Posts published in November, 2016

What Healthy Living and Higher Education Have in Common

By Mikkie Mills

There’s a notable link between what you eat versus what grades you get at school, what lifestyle you live versus which job position you assume later on in life. In a nutshell, there’s an undeniable connection between healthy living and higher education. And while most people go about their lives not noticing this tether, those who do understand it can leverage it towards making a better life for themselves. Here’s five ways how healthy living and higher education are connected and what you can do to improve.

Healthy Social Function

Healthy living and higher education both play key roles in a person’s ability to function socially. A physically and mentally healthy person is at a position to conduct experiments and participate in activities that can potentially benefit society. They are also less prone to making decisions that could jeopardize others around them. To improve one’s social capabilities, regular application of social skills are important. Theory is one thing, but only real world situations can keep people mentally sharp.

Higher Life Expectancy

It’s a widely recognized fact that life expectancy has to do with healthy living. And to be able to afford the healthcare services and the healthy lifestyle that promotes this higher life expectancy, one must be able to get a good job. Higher education is key to getting a good-paying job. A high school diploma is no longer enough nowadays to compete in highly saturated job markets. To put this into perspective, let’s look at some numbers. At age 25, Americans without a high school diploma are expected to live 9 years less than those with an undergraduate degree, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Another study shows that occurrence of diabetes was eight percent higher for adults without a high school education.

Better Ability to Navigate Around Life

Healthy living and higher education enables you to navigate around complex aspects of life, such as healthcare, taxes, money management, family management, etc. College graduates and those pursuing their master’s degrees are much better at learning and mastering things they encounter on a daily basis. They have the temperament to handle situations they have little to no knowledge about because they are confident that they can learn the steps to effectively use it later on. In other words, people who are mentally and financially healthy are able to absorb worldly information better than those without these attributes. To improve, read more books and keep applying the theories you learn to real world scenarios.

Better Environment

People who obtain higher education and better-paying job have a better chance of living in neighborhoods that provide a bigger and cleaner space. They have more access to parks, sidewalks, yards, and other facilities that can be used for recreational purposes or entrepreneurial pursuits. More space equates to better mood and stress levels, which ultimately contribute to lower risk of heart problems and other physical ailments that commonly befall those who live in heavily dense communities.

Access to More Services

A better job means more disposable cash for services, such as organic food delivery, local gym membership, and private schooling for your children. Access to these services can potentially yield a healthier lifestyle. For instance, organic food deliveries means you can eat fresh produce that haven’t been washed down by chemicals. To improve this particular aspect of life, learn to prepare and cook meals that are rich in protein, carbohydrates, and minerals that you need.

Healthy living and higher education definitely go hand in hand. Poor lifestyle can lead to bad grades, which can lead to a low-income job after high school. Try to balance out the two by planning not just your immediate needs and wants, but the long-term initiative as well.

Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She has a passion for advanced learning, reading, and health and fitness. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on education, learning, health, fitness and yoga. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones around or can be found at the local climbing gym or doing yoga.




Keeping Your Identity Safe as an Online College Student

By Robert Parmer


Students pursuing a degree in the 21st century are surrounded by technology and associated conveniences. We certainly have a plethora of tech gadgets to help us through difficult tasks and courses. Our digital toolkit for higher education continues to expand.

While the use of technology certainly makes our lives easier in numerous ways, it’s important to remain mindful of the potential hazards that technology may project as a side effect to our conveniences.

The most common threat, as technology progresses and new vulnerabilities present themselves, is identity theft. Last year alone, almost half a million identity theft cases were reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

Identity theft can present itself in numerous ways. This includes viruses and malware that infect our devices, as well as email scams, and other fraud committed when personal information is manipulated.

But have you ever stopped and wondered, “why are these attacks happening in the first place?”

An article by the Cyber Security Program at Maryville University Online explains how the education section is behind in terms of cyber safety, and what the motives of these cyber criminals look like:

“An area that consistently ranks among the most unprepared for cyber threats is the education sector. Due to the important and valuable intellectual property held by educational institutions, especially those in higher education, they are becoming prime targets for cyber attacks.

The technological and scientific research that happens in university settings can be used for monetary gain among those looking to infiltrate computer systems. For this reason and others, it is crucial for universities to be proactive with their cyber security.

For two straight years there has been a drop in the security score for educational institutions that coincide with the school year. This is likely due to the rise in the number of people connecting to networks in the university sector.”

So as a student what can you do to protect yourself and your belongings from cyber attacks?

Upgrade Your Laptop Security

Laptops are stolen all the time at college campuses and in public settings. On top of losing the device itself, laptops and tablets can contain very sensitive, personal materials and documents. You don’t want your personal information to fall the wrong hands!

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve the security measures of your property. This can be achieved by using both software and hardware that aims for added security measures.

There are several laptop tracking apps that exist. These can be installed ahead of time to ensure that stolen computers are recovered more easily. Also, be sure that your computer’s antivirus software is always up to date.

Consider using laptop fingerprint scanners as well as computer locks for your devices. That way if thieves will have a more difficult time accessing your personal documents and information if your property is stolen.

Use Safe Passwords

The passwords you choose should be as secure as possible. An informative article by Buy Surety presents some helpful guidelines for safe password usage:


  • Use a different password for every online account you have registered.
  • Make each password impossible to guess.
  • Only store your private passwords in a password protected area on your computer or away from your computer completely.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi to login to secure areas such as email, banking accounts, etc.

Don’t save all of your passwords in your web browser, as this creates an avenue for intruders to easily access emails, shopping and credit card info, and other important documents they shouldn’t have their hands on.

Instead, consider keeping a physical password journal. This can just be a simple, organized notebook that you keep in your room in a safe-guarded place.

Live With Roommates You Trust

While it’s not always possible, being choosy about who you live with can be considered a preventative measure in terms of eliminating identity theft. These types of crime can occur in the most comfortable places at times–even your own home!

Some guidelines for finding a roommate you trust are as follows:


  • Avoid living with total strangers, even if they ‘seem nice’ and make a good first impression.
  • Live with family members or close friends when possible.
  • Use social media to find potential roommates with mutual friends.
  • Try to live with people who are involved in the same extra curricular communities as you.

Reduce Your Paper Trail

Not all forms of identity theft are digitally based. While not as common as it used to be, dumpster diving criminals still exists. They are searching for specific information about anyone they can get their hands on, including social security numbers, credit card information, and even sales receipts.

Be sure to shred these documents and mail that gets tossed out. Or consider doing what I do, using these pieces of paper to start fires in your home fireplace all winter. Whatever you do, keep this info out of the ‘public garbage space’.

Other Forms of Identity Theft To Look Out For

Cyber criminals spend their days searching for newly profound ways to steal your identity. The instances of identity theft mentioned so far are the most common. But it doesn’t stop there. Other less frequent types of identity crimes include driver’s license and car insurance fraud, child identity theft, healthcare identity theft, and tax fraud.

Not that you are armed with the knowledge to combat identity theft hazards, your chances of becoming a victim are significantly less. Just remain conscious, not paranoid, of the digital threats that are lurking–you can keep cyber crime out of your life if you remember these tips!

Robert Parmer is a freelance web writer and student of Boise State University. Outside of writing whenever he has spare time, Robert enjoys creating and recording music, caring for his pet cat, and commuting by bicycle whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @robparmer








Getting an Edge – How to Get Better Results at College

By Melissa Burns

Students worry about a lot of different problems, but when all is said and done the most significant issue they have to face at college is rather straightforward: how to get better grades, preferably without spending 25 hours a day studying? Here we’ve prepared a list of things that can actually help, both in short and long term.

1.    Getting Organized

You may think whatever you want, you may believe yourself to be a representative of a creatively chaotic subclass of human beings who eschew timetables and plans because they are too restrictive for their personalities. In reality, success and results always comes to people who get organized, prioritize their efforts correctly and decide what they need before they start working. Stop right now. Write down everything you have to do. Check due dates. Remember all the debts. And start working in a methodical manner – you will be amazed how quickly you will get first results.

2.    Medications

Somebody may think that it is a little over the top, but just think about it: human body is, more or less, a biomechanical construct, which shares many similarities with machines and mechanisms. You may be more than willing to put every effort into studying, but quite often your body – mostly brain – sabotages your attempts, especially today, when students face higher stress levels and greater workloads than ever before in history. It is no wonder than in such a situation students suffer from depression, become prone to panic attacks, suffer from anxiety, lost ability to concentrate and so on. Talk therapy and suchlike take a long time and have dubious effectiveness – at the same time medications like antidepressants, nootropics, central neural system stimulants, ADHD meds work quickly, improving your concentration and ability to work long hours. Just don’t get too reliant on them, and everything will be alright.

3.    Eliminating Procrastination

No matter how much you manage to do in a single day, there is always a way to do more. What’s more important is that it doesn’t require you staying up around the clock and completely foregoing any kind of personal life. Try writing down everything you spend your time on, literally everything, minute by minute – and you will see that absolute majority of this precious resource is spent not simply lazing off, but doing silly little things like checking your Facebook status every time you feel you need a little rest, or talking on phone about things you can’t even remember afterwards, or something else in the same vein. Concentrate on important things. Start your day with doing the biggest task. Eliminate all those little insignificant things that don’t move you forward.

4.    Work Out

If you take care about yourself physically, many other things tend to fall into place of their own accord. You will waste less time being sick. You will sleep better, resulting in higher quality rest and better memory and higher concentration. You will be more disciplined, and it is going to flow over to other areas of your life.

5.    Take Regular Breaks

These should be carefully balanced out. On the one hand, you have to spend a good 10-15 minutes getting into a new activity, which has to be repeated after every break. On the other hand, after you work on a single task for a considerable amount of time, your brain gets tired and becomes less and less effective until you switch to something else for a while. Thus, don’t allow it to get into a rut – take regular breaks, preferably for some physical activity.

Although education is much more than simply about grades, they are still a good indicator of how well you are doing – which means that anything that can improve them is worth doing.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented.


Using Cognitive Thinking For College Success

By Jonathan Kelly

A simple guide to implementing cognitive thought is

  1. The act of applying logical speculation to a dilemma, simple or complicated task, or basic decision
  2. Relating experience or research to that speculation
  3. Then finally, applying deductive reasoning to arrive at a final decision

These are not steps that need be taken laboriously. Cognitive thinking is not an art form. Basically it is a question as to the truth of the reality placed before you. A decision of truth or falsehood is not found through intuition or word of mouth, it is found through gaining a personal understanding of the larger picture which surrounds the supposed fact in front of you.

I believe cognitive thought is mostly lost in American society and I have made it a personal goal to bring light to it whenever possible. Below are five scenarios that include how the lack of cognitive thought can detrimentally affect scholastic success, personal financial responsibility, national security, public health and safety as well as the simple ability to quote a source.

The first example comes from the year 1990 when Margaret Kantz, writer of several scholarly articles, and past assistant professor of English at Central Missouri State University wrote a paper entitled, “Helping Students Use Textual Sources Persuasively.” In her paper, Kantz largely focuses upon the inability of students to think critically. She wrote about Shirley whose academic prowess was considered stellar until arriving at college where she was then unable to pivot from expertly parroting what she learned to creating her own deductions and presenting her own theories within written assignments.

In Kantz’ fantasy Shirley had been assigned to write a paper that expressed original arguments. Shirley concentrated on telling the story of the Battle of Agincourt “…more clearly and more completely than her sources had done.” She did not disagree, or agree; she reported. She received a grade of C minus.

Kantz exemplified a solution for Shirley through the fictitious character, Alice, who stated “…if you want to say something original, you either have to talk about the sources or talk about the material.” From my perspective of this statement, since we all know that historical reporting is by no means absolutely accurate (you know this right?), you can question the sources by searching for alternative reports of the same event. Or you can discuss the facts provided in the material and put forth a what-if scenario providing alternative sources to support your theory.

In any event, parroting what we have learned has become normal juxtaposed to questioning, intelligently, if the truth before us is valid.

In the second example of the lack of cognitive thought causing financial loss I will share insight I gained while speaking with a client of mine who has, within her business, a goal of helping customers think cognitively.

Home Design Contents Restoration is a company that restores damaged belongs and acts as liaison between insurance companies and victims of catastrophic environmental events. Daniel Sadeh, the owner of Home Design explained that one of the most common reasons clients spend more out of pocket in insurance claims stems from assumptions made by clients.

  • I have insurance for water damage so everything is covered

This is a logical assumption yes? However, the reality is that a rule of thumb exists for insurance policies; water pouring down is most likely covered and water pooling up is not without additional coverage.

  • The insurance adjuster’s schedule is such that she cannot be onsite for four days so the insurer will cover any further damage to my belongings due to the delay.

Most insurance policies include the caveat that reasonable and prudent measures must be taken to protect and secure belongings from further damage. If steps are not taken by the insured to protect belongings from further damage, the additional cost to restore the belongings will not be covered.

  • During a phone conversation with Rick Medley, my insurance representative, I understood him to say that ‘x’ applies.

Turns out, Ricky was wrong, but since I did not recap the conversation and confirm it in writing (e.g. email) there is no proof he said it.

The moral here, under the focus of cognitive thought, is to never make an assumption without also confirming the assumption through research.  Logic alone is not enough, deductive reasoning must also exist.

In my past professional experience as a professor of social psychology, I found just by adding one trait to a personality it exponentially changes that person’s ability to reason more intelligently. Actively paying attention to what is in front of us is that trait. Attention to detail whether that detail is in written, heard, or seen is the very first step. As one is paying attention, the rest comes automatically…a memory will be spurred aiding the creation of deductive processing; leave the rest to good logic along with whatever research (quick or intense) might be needed.

Our fourth and fifth examples come in the form of questions: Because cognitive thought is less prevalent in America today our nation’s social, financial, and, moral stability is in jeopardy. We have blindly agreed with the fastest talker, the loudest talker, or the most publicly respected pundit without questioning the facts provided to us. We find out after the headline has past that we were misled or provided incorrect information. Look up or remember Bush’s WOMD, Kennedy’s Cubin missile crisis, and Nixon’s Watergate to pick a few historical examples. Were our ability to apply cognitive thought more practiced, how do you think these scenarios would have played out?

Because of the lack of the wholesale practice of cognitive thought our environment has been degrading with little intervention since at least the 1970’s when scientists, labeled and minimized as environmentalists by lobbyists of large oil companies like Exon, predicted the climate change we face today; add today’s rhetoric of denial of facts and look to the our future. Was our ability to apply cognitive thought more practiced over the past 40 year…how do you think this scenario would have played out?

Lastly, did you read the About the Author section of this article after I stated that I was a professor of social psychology? For those that did not look…did you simply believe me? Did anyone feel that cognitive itch in your brain that something was amiss but ignored it? Anyone notice the third example was not highlighted? Bravo for the readers that knew there was something wrong with that statement. I have never been a professor social psychology.


About the Author:

Jonathan is freelance web developer (and part-time writer) enamored with pretty much anything Internet, education and environment. He is not a professor of social psychology. When he is not busy helping people with their websites, he loves trying different craft beers and playing poker. You can reach him through his personal site at

8 Tools to Improve Memory and Provide A Mental Boost

By Sylvia Kohl

Knowledge is power, but listening in class and reading textbooks won’t actually make the information you gain stick. If you want to ensure that it does, you must understand how a human brain retains information and use a variety of tools that will enhance your memory in different ways.

Canva: Memorize Through Visualizations

Canva is a fantastic tool that allows you to create all kinds of visuals. They help to not only learn more effectively but also retain information longer. This solution will allow you to make visuals focused on a specific topic, which will turn into perfect review materials.

Bear in mind that 90% of the information going to our brain is visual, and 40% of learners show better response to information when it’s accompanied by a relevant image. This means that you should incorporate visuals to your preparation for exams or other events when you need to memorize vast amounts of information fast.

Speeder: Discount Unnecessary Info

Speedreading is a proven way to improve the quality of information obtained by your brain. This technique makes you overlook irrelevant data, so that you can focus only on the things that truly matter.

Speeder is a tool that will help you master this art of absorbing the general ideas from a text without wasting time on reading it through completely.

Herbal Products: Brain Booster Supplements

There are a variety of brain boosters that range from herbal products, like Ginkgo Biloba extract to nootropics, which enhance your cognitive abilities. All these products have different functions, for example, some make it easier for you to focus, others help keep your head clear, and some products improve memory.

Nootropics are particularly popular today as they make your mind sharper and help realize your full potential. However, be sure to choose the right type of nootropics for you as otherwise, they won’t be able to produce as good a result.

Gliffy: Present Info in the Form of Diagrams

Diagrams combine the power of focusing on main thoughts only and visual symbols. Gliffy is a fantastic tool that will help you make custom diagrams of your own. You’ll be able to use them in order to create note cards that will not only help you memorize but also structure your knowledge. They are invaluable for working on big projects.

Mindjet: Link Ideas Effectively

Mind mapping is a technique that allows recording information in a way that is easier for you personally to retain. Every person can make a unique ‘map’ that will fit the peculiarities of their mind. Information processed this way is easier to understand, so the brain retains it much better.

Mindjet is a great solution for managing your mind effectively, and it’s available for almost every operating system.

Memory Matches: Train Your Memory Through Games

Memory Matches is a fun game based on the classic Card Match game Pexeco. It helps train memory and will help achieve a significant improvement if played regularly. It’s both simple and stimulating, so you can have fun while actually exercising your mind.

Anki: Memorize with Spaced Repetition

The spaced repetition memorization technique has proven to be effective through numerous studies. Many people believe it to be better than traditional study methods, and it helps you reduce the amount of time spent in learning. Anki is one of the best spaced repetition solutions available today.

Med Mnemonics: Learn with Mnemonics

If you are a med student, Med Mnemonics will help you learn and memorize thousands of terms with ease. There are a variety of specialized apps for other specialties that use the same mnemonics memorization principle.

Use Latest Technology to Expand Your Knowledge

Nowadays, everyone can learn and retain information better if they use the right tools. Try out the solutions mentioned above to help you study new material and improve your memory long-term.

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 7 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and beta-testing. This writer chose news about the increasing role of IT usage in colleges and schools as the most common topic for her articles.


7 Tips to Start Paying Off Your Student Debts

By Malia Keirsey

Total credit card debt in this country is $733 billion, and economists worry about it a little. It pales in comparison to student loan debt, however, which has now reached $1.3 trillion. The millennial generation is the most indebted in our history. And many of you don’t even have credit card debt yet. Paying off this debt, an average of $35,000 per person, will take most of you into your 40s and 50s. While we can argue about how to reduce the costs of college educations in the future, the reality for you is that the debt is current and you are either beginning (if you graduated in 2016) or are in the midst of paying. You understand the personal burden you have. But there are some ways to ease this burden, and here are seven tips that might help.

  1. Budget for Your Payments

If you have recently graduated, then be certain that you set up a budget that includes the monthly payment expected of you. While this may sound like a “no-brainer,” many students are in default because they failed to do this in the beginning, and their credit scores have “tanked” as a result. They are now paying more for everything, from insurance to car loans as a result.

Find out if by setting automatic payments, the lending institution will lower your interest rates a bit – many of them will, even if you are several years into your re-payment.

  1. Pay Early and Add to the Principal Amount if You Can

Loan payments include principle and interest amounts. If you can pay more than the payment amount, you are reducing the principal of the loan faster.

If you are currently in school and incurring debt each semester, consider a part-time job to start paying off the debt while you are still a students. Any amount that you pay off now is less of a burden once you graduate and begin your adult life. Do a little research to learn some tips for making money in college that may not involve a traditional part-time job. Sometimes, these are far more lucrative.

  1. Look for Credit Card Deals/Offers

If you have made your payments on time, your credit score is improving continually. You will qualify for credit cards that may have zero interest for as long as 18-24 months. And most take balance transfers of student loan debt.

If you don’t receive any offers, you can look for them online. But you do need to be a wise consumer. Check out the balance transfer fee and the interest that will begin to apply after the zero-interest period is over. Usually, it will be higher than your original debt interest. Watch carefully for the end of the benefit, because you will want to do something else with the remaining balance. Many debtors transfer that balance over to the next zero-interest offer, but there is a downside to this as well. There will be another transfer fee, and with each new card you get, your credit score will take a hit.

  1. Watch for Assistance Programs

A number of private banks are now developing special assistance programs for people who are trying to manage large student debt. These include lowering interest rates, and re-financing the debt so that it is extended over a longer period. Because there has been so much publicity about the student loan debt crisis, and because many economists are predicting some pretty severe national economic downturns because of it, financial institutions are stepping up to the plate somewhat. Expect more of these programs to be announced in the near future.

One word of caution: If you look for assistance programs, be certain that any you look at are from reputable sources. As in any financial niches, there are some “bad actors” out there. Go through an established institution.

  1. Consider a Move if You are Mobile

One of the pluses of being a millennial is that many of you have not yet purchased homes and established “roots.” There are parts of the country that are trying to attract college grads to their locales and are offering student loan debt assistance to get them. Do some research and find these areas and think about moving there, if you believe you could find it attractive. The other side of this coin is that, in moving to a place for the specific purpose of getting loan assistance, you could be losing opportunities for positions/careers where your income will rise faster.

  1. Consider Some Positions for Student Loan Forgiveness

There are certain jobs that the federal government wants filled and has set up loan forgiveness programs for certain career choices. There are very detailed requirements and restrictions on these, so be certain to do the research before you go after any of these position with just a focus on getting reduction in your loans.

There currently are loan forgiveness programs for the following:

  • Federal agencies that are having trouble finding qualified employees are allowed to offer up to $10,000 a year in loan forgiveness for employees, up to $60,000.
  • If you go into family and child services, law enforcement, law (public defense), you can get forgiveness of debt.
  • Some public service careers bring loan forgiveness, at local, state, and the federal level. This forgiveness relates to Federal Perkins Loans only.
  • Doctors who go into the military or who work for government agencies, can receive loan forgiveness. Branches of the military also offer scholarships for medical school in exchange for a certain number of years of service after graduation.
  • Nurses and teachers who work in certain environments (e.g., teachers in low-income neighborhoods)

This is just a partial list. You should research the options in detail to see if any are attractive to you.

  1. Watch Your Re-Payment History

Defaulting or being consistently late with student loan repayments are mistakes that can follow you for a long time into your future. Late payments tend to remain on your credit history for a full year. Defaults can remain permanently. And bankruptcy does not relieve you of your student loan debt. Your credit score becomes more and more important as you move further into adulthood. Employers, landlords, insurance companies, and future lenders all have guidelines that relate to credit scores, and you will be paying much higher interest rates on any personal loans you incur (e.g., car loans).

College is a wonderful experience. You will leave with a degree that qualifies you for a career; you will have made lifelong friends and memories that will also last forever. Most of you will also leave with an amount of debt, as a result of that experience. How you handle it has major implications for your future financial health – be wise and be responsible.

Malia Keirsey is an enthusiastic writer and guest contributor. She has finished the University of Chicago with master’s degree in Sociology. Now she’s working as freelance web designer and blogger. Her main topics of interest are writing, digital marketing and education. Follow @MaliaKeirsey on Twitter.






Make Your Grandparents Happy While on a Break

By Melissa Burns

Grandparents are very special people who always do their best to give us their love and support. The depth of their feelings cannot be measured, and it’s only fair that you return them by helping any way you can.

The best thing a student can do is to show them that you care by frequent visits and calls. When you are a child this is enough, but when you grow older, you can do lots of other things to express your feelings and make your grandparents’ lives easier in the process.

So, the next time you go on a break from the college or university, consider helping your grandparents in one of these ways:

Help your grandparents conquer technology

If your grandma and granddad aren’t good with tech, take the time to teach them how to use all the modern appliances and gadgets effectively. Be sure to research apps that would help make their lives easier. For example, scheduling tools to keep track of their doctor visits, meetings, or times when they have to take some medications.

Depending on their interests and hobbies, you can introduce them to games or specialized mobile apps. Be sure to go over communication solutions, like Skype and Viber, and use them frequently to stay connected to your grandparents even when you are back in school. You can also use this opportunity to help them find their friends through social networks.

Build a brand new custom coop

If your grandparents live in the country or at least have a large enough backyard, raising chickens can be a great and highly fulfilling pastime. They bring eggs, they are easy to care for, and they can be a great help in supporting the health of your garden. Even as little as 5 hens in the household will be enough to enjoy the benefits they offer.

Pre-fabricated coops are expensive and usually made from poor-quality materials that won’t last through a single winter. Therefore, it’s best to look up chicken coop plans online and make your own. There are great sturdy constructions that are so easy to make, a teen with no prior training can complete them in a few days.

Building your own coop will be highly cost-efficient as you can make a really good one investing about $100-150, while a pre-fabricated model will cost at least $300. You can increase the cost-to-value ratio further by choosing to build from sustainable and sturdy materials that will last for years.

Spring clean, paint, remodel, or otherwise renovate the house

Your grandparents can be active and healthy, but years take their toll on everyone, so completing major projects is difficult for them. Discuss this matter with them in advance so that you can prepare all the necessary materials and find instructions to make the best use of the vacation you spend at their home.

You can also use this time to help your grandparents prepare for major projects that you cannot do on your own, like roof replacement or major renovation.

Go on an adventure together

Take your grandparents out to gift them with some new impressions and just have fun together. To get the best results, you should have two adventures, one where you introduce them to one of your favorite pastimes that they don’t know yet. The other where you do something your grandparents enjoy so that you can learn more about them.

These bonding trips can be something simple, like going to the movies or playing bingo with your grandma’s club. However, they are extremely valuable from the emotional point of view.

Be there for your grandparents

No matter what exactly you choose to do, it’s your visit itself that counts most. Your grandparents appreciate the attention and love, so do your best to show them how much you care and stay in touch.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented.



Dorm Security: How to Protect Your Stuff on Campus

By Jane Hurst

We hear all kinds of stories about campus thefts, and you do not want to become a victim of this, or any other crime. This is why you need to take steps to make sure that you, and your things, are protected. Most students aren’t in a financial position to just be able to go out and replace everything, and often, their parents can’t do it either. You may or may not be covered under your parents’ homeowners’ policy. So, here are some tips that you can use to protect your stuff on campus.

  1. Register Everything – Before you leave home, make sure that you register any of your expensive items. Take photos, and register any serial numbers on electronics. Keep the records at home so they are in a safe place. You can also see if your school has a property registration program through student affairs or the campus police. If your property is stolen, you will have records proving that it is yours if it is recovered.
  2. Lock Up Your Laptop – If you are using your laptop in the library, a lab, etc., and you have to walk away, don’t leave the device unattended. It is too easy for someone else to just walk away with it. Either take it with you, or lock it up so no one else is able to take it. The last thing you want is to lose an expensive laptop, and likely all of your notes and other school work. Both are far too costly to replace.
  3. Lock Everything – When you have to leave your dorm room, even if it is just for a couple of minutes to grab a cup of coffee, lock your doors. It only takes a few minutes for someone to go in and take everything, and you could lose your computer, and all of your valuable work. You may also want to store your work on the cloud so you can take advantage of disaster recovery.
  4. ID In Your Wallet – Many of us are tempted to put our money, identification, etc. in our backpacks. If you do this, you need to get out of this habit now. Either carry these items in a wallet or purse, or in your pocket. It is far too easy for someone to sneak up behind you, unzip the backpack, reach in, and take your things. When you have your items close to you, it makes it much more difficult for someone to be able to steal from you.
  5. Get Insurance – It is a good idea to invest in some personal property insurance. It isn’t overly expensive, and if you do end up having expensive items stolen, you will know that they can be replaced. This coverage will protect you from theft, loss, fires, and other disasters. If you live on campus, look into a student insurance policy. If you live off campus, you may want to get some renters’ insurance. It costs less than $30 a month, and is well worth it if you end up having to replace items due to theft.
  6. Get a Lock Box – When you have items you want to protect, such as a gaming system, jewelry, money, you may want to consider getting a heavy lock box. You can get one small enough to fit under your desk, but cumbersome enough that it will deter possible thieves from taking it out of your dorm room or apartment. Be sure to get a lock box that is made of steel, and is fire-safe. This way, your stuff is protected from theft, fire, flooding, etc.


Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter.

Getting More Leisure Time Without Harming Academic Performance

By Stephen Mehler

Judd Apatow said, “College is the reward for surviving high school. Most people have great, fun stories from college, and nightmare stories from high school.” He might be right about high school, but it’s difficult to create those great stories in college when you are constantly studying.

For many college students, stress and lack of downtime is a real issue. Sure, if you attend a ‘party school’ you might have plenty of time for relaxation and recreation. However, if you are at a school known for academic challenges or you are in a particularly rigorous program, you may not be getting the downtime that you need.

The main challenge is that you can’t simply study less. You can’t skip out on lectures, and you certainly can’t expect your fellow students to take up your slack on group projects. So, what can you do to reduce your stress levels, get more leisure time, and maintain excellent academic progress? Keep reading, and you will learn a few important strategies.

Stop Wasting Time

Isn’t the whole point to have more time to waste? Not really. This is about spending leisure time. Think in terms of engaging in hobbies, socializing, even actively resting. Try keeping track of your activities over a few days. How many minutes do you spend each day studying, going to class, engaging in hobbies that you enjoy, and relaxing? Even more important, how many minutes per day are you spending engaging in activities that are neither productive or enjoyable?

There is a saying that if something is neither beautiful or useful to you, it is time to get rid of it. It’s time to apply the same philosophy to the way you choose to spend your time. It may not be study time that is the biggest thief of joy in your life. It could be the time that you are simply wasting.

Get Organized

Write to-do lists. Make plans. Double check your schedule. Clean off your desk, and purge files from your computer. Get your emails organized. Relegate junk mail to spam, and hide irritating people from your Facebook feed (we know you aren’t going to block them).


The better organized you are, the less time you have to spend doubling back to respin your plates and pick up on things that you have forgotten about. You will also stop spending mental energy on tasks that should be a part of your cognitive or muscle memory.

Stay on Top of Your Writing Assignments

If you can triumph over your essays, research papers, term papers, lab reports, and other writing assignments, you can reclaim lots of lost leisure time. They key is to stay on top of things. The best way to do that is to take advantage of some tools and resources that are available to you:


  • Evernote – Use this app to take and organize research notes and to collaborate with other students on group assignments.
  • Grammarly – Download Grammarly to perform a thorough spelling and grammar check on your papers.
  • WiseMapping – This mind mapping tool is excellent for helping you to explore the topic of your writing assignments and your ideas.
  • Pomodoro Timer – Stay focused by using the Pomodoro timer. You will work in 25-minute bursts and optimize your productivity.

Balance Your Classes if You Can

When you sign up for classes, take into consideration how much time you will need to spend outside of class studying. Some people say that you should plan to spend as much time studying as you spend in each class every week. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t add up.

For example, if you are taking organic chemistry you should plan on studying for several hours each week. On the other hand, if you are taking an art elective that is intended for non-art students to meet their art class requirement, you may not have to study outside of class at all.

If you can, try to take a balance of intensive courses with some that are a bit easier. If you can ease up a little bit, you might free up some more leisure time.


Academics are important. There is no doubt about that. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that in order to be a happy, contributing member of society you have to live a well-balanced life. If you have no leisure time, miss out on important college experiences, and are constantly under pressure, that’s no way to live a healthy life. Use the tips in this article, and you will carve out more leisure time for yourself, while still maintaining high academic standards. When you graduate you will have the benefit of good grades, and valuable life experience.

Steven Mehler is an experienced writer, SEO expert and social psychologist that works as a freelance writer at and an editor at a local newspaper




5 Devices That Will Definitely Make Your Dorm Life Easier


By Sylvia Kohl

Student life can be tough at times, and a poorly organized, uncomfortable or just plain dirty dorm can exacerbate the situation to the point of being completely unbearable – which is especially true if it is your first long sojourn away from home. Therefore, keeping your dorm convenient, clean and generally fit for living plays a huge role in making your entire student life successful. Here are some devices that can considerably ease your strain.

1.    Portable Induction Cooktop

If you don’t want to stuff yourself with dubious food from your college cafeteria, these little things can be your way out. You should, of course, first check if your dorm policy allows them, but practice shows that the absolute majority of colleges is strictly opposed to hot plates, microwaves and toaster ovens but have nothing against induction cooktops. Get one, and you will never again have to depend on processed foods or whatever you can scrounge at a cafeteria. Combine it with gaining at least marginal cooking skills, and you get yourself a winner.

2.    Steam Mop

Keeping your dorm clean may sometimes seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you aren’t very lucky with your roommate. However, there are ways to take the edge off cleaning and tidying up – for example, steam mops. These things are compact, easy to use, save your time and come with an in-built water bucket – which means that you don’t have to lug one around, constantly risking to spill dirty water over your newly cleaned floors. In addition to their simplicity, steam mops don’t use chemicals and still disinfect better than most of them, turning cleaning into an easy and even pleasurable experience.

3.    Wake-Up Light

Getting up in the morning is a bane of all living things, but students in particular, due to their notoriously high workload and constant lack of sleep. In such conditions, it is especially important to find a way to not only get up on time, but actually get yourself up and running when you do so. Philips Wake-Up Light performs exactly this function – it is a lamp that lights up at the assigned moment and emits light the wavelength of which is close to that of real sun. As a result, it influences you brain and makes it immediately stop producing melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, thus making it easier to get up.

4.    One-Can Fridge

Sometimes – especially when you have to do a lot of cramming in a short period of time – getting up from the desk to go get a can of soda or other beverage may result in a half-hour distraction. Or longer – depending on how tired you are and how boring the subject you study is. A one-can-fridge is a nifty little device that can be plugged into any USB port and will keep exactly one regular-sized can cold (or warm, depending on what you need) until you need it. It is useful, it is stylish, it eliminates distractions – what else to want?

5.    Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Lack of space is about as problematic for students as the lack of funds – and Dirt Devil handheld vacuum successfully solves both of them. It is a small yet powerful vacuum cleaner that will help you quickly get your room cleaner – without occupying half of it when you don’t need it, and not costing half of your yearly budget.

It may come as a surprise, but dorm life can actually be bearable and even comfortable. Make good use of these devices and don’t let mundane problems keep you from all the excitement your new life presents you with!

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 7 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and beta-testing. This writer chose news about the increasing role of IT usage in colleges and schools as the most common topic for her articles.