college life

Using Syllabi to Your Advantage

You walk into the classroom for the first day of Western Civilization, in your best ‘new semester, new opportunities’ wardrobe (i.e. your best pair of sweatpants). You find a seat in the auditorium-like room and sit down, making small talk with others around you. Suddenly, the professor walks in and before even taking roll, he immediately slaps a packet down on each student’s desk. It’s the syllabus, and the first of many syllabi you’ll get over the next few days.

It’s syllabus week. You go in for the first day of each class, getting an over-sized packet of information that takes your professor the rest of the week to explain. Some people hate it, thinking it’s a waste of time. Others love it, seeing it as an easy first week of the semester. It’s what you do with those packets, though, that make a difference in the way your semester goes. Are you one to throw them away? Do you put them in a folder, never to be opened again? If that’s you, it may be worth rethinking your strategy. Follow the tips below to learn how to make the most of your syllabi!

FILL OUT YOUR PLANNER

The best thing to use your syllabi for is planning your semester. The first step in doing this is to get a planner. There are plenty of options out there, both cheap and more expensive. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on a nice planner. You’ll be more inclined to use it if you actually like the way it looks (and knowing you spend more money on it is a pretty good incentive itself).

Once you’ve got your planner, grab your first syllabi. What you’ll find is that almost every assignment you’ll have throughout the year is right in front of you. Go through the schedule portion of each syllabi and put those dates on your calendar. Do this during syllabus week while most professors aren’t assigning homework. Once you’ve put everything in your planner, the real key is to use the planner! Make sure to stay up-to-date with what’s due each week. Having everything in one place keeps you organized and on-track all semester.

HIGHLIGHT, HIGHLIGHT, HIGHLIGHT

If you’re anything like me, your syllabi will soon be looking more like the rainbow. I am a sucker for highlighters, and they’re a sure-fire way to make sure you stay organized. Planners aren’t for everyone, so the next best thing is to use the syllabus as its own planner. Toward the back of most packets, professors have already laid everything out into a neat calendar-like design for you.

While your professor is going over the syllabus (more like reading it to you, even though you, in fact, know how to read) whip out those highlighters and get to work. In order for highlighting to work, you have to color code. For instance, use a yellow highlighter for large projects, a blue highlighter for reading assignments, etc. This will make it a million times easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when due dates start coming up.

STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME

Sometimes you hear people say ‘You’re such an overachiever,” like it’s a bad thing, but let me tell you when you’re in college, overachieving can be your best friend. Luckily, your syllabi allow you the opportunity to get ahead in your classes when you have the time available, so that you don’t have to cram everything in at the last second.

Let’s say it’s Tuesday and you’re working through the required reading for that Western Civ class you were sitting in at the beginning of this post. Chapters one and two are to be read by tomorrow (Wednesday), the next two chapters by Friday. You finish reading chapters one and two and have no other homework to do for the night. The best thing to do is take a few extra minutes to read the next couple chapters while you have time so that by the time Friday rolls around, you aren’t forgetting, or hurrying, to read those chapters.

Perhaps my favorite thing about syllabi is they often tell you exactly what your final project or final exam will look like. In my case, my majors were both very project-oriented, so rather than taking a final exam, I turned in projects or large papers. I was always able to work on these throughout the semester, with help from my syllabi, so that I would have more time to do my best with them, and so that I wouldn’t be locked away in a study room at the library for the entire last part of the semester. For example, I took a literature class in which the final was a 25-page paper. I worked on this over the course of the semester, writing about three or four pages per week, if not more. I broke the assignment up so that writing 25 pages didn’t feel like as much. It wasn’t nearly as gruesome and I had more time to proofread (and more time to hang out with my friends) as the semester came to an end.

ATTENDANCE, GRADING SCALE, ETC.

Aside from the positive planning aspect of syllabi, they’re also good for keeping track of the way each professor handles a classroom because, as we all know, professors can all be very different.

If you take out the class schedule, perhaps the most popular thing in syllabi is the attendance policy. It’s inevitable. You’ll rarely find a student that hasn’t considered just not showing up to class one day. Maybe you’re cramming for a test or you’re simply tired and need some extra rest. No matter the reason, it’s always important to know how many classes you can skip before it impacts your grade. That number varies with some classes allowing as little as two unexcused absences, others six or seven. Having a syllabus for each class allows you to keep track of exactly how many days you have so that you don’t miss one too many days and cost yourself a grade.

Something else that often varies from class to class is the grading scale. A 90 percent in your Western Civ class could be an A while it’s a B in your Statistics class and vice versa. Luckily, you don’t have to memorize the scale for each of your classes because, guess what, it’s in the syllabus. Keeping your syllabi in a place where you can easily access them will help you keep track of your grades so that you always know what you’ve got and what you need to do to maintain or improve them based on the requirements of each class.

Professors spend countless hours creating syllabi for the classes they teach because they find them to be important. The syllabus is your lifeline for your class. Some people even go as far as treating it like a legal contract between the professor and students. Every bit of information on each page has meaning and is, most likely, something you need to know and have readily available throughout the semester. Hold onto syllabi. Use them. They’re worth it!

CELEBRATE!

At the end of a long, hard, hopefully successful semester, you’ll want to have some fun. Lucky for you, before you throw away your supplies from the semester, your syllabi have one more use. Head outside, start a campfire, throw them in and celebrate! Those syllabi are perfect to fuel your fire and will keep it burning bright. Plus, it’s pretty relieving to officially take those classes off your mind. Just make sure you’re burning that fire in a safe place. 😊

If you have other tips on how to use syllabi to your advantage, tell us in the comments!

Why “Doing it All” Isn’t Always “Doing it Well”

More than ever, students feel the pressure to be absolutely perfect. We are bombarded with countless opportunities to get involved, support a cause, or enhance our resume. The era of FOMO (fear of missing out) is upon us. All hope is not lost! With a little effort, even the busiest among us can find ways to start doing a few things well instead of doing all the things. At eCampus.com, we pride ourselves on specializing in one thing: textbooks. Read ahead to learn a few things from the “doing one thing well” pros..

Invest Your Time

Instead of cramming your schedule full of stuff that won’t matter in 5 years, focus on doing something that will have a long-term benefit. Consider picking up an internship at a local business in place of taking an extra course in Underwater Basket-Weaving. Your hands-on experience (even if it’s unpaid) can help make you a standout candidate for a future job!

When eCampus.com was created in 1999, (See?! We’re a millennial too!) we decided that saving college students thousands on textbooks would create a long-term ripple effect. When you’re able to save on that Math 105 textbook – you’re able to invest in your other hobbies and interests.

Care About It

A foundation in doing a few things well is to make sure that you actually care about them. Take a few minutes to sit down and think, journal, meditate on the things that matter to you. That’s your starting point. Design your schedule and life around the things that make you tick! This will ensure that you stay motivated and focused on achieving your goals. Plus, it will help you weed out the opportunities that may not be suited for your personality.

Residing in the heart of Kentucky, eCampus.com knows the value of having a culture that cares about what we do. Our main focus has always been, and always will be, college students of all kinds. We want to be the most trusted and efficient textbook retailer in the country – and that’s what we try to do every single day!

Relax!

Last but not least, a key to doing a few things really well is to know when to chill. out. Millennials are doing a lot better than their parents in knowing how to self-care, but we aren’t perfect. There is no way that you will be able to do much of anything if you live in a constant state of stress. Take a few minutes out of every day to be present in the moment… think about yourself and what you need at that moment, and go get it.

This point drives us eCampus.com to make our website and process as simple as possible. Don’t waste time scrolling through pages of search results from a website that sells books as a side gig. Make it easy, fast, and cheap by sticking with the company that knows one thing really well: eCampus.com

College Students (Like You) Could End Child Poverty

Today marks National Red Nose Day! What is it you may ask? Well, it’s a day dedicated to raising money for children in poverty in America and around the world. This national fundraising campaign is run by the non-profit Comic Relief USA with the goal of helping to end child poverty through the use of comedy. Since 1988, National Red Nose Day has managed to raise over 1 billion dollars!  As college students, you may wonder what you could possibly do to help raise money when you yourself are struggling to keep up with college funds. That’s perfectly fine! There are multiple ways you can help raise money with little to no money. Even donating some of your time can not only help others, but in turn, benefit you as well in the long run. Here’s how you can do it:

How can you help?

1. You can stop by your local Walgreens or subsidiary Duane Reade and purchase a red nose for $1. Donning the red nose symbolizes a kid-friendly air that both entertains and brings awareness to child poverty. Just donating $1 can help provide 11 meals for hungry children through your local Feeding America Food Banks.

2. You can get onto the Red Nose Day website and donate money using either PayPal or card. Even small donations help!

3. You can either find or start your own fundraiser to aid children in poverty without having to spend any money. If you choose to start your own fundraiser, you have the choice of either fundraising on your own, joining a team, or starting a new team. At the Red Nose Day website, they provide you with a list of ideas on how you can start up a fundraiser.

4. You can tune into NBC from 8:00 pm-10:00 pm on Thursday, May 24th and watch three different shows “Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day”, “Running Wild with Bear Grylls for Red Nose Day” and finally the live broadcasting of the “Red Nose Day Special”. Each show is tied together to celebrate Red Nose Day. Throughout the three shows, you will be entertained, learn about the programs supported by Red Nose Day, and provided with the opportunity to donate to the charity through phone calls. To learn more about the programs, click here.

5. You can spread the word! Making others aware of this campaign increases the chances of others donating their time or money to help!

How can you benefit from volunteering?

As a college student, volunteering for a non-profit organization not only helps out your community, but also keeps your skills up-to-date, expands your network, and provides yourself with the opportunity to get a potentially paying job.

Putting your volunteer work in your resume helps you showcase your skills, experience, and expertise. When employers look through a resume, they tend to only look at one for 6-10 seconds. In order to make it count, you need to have something that stands out. Red Nose Day or any other volunteer work is a great way to do so.

Even being a part of some form of Greek life on your campus can benefit you greatly. By being associated with a sorority/fraternity, you get involved in some shape or form of volunteer work. Employers will most likely take notice of this on your resume. According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Greek system is the largest network of volunteers in the US, with members donating over 10 million hours of volunteer services each year.

If you want to find other non-profit volunteer organizations near you, click here.

Top 20 Mobile Apps College Students Need

Top 20 Mobile Apps College Students Need

If you are a college student, then you know the everyday struggles one goes through. Trying to balance school, work, and a social life seems like a nearly impossible task, but there are millions of apps out there that’ll aid you in keeping everything together. We compiled a list of 20 mobile apps that we found to best suit college students needs, ranging from study aids all the way to health, fitness, and more!

 

1. Venmo

Venmo is a secure digital wallet app that allows you to transfer money over to another Venmo user. All you have to do is link the app to your bank account and you’re good to go! It’s very convenient for college students who owe friends money.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

2. Dashlane

Dashlane is a secure password storing app. You can sync your data safely between an unlimited number of devices. It’s a must-have app for those who forget all their passwords and have many accounts.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

3.  Scholly

Scholly is a scholarship finding app. All you have to do is enter 8 parameters, and Scholly will narrow down and give you a personalized list of scholarships you are eligible for. It will even track your application progress and manage deadlines.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

4. iResumes

iResumes is the perfect resume building app. Create professional resumes using a step-by-step wizard. You’ll even be guided through the thank you letter and cover letter process. You can create multiple resumes and send them as an email or download them into a PDF.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

5.  Alarmy

Alarmy is an alarm clock that makes it impossible for you to go back to sleep. You can adjust your settings to where you’ll either have to shake your phone for a certain amount of time, solve a math problem, or even get out of your bed to go take a picture of a specific spot in your house. Say goodbye to the snooze button!

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

6. EverNote

Evernote is a note-taking app full of different features. You can bookmark pages, make to-do lists, sketch and take pictures, share notes with friends, and a lot more. This is a perfect alternative to using a pen and notebook.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

7. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business and employment aimed service used for professional networking. On LinkedIn, you can find jobs and become connected to the right people, which will aid in your credibility as a confident worker. This app is good for college students looking for an internship or a career.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

8. iStudiez

iStudiez provides college students with the best time management app. With this app, you can create daily or weekly tasks, have your class schedule on hand, know your grades, and more! You can either download iStudiez Lite which is free, or you can download iStudiez Pro with no limitations.

Cost: $2.99 on iOS and Android

 

9.  Duolingo

Duolingo is an app that aids your learning of a foreign language. You can test yourself, play games to aid your learning, and more. The best part is that the app is free!

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

10. Quizlet

Quizlet is a mobile and web-based study app. You can create your own quizzes, flashcards, and more. It’s the perfect study tool for upcoming exams.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

11. EasyBib

Instead of writing out your citations, the EasyBib app generates your sources into APA, Chicago, and MLA style for you! You’ll save more time and have to conduct less research.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

12. Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha is both a knowledge computational engine and an answer engine. It differs from other search engines due to its ability to answer questions, perform computations, generate analysis, and prepare reports. It’s the best research engine for everything!

Cost: $2.99 on iOS and Android

 

13. Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers iCloud storage, client software, and file synchronization. It keeps all files up to date on each platform a user has. It’s a great app for college students who need backup folders for all the papers they write.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

14.  RealCalc Scientific Calculator

Have you ever left your calculator at home? No problem. Just download the free app RealCalc Scientific Calculator and you’re all set!

Cost: Free on Android

 

15. TED

TED is an app full of inspirational talks from people of all professions. You’ll see TED talks from educators, musicians, Nobel Prize winners, and more! The app is a great way for college students to become informed on current ideas going on around the world.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

16. Pandora

Pandora is a music app that allows you to create your own stations, your own playlists, and stream radio stations. You can choose from thousands of artists, genres, songs, and more.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

17. Groupme

Groupme is a very useful group messaging app. Once the app is downloaded, it will sync all your contacts. This allows you have a group of up to as many people as you want. You can also search people by name and add them to a group if you don’t already have their number.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

18. Wholesome-Healthy Eating

Wholesome is a personalized nutrition tracking app. Not only does it track calories, but it also helps you make sure you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients along with tips on particular food items you choose.

Cost: Free on iOS. Wholesome is currently in development for Android

 

19. Sworkit

Sworkit is a personalized workout app that gives you a variety of options. You can practice with bodyweight workouts, cardio, yoga, and more. The app keeps track of all your progress and will give you a personalized list of workouts based off of it! College students who can’t afford to pay for a gym membership will love this at-home workout guide.  

Cost: Free on iOS and Android (Premium upgrades available as well).

 

20. RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot is an app chock-full of coupon websites. You can find in-store and online store coupons that range from anything including accessories, food, health, toys, travel, etc. If you are a college student on a budget, try using this app the next time you hit the grocery store.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

 

 

Time Flies – How to Slow Down & Enjoy It

Is it just me or is time moving way too fast?! Yet another semester over and another begins. Gretchen Rubin famously wrote, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Every day has a monotonous undertone and this is due to the fact that I know my schedule like the back of my hand. I am unconsciously going about the week as it is a good schedule, but a familiar one. Maybe you can relate, but I am here to tell you there are ways to perceive time more slowly. We do not have to be time’s hostage in this life. We are human and we will use our humanity as a tool to deliberately manipulate time. Here are some easy tricks to assist you in your life if you feel time slipping by too briskly.

Appreciate the little things

It is no secret that as we grow older, we take things for granted. Our computers, phones, cars, home, and even friends and family. You cannot blame us either as it is due to hedonic adaptation: the phenomenon where humans have a tendency to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. When you receive a new phone, it feels like the most ingenious device ever invented by man. Then after a month or two goes by, you are back to your “it’s just a phone” mindset. Could you imagine your life without a phone? This piece of metal and glass that connects you with most anyone and has all of the information published thus far in history, but you still throw it around to fidget with.

The point is, to welcome novelty into your life. Remember when you were a child and everything was mind blowing to you? Induce a little childlike wonder into your day-to-day. Darwin said, “Attention, if sudden and close, graduates into surprise; and this into astonishment; and this into stupefied amazement.” Take just about anything into your hands and really focus on it. Think about how much work has gone into making this thing, what it can do for you, and if it did not exist. You will quickly learn to be thankful for this object and see it differently every time you see it again. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

Plan for things

Do you remember the month of December as a child? Did it not feel like an eternity until winter holidays? Anxiously awaiting your gifts as you see presents begin to slowly appear under a tree in your living room. We can use the same principle as a tool in our lives. Plan for a trip or some event way in the future. Make it something you really want to do to be enthusiastic for it. Have a countdown timer that you can always refer to to shorten your patience. It is similar to if I asked you to close your eyes and not say anything. Then, tell me when you believe three minutes have passed. Minutes would drag on as when you focus on time, it slows down.

Don’t plan for other things

Planning a fun trip is a great way to slow time and have an adventure by the end of it, but how can I slow time down even more every day? Being spontaneous is an enjoyable tactic that you can perform with the free time you possess. Instead of binge watching Netflix shows, go for a walk or a bike ride in your area. If one sat down and watched shows all day versus taking a leisurely stroll through town, who would you say had a longer and more enriching time? It is important to shake up the routine often to be a more well-rounded person. When you feel yourself apart of your own familiar agenda with free time, this should be a cue to do something different. Go visit a new coffee shop and read a book or take a drive and bring along a coin to decide which way you turn. An added plus is when you are more spontaneous, you are going to be a better time to be around. We all like the person that flips the script when you are with them.

Learn a new hobby

Last time I ask you to think back to your childhood. Remember learning an instrument or practicing a sport? How long did it take you to learn cursive? Learning is a process and while it should be fun, it is also taxing on your mind. We can use this for our benefit to elongate the fourth dimension. Pick up a new skill be it drawing, gardening, cooking, photography, coding, or dancing. As a personal preference, it is good to pick a hobby that has a tangible result so the progress you make is clearly shown. This will make your motivation to stick with it more difficult to diminish. There is also no need to be hard on yourself with learning a new hobby. Remember that you are doing this to make your life more interesting and vivid.

There is an overarching theme throughout these tricks and that is to be mindful of yourself and anything not yourself. Taking in the world with a fresh pair of eyes can be the difference between a life of banality or a life of excitement. Living life to the fullest while we can, is the only fulfilling option we hold. Be grateful for our friends and family for being people we can trust and knowing that they trust us. To beat eternity is to stretch every moment into an eternity.