People Come Before Things: A Learning Strategy For A Digital World

Learning Strategy Digital World

by Jacob Hallman

The way students learn is changing in a world of constant connectivity, but that doesn’t mean standards for learning should follow suit. Critical thinking ability, 1:1 investment in students, and time management skills should continue to be the keys for success in education. What we learn should change with the times. How we learn should change with new technology. Our learning habits should never change as they will forever be rooted in discipline, adequate rest, healthy food, and social support. 150 years ago, Harvard founder Charles Eliot realized that US students needed training to act as considerate observers, explore changes happening in the world, and embrace quick decision making to fill new positions in previously undefined careers. This attitude of openness is the key to how humans learn, and Eliot built a new system for a new age rocked by the Industrial Revolution. As for Aristotle, he was a guide on the side helping students apply reason, develop skills in logic, and communicate convincing arguments. Those values still matter today, 100%. Part of the challenge for educating the next generation lies in how to cultivate those sensibilities at scale with new technology. Before technology, the key to success in future educational systems will start with embracing the standards of the past in preparation for the unknown. Comprehension comes before performance on any test score, every day. This is true across industries as well. In music, Grammy award winning producer Quincy Jones wants to work with producers aware of historical context, but standards are devolving:

“…producers now are ignoring all the musical principles of the previous generations. It’s a joke. That’s not the way it works: You’re supposed to use everything from the past. If you know where you come from, it’s easier to get where you’re going.”

If we want to innovate in science, mathematics, engineering, or any other subject, we must learn the best practices of those who came before us. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban had it right when he publicly commented in 2017 about a world where education in the liberal arts will be the preferred field of study in a volatile job market. Students of liberal arts critically examine the past. Pundits, scholars, and think tanks can theorize on the future all they want, but just like in Eliot’s time, young people will have new positions to fill in previously undefined careers. To embrace the future, we must remain committed to classical development and study of acquired knowledge, especially since technical abilities developed today will become obsolete tomorrow. We have an unprecedented array of tools with the emergence of the Internet, and it is critical that students learn how to use them. Strong online learning habits will precede knowledge. The parents and teachers of successful students will stand on the front lines for communicating these values:

Students will learn how to think for themselves.

Critical thinking skills are compulsory. On the Internet, information and misinformation will continue to coexist on the same channels. Students must learn how to evaluate incoming information, consider the origin of the report, and filter out erroneous or fallacious material regardless of whether the insight is convenient or not. Otherwise, learning devolves into a race to the bottom where the loudest voice and most compelling story becomes the truth.

Students will apply discipline in their time online.

Life on the Internet is incessant click bait. Ads and entertainment are synonymously packaged through social media and video content, which are addictive. To learn, students should engage the Internet to learn new languages, to enroll in online courses, to access books, movies, and music, and to conduct research to see what scholars have to say on subjects of study. When engaged in these activities, parents and teachers must train students to stay focused. This starts with avoiding rapid shifts in attention as much as possible.

Students will identify where they spend most of their time.

Ability starts with cultivating a strong sense of self-awareness in young people. Only afterwards can students build on skill sets through Internet connectivity. Furthermore, career choices aren’t a question of passion and following dreams. Teachers and parents owe it to the next generation to help students define and build on what they are good at before giving them resources and access to experts that will stimulate growth. Otherwise, Internet access will provide little guidance to the undirected mind.   These three ingredients form the foundation for meaningful learning. Once complete, solutions to build on a clean and clear mind are in place. Fortunately, there’s plenty of help available! CEO Patrick Brothers leads Navitas on a mission to accelerate innovation in education. He suggests that ‘one size fits one’ as the new way to learn and that this is a distinct shift from the current education system emboldened by Charles Eliot in the 19th century. Eliot would disagree. He saw a world where:

“The natural bent and peculiar quality of every [child’s] mind should be sacredly regarded in [their] education”.

Eliot sensed the power of a child’s unique outlook as something to build on. He was the one who invented the undergraduate major and minor to fit individual learning interests. He just didn’t have the tools to make personalization exist at scale via 1:1 learning. 1:1 learning is the future, and Eliot looked at student development as a matter of faith and God-given ability. The knowledge economy championed by Brothers looks at student development as a market opportunity. Regardless of the point of view, both Eliot and Brothers could recognize the cultivating of the individual mind as an individual process.

The upper class has always invested heavily in the education of their children, but the market opportunity of 1:1 learning combined with the cost savings of scale will make this service available to increasingly large sectors of the population. 1:1 learning will be especially important as families trend toward dual-income middle-class homes with little time to drive their child to the nearest tutoring center. 1:1 learning will be especially important as digital natives grow up in a world of constant connectivity. Getting caring and competent adults as a service for 1:1 learning has been traditionally hard to scale, but prices are coming down quickly. 1:1 learning can affordably accelerate personalization, and there are tremendous advantages to finding a tutor on the Internet.

As technology continues to improve with the eventual arrival of singularity, there will always be an added benefit to working with a teacher tangibly invested in a student’s learning process. Even if an entire human being was successfully replicated and digitized, the difference between a computer and a person will always have an emotional distinction. A human cares about my learning progress. A bot tweets my milestone on my MOOC. Secondly, learning requires that a student fundamentally admits that they have not mastered the content. The embarrassment of that admission can be reduced by finding a tutor online, an individual disconnected from the social stigma of someone in real life that a student might feel judged by. Besides reducing travel time, a third reason for online learning is that it increases efficiency by adding focus to learning sessions via a medium where tutors are literally on the clock. The tutor’s future work opportunity depends on their ability to provide timely input and avoid unrelated tangents. Finally, students can use online learning sessions to freely connect remotely with classmates who can empathize with their learning challenge and help explain subject material directly.

The bottom line is that 1:1 learning with teachers and classmates offers a pragmatic and effective 1-2 punch available within clicks. Having worked in education for 10 years, I see a world where the quality of learning is diminishing because of digital solutions that separate humans from each other and simplify the complex to the point of irrelevancy. This is accented by an ineffective test-bound system teaching a generation of students that the answer matters more than the process of getting to that answer and appreciating the meaning of that answer. As a result, the quantity of knowledge students bring to established college programs is diminishing on an annual basis.

The systems of higher education aren’t changing, but our ability to think independently, stay focused, and increase self-awareness is trending down. It is time for that to change. It is time to make technology a part of the solution by efficiently connecting students with talented tutors. At home, students need adults that can help build effective learning habits. Online, students do not need scalable learning management systems and multimedia interactive curriculums. This is a recipe for diluted learning because knowledge starts with engagement with people first, not technology. Ultimately, successful learning is impossible without the core needs of a student being taken care of in their home.

From the Carter to the Trump administrations, politicians have been sensitive to these changes in society. There is a general sense that it is harder to provide adequate sleep, good food, discipline, and social support to children than it used to be. Some single-parent homes might pull it off with the help of extended family, but there is enough racial and social inequality that not every family could effectively overcome these basic needs for learning. Tomorrow’s leaders need support and development opportunities. They benefit when we provide a strong foundation for them to build on. No matter what learning tools are in place, only when we learn how to take care of our young people can they truly embrace the opportunities around them to excel.

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Fighting The System: Good Students Vs. Academic Dishonesty

Academic Honesty

Students are blurring the lines between academic honesty and legitimate study more and more as time goes on. While the nature of cheating is still clearly defined, students can now find help online in a multitude of ways. It can be difficult to determine what is dishonest and what isn’t.

For example, is it cheating if a tutor works out a math related homework problem for a student to study later? The student did not technically do the work, but the student does not turn it is as his or her own work. The distinction is becoming more and more unclear.

As students go further in their academic careers, there is a greater urge to be academically dishonest. The students who have cheated in the past will continue to do so. But what about everyone else? What about the students who normally perform well, but find the need to find extra help elsewhere? There are many reasons why students cheat, but the most consequential reasons come from the fact that students in higher education are often pitted against an unforgiving system that gives very few second chances.

 

Numbers Matter

Many rigorous college courses weigh some assignments more heavily than others. It’s very common for a teacher to instruct a course in which there are two important assignments—a midterm and a final, or a final and a research project. The homework has little, if any, influence on the final grade. Students understand that they’ve got to learn strategy if they want to succeed in higher education. It’s not enough to just show up, listen, and do the assignments. You’ve got to know how to work the numbers and figure out what hits you can and cannot afford to take. If both your tests are each 40% of your final grade, and you don’t do so well on the first one, you know you’re performing damage control for the rest of the semester. This is part of the problem. Students will do anything to boost or stabilize that grade percentage. Sometimes, they run into situations that are less about ethics and more about survival.

 

Full Speed Ahead

The pace of the course is also a contributing factor to why students cheat. You’ve got to be absolutely ready for a midterm in a ten-week course because, again, doing poorly will cost you for the rest of the term. It’s one thing to have difficulty learning at such a rapid pace. Being penalized for it is another matter entirely! Yes, that’s just part of the challenges students face in higher education and they should learn to adjust. But the breakneck pace leads to a lot of anxiety among students who have a lot depending on the outcome of a course. A low or average grade could cause a student to miss out on an internship, university admission, or scholarship. The challenge itself is not what causes academic dishonesty. The outcome and subsequent effect on a student’s life is enough for even the most ethical student to weigh their options more closely.

 

Learning Factory

Many universities around the country offer courses with an enrollment size of 100 or more students total. Professors often do not have time to get to know each student individually, much less learn their handwriting, work ethic, and learning style. Academic dishonesty becomes much more attractive knowing that the instructor may not know that the student is cheating in the first place. It’s much harder to do in community colleges or schools with smaller class sizes, but is relatively easy in larger university courses.

 

So What’s The Takeaway?

I don’t believe new technology has any influence over a student’s decision to cheat. The way we cheat today is the same way we’ve cheated 30 years ago, those methods have just moved to an online format. However, today’s students are aware that they have to understand the system they’re engaged in if they want to survive. Every course syllabus explains the weight of various assignments. The student decides what to focus on. If they slip up on a certain assignment, or perform poorly on a test, they understand that it’s not enough just to do well on the next one. Academic dishonesty isn’t necessarily a route for lazy students to avoid applying themselves. It’s also a way for students to stack the odds in their favor. If we want to address the growing threat of academic dishonesty, we first need to understand the situation students all over the country contend with. It’s so much more than just studying and taking tests. It’s strategy, too.

 

For homework help, one-on-one tutoring, and more articles like these, visit StudyGate.com!

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What’s The Point Of Going To College: A Look At What We Believe Education Should Do For Us

What's The Point Of College?

What is the point of going to college? Is it only supposed to prepare you for the workforce? Or should it broaden the mind and expand one’s ability for developing and understanding new ideas? This question has plagued the minds, the lives, and the relationships between students and parents all over the country for decades.

It’s deeply troubling. But it doesn’t need to be.

 

 

A Matter Of Finances

As it turns out, the perceived purpose of college has been in debate for quite some time. On February 28th, 1967, the national conversation took a turn into territory that informs the way many people, students and parents alike, think about college in the present day.

On the day in question, Ronald Reagan held a press conference on the topic of the 1968 presidential election. He was the newly elected governor of the state of California at the time. The reporter’s line of questioning turned to the state budget. That’s when Reagan shifted his focus to education. When asked whether cuts in education were necessary, Reagan’s initial response was:

“…there’s no one in this administration that intends to do anything that will be harmful to education. But we do believe that there are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we co do without a year or two without hurting the cause of education. And we’ve asked for their cooperation both at the college and university level, in finding those things that can be done without getting into the real meat.”

 

 

Useful vs. Useless Majors

These “intellectual luxuries” Reagan referred to are liberal arts courses. The then-governor cites courses where students learn to organize political demonstrations and repair band instruments as examples, but we can safely extend his point to include many of the more arts-centered subjects as well as the humanities.

This idea—that some courses are less valuable than others and are therefore not considered part of a good education—is one that is alive and well today. If you ask a college student who is still undecided why they have not yet chosen an area of study, most students will say they do not know what kind of career they want to pursue. That seems to be the prime reason why undecided college students cannot choose an option. It is not because they are dazzled by the number of courses available for study. It is because they are preoccupied with finding the right subject that ultimately yields the greatest career and financial opportunities.

Parents all over the country urge their children to earn a degree they’ll be able to “use” in the future. That does nothing but confuse them. Every student thinks: “I want to major in _____, but if I do, will I be able to find a job? Are there even jobs available for this subject area? Will I make enough money to support myself?” It’s a harrowing, ultimately unnecessary thought that only holds the student back and dampens their ambition. The student places all their focus on one aspect of their future—earning a living. It neglects all other aspects that can potentially boost their ability to do so. Here’s what I mean:

 

 

Yes, College Should Absolutely Prepare A Student For The Workforce…

There is no denying that a college education is an invaluable resource for everyone. Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals need to have a thorough understanding of medicine before they can even think about practicing in the real world. Business professionals need to learn about economics, finance, management, and a host of other concepts before they enter the working world. These things are non-negotiable. College can give a student the knowledge necessary to direct their natural gifts and earn a living to support themselves. However, it’s not exactly that simple.

 

 

…But It Should Also Refine Critical Thinking Skills And Fuel A Sense Of Curiosity…

Think back to any graduation ceremony you’ve ever attended. Celebrating a group of students who have the intellect and curiosity to someday change the world is the thesis of just about every speech you’ve ever heard. Why? Because good educators strongly believe in equipping students with the tools necessary to create, innovate, and solve major problems in our world. Yes, they want to you make a living, but education is ultimately about progress. Progress for you and your family. Also, progress for the children in our schools. Advancement matters for our society at large and for our world.

Progress takes a great deal of effort and thought. A college education should provide the tools to bring change.

 

 

…While Also Transmitting Culture Throughout Generations…

These days, students receive their civic and historical education largely though college. Think about it. In college, students (should) learn the importance of voting, the political process and the lasting impact our lawmakers’ decisions can have on us and our families, the history of many foreign countries and peoples, and so much more. Sure, much of this stuff is touched on in high school, but college is supposed to truly expand a student’s worldview. It is here that we learn about our role in society. These things are a crucial part of education because they ultimately decide our trajectory as a nation. Yesterday’s problems give rise to tomorrow’s solutions, which bring about more problems that need solving. College integrates students into a learning tradition in which old ideas are improved, built upon, or dispelled as per the current social dynamic.

 

 

…And Molding Students Into Functioning Adults.

There’s a reason why students leave home when they begin college. Being responsible for a certain number of classes per day, a certain amount of homework per week, and a bunch of extracurricular activities prepares students for the responsibilities of the real world. If you don’t show up to class, you could fail your course in the same way that you’ll be eating dinner in the dark if you don’t pay your electricity bill. Where do we learn to manage our time and commitments? Where do we truly feel the impact of our financial decisions and develop our social skills as adults? College.

 

 

Okay? So What?

Governor Reagan’s comments and the short-sighted attitudes that have survived over the years through our limited perception of college should not dictate how our students approach college and their future careers. Yes, of course college should prepare students for the workforce. That’s obvious, especially in our age of hyper-competitive job markets.

But we’re kidding ourselves if we want to pretend that’s all college is for.

Learning is a lifelong process. A professional in any field needs to know how to take a problem and come up with an effective solution, wonder how to change things for the better, and ultimately work well with others to create wonderful things.

While Reagan was absolutely right to emphasize job preparation, we must now include a proviso. Instead of encouraging students to pursue degrees that are directly applicable to certain industries, such as medicine and law, we must motivate them to cultivate their strengths so they will choose a major where they feel can achieve the most success.  Students will find more success in this, because it allows them to rely on their own ambition and work ethic rather than the agonizing luck-of-the-draw approach we currently rely on.

College is so much more than a place to find the best way to squeeze a good living out of our education.  It’s where we grow, mature, and where many of us discover what we think is important in life. Treating it as such will remove much of the stress and uncertainty from the college experience. It will enable our students, now and in the future, to decide on and commit to a path worth taking.

And that is a much better use of all of our time and effort.

 

 

For more thoughts on the state of education, homework help, and study tips, visit StudyGate.com.

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StudyMate: Smart And Secure Strategies To Survive The SAT Showdown (Part 2)

SAT Survival Strategies

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

It’s 6:30AM. You’ve had a good night’s sleep, ate a good breakfast, and you’re about to make your way to the test location for the big showdown. This is what you’ve been preparing for all these months. Now it’s time to put that training to the test.

But wait!

This is the real thing! This is where it counts! Even with all that preparation, you’ll need to walk in with a winning strategy if you truly want to do your best. Listen up, solider! Here are some things you can do to stay confident in the fog of war and emerge victorious!

 

Roll Call!

Before you leave, double check to make sure you’ve got all your important stuff. Make sure you’ve got your calculator, your pencils, erasers, snacks, and ESPECIALLY your watch. You can’t afford to leave a single thing behind. While you’re at it, make sure you’re carrying your I.D. and any test registration materials!

 

Set Up Your Station

As soon as you find your desk, lay out everything you need. Take out an eraser and an extra pencil, and keep everything else tucked away under your seat. You don’t know how tiny your work space is going to be, so make the most of it and minimize any distractions.

 

You vs. Time

When your test administrator has gone over all the rules and you’re allowed to begin, take a look at the top of the section you’re about to start. There is usually a suggested time limit printed at the top, and you should set a pace to work within these confines.

Remember that watch we told you about earlier? This is where it comes in handy (sorry).

Having the time right next to you all the time will help you stay focused on your test. If you have to crane your neck to look at the clock alllllllllll the way across the room (and see all the other anxious students working on their tests), it’s going to mess up your flow. You’ll never wonder how much time you have left because you can check it periodically and adjust your pace as you go!

 

Sacrifices Must Be Made

While taking your SAT practice tests, you tried to simulate the real test conditions as closely as you could, but you couldn’t help taking time to answer each question to the best of your knowledge. And that’s great!

But this is war.

And in war, you’ve got to count the cost of your actions.

If you come across a question that you cannot answer in a reasonable amount of time, or has you stuck between two or three answers, don’t hesitate to skip it. It may feel like you’re losing out on valuable points, but an unanswered question hurts less than a wrong one, and more correct answers are going to earn you a better score!

I understand you didn’t want to leave that question behind, son. I know you could have saved it.

But it ain’t worth it, soldier. Move on.

 

Refuel

There will be a designated time to use the bathroom and take a short break. This is when you have your snacks! Yes, you’ll probably be hungry anyway, but OUR reason for bringing snacks is for morale. If you bring a snack you love, it’ll make you happier and put you back in a positive mood after a couple hours of testing. Then, go back in there in finish it off!

 

Live To Fight Another Day (Unless You’re Happy With The Result)

When you’ve handed in your test and have run far, far away from it, remember that you did your best, and that’s what counts. Also remember that you can take the SAT as many times as you want to improve your score. Many people take it two or three times! Get your results when they’re released and take the time to figure out where you excelled and where you could use improvement. Add these things to your strategy for next time, and increase your chances of scoring higher!

 

 

And that’s it! Keep yourself motivated, remember your training, stick to your test taking strategy, and we guarantee you’ll be successful! It’s all about keeping your cool, managing your time wisely and keeping yourself motivated. Once you understand that, half the battle is already won! For more helpful SAT tips and homework help, visit StudyGate.com! Dismissed!

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StudyMate: Smart And Secure Strategies To Survive The SAT Showdown (Part 1)

SAT Survival

If there’s one test that fuels the anxiety of millions of students around the United States, it’s the SAT. Students and parents alike invest tons of money, time, and energy into preparing for the test that will decide their fates, and many people prepare the wrong way. Contrary to popular belief (and all that bad advice you’ve gotten) the SAT is all about strategy. Taking the SAT is like going to war (just go with it), and if you’re going to war, then you need an effective plan. Take a look at these smart SAT strategies to help you prepare for battle and ready yourself for the big test.

 

1. Gather Some Intel

Whether you’re taking a subject test or the full-blown SAT, you need to know what kinds of questions you’re going to run into. Go to your local bookstore or library and pick up a couple of books with complete tests that you can practice with every few weeks. If you search online, you can find actual tests from previous years that you can practice on. Before you even THINK about registering for the SAT, take a practice test and see how you do. With any luck, you’ll do pretty badly, and that’s the perfect place to start your training!

 

2. Get The Lay Of The Land

I cannot stress this enough: The SAT is all about strategy. You’ve got to know when to jump, when to slide, when to duck, and when to run for your life! Study the test format. The SAT is written with the easiest questions at the beginning and gets progressively harder as you go. Study the wording of each question. SAT writers love to use seven words to express what you could probably say with three. Get used to the language and the way certain questions are asked. The quicker you can read and anticipate what you’re being asked to do, the quicker you can answer and move on!

 

3. Words Win Wars

You know you’re in deep trouble when you’re taking the reading portion of the test, and you run into a word you don’t know.

Like “nadir”. Or “halcyon”.

You can try to guess the meaning through context clues, but if you can’t, you’re sunk. Get some flash cards and learn the definitions of just five SAT words per day. 5 per day turns into 35 per week! Also, take the time to read anything you can: books, articles, journal entries, essays, and try to figure out the author’s main point as quickly as you can. If you’re unprepared, the reading section is going to be a pain! Arm yourselves!

 

4. Meet Calculator, Your New Best Friend

In this battle, you’re allowed to bring only one weapon (besides your brain), and it’s your trusty scientific calculator. Your mastery of your calculator can potentially slow you down or give you a much needed speed boost! Take some quality time to learn every function, every shortcut, and every formula you need for the test. It will also clear room in your brain for other information you’ll need to memorize. Make sure you know which situations call for which formulas, but make your calculator do the heavy lifting.

 

5. Train Yourself

Now that you know the test inside out, learned a lot of big words, and bonded with your calculator, it’s time to begin your training. Set aside about 1 to 2 hours every other week to sit down and take a practice test from beginning to end. If you like, you can simulate actual test conditions to allow yourself to adjust. Take a test early in the morning, bring some snacks with you, close yourself off in a cold room, whatever you have to do! Pay special attention to the way you manage your time. Time is such an influential factor in the SAT experience—many students feel rushed at times and completely abandon their strategy in order to finish as many questions as possible. Make your time work for you!

 

6. Assemble A Survival Kit

On the day of the test, you shouldn’t be wondering where all your stuff is. Take a few minutes to gather everything you need. In your kit, you should include:

  • A bottle of water
  • Your calculator
  • A couple of extra pencils
  • An eraser
  • Some (a lot of) snacks
  • A watch (yeah, the ones with the hands that you wear on your wrist)

Put ’em all in your favorite bag and store them close by so you can just grab it and leave. Simple.

 

7. Energize

Energy is your greatest resource when taking the SAT. It’s not time, intelligence, or anything else. When you’re sitting in that classroom, you’ve got to have a clear mind and sharp focus. What does this mean for you? For a start, eat a good breakfast! Get plenty of sleep the night before the test! Do all the healthy things you’re supposed to! You need to be in tip-top condition, so take care of yourself! Don’t leave anything to chance!

 

Preparing for the SAT is about dividing your attention between learning the material and developing your test taking strategy. Even though mastery of these two aspects will leave you in the best shape to perform well on the big test, you’re not out of the woods yet! In Part 2, we’ll show you how to handle yourself during the test! Stop by StudyGate.com for more helpful tips and homework help!

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Do You Hate Group Projects? Here’s Five Steps To A Better Experience!

Group Projects

Group Projects. Nobody really likes them, but we all have to do them at some point. Naturally, working with a group of strangers comes with its problems, but they don’t go away once you graduate! You’ve got to master this! You’ll have to do a lot of it in the workplace. Here is a list of things you can do to make the group project experience less painful and more productive!

 

Say Something, And Say It Quick

You’ll be allowed to choose your own groups if you’re lucky. In that case, great! If you don’t, you’ve got some socializing to do. There’s usually an awkward moment in class when you’ve got to sit with your group while your teacher explains your assignment. Take that opportunity to introduce yourself! Learn your partner’s names and be friendly! You’ll come off as a team player and someone fun to work with, rather than That-One-Guy-Or-Girl-In-My-Group-That-I-Don’t-Really-Know.

 

Find The Alpha, Be The Alpha

There’s always that one person, or couple of people, that assumes responsibility and takes control of the group right from the start.

You know who I’m talking about.

They’re the one that comes up with the ideas, coordinates meeting times, introduces themselves to everyone (ahem), and is heavily involved all the way through. Find that person. Stick with them, learn with them, offer your own ideas, approach the group together. Cooperating with proactive people is a great way to learn how to work with others. Every ship needs a captain, why can’t it be you?

 

Listen Up

When your group meets to work on your assignment, a lot of ideas will be passed around. As a member of that group, it’s your responsibility to listen to those ideas, discuss them with the other members, and decide as a group if you’d like to include them. The trick here is to keep an open mind. Everyone probably has an idea of what they want the final product to look like. What you’re being tested on is your ability to take all those ideas and combine them into something you all can be proud of. Discuss all of your ideas early, get on the same page, decide on a direction, and move together as one!

 

Pull Your Weight

This is every student’s nightmare: You’re stuck with a bunch of slackers who don’t care about their own grades, much less yours. They sit around and mindlessly agree with everyone’s opinions at every group meeting, they don’t work on a single thing, and then they show up to the presentation and take the credit. You better believe it’s happening RIGHT NOW. Don’t be that person. Do your part of the assignment, and give it your best shot. If you suspect anyone in your group of being lazy, offer to help with their portion of the work. Best case scenario? They’ll accept and you can work together to create a stronger project, or at least they’ll get the hint and start picking up the slack.

 

 

Group Projects

Take Pride

At the end of your project, your teacher will likely have all of you present your work. As you speak to the class, be sure to give credit to your fellow group members for their individual ideas. If there was a member who made a particularly great point, or did an important part of the project, let everyone know! It will give your fellow group member a little more confidence, inspire them to give it back to you, and show everyone that your group is united!

 

You see? Group projects don’t have to be so bad! It’s all about getting out of your own space and learning how to be interactive, insightful, and friendly toward your peers. Try it out the next time you’re given a group project! For more helpful advice, study tips, and homework help, visit StudyGate.com!

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The Art Of Focus

The Art of Focus

During the last year of my undergrad studies, I found it hard to focus.

I was finally approaching the end of a five-year journey that took me across countless classes in multiple cities, two community colleges, and (at last) one university, and I was DONE. We’re now in the middle of March, and for many of you, the work is piling up and you might feel the same way! You’re tired, you’re hungry, you didn’t get enough sleep last night, and you just want to finish that assignment you’ve been working on for hours. Even though concentrating can get harder as you get busier, don’t fret! There are ways you can get back on track, energized, and ready to take on any challenge. Those methods are part of what I like to call The Art of Focus.

 

Do Something Else

When you’ve been studying for hours, all those textbooks and homework assignments just start to blend together. Give yourself a break, go do something else! The trick is, it has to be something a little complex that makes you think—just in a different way! During midterm season, I liked to spread a puzzle (500 to 1000 pieces, please!) on a table in my room, and I would take a break and work on it every once in a while. It helped me regain my focus because I was using my right brain, the creative side, and giving my left brain, the analytical side, a rest. This is much better than, say, watching TV because it keeps your brain engaged in a different way so you’re ready to pick up where you left off!

 

Do Something Nice

Whenever I felt especially overwhelmed by my studies, I dropped everything I was doing and looked for someone that I could help. It could be someone redecorating their room, moving heavy items, fixing something, or even someone who’s also studying, too! Not only does helping others feel good, it completely takes your mind off your own studies for a while. When you get back to your work, you’ll realize you haven’t thought about it in a while (that’s the idea) and you’ll be able to approach it with a fresh mind.

 

The Art of Focus

Do Something Creative

Do you like to draw? Paint? Write stories? Do you have a fun hobby? Take some time away from your studies to pursue something fun and creative that will allow you to relieve stress! In my undergrad career, I loved playing video games as a study break (particularly fighting games) because I could shift my focus to a different short-term goal, which left me energized when I got back to my homework. Another great thing to try is to simply lie somewhere comfortable, listen to music, and just stare into space. Make a playlist of your most relaxing songs, find a good spot, and clear your mind. Just be careful not to fall asleep!

 

Get Active (Physically And Verbally)

My environment was one of the reasons why I found it hard to concentrate during a long study session. Basically, I shut myself away in a dimly lit room and surrounded myself with piles of papers, books, notes, and clutter for hours at a time. Set yourself free by going…

say it with me…

outside!

If you’re aiming to complete a two-hour study session, take a couple of short 15-minute breaks and go outside (if it’s daytime) or just go walking through your home. Speak to the people you live with, call your friends for a quick chat, talk to your friend’s dog if you have to. Just make sure you’re moving your body and interacting with other people. Studying is often solitary, but it doesn’t have to be lonely!

 

 

All of these things are going to take a while to adjust to as you learn what works best for you. Here’s the point: Work and rest go hand-in-hand. You can’t work constantly, despite other’s (and our own) expectations. You regain focus in times of rest. Take advantage of the many ways you can do that, and you’ll develop razor sharp focus in no time! For more helpful tips, homework help, and online tutoring, visit StudyGate.com!

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Impress Your Friends With These St. Patrick’s Day Tidbits!

St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that’s a lot of fun to celebrate, but not too many people know the history of it. It’s never a bad time to learn something new, so here’s a few interesting facts about St. Patrick’s Day that you can impress your friends with while you try to pinch every poor soul not wearing green!

 

St. Patrick? Who?

Basically, St. Patrick was a Romano-British Christian missionary living in Ireland in the fourth century. He grew up in a wealthy family, with his father and grandfather being a deacon and a priest respectively in the Christian church. While he was working as a shepherd, he “found God”, became a priest and dedicated his life to evangelism and converting the pagan Irish to the Christian faith.

 

His Life Was Pretty Crazy

Get this: At the still-pretty-young age of 14, St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates, and then forced to work as a slave in Gaelic Ireland. I know most preteens have it rough these days, with their Snapchatting and whatnot, but imagine being yanked from your bed by pirates and taken somewhere against your will! When he turned twenty, he was returned home by a bunch of nice sailors, so it got a little better for him.

 

So What’s With All The Leprechauns?

Those tiny creatures that hide in the grass and protect their pots of gold are actually a huge part Irish folklore. According to Irish legends, leprechauns spend most of their time making and mending shoes. Taking that into account, it’s easy to see why they’re so concerned with protecting their gold! I know about one who’s pretty harsh about protecting his cereal, so you can imagine what the rest of them must be like!

 

So Why Do We Pinch People?

The best (or worst) part of St. Patrick’s Day for schoolchildren is the fact that you run around pinching your friends all day. But why do we do it? Well, it turns out that there are a couple of reasons. One is ridiculous and the other pretty serious.

Going back to leprechauns, the little guys would protect their pots of gold by—you guessed it—pinching their victims. Additionally, in 19th century New York City, wearing green became a symbol of national pride for many Irish people living in America. During important events like St. Patrick’s Day parades and elections when politicians would pay visits to the Irish communities to gain their support, American Irish were expected to wear green in a show of solidarity with their peers. If you didn’t, you were pinched for your lack of Irish pride. It was like a way of saying, “Shame on you!

 

What’s The Deal With Shamrocks?

You know those three-leafed clovers you see everywhere? Legend has it that St. Patrick would pluck them from the ground and use them to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) when he was teaching the gospel. Handy!

 

 

Not bad, huh? Now you’ll be prepared for all the questions you’re bound to get about St. Patty’s Day. Just don’t forget to wear green! Find more fun stuff, study advice, and homework help at StudyGate.com!

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StudyMate: How To (Quickly) Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Research. Finding credible sources.  The most terrifying words you’ll hear in your entire academic career. Just hearing them made me go into denial:

 

“What? What do you mean I have to form an opinion? Wait, wait, you mean I can’t just say whatever I feel like? I have to look for…facts and evidence?”

 

Yes. You’ve got to do all that, and I know it can be a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be so terrible, though! Good research is systematic. It follows a certain logic as you develop what you want to say. You might be dreading all that time you’ll spend combing through textbooks and clickin’ around the internet, but if you follow what I’m about to tell you…

…and really focus…

…you can finish your research in a day. In. A. Day.

Look!

 

Step One: Take A Position!

Before you even begin your research, you’ve got to know what you want to say. Take some time to read the assignment, understand the expectations, and develop an opinion on the subject. This is going to make things a lot easier for you in the long run. Let’s just say your topic is:

“Is climate change real?”

Decide if your answer is yes or no, and begin thinking about your reasons. It sounds obvious, I know, but SOME people have been known to just pick the easiest standpoint to get the assignment done as quickly as possible. Don’t be that person. Think about it!

 

Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Step Two: Find A…Book? At The…Library?

Yes. They exist for a reason. You can find the most credible sources of knowledge in actual books! Imagine that! Decide what your answer is, then take an hour or two to look for a few library books about your subject. Look through them and pay special attention to certain sections that can help support your main point. Then, take them with you and refer back to them as your prime research materials. Looking for a book should always be your first step; they can help you think of more specific things to say, which makes your research more specific as result.

 

Step Three: Find Some Journals

Next, you’ll want to search for some academic journals. In my opinion, some of the best academic journal databases are EBSCOHost, JSTOR, and Google Scholar, but there are so many others, so experiment and find out which one you like best. Your college or university will most likely have a subscription to many of these databases, so go crazy. Remember those specific points you got from those books? You can use those to search for articles devoted to those points!

So if you’re arguing that climate change isn’t real, and changes in sea level is one of your main points, you’ll look for those articles that support both your ideas and those in your books.  As you find more articles that support them, you’ll continue to refine your own argument. Aha! We’re getting more and more precise as we go!

 

Step Four: Yeah Alright, Now You Can Run To The Internet

At this point, you couldn’t get more specific if you tried. Now, it’s all about proving your point. Look for quality sources on the internet. You’ll be looking for quick statistics, helpful numbers, and short quotes that you can sprinkle into your paper.

At this stage, you’d be looking for numbers that reflect changing or consistent sea levels to support your previous research. I know they’re the easiest to find, but internet sources should be the last thing you look at. Anybody can go online and publish anything they want without having it reviewed. Keep an eye out for credible sites—ones where you’ll find articles with a clear author you can cite, and who has cited information themselves. When you leave those sources for the end of your research, you already know what your paper is about, and now it’s just a matter of finding figures and evidence that support all those books and journals!

 

Step Five: Trim The Fat

So now you’ve got bunch of books, academic journals, websites, and a rough draft of your research paper. Great! Now start cutting the stuff you don’t need. A lot of professors give you a minimum of number of sources they want for each medium—2 books, 3 journals, 2 websites, etc. If you’re going for the minimum, then make sure you have the best material you can find! If you’re going for only 2 books, they better give you a TON of information and support every point you make. You should never wonder whether to use a source or not. Make them work for you!

 

 

And that’s it! When you’ve got all your sources ready, make sure you cite them all correctly! If you don’t know how to cite, you can visit the OWL Purdue website to brush up on all the different styles. As I said earlier, if you follow these tips and stay focused, you can have your research done in a day (I’m serious)! Now go! To get more helpful academic tips and homework help, visit StudyGate.com!

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Five Of The Very Best Parts Of Learning Something New

Five Of The Very Best Parts Of Learning Something New

Learning is a lifelong pursuit. We start learning at birth, and it should never, ever stop. Discovering new things in the world can be so exciting when we’re young, but as we grow older, it can be easy to forget that excitement amid all the studying and exams.

Learning can be so much fun! Don’t believe me? Here are five of the best parts of learning something new.

 

Curiosity And Discovery

Have you ever been walking down the street on a rainy day, seen a snail, and wondered if they really melt when you pour salt on them, like on TV? I know you have.

One of the great things about learning is stumbling upon something you don’t understand or have always wondered about. This curiosity has been an integral part of human history, so embrace it! I did, and found a book at the library that explained that when you pour salt on a snail, water is being quickly YANKED out of their body cells through osmosis. The poor snail’s body fights back as it dries out by releasing a slimy substance to protect itself. That weird bubbling comes from that slime and air being forced out of its body as it dies slowly and probably very painfully. Cool!

 

Try It IRL (In Real Life)

It’s always satisfying to learn something in school, then find a way to apply it to your real life. For example, I took French all throughout high school, despite everyone telling me that I’d never have a reason to use it. Then, in one of my college English courses, we were given an assignment to read a book and compare it to the movie adaptation. Looking over the list, none of the titles interested me…until I found one of my favorite stories, Thérèse Desqueyroux (don’t worry about it)! I read the book, watched the movie (entirely in French with no subtitles, mais oui), and turned in a great project. It felt great to dust off that knowledge and put it to good use!

 

Impress Your Friends!

Maybe you’re playing Trivial Pursuit (people still play that, right?) or some triva board game with your friends at a game night. Your team gets some far-out question like: “Which French sculptor created the Statue of Liberty?”

All your teamma—Yes, again with the French.

All your teammates groan. But you stay calm, cool, and collected, maybe with a little crooked smile on your face. Why? Because you know the answer! One of the best things about learning is—yeah—showing exactly how smart you are. If you’ve got it, show it off! Let ’em know!

Oh, the answer is Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, by the way. Anyway…

 

Five Of The Very Best Parts Of Learning Something New

Teaching Someone Else

Passing knowledge on to someone else is one of the most humbling things in the world. If you have young relatives, work with kids, or even know someone who also loves to learn, you can share interesting facts and discuss controversial topics with them. They’ll be grateful for the new information, and you’ll feel smarter for having shared it. It’s a win-win!

 

Stand And Admire

Do you ever look through your old tests and essays from school and think, “Wow, I did that?” Chances are, you did something worth being proud of in the past, and it’s always great to look back and see how good you were! I recently found an old college essay that was so good that my professor thought it was plagiarized (it wasn’t). That’s skill, baby. Skill.

 

 

One could say that learning is a journey. Travel broadens the mind. You start off in one place, and as you learn, doors begin to open. Then, you get the opportunity to learn even more things and open even more doors! It never ends! This reminds me of a wonderful piece of wisdom handed down to me by the great Dr. Suess. He told me:

“The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

 

Smart man. Enough said.

For study tips, homework help, and more quotes from the good doctor, come on over to StudyGate.com!

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Amazing Time Management Tips For Someone Who Just Can’t Get It Together

24 hours. That’s all you get in a single day. You can either waste them, get nothing done, and wonder where the time went, or you can make things easier and use your time wisely. At StudyGate, we’re no strangers to time management. We’ve decided to take a moment to share some techniques that will help you develop amazing time management skills!

 

Make A List

Instead of committing to memory everything you have to do today, why not make a short list? Download a note taking app on your phone like OneNote or Google Keep, or use a simple pen and paper and make a to-do list starting from your most urgent task to your least. This something you should do out of habit every day because as your tasks become organized, so too will your thoughts!

 

Know Your Sweet Spot

When I was in high school, you couldn’t get me to do anything productive until around 6:34 PM (very specific). After that, I could hit the books and study for hours, late into the night! It’s worth finding out what time of day is best for you to get things done. Some people work best in the early morning, while many people consider themselves night owls. Understanding when you’re most productive can help you plan your day more efficiently.

 

Prepare Beforehand

I can’t wake up in the morning.

I mean—I can—but I don’t want to, and it’s a big problem when I’ve got to pack all my meals for the day, choose what I’m going to wear, exercise, and get to work on time. Take some of the pressure off and start preparing the night before! Make your lunch, pack your backpack with everything you need, lay out tomorrow’s outfit in a chair (yes, like you did when you were little), and do as many necessary things as you can. Now, you can focus on more important things, and when it’s time, you can just grab your stuff and go!

 

Dream A Little Dream

Only robots can work straight through the day without stopping. For the rest of us, it’s good to take a minute or two to stare out a window or look around and just think. Rest your eyes and give your brain a chance to pause. Daydreaming can be a welcome break from a steady workflow!

 

Future Sight

At the end of the day, when you’re maxin’ and relaxin’, take a moment to just think about what you’ve got to do tomorrow. Organize your thoughts and think of all the ways you need to prepare. It will put you in the right mindset to take on the next day’s tasks and do what you need to do!

 

 

Try some of these out and see how they feel! To tell you the truth, 24 hours is A LOT of time. When you manage your time well, you feel as though you have more time in the day. You have more time to work, more time to sleep, more time to spend with friends, and more time to do more of what you love. Check out some more helpful advice, study tips, and homework help at StudyGate.com!

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Valuable Life Skills That Extracurricular Activities Can Teach You

Back when I was in college, my classes took up ALL my time. During one quarter, I was attending five classes in one day, from 8 AM to 10 PM. It was brutal! As you can imagine, I got burned out pretty easily and wanted to do something fun in between all the work. That’s where extra-curricular activities come in!

There are sports teams, community service clubs, and other interesting things to do in your spare time! I joined my campus Circle K International and since that day, I had tons more fun and learned a lot of useful life skills that I just couldn’t learn in the classroom. Check out a few of them:

 

Leadership!

Nothing will make you prouder than overseeing something important and dedicating your efforts to make sure it succeeds.

I had the pleasure of becoming club treasurer while I was in Circle K, and that responsibility really helped me mature.

  • I was in charge of all the club funds and decided how to spend them,
  • I worked with our fundraising chair to come up with ways to bring in more money,
  • I wrote checks to all the charities we donated to.

It was great! Everyone needs to develop their leadership abilities in some way. You’ve got to learn how to take ownership of something you care about because that’s what sets you apart! It’s how you find success later on as you build your career!

 

Social Intelligence

Spending your time only at home and at school isn’t very good for you. Why? Because you’ve got to learn how to talk to people! This means learning how to listen, to have a good conversation and to use your natural charm to persuade. This is how you relate to others and make friends! You can’t get a lot of that in class, as you’re supposed to be paying attention, and you definitely can’t do that at home. Get out and meet people! It sounds intimidating (it was to me at first)! The goal is to become comfortable in your own skin. You’ll be more proactive, attract success, and be the best person you can be.

 

Valuable Skills Extracurricular Activities Can Teach You

Service And Empathy

During my time in Circle K, I was involved in a lot of community service projects. I worked at food banks, volunteered at sporting events and charity walks, and even cooked dinner at a homeless shelter. Helping others feels great, plain and simple. You should get into the habit of serving others once in a while because it teaches you one very important lesson:

It’s not always all about you.

I spent so much time worrying about my grades and finding a job that I would often forget that there are many in our world that don’t have even have a roof over their heads, much less the opportunity to go to school. Empathy is a very important trait. It’s related to social intelligence, too! It pays to be able to sense what people are feeling in order to be a better human being overall.

 

Marketing,Management, Strategy

Running an on-campus club is a lot like running a business. You’ve got a boss, a second-in-command, a bunch of other officers that oversee specific aspects, and a large group of people that benefit from what your club offers. As you get more involved, you start to wonder how you can make your club more popular and successful. That’s where marketing, management and strategy come into play. Delegate tasks to different people, advertise your club based on what you think people want, and plan events and activities that your members will want to come to. It’s not so different from the real world!

 

Creativity And Resourcefulness

Sometimes (Often), things just don’t work like they should.

Once, my club was scheduled to volunteer at a dog show one Saturday at noon. At the last minute, many of our freshman members called me to ask for rides to the event. Suddenly, with only an hour left to get there, my team and I scrambled to find a way to pick up twelve additional members and still arrive on time! So what did we do? We pooled our resources. Our club secretary had an old van that would accommodate half the members, and the rest of us split the other six among our own cars.

Was it a comfortable ride? No.

Did it work out in the end? Yes!

And that’s what matters. When things go wrong, you’ve got to know how to use your head, think on the fly, and come up with a solution.

 

 

They may say that extracurricular activities are all about having fun, but they do so much more than that. They teach you real-world skills and allow you to apply them in a whole bunch of situations. That’s valuable! Think about that the next time a friend invites you to their business club meeting! For more interesting perspectives and homework help, stop by StudyGate.com!

 

 

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