If you are a high school student looking forward to college, applying to college or a student in college already, this post is for you. A few months ago I got a chance to join the Her Campus Blogger Network, which is a networking site for high school and college bloggers. They have grown quite a bit now and on May 19th published their first Her Campus Guide to College Life! I decided not to wait too long and purchased my copy on Kindleand can now read it on the go as I’ve been going for more compact ways of carrying my books and notes throughout the day.
The book covers everything from academics to relationships to safety to instructor communication and is an invaluable introduction to everyday college life. I only wish I read it two years ago as a freshman, it would have made things so much easier!
My two favorite sections were Landing Jobs and Internships and Study Abroad, as the two have been my main focus in life these past few months. When I just began thinking about looking for a job in my field, I didn’t really know where to start. These chapters give a very nice and complete overview of things to consider and to search for.
All in all Her Campus Guide to College Life is definitely worth a read whether you are a high school or a college student and want to get the full college experience.
Have you read this guide? What other similar books can you recommend for fellow students?
It looks like I’m getting back into the groove, I’m feeling some academic-blogging inspiration! Hope everyone has been having a fabulous time! For a little update on my life here, things have been pretty stale except for one very important thing: I applied for a Study Abroad program and am impatiently (as in checking my application even though I know nothing has changed) waiting for an answer, which should have been emailed to me starting on Saturday. I won’t go into too much detail now as I would like a firm answer first, but beware and prepare for a ton of study-abroad related posts even if I don’t get in! In other news, I’ll be going to Europe this summer: first to visit my family in Russia and then on a crazy Eurotrip with some random dude (okay, boyfriend) all over Germany, then Amsterdam, London and Dublin. I’ll be sure to visit all university campuses I can!
**Also, feel free to follow my personal Instagram account, as I’ve been updating it more often now. I won’t publish anything blog-related on it yet but if you’re interested in the slightly lame details of my life, here’s your cue!
Here on the west coast, the quarter is only half-way through and midterms are in full force. I’ve taken two already and they went alright, but the one that’s coming up, Statistics, is going to kick my butt. That’s why I readily accepted some of my classmates’ invitation to form a study group – and found it to be one of the most valuable study activities.
1. You can teach people what you know
-Which definitely helps with understanding concepts for yourself. Once you are able to explain them to someone else (correctly), you got ’em!
2. Discussion can bear fruit
-Okay, maybe not literally unless you bring an apple with you, but by combining your knowledge you can figure out answers to problems you wouldn’t been able to get on your own!
3. Split the work
-Of course, knowledge comes with great work. But if you are in a group, you can split it and get things done much faster. Be careful though and make sure that you know how it’s done in order to be able to do it on a test.
4. Make friends
-Here comes the obvious cheesy one. Working in groups is a great opportunity to get to know other people and make friends. Think of yourself as a character in “Community”, except maybe a little less weird and offensive.
~What do you find most helpful in group discussions? What do you like the most about it? What are the drawbacks? Share in the comments!~
P.S. Here is a picture of a very pleased dog from my most recent camping trip.
First of all, some personal news: I just got a wonderful internship at butter LONDON makeup company based here in Seattle. Super pumped about that. Also, planning a super awesome trip to Europe in the summer. Also, I think I’ll die of stress very soon.
I have finally found something to do besides homework and driving back and forth between school and home. Yoga! Gosh, it has so many wonderful benefits that I simply couldn’t not share them with you guys. If you are prone to anxiety of stress, I think this could definitely be your solution! Yoga gives you both great exercise and a way to relax your body and mind, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. After two horribly stressful midterm weeks and a few nervous breakdowns, I decided that I need to get myself together and find an activity to get involved in. Having a minimal amount of money to spare for this stuff, I looked through Groupon for yoga deals in my area. The one I found was 10 classes for $40, as compared to $99 regular price. This was definitely a steal, so I bought it almost without thinking (as always) and headed for the studio.
If you are like me and are worried that you don’t know anything, chances are that you’re not the only one. Yoga is a very accommodating activity, which means that every excercise has variations suitable for your level of skills. Of course, at my first class I tried to do every pose and failed miserably. It must have been kind of funny to the instructor, but she was super sweet and even helped me get into the poses I wanted while everyone else was doing headstands and whatnot. Anyways, I am now on class #7 and have improved immensely. Here are some poses for inspiration:
If you are a stressed student or simply want to try out a couple classes, I’d recommend starting simple. Vinyasa is a flowy type yoga, where you switch poses very gracefully (I have yet to master this skill) and breathe in a special pattern. I also went to a Meditation class, which was a whole other level of experience – I’ve never felt so peaceful in my whole life. This one I’m definitely going back to. The instructor guided me and one other student throughout the entire class, but in such way that it wasn’t distracting. In a way, mediation is supposed to help you let go of all your thoughts and worries and just focus on one thing, like your breath. If you concentrate on how you breathe, you feel like you’re slowly flowing into deep, deep trans. As much as I’d like to say that I was totally enlightened, that didn’t happen. I think I still have 30-40 years to go. If you are looking for a more work-out type yoga, you can test out Power Yoga or Bikram and Hatha. Power yoga focuses on your muscles and core, and you hold a few difficult positions for some time. Bikram or Hatha yoga are types of hot yoga. These are made for you to sweat your worries away in a 104° F room. I usually get crazy light headed, but I think it’s because I don’t drink enough water before the practice.
Anyways, that’s my experience right there. I love having an activity, especially one that helps me feel less stressed and more relaxed, besides school. with only a 15-minute drive, I enjoy a whole hour of peace and some much needed exercise three times a week. If you have such an option – try it out. Yoga classes are often offered by independent studios and fitness centers. Check Groupon for some possible deals in your area. Do you do yoga? What’s your experience? What do you do besides school? Tell us in the comments below!
Also, thank you all for sending me such wonderful messages and questions! I promise I read through all of them and try my best to answer them :c It seems like Tumblr is working much, much better than this site, so I’ll see what I can do. Maybe transferring back will be a good idea. What do you all think?
It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything, and the reason for that is thousands of pages of homework, reading and life happenings. As a treat, I present to you all more planner templates and some Etsy news!
Sometime in December my genius boyfriend and I came up with some simple templates for DIY organizer type things. They’re not exactly planners, but can definitely be used for mapping out day-to-day activities, checklists and even some class specific things (see below). I’ve posted the weekly homework planning sheet in monochrome colors here.
My little sister (Grade 7) and I both tested it for a few days and decided that the best use of this sheet would be either as a Study Guide template for tests or perhaps as a place to organize all notes at the end of the class. I am still a strong supporter of taking lots of messy notes in class, but at the end of the day when you review everything, this sheet could be a good place to organize everything you wrote down earlier. Put in a binder and you’ll have a nice collection for review! If you are looking for some more fun/colorful versions, it’s all in the Etsy Shop!
P.S. Use the coupon code STUDYFUN before Friday, February 26th to receive 50% discount on these organizer friends!
P.P.S. We also have some updates on the sidebar – please welcome Karl from Studying Smart! Karl has a study blog as well, and it’s very impressive how much he has developed it in the last few weeks. Follow him and share the love!
These last couple of weeks have been homework-free for me. As much as I’d like to think that it’s because I did it all in advance, that’s not true. I’ve been slacking off quite a lot, and the 50-page articles that need to be read are finally catching up with me. After calculating how much time I need to read through everything carefully I realized it may be physically impossible after such a long break. So I figured now is the time to learn about some speed reading techniques and share them with you guys.
Speed reading: what is it and how is it learned?
I can’t how many times I’ve tried skimming through long texts, thinking I’m a pro at speed reading and not understanding why it’s so hard for others to learn. Well, it turned out I wasn’t speed reading at all – I was just looking through words without comprehending what they said, and in the end I didn’t remember anything. I’ll tell you right off the bat that speed reading is a science, and is not easily conquered. It takes knowledge of technique and lots, lots of practice. So there are a couple components to speed reading that need to be mastered: getting rid of sub-vocalization, reading in chunks and getting the big picture. These are the simplest terms I could come up with, but there are tons of articles that talk about it in more detail (see links at the end).
1. Getting the big picture
When starting to speed read the text, it’s important to know what the text is about. Spend a couple minutes looking and thinking about the title, some headings, keywords and perhaps footnotes. This will help you get the gist of the main idea and put things together when you start to speed read the text. Jotting down some notes when you get to an important idea is something to consider as well – remembering the material after speed reading it may be incredibly difficult.
This is not the same as chunking to memorize things, but the general idea is the same – group words together to get through them faster. This also helps with not vocalizing them out loud, by the way, so these two things kind of help each other. If we read word by word and try to get the meaning of each one of them, we won’t get through the text even if we tried. But chunking those words into phrases and looking at the general idea works a bit better.
When we read (and as you are reading now), we tend to pronounce every word in our head. Read this now, are you hearing your mind saying these words out loud? Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. The deal with sub-vocalization is that it slows us down immensely, and more often than not doesn’t even help with comprehending the material. To get started of the righteous path to speed reading, we need to get rid of that little voice.
It’s important to remember, though, that you can’t speed read through every text. Some texts, like novels and poetry, are not made to be skimmed through. I found that this technique works wonderfully with scientific article – the headings and conclusions are pretty clear to find and understand, and they are all structured pretty much the same way so I know where to look for what I need.
Here are those articles about speed reading I promised earlier:
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Hey guys! I wanted to give you a quick update on my love for le filofax. The one I have is The Original Personal Organizer in Navy, you can read more about it here. I love, love, love how wonderful it is and how well it’s been working for me these last few weeks.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about getting to college, so if you are a high school student preparing for this absolutely crazy application/SAT’s/Admission Essays period I hope this may be of some help to you. The key is to start early and have some kind of idea before you start, hence why I’m posting this now. I’ve been getting tons and tons of questions about studying for the SAT and ACT, tips for writing the best essay, what classes to take beforehand, grades, etc., so I’ll just go over each one one by one. (See some helpful links below!)
The obvious thing about receiving grades in high school is that they need to be good. The not-so-obvious is that they are not the most important aspect of your career. Although most university look at your academic GPA, the new “holistic review” idea is also considering how challenging and diverse your courses were, what you have going on in the extracurriculars are and some personal circumstances if you mentioned those in your essay. I know someone whose parents were getting a divorce in the middle of her junior year. The poor girl was affected so much that her grades fell way below average. Next year, however, she was able to bring them back up and explain in her personal essay what had happened. So unless you are applying to the top Ivy League type schools, you do not have to have a perfect GPA.
I cannot begin telling you how many people began taking their SAT’s in the fall of their senior year and were freaking out about not getting them back in time. So please start studying for these early! I was lucky enough to take a prep course through Princeton Review (expensive, but worth it! My cumulative score increased by 400 points!), which started in the beginning of my junior year. Once I took it and did as well as I could on the test, I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. However, my trouble was that I couldn’t decide which test to study for – ACT or SAT. ACT is a more of a knowledge-based test, where you are actually tested on what you already know. The SAT doesn’t really go too deep into the material, and essentially everything depends on your attention span and how many practice tests you’ve taken. I took both tests (it doesn’t hurt to try them both!) several times and simply submitted my best scores to the university. It worked out fine and I got the scores I wanted!
Nowadays most colleges pay so much attention to extracurriculars that it almost feels like they’re more important than grades. These include school clubs, sports, leadership, hobbies, volunteering, jobs, internships, family duties, etc. Basically, whatever you’re doing outside of school counts as an extracurricular activity. It’s important to stick to few things for a longer period of time than trying out this and that for a month or two. I feel like I had a pretty good set of out-of-school things going on, such as volunteering at the Red Cross for a few years, working at a child care facility, being a secretary/treasurer and member of French Honor Society as well as a member of the National Honor Society, and taking a whole bunch of other classes that weren’t associated with school. I feel like anything you can show a passion and dedication to would work fabulously – universities want people who will stick around for some time and work hard.
Short answer: take them. Long answer: take as many as you can, but don’t overload yourself with craziness. Over my high school career, I took 5 AP classes: US History, French, English, Statistics and another French class. It was tough, but manageable as long as I didn’t procrastinate. What ended up happening is I entered college with 20 credits, which would have cost me some $17,000…! Not only that, but I was also more prepared for university work load than I would have been if I took all the regular high school classes. AP and Honors classes require a lot more work and are a bit harder, I agree, but they are so worth it. I only wish I took more of them in school!
Oh, this is the worst part. How do you actually promote yourself? How do you tell colleges, “Pick me, pick me!!!” without sounding arrogant, pathetic or desperate? Personal essays require a lot of work. It’s not something you can sit down, write and submit in one evening. Make sure to find someone to read over your essay. Actually, as many people as possible. Be honest and write from your heart – do not try to guess what the admissions people are looking for. You don’t have to think of something heroic you’ve done or make something up to make them feel bad – just write what’s on your mind and use a lot of descriptions.
By the way, my college essay was ridiculously cheesy. I wrote about my German friend coming to my house in Russia and how my friends tried to speak English to her and how it all totally changed my life. Wow, it sounds dorky even now. But I think it was the way I wrote it and conveyed my feelings about the situation that really worked. I got some help from my parents, English teachers, even family friends, and hearing their opinions was invaluable. This is where I would like to direct you guys to my good friend Jacqueline from Nitty-Gritty English, who talks about writing tips for reluctant writers. If you get stuck on your essay (or any essay for that matter!), go take a look at her blog – there will definitely be something that can help you.
Last but not least, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to talk to your counselor and advisers about choosing and applying to a university. They are the best people that can tell you about studying there, all of opportunities you’ll get, living conditions, etc. They can even help you with your admissions process, getting through that essay or maybe some unique application problem you’re having. Go and talk to any adviser. If not to ask questions, but to talk to her/him and introduce yourself.
Alright, sorry about the long rant! Let me know if you have any questions or concerns below in the comments, email or Tumblr! I’d love to help out!