How to Hack Your College Essays

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If you are a great writer, essays might not be much of a problem. However, if you’re more of a “math or science person,” the countless essays required by your college can turn into a nightmare. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to write an A-quality essay in 1/3rd the time, even if you don’t consider yourself a talented writer. I spent years developing this process during my English Major at Columbia, and I have spent the last decade teaching it to hundreds of my students. Just follow the steps below and you’ll never worry about your college essays again.

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1. Treat each class session like a spy.

Whenever you sit in class, you should have one goal: make a note of every single quote, fact, and article that your teacher mentions during class. Make a huge collection of these – they’ll come in very handy later on.

2. Evidence first, thesis later.

Most students come up with their thesis, then try to find the evidence to support it. As a result, they spend a ridiculous amount of time doing research for their papers. Often, even after hours of searching, the evidence they find only slightly supports their thesis. If you want to save enormous amounts of time, try the following instead:

A. Lay out all of your notes and citations that you have collected from your teacher.

If you have been collecting them during class, you should have a nice pile.

B. Read all of them, and find out something that most of them have in common.

Whatever theme they all share, that’s what you should be writing about.

C. Craft a thesis that most of them loosely prove.

If a bunch of the evidence you have collected proves a certain point, then that point should be your thesis!

If you already have a bunch of evidence that your teacher has given you, and if you can come up with some sort of point that most of it proves, then you have already done your research! You can just use the evidence in front of you to reverse engineer a thesis that has already been proven! No further work is necessary.

3. Write your paper with one piece of evidence per paragraph, two paragraphs per page, and reverse engineer your topic sentences based on the evidence you’re already using.

If you need to write 8 pages, you need about 16 paragraphs – one opening, one closing, and 14 body paragraphs. This means you’ll need 14 pieces of evidence.

Fortunately, writing these paragraphs will be insanely easy because you already have the evidence to prove them. So if you have a Bill Clinton quote that says, “candy is delicious” – then your topic sentence can just be, “Many eminent politicians believe that sweets taste good.” Warm up a bit, provide some filler, and then use the Bill Clinton quote to support your topic sentence and drive it home!

If you “reverse engineer” your essays this way, the entire process becomes incredibly easy. You don’t need to figure out what to say, and you don’t need to find the evidence to prove it – both are already done for you. All you need to do is pay attention in class!

Give this method a try and see how it works – it might just save your life!

Anthony-James Green is world-renowned SAT and ACT tutor with over 10,000 hours of experience teaching these tests, crafting curriculum, and training other tutors to teach their own students. He is also the founder of TestPrepAuthority.com. CNN recently named Anthony: “The SAT tutor to the 1%

The ONLY 3 Playlists You Need to Get Through College

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If you’re like me, then you have got about 17 playlists on your music listening device- and half of them are labeled ‘New Playlist.’ But keeping your life organized in college helps you get through- so keep your music organized too!

Separate your music into these three categories and you’ll be set!

THE STUDY PLAYLIST

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This should be the calmer music, the movie-no-words-soundtrack music, the classics and the jazz. This should be the music that helps you focus and helps you tune everything else out. Don’t put on anything that will make you start dancing and forget your homework. 

THE SHOWER PLAYLIST

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Music you can jam to while your showering in the morning (or evening) that you don’t care if the entire floor hears. Take off all the embarrassing stuff you added as a kid (or teen). For example, if you don’t want the entire floor to know you still listen to Justin Bieber or are still jamming to “Let it Go” then keep that for the last playlist. 

THE GUILTY PLEASURE PLAYLIST

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Keep all your fun music here. All your favorites. The songs you’ll listen to when you’re cleaning your room, or walking to class, or need fun dance party music. Listen to this to pump yourself up for an exam or to get over a bad grade (or breakup).

And most importantly, enjoy that music!!!

Need some tips on making a playlist? How to Make a Music Playlist on iPhone and iPad

How to Successfully Prepare for Graduation

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With the end of the semester approaching faster and faster, seniors are finishing up the final steps for graduation.  Whether you’re a senior about to graduate, a junior trying to get ready for your final year, or a sophomore looking to plan ahead, here are some important steps to remember and tricks for getting them done!

1. Print out a checklist for all of your major, minor, and general education requirements.

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Check off all the courses you’ve already taken or are currently in, and figure out what you have left.  Then add up all the credits and make sure you know how many credits you need to reach your graduation minimum.  For most undergraduate programs it is around 120 credits, but make sure to double-check and plan accordingly so you graduate on time!

2. Figure out your cumulative GPA at this point in your college career.

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Figure out what you need to do to reach the GPA you want by the end of your final semester.  This can just be a personal goal for you or if you’re planning on going to Grad School it’s important to know what the programs you’re planning on applying to require.

3. Take advantage of your adviser’s help.  

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Academic advisers are there to help you stay on track to graduate and can be great resources if you have questions about Grad School and career tracks.

4. Register for graduation on time!  

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Make sure you pay attention to the deadline and whatever you need to bring with you/send in to register.  If not, you’re probably going to be charged a late fee!

 5. Go to your campus’s career services office.

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An important step of graduation preparation is post-graduation planning.  You want to be prepared for what comes after you get your diploma.  Don’t put it off until you’re out of school; ideally you’ll have a job or graduate program lined up so you’re not stuck worrying about not knowing what you’re going to do.

6. Mark your calendar!

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Figure out the dates of your departmental graduation ceremony and the larger convocation ceremony as soon as possible (these dates are usually made available during the Spring semester of the previous year in the Academic Calendar).  Then let your family/friends/whoever you want to attend know so they can plan for it.  If they need to travel, book a hotel, or take off from work, it will be much easier if they have advanced notice.

 7. Order your cap and gown!  

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Your school will likely send a graduation packet home in the mail so make sure you meet all the ordering and RSVP deadlines.

8. Make sure you don’t slack during your last semester.

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Make sure you keep your grades where they need to be and prepare for finals.  You don’t want any last minute surprises and you certainly don’t want to fail a class and have to come back for another semester.

 9. Relax!

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Once you’ve done everything you need to do, relax and enjoy your last moments as an undergrad!  Graduation can be a very emotional and stressful time for a lot of college students, so stay on top of it and relax once you’re in the home stretch.  Spend time with your friends and appreciate your relatively limited responsibilities because adulthood is just around the corner!

Final Four Predictions, Courtesy of Puppies

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It’s everybody’s favorite time of the year! March Madness! The Final Four is this Saturday! With four fantastic teams up against each other it’s a serious toss up who will come out on top. What better way to predict the outcome than with puppies! Enjoy!

Did you agree with the puppies predictions for the Final Four? Comment and tell us who you would have liked to see win!

How to Transition into Spring!

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Now that it is finally spring, its time to transition from the cold and gloomy winter into the warm and sunny spring time. Here are some ways you can change into the new season.

Time to Spring Clean!

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Things you can do to spring clean can include getting rid of old clothes that you no longer wear anymore and donating them, throwing away assignments from previous class that you don’t need anymore, and organizing all your schoolwork.

Exercise Outdoors!

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Now that the weather is warming up, you can now transition your exercises from inside at the gym to the beautiful outdoors. Enjoy the sunshine while its there!

 Spring Wardrobe!

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Shed your heavy winter coats and boots and update your wardrobe into lighter and more colorful clothes. Since the weather is getting warmer, it is suggested to wear clothes that have fabric that breathes well.