Study

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!

Healthy Studying Habits

We all know how important it is to spend time studying, but how effectively are you spending that time? If you aren’t using healthy studying habits, your time could be wasted. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your study break.

 Keep Highlighters Handy

healthy-studying-highlighters

Sometimes you don’t have time to rewrite what you’ve read in a summarized form. This is when highlighters come in handy. Having at least two different colored highlighters on hand while studying can make note taking faster, more efficient and allow you to color code as an added bonus.

Master Skimming Readings

healthy-studying-skimming

Knowing how to skim a reading can be very useful during exam time. You should read the material thoroughly the first time of course, but when you ready to review the reading, it’s better to have a quick summary to recall facts. One way to do this is to read the introduction paragraph, the first and last sentences of each body paragraph, then the concluding paragraph. This should give you a broad overview of the reading and remind you of what you have already read as a whole.

Keep Neat Notes

healthy-studying-neat-notes

It’s important to keep your notes neat and readable, otherwise they can be next to useless as it will take you longer to decipher your notes than it would have taken to reread everything. If you must write quickly to keep up during lectures (who doesn’t?) then try setting aside time later on to re-write your notes legibly. It will pay off in the long run.

Be Alert

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Pay attention to what times during the day you feel the most energized and motivated. Try to tailor your study sessions to these times during the day. Nothing is worse than trying to study with drooping eyelids! Plus, you probably won’t remember anything you read while you were tired anyway.

What are your sure-fire study tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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