5 Apps to Make You More Productive

College life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. Some students get so flustered that they procrastinate or miss assignments, with their grades suffering in the process.

Whether you’re pursuing a business degree, science degree or hotel management degree program or course, college life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. During this busy time, technology can make your life more manageable. Here are five apps that will help you organize your time and increase your productivity:

1. Evernote

Not only is Evernote free, it is on the list of The New York Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps.” With this app, you can write notes, capture photos, keep to-do lists and record voice reminders. You can sync Evernote with all your devices and search for specific notes. You can organize notes into specific “notebooks” or with tags and email them to others via Twitter or Facebook. College students can use this app to snap photos of PowerPoint slides and textbooks, take and organize class notes for studying later and even to upload their favorite recipes and grocery lists.

2. Dropbox

As a student, you may do work on multiple computers, even working on your smartphone when you’re out. Dropbox eliminates the need to email documents from one computer to another. It also eliminates the need for a flash drive. By installing the free app on your computer, phone or tablet, you can save any file to a Dropbox folder that you can access from anywhere. You can even create folders that you can share with other people.

Sign up with an .edu email address and get extra space!

3. iStudiez Pro

Hailed as a “sophisticated student’s planner” and a bargain at 99 cents, iStudiezPro helps you organize your life. It is a virtual planner, complete with class schedules, a calendar, grade book and homework tracker. The grade tracker helps you estimate your current GPA, and notifications will remind you of future classes, events and due dates. You can even back up your data via email or a cloud option.

4. gFlash + Flashcards & Test

Another great freebie, gFlash + Flashcards & Test lets you create and edit an unlimited number of flashcards for studying, with the option of adding images and sounds. You can also download existing cards from the gWhiz collection. Cards can have up to nine sides, and as you quiz yourself, you have the ability to track your progress. Because it’s free, there are some ads, but they don’t get in the way of your studies.

5. GradeFix

For all of the procrastinators out there, there is finally a planner with intelligence. GradeFix will organize your tasks for you: By entering details of your upcoming assignments, this app uses algorithms to plan the best schedule for you. Your work is separated into four categories (reading, homework, quiz study, test study) and prioritized. If you somehow miss an assignment, it will be placed at the top of your priorities. The only catch is that while it is free to sign up, it costs $5 per month to use.

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, a premier program for foreign attorneys to earn their LLM Online in U.S. law and just one of the llm degree programs offered by Washington University in St. Louis. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

How to Survive Your Freshman Year College is the perfect intersection of freedom and young adulthood: Never again will you be allowed to have that much fun while being responsible for so little. But as generations of students have learned the hard way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by that freedom and go, well, a little overboard. Students who’d never had a problem doing homework find themselves tanking tests when there’s no one around to push them to attend class. People who’d always managed to have a thriving social life discover they’re about to become hermits. It’s a fun but intimidating time, and the best way to get the most out of freshman year is to remember a few key things.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spoiler alert: You can’t do it all. Not even close. There will always be one more party, one more trip, one more event, one more night out, one more friend who needs a favor. College is about learning to prioritize and tell the difference between what you can do, what you want to do, and what you need to do. The biggest mistake freshmen make is taking on too much, whether in terms of course load or social commitments. If you want to get ahead, you’ll have to scale back.

Set up a schedule to follow each week and stick with it. (That’s the important part.) It doesn’t have to overly detailed or break down your life into 10-minute chunks. But you should be able to look ahead each week and know basically what you’re going to be doing every day and every night, from attending class to studying or just taking some time off to be with friends. If high school is juggling, then college is juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle: It can be done, but it takes a lot more planning.

You should also plan for free time, too. That might sound counter-intuitive or just plain impossible, but it’s not, and it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a bad idea to skip through college without any kind of planning or time management, but it’s equally as bad to overschedule yourself. College is work, yes, but it’s also supposed to be a fun time of exploration and self-discovery and all those other fuzzy terms that basically mean “figure out what kind of person you want to be.” As you build time for study and class, leave open chunks for hanging out, eating, wandering the dorms, or just seeing what comes up. Seriously. That way you maintain a schedule and your sanity.

Avoid Credit Cards

Bankers have sent their own kids to college on the fees they collect from freshmen who make the mistake of signing up for credit cards without understanding the responsibility required. Every incoming freshman finds his or her mailbox clogged with seemingly awesome offers from lending agencies dangling the promise of easy credit and a life of luxury. What a lot of freshmen forget is that they don’t have any money, or jobs, or the ability to do anything other than buy a cheap sandwich in the cafeteria. That makes getting a credit card an almost suicidal risk.

Building credit is important in the long run. It shows banks that you’re trustworthy, it gives you access to better interest rates on loans, and it generally makes you feel like an adult. But it takes years of controlled work to do that, and college isn’t the time to start. Managing credit means using cards wisely, and only to make purchases you could buy with cash at that moment. Credit cards aren’t for making big buys that aren’t in your budget; they’re for showing banks you’ve got enough cash and maturity to pay your debts in full. Getting into credit card debt while you’re still in college means you’ll be under the thumb of major lenders before you’ve even gotten your degree, let alone found a job that will give you the money to start paying those cards off.

There’s plenty of time to be an adult and work with the complicated payment structures that come with credit cards. College is not that time.

Establish Your Independence

In other words: Don’t go home too often. College is a crucial part of the development process as students make the often rocky transition from childhood to young adulthood, and it’s tempting to make frequent trips home in an attempt to recapture the safety of the nest. It’s understandable, too. Many freshmen spent 18 years in a perfectly welcoming environment (typical dramas notwithstanding), and after only knowing one home environment, it’s a shock to be placed in a world with thousands of other students all going through the same basic emotional crises. You want to escape to a place where you know the rules.

Unfortunately, that’s detrimental to your long-term success as a student and a rounded human being. Independence is usually hard-earned, and that means getting used to being bored or rejected or even alone on campus. It means meeting people and making friends. It means shaking up your established routines and coming up with new ones. It means staying away from home.

Need to get your laundry done? Look for change. Hungry for a home-cooked meal? Organize a get-together with students at a professor’s house. Your parents are going to be there to support you as you work through the challenges of college, but you actually have to do the work on your own this time. (And if they’re like most parents, they’re probably happy to help you as much as possible but reluctant to have you extend your childhood. They’re ready for you to start growing up.) College teaches resourcefulness and problem-solving, but you won’t be able to learn those skills without first relying on yourself.

Don’t Rush the Big Choices

Freshman year can feel like a barrage of life-or-death questions: What’s your major? What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Do you want to go out sometime?

Those are all, to be sure, pretty big decisions, but the good news is that you’ve got more time than you’d think to figure out how to make them. For instance, you don’t have to commit to a major when you begin your freshman year, and many schools don’t push you to declare until you start your sophomore run. That doesn’t mean you can slack off your freshman year — you should still take your school’s required courses, usually speech, English, math, an elective, etc. — but it does mean you’re free to explore topics that interest you and get a feel for where you fit in at school.

Your major will be a guiding force in your education and career, and it’s not a choice to be made lightly. One of the worst things you can do is select a major because you don’t want to weigh any other options, or if it’s something you don’t like but are betting you will come to love in time. (The odds are slim.) Take your time on this one. Take a month, a semester, a year. Don’t just leap; look carefully. This is a great opportunity to get to know your guidance and career counselors, as well as professors in fields that grab your interest, to find out what’s required by students in your prospective major. Check out employment prospects with seniors or counselors. Do some Googling.

The real lesson in picking a major is to learn how to examine yourself and figure out what you want, then take the steps to get it. That’s not something you can knock out overnight.

Get Some Sleep

Really, do it. Get some good sleep as much as you can. Your mental and physical health depend on it. A 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 30% of college students surveyed got more than 8 hours of sleep a night, while more than 68% percent (!) had trouble sleeping because of stress related to their academic or personal lives. As a result, students with poor sleep habits turn in greater numbers to over-the-counter drugs to regulate their sleep cycles and moods. This, if you were wondering, is not good.

Robbing yourself of sleep means relying more heavily on medical cheats to get some rest, and it also has a negative affect on your performance during waking hours. Sleep-deprived students tend to perform worse in class and on tests than their more rested counterparts. Your body becomes sluggish, your brain has to operate through a thick fog, and your moods become more erratic. Basically, depriving yourself of sleep is a shortcut to having a terrible time at college.

So what do you do? It’s related to the time management issue that confronts so many freshmen. A lot of students stay up too late the night before an 8 a.m. class, or they simply try to live on less sleep out of a fear they’ll miss something amazing if they go back to their dorm to rack out. The “fear of missing out” is a real one, and it leads to some hectic and damaging hours. Don’t cheat yourself out of some healthy sleep. It’s one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.

Moderation

If there’s one overriding piece of advice freshman should heed, one thing that feeds everything else, it’s this: Strive for moderation in all things. Party, but party responsibly. Work hard, but leave time to relax. Make new friends, but give yourself time to recuperate. Don’t shy away from big choices, but don’t rush into them, either. Lean on your folks, but not too much. Freshman year is like nothing else. If you do it right, you’ll never forget it.

Article supplied by the writing team from AccreditedOnlineColleges.com.

How to create a successful outline

Not enough people know how to properly create an outline and that amazes me. The first step is to actually understand the material you’re reading because if you’re simply taking chunks of the chapter, you’re not going to get anywhere. There are different types of outlines, there’s one that the professor wants you to hand in, outlining your research paper and there’s an outline of a chapter. This lesson is going to cover both.

Research outline

This will be the guts of your paper. Once you’ve figured out your topic and the general direction of your paper, creating an outline is pretty straightforward. You really need to know your thesis before completing the outline and my suggestion if you’re confused, is to not worry about the thesis until the end. Start with the information.

Once you’ve gathered your research, you generally know the idea of what you want to talk about first. If you’re completely lost, choose the idea that would be a great opener – something that’s controversial, interesting or your audience would agree with. To choose what’s next in line, ask yourself, “After idea A, what is an easy transition?” If you’re going from dogs to VCRs, there’s probably not going to be an easy connection. Transitions between different sections can be made very simple if you choose topics that seem to flow well together. Also remember that nothing is set in stone. If later you realize you should have put topic B where topic F is, change it.

Because this article is so long, I’m going to cut it off here and allow you to view the rest of entry if you choose to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Eating on a college student’s budget

Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things and food is high up on the list. It’s hard to be creative when trying to eat on a few dollars per meal. Ramen noodles get tiring. I’m by no means a great cook, but I do all right. For me and my boyfriend, we have a budget of $300 for food each month, which averages out to about $5 a day for each of us. And because we eat really cheap food (Ramen noodles, that cup of soup stuff, etc.) for lunch, it helps average out when we want nicer meals. Our local H-E-B Plus grocery store is very helpful with coupons. It seems as if there’s a coupon on half the items you see, including what they call meal deals, where if you buy the main thing, usually the meat, you get all the extras free (ketchup, buns, pickles, etc. if it was for hot dogs) and those are great.

One of my suggestions is to always use coupons. Also, make a list before you go to the store of necessary items for the week and stick to it. This is our biggest problem. I have a list, but we definitely don’t stick to it. I’m also starting to make a list of meals for the week. We really only plan a meal for dinner because lunch is usually Ramen or a PB&J.

Cheap Dinner Ideas

  • hot dogs/chili dogs
  • spaghetti
  • baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
  • frozen pizza
  • store brand TV dinners
  • frozen stir-fry
  • nachos
  • hamburgers
  • jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
  • tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
  • grilled cheese
  • quesadillas
  • if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
  • macaroni and hot dog wieners
  • frito pie
  • Spaghetti-o’s or other Chef Boy-R-D canned foods
  • homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)

I’m trying to come up with more ideas, but being creative on a budget is tough. I’ve been searching for other websites that have helpful tips, but I haven’t come across very many good ones. I’m currently working on some inexpensive recipes to better food than frito pie and hot dogs.

Top Educational Apps for College Students

Did you know that, in a Pew Research Center survey taken last March, 67 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they have a smartphone? Two-thirds of young adults! And that’s not even counting the ones that are using iPads.

That means a whole lot of college students are carrying around mobile devices. But is there any educational value to this technology (other than the ability to Google answers and make your professor think you’re a genius)? Of course! Here are some of the best apps that college students can use to help them study and do better in class.

Dragon Dictation

Taking notes in class can be such a chore, especially when your professor talks like the Micro Machines guy. (YouTube it if the reference is too dated, kids.) The point is, it used to be that your only alternative to taking notes was to record the lecture and play it back later. That’s great, but sometimes you just want to be able to read what was said. Well, now you can, because Dragon Dictation is a free (!) iPhone and iPad app that will record your professor’s lecture and instantly transform what he or she is saying into text. Awesome!

StudyBlue Flashcards

Tired of writing flashcards out by hand or typing and printing them? StudyBlue Flashcards is a free app that works on just about any mobile device (Android and anything Apple), and it boasts lots of benefits that regular flashcards don’t. First off, you can access cards created by other users, so there’s no need to recreate common flashcards that a dozen people have already made for you. Second, you can set the app up so that you get study reminders. And finally, these flashcards actually keep score, so you know how well you’re doing and where to focus your studying efforts.

Dropbox

Much of college is dedicated to working on larger projects, and often that means teaming up with other people. Dropbox makes group work a breeze by allowing you to share documents on the cloud and choose who gets access to what. It’s also nice for when you somehow forgot to turn in that paper and can show your professor that you really are sending it while you’re standing in front of them instead of cheating and adding a few final touches.

Sign up for Dropbox with your student email and get double space!

Graphing Calculator

Okay, obviously not every college student is going to need one of these, but consider this. Before apps, anyone in math, science, or technology-related fields would have to spend at least $50 (and often $100 or more) to get a good graphing calculator. Want to know how much this app featured in Time magazine costs? $1.99. See, sometimes technology really does make things better. Except maybe for Texas Instruments.

Evernote

For college students who do like to take notes or documenting things, Evernote is essential. It lets you record lectures, jot down information, take photos, store documents, and even “favorite” websites for research purposes. But the best part is that you can keep all of this information in a single, easy to find location so that when you’re studying for your essay on Chaucer or your Bio midterm, you can just access that folder and everything will be there waiting for you. Pretty convenient.

Samuel Clemens is a former educator who spends his time reviewing study materials for students. Click here to view the study guide he recommends for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Budgeting Your Time

For many freshmen, college marks the entry into a world of freedom, filled with endless opportunities and significantly fewer restrictions. However, college can be pretty intense, so you probably won’t have as much leisure time as you had imagined (or hoped). However, if you adopt good time-management skills, you’ll be able to navigate the unfamiliar college terrain and do all the things you want and need to do. Here are five tips to help you budget your time:

1. Space out classes.

When choosing classes, it may be nice to give yourself two full days of classes and leave the rest of your week open, but as a freshman getting a feel for your school and your workload, that isn’t the smartest thing to do and can add unnecessary stress. When creating your schedule, try not to have difficult courses on the same day or back to back. By spreading them out, you’ll give yourself more time to do the homework, and you won’t be stuck doing all of your intense studying the same night. Read the rest of this entry »

Budget Friendly Colleges in Every State

In today’s troubled economic times, people are struggling to earn enough money just to live. It’s no surprise then that many students are being forced to base their choice of a higher education institution on cost. Fortunately, there are affordable schools out there, no matter where you live, and you don’t have to sacrifice a great education in order to attend them. We’ve compiled a list of the top schools in terms of affordability and quality education for each state.

Alabama: In the land of the South, there’s no better place to be than Alabama A&M University, located in Normal. This school’s average tuition is an affordable $4,072 per year. This is an awesome place to be for anyone who is considering a career in agricultural, mechanical, or other hands-on fields.

Alaska: If you can stand the cold, then get yourself on down to Alaska Pacific University, based in Anchorage. Here, the average tuition rate is only $21,010. Best of all, you’ll get to live in one of the most happening cities in the entire state. Anchorage has a vibrant and fun college life.

Arizona: For a private school that won’t cost a fortune and to live in an awesome, thriving city, consider the American Indian College of the Assemblies of God Inc. Here, you’ll only pay around $6,645 per year. Plus, you’ll be a part of a very small student body (68 students at last count!). Not everyone is eligible but, if you are, you’ll get the most hands-on, dedicated attention you’ll find anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »