Posts published in September, 2017

Should You Supplement Your Degree with Online Training Programs?


In constantly changing college academic and technological environments, there are several influencing factors that have been contributed to increased success at colleges. The foremost is utilizing online resources and training programs from beyond the classroom. There are many ways these are reflected on the student and their learning style. Although offered at varying expense rates, several studies have shown that participating in online courses; in conjunction with formal class training, has increased student success rates. These then result in improved grades, which can lead to greater opportunities. This is of importance for high risk students or those with different learning abilities, however students of all ages and demographics have been benefiting from online education.

Studies have shown that there are many different learning styles, therefore utilizing alternative training methods can be instrumental in student success. One reason online education is practical, is due to scheduling. Some courses are offered on a particular day or weekend, while others are offered through learn at your own pace concepts. The duration of each provides support for students through continual learning in a geared environment. Frequently, short weekend workshops are fast paced learning with direct access to instructors.

Many major workshops that are made available during non-school hours or require several hours of training provide digital certificates upon completion. These students become more prepared to take challenging college exams that are associated with their chosen course load. Leaving them with skills that place them above their peers upon graduation.

In addition, online training programs provide up-to-date standardized testing with real time courses and programming fundamentals that may not always be obvious in the classroom. These are conducted through a term called “blended learning” or outside the teaching space education.

In one way, “blended learning” enables the student to control their environment, therefore enhancing their comprehension and matching the learning methods that suit them best. All at a time that reflects their availability, and resulting in academic success in the physical classroom. It also allows them to pick and choose which online program will guide them towards greater success.

These durations may be in an open format, allowing courses to be completed and graded at random, while others are condensed into scheduled weekends. Access to these programs are not always reflected by financial necessity, with many free options such as massive open online course MOOCS and other paid versions available for students.

Regardless of the period time that the online educational experience spans, it is the use of different platforms that are the foundation of online training programs.  Supplementing an education through digital training fills the gaps where traditional academics are lacking. An online learning program such as project management training is a successful example of what can be accomplished with supplemental education.

Their supplemental education includes a flexible learning forum, and a detailed list of course materials which can be completed at the pace of the learner without the need for expensive computer systems. The instructor led classes enable the opportunity for questions to be answered promptly, while providing the resource to hear the question posed again from recorded training opportunities. These methods combined with regular attendance to college classes and the ability to repeat the exact teaching module, decreases the need for exam season ‘cramming’.

Online course supplements college education in ways that regular education does not. With the constantly changing technology, online learning can keep the pace where physical textbooks cannot. This leads to improving student success through enhanced understanding of concepts, providing knowledge based ‘real world’ challenges and the ability to transfer into a professional environment from an academic based one with ease.

Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to share the lessons learnt throughout his degree and to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life.



Jobs For College Students From Current IT Trends


Software development industry is a constantly developing landscape that completely changes its general outlook every few years. What we see today has very little in common with what existed half a decade ago, and half a decade later the situation will, again, be completely different. It may be not so obvious for users, but those who work or intend to work in the industry should keep their eyes peeled and foresee these changes to be able to steer their careers in the right direction. So which jobs are in demand right now and are going to be more so in the years to come? Let’s find out.

1.    Data Crunching

Businesses today produce an ever-growing amount of data, and it becomes increasingly obvious that in order to stay ahead of competition there should be somebody to digest and analyze this data so that it can be applied in a meaningful way. People with degrees in mathematics, statistics or engineering who are willing to work with spreadsheets and databases can find the job market right now more promising than ever.

2.    Web Application Testing

As time goes on and the competition in the sphere of website and software development is becoming more and more heated, the tolerance of users towards websites and applications that work imperfectly is getting weaker and weaker. In the past, a user often had no alternative but to keep using a particular app even if it was slow, constantly crashed, had an annoying UI and an obtuse user manual 200 pages long. Today the slightest annoyance or difficulty in use can lead to a user rage-quitting and going on looking for an alternative. The only way to decrease the likelihood of this scenario is extensive WEB testing of the app prior to and following the launch.

3.    AI-Driven Data Strategies

In this sphere, there are two trends that are at odds with each other: businesses gradually begin to see the possibilities and implications of using AI in their applications and services but they face the lack of specialists with relevant skills of sufficiently high level. The thing is, the most promising new graduating students are joining giant cloud IT providers like Google or Microsoft, with the rest of the business community having to be content with what’s left. In other words, if you want a guaranteed job security in the years to come, AI is the way to go.

4.    Big Data

The demand for big data skills is still on the rise – it grew by more than 50 percent in the course of the last year and shows no signs of slowing down. Salaries in this sector don’t slack off either and show the highest average values in the market.

5.    Cyber Security

The Internet of Things is making the need for permanent staff with specialized knowledge in the area of cyber security an ever more pressing concern. Over just the Q4 of 2016, the demand grew by more than 40 percent. This means that security analysts, architects, engineers, testers, consultants and so on right now have a better chance than ever of dictating their own employment terms.

IT as an industry is undergoing a more intensive period of growth than ever, and this tendency is likely to keep up for a long time. However, in order to achieve success in this field it isn’t enough to just be a random IT specialist – choosing your area of specialization and steering your career at the right time in the right direction can be crucial for long-term results. We hope that our list can give you some food for thought.

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 8 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and she convinced that learning process doesn’t stop after years in school and university.


A Job That Fits?: Questions to Ask Yourself While Interviewing


Job interviews are very stressful. It feels like the people interviewing you have a tremendous amount of power and you have none. But have you ever heard the saying, “You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you?” There’s some truth to that. Sure, there’s no use pretending that they’re not more in control of the situation than you are, but remember that you have plenty to offer as well. They want you to be a good fit for the job, and you want them to be a good fit for you. It’s a mutual evaluation process, and to that end, you should be thinking of more than just “Do they like me?”

Do the workers seem happy?

Ideally, everyone you meet in the office will be enthusiastic and eager to tell you all about why working at Company Y is so great. Realistically, most people will be too busy with their work to do anything except introduce themselves and say hi when your potential boss is showing you around the office. Still, there are some important clues in the work environment. Do people seem focused and driven, or just depressed? Are people using landlines, company-issued cell phones, or both? Are there a lot of empty cubicles? The latter could be a sign that the company has been through several rounds of layoffs and cutbacks in the last few years, or maybe just a sign that there’s a high turnover. Speaking of turnover, if you get the chance, ask your interviewer how long they’ve worked there. It’s great if they’ve worked there ten years and plan to retire there, but it’s not necessarily bad if they’ve only been there a few months. However, it is bad if no one in the company has worked there more than a couple of years.

Where will the company be in five years?

It’s very common for an interviewer to ask, “So, where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s tempting to reply with something snarky like “Not homeless,” but resist the urge. They’re looking to find out more about your goals and how the company might or might not fit with those goals. It’s also fair to ask the same thing of the company: What’s their growth outlook? Is the industry doing well or doing poorly? It’s easy to know that some industries are doing poorly (like newspapers) while others are booming (like software), but there’s still a wide amount of variance from company to company. The answer you get is important, but so is how the interviewer says it. If they pause and look uncomfortable, or even get angry at you for asking, that’s not great. As long as you phrase the question politely, they should at least try to give you an answer.

Are the benefits generous or stingy?

Plenty of people ask about pay at a job interview, but not as many candidates think to mention benefits. Things like health insurance are pretty standard, but if there’s time, feel free to dig a little deeper. Does the company offer life insurance to its employees, or will you have to buy your own through a place like OurLifeCovered? What is the company’s parental leave policy? Is there a 401k, and if so, does the company match? An organization that cares about its employees should be able to offer more than just the most basic benefits. Sometimes a lower-than-expected salary can be offset somewhat by a generous package of benefits. If the pay is low and the benefits are terrible, maybe you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Anthony Masterton is a young entrepreneur trying to break through in the Tech world. When he’s not working on growing his young startup, he writes about everything from tech advancements to his own experiences as a young CEO. A self starter, he likes to help others learn from his own successes and failures, as it’s always easiest to learn from experience.


College Students Need to Learn Search Engine Optimization


Whether you plan to go into marketing as a career or are simply trying to market yourself, as a college student you really do need to learn as much about SEO (search engine optimization) as you possibly can.


Why do you need to learn about SEO? Understanding SEO has a multitude of benefits, even if you don’t plan on becoming a marketing professional or starting your own business after you graduate. Read on to learn more.


Benefits of Knowing SEO


  • Know the Search Engines – Do you know what it takes for a website to appear high on search engines? Obviously, you know that website owners want their sites to rank high on search engines (especially Google). Learning about SEO will show you why this is so essential and explain how it is done. The more you know, the easier it is to drive traffic to your website.
  • Website Design Improvement – Learning about SEO also helps you create a better website, both in terms of UX (“user experience”), traffic and search engine ranking. Whether your website is for business or personal use, it’s in the best interest of you and your visitors to have a well-designed, organized and optimized site. Understanding SEO is an important first step to creating this.
  • Have Optimized Content – The better and more optimized your content is, the more traffic you will attract to a website. When you have a good handle on how SEO works, you will be better positioned to create more compelling and better-optimized content that ranks higher on search engines and, consequently, gets more traffic (and customers). Take advantage of the guidelines offered by search engines and SEO professionals to help you produce the highest quality and most optimized content possible for your SEO content strategy.
  • Understand Keywords – The more you know about keywords, the more you will be to use them to drive more traffic to your website. Keywords are among the most important fundamentals of any internet search, and there are certain keywords used more than others. By learning SEO, you will learn how to find the right keywords to target for your site.

How to Learn About SEO

The good news is that it’s not difficult to find SEO educational resources. You can find plenty of help online from,, and other well-known SEO marketing companies. You can also take a marketing course while you are in school, even if you are not a business major. But, there is a lot more to learning about and understanding SEO than just getting information online or in a classroom setting. You need to really be involved in the online community.

Now is the time to start actively participating in SEO-related forums, subscribe to online SEO-related newsletters and network with SEO professionals on campus and in the online community. The more you engage now, the easier it will be for you to understand just how SEO works, and how to use it to your advantage when you get out into the real world. So get online and dig into SEO so you can get the hands-on SEO education that you can never get from reading books on the subject or sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture.


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.


Choosing The Right Company to Work For


We all know that it’s not easy to choose the right company to work for, especially when you’re just starting out and making your first forays into the workforce. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there have been plenty of times when someone has charged ahead and taken a position at the first company that offers one, only to immediately regret their decision of signing that contract once the honeymoon period is over.

Something important to keep in mind before venturing out into the world is that being offered a job doesn’t mean that you have to take it. The smart way to go about it would be to do your research and find out exactly what kind of company you’re committing to.

So, what are some of the things to look out for in a company that could potentially employ you? Below is a list of tips that should help you find your way to the best fit for you.

Public image: One of the first things you need to do is to research the company’s public image to get at least an idea of what kind of business you would be committing yourself to. If you like the look of their communication efforts and marketing campaigns, you’re headed in the right direction.

Nose around for a bit on the company’s website; check out the mission and vision. Have a look at their social media pages and gather as much information as you can that’s available for the public.

You would be surprised at just how much you can learn about a company this way.

Work environment: This is a biggie that tends to fall through the cracks sometimes. You have to be sure to check into the work environment of the company. You will be spending most of your days at the office, after all, so it’s really important that the environment is somewhere you feel comfortable but challenged at the same time.

This, of course, means different things to different people, so you have to know which environments suits you best beforehand. Is it somewhere fast-paced where you go from one challenge to the next? Or do you prefer a quiet ambiance where you can do your best thinking?

A good way to find out what the work environment is like in a company is to observe the people working there as much as you are able. You will probably have the chance to do so during the interviewing process.

Wellness programs: Another great way to find out if a company is going to value you as their employee is if there are wellness programs put in place. If you’re not familiar with these programs, their purpose is to instill healthy behaviors in employees by offering incentives. These incentives vary from discounted gym memberships, paid time off, access to nutritionists, etc.

If a company has one of these programs, you know that they at least consider their employees’ welfare and health.

Career growth opportunity: Another really important thing to keep in mind when choosing the right company is whether they are more likely to promote their employees when looking to fill a position, or they search for someone outside of it.

This is something to keep in mind because when a company chooses to promote their employees, they will more than likely offer training courses and such to capacitate them. Meaning a lot of opportunities for growth.

Take aways

The best company to work for, in my experience, is the one that values you as an employee and doesn’t see you as just another cog in the machine. Of course, you have to make yourself valuable to the company as a working relationship is not a one-way street.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at


8 Ways to Reduce & Avoid Overwhelming College Student Loan Debt


For many people, the best way to get ahead in life is to go to college or university and get a degree that will enable them to work in the field of their choice. But, there is one problem with this: many students end up with so much student loan debt that they can’t even start working on getting ahead until they get that debt paid off, which can take several years. Luckily, there are many ways that you can reduce your student debt load, and in some cases, avoid a lot of it all together. Here are eight things you can do to reduce or avoid a lot of student loan debt.

  1. Only Borrow what You Need – A lot of students make the mistake of borrowing more than they actually need, so they have extra spending money. While this may seem like a great thing while you are in school, when you get out, you have to pay it back. Calculate your total costs, and only borrow that amount.
  2. Save Your Fives – A lot of people take the change they have at the end of each day and put it in a jar to save for later. You can take this a step further and save all of your five dollar bills. You will be saving a lot more in the long run, and then you will have money that you can use to pay down your student loan debt after you graduate.
  3. Leave the Country – You can work abroad, and often be exempt from paying taxes on pretty high incomes, up to around $100,000 per year. The money you can save on taxes can be used to help pay down your student loan debt, so you get it paid off quicker and you can start using your income for other things.
  4. Make Bi Weekly Payments – “Instead of making monthly student loan payments, make a payment every other week. You will be making 26 half payments, which means that you will actually be making an extra payment each year. While this may not seem like much, every little bit counts when it comes to getting rid of your student loan debt,” suggests an expert from
  5. Look for Other Funding Sources – There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to pay for college. It is never too late to look for additional funding sources, including scholarships and bursaries, both of which you do not have to repay. Apply for every scholarship and bursary that you are eligible for, and you may be able to avoid a lot of student loan debt.
  6. Be Frugal – Now is the time to start learning how to live frugally. An off-campus apartment may seem like a good idea, but think about how much more it is going to cost in the long run. Look for ways to save money, and you won’t be wasting as much of your student loan money (and maybe even have some left over to use towards the payments later).
  7. Volunteer – Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, and learn new skills. But, did you also know that it can help to pay off student loans? For instance, SponsorChange lets college grads donate their time and skills in exchange for student loan payments, which amounts to anywhere from $10 to $20 per hour.
  8. Look at All of the Options – There are many different loan options available to students, and some are a lot better than others when it comes to repayment schedules, interest, etc. You might actually do better in the long run with a private loan rather than taking out a lot of student loans. Now is the time to start researching all of your financing options.


Lorraine McKinney is an academic tutor and elearning specialist. 

Dorm of the Future: Student Residences Can Change with IoT


The Internet of Things is growing, and the things are becoming more interesting every day. These days an increasing number of smart home devices are already widely used in many modern apartments. Whether it is a smart light bulb, a thermostat, or a personal assistant that orders lunches for you, name a home appliance and you will probably find a smart analog for it.

If you rent an apartment or live in a student dorm, it can be harder to pick out devices that you can use in your accommodation. When you don’t own your home, there are different rules dictating you what modifications you can apply to adapt living spaces to your needs. However, this is no longer an issue.

What is a Dorm of the Future?

 IoT technologies in private houses have evolved from a concept to a widespread solution that is now used on campuses and in higher education.

Colleges and universities are already using smart lighting, HVAC systems, and other mechanical equipment to optimize facilities. College dorm security has been reinforced by connecting door locks, video surveillance and alarms to the remote control system. The Internet of Things makes it possible to control virtually everything, from student behavior to air quality in dorm rooms.

While colleges and universities are evaluating their existing infrastructure and gradually implementing IoT solutions into their educational process and student campuses, there are already several high-tech dorm rooms that demonstrate the benefits of smart living.

A Berkeley student, Derek Low shows off BRAD (Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm), which he outfitted with motion detectors, curtains that open and close with the help of a smartphone app, and, of course, a “romantic mode” including a disco ball and music.

Twin beds, no privacy, and noise 24/7. This is life on campus. Arizona State University in Tempe has ruined this stereotype forever with winning Stanford and MIT as a most innovative school in higher education. Why is that?

Taking into account their forward thinking and implementation of smart dorm strategy, ASU is using the Internet of Things to provide quality education as well as comfortable living for all students.

Using the latest Amazon technologies for smart home appliances, the university is installing personal assistants in engineering dorms. They call them “Ask ASU” devices that will help resolve related issues. Moreover, all students will have the opportunity to build on the platform and suggest how to broaden the technology across the university. Moreover, the university has.

The university has set up so called virtual ‘beacons’ in classrooms to find out trends in student attendance, which allow administrators to identify students who might need any assistance with their studies. The university also wants to replace traditional IDs and provide students with wearables that will bring more security to the campuses.

While ASU has already adopted the IoT technologies, other universities are currently in the developing stage. Duke University has built a smart home that demonstrates what a campus should be in future. In this laboratory students can live with access to all the different smart home technologies, so they can come up with ideas and try to build a prototype to make life better.

Dorm life isn’t for everyone, but a wide range of smart devices can make it as comfortable as possible to live in campuses. There is still a lot of uncertainty about how many smart devices will be connected on any campus and how it will impact the student’s lives. However, the adoption of IoT in higher education has already begun and will bring a lot of changes with an array of automated systems.

David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.






Why You Should Integrate an Internship Into Your Degree



During the summer holidays of my freshman year, I undertook a short 3-day internship doing communications work for Impressive Digital. Although I was only there for 3 days, I experienced rapid personal growth, both from professional and personal perspectives. Most importantly, I learnt that sitting an entire undergraduate degree without sitting at least one internship is a huge missed opportunity.

Internships are the new way of volunteering. They provide students with an opportunity to develop a strong understanding of what is expected of them in the field and whether they enjoy what occurs on a day-to-day basis. While some people do not believe internships are important, or there is not enough time during the day between studying and classes, there are some aspects that should be considered.

One topic is experience. It is great to have a degree or diploma, but to have one with experience is an asset that employers are starting to focus on. Why is this important? It comes down to the job market. With colleges and universities graduating higher amounts of students than ever before, taking part in an internship can be a big step towards long-term employment. Internships can increase the post graduate employment potential of students by 75%, which makes them well worth considering as an option.

What else can be learnt from an internship?

Relationship building. This goes beyond face-to -face interactions and is extended to the kinds of communication that are often forgotten about. An email, a phone call or even a message via social media all influence and contribute to the relationships that you build every day. Building a strong relationship with managers and co-workers during an internship is important and can have strong ripple effects. It is essential to begin long-term planning for your desired career during your college years. This includes maintaining contact after the internship has ended, regardless of its length. Strong communication can lead to future networking opportunities, full-time employment offers, and a coveted reference. An internship combined with a reference and a solid education is more likely to result in not just a job, but also a fulfilling career.

Work experience. Internships increase your ability to enter your chosen field with confidence. Participating in an internship helps in overcoming first day nerves and breaks down the barriers that exist between the education system and your dream entry-level position. Often a primary consideration for undertaking an internship is the opportunity to gain experience in the field without long-term commitment. This can be the greatest educator of all, and it’s a chance to determine if your education and chosen professional environment are a good fit.

Increasing future salary expectations. When applying for entry-level position, one of job seekers’ most pressing questions is: “What is a reasonable wage?” Being a fresh graduate can limit your potential wage. Internship experience not only enhances employability, but it also increases wage expectations. The experience of students who have been in the field, know the job, and have established relationships is unmatched by student without internship experience. As a result, those who have been through internships demand higher wages.

In closing, participating in an internship goes beyond learning. It is about establishing relationships that connect to future job potential and professional opportunities. Internships develop confidence through experience and build trust with future employers. This confidence can be carried into almost every aspect of life.

Many educational programs, including those at Stanford, offer internships or the ability for students to procure their own work experience and have a notation placed on their transcript. Considering everything above, as a student, it is worth seeking an internship that connects strongly with your character and personality and matches what an employer is seeking. Combining these factors will develop your skills, intellect, and global outlook in more ways than one.

Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to share the lessons learnt throughout his degree and to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life.



Marriage in College: Academic Success and Building a Family


There are many couples that get together while in college – however, most of them have a rather fleeting nature and never get serious enough for long-term commitment. There is a small but notable percentage of those who take their relationship seriously enough to consider getting married without waiting. Is it a good idea? Let’s look at pros and cons.


1.      Financial support

Many colleges offer financial support to married couples who both attend college. While it is a certainly nice thing to have, even the most lavish support is hardly a good enough reason to consider marriage when taken separately.

2.      Shared experiences

Couples that get together later miss out on the significant events in each other’s lives, both good and bad. Getting married in college allows you to go through these experiences together, potentially strengthening the bonds.

3.      Long-term perspective

For most people, college is usually a fairly irresponsible time. You tend to have a good time without thinking much about where you are going to be 5, 10, 20 years from now. Getting married usually settles you down and helps you take a more long-term view on your life.

4.      Mutual support

One thing is certain – you are never going to be lonely. Somebody is always going to be beside you to support, listen to you and take up part of the responsibilities if you are going through a particularly rough spell.


1.      Extra responsibilities

Marriage means that a lot of your attention is going to be diverted to your spouse. Most people feel that in college they have their plate full enough with nothing but studies – add to that your marital responsibilities, and you will have a life in which you don’t have a minute to yourself.

2.      Immaturity

You may believe otherwise, but biologically humans don’t finish their basic cognitive development until well into their twenties. You are sure to see many of the decisions you make now as immature, ill-considered and just plain stupid. And marriage is a decision with consequences that may be very hard to compensate for.

3.      Parents’ disapproval

Almost certainly, both yours and your partner’s parents are going to disapprove, and it can be very hard to deal with, especially if you are dependent on them financially.

4.      Growing out of your relationship

The same person may be, in fact, two completely different people at 19 and 30. Your marriage may be alright for a couple of years, but after graduating you can suddenly discover that both you and your spouse are completely different from who you were when you got married – and no longer have anything in common. If your relationship is strong enough, getting married can wait until after graduation. If it isn’t, getting married is a bad decision at any age.

How to make It work

1.      Share responsibilities

It is important for any marriage, but doubly so for time-starved college students. Share responsibilities and make sure both of you understand who does what.

2.      Consult a family lawyer

It may sound like a rather cynical thing to say to a couple considering marriage, but knowing all the legal ramifications of getting married before the fact and having a skilled family lawyer familiar with your case at hand can be incredibly useful.

3.      Exercise discipline

Particularly in the financial sphere. Learn to budget. Avoid debt like plague. Prioritize your needs over wants. Make sure both of you agree to this solution.

Just like in many other areas, the answer to the question whether getting married in college is a good idea would be this: it depends on the situation, the people involved and many other factors.

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 8 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and she convinced that learning process doesn’t stop after years in school and university.



Why To Read For Pleasure At College

By Parinaz Samimi

You may never read a book again after college.

If this sounds like a relief, you’re not alone: 42% of college graduates never pick up a book again after finishing school. Reading a novel for simple pleasure falls by the wayside in the deluge of modern life; turning on the TV and turning off the brain is an unconscious decision for an increasing segment of the population.

If you’re still reading this, good for you — literally. The benefits of reading, whether you’re still in college or not, can affect everything from your social life to your professional aspirations to your personal health. To a student buried under piles of books and required texts, the thought of reading just for the sake of reading might seem crazy, but here are just seven ways that keeping up with words can give you an edge over the 42-percenters:


  1. Brain Connectivity Let’s get the science out of the way first: in a study led by Dr. Gregory S. Berns of the Emory University Center for Neuropolicy, brain connectivity improvement caused by reading was registered in the left temporal cortex, an area associated with receptivity for language. “The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” says Dr. Berns. “The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes improves theory of mind.”


  1. Focus, Concentration and Memory

Internet surfing, Slack chatting, IRL interaction — all daily multitasking that splits your attention, ups your stress and stunts productivity. Logging off and reading a book for just 15-20 minutes before class or work can sharpen your focus, and the concentration needed to fully submerse yourself in a novel is an invaluable skill to retain. Likewise, keeping track of literary characters, plotlines and backgrounds strengthens memory muscles, as every new memory created forges new synapses and bolsters existing ones.


  1. Analytical Skills

If you’ve read a mystery novel and solved the crime before finishing the book, you’ve exercised some diagnostic finesse that you probably didn’t even know you had (and we’ll get to fancy words like “diagnostic” and “finesse” in a moment). Analytical skills in visualizing, articulating, conceptualizing or problem-solving by making sound decisions based on available information can be reinforced through reading. According to Stanford University’s Joshua Landy, you can even gain “a new set of methods for becoming a better maker of arguments.”


  1. Vocabulary

The more words you read, the more words you’ll know — if you weren’t familiar with the terms “diagnostic” and “finesse” a paragraph ago, you are now (if you looked them up, that is). Being articulate and well-spoken is an inestimable trait to possess, be it in the classroom, a job interview or even the most innocuous of social locus. Of course, not every situation calls for the overly ornate verbiage of these illustrative sentences, but they’re useful to have at the tip of your tongue. Or brain, if you will.


  1. Writing

Want to be a better writer? Read better writers. Or even the worse ones, as cautionary examples of what to avoid. Ideally, though, you’ll gravitate toward worthy authors who will inspire you to write out your own ideas — or borrow some of theirs. (Every writer and artist does it, just be sure to revise and expand, not simply mimic.) There are many ways to spur creative thinking, but when it comes to writing, reading the style and cadence of an entertaining novelist is one of the ultimate inspirations.


  1. Knowledge and New Interests

Gaining new knowledge from reading is kind of a given, right? Even reading the same book over again can reveal new angles and aspects you might not have caught the first time. New knowledge can also lead to new interests and hobbies: you might never have thought of picking up a musical instrument before you read that Jimi Hendrix biography, or considered becoming an economist before digging into “The Wealth of Nations.” And some hobbies can make you smarter, thus feeding your brain even more than reading alone.


  1. Relaxation and Sleep

The most immediate, and arguably most valuable benefits of reading are decompressing, de-stressing and simply relaxing — even the most intense thriller is a calming reprieve from a long day of classes or hours at work. Quality relaxation lowers cortisol levels, which leads to quality sleep. You’ll want to stick with fiction, as non-fiction (such as business or current events books) tends to switch your brain into active mode, while a story can turn off the part of the brain that’s overly critical. Lesson: at bedtime, turn off Stephen Colbert and pick up Stephen King.


Reading makes your life, and your brain, better — it’s also free and easy, the magic words for any college student. There’s no downside to reading every day: don’t view it as an obligation and you’ll never fall out of one of the healthiest habits a person can have.

Parinaz Samimi is a certified yoga instructor and sleep and wellness expert. She is passionate about sharing her experiences to help inspire and empower others to cultivate happiness, health, and productivity. Having both a Masters in Public Health and one in Business Administration, she has taken great interest in sleep and well-being—specifically their relationship with and correlation to health and productivity. In her free time, she can be found traveling, exploring the outdoors, and enjoying a good book over a glass of Malbec.