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

Home Alone: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

By Susanne Loxton

There are many different reasons why modern parents consider homeschooling. Some do it for religious reasons, while others may do it because of lifestyle reasons and flexibility. Still others decide to homeschool because they’re dissatisfied with their local public schools, and private schools are not an option. No matter the cause, if you’re thinking about diving into the world of homeschooling your children, you need to remember that it’s not all fun and games. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to homeschool your child.

homeschooling

Should you homeschool your child? (Photo by Rachel via Flickr)

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Quick Tips Part 7: Using Technology for Group Projects

By Stefanie Weisman

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.

Lastly, use a program like Google Calendar or MeetingWizard to plan meeting times.

What are your favorite group project apps?


Get more back-to-school tips with The Secrets of Top Students.

Quick Tips Part 1: Taking Notes in Class

By Stefanie Weisman

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:

Symbol/ Abbreviation  Meaning
 + 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
Δ change in [something]
w/ with
w/o without
b/c because
ex. for example
vs. 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.”


For more study skills tips, check out The Secrets of Top Students.

A College Student’s Guide to Creatively Keeping in Touch

By Natalie Posdaljian

Keeping in touch as a college student is vital for maintaining relationships with family and friends, keeping them in the loop and weaving your home life with your college life. Reliable ways of keeping in touch, such as texts, emails and chatting on the phone, can get redundant and don’t always provide the best insight into your life as a college student. Instead, spice up how you keep in touch with your family back home.

student video chat

Video Chat

Video chatting with a laptop isn’t new to the scene nor is it the most creative way to keep in touch. Expand your virtual horizons with the iPad Air 2, which is thin and light enough to take anywhere. Video chat with your family at a public park in your new town or while you enjoy a much needed caffeine fix at your favorite coffee shop. Or, your family can video chat you when they all get together for a birthday party or Sunday afternoon BBQ. Although you won’t get a bite of the cake, you can still chat with all your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Snail Mail

With the speed, efficiency and reliability of technology, it’s understandable why snail mail is a thing of the past. Yes, you have to handwrite your letter, buy a stamp, stop at the post office and wait a couple days for your mail to reach its destination, but that’s what makes snail mail fun. The feeling of checking the mailbox and finding something addressed to you that’s not a bill or advertisement is priceless. Sending snail mail to your family leaves them obliged to write you back, giving you something to look forward to in the mail. You also can throw in a copy of the A+ paper you wrote. Snail mail is especially great for grandparents, who typically appreciate handwritten letters the most.

Vlog

A vlog (video blog) is a unique way to show others what a day in the life of a college student looks like. Whether you keep it private for your family to enjoy or you make it a public YouTube channel, vlogging is in. Model one of your vlogs off a cooking show, with a twist on ramen or PB&J sandwiches. Vlog a tour of your favorite spots on campus, such as where you get your morning coffee, restaurants you frequent, the gym and the library. Or keep it simple and just talk straight to the camera about school, your roommates, professors and anything else that’s on your mind.

Shared Photos

There are so many ways you and your family can share your photos. If you’re looking to keeping it virtual, create a private album on Facebook and make all your family members contributors so everyone can swap photos. Or, use a photo sharing site like Flickr or Photobucket. Take it a step further by sharing developed photos (yes, people still develop photos). Throw just a few photos into that letter you’re sending, or use an app like Groovebook to upload all of your photos for just $2.99 (college budget approved) to send your family a keepsake photobook.

Family Facebook Group

A private family Facebook group is great for quick life updates, such as acing that Calculus exam, or for sharing links to YouTube videos with each other. Having your family in one Facebook group creates a forum full of sharing, likes and comments between the people that matter the most to you. For those statuses or photos you can’t share with your entire following, a private group lets you share your silly selfies or embarrassing stories with those that will love you no matter what.

Author Bio: Destined to be an Armenian housewife perfecting her hummus recipe, Natalie Posdaljian instead chose a life of marine field biology and sriracha. Born and raised in southern California, her veins rush with salty seawater and sunshine no matter where she goes.  When she’s not saving jellyfish from extinction, Natalie is dancing in the shower, knitting on a plane or swinging in her hammock.


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Valentine’s Day for Students: When to Splurge & When to Save

By Alison Stanton

Valentine’s Day is the most expensive holiday after Christmas, the National Retail Federation reports. Love birds across the country will spend a collective—are you ready?—$18.6 billion on gifts for their special someones. That averages out to about $130 per person.

For high school and college students on a tight budget, spending $130 on their sweetie is simply not possible. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules to how much you should spend, the following tips can help you decide when you should splurge and when you should cut back.

college couple

Take an Honest Look at Your Relationship

So how’s it going? If you two argue more than you get along or are spending less time together, this might not be the time to present some huge and spendy gift. Have an honest talk with your boyfriend or girlfriend and discuss how you’ll celebrate it, if at all. Maybe in the interest of saving money, you’ll just treat it like a regular day. You could also decide to exchange nice cards and maybe a small fun gift like his favorite candy bar or her favorite blended coffee drink.

Think About How Long You’ve Been Together

If you’ve been dating for a few short weeks, treat Valentine’s Day a bit more casually than if you have been going out for a few years. Again, an open and honest approach is the way to go with someone you haven’t known that long—simply say you aren’t sure how to deal with a day that expects you both to act like crazed lovey-doveys.

On the other hand, if you have been together a while and are in love, it’s appropriate to spend a bit more on Valentine’s Day. You don’t need to take out a loan or rack up a huge credit card bill, however. Ask some of your closest friends who are in similar relationships what they expect to spend and see if it correlates with your budget and gift ideas. If your girlfriend of two years has been dropping hints about how much she would love to receive flowers at work, you could certainly splurge a little on that. For example, FTD sells a variety of beautiful Valentine’s Day arrangements that are in the $40-$50 range. Other gift suggestions for couples who are in solid and loving relationships include dinner out at a favorite restaurant and then watching a movie together all snuggled up on the couch, a nice wallet or purse that your sweetie has had his or her eye on, or a pair of designer sunglasses.

Decide Where and When to Celebrate

Between classes, jobs and other responsibilities, it might be challenging to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14. If you do decide to celebrate with your sweetie, figure out ahead of time when and where you’ll get together. Above all, try not to feel like you have to spend a certain amount just to get through the day—just be honest with yourself, your sweetheart and your wallet, and the day will go a lot smoother.

Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 14 years. Based in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Alison enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, but especially loves meeting interesting people and telling their stories. 

Last Day to Get The Secrets of Top Students for $2.99

Today is your last chance to get The Secrets of Top Students ebook for only $2.99!

This book 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.
The Secrets of Top Students: Special Sale!

The Secrets of Top Students: Special Sale!

Here’s what people have been saying about the book:

Praise for The Secrets of Top Students

“An insightful guide for high achievers—and those aspiring to such status—from an authoritative source, Stefanie Weisman, a Columbia University graduate and former valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School, two of the best schools in America. Stefanie Weisman’s book about the secrets of academic success is all the more amazing, given the learning disabilities that she overcame to become the ultimate academic overachiever. As a graduate of Stuyvesant High School myself, as well as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University, I believe students can find happiness and achieve great things at any number of schools, and Stefanie Weisman offers hard-fought wisdom about how to get there.”
Alec Klein, Northwestern University professor, bestselling author and award-winning journalist

“Although the target audience is high school and college students, the book is a must-read for students in middle school and up, teachers, parents, and guidance counselors as 21st-century students learn to excel in the new educational landscape in which they find themselves.”
Tammy Turner, Centennial High School, Frisco, TX; School Library Journal, July 2013 issue

“We wish we had Stefanie Weisman’s new book . . . when we were in school, but our loss is your child’s gain as this book goes beyond advising how to test better; it’s loaded with strategies on how to get the most out of school in a healthy, well-rounded way that will continue to serve your scholar well throughout their life.”
Lisa J. Curtis, Brooklyn Family Magazine, August 2013 issue

“A student who followed even half of the suggestions in this book could come away from college with both a greater understanding of the material and a significantly higher G.P.A.”
Dr. Mindy Marks, Associate Professor of Economics at Washington University, St. Louis, and Co-Author of “Leisure College, USA: The Decline in Student Study Time”

“This is perhaps the best and most pragmatic guide to academic success I have read that is relevant to today’s students. One thing that sets this book apart is that it provides special information for students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, aka STEM subjects.”
Stuart Nachbar, President of Educated Quest, www.EducatedQuest.com

“Undergraduates who want to excel in college will find a helpful resource in this book.”
Joseph Adegboyega-Edun, Counselor/College Adviser, Walter Johnson High School, Bethesda (MD)