College Study Tips

Hey college students, school is starting sooner than the majority of us are hoping. So that means we need to kick it into gear and start preparing for what’s to come. Which means- studying! And a lot of it! Here are my best study tips for you this back-to-school season. 

-Take breaks. Yes, right off the bat I think this is one of the most important points. It’s important to take breaks while studying in order to stay productive with your time. Too much time hitting the books and running through homework problems will cause you to become unproductive with your time. 

There are recommended times for studying/ taking breaks, such as 50 minutes of studying, 10-minute break, repeat. When I spend time studying, I try to be intuitive about it. I look for signs in my body that I need a break, take some time to eat, walk, etc., and then go back to studying. This is what helps me feel most productive. 

-Find study rooms. For those times when you need to buckle down and really go over the material before that big midterm coming up, look into a study room. Typically they can be found in your campus library. They can be more useful to have the ability to focus during studying than your college dorm can be. 

-Use colorful pens. Even if you’re not into adding the rainbow into your notes, just try grabbing a blue and black pen. Switching up ink colors can be so helpful to the mind when taking and reading notes. One reason is when only one color is used, the mind just focuses on the words and can tend to zone out. With multiple colors and even writing in different directions or in pictures, the mind has to work harder to interpret the information, internalizing it better. 

-Sticky notes can be your friend. Whether it’s to jot down information that you don’t permanently need in your book or notebook, or keep an important tab on a page, they can play a great role in studying! 

-Don’t underestimate the reading. It’s easy to brush off assigned readings because let’s be honest, academic reading is hard! But don’t underestimate them. They come with valuable information needed for tests and it can be a little easier with our tips for getting through academic readings.

-Enlist a study buddy. There’s a really good chance there is someone else in your class also studying for the same test. You can go so much further by working together with a study buddy to get through the information and learn from each other in the process. This is also a great reason to look into getting a study room, as noted above. 

-Look into study/tutoring groups. Sometimes in classes, the teacher’s assistant will offer study groups or review sessions outside of class to go over the material again. For me, it was extremely helpful to hear the material taught from two different perspectives. Although it’s the same information coming across, everyone has their own way of teaching it, and hearing it in different ways could bring you more success.  

The Scholarship Is Due Today!

the youth of our future is inspiring

Our Design A Better Future scholarship has been going for a few years now. It’s a scholarship awarding five winners $10,000 towards their college tuition. To give a quick overview of the requirements, students must plan, put together, and carry out a project at the school or in their community that betters it in some way. We’ve had students create an invisible cane, start up a music class program for inner-city kids, and create an online social platform for kids with disabilities to come together, specifically during the pandemic.

Needless to say, these kids are amazing! All of them being senior’s in high school. It’s incredible to see them find a problem in the community and take action to fix it or better it in some way.

Today, our 2021 scholarship is due. As submissions have been flooding in, I’ve been reading through their carefully carried out projects. They are submitting pictures, videos, research articles, and more. And with each submission I am again blown away at what these students are capable of!

It’s also interesting to me what they are passionate about. Each project is based on a platform that these students have taken a stance on and are willing to promote and rally together to spread awareness for, for the betterment of their community.

Needless to say, these 17-18 year old kids are amazing. I don’t think we need to worry about our future one bit if they are going to be the leaders of it!

I am excited to announce the winners in a few weeks here on the blog, so stay tuned to learn more about these five winners, if I can bring myself to choose only five! I think they all deserve an award!

You Don’t Have To Dread The Waitlist!

The dreaded college class waitlist! You try to perfectly plan your college classes, even judging your next class based on the distance and time it takes to get from building to building to ensure you have enough time and won’t be late. But then… the worst thing happens. The class is full and you’re left… on the waitlist. 

The waitlist can be so daunting, because it’s never going to tell you if you’re going to get in or not. There are people who are very first on the waitlist for a class and never get in. And then you have people 20th in line on the waitlist that can get in by the first day. Being placed on the waitlist comes with the fear of the unknown, which can be scary. But no need to fear, here are some tips for the waitlist! 

  1. Know your dates. Oftentimes there is a deadline for enrolling in the class, typically a week or two after classes have started. Know these dates and have them noted somewhere so you can be prepared and they don’t sneak up on you. 
  2. Sit in the front of the classroom, where the professor can see you. 
  3. Be on time, if not early, for class. Take good notes and be attentive. 
  4. Talk with your professor before or after class. Let them know you are a student on the waitlist and that you would love to be in their class. If it feels appropriate, you can even try to email them.

The goal is to prove that you want to be in the class and that you will put in the time and work to be there. Professors can’t always bend the rules, especially if it comes to the amount of seats in their classroom or the fire code rules, but they may be able to change things here and there for you to get you into their class. 

Do you have any other waitlist tips you can share? Comment them below! 

What Is The Purpose Of Higher Education?

We’ve covered on our blog that there are multiple forms of higher education. But I think it might be important to take a step back and ask the question- but what is the purpose of higher education? 

Looking at a broad, overall answer, the point of obtaining a higher education beyond high school is to gain the knowledge needed for a profession. It gives you a specialized field of study that later you can boast to potential employers. But, there is also a long list of other reasons we as humans work hard to obtain a higher education. They are (but not limited to): 

The social skills that inadvertently come with being in a school setting.

Networking with professors, potential future employers, and peers. 

Proving that you can work hard and achieve something that takes hard work.

It helps you meet the needs of your own self-fulfillment, giving you a higher purpose in life.  

Learning critical thinking skills, how to adapt to different situations, work with others, and gives you emotional intelligence and resilience. 

Studies show that individuals that have attended higher education courses tend to make healthier decisions in their lives. 

Other studies have shown that those that have achieved a degree in higher education show more success in their careers. There are less unemployment and job loss. 

There are plenty of reasons to obtain higher education from the institution of your choice. Not only are you studying a field that you want to pursue a career in, but you are also gaining relationships, networking, and meeting some of your most basic self-fulfillment needs. 

A Guide To Buying College Textbooks

Textbooks in college- what’s the deal with them? You’ll find such differing opinions when it comes to textbooks in college. Some will say you absolutely need them, others will say don’t bother buying them. Here’s a quick rundown on college textbooks and the different options you have! 

My first piece of advice is to wait until the second or third week of school to buy textbooks, if possible. This way you’ll know for sure that you’ll not only stay in the class, but you can also get a feel for whether or not you need the textbook. Take a look through all of your syllabi and see which assignments you’ll need the book for. Once you’ve weeded out your classes to know which you’re staying in and which you’re dropping, and know if you need the textbooks or not, you’ll have a better idea of how to obtain them. 

There are different types of textbooks you can find at a school: 

Regular books that you can purchase anywhere.

Books specific to the school, but can be used for general classes, even if taught by different professors. Typically these are only found in the school’s bookstore. 

Textbooks written by the professor specifically for that class only. These typically are a more “workbook” or interactive textbook, and only found new in the bookstore. 

E-books for all of the above, if available.

Person Holding Stack of Books

The different ways to purchase them: 

New and from the bookstore (typically the most expensive way to buy books)

Used and from the bookstore (saves money, but there are also cheaper ways) 

Rented, either from the bookstore if they allow this option, or from a service such as Chegg, Thriftbooks, or Knetbooks. 

Purchase used from Amazon, other textbook online services, or on local classified pages. Many colleges will have a Facebook page to buy/sell textbooks, too. 

Using the school bookstore isn’t the end-all for buying college textbooks! Look online to find books where you can. There are so many companies out there that realize how expensive college is and want to cut you a deal where they can. Look into these companies! 

A few other tips:

Try to rent or buy used when you can. It saves money, and saves the environment! Win, win.

If it’s a class that is specific to your field of study and seems like one you may want to reference later in life, try to buy it used instead of renting so you don’t have to return it later. 

Another great way to save money is to split the cost of a textbook with a friend or roommate that is attending the same class as you,  as long as it can easily work out for both of you to use it for readings and assignments. 

There are specific scholarships out there too that will fund your textbook needs. Search for those and apply. Other scholarships can go towards any school expenses, also including textbooks. 

Textbooks don’t have to break you financially! There are ways to save money and be smart financially if you’re willing to put in a little time and research. 

What is your favorite way to find textbooks? 

Choosing A College: Some Tips For Seniors

Choosing a higher education school can be so daunting sometimes! First you have to decide on a trade school vs a university. And then once you’ve decided that, a whole list of options come up. It’s overwhelming. But here are some tips for you! 

  • Narrow it down to an area if you can. Decide if it’s important for you to stay close to home or choose a school far away. 
  • Look at schools based on what majors they offer/ what majors they are known for. For example- I graduated with my undergrad from Utah State University because I wanted a degree in Elementary Education. In Utah, USU is very prestigious and well-known for their education program, which was ultimately a big swaying factor in my decision. 
  • Dive into the social aspect/ campus life and decide how important it is for you to attend events, sports, etc. College is about the experience AND the education! And not all college campuses are created equal when it comes to social gatherings. 
  • Talk with current students or past grads about schools you are interested in. Hearing about their experience or opinions can help you make a final decision. 
  • Keep a list of potential options. You may find one school that is everything you want! But the reality is, you still have to apply and become accepted into the school before you can go, in most cases. If you don’t get into your dream school, keep a few others in mind for back up. 
  • Remember that you’re not making a decision based on good vs. bad. You’re deciding between good, better, and best. Whichever school you choose is a great option and can hopefully have you leaving with a great experience and a college degree. It’s hard to make a bad decision when choosing a college! 

Pros and cons lists of schools can also be helpful to make a decision. Let us know what school you are choosing to go to in the comments below! 

Cover photo from pexels.com

A Quick Guide To Financial Aid

Financial aid. Do those two words give anyone else anxiety? When I was a senior in high school, they did for me! The thought of having financial aid is great! But the idea to put the work into getting financial aid can be daunting. Let me see if I can ease some of your fears! 

Let’s start with a definition. What is financial aid? Many will think it’s just grants or loans from the government, or FAFSA. But it can be more than that! It can also be grants and loans from private entities, as well as scholarships from your school or other organizations. Any additional money you receive to help pay for school is financial aid. 

So how can YOU obtain financial aid to help pay for your schooling? 

Search for and apply for scholarships

Apply for FAFSA. If you have questions or need help filling out their application, ask a parent, guidance counselor, teacher, or other trusted adult for help. FAFSA includes grants (money you don’t have to repay) and loans (money you have to repay). Even if you don’t plan on taking out loans, you should still at least apply to see if you can qualify for grants. Applying is free. 

If you are employed, talk to your HR to see if they have any programs that help pay for school while you work. 

Search for scholarships- again! 

Apply for our Design A Better Future scholarship. 

Look into your specific university, trade school, or community college to see if they have any grants or scholarships you can apply for. 

Applying and searching for financial aid can be a lot of time, work, and effort. However, if you are willing to put that time and effort into it, you may be surprised what reward you get out of it! 

What other questions do you have about financial aid that we can answer for you?