Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good Grades: 30 Study Tips for Success in College

With the summer coming to an end, we're thinking about back-to-school time here at Life of Lovely. We had originally planned to share some advice for recent high school graduates going off to college for their first semester, but we ended up with way more than we had thought. We're going to split it up into two posts starting off with advice on how to get good grades. Jennifer has a medical background with lots of science and health and a bit of nutrition, and I have a liberal arts background concentrating on languages, literature, and international studies, so we hope that there's something here for all majors.

1. Go to class. (Obvious, but a surprising number of people skip class, and then panic later when they realize they are going to fail the course.)

2. Talk to your professors if you are struggling. Professors have office hours for a reason. So, make an appointment to speak with them about points that you do not understand during class. Do not wait until after the test.

3. One of Jennifer's professors assigned a book called the The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades for class. If you want to make A's, read it and follow it.

4. Take advantage of tutoring services like the writing center and supplemental instruction especially for extremely difficult classes.

5. Find a study group. Studying with other people can help you understand the material.

6. On the other hand, if group studying is more distracting than helpful, study alone. You don't have to go to a group study session just because everyone else in your class goes.

7. Try out studying in different places. Can you study well in your dorm room, in the library, in a coffee shop, or another place around campus? Figure out where you study best.

8. Get a planner. Use it.

9. Google chrome has an app called Stayfocused that kicks you off social media. Set a time limit for yourself if you know that you will waste hours on social media when you should be using your time in better ways.

10. If your professor assigns reading to be read before class, actually read the assignment. The material will make more sense when you go over it in class. Plus, you will remember the material better when test time comes.

11. Pulling all-nighters is usually not effective.

12. Study every day. It doesn't have to be a lot every day, but a few minutes looking over materials means that you will be less stressed before a test. Look over your notes the night after class.

13. Set goals for each study session so that you know you have accomplished something when you finish.

14. Do not wait until the last minute to write a paper. If you get stuck every time you try to start typing, then write an outline or some ideas on paper first (you should probably start out by doing this anyway). Start early and let your ideas have the time they need to develop.

15. The best way to learn material is to teach it to someone else. Since you probably don't have a willing audience for this, here's an alternative that works incredibly well. You can write on mirrors with expo markers, so use your mirror as a board, and pretend that you are teaching a class. It is perfectly ok to say things in your head instead of aloud if you feel silly. Your roommate(s) will most likely appreciate it if you use the teaching method while they're not in the room.

16. Schedule your studying time for longer than you think it will take. Because it will always take longer than you think it will take.

17. For literature classes, take notes while you read. These notes should include basics like plot, setting, characters, and theme as well as points you found particularly interesting. If you can't think of anything, then pick something and ask yourself why it's in the passage. You want to have something to talk about during literature discussion.

18. Faculty advisers are really helpful, but make sure that you keep up with what you need to take on your own too. Have a list of the required classes for your major. Mark off the classes as you take them, and have a general plan of how you will fulfill all the requirements.

19. Keep extra scantrons and blue books in your backpack. You do not want to forget to get one before the test.

20. Other things to keep in your backpack are highlighters, an umbrella, extra pencils, and post-it notes.

21. Also, while we're talking about it, keep a water bottle and a small snack in your backpack.

22. Computers can be helpful for taking notes in class. However, if you know that you will spend all class period on pinterest (or your preferred social media site), then forget the laptop in class and stick to paper.

23. Sit in the front during class. If you are not comfortable sitting directly in the front, sit a few rows back. Just don't get lost at the back of the classroom.

24. It's easier to start off with a high GPA than to try to raise it later.

25. You might want to try hand writing your notes in class and then, typing them up later. You'll get to review the material a second time, and your notes will be in a format that's easier to study. (Neither of us did this, but it worked well for some of my friends.)

26. You can try studying the way you did in high school, but if it doesn't work, then you need to try something else.

27. Stay off your phone during class. No matter whether the class is boring or not, it's just rude.

28. Ask for advice from people who have taken the course before. They may be able to tell you what to expect to work the hardest on and what strategies worked for them.

29. Over prepare for the first big grade in each class. You'd much rather spend too much time studying at first, than be forced to make an almost perfect grade later to bring up your first grade. Plus, you'll be a whole lot more stressed during finals weeks than during midterms.

30. Remember that you are capable of doing well. Good luck!

Want some more tips for college? Check out our collection of posts about college.

Do you have advice of your own for success in college? Share them with us and our other readers in the comments.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to College Essentials

This summer I started my first semester of graduate school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It took three years of hard work to get into the occupational therapy program here. Along the way I've picked up on a few things that I hope will make your college experience a little easier whether you're a freshman or someone starting graduate school.

1. A Big Backpack
It's always frustrating when you're trying to pack up your backpack and all your books don't fit. If you're like me, trying to lug the loose book around campus probably means you'll end up leaving it somewhere. Finally, my first year of grad school, I've found a backpack that can actually accommodate more than one book and binder. I love this backpack! It has two huge main compartments and a couple of little ones for knick-knacks. It's also really durable and comes in fun colors. My pick is the red tape. I managed to snag mine for 50 dollars from Amazon which seems reasonable for the three years I plan to use it.
Our pick: Jansport Big Student Backpack

2.  A Tablet and Keyboard
I am very low-tech, but because I have a dinosaur phone that doesn't connect to the internet I finally had to breakdown and get a tablet. It has been one of the best purchases I've made for college. A few of the scholastic things I like to use my tablet for is taking notes, checking email, studying flashcards, and playing study tunes.

There are probably better tablets for school use, but I have a Samsung Galaxy and I have no complaints. Definitely find a tech savvy friend or drop by a BestBuy to talk to someone about what you want in a tablet to figure out which type of tablet you need before you buy one. To help me take notes, I also bought a mini-keyboard. It wasn't the best quality. I often mistype things using it, but it's good for rough notes. Plus I always get compliments on how cute the pink case is!
Our picks: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4Pink Leather Case with Keyboard

3. A Happy Coffee Cup or Water Bottle
I guess I might be a little high maintenance, but everyday I like to fix myself a morning coffee or tea and a bottle of water to bring with me to school. Little stuff like having a cute mug or water bottle makes me happy. Plus, you can save a ton of money fixing your own drinks at home instead of buying them from a coffee shop or vending machine. I try to use minimal plastic products because being a former nutrition major and current aspiring occupational therapist has made me a little paranoid about plastics. So instead, I try to buy mostly ceramic or glass bottles like these.

4. Comfy Cute Shoes
Chances are you're going to be doing a ton of walking to get to and from classes and the parking lot. If you're like me, you want shoes that look cute but aren't going give you blisters or slow you down. My solution is Keds. If you need some inspiration about how to wear them, just google "Taylor Swift Keds."
Our pick: Keds Women's Champion Dot Fashion Sneaker

5. A Fun Planner
Unless you have a fabulous memory, you're never going to remember everything. So you might as well get a cute and fun planner to help you out. I know for me I feel a lot less panicked when I have all my assignments and obligations written out in my planner. There's a reason that about half of the girls at the University of Mississippi have a Lilly Pulitzer planner. They're so bright, colorful, and fun. And as a bonus they come with stickers which lets you relive your childhood of putting Lisa Frank stickers on all your school stuff! If Lilly is too mainstream for you, there are plenty of other unique planners out there. Just make sure you get a planner that has pages for both the months and individual days of the month.
Our pick: Lilly Pulitzer 2014-2015 Agenda

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: Garnier Fructis Moroccan Oil

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: Garnier Fructis Moroccan Oil

Whenever I go to the drugstore, I'm always torn between trying something fun and new or sticking with something I know works. It seems like drugstore products can be very hit or miss. Lately, I've been pretty lucky with my finds, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

My newest favorite is Garnier Fructis' Sleek and Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment. I love how light this oil is. It really does absorb into my hair without looking oily. I also like how soft and shiny my hair looked after a couple uses. Plus with the price I don't feel like I have to be stingy with it. I've started using it on my dry hair before bed and also smoothing it into my ends while my hair is wet before I style it. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone but especially for girls with curly hair. It can be so hard for curly girls to get soft shiny hair, but this product really does help! My only complaint is that I wish it came in a spray bottle so that when I wear my hair curly I could spray it in without disturbing my wet curls. Overall though I was pleasantly surprised by this Moroccan Oil Treatment and can't wait to try other Moroccan Oil products.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Field Notes: July 2014

Inspired by a Hannah Brencher post, we want these field notes to be a place where we can share our favorite awesome posts, music, videos, ideas, sites, and general miscellany that we've come across during the month.

Always thought that crowns braids were too difficult for me to try, but I can actually do this crown braid bun. Yay for youtube hair tutorials!

While we're on youtube...I thought I was over these videos, but then I saw the #HappyMS version of Pharrell's "Happy."

I've made this baked macaroni and cheese so many times this summer.

Finally watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Light-hearted, classic movie.

For a newer movie, try The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You'll immediately be inspired to go out and do something incredible as soon as it finishes.

Have you heard of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls? It's definitely a movement worth getting behind.

Here's a thoughtful article about How to Encourage Without Comparing.

Learning a new language is fun, but it's hard to remember to practice consistently. I've been using duolingo to brush up on French.
My laptop's desktop is now pretty and function thanks to this desktop organizer. For those who always have to be organized.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Journaling Tips

Jennifer suggested I do a post on writing letters, but since I've written about letters before (this post a while ago), I thought I'd post about keeping a journal instead.

I love the idea of keeping thoughts, lists, memories, reflections, and inspiration in a journal, but my journal writing has always been sporadic. I'd write for a couple days only to forget to write again for months. However, I've finally managed to write consistently for the past year. Here are some tips for those of you who are interested in keeping a journal, too.
First, here's what your journal doesn't have to be. 
  • Boring
  • Perfect
  • Time consuming
 If you're worried about any of these problems, you shouldn't be. Your journal just needs to work for you. It may or may not look like mine or anyone else's.

Things to Consider Before Starting
  • What materials do you want to use? Are you a paper and pen/pencil writer? Or do you prefer a computer format? I personally like to use an unlined sketchbook and sharpie pens. My writing is a complete mess on the page, but no one sees it except for me. If you're artistic (unlike me), you can choose from a variety of mediums.
  •  When do you want to journal? First thing in the morning? Right before bed? During lunch? Making time to journal a part of your routine means you're more likely to remember to do it.
  • What do you want to include in your journal? Simply writing "I did this. Then, I did this." can be boring. While I do like to write about my day, I've also been using a set of prompts to keep things interesting. I look forward to writing about something new each day. Another idea is to choose a closing for each entry - like listing three good things about your day. It's your journal, so you can put anything - travel lists, quotes, even countdowns - in there.
Keeping a journal is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head, to relax, and to think.

If you've never kept a journal before,
start simple. Then, experiment.

If you keep a journal, 
are there any tips you'd like to share in the comments?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brie and Fig Jam Toast

Sometimes you need a savory, sweet, and simple snack. Here's one of my favorites.

You will need:

A slice of your favorite whole grain bread
Fig and Orange Spread
Brie (room temperature)

First, toast your bread. While it's in the toaster, cut the rind off your brie. I use about two cuts of brie, but you can use as little or as much as you like.

Once the bread is toasted, spread a little fig jam on the bread. Because figs are so sweet I don't recommend spreading the jam in a thick layer. Next, place your brie on the bread. And just like that you're finished and you have yourself a satisfying snack! Enjoy!

Tell us what you think. What are your favorite toast combinations?

Book Review: Zero Waste Home

A few years ago, through the media I heard about a family who threw away only a quart of garbage per year. I had forgotten all about the story until I saw Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home at the bookstore. I thought I might find a few tips on how to live a more environmentally friendly or green lifestyle, but the book turned out to be even better than I had expected.

Johnson reminds readers that having stuff does not equal happiness. She stresses that simplicity creates a "fuller and more meaningful life." She refutes the notion that the zero waste lifestyle is expensive by stating that her family spent 40% less on annual household costs during the first year that they made changes. In addition to the personal benefits of reducing consumption and waste, Johnson points out that the actions each person takes every day affect the world. In places like the United States, we may not see firsthand the effect that our junk has, but that doesn't mean someone else isn't having to deal with the problems.

I recommend this book specifically for the following reasons:
  • Johnson focuses on the 5 Rs - Refusing, Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and Rotting (composting) as a way to prevent waste from reaching landfills.
  • She gives specific examples of changes to make rather than general tips. For example, instead of simply telling readers to use reusable bags at the grocery store, Johnson describes specifically what she takes and how she limits waste when grocery shopping.
  • The resources mentioned throughout the book and at the end are more than enough for anyone who is interested in finding ways to reduce their impact on the environment. Instead of spending hours looking for these resources, you can find them in one place.
  • Johnson categorizes areas and specific items that most people can eliminate from their lives. While individual needs may differ, her suggestions help the readers think about what they truly need rather than racing to fill their homes with stuff just because everyone else has it.
I'd recommend this book for anyone who is interested in making a change to a simpler lifestyle. While you may not be able to throw away only a quart of garbage per year, even smaller changes can be beneficial.  There are plenty of ideas for simple changes that save money, reduce stress, and improve your health. 


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