Ideal Daily Routine for Students

Hey  Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

For many students, back to school season is a great opportunity to form healthier and more productive habits.

Here are just a few tips to help you have a more productive day: (Of course, most of these tips can be helpful to anyone whether or not you are a student)

Breakfast is Key

I know that this is nothing new and you have all probably heard this tip many times before. We all know the importance of breakfast but in my experience with those around me, many students go to class with either an empty stomach or they just have some toast.

Breakfast really is very important because if you think about, assuming you haven’t eaten anything since last night, you are truly breaking your fast in the morning. Scientific research shows that people who skipped breakfast were less productive.

The ideal breakfast will contain both protein and carbohydrates. Good sources of protein include eggs, cottage cheese and nuts. Whole grains and fruits are a great source of carbohydrates.

Exercise:

Of course, we all know the benefits of exercise however, most of us exercise after class. I know that most of us can barely get out of bed in the morning before class. However, research shows that 15 minutes of exercise can actually help the student retain more knowledge for five to six hours. This is why experts recommend doing a physical activity such as walking, jogging, climbing the stairs, etc. before going to class.

Hydration:

Hydration is something that is emphasized during the summer time. However, it is important for our health and well-being to stay hydrated throughout the year. The results of a recent study showed that dehydration negatively impacts our cognition and performance. People who are dehydrated don’t do as well and they don’t think as well.

Drinking water is only one of the things that we should be doing to stay hydrated. Current research emphasizes eating our way to hydration by eating fruits and veggies with a high water content. In order to stay properly hydrated its best to avoid excessive caffeine and although sports drinks can be hydrating they should be consumed in moderation.

Before the Test:

If you have a sweet tooth you might enjoy this tip. Researchers recommend that students have a small square of chocolate preferably dark chocolate, Research has shown that the caffeine in the chocolate can help students focus better on the test. It sounds too good to be true but there is even some data that shows that students that ate the chocolate had slightly higher test scores.

Relax a Little:

Taking some downtime to relax is very important. I know that it sounds counterintuitive but take some time each day to do something that you love or just anything that you enjoy. Taking a 20 minute break will help you remember better and the knowledge will really sink in.

I hope that you enjoyed these tips and please remember that most of these tips can be applied to anybody’s life.

With Love,

Yasmin

Got Back to School Blues? Read this

Hey Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well!

Right now, here in the United States it is currently back to school season. As the summer vacation comes to and end many students of all ages will be returning to their schools or their colleges and universities.

Every year, around this time of the year I see lots of videos and articles about study tips and I see a lot of content about what the latest back to school gadgets and accessories are.

However, I haven’t come across any content about what I like to describe as having the right mindset for going back to school.

In my personal experience, many students hate going back to school often because of all of the hard work that they will have to do in order to be a succesful student.

I know that when I was a student often times I would feel the same way as well and not just during the beginning of the school year but especially during the middle and end of the academic year.Basically, all of the hard work would drain me and I would start to lose motivation and I would hate being a student.

During my university years the only thing that helped me get through this slump was to change my mindset by remembering all of those students that are less fortunate.

Ideally, getting an education should be the right of each and every student. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people throughout the world, mostly girls and women, are not given this fundamental human right.

We all know that knowledge is power but sometimes we forget that many people throughout the world, due to various circumstances, are not got given the opportunity to gain a formal education.

If you are reading this blog post you are obviously literate. However, there are millions of people who are illiterate, who do not know how to read or write, because they were likely never given the opportunity to learn.

Unfortunately, many students throughout the world pursue their education under very difficult circumstances.

Most of us have some form of transportation to take us to and from school or perhaps we walk a reasonable distance to reach our school.

However, in some parts of the world students walk very long distances, often in extreme weather conditions, in order to reach their school. Unfortunately, in certain parts of the world, students risk their lives just to commute to and from school. Once they reach their school, many students do not get to sit in nice, clean, well insulated buildings. Some students sit in tents that are used as classrooms and many students attend school without enough supplies such as books, pens, and paper.

If you are a student, the next time you lose your motivation, please remember those students that are less fortunate and perhaps this will help you regain your focus and motivation to work towards academic success. You never know, perhaps your academic success may enable you to one day help out other students throughout the world!

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Tips for Better Sleep

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

In my experience, one unhealthy habit that people like to boast about is their lack of sleep, or their ability to get by with very little sleep.

Perhaps this is most common amongst university students who like to “pull all-nighters” in order to study for exams or complete projects and assignments. And its not just students that are getting less sleep.

A report by Gallup showed that Americans are sleeping one hour less per night than they did in the 1950’s.

The average adult human needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to survive and thrive. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time Ariana Huffington argues that sleep is not a luxury rather it is a necessity.

She cites scientific evidence of how sleep is a time for intense neurological activity in which the brain renews and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep is linked with severe health problems such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimers disease.

According to sleep expert Daniel Gartenberg, humans need sleep to save energy, to help their cells recover, and to help them process and understand their envirnment. Since sleep is so vital to our overall health and well-being, here are a few tips to help you get a better night of sleep.

Ban Screens Before Bedtime:

The very first tip is the one that I struggle with the most and that is to stop using my phone or laptop before bed. It turns out that I am not alone because a 2015 survey showed that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. The problem with this habit is that our electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) emitt blue light which can keep us awake at night.

As you know, melatonin is a brain hormone that helps us fall asleep but blue light suppresses our melatonin levels. The effects of blue light do not immediately go away once you stop using your device. It is best to stop using your electronic devices up to an hour or so before bedtime.

If you’re like me and you’re often tempted to check your phone before bedtime, my suggestion would be to completely remove your phone (and other electronic devices) from your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Sleep Consistency:

If possible, try to wake up and go to sleep during the same time each and every day including weekends. This way, your body establishes a routine and its easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It might be tempting to skim on sleep during the week and then sleep in during the weekends. While the extra few hours of sleep during the weekend may feel good, research has shown that you cannot make up sleep debt because its hard to make up for the REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep that you have missed. Also, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep due to its restorative properties.

Take A Nap:

The reality is that in this day and age it is difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. Taking a quick 30 minute nap during the day can help you feel rejuevenated. Even if you do get enough sleep at night, a nap can help you reenergize your brain. Its best to take your nap anytime before 3 pm so that you don’t confuse your circadian rythm and you don’t disrupt your nightime sleep.

Bonus tip: If you are someone who drinks coffee, consider drinking a cup before your nap and the caffeine will work as a natural alarm clock because it will kick-in, in 30 minutes and wake you up from your nap.

Temperature:

The room temperature can definitely impact the quantity and quality of our sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal room temperature for sleep. They also argue that anything above 75 degrees our below 54 degrees can disrupt our sleep. Of course, this is just a general estimate and the climate that we are from also influences our temperature preferences.

Food:

Personally, I often feel sleepy after I eat pasta and I know that a lot of people feel sleepy after eating Turkey.

However, when it comes to food and sleep its more about what kind of foods you should avoid rather than what foods to eat. Although different foods may work for different people, they ‘re aren’t many foods that experts believe can really help us fall asleep.

However, there are foods that should be avoided before bedtime:

Foods High in Sugar: If you consume a lot of sugar before bed, your blood sugar levels will become very high and your body has to release hormones to decrease your blood sugar and this process may temporarily disturb your sleep.

Caffeine: We all have a different caffeine sensitivity but a 2013 study showed that people who drank coffee 6 hours before bed lost about an hour of sleep at night. So, its best to stop drinking caffeine way before bedtime.

Late Dinners: Since it can take between two to three hours for our body to digest a meal, it is best to avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is especially true for those who suffer from acid reflux disease.

Spicy Foods: For some people, spicy foods can cause bloating and heartburn.

High Fat Foods: Its best to avoid high fat foods as much as possible because research has linked high fat foods with excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Alcohol: At first, alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but it can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Exercise:

We all know how beneficial exercise is for our overall health and well-being. Now, research has shown that regular exercise can improve the quantity and quality of our sleep. One study from Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can act as a great non-pharmaceutical way of improving our sleep. The only caveat is that it takes time to reap the sleep benefits of exercise. A study from Northwestern University showed that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep but it took four months to see results.

Overall, sleep is something that most of us love and all of us need. I really hope that you find some of these tips helpful in getting better sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Study Tips for the Successful Student

dog-734689_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

For many students, this time of the year marks the start of a new academic semester or quarter.

Being a successful student definitely requires a lot of hard work. Part of this hard work consists of studying for tests. In order to get the best grades possible, it is really helpful to have some good studying strategies. The following is just a short list of possible study strategies to hopefully help you earn the best grade possible.

Before Class

If you’re a new student to the campus, I would definitely recommend taking some time a day or two before classes begin to walk around campus and find the exact location of your classes just so you don’t have to worry about it during the first day of class. I personally attended UC Irvine which has a fairly large campus so at the beginning of each and every quarter I would go and find the location of my classes because it just relieved me of additional stress.

Throughout my educational life many of my teachers and professors have encouraged us students to read the textbook before class. Many of us often ignore this piece of advice. However, I think that even if you don’t read the whole chapter or section of the textbook you should at least open up the textbook. Just try to scan the major topics by reading the title of each section.

Many textbooks have bolded or highlighted words and sections so try to briefly review those areas as well. All you have to do is get a basic idea of what topics will be discussed in class.

During Class: I know that this sounds really obvious but try your best to really pay attention in class. If necessary, turn off your smartphone. Really try to absorb everything the instructor is saying. If you scanned the textbook the night before then you will hopefully be somewhat familiar with the topics.

Taking notes is essential. Many instructors nowadays have PowerPoint or other material that they can place on a screen for the whole class to view. However, these may not contain all the information or some areas may be rather vague. It is your job as a student to really take good notes. You don’t have to write every word down rather just try to get the main ideas. If the instructor does use PowerPoint quickly skim the slide and see what you don’t understand or what is missing and try to fill it in with what the instructor verbally states.

Many students at my university have laptops. I see quite a number of students scrolling through their social media sites or their favorite online stores during lectures. If you do this on a regular basis you are truly doing a disservice to yourself. You could potentially miss out on valuable information that might be on the test. Also, if you’re a university student who has to pay for their education (as is the case here in the United States) you are literally wasting your money if you don’t pay attention in class.

After Class: During the student orientation of my university one of the professors was giving us his study tips and one of the things that he said was: “The time you should start studying is immediately after class”. Although this may not be possible for everyone I think that he makes a very important point. You should definitely try to study as soon as possible when the material is still fresh in your mind and studying during this time will further cement the information in your brain.

 

Don’t Procrastinate: Most students have several classes to study for. Undoubtedly some classes will be harder than others. However, it is very important that you set aside a specific amount of time dedicated to studying every day. Also, you can use your own judgment to decide how long you should study for each class. As a general rule for every hour of lecture you should study two hours outside of class during the whole week. As a psychology major one of the things that I learned in my human memory course is that in order to best absorb the material it is not just enough to spend a lot of time right before the test to review the material. Rather, the best strategy is to spend frequent intervals of time studying the material. Basically, rather than studying for a test in one cram study session it is best to spread out your study time.

Break it into Pieces Let’s say you have to memorize something like the periodic table for a test. It is very helpful to break it up and try to memorize a few columns or rows at a time. Each day make sure that you have really learned the previous days’ material before going on.

Reviewing Notes While reviewing your notes it might be helpful to bring a few extra pieces of paper and a pen and start re-writing the most difficult parts of your notes. I have heard from many people who swear by this strategy. In fact, research does support this idea.

Avoid Distraction and Block Noise: Nowadays, for many students their smartphone is most often a huge source of distraction. As a good student, do whatever you have to in order to avoid the large number of distractions that can arise from your smartphone. I understand that you can’t just turn it off all the time but try keep it at a distance and only quickly check for calls or important texts at set intervals of time. If your phone has a Do Not Disturb or a similar option consider using it to limit distractions.

Ideally, I would recommend studying in a quiet location such as a library. However, sometimes this is just not possible. When I was a student, sometimes even studying in my own bedroom was a challenge because my teenage brothers would be making a lot of noise across the hall. One possible solution would be to invest in purchasing noise-cancelling headphones. I personally have not tried these so I can’t give you a recommendation but I have found a great review of some of these

Reviews.com has a really informative review of 13 well-known headphones and in their review, they share their top two choices. What makes their review especially credible is that they have consulted with audio engineers and audiologists and they took many factors such as the right way of blocking sound, the sound quality, comfort and the right fit into consideration.

Chill Out After a period of studying give yourself a break. Get a bite to eat. Try to get some fresh air. Try to do something that is truly relaxing for you. Just a word of caution, be careful with YouTube. If you’re like me and you love YouTube one “quick” video can lead to many others and before you know it you’ve gone well past your rest period.

Sleep Whenever you have an exam coming up make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before. College students sometimes take pride in “pulling an all nighter”. They think that they have done something great by studying instead of sleeping. However, research has shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to a decrease in performance and an increase in stress.

Exam Time:

When it’s exam time, aside from studying, there are a few things that you can do the night before to ease the process. If you will be using a scantron, fill out your name and any other details on the scantron the night before. Also, pack your scantron, pens, pencils, erasers and any other things you may need into your bag so you don’t forget them in the morning. While you’re at it, pick out your wardrobe the night before just so its ready and you don’t have to worry about it!

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Back to School Tips

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

back2school-2635456_640

In the spirit of back to school season I wanted to share some of my personal tips on how to make the transition back to school as smooth and hassle-free as possible. I created these tips with the college student in mind however, I hope that these tips will be hopeful for students at all levels.

Map it Out

If its your first time attending the college, or if you attend a large university, it might be a good idea to find the location of your classes before classes start. Most universities are always open in the sense that you are free to walk around and find your classes the day before or even a few days before they start.  The first week can be very hectic so its nice to have one less thing to worry about. I personally consider myself directionally challenged so this is a tip that I definitely always used when beginning a new set of classes!

Read the Syllabus

So this is a tip that every professor is going to encourage you to follow. The syllabus is a document, created by the professor, that basically explains the format and layout of the course and most importantly, it almost always includes a section about how the course grade will be calculated.  The syllabus also contains a section on how you can best reach the professor if you ever need to contact him or her. A lot of the questions that you may have about the course structure will be covered in the syllabus so I would definitely recommend saving a copy of the syllabus on your phone or laptop.

Buy Textbooks/Materials

Another great reason to read the course syllabus is that it often includes details about the required textbook and any other required materials. If you are going to order your textbook and/or other required course materials online its a good idea to order them as soon as possible because sometimes shipping can take a while.

I personally loved using DealOz for purchasing my textbooks because all you have to do is enter the book’s title, author, or ISBN number and this site will search through the web and find the best deals for best new, best used, and best rental price for the book that you need.

Almost all colleges and universities have a college bookstore. Purchasing from the college bookstore is often convenient but costly. Also, check to see if there are any local bookstores that are competing with your college bookstore and these stores may have the textbooks that you need for a cheaper price then the college bookstore. However, in my experience textbooks sold online are almost always cheaper.

If the course requires you to purchase scantrons or booklets for exams I would recommend purchasing those in the first week just to get them over with and have one less thing to worry about when its exam time.

Start Studying

From my experience, most of my fellow students always started studying only a few days before the exam if not the night before. I would definitely recommend studying as soon as possible and especially after every lecture when the material is still fresh in your mind. With this method you only have to study a few minutes each day instead of trying to cram all the material before the exam. Cramming the material before the exam can become very stressful and you are much more likely to really understand the material if you spend a few minutes studying it each day.

Take a nap

Many students often sacrifice their sleep in order to fit in enough time for their academic and/or social life. Some students even brag about pulling an all-nighter. The reality is that sleep is vital not only to our physical health but it is also very important in making us cognitively awake and alert which can help us perform better academically.

As someone who is a recent graduate I know that sometimes life gets too busy and we simply don’t have time to get the required seven or eight hours of sleep. However, in order to avoid feeling burned out or tired feel free to take a nap ideally for around 30 minutes a day. Research shows that a quick daytime nap can reenergize us without harming the amount or quality of the sleep that we get at night.

Stay Positive

It is totally common to be a little nervous at the beginning of each school year whether it is because you are starting a new school or you are taking a class or classes that you feel are challenging. I know it might be intimidating to ask a teacher or professor for help but there are there to help you and the majority of them are very happy to help. Always try to stay positive and remember that with hard work and determination you can excel in any class!

I hope you all find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

Five Tips for Becoming a More Effective Reader

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well! book-1867716_640

Back to school season is upon us! I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! For me it feels kind of weird and exciting because this will be the first back to school season in which I will not be in school or university because I graduated this past June.

Anyways, in my many years as a student I always struggled to keep up with the assigned readings because I always felt that I would forget everything I had read by the time exams were coming up.

Throughout my college years my Psychology professors really encouraged us to use the SQ3R method as a technique for helping us remember many of the important things we were reading in the textbooks.  The SQ3R method consists of the following five steps: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.

Survey

Before you start reading simply open to the assigned pages and casually skim through them to get an overall view of how the information is being presented. If possible read the chapter summary, look at the chapter introduction, headings and subheadings.

Question

Look at each subsection and try to come up with questions that you think will be answered in that subsection. Try asking yourself questions such as: What is this section about? How can this information help me? How does this information relate to other things that I have learned? Try to keep these questions in mind as you read that section and of course, as you are reading you may come up with even more questions. The reason why this step is helpful is because the more actively your mind searches for answers the more engaged you become in the learning process.

Read

When it is finally time to read, try to answer the questions that you have created as you read each section. Also, try to relate this new information with things you’ve learned before.

Recite

After you have finished reading each section try to remember (create a written and/or mental list) of the main ideas discussed in each section. If there is a particular section for which you cannot remember the main idea then try to go back and reread that section. It is very important not to move on until you can remember that sections main ideas.

Review

Finally, go back through all of the questions you created and see if you can still answer them. If necessary go back and refresh your memory.

Why is the SQ3R method effective?

The SQ3R method is effective thanks to a phenomenon social scientists and education researchers refer to as the testing effect. According to the testing effect, long term retention of material is better when you test yourself while you are learning the material versus just studying the material over and over again.

Sometimes we might read something and feel like the material is familiar and we may feel overconfident about how much we understand what we just read. Its important to remember that just because you can recognize something as being familiar as you read it, doesn’t mean that you will be able to choose the correct answer from several similar or familiar concepts on a multiple choice test.  Of course, on a written exam it is even harder because simply recognizing things doesn’t help, you actually have to recall the information.

Overall, the SQ3R has been supported by research as an effective study technique because it forces you to remember the main ideas and answers on your own which in turn makes you much more prepared to take the exam.

With Love,

Yasmin