Education

fall supplies 2014

‘Tis the season for going back to school, and we all know what that means: new school supplies. Start your semester off on the right foot with these handy notebooks, planners, and tools. Don’t start your new classes without these seven necessities:

1. Big Monthly Planner – A big calendar made for big plans and big dreams. Mark all of your important dates, and never miss a meeting, class, or event again.

2. Thought Cloud Sticky Notes – Have a brilliant idea? Write it down! Don’t want to forget something brilliant your teacher said? Note it.

3. Moleskine Classic Notebook – Take notes, write down your to-do’s, and jot down your ideas and accomplishments.

4. Sharpie Chisel Assorted 8 Pack – When you want to make a statement, do so in a big and colorful way. Sharpies are perfect for labeling, notes, and crossing things off of your to-do list!

5. Pencil Case – A durable pencil case will hold your statement Sharpies, writing tools, school ID, and anything else you need for class. We like the handle at the end for easy access from your backpack.

6. Camelbak Water Bottle – You all know very well that water is incredibly important. Stay hydrated throughout your classes, sports practices, and after-school clubs with a reusable water bottle.

7. Lime Green Streamer Binder – Your backpack can get pretty packed. Avoid wasting time searching for specific class binders and just assign patterns and colors to each class. This binder definitely stands out.

Image: Laiwan Ng, Flickr (edited)

EducationSkills

Summer has just started and most of you are probably too busy soaking up the sun to think about your first semester of college. But everyone else? Well, if you’re anything like I was the summer before my freshman year, then every other thought that you have is about college.

Is that a good thing? Yes!

It’s good that you’re thinking about college because, before you know it, you’ll be moving in to your dorm room and your life as a college freshman will begin. But don’t be afraid! While college can seem intimidating, it’s not as scary as you think it is. Once you get settled into your room, explore your campus, and get the hang of where all of your classes are, your university won’t feel like home just yet but it’ll be a lot more familiar.

If you want your campus to start to feel like your home away from home, then getting involved is the best way to go about making that happen. You’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to get involved if you’re the new kid on campus. Well, for starters, don’t think that just because you’re new means you can’t get involved. All of the clubs and organizations at your college will be happy to have you because that’s part of what makes college college. Outside of academics, universities thrive on student-run organizations and activities. So, to make the best of your college experience, put yourself out there and become a part of your collegiate community.

Not sure how to do that? That’s okay!

Here are a few tips on how to get involved on your campus:

Join Clubs

Most colleges dedicate a day or even a whole week to showcasing the different kinds of clubs and organizations on campus. Whether your campus has more than forty clubs or less than twenty, make sure you visit as many club/organization tables during your school’s activities fair as you can. Learn about each club and organization by talking to the people at each station, and if you like what they’re about, sign up! Clubs are a great way to submerge yourself into the community and to make new friends.

Look at the Event Calendar

As I said before, universities thrive on student-run organizations and activities. If there are any events or activities happening, chances are students were behind making them happen. Usually there are event calendars posted around campus and maybe even on the school website. Wherever it may be for you, make a note of when things are happening. Is a local band performing in the student community center? Is there a comedian coming to campus? A lot of college events are fun and more importantly free! Don’t miss out on your chance to attend some of them, or better yet, volunteer to work the event. This brings me to my next tip.

Volunteer

If you volunteered at a nursing home every week or helped clean up your neighborhood while you were in high school, that’s great! If you didn’t do a whole lot of volunteering, don’t fret. You still have a chance to get involved with different volunteering organizations. Penn State has an organization that helps raise money for kids with pediatric cancer called THON. Your campus might have a similar organization so ask around to find out. If you’re not into fundraising, see if your campus is affiliated with Habitat For Humanity or any other non-profit organization. If they are, this is your opportunity to get involved with some of them. Just like clubs, volunteering is a great way to network and to become a part of your campus.

Talk to People

Freshmen Orientation is the perfect time to make connections. Your orientation leaders are there to help you, and the great thing about that is – they’re sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They’ve been where you are and know the ins and outs of college and how to get involved. Ask them questions about their college experience and how they went about making the campus their home away from home.

These are just a few tips to get you started on getting involved on your college campus. Trust me, once you find your place at your university, navigating the collegiate world will get easier and, before you know it, you’ll no longer feel like the new kid.

Photo courtesy of Eric E Johnson

EducationSkills

Finals are always stressful, especially when they fall right before the winter holiday. That means that while you are preparing for finals, you are also trying to arrange your trip home, pack up your bags, and shop for holiday gifts. It makes sense that on top of all these endless ‘to-dos,’ exams seem like an especially daunting task. Keep these in mind as you prepare for your winter finals…

1. Keep a Clean Work Space

Having an organized desk helps you focus better on the task at hand rather than being distracted by the clutter around you. Take one minute before each study session to throw away trash, organize pens and pencils, and remove unnecessary books or papers that you will not need for the next hour.

2. Time Yourself

Keep track of how much time you spend sitting and staring at a book or screen. It is better to concentrate for smaller increments of time if it helps you stay on track.

3. Keep a Calendar Nearby

Try hanging a poster up on your wall and mark the day finals end with a star or circle. Having a visual countdown could help keep you optimistic and concentrated on the goal!

4. Incentivize

In the world of Netflix/Facebook/Twitter/iTunes, it can be hard to stay focused while studying. To combat these temptations, give yourself small rewards along the way. For example, set a timer for two hours and at the end of that time, reward yourself with a piece of candy, a walk outside, a stretch break, or a phone call with a friend. You can also try a long-term incentive by choosing a larger reward and requiring yourself to study for an hour every day for a month. At the end of the month you are allowed to receive the reward if you have met the requirements.

5. Stay Hydrated and Snack Smartly

These tricks sound too simple to be true but they are the easiest ways to keep alert and awake. While it is easy to grab a bag of chips and a soda, the best way to stay full and hydrated is by eating fruits or veggies and slurping down H20!

6. Work at Your Desk

If you live in a small dorm room, avoid combining your private space with your work space. Do not sit on your bed while doing work, as this leads to distractions and a nap you did not see coming. If you do not have a desk in your room, head over to the library or work at your dining room table. Designating a work space will help keep you on track.

Good luck with your exams!