8 Things You May Not Expect About College Life

1. Textbooks are extremely expensive

With 4 or 5 classes a semester and textbooks that run around $200 a piece, getting ready for the semester can get really expensive really quickly. Luckily, there are a few alternatives. You can try to buy textbooks from students who have already taken the course and will probably sell to you at a discounted price to get the book off of their hands. You can try to buy used books from the campus bookstore as opposed to new ones (Pro Tip: often there are new editions to textbooks each year, but very little changes from year to year; older editions are often less expensive and provide the same material). You can also try to rent your textbooks from the bookstore or online; both physical and digital versions of these books are probably available. The best option in my opinion, however, is to try to find free PDFs of these textbooks online at no cost. 

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2. You need to actually talk to your professors and their TA's

Coasting by in the back of the classroom isn’t going to cut it anymore. If you want the professors to know you, care about your performance, and help you succeed in their class and beyond, you need to make sure you develop a good relationship with them. Not only is this practice helpful when you need help with material in the class or that little grade bump at the end of the semester, but it is also a helpful beyond the classroom. Professors are key to connecting you with great career opportunities, whether that be working in a lab or getting your next summer internship. Also, they may even take you out to dinner for free (once you are in college you will realize how revolutionary that is)!

 

3. Dining Hall food WILL get boring

While in most cases dining hall food doesn’t dip into your wallet, it can get a little mundane after a while. Even if you go to a school where the food is always really good, the same menu options can only get you so far after weeks of multiple meals per day in the same kitchen. Great ways to help combat this issue are to get your own food from the grocery store, take up cooking as a hobby, or try new dining halls maybe a little further from your dorm!

 

4. Amazon Prime™ is your best friend

You WILL need things over the course of the semester that you didn’t realize you’d need until mom and dad are gone. Amazon Prime™, with a discounted student membership fee, will save you in your times of need. In just two days, you can get any books, school supplies, or dorm necessities delivered to your dorm. This opportunity might not seem so pivotal now, but once you are outside of your house and need to be resourceful on your own time, Amazon Prime™ is there.

 

5. Spotify® is also your best friend

Just like Amazon Prime™, you can get a discount on a Spotify® Premium subscription for being a student! Whether you’re creating a playlist with the people on your floor, tuning people out while you study in the library, or just relaxing in your room, ad-free music is a must-have for any college student.

 

6. Venmo® is also… a really good friend

Even if you personally always have cash on you, you will come to realize that 95% of college students do not. Going out for food with friends is fun, figuring out how to split the check when everyone only has their credit card is a hassle. Venmo® makes it easy for you and your friends to split bills, cover each other for small purchases, etc. and most people you meet in college are already using it. 

 

7. College can be a bubble, so keep yourself updated on current events by reading the news

College keeps you pretty busy, and sometimes it’s hard to remember the important things you should always be doing, like calling home and keeping up with the world outside. If not for your own knowledge and ability to talk about important happenings around the world with your peers, you should make a greater effort to keep up with the news because being an active global citizen is an important part of attending university. As part of the generation that will be taking power in the next few years, we should all be informed about what problems others are experiencing, what political and economic tactics work and don’t work, etc. 

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8. You’ll make way more friends than you could ever imagine

From the first day of orientation week, you will be bombarded with a bunch of unknown friendly faces and you will be forced to pick who you are going to be friends with. Especially if you go on a pre-orientation trip, you will make a lot of friends right at the beginning of the year, and you might be worried that this friend group will be the only one you will get close with during your time at college. That fear is totally misguided: this isn’t high school anymore. Every semester you will take new classes you are interested in, become involved in different clubs or professional organizations, and meet new people who share your goals/hobbies. As an adult, you will begin to schedule times to catch up with a friend for lunch or off-campus, and you can maintain a much larger network of friends than the group of people you ate lunch with in high school. In fact, sometimes it becomes hard to remember all of the people you’ve met because there are so many of them! (Pro-tip: when putting people’s contact information in your phone, put the name of your school as their company so you have your own directory of college acquaintances that you can search through if you ever want to remember the name of that one person you played basketball with, or to catch up with the person who sat next to you in your freshman writing class.)

No Time, Time Management Techniques

So you’ve been studying for the ACT on top of completing school assignments, playing sports, and dealing with all of the “extras” of being a high school student. Before you know it, the test is two weeks away. If you’re anything like me, you have the best intentions for time management, but can’t seem to find enough hours in the day for free time (or sleep for that matter). Fear not! Over the course of my educational career, I’ve compiled a list of what I call “no time, time management” techniques that have helped tremendously, allowing me to approach standardized tests in the college prep process and beyond. Here are a few of the most successful:

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Active downtime 

This sounds counterintuitive, but when the 3 pm wall hits and you’re tempted to reach for the caffeine, try to get up and do something that will make you sweat instead. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that are great to lift your mood, release stress, and renew your focus. Even if exercise isn’t your thing, it doesn’t have to be intense. A simple walk and some sunshine away from a stuffy study space will do wonders for your focus when you return!

 

Write your schedule down

This was a groundbreaking concept for me even as a 22-year-old in college. If I wrote down what I was supposed to be doing or studying in each part of the day, I always managed to get it done with free time to spare. This will also help you track when your brain works best for certain things. For example, I write well in the morning and horribly in the afternoon, so I read after 3 pm. If I hadn’t been in the practice of writing down and adjusting my schedule accordingly, I would probably still be murking through writing assignments at night while getting nowhere.

 

Apply the 10-day rule

As a chronic procrastinator who lacks discipline, this one is my favorite. I always admired peers who could follow a sleep schedule religiously, but I never managed to achieve this. A friend once told me that I did not have to pressure myself to be like them, but instead I could implement a strict bedtime in the 10 days leading up to a standardized test (or college finals). I tried this once and found that on test day I was up naturally about two hours before test time, and by the time I had my pencil in hand, I was fully alert and awake. I did way better on that test than the one I stayed up all night cramming for. This worked so well, I transferred the method to college finals with great results!

 

I hope these few small changes are useful in the course of college preparation and beyond. To me, time management does not have to be a huge lifestyle overhaul, but can instead be a small set of changes that lead to lasting habits and results.

Pro Tip: Organization is Key

Have you ever woke up abruptly in the middle of the night with the terrible realization that you have a paper due in 5 hours that you forgot to finish? Somewhere between a group project and your laundry, you neglected to actually write your history paper, even though the research has been done for weeks. It’s in this moment while you’re furiously typing, stealing quick glances at your pillow, that you realize with just a little more organization, this situation could have been avoided.

 

Clear your desk of clutter

That pile of papers on your desk that has been growing taller for weeks is doing more harm than you realize. Besides making it more likely that you will misplace an important paper, physical clutter can actually affect your mental state. Your mind is subconsciously processing the mess making it harder for you to remain focused when it really counts. When you are not focused, you run the risk of forgetting something important. So before you even open a book, make sure your surroundings are clean!

 

Write everything down

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Even with the best of intentions, something will slip your mind. To avoid this, write down everything you need to accomplish the moment it is assigned to you. Your phone can be a helpful tool when it comes to keeping an up-to-date list. Creating a list in your Notes App will ensure you won’t misplace it (or add to the clutter on your desk).

 

Relax

Before you go to bed, take a few minutes to reflect on the day’s events. Quickly review everything you accomplished, upcoming due dates, and look at what is on the agenda for tomorrow.  These brief moments of reflection will help ensure you finished everything you needed to so you can always get a good night's rest. 

How to Overcome Senioritis

Seniors - first off, congratulations! All of your hard work to this point has paid off, and you have been accepted to college! Some of you have known where you are going for a few months, some have found out recently, but you all have one thing in common:

Senioritis
/sēnyəˈrīdəs/
Noun
A condition that occurs once a student is accepted to college. Symptoms may then include the inability to do homework or the lack of motivation to study for tests.

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We get it, we’ve all been there. It is nice to have the pressure of college decisions gone and no longer in front of you. However, it is important to keep your grades up! You don’t want your college to revoke their letter of admission because your grades dipped too much at the end of college - this, unfortunately, does happen. You should also make sure to do well on your AP exams as those scores can help you earn credits for college and ease your workload on campus. Also, waitlisted students should maintain high grades and mention them when following up with admissions officers. 

Overall, though, you made it. Now is the time to catch up on all of those things you meant to do previously but didn’t have the time for because you were writing essays. No, I don’t mean the new season of Westworld; I’m talking about thanking the people that wrote the letters of recommendation that helped get you into the college you are so excited about. And especially thank your parents who helped drive you all over the place visiting colleges, among other things, as this wouldn’t have been possible without them. 

This is also the time to try out new things - go audition for that play! - as you may find a new activity that you want to explore in college. Read some books that aren’t assigned (keep an eye out for our summer reading list coming soon!). And most importantly, have fun and relax - just not too much!

How to Maximize Your Time on the ACT

One of the biggest offenders in the ACT is time. It can creep up on us, facilitate confusion, and make even the best of us lose focus in critical moments. When short on time, many of us feel inclined to abandon reason and madly guess, so success in this environment comes down to two main elements. 

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1. Practice.

The more you experience pushing through the test under pressure, the more comfortable you will become encountering difficult questions in that setting. At a certain point, there are few lessons on material that beat practice. Each test will lend perspective, help you strategize for the next round, and allow you to trust your ability.  We want you to walk into the real test knowing that you can tackle anything it throws at you, whether you’re short on time or not. 

 

2. Staying Practical.

Practicality and keeping a cool head can feel antithetical to the ACT, but it can make a colossal difference. If you’re concerned about time, take a deep breath, keep your head down, and focus on the questions you have the best shot at getting right. Every minute you’re in there is about efficiency, so making live judgments on where you can get those final crucial points has to be a question of informed practicality. 

 

Every person has a different strategy when it comes to time management. Some people bounce around the test, some move chronologically through it, and others divide and conquer by topic. The key to confidently hitting back when time comes knocking is to have a plan. Going in and knowing how you’re going to execute will serve you every time you take the ACT. Stick to your strategy, knock 'em dead. 

How Taking A Standardized Test is Like Hiking Yosemite

In October of 2015, I spent time in the US to go hiking and camping in Yosemite National Park with some friends.

One friend was in charge of selecting our hikes, and we had to choose between easy, medium, difficult, or very difficult. We chose an 8-mile "medium" hike where we would be able to see the park’s top sights.

The hike was supposed to take half of a day. We started at 8 a.m. By lunchtime, we'd hiked 4 miles and had an amazing view of Half Dome. With after-lunch laziness about to kick in, we thought about taking the bus back to camp, but since we were already halfway through our hike and at the top of the climb, we settled on hiking down since we thought it wouldn't be too challenging.

How wrong were we to assume it would be easy. Indeed, we did go downhill as expected, but that was followed by another uphill and then finally the last downhill. We ended up rushing in the final stretch to catch the last bus to camp, as the day was quickly turning into night. The result was that a medium 8-mile "medium" hike turned into a full-day, 16-mile marathon.

You may be thinking: What does all of this have to do with ACT/SAT test preparation? Everything.

Prepare

First, you have to know what you are getting yourself into and prepare yourself mentally. You have to have the right mindset to do an important test or a marathon, if you don't, your chance of failure greatly increases.

 

Time Management

During the test, it is extremely important to manage your energy and especially your time. The ACT and SAT are hard tests, and you need to be at your best physically and mentally to be successful. Taking practice tests to increase speed, spending less time per problem, and not second-guessing yourself are all ways to manage your energy and time on test day.

 

Never Underestimate Yourself

Last but not least, you should never ever underestimate the path to get to your goal. Yes, you will need to work very hard to achieve your goal, but you are not alone. Be confident in your answer choices!

5 Quick Tips for Avoiding Careless Mistakes on ACT or SAT Test Day

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1. Read the question carefully the first time through

This one seems obvious, but many students rush through the question, only to waste time after trying to sort through what the test really asked them to find. Take your time reading the question on your first attempt. If you understand what is asked of you, be thorough in working to the correct answer. If you are confused, don’t get emotional or frantic - just guess quickly and move on.

 

2. Remember to focus only on the question you are working on

Many students become so frustrated by and fixated on questions that they can’t solve that they lose their focus on subsequent questions. Avoid thinking about your score or your goals within the test. Take a deep breath when you are stuck or distracted and move forward - the only thing you can control is the question directly in front of you.

 

3. Predict an answer before looking at the answer choices.

Most students will do this naturally on the math section, but it works just as well on the other sections of these tests. If you predict an answer before looking at the choices on the reading, you should be able to sort through the answers more quickly. On grammar, identifying the error before you look at the answers will similarly help you select the correct choice more quickly and effectively.

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4. On math, quickly re-read the stem of the questions before choosing an answer

When many students get to the moment when they have solved for the value of a variable or a measurement, they immediately look to the answers to see whether it is there. Try to fight this instinct, and go back to the stem of the question instead. This tip can help you avoid the classic mistake of selecting the answer that gives the value of y instead of x or the area instead of the perimeter. 

 

5. Pace yourself

If you have taken enough practice tests, you should have a good sense for your timing on these tests. If you have to push yourself to move quickly in order to finish a certain section, then you have to be a bit forgiving with yourself and understand that errors due to miscalculations or misreading of the text will be inevitable. However, if you consistently finish a section with extra time, force yourself to slow down and fully reason through each question.

Books to Read: Milk & Honey

As a Junior in college, I don’t get to free-read as much as I would like to. A lot of my reading consists of required and supplemental class readings. I have found myself turning to poetry as my daily genre of choice. Poetry is an easy, yet meaningful read. A book currently sitting on my nightstand is “Milk and Honey” written by Rupi Kaur.

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer. Kaur has become seemingly popular in the last year or two. She has been named the voice of her generation for being able to transpire so much emotion into her writing and making it relatable to many across the globe. She writes about love, pain, healing and the strength that she has built within to overcome it all. The poems are each accompanied by her own sketches. I recommend this book as well as “The Sun and Her Flowers” for your night table if you're looking for quick inspiration reads!

Strong Performance on Standardized Tests Benefits Students Far Beyond the College Admission Process

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College applicants preparing for standardized tests should take heart. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses how strong performance on standardized tests correlates not only with college admission or first-year grades but with successful outcomes and major life accomplishments in future pursuits and industries. 

How exactly is this good news? Fair question.

To the extent that standardized tests measure a student’s ability to read and interpret texts, to reason mathematically, or to think critically, preparation for these tests is preparation for future endeavors and future success--even for life accomplishments that benefit us all. 

Rather than reify the notion that standardized tests merely are the bane of existence for high school juniors (and sometimes sophomores or seniors), the correlation between performance and future success is motivating. Thoughtful preparation for standardized tests, rather than a means to an end, is an invitation to hone important foundational skills, the mastery of which (and they can be mastered) benefits students well beyond the college admission process.
 

LogicPrep São Paulo Grand Re-Opening 2018 (PHOTOS!)

LogicPrep São Paulo has a new home!

We recently opened a brand new, expanded office and celebrated by having a Grand Re-Opening party! Enjoy photos from the celebration below!