Monthly Archives: October 2013

Spooked about School?? These Apps can Help!

With so much going on – exams, projects, class, homework, Halloween fun, work – it’s easy to feel as if college is haunting you! Reduce your stress with these note-taking and time-saving apps!

Want to be more app savvy?  Attend the AAC App Workshop on November 13 from 12:45 – 1: 45 p.m. in CK513! 

StudyBlue
(iOS, Android, and Web)

Study on the go with this easy-to-use ‘digital backpack’. StudyBlue allows you to create custom made flashcards using text, images and/or audio recordings. It even helps you track your progress as you study so you can prepare to ace your next test. The information you create on your flashcards can be learned using many methods.  Study your flashcards, take practice quizzes, or use a review sheet – select a study method that works for you!

Short on time? Search the StudyBlue content library and borrow from the millions of premade flashcards on a variety of subjects and topics. Get organized by storing your flashcards, notes and quizzes for easy retrieval and later use. Need that extra push to start your studying? Set up text message reminders to help you stick to your study schedule! Access StudyBlue from your iPad, iPhone, Android or the Web at http://www.studyblue.com/.  It’s easy to use and convenient, so start studying!

SimpleMind
(iOS and Android)

Do you find yourself wondering how the different topics in your classes are related? SimpleMind is a mobile app that allows you to create your own mind maps on the go.  This app is for those of you out there that are more visual learners.  If you aren’t familiar with mind maps, they are visual diagrams based off of a central idea or concept.  The diagram’s main theme is the centrally located idea, and then related ideas and concepts branch out from the center.  This concept is great for understanding how different concepts are related to one another. You can create mind maps throughout the semester as you learn new concepts and save them.  Then when you go to start studying for your final you already have outlines saved so you don’t have to start from scratch.

Timer
(Chrome App)

You’ve got so much to do and so little time.  There’s homework to do, classes to attend, papers to write, tests to study for, and even some fun activities with friends.  How do you get it all done and still get the grades you want?? Use a timer.  Google Chrome’s Timer app is free and requires no software download.  Using Google Chrome’s timer app is one way to effectively manage your time.  Why time your activities/tasks?  A timer confines a task and therefore, helps direct your attention just on that task.  It gives structure to your studying and helps divide your tasks wisely.  Use a timer to set aside specific blocks of time for each task.  This strategy also helps you set and achieve time-related goals, making you feel awesome and all warm and fuzzy inside.

Get in control of your time with the Google Chrome timer app.  Not a fan of Google?? Check your cell phone for a timer, Mozilla Firefox, or the Mac store for additional, free timer apps.

Do it (Tomorrow)
(iOS, Android, and Web)

Do you struggle with setting up a long-term schedule?  Does the thought of planning out weeks ahead of time overwhelm you?  Then this planning app is just for you, Do it (Tomorrow) only allows you to plan for today and tomorrow.  The app is simple and easy to use, you can order your tasks by having the things that need to get done first at the top, but you can’t put in locations or tags or anything like that.  This app is designed simply as a digital to do list.  Also if you don’t complete a task that is on your today list, it automatically goes to the next day so you don’t forget about it.  The app syncs with the mobile and web versions, so if you like to work on your laptop you can create your list there, and then view it on your smartphone when you are out and about running your errands.  Stay on top of everything you need to get done today and tomorrow!

Want more awesome tips about time management? Check out the AAC Time Management workshop resources!

Brittany Bell – Graduate Assistant
Jennifer Wendt and Jeremy Boettinger – Learning Specialist
Academic Achievement Center

It’s Registration Time and Your Advisors Miss You!

server.npThe falling of the leaves, the drop in the temps and consuming warm beverages can mean only one thing…registration is here! Registration for spring classes begins November 7 and continues through the end of the month.  Registration dates and times are listed on your Online Student Center and are based on the number of credits you’ve earned.  Registration time also means it’s time to meet with your Academic Advisor so open your planners, get on your iPhones or Galaxies and schedule a time now!

Just like there are different registration dates by credits, the things you can discuss with your advisor vary by stage in your academic career.  Yes, you will talk to your advisor about what classes you should take next semester, but your advisor can give you more than just permission to register.

First-year students should meet with their First-Year Experience (FYE) Advisor.  Your first year in college is all about transition and exploration.  You are learning about how college works, meeting new people (#roommates), deciding what activities appeal to you (#clubs), and figuring out how to balance your time.  You may or may not have decided on a major.  Your advising sessions should focus on completing some of your requirements in a way that will help you learn about different departments and majors.  Not sure if you want to major in Business?  Take Micro or Macro Economics to fulfill your Social and Behavioral Science Core requirement.  Thinking about majoring in English?  Take British Literature to fulfill your Arts and Humanities Core requirement.  Not sure what Metropolitan Studies is?  Take an introductory course to find out. Talk with your advisor about how s/he chose a career in higher education.  Did they know what they wanted to major in when they were freshmen?

Second-year students should have an advisor in a declared major.  If you are a second-year students without a major, contact the Academic Advising Center to request an appointment with an Academic Advisor to talk about all your options.  Make sure you understand the pre-requisites for some major classes.  Check your progress on completing the Core requirements.  Start considering the possibility of studying abroad, taking part in a National Student Exchange, or look into internship opportunities.  Your advisor can give you a hand with all of these things.

All students need to have declared a major by the time they’ve earned 60 units (credits), so by your third year, you should be meeting with your major advisor.  Review your progress toward completing your major and progress toward graduation.  If you are studying abroad, make sure you know how those courses will fit into your major requirements.  Start talking with your advisor about all the career or graduate school opportunities for your major.  Think about things you can do – by taking specific courses or doing an internship – to learn more about your chosen field.

By your fourth year, graduation is near!  Talk with your advisor about capstone experiences in your major.  Find out about major-related associations and organizations you can join.  Learn about graduate school programs, think about an additional internship, and explore jobs.  And be sure you’ve reviewed all of your graduation requirements:  completing your Core/General Education and major requirements, have at least 32 units (credits) of upper-level coursework, have at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average, and have at least 120 total units.

Wherever you are on your road to graduation, make sure you meet with your advisor well before your registration day.  Bring a copy of your Academic Requirements report and think about (and write down) all the questions you want to ask.  Your advisor in an invaluable resource – take full advantage!

In summary, yes this time of year can be a stressful one with mid-terms coffeeand planning for the next semester, but the registration process does not need to be.

Keep warm, drink lots of tea/coffee/hot cocoa and enjoy this time of the year! After all Spring is right around the corner. Right?

Vicki Cohen
Associate Director
Academic Advising Center

Want More As? Get More Zzzs

1012.038_2KISSP_Posters-page-001The college years are notoriously sleep-deprived for the majority of people. Between classwork, extracurriculars, and a quality social life, sleep often falls low on the list of priorities. I’ve recently had numerous conversations with students who have told me that they are having difficulty with their sleep.  In a 2013 survey, 89.4% of TU students stated that feeling sleepy during daytime activities was a problem for them. In the same survey, 20.7% of TU students reported “sleep difficulties” as a factor affecting their individual academic performance. So why all the statistics? To show you that a lack of adequate sleep not only leaves us feeling sleepy during the day but also decreases our brain function and physical health as well.

The key to better sleep is knowing how much is necessary and how to get the most out of that time. In the world of sleep there are two factors- quantity (how many hours) and quality (how well you slept). The general guideline for quantity is about 8 hours- however- individual needs can vary from as little as 5 to as many of 10 hours of sleep necessary to feel rested and refreshed. Take me for example- I know that I need 9 hours of sleep to perform at my peak. The people closest to me often poke fun at my strictly regimented sleep schedule but I can tell you that keeping to my schedule has made me a more energetic and MUCH happier person. A lack in quantity can lead to what is called “sleep debt” which can be a problem because it accumulates over time. This is why all-nighters are not a good idea- staying up most of the night to study can actually be counterproductive to your performance the next day. Another thing students love is getting minimal sleep during the week and then trying to “catch up” on weekends. This may feel like it helps to repay some of that debt, but irregularities in your quantity of sleep can actually interfere with your sleep cycle. This can result in increased difficulties falling asleep- also known as insomnia. Now for quality. During the night, you move back and forth between stages of deep sleep, more alert stages, and dreaming (REM sleep). Together, the stages of REM and deep sleep form a sleep cycle which lasts around 90 minutes and repeats 4 to 6 times over the course of a night. In order for you to get the maximum benefit from sleep you need to complete these cycles. Uninterrupted completion of these cycles is sleep quality. Getting woken up, not getting enough time, or other external factors can all affect your quality of sleep.

What can good sleep do for you? Getting regular, high quality sleep can help to:

  • Slow down the aging process- deprivation causes your hormones to behave like those of a much older person.
  • Increase your academic performance- lack of sleep for even one night can interfere with memory, concentration, and performance.
  • Maintain your weight- losing sleep causes your hormones to go haywire, increasing your cravings for those bad-for-you foods.
  • Improve your mood- people who get a good sleep on a regular basis are happier and more content.

So what can you do to help improve your sleep habits?

  • Keep cool.  Most people like to buddle up and get cozy under a number of blankets at night when in actuality your body temperature has to drop in order for you to fall asleep. When it comes time for bed, keep your bedroom cool and avoid late night snacks since digestion raises body temperature.
  • Keep to a schedule. You should be going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day. Just because you have a 9:00am class Monday and a 2:00pm Tuesday, does not mean you should sleep in until 1:30pm Tuesday. If you wake up at 8:00am on Monday, you should aim to wake up at that time every day. You will be amazed at all the things you can accomplish during this found time- extra studying, assignments completed, extra time in the gym… etc. You can get to bed earlier too since you will have completed all of your work ahead of time!
  • Maintain a good environment. Make sure your room is free of distractions and added light- keep that TV off! The noise and flashing lights can interfere with your cycles.
  • Use supportive devices. Earplugs, sound machines, and eye masks can all help to block out noisy roommates or neighbors.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime as both of these can affect your sleep quality.
  • Get your exercise just right. Regular daily exercise reduces stress, helps you to relax, and can even improve your sleep quality. Consider exercising in the morning as opposed to later in the evening- the gym will be less crowded and you won’t have to worry about your workout impacting your ability to get to sleep.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, biofeedback, and progressive muscle relaxation can all help you calm down and improve your sleep quality. If you are having trouble falling asleep at night consider writing out a to-do list for the next day before bed and learn to replace unwanted thoughts with relaxing visualizations. It sounds silly but counting sheep is rather effective for some people!

Insufficient sleep impacts our health, safety, our moods, and our GPA. If you’re looking to succeed, get more sleep! If you find yourself with more questions on what you can do to help improve your sleep check out the resources at http://www.sleepfoundation.org or contact me at cbecker@towson.edu.

Courtney Becker
Coordinator, Health Education and Promotion Services
Dowell Health Center

Freaked Out by Networking? Join the Club

bag_people_networkingI have a friend named Mark. He’s a real entertainer, always at the center of any gathering.  Mark loves meeting new people.  Male, female, young, old—he doesn’t care. He’ll talk to anyone. He sometimes goes out on Friday or Saturday nights by himself, just for the thrill of it. When Mark encounters a room full of unfamiliar faces, you can just see him get all twitchy with excitement.

You probably know someone like Mark. (These people tend to have a lot of friends!) But let’s be honest: Most of us feel downright uncomfortable when we think about introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers. Approach someone out of the blue? With no introduction? Without any friends for support? Nooooooo thanks.

In a structured college environment, it’s relatively easy to approach people for help. After all, a big part of the jobs of professors, advisors, counselors, and financial aid officers is helping students. But what happens when you need to start looking for internships or, especially, full-time jobs? You’ll need to seek help beyond the campus community—and that’s when things get complicated.

Networking is the art of initiating and maintaining relationships for the purpose of exchanging contacts, tips about available positions, and professional advice or opportunities. Nowadays that can involve online outreach through LinkedIn and resources like the TU Career Mentor Database.  Networking also involves getting in touch with everyone you already know. Relatives, family friends, and community acquaintances are all great sources of information about jobs.

Sooner or later, though, you’ll need to start networking within your professional community—strangers who work in your field of choice. And the best, most meaningful connections come from face-to-face meetings. As a student, you have many opportunities to meet local professionals. Some departments and student groups host alumni panels, and the Career Center coordinates all sorts of employer visits to campus, including Employer Mock Interviews on October 11 and the Fall Career & Internship Fair on October 24. (Keep an eye on our calendar of events.)

But what if you hate talking to strangers? How do you even begin to feel comfortable in a networking situation?

1. Figure out what you want in advance. Better still, practice concisely describing what you want. A job? What kind of job, specifically? What kind of employer do you envision yourself working for? Be ready to talk about it!

2. Know how to describe yourself. What interesting things have you done, or characteristics do you have? How might they relate, even loosely, to the career you’re looking for? (Contact the Career Center if you need help.)

 3. Don’t underestimate the obvious. “Smile, shake hands firmly, look ’em in the eye.” That is your mantra.

4. Start small. At your very first networking event, maybe you don’t try to win over everyone in the room. Maybe instead you chat with two or three people, then call it a day.

5. Ask lots of questions. It’s always easiest if the other person does most of the talking, am I right? Additionally, most people love talking about themselves and their career. They’ll be flattered that you seem so interested.

6. Instantly forgive yourself for mistakes. Did you stumble over your words or accidentally interrupt someone? Laugh it off, or just ignore it. No one cares if you’re a master networker. They want to see a good attitude and a little bit of personality.

7. End conversations gracefully. When you sense that the chatter is winding down and it’s time to move on, it’s fine to reach out for another handshake, make eye contact, and say warmly, “I’m so glad we had the chance to meet. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon!”

8. Embrace the awkwardness. Yes, some pauses will linger just a bit too long. Yes, your face will hurt from smiling too much. Don’t worry about it. Almost everyone else is quite literally feeling the same way you are—some just have more practice at hiding it.

Let’s say you take a chance and attend a networking event. Will you be nervous? Probably. Will it be worth it? Almost definitely—if only to experience those sweaty palms, those awkward pauses, and that feeling of relief when you realize this networking thing isn’t all that bad.

Kacie Glenn, Career Center

(October is Career Month! Check out our many cool upcoming events, including the fair. Attend three events to automatically receive a free, faux-leather business portfolio debossed with the TU logo.)

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