6 Top Tips to Help You Stay Healthy and Alert for Studying

By Cloe Matheson

Cloe picture 1

Image from Unsplash

When the academic term comes to crunch-time and your professors have apparently conspired to set all your assignments and tests for the same week, you’ll have plunge deep into the purpose of your college life: study.  However, studying for long periods can be tedious and tiring if you don’t look after your mind and body properly.  Check out the following tips to stay sufficiently healthy and alert to survive – and even enjoy – each of your study sessions.

  1. Get enough sleep

Avoid the dire end of propping up your eyelids with sticks in your next study session by getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Unfortunately, as you likely already know, the college environment isn’t always amenable to a peaceful night’s sleep.

To give yourself the best chance of uninterrupted rest, switch off any unnecessary electronic lights before you go to bed.  Try installing blackout blinds and a door-runner to block out as much outside glare as possible.

  1. Choose your study spot carefully

As a freshman, you may not always have a private space to do your work. However, don’t feel tempted to write all your essays atop your soft, sleep-inducing bed.

The best study locations are brightly-lit and cool in temperature, with plenty of plugs for your laptop charger, and lots of studious people around to encourage you to work – a school library often matches this perfectly.  However, some people work better with some white noise in the background, in which case the nearest Starbucks might be your best bet.

If it’s late and you’re stuck in your dorm room, consider standing up to work. The increased blood flow will help to keep you awake!

Cloe picture 2

Image from Unsplash

  1. Eat and drink well

Many college diets can be notoriously unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. Stabilize your blood sugar levels and maintain a good reserve of energy by feeding your body with wholesome, unprocessed foods. If you’re unsure where to start, try dedicating some time each week to learning how to cook new, healthy recipes.

While you’re at it, objectively assess your caffeine habits. You don’t have to cut out caffeine entirely, but gaining your energy solely from cappuccinos and energy drinks isn’t good for your long-term health. Water is the best route to hydration and alertness – and is free straight from the filter tap!  Carry a reusable bottle around so you can refill it on the go.

  1. Move your body

Exercise can be as invigorating as a cup of coffee (yes, really). Whether you prefer early morning gym sessions or mid-study workouts at home, moving your body is a great way of getting your brain ready to work.

  1. Have a power-nap

If you’re embarking on an all-nighter and are struggling to keep your eyes open, engage the power-nap.  Research suggests that 17 minutes is the perfect amount of time to get some shut-eye without lapsing into REM, so set your timer accordingly.

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Image from Unsplash

  1. Get others on board

Having other people to study with makes you far less likely to doze off. Consider starting a Facebook chat with some of the people in your classes, and organizing group study dates to prepare for tests or write assignments. Studying with others increases your chances of academic success and adds an excellent sense of collegiality fun to your – ahem – college experience.

Cloe Matheson – Cloe is a freelance writer based in Dunedin, New Zealand. She loves writing to motivates her readers to learn things and improve their lifestyles every day. Check out more of her writing on Tumblr.

Heading off to College? 4 Things to Do to Ease the Transition

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, but I wanted to share this article I wrote on how to use ritual, and other time-tested techniques, to ease the transition from home to college.

The focus of the article is on Jewish ritual, but the advice applies to anyone who is going through a life transition.

Please share with all your college-bound friends and family!  “4 Things to Do Before Heading Off to College”

auditorium benches chairs class

Going off to college can be overwhelming – for both students and parents.  But it can also be a beautiful experience.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

3 Ways to Fight Social Media Distractions When You’re Studying

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re having a good summer!  I recently got an email from a student who asked a good (and very relevant) question.  I thought I’d share it here, and my response:

I’m currently in the process of reading your book (which by the way is the most helpful reading material I have ever come across) and I’m still a little confused on how to get rid of distractions/how to focus. Even if I do things like turn off my phone/social media/turn off the Wifi, my mind still remains distracted and I cannot help but think about possible notifications I have on my phone. Do you have any recommendations for this?

signs

Is social media keeping you from concentrating?  You’re not alone.

My response:

It sounds like you’ve taken some good steps towards fighting distractions! Here are my suggestions for what else you can do:

  1. Study with instrumental (non-vocal) classical or Baroque music in the background, if you don’t already. I find composers like Mozart help me tune out distractions and make it easier to stay focused. (In fact, I’m listening to a Mozart violin concerto right now.)
  2. Turn off the notifications on your phone completely! Don’t be a slave to the bell. Just check your social media, messages, etc., at certain times, rather than having your phone alert you when new things come in. This will, hopefully, reduce temptation and re-train your brain.
  3. Think of social media as a way to take a break after a good, productive study session. Say to yourself something like, “Okay, I’ll read my textbook for an hour and then treat myself by looking at Facebook for five minutes.”  This will give you positive reinforcement for studying; and alternating between deep concentration and something less taxing helps to keep your mind fresh.

I hope this helps!

Stefanie

How to Make Sure Your Last Few Months of College are Successful

By Anne Davies

You’re close to graduating college – well done! At this stage, you’ve probably got one eye on the next phase of your life, whatever that may be. However, this is the time when the pressure is really cranked up, when subtle yet insidious dangers can creep their way into your rhythms.

To help you on your way, we’ve put together some of the things you should keep your eye out for – and the things you should ignore – as you near your post-graduation life.

Graduating soon?  Don't lose sight of your goal.

Graduating soon? Don’t lose sight of your goal.

1. Get Serious

Chances are, you’ve already put your wild college days to bed by the time you reach your senior year. However, even if that is the case you’re probably used to late nights, casual drinking, limited sense of routine, and so forth. While we’re not saying you’re going to have to live a button-down life once you enter the real world, there are some practical considerations you need to bear in mind if you’re going to be a success, and these will be best achieved if you make them part of your life while you’re still in university.

Limit Your Drinking

Everyone knows that college students drink a lot, but sometimes it’s more than just a bit of fun. The stress of exams, worrying about the future, and just plain old bad habits can cause a student to drink more than they should. If you think your drinking is becoming a problem, take a step back and seek help from your friends or support network at college. Exams are to be taken seriously, but they shouldn’t have a disproportionate effect on your well being. Equally, now is the time to put down the beer bong! You can celebrate when the final exam is handed in; it’s not worth ruining your final degree just for a few more nights of partying.

Keep a Routine

Many students have a laissez-faire attitude to their daily routine, opting to keep irregular work days and inconsistent sleeping hours. However, having a routine might just put you on a path towards greatness, with many great thinkers and businessman choosing to have a solid daily routine. As you enter your final months, try to develop a routine that you’ll be able to stick to once you leave your college – it might just be  a game-changer.

2. Don’t Stress Out About Searching for a Job

Only around 15% of students have a job lined up when they graduate, so don’t despair if you’re in the majority who don’t. While job prospects have been tough over the past few years, that’s beginning to change and there are more and more opportunities each year.

Be Patient

You’ve got many decades of work ahead of you, so don’t stress if you don’t find the perfect job within the first few months of graduation. Pick up casual work to cover your expenses in the meantime and wait for the job to come along – it might take a while, but it’ll come in the end. If you think job searching is interfering with your studies, then put if off until finals are over – you might think you’re losing an edge, but you’ll actually be doing the right thing. If you must do something, consider interning or volunteering; this way you can decide how much of your time you dedicate to work.

3. Maintain Perspective

College is important, but it’s not everything. There’s no reason to worry or stress, especially over things you cannot control. If you work hard and put the hours in, you’ll do just fine. In fact, worrying might even cause you to do worse on your exam! So try to relax, and don’t forget to have some fun along the way. It’s tempting to think your entire universe revolves around your academic performance, but it’s important to spend some time in the gym or hang with friends to remind yourself that there are other parts to your life, too. After a break from studying, you’ll go back to it with a renewed energy that will make the information more likely to stick.

College is scary, fun, and nerve-inducing – often all at the same time. While you know this as well as anyone by now, you’re entering uncharted territory when you discover that it’s soon to be over. Take your time, try to enjoy it, and don’t let niggling problems spoil what could be the adventure of a lifetime.


Looking for more tips on college success?  Check out The Secrets of Top Students.

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The Secrets of Top Students Back-To-School Giveaway

The Secrets of Top Students

The Secrets of Top Students

Hey all you students and parents out there!  Since it’s almost back-to-school time, I am giving away a copy of The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College.  All you have to do is click here to enter.

Rules: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The 50th eligible entrant will win. This giveaway started Aug 14, 2015 10:16 AM PDT and ends the earlier of Aug 21, 2015 11:59 PM PDT or when the prize has been awarded.

Click here to enter giveaway.

About the book:

The Secrets of Top Students includes tips and techniques that every student should know. For example:

  • What is the first thing you should do when taking a math test?
  • What is an often overlooked place for coming up with a thesis?
  • What music should you listen to while studying?
  • Why is it bad to be a perfectionist?
  • What are the good and bad types of motivation?
  • What foods should you eat to boost your brainpower?
  • How much do top students really study?
  • Should you bring your laptop to class?
  • What are three game-changing learning techniques?
  • And much, much more.

Written in a conversational, down-to-earth manner, The Secrets of Top Students shows you how to maximize your learning and get the grades you want. Filled with innovative, time-saving techniques, this book also includes advice on motivation, the mind-body connection, and technology inside and outside the classroom.

Is There a Right Way to Drink? A Healthy Perspective on College Drinking

By Adrienne Erin

Congratulations! You’ve finished high school. Now it’s time to head off to college. Isn’t it great to feel free? No parents and no boring home life. You’ll get to make new friends and have new experiences. And best of all, you’ll get to go to parties. What’s not to love?

It’s a given that you’re probably going to drink at least once in college. Chances are you’ve heard the pep talk about alcohol multiple times already, so you know what’s coming. But the point is: Sure, you can have fun, but it’s important to remember you’re in college to learn. Part of that learning is to gain a healthy perspective on drinking.

There’s a wrong and right way to drink. Which one will you choose?

The Wrong Way to Drink

This shouldn’t really need explanation, but people still abuse alcohol every day. Those who don’t drink responsibly can exhibit reckless behavior such as:

  • pressuring others to drink
  • binge drinking
  • drinking at a very fast pace
  • messing with other people’s drinks
  • driving drunk

If you think you see someone drinking irresponsibly, do your best to stay away from them. Find some new people to hang out with, or leave the party.

The Right Way to Drink

If you’re underage, it’s obviously wrong to drink in the first place. But if you do choose to drink at a party, keep these tips in mind:

Make a plan for how you will get home.

This should be the first thing you think about when preparing for a night out. Know how you’re getting home well before the party.

There are a few ways to go about this. You can have a designated driver within your friend group. If there’s public transportation in your area, like buses or trains, use them. NEVER get into a car with anyone who has had too much to drink, and NEVER drive drunk – even if you’re just tipsy. You’ll pay for the consequences of those poor decisions for the rest of your life.

Pace yourself.

It takes a little while for the effect of alcohol to kick in. You might feel completely fine right after taking a shot, but remember that you’ll start to feel the effect a few minutes after.

Make sure to space out your drinking. Having a non-alcoholic drink in between, such as soda or water, helps keep you from going too fast. Aim to keep a one-to-one ratio with one glass of water for each glass of alcohol. For each alcohol beverage you have, drink a non-alcoholic beverage.

Keep in mind that safe, responsible drinking means no more than one drink in an hour.

For reference, one drink equals one 1.5 oz. shot of 40% alcohol, one 5 oz. glass of wine or one 12 oz. beer per hour.

Drink with people you know.

It’s a wise choice to stick with your friends while drinking. If you go alone, you could get into trouble and have no one to look out for you. Avoid drinking with people you don’t know that well or don’t trust. These people could potentially be dangerous, or they might run off somewhere else without telling you.

It’s also important to stay with friends who drink in moderation. Stay away from people who oppose not drinking as much, or encourage binge drinking.

Keep an eye on your drink too, especially if you’re with people you don’t know well. They might seem friendly, but they could sneak date rape drugs or something else dangerous into your drink.

Eat something before or during drinking.

If you drink on an empty stomach, you’ll feel the effects of alcohol quicker. You might also feel sicker. Eating before you go out will help you stay under your drinking limit.

Be sure to eat a meal rich in proteins and carbs. These help to absorb the alcohol.

Know your limits, and measures.

You are the most important person at the party! Your friends may keep a close watch over you, but you also have to take care of yourself. Part of this is knowing your limits. Listen to your body – it won’t take much to figure out how much is enough.

If it’s your first time out, drink at a steady pace to determine your alcohol tolerance. It also helps to drink with friends or people you know well so that you won’t get socially anxious and drink more than you can handle.

You can quantify your tolerance, as well. For example, it could be “three beers per night,” or “two glasses of wine in four hours.”

If you want a fun, harmless way to help you determine what an effect certain amounts of drinking could have on your body type, try this choose your own adventure game.

Know how to turn down a drink.

Drinking is supposed to be a social activity, not a place to show off how much you can stomach. There’s no need to keep up or even accept a drink in the first place.

When you don’t want to drink, decline with a polite excuse. A simple “No, thank you,” should do the trick, but if needed, you can add more. Try things like “I don’t drink,” “I have to drive home,” “I’m the designated driver,” or “I’m pacing myself.”

Choosing Not to Drink is Totally Okay

If you don’t like drinking to begin with, it doesn’t make you uncool in the slightest. You should applaud yourself for steering clear of a night that could negatively impact your health or your life. In fact, there are tons of other alternatives to a night of partying.

You can always stay in and have a fun-filled night with your friends. Watch movies, play video or board games or see what’s going on around campus. Or, check out this list.

College campuses usually have great alternatives to parties on weekends. These can include things like dances, paint parties, movies, social gatherings, speed dating or athletic intramural events.

Whichever you choose, know that there’s a right and wrong way to drink. When you go out, plan ahead of time and be alert. You’ll thank yourself after a long night of partying – and if you do things right, maybe you won’t feel so groggy the morning after, either.

How To Cope With The Transition From College To The Working World

By Thomas Maurer

Coping With Uncertainty

graduation student  open arms to welcome the worldwide jobFor some graduating students there is a rush to get out of the confines of academia and into the working world. For others there is an element of uncertainty and apprehension.

College was a place where you were your own boss and the thought of being forced into the rat race is abhorrent.

While the world has always been an uncertain place, there is a strong argument that it is more uncertain than it has been in recent decades, especially for college graduates. It is no longer as simple as getting into a good college, getting good grades, graduating, getting a good job and settling down, even if that was what you wanted in the first place.

The economy is uncertain, good jobs are harder to come by and the competition is fierce. We all want meaningful and rewarding work but at the same time you need to make sure you first have the ability to make a living. It may be that you have to take a menial job while you wait for your dream career.

Unfortunately the uncertainty doesn’t end there. Once you are making some money you have to be able to protect it, as inflation, taxes and student loan repayments eat into your earnings. There is a very real fear that once you actually get a job you will feel like you can’t leave, chained to the paycheck that you need to pay your student loan and ever increasing living costs.

By comparison the college lifestyle seems like a dream. You were essentially your own boss and while you had some hoops to jump through and requirements that you had to meet, how you went about doing all those things was up to you. The loss of freedom in moving to a 9 to 5 job, with a boss, can be a hard adjustment to make.

While those fears are very natural and well-justified, the direction of your life is in our own hands. You can make decisions that will lead you down the path to a deadening soul, or you can make decisions that lead to freedom, flexibility and the rewarding career that you want.

Life is what you make it, so while you should acknowledge the challenges and uncertainty, don’t let it weigh you down. Focus on the upside and you will benefit from the all the wonderful opportunities in the world.

Embrace New Opportunities

The world and the economy changing is only bad news in you are inflexible and unwilling to adapt. The last two or three decades have seen people abandon the notion that you should have one career for your whole working life. It is now perfectly normal to have three, four, five or more career changes throughout your working life.

This is now changing again, where the idea of even having a traditional career in the first place is optional.

Flexible work arrangements, digital nomads and freelancers with clients all over the world are going to become the new norm. Thanks to the Internet it is possible to avoid getting a “regular” job at all. It takes a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, but commuting online or starting an internet business is not a pipe dream, it is a legitimate and perfectly reasonable goal.

The global economy is still adjusting to the emergence of half the world from communism. People in those countries are willing to work for very low wages compared to the West and this has resulted in a lot of business moving East and a shifting of wealth and power to Asia.

What this means for you, the new or soon to be new graduate, is that traditional opportunities may be limited to you in North America and Europe. But opportunities abound in China, Vietnam, India, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries. Developed Western economies located in the Asia Pacific region such as New Zealand and Australia are also well placed to benefit from this transition.

If you are flexible, adaptable and willing to think outside the box then you can take advantage of these possibilities.

There is also the opportunity of geo-arbitrage. This means earning money in more valuable Western currencies by working online, while living in an emerging economy, such as Thailand or Chile, where prices are cheap, your purchasing power is greater and therefore standard of living is higher. $1000 a month goes a long way in a place like that.

Get Out There And Do Something

While the college classroom is familiar and comforting you aren’t actually productive. You learn but you don’t create or do. The chance to actually be productive and do something in the world is very exciting and beats the monotonous drudgery of the classroom.

Learning is important but human beings are designed to make, create and do. The thing that scares people is being stuck doing something you don’t like, working in a job you hate, for a boss that you don’t respect. This can happen for a period but eventually you will find something satisfying if you hustle hard enough.

While it may be daunting and uncertain moving from college into the working world it can actually be very liberating.

Doing something useful and contributing to a business or an organization is very satisfying and you can take pride in your paycheck, which is the reward for the value you have provided.

Embrace The Freedom From Structure

The lack of structure in life can be challenging at first. When all your friends graduate and go off in different directions and move ahead in life at different speeds, it can be disconcerting. But the trade-off is that the freedom and possibilities and endless. Going to college ties you to a specific location for a number of years and limits the possibilities for income – this will no longer be your reality.

It grated on me when people told me that the world was now my oyster, but looking back on it they were right all along. There have been some periods of employment where I have felt boxed in and enslaved, but they have always been temporary and voluntary. It has been easy to walk away and fly half way around the world for a new adventure.

At the end of the day the only constant thing in life is change. You went through a big change moving from high school to college and you will go through a big change again moving from college to the working world. But it won’t be the 40 years chained to a desk that you fear. The world is an exciting place full of opportunities.

Life inevitably goes on, so you might as well make the most of it.

Author Bio: Thomas is interested in helping students get through college maximizing their potential with the minimum of stress. He writes about study skills and stress relief at www.mellowstudy.com