The final research paper for a class might make up a large portion of your course grade, so it’s vital that you produce something you can be proud of. Writing a research paper is tough, however, so we’ve put together a brief guide on how to get through the process.

Start Early

Start on your paper as soon as you receive the assignment and set deadlines for when you want to have each phase of the process completed. For example, you should set a date for finishing your outline, for completing your rough draft, for your first round of revisions, etc.

Gather Your Sources

Whether you’ve been given a reading list or you have to do most of your research on your own, try to gather as many sources as you can before you start amassing information. Having a well-rounded selection will help you gain a comprehensive view of your subject. Your course textbook is a good place to start looking for basic facts. Be sure that each source you use, whether it is electronic or in print, is of high quality (yes Wikipedia is great but no it is not an academic source). Verify the credibility of both the author and the publisher and notice the date of publication. Some older books retain their relevance, but you should still check to see if there is a newer edition available or even new information that could replace or invalidate the old. One word of caution: this is a big project and you will find a lot of interesting information that may tempt you to pursue tangents. Stay focused on your topic.

Take Notes and Create an Outline

As you dig for information, take notes. Be sure that your notes are well organized. One option is to color code them according to source or subject, or if you’re using a software program for your notes, create headers for easier navigation. Get a few different colors of sticky notes so you can mark the places in books where you found information. After you have a basic understanding of your topic and you’ve collected some notes, put together an outline. In addition to jotting down the information you want to include in each section (and attributing the source), make notes about how long you want each section to be. This will ensure that you don’t end up with a lopsided paper.

Write Your Rough Draft

Use your outline to create a rough draft. As you write, think about things like whether the information flows the way you want it to and whether the voice you’re using is appropriate for the topic at hand. Don’t worry too much about details like grammar and punctuation; you can polish those things up in your final review. This is the time to make sure you avoid plagiarism. If you find a fact in your notes that you didn’t write down a source for, either find the source or use a different fact. Use attributions in the text, along with endnotes, to make sure you give credit where it is due.

Check Your Work

After completing your rough draft, have a peer look over the paper. A fresh set of eyes can point out flaws in logic and other errors that you might have become blind to. Then, go over your paper one more time to correct any minor issues related to format, syntax, grammar, or spelling. Remember that running spell-check is not the same as proofreading or editing.

Writing a research paper is tough, but it’s easier if you take your time and follow these logical steps.


Remember that one time you volunteered? You were probably busy all day and when you were done, you were exhausted but you felt great. You might not think there’s room in your schedule to make volunteering a regular part of your life, but there are some reasons you should try to squeeze it into your weekly or monthly routine.

Personal Satisfaction

Which causes matter to you? Perhaps you’re personally moved by animals that have been abused, people who lack food security or permanent shelter, or individuals who struggle with a particular illness. Get in touch with your cause and connect with an organization in your local community that would welcome your service. You’ll be able to have a meaningful share in something that really matters to you.

Your Health

Volunteering is good for you!

If you struggle with depression or low self-esteem, regular volunteering might be the boost you need to brighten up your outlook. Everyday Health cited a research paper that claims volunteering is connected to increased well-being, lessened depression, and even a reduced risk of dying. It is possible that volunteering is a mental-health super-medicine because of the social connections it helps you forge or simply because helping others usually comes with a sense of happiness.

Your brain isn’t the only part of your body that benefits when you volunteer. Many volunteer opportunities involve physical labor. Whether you’re cleaning up a local park, playing football with disadvantaged kids, or lending a hand at the homeless shelter, you’ll get some good exercise.

Build Relationships

Whatever organization you volunteer for, you’re bound to meet other individuals who share your passion for making a difference. This is a chance to form long-lasting friendships. Convince the friends you already have to join you in volunteering and you’ll probably connect more deeply with them as well. Having a circle of close friends is an essential part of maintaining a balanced life as a college student.

Your Career

Whether you’ve just started your undergraduate studies or you’re well on your way to obtaining an advanced degree, it’s never the wrong time to think about your career.

The relationships you build while you’re volunteering can lead to job opportunities. That person who is picking up litter next to you could be a manager at a local business or could have other connections that can put you at the front of the line for your dream job.

You may even be able to learn new skills as you volunteer and you can polish the skills you already have. Plus, employers like to see any type of volunteering on a resume. It shows that you’re an energetic person with a desire to help others. It also demonstrates your commitment to your community and your willingness to put yourself out there for something you care about.

Has it been a while since the last time you volunteered? Look at your routine. Maybe you could shuffle things around so you can spend one weekend a month or a few hours each week volunteering. You won’t regret it!


Your impending graduation might fill you with a mixture of excitement and dread. You're excited because all of your hard work is about to pay off, but you might feel a little trepidation because you're not sure how to prepare for what happens next. Use this checklist to ease your stress so you can focus on the joys of reaching graduation.

Network Like Crazy

Whether you want to take a summer to travel after graduation or dive right into the job market, now is the time to put out career feelers. Collect as much contact information as you can from your fellow students — particularly older students who already have job experience — as well as your professors and any professionals you know who work in your chosen field.

Build Your Professional Wardrobe

Yoga pants and basketball shorts are comfortable fallbacks for long study sessions, but if your wardrobe is all casual, it's time to go shopping. Start your search now for clothing that you can wear to job interviews. If you have the money, you might even want to get a suit tailored to fit so you can really impress.

Polish Your Resume

Often, your resume is how you make a first impression on potential employers. Research what makes an effective resume, and think carefully about skills you can include. Past summer jobs as well as volunteer experience can enhance your resume. You may want to stop by the campus career center for help with refining this all-important document.

Research Places to Live

You might already have a favorite city in mind, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore your options. Research the job market and cost of living in cities across the nation, or across the world if you're feeling adventurous. Be sure to also look at other opportunities in places where you're thinking about moving. Perhaps there is a well-reputed volunteer program that could help you gain the experience you need to get into graduate school.

Prepare a Budget

You likely already have an idea of how much you'll be making when you land your first job, and it might feel like you'll be rich compared to your current budget. However, be careful not to overestimate what you can afford. Just because you’ll eke out enough money for that awesome downtown apartment doesn't mean you should. Plan to have enough money to comfortably make all your payments each month and still have some left over for savings.

Manage Your Reputation

Companies often look at a job candidate's social media accounts. If you have posts that show embarrassing moments from parties or otherwise portray you as unprofessional, delete those posts before you start sending out resumes. If your friends have posted unflattering information about you, ask them to delete it or, at the very least, untag you.

Enjoy Yourself

Senior year should be a time of celebration. You're close to achieving a long-term goal! Forge deeper bonds with your classmates, go on weekend road trips, and attend parties. The memories will stay with you for a lifetime.

Don't let the stress of graduation get to you. Start preparing now for post-college life so you can truly savor your accomplishments.


Even though there are plenty of ways to offset college costs, you still want to graduate with lucrative career prospects. Whether you plan to pay off student loans, buy a house, or travel the world, you need a decent salary to fund your post-academic life. With that in mind, it’s important to choose a major that aligns with your salary expectations.

The Most-Lucrative Majors for College Graduates

When deciding on a college major, it’s best to study the different fields outside of college. Which jobs are most in demand? These often pay better because there’s less competition among workers and more competition among employers.

For instance, Kiplinger identifies computer science, software engineering, economics, finance, and physics as extremely lucrative majors. In all cases, these areas of study offer reasonable starting salaries, excellent salary growth, and a high number of annual job postings.

Other high-earning college majors include petroleum statistics, pharmacology, and health and medical preparatory programs. Additionally, engineers of all stripes tend to outperform other professions across the board.

The Least-Lucrative Majors for College Graduates

According to NPR, some college majors result in careers with low earning potential and other hazards, such as limited job openings. Many of these majors deal with the arts, such as visual and performing arts, graphic design, and drama. While each of these majors can lead to tremendous salary potential, many graduates will fail to make a career out of them.

Similarly, some of the least-lucrative majors involve social work or public service. Theology and human-services graduates might find plenty of work but not much compensation. These industries typically offer low-pay employment, so if you plan to pursue them, you might need alternative ways to generate income.

Pay Isn’t the Only Consideration

Maybe you want to become a pastor at a community church. You know the position probably won’t pay well, but you’re committed to the work. In this case, salary potential might not constitute your top priority. Additionally, jobs that offer low pay sometimes come with other perks. Pastors and priests, for instance, sometimes get free room and board in a parsonage and they experience deep job satisfaction.

It’s also important to look at benefits. Elementary education finds its way onto NPR’s list of least-lucrative college majors, but teachers often receive excellent health coverage and summers off. Maybe that, and educating young people, is more important to you than the numbers on your paycheck.

Researching College Majors

When deciding on a college major, consider the financial investment you’ve made in college as well as your salary expectations and other needs. Think about issues like job availability and working conditions to find the ideal major/career combination for your chosen lifestyle.

While salary isn’t the only factor, it’s important to think realistically. If you’ll graduate with five figures of student-loan debt, you’ll need a career that enables you to satisfy your financial obligations.

Choosing a major is always a difficult process. You have to gaze into the future if you want to make a practical decision. Consider the factors listed above to help you make a decision that will inform your professional future.


Finding a job isn’t easy, and finding one you love is even harder. Unemployment rates have dipped impressively since October 2009, but as many people are “underemployed” (marginally attached or working part time for economic reasons) as are unemployed.

While the economy and the job market itself are somewhat to blame, the secondary issue is that job hunting has changed. Technology has changed the way companies post jobs and evaluate candidates, and that means job searching needs to change, too. More than 70 percent of people are hired through networking, versus just 15 percent who apply through job boards. That doesn’t mean you should avoid using job-search websites, but some are better than others.

Here is a list of the top job-search websites you should be using.

Indeed

Indeed is a free job-search website that gets more than 180 million visitors every month. It is an aggregate site, meaning it pulls listings from company websites as well as various job boards. The site also sends you job alerts on request or you can subscribe to an RSS feed. Indeed also has tips for job searchers and a mobile app to help you search on the go.

Glassdoor

Glassdoor is another great job-search site. It is free to use and provides helpful information about companies and their cultures, while also providing details on what to expect at a certain company or in a certain role. In addition to helping you find new job opportunities, Glassdoor also helps you learn what to expect at interviews

USA Jobs

USA Jobs is the website where the federal government posts all available jobs. You can search by job title or industry and find information about pay and benefits as well as eligibility. If you are interested in federal work, have civic experience, or have a government security clearance, this is a great site.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has its own job-search website. It is free to use and it’s helpful. LinkedIn Jobs looks at your profile and gives you suggestions based on your location, level of seniority, and industry as well as the company size you have typically worked for in the past. The site also looks at your connections and recommends companies you may be able to network with based on your existing connections.

Twitter

While not a job-search website, Twitter deserves a mention. Most recruiters and many companies tweet job openings the minute they become available. Twitter is free to use. All you have to do is set a search alert for your ideal job title as well as target companies and industry recruiters.

Job-search websites are a great place to find new opportunities, but many also provide opportunities for networking and offer helpful advice on how to improve your job search. Rather than select a single job-search website, check multiple sources and network with other people in your industry.


You don’t have to dip into your bank account to get help with your study skills. The Internet offers myriad free study aids, both on websites and in mobile apps, to help you nail your next test and gain better command of the material. Try out a few of these free options to super-charge your study efforts this semester.

Quizlet: Create Helpful Quiz Sets for Free

A 15-year-old student created Quizlet for his own study purposes and eventually grew it into an online study tool that millions of students use every day. You can play games, create flashcards, and create unique quiz sets to help you maximize your information intake and absorption. Teachers even use Quizlet to augment their lectures in the classroom. College students can find plenty of value in Quizlet, but it also benefits children in elementary, middle school, and high school. If you prefer to study socially, use Quizlet with your friends and classmates to make it more interesting.

iStudiez Lite: Get Organized for Success

If you have trouble building strong study routines, let iStudiez Lite help you get organized and develop healthy habits. It’s an organization app for college students that works on iOS (try Studious as an alternative for Android users). The pro version costs $2.99 but the free app offers plenty of value, enabling you to schedule tests, assignments, meetings, and other important obligations. You can also use iStudiez Lite to remind you to attend to a scheduled task by setting an alarm. Whether you stay out too late partying, or you forgot about a project due tomorrow, alarms can save you from last-minute scrambling. The more you use the app, the better your study habits will become.

Evernote: Keep Your Notes & Clippings in One Place

When you save your lecture notes as a different file after every class or accidentally drop a binder full of loose-leaf handwritten notes, your study prospects take a nosedive. Evernote allows you to organize your notes and clippings in one place. Search for specific notations, capture notes from the Web, and share your notes with study partners. The basic version is free while upgrades add more functionality, such as email compatibility, password protection, and version support.

ExamTime: Expand Your Study Aids

From flashcards and mind maps to quizzes and progress tracking, ExamTime offers all the study tools you need in one convenient app. Use the study planner to organize your progress toward an upcoming quiz or test, then brainstorm for an essay with the mind-mapping tool. You can also use ExamTime in groups, whether you’re working on a project with other classmates or organizing a study session for finals. Share and compare study study tools so everyone has the best opportunity to succeed in class. You can even take quizzes at the same time to add a competitive edge to your studying workflow.

Study tools don’t have to be expensive to buy or difficult to use. These free apps and websites will help you maintain great grades and help you learn effective study habits.


An internship offers the chance to gain valuable experience and insight into your chosen career field, all before you graduate from college. However, just like many aspects of education and business, internships have changed greatly in the last few years. While traditional opportunities still exist, the virtual internship has gained popularity.

Defining the Virtual Internship

A virtual internship is similar to the regular variety except that you participate remotely. You’ll use your computer to complete your scheduled tasks for the employer and to stay in touch. You don’t have to report to a physical location; instead, you complete your internship off site. If you think this might offer the best approach for you, consider these factors before you sign up.

1) Will Your Career Aspirations Align With a Virtual Environment?

Some industries seem built for virtual internships. According to Hack College, positions in sales, marketing, and information technology lend themselves to remote internships. However, if you’re planning to work in manufacturing or film-making or sports medicine, virtual internships are not likely the best fit. Think about the tasks you will complete in your future career. Do they require a hands-on approach or can you accomplish them remotely? Answering this question will help you decide if a virtual internship will provide the right match.

2) Will a Virtual Internship Cause You to Miss Out on Important Benefits?

An in-person position offers many benefits for college students. For instance, if you’re studying languages in anticipation of a career as a foreign diplomat, you might get more value from an internship abroad. By traveling to another country, you’ll enmesh yourself in that culture and learn about the ins and outs of travel, both of which will inform (and perhaps enhance) your future career. Other benefits of an in-person internship include the ability to interact with colleagues, the opportunity to build networks, and the chance to test yourself in a professional environment. Compare the pros and cons of virtual internships as you make your decision.

3) What Type of Employer Do You Want to Work For?

In today’s world, you have to consider many different factors when applying for jobs. For instance, if you want to work in the private sector, do you envision yourself working for a small start-up in a bohemian loft or for a major multinational corporation in a skyscraper or for a mid-sized business in an office park? Maybe you’d prefer to work in the public sector, perhaps for a government agency or a non-profit or a political action group. Use your aspirations to inform your choice of internships. Many of the companies that offer virtual positions are small or young companies with limited liquid capital and a finger on the pulse of technological advancements. If this sounds like your ideal situation, maybe a virtual internship will offer the best environment.

4) What’s Your Personality Type?

College students perform well in virtual internships when they crave solitude and quiet. If you’re an introvert who is self-motivated and requires little management, consider the virtual route. However, if you thrive on human interaction, high levels of activity, and close direction, being on site for an internship is probably your best option.

Whether you’re looking for a full-year or summer internship, virtual options add another level of flexibility to your choices. Consider all internship options to ensure you have the best opportunities in preparation for your future career.


When you’re a college student, money’s tight and the “broke college student” stereotype is entirely true. College towns often offer plenty of opportunities for part-time and full-time employment, but on-campus jobs might provide the best solution. Here’s why on-campus jobs can be awesome.

1) They’re Schedule Friendly

The local fast-food joint or clothing store doesn’t know where you spend your non-working hours nor do they likely care. Consequently, those employers might not offer student-friendly schedules, especially when finals are rapidly approaching or you pick up a class mid-semester. Julie and Lindsey Mayfield of U.S. News & World Report point out that on-campus employers often take into account each employee’s specific schedule. You might work shorter-but-more-frequent shifts, for instance, to accommodate your class-and-study schedule. On-campus jobs might also leave more room for extracurricular activities.

2) They’re Convenient

Many students head to college without reliable transportation. If you don’t have a car on campus, an off-campus job might prove difficult to work into your schedule, even if you live in a city with public transportation. However, if you work on campus, you can probably walk to the workplace and eliminate that wrinkle. Plus you’ll save on gas and you’ll get some exercise and fresh air. Triple win.

3) You Get to Meet Faculty, Staff, and Your Peers

Part of the college experience revolves around creating connections with students and faculty. If you work outside of school, you leave the campus environment for a significant portion of your day, which could lead to missed opportunities. An on-campus job keeps you interacting with the people most connected to you and it enables you to enjoy a rich social experience. According to USA Today, many students enjoy fuller social lives when they have on-campus jobs. Also, every interaction is a chance to make a good impression on someone who may be your professor next term or your bestie or sig other down the road.

4) You Gain Real-World Experience

An on-campus job offers a safe-and-reassuring environment in which to gain real-world experience. You’ll learn how to function effectively as a co-worker and employee but still within a familiar atmosphere. This enables you to stretch your wings without worry. You might even find a job that aligns with your college major. It’s the perfect stepping stone to the outside world of work and you’ll get a sense of your work style and strengths and areas for improvement.

Finding an On-Campus Job That Meets Your Needs

On-campus jobs can prove competitive, especially at large universities. You might have to put in several applications before you find a job you’ll enjoy. If you’re desperate for work, look for jobs that aren’t as attractive as others, such as in food service or the mail room or grounds crew. Your experience with that job might make you more attractive later on as you apply for more-desirable jobs that might take longer to obtain.

You can also ask other student workers to recommend you. A personal referral often speaks louder than a resume that looks like everyone else’s. Leveraging your on-campus network can prove extremely valuable as you look for employment.

On-campus jobs are an excellent choice if you want to make a little money (or apply earnings to your tuition) and enjoy the full college experience at the same time. Check with your school’s career services department if you’re not sure where to start.


College is a time for exploring your options and discovering your passion. Sometimes, though, pursuing that passion might mean that you have to change majors. This isn't uncommon; about three out of four college students change their major at some point during their educations. However, before you take the leap to another major, be sure to consider the consequences of doing so.

The Cost of Changing Course

Thoroughly examine the course requirements of the major you're considering switching to. How many extra semesters will you have to spend in school to fulfill those requirements? Each of those additional credits comes with a price tag. Some colleges even have an “excess hours credit rule,” which means they charge more for courses that will keep you in school significantly longer than students who never change their major. Talk to your counselor about the new major you want to take on, and be sure you understand any added fees that come with switching. The more often you switch your major, the more likely you are to hurt your bank account. You also have to consider not just the cost of the classes themselves, but also the extra money you'll have to spend on class materials such as textbooks.

The Best Time to Switch Majors

Simply put, if you're going to change your major, you should do it as soon as possible. According to CollegeTransfer.net, “If you are within your first 60 credits, you have a better chance of moving your credits and course work around to other majors or programs of study than if you are already taking major or upper level courses you no longer have interest in nor may the credits be applicable when you change your major.” If you are beyond the first 60 credits of your degree, compare your current courses with the requirements for your new major. The more overlap there is, the cheaper the switch will be.

How to Mitigate the Costs of Switching

If you decide that switching majors is the right option for you, be careful how you go about it. If your current school does not offer the required courses for your new major, you will have to spend extra time and money on applying to other schools and going through the hassle of transferring your credits. It is best to stick with your current school. You can also investigate scholarship opportunities within your new major. Some scholarships are specifically geared toward certain career tracks. Also, since each change to your major results in extra expenses, perform thorough research about the major you want to switch to. Interview other people who have the same major or who entered a career after completing that major. Learn all you can so your next major switch is your last one.

Changing majors is a big decision, and it isn't a cheap one. Before you commit to a new major, carefully consider the financial consequences as well as your personal feelings. You don't want to have any regrets about your decision.


What's for dinner? If that question makes you think about the packaged ramen waiting in your dorm room, don't fret. Ramen isn't the only food you can cook if the sole appliance you have access to is a microwave. Check out these tasty microwave-friendly foods that will get you out of your ramen rut.

Quesadillas

Quesadillas are both simple and delicious. Buy some corn or flour tortillas, add some shredded cheese, and microwave to hot cheesy goodness. For variety, try different blends of cheeses. Use your favorite salsa to give your meal a bit of spice and sneak in some vegetables. The protein in the cheese will power you through those late-night study sessions.

Pasta

Ramen is a noodle but it’s not pasta. Mix up your dinner routine with the real thing. Bring water to a boil in a microwave-safe bowl. (Glass and ceramic are good choices; avoid plastic, as it may melt.) While the water is very hot, add noodles of your choice, cover the container, and wait for the noodles to cook. You might have to pop the container back in the microwave to keep the water sufficiently hot. Once the noodles are tender, drain them and pile on your favorite pasta sauce.

Rice

Rice, particularly brown rice, is a healthy grain that is a good choice for folks who are trying to eat well on a college budget. Some companies sell rice in a bag that is ready to go for microwave cooking; simply follow the instructions. You can also cook other kinds of rice in the microwave. Put water, butter, and rice in a small casserole dish and pop them in the microwave on high for about five minutes. Stir, and then cook on medium for another 15 minutes.

Frozen Meals

The meals you find in the freezer aisle at the grocery store get a bad rap for being tasteless and unhealthy. There are healthy and tasty choices available; just take the time to read the labels to find options that will give you the nutrients you need. If a meal is too bland for you, liven it up with cheese, extra veggies, or seasonings.

Boneless Chicken Breast

If you want lean protein, buy some fresh boneless chicken breast. Place the breast in a glass casserole dish and add enough water so it is half-submerged. Cover it with plastic wrap and microwave on high for about four minutes. The cooking time depends on the size of the breast. Check to make sure the meat is cooked all the way through, but also be careful not to overcook it; you don't want the breast to become so tough you can't eat it. Pair the chicken with some rice, and you have a healthy and filling meal!

Bacon

When you're in the mood for some meaty salty deliciousness, put a couple of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Lay some sliced bacon on the paper towels, making sure that the slices don't overlap. Cover the bacon with more paper towels, and microwave on high for about five minutes.

College students aren't doomed to eat ramen and cheap takeout. Try the above foods to add some variety to your diet.