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How to Conquer College Exams in 9 Steps

College exams can be very overwhelming.  They may even be so overwhelming you struggle with composing yourself and have difficulty concentrating.  I am going to walk you through 9 steps to conquer your next round of college exams. Okay. Go…
college examsStep 1: Prepare! Make sure you fit as much of the subject material into your brain as you can!

Step 2: Wear clothes you feel good in. Feeling comfortable or like you are putting your best foot forward will give you the right mindset going into the exam.

Step 3: Tell Yourself “I’m gonna ace this.” Believing in yourself is an important part of the process.

Step 4: Listen to your pump up playlist. If you don’t have a Pre-Exam Study playlist, make one and listen to it on your way to the exam.

Step 5: Breathe. I think this one is self-explanatory.

Step 6: Be well rested. Having to drink caffeine right before an exam can make you jittery and over think the test.

Step 7: Draw a smiley-face on the top of your exam. Just do it.

Step 8: Do your best! That’s all anyone expects of you.

Step 9: Don’t agonize about the test afterwards, there is not anything you can do about it.

What other tips do you have for taking college exams? Share in the comment section below!

Considering Your Future Through Each Stage of College

Freshman Year:

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 This is your time to explore. Take a variety of general education classes and see if you discover a subject you never thought you’d have an interest in. Your freshman year is a great time to expand your horizons. It’s better to figure out what you really want to do sooner rather than later, so you have enough time to graduate on time if you make any changes to your plans. Sure, you might be coming in to college knowing what you want to do, but you never know. You could take a gen. ed. at the end of your junior year and realize your passions might lie elsewhere. Take advantage of the variety of courses available to you to make sure you know all of your options before you commit to anything.

Sophomore Year:

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Continue exploring, but start narrowing it down. You’re usually expected to declare your major by the end of this year, so you should start to seriously consider your passions so you feel more comfortable committing to a particular field of study and/or career path by the end of your Sophomore spring semester. Figure out if you want to take on a double major or perhaps some minors and certificates. Do your research to see what the requirements are to make sure you have enough time to complete them so you can plan accordingly. Talk to your advisor throughout this process, he/she can be very helpful. This is also a good time to start thinking about the campus organizations that can be useful for your future career once you start to figure out what you want.

Junior Year:

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You might be able to get away with waiting until the middle of this year to officially declare your major, but you should be paying close attention to the requirements of the major or majors you are considering. If you want to be able to graduate on time, this is crucial. This is a good time to start applying for internships if you haven’t already. Internships have basically become a necessity for college students hoping to get full time jobs after graduation. You should also be figuring out what your options are for after you graduate: Grad School? Medical School? Law School? Straight into your career? Take a year off to travel? Get a job teaching English abroad? You should look into all the options you’re interested in so you know what you have to do to make it happen. Look at the application process for different programs and/or jobs. Do all the research you can and there will be fewer surprises. You’ll be much more relaxed if you’re prepared.

Senior Year:

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At this point, you should be pretty clear about your plan. There’s still some time to make decisions about your post-graduation plans, but don’t put things off for too long or you run the risk of delaying your progress. There are deadlines for a lot of your options and you don’t want to miss them or you might have to wait a year. Make sure you’re keeping up with your current academic requirements so keep in touch with your advisor so you stay on track. Make sure you do everything you need to do for graduation so it will be less stressful. Graduation can be an emotional time so minimizing your stress will make the whole process less overwhelming.

College Friends in the Post College World

Attend any high school graduation ceremony across the country and you’re likely to observe the same scene; girls in tight embrace, the football team coming together for one last huddle, scores of students weeping. Instead of a scene of jubilation, many of these rituals resemble a wake as people realize that this is the death of many of their friendships. There may be a few best friends that attend the same university or a handful of delusional couples that swear their high school relationships can survive a freshman year of new guys and winking sorority girls, but most accept the reality that they will grow up and thus, grow apart.

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Though we may have a better hold on our emotions in our early twenties, the scenario remains the same. Post collegiate commencement, we will continue to grow. While the leap from high school to college mainly meant being in new surroundings, the growth that transpires after college graduation takes us somewhere much larger; the real world. Once in that real world, we migrate to many different places.

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Take for example, the case of my undergrad best friend and myself. Once outside the halls of higher education, we grew in two opposite directions. While I got married to a southern belle, sired a future sorority president and eased into domestic life at 31, she maintained the single persona, moving out of our home city and remaining a mainstay at happy hours and ladies nights any day of the week. Both lifestyles are suitable for each of us as there is no handbook on how a thirty year old is supposed to act, however the stumbling block appears when we talk on the phone. While I’m not really interested in “Oh my God, two of my exes were in the same bar at the same time last night and last night was Monday”, I’m sure she is less than excited by “I’m up to my arms in baby poop and statistics homework.” Things become even more convoluted when we are in person, as the idea of a fun night for one of us is to storm the college bar for $5 pitchers and cheese fries while the other would rather be tucked away in an art gallery for a local artist’s opening. I’ll allow you to guess who prefers what.

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The moral of the story is that while you and you’re college roomie may be as thick as thieves in the current, post college growth finds us all. In our institutional lives, personalities may be the bookends of the spectrum, but the bond is the school you call home. In the post graduate world, that bond disappears and the life blood of a friendship depends on common interest. Although there is not much one can do to stop the growth process, it is manageable. Just as there were different tables in the high school cafeteria (the jocks, the preppies, the theatre folk) so too are there tables in the post graduate world. Today when I wish to lament about my daughter’s struggle to sleep through the night, I look to my friends sitting at the “We Have Kids Your Kid’s Age, We Feel You Bro” table. When looking for companionship at football tailgate, I drift to the “No Kids, Just Career” table. Lastly, when I’m in a mood that makes me reminiscent of my days as an undergraduate, fraternity scoundrel, I dip to the “It’s Still 2003, Let’s Get Crunk” table, where I find my undergraduate best friend, with smile on her face and beer in her hand. You see reader, the trick to growing up isn’t how to keep from losing friends, it’s how to craft a three dimensional life where everything has its own, awesome place.

The Thing No One Likes to Talk About

We’ve all been there – your award letter comes and maybe it’s not quite as much as you’d hoped it would be. And the loan portion isn’t quite as little as you’d hoped it would be. But you take out the loan anyway because how else are you supposed to pay for school? We’re 18-22 year olds mostly, and I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t got $30,000 lying around for free spending. College costs continue to rise and with the rising cost comes a rising amount of average debt per student per year.

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 In addition to a higher amount of debt being taken on by students, a larger number of students have to resort to taking out loans as well.

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 Another thing to keep in mind while borrowing for undergrad, is how you are planning to pay for grad school should you choose that route. According to the Wall Street Journal, “About 15% of graduate and professional school students graduate with six-figure student loan debt compared with only 0.3% of undergraduate students”. Be aware of potential salary increases that can come from an advanced degree in comparison with the additional debt and decide for yourself if it is appropriate for your goals.

 Student loan debt is not all bad though. With proper planning and budgeting, you can keep your student loan debt under control. Still, college students need to be aware of how much they are borrowing and make sure it is the smallest amount possible to get through school. Supplement the borrowed amounts with jobs and scholarships as much as possible. It’s not always enough to cover everything, but every little bit counts especially once interest starts adding up on an unnecessary loan.

HOW TO: Study Groups

studygroups1Utilizing the “study group” can make or break your semester grades. Although generally college students aren’t a fan of “group” stuff (such as work, projects or presentations), the “study group” is the unique situation in which students, like yourself, may actually find more helpful than harmful.

Step 1: Find a Study Group – if you can’t find one, make one. Email the people in your class (who you can find on a class website or in class). Find people who can work with a similar schedule to your own and then schedule.

Step 2: Meet up – Find a place to meet that is central or well known. Also, if you are expecting a lot of people, make sure you meet in a place that has the capacity for that amount of people (don’t meet up in the library if you are expecting 20 people to show up)!

Step 3: Get people’s names and emails – Make a list, with people’s names, emails and numbers so that they can be contacted. A good way to do this is to use Google forms and send it out asking for this information.

Step 4: Get Studying! – Once you have a list of people’s names and numbers, rather than complaining about the class, or discussing how much you hated what the dining hall served for dinner you should get down to business. People have lots of work to do and other classes so try to be as productive and efficient as you can.

Step 5: Get Notes – If you’ve missed class or don’t understand something a study group is the PERFECT time to get this information. Your classmates might understand better than you did and you will be able to discuss information until you do understand it.

Step 6: Wrap Up – Don’t spend longer than 2 hours (unless studying for a test or midterm, in which case take a break after 2 hours) in a study group. 2 hours is a good block of time that you can get through information, but with reasonable amount of other time so that people can hope to get to there other homework as well.

Study groups are a good place to discuss, understand, and organize information from class and lecture. If you bounce information off other students in the class, you’ll likely do better in the class yourself!