Archive | Academic Life

Five 21st Century Skills Students Need to Master Today

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College is demanding; there are essay and assignment deadlines to juggle, exams to study for, summer internships to find, and a graduate job to pursue. The transition from college student to young professional can be equally tough.

So, what are the top five skills you need to be working on to get you through college life and out the other side to employment with ease?

Clue: If you are only concentrating on your college work, you may not be working on all the right skills you need for a great job after graduation.

1. Communication

The ability to communicate with others is vital. It’s not just about being able to voice your own opinions and arguments; equally important is the ability to read and understand others.

There’s a theory that over 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, which means people largely get their message across through body language and tone of voice, rather than the actual words they choose to use.

People spend lots of time chatting with peers. This kind of talk is informal and unstructured. Most feel more comfortable talking with individuals from a similar generation and background.

However, when meeting with college tutors, attending interviews for employment and further down the line in professional work, more formal dialogue is required.

For this reason, it’s vital to work on your interpersonal communication skills – to hone your ability to read others by taking the time to listen, watch and converse with people from all walks of life. This is a particularly important part of interview preparation.

Part-time or voluntary work can offer you opportunities for improving your communication skills.

2. Writing

Perhaps you thought learning to write was for grade-schoolers? Not so at all.

Thanks to the internet, there’s never been a greater demand for the written word. Every day, people write through direct messaging, email and social media; they read blogs and online news.

Although much of what is read and written may have gone online, this doesn’t mean quality has been compromised. Students still need to turn in first-rate essays and reports, and people are all keen that whatever they write on social media gives a good impression.

Outside in the post-college world of work, email is a dominant form of communication, detailed business proposals and scientific reports are still being written, and companies need to be able to market their products and services through quality web content, blog posts and succinct social media. In fact, according to the most recent NACE survey, 4 out of 5 employers see good written communication as a vital skill.

Without a doubt, you need to be able to write well. You may not want to be a journalist or novelist, but whatever your goals, you absolutely do need to be able to get your point across through the written word.

It can be simple to improve written English skills. The most straightforward way to learn to write in a more advanced way is to read. By reading the kind of styles you wish to emulate, you can observe the structures, the style, the formality and the vocabulary used.

3. Critical Thinking

People today live in an age wherein they are continually bombarded with information via the internet and their smartphones; never before have they had to contend with such a volume of media passing by their eyes.

However, their ability to evaluate this vast quantity of information and form their own arguments is often lacking.

Unfortunately, the way in which people were taught in high school meant that they were expected to regurgitate a required response to pass tests. This often means that people find it difficult to analyze the swathes the information they receive at college level, where greater understanding and depth of knowledge is required.

It is vital for students to think critically enough to identify and evaluate different arguments and see that there may be bias, misinformation or alternative ways of looking at the subject in anything they read or view. This will enable them to construct their own arguments and responses in written or oral discussions.

In the graduate world, employers are increasingly looking for candidates who can think critically, evaluate problems and provide alternative solutions, rather than passing the buck.

4. Initiative

Initiative is a skill in demand from graduate employers.

This is because, in the world of work, students who willingly show initiative demonstrate that they take responsibility for something. They know that if the project they are working on does not produce good results, they are responsible for that. They will therefore work hard to ensure the best outcomes.

For this reason, demonstrating initiative shows the beginnings of leadership skills, too. Initiative is about taking decisions and ownership of a situation. This person will not need to be micromanaged and can help engage others.

To practice this skill in student life, look for opportunities where you can get a handle on something that interests you and show you can make the most of situations. It could be starting a micro-business, writing a blog, or taking an active interest in student politics.

5. Teamwork

Finally, over 82 percent of employers questioned in the NACE survey say they actively search for team players when sifting through résumés, and this figure has been rising in recent years.

Once in employment, very few people work autonomously. Their role and input are nearly always part of a bigger picture, where colleagues are of equal value and importance to the finished results.

However, as a college student where you are largely working alone on essays, projects and assignments, it can be hard to gather much experience of teamwork during your college years.

Potential employers need to see evidence of teamwork, so for a fully-rounded résumé, you need to have something concrete that demonstrates you’ve worked successfully alongside others.

Your contributions to sports teams, music and drama ensembles, political or charity campaign groups can all show that you’re a team player, so make the most of opportunities to take part in life outside of the classroom.

This article was contributed by guest author Maloy Burman.

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7 Things Every University Student Should Know by Second Semester

second semester reflection

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In the spirit of the new year, it’s time to make plans for the future and reflect on the past. Personal growth doesn’t come only from making resolutions or setting goals, but it relies a lot on learning from previous experiences. This is especially important in your first year of university/college. So, if you haven’t done it yet, here is your chance to stop procrastinating and reflect a little on what you’ve learned as a post-secondary student so far after your first semester.

1. This is not high school.

While this may seem obvious, stay with me. When I say this isn’t high school what I mean is yes, okay you literally are no longer attending secondary school, but more specifically you are now an adult and university is where you learn to act like one (more or less). By the end of your first semester you will likely have learned the hard way that no one is responsible for you anymore, except yourself. At first this seems great. No one cares what time you get home, what time you get up for class, or if you even make it to class at all. However, it doesn’t take long for all of the good habits you spent years developing to disappear overnight, and when things go wrong, the flipside of all this freedom is that you usually have no one to blame but yourself.

2. The sooner you can come to terms with failure the better.

In the land of startups there’s a strange motto these potential tech giants live by that may seem foreign to the rest of the world: “fail fast”. If taken at face value it appears as if they are encouraging companies and ideas to fail, but that’s not the case. What they are really doing is attempting to normalize failure and make it part of the process that leads to success. In other words, if you are going to fail, it’s better to get it over with quickly and move on to the next thing. The important lesson here is to let failure happen and keep moving forward in spite of it, which is something that you need to learn by the beginning of your second semester. One of the first big lessons of university life, both academically and personally, is that you are going to fail at something, but that failure is not the end of the world. It’s how you respond that matters.

3. Friends come and go.

Remember all those friends you met during frosh week? I hate to break it to you, but most of them are not going to be around come the end of the semester. In university, people will constantly come into and go out of your life. For the first time, you won’t have the same day-to-day schedule as most of your friends and you’ll learn very quickly that maintaining adult friendships requires work. People get busy. People lose touch. If you really value someone’s friendship, you need to make an effort to see them. However, the upside of meeting a lot of new people is that you also have the opportunity to be a bit selective. The one thing you’ll learn as a university student is that when it comes to relationships, quality matters infinitely more than quantity. You need friends who aren’t just there for a good time, but who are going to be there for you when times get tough.

4. It’s okay to change.

At the end of your first semester of university, you are no longer the same person you were just a few months ago. You may have moved away from home for the first time, and you’ve been exposed to new people, new ideas and a new way of life. In the process, you’ve found out a lot about yourself and what really matters to you. You may not realize it right away, but this is a big turning point. Who you become now is going to determine your life going forward. Embrace these changes and seize the corresponding opportunities that arise. Then change your mind again. Experience as much as you can while you have the time and the freedom to do so.

5. It’s okay to have no idea what you’re doing.

Here’s a heads up: no one does. Everyone who seems to have their life together is usually just as confused and stressed out as you are beneath that perfect exterior. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t feel pressure to do something because you think that you should. Now is the time to listen to your heart and tune everyone else out. I know that may sound cliché, but everything is going to be so much easier and more exciting if you take this time to find out what you’re really passionate about. Life will sort itself out one way or another. Don’t waste time worrying if you don’t have it all figured out right this second.

6. When you can, choose sleep.

This is, hands down, the best advice. Sleep is so much more important than whatever it is you were going to do instead. I know that as a student, a lot of the time it’s not realistic to expect a full eight hours of quality sleep every single night, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Just because no one is enforcing a bedtime doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have one. A lack of sleep will catch up with you. Sleep deprivation takes a mental, physical and emotional toll that no amount of caffeine is going to be able to counteract.

7. If you aren’t already, get involved.

Join a club. Play a sport. Start something. Create something. Do something. Do anything. In school there are so many opportunities to try new things and meet new people, most of which do not exist in the “real” world. Get out there and take advantage of them. Life is about balance and this is one of the best ways to find some as a student.

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Sleeping More May Lead To Better GPA

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One of the main concerns you have as a student is your GPA. After all, based on this number you could be accepted to higher-learning institutions, and it is the number that will decide the next step in your career. So don’t treat this lightly!

We all know there are times when it’s difficult to be a good student. Maybe you feel you have no energy left or you simply can’t focus on the task at hand. This is normal when you’re stressed and very busy, but if the situation persists for more than a few days, you should analyze your sleeping habits.

According to recent studies, the process of learning and even memory are in direct correlation with the quality and quantity of sleep. So, if you’ve been putting off sleep for more time to study, it’s best to reconsider your strategy.

How does Sleep Help?

Researchers found that sleep helps with focus and information retention. Did you ever notice that when you lose several hours of sleep it gets more difficult to focus? This is because the brain is in a sleep-deprived state and some neurons may misfire, leading to confusion, difficulty in problem-solving, and lack of focus. When this happens, it’s only logical that you won’t be able to learn.

Even more, studies have found that people who sleep after learning something new will perform a lot better once they wake up. According to science, sleep is essential for information retention – basically, when you sleep, the information is consolidated in your brain and it becomes a lot easier to access it.

How to Improve your Study through Sleep

No, I am not going to recommend that you sleep through all four years of college! Sleep is a fantastic weapon in any student’s quiver, but you must use it properly. Too much sleep can lead to a whole bunch of other problems, which is why it’s best to stick with the regular 7 to 8 hours per night schedule.

I also mentioned above that you need both the right quantity of sleep as the right quality. High-quality sleep is extremely helpful with information retention, but it can be difficult to get, especially in a dorm room. For this, I put together several tips and tricks to help you sleep better at college.

Air quality

The quality of the air in your dorm room is very important for both your health in general as well as your mental activity. So, make sure to open the window from time to time and allow the air from outside to come inside.

You can also get some plants or use purifiers, but remember that ventilation is extremely important. For a good night’s sleep, open the windows for 10 minutes just before you got to bed (even in the winter). The lower temperature will create the perfect atmosphere for sleep as soon as you get under the covers.

One important tip: when you really want to study but you feel sleepy, find a place with good ventilation and a low temperature. The cold will keep you awake and the fresh air will boost your learning by about 30%.

Bed quality

Dorm beds usually come with a mattress, but I strongly recommend changing it with one you have personally bought. The dorm-supplied mattress was most likely used by someone else before you, and it’s not designed according to your needs.

Try Mattress teaches us that you should get a mattress that will accommodate your sleeping habits. A memory foam mattress tends to be best for people who sleep on their side, while an innerspring is best for people sleeping on their backs. Overall, a mattress is very important and you shouldn’t be happy with the one you get by default.

This article was contributed by guest author Michael.

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The Six Stereotypes You’ll Face in College and How to Overcome Them

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Being a college student is an exciting and unique stage of life. You’re no longer a child, and are free to do what you choose with your time. Some students find the transition to adulthood easier than others, but almost every college student will face some form of stereotyping. Either from fellow students, professors, or other adults, coming into adulthood as a student is different, and often a challenge. Being in control of your own image is important. Here are the six stereotypes you’ll face in college and how to overcome them gracefully.

1. You’re Lazy

Many people have a perception that college students are lazy and procrastinate all their work. But the evidence shows most college students accomplish much more than they get credit for. The average college student takes a full course load, participates in extracurriculars, and many hold part-time jobs. If you find yourself being stereotyped as lazy, kindly remind them of what other work you have on your plate.

2. Your Eating Habits are Unhealthy

Although ramen noodles are still a dorm room staple, may college dining halls have expanded the variety of food offered. You can get roasted veggies or a salad as part of your meal with almost any college dining plan. The key to combating this stereotype is to hold yourself accountable and make healthy food choices on your own. If you don’t eat through a school meal plan, be sure to buy fresh foods, use bulk recipes that will last the week, and eat out sparingly to save cash and your health.

3. You Drink Too Much

It’s no secret that college students like to party. This is one stage of life when letting loose and experimenting are expected, and often encouraged. But not all college students find themselves at a keg party every week. The Harvard School of Public Health determined 51% of 4-year college students actually have one drink or less per week. This means most students are not binge drinking on a regular basis. If you’ve posted many a picture of your wild nights out on social media, you may find it difficult to combat this stereotype. Your best bet to avoid this stereotype is to keep your drinking activities offline and in moderation.

4. You’re Irresponsible

Everyone makes mistakes, and younger people tend to make more mistakes than those who have lived and learned. If you want to be treated like a responsible adult, you need to prove your worthiness to your new authority figures. You need to earn the trust of your professors and peers. By being a good student and a good project partner, you’ll show others that you’re a responsible adult. Don’t worry if this stereotype takes a few semesters to overcome.  Finding a degree you connect with, and immersing yourself in the material will prove to others and yourself, that you’re prepared and have what it takes to see your schooling to the end. You’re learning a whole new world of information, culture, and behavior.

5. You’re Broke

Between student loans and limited time to work, many college students are tight on cash. You can often use this to your advantage and get help from your parents for living expenses. But let’s say your friend wants to go on vacation and assumes you can’t go because you never have extra money. You might be a little bummed out. The best way to avoid this is to refrain from speaking about finances with your peers. It’s actually a good rule of thumb for your future, too, as money is usually a taboo topic among most adults.

6. Your Parents are Rich

On the flip side of your peers assuming you’re poor, friends who choose not to attend college often assume you can go to school because your parents are rich. Many people finance their own college education with grants, scholarships, student loans, and other forms of aid. Only 10% of students have half their tuition covered by family. There’s no real way to combat this stereotype aside from letting them know you’re in for a big student loan repayment plan later. But that’s not necessary, and frankly, it’s none of their business!

During your college years, you’ll learn a lot and grow tremendously. You’ll find out who you are along the way. Don’t let other people’s opinions prevent you from living your fullest life.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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5 Ways to Prepare Yourself to Go Back to School in 2018

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If you’re preparing to return to school next year, you may be wondering where to begin. Fortunately, attending college at any stage of life has become more accessible than ever before. Although it’s an exciting adventure, choosing and funding your next stage in life is not fool-proof, and some careful planning is necessary in order to put you on the right course. Here are five ways to prepare to go back to school.

Choose Your Study Plan Carefully

The number of classes and degrees offered at colleges can be overwhelming. Simply getting a degree, unfortunately, does not always translate into gainful employment. More than a few students have pursued a plan of study they found compelling only to discover the classroom was the end of the adventure. Before laying down any tuition, create a list of the career fields you find most interesting and why. Be honest with yourself about your motivation, whether it be money, family benefits, or a higher calling. Use resources such as salary.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to research the prospects for your chosen field. If you’re able, spend time volunteering or shadowing others who already do the job, and be sure to ask pertinent questions about job outlook, salary, and job satisfaction.

Get Your House in Order

College is expensive, and not just in terms of cash. In addition to your current job commitments, you can expect to spend many hours a week studying and doing the required schoolwork. This added pressure can affect a person’s ability to manage their load, and being unprepared for it can collapse your efforts. Before registering for classes, be sure that your financial status is comfortable enough to allow for a reduction of work hours if necessary. If you’re caring for a family while attending classes, arrange for child care and “backup” sitters in advance that will reliably come to your rescue when school commitments overlap with other ones, as they invariably do.

Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Grant Money

The notion that grants are only available to the very needy is an expensive misconception. There are millions of dollars in both federal and private grant money out there, a large portion of which goes unclaimed due to a lack of awareness. In fact, almost $3 billion in private funding was passed up by students in 2015. Before paying a cent in tuition, fill out your university’s student funding application. This will allow you to see what federal money may be available to you as a first-time college student, healthcare hopeful, tribal member, or any number of countless other qualifiers. At the same time, do an extensive online search of private school grants particular to your experience and personal field of study, and be prepared to write a few essays on your own behalf.

Consider Online Coursework

According to Independence University, online schooling has revolutionized the way people pursue higher learning. The traditional classroom has always been a barrier to adult students who have work or family obligations. The advent of the virtual classroom changed it all. There are a number of online-only colleges that offer a full range of associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in business, healthcare, IT, and more. Most brick and mortar educational institutions offer many online classes as well, so that students can create the combination of classroom settings that work for their lives.

Compare Tuition Plans

The cost of college has gone up dramatically in recent years, so much so that the US is now the most expensive place in the world to attain higher education. This sobering fact makes price shopping more important than ever when preparing to return to school. Tuition actually varies widely between institutions, so do your due diligence when comparing the bottom line on your chosen program. If you’re aiming ultimately for a four-year degree, consider utilizing your local community college for up to half of the necessary credits at a sizeable cost savings.

College can be a daunting but exciting time in a person’s life. Remember, scholastic achievement is a marathon, not a sprint. It may be your most important investment in your future. Use your resources wisely and pace yourself according to your abilities to ensure success in your academic endeavors.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakley.

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4 important dorm tips to make your neighbors love you

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Living in a dorm can be heaven or hell. You can make a ton of friends or a host of enemies. And this can make your studies easy, or incredibly difficult. The fact that you clicked on this link shows that you have an intent to make a few friendships, but as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, that alone won’t do.

You’ll also need to know what to do (and actually do it, of course) to make sure that your dorm becomes a phenomenal place filled with fantastic people. So here are some of the things you’ll want to consider:

Be flexible

Not everybody lives like you. They’ll have different expectations, different wants and different needs. For example, some people might be incredibly extroverted and want to talk all the time, while other people are introverted and desperate for alone time (here’s a chart to help you). Some people might like to party, while other people might like to read a book. So on and so forth.

The thing to realize is that your way isn’t the only way to live your life. Everyone has their own vision of what is right for them. Be accommodating to that. Understand that just because they don’t like what you like doesn’t mean they’re necessarily bad people. They’re just different.

And what a boring world this would be if everybody was just like you.

Communicate clearly

Being flexible does not mean swallowing everything other people do until you explode. That might keep the peace initially but can cause all sorts of resentment down the road. Instead, make sure you communicate clearly and ask other people to do the same -right from the get go.

Do note that ‘communicating clearly’ is not the same as ‘getting angry and shouting’. In fact, raising your voice in the hope of getting your point across is almost always a bad idea as this will cause people to stop seeing it as communication and instead as an attack. And when people feel attacked, they pull up the drawbridge and get ready to defend themselves. That’s not a good place to compromise from.

So if you’re angry about something, stop. Slow down. Process the anger. Then start the conversation from a neutral place. From here you’ll be far more likely to actually get them to understand why you don’t appreciate the behavior.

Try starting with a compliment as it will soften whatever criticism is coming their way.

Realize that we don’t see what other people do

We always know exactly what we did for the dorm, but we rarely see what other people did while we weren’t there. This psychological bias causes us to overestimate how much we believe we did and underestimate everybody else’s contribution. The result is that it’s often very easy for you to feel you’re doing far more and working far harder than everybody else (even when this isn’t necessary true or isn’t true to the extent you think it is).

For that reason, before you start yelling, ask to make a list of all the activities people have already done so far. This will make it far easier to give an overall accounting (and make it clear to whoever isn’t pulling their weight that they really aren’t).

Do stuff for them

Particularly when you first come together, make sure you go out of your way to do some nice things for everybody else to show your willingness to create a good dorm. Do something that you’re good at and that you like doing. Perhaps you like to bake cookies. Perhaps you’ve got a good setup with which you can show movies. Or perhaps you’ve got a car with which you can go pick up stuff before you guys have your weekly sit down. It can also be academic, like helping them with a paper, or just by sending them links to a citation program or some cool new apps.

Sure, not everybody will appreciate what you’re doing, but enough people will that it becomes a good idea. This will give you some goodwill and give people the benefit of the doubt in future situations. Hopefully you won’t need it, but hey. Who knows what curveballs life will throw?

Be careful with doing this kind of stuff all the time, however. It is better to do it occasionally and not turn it into a commitment. Otherwise, people will stop seeing it as a kindness and start seeing it as an expectation. And when that happens, it can often end up backfiring on you.

A good strategy is for you to do different things. And if they ask you do something again, smile sweetly and stand your ground. You’ll quickly remind them not to take anything for granted – particularly not you.

This article was contributed by guest author James Scott.

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Should College Commuters Have Comprehensive Auto Coverage?

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Money is often tight for college students, and for those who drive to school, it’s tough to decide whether a comprehensive auto insurance policy is worth the higher premiums. This is usually a situation where it’s wise to spend a bit more for greater protection. Here’s why comprehensive auto insurance is crucial for college commuters.

Faster Repairs

If you get in a car accident and it’s the other driver’s fault, their insurance must pay for your damages. When it’s an uninsured motorist, the driver must pay for your damages.

This works in theory, but in practice, it can take weeks or months before the other driver is found to be at fault. And if they don’t have insurance, you’d need to sue them and get a judgement against them. With only liability insurance on your end, you would be left waiting to get your car repaired.

Comprehensive insurance will pay for your repairs while you wait, allowing you to get your car fixed right away and keep driving to school.

Protection for At-Fault Accidents

You also need to consider what you would do if you cause an accident. If you’re a young adult in college, you’re already more likely to be involved in an accident. With only liability coverage, you’d be stuck paying for repairs out of pocket.

It will cost you more in premiums to have comprehensive insurance coverage, but paying a bit more per month is much better than being out thousands of dollars because you caused an accident and only have liability insurance.

Coverage Against Irresponsible Drivers

There are plenty of situations where another driver could cause an accident but not pay for your damages. You could be involved in a hit and run where the other driver takes off. Or you could get in an accident with an uninsured motorist who doesn’t have a job, meaning even with a court judgement, you’d have a tough time getting money from them.

This is where comprehensive coverage will come in handy. No matter the circumstances surrounding your accident, you can be confident that your insurance will pay to have your car repaired.

There are plenty of situations where liability insurance won’t be sufficient. For a college commuter who needs their car to get to school every day, comprehensive insurance coverage is a smart investment that will keep you prepared for any potential worst-case scenarios.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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Your Bike and You: Maintenance Tips for College Students

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Your college years are a time full of new experiences and adventures. You’re away from home for the first time and it’s now that you’re realizing how amazing campus life can be.

If you’re a biker, or you’re looking for a way to get to campus without using a car or public transportation, a bike is the right choice for you. Sleek, compact, and easy to use, biking can be a great new way to get to know your new campus.

But what about caring for your bike? Do you need to know how to maintain it? If you do, keep reading to learn about simple steps you can take in order to maintain your bike throughout your college years.

Benefits of Biking

Before starting, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of riding. There are definitely a lot of advantages, but there are three main pros to cycling around campus:

1. Exercise

A little obvious, but exercise is probably the best advantage to using a bike to get around. Just by biking to and from class, or even around town, you’re using your own body as a form of transportation. This is a great cardio workout that lessens the impact on your joints, making it a better choice than running as a sustainable exercise.

2. Competition

Some students are competitive athletes, so they take every chance they can get to become faster and stronger. Biking helps them accomplish this by giving them moderate cardio exercise; it can even be used as a warm up if you’re riding from your dorm to the gym.

If you’re a student who’s interested in triathlons or competitive cycling, biking is a great choice, and with the help of a simple tool known as a power meter, you can keep track of how much power you’re using while biking.

3. Great for the Environment

Biking is also great for the environment. By reducing your use of public transportation or your own car, you’re reducing the amount of emissions in your community. In fact, the Australian Department of Transport and Main Roads has stated that if you bike instead of drive 10 miles each day, you could be saving 1,500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Bike Maintenance Tips

Bikes are like cars; they absolutely need regular maintenance. You’ll probably be aware of most of these tips if you already own a bike, but if you’re getting ready to pick a bike out, these tips will be helpful. Keep in mind that these are the main maintenance concerns; there are plenty more.

Check Tire Pressure, Brakes, and Chains Before Every Ride

This is part of the pre-ride check that you may forget to do, especially if you’re already late for class, but checking your bike may help you avoid a flat tire or bike accident when you’re on the road.

You’re going to want to check your tire pressure to make sure that the tire is firm. Deflated tires can signal a leak or tear in the tire, while too-inflated tires can pop while you’re on the road. If you notice either of these problems, add more air with a bike pump or let some air out, making sure to keep the tire firm.

Brakes must also be checked; to do this, squeeze your front and back brake levers located on your bike. You’ll know they’re working just fine if both sets engage smoothly and disengage once you let go of the lever.

Checking your chains is also crucial. If your bike is clean and well lubricated, your bike will operate smoothly; if not, the gears may catch and cause an accident. You will most likely find any problems before they cause an issue on the road by checking the chains, and it can be fixed by quickly cleaning and lubricating the gears and chains.

Lubrication is Crucial

Lubrication is super important to remember for bikes. Because bikes are made up of chains, gears, and bolts, keeping your bike lubricated is necessary for it to work properly.

But it’s not enough to lubricate on a maintenance schedule. You might find that some gears and the chain may need to be lubricated on a more consistent basis, depending how much you use the bike. Only after riding for a while will you get a sense of when it’s time to lubricate the different parts of your bike.

One word of caution here: do not over lubricate your bike. In fact, many bike repair shops will tell you that many of the issues they solve are caused by a person over lubricating or not wiping the excess lubricant from their bike’s chains. You want to remove as much lubricant as possible because the oil could mix with dirt and grime from the road and can wear out the chain much faster than normal.

Store Your Bike Indoors

Leaving your bike out in the rain can rust out the chain and gears, causing your bike to work less efficiently. While you may not notice the wear and tear right away, it is a cause for concern if you continuously leave the bike outside.

If you live in a dorm room, check with the school to see if you can store your bike in your room. If that takes up too much space, try chaining it up in an underground or covered parking area. This will save you time and money in the long run, so do your bike a favor and keep it indoors.

These are just a few tips; a quick search on the web will show you that there are more tips to keep in mind, but these are the most important for students like you. Just by taking a little time out to care for your bike, you’ll ensure that your bike will always be ready for a ride.

Sources:

1. http://www.ilovebicycling.com/101-best-bike-repair-and-maintenance-tips/
2. http://bicyclehabitat.com/how-to/a-simple-bike-maintenance-chart-pg366.htm
3. https://powermetercity.com/category/other-articles/
4. http://www.vipnormanok.com/fitness-tips/9/Cardio-Cycling-vs-Running.htm
5. https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/Cycling/Benefits.aspx
6. http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/7-reasons-why-cycling-is-better-than-running

This article was contributed by guest author Melanie Nathan.

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Study Like There’s No Tomorrow: 5 Lighting Ideas That Should Be In Your Study Room

Photo by Tatiana Lapina on Unsplash

There comes a point in everyone’s childhood when we’re made aware that reading in an unsatisfactory light would damage our eyes. Nevertheless, most doctors acknowledge that there is no sufficient evidence to say that having poor lighting while reading and studying might ruin your vision.

But, what they do believe is that having proper and sufficient light might lessen the short-term effects of reading like eye strain and headaches, and it will make your reading more comfortable and satisfying. Your study environment is one of the critical factors to successfully retaining and learning information – and being able to put it into use in your assessments.

Discovering the best lighting for your study area is not always easy. For a little help, here are the five best lighting ideas you should use for reading and studying.

Table Lamps and Desk Lamps

A stylish and fun table lamp can fit any of your specifications for both function and fashion.  Whether monochromatic and sleek or vibrant and interesting, you’ll find many options for lamps that will allow you to incorporate your personality and taste.

Lamps have plenty of uses other than just looking great. If you find yourself getting sleepy when sitting at your desk, consider adding LED lamps on your desk to brighten things up. You can even buy these online from reputable sites like BlackMango.

Desk lamps are also adjustable, allowing you to move the neck or head in various angles to illuminate a particular area of your desk. They help you illuminate your workspace without brightening the whole room, which is a great plan when you want to study late at night.

Wall Mounted Lamps

If you love reading magazines and books in your bed, a wall mounted lamp is excellent for you – especially if you have a small room that doesn’t leave you space for a bedside table. Or if you need your bedside table for water, books, a clock, etc.

A space-saving alternative is a mounted lamp. You can install it on either the headboard or the wall (depending on your dorm requirements). This type of fixture is adjustable to target light in the direction of your magazine or book.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is another option for direct lighting – but only if you have an electrician on hand, and if it’s in your own house, as dorms won’t allow this. LED MR16s are a brilliant option for light bulbs, as they will discharge a targeted spotlight with an optimal beam angle.

Recessed ceiling lights have evolved into a trendy way of adding light to bedrooms. These lights are best for implementing general and ambient lighting. They can also be placed to emphasize particular features or areas of your bedroom. These lights can be regulated by dimmer switches, allowing you to take full control over how soft or bright you wish the light would be.

Natural Light

Natural lighting is the best type of light for your study room – and it’s free! Natural light has a positive impact on your mood, and especially on your eyes. It helps minimize the stress on your eyes while reading or writing. If you have a window in your room or dorm, try to position your desk near it. The only downfall with natural light is if you’re a night owl, you’ll need another source of light to supplement it.

Pendant Lighting

Pendant lighting is becoming popular because of its flexibility and its contemporary aesthetic. It gives you direct light and is sturdy as it’s fastened to the ceiling.

Pendant fixtures add a fabulous design feature to your room, and they save space on your nightstand for that pile of books you have wanted to read.

Takeaway

It’s nearly impossible to focus your attention on your studies while suffering from reading in dim lighting. As a result, you can have eye strain and headaches. Appropriate and adequate lighting is essential to study successfully.

This article was contributed by guest author Janis Walker.

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Pros and Cons of Using Public Transportation in College

Photo by Emile Séguin on Unsplash

If you don’t live within walking or biking distance of your campus, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to get there every day. Commuting to school is becoming the norm for many campuses around the country. The two most common options are driving or taking public transportation, such as buses and trains. As cities have worked on improving their public transportation, this option has become more popular among modern students. Here are just a few pros and cons to keep in mind if you’re planning to use public transportation while in college.

Less Expensive

The biggest benefit of public transportation is undoubtedly the cost. You may spend $1 a day or less to get to and from school, which is very little, especially compared to the cost of maintaining and fueling a car. Any decent car will likely cost well over $1,000. Even if you have a car already, you’d still need to pay for gas and insurance, which could run you over $100 per month, plus any fees for a parking pass at your school. When you want to keep costs to a minimum, public transportation is the way to go.

You’ll Spend More Time Commuting

When you take public transportation, you may save money, but it’s at the expense of your time. Since buses and trains run on a schedule, you may need to wait around for yours, and they usually won’t get you to school as quickly as you would get there if you drove. Finding public transportation that fits your schedule can help with this, but your commute will still likely be slower than if you drove, which means you need to plan to leave a bit earlier.

You Can Study or Complete Assignments During Your Commute

That longer commute isn’t necessarily a big deal, because you can get schoolwork or studying done on the road. You obviously wouldn’t be able to do this if you were driving, which means that extra time you spend commuting could result in more free time the rest of your day.

You May End Up Stuck on Campus or Late to Class

Whenever you’re relying on public transportation, there’s a chance you could miss a bus or there could be a cancellation, leaving you either stuck on campus or showing up late to a class. This is why it’s important to have alternate options in mind in case you ever need them. Become familiar with the buses, trains, and other transport that comes and goes near your school.

Added Safety

A simple benefit you may not consider with public transport is that many times it’s a lot safer than driving yourself. Because trains are on their own rails, there’s never a chance you’ll get stuck in traffic. According to The Levin Injury Firm, victims of car accidents commonly suffer injuries like whiplash to even more severe brain trauma. While there is a chance of crashing on a bus, it’s much lower than if you were in your own vehicle.

Even though public transportation has its drawbacks, they aren’t too big of a deal, and the benefits far outweigh these disadvantages. With proper planning, you can get to school without spending much money.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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