• 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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  • Overcoming the Pressure to Overachieve

    by Emilie Conners

    An open laptop on a bed. The screen is opened to a college webpage.

    The pressure to overachieve has definitely increased as social media has become more prominent for our generation. As students, it can sometimes feel like everyone is meeting their goals sooner than you and getting a ‘yes’ to everything they have tried for. However, it is incredibly important to remember that everyone’s path to success looks different and is on a different timeline.

    You Only See the Best

    As college students during this time, it can sometimes feel like everyone is getting their dream internship that turns into their dream job right off the bat. However, that’s just not the truth. This new sense of pressure to overachieve seems to be rooted from the fact that every achievement is posted on social media without the ‘no’s’ included. Seeing the highlights of somebody’s life without the lows can make it seem like everyone has it all together except you.

    Trust the Process

    This is why it is completely vital to try to not compare yourself to what your friends, coworkers, or roommates are doing and succeeding at in college. Trusting your own process and trying your best is all that you can do. A key thing to remember is that you are not on any kind of time crunch or perfect journey to success. There are going to be ups and downs no matter what and oftentimes doors close so that a better one can open for you.

    My best advice to handle the pressure to overachieve is to reflect on your own accomplishments, work towards your own goals and understand that your road to success won’t always be smooth and straight. And no matter how it may appear online, no one else’s will be either.

    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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  • Get Organized and Stay Organized for your Best Semester Yet

    by Lexie Harris

    Five post-it notes in alternating colors of pink, blue, and yellow are labeled with the initials of the days of the week: M, T, W, T, F.

    Organization skills are vital for college students, but sometimes can be a little difficult to maintain. Whether it is making a schedule for the week or finishing and turning in assignments on time, there are so many tasks that require organization. There are plenty of ways to be organized, and not everyone has to use the same method. The way someone keeps organized usually differs from person to person. If one way does not work for you try another way! Here are some different tips to try on how to be organized and stay organized.

    Organize Your Time

    Staying on top of commitments and due dates is a required skill in college, and it can be a little difficult for some. Many students find using a planner or calendar, either hard-copy or digital, to be the best solution. However, it is not the correct way for everyone. Instead of using a planner or calendar, try using something else to keep track of what is coming up that day and that week. I have found that using sticky notes is very helpful. Every time I know there is something I need to do or remember, I write it on a sticky note. Then I stick them together somewhere I can easily see. When I am finished with whatever is on the sticky note, I crumple it up and throw it away. This helps me keep track of what I have coming up.

    Organize Your Stuff

    Another thing students might find a little difficult to organize is their possessions and belongings. This is especially true for people living in dorms. Even though dorms are, as a rule, pretty small, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find what you are looking for every time you need it. It might sound cliche, but putting stuff in the same place every time makes finding it when you need it much easier. Another useful tip is to put things close to where you might need them. For example, I usually only need my keys when I leave. So, I have a spot close to the door where I put my keys every time I enter. I find that this helps me to remember where my keys are and to not forget my keys in the room when I leave.

    Building solid organizational skills now will pay off for your future. There are many things in life that require a person to be organized. Everyone must find their own way to get and stay organized. A way that works to keep a friend organized might not work for you. These tips are the ways that I have found to help keep me organized. If they don’t work for you, keep exploring! The thing that matters is that you find a way that works for you.

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

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  • Starting Your Semester Out Strong

    by Gabriel Hawthorne

    A screenshot of a student’s color-coded weekly digital planner.

    As students return from summer break, it can be challenging to re-activate one's mindset to a productive mode. Personally, I usually struggle with returning from summer because I have spent several months not thinking about school. However, not getting a strong start to the semester can make things harder in the long run, especially during midterms and finals. Here are some tips and guidance on easing your brain back into an effective mindset.

    Get Comfortable with Your Class Schedule

    Whether it is a course you've been excited about taking since you got admitted to college or a core curriculum class that you've been putting off, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your schedule. Not only knowing where and when your classes are, but what you anticipate your experience will be like in these courses.

    Review the syllabus to see if the workload is longer than you've been anticipating. The time commitment may require you to alter your schedule for other activities. If the class seems very challenging and requires a lot of work, you may want to consider how much time you plan to allocate completing that work on top of other classes and activities.

    For instance, I noticed that one of my classes required us to hand in reading assignments before each class. As someone who sometimes pushes their reading off until the last minute, I decided to make sure I had no activities before the class so I could do the assignment if I got too busy to do it beforehand.

    While it’s impossible to predict exactly how your semester will look simply based on the syllabi, reviewing your courses and schedule can help set reasonable expectations so you are not surprised by the workload.

    Plan Out Your First Week Back

    I usually like to schedule out all my activities for each week as soon as I can. This helps prevent me from overbooking my schedule and allows me to mentally prepare myself for the week ahead.

    Some activities, such as classes and meetings, have set times that cannot be changed. The gym and any time spent with friends can easily be rescheduled. However, allowing yourself time to relax is imperative to not burning out from work, so make sure to allow yourself some time to exercise or see some friends.

    After I have planned out my first week back to the best of my ability, I try to keep it consistent throughout the semester to build a routine for myself. Some people may not want to schedule out their entire week, however it can provide you with an understanding of what you have coming up and when. Create your own format that is comfortable for your success.

    Set Some Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When the semester begins, I usually reflect on my previous semester's academic performance and personal growth. There are times when I have felt I need to revise my study habits, so I try to make that happen early in the semester. Other times, I've noticed that I am happier when I exercise 2-3 times a week. Therefore, I prioritize adding the gym to my schedule. Making these adjustments early on in the semester can help you develop positive habits for the semester.

    I figured out these tips through repetition and listening to what my mind and body felt was right, which changed each semester. These are simply some tips that I have personally used and found very helpful as I start each semester. Obviously, everyone's experience will be different. If you are going to take anything away from this, let it be that you are the one who decides what works best for you. Trust your instincts and let yourself feel free to find your way of getting ready to have a great semester.

    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 Best Features on MyLab

    by Lexie Harris

    A graphic with a blue background featuring the words ‘MyLab by Pearson’.

    MyLab, if you didn’t know, is a Pearson online learning platform that covers over 50 subjects and classes. MyLab has great features for both students and instructors. Two of my favorites are the homepage calendar and the “Show Me an Example” button.

    Instructors also have a wide variety of ways to customize the platform. In the end, the wide range of features in Pearson’s MyLab benefit both the students and the instructors.

    Getting Organized with the Homepage Calendar

    The homepage calendar is one of my favorite features on MyLab. On the calendar, the days with assignments due have a small blue dot. The assignments are listed under categories. The most helpful is the one with the upcoming assignments. The homepage calendar is a terrific tool to help students get and stay organized.

    A Little Help from the ‘Show Me’ Tool

    Another one of my favorite features is the “Show Me an Example” button. This feature comes in especially helpful when taking math or math-related courses. If a student is having trouble working out a particular problem or part of a particular problem, clicking the “Show Me an Example” button will create a very similar problem. The platform will then walk the student through how to do the problem or part of the problem. It can help the student learn, reinforce a concept, and help with homework all in one. When I don’t fully understand a concept in class, I know I can use the “Show Me an Example” button to gain more mastery of that concept.

    Instructor Resources

    Instructors have some options in how they structure MyLab to align with how they want their students to learn in their class. An example of one way they can change MyLab for the students is by setting the maximum attempts each student has to answer a question. Another example is that an instructor can turn off the “Show Me an Example” button if they don’t want their students to use it. They can also pick the quantity of questions they want to assign as well as which specific questions. There are many more customizable features at the disposal for instructors to use at their preference.

    Pearson’s MyLab is a great online learning platform no matter what class you are using it for. The wide range of features make it a valuable resources for both students and instructors.

    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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  • Enjoy College While Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Future

    by Lauren Blair

    A clock tower on the campus of Iowa State University.

    College is a time of immense transition. Given that it is the first instance in which young adults gain complete independence and freedom, a heavy weighing question is how to approach these newfound opportunities. Do I get involved in Greek life? Which clubs are worth my limited free time? Who should I make friends with? Do I get an internship over the summer? Is my major the right major for me? Here are a few tips and strategies to help you make the best out of your college years plus recognize which opportunities to take to prepare you for a successful future.

    It's All About Perspective

    My number one tip for balancing your academic, professional, and social life in college is to keep it all in perspective. A lot of stress comes from overthinking events that seem pivotal at the time however months later as you look back are nearly irrelevant. I’m not saying this is easy. It is very difficult in the moment to not freak out about earning a 50% on your midterm. However, there are plenty of practices that will help you successfully do so. For instance, when something is not going well and you catch yourself being engrossed by it, pause, and take a step back. Consider all the other accomplishments you have and progress you are making in other areas, and this will help make the current situation appear less defining. Failure is most definitely a large part of college and learning to deal with it is a key factor in your success. You will fail many more times in your career, however, what employees and peers admire is your ability to respond to your failure and learn from it.

    Learn Your Limits

    As you become acclimated to your new independence, and surroundings you will be offered with a ton of opportunities. Within the first week of each year, even as a senior, you will face new challenges and decisions. Deciding which opportunities to say yes to is a lot harder than it seems. My first month or so of college I couldn’t say no. I said yes to every social, academic, and professional opportunity I was offered, and I found myself overloaded with commitments that I could not follow through with. I was so exhausted from my spending every second active that I struggled to value the time as it seemed to be passing by too fast for me to do so. After winter break, I sat down with a list of everything I was involved in, friends, jobs, classes, clubs, research, etc. This helped me visualize and determine which activities I found most joy in and which I benefited from most. I immediately crossed off anything I was no longer interested in or dreaded going to. I then circled the activities that I had to stay in (school/work) or I did not want to drop. This then left me with the in-between commitments. I was able to narrow it down to three-four clubs in addition to school/work. I made sure that I was involved in at least one club that was major specific, one for pure enjoyment, and one that was social. Although this will look differently for everyone as we all have different amounts of schoolwork and non-negotiable commitments, the process is versatile.

    Keep Yourself Challenged

    This process allowed me to commit more of my time to each activity allowing me to gain more from my involvement in each one. Ensuring you have commitment to your personal health is also very important and can at times take a good chunk of time. This list strategy should help you differentiate between the endless opportunities you are offered in college and ensure you have a good array of involvement. Find opportunities that that bring you joy, challenge you, and prepare you for your future career.

    As you venture though college and the many new experiences to come remember it is key to keep this in perspective, do not over commit your time, and take some time to yourself to enjoy the stage you are in.

    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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  • Seven Must-Have Apps for College Students

    by Erica Yap

    A young female college student sits at a desk working on a tablet.

    How many times have you heard that your mobile devices are a distraction? While the answer may be a lot, there are surprisingly several apps available to optimize your learning, maintain your focus, and help you manage your time better. As a student who is often on the go, I want to share my favorite mobile apps that have helped turn my mobile devices into my best study buddies over the course of my four years in college.

    1. Pearson+: Whenever I am riding the bus to and from campus, a very productive use of my time is to scroll through flashcards offline on the Pearson+ app. Even if it is just a few minutes of study time here and there, it really adds up! Many other features to the Pearson+ app include access to textbooks, an audio player, advanced note taking, practice questions, and tutoring discounts!

    2. Mondly: I always wanted to study at least one semester abroad, so I use Mondly to learn languages. It’s fun, easy to use and it includes just the right amount of gamification without distracting me from actually learning. Conversation practice feels like talking to a friend, so I never have to worry I won’t be good enough in real-life situations.

    3. Flora: Have you ever wanted a virtual plant? The Flora app uses gamified technology to give you that extra incentive to focus. The longer you spend working on your assignments or completing your studying, the more time your virtual seed must grow! When you choose to browse a different website or hop onto social media, then your virtual plant dies.

    4. Notability: A powerful, yet simple note-taking app that allows you to make PDF annotations. On this app, I find it helpful to download class PowerPoints beforehand and take notes directly on the slides while my professor teaches the material. I also use this app to sign documents and highlight my notes as I study outside of class.

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  • How I Transformed into a Totally Digital Student and Artist This Year

    by Ankita Chittiprolu

    Two photos side-by-side showing how the blog author uses her tablet. The left side shows her digital artwork, including a hummingbird drawing. The right side shows how she takes notes on her tablet during class.

    Coming out of high school, my desks, shelves, and tables in my room were filled with papers and textbooks, even after graduating. I knew I had to change my system for college. I couldn't just continue to hoard all my notes with the mental process of hoping I'll need them in the future.

    Invest In Your Future

    After extensive research, I came across the Apple iPad and Apple pencil. However, the price was a nightmare – I couldn't afford something like this after going on a spring break trip in my senior year of high school. Working a tutoring job, I saved throughout the summer. I finally bought an iPad and a second-hand Apple pencil from Amazon during Black Friday.

    All Your Materials in One Place

    I started by downloading GoodNotes, an app that specializes in writing notes. The possibilities were endless! This app held my planner, notebooks for class, lab reports, and pdf copies of articles I needed to read. I was even able to doodle and take quick notes on the app. It felt like I was writing on paper with unlimited colored pens and highlighters with an Apple pencil. I bought all my textbooks in an eBook format and accessed them through my iPad from apps such as Pearson e-text and iBooks. These apps allowed me to take notes and highlight the pages in my textbook. In the past, through rental books, these actions were constricted. I never “forgot” my books in the dorm or misplaced my papers because the digital copies were on my iPad.

    Sustainably Study

    I bought a keyboard that connected to my iPad through Bluetooth so I could type class papers or any essays, which made things even better. It transformed my lifestyle. I was no longer carrying heavy weights and my friends were envious of my easily accessible notes and e-texts. For any papers that were provided in class, I could just scan the paper and get a digital copy on my iPad to write on – an environmentally friendly way to save paper. Especially with the current conditions, a lot of assignments are done online – I no longer need to print out my assignments to work on them, I just download a copy onto my iPad and complete the assignment. It is very simple and efficient, and singlehandedly the best decision I made in my freshman year of college.

    Clean, Conscious, & Concise Creativity

    Not only did I use my iPad for my academic endeavors, but I also downloaded an app called Procreate, a digital art studio. Though the iPad doesn't mimic a paintbrush that I usually work with, it was very close! I loved drawing and painting on it, and the best part was that I wasn’t making a mess of art supplies or paint. The complexity behind this app is incredible, there are numerous features for even professional artists. There were 100s of “brushes” to choose from, various color palettes, and inspiration you can draw from. This provided a way for me to destress without bringing out my canvas, water, and paints. It was versatile and easy to use and allowed me to easily fix mistakes if needed.

    I believe that investing in an iPad was a good decision, however, there are many alternatives. I recommend researching online and then visiting technology stores near you to try out different products before deciding on investing in the one that best fits you.

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

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  • Get the Most Out of Your Pearson Revel eText

    by Shika Jwala

    A laptop with an eText section of a genetic text on screen. Next to it is a student’s spiral notebook open to a page with written notes.

    College students spend an average of 14.1 hours a week reading assigned material. That's a lot of time and energy! Reading assignments in college can be boring and tedious, especially if the textbook is long and complicated. When I was a freshman, I remember putting aside several hours in my day to tackle assigned readings. It was even worse knowing that a lot of material on the exam would come from these readings. However, Pearson's Revel eText is designed to solve this problem! Using Revel eText enhanced my knowledge of the subject, while cutting back on my reading time. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your Revel eText.

    Tip #1: Play it out loud

    By far one of the best features of Revel eText is the “audio playlist” feature. At the top right of the screen, you have the option of having the page being read aloud to you. This is super convenient and can even help you process the material better. I sometimes find myself getting distracted while I read. Listening to the audio version keeps me engaged and focused. It’s especially nice because having the text read aloud allows you to do other things, like going for a walk or doing the dishes. It saves time and lets you multitask!

    Tip #2: Pop-up definitions

    Another cool feature is the pop-up box with a definition when you hover over a highlighted word. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to flip to the glossary or find a dictionary just to understand a word a textbook uses. Having to search up many complex words used in a textbook can get frustrating and tedious. Not a problem with Revel! Hovering your mouse over the word gives its definition in an instant. This has helped me save so much time and energy in the long run.

    Tip #3: Use the search feature

    Can’t remember what page covered the Nitrogen cycle? Revel has an awesome “search” feature. Click on the magnifying glass icon to search for any word or short phrase. This makes it way easier and faster to find the information you need. As college students, we need all the shortcuts we can get. Searching using keywords can quickly find what you’re looking for.

    Tip #4: Highlight

    Need to make a study guide for that big exam coming up? Revel eText lets you highlight important sentences on the page with your cursor. All your highlighted sections will be saved in a notebook, which can be found at the notebook icon/section that’s labeled ‘notebook.’ After you finish your readings, all your highlighted texts will conveniently be in one spot for you to study. You can even color code them with different colored highlighters. Making a study guide has never been quicker or easier. Now, you are well on your way to ace that test!

    Tip #5: Flashcards

    Revel eTexts have a flashcard section, which can be found by clicking on the flashcard icon. This lets you make your own deck(s) of flashcards to test yourself. It’s like having your own little Quizlet, but even more convenient! You can highlight any piece of text you want on the flashcard, so no need to type anything out.

    With these features, studying activities that used to take hours and many different resources can be done more efficiently in one place! These resources have helped me save so much time and energy while improving my grades.

    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’s in a Name?

    by Johnny Condit

    Two young men smiling and sitting behind a table with a Pearson tablecloth and prizes.

    Do you ever met someone for the first time, introduce yourself, and then totally forget their name? You see them again 5 minutes later and have no idea how to address them. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people have trouble remembering names when meeting someone for the first time. However, through my college career, I have learned more and more how important it is to learn and remember someone’s name. We all have one, right? So, we might as well use them.

    Addressing someone by their name is a sign of respect that will grab people’s attention. It shows that you are an active listener that is genuinely engaged when in a conversation. So often we are worried about what we will say or how we look that when someone introduces themselves to you, their name goes totally over your head. To keep that from happening, here are 3 tips that I use to remember people’s names the first time I meet them.

    1. Remember that you are not the most important person in the room - Most people are too worried about how they look or what they are going to say when meeting new people. They do not even register what even comes out of your mouth when speaking. Well, if that’s the case, don’t worry about what you’re going to say and become aware of what people are trying to tell you. Once you stop worrying about yourself, you are able to become more of an active listener.
    2. Repeat their name - When you first meet someone, the first thing you do is exchange names. When the opposite person says for an example, “Hello, my name is Jerry, nice to meet you!” you should respond, “Hey Jerry, its nice to meet you too!”. Hearing the name twice, from him and yourself, will make your brain realize that the name is something important to remember.
    3. Look for name tags – When someone is wearing a name tag, it is not for style. Become more aware when someone has a name tag. You can even address them by their name before they introduce themselves. That will make you stand out from others and leave a lasting impression on someone.

    Being able to remember someone’s name is an amazing quality and it makes people feel special. Take value in people’s names and watch your network and friendships grow!

    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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  • 6 tips to help you survive freshman year

    by Cobe Fatovic

    blog image alt text

    So, you are going to be a freshman in college? I was too, about one year ago. My freshmen year was far from perfect, but what fun would it have been if it was? I am going to share with you 6 things I wish I knew going into my freshman year so you can have the best first year experience possible.

    1 – Make your dorm feel like an actual home

    Dorm life is something that a lot of people worry about and is a trademark of your freshmen year. You will be living here for the next year, so make it your own. Something as simple as putting a rug on the ground so you don’t see the tile floor can make all the difference. Also, bring things that remind you of home. It may be hard to admit, but you will miss your family.

    2 – Get involved right away!

    Join a club, go to all the Welcome Week events, apply for a leadership position, just do something! In college, you will be surrounded by more kids your age than ever before, but it can still be very lonely, especially if you don’t know anyone. Whether you find virtual, hybrid, or smaller in-person events, joining a club can make all the difference because it can make a huge campus feel a whole lot smaller.

    3 – Take yourself out of your comfort zone

    Making friends can be difficult. But you have to remember, everyone wants to make friends! Go sit with someone in the dining hall or introduce yourself to who you are sitting next to in class, who knows where it’ll go! If you try talking to someone and they don’t seem interested, don’t be discouraged. It may take a few people before you meet your best friend, but if you don’t keep trying, you will never get anywhere.

    4 – Build in time to relax and take care of yourself

    While it is important to study before tests, make sure you plan time in your schedule to do something that relaxes you. Whether it is playing Xbox or reading a book, make time for yourself, too. This will help you manage stress and prevent it from interfering with your student success.

    5 – Consider rushing!

    To rush or not to rush, that is the question. The first week I was at school, the main topic of conversation was everyone asking, “Are you going to rush a fraternity or sorority?” I went into college not expecting to rush at all, but I ended up rushing because some of the friends I made in the first week were. I joined Beta Theta Pi at the University of Florida, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Even if you find it is not for you, there is a good chance you will make some friends during the rush process.

    6 – Be open minded

    If you go into college with a closed mind, your life will probably be pretty tough. I went through more changes my freshmen year than the rest of my life combined. If you don’t love your major, change it. If you have an interest in something weird, take a class on it! There are so many opportunities to try new things and meet new people in college, you have to take advantage of everything you can.

    Now, a lot of that is easier said than done. You will probably get to campus and be so overwhelmed by everything that is going on, and that is okay, so is everyone else. Just take a deep breath, take it day by day, and go make memories. Good luck with your first year, stay positive!

     

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  • Freshmen: Create good habits to achieve first year success

    by McKinley Falkowski

    blog image alt text

    Your freshman year of college is one of momentous change and growth. Prior to starting my journey at the University at Buffalo, I was terrified of what college held for me. I knew almost nobody on campus and came from a high school program that had roughly 18 people in it compared to a university with a student body of 30,000. Additionally, obvious differences like more demanding work terrified me of what was about to lay ahead.

    Because I am a History major with a focus on Education, I spent many days back at my high school obtaining classroom observation hours. Senior friends still in high school and about to go off on the same journey would ask me, “how did you survive your freshman year?” The fear of the freshman year of college is universally terrifying, but I took advantage of the challenges thrown at me and was able to succeed.

    While explaining a key fundamental difference between high school and college, I ask students this question: “whose fault is it if you fail?” Most students respond that it is the teacher’s fault, to which I respond, in college, it is not the professor’s fault if you fail, it is yours. This fundamental difference means that students need to change their approach to school, like I did in my freshman year.

    Show up for office hours

    One of the changes I made was taking advantage of office hours. This is where students go to their professor for help if they don’t understand material. Even if I felt I understood the material, I would always try to see my professors once a week to develop personal relationships. Sometimes I would realize that I did not always have a fully accurate grasp of the material. Office hours completely transformed me as a student. College freshmen should take advantage of them if they wish to succeed in the new environment.

    Tackle time management

    An additional adjustment I had to make had to do with time management. In college, so many assignments are thrown at you and you need to be able to juggle them all at once. That is why during the first week of classes, I take the syllabus from each class and write when all assignments are due in my agenda. This way I am always able to see when an upcoming assignment is due, won’t lose track of any assignments, and always see when a quiz or exam is coming up. Many times a professor will not remind you when something is due, they will just expect it to be done.

    Be alert for lectures

    A final element I had to change was my ability to pay attention in lecture halls of over 300 students. I made sure to choose a seat in the front of the class, otherwise I knew I might doze off. I also made sure my phone was turned off to minimize distraction. Finally, I found that actively writing notes using pen and paper increased my ability to focus on the material being presented.

    College is fundamentally different than high school, and it is terrifying for almost all people in their freshman year. However, these are some of the strategies I used to succeed, and I know you will be able to use them to succeed, too.

     

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  • Beating the beginning of the semester scaries

    by Colleen Borian

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    While there’s no better feeling than being on summer break, it’s safe to say that adjusting back to being a student this fall won’t be easy.  In this video blog, Colleen Borian acknowledges that start-of-semester scaries are a real thing and with COVID-19 changing how our semesters will look, they will be more real than ever. Watch her vlog below!

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  • Work smarter, not harder: 3 rules to help you reach success

    by Albert Hernandez

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    “How did you go from a small high school in a developing country to a booming public university in the United States?” “How did you travel to Austria and Japan in the middle of the academic year and still manage to keep a 3.96 GPA?” “How do you balance your time when you take 17 credits, work, and participate in extracurricular activities at the same time?”  I hear these questions from friends, family, and peers often as they look back on all I have done in the last couple of years. I explain that I constantly look out for content on how to be more productive, successful, and happy. 

    Tons of hours invested on TED talks, books, and seminars have given me mountains of advice. Some examples include waking up at 5 am when everyone else sleeps and no one will distract you, but when I do that, I run out of energy by 2 pm. I have also heard to attend office hours and ask questions, but my professors’ office hours often conflict with work or other classes. Focusing on your passion means I love engineering, but trust me differential equations are no pleasure. Even though all this advice has been somewhat helpful, it is often too specific and not flexible enough. I had to take in the advice and then tailor it to my own need and situation. After looking back and analyzing the last couple of years, I realized that the secret for my success comes down to these three simple rules I want to share with you. 

    Rule One: Don’t procrastinate 

    Regardless of what your goals might be, there will always be a list of tasks we all need to complete to reach them. Have you ever woken up one Sunday to realize you have a paper to write, a presentation to prepare, and a midterm to study for, all by the next day? If you ever experienced this, you probably procrastinated on these tasks. Wouldn’t it feel better if you had written that paper a week in advance, prepared the presentation two days ago, and all you had to worry about was reviewing the hard concepts for your exam? The emphasis is on reviewing, as you had hopefully already studied one hour per day during the last week and feel confident for the upcoming test. The idea of getting things done in advance does require a high level of discipline, but such discipline will not only help you in your academic life,  it will also make a great impact in your professional and personal life. 

    Rule Two: Sleep

    Coming from an immigrant household that had to work remarkably hard to pursue a better future, I grew up with a dad that had a mentality that sleeping is a waste of time. When talking about sleeping, my dad pointed out that by sleeping eight hours per day as recommended, I waste 33 percent of my life in bed. However, it did not take me much time to realize that in the 16 hours I am up, I get a lot more done than fighting between getting things done and trying not to fall asleep. Additionally, sleeping has a great influence on your body, and proper sleep helps you enjoy your life more and makes you happier. It is important not to use this rule to oversleep and argue that it will make you even more efficient. Sleeping too much can be as bad as not sleeping enough. If you have the discipline to regularly sleep six, seven, or eight hours per night depending on your own body needs, you will be a lot more productive than those that sleep less and work more, or those that party until late and suffer the next day.

    Rule 3: Learn how to manage stress

    It is common knowledge that university students experience high stress levels during the academic year. Students perform better when they manage their stress levels. Getting things done in advance and good regular sleep will surely help drop stress levels. However, no matter how well you follow the first two rules, if all you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed is work and study, I promise you will burn out by the end of midterms with half of the semester left to go. It is crucial to learn what helps you de-stress. It could be working out, going to the movies once a week with friends, or maybe just watching an episode of your favorite show. Whatever it is, make sure you find the time on your schedule to treat yourself. 

    I hope these quick general rules will help in your goals. I know it takes a lot of discipline and time to include them in your lifestyle, but it will be rewarding and will take you closer to your goals. If you are looking for other strategies on how to be productive, I recommend the books “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and “The 5 Second Rule” by Mel Robbins. Best wishes in your goals and good luck!

     

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  • Get Refocused for the New Semester

    by Jacquie Dunworth

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    Congratulations! You’ve made it through the fall semester of college. You worked hard, made new friends, and survived finals week. Now that you’ve had a nice long break to unwind, it’s time to refocus. School is about to start up again, so here are some tips on how to get mentally and physically prepared for the new semester.

    Get Back Early

    Classes may start on the Monday after break and you’ll be tempted to return to school late that Sunday to make the most of your remaining hours, but consider returning to campus Saturday. Having a full day before classes start will give you more time to mentally and physically prepare for the semester. With this extra day, you will have time to put your best foot forward and follow the rest of the tips.

    Go School Shopping

    There’s nothing worse than going to the first day of class unprepared. Be sure to buy anything and everything you may need to make your first day back a success! Buying your materials early will ensure that you miss the rush at the bookstore and get a good start with professors.

    Read Over the Syllabus

    Reading over the syllabus before you attend class will give you a good overview of the class and its expectations. The syllabus will also let you know of any required materials and assignments to come prepared with on the first day. Writing all of it down will make sure you already have an idea of what the semester will look like. 

    Plan Ahead

    Now that you’ve given yourself an extra day to get prepared, purchased your class materials, and read through the syllabus, you can take your preparation one step further and plan ahead. Take a minute to fill out a planner or calendar with the due dates of big assignments, midterms, and finals. This will give you the opportunity to plan extracurricular activities around your classes and ensure that your semester will be a success!

    Other Tips and Tricks to Reduce Stress

    All of these are great ways to physically prepare yourself and put your mind at ease for the new semester. In order to further mentally prepare, take measures that will reduce potential stress in the future. Try to avoid procrastinating so you aren’t perpetually stressed that you don’t have enough time. Manage your sleep so you get plenty rest and function at your best. Working out will also help with keeping you healthy and clear-minded.

    A new semester will bring new challenges, but also new opportunities. Being prepared for it will allow you to make your semester the best one yet! Following these tips will put you ahead of the game as well as allow you to be physically and mentally healthy.

     

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  • Off to College: Preparing for Your First Year

    by Kristi Yamashita

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    Twelve years of school have finally passed and you’ve finished an endless amount of assignments, reports, and presentations.  After writing what may have been some of the most important essays of your life, you finally did it! You got accepted to college and you’re about to begin some of the best years of your life.  Going to college for the first time can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking milestone in your life. There are a lot of new things to adjust to such as being able to pick your own class schedule, making new friends, and maybe even living hundreds of miles away from home.  Here are some tips on how to prepare for your upcoming adventure.

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  • Adjusting to a New Environment: Tips to ease first semester jitters

    by Katie Underwood

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    Life can be so unexpected sometimes. It can send you somewhere you never imagined you would end up. Adjusting to a new environment is scary and nerve wracking. If you think you are the only one experiencing these jitters you are wrong. Everyone at some point in their lives have had to adjust to a new environment. Whether this new environment is a new town, school, or workplace, here are a few simple tips to feel at ease with your new lifestyle. 

    Find Friends

    Life comes at you fast, so you have to act fast as well. My first step in creating a less intimidating new situation is to find a friend within the first week. This way you are going through the process slightly less lonely and have someone to open up to. This friend can be your roommate, classmate, neighbor, or someone you met on the train. No matter what, find someone to express your feelings to and to talk to every now and then. It will keep you sane.

    Operate with Optimism

    Go into this new territory with an open mind. Be optimistic because you never know what life will throw your way – both good and bad. Going into a new setting with an open mind will allow you to give it a chance without making a negative judgment right from the beginning. 

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  • Advice for new freshmen: 6 things I didn't expect in college

    by Sydnie Ho

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    College is a lot. This is the first time you are out in the world all by yourself. You create your own schedule, you create your own rules, you create your own life. All of high school has built up for you to experience what people say will be the “best four years of your life.” Although this is the start of an amazing four-year experience, there are things I encountered during my freshman year I wasn’t expecting to experience. These are 6 things I didn’t expect in college.

    7 a.m. is not the same

    You always hear people say, “never take a 7 a.m. class in college”, but it never made sense because in high school we were so used to waking up way before that, right? Wrong. It’s true, waking up early in college is way harder. You are staying up later, getting involved in more, and encountering more stress. It is hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced it, but take my word for it and get a little extra sleep. 

    You will have doubts

    Coming into college I thought I would have it all figured out. That I would instantly love college and everything about it. But that wasn’t the case. It took me a long time to adjust to everything and I doubted a lot. It’s totally normal and know that even though it may seem like it, you are not alone. It is good to talk it through with your friends and advisers so they know what is going on and they can help.

    You will miss home

    It’s bound to happen. Whether it is your home state, your family, your friends, your mom’s home cooked meals – you will miss home. In college, you are making a new home, which is scary at first. You hit a point where all you want to do is be in a familiar place. That’s the thing about being independent. Eventually you learn to be on your own and appreciate home even more when you get the chance to go back. 

    Friends change

    This was a tough pill to swallow but it’s true. Even if you are in the same state, you will probably meet new friends and drift from those from your past. For me, leaving my friends back home was one of the hardest things I had to do. I had to learn to make new ones. My fellow freshmen were learning to make new friends, too, so we immediately shared something in common. I met some incredible people during my freshman year and am so excited for what new memories I’ll make with them. 

    Failure happens

    In high school I was a straight A student, never failed, and always cringed at the thought of anything below perfect. Although they are still important in college, grades aren’t everything. You will probably fail multiple times. Maybe it will be a quiz, a test, or even a class. But that’s OK! You have to learn to move past it and not allow it to affect your next assignment. If you find you are really struggling, look for the free tutoring and services your college offers. They want to see you succeed.

    It goes by fast

    I thought high school went by fast, but college is a whole different story. I’m already seeing my years in college fly by and I just started. Your life is going at a quicker pace now and you’re always headed to do something else. Try to enjoy every moment before it’s done, but just know it goes by very fast!

    These are some things I’ve learned to understand in college that I never expected to encounter. It really is a journey, but you will learn a lot about yourself and in time, you will have an amazing college experience.  

     

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