Archive for the ‘College Life’ Category

4 Tips for Getting the Perfect Class Schedule

Categories: College Life

College-Admissions-Essay_photo_FINALIZED

Registering for classes can be stressful and frustrating. The classes you want might be filled and the others may be uninteresting or their times clash with your other classes. To avoid such a conundrum, you need to plan ahead and adjust accordingly. Here are some useful tips to help you get the prefect class schedule!

1. Take care of all of your required courses.

Every major at every college has a list of course requirements that must be satisfied in order to graduate with a degree, so understanding those requirements is a good first step. Once you have researched the requirements and learned more about the available classes, you can then loosely plan out your remaining years at school. Some of your classes may overlap and/or satisfy general education courses, which will give you more freedom to choose other fun classes to take outside of your requirements. Pay attention to classes that have pre-requisites (a class that must be taken before you can take that class) and plan accordingly.

If you’re uncertain about your major at this point, try taking some introductory classes across multiple subjects to gain exposure and figure out your interests and strengths. Ensure they are general education requirements so they can be applied to your major requirements once you’ve decided. Many colleges even offer special programs for undecided students that allow them to explore multiple areas of study to help them decide what to ultimately major in, so see what’s available at your college.

2. Timing is everything.

Thoroughly research when your available classes will be offered. Some classes are offered only one semester a year, and some special topics classes might be offered once ever, so make sure you know when and if you’ll be able to take the ones on your wish list. Checking out courses offered in previous semesters will be beneficial as certain courses tend to have registration and time trends.

Whenever possible, try to schedule your classes during the time of day when you’re most alert and productive. Early birds, for example, will thrive in morning classes. However, if you’re more of a night owl and have a hard time functioning in the morning, consider filling your schedule with afternoon and/or night classes. If you end up having to setting with a class at a time that’s less than ideal, try your best to prepare adequately for it. You wouldn’t want to do poorly in an early class just because you decided to stay up way too late the night before and couldn’t concentrate.

3. Having fun isn’t hard.

If you decide to take a heavy course-load, you might be satisfying more requirements per semester, but it can certainly get stressful. The pressure to do well in all those classes can make you go crazy. To save your sanity, try taking one or two lower-pressure elective classes each semester to ease the stress and pressure. These electives can be fun and might even fulfill a few general education requirements for your degree program. Electives in subjects like physical fitness or art can help you learn new skills, improve your current abilities, gain more knowledge, get creative, and even socialize.

4. Take a breather.

Be reasonable and practical with your class schedule. If you’re just starting college, remember that college is different from high school, so take it slow and test out how much work you can handle. Don’t forget to leave a break in your schedule to eat lunch and/or dinner, because being hungry during class is horrible. If you’d rather not be alone during your breaks, try scheduling with a friend so you can have some company. A break is also great for catching up on homework, working out, or seeking tutoring or advising. You can also aim to have classes only on specific days of the week, leaving other days completely free. Free days can leave you with the opportunity to focus longer stretches of time on your studies or even work part-time to get some extra spending money.

image credit: scribendi.com

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6 Tools to Help You Get through Freshman Year

Categories: College Life

classroomWell, you did it. You’re finally here. 18 years of life, 12ish years of school, all leading up to this: college. Maybe you’re going to school in your hometown or maybe you’ve moved across the country, but regardless of your individual circumstances, this is going to be a big adjustment. We’ve assembled six of our favorite tips to help you hit the ground running.

1. Google Drive for Collaborative Note-Taking

First of all, if you’re not on board the Google train already, Google Drive is a free suite of online office software designed to compete with Microsoft Office. But it’s so much more than that: with Google Drive, multiple people can work simultaneously on the same document in real-time, making it perfect for collaboration with classmates.

Here’s how you do it: when you join a class, seek out some likely classmates who you believe you can rely on. If they’re already your friends, great, if they aren’t…well, get out there! You should be making friends anyway!

Once you’ve assembled your study group, create a Google Drive Folder and share it with them. Just like that, you’re all working on the same document. This allows you to work on a master notes document. With three or four of you following the lecture at once, you’re sure to get everything the professor mentions. Best of all, you can be sure that you have access to the notes even if you happen to miss a class.

2. Whatsapp for Free Text Messaging

Cell phone plans can be very expensive, especially for a student on a limited budget. Luckily, as the world becomes increasingly data-driven, alternatives are starting to crop up. WhatsApp is an app you can use to send texts and pictures using your data connection, which means that you aren’t using up your monthly text message allotment. Best of all, if there’s a wifi connection available, it will use that, saving your data for when you’re on the go. Since most universities blanket their campus in wi-fi, you’ll be free to text to your heart’s content.

teacher3. RateMyProfessors.com for Investigating Your Professors

Would you go to a restaurant without looking it up on Yelp first? Then why wouldn’t you check out the professor before signing up for a class? RateMyProfessors.com is an indispensable service for college students, allowing you to read ratings and comments about professors before you sign up for that class. No surprises here!

4. Amazon.com for Used Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the major expenses of going to college. Before you buy books at the on-campus bookstore, check out their price on Amazon.com. If the book is a few years old, you’re likely to find a used one for substantially cheaper than at the bookstore.

5. EasyBib.com for Compiling Bibliographies

You know what’s annoying? Losing points on an assignment because of small errors with your bibliography or works cited page. EasyBib.com makes it super easy to create and download a complete works cited page for your paper—just add the books, websites, and articles you use as you go, and download it at the end. You can even use your phone to scan a book’s barcode to add it that way. Never waste time on a bibliography ever again!

6. Petition for What You Want

The petition is one of the most underappreciated tools in the enterprising college student’s arsenal. Think you deserve a Fine Arts credit for that literature class you did the summer after your junior year of high school? Go to your advisor and explain yourself. If you can clearly and logically explain why you think you deserve the credit, your university will usually be happy to oblige you. You never know until you ask.

Making the Most of It

No one goes through college absolutely certain they’re doing it exactly right. It’s a time of rapid change and uncertainty for everyone. These tools are sure to help you get through your freshman year, which in many ways is the hardest.

But wait! There’s just one final tool we want to give you. You can’t download it and it’s not available to be purchased in any store: it’s open-mindedness. Remember, college is a time to experience new things and grow as a person. Get out and get involved. Try not to spend too much time pent up in your dorm room, and when you are there, leave your door open in case a new best friend walks by. Practice saying “Yes” to things. This is your new life—now go live it!

Russel Cooke is a journalist and business consultant based in Canyon Country, CA. and Louisville, KY. He thoroughly enjoyed his time spent in college, and considers it his best series of learning experiences to date. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.

Image credits: Shutterstock.com

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How to Buy, Sell, and Rent College Textbooks like a Pro

Categories: College Life

The school year is quickly approaching. Not only does this mean school supply shopping, it also means textbook shopping. There are many different ways that you can go about this seemingly ominous and expensive task. Don’t worry, our tips below will help make it easier and cheaper for you!

used_textbooks1. Buy used from your campus bookstore.

Most campus book stores offer students the option to buy used books. Book stores will run out of used books quickly, however, so get in there early so you’re not forced to buy new. If you can’t make it to the book store in person, buy from your online campus book store if available.

2. Share with a friend.

The cheapest alternative to book buying is to share. Split the cost with a friend or classmate and share the book between the two of you. As long as you trust your book partner and can arrange study schedules that allow both of you to use the book for the appropriate amount of time, you cannot lose with this option.

3. Utilize hand-me-downs.

Before thinking about going to the book store or splitting the cost of a textbook with a friend, reach out to all of your school friends and see if anyone has taken the class before. If they have, ask if they would be willing to loan you the book or sell it to you for cheap.

4. Check the library.

The campus library or your local public library might carry some of the textbooks you need, especially novels and other books required for liberal arts classes. Renting from the library can save you a lot of time and money…just be sure to renew them as needed to avoid any overdue fees.

5. Utilize book buyback programs.

Many campus book stores will buy back your books after the end of the semester, quarter, or trimester. These programs usually take place on specific days only, so be sure to mark your calendar so you don’t miss it. Once the date passes, campus book stores usually will not buy books back. Though you won’t get full retail value back through these programs, it feels good to have a little cash in hand once you complete a class.

6. Rent online.

This is generally a cheaper option than buying or renting from the campus book store. There are many different online companies you can rent textbooks from, but make sure you return them on time.

7. Buy and sell online.

Do some research online to find the best price for your textbooks. You might be able to find a used version for cheaper. If applicable, be sure you’re purchasing the latest edition as some websites might try to sell an older edition that might be out-of-date. Once you’re done with your books, you can re-sell them online to help out other students like you and even make a profit!

image credit: voices.dyc.edu

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