Author Archives: Steve Aedy

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.

Book Critique Writing: Play It Cool

Book critique writingAre you feeling stressed about that book critique assignment?

No need to worry. Here are the steps to creating a book critique you can be proud of.

What Is a Book Critique?

A book critique is different from a book report, which is a simple and straightforward summary of the book. In a critique, you may include a brief summary, but your main focus is to evaluate the book, offering your critical assessment.

Before You Begin

Your work begins even before you start writing, while you are reading the book. Take notes as you read on the main message, themes, and key ideas. As you go along, you may try grouping these ideas into sections and then writing your own thoughts about each section. Sometimes it helps to read other critiques of the book to give you ideas.

Introduction

Start with basic bibliographical information: the title and author. Next, state what the main message or thesis of the book is.

Summary

Write a brief plot summary, mentioning each of the author’s main ideas and the main characters. Do not try to cover every detail of the book in your summary. Keep it short and focus only on the elements that are most important. Back up any of your statements with facts and evidence.

Evaluation

Write your evaluation of the book. It may be effective to answer the following questions in your evaluation.

  • Does the author make logical arguments?
  • What parts did you like?
  • Will the reader come to the same conclusion as the author, given the evidence presented?
  • Did the author succeed in making his point?
  • Does the book have emotional or logical appeal?
  • Is the evidence presented still valid, or is some of it outdated?
  • What is the author’s area of expertise?
  • What major themes are introduced in the book, and are they successful?
  • Is there any evidence that would support the opposite argument?
  • Does the information presented in the book fit with your own understanding of the subject?
  • How does the book compare with others in the same genre or written by the same author?
  • Did the author interpret all the evidence in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Does this book add clarity or significance?
  • If it’s fiction, what was the most important scene in the story, and why?

Conclusion

Here is where you let the reader know whether you recommend this book and why (or why not). Include some positive and negative aspects of the book and compare it to others that are similar. Indicate whether or not you agree with the author’s conclusions. Include specific examples to back up your statements, referencing page numbers when necessary.

Revisions

Proofread carefully several times. Don’t rely on your spellchecker, as it might not catch everything. Be extra careful in checking the spelling of the names of the author, the characters, and the publisher, and that quotes are cited correctly. As you read, put yourself in the mindset of your intended audience to ensure that your critique makes sense, that you’ve used the right amount of quotes, and that your summary is adequate.

A book critique is a wonderful opportunity to engage with a text and give your opinion about it, so enjoy it. You will find that it’s not as bad as it seems.

Writing Lessons You Can Learn From Your Favorite TV Shows

Writing lessons form your favorite TV showIt’s one of the best ways to wind down during a study break or a lazy Sunday: tuning in to Hulu or Netflix for some of your favorite shows.

But do you ever stop to ask yourself why you love these shows so much? Something about them has captured your attention.

What if you could make your writing as captivating as those TV shows you love? What if you could write an essay, story, or lab report that held your reader’s attention to the very end?

Maybe that seems far-fetched, but some of the qualities that make these shows unforgettable can also be applied to your writing.

Here’s how.

1. “Blackish:” Show, don’t tell.

You probably love this show because of its humor, and the funny, well-developed characters. Another great thing about the show is the understated social message. Beneath the humor, there is an undercurrent of commentary on racism and LGBT issues. But no one is holding a billboard announcing: “Attention! This is an example of racist stereotyping!” Instead, we see this message played out through the actions and behavior of the characters.

Any essay or report that you write also has a message, or a “thesis.” In effective writing as in a good TV show, this message is revealed through details, examples, and quotes rather than simple and obvious statements.

2. “Game of Thrones:” Realism and accuracy always win.

Although “The Game of Thrones” belongs to the fantasy genre, the writers purposely limit elements of magic in favor of making the story an accurate reflection of the dark and brutal way of life in medieval times. The violence and the dark stories of intrigue make the viewer feel like they are experiencing the Middle Ages firsthand. This is part of what makes the show so appealing.

Your writing will also be more appealing to your readers if you strive for realism and accuracy. Take the extra time to research your topic thoroughly to bring your reader the true blood and guts of your subject.

3. “The Walking Dead:” Examining a problem from all sides.

What if an apocalyptic event occurred in which those who died became brain-eating zombies?

“The Walking Dead” has held steady success for eight seasons by thoroughly exploring this premise. It examines the differing motivations of the characters, how these characters react differently to the post-apocalyptic world, and how these actions influence the story.

Just like a zombie apocalypse, the problems that you explore in your writing have different sides and affect people in different ways. A stock market crash will be experienced differently by a CEO than by a factory worker, and their reactions will affect one another. A good essay or report will examine a problem from all possible angles.

4. “Criminal Minds:” Deliver the profile.

“Criminal Minds” is a great detective show, with a twist. Instead of profiling the crime itself, the B.A.U. team solves it by compiling a list of clues about the killer, which gives them the ability to determine who and where he is going to attack next.

An effective paper will present the reader with a “profile” in the introduction, outlining the list of clues that have led to a particular conclusion. Then you can develop your paper as if you were solving a crime.

5. “Breaking Bad:” How does change happen?

The character of Walter White is a case study on how events can change a character from good to evil. The well-intentioned chemistry teacher is transformed by the events of poverty and illness into a ruthless drug dealer.

Are you analyzing some kind of transformative change in your paper? What are the factors that led to that change? As you examine the transformation in depth, you may find that it is every bit as complicated and intriguing as the sea-change of Walt White.

So don’t worry about your next writing assignment! With a little imagination, you can make it into a hit!

10 Tips to Write a Personal Statement That Works

how to write a personal statementAre you dreading to write that personal statement for your application?

You may feel overwhelmed by the task, but in reality your personal statement is a great opportunity. This is your chance to show the admissions committee the real you, the aspects of yourself that are not revealed by grades or test scores. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your personal statement.

1. Start with a personal inventory. Answer a set of questions about why you are attracted to this field or this school and how your past experiences have shaped you. Some good questions might be: What do you hope to get out of this career? How have your past jobs contributed to your growth? What challenges and hardships have you had to overcome?

2. Do some research ahead of time. What exactly is it about this school or this program that sets it apart in your mind? Uncover some specific information about the school to help you clarify this.

3. Respond specifically to the questions asked. Tailor your personal statement to the school to which you are applying. Try not to cut corners by using a one-size-fits-all personal statement for every school.

4. Include only items that are relevant. Focus on a clear thesis statement about why you are a great candidate for the program. Don’t litter your personal statement with an excess of trivial details. The reviewers don’t need to know your entire life story. Also try to avoid any statements that may be controversial (political or religious statements).

5. Be positive. This is a good place to address any obstacles that you have faced and how you overcame them. Whatever you mention as part of your story, spin it in a positive light and show that you have the resilience and determination to surmount challenges.

6. Write a strong opening paragraph. No pressure, but your first paragraph will make or break your personal statement. Put effort into making that opening paragraph a memorable attention-grabber, and you will have the reader’s attention throughout the rest of the essay.

7. Make your personal statement lively and interesting. The admissions committee will most likely be reading thousands of personal statements, so don’t bore them. Make your personal statement into a memorable story that showcases the real you.

8. Get specific. Any statement you make in your essay should be backed up with facts. Don’t just say that you are driven and goal-oriented. Cite specific accomplishments to prove that this is true.

9. Show your knowledge. The admissions committee is interested in what you have already learned about your chosen field of study. Reference classes you’ve taken or books that you’ve read. Use field-specific terminology to show you understand it.

10. Proofread not just once, but many times during the writing process. Ensure that your spelling, punctuation, and grammar are flawless. Professors care about the writing ability of their students, so don’t let a few silly errors obscure your potential.

It’s hard to stand out from so many other applicants, especially if you’re applying to a competitive field. Use this opportunity wisely, and you will certainly shine brighter than your competitors.

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.

How to Write an Evaluation Essay

write-evaluation-essayDo you ever read restaurant critiques or movie reviews? Of course, you do.

These reviews are examples of evaluation essays.

You might think that an evaluation essay does nothing more than express your opinion, but actually a good one is unbiased and rational.

There are three key elements of a good evaluation essay:

1. Criteria. Think about what makes a great movie. Great acting? A compelling story? Define the qualities of a great movie, a great restaurant, a great TV show. Defining this ahead of time makes your evaluation seem more objective and less opinionated.
2. Judgment. State how your subject measured up to your evaluation of the criteria. Be descriptive in your writing to engage the readers’ interest.
3. Evidence. Use facts and information to prove that the subject met your criteria, or didn’t.

Now that you know what the three elements of well-written evaluation essay are, here are the steps to writing it.

Come Up with a Topic

Begin with a list of general topics, like restaurants or beauty products. Then get more specific with names of specific products or businesses. Ideally, choose a topic that you already know about.

Write Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement will summarize your evaluation and briefly give your reasons for it. For example, you might say that Johnson’s Restaurant is great for families because of their good service, casual atmosphere, and kid-friendly menu.

Identify Your Audience and Subject

Describe the genre of service and the audience targeted by this product or service. For example, you might say that a certain kind of car is ideal for commuters who have to drive a lot because of its good gas mileage.

Outline Your Criteria

Detail the specific criteria by which you are evaluating your subject. For example, if you’re critiquing a band, you might mention melody, lyrics, and dynamics as your criteria.

Establish Whether Your Subject Met That Criteria

Support your evaluation with strong and specific reasons. You can do this through a chronological description of the subject or you can quote others who are talking about it. You may also describe your own personal experience, or draw a comparison to another subject in the same genre.

Depending on what your subject is, there are several different ways that you can structure your essay.

1. Compare/Contrast: Take an example of something that’s universally recognized as the best within that area, and begin your essay by comparing your subject to that.
2. Unfulfilled Expectations: Begin with what you expected to experience, and then explain that the subject exceeded this expectation, or failed to live up to it.
3. Description as Framework: Begin and end with a description of your experience of the subject. Break off midway through your description to give your evaluation. This structure keeps the reader in suspense.
4. Evaluate based on Criteria: After giving your introduction and evaluation, discuss how your subject performed in each of your criteria.
5. Cause and Effect Analysis: What effect does this subject have on your audience?

There is more than one way to write an evaluative essay, so try to have fun with this opportunity to articulate your opinion about something that matters to you.

10 Christmas Gifts Any College Student Would Want

10-christmas-gifts-any-college-student-would-wantOne of the greatest things about college is making new friends. Now you have plenty of fun people to hang out with all the time! But you also have a very lengthy Christmas shopping list, and you are feeling low on funds and ideas. How can you get your friends the awesome gifts they deserve? What might they even want?

No need to worry. We have a list of gifts that every college student will love!

1. Personalized pillow. Is your friend perhaps missing a favorite pet? Get him an adorable pet pillow featuring a photo of his furry friend. You can also get a pillow that displays a collage of photos of some of the fun you’ve had together.

2. Hangover kit. Whether your parents like it or not, college drinking is a rite of passage. Assemble a kit containing Pepto Bismol, electrolyte drink mix, ginger ale, aspirin, and other items to make the morning after just a little less punishing. Or get them a fun hangover cookbook with comforting recipes and graphic quizzes to track her recovery.

3. A laundry bag or hamper. A fun, quirky laundry bag can help your friend keep his laundry organized. A graphic hamper will add a unique touch to the dorm decor. A personalized L.L. Bean laundry tote will make it clear whose things go where.

4. French press. A French press allows you to easily brew a cup of coffee with only water and coffee grounds. Until recently, they were impractical for college students because they shatter too easily and don’t keep the coffee warm. A stoneware version from Le Creuset can withstand early-morning or late-night rough handling. Your friend might also enjoy a clever coffee mug that doubles as a French press.

5. Personal humidifier. This takes up very little space, is easy to use, and will safeguard against the dry air of winter. Helpfully, it shuts off automatically when the water level gets low.

6. Bike accessories. Bikes are a popular way for college students to get around. If your friend owns a bike, get her some cool accessories: a lock, a helmet, or a rechargeable bike light.

7. Organizational tools and filing system. College students could always use a little help in organizing their possessions, files, and papers. Give them some colorful envelopes to file their papers conveniently, without taking up much space. A classic all-wood storage box can help them store jewelry or art supplies.

8. A DIY emoji marquee. Does your friend just love emojis? You can create a fun emoji marquee to jazz up his dorm room. You just need a round wood top, a drill, some globe lights, and an emoji template and you’re good to go.

9. Tapestry. Your friend can add a soothing and outdoorsy touch to her dorm room decor with a nature-themed tapestry.

10. iPhone projector. Give your friend the ability to easily turn his room into a home theater with a DIY phone projector. You need a shoebox, a magnifying glass, an Exacto knife, and some duct tape.

With a little creativity and thoughtfulness, you can give your friend a meaningful and useful Christmas gift without breaking the bank.

How to Make Writing Fun: Simple Tips – Awesome Results

how-to-make-writing-funDo you struggle to write something? Lack inspiration to express your ideas? Then it’s time to inject your writing with a little fun!

Here are some simple tricks to get you excited about putting the words on the page and make the whole process more creative, engaging and FUN. Never underestimate the importance of having fun while writing and you will be greatly surprised with a result!

Give Yourself Challenging Goals

Having a goal increases your concentration and improves your chances of success. Having a challenging goal adds more fun to work. Therefore, try to make your goal super tough and urgent. Moreover, make sure it is concrete and measurable. For instance, challenge yourself to complete that essay in 30 minutes, even if it normally takes you an hour to prepare the first draft. You will see that competing your goal is fun!

Write in Other People’s Voice

This trick is used by most artists. When they learn how to paint, they try to copy the style of the famous artists before developing their own technique. You can do the same with writing. Isn’t it fun to pretend that you are someone else? Choose a writer whose style you like most of all. Then create your original piece of writing, but do it in their manner. Keep practicing until you feel confident using their writing style.

Reward Yourself

It’s really fun to be rewarded for completing some tasks. Rewards will inspire you and make you happy – that is much needed while writing. Think what may lift your mood and reward yourself with this thing after completing the next milestone. It can be a piece of your favorite cheesecake, a cup of coffee, a massage, best-loved film or a magazine. Decide what is best for you – you deserve a little celebration for every achievement!

Use Stickers

Another cool way to make your writing fun is to use stickers. Gather different stickers (people, places, animals, etc.) and cut them into pieces. Then put all of them in a bag and mix them up. Choose up to five stickers and try to create your own story with those objects or events. This activity is really creative, fun and entertaining.

Write to Someone

It can be an email, a message to your friend, a New Year’s card, or a letter to Santa. Writing to a real recipient is fun because it connects you with people in your life and ties to the real world. As you want people to understand your message, you’ll do your best to choose the right words and express ideas properly.

Practice a Relaxation Technique

Writing can be exciting and fun but it can also be very stressful. Make sure you know when to take a rest. Learn how to meditate or practice a new relaxation technique. Choose the exercise that works best for you. For example, you may work for 20 minutes and then have a five-minute break. Do some exercises or simply stretch your legs, just make sure to incorporate these methods into your writing schedule.

Use Drawing or Coloring

Allowing yourself to do something creative with your writing will help you produce better texts, particularly if you hate writing long passages. Use colored pencils or pens and write different words in different colors. You can also draw some pictures to illustrate the content you’ve prepared or replace some words with little drawings. No doubt, this creative way of organizing your writing will bring you a lot of positive emotions!

Write About Your Interests

Choose the topic for writing you are passionate about. You’ll be surprised how much you write about your favorite movie or a singer. The daunting writing process will turn into a smooth and engaging activity if you write about what matters to you. Avoid those topics that cause a writer’s block and choose something you are really interested in.

Even if you use some of these simple tips, you will notice a shift in your writing. Get creative, express yourself, share your interests and just HAVE FUN with your writing every single time! Isn’t it what you need?