Archive for March, 2018

The Benefits of Smoking-Free Lifestyle for University Students

March 30th, 2018

By Phyllis Baker

University can be an overwhelming experience. Students choose markedly different ways to cope with stress. While some go in for sports, others smoke. What makes them choose the latter option? And how does it affect studying?

It’s interesting that smokers try to find at least one excuse for their habit. To objectively evaluate such lifestyle, we’ll weight all the pros and cons.

Pro: Relieving stress?

Students’ schedules are busy: lots of assignments, extracurricular activities, part-time job, and a private life. High pressure makes them look for the ways to relax. A traditional cigarette or an electronic cigar becomes a pill against stress.

Con: No!

Numerous studies prove the contrary. British researchers from Oxford University and King’s College London found out that smoking doesn’t reduce stress. Quitting does! They claim that smoking causes anxiety and say that smokers “deserve to know this”.

Pro: Easier communication.

Freshmen often start smoking just to make friends in a new place. It can be a tool for socializing – just ask a fellow smoker for a cigarette or the brand of their e cig vaporizer (visit vapingdaily.com for more info). The conversation has already begun!

Con: Going outside for a smoke break.

Smoking in the dorm is forbidden. And nicotine cravings force you to leave a comfy room and go outdoors in any weather, be it a heavy rain or frost.

Con: Smoking bans across the universities.

More and more universities and colleges go tobacco-free. The reason for this tendency is creating a healthier and more accessible environment for employees, students, and visitors. Now, each nicotine addicted student has to go off campus every time they need a five-minute break, no matter how far it is.

Pro: A possibility to avoid a boring or unpleasant conversation.

A smoker can interrupt a conversation any time by saying: “Excuse me, please. I need to go and smoke a cigarette.” It’s a sure way to leave a bothersome chatterbox alone if they don’t smoke.

Con: You diminish a chance of getting into relationships.

What would you do if you meet the man or woman of your dreams but he or she is against cigarette smoking? You would kick smoking immediately, wouldn’t you? Well, it’s easier said than done. Breaking any habit is challenging.

Pro: Controlling weight.

Some students keep using tobacco for purposes of weight control and weight loss. On average, smokers weigh seven pounds less than non-smokers. Smoking kills appetite and decreases the sense of taste and smell. But for the side effects like cancer, it would be a good weight-control strategy.

Con: An enormous health burden.

Tobacco use increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. 16 types of cancer can be caused by this habit. In fact, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.

Con: Damaging your budget.

You need money to cover accommodation, food, transport, study materials, etc. Count the monthly expenses on cigarettes. Don’t you think it’s time to improve your money management skills?

Con: Worse memory

The researchers from Northumbria University in England performed a simple but interesting experiment to test “real world” memory abilities. The volunteers were 69 participants of a university campus tour. 27 of them were current smokers, 18 were ex-smokers, and 24 never smoked.

People received a list of 15 campus locations to visit and actions to make at each of them. For example, they were supposed to find the library and check their phones for new messages there or visit the sports center in order to ask about the cost of membership. The results are as follows:

  • On average, the smokers completed 8.9 tasks correctly.
  • The former smokers had 11 correctly completed tasks. That is 25% better performance in comparison with the current smokers.
  • People who had never smoked performed an average of 12.1 tasks which is 37% better than the result of the smokers.

Con: Lower GPA.

According to the study released by the University of Minnesota, college students who use tobacco are less likely to show high academic performance.

Those who said they had smoked within the past month had an average GPA of 3.12 compared with a 3.28 GPA for those who reported not smoking. Surprisingly, even students who smoked a few cigarettes in a month had lower GPAs than those who didn’t smoke at all.

For a university student, there are still more cons than pros to smoking during studying. Dropping the useless habit will have more benefits than improving your health and academic performance. Here they are:

  • Becoming more socially acceptable by non-smoking peers
  • Becoming a good role model for your siblings
  • No more awful smell from your hair and clothes
  • Reduced risk of diseases of family and friends from second-hand smoke exposure
  • Decreased guilt of harming your family and friends
  • Making them proud of you
  • Feeling proud of yourself
  • Strengthened willpower
  • Increased sense of self-esteem
  • Upgraded confidence in setting and achieving goals
  • Avoiding premature aging of the skin
  • Increased sense of taste and smell
  • Less negative impact on the environment
  • No nagging feelings of always wanting to quit.

There’re different ways to quit smoking:

  • The cold turkey approach (shunning smoking at one go);
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gums, and lozenges);
  • Professional assistance (support from a qualified health professional);
  • The alternative method (using an e-cigarette).

You might have heard that e-cigs are a healthier alternative to smoking and seen unique e cigs on the net. Vapors all over the world report that they managed to reduce the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoke.

As a college student, you should think twice before lighting a cigarette. The habit puts smokers in a disadvantaged position. To improve your wellbeing, academic results, social relationships, and other aspects of your life, consider giving up smoking.

It doesn’t matter what method you use. Just keep in mind the benefits you will reap when you succeed.

About the Author: Phyllis Baker is the journalist and blogger. Currently, she manages public relations for the quitting smoking community.

 

Enhance Your College Experience? Try These 4 Extracurricular Areas

March 29th, 2018

 

By: Susan Parker

 Many students go through college with minimal or no participation in extra curricular activities, with the excuse being that they would rather focus on academics. Being serious with your studies is certainly laudable, but to exclude extracurricular activities is also to deprive yourself of all the benefits that come along with them.

Although different activities have specific features and attendant benefits, they will generally enable you to meet with a diverse group of people with whom you have shared interests. The bonds that you form in those activities will often be some of the strongest you’ll form throughout your life and the network will be very important when you become a professional. Here are four different activities to consider, and what you can expect from them:

  1. Sports Clubs

Whether it’s soccer, basketball or rugby you’re interested in or something less hectic like tennis or cycling, you’ll certainly find a club for it on campus. By taking up these activities, you’ll stay in shape and might even get to play professionally if you’re skilled enough. You’ll usually have to try out in order to be admitted and then turn up for weekly practice sessions.

If your major is in health and physical sciences, athletics or exercise science, you’ll benefit even more because of the practical experience you’ll be gaining at matches, events and conferences you participate in.

  1. Debating

Public speaking is one of the most important skills for professionals across virtually every field today, and debating is one of the best ways to immerse yourself and develop your strength in that area exponentially. You’ll need to brush up on your research skills and learn to think very quickly on your feet as well, which will also be very important outside school.

If you represent your college and do well at national and international tournaments, you’ll even become something of a celebrity within the circuit and may get invited (and paid) to give talks and train other colleges.

  1. Student Government

“When you apply for scholarships, fellowships or jobs that prioritize leadership ability (which is a lot of them, nowadays), there’s no better way to prove that you fit the bill than by showing them your track record of participating in student government while at college,” said Dan Fox, CEO of Boss Laser.

Apart from showing that you are responsible and someone that other people look up to, your experience at project management, bookkeeping and any other skill you picked up will definitely count favorably for you.

  1. Volunteering and Community Service

Spending time in an endeavor to help other people without the expectation of a reward can be very fulfilling. You’ll be helping to make the lives of other people better and that will certainly be a point in your favor with anyone who goes through your Resume or LinkedIn profile.

When you consider that there’s an outlet for whatever skills or interests you have in the volunteering sphere, from taking care of animals, coaching children, helping people with aids to sleep better or fixing things around the neighborhood, you’ll see that there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t spend some time volunteering.

Of all the different activities available for you in college, the four above offer a great combination of opportunity to acquire essential skills as well as being attractive for your resume when it’s time to get a job. Physical health, leadership experience and top-notch presentation skills are essential elements of succeeding in virtually every career nowadays, and when you add the goodwill that’ll come from being active as a volunteer, you’ll be all set for career success as soon as you graduate. Plus, while you’re in school, your experience will be enriched thoroughly through the people you’ll become friends with and all the activities you’ll share with them.

 Susan Parker is a writer and tech geek. She volunteers for local environmental conservation programs and writes stories online about things that inspire her.

Postsecondary Education: Waste of time or worth it?

March 28th, 2018

BY ANTON LUCANUS

 

It’s a question commonly asked by 20-something-year-old graduates: fresh out of college, knee-debt in debt, six months into the job hunt and already finding that without a Masters or PHD the chance of scoring a high paying job is fairly low, contrary to common belief.

Was the investment in tertiary education worth it?

Was it worth the time and effort invested in the application process? Was it worth the countless hours spent toiling over an argumentative essay for a subject never to be spoken of again? Was it worth the $30 grand in debt?

A mere 38 percent of college graduates think that yes, getting a higher education was worth the cost, according to 30,000 American graduates interviewed by Gallup-Purdue Index. And the numbers of students enrolling in tertiary institutions across the country are now beginning to reflect this uncertainty, after a boom in enrolments through the late 1900s which saw enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increase 23 percent between 1995 and 2005. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment has been declining since 2010–11. Enrollment peaked in 2010 at just over 21 million students but by the fall of 2014 there were 812,069 fewer students opting into getting a tertiary education.

Is it because students are becoming increasingly disillusioned by out-of-college employments prospects and the uncertain economic times we are living in?

The sheer magnitude of debt accrued by students today and the cost of gaining a tertiary education often deter people from pursuing higher education. Some prefer to simply enter into the workforce as unskilled laborers, baristas or low-level clerks straight out of school, enabling them to begin earning right away and avoiding the unnecessary burden of student debt.

In the United States, the average wage of workers with a bachelor’s degree has declined by a whopping 10 percent in the first part of this century, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Having a bachelor’s degree no longer guarantees an easy ride to the top of a professional firm, rather, it simply puts you a step above the less educated workers whose options are limited to clerical jobs, manual labor and hospitality roles. Since when was it required to speak several languages, hold multiple PHDs and have contacts in the industry in order to get a decent job? Many graduates are finding that their tertiary education provides very little value to them once they are out in the working world, forcing them to question whether it was all worth it.

Roughly one in three college graduates (34 percent) today work in jobs that do not require a degree, meaning that much of the college-educated workforce are not using their skills in the workplace, and the unemployment rate for recent college graduates has remained stuck around 9 percent for some time now. To add to this, fifteen years ago, 55 percent of underemployed college graduates earned more than $45,000 per year, but that figure has dropped to just 43 percent today. For even more recent college graduates, that figure fell from 47 percent to 34 percent. The outlook for new graduates is grim, to say the least.

But studies have consistently shown that investment in human capital pays off, every time. Economists have carefully studied labor market “returns” on education for close to fifty years now, and the findings have been remarkably consistent: typically graduates earn more than comparable non-graduates to equate to roughly a ten percent annual return on their initial investment in tertiary education. This is almost on par with the return on physical capital investments, and lowers the cost to society by lessening the dependency costs of graduate students.

We see the benefits of a tertiary education more than ever during an economic recession. During poor economic periods unemployment rates in general are usually terrible, but for those lacking higher education the situation is considerably worse. Take the most recent economic recession in the United States, for example. The average national unemployment rate was over nine percent, but for those with a bachelor’s degree that number dropped to around four percent. Having a degree provides people with a security blanket; leverage with which to play off against other, lesser qualified candidates. Education is also the only real way of breaking the cycle of generational poverty. In a family where all but one has no education beyond high school, it is likely that the person with a tertiary education will fare better in their lifetime than the others, professionally-speaking. Admittedly, it takes nothing but “gift of the gab” and confidence to network, establish relationships and develop entrepreneurial talent – but in order to be able to take advantage of expanding markets and burgeoning opportunities in the business world, one generally needs to have a tertiary level understanding of economics, business and marketing.

Let’s face it. Getting a degree won’t protect millennials from unemployment. One must consistently develop and nurture new skills in order to remain competitive and stay ahead of the pack. But a bachelor’s degree will certainly enable graduates to fare better than their less educated counterparts during times of economic sluggishness – that is for absolute certain.

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.

 

 

Impact and Prevention of Technology Concerning Student Cheating

March 27th, 2018

BY ANNABEL MONAGHAN

The vast majority of Americans – 95 percent – today own a mobile phone. In 2015, 64 percent of American adults owned a smartphone and that percentage has grown to almost 77 percent in recent years. For adults aged 18 to 29, a whopping 94 percent own smartphones, according to Pew Research Center.

While the growing popularity of smartphones is often seen as “progress”, it is also having a monumentally negative impact on the tertiary education sector.  The increased use of technology has contributed to the simplification and ease of copying homework assignments – and cheating in general – across schools and tertiary institutions around the world. Despite the fact that repercussions for cheating are severe, involving possible suspension or expulsion, 62% of U.S. students have reported seeing or hearing of another student using a connected device to cheat on an exam, quiz or project. In the U.K., there has been a 42% rise in cheating cases involving gadgets such as mobile phones and hidden earpieces since 2012, and in Australia cheating via technology is also on the rise at universities, with engineering and international students the most likely offenders. In one study across eight national universities and four colleges in Australia, it was found that a “widespread tolerance for cheating” existed among students and staff, with 68 percent of university staff admitting they had found “suspected contract cheaters” among their students in the past.

“Contract cheating” is perhaps the most serious form of academic dishonesty, involving students putting out a tender for others to complete their homework, coursework and assessments. But most students are cheating in a far simpler way: by switching on their mobile devices and snapping a photo of a classmate’s work, enabling them to copy that homework almost word for word in order to avoid doing it themselves. Students are also using mobile phones or earpieces during exams, by activating their device’s infrared, Bluetooth, or texting applications to share exam information with other test takers.

With the rise of technology, academic cheating is becoming more and more prolific, with hundreds of thousands of websites now offering custom-written papers, selling cheat aids and publishing how-to-cheat videos, teaching students anything from how to load programmable calculators with exam responses to how to replace a water bottle’s nutrition information with mathematics notes. Students are cheating in extremely advanced ways – with some even resorting to the use of a virtual private network to protect their activities.

But teachers are catching up, quickly.

The learning center Happy Numbers notes, “using new technologies, including text-matching software and plagiarism websites, webcams, biometric equipment, as well as drawing on strategies such as virtual students and cheat-proof tests, it is ever so slowly becoming harder to plagiarize other students work”. Surprisingly, teachers often find they have the most success in identifying plagiarism by simply Googling phrases they find in students’ papers. But more tech-savvy professors and teachers set up web “honey pots” – phony Web pages that answer specific questions allocated by them for homework with blatantly out-of-date or inaccurate information. Innovative technologies like Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) provide a way of improving the accuracy of assessment by addressing cheating concerns, by using an algorithm to choose test items based on students’ strengths and weaknesses. Using this method, every student takes a different test. As a result of new “anti-cheat” innovations like these, the U.S. has seen the percentage of students who admit to cheating – which rose from 20 percent in the mid-1900s to over 50 percent in 2002 – drop down to around 10 percent in recent years.

But the reality is, advances in technology will continue allowing for easy, accessible sharing unless significant steps are taken to address the problem.

Some attribute the rise in student cheating to an ever-increasing workload, others see it as a changing work ethic seen in the Millenial and Gen Z groups. Some see a direct correlation between the rise of standardized testing and cheating. Others hold accountability policies responsible: they have pressured educators to raise test scores. Whatever the cause, it’s evident the education sector needs to address the phenomenon soon before cheating becomes the status quo, as opposed to a rare lapse in judgment.

To ensure you don’t find yourself falling for the same traps other students have and “accidentally” plagiarizing your next assessment, try to implement the following measures. Develop a more efficient weekly schedule so that you can spend more time on each subject – and assessment – so that when deadlines approach you aren’t tempted to find a “quick solution” to completing your work. If in doubt, don’t copy and paste a piece of work found online but if you must, ensure it is correctly referenced. Don’t give in to peer pressure and share your work with others, because developing a habit of cheating – either for yourself or for others – creates a poor work ethic that can damage your future. And lastly, always remember your ethics. They will get a lot further than an A+ will.

Annabel Monaghan is a writer with a passion for education and edtech. She writes education and career articles for The College Puzzle with the aim of providing useful information for students and young professionals. If you have any questions, please feel free to email her at annabelmonaghanwriter@gmail.com

     

 

     

 

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How Microlearning is Stopping Student Burnout Syndrome

March 26th, 2018

How Microlearning is Stopping Student Burnout Syndrome

BY TIM MONSON

All through our early years and first forays into the world of education, we’re told time and time again that learning requires time, dedication, perseverance. We’re taught that it needs hours, and hours, and hours and while this is true in a sense, it isn’t the whole story. Indeed, many would claim that some of the most effective learning we can partake intakes the same amount of you need to make a decent cup of tea – just ten minutes out of your busy schedule.

That is the essence of microlearning; short bursts of learning which take between ten and fifteen minutes. While it may sound like the latest buzzword in educating, it’s nothing new. Indeed, teachers have been utilizing microlearning for decades. It just didn’t have the catchy title back then.

A typical example we can all relate to is the use of flashcards. Most of us can remember these squares of cardboard being brought out in high school language lessons, for example, and the combination of words and pictures proved to be a quick and straightforward way of getting a concept across. Today, flashcards aren’t just analog tools – they’ve very much entered the digital realm – and they work on the idea that information can sometimes be best imparted in short, sharp bursts. For example, some of top-notch educational blogs on writing use some of microlearning concepts, such as flash cards or data visualization for better comprehension.

What Exactly Is Microlearning?

Educators are always on the lookout for ways to help students bring the information they’ve already learned into new, memorable forms of content. Microlearning is a fantastic way of getting students to use their knowledge, and retain it in their volatile memories.

With just a few ten-minute bursts, students are shown to be more efficient at reiterating concepts and information they’ve been learning, thanks to the hyper-focused and easily digestible format that forms the heart of microlearning. It’s most visibly useful in the worlds of chemistry and mathematics when formulae need to be memorized and utilized, but the concept can also be used efficiently in a wide range of disciplines. Creative, innovative, and very much student-friendly, this new approach is taking the world of education by storm.

Microlearning has also proven to be naturally applicable in the world of social media, too. Tools like Twitter and Snapchat, which base themselves around ‘flashes’ of content – short, sharp, easily consumed – have been critical to its spread and influence, as students are taking to their social media accounts to share their microlearning materials. No doubt university professors and faculty members will be following en masse before too long.

Microlearning: Preventing Student Burnout Syndrome

There’s more pressure than ever before to succeed, and workloads piled onto students often drive them to the breaking point. As studies become more complex, more time-consuming, and ultimately more stressful, approaches like microlearning – which breaks education down into small pieces – may be the solution to the perils of burning out or facing exhaustive overload. Microlearning repeats information in small chunks and allows busy students to synthesize what they’ve learned. They’re more able to connect the dots and utilize their knowledge in context, and it doesn’t strain the brain to the breaking point in the process. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

Videos, social media posts, quick puzzles; all of these things are fitting the needs and schedules of today’s busy students far more efficiently than slaving through piles of textbooks. What’s more, as microlearning is mostly a digital approach, the materials can be easily accessed anywhere: in the pub, on the bus, in the bath; the options are endless, and don’t require sitting in dusty libraries all day long!

The Power of Social Media for Microlearning

Social media is the key that will facilitate the rise of microlearning as a discipline. Sites like Facebook have replaced traditional conduits of communication and education alike, and have formed the landscape with which today’s students are most familiar. Indeed, students today engage in microlearning on social media all the time, without necessarily realize they’re doing so. The quick instructional video – whether for baking a cake or conducting a science experiment – is a familiar site on your Facebook wall, and allows lots of knowledge to be imparted quickly, comfortably, and in any setting.By encouraging the use of social media as a learning tool, educators and students alike can utilize sites and systems they’re already highly comfortable with – yet another reason why this approach is tackling the issues of student burnout.

Experts in this field have identified three specific features of successful microlearning. By integrating these things into your studying schedule, you too can avoid that all-consuming sensation of burnout, and study more efficiently for your course or degree. It should:

 

  • Offer opportunities to increase and deepen the retention of information
  • Stimulate and create active communities of learners
  • Increase the engagement of students, and thus deflect burnout

One of the easiest ways to kickstart this approach is for students in a particular class to establish a course hashtag – #19thcenturyliteratureinLondon – for example. By using this hashtag on Twitter, students can share resources, thoughts, stimulate discussion or share recommendations. The result? Fun, engaging, shareable content which will encourage thought and study outside of the classroom.

This approach is spreading quickly, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Before long, we can expect to see microlearning becoming a crucial part of university life… and considering the effect this has on avoiding student burnout, that can only be a good thing.

Tim Monson is a freelance writer, PhD, student and an active adherent of implementing digital technologies in education.

 

 

Is Lack Of Sleep The New College Normal?

March 23rd, 2018

BY Danika McClure

College students experience a number of factors that may prevent them from maintaining a normal sleep schedule. Living in residence halls, studying for exams, late night courses, social lives, work schedules, family life, homework, and extracurricular activities are all very real stressors that most young college students have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“There is so much happening on college campuses, both academically and socially, that sleep and rest are very low on most students’ lists of priorities,” writes Huffington Post contributor Jackqueline Baltz.

It’s these busy schedules that have the potential to keep students from getting the sleep they require.

“College and university students tend to keep schedules that are really different from people who are out having jobs in the world,” Dr. Al Glass, then president of the American College Health Association, said in an interview with NPR. “Unfortunately, that’s nothing new. Only 11 percent of college students in a sample of 191 undergrads had good quality sleep, a study in the Journal of American College Health found.”

A lack of sleep combined with other unique stress can have a very real impact not only on students’ health and well-being, but it can also affect their studies in negative ways.

Sleep has an enormous impact on the way students learn. Being deprived of that sleep, in turn, can affect a student’s memory, cognition, and motivation. Those effects only compound when sleep deprivation continues for a long period of time.

“You can see the difference [most starkly] in a morning class,” Garry Fischer, a college admissions experts tells Today. “Students are lethargic, and class participation is minimal. They just can’t engage with their education when they’re forced to work against their circadian rhythms.”

But how can universities and students help to change this pattern?

Many colleges have experimented with making classes start later in the day, or at the very least offering additional options for their college students, and have noticed that students are much more alert, Today reported. Others have tried implementing “snooze rooms” in their libraries to help students who are studying for finals. Perhaps even more accessible is the way that universities have adopted online degree programs in their schools, which offer students the flexibility to work on their own time in order to read up on course materials and complete their courses in a timeframe that makes sense for their schedule.

There are a number of things that students can do to make sure they’re actively prioritizing sleep as a part of their daily self-care routine in order to ensure success in college.  

First, for students who are unsure about exactly how much sleep they’re getting on a regular basis, wearable technology, cellphones, and mobile health sensors may be a solution to tracking sleep patterns. From there, students can make adjustments to their lifestyles that can help ensure that their sleep schedule remains intact.

According to the medical experts at Healthline, there are a number of steps students can take in order to get a better night’s sleep. Those steps can include:

 

  • Developing and sticking to a sleep routine (even on the weekends)
  • Proper diet and regular exercise
  • Avoiding toxic substances like tobacco and alcohol
  • Avoid screens before bed
  • Avoid sharing the bed with children or pets
  • Adjust your room temperature to somewhere nearing 65 degrees
  • Use your bed for sleeping only

In making these changes, they argue, students will find themselves more rested, which will help them overall in their school studies, and ultimately, aid in their overall health and well-being.

Danika McClure is a writer and musician from the northwest who sometimes takes a 30 minute break from feminism to enjoy a tv show. You can follow her on twitter @sadwhitegrrl

Can a Private Tutor Help You Get Better Grades?

March 21st, 2018

BY SYLVIA KOHL

There are several reasons why you might be struggling with a specific subject. You might have a professor who’s hard to understand. You might have missed a few lectures due to illness or a family emergency. Or maybe the subject has just never come easy to you.

In any case, you’re not on track to get the grades you want, and you feel like you’re behind the other students in your class. One option is to hire a private tutor to help you get back on pace, but is this the best way to go?

Initial Steps to Take

Before hiring a private tutor, there are a few steps you should take to gauge how far behind you are, and potentially catch up:

  • Invest some extra time. You’ve probably already taken this step, but just in case—take some extra time to review the material. If you budget 5 hours a week for studying, add two more hours specifically for this subject, either considering the coursework or finding online resources to guide you. In a couple of weeks, you may find yourself understanding it better.
  • Talk to other students in your class. If you’re still struggling, have a conversation with the other students in your class. If everybody’s struggling the same as you, it means something’s wrong with the class; if nobody’s struggling, you may be able to ask them for advice or help.
  • Talk to the professor. Talking to your professor is never a bad idea—they’re here to help. Ask them for pointers, or explain that you’re struggling; they may be able to offer you different coursework (unless you’re trying to get out of a test last-minute).

Pros and Cons

There are several options for where to go from here. For example, you could double down on your studying habits, you could work with a study group to improve collectively, or you could consider retaking the course at a later date. Hiring a private tutor is another viable option, and offers unique pros and cons that the other possibilities can’t.

  • Dedicated attention. First, private tutors will give you specialized attention that you won’t find in a classroom or group studying setting. They’ll be able to adjust their instruction to fit your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and personal preferences. It alone may be enough to help you overcome your academic obstacles. You’ll spend extra time on your most difficult challenges, and you’ll have a coach to keep you motivated along the way.
  • Incentivized, structured time. Private tutors are also an excellent way to hold yourself accountable. If a group session meets twice a week and will continue regardless of whether or not you’re there, it’s easy to skip or show up late. But when you’re paying out-of-pocket for a tutor in a dedicated session, you’re much more likely to show up on time, every time.
  • Of course, you do have to consider the cost of a tutor. If you pay one of your peers to help you out, you can probably negotiate a low rate, but if you want an experienced professional, you might have to pay hundreds of dollars. On top of your other college costs, this can be financially crippling.
  • Priority shift. Some research indicates that students working with a private tutor may be less inclined to attend their traditional classes; they believe tutoring is enough to help them succeed, which makes the traditional classroom less efficient. Fortunately, this disadvantage is easy to overcome, so long as you’re aware that it’s a possibility and are willing to work proactively to prevent it.

How to Choose a Tutor

Let’s say you’ve decided to hire a tutor. You should know that not all tutors are alike, and there are some key criteria you’ll need to consider when reviewing your options:

  • Training and education. How familiar is this person on the subject you’re struggling with? Have they had any formal training in the education field?
  • How long has this person been a tutor? Are they professional, or are they doing this on the side for a few extra bucks?
  • How much does this person cost? How do other tutors compare?
  • What kind of goals and coursework is this tutor prepared to offer? How long will it be before you’re ready to move on?
  • Spend some time talking to your tutor before hiring them. Do you enjoy their company? Are they easy to get along with? This is more important than you might think.
  • How available is this tutor? Will they be able to meet with you around your schedule, and keep that schedule consistently?

For many students, hiring a private tutor is the best possible choice to recover from an academic slump. For others, it’s an expensive distraction that may pull you away from your classes and primary studying strategies. Understand your studying style, and don’t be afraid to draw on other resources for help; just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make a final decision.

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.

 

Students Learning While Working: Adapting to the Business Environment

March 21st, 2018

BY MELISA BURNS

Times, when work opportunities for an absolute majority of college students were limited to temporary side jobs, are gone; today a student sufficiently savvy in his (or even unrelated) field can hope to land a full-fledged job with a company. Also if one doesn’t stay with the same business, later on, it is an excellent opportunity to acquire invaluable experience of working for a real business. However, the contrast between college and corporate culture is often too drastic, and requirements of a new environment may turn out to be too different from what one is used to. So how does one make this transition easier? Let’s find out.

1.    Adjust to the company’s culture

Every business that has been around for more than a week inevitably acquires its own set of traditions, inter- and intra-department politics, values, relationships, customs and so on. And while getting involved in policy isn’t a good idea at this stage (or any stage, for that matter), the rest calls for more attention. Just pay attention: how do people behave and talk? When and for how long do they take breaks? How do they react to particular managers? Failing to adjust will both create an unpleasant emotional background for your work and make it harder to do your job.

2.    Use your company’s education tools

Many businesses – especially many forward-looking IT-related companies aiming to expand their workforce quickly – have their dedicated tools and programs used to impart experience and knowledge to new employees and those of old ones that seek to improve their skills. PayPal, for example, recently invested in education portal development to make introducing new employees to the company work routine and culture easier. Find out if your company has something similar and don’t shy away from using it – it will both help you improve and demonstrate your willingness to do so to use your company’s education tools.

3.    Ask what you can and should do

In a modern business environment, people often have somewhat eclectic sets of responsibilities: if you ask someone working for a typical company whether he does only what is mentioned in his job description, he will usually answer that, in reality, his work is broader in some respects and narrower in others. So, to better fit in don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and recommendations from your manager – he may have a lot on his plate. It is part of his job to make sure you do yours, and to do it properly you should know what is expected of you, what you can do better and what you shouldn’t bother with at all.

4.    Make yourself indispensable

One of the most efficient and simplest (but not easiest!) ways to fit in a work environment and acquire experience along the way is to make every effort in your power to do an excellent job and make yourself valuable for the company. Keep track of what has to be done and do it before you are asked. Look for ways to do your job better and faster. Going an extra mile may be an incredibly trite and tired expression, but it doesn’t make doing it less efficient.

Juggling college and a severe job can be incredibly draining and hectic, but it is achievable – if you know where your time is going and know how you spend every minute of it. It requires considerable self-control and discipline that few people have naturally, so a good idea would be to embrace an efficient and established system like GTD – people who adopted it go as far as claiming it changes the way they think, not just the way they manage time.

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 burns.melissaa@gmail.com

 

Personal Finance Understanding During College Is Important

March 20th, 2018

BY DAVID GUTIERREZ

It is fascinating how much time and resources high schools and colleges dedicated to teaching students things that may serve as a foundation for their future careers and means of making money, yet do nothing to explain what to do with this money once they earn it. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that absolute majority of people know virtually nothing about how money works as they graduate – the ubiquity of credit card debt and personal bankruptcy is a speaking proof of it. Economy students may be somewhat better off, but their curriculum mostly deals with larger issues without bothering with down-to-earth things like personal finance.

But if education system doesn’t see the importance of financial literacy, you must do so – and here is why you should take your steps to learn.

1.    It will turn frugality into a habit

Student years are most likely the first time you live on your own, and it will be the foundation for most of your habits for the rest of your life. Learning good financial habits early on and will make you better prepared for anything that may happen later. It will also make planning easier – and although you may believe that starting to plan for retirement while in college is a bit too early, now is the best time to do so. The earlier you start making optimal choices, the more money you save and invest right now, without putting it off, the more comfortable you will be when it is time to retire – and this time tends to get close really suddenly.

2.    It will give you a better ability to make use of opportunities

In order to use a financial chance, you have to a) be able to recognize it; b) have enough money. If financially literate, even students who are notoriously lacking in their finances can put away a part of their funds to always be ready to use a promising opportunity. And having sufficient financial knowledge will give you a hint that, for example, current BUNZL plc share price is a good reason to invest in it to make a profit later on.

3.    Everybody is after your money

Even if you demonstrate sufficient willpower and save up enough money to invest in something, modern market has too many opportunities: banks, insurance firms, credit card companies, brokerage firms, financial planners, etc. are all hungry for your money, and without sufficient knowledge in the sphere of finance you won’t have any chance to make an informed choice.

4.    You will gain control over your life

The majority of people have no idea what happens to their money once they earn it. It just comes and goes without their registering how it happens, what they spend it on – it is a financial equivalent of being too drunk to control your own actions. Becoming financially literate means gaining control over your money and, consequently, over your life as well. You will know exactly how much you earn and what are your main expenses are. And once you know this, you will have a tool you can use to make meaningful changes.

During your student years, it may not feel that planning for retirement and rationing your money is an important thing – life feels long, and there is enough time to earn all the money in the world. However, this impression is fleeting – life is unpredictable, and without understanding how money works, you can find yourself not only incapable of using opportunities that go your way but at a loss when dealing with even the most trivial problems as well.

Better healthcare means that people today tend to live longer than previous generations, which means that you can look forward to a longer retirement. However, it also means that you should do an even better job of planning for the future – while the rest of the world seems to be dead set on distracting you.

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.

6 Ways to Use Tech Gadgets For Success In Your Studies

March 19th, 2018

 

BY SCOTT BAY

The days of studying in dark library corners, making notes in the margins of expensive textbooks—that you’ll sell back for pennies on the dollar later—are coming to an end. Whether you’re in a dorm or off-campus housing, you can use the latest tech to turn your living area into a study sanctuary—or even take your study sanctuary on the go. Choosing the right devices can help you stay better organized, make the most of your time, and make studying more pleasant and more efficient.

The following are six gadgets to help you gain maximum study success.

  1. Moleskine Evernote Ruled Smart Notebook
    If you still like the feel of writing in a notebook but want to store your notes digitally, the Moleskine Evernote Ruled Smart Notebook gives you that old school feel with new school storage possibilities. Simply write in the notebook, then use the Evernote app’s camera feature to turn your analog notes digital. Not sure how to do all that? Not a problem, as the notebook comes with a comprehensive guide for using the notebook and app.
  2. Kindle Voyage E-reader
    If you’re tired of lugging every textbook with you until “backpack” becomes synonymous with “back pain,” the Kindle Voyage E-reader makes portable studying easy. Its high-resolution 300 ppi display reads like the printed page, and the adaptive front light provides ideal brightness day or night, allowing you to catch up on your reading in the quad between classes or in bed at night—without disturbing your roommate. The added bonus of using this or any other e-reader? Electronic versions of most textbooks and literary classics are cheaper than the physical versions.
  3. Amazon Echo + Vivint Smart Home
    If you live off-campus, equipping your home with smart home technology can help you create the ideal study environment—and one that changes with your mood. The Amazon Echo connects easily with Vivint Smart Home systems, allowing you to change lighting and temperature in your study environment with a simple voice command, so you won’t break out of your study groove. Dim the lights as it gets later, cool down if differential equations are making you sweat, or turn on the jams that keep you motivated for an all-nighter.
  4. Quirky + GE Nimbus Smart Dashboard
    Addicted to checking your phone even when deep in your studies? The Quirky + GE Nimbus Smart Dashboard turns the old desktop or nightstand clock on its ear and lets you keep your phone in your pocket, providing customizable information at a glance. With its four faces there is a wide variety of display options—you can see not only the time and weather, but estimated commute time, step and calorie counts, and social media updates, without picking up your phone. Look up at your dashboard and back down at your books.
  5. Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard
    Faster typing than writing by hand? Take those quick fingers on the go with the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device keyboard, compatible with your computer, tablet, and smartphone. Lighter than a laptop, but easier to type on than a tablet, this portable keyboard is a must when you’re on the move.
  6. Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive
    When you’ve worked all night, all week, all month on a paper and a computer crash causes it to go bye-bye, you’ll be glad you invested in the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive. Easily connected by USB and compatible with Windows, Mac, or Android, this backup drive is a lifesaver. With 2TB of storage, it’s also ideal for keeping your photos and videos—not just your homework—safe.

Staying up to date on the latest tech might deserve a class of its own, but you don’t have to be a gadget major to take advantage of the aforementioned six study gadgets. Now you’re ready to hit the books—whether pixels or paper—and go from A to A+.

Scott Bay is a digital journalist who covers technology, travel, and wellness — catch his latest clips on Twitter.