EducationSkills

Finals are among us. For those in college, this means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming. For those in high school, this also means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming… There’s just so much to do! Homework, extra credit, paper outlines, group projects. Besides that, part time jobs, internships, after school activities. And before all of those, sleeping and eating! There’s a lot that seems to be happening right now, but there are some ways to deal with all the havoc that is December!

Prioritize.

Always do what you need to do first. Which one comes first: the big thesis paper or that extra credit project? Watering your plants or giving yourself a shower? Going to a club meeting or studying for an exam for that really tough teacher? Always do what is important, and don’t bother with the small stuff during this time crunch. The little things can be slipped in, but devoting large chunks of time to a 10 page paper is an efficient way of getting ideas out, onto a document, and out of the way. The little things you can do as mini breaks in between. Get up to stretch and do a 10 minute yoga pose for exercise, but do this between paragraph four and five of your essay. Moderate and prioritize.

Eat and sleep.

My university’s labs are open 24 hours during finals. In the early 3­-5am hours, students can be seen sleeping at their desk with the screen doing a five hour export. Other students can be seen with three empty cups of coffee next to their sewing machines with half finished shirts and dresses. But whether you’re in art school, business school, or high school, you need to get your sleep and your nutrients! You and a friend can do food­runs. Someone runs out to get dinner for both of you, then you trade and do the same for lunch. Do this for fabric material, photo paper, paint, ink, printer paper. One person can do that half-hour-run to Staples and the other person can do that half-hour run to the cafeteria. Roommates, workshop partners, lab buddies, you name it. It is the time to keep your body functioning during a time when there isn’t enough time.

Know your limits.

Alright. You didn’t sleep in the last 24 hours, and the night before, you only slept
three hours. Your hands are shaking from too much caffeine, and for some reason the words on the
screen are starting to move on their own. You have a dull headache that has turned into nauseousness and your neck is cramped. You haven’t seen daylight in two days. It’s time to stop. Yeah, that presentation is important and people are counting on you. Sure, that exam is 50% of your grade. But what’s the point if you’re going to pass out in front of your professor or wake up to the exam sheet stuck to your cheek? Sometimes enough is enough and there’s only so much you can do. That’s when you take a breather, take a walk, take a shower, take a break.

Dealing with everything is crazy. You and everyone around you are in high gear. Once
you figure out all you need to do, you’ll do them. Keep yourself going with enough sleep and
food. Sometimes, you have to just put everything down. Take it easy and good luck!

Image: TMAB2003

EducationSkills

November is the start of many things: cold weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and the holidays. However, while department store managers and baristas at Starbucks are preparing for the season, students are preparing for a different beast entirely. Exams are what shortly follow the month of November, so this month is a vital one in getting a few last good grades in before finals.

If you are one of the unlucky souls in desperate need of a few more A’s in a class, here are some ways to study for upcoming tests and exams:

1. Clear your mind and avoid multitasking

Cluttering your mind with other issues is probably one of the worst ways to study; in order to retain information you need to focus on that specific subject. Thus, multitasking is a terrible idea when studying. You do not need to have tabs open for other classes or for Facebook. Actually, if you have trouble with controlling yourself in terms of social media, websites like Cold Turkey is an amazing way to block social media temporarily, allowing yourself time to focus on studying.

2. Drink water and snack healthily

When studying, drinking water and eating healthy can play a vital role in retaining information. For example, eating slow carbohydrates, such as nuts, will give you a steady stream of energy and release of serotonin to keep you up and happy while studying. Whereas if you were to consume energy-infused foods and drinks, you will have a temporary rush of energy, but any information looked at during the crash will be lost to the intense desire to sleep. Also, prepare your snacks ahead of time to avoid wandering from the desk – you might never get back to studying.

3. Chew mint gum when studying and when testing

Psychologists have found that chewing mint gum while studying and testing correlates positively with good test scores. It allows your brain to make connections and help you remember retained information better. Therefore, it might be to your benefit to chew a stick of mint gum while studying for you next test and during the test itself.

4. Break up your study sessions, DO NOT CRAM!

MIT’s website shows that cramming can actually cause you to lose information and that the best way to study is in 20-50 minute intervals and to take 5-10 minute breaks in between these intervals. This allows your brain to absorb the information you just read without being overwhelmed.

5. If you are going to listen to music while studying, make it classical or instrumental

Everyone knows of the idea that playing classical music to an infant can increase the child’s potentiality of intelligence, and this idea still applies to students and young adults today. Studies show that classical music increases cognition and helps to remember data and material. However, classical music is not digestible by everyone. Hence, listen to some instrumental music, but make sure that it is instrumental music you are familiar with; if I try to listen to new music when I study, I get too distracted by the new melody and lyrics that I am listening to.

What are your best study tips?

Image: Anita Hart

CultureEducation

When it comes to voicing opinions these days, our generation has become paramount in articulating difficult issues facing the world. However, due to corrupt and old-fashioned politics, there has been an increase in voter apathy and decline in voter turnout. With fallacious advertisements and discouraging structures like the Electoral College, young people today do not see the importance of voting anymore – oftentimes, they underestimate the power of their votes.

With the midterm elections this week, I hope to inspire a few more people to go out and make their opinions matter. For example, say you prefer ideology that is kinder to those of lower classes but you decide not to vote. Well, for the past few decades, statistics show that those of more affluent households have dominated the voting circuit, and though some of them may vote alongside your ideals, it is most likely that a large majority will not. Go out and stand up for your principles; no one else will.

For those of you who are like my roommate in the fact that you look at a newspaper and immediately shut down: do not be afraid to learn about the tough issues. My roommate justifies her desire to not vote through the fact that politics panics her; she does not understand nor does she wish to comprehend the bureaucratic system our country exhibits. And although I respect her opinion on this matter, this troubles me because people like this live in this country too, and it is vital to care about your country’s politics. What if you do not vote purely because you did not care to look at the platforms, and an abominable law is passed that affects your life negatively? Take the time to educate yourself on the candidates’ platforms and history as politicians so that you can make the best choice for yourself. Just because you do not vote does not mean that the political decisions made post-election do not affect you.

It is astounding how younger generations today are making films, writing songs, and creating art that explore tons of the social and economic concerns dealt with today, and still feel completely apathetic toward voting. For those of you on the fence about voting this week, your voice should not be reserved only to the creative ventures you have. Each candidate specializes in issues that cater to different demographics, so please look into them and discover what you need out of the American political system. Your opinions and beliefs are preeminent in a time struggling to situate itself with rising issues, therefore, take advantage of the chance you are given to express your beliefs.

To get started, check out these useful resources: 

1. Vote Smart: Just the Facts

2. On the Issues: Every Political Leader on Every Issue

Image: Theresa Thompson

EducationSkills

Midterms are right around the corner already and juggling studying with regular coursework can be difficult. Here are some tricks to balancing and preparing to help you do your best when these scary exams roll your way.

1. Don’t Procrastinate

If you have work assigned to you, take care of it as soon as you possibly can. Waiting may seem like a good idea at the time, but if you wait too long you’ll have more work added on, and before you know it you’ll have a huge pile of work to get done. By doing assignments at the earliest possible date you prevent the opportunity for excess stress to be created.

2. Think Ahead

If you know that an exam is coming up, don’t wait until the last minute to make a study guide or notecards. Instead, create your study materials as soon as you know what is going to be on the exam so when it does come to study time, all you have to focus on is that!

3. Know Your Study Techniques

While some people do well with written out study guides and notecards, others do well by repeating information aloud. Experiment with different study techniques in order to find the one that works best for you so you can have an easier time when the cramming comes around.

4. Ask a Friend

Don’t hesitate to ask a friend for help! Even having a partner-in-crime to go to the library with can motivate you to take the time to study and focus. If you see someone else studying hard, you’ll be more likely to do so yourself. Also, having someone to quiz you or explain different topics and concepts can ease the studying process and take a huge weight off your chest.

5. Plan Your Time

If you want to take time to rest or if you know you have a class that will take up a lot of time, plan it out. Planning out your day and managing your time is one of the most important things when it comes to preparing for midterm exams. If you don’t stay organized and scheduled, it can be difficult to juggle everything that gets thrown at you along with your daily routine.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to take breaks and keep from stressing yourself out. Getting the proper amount of sleep and relaxation is just as important in order to do well on these exams.

How do you prepare for midterms? Good luck!

Image: Jack Amick