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.
Group projects are an unavoidable fact of life in high school and college. Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that technology can make them a whole lot easier. Here’s some great free software that will let you share documents, set up meeting times, work remotely, and lots of other cool “teamwork” stuff.
Google Docs: Allows you to share and collaborate on documents in real time. You and other members of your group can make changes to docs simultaneously; the app will show you who changed what, and when.
Skype: If one of your members can’t meet in person, bring a laptop to the meeting and have him/her participate through Skype.
Trello: Trello is a project management program that can do wonders for group work. With this program, you can share documents, make lists of tasks to be done, and keep track of progress.
Dropbox: Allows you to store and share large files with a group.
Sure, you use Google to look up cute cat videos, but it can also be a great tool for academic research. Here are some tips on how to use Google to find sources good enough to cite in your papers.
Use double quotes to search for an exact term or a set of words in a specific order.
Include “site:” to limit your search to a particular website (e.g., “site:nytimes.com”) or top-level domain (e.g., “site:.edu” – this is useful if you only want to search websites hosted by universities).
If you’re looking for pdf documents – which tend to be more scholarly than regular websites – enter your search term(s) followed by “filetype:pdf”.
When trying to find a term on a web page, don’t forget about Ctrl-F (or Command-F if you use a Mac). Just type the word or phrase you want to find in the box that pops up, and it’ll show you all the places where it occurs.
Writing a paper and need help with citations? Can’t choose between APA, MLA, and Chicago Style? Here’s a quick overview to help you decide:
The three most common citation styles are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and CMS (Chicago Manual of Style). Your teacher may tell you which one to use, but MLA is used most often in humanities courses; APA is generally used in social sciences, engineering, and business courses; and CMS tends to be used in history courses.
All of these citation styles consist of two parts:
A section at the end of your paper, in which you list all the sources you used for your paper, in alphabetical order. In MLA style, this is called the “Works Cited” page. In APA style, this is called the “References” page. And in CMS style, this is called the “Bibliography.” In this list, you will usually have to include the author of the work, the title, the journal or anthology it comes from (if applicable), the editor or translator (if applicable), the publisher, the publisher’s location, and the date of publication. If your source is a website, you will probably have to list the web address and the date you accessed it.
Attribution for each quote, paraphrase, and summary in your paper. Whenever you use someone else’s words or ideas, you must state the source and the page number(s) where they come from. This may occur in the form of in-text citation, which appears within the body of the paper (as in the case of APA and MLA); or in the form of footnotes or endnotes (as in the case of CMS).
You do NOT need attribution when:
You state your own, original ideas.
You state something that is common knowledge.
If you’re in doubt about whether something needs attribution, however, you’re better off citing it just to be on the safe side.
Here are some great online resources to help you with citations.
Griffith University provides a free online referencing tool in which you select what citation style you are using and the type of source you are citing. It then shows you an example of how to format that citation.
Son of a Citation Machine is another free online source in which you choose your citation style and enter information about your source in order to view the correctly formatted citation.
EasyBib provides a free citation generator for MLA format.
You can also use Zotero to organize your research and generate citations automatically. This requires you to download some free software.
It’s back-to-school time! I’m going to be posting a series of “quick tips” on this blog, to help you start the school year off right.
Here’s quick tip #1: When taking notes in class, make sure you use lots of symbols and abbreviations to record things quickly and efficiently. Here’s a list to help you get started:
and, in addition to, plus
except for, excluding, minus
equals, is equal to, is the same as
is similar to, is like, is about, resembles
is/ has less than
is/ has more than, exceeds
therefore, thus, because
leads to, results in, means, signifies
gets bigger, increases, grows
change in [something]
versus, as opposed to
You should also develop your own abbreviations for different types of courses – especially for long, complicated words that come up frequently.
And when the teacher uses multi-syllable words that take a long time to write, try to substitute them with shorter synonyms – for example, “means” instead of “signifies,” and “but” instead of “however.”
What a busy week it’s been! I had my first official book talk and signing for The Secrets of Top Students at the Columbia University bookstore, which was a lot of fun. Thank you to everyone who attended!
My first book signing!
The next day I flew up to Toronto to join my publisher, Sourcebooks, for the 69th national conference for NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling). I met a lot of great people there. I must say, college admission counselors are an amazing group. They really care about helping students and giving them the best education possible.
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the NACAC conference took place. Love the woodpeckers!
I was also extremely fortunate to take part in the 30th anniversary of The Fiske Guide to Colleges, where I got to meet the man himself – Edward (Ted) Fiske. It’s really an amazing accomplishment. Sourcebooks honored him with a champagne toast and gave away several stacks of his books, which were gone in two minutes flat!
The champagne toast – Congrats to Ted Fiske for an amazing 30 years!
Tomorrow I’m giving a talk at the Stuyvesant Parents’ Association. Back-to-School is a busy but exciting time!