Books To Read In 2015

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We know you’re busy writing essays, taking final exams and dreaming about summer break but if you get a craving for a good book, check out some of these popular titles that you need to read in 2015!

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Paper Towns by John Green

Written by popular young adult author John Green, Paper Towns is the story of Quentin who has loved Margo since elementary school. Unfortunately, Margo has ignored Quentin for the majority of their high school years. That is, until she shows up at his window just weeks before their high school graduation, and they spend the entire night together pulling off a series of revenge-fueled pranks. Margo disappears the next day and Quentin, along with his two best friends, are determined to follow the clues Margo left behind.

While the book Paper Towns was first published in 2009, it tops our list of Books You Have to Read in 2015 because Paper Towns is coming to the big screen soon! Paper Towns is in theaters July 24th, 2015! Watch the trailer here.

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Described as “hauntingly beautiful” by The New York Times and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, All The Light We Cannot See tells the story of a blind French girl and a orphaned German boy whose paths cross in occupied France during World War II. Werner, the young boy, is incredibly gifted at mathematics and earns himself a spot at an elite Nazi training school. Marie-Laure, blinded at the age of six, has fled Paris from with her father and a highly-sought after sapphire from the Museum of Natural History in tow. The story that Anthony Doerr has created is far too complex to explain in a few short sentences, to find out the fates of Werner and Marie-Laure you need to read this book for yourself!

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Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Critics are buzzing about Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s earliest known work. Believed to have been lost, the manuscript for Go Set A Watchman was re-discovered in late 2014. The story follows up with many of the original characters from Harper Lee’s well-known classic To Kill A Mockingbird 20 years after that story ends. Go Set A Watchman is scheduled to be released on July 14th, 2015.

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

If you loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you will love this book! This psychological thriller follows our main character Rachel as she rides the commuter train each and every day into London, even after she is fired from her job. Through the train window, Rachel sees the same houses and the same people in their yards every day and begins to feel like she actually knows them. She gives the people names and imagines what their jobs and lives are like. While looking out the window one day, Rachel thinks that she sees something happen to the girl she has named “Jess”. When news stories about a missing girl named Megan (who turns out to be “Jess”) start surfacing Rachel decides to tell the police everything she has seen from the train window. Did I mention that Rachel is drunk for most of this book? That puts an interesting spin on things when an unreliable drunk shows up at the police station with information on Megan’s disappearance. The twists and turns of this story keep you guessing not only “Who did it?” but “What happened?” right up to the last page.

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The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House by Kate Andersen Brower

Being the President of the United States is a tough and very public job. But what do we really know about the on-goings of the First Family when the cameras are off and the world isn’t watching? In this 2015 release, we hear from employees at the White House that have been there day in and day out through ten different administrations over a span of fifty years. Written after hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, chefs, florists, maids and other White House staffers, we catch an inside glimpse of what life was really like at the White House from the Kennedy Administration, through the days of Nixon and Reagan and the scandal-filled Clinton years, all the way up to the current first family, the Obama’s.

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Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

Bestselling author J.K. Rowling, best known for the Harry Potter series, gave a very moving speech during commencement at Harvard University in 2008. Now available in written form, this speech doles out words of wisdom for anyone who has come to a crossroads in their life. The perfect graduation gift or just for whenever you need a boost of inspiration and motivation, Very Good Lives does not disappoint. Proceeds from the book will be donated to Rowling’s foundation, Lumos which focuses on ending the institutionalization of children worldwide. Find more information on Lumos here.

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Redeployment by Phil Klay

Redeployment, winner of the 2014 National Book Award, describes the unseen lives of an American soldier on the frontlines. Author Phil Klay is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and uses his experience in Iraq to tell a story that civilians cannot even begin to imagine as truth. This book is sure to leave you with an undying gratitude for those fighting overseas as well as a new found outlook on exactly what it takes to fight for your country.

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Readers have been patiently waiting for this debut fantasy novel to be released and the wait is finally over! This novel, released on April 28th, has been described by early reviewers as having “the addictive quality of The Hunger Games, the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones.”

 

What books are on your list to read this year? Let us know in the comments!

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.

4-22 College Essays

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!