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Helpful Study Sites

July 26, 2011

Helpful Study Sites

by Kara Coleman

In this age of technology, we have access to nearly unlimited resources to help us learn. You might want to add these URLs to your favorites list:

Google Scholar. This site is like the original Google, only smarter! You can search for articles on a topic and narrow your search to articles written during a specific time period, or even limit exclusively to federal or state court documents pertaining to your topic. The best part? The links for all articles include citations!

Cool Math.. From math games for kids, to calculus and trig, to money management, there’s a Cool Math page dedicated to almost everything. The site also features handy graphing and scientific calculators and a math dictionary to refresh your memory on terminology you may have forgotten.

Khan Academy.. This free library puts more than 2,400 online videos at your fingertips! Video topics include physics, currency exchange and the French Revolution and there are also practice exercises to help you apply what you’ve learned.

Spark Notes.. Search Spark Notes’ extensive literary database to read summaries of classic books and Shakespearean dramas, including character lists and their roles in the stories. While reading summaries does not replace actually reading the books themselves, reading the summary before you tackle the real thing can help you to better understand the material you’re learning.

Kara Coleman lives in Gadsden, Alabama, where she attends Gadsden State Community College. She received the school’s Outstanding English Student Award two years in a row and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University in August 2011 to study communications with concentration in print journalism. Kara’s writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children’s book author through Big Dif Books. In her spare time, Kara enjoys reading, painting, participating in community theater and pretty much any other form of art.


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Lending a Helping Hand Pays Off

by Shari Williams

Community service is something most of us have done at one point or another. For some high schools, it’s a graduation requirement but I believe serving your community is vital whether it’s mandated or not. The good news for college students is that not only does community service help others but it can also translate into money for school.

One renown program is AmeriCorps. Several colleges and universities take part in this program, providing information and opportunities for students to get involved. Each year, AmeriCorps gives students opportunities to participate in year-long service-learning programs. If a certain amount of community service hours are acquired by the end of the year, the student is granted a stipend.

Another option is the Fulbright Program. Fulbright has an array of grants included in their U.S. Student Program to students who have studied or are studying foreign language, music, business, journalism and public health, to name a few. Fulbright is an opportunity geared more toward soon-to-be or recent college graduates looking for more experience in their fields. Students live outside the U.S. with most expenses paid and full or partial tuition awarded. A special program opportunity that Fulbright offers is the Fulbright-mtvU Awards, which provide four grants to recent graduates studying outside of the country who will conduct research on international music culture. If that sparks your interest, they have many more opportunities to apply for.

Both AmeriCorps and Fulbright are awesome opportunities and are great ways to gain valuable experience. For more information on Americorps or Fulbright, visit www.americorps.gov and US.FulbrightOnline.org, respectively, or contact your college.

Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.


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Finding College Employment ASAP

by Darci Miller

In college, money becomes a legitimate concern. For the most part, parents have taken care of finances until now and unless you’re lucky enough to come from a wealthy family, college is the first time you’re largely on your own financially.

In the weeks leading up to my first semester as a college student, my dad was adamant that I get myself a job. I’d failed in my attempts to get one that summer and was beyond broke. After many a stern talking to, it was decided for me that I’d apply for jobs at my campus’s wellness center because not only was it right next door to the freshman dorms, but it was related to my sports administration major. At least two weeks before even leaving for Miami, my dad told me to get my application in. Right then. At that moment.

I thought that applying for an on-campus job weeks before I even set foot on campus as a student was a bit of overkill, but I listened to him and shot off an application. I got a phone call from them the next day, had an interview set up for a day or two after I arrived and had a job before classes even started.

Getting this job was one of the smartest decisions I (or my dad) made that first year in college and I encourage all of you to follow the same advice. On-campus jobs understand that you’re a student before you’re an employee, so they let you do homework during down time and have very flexible scheduling. Being on campus, they’re conveniently located and often offer the potential for promotions and pay raises. They’re a great way to meet new people and, well, hello spending money!

However, on campus jobs aren’t always easy to get because they’re so in demand. If you’re heading to school for the first time or returning for a new year, start scouting the field and getting applications out within the next few weeks. Employers are always looking for people before the semesters start or during summer/winter breaks, when most students are away. Good luck and happy job hunting!

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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Don’t Play the Grading Guessing Game

by Katie Askew

They may attend different schools, have opposite majors, hail from varied backgrounds and covet diverse career aspirations but the one topic that all college students can agree on is that the college grading system is a lot different than the one they encountered during their high school years. Professors curve tests, weigh assignments differently and may never tell you a single grade until after the final. Unlike me, though, you have someone to lead you in the right direction – away from those grades that aren’t at the beginning of the alphabet.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no “parent view,” “infinite campus” or any other type of online grading database to view daily and check-up on your grades. In college, you might get a professor that will update mid-term and final grades online, but very rarely will professors at a large university (like my school, the University of Minnesota) take the time to update grades – sometimes thousands of them – from the different classes they teach until absolutely necessary. It’s very likely that you’ll never see a letter grade until two weeks after the semester is finished and your final grades are posted...unless you are proactive.

To combat getting a potentially awful shock at the end of the semester, you must never assume you know what your current grade is. Pay attention to the grading scale – some professors will include a breakdown on their syllabi – or simply go to the source. Professors have office hours for a reason, so knock on their doors and start up conversations about your grades. Not only do you score some brownie points with your profs since you gave them some company during office hours (a resource many students do not take advantage of, BTW), but you also have concrete evidence of how hard you need to study for your final.

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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How Do YOU Study?

July 29, 2011

How Do YOU Study?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Have you ever thought about how to make studying less painful or have you just resigned yourself to pulling all-nighters? If you're like me, the idea of all-nighters makes you cringe – how can you expect to ace your test when you're exhausted, let alone absorb pages of complicated course material?

I've had friends, though, who claim that being under pressure motivates them to study like nothing else. If you've honestly found that pulling all-nighters is more effective than studying during the day, then more power to you; for the rest of us, here are some strange but effective study habits to consider next time you have an exam approaching.

Do you have a specific study spot or can you study anywhere? If you're the former, try to pay attention to what characteristics you need in order to be successful. Does soaking up the sun's rays kick your brain into gear like a plant undergoing photosynthesis or does the sunshine just make you daydream? Do you need to constantly change the location of where you study to keep yourself motivated? I have a friend who never studies in the same place for more than an hour because her attention span starts waning.

It seems everyone has an opinion about background noise while studying. Another friend of mine claims she cannot study unless the news is on the background, as it bores her to tears. The news is so boring to her, in fact, that she claims it actually forces her to focus on her course material! Apparently, if she doesn't have the news on, she'll constantly think about other things like what she wants for dinner, what she wants to do on the weekend, etc.

Regardless of whether you can't sit still for more than an hour or need some white noise to get your brain in sync with your textbooks, one thing's for sure: You can't get through college without studying so you might as well make it as tolerable 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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Could Foursquare Be the Next Big Thing on College Campuses?

by Alexis Mattera

It should come as no surprise that the number of higher education institutions with social media presences has skyrocketed over the last few years. Today, 98 percent of colleges are on Facebook, 84 percent are on Twitter and some of these savvy schools are beginning to complement the information shared through these platforms with the geo-social site, Foursquare.

According to a recent study, just 20 percent of campuses have an institutional presence on Foursquare. Though the usage is limited by comparison, officials at the schools using the site are finding it is an effective tool for engaging with students. How? First, a quick breakdown for the uninitiated: Foursquare uses the geo-locator technology built into smartphones and encourages users to “check in” virtually at places they’re visiting in real life, leave notes for future visitors and possibly earn perks (discounts, badges, etc.) for doing so.

While Liz Gross, director of university marketing and communications at the University of Wisconsin at Waukesha, says, “You can’t say ‘10 percent off tuition for checking in,’ or ‘free tuition for the mayor,’” she does believe foursquare allows administrators a direct way “to tap in to student engagement.” Texas A&M is doing it right – the winner of a recent Foursquare scavenger hunt throughout campus earned a 30-percent discount at the school bookstore – and Syracuse University will soon offer a special badge to users checking in at campus venues and could eventually allow students to redeem badges for campus bucks.

Do you think incentivizing students is the best way to engage them or is organic involvement more effective?


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Got Passion?

July 29, 2011

Got Passion?

by Darci Miller

“What is something that you’re passionate about?” Think about it. Come up with an answer.

It was a getting-to-know-you question asked of the participants on my Israel trip at one of our group meetings before our departure. I knew my answer as soon as it was asked – the Olympics, of course – so I settled into my seat and waited for my turn. But the rest of the room was abuzz with worried muttering. The girl next to me leaned over and whispered, “I have no idea what to say.”

I was floored. How could a person not know what they’re passionate about?! But evidently, this is a common problem. As we went around the circle, people’s answers ranged from “my dog” to “having fun” and other – to be frank – lame answers. (Sorry if that’s what you came up with!)

As I’m sure you’re all aware, the “Harry Potter” series just ended with the final movie. Living just outside New York City provided several friends and me with the great opportunity to attend the red carpet premiere. So we decided to do it big, and camped out at Lincoln Center Plaza for four nights leading up to it. I know, it was crazy. And a number of passers-by on the street were sure to tell us that. But not everyone did.

In truth, we had more supporters than people who scoffed at us. Though initially taken aback, people would grin and say something to the effect of “Good for you!” or “Now that’s dedication!” We even had a group of guys sit down with us, rave about how awesome we were and openly wish they were that passionate about anything. Those supportive strangers put things in an interesting perspective for me. I love being so passionate about some of my interests, and really, why would anyone have reason to scorn that? There’s nothing wrong with passion!

To those of you that couldn’t come up with an answer to my initial question, take the time in college discover your passion. Please. It’s amazingly fulfilling. I can only hope that you’re all as lucky as I am and find something you’re willing to camp on the streets for, through rain and oppressive heat.

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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Transitioning from High School to College

by Jacquelene Bennett

There’s no denying that going to college is a life-changing event but the adjustment from high school life to college life can be a tough one. All of a sudden, you are thrust into a world with no parents and no supervision while surrounded by new people, new responsibilities and new pressures. This can all be very overwhelming but fret not, I am here with some advice to help ease this transition.

First, don’t change your sleeping or eating habits. I know this will be extremely challenging because everyone will be up late talking, hanging out and eating junk food but it’s important to maintain a schedule. If you don’t, you will start to lose focus and gain weight; trust me you do not want either to happen.

Next, communicate with your family as often as you can. My biggest struggle during freshman year was learning how to handle the disconnect I felt from being away from home and my family. Calling, emailing or Skyping to share what’s going on in your lives and telling them about your day can really help ease the homesickness. It worked for me!

The last and probably most crucial piece of advice I would like to give is to make time for yourself. If you are living in a dorm, you will be surrounded by people all the time...seriously, 24/7. While this can be fun and exciting, it can also wear you down and drive you crazy. Even if you just take a walk or eat dinner by yourself one night a week, having that alone time will allow you to not feel so overwhelmed by your friends and roommates.

While I tried to give you the best advice about starting college, the truth is there’s no magic formula. Everyone deals with college life in their own way and once you start, you will figure out what works for you. It may take some time but it will be so worth it in the end. Good luck!

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising 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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Making Yourself Feel at Home at a Big School

by Angela Andaloro

Going to a big school can be intimidating. It’s essentially uncharted territory and most of the time you have no idea what to expect. At Pace University, I share my NYC campus with over 7,000 other undergraduate students — talk about big! Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Many people ask me if I feel like I’m missing out on the college experience by going to a big school in the city. My answer is always a firm “Absolutely not.” While your college experience is undoubtedly influenced by where you go to school and the environment you’re in, there’s one more important factor: what you decide to make of it. So how can you make your big campus feel smaller? It’s simple!

Get to know your surroundings. You’ll learn where your classes are and where to grab a bite to eat as the year goes on but get to know your surroundings beyond those staples. Where can you go if you need a minute of peace and quiet? What’s going on during common hour? Are there any activities that go on every week? When you’re in the know, you’ll feel comfortable.

Get to know people. Don’t be afraid to meet new people! The best way to make your big campus feel smaller is to fill it with familiar faces. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone in one of your classes or to join an organization. There’s so many ways to make new friends and all they require is your willingness!

College is your home away from home for two, four or more years. It’s important to feel as comfortable as possible during this time and there’s no better way to control your school experience than by taking all the steps to making your big campus feel just like home.

Angela Andaloro is a rising junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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The Individualized Major: Is It For You?

by Anna Meskishvili

There’s this really awesome frozen yogurt at BU called Mixx. It’s self-serve with a variety of different flavored yogurts (pomegranate, cheesecake, mango) and toppings (sprinkles, gummy bears, freshly-cut apples). As I made my latest frozen yogurt concoction, I couldn’t help but wonder what if my career plan was as exciting as this? Well, no I’m kidding, I didn’t think that...but I did learn that there are several colleges that offer a “mix and match” for college majors.

My best friend at the University of Connecticut began as a psychology major...then realized her interest in women’s studies...and then this past year discovered her passion for creative writing. Luckily, UConn is one of the many schools that offer this individualized major option. My friend, Dana, is now dabbling is all three fields with her own custom-made course of education.

The ability to specify a major that caters directly to your interest and passions will only be able to help you become an ideal candidate for your dream job. To play devil’s advocate, you will be perfect for a selection of your target positions, but as stated in Sue Shellenbarger’s WSJ article, “Can’t Pick a Major? Create One,” it doesn’t allow you to choose from as large a pool of careers.

This individualized approach to one’s curriculum is much like an exciting and original frozen yogurt swirl: You have to realize that although you may enjoy cheesecake-gummy bear-kiwi swirl, not everyone will be equality thrilled with your secret sauce.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising 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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