• Time Management Tips from a Grade A Procrastinator

    by Madison Butler

    An iPhone stacked on top of a planner.

    Who is perfect at time management? In high school, I felt on top of everything: school, social life, and extracurriculars! I believed the glide into my first year of college would be effortless. However, as soon as the first week finished, I was behind on my schoolwork and became a Grade-A procrastinator.

    Honestly, I’m still working on my ever-changing schedule, but I have picked up some tips and tricks that have made my workload flow in a way that does not stress me out at the last minute. Having a schedule that works for you is the backbone of not losing motivation and feeling successful!

    1. Phone Privileges (Okay, Mom)

    Ah yes, the dreaded words I used to hear from my parents growing up, "you have lost your phone privileges, Maddie," blah blah blah. But back then, I did not realize how much they were actually right! Staying up late, whipping my head at the sound of notifications, and scrolling on TikTok for hours (I know I am not the only one!), are just some of the ways I am constantly distracted. Especially when I need to focus on the task I have at hand. What has helped me in the past year, especially if you have an iPhone, is using the Do Not Disturb setting and setting my own screen time limits. The screen time limit tip helped me allot time (mine is set for 2 hours) for my daily social media and games "binge." Then, as soon as the time limit notification popped up, I have had to train myself to not hit the "ignore limit" button, and trust me, it's taken a while. I have now realized that I can complete a lot more tasks in my day when I’m not glued to my phone.

    2. The Foreboding To-Do List

    To be perfectly frank, I hated To-Do lists. I would always forget about it, lose it, and/or NEVER check all of the boxes. Those never helped me until about three months ago. To set the scene: the weekend before school started, I had just told myself I needed to create a routine, but how would I be able to do that because I rarely ever stuck with it (previous life evidence proves this theory correct). So, my solution was to buy the absolute cutest To-Do list I could find (I wish I was kidding). I placed it in the center of my desk, so it was one of the first things I would see when I woke up. I started the tasks off simple: brush my teeth, wash my face, eat breakfast, and others like studying Accounting for two hours, then rest for 15 minutes. Doing simple mundane tasks helped me easily track and stay on task throughout my day. Now, I don't need to write "brush my teeth" and stick with my more prioritized tasks, but it was an excellent start for me, personally! Find your own list in your own time!

    3. Use Breaks Wisely

    Another way to hold myself accountable is by using my breaks wisely. I downloaded an app called Focus Keeper, and it helps me when I am studying to work for thirty minutes and then take off ten minutes. This app allows me to study for more extended periods without burning myself out!

    All in all, you will find your rhythm to motivate and hold yourself accountable! Remember you are human, and it takes a while to break a habit, so be easy on yourself <3!

    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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  • Isn’t College Supposed to be Fun? 3 Great Ways to Manage Academics and Do What Makes You Happy

    by Libby Davis

    A group of male and female college students sitting in a circle and talking on a campus lawn. Their backpacks are scattered on the grass beside each student.

    When I got to college, I remembered the countless times I heard an older adult or other family member say to me “college was the most fun time in my life, I would go back if I could”. I decided to take it as motivation to have the best college experience possible. I came up with three ingredients to make my college experience sweet; prioritizing what is important, managing my time, and getting involved in order to new people. These simple rules are something that college students hear all the time but why are they so important for us to actually follow?

    Prioritize Your Work First

    The biggest reason we all go to college is to pursue an education and eventually earn a degree that will hopefully lead to a job. But simply attending classes won’t lead to doing well and achieving a good GPA. Poor grades lead to negative feelings and stress; no one has fun failing. This is where prioritizing your work can help. Make sure you are on top of your schoolwork before participating in any other plans such as hanging with friends or going to sporting events.

    My own example of this occurred last semester when I really wanted to join some friends on a trip to California to watch my university play in the NCAA basketball tournament. The day we were to leave, I had two exams I needed to take. I prioritized preparing for and taking those exams over anything else – even packing. Everything ended up a success with two great grades on the exams and I made it on time to my flight later that day. Knowing I prioritized my tests and scored well on them made my time in California so much more fun because I knew I had been successful.

    Plan for Work and Play

    Learning how to manage your time on a day-to-day basis while in college is important. I manage my time by having a calendar with dates for not only all my schoolwork but also my personal commitments, like setting aside time to make meals, extra studying besides just homework, and time for personal hobbies. Having this organization has aided me in being a successful student while also building in time for fun activities, like hanging out with friends, spending time with my family, playing golf, and babysitting. These outside activities are what makes college fun for me and makes me happiest.

    It’s Who You Know, Not What You Know

    Besides just being on campus and in the classroom, it is very important to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Campus involvement plays a huge role in making your college experience the best because you get to meet so many new people who could be an ally for you in the future. A close family member has always said to me, “it’s who you know, not what you know”, and those words have proved to be true. Building emotional intelligence and social skills can make you so much more of a successful person no matter how smart you are in the classroom. People need people and we rely on each other so much. Getting involved within your college or university will just make your experience even more sweet.

    All in all, I know I have made my college experience worth way more than I ever thought I could, and I think everyone else should be able to as well by following my three ingredients to become a successful and happy student.

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

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  • How to Balance Your 3 S’s: School, Sleep, and Social Life

    by Ambyr Dack

    A closed student laptop with a student planner stacked on top and a pen on the desk by the laptop.

    When I came to college, I was told there are three S’s: school, sleep, and social life… but the catch is you can only have two. While there are times that certainly feel like the case, creating good organization and time management skills can help you maximize your college experience. What I have found to be most helpful throughout college is creating a calendar system that works for me, scheduling times to do certain projects that are during my peak hours of performance, and realizing the importance of intentional rest even in the midst of crazy schedules. 

    Find The Best Calendar for You

    How many times have you gotten a physical calendar and after one month you stop writing in it? We have all been there. Finding the right kind of calendar for you is key to keeping on track. If you know you are prone to stop using a physical calendar, try a digital one like Google Calendar or Outlook. At the beginning of the semester type in all of your deadlines for assignments along with known events like club meetings, classes, concerts, or trips. Set alerts that will automatically pop up on your home screen to ensure that you actually have to take a look at your calendar. What I have found to be most helpful is at the beginning of every month briefly reviewing my calendar for that month to make sure I'm aware of all upcoming dates and plan accordingly.

    Personally, I like to use two calendars. One is a monthly calendar on my desk that I use to add all of my assignment deadlines as well as any holidays or upcoming events. The other is a small physical calendar that has a weekly view that allows me to plan out what I will do on each day. 

    Strategize Your Studying

    Scheduling times to do certain projects that are during your peak hours of performance will help you with mental fatigue. For example, if you have a textbook chapter you have to read, a discussion post, and a quantitative assignment to do, be strategic on planning when to do these assignments. It takes a lot more focus to read a textbook chapter or to do a quantitative assignment than to write a discussion post. If you find you are able to focus the most in the morning, try knocking out the textbook chapter or quantitative assignment first, take a break, and save the discussion post for a time in the day you aren't as alert.

    Additionally, I know I get overwhelmed by the number of tasks that are on my to-do list, which easily leads to procrastination. Try setting an alarm on your phone for a short period of time like 30 minutes and just start a task. It will make it seem smaller and easier to start when you know you only are going to work on it for a brief amount of time. Moreover, this can also help when you have other tasks like cleaning your room or folding laundry. By setting a 5–10-minute timer you know that you are dedicating that specific time to it, which gives you more incentive to complete it within that time.

    Rest Is Productive

    Lastly, rest! Unfortunately, burnout is very common among college students, especially towards the end of the semester. The best way to avoid burnout is by taking time to intentionally rest throughout your week. This means finding ways to recharge, which looks different for everyone! Some examples might be to read a book, go on a walk, work out, listen to music, hang out with friends, journal, or cook. Finding times in your schedule to incorporate breaks like this is essential. It might seem like there is no time for this, but by adding rest into your schedule you will be more productive and have more energy throughout your week. Maybe you have an hour chunk during the week or split up that hour throughout your week. Find what works for you and make sure you prioritize it!

    Start early in the semester to establish effective time management balanced with plenty of rest. This will lay the foundation to productive habits that will help you maintain student success throughout the school year!

    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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  • How to Get Involved on Campus and Keep the Perfect Balance

    by Alex Santoro

    An overhead view of a group of eleven college students sitting around two tables.

    As a college student, we are often stuck inside our own bubbles within our colleges and universities. There is a constant routine of going to class, studying, doing daily activities, and repeating the same things over and over. As time goes on, having the same routine can get tiring; college is a time to try new things.

    Change Up Your Routine

    One way to change your routine up is to become more involved on your campus. Campus involvement is something that can provide many professional, social, and fun opportunities. There are so many kinds of organizations on our campuses, and there is a chance that you can even create your own! Some kinds of organizations that would be great to be involved in are academic and social organizations, Greek life, or even organizations like student government. Most campuses provide a very diverse number of organizations that you can join.

    Schedule Time for Involvement

    As a college student attending classes and being involved, I have had issues with keeping the perfect balance between my academic, social, and work lifestyles. One thing that I did to perfect the balance between everything was to create a planner and schedule out my weeks ahead of time. When you take time to create a schedule and put information into a planner, it can tremendously improve the balance of everything that you are juggling.

    Start Each Semester by Noting All Due Dates

    When you are in multiple different classes, it can be hard to keep up with certain deadlines. At the beginning of each semester, I put all the due dates for all assignments, quizzes, and exams into my planner. This gives me the big picture when I look at my planner every week and see the things that I must complete for my classes. Another helpful tip is to color code your classes when you write down all the deadlines so that when you look at your planner every day, you can quickly see which class is which. You can also add a color for your organization meetings and events.

    Overall, campus involvement is something that every college student should try out. It is important to branch out and put yourself out there to experience the wonders of what colleges can have to offer. It is also very important to keep a good balance between all the things to ensure that you can be successful and work hard towards the end goal, which is obtaining a degree and graduating.

    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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  • Ten Ways to Make the Most of Your Day

    by Emma Karant

    Three female college students stand outside on their campus with their backpacks. They are wearing facemasks.

    Online classes seem to make life easier for some students, but for others, such as myself, online classes have drastically changed the set schedules that we once had. Having a schedule, including being on campus and attending class in person, gives many of us a feeling of stability and productivity. So how do we produce this feeling in our lives when a lot of our classes are still online?

    1. Wake up early

    If you wake up early, you can give yourself enough time to have a productive day and fit in everything you need to do from work, school, and being with friends and family!

    2. Start the day by making your bed

    When I start my day by making my bed, it makes me get up and move in the morning and stay up. Additionally, I am not as tempted to get back in bed throughout the day and take a nap or do nothing. This gives me more time to get things done throughout the day and be productive, especially when classes are online, and we don’t have to leave our rooms.

    3. Stay off your phone for as long as possible in the morning

    I know, out of habit, I normally check my phone as soon as I wake up. But, when I do this, it leaves me feeling stressed because I see all the things I need to do. Instead, aim to stay off your phone until you are ready for your day!

    4. Create a daily schedule

    Especially when we do not have a full schedule of in person classes, it helps to make a schedule for yourself that would be like one you had pre-COVID. The most important thing about this is to be consistent because it will help you ease back into the adjustment of having an in-person class schedule. Check out this blog with tips to help students stay organized.

    5. Make a to-do list

    I like to write down a weekly list for myself at the beginning of every week, so I know what I must do each day. This helps me not forget anything important and it feels good to check things off a list!

    6. Go to work out classes

    Working out helps you to feel good, but it can sometimes be hard to find time in your day to work out if you do not have a set schedule. I have found that going to work out classes, whether it is with your school or a company, helps you create a schedule for yourself. If you find a class you like, you can go every week to help yourself get into a pattern!

    7. Have self-care time

    Although it is important to be productive, to make the most out of your day you must remember to take time for yourself. Whether this is going on a walk, journaling, doing something you enjoy, or resting, it will help you feel motivated to work hard later!

    8. Don’t overwork yourself all in one day

    When I procrastinate, I get incredibly stressed. Even if I finish everything on time, when I am done, I never feel productive because of how stressed I was. To try and avoid this, break up your work throughout the week. If you do a little bit of work every day, it will make you feel more productive and less stressed! Check out this blog for more tips for time management.

    9. Try a new healthy food

    Eating healthy food can help you feel more energized and ready to go for your day! Without this, you will not have enough energy to continue your motivation throughout the remainder of the day. Check out these blogs by college students with tips on nutrition and meal prepping tips.

    10. Make time in your day for your social life

    Although getting work done and being productive is important, a part of productivity is being with people you love.

    There are many ways to make the most of your day. While it is up to you how you choose to organize your time, these are just a few examples of great ways to ensure that you make the most of each day. For more tips on how to succeed in online classes, visit this blog.

    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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  • Three Tips for Balancing the Summer Semester

    by Daniela Gomez Lopez

    A computer monitor displaying a student’s schedule and a laptop displaying class documents.

    With the summer semester right around the corner, some college students are looking forward to taking additional courses. And while it can be a great opportunity to get ahead in classes, students also need to understand the importance of taking a break to avoid burnout. Here are 3 tips you can incorporate into your semester to make sure you can focus on your academics, internships, extracurriculars and social life. 

    Organize your time

    Assignment due dates and test dates can be impossible to keep track of mentally, so write them down on a planner or virtual calendar. In my opinion, Google Calendar is the best way to organize your weeks since you have the availability to access your schedule everywhere there is internet. While you are making your schedule, remember to fit in your personal plans. Whether you are interning, doing extracurriculars, or working, your calendar should display all the events you can’t miss. 

    Extra tip: avoid Friday classes if possible, so you won’t have to turn down every fun summertime activity. If you have the availability to choose online classes, try them out; they provide a lot more flexibility.

    Set your summer goals 

    Whether school, travel, or socially related, write down what you want to accomplish this summer. After you have written down realistic goals, go through and prioritize them. It’s important to rearrange and plan out your priorities. Note that even though a social life and school are essential, so is your mental health, which might mean saying no to plans sometimes.

    Take advantage of the weather

    Studying doesn’t mean you need to stay cooped up in a library or your room. Take advantage of the weather and find new parks or coffee shops to explore. You’ll be taking advantage of that nice summer weather while also being productive. Since I love coffee, I always lean towards exploring new coffee shops. I also make it a habit to invite my friends if they ever need to get work done. When I do these “study dates,” I feel the most productive and inspired to keep trying out new places. 

    Summer classes offer a great opportunity to earn additional credits and can be successfully balanced with other summer activities with a little planning and goal setting. What will you accomplish this summer?

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Staying Organized During a Busy Semester

    by Kara Stevens

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

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

    Get and Use a Planner

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

    Use Color

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

    Time Management

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

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

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

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  • 3 Tips to Stay Organized when College Gets Chaotic

    by Rachel Calcote

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

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

    Tip #1: Figure out your scheduling preferences.

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

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

    Tip #2: Color code your commitments.

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

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

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

    Tip #3: Prioritize your to-do list.

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

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

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

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

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  • 3 Time Management Strategies to Boost Student Success

    by Tahmina Tisha

    A screenshot of Tahmina’s to-do list including upcoming assignments and due dates.

    Imagine you wake up in the morning and realize you missed a deadline at 11:59 pm because you simply forgot about it. Sadly, this is a common occurrence for many college students. I was no different. My freshman year was scary. Everything was new to me and I had no idea how to manage all my classes. The grades did not look pretty. I was missing social time. The saddest part of all, I wanted to quit college because of how overwhelming it felt.

    It is easy to get overwhelmed when you don’t have everything in order but fear not! Here are three tips that helped me learn to manage both my academics and my social life.

    Write it Down.

    An important step in staying organized is to have one place to log all your plans and homework. This can be a digital or paper planner. As college students, our minds can wonder in several directions. When I started college, I had 7 classes, 2 clubs, and a job. Projects and homework assignments were coming from all directions. I went to the bookstore and got myself a planner. I wrote down all my homework and the due dates. This allowed me to gain a better perspective on when things were due and how long I needed to prepare. It also helped me pinpoint when I had free time to step away from schoolwork.

    Utilize Technology.

    Even with a planner, it can sometimes be hard to remember to check it. I found a great solution is to use apps on my phone for assignments that need to be done in the next couple of days. I am constantly checking my phone, so I turned that habit into a time management tool. My favorite app for this is Microsoft To Do. This helps to remind me when I have homework due tomorrow or a test to study for. One trick I use often is to set my due date a day early because as a college student, I procrastinate. This motivates me to do the work early.

    Take a Break.

    Finally, college classes can be overwhelming. Most students spend a lot of time studying without a break. When a computer is used for a long time without a break, it overheats. Our brain is similar. When we look at a computer screen or a book for too long, it becomes harder to see or retain any of our work. Having an estimated study time can be very helpful. For example, during long study sessions, set an alarm or timer to remind you to take a 15-minute break after each hour. This trick will let your brain relax and refresh.

    These three tips have helped me survive my freshman year. As a sophomore, I can easily manage 6 classes, 4 clubs, and 2 jobs. I still feel overwhelmed sometimes, but by planning ahead, I am able to take time for a break without adding to my stress levels. It also allows me time to maintain my social life. College is about meeting new people, experiencing new things, and discovering who you are. Having better time management skills allows you to really take advantage of all college has to offer.

    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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  • Plan Your Work. Work Your Plan.

    by Jayla Pope

    Three female college students are sitting in a lobby. The student on the right is showing a document to the other two students.

    A college student's To-Do list is almost never ending. Most students are in school full-time, working, and involved in extra curriculars. Making time for school and your personal life can be challenging. Creating a plan that you will adhere to for all of your responsibilities is important to mastering time management. This plan will help hold yourself accountable, and even aid in rewarding you in your achievements. Here are some tips that you can take to create a schedule that works for your daily life and allows you make time for what matters most – you!

    Recognize Your Priorities

    The first step to creating a schedule that encompasses work life balance is making a list of your priorities. Start with the things that are of most importance. For college students that is normally school. If possible, choose classes that will help you be your best self. If you are a morning person, create a schedule that allows you to wake up and start your day early. If you are a late riser, curate a schedule that lets you ease into your day. After classes, be sure to carve out a special time for studying. All college students know that doing work outside of class is just as important as going to class. When you carve out time to study, you don’t have to worry about trying to “make time.”

    Build in Breaks

    Beyond just classes, it is critical to save time for yourself and the things you like to do. Most students think they can hang with friends when they get around to it, or make time for themselves later, but unfortunately that time rarely comes. You have to make sure you make time to allow yourself to recover from handling your responsibilities.

    An example work week schedule could be classes every other day from 10am-4pm. Perhaps you are involved in an extracurricular from 4-6 or want to grab a bite to eat. To end the night, you could study from 6pm-8:30pm. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest to be fueled for the next day. In between the days you have classes, you could work a part-time job or do things that interest you.

    Find Accountability Partners

    One of the most important steps in maintaining a set schedule is consistency. Creating the schedule is only the first part of the race, but to get to the finish line you must adhere to the schedule you created. Of course, things will sporadically occur; that is an aspect of life. However, you should do your best to make sure that you stick to your schedule. The best way this can be achieved is by informing your friends, family, and peers of your schedule. These people around you can be your accountability partners.

    Sharing your schedule with your friends can also be beneficial because they can possibly match up their schedule with yours. An example of this could be grabbing breakfast together or creating a study group. The best part of accountability partners is that they want to see you succeed, so they should be aiding you in doing so. Even if you start to divert from your schedule too much by slacking off or not maintaining your priorities, your accountability partner can help you recognize this (in a respectful way of course) so you can get back to being your best self.

    In order to plan your work, then work your plan, you have to be organized, committed, and have discipline. These key characteristics will help you obtain your goals and have a healthy work life balance. Creating the schedule that works best for you is important to keep you working through it. Prioritizing is important because it allows you to spend time doing the things that matter most first, then use the rest of your time accordingly. Lastly, sharing a glimpse of your day-to-day schedule with your friends, family, and peers can be extremely beneficial in avoiding distractions and making sure your “to-do” list is getting 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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  • How to stay organized when facing a hectic schedule

    by Paris Lane

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    As there is so much to do on a college campus, it is common to want to fill your schedule with club activities, meetings, events, and more. Typically, the further along you are in school, the more packed your weekly schedule becomes. For some, this can become overwhelming very quickly. One of the keys to maintaining a successful college career is to stay organized. By making a list of important dates ahead of time in the Notes section of your phone, keeping up with a monthly planner, or utilizing online calendars, students can ensure that they never miss an assignment or important event and use their time at school to the fullest extent possible.

    Cell phone resources

    One of the most helpful, and most overlooked, resources on cell phones is the Notes section. This application provides a great place to list out all the important dates for the semester in one organized location. In order to give yourself a general overview for the semester, it is helpful to make a list of the courses you are taking this semester as well as all the organizations that you are a part of. Under each of these, you can make a bulleted list of upcoming important due dates or meeting dates and times.

    This serves as a convenient resource to refer to during the busy times of the semester or finals week. My favorite personal feature of the Notes section is the option to create a to-do list. With this option, you can put bubbles beside each date or assignment and check it off after completion. This serves as a good motivator because you can see all of the difficult or fun things you have completed throughout the semester!

    Keeping a planner

    Another way to have all your important dates at hand is to keep up with a monthly planner. Planners are a great way to stay on track as they give you the option to display your information as detailed or long-term as you choose. You can select a planner for the calendar year or academic year, plus choose the layout you prefer: monthly, weekly, daily, or a combination.

    Having options is nice because you can flip ahead to any given point within the semester and know what to expect coming up, as well as what you need to be working on day to day to ensure that you do not fall behind. As these are generally pretty small in size, you can put it in your backpack and carry it around with you anywhere. I bring my planner to class and write down homework assignments as they are assigned so it is not as overwhelming all at once.

    Schedule reminders

    If you want your phone to send you digital reminders, and you have a generally repetitive schedule, online calendars make organization simple as you can assign tasks and block out times every week for recurring events. Google calendar and the Microsoft Outlook calendar are just two examples of organized online resources that can be color-coded and set up however you choose. You can set up these to send you reminders everyday at set times that you choose. In addition, these are often free of charge so they can be a good alternative to planners. My favorite feature is that these online calendars are shareable with whoever you choose. This makes coordination with groups, friends, or teams a lot easier as you don’t have to manually detail your whole schedule out over text!

    Being a student in college can be extremely busy and overwhelming. One of the big fears that comes with this is falling behind or missing assignments. There are many ways to help yourself stay organized, including the Notes section on your phone, yearly planners, and online calendars. If you choose to use even one of these methods, you can save yourself the stressful task of trying to memorize events and due dates and you can work smarter, not harder!

     

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  • Freshmen: Create good habits to achieve first year success

    by McKinley Falkowski

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    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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  • Time is valuable: Utilize tools wisely

    by Camryn McCrary

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    College is considered to be the best four years of your life, but some great things can come with a cost. With the large amount of freedom, flexibility, and independence, it can be hard to stay on the right schedule and not procrastinate. Especially since college always seems to have something going on, whether its homework, a test, a club event, or just hanging out with friends; you start to hit a wall of work overload. Fortunately, the following tips may be able to help you both have fun, as well as balance the many challenges that college brings us.

    Use Technology

    Many college students already have a large collection of textbooks, papers, worksheets, and other things that may overload your brain. However, using different technology platforms can help you stay on track and even lower anxiety levels. Whether it’s your laptop, tablet, or phone, using a digital planner is a great way to have your deadlines and reminders at your disposal. Inputting all the information and deadlines for the semester allows you to plan ahead for any big projects or tests. The visual representation of a crazy college schedule will also help you better balance your obligations so that you can physically see where you may feel overwhelmed and be proactive in it.

    Keep a Routine

    Since college doesn’t have anyone monitoring where you are and what you are doing, it can be really easy to fall out of structure or routine. Having a solid regular routine is important to help you avoid procrastination, which ultimately leads to that stressed out feeling. Referring back to the use of technology, setting up recurring tasks in your calendar will help you develop habits and new routines. Examples of this could include blocking off time in between classes for activities, such as going to the gym, studying, grocery shopping, and other activities.

    Set Rewards

    Just like any other situation, rewarding ourselves after reaching our goal helps us feel more confident that we can achieve even greater challenges. This feeling of pride after achieving a goal allows us as students to feel motivated to be more productive in whatever work we are doing. Just like when you run a race and are rewarded with a medal, you should read a chapter, or finish an assignment, and then reward yourself with a tasty treat, a 10-minute break, or whatever puts your mind back at ease.

    Maintain a Healthy Balance

    Sometimes we all just want to get certain assignments or projects out of the way faster than we think. However, it is extremely important to be able to maintain a healthy balance of everything on our plate. Piling everything up and trying to complete it all in one sitting will easily cause a work overload. It is completely fine, and necessary, to schedule in rest, relaxation, and fun when working or planning out your week. Every single day doesn’t have to be all work and no play, because having those down times to ourselves helps us recharge and refresh our minds in order to better prepare us for our next task.

    Through time management you are not only able to get your work done, but you will also have the feeling of being accomplished and time for things that you love. Know your time is valuable, so think of as that and take care of it.

     

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  • Good time management allows you to succeed in college while still pursuing your passions

    by Paige DelBrocco

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    As a fourth year college student, I understand how tough it can be to find the time to focus on hobbies or do things that you are passionate about. For me, drawing and being creative is what makes me feel fulfilled, but sometimes I feel guilty working on my art when I have an exam to study for or an essay to write. I realized that in order to live a happy, productive and positive life, I should not feel bad doing the things I love to do. Here are some tips and tricks that I have found useful to manage my time, while still pursuing my passions.  

    School Comes First

    The best way to avoid feeling bad about working on things other than school is to stop procrastinating and get all of your obligations out of the way first. As soon as I finish with classes each day, I like to get started on my assignments that have upcoming due dates. Rather than immediately grabbing my iPad to doodle after class, I will try to get at least two things done. This makes me feel like I have accomplished something and helps me relieve the stress that comes with being a busy college student. Not having to think about those assignments that I just finished lets me unwind and destress, so I can draw and create without worry.

    Put Your Phone Away

    As we all know, smartphones are a huge distraction. I have found myself aimlessly scrolling on TikTok or Twitter for hours on end, and then realizing I only have an hour until I should go to sleep. It is extremely difficult to do—believe me, I know—but I recommend putting the phone down for a few hours of the day to devote your undivided attention to your schoolwork or hobby. This will give you the time to focus on something either productive or satisfying, which is the whole point, right?

    Schedule a Spot for Your Hobbies

    Enjoying our hobbies or passions is just as important as the other day-to-day tasks we are obligated to do—like work and school. I like to make a to-do list on the Notes app on my phone, and I always make sure drawing makes the cut. Not only are you making sure you set aside time for it, but putting it in writing with things that are deemed as important gives it its own sense of significance. 

    Being a college student is definitely not easy, and it can be hard to find the time to do things you love. Don’t let the responsibility of school get in the way of your hobbies. By following these easy tips and tricks—I promise you will be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

     

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  • Keeping a full plate steady

    by Sanjana Saji

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    I’ve always been told that ‘your college experience is what you make of it.’ I never truly understood what that meant until this past year. I am a senior at Penn State University and I just completed my first year at the main campus, University Park. To go from a small branch campus that’s only two hours away from home to attend a large ‘typical college style’ campus that is a five-hour trip away is a big change that I had to mentally prepare myself for. 

    Walking into junior year, I realized that I only have two years at the main campus to experience and accomplish everything that I wanted to, which is an endless list in reality. Thankfully, time management and decision making weren’t my weaknesses, but these were two of my skills that were constantly tested. I had an unfaltering positive attitude and an ambitious drive walking into junior year, which is a big part of how I accomplished so much and still managed to keep calm throughout.

    I had multiple things on my plate which included my classes, my job with Pearson, dance team, and being a director for a student organization. Other things on my schedule that didn’t occur weekly included meetings for the national honor society that I’m a part of, attending TA office hours, group projects, and social events. Personally, I like to stay busy and limit my free time because that’s what helps me sustain a productive lifestyle. With so much on my plate, here are a few tools that I use to stay organized and manage my time.

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  • College students: 3 great ways to take time for yourself

    by Tory Harless

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    One of the biggest struggles that I have faced in college was feeling overwhelmed. As a freshman, I constantly felt like every day I was on a strict schedule that I couldn’t break away from if I were to complete everything that needed to be completed for that day. While in college I have had two part-time jobs, full class schedules every semester, and have been involved within my sorority.

    Most days my schedule consisted of work, hurrying to eat lunch, class, homework, hurrying to dinner, and then either more work, homework, or meetings. I was going out of my mind and started to feel really unhappy. Until one day I made myself take a step back from this stress creating cycle and realized why I always felt so over worked and exhausted. Here are 3 good habits I’ve found really help me take time for myself.

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  • The benefits of a balanced life

    by Kyle Linn

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    Rarely do college students have school as their only responsibility. Properly managing jobs, extracurriculars, relationships, and personal health is an extremely important tool for succeeding both in and outside of school. Finding the balance between all of these is different for each person, but figuring out what works best for you is the first step.

    Recognizing the Problem

    As a student with two jobs, completing various major-related responsibilities, and mentoring three freshmen, it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all. My original method to address this situation was to set goals for each day. This was inspired by a 2014 commencement speech for the University of Texas by William McRaven, where he states, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and encourage you to do another task… and another… and another…” While my goal setting wasn’t limited to making my bed, it would be equally simple, like studying for half an hour or completing a specific assignment. Accomplishing these tasks within my allotted 24 hours gave me the feeling of productivity, but I found myself procrastinating these tasks until 11:30 p.m. I needed a sense of structure with my chores.

    Finding a Solution

    I decided to begin waking up at the same time every day, regardless of when I went to sleep the night before. If I went to bed at 10 p.m., I needed to be up by 7 a.m. the next day. Even if I went to sleep at 3 a.m., I still needed to be up at 7 a.m. This consistent wake-up time allowed me to have the same amount of time to myself each morning to do any tasks I had set that day. Keeping the same schedule and completing my tasks earlier in the day meant I had more time for other activities. I started attending clubs, I got two jobs, and I became a business mentor in my university. Additional responsibilities aren’t the only thing I gained from a consistent schedule though.

    Getting A Little Extra

    With the extra time I had, I was able to plan my meals and spend actual time cooking. Morning sugary cereals became eggs with toast and spinach. A rushed Panda Express lunch became a meal that I had prepped hours, sometimes days ahead of time. With a healthier diet I have more energy, things like working out or studying no longer felt like a chore. It took over a year to figure out my own personal grove, what worked for me, what didn’t. Even today I’m still finding new ways to better budget my time and energy, but the benefits of it are incredible.

    I’m thankful for a stressful beginning. Without it, I may have never been pushed to change. A healthy schedule can change your approach to each day, each month, each term, and maybe even each year. When you’re not stressed day-to-day, you find more time to plan long term goals.

     

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  • Transfer student transitions: Learning to balance everything under the sun (car)

    by Brandt Damman

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    Thumbnail Photo: Two members of Solar Car holding a windshield above the newly constructed solar car.  From left to right: Rachel Eckert, Composites Manager & Materials Engineer; Samuel Winter, Aerospace Engineer.

     

    A new university, a new horizon. Since last spring, I have graduated from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and transferred to Iowa State University (ISU) to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering. The overall transition from a two-year college to a four-year university was thankfully uneventful; however, I would soon realize the difference in how I should manage my time and work.

    Getting Involved (Again)

    After transferring, I was unable to continue my previous club activities – as most clubs at DMACC didn’t exist at ISU. I began a quest to find new clubs and hobbies.  I ran into an old colleague who mentioned a club they were in, Solar Car. I attended the following Solar Car team meeting and joined as an electrical member. My primary task was to learn how to read circuit board schematics and aid an older member with designing a battery protection system to monitor the car’s Lithium-Ion batteries. 

    In addition to being involved with Solar Car, I was interviewed and accepted for a part-time IT Technician position on-campus within the Psychology Department. As a technician, I responded to faculty requests regarding problems with their electronic equipment. On top of both positions, I continued full-time school at ISU and began to delve into my coursework, but I failed to realize the predicament I placed myself in.  Not only would I have to choose what I enjoyed most, but I would also learn valuable lessons in time management.

    Timing Trouble

    By midterms, I began to notice my work piling up unproportionally across all three tasks.  As the semester progressed, each task became more demanding with varying expectations. The increasing expectations and workload resulted in several consequences. The two most notable and foremost consequences were my declining homework quality and diminishing amount of sleep.  In an attempt to correct my time management errors, I spent more time working late at night to catch up on homework. This not only resulted in a poorer quality of work, but it also reduced my number of hours of sleep. To top it all off, the more time I committed to work, the less time I was able to spend with my family, even during holiday breaks.

    Despite my attempts to manage all three tasks, I still deviated from my intended goals and needed to cut my losses during the last few weeks of the semester. I reduced my work on Solar Car, cut back my hours at work, and submitted the homework I could produce within the hours I allotted.  This admission helped me regain some sleep and focus for final examinations.

    Keep Moving Forward

    Taking on a job while balancing coursework and car manufacturing was a worthwhile endeavor.  This circumstance brought to light how much I have yet to comprehend regarding time management, but I also learned a great deal about different engineering majors, computer management, and a wide range of topics from my classes.  With the deviation from my goals and a poor management of time and work, I learned a few valuable lessons:

    • One, when scheduling courses and extracurricular activities, ensure that the time scheduled is rarely deviated.
    • Two, schedule everything as early as permittable.
    • Finally, while work comes first, ensure there is plenty of time for rest and relaxation

    I will undoubtedly incorporate these ideas into my schedule next semester and beyond. As the future brings a spectrum of challenges, I will continue Solar Car as an Electrical Systems Manager and remain confident no matter what the future may hold. There will always be something to look forward to as the sun rises.

     

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  • Maximizing your college experience

    by Sam Brinkman

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    College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get to explore new ideas and adventures while learning and embracing different cultures at your school. It is an eye-opening experience that goes by in an instant. This stage in life is where people discover who they truly are because they must make decisions on their own every day. It can be frightening at first and take a serious toll on your mental health if you are not prepared. It is important to experience as much as possible while still getting good grades. Despite what some may say, it is possible to do everything you imagined and more in college while still maintaining a quality GPA. It is not always easy, but with commitment you can build good habits that will last a lifetime. Here are 4 steps you can take to help maximize your college experience in and out of the classroom.

    Understand Scheduling

    It is important to understand when you will be the busiest. For me, this is typically Thursday-Sunday. This is because most of my homework assignments are due around this time, and I have little time to complete them because I want to be out with my friends. That means in order to be stress-free on the weekends, you must complete your work ahead of time. People do not realize the time they waste early in the week because they think they have time to complete their assignments later. 

    Get It Done Early

    In reality, you only have about three days to complete your school work. Monday through Wednesday is where the battles are won and lost in school. You should wake up early during this time span and focus on completing assignments and reviewing material in your classes even when you are not in class. This will also help you for upcoming quizzes and tests because you will not forget old material. Keep in mind this is for an average school week; you may have to sacrifice some social time during weeks that are busier because of midterms and final exams. 

    Self-Improvement Time

    Now that you have school work out of the way, it is important to be proactive in college. So many people waste away their time playing video games and staying home when there is so much out there to experience. I would like to challenge you to improve on or learn something new during your time in college. For me, I have motivated myself to improve on my fitness and eating habits. It is truly rewarding when you consistently work for something and see the payoff by the end of the school year. Also, once you devote some time for self-improvement, it builds your confidence to go out with your friends and meet new people. 

     
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  • Getting ahead by planning ahead

    by Jesus Hernandez

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    Once the semester starts everyone’s schedules become busy. Between classes, work, friends, and health, there is so much to fit into their days. Everyone has different tasks throughout their day they need to get done and planning ahead makes that much easier. My schedule changes every day and there are tasks that come up unexpectedly; however, I have found a few methods that make my day less stressful. 

    Keep Your Calendar Updated

    One method to implement as a college student to accomplish all of your daily tasks is to make sure you have everything on your calendar. Whether it be a physical calendar or the one on your phone, having everything up to date on there will remind you what needs to be accomplished that day. Putting things in when you know you need to do it will make sure you don’t overlap anything.

    Make Your Calendar Effective

    To make a more effective calendar, add the amount of time each task should take you. For example: eat breakfast from 6 to 6:30 a.m., go to the gym from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and so on. Doing this will help you stay on pace to accomplish your daily goals, make sure you do not miss anything important, and allows you to see what times you have open. Adding times will also help you avoid overloading yourself and help you prioritize everything while also taking care of yourself.

    Know Your Priorities

    Prioritizing plays a huge part when adding to your calendar. Make sure you do not leave all of the longer tasks for the end of the week because it will be too much. Do the most important tasks first and try to take advantage of gaps that open up to complete other tasks. Taking advantage of gaps allows you to have more time on the weekends and release some of that stress. Prioritizing also helps you avoid procrastinating and keeps you on track for doing your best.

    Build in Breaks

    It is important to remember to take care of your health when having a busy schedule. You shouldn’t be skipping lunch to complete a task or only sleeping one hour because of an assignment. Your calendar is important, but doing only what is on there is not healthy. Make time for yourself. When I know there will be a home football game, I will plan ahead to make sure that come game-day I am not stressing over things that could have been accomplished earlier. Having an updated calendar will allow you to avoid these kinds of problems throughout the semester. 

    Overall, as a college student it is easy to take on more than you can handle and sometimes it is OK to do a little less to make sure you are not over stressing each day. Keep your calendar and remember it is OK to say no and devote some time to yourself. Find the balance that fits for you.

     

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  • College is a Balancing Act

    by Kennedy “Dani” Corley

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    I’ve always heard that hindsight is 2020, and now more than ever am I thankful that I developed a few tips along the way to make it through college in one piece – and with my degree of course. I assumed college would be fairly similar to high school in terms of the ability to juggle extra-curricular activities, class, and close relationships. Surviving freshman year felt like a breeze until it seemed like there just weren’t enough hours in the day for everything I wanted to accomplish. I always had time for watching an extra episode of my favorite Netflix show or catching a nap in between classes and still carving out time for my studies. 

    I didn’t realize how much time I was actually wasting until I began pledging a business fraternity and working 15 hours a week for my internship all while completing a 16 credit hour semester. I consistently felt overwhelmed and struggled to prioritize not only what was most important, but also time sensitive. After arriving to my apartment late one night, feeling exhausted and not having the chance to complete any of my assignments that entire week, I took some time to develop a few rules to influence myself to give precedence to things and people that were most important. 

    Rule #1: Create a Calendar and Stick to It!

    Google Calendar saved my life and my grades! This online platform allows you to visualize any events, assignments, exams or even lunch dates you have coming up while showing you the breaks you have in your schedule. At the beginning of every semester, I enter my class meeting times, fraternity events or meetings, family events, and everything in between to get a sense of where my time will be devoted every week. This online calendar also provides simple tools such as Tasks where you can enter on specific dates the assignments due, and Reminders which I use to remind me when bills are due or when to order a birthday gift. There is even an Events tool which allows you to specify the date, time, and location of any event going on. The visual aspect allowed me to see when I had time between classes or meetings to grab lunch or get some studying done. 

    Rule #2: You’re in College to get a Degree

    This is the first step of prioritizing your time and effort into something you originally came to college to accomplish. Gaining a well-rounded education definitely includes performing well in your area of study, but also how to spend your time outside of class in various clubs or organizations. However, in order to keep your scholarships and GPA intact, always prioritize getting your work done before the deadline. Completing assignments or beginning to study for an exam a few days in advance works wonders not only for your grades but also the availability of time you gain later on. Enjoy the time spent with friends and family along with achieving those academic goals. 

    Rule #3: Self-Care is the Best Care

    Speaking from personal experience, it is so easy to forget the importance of taking care of oneself physically, emotionally and especially mentally over the duration of the semester. We as college students exchange sleep to study for exams, consume tons of coffee to stay energized, and sometimes forget to eat with all things we have going on throughout the day. The significance of breaking away from your schedule to recharge and enjoy your hobbies or your favorite Netflix series is crucial the busier you become. Always remember, you can’t produce your best work if you don’t feel like your best self. 

    Sometimes you may feel like you are drowning, but there is a way to come to the surface. Learning the art of balance will keep you on the right foot and keep you from burning out. Finding what works for you earlier rather than later will keep you focused and stress free.

     

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  • Beating the Beginning of the Semester Scaries

    by Colleen Borian

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    There’s no better feeling than the relief of finals being over, the comfort of spending time with friends and family, and knowing there is no possibility you could be forgetting about an assignment for class over the break. Between celebrating traditions, being able to sleep in, and having an excuse to make yourself a guest in your own home, it’s safe to say adjusting to the “back home baller” lifestyle is one we all look forward to. 

    Once the excitement of the holidays dwindles down and the new year is rung in, the start-of-semester scaries are a real thing. It may seem hard to get ahead in school before you have any assignments, but by taking the time to do a few things to prepare will ease the stress of being thrown back into reality.

    Establish Email Inbox Ease 

    Take the time to clear out your inbox and update your email organization system. While I liked to think my color-coded, folder-filled inbox is tidy, I realized I still had emails from professors about classes I took two years ago. Deleting unnecessary emails makes searches easier and can create a less overwhelming feel. Don’t have your inbox organized? No worries – take time to create some folders, labels, or develop a system that you can start to utilize during the semester.

    Clear Up Your Computer

    Regardless of how neat and ordered your files and documents were at the beginning of last semester, it is safe to say by the end the system was a bit unorganized. Take some time to delete any old files or back them up if you may need them in the future. I like to do this, as well as create folders for my upcoming classes, so I can get right to work once class starts. This is also a great time to clean up your phone. Backup or upload your photos, then delete apps and pictures that do not serve any purpose. Not only will clearing up documents and photos prevent the dreaded “out of storage” warnings, but it can allow you to move on from the previous semester’s stress. 

    Schedule Around Your Syllabus

    As soon as you know your class schedule, you can plug that into your preferred system of organization. I use a digital calendar to track where I need to be and when, so I am planning on putting in all of my class times before the semester begins. If your professor uploads the syllabus early, take some time to jot down any assignment due dates. I do this in a physical planner, and I always feel better when I start the semester knowing where I need to be and when. 

    One of the best parts of winter break is the joy of not worrying about having to do work, but completing these small tasks can make a big difference when syllabus week ends and reality kicks in. These are perfect to do while watching a movie, hanging out with family, and even provide a great excuse to go to your favorite hometown coffee spot with friends! 

     

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  • School, Job, Internship: Finding time for it all

    by Elise Aguerrevere

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    Finding time for an internship or job can seem impossible while trying to get used to a new course load of challenging classes. Whether you need a somewhat steady income to pay your bills or just some extra cash for going out on the weekends, most college students find themselves searching for a job at some point throughout their four years at school. Plus, fall and spring term internships are just as plentiful as summer internships now. Although it may seem like you could never find the time to balance these opportunities with your class schedule, employers can be understanding and will often put your academics first. It’s all about finding the right fit for you. 

    Just the thought of having to find a job is daunting to many students. Thankfully, most universities have a career center that is there to help you find job and internship listings. They can direct you to on-campus positions that fit with your class schedule. Some on-campus jobs even pay for your meal plan or housing on top of your salary. On-campus jobs are a great way to make some money and build your resume while still staying in touch with your academics as they are not allowed to schedule you to work during your classes. 

    Internships can be more tricky to balance with classes as they can often take up more time than an average part-time job. Getting creative with your schedule can help. You could try to schedule all of your classes in the mornings or only on certain days of the week so that you can better fit those internship hours into your schedule. Another option is to consider taking a class or two online. Often times online classes are not as intense as in person ones and allow you some flexibility on when you complete assignments. Now that you have a few extra hours where you do not have to be on campus for class, you can put those hours into your internship.

    It is all about finding what works best for you. Being honest and upfront with your employer about how you are doing in school is also important. They will most often prefer that you do well in your classes than overwhelm yourself at work. If you find yourself falling behind in school, speak with your boss and maybe ask if you can take an afternoon off to study for that exam you have coming up. They can be more understanding than you think. 

    At the end of the day, balancing your academics with work or an internship is all about time management. You have to find what works best for your schedule and never forget that your studies should always come first. 

     

     
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  • Increase Your Productivity by Taking Things One Day at a Time

    by Sarah Ambuehl

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    Imagine having enough time in each of your days to complete everything you needed to accomplish. I have found with a little bit of planning, this is possible! There is always something that you can be doing as a student whether it be homework, studying, going to organization meetings on campus, laundry, or even making food for yourself. With all of these lingering obligations it can feel extremely overwhelming. Here are three ideas to help you avoid feeling too busy to function.

    Plan out your semester

    First things first, make sure to buy a planner at the beginning of the year. A planner can help you to keep track of life’s responsibilities. When beginning the semester, I always write down my class schedule for each day so I can record assignments, exams, and whatever else that was mentioned in class. Next, I will go through my syllabus and write down set dates of assignments or quizzes the professor has listed which helps to prepare for what is coming! 

    Once your planner is ready to go, make sure to utilize it. I color code each of my classes using colored pens and highlight things I need to go to such as work or events. Doing this helps me see what’s going on at a quick glance. 

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  • Lessons Learned as a College Student-Athlete

    by Brad Robison

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    A college student’s schedule fills quickly with classes, homework, studying, and more. Not much time is left for extracurriculars, so students have to be selective when it comes to how they spend any extra time they’re left with. While most students choose to spend these small amounts of time taking on new hobbies, joining clubs, or maybe even partying, I don’t exactly have the luxury to fully embrace some of these opportunities. I decided at a young age to commit myself to athletics and after many years of hard work, I accomplished my goal of becoming a student-athlete by being fortunate enough to join my university’s NCAA water polo team. 

    As a high school student-athlete my days were long and filled with morning practice, classes, afternoon practice, plus each day’s homework and studying. I thought this would prepare me for the brutality of being a student-athlete in college, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In college, my schedule is ever-changing with different times for morning swims and lift sessions, classes, and travelling to games almost anywhere in the state on any given day. It makes the routine I had in high school seem almost comfy. To be honest, sometimes it gets overwhelming trying to plan ahead which days to sleep in, when I have assignments, and all the little things in-between. However, it is days like these when I know that I am able to make the most out of my experiences and grow as a student, athlete, and person. I have learned a lot of lessons from athletics and want to encourage those considering the same by sharing a few.

    Time Management

    Possibly the most valuable skill as a college student, budgeting time has become second nature to me. For example, I have found that I am my most productive during the early mornings when my brain is fresh and clear and before the fatigue from afternoon practices set in. Additionally, I have learned how important it is to be productive during the small gaps in my schedule so that my work is more spread out and doesn’t need to be done in one long sitting.

    Discipline and Sacrifice

    Being disciplined is no doubt the most difficult task to exhibit while in college. With there being an endless amount of distractions each week, it is almost shocking that students are able to get anything done at all. Being a student-athlete has taught me that no matter how convenient it would be to skip class and take a nap or how tempting a party the night before a game may be, if I take a minute to contemplate my goals both academically and athletically, I am able to make the right decision and go to class or go to bed early so that I am well-rested for the next day.

    Living a Balanced Lifestyle

    Living a balanced life is, in my opinion, one of the keys for making the most of the opportunities given to you and is different for every person based on their personality and goals. For me, being a student-athlete provides great balance to my life as it compels me to eat healthy, exercise consistently, and allows for time to spend engaging with my peers.

    Friendship and Teamwork

    Perhaps the most cliché thing an athlete would say is how much they value the friendships they’ve been able to make through their sport. And although it’s common to hear, it’s also true. Being a member of a team instantly makes you a part of this giant new family that shares all the experiences, both high and low, that you go through, resulting in unbreakable bonds that endure throughout college.

    Although the extra baggage of being a student athlete does interfere with some of the more typical college activities, the benefits taken away have far outweighed all of the other opportunities I may have missed out on as a college student. Using these skills, I am able to make the most of every opportunity before me and be the most productive, healthy, and happy version of myself. If you are considering participating in a sport in college, whether it is for your school’s team, club team, or even intramurals, I highly encourage to do so because there are benefits that come from being part of athletics.

     

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  • Student-Approved Secrets to Managing Your Time Effectively

    by Alana Castle

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    Close your eyes and picture this: it’s the night before your Chemistry midterm and you have yet to study. You know that you are unprepared for the exam, but you have been too busy cramming to finish a 10 page paper for your Global Studies class to review the material. When you finally submit your paper, minutes before the deadline, you are exhausted and fall asleep on top of your Chemistry textbook. A week later, you get your grades back and find out that you received a D on your midterm and a C on your paper. 

    If you are like most college students, this scenario likely feels all too familiar. And, if you’re me, it reminds you of the time this actually happened to you during your first semester of freshman year. Regardless as to whether you’ve been there once or twice in your college career or find yourself in this position regularly, there are ways that you can escape the black hole of ineffective time management. So sit down, grab a coffee or a snack, and allot yourself 10 minutes to read this blog because I am going to share with you some secrets that I have learned that can help you make the most of your time!

    Schedule, schedule, schedule! 

    The reason time management becomes an issue for most college students is because having the freedom to make your own schedule often results in no schedule at all. I have learned that planning out my days is vital to my success as a student. By giving everything in your schedule—no matter how small—a deadline, you’re actually freeing up time for other things. I have found that sitting down each evening and writing out my obligations and assignments for the next day has helped me manage my time effectively. Whether you use an agenda, online calendar, or the reminder feature on your phone, creating a game-plan for your day will keep you motivated and on track. Nothing motivates me more than waking up knowing exactly where I need to start.

    Hold yourself accountable!

    Planning out what you need to do each day doesn’t always mean that all of your responsibilities will be accomplished. The secret to scheduling is learning to hold yourself accountable to your plan. Also, keep in mind that this does not mean that you cannot be flexible, but it does mean that, if you said you were going to study between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., you actually sit down and do it. Maximize your productivity in those two hours you allotted yourself by minimizing your distractions. Put electronic devices down or away and find an environment that fits your specific needs. If that means finding somewhere quiet in order to focus, or sitting outside because the fresh air boosts your mood, do exactly that!

    Find time for what is most important—YOU!

    The aspect of scheduling and accountability that seems to scare most college students is the misconception that there will be no time left for yourself. The beauty of a schedule is that you are able to arrange time for what is most important—your physical and mental well-being! I know that it can be all too easy to devote every waking moment you have to school and work. But studying all the time often leaves you feeling unmotivated, unhappy, and burnt out. When you create your agenda, think about what brings you joy. For me, that is time to go for a run, practice yoga, grab dinner with friends, or visit one of my favorite art museums. Doing this may seem counter-intuitive, but by giving yourself a break, you are setting yourself up for success. You will be able to tackle things more effectively if you are physically rested and mentally rejuvenated!

    I can thankfully inform you that, although I may not be able to retake that freshman year Chemistry midterm or rewrite the Global Studies paper, my academic performance has since improved immensely by learning how to manage my time effectively. The next time you feel swamped, take some time to implement these student-approved secrets into your daily life. Just 10 minutes a night can help you to make the most of your time and take back the control of your personal, professional, and academic success!

     

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