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Cool (and Helpful) Study Gadgets

August 29, 2011

Cool (and Helpful) Study Gadgets

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Now that summer is coming to an end and the fall semester is underway, you might be wondering if there's anything you can do to make studying for your classes easier. While money can't buy everything, it can buy you a couple of cool study-related gadgets.

First off are smartpens like the Livescribe Echo. These babies let you record entire lectures and go straight to a specific portion just by tapping a word from your notes! Just think how much easier your life would be if you could actually focus on listening to the lecture the first time around instead of frantically scribbling notes to make sure you don't miss anything.

If you're like me and find music helps you concentrate while studying, consider buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. How many times have you been forced to study in a crowded room and don't have access to somewhere quieter? If the answer is “Too many,” invest in a pair immediately. Even if you don't listen to music while studying, you can use the device to replay a lecture or listen to a study aid you found online.

Finally, if you've ever copied a passage from a book word-for-word into your notes and ended up with a cramped hand, the portable wand scanner is for you. Not only does this snazzy gadget prevent you from having to lug a scanner to class, it's pretty easy to use: All you do is wave it over the page you want and hook it up to your computer using a USB cable. Just like magic, everything you scanned is now on your computer! The VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand is even compatible with SD cards – ta da!

So, while the Studybot has yet to be invented to do all your studying for you, these gadgets can make studying a lot less painful.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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Keeping First Day Jitters in Check

August 30, 2011

Keeping First Day Jitters in Check

by Jessica Seals

On my first day back at school, I dreaded having to get up early and go to class despite the fact that I took online classes all summer. I was, however, quite confident: This is my senior year and being nervous never crossed my mind but I did encounter several freshmen who were suffering from first day jitters.

On Monday morning, I noticed several freshmen who relied on maps or help from fellow freshmen in order to find their way around campus. I was even stopped and asked for directions by timid students who seemed very overwhelmed. I even talked to my roommate, who is a freshmen, the night before classes started about the differences between high school and I could tell just how nervous she was about starting school through the concerns she had.

One piece of advice that I would love to give all freshmen is realize you are not alone. I can say with certainty that most other freshmen are just as nervous about starting college as you are. There are probably even sophomores, juniors and seniors who have first day jitters despite the fact that they already have college experience. Once you realize that most students share your feelings, the butterflies in your stomach will not be as active as before.

Another minor piece of advice is to find out where all of your classes are before the first day of classes. Most freshmen have first day jitters because they are afraid that they will get lost or be late. Knowing where you are going beforehand will make finding your class one less thing to worry about.

Being nervous about your first day at college is natural but don’t let it consume you. Prepare at home, ask questions and lean on your fellow students – sharing this experience will bring you closer and help form bonds that will last a lifetime!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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How to Make Friends in College

August 31, 2011

How to Make Friends in College

by Kara Coleman

After high school, you and your friends have to go your separate ways and now you’re faced with the challenge of making new friends. Where do you start?

Get on board. Joining a club or organization will allow you to meet and spend time with other students with whom you share common interests, especially if you live off campus. After I joined Phi Theta Kappa, I met friends that I sometimes hang out with outside of school activities and plan to keep in touch with for years to come. Colleges offer countless opportunities for you to get involved, from Circle K to Baptist Campus Ministries to Student Government Association; if your school has a get on board or recruitment day, go explore your options!

Find study buddies. Who’s your lab partner in biology? Who sits next to you in your favorite class? Sometimes, friendships actually form over homework! I met some of my best college friends after I started working as a tutor for Student Support Services. I got to know the other tutors and several of the students who came to be tutored. I was also able to get help with my Spanish homework from the Spanish tutor, who was a native of Bolivia. She introduced me to other international students and she even came to my pool party last summer and met my family. Even though we tend to gravitate toward people who are most like us, sometimes the best friendships can be with people who are most different.

Look to your roomies and floormates. If you are moving away to college, your roommate could end up being your best bud...but remember that other people live in your dorm, too! When one of my friends moved off to school, she actually became close friends with a girl who lived across the hall from her. My friend ended up transferring to a different school in a different state but she still keeps in touch with that girl!

How did you make friends in college? If you're not there yet, do you think you these tips will help when the time comes?

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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What Teaching Style Works Best for You?

September 1, 2011

What Teaching Style Works Best for You?

by Jacquelene Bennett

We all know that good study habits can make or break your college career but how a professor teaches and conducts a class will also shape your college experience. Large lectures, small classroom discussions or workshop-like environments are all different types of teaching styles that professors employ in their classrooms.

I go to a very small school where there are never more than 25 people in a class so I am used to discussions being an integral part of almost every class I take. My sister, however, goes to Cal State San Bernardino; large lecture halls are the norm here and her classes have anywhere from 30 to 300 people depending on the subject and level.

Classroom discussions are intense: They ensure that every person has done the homework and reading because at any moment, your professor could call on you to discuss the assignment. Larger lecture halls allow for more leeway because there is often very little interaction between the professor and individual students so how hard you prepare for each class depends on your own motivation.

So, what type of teaching style works for you? For me at least, small classroom discussions help me learn best but for my trouble subjects (anything science or math related), lectures tend to be better. What I would recommend for any new college student is to test the educational waters; regardless of where you go to school, you can always find small classes with no more than 25 students that will allow for discussions or classes that are nothing but weekly lectures. Find what works for you and stick to it...your GPA will thank you!

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Dorm Etiquette

September 6, 2011

Dorm Etiquette

by Darci Miller

A big deal is always made about being a good roommate in college. I’ve seen many a list on how not to drive the person you’re forced to live with up a wall but what about proper etiquette for living in a dorm? Being a good neighbor involves an entirely different set of rules than being a good roommate.

For example, try to keep your music down in a dorm room. It’s all well and good if both you and your roommate love heavy bass but unless you’ve cleared it with your entire floor – and sometimes your upstairs and downstairs neighbors as well – it’s good to be courteous and NOT turn it up to 11. I’ve been known to glare mutinously at the wall between my room and my neighbor's as their music is thumping away at 2 a.m.

You’ll also want to respect personal boundaries. Really, don’t use the toilet when your suitemate is using the sink, unless it’s previously agreed upon. It happens. I have personal experience on my side.

Don’t rip down decorations in the halls; someone (like your RA) worked really hard to put them up. Along the same lines, garbage belongs in a garbage can. As much as I love seeing a rotten apple smushed on the floor outside my room (sarcasm, of course), it shouldn’t be there. The same goes for hairballs: Throw yours in your trashcan instead of kicking them into the hall.

Don’t touch other people’s underwear – aka be courteous in the laundry room. It’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll have to move someone’s laundry so you can use their machine but only do so in desperate times. I hate knowing that a stranger was rooting around in my clothes.

It all comes down to being respectful. You don’t have to be Dorm Resident Extraordinaire but thinking about the people living around you is much appreciated by your neighbors and floormates. Unless, of course, you want the girl living next door to you groaning about how obnoxious your music is.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!

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Dealing with Helicopter Parents in College

September 8, 2011

Dealing with Helicopter Parents in College

by Kayla Herrera

When I first left for college, my mother called me every single day for the entire fall semester and half of spring semester. I understood why (I was the first child to ever leave) but when I had issues with the campus newspaper, my parents tried to butt in and fight my arguments for me...from six hours away. Now, as a fourth-year college student, I’m still hearing that I need to get my life together, to stop living day to day and plan the future, to date someone else, to move to a different apartment, et cetera. In the course of four years, nothing has changed.

How do you even begin to deal with helicopter parents like these? The first thing I would recommend is sit them down and talk to them in person. If you can’t find a time over break, do it over Skype. It’s the next best thing to a phone call – even better, actually, because they will be able to see the seriousness in your eyes and body language.

You want to ease into this discussion gently, so start with the positives. Tell them how much you appreciate everything they’ve done for you and how great it is to have them as parents before telling them some changes need to be made. Explain your concerns using clear examples and ask that they do not interrupt you until you’ve stated your case. Then, a discussion can be had. Just stay calm and positive...and don’t get lippy! If your parents are unwilling to bend, then settle for a compromise. Surprise them by suggesting a mature settlement – even then they can't ignore that maybe you have grown up a little.

Unfortunately, I am still trying to make my parents realize I am 21 years old with two jobs, a 15-credit load and a life of my own. The progress is slow but hopefully these tips will help you make your parents realize their little boy or girl is all grown up and they no longer need to hover overhead.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.

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In College? Get Tuned In!

September 8, 2011

In College? Get Tuned In!

by Kara Coleman

Last week, my Intro to Mass Communications teacher told my class that if we want to make a good grade, we need to fully submerge ourselves in the media over the course of the semester. I nodded in agreement but secretly wondered how our generation could possibly be more submerged in the media than we already are!

We were children during the Internet boom of the 1990’s and now, the technology that we grew up with in our homes fits in our pockets. For the majority of our waking hours, we are bombarded with media messages. We have news updates pop up on our computer screens and phones as soon as they happen. We wear t-shirts advertising our favorite brands of clothing. We sing along with song lyrics that are blasted at us over radio airwaves. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election reached out to us through MySpace and Facebook and rebels in Egypt and Libya used Twitter as their primary means of communication earlier this year.

College can be a confusing time, especially for students straight out of high school. Of the thousands of messages we receive each day, how do we decide which ones are worth listening to? I’ve heard people say that college is a time for you to explore all of your options and find yourself but it’s also true that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Head into college knowing what you believe and what’s important to you. As one writer put it, “By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

Be receptive to the messages that come your way. Know whether or not you agree with them and why. Perhaps the most important lesson you will learn in college is how to think for yourself!

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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Bradley Adds Interactive App to Customize Campus Tour Experience

September 9, 2011

Bradley Adds Interactive App to Customize Campus Tour Experience

by Alexis Mattera

It can be difficult for prospective college students and their parents to visit the campuses they’re interested in when classes are in session so instead, tours are often scheduled on weekends or between semesters. Though this may be more convenient, it’s harder for the tour takers to get a true feel for the school they may one day call their alma mater...unless their tour is taking place at Bradley University.

Though colleges have long employed virtual tours, Bradley could be the first to provide a complementary iPad application during in-person campus tours. Jim Ferolo, an associate professor and chair of Bradley’s interactive media department who helped come up with the idea, said the app is meant to give students a fuller sense of what campus life is like if they visit during off-peak hours. In addition to supplementary videos, the app suggests particular spots on campus to see depending on the data (intended majors, extracurricular interests, etc.) users input at the beginning of the tour, all of which are routed to the tour guides’ iPads to best customize each tour. Ferolo said the app is not meant to replace the traditional campus tours at Bradley but his department will track how prospective students use the application so it can be improved – possibly with on-the-fly likes and ratings – down the line.

Sounds pretty cool to us but what do you think? Would you be interested in using an app like Bradley's on a campus tour or would you rather get a feel for a school sans technology?

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Fighting the Freshman 15

September 12, 2011

Fighting the Freshman 15

by Anna Meskishvili

As freshmen, we were all made aware of the “Freshman 15” as an inevitable rite of passage rather than a warning. Since the academic year just began, this is the best time to firmly take a stand against the stereotype.

Staying fit and healthy at school can be a challenge. Hours of classes, homework, extracurricular activities and socializing may leave a very small window of opportunity for a good workout but I have a solution for you: Incorporate all these things into your fitness routine!

Classes vs. Working Out: Many schools offer exercise classes for free with your activity fees – take them! They’re a great way to have a disciplined and complete workout while getting to meet new people.

Homework vs. Working Out: Having trouble concentrating on your notecards in the study lounge? Take them to the treadmill! Nothing makes a five-mile run or countless flights on the StairMaster go by faster than getting your mind off of the burn with some academia.

Extracurriculars vs. Working Out: Don’t know how to get involved? Join an intramural team! They are the perfect way to keep busy and moving while socializing. The skill level is basic and most people do it for the pleasure of the sport, not the thrill of competition.

Socializing vs. Working Out: Find a gym buddy! Go with your roommate or classmate and chat while you’re on the elliptical. It makes the workout fly by and you’re growing a friendship at the same time.

As you can see, there is always time to exercise and I cannot emphasize the benefits of staying fit at college enough: With unlimited dining plans and late nights out, it’s really quite simple to come home on Thanksgiving a pant size larger. Plus, exercising calms you down, gives you energy and makes you feel accomplished. There’s a right regimen for everyone – go ahead and find yours. See you on the track!

Anna Meskishvili is a senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.

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To Charge or Not to Charge?

September 13, 2011

To Charge or Not to Charge?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

“Just charge it.”

I'm willing to bet that you’ve been in a store and heard that phrase. Even if you haven't, you’ve probably been bombarded with letters asking you if you'd like to lower your interest rates, encountered representatives hawking credit cards (and complimentary t-shirts!) on the quad or heard of people who have racked up thousands of dollars in debt from recklessly swiping their plastic.

While handling a credit card involves a lot of responsibility, the good news is that it comes with plenty of perks as well. Citibank, for example, offers a Visa card just for college students and has a system of reward points to boot. Depending on your GPA, you can earn anywhere from 250 to 2,000 ThankYou Points just for doing well in your classes. You also get points for making your payments on time, which is a great incentive not to skip payments or only pay the minimum and accrue unnecessary interest penalties. You even earn five times as many points at restaurants, bookstores and more. So, while textbooks aren't exactly cheap, just remember that you're being partially reimbursed every time you use your credit card to buy them.

In a larger sense, using a credit card responsibly also helps students to establishing a good credit score. The higher this number is, the better your chances are of being accepted for a loan on your dream car or house. Lenders will see that you are not a liability and will be more likely to provide you with the funds needed to reach your goals.

If you're still not sold on getting a credit card, that's okay. There's plenty of time to establish credit after college. For those of you considering a credit card, though, just remember to spend responsibly and make your payments as promptly as possible.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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