How to Form a Successful Study Group in College

Posted on Jan. 8th 2013 by Amelia

Study Group. Going to college and getting good grades is a challenge. The level of education you are receiving is much more advanced, more intensive, and more difficult than in high school. Often, professors give students assignments or papers due that can require a larger amount of studying. It can be hard to find the time to study, let alone do so effectively. A study group is an excellent way for students to come together and help brainstorm and learn as a group, which can increase classroom retention and productivity. In addition, study groups can help students form strong bonds and friendships.

Getting Started

If you are interested in starting your own study group, there are several important things to know before you do so. Ask fellow students if there is a group already formed, and if not, ask them if they’d be interested in starting one up. Remember, whether you have three people or twelve, any group is a study group, so don’t be discouraged if not all members of the class agree to participate. Once you have a few people who’d like to form the group, you will need to come up with a set day of the week and time to meet. You can meet once per week, several times per week, or on the weekends, depending on the agreed upon schedule. Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to attend every meeting, and that each person’s schedule will be different.

Staying Focused to Maximize Productivity

During the study group, it is important that everyone stay focused. The group is meant to be a time of learning where you can all share notes, ideas, and what you’ve learned, as well as help others who may be having a difficult time with certain aspects of the class. Ordering pizza or Chinese is fine, and it’s important to get to know one another, but during the study group period everyone should be on the same page and serious about the discussion. After study group, if you all want to get together and spend some time as friends separately, that’s fine, but all participants should be serious when it’s time to buckle down.

Shortcuts & Dealing With Deadlines

If you find that you’re having a hard time getting a group together, talk to your professor and ask if he or she would like to propose a group for everyone to be a part of. Often, teachers can have more influence on college students than their peers. See if they will help you ask the class about doing this, and you can even make some kind of flyer or handout if you choose to do so. During group, there are some tools you can use to help everyone learn more. Practice exam questions, flash cards, and just good old fashioned questions and answers with everyone in the group is an excellent way to become more effective. If there is a big paper due, have everyone bring their copies in before you turn them in and edit them. Each member of the group can exchange papers with another, and then critiques as well as praise can be doled out. This can go a long way towards getting a great grade on your paper.

Sorting Out Disagreements

If there happen to be any disagreements within your group, remember that you’re all working towards a common goal: passing the class and doing well. Be sure to discuss any concerns or problems openly with one another. You will be surprised at the bond you will all develop with one another over time. If a member of the group is having difficulties understanding certain things, work together as a team to try and help them out. Your contributions to each other are crucial when it comes to learning and understanding the contents of the class you’re taking. Week by week, you will notice improvements in your abilities, your knowledge, and the new things you learn. By the end of the course, you should all feel proud of your achievements as well as confident that you will get a passing grade. In addition, you will notice better note taking and listening skills as well as improvements on your writing abilities. Study groups can help you to become not only a better student, but a better person all around.

More Helpful Resources

For more information on college study groups and how you can create one, please refer to the following websites:

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Budgeting for College

Posted on Dec. 13th 2012 by Amelia

Saving money for college is hard enough, but once you’re a student budgeting your money can become more difficult than you may think. With so many temptations out there as a college student it can be hard to save your cash as well as be able to pay any bills that may come your way. Even those students who like to party hard can still learn how to budget themselves accordingly so they can avoid money mishaps. With a few simple changes in lifestyle, college students should be able to stick to a budget and still be able to have fun with their friends.

Budgeting Your Money Budgeting.

As a college student it can be difficult to save money in order to pay for things like food and other necessities; and the temptation to spend on non-necessities is everywhere. But there are a few things you can do, however to save your cash for the things you need.

First, limit the number of dinners you eat on things like ordering pizza and hitting up fast food restaurants. Instead, buy groceries and prepare your meals at home or at your dorm. If you have roommates, maybe everyone can pool some money together weekly for food and you can share meals.

Credit card companies often prey on college students by offering them freebies and guaranteed approval. Avoid getting a credit card or have one for just emergencies – try to pay for most things in cash.

If you live on campus, you can usually walk or bike to class and other places. Not having a car is a definite money-saver. Carpool with friends if you plan to go somewhere farther off-campus.

Write down a list of the things you need to buy on a weekly or monthly basis, and then add their costs up. This will give you a clearer picture of where your money goes and what you need to save for. Try to avoid going out on weeknights, as this can be expensive. Your wallet and your body will thank you! Save your extra money and make plans to go out once in a while with friends rather than every other night. Track your money and balance your check-book and you’ll be surprised at how much money you spend versus what you can save.

Making & Keeping Money

Trying to be a full time student and make extra cash can be challenging, but there are many opportunities out there for students where they can make some extra cash. Check with your college and see if they’re hiring internally. Most schools have jobs available for students that will work around their busy schedule, which makes it much easier for you to balance work and study time.

Aside from a part time job, you can also use your creative skills to make extra money. If you are a writing or photography student for example, there are many freelance job opportunities out there that can help you make a few extra dollars. You can also look for internships that may be available. While some internship programs are unpaid, there are some that do pay, and it will be a great addition to your portfolio and resume.

Once you’ve determined how you will make extra money, it is important to then hang onto it and not spend too much. Create a savings account or even an IRA while you’re young, and then allot a certain amount of your paycheck to go towards it each month. You’ll be surprised how quickly that money adds up. This not only teaches good budgeting skills, but it will also make life easier when you need to pay your bills, buy some food, or plan a night out with friends.

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Benefits of Working While Attending College

Posted on Dec. 4th 2012 by Amelia

To fast track a career, consider getting a job while attending college. Besides providing extra spending money, a job while in college teaches time management skills, helps pay off student loans quicker and teaches students how to balance work, life and school. Undergraduate students also have the opportunity to take on paid internships, which helps students get a job after graduation. Many internship opportunities turn into full-time jobs after college, saving on the need to hunt for a job. Many successful careers have begun for students who work while going to school.

Balancing Your Life Waitress.

When looking for work as a college student, consider employers that offer flexible scheduling or understand the need to attend classes at specific times. Build the work schedule around the need to study, attend class and get plenty of sleep. Many colleges have programs to employ students on campus. A campus job can help save on transportation costs and still help meet schooling needs. Remember to prioritize what’s important when working while attending college and make sure the work will fit within school scheduling needs.

Balancing work, college, family and a social life can be complicated, but it teaches students how to manage time effectively. Time management skills are some of the most important skills to learn, especially before getting a full-time job. These skills will help students throughout their lives as they mature. Learning how to prioritize what’s important is a part of the soft skill set that cannot be taught. Employers look for recruits that have the ability to manage time effectively and prioritize.

Besides learning important prioritization and time-management skills, a job while in college teaches students how to manage finances. Getting a handle on finances in the early stages of a career teaches students how to save for the future. A job while in school not only provides needed spendable cash, it can help defray expensive loan costs by paying down on loan fees while in college. Developing financial skills while still in college will pay dividends for years to come.

To manage student activities and a job, consider a balanced plan to help manage all that has to be done. Make time for recreational activities or exercise to prevent burnout. Choose a job with ties to a school major to help gain field experience before graduation. Some colleges provide work credits that can help toward a finished degree. Many internships and co-operative work/school programs are available to students attending college full or part time.

Build Up Real-Word Experience

Working while attending college also provides real-world experience, which is beneficial after graduation. Employers prefer hiring college students that also have on-the-job experience, as this demonstrates responsibility and a sound work ethic. Job experience establishes credibility as an employee; it shows strength of character and the ability to juggle the work-life balance.

Student work-experience programs are available at many colleges. Students gain needed job experience, and college credits while working up the ladder. Students in these programs can receive promotions that result in higher wages by participating in work/school programs. Working while attending college helps defray costs that might have ended up as part of a larger school debt. A job while attending college also teaches students how to set goals and objectives, communicate with co-workers or supervisors and prepares students for a career.

Setting Your Priorities

Students must remember that schoolwork and schedules are the first priority when working while attending college. Take advantage of school and summer breaks to work a full-time schedule when studies are not a priority. Save as much money during these periods to lessen the need to work more while school is in session. Put money away for college needs, books, meal plans or to put on loan fees. Learning to manage finances prepares students for the ebb and flow of life. Students that develop sound financial practices in college, including developing savings plans, stand a better chance of being financially successful throughout working life.

While it takes a greater commitment and ability to balance school and working, getting a job while in college gives students an edge over students who just attend college without working. Besides instilling a strong work ethic, working while in college makes a graduate more attractive to an employer. If given two graduates to choose from, employers will generally pick the student with the job experience over the one who does not have it. Though it’s not always easy, working while in college puts working students ahead in the game of life.

Internship & Student Employment Resources

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Vote for the Winner of the 2012 Blogging Scholarship

Posted on Nov. 14th 2012 by Amelia

Update: the below poll is closed & here are the finals

You may vote once per day. Voting closes at noon pacific on November 28rd.

Want to know who writes which blog? Please check out all the blogs here.

Due to heavy server load, comments are closed on this post. You may comment on the post announcing the finalists here.


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2012 Blogging Scholarship Finalists

Posted on Nov. 14th 2012 by Amelia

Here are the finalists in alphabetical order by first name, along with links to their blogs:

You may vote for The 2012 Blogging Scholarship here & comment below. Comments are moderated & approved periodically throughout the day.

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A Student’s Guide to Serious Study Skills

Posted on Oct. 14th 2012 by Amelia

Successful students understand the importance of serious study skills. Studying involves the act of reviewing information learned in the classroom; however, students neglect to consider other factors that separate outstanding academic performers from the rest. Studying means knowing when and where to make the best use of time. Many students fool themselves by half-studying and half-socializing, eating, watching TV, or listening to music. This can cause many problems for students when it comes time to take quizzes, tests, and final exams.

Students who commit themselves to studying will still need to manage their time wisely. Students can become distracted by loud noises in the evening. In addition, students may lose concentration if they decide to study late at night. Students should study when their body feels most alert, usually right after school in a quiet, secluded room. To avoid cramming or feeling fatigued from extended study periods, students should reward themselves with five-minute breaks every half hour. This will give them time to stretch and get their blood flowing to their brain by walking around. Students can choose to study in short intervals right before bed to promote unconscious “studying” while asleep. If this causes the student to fixate on studying, then he or she should discontinue this practice.

Studying hinges on the student’s ability to choose the right venue. For instance, if the student chooses a dark, noisy, cramped and uncomfortable spot to review learned material, then he or she will likely not retain any information during their study session. Instead, students should choose a well-lit, quiet, spacious, distraction-free, and comfortable study environment. Many times students choose a work desk located in their room, because it grants them control over their environment. However, this also means that students can succumb to the temptations of using their cell phone, lap top, TV, computer, or bed. Other drawbacks to studying at home may include distractions from friends, noisy roommates, or siblings. Many committed students choose the library.

Students may feel motivated to study if they bring a partner. Bringing a friend can prove advantageous if both students remain committed to studying. For instance, both friends can encourage each other to study when one feels unmotivated or distracted by external stimuli. In addition, a study partner can help test retained knowledge without the temptation of deceiving one’s self. However, students should not falter to only studying with friends. The sole purpose of studying revolves around independent dedication to learning the course material. Students who become dependent on their friends to study have a harder time adjusting to future classes without their friends. In addition, group study becomes more effective when students study at home and arrive prepared to reinforce information learned while in private seclusion. As a result, friends who grasp the information more than others can explain certain key points. This merges unique perspectives on the core curriculum and makes it easier to understand the subject matter.

Follow these links to learn more about effective study habits:

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College Information for Students with Disabilities

Posted on Oct. 9th 2012 by Amelia

Heading to college is both an exciting and frightening time for all students. This is a time when students cross the threshold from teen to independent adult. One’s success and failures during this time can directly affect his or her future. When a student has a disability, there are additional concerns that must be confronted and addressed. Where parents may have played a large part in a person’s education through high school, the student must take on that responsibility for his or herself while in college. A person with disabilities will have different needs than students without disabilities. Meeting these needs is necessary in order to receive an equal educational experience. To do this, the student must take the right steps before and during his or her time in college.

Know Your Rights

Students with disabilities are protected by certain laws. These laws are meant to ensure that a student is not discriminated against because of his or her disability. It is important that students understand these laws so that they may ensure they are receiving the education that they deserve. One of these laws is section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law states that colleges and universities that receive federal funds must make modifications within reason to their regular procedures in order to accommodate qualified persons with disabilities. Another law that students with disabilities must be aware of is The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s disability, regardless of whether the school receives federal funds or not. This applies to public institutions, however, private institutions with the exception of fully owned religious organizations, must also comply with The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If a student feels he or she is a victim of discrimination, the disability services office should be contacted. If the school fails to resolve the issue, a complaint may also be filed by the student with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Preparing for College

Prior to college, preparation is fundamental to future success in college. A student must be prepared for the basic differences in study habits, teaching style and atmosphere. In addition, a student must also be ready for the changes that he or she will face as a person with disabilities. The student should take a closer look at his or her disability and how it has affected school performance. Understanding both one’s weaknesses and strengths will help prepare the student to confront them while attending college. Because the student will experience more independence while in college, he or she should be comfortable discussing their disability and any concerns. While in high school, learning how to self-advocate and express one’s needs is crucial.

When choosing a college, families should thoroughly research their options. Most schools have some form of disability services office. This office can help explain how the specific school meets the student’s disability needs. They will also help arrange for special accommodations and services if needed. Touring college campuses and meeting with a member of the disability services office will help determine if the school fits the student’s needs. Students must also provide paperwork that verifies their disability. When taking college placement tests, check to see what disability services are available, such as extended time or special accommodations, and if there are any eligibility requirements that must be met. Prior to starting college, the student must apply for financial assistance if needed. In addition to federal financial aid, students should research options from private sources. Different colleges or universities may also have scholarships available for students with disabilities.

Keys to Success in College

Once in college a student will want to make the right moves to ensure academic success. Working with the college’s disability services office is critical. Another way to do this is to meet with the instructors. This allows the instructor to get to know the student, and helps him or her better understand the student’s disability and what is needed to aid the learning process. It will also give the student insight on each of the instructors, their teaching style, what can be expected of the class, and the opportunity to request special accommodations if necessary. Making use of assistive technology, if needed, is also an important factor in ensuring one’s success while in college. Even after all of the disability needs have been met, the student will still need to adjust to the college lifestyle. Learning and practicing good time management, study, and listening skills are also mandatory for success.

Helpful Organizations

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SAT and ACT Student Practice and Preparation

Posted on Oct. 2nd 2012 by Amelia

Developing a solid strategy for college entry presents a challenge for many students. Colleges and universities generally require scores from standardized tests to determine a student’s readiness for college-level coursework. In the United States, two of the most used tests are the ACT (formerly called American College Testing) and the SAT (formerly the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test). For many students, the idea of wrangling with difficult questions in a timed atmosphere causes anxiety, but using the appropriate study and preparation techniques can instill confidence and potentially raise scores. In addition, understanding the purpose of the tests can help students select the test that best suits a student’s test-taking style. This creates a much more pleasant experience.

Choosing the right test for a student’s learning style, subject mastery and test-taking techniques can improve the standardized test experience. Colleges and universities will accept both test results, although some students perform better on the SAT than the ACT, and vice versa. Questions on the ACT appear more straightforward than questions on the SAT. Consequently, students who respond better to questions that require less figuring during the question-reading phase might fare better on the ACT. In contrast, the ACT tests higher-level math skills, so students who struggle in math may fare better taking the SAT. In addition, the ACT tests science, the SAT does not. The ACT examines a student’s overall performance on the test; it looks at the “big picture,” which can help boost weaker scores in one area if the student performed well in others. The SAT, on the other hand, examines how well a student performs on each section, which works well for students who have mastered each subject area.

Preparing for both the ACT and SAT requires planning, time management and excellent study skills. First, students can take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) or ACT COMPASS tests to determine their current understanding of reading, mathematics and other subjects. Armed with this information, students can connect with resources, such as tutors or supplemental courses, to develop knowledge in weak subject areas. Afterward, taking online or paper-based practice tests develops a student’s understanding of how the tests are administered and structured.

For additional information about the SAT and ACT tests, visit the following links:

General Information about Testing and College Entrance

SAT Practice and Preparation

ACT Practice and Preparation

  • The ACT – This page provides detailed information about each component of the ACT process.
  • The ACT Test – This page, provided by ACT, Inc., provides a range of important information about the benefits of the test.
  • ACT English Test Preparation (PDF) – This document provides a presentation on getting ready for the ACT English test.
  • Preparing for the ACT Math Portion (PDF) – This document provides example questions for the math portion of the ACT test.
  • ACT COMPASS Preparation – The page offers information about the COMPASS placement scores.
  • ACT Test Preparation – This page offers tips on how to get ready for the ACT test.
  • COMPASS Placement – This page offers information about the ACT COMPASS placement test.
  • ACT Study Guides – This page delivers a list of resources to help students prepare for the test.

General Test Taking and Study Tips

  • Test Taking Strategies – This page provides strategies for improving test taking skills and reducing anxiety.
  • Steps to Take After the Test – This page offers helpful tips to use after receiving scores for the PSAT, so that students can prepare for the SAT.
  • How to Study – This page delivers a wide range of tips and a blueprint to developing good studying habits.
  • How to Study Math – This page delivers important information about developing math study skills, an important component of entrance exams.
  • Tips on Test Taking – This page provides some helpful tips designed to assist students with developing positive test-taking skills.
  • Study Skills Test Taking – General information is offered about gaining study and test-taking skills.
  • Tips for Effective Study – This page offers a list of easily followed tips to develop effective study habits.
  • Self Help-Basic Study Techniques – This page offers helpful study techniques, including information on developing note-taking skills.
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2011 Blogging Scholarship

Posted on Nov. 18th 2011 by Amelia

Who Should Win the Blogging Scholarship in 2011?

  • John McAuliff (24%)
  • Heather Cohen (22%)
  • David Shiffman (20%)
  • Brian McElhinny (10%)
  • Ben Swanson (8%)
  • Mark Lamprecht (4%)
  • Jacquelyn Gill (3%)
  • Camille Beredjick (3%)
  • Philip Tanedo (1%)
  • Kendra Lay (1%)
  • Ray Sanders (1%)
  • Chelsea Long (1%)
  • Delana Lefevers (1%)
  • Miraj Patel (0%)
  • Shannyn Allan (0%)
  • Kevin Flora (0%)
  • Emily Steen (0%)
  • Ariel Norling (0%)
  • Taylor Marvin (0%)
  • Carlos Hernandez (0%)

Total Votes: 49,591

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You may vote once per day. Voting closes at noon pacific on November 30th.

Want to know who writes which blog? Please check out all the blogs here.

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Vote for the Winner of the 2011 Blogging Scholarship

Posted on Nov. 15th 2011 by Amelia

Hi Everyone

The new voting page is here. Please ignore the below voting script on this page.

Our site had 2 polling scripts installed & it looks like this year the one that was enabled was the one that didn’t have all the anti-cheating features working. In years past some people would complain about cheating (whoever was behind) and then someone else would get in the lead (often a person who said someone else was cheating!) and then they would be labeled a cheater, however we were not able to detect any significant amount of ballot stuffing. This year with the wrong polling software it was far too easy to manipulate the results & some folks did.

We have spent the past couple days testing out & verifying an alternative solution, which uses AJAX, does result order randomization, tracks IP addresses, and sets cookies. We are satisfied that it adequately protects the competition from cheating & are starting the vote from scratch using it.

Here is a picture of the old results before we erased that poll

What makes us certain some folks were vote stuffing? Well numerous finalists had over 60,000 votes & the whole site has had less than 60,000 unique visitors since voting began.

[updated: confirming how absurd the above was, here is a example of what happened to web traffic after we changed out the poll

notice that while the number of unique visitors didn’t change much from day to day, over 100,000 fake pageviews disappeared overnight]

To make up for this problem we are doing the following:

  • starting the vote from scratch today. everyone gets a clean slate.
  • extending voting 1 week. it now ends at November 30th at noon pacific.
  • since some people might try to circumvent any limits that are put in place, we decided that allowing people to vote once per 24 hour period further helps level the playing field.
  • closely monitoring voting for any suspicious voting patterns adjusting downward any votes that our programmer & system admin believes are driven by cheating. we will periodically rotate the field options in addition to the random order display to further nullify any cheating attempts.

We realize that the vote stuffing may not have even been done by any of our finalists, but by some friends who wanted them to win. Thus we are not really blaming anyone for this issue other than ourselves for using the wrong voting script. The new one has been rigorously tested. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Who Should Win the 2011 Blogging Scholarship?
View Results

Want to know who writes which blog? Please check out all the blogs here.

Voting ends at noon pacific time on November 23rd. Voting has been extended 1 week.

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