Author Archives: Steve Aedy

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?

The Ultimate Checklist for Research Proposal Writing

the-ultimate-checklist-for-research-proposal-writingHow to convince the committee that you have a distinguished project and an exceptional plan to prepare it? To write an outstanding research proposal!

There is no single format for all research proposals because different disciplines and academic institutions have different formats and requirements. However, there are some components that should be included in every proposal.

We’ve prepared this ultimate list for research proposal writing to get you through the process as smoothly as possible.

Cover Page

Make sure that a cover page includes all necessary information to identify your topic, institution and degree:

  • concise and eye-catching title
  • your name and qualifications
  • department and university
  • your supervisor’s name

Your cover page provides the first impression of your proposal, so check one more time whether the title introduces the key ideas of your project and presents the right direction of your investigation.

Table of Contents

Make certain the table of contents:

  • presents the parts of a research proposal in a hierarchical way, with the help of titles and subtitles
  • indicates exact page references for every part

Introduction

The main aim of the introduction is to provide background for your research problem. Think about it as a narrative written to answer these 4 important questions:

1. What is the core research problem?
2. Which topic of study is related to it?
3. What methods should be used to analyze the problem?
4. Why is this research important?
After reading your introduction, the reader will have an understanding of what you want to do. Your introduction may include a theoretical starting point, a personal motivation or historical/cultural/ social/political information about the research question.

Purpose and Aims of the Study

This section describes the objectives and desired outcomes of your work to find the answers for the researched problem. Make sure:

  • the purpose is expressed in terms of the broader context of the study
  • there are not too many research questions, so the focus is manageable
  • the aims are related to the stated purpose

Literature review

The literature review demonstrates that you are aware of the diversity of material that is related to your research proposal. You need to show understanding of the relative theories, studies and models. Successful literature review:

  • keeps focus on the literature essential to your investigated problem
  • combines various theories, findings and arguments on the topic
  • gives the reader enough ties to the literature that you have found and read during the research
  • shows that you can take a critical approach to your area of research

Research Design

The research design is aimed at describing your plans and methods and should:

  • indicate the research operations you will use and the way you will interpret the results of these operations
  • specify why these methods are the best way to investigate the problem
  • anticipate any potential challenges you may face while finding information or analyzing data
  • provide a timetable and action plan to explain how each of the tasks will be carried out

Expected Outcomes

Surely, you don’t have the results when you start writing your proposal, but you should have some suggestions about the possible outcomes. Therefore, this section should provide:

  • the expected results
  • a series of paragraphs foreseeing the importance of the research

Glossary of Terms

Make sure you have a list of:

  • specialised terms
  • words
  • concepts
  • acronyms

and their meanings.

References

Be sure to reference texts and sources that play a significant role in your analysis, in addition to your planned readings. These include:

  • all textbooks
  • journal articles
  • relevant books
  • Internet sources

These references will help you avoid plagiarism, so make sure to cite them properly.

A high-quality proposal not just promises success to your project, but also impresses your committee about your potential as a researcher. Therefore, make sure your writing is coherent and compelling, and your research idea is clearly stated and persuasive.

Before submitting the completed work, check it carefully to make certain that your research proposal has all essential sections and follows all specified instructions. Our ultimate checklist will help you with that!

Common Mistakes in College Paper Writing

essay-writing-mistakes

Writing assignments for college credit take all different shapes and requirements—and of course, present a variety of stresses. Ultimately, though, a paper is a great opportunity to explore your own ideas and express independent conclusions. Even if you admit to not being the best writer, there is room for success in college paper writing, as long as you see the pitfalls coming and divert via the route of clarity, logic, and compliance.

To follow are some common mistakes students make in college paper writing. Take heed and weed costly errors out of your prose; after all, mistakes are less often related to your skills as a writer, and more often the result of carelessness and bad habits.

Failing to Understand the Assignment

Not taking time to comprehend what a paper assignment calls for is a huge error. Most professors offer ample detail about what they want, so get into the fine print. If the professor assigns 500 words, meet that expectation. Don’t short the essay by 19 words and assume it’s fine because it’s still “in the ballpark.” It is always better to go over by 5 to 10 words (no more) than to miss a word-count benchmark. And don’t question this part of an assignment: there’s method to a prof’s madness in requiring that writers get it said in so many words.

Get clarity, too, on documentation requirements: are in-text citations appropriate, or does this instructor craves footnotes? Ask about how much and what kind of source material you should access and annotate, then dig into research.

Informal Language and Colloquialisms

An academic paper should be presented in formal, academic English; this is no time for “street talk” or for “text speak.” A good rule of thumb is to avoid abbreviations altogether (that includes contractions) and never to rely on slang or jargon. For example, the phrase “a lot” seems to convey something like “many” or “much.” In all actuality, though, “a lot” presents like a noun, especially with the article in play. The phrase is vague; leave it out.

Steer clear of everyday expressions and “trendy” language too, unless the professor indicates this college paper can accommodate it. Elevate tone, elevate content, and elevate end results.

Using First Person and Direct Address

Academic writing typically calls for some amount of objectivity, where first-person announcements like “I feel” or “I contend” aren’t the best options. After all, it is your essay, so isn’t the “In my opinion” construct a given? Take a step back. Distance yourself from the “speaker” platform by using “the author” in place of first person; just don’t get too carried away so that you end up sounding like a stuffed shirt!

And direct address (writing “you this, you that”) is just one more common mistake—and it’s particularly dangerous. Plug in “one” to keep from putting words into a reader’s mouth and to avoid making the reader feel targeted.

Misusing Basic Punctuation

One major pitfall for most writers, especially in college paper writing where authors are spread thin and in a rush, is punctuation. Being comma-happy means your prose is interruptive and stilted; not having an independent clause on either side of a semi-colon confuses a reader. Slow down and edit carefully. In fact, keep a style guide on hand: make use of writing resources available in the library and via online platforms, because every writer needs instant access to the rules and regs regarding grammar, punctuation, and usage.

The Best Quotes to Beat Procrastination

procrastination-writing

Procrastination is a particularly cunning beast. It lures you into feeling of false comfort and then disappears, leaving you face to face with panic and work overload monsters. And be sure: it will never be your ally in this battle.

Luckily, you don’t have to be the first person to fight the traitor. Lots of great people have conquered it and developed their own successful tactics and strategies. We’re not going to instruct you on the ways to do so. The ultimate goal is to inspire you to find the one that works particularly for you.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

The saying belongs to Pablo Picasso. We tend to think artists and the creatives in general are usually in conflict with schedules, deadlines and all kind of organizational pressure. However, Picasso’s example vividly demonstrates that even the most unconventional thinkers realize: getting things done is a precondition of success.

“It is awfully hard work doing nothing.”

A brilliantly witty playwright Oscar Wilde, obviously knew a thing or two about life in general and procrastination in particular. Postponing a task till the very last minute is actually exhausting, since the looming perspective of the need to face it never leaves your mind, bringing you to the state of constant anxiety. Eventually, you get tired of procrastinating, not of the actual dealing with a problem. Add the feeling of guilt and you’ll get the bitter cocktail no one really wants.

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t get it wrong. Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons of delaying work on a task. The trick is that it automatically leads to failure. Mistakes often lead to fascinating experiences. They make you ask for help, get to know more people and generally go down the path of self-development. Procrastination is a way to nowhere. In fact, it’s not even a way.

“If and When were planted, and Nothing grew.”

This precious piece of wisdom says it all. You don’t get to see the results of your work unless you actually do something.

Of course, the most complicated thing here is to make the first step towards change. However, you may use a couple of simple tricks to make the transition far more manageable.

  • Divide the task into small chunks. Let’s say you’ve got a research paper to write. Most of the time you’ll be reluctant to even think about it, taken all the weight of responsibility into consideration.
    Why not try a different way? First, you may google the topic to find proper sources to quote in your work. Then you get to the point of formulating a thesis statement. After that, you craft a detailed outline. And then fill in the gaps!
  • Push through the hard times. Perseverance is often the key element that brings you to the successful completion of the task. This will definitely require significant effort. Nevertheless, once you conquer the first obstacle, the following ones get a little easier.
  • Praise yourself! Positive reinforcement does miracles to one’s productivity. Having finished a small task, reward yourself with a little prize. A piece of fruit, time to surf social media, a short nap – something that makes you feel awesome emotionally and physically.

Any struggle gets easier when you’re no alone. When it comes to fighting procrastination – you definitely have a great crowd to accompany you. So get inspired and get down to work!

Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write an Assignment

writing-assignments

The best writers seem to effortlessly tap into their creative juices, then spontaneously produce gorgeous sentences—the kinds of sentences with which a teacher could never find fault.

But what if you’re not the best writer? What if you’re positively terrified at the thought of having to express yourself in prose, to the point that some sort of temporary paralysis descends on your hands: so there you sit, fingers poised to tap-tap-tap away at the computer, and your digits won’t budge, instead hovering idly over the keyboard, never striking a single letter?

You’re not alone. Trust me, you’re not alone. And also trust that there are developed strategies for getting over this very common anxiety and for moving toward productivity as a writer. Read on and then practice what I preach.

No One’s Perfect

Repeat this phrase ten times. Make it your motto for academic life. No writer fluidly crafts perfect prose, all at once, all the time. Every writer has to work at it, even though it definitely comes more easily to some than others. The point is that every writer has room for improvement, on every assignment, and that alone should motivate you to start a writing assignment. After all, who doesn’t relish the chance to produce something, refine it, and then perfect it? A writing assignment is just that—the opportunity to achieve something meaningful, and to enjoy the credit for doing so.

Write—Edit—Revise—Re-write

Don’t let these multiple stages discourage you; in fact, embrace the process, from the first brainstorming session to the rough outline, to the draft and finally to revisions and a re-write. The best part of this sequence is that you’re likely to find your voice, all while working on a writing assignment! Imagine, in fact, that the assignment is the vehicle for expressing your convictions, your philosophies—and to conveying thoughts you wouldn’t otherwise have conjured, invented, or verbalized. What’s more motivating than that?

Recognize that the written word is that powerful, and that a writing assignment puts that power in your hands—literally.

Know Why It Matters

Think carefully about why the writing assignment is crucial for you as a student, a thinker, and as a participant in academic life. Consider where in your “big-picture” this essay or research paper might fit, and imagine ways that you could turn it into something bigger: could you later share the essay as a blog post, or could you develop a narrow research project into a broader academic thesis? Of course, not every writing assignment proves relevant to your life, but with planning, speculation, and imagination, it’s possible to relate a writing assignment to future scholarly conversations, or to opening fresh dialogue via social media. Get motivated to write with the goal of articulating something about yourself and your future.

Settle In for Success

Start every writing assignment with the intent to finish it. Nothing motivates more than the realization that you CAN and WILL see this through. Take that single-minded approach to every writing task, and motivation will course through your veins! To secure that ultimate success, find—or create—a quiet, focused environment that supports you doing your best work. Even the most competent writer can falter if distracted. The library may be an option, but if it’s noisy or too social, get off campus and try a more isolated location; move out of your immediate zip code if necessary! Be sure to have on hand everything you need, from source material to your laptop charger to snacks. With all of your needs met, no interruptions and no excuses will result in success.

How to Do Research for an Essay Without Wasting Time

essay-research

So, it sounded like a good idea to take six classes this semester, but now that you have four or five essays all due by midterm, you’re rethinking that decision. Relax, you’ve got this. Doing the research for your essay is arguably the most challenging part of the whole process, so knowing how to do it quickly and efficiently puts you a little closer to finishing your essays on time and with good results. Let’s look at how to expedite essay research when you’ve got a goal to achieve and deadlines looming near.

Create an Outline

The outlining step to writing an essay can’t be skipped, no matter how short on time you are. Determine how you want to open the essay and what you want to say in the body and the conclusion. Determine if any research is required for information you plan to include. List the facts you want to substantiate as you make your outline, since this streamlines what you’re looking for when you dig into research.

Review Requirements

Essay requirements are like Forest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates; you really never know what your professors are going to ask of you when it comes to writing assignments. One professor may require that you use peer-reviewed sources only, while some others may even accept Wikipedia as a source. Refer to the specific requirements of the essay before you start researching, and get up to speed on what is expected of you (instead of finding out later that a source is not acceptable).

Reserve Materials

Plan well in advance for your essay by reserving any materials that you need from the library. You don’t want to be the 12th student waiting on a particular book when you have to tackle the nitty-gritty and get your paper written. If your school doesn’t have an item that you need in its campus library, turn to your public library instead. Many librarians will even order books and other media that patrons need if the facility does not own the item already; all you have to do is ask.

Take Advantage of Your School’s Library Database

Now you probably prefer searching the materials online, but at one time, students just like you had to actually go to a library and page through peer-reviewed journals themselves to find scholarly articles and studies. Today, even the smallest community colleges usually provide students digital access to databases of material such as EBSCO, Medline/Pub Med, Health Reference Center Academic, Oxford University Press, and more. With just a few search terms entered into your library’s collective databases, you can find oodles of information in seconds and sort it by resource type. Some databases even include a works cited entry for journal articles and other publications, making it easy to construct your works cited page as you choose your resources (be sure to determine if your professor prefers MLA or APA style first).

Take Notes

Note what you want to use from each source as you evaluate and research, keeping the notes organized in the order in which you plan to use the material in the essay. Making a single page for each resource can make it easier to cite things as you go along and keep you on track and moving toward the finish line. You can also make use of research management tools, sometimes available in library databases, such as EndNote or Zotero, to help you organize your material, annotate your work, and generate the reference list for you.

Finally, pace yourself and avoid getting side-tracked. Staying on-task is important to efficient research, within reason. Be sure to allow yourself a break to stretch or even grab some fresh air to keep you alert and in tune to the job at hand. Before you know it, you’ll be finished and ready to move on to the next essay in your pile.

How to Write a Proper Cover Letter for Your First Job

job-search-cover-letter

Employers often get hundreds of applicants for a single position. Applications and resumes turn into a sea of sameness when there is nothing to distinguish one candidate from another. Because of this, submitting a cover letter essentially increases your chances of landing the job. But how do you write one when you have no job experience at all?

The Anatomy of a Cover Letter

Before we touch on what to put in your cover letter, let’s look at how it is laid out. When writing a cover letter, it’s good practice to follow a basic outline that most employers recognize. This includes:

  • Your name and contact information, including your email address and current phone number in the upper right-hand corner.
  • The name of the business or the human resources contact’s name on the left.
  • Clearly stated purpose of the letter. For example, “Re: Application for Chief Candy Tester.”
  • A salutation to the person reading the letter. For example, “Dear Mr. Wonka,” or some other cordial greeting.
  • An opening paragraph to introduce yourself to the reader of the cover letter.
  • A main paragraph highlighting your skills that are relevant to the job sought.
  • A closing paragraph, asking to be considered for the position and expressing your interest in an interview.

Writing a Cover Letter with No Job Experience

Don’t consider writing a cover letter for a first job to be an obstacle; use it as an exercise in creativity. What you lack in formal experience, you may make up for in real-life background. For instance, if you are applying for a job as a secretary, highlighting your office skills is a good strategy. Do you type at blazing speeds, know how to run MS Excel, and have experience with MS Word? These are all translatable to the position you are seeking.

Volunteer work can also be useful when you have no real work experience to cite. Did you volunteer at the local church to answer phones for the pastor’s office? Did you make flyers for the Beta Club in high school or design pages for the yearbook? Think out of the box, recalling previous experiences where you had an opportunity to shine when performing tasks related to the job. Here’s what you may want to highlight:

  • your strengths and any personal attributes that set you apart as an asset to the company;
  • educational achievements that put you in a good light that are relatable to the position;
  • participation in community or school volunteer organizations;
  • hobbies and personal interests that are related to the job;
  • experiences that highlight your capacity for teamwork.

Traps to Avoid

Now that you know all the “do’s”, it’s time to take a close look at the “dont’s”. Simple writing blunders can quickly ruin the impression from your awesome cover letter. Luckily, they’re easy to avoid.

  • Overly long cover letters. Hiring managers are busy, so keep it short, simple, and to the point.
  • Unnatural language. While the letter should be semi-formal, it shouldn’t use overly formal language. This can come across as disingenuous. For example, instead of saying “advantageous,” sub in “helpful,” or instead of “subsequently,” use “later” or “after.”
  • Underselling yourself. One of the hardest things in life is to boast about yourself, but a cover letter really is a brag letter for all intents and purposes. Don’t be shy; be your own biggest fan.
  • Fluff. Don’t write words just for the sake of filling up the page. For example, don’t use a string of adjectives when one will do. Avoid constructions such as “I’m sincere, honest, and trustworthy;” these words all say the same thing.

With some nonconventional thinking, it’s altogether possible to write a “wow” cover letter, even if you’ve not yet earned a penny in the workforce. Show confidence in your assessment of yourself, and it will spill over into the impression that you make with potential employers.

Best Music to Write Essays to: Focus, Think, Write

essay-writing-music

If you’re like most students, writing can be frustrating, especially if you’re tense, stressed, or facing a looming due date for an important essay. The answer to staying focused and tapping into your creative juices may be as nearby as your earbuds: music. A whole body of research suggests that listening to music while you write boost’s your brain’s capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, which is responsible for creative thinking (and thus, writing). So what type of music improves your concentration and focus the most?

Choosing a Genre

Various studies have been undertaken over the years on music and focus, particularly when it comes to writing (and also, studying), and researchers have found that music sans lyrics is the most effective at keeping you on task and churning out meaningful words. Music with words can be distracting to some writers, causing them to pay more attention to the lyrics than they are to the creative process.

That’s not to say you can’t throw on an epic soundtrack if you’re dealing with a bugger of an essay, a little Kanye, if you’re feeling like a superstar at a particular moment in time, or even some Adele to soothe your soul while you bring your ideas to life. However, electronic music, with its ambient notes and repetitive beats, and Baroque-period classical music, with its harmonic chords, are thought by researchers to be the best at releasing the inner Stephen King or G.R.R. Martin. “Brandenburg Concerto #3” by Johann Sebastian Bach gets numerous nods from researchers when it comes to heightening concentration and productivity.

Although choosing music from these genres can be as personalized as your own specific tastes, there are lots of recommendations floating around the interwebs when it comes to the “right” songs for writing. But don’t worry, we have a writer-approved playlist to help you focus and unleash your creativity.

  • First Breath After Coma” by Explosions in the Sky. If you’ve watched “Friday Night Lights,” then you’ll recognize this tune as the theme song for the show. This instrumental has limited vocals and is interesting enough without being really intense, so you can focus on the job at hand – writing.
  • You Wish” by Nightmares on Wax. This electronic instrumental has an R&B twang and provides tranquil background noise to get your neurons pumping and the words flowing.
  • So What” by Miles Davis. This 60’s instrumental from one of jazz’s greatest will help you maintain focus without distracting you from what you’re writing about.
  • The Bridge of Khazad Dum” by Howard Shore on “The Lord of the Rings” soundtrack. You don’t have to live in the Shire to appreciate this soothing instrumental.
  • Metamorphosis II” by Philip Glass. This piano solo provides mood-lifting background noise for your late-night writing enjoyment.
  • Time” by Hans Zimmer from the “Inception” soundtrack. This peaceful instrumental will keep you focused and relaxed.
  • Shempi” by Ratatat. This vocal-free instrumental has a high-energy feel, helping you stay alert and keep your focus on pushing through the last few hundred words of your research paper.

White Noise

White noise is also worth a mention for breaking the boredom of silence that weighs down some writers. Picture it: crickets chirp, birds sing, and thunder rolls in the background while you pound out 1,000 words on the French Revolution. Words flow like milk and honey from your fingertips, and you finish up your piece with enough time left over to binge watch a few eppys of your favorite show before heading off to bed. That’s the power of white noise. Although not exactly music per se, white noise can put an end to the monotony of quietness, which can, ironically be a big distraction.

Create your own white noise mix with Noisli, a free app (also available on laptops and PCs) with an on-board mixer that lets you add nature sounds, storm sounds, coffee shop sounds, and water sounds, among others, to find the right level of background noise for your tastes.

Music is a great source of inspiration. Find the perfect tune and have fun working on your next assignment.

Skills You Need for College

skills-for-college

You have finally made it to high school graduation and college is looming large in the near future. But are you ready? You know your way around a scientific calculator, and you can write a killer research paper, but do you have the soft skills to be a successful college student? Being academically prepared and being prepared in other areas of your life are two different things altogether.

College readiness goes beyond the courses you’ve taken and the SAT and ACT exams you’ve sat for. Some of the skills that you need to be a successful college student are often not found in a classroom setting. Let’s take a look at some skills you need to ensure your successful passage from graduating senior to lowly freshman undergrad, ready to “adult.”

Time Management

Time: we only get so much of it, and what you do with it really matters. For this reason, one of the most valuable skills you need to hone prior to heading off to college is time management. (Consequently, mastering time management is a good idea, since you will need this skill in nearly every area of your life in adulthood). Learn now how to prepare a schedule that factors in time spent in class and time spent studying and preparing – really studying and preparing – for each class. Now balance that with everything else that you’ll want and need to do once you’re “out on your own”. Maybe you need to factor in time for working, and you’ll naturally want to make time for attending student activities and hanging with your friends. Creating a schedule that works for you is a skill that must be learned, even if on the fly, by all successful college students.

Study Skills

Even if you have some mad study skills in high school, college-level work is another animal altogether. What was “good effort” in high school may not equally translate in college. Learn how to take notes effectively, use the library for research, and hone your study skills now – you’ll need them when you’re taking advanced classes in college.

Managing Stress

Stress management is essential for college students. Whereas before, you were in a more sheltered high school and home environment, living on campus means doing many of the things that adults have to do, all on your own. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to keep stress to a minimum. Find coping mechanisms, whether it’s prayer or yoga, to help you de-stress.

Managing Money

While some high school graduates have the money management thing down pat, the truth is most kids fresh out of school have no idea how to budget and handle money. Learn all you can now about making and sticking to a budget, balancing your checkbook, and living within your means. Most college students live on a shoestring budget, so learning how to get the most for your money and avoiding indulgent purchases is important.

Self-Care

You’ve so far had your parents to monitor your health for the most part. Now you’re in charge. You have to learn how to care for your physical health. Practicing good hygiene and self-care, making time for proper nutrition, and seeking medical attention when a problem arises is all on your shoulders now.

Personal Responsibility

Learning personal responsibility is key to mastering all of the above skills. Personal responsibility means being honest and having integrity, but it also means respecting the rules and following them. It is also your responsibility to avoid risky behaviors that are often enticing to young students and making smart choices now instead of making decisions that might negatively impact your otherwise bright future. In essence, you are the master of your ship, and it’s in your hands how you steer your course.