Category Archives: College

Using Study Drugs to Earn an “A”: Why You Should Think Twice

In pursuit of academic excellence, it has become a common practice among college students to take study drugs. Between classes, clubs meetings, games and summer internships, students have little time to study. And to get a boost of energy for those all-nighters, many decide to take stimulant drugs.

“Smart drugs” like Adderall or Ritalin are prescription stimulants that are often used inappropriately to enhance the mental performance while studying. They are usually prescribed to treat ADHD, but in fact, about 1 in 5 college students use them without prescription to increase productivity. On many college campuses, they are easily attainable, that’s why they are so appealing to the overwhelmed students.

Risks Versus Rewards

Study drugs help to focus on the tasks and improve motivation to study, but the short-term benefits come along with the risks.

For people who suffer from ADD or ADHD, these drugs may have a calming effect. However, for those without the symptoms of a mental disorder, they are more likely to cause nervousness and euphoria.

Study drugs have different short-time risks like increased heart rate, blood pressure, irritability and insomnia. Sometimes they can cause paranoia and even hallucinations. After all, the misuse of such drugs can be really dangerous, especially when combined with alcohol and other drugs.

In addition to the health risks, a student who uses study drugs may face the legal consequences, such as fines and suspension from college. Misusing the prescription drugs is against the law and increases the chances of committing a crime when you are under the influence of substances. However, the most disturbing risk of using the study drugs is an addiction. Apart from the serious health problems, it may even lead to death.

Healthier Alternatives to Study Drugs

Despite the serious consequences, the use of “smart drugs” is alive on campuses. The highly competitive academic environment increases the risk of drug abuse. However, the study drugs shouldn’t be an answer to the students’ stressful life. There are many healthy alternatives that will help you manage your academic and social life.

To beat the stress, it is important to rest each day, without your phone, Facebook or friends. Eat the healthy food, get plenty of sleep and practice some relaxation techniques. Yoga, for instance, has been proven to reduce stress and promote a healthy lifestyle.

The key to productivity is also having fun. That’s why don’t forget to take breaks and spend time with friends. It’s extremely important to re-energize for the next study session. You may also consider drinking coffee, Red Bull or Mountain Dew instead of taking pills. These are not the healthiest strategies, but at least they are legal and not dangerous.

Surely, college is competitive and you want to excel in academics. But it’s not worth becoming dependent on a drug and experiencing all side effects, especially when there are great alternatives.

Prepare a Persuasive Speech in 5 Easy Steps

Prepare a speech in 5 stepsTalking comes naturally to us and we don’t even give our conversations the second thought. But when faced with the prospect of speaking in front of the audience, this seems a burden. By far, the best way to learn how to write persuasive speeches is to read the great ones. But if you are looking for some quick tips, here are a few steps to follow.

1. Learn about a Topic

A major part of the difficulty about writing a persuasive speech is choosing a topic and learning about it. You need to know as much as possible about the subject you need to speak on. Spend some time doing a research and learn all the sides of the issue. You may read academic books in a library or find relevant articles online but make sure to use only reliable sources. To find out what other people think about a topic, use radio talks or editorials, but don’t rely on them as your only source of information as they may be biased.

2. Define Your Goal

You have to understand what you need to achieve with your speech. Do you want to present your own opinion on the issue? Make a sale? Persuade your audience to vote? Or perform some other action? Once you define what you expect from the audience, you’ll be able to easily craft your message. It is also important to understand the views and knowledge of your audience about a topic. People who know little about the subject need some background information and simpler language. However, the experts on the topic may find this kind of speech boring.

3. Write a Strong Opening

Before you can start persuading your audience, you have to attract their attention. A strong and effective opening has the following elements:

  • An attention grabber – this can be a little startling or dramatic statement that will get your audience’s attention instantly.
  • A link to the audience – you need to emphasize that you have something in common with the audience.
  • Your goal – explain what you hope the speech will accomplish.
  • A road map – present the main points of your speech.

4. Offer Persuasive Evidence

The main body of your speech should include several convincing reasons to support your point of view. Arrange these points logically. Make sure to use credible sources from your research to back up these points. You may use the real life examples that the audience can relate to. Even the argument based on facts and logic should relate to the audience’s interests and lives.

5. Conclude with a Call to Action

The conclusion of your speech should remind your audience of what you have told them. But don’t just restate your point of view, instead, use this as a chance to present a clear call to action. Use concise and strong sentences that elicit confidence. You don’t want to sound as passive or timid. Don’t be afraid to use some humor in your speech. It will connect you to the audience and make your topic easier to hear about.

Write like you talk and remember that practice makes perfect!

IELTS Essay Writing Tips

IELTS essay writing tips

Without a doubt, essay writing is the most challenging section of IELTS. Writing 150 or 250 words in the time allowed is the biggest concern of many students. Indeed, it is quite hard for people from a different cultural background to get high scores on the exam because of the another thinking mode. But with the right preparation, you can make sure that your essay will be good enough to attract the score you really want.

There is a lot to remember: you have to manage your time, keep to the word limit, use great vocabulary, avoid mistakes and find solid points to make about the topic. It may look impossible but it is all attainable if you know the main tips and tricks.

1. Keep your introduction short

Remember that you have only 40 minutes to write an essay, and some of this time should be spent for planning. That’s why you need to write your introduction quickly so you can start developing the body paragraphs. You just have to do two things: state the essay topic using some basic facts and present what you are going to write about.

2. Choose a controlling idea for each body paragraph

Your IELTS essay should contain 2 or 3 body paragraphs. Each paragraph should present one main idea and include several sentences to support it. You need to give enough facts, examples and arguments to answer the essay question. Make sure to stay on topic because you will be penalized if you stray off subject matter.

3. Be clear and straightforward

You need to write clearly and get to the point. English essays reflect a straightforward way of thinking, so make sure you develop your ideas precisely. Choose your words deliberately, pay attention to the sentence length, avoid unnecessary explanations, rewrite or delete needless phrases, eliminate redundancies.

4. Be logical

Logic is one of the most important factors of a good IELTS essay. Your sentences and paragraphs should have a clear reasoning, which aims for supporting your point of view. To build logical connections in your essay, you need to use transitions. They are important tools that will help you connect your ideas properly.

5. Use rich vocabulary

IELTS exam is the time to show what you know. Stay away from the over-used adjectives, such as “good” or “bad.” Instead, use more expressive words, such as excellent, wonderful, or horrible. The more precise words will make your language alive and help you get higher points for your essay.

6. Avoid slang and contractions

Find the best way to express your thoughts without using the slang or colloquial expressions. You need to show off the best English you know. Also, make sure you don’t use contractions in your essay. Academic tasks demand formal writing, so don’t write in a style that is improper to use.

7. Add the personal touch

An essay should reveal your personal feelings and opinions. It has to show your individuality. If this personal touch is lost, the essay will be colorless. Therefore, don’t be afraid to express your own point of view.

These techniques are key to producing a powerful IELTS essay. Keep these tips in mind and try your best!

10 Awesome Tricks to Become a Super Productive Student

How to be a productive studentFull of enthusiasm and good intentions but have no idea how to get everything done? Even if you are one of those students who attends every class and spends hours in the library each day, this is all useless if you are unproductive.

Productivity is the most important skill you’ll acquire as a student. Being able to balance your academic, social and personal lives is what will help you perform better both at university and outside of academia.

Luckily, there are some tips and tricks to help you stay on track.

1. Set achievable goals

Setting goals is a perfect way to motivate yourself. However, make sure to set yourself only realistic and achievable goals. If you settle on too many aims, you’ll just decide that you won’t reach them and stop trying to. Instead, focus on smart, measurable and significant goals.

2. Plan everything

Planning everything in advance will make your life less stressful as you’ll be able to control all tasks and duties. Keep a diary and list all things to be accomplished. As a result, you’ll never experience the deadline panics and you’ll always know what’s around the corner.

3. Create a better study environment

A good study environment will keep you motivated at all times. Therefore, you need to choose a quite and comfortable place to study. Good lighting is important, so either use a desk lamp or pick a naturally bright room. Don’t work on your bed – let your sleep place be for sleeping.

4. Limit distractions

Make sure to limit all distractions and you’ll be able to easily focus on your tasks. Consider what may lower your productivity – Facebook, cat videos, phone calls, online shopping, loud music – and do your best to stay away from these things.

5. Take study breaks

Schedule breaks in your study plan. The perfect productivity formula is 52 minutes of work and then 17 minutes of relaxation. Here are some great break ideas: have a healthy snack, go outside and get some fresh air, have a short walk. However, avoid watching TV or browsing social media – it’s not effective for your mind and body.

6. Keep a “done” list

Creating the “done” lists will help you keep track of what you’ve accomplished during a day. Every time you achieve something, add it to your list. It will motivate you to work on the new things faster.

7. Wake up early

If you want to become a super productive student, you have to get up early. Waking up at the same time each morning is essential for starting your day on the right foot. Form this useful habit and you’ll have enough time for accomplishing all goals and tasks.

8. Surround yourself with people who inspire you

The company you keep is very important for your productivity and motivation. Make sure you are surrounded by people who share your goals, this will keep your standards high. Consider to get a study buddy or join a study group and keep each other on track.

9. Wear headphones

This is slightly antisocial, but it’s something you can do to focus. Wearing headphones shows people that you cannot talk or do something right now. This is perfect for having that “do not disturb” working time.

10. Sleep and de-stress

Being well-rested will help you focus and be more efficient when it comes time to work. Therefore, make sure to get enough sleep and don’t forget to find time for fun. Fun is important, not just for your health, but for learning as well.

ACT Writing Tips: 5 Strategies to Raise Your Essay Score

ACT writing tipsThe written part of the ACT often strikes fear in the hearts of many students but there is no need to worry! A specific approach to the essay section and learning the main tips and tricks will help you prepare the most powerful piece of writing.

So, what do you need to accomplish in order to receive a high score? Here is all important information.

1. Write a Powerful Introduction and Conclusion

You need to know a little secret: your first and last paragraphs matter more than the middle. ACT graders need to read a lot of essays very quickly, so they pay more attention to the introduction and conclusion and simply scan the main part of your work. If the beginning and the end of your essay are well-written and logical, then most likely other paragraphs will be too. By reading these parts, the grader may tell with confidence what score you will get. However, it doesn’t mean that the middle part shouldn’t make sense. Just devote a bit more time to writing the introduction and conclusion of your essay.

2. Sell Your Examples with Details

A good essay should be persuasive. Interesting and specific details not only present the value of your point of view but also make an essay more interesting to read. Therefore, it is important to back up the statements you make with the fine points. You may even decide to support your position with a real-life story. It will only make your work more noticeable and memorable.

3. Organize Ideas in a Logical Manner

Your essay should be structured in a logical manner with distinctive paragraphs. Great ideas don’t make sense if they are not arranged well. Organization is important to effective writing because it makes easy for readers to follow your thoughts. To make your writing more consequent, use transitions between the paragraphs. Constructing effective paragraphs may be really challenging due to the effort involved in planning. However, the results can greatly improve your chances of getting the high score.

4. Use the Right Language

The use of language is very important, and voice, tone, word choice and grammar are always taken into account. Make sure to avoid slang, misspelling and grammatical mistakes. Your essay should be flawless and error-free. Also try to vary the sentence structure and use relatively sophisticated vocabulary. The ACT graders always pay much attention to the proper language use, so improve your mechanics of writing.

5. Carefully Review Your Essay

Once completed, read through your essay. Make sure it is on topic and persuasive enough. Check whether you don’t repeat the same ideas by using different words. Proofread the work for typos and mistakes as they may damage the most powerful essay.

The ACT test doesn’t have to be challenging or stressful. The tips mentioned above will give you the confidence and the ability to score well and bring you closer to the college of your choice.

Ultimate Tips on Writing Lab Reports

writing lab reportsLab reports are an important part of all laboratory courses, including Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Natural Science, and usually a significant part of your grade. A lab report is your chance to show what you did in your experiment, what you learned and what the results meant.

When preparing a report, it is always important to be attentive to the requirements and guidelines as they may vary greatly. Some instructors require to include lab reports into the lab notebook, while others ask to prepare the separate reports. There may be some differences in format and writing style. However, there are universal guidelines for scientific writing, and you need to make sure that your report follows them.

Lab Report Essentials

1. Title

The title should be brief and describe the main point of your investigation. Aim for less than 10 words.

2. Abstract

In about 100 or 200 words, summarize the purpose of your lab report and major conclusions.

3. Introduction

Provide background information and explain the objectives of the lab. In other words, say why you did the experiment. Keep it short!

4. Methods and materials

List the materials and methods used but don’t overwhelm the reader with details.

5. Results

Summarize the important data from the experiment, describe what they mean.

6. Discussions

Compare expected results with actual results, explain the results in terms of the purpose, suggest how the they could be improved.

7. References

Include a reference list if it is required.

General Tips on Writing

In scientific writing, it is important to follow the specific rules to make sure that your report presents data and outcomes in a clear and persuasive way.

1. Be concise. You need to say as much as needed while using as few words as possible. A lab report is not an essay, it should be concise, straightforward and to the point. Avoid repetitions and unnecessary details.

2. Write in the third person. When you’re describing an experimental procedure, don’t use the words “I,” “we,” “my.” This may be a bit difficult to get used to, so pay special attention to the wording in your lab report.

3. Use correct verb tenses. It can be difficult to decide which tense (present or past )to use in your report. When describing the experiment, you need to use the past tense, as it has already been conducted. When you are talking about the equipment, theory or report that still exist, use the present tense.

4. Write about the real results. Resist the temptation to lie about the results in your lab report. Write about what really happened and not what should have happened. If something went wrong, it would be a great idea to suggest some ways to improve the work in future.

5. Don’t copy the lab manual. A manual can be a helpful guideline when you need to explain the purpose of your experiment. However, it is essential to use your own words when describing the results.

When the report is written, reread it, watching specially for lack of precision. Make sure you have enough time to edit and proofread your work thoroughly.

5 Ways to Enjoy Your Spring Break If You’re Stuck on Campus

spring breakSo, you’re stuck on campus during your spring break. Sure, you’re a little jealous of your friends who are going on a wild trip to Panama City Beach and will enjoy pool parties and crazy nightlife. But don’t be upset. Spring break on campus can be as fun as it is on a trip!

Check out the following suggestions to make your vacation productive and surprisingly fun.

1. Make New Friends

Staying on campus during the whole break can be lonely, but you shouldn’t forget that many students also skip the trip. As well as you, they wonder how to spend free time with pleasure. Therefore, if you feel lonely, figure out who else is on campus and enjoy a great time with new friends. You can plan a dinner out, shopping or a movie night in someone’s room. This will make your holiday experience much more enjoyable.

2. Redo Your Dorm Room

Use free time during a spring break to rearrange your dorm room and make it cozy and fashionable. Refreshing your living space will have a positive impact on your mood and general well-being when you return to classes. Experiment with the interior redecoration, buy new furniture or get rid of the unnecessary things. Consider to cover the walls with posters, photo collages or your own paintings. Redoing your room is a great way to stay busy during a vacation.

3. Try Something New

Staying on campus during a spring break doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sleep and watch Netflix all the time. With no obligations and no busy schedule, you have enough time to try something new. Pick up a great hobby and master your talents. Forget about being a “coach potato” and impress everyone with your new skills. Cooking, scrapbooking, building models, yoga, origami, photography – the opportunities are endless. Choose the one you like and start practicing while you have free time.

4. Start Getting Into Shape

When was the last time you had a great workout? Can’t remember? Then take advantage of your spring break and start getting into shape. There are many inexpensive ways to stay active. Don’t miss a chance to visit a gym a few times during a vacation. Consider running, biking or long-distance walking. To spend more time on the fresh air, you can take a mat and do some yoga or pilates. Exercising is good for your body, mind and spirit, so spend free time effectively.

5. Get That So Much-Needed “Me Time”

Instead of your classes, work and extracurricular activities, you can finally focus on yourself. You can spend time on the things you like. Watch a film, read an interesting book, paint your nails or go for a walk. Choose the best way to treat yourself and finally tackle that to-do list. Taking some time for you and your hobbies is beneficial for your piece of mind.

Whether it’s your first time staying on campus during a spring break or your last one, make it a vacation you will remember!

The Craziest Excuses to Skip Out on Your Writing Assignment

The craziest excusesSooner or later, a moment comes in the lives of everyone when we have to come up with a credible excuse for not finishing an assignment.

There are a number of possible approaches to this. You can try giving one of the same tired old excuses that every professor has heard a million times: the flu, family problems, your dog.

Or you can come up with something outrageous and simply hope that your creativity earns you some brownie points.

Once you’ve determined that an excuse is the best route, here are some to choose from.

1. “What assignment?” Depending on the instructor or the situation, playing dumb can actually work sometimes. You legitimately have no memory of being given an assignment; or maybe you do, but you thought it was due next week. Didn’t your teacher say it was due next week? You could have sworn he did.

2. “My computer crashed.” Anyone can relate to the experience of being derailed by technological problems. Your computer has a virus. Your flash drive broke. The Internet was down. It’s impossible to dispute that such things actually happen. Be wary of using this excuse with veteran teachers, though; they’ll just say you should have started the assignment sooner.

3. “I’ve had too much to do with my job.” Most instructors will take pity on students who have to work an extra job in addition to school, as long as you don’t use this excuse too often. Remember, your teachers will expect their classes to be your top priority.

4. “My essay was stolen.” Those gosh darn homework thieves are at it again! You KNOW that assignment was in your backpack, but someone must have taken it. Heck, maybe they even stole the entire backpack with your homework in it.

5. “I’ve been too sick to do it.” You’ve just barely been able to summon the energy to drag yourself out of bed and come to class. Your teacher should feel flattered that you made the effort to show up. You’ve certainly been in no condition to finish your writing assignment.

6. “I need your help to figure out how to do it.” This plays on your teacher’s natural desire to help you learn. She will be more than willing to give you a little extra time so that she can explain it to you better. Never mind that you could have emailed her or gone to her office hours before the assignment was actually due.

7. “My essay flew out the car window.” You can hand in a dirty, rumpled, illegible paper to make your story more convincing.

8. “I was abducted by aliens.” Hey, it happens. But once again, this wouldn’t be a problem if you hadn’t left it to the last minute.

9. The truth. Sometimes the truth is really your best bet. It’s likely you have a good reason that your professor will understand. As long as the truth isn’t that you chose to stay up all night partying with friends instead of doing your work.

With this repertoire, you should have no problem finding a great excuse to give your teacher. Feel free to embellish if you want! A little creativity keeps things more interesting.

Scholarship Essay Tips: Write a Winning One

Scholarship Essay TipsYour scholarship essay is easily the most important part of your entire application. It’s probably the only part of the application which makes you stand out from other applicants. Most applicants will meet the same basic requirements: good grades, well-rounded extracurricular activities, and decent test scores. So congratulations…you’re just like everyone else!

Until the reviewers look at your essay and discover that you’re actually not like the others, at all.

Here are the tips to writing a winning scholarship essay.

  1. Follow the directions. You would be amazed at how many students get their applications rejected simply by failing to follow the instructions. Reviewers will be searching for ways to eliminate applicants quickly to make their jobs easier. That means that if you exceed the word limit or single-space instead of double-space, they may not even read your essay at all. And equally important: make sure that you have a crystal-clear understanding of the question so that you can respond to it effectively.

  2. Start with an outline. Do not leave your essay to the last minute! Give yourself plenty of time to plan what you’re going to say. A good outline in an essential tool to craft a coherent essay. Start by listing two or three main points in response to the question, and then add a few concrete supporting details to each of them.

  3. Use proper format. Unless the instructions specifically state otherwise, scholarship essays should be typed in size 12 Times New Roman font and double spaced. There should be one-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides.

  4. Keep your audience in mind. Avoid crafting a “one-size-fits- all,” generic essay that goes out to everyone. Do some research on the organization offering the scholarship. Discover their goals and priorities and write your essay to reflect these. Find out as much as you can about former award recipients; this will help you understand what the committee values. Remember that there are people evaluating you, with their own hopes, dreams, and goals. You will stand out by showing that their goals are important to you.

  5. Be concise. Keep your language clear and to-the-point. Avoid word repetition.

  6. Make the real “you” shine through. Write with passion and reveal your hopes, dreams and convictions. Instead of just listing activities and accomplishments, turn them into a story that says something meaningful about you as a person. Give concrete details to make this story memorable and believable.

  7. Proofread carefully. Before completing this step, go back and read the question again. As you read over your work, make sure that it answers the question. Then proofread carefully for spelling, punctuation and grammar. It’s also a good idea to enlist a friend, a teacher, or a parent to read it over; it’s easy to miss simple mistakes when we are reading our own work.

It can seem like a lot of pressure to write a scholarship essay that stands out from the crowd. But if you take a little extra time and thought, it can pay off big in the long run.

7 Reasons to Write Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

7-reasons-to-writeWriting an essay or a lab report can definitely seem like a chore! It’s hard work, and you can’t help thinking that there are other things you’d rather be doing.

But writing is not just some kind of meaningless ritual that professors compel you to do out of routine. There are many ways in which writing helps you long-term, in your classes, your career, and your personal life. Here’s how.

1. It enhances creativity and imagination. Writing gives you the opportunity to explore and use your imagination. Ultimately, that will improve your problem-solving abilities and help you feel more motivated. When you are able to use your imagination, learning can be more fun!

2. It allows you to demonstrate your learning. Sure, there are lots of different ways a student can show that he’s learned something, but let’s face it: most professors are going to require you to demonstrate what you’ve learned through a research paper, a lab report, or an essay prompt. If your writing skills are weak, that’s going to be an obstacle to showing your competence.

3. It helps you communicate your ideas clearly. The ability to write helps us express our feelings and ideas in all kinds of situations! Whether it’s a love letter to a significant other or a petition to affect the social change in your community, writing will help you clarify your thoughts and get them across clearly.

4. It is an essential skill for every academic area. No matter what your major is, your professors are going to expect you to be able to write. If you’re studying engineering or accounting, you may think that you won’t ever need to know how to write, but see the next point.

5. It is an important skill for almost every career. Are you planning to start your own business someday? Well, you’re going to need to write a business plan. Are you studying to become a nurse? Nurses need to write up notes on their patients every day. More importantly, research shows that employees with strong writing ability are statistically more likely to advance in their chosen careers, all the way up to the corporate level.

6. It helps you understand and remember information. What do you do when you’re going to the store and need to remember what you’re getting? You write it down, of course. That’s because writing aids memory. It’s the same with course material: taking the time to write about what you’re learning will help you remember and understand it better.

7. It helps you understand your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There’s a reason why blogging and journaling are such popular activities. The act of writing helps us make sense of the story of our lives, so that we can set effective goals for our future growth.

We know that you’d rather be socializing with friends or vegging out in front of the TV. Writing is not necessarily the most fun activity in the world. But it will bring you some lasting benefits. And who knows? Once you start writing every day, you may even find that you love it.