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Ready, Set, BiblioBout!

New Online Program Makes Bibliography Building Easier, Even Enjoyable

January 10, 2011

Ready, Set, BiblioBout!

by Alexis Mattera

As a journalism major, my classes were all writing intensive. From penning news briefs and features to participating in “Sudden Death Day” (when we arrived in class only to be sent directly back out to find and compose a story in under an hour), I was always doing some kind of research and had to keep my sources organized and accessible in case a fact was ever called into question. This practice came in especially handy whenever I had to construct a bibliography to accompany a lengthy term paper but for those who may be tackling a works cited page for the first time, give BiblioBouts a whirl.

Researchers at the University of Michigan developed BiblioBouts to make crafting a bibliography both easier and more fun: The once mundane task has been transformed into a competitive event, pitting students against their classmates and rewarding them for research skills and abilities to differentiate between good and bad material. Sources are judged by their peers for relevance and credibility and points are gained for sources they assess accurately.

“One of the most difficult things for students to do is their research,” said Karen Markey, research leader and professor in UM's School of Information. “After they exhaust things like Google and the Web, they don’t know where to turn.” The game was released in beta form this week participating colleges and Markey hopes to make it more widely available in the future as a tool in learning-management systems.

This sounds interesting but I agree with one user – Catherine Johnson, coordinator of library instruction at the University of Baltimore’s main library – who said the game should be used as a complement to instruction by a professor or a librarian in locating and evaluating sources, not a replacement for. Have any of you tried BiblioBouts or similar bibliography-assistance programs?


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Top Dos and Don’ts to Avoid the Winter Blues

by Suada Kolovic

With winter in full swing, it seems like the “winter blues” are upon us. Shorter days and colder nights culminate into millions of Americans suffering from mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy during this cold season which ironically is known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. But you’re in luck: Here are the top dos and don’ts to keep those blues at bay.

  • Do Exercise: Exercise is a great stress reliever and a great way to keep your spirits up. And during those cold winter nights, releasing those “feel good” endorphins is an ideal way to increase your energy throughout the day.
  • Don’t Oversleep: We’re all tempted to sleep in during the winter months for obvious reasons: there’s no sunlight when you wake up in the morning. But it’s essential to fight that urge to hit the snooze button for a 12-hour sleep session because you’re really doing more harm than good. Try to stay active and keep a schedule to avoid oversleeping.
  • Do Enjoy the Season: Sure, talking long walks in your neighborhood may not be an option in freezing temperatures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the season in other ways. Try something new like skiing and snowboarding or keep things simple and go sledding and ice-skating – after all, these options are only around for a limited time, so take advantage.
  • Don’t Keep your Room Dark: There’s a direct link to the “winter blues” and the lack of sunlight during the winter season and sulking in a dark environment will only exacerbate symptoms.

For even more tips, click here. And don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing to combat the winter blues.


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How to Save When Buying Textbooks

by Suada Kolovic

The start of every new semester calls for a new set of textbooks – very expensive textbooks. Students can’t really think about the cost of college today without factoring in the skyrocketing cost of textbooks. With the individual book prices well over $100 in many cases, textbook costs can easily add up and, depending on your major, you could easily be spending $500 or more on textbooks a semester. For years students have improvised on ways to dodge buying a new copy and it’s important to know that there are options available, so here are some tips put together by the Huffington Post that can save students some cash.

  • Buy Used: Definitely not a new concept, but still a great way to save almost half the cost of a textbook. Most college bookstores have used options on campus but quantities are limited. Other reliable resources that sell used textbooks are Amazon, half.com and abebooks.com.
  • Book Renting: This option is becoming increasingly popular. It allows students to rent a gently-used textbook for a semester for about half the price of a new edition. But if your campus bookstore doesn't rent books, check out chegg.com, bookrenter.com or collegebookrenter.com.
  • Try the Library: Believe it or not there are FREE options out there, like campus and local libraries. And if you’re one of the lucky ones to actually find a copy of what you’re looking for, check it out fast before one of your classmates beats you to the punch.
  • Buy Older Editions: In some cases, professors will permit students to buy a previous edition of a book that is just as good as the more expensive current edition. Therefore, it’s a great idea to ask your professor what their policy is before purchasing your textbooks.
  • Get International Editions: According to the New York Times, international editions of your textbooks are often identical to U.S. editions and cost 50 to 70 percent less than their American counterparts.
  • Go Digital: It seems like the end of traditional textbooks are near and increasingly more students have the option to purchase e-books directly from book publishers from sites like cousesmart.com and cafescribe.com.

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Got Stress?

Annual Study Shows College Freshmen are Overwhelmed but Optimistic

January 27, 2011

Got Stress?

by Alexis Mattera

A student’s first year in college is one rife with new experiences and challenges. We have plenty of info on our site to help ease that transition – from dealing with common roommate problems to overcoming writer's block in college essays to beating the winter blues – but it looks like members of the class of 2014 are having more difficult times adjusting to the college lifestyle.

An annual study found 51.9 percent of first-year, full-time students reported their emotional health was above average. That may not seem so bad but lead author, UCLA's John Pryor, said this figure is a "fairly alarming" 3.4 percentage points lower than last year and the lowest since the inaugural study in 1985 when 63.6 percent reported feeling above average. Despite these record-low levels of emotional health, about 73 percent of students surveyed generally expressed positive attitudes toward higher education, even as they struggle to fund it because they believe it will help their future earning power.

But why the disparity between low emotional health and high expectations? It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific reason but Marcus Hotaling, chairman of mental health for the American College Health Association, has a theory: When the study began in 1985, he said, many students with mental health issues did not get into college but today, they are able to pursue post-secondary degrees because of improved medication, reduced stigmas and a greater willingness to share concerns with others. "Students are more attuned to who they are, what they're dealing with, and that there's help out there," said Hotaling.

First-time college students, do you share the sentiments of the students surveyed or is your freshman year shaping up to be one of the best years of your life thus far?


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Colleges With the Highest Graduation Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Acceptance letters should be rolling in for the majority of high school seniors and the pressure of deciding where to go is definitely on. A lot goes into deciding what school is the right fit for you, but if you’re interested in what schools have the highest graduation rates...then boy do we have the list for you. And sure, these institutions do have quite impressive graduations rates but keep in mind that high graduation rates don’t necessarily translate into a surefire path to success. It’s also important to note that the majority of schools that made the cut are prestigious and students accepted to the likes of Harvard aren’t likely to dropout.

The study, conducted by College Results Online, a website which uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ranked U.S. colleges in terms of 6-year graduation rates. Check out the top colleges and universities with the highest national graduation rates below and click here for the full list as well as profiles of each school.


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Scholarships.com Virtual Interns Wanted

by Alexis Mattera

Whether you're putting pen to paper, live tweeting campus events or blogging until the wee hours of the morning, one thing is certain: Sharing information is your passion. And you know what? It's ours, too, so let's join forces through Scholarships.com's virtual intern program!

Over the last 15 years, Scholarships.com has been a go-to site not only for high schoolers in search of financial aid but for college students living away from home for the first time, trying to balance limited money for food and fun, and adjusting to postsecondary academic expectations. We have plenty of information on those topics and more but we want to hear from you about what's going on at the campus you call home for the majority of the year. From parties to politics, from housing to hazing, and from class registration to commencement exercises, let us know what's trending at your school and your musings could be featured regularly on our blog.

If you're interested in becoming a Scholarships.com virtual intern, please send your resume, a 300-word writing sample detailing a campus issue, and links to your blog/Tumblr/Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Pinterest to virtualintern@scholarships.com with "Scholarships.com Virtual Intern" in the subject line.Thanks and looking forward to hearing what your unique voice has to say!


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How to Make the Grade and Keep Your Sanity During Finals

by Anna Meskishvili

Preparing for finals is all about organization. Not sure how to best manage your time before each exam? Check out my tried-and-true tips below.

Before attacking each subject, lay out exactly what days you will study for which class. To-do lists are essential for this time of year – it’s very easy to miss a chapter or a concept if you’re zipping through the PowerPoint slides! What I like to do after I finish a chapter is think of possible tough questions, write them down and see if I could answer them without looking back. I also have to say the number one best-kept secret of all studying is SelfControl, an app for Macs that “blacklists” certain websites and makes it impossible for you to access them during a designated time you choose. My best work has been done during my SelfControl hours (it’s on right now!).

As fabulous as to-do lists and website-blocking apps are, though, they also cause anxiety so make sure you take breaks. This is so important mentally and physically. If it’s nice out, ask that gent sitting across from you at the library to watch your laptop for 20 minutes while you take a stroll and shake out your legs. If it’s rainy, go get a hot chocolate from the student union as a treat for the work you’ve done so far.

Just remember, finals may seem like the end of the world, but keep in mind they are just tests. This isn’t your last or first test, so try to walk into that room calm and confident and in control. Also, remember this helpful tip about scheduling: Make sure to schedule easier classes for the spring semester, classes that are likely not to require a sit-down exam. Just trust me, when its 77 degrees outsides and all your friends are texting you: “Come over here bittie and lay on my porch — making lemonade!” it’s a tough game for Econ’s Opportunity Cost. But as the studious student you are, you will chose to study. Of course.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of 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 hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Hundreds of Colleges Still Accepting Applications

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, are you down about not getting a fat envelope from any of the colleges you applied to? Worried that your college dream is quickly fading? Seriously starting to freak out?! Well, turn that frown upside down because there are hundreds of colleges that are still accepting applications.

According to a Space Availability Survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), as of May 4th, 293 schools are still accepting applications. The list is comprised of schools that either didn’t fill all open spots for next year’s freshman class or have application deadlines later than the May 1 norm. "A lot of times, people think if there's any schools left, they can't be good schools," says Todd Johnson, consultant at College Admissions Partners. "It's not going to be the top liberal arts colleges or the top national universities, but there are some good, solid schools on there."

Check out a few notables below, for the full list of colleges still accepting applications, click here.


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Save Your Standardized Test Scores!

by Jacquelene Bennett

Here is a bit of advice for all you graduating high school seniors: Save your test scores!

All that time and money you spent on the SATs, ACTs and APs and all those other acronymonous tests are not for naught! Besides being a tool for college admittance, these tests will actually benefit you later on in your college career. I know...crazy, right? All that time spent studying vocabulary, major historical dates and algebraic equations was actually worth it in the long run!

I know from personal experience: My SAT I scores on the writing and reading comprehension sections (good but not great scores, mind you) exempted me from a general requirement writing class. While your SAT scores are generally used for assessing your placement within a university, these scores can sometimes aid your college in placing you in the proper introductory classes or can waive your gen eds entirely (though every school is different so check with the registrar).

For those of you who took AP classes and did well on the final AP tests, scores of three or higher usually exempt you from certain college courses. I have a friend who didn’t have to take any history, science or foreign language gen eds because her AP scores were accepted in lieu of taking these classes. Pretty cool!

So, like I said before, save those scores! And for those you who are still undergoing this standardized testing process, do your best on them – they could save you from the headache of having to take a 100-level English class later on.

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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Orientation: The Survival Guide

by Anna Meskishvili

For the short time you’ll be at orientation, you’ll come away with one million impressions. Here are some things I wish I knew before my orientation:

  • Don’t over pack. Most orientations are only a few days so there is no need to bring anything more than a backpack with shorts and a few t-shirts. You’ll probably be snagging some school attire, too, so save room!
  • Don’t expect to meet your best friend, roommate or significant other. You’ll likely only meet 10 percent of your class during orientation, which is only 25 percent of your school’s population. I met some awesome people during my BU orientation – I still meet up with a few for lunch! Try to make the most of everyone you meet...and don’t leave orientation engaged.
  • Come with questions. Most schools do their freshman class registration during orientation so have a rough idea about which gen eds and electives you would be interested in. For example, if a science is required, you can either take a challenging biology course or a fun, easy geology course for non-majors. (We call it “Rocks for Jocks.”)
  • Sleep when you can. I don’t remember one minute of my orientation weekend where I was not scheduled to be somewhere but do yourself the favor and sleep when you can. Although it’s fun to stay up all night gossiping, keep in mind you have four more years of this! Orientation is exhausting, overwhelming and awesome...make sure you have enough energy to take it all in, unlike my friend who stayed up all night and ended up missing registration and ID pictures.

All schools take great pride in their orientation programs so be ready to be entertained. As long as you take it all in stride, make the best of it and come prepared, you’ll leave orientation counting down the minutes until move-in day!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of 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 hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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