Study

eTextbooks May Save Money But Not Necessarily Time

Recently at eCampus.com we conducted a survey to find out reasons why students might purchase an eTextbook over a traditional one. With this growing textbook trend we were curious to know what factors were going into student’s decision making. Our findings showed that “lower price” outweighed both “instant access” and “portability.” This is an interesting find because textbook rental is still the most cost effective way to get a textbook. Although students found eTextbooks to be a money-saving option, they may not be the time-saver many assume them to be. Survey results show nearly half of all respondents saved only one hour or less per week by using eTextbooks.

eCampus.com has seen a gradual increase in eTextbook popularity since they were first introduced a few years ago. eCampus.com now carries more than 100,000 eTextbook titles on its site all available for instant access. Typically, an eTextbook can save students anywhere from 20 to 35 percent off of the list price of the physical textbook which is very attractive to most college students. Another feature that students enjoy about eTextbooks is the ability to take notes and highlight, or copy and paste text and print pages. When asked students participants found the “search” feature to be the overall favorite, followed by “highlighting” and “copy/paste.” Everyone knows that college students are all about saving money when it comes to school, so it is no surprise they value the lowest priced option for textbooks.

Read full press release and view infographic.

The Caffeinated Campus

When we think of military-grade performance enhancers, secret trials in the desert come to mind, cover-ups, and maybe a sprinkle of spooky side effects, but you might be surprised to learn that the focus of cognitive enhancement studies for soldiers is none other than caffeine!  As college students, how can we use this knowledge to our advantage?

A quick survey of classmates and coworkers revealed an astonishing discovery—most people don’t consume caffeine regularly.   The aversion to drinking caffeine regularly is logical in the sense that you might think that when you really need it, say during finals, your pinch hitter will be out of the game with a sore shoulder.  Furthermore, caffeine is rightly labeled a drug, and as such has side effects and warnings.  Perhaps illogically, these same students had no problem chugging down Four Lokos like it was a gift from the party gods, but in our defense, college is about honing our decision-making skills, right?

If this is your worry, and I suspect it’s a common one (our parent’s generation tended to be leery of long-term OTC therapy), a little information can help you gauge how effective your caffeine usage is.

First: Know your target effect.

You want to feel alert, focused, and faster than normal.  If it were a “this is your brain on drugs” commercial, there would be a hyper-focused squirrel in the frying pan.  Caffeine is called a “stimulant” but it’s actually an antagonist–it blocks the adenosine receptor from receiving signals of tiredness and blocking up neural pathways.  Of course, too much caffeine and the results go haywire as too many pathways are opened up, leading to stress and confusion.

Second: Dose effectively.

From a New York Magazine article: “Women generally metabolize caffeine faster than men. Smokers process it twice as quickly as nonsmokers do. Women taking birth-control pills metabolize it at perhaps one-third the rate that women not on the Pill do. Asians may do so more slowly than people of other races.” In The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug, authors Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer hypothesize that a nonsmoking Japanese man drinking his coffee with an alcoholic beverage—another slowing agent—would likely feel caffeinated “about five times longer than an Englishwoman who smoked cigarettes but did not drink or use oral contraceptives.”

The second consideration is timing.  Research supports small, measured doses throughout the day rather than large amounts all at once that lead to a rollercoaster effect of peaks and dips in energy.  Those soldiers I mentioned chew caffeinated gum with small doses all night long, a technique researchers say could help civilians as well, if caffeine weren’t the cultural phenomenon it were.  Going out for caffeinated gum doesn’t have the same dating possibilities.

Third:  Get some sleep.

The rule of thumb to not drink caffeine after midnight drives me crazy.  Not one adult that I know has trouble falling asleep after a cup of coffee after dinner.  Trust your gut and use your common sense.  One-size-fits-all is nearly always a misnomer.

-WonderBread

I’m reading Precalculus with Limits: A Graphing Approach

It Is Time to Study?

So let’s be honest- college may be the first time you’ve ever really had to study for something.  There are a few tricks to remember when studying if it’s been awhile!

Your first order of business is to gain motivation.  Whether your homework is due in an hour or you want to knock it off so you can enjoy the weekend, motivation is key.  Remind yourself that if you get your homework done right now, you will not have to worry about this specific assignment ever again.

First, try visualizing yourself doing your homework. This may seem corny and simple, but it can get you mentally prepared to sit down for some length of time and do your work.  Remind yourself of how long it may take you to do your homework and realize it will end eventually.

Next, create a useful workspace. Ensure your basic needs have been met before entering said space: you have gone to the bathroom, eaten something, and are not thirsty.  You are neither too cold nor too hot.  Choose an environment with a workable atmosphere.  Do you need complete silence?  Do you like to be around others who are working?  Maybe the library is for you.  Or you can be completely cliché and go to a Starbucks, but hey, whatever works. Find a place you can concentrate in.

Set up your area with minimal distractions, i.e. giving yourself 10 minutes to get whatever it is you want to do (Facebook usually) out of your system then putting your beloved phone on airplane mode.  Have a water/tea/coffee readily accessible.

Do you study/do homework with music? Put on a playlist and don’t touch it.  This will lead to much wasted time.

Give yourself small goals and rewards.  For example, if you complete three whole pages of your essay, reward yourself with 5 minutes on your phone.

If studying a difficult subject, maybe studying in groups is good for you.  Just ensure you focus on the topic at hand.  Surround yourself with other students who can be academically oriented and have good study habits that you can emulate.

Happy studying!

-TravelBug

I’m reading A Speaker’s Guidebook

Education Startups

When I was first thinking about education start ups, the first thing that popped into my head were websites like Phoenix University, sites to prep for graduate school entrance exams, etc. It turns out there are a lot more resources out there for students to utilize. There are now places where students can interact with professors, learn from tools tailored to their specific learning styles,  and study confidently. Eventually, I hope no one will have to worry about what kind of parking pass they need, cry on the inside from overpriced books they are required to buy, and be able work from home. Here are some great startups that have helped students relieve some stress while studying.

Grockit
www.grockit.com

Grockit puts the fun into studying by using online social learning services.  This company has developed a series of effective prep games for the LSAT, GMAT, SAT and high school AP classes.  Recently it has started a service called Grockit Answers.  Grockit Answers is a site that creates a question and answer page for any video on YouTube, allowing students to develop a better understanding on virtually any topic.  The company name comes from the work grok, which means to understand something so well that it becomes a part of you.  Grockit believes that students learn better through peer-to-peer learning rather than teacher-to-student and they are building their company around this belief.  With almost $25 million in funding, Grockit is well on their way to helping a lot of students.

2tor
www.2tor.com

Founded in 2008, 2tor partners with colleges and universities to build, implement, and market their online degree programs.  They supply the colleges with tools, expertise, and capital needed to develop and implement state-of-the-art online learning platforms.  2tor is able to enhance offline learning curriculum by creating an innovative online environment for students to learn.  With $64.8 million dollars in funding so far, this company is going to continue to grow and we think become a great success.

To give you an idea of the impact 2tor can have on a school, USC’s Masters of Teaching program had about 80 students before partnering with 2tor, and all of them were on its California campus. Now it boasts almost 1,500 students enrolled in the program across 45 states and 28 countries. They all pay the same full tuition and get exactly the same degree. 2tor handles the website, supplying the students with webcams, creating online teaching materials in partnership with faculty, the logistics of finding local schools were the students themselves can practice teaching. The company shares in the tuition revenue. 2tor has most recently partnered with UNC’s Kenan Flagler business school to help them bring their MBA online.

Inigral
www.inigral.com

When Facebook was originally started it was only for college students.  This meant that you had the ability to see who was taking the same courses as you.  Once Facebook expanded beyond the scope of just college students this feature was discontinued.  Inigral is picking up where Facebook left off.  By developing an app called Schools, Inigral is able to show students not only which courses others are taking on but also other campus affiliations.  This means that a student is able to see which student organizations others are joining as well as other’s athletic involvement, majors chosen, and which residence halls they are living in.  What is unique about this app is that Inigral is selling it and making the colleges and universities pay for it instead of the students.  With only $7 million dollars in funding, Inigiral is certainly still in their infancy and they have a lot of room to grow.

19Pencils
www.19pencils.com

19Pencils is an education startup that is geared towards K-8 educators, but can also be helpful to college students.  This site helps teachers and students quickly and easily find specific web content based on a topic.  It also allows educators to keep track of how much time a student is spending on a given task letting them see which students may need extra attention understanding and exploring a topic.  In addition, 19Pencils has introduced Playground where students can chat online amongst themselves sharing ideas and thoughts on assigned content.  While this startup is still in the very early learning stages, we think they have a great potential to grow into the education market.

“We’re so excited to be bringing easy-to-use technology to classrooms around the world. The 19Pencils educational ecosystem is a conglomeration of social bookmarking, online assessments, internet monitoring, and social media engagement – all working together to simplify and improve the educational process for both teachers and students,” said Neill Kramer, Co-founder of 19Pencils.” – BusinessWire.com (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20111003005152/en/19Pencils-Introduces-Easiest-Share-Web-Based-Educational-Content)

Brainscape
www.brainscape.com

Brainscape is a simple and brilliant way to facilitate studying.  This site and mobile app let students use “smart studying”, where students study with interactive flash cards.  As the student completes each flash card they are asked to rank the difficulty of that question.  The more difficult the question is the more it shows up in the student’s deck of flashcards.  There are several sets of flash cards that are built into the program and students are also able to build their own set of flashcards allowing them to study anything at all.  They also offer online teachers and premium content, if you need that little extra help.  Out of all the startups written about in this post, this one is by far my favorite.  It is such a simple concept, but also such an important one.  Using flashcards is a way for students to study verbally and visually.  I think we are going to watch this company skyrocket in the coming years.

 

Willhelm

I’m reading Music: An Appreciation

How to Use Your Study Abroad Experience in a Job Interview

I’ve always enjoyed traveling to new places. Whether it be a summer vacation to Disney Land or a field trip to the museum downtown. As a business major, it only seemed natural to pick up a minor in international business. Maybe I’d get a job at a big multinational corporation and live out of my suitcase as I jet set around the world. That would be pretty sweet…right?

I started taking Japanese courses in order to fulfill my minor requirements. My Japanese professor also taught a summer study abroad program in Akita, Japan. I jumped at the opportunity faster than a 12 year old girl getting backstage to a Justin Bieber concert. I won’t bore you with the details, so I’ll sum it up in two words and three punctuation marks–TOTALLY AWESOME!!! Study Abroad in Japan, Oga Penninsula, Namahage Demons I finished my last semester of undergrad after my summer sojourn to Japan. I went straight into graduate school the following semester and spent the next two years grinding out my degree. When I started interviewing for my first big boy job, I started to realize that hiring managers spent more time talking about my three months in Japan than my MBA. The companies I interviewed for had absolutely nothing to do with Japanese technology, manufacturing, or trade. But they spent the majority of the interview asking me questions about my exotic extended vacation. Why?

You have to think about it from their point of view. Hiring managers conduct the same monotonous interviews from pretty much every applicant that is straight out of college. My GPA was blah…I majored in blah…I was in blah fraternity/sorority….BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! At a certain point, they probably stop caring about how much fun you had in college. Because they sure as heck aren’t having the time of their life working 9-5 talking to inexperienced kids like you.

How do you make yourself stand out? Can you sell yourself in a five minute story? What would that story be? Back packing through Europe or building clean water wells in Africa are a lot more interesting than winning the championship game of your flag football intramural league.

Unfortunately, you need more than an entertaining tale to land your first job out of college.

Hiring managers are looking for someone that is a secure investment. College students with part time experience in a totally unrelated position are not a safe investment. But someone who voluntarily moved across the world in order to pursue their dream and further their education might seem a little more reliable. There are key personality attributes that hiring managers are looking for. Some of these can be exemplified by studying abroad and living to tell the tale. I’ve listed four key characteristics that you can emphasize in a job interview.  I’ve also included some sample interview questions that I’ve heard in the past.

1. Ability to Adapt  If you can flourish alongside strangers in a strange land, you can probably do so on your home turf. Employers are looking for someone who can start producing as soon as possible. New hires must be able to learn quickly, so having documented examples of your proactivity is a plus. More importantly, new workers must be able to integrate into existing departments and teams. In a lot of cases, personality type outweighs skill set. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t work well with others.

Interviewer: As a new hire in a managerial role, how would you deal with department members that are older and have been working here longer than you?
Reply: I’m sure everybody has reservations about the new guy. I don’t blame them; hopefully I can convince them through hard work and relentless dedication that I’m a good fit for the organization. I’m used to being the fish out of water, so I know how to approach strangers and win them over. 

2. Willing to Travel No brainer right? Having study abroad experience on your resume is the best way to show potential employers that you’re willing to go that extra mile…literally! Being able to travel is a requirement for a lot of awesome jobs (from pharmaceutical salesman to Antarctic researcher). Saying that you’re willing to travel in an interview is one thing, but having real experience is another.

Interviewer: This position requires a lot of travel two months out of the year. Are you comfortable being on the road for that amount of time?
Reply: I have backpacked through Asia, kayaked across the Gulf of Thailand, slept in a bullet train and accidentally woke up in a different country; all while having zero contact with friends and family. I think I’ll be straight.

3. Non Verbal Communication Skills After my first week in Japan, I realized that I should have studied more Japanese before my trip. Due to my broken Japanese, I had to rely on basic phrases and body language. It took some time, but I became a master of non verbal communication. Fortunately, I could use this skill in a corporate environment to easily interpret the behaviors of my superiors and co-workers. Being able to tell what direction my boss is leaning is pretty sweet. Getting along with your teammates is vital as well; it helps to know when to back off or when to step in.

Interviewer: You will be working with department heads, regional account managers, and executives, but you won’t necessarily see them on a day to day basis. How do you make the most of your meetings and interactions with them?
Reply: I prefer to be overly prepared for meetings so I don’t spend the majority of my time taking notes instead of working with my peers. It’s hard to read your bosses reactions when you’re scribbling down buzz words on a Starbucks napkin. I like to do all my research ahead of time so I can provide sound recommendations and answer any questions someone might come up with.

4. Self Awareness You learn a lot about yourself when you are forced to survive on your wits alone. Sure you’ll make friends, but they are essentially familiar strangers. In order to be a successful, you need to know what you’re good at and what you could improve upon. If you have any major weaknesses, like not being able to read a frickin’ language, you need the humility to find help.

Interviewer: What is your biggest weakness?
Reply: I figured you would ask this question and I don’t want to give a B.S. response. I’m sure I have plenty of weaknesses, but none of them pertain to this position. I think I would be a total rock star at every thing thrown my way. And if I don’t think I could step up to the plate and hit a home run, I’d find somebody else that could pinch hit and help our team win the game. That answer totally sounds B.S., but it’s true. I’m not afraid of asking for help. With that said, I’d be damn sure I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. I’d learn everything I could and become a better team player.

Study Abroad, Sushi Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keepin’ it real, while keepin’ it safe.

 

Fox

I’m reading The Art of Public Speaking