you are to finishing your degree. It lists all the required courses and types of credits you need for your degree along with the classes you have completed and which requirements they satisfy. Some schools allow students to access it on their own through a student portal, but even if your school does not, I suggest asking your adviser for a copy because becoming literate in your degree audit’s language can be critical to saving time and money in the future. As a freshman, I took extra classes that satisfied certain requirements because I didn’t realize that my degree plan already included classes that would have satisfied those requirements, thus wasting my credits. Taking a certain number of extra credits past your required degree credit count can result in your school charging you for what is called excess hours. In some schools, you are charged double the tuition rate for every excess hour you take! Check your school’s excess hour policy and make sure you are intentional about the classes that you take and do not take, based on your degree audit!

    Tip #4: Remember your reason

    Finally, remember how you got to where you are now! You may encounter trials in your college experience but as a first-generation college student, do not forget the trail you are blazing a trail for your family and yourself. You are entering territory where others near you may have never been before. I and so many others are prouder of you than you can ever imagine. Remember why you are in college and that you never walk alone in this journey!

    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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  • Tips for a Successful Mentoring Experience

    by Brooklynn Gross

    Student holding and showing Alumni Mentor Program Handbook

    In the movies, every hero has a mentor who helps them achieve their goals: Dumbledore shares his wisdom and advice with Harry Potter, and Yoda trains Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi. Mentors are also important in real life because they can provide guidance and support during a student’s journey.

    Last semester I participated in my university’s alumni mentor program and communicated with a professional in my future career pathway. I hope to work in the field of education, so my college paired me with the director of instruction from a local school district. After participating in this program, I believe all college students should work with a mentor in order to make professional connections, explore careers, and develop work skills.

    If you’re struggling to find a mentor, think about professors, upperclassmen, or people at your workplace who may be willing to mentor you. You could also reach out to your university’s career center for information about connecting with alumni. Finding a mentor is the first step, but it isn’t the last—you will need to create a positive relationship with your mentor in order to build trust and spark meaningful conversations. Here are my top five tips for a successful mentoring experience.

    1. Be professional

    Mentors donate their time to work with you; show your appreciation by being on time for meetings and dressing appropriately. Put your phone away and give your full attention to the person in front of you. Practicing professionalism with your mentor will help you develop this skill for your future career.

    2. Get to know each other

    Learn about your mentor’s story and share your own. You may choose to discuss some of the following questions:

    • What challenges have you overcome?
    • Who has encouraged you throughout your journey?
    • Why did you feel inspired to choose this career path?

    Discussing these questions can help you form a connection with your mentor and learn things you didn’t know about them. Hearing about your mentor’s journey may give you information for your own career path.

    3. Set an agenda for each meeting

    My school’s mentoring program provided a handbook with suggested topics for mentors and students to discuss. At our first meeting, my mentor and I looked through the handbook and chose a topic for each session. Setting an agenda for each meeting helped us focus on subjects that were most relevant to me. Our discussions centered on themes like student teaching, job applications, relationships with colleagues, and graduate school. Choosing these topics ahead of time gave me the chance to prepare for each meeting and write down my questions.

    4. Visit your mentor’s workplace

    All of my mentoring sessions were virtual due to COVID-19, but I would encourage you to visit your mentor’s workplace once the pandemic is over. Shadowing your mentor would give you the opportunity to meet their coworkers and connect with other professionals in the same field. It would also help you experience the work environment and decide if your mentor’s career would be a good fit for you.

    5. Ask for feedback

    My mentor reviewed my résumé and asked me interview questions, and he shared some tips that I can use when I apply for jobs in the future. I now feel more confident about my résumé and my interviewing skills. You could also ask your mentor to give you feedback on your LinkedIn profile.

    These five tips will help you get the most out of your mentoring experience. Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you card. When you put time and effort into this relationship, you can develop a lasting connection that will be fulfilling for both you and your mentor.  

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  • Planning the Perfect Schedule

    by Sydnie Ho

    A college student desk with laptop, notebook, planner, and an iced coffee.

    Have you registered for your classes next semester yet? If you are lucky, you will get all the classes you planned for. Other times, things might not go as planned. Here are some tips on how to plan the perfect schedule you might not have thought of before!

    Select class times that set you up for success

    People think that since they were able to wake up at 6am for high school, college will be the same. Let me tell you, it’s not! For some reason, waking up early in college is so much harder, so if you are genuinely not a morning person, do not register for 7am classes! Even if it is only 2x a week, you will regret it. Take into consideration when a good start time for your day is and build your schedule off of that.

    Plan for lunch breaks

    I like to register for classes that are back-to-back because I like getting all my classes out of the way, but I often forget about lunch! When this happens, I start losing focus and get hangry during classes. If this sounds like you, be sure to plan accordingly.

    Have backup classes

    Of course, we all hope to get our perfect schedule, but that does not always happen. There are 70k students at my school, so classes are bound to fill up fast! Sometimes you won’t get the section you want. Depending on your school, you might have a waitlist or be able to periodically check to see if someone dropped the class. Make sure you know the process and continually checking for updates. If you can’t get the class, have a backup plan for a class you can substitute in.

    Vary subjects and/or level of difficulty

    You don’t want to load all your challenging major classes in one semester. Mix it up with some of the hard classes and some of your easier classes or electives. If you are adding a minor or certificate, try to mix in some of those classes. You will be thankful to have some variance in what you are studying each week.

    Set an alarm for registration

    Make sure you set 1 or 2 or even 3 alarms before your registration time! One time I was out grocery shopping when my registration time came, and I had to do it from my phone. That caused me so much unnecessary stress. Make sure you are prepared to click that enroll button the second it’s time. You know everyone is doing the same so get ready!

    By keeping these things in mind, registration can be made easier and less stressful. Research your classes, plan well ahead of time, and have a backup plan. If you do not get all of your first-choice classes, know it will be okay. Sometimes the unexpected can be better than what you had planned! Good luck!

     

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